The Register Columnists

Andrew Orlowski

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed
Alan Rusbridger as Judas

FT and Guardian eagerly grab Google's 30 pieces of silver

Money can’t buy you love, they say, but Google hopes it can mollify Europe’s newspaper publishers. Faced with antitrust action in Europe, the Chocolate Factory is pouring €150m directly into the pockets of European newspaper publishers to use on “digital projects”, the FT reports. The cash will fund “joint work on product …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Apr 2015

The Government Digital Service: The Happiest Place on Earth

Special Report Last year, the UK's Cabinet Office asked an external management consultancy to examine staff morale and high turnover at the Government Digital Service. After interviewing more than 100 civil servants, its scathing confidential analysis described an organisation beset by low morale and run by a “cabal” management of old friends …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Apr 2015
BlackBerry Leap

BlackBerry Leap: Touching biz users with a budget(ish) device

Review The Leap is the first full-touch device BlackBerry has released in 18 months, and only the third to be released in developed markets. It’s also the cheapest, with the BlackBerry UK store listing it at £199 including VAT. BlackBerry Leap Fleeting gesture: BlackBerry Leap So at first glance, the Leap promises to be a 2015 …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Apr 2015

Cheer up songwriters, there's shedloads of money rolling in

The UK's performing sights society PRS for Music recorded a slim profit of £1.4m last year on turnover of £73.9m. The society collects and distributes royalties for songwriters and music publishers from radio, physical venues and plays on the internet, as well as the “mechanical” – a small proportion from the sale of a sound …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Apr 2015
Scrooge McDuck

'Leaked' EU digi wish list: Junkets for Eurocrats, sops to copyright and telcos

The EU will tackle copyright infringement and revisit telecoms regulation in 2016, along with a raft of new bureaucracy and spending. Controversially, it aims to further “harmonise” VAT and contract law across EU member states. The draft appears to have been written before last week’s decision by Commissioner Vestager to file an …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Apr 2015
fmri_brain_v2

Neurobabble makes nonsense brain 'science' more believable

Neuroscientific explanations of human behaviour appeal to people because we’re suckers for simplified, mechanistic brain-centred explanations – even if they’re rubbish or don’t make sense. A droll study by four psychologists tested psychological statements and placed them alongside “irrelevant” information from neuroimaging fMRI …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Apr 2015
Steve Ballmer. Pic:  Aanjhan Ranganathan

Ex-Windows designer: Ballmer was dogmatic, Sinofsky's bonkers, and WinPho needs to change

A former Windows Phone and Office lead designer has shed some valuable insight into Microsoft’s internal processes, design and strategy. Designer Jon Bell* left Microsoft a year ago but his Reddit AMA is still vastly more informative than anything that emerges from the Redmond politburo. Steve Ballmer killed an early version of …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Apr 2015
A fake tattoo on the leg of Canberra Raiders footballer Sandor Earl, sent by Huawei as an April Fool

Huawei P8: Chinese mobes have arrived and the West should tremble

Analysis Networking kit giant Huawei didn’t even make mobile phones four years ago, but its classy new P8 flagship shows what astonishing progress it’s made to come within striking distance of the market leaders. The Shenzen-based, employee-owned company unveiled its P8 at a huge, splashy launch in London’s Old Billingsgate Market. There …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Apr 2015
Broken CD

Give Jay-Z's Tidal tune stream thing a chance, says indie label boss

Interview Jay-Z’s much-mocked Tidal deserves a chance, says veteran British indie boss Martin Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt says the music industry should worry more about free and freemium services and offerings than piracy, and reminded us that digital sales are highly profitable – if you can make one. Goldschmidt started indie label Cooking …
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Apr 2015
Meme of a dog "typing" at a computer, with the large font phrase "I have no idea what I'm doing' above him.

Labour policy review tells EU where to stuff its geo-blocking ban

If Europe’s new Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker thought he’d notch up an easy populist win last summer when he targeted copyright reform, he’s had a rude awakening. Instead, he’s walked into a firestorm. Critics argued that sidekick Commission VP Andrus Ansip’s favourite proposals on territoriality would “Americanise” …
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Apr 2015
Google UK office logos

WHAT did GOOGLE do SO WRONG to get a slapping from the EU?

Analysis Google made the internet a bit more crappy and considerably less diverse, breaking its own vows along the way. That’s what the EU’s competition division declared earlier today, in a formal Statement of Objections. So what’s their beef? If you’ve a long memory, you’ll find uncanny parallels with Microsoft’s behaviour in the 1990s …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Apr 2015
Microsoft Lumia 640 Windows Phone

Life after Nokia: Microsoft Lumia 640 budget WinPho blower

Review Is the Nokia Microsoft Lumia 640 an Office subscription with a free phone, or a phone with a free Office subscription? Either way, it's likely to be the biggest mobile device for Microsoft since the days of Zune and Kin – and the company is getting more aggressive with its marketing. Microsoft Lumia 640 Windows Phone Office …
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Apr 2015
lumia 640

Microsoft Lumia 640, 640XL: They're NOT the same, mmmkay?

Microsoft’s latest mass market Lumia goes on sale today, Friday, for under £100, and its big brother — the 640XL — appears at the end of the month. The 640 is this year’s successor to the popular 630/635 models launched last May, while the impressive 640XL is a solid successor to the phablet-sized Lumia 1320, but with much …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Apr 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6

Steely wonder? It's blind to 4G and needs armour: Samsung Galaxy S6

Review I’ve found life is so much easier if one sticks to three simple rules. Never drive a Volvo car, never buy a Samsung phone, and always grind your own coffee. However, I might have to rethink one of those – and it isn’t the coffee. Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung's Galaxy S6 flagship handset Samsung can’t do anything without a …
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Apr 2015
a coffee cup topped with cappucino foam with a wi-fi symbol sprinkled on top in powdered chocolate

EE springs Wi-Fi phone calls on not-spot sufferers, Tube riders

EE today said it will be the first UK mobile network to roll out full-blooded next-generation Wi-Fi calling. Subscribers will not need to install any special apps: their phones should be able to seamlessly and automatically send and receive text messages, and make and receive calls, via wireless networks when there is no …
Andrew Orlowski, 07 Apr 2015

US Senate to probe the Obama-Google love-in

The US Senate’s subcommittee on antitrust and competition will investigate why President Obama’s political appointees at the top of the FTC closed an investigation into Google. The American watchdog's own staff found sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to merit a prosecution – specifically, evidence of Google abusing its dominance …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Apr 2015
Sydney harbour bridge poking out of the clouds

'Modernise' safe harbour laws for the tech oligarch era – IP czar

The Prime Minister’s outgoing IP advisor has said the shift in the balance of power to now-dominant tech multinationals means “Safe Harbour” provisions devised in the 1990s should be modernised and made fit for purpose. Safe Harbour is a blanket term for limitations of liabilities for internet operators against obscenity, …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Apr 2015
Rihanna in Battleship

Tidal music launch: Pop plutocrats pour FLAC on rival Spotify

Pop mega-stars including potty-mouthed rapper Jay-Z, professional non-smiler Kanye West and someone called Madonna have “launched” a music-streaming service owned by the artists. It includes a “lossless” FLAC audio quality $19.99-per-month tier, and there’s no ad-supported version. Jay-Z spent $56m this year on Aspiro, which …
Andrew Orlowski, 31 Mar 2015

Europe could be drowned in 'worthless pop culture' thanks to EU copyright plans

Comment Expect more bland Europop and formulaic Hollywood blockbusters in your future if a proposal by European Commissioner Andrus Ansip are implemented, cultural industries in smaller European states say. Groups predict that European culture will look a lot less diverse if the robotic single market Kommissar succeeds in forcing pan- …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Mar 2015

ZTE's stealthy Nubia: China-made Google-free Android mobe

Hands On A stealth project being shown discreetly at Mobile World Congress this month shows how far Chinese phone manufacturers have come – and how far they have to go. It’s under the umbrella of ZTE, the state-owned telecoms giant, and was officially unveiled this week. The Chinese are coming, but we’ve barely had a taster of it yet …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Mar 2015
HTC One M9 Android smartphone

HTC One M9 Android smartphone: Like a M8 with a squinty eye

Review In a world of generic smartphones where even Apple and Samsung seem to be converging on the same design, HTC has designed phones that are pretty distinctive – the HTC One is one of the very few brands you can recognise from across a room. HTC One M9 Android smartphone Standing out from the crowd, HTC's One M9 HTC has also …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Mar 2015
Google HQ logo. Pic: Bob Dormon

US states vow to fight Google after the FTC meekly rolls over

The USA may have backed down before the Chocolate Factory, but Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood says that an anti-trust investigation into Google is in the pipeline. Hood, who is also the president of the US National Association of Attorneys General, told legal and policy newsletter MLex: I think that anti-trust, that …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Mar 2015
The Pirate Bay logo

Storm gathers around CDN Cloudflare after doxxing allegations, Pirate Bay deal

UK ISPs have recently blocked access to The Pirate Bay yet again after a deal with controversial security and hosting company CloudFlare briefly opened them up. CloudFlare is, among other things, a popular choice for operators of pirate sites which profit from using copyrighted material without permission or payment to the …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Mar 2015
Houses of Parliament at night-time

Millions of voters are missing: It’s another #GovtDigiShambles

Millions of people may be unable to vote in May's general election because the Cabinet Office refused to heed warnings from its own pilot programmes two years ago. Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) at local authorities who have spoken to us on condition of anonymity say the Cabinet Office – the secretive Whitehall …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Mar 2015
Obama and Silicon Valley dinner, Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Google and Obama: You’re too close for comfort

+Comment It’s five years since I compared Google to Halliburton, the defence contractor that received large contracts from the Bush Administration, and whose former boss was George W Bush's righthand-man Dick Cheney. Today that comparison looks horribly unfair – unfair to Halliburton. The Wall Street Journal has revealed America's …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Mar 2015

Attack of the Digital People: The BBC goes fully Bong

Comment Imagine this. At vast expense, the BBC launches a chain of launderettes - digital launderettes, that we shall call "BeebWash". Each BeebWash "space" (they love the word "space") would show BBC programmes and no doubt, "facilitate community engagement". So expansive and vague is the BBC's current Royal Charter, that BeebWash …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Mar 2015
BlackBerry and Android, together at last

Droidberry dangles: Why the BlackBerry-Samsung alliance is big potatoes

Analysis There’s something about BlackBerry that even its biggest fans can forget. BlackBerry has never been a phone company – it has always been a network company. For over thirty years, BlackBerry has done clever things to and with networks. It brought efficient data management, security and intelligence to mobile packet networks – …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Mar 2015
gold ingot usb hub

A gold MacBook with just ONE USB port? Apple, you're DRUNK

Comment Steve Jobs would confide that LSD was a formative influence on his life, one that distinguished him from his less-adventurous peers in the tech industry. Jobs is gone, but I wonder if someone left some Pounds Shillings and Pence lying around the Cupertino campus? You may not have noticed, but the world's richest company* …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Mar 2015
Google UK office logos

Google wins fight to keep Adwords FBI drug sting docs secret

Special Report Google has won a crucial battle in its campaign to keep under wraps millions of documents relating to an FBI drugs probe into the company. And the web giant has done so using a law designed to combat porn sites. At least 20 US states, led by Mississippi’s elected state prosecutor, opened a probe to find out whether Google was …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Mar 2015

Netflix: Look folks, it's net neutrality... HA, fooled you

Well, that didn't take long. "Net neutrality" lobbyist Netflix has smashed a rule that net neutrality activists view as sacred. Netflix is about to launch in Australia and New Zealand after signing what it calls "un-metering agreements" with ISPs. This means that Netflix traffic will be zero rated, and won't count as part of a …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Mar 2015
BPI campaign logo: Home taping is killing music

EU court: Mobe makers not liable for users' copyright badness

The European Court of Justice has said that companies providing technology that can make copies of music or films, such as a modern smartphone, don’t need to pay compensation to copyright-holders so long as the economic damage is “minimal”. Both sides in the current UK dispute between the government and parts of the UK music …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Mar 2015

Pebble Time Steel ready in May. Plus: Now you can strap on sensors, GPS ... Geiger counter

MWC 2015 Pebble is opening up its eponymous smartwatch to third-party hardware makers. They’ll be able to build straps or other attachments that that can provide a range of additional functionality to a Pebble – such as specialist sensors for fitness or medical tasks – or just additional power. It’s a very Pebble way of doing it – keep …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Mar 2015
Slow downloads

Nokia boss smashes net neutrality activists

MWC 2015 Nokia's CEO has ridiculed the idea of a one-speed “neutral” internet, arguing that some IP packets are simply more important than others. Connected cars, for example, will need near-instant response times if they are to avoid accidents, said Rajeev Suri, speaking to media and analysts at the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona. …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Mar 2015
BlackBerry Leap smartphone

BlackBerry gets flirty with QWERTY IP, launches $275 Leap

MWC 2015 BlackBerry's CEO told The Register today that everything in the company’s IP portfolio is up for grabs, including hardware IP for BlackBerry’s hallmark QWERTY keyboards. “I’m not a big believer in holding on to all your secret sauces,” John Chen told us. “We have 53 per cent of staff employed in IP creation and engineering and …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Mar 2015
xperia m4

Chasing pennies, Sony, Microsoft and smartphone biz rivals retreat to mid-range

MWC 2015 Before you read this, or any phone news at all this week, keep in mind one statistic. According to Strategy Analytics, for every Great British pound of profit made in the entire smartphone industry, Apple pocketed 89 pence. Everyone else is left with 11.7 pence. Everyone. In an industry that generates $300bn in wholesale revenue …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Mar 2015
BlackBerry Classic QWERTY key smartphone

Have it all: BlackBerry to port crown jewels to iPhone, Android

MWC 2015 At Mobile World Congress, BlackBerry said it will port key client platform features – like its soft keyboard, Universal Search and Hub – to iPhone and Android, and also throw them into its enterprise software bundles. It marks a huge leap along BlackBerry’s transition to a software services company – but CEO John Chen denied the …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Mar 2015

3 spectastic Lumias for price of 1 rival flagship: Microsoft sells biz on cheapie experience

MWC 2015 Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop emerged from cryogenic storage at Microsoft to announce two new phones and give a glimpse of mobile Office for Windows 10. But not a lot – more will be revealed at Microsoft’s developer event, Build, in April. Elop, who hasn’t been seen much since Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia’s …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Mar 2015
HTC and Valve's Vive

In Barcelona, no one can hear you scream ... HTC, Valve unleash Giger-inspired VR headgear

MWC 2015 HTC has followed in the footsteps of Facebook-owned Oculus and Microsoft with its own VR headset. It’s making the unit, dubbed Vive, in partnership with Valve, and claimed it would be in punters' hands by the end of the year. HTC was coy showing it off at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today: El Reg didn’t even get to try …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2015

Out of time: Huawei, LG unveil watches nobody wants to buy

MWC 2015 China’s Huawei and South Korea’s LG showed off new watches in Barcelona today. The “smartwatch” is a misnomer: both will stop telling the time after a day, unless they are charged. Then they can tell you the time for another day. LG’s “Watch Urbane” is aimed at the wealthier chump. Of possible interest here is that one of the …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2015

HTC One M9 hands on: Like a smart M8 in a sharp suit

MWC 2015 HTC's One is like a tasteful band that has been the critics' choice for years but never quite breaks through from cult status to superstardom. It's by far the classiest thing on the market – but its distinctiveness and craftmanship hasn't been rewarded by runaway success. If only HTC could convert glowing reviews into dollars, …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2015

BOOM! MediaTek parks tanks on Qualcomm's lawn

MWC 2015 This time last year MediaTek was still smarting about sniffy comments made by Qualcomm. "You can’t take eight lawnmower engines, put them together and now claim you have an eight-cylinder Ferrari," Qualcomm's senior VP Anand Chandrasekher had said, referring to MediaTek’s 610 and 615 eight core smartphone chips. Octo-Core chips …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2015
Bingo Hall sign in San Antonio, Texas (August 2007). Photo by Peter Rimar. licensed under creative commons 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

GAMIFY your FRIDAY with our Public Sector Innovation Bingo!

Bored with another grey Friday? Here is a game for two players. The exercise allows you to keep up to date with vital subsidy-seeking buzzwords – while retaining the vital element of "fun". In this game, one player reads a press release sent to us by an innovation quango, while the other ticks off buzzwords on a Bingo Card – …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Feb 2015
Moto E front and back view. Pic: Motorola

Moto E 2015: The builder's cheapie gets a serious upgrade

Hands On Why can't everybody make a bargain basement phone as well as Motorola? They're as fashionable as egg and chips in a 1970s Wimpy Bar, but the popularity of the small, robust, no-nonsense Moto E and G models has helped revived the brand. The Chinese-owned phone operation yesterday upgraded the Moto E yesterday, adding some quality …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Feb 2015
Grundig Fernseh-Stereo-Konzertschrank Zauberspiegel 61 M 1 from 1959

Don't pay for the BBC? Then no Doctor Who for you, I'm afraid

Parliament's Culture Committee has revived the idea of "conditional access" for BBC TV services – which means that if you don't pay, you won't receive the full package. MPs argue that with UK Magistrates Courts rammed with thousands of non-payers a year, conditional access would be cheaper and fairer than the current system, …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Feb 2015
Hamburger_handset

Britain needs more tech immigrants, quango tells UK.gov

The government's migration quango says the UK needs more immigrants from outside the EU in four key IT areas, namely senior developers, product managers, network security specialists and "data scientists"*. After listening to pleas from employers, these four job categories should should be added to the "Shortage Occupation List …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Feb 2015

Wake up! BlackBerry QUIETLY updates BB10

Some BlackBerry users have enjoyed an unexpectedly peaceful weekend for once. Late last week, the Canadian company rolled out its biggest update for a year, but the otherwise technically impressive upgrade left some sleeping through alarms and missing phone calls. The volume for the device's alerts and alarms is now so low, you …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Feb 2015
HMRC

The Revenue achieved RECORD numbers of e-tax returns ... by NOT shifting to GOV.UK

Special Report Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was forced to take radical steps to keep the British government's cash rolling in, as its deadline to move its websites into the new GOV.UK digital empire drew near. HMRC even opened a centre for a digital team in Newcastle, one that looked and felt like a clone of the Cabinet Office's …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Feb 2015

Microsoft leaves the Rooms. How will Windows Phone OS users make to do lists?

Microsoft is axing a much-loved feature of its Windows Phone OS, Rooms, at short notice. An email sent to users yesterday announced that support is ending next month – long before functionally equivalent replacements are in place. Rooms was introduced with Windows Phone 8 in 2012, and allowed users to chat, share calendars, …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Feb 2015
New homepage of Gov.uk, credit screengrab gov.uk

Inside GOV.UK: 'CHAOS' and 'NIGHTMARE' as trendy Cabinet Office wrecked govt websites

Exclusive Poor design and chaotic management by the supposedly crack team at the Cabinet Office's Government Digital Service (GDS) left huge swathes of the British government in disarray, internal documents seen by the Register reveal. The documents confirm that GDS knew its flagship initiative to move all government websites under one …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Feb 2015

BBC: SOD the scientific consensus! Look OUT! MEGA TSUNAMI is coming

Special Report The BBC Trust has supported its programme makers in their use of old and debunked scientific conjectures to produce a "Hollywood style" environmental disaster film. In a formal decision, the operationally independent governing body of the broadcaster rejected a complaint made about the BBC Two TV "documentary", Could We Survive …
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Feb 2015