The Register Columnists

Andrew Orlowski

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed
Rihanna in Battleship

Tidal music launch: Pop plutocrats pour FLAC on rival Spotify

Pop stars including potty-mouthed rapper Jay-Zed, professional non-smiler Kanye West and someone called Madonna have “launched” a music-streaming website 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

California Uber Alles: Google wants to become the World Privacy Court

Analysis Google's advisory panel on privacy recommends rolling back 160 years of UK common law, say legal experts, with Google itself creating new interpretations of well-established legal principles. The consequence would be that Google usurps the courts' role in guarding individual privacy, which critics say would be like the fox …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Feb 2015

First look: Ordnance Survey lifts kimono on next-gen map app

Exclusive The UK's Ordnance Survey is making a bold stab at "disrupting" smartphone and tablet mapping apps with a freemium app that yokes the OS's peerless geographical data to modern app features. We had a sneak preview at OS HQ recently, and can bring you the first screenshots. While the Ordnance Survey already has an iPhone map, it's …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Feb 2015
Sky 3D football

Sky bathes in cash - then adds FIVE BEELLLION to its debt mountain

Sky is successfully unbundling itself, or so it seems, and trying to fight off the twin assaults of telco giant BT breaking its live football stronghold in the UK and the emergence of over-the-top players such as Netflix. For the period covering the six months ended 31 December, the company formerly known as "BSkyB" had an …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Feb 2015

Red-spattered Android figures sinkhole Sony's healthy financials

Santa was kind to Sony, with sales and profits rising in the final trading quarter of 2014. However, although the Japanese giant shipped 12 million phones in the period the mobile unit still weighs the group down, and further losses are expected as Sony withdraws from the Chinese mobile market. Sony's movie division also had a …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Feb 2015

Not-spot-busting for the home: Eero thinks tiny mesh router's a winner

A San Francisco startup has launched a tiny mesh router aiming to kill notspots and end buffering in the home. Eero features dual Wi-Fi radios (alongside Bluetooth and wired Ethernet) in a curved box around 4.75inches square. It combines a router, repeater and range extender – but additional Eeros auto-configure, creating a …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Feb 2015
Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock

Port authority: Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock

Review Intel's Thunderbolt interface is the most impressive external I/O you can get on a consumer PC. But as befits a luxury interface, it comes at luxury price. There's a computer in the cable, for a start. All of this means that Thunderbolt's great promise – one cable to carry all your I/O, for easy docking – has been kept out of …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Feb 2015
Young hipster man wearing hat, suspenders, bow-tie and fake-looking tattoo-sleeve. Image via shutterstock

Bosch boss wants more Bongs

The chief executive of Teutonic multinational engineering and electronics titan Bosch wants German industry to be more like Uber. The high-tech industrial group earned €48bn in 2014, employs 290,000 people, and spent €4.7bn on R&D. By contrast, Uber has received $4.9bn in funding so far, the bulk of which followed a $258m …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Feb 2015

Bitter Lake: Know your enemy? Impossible, surely, when you don't know if the enemy exists

TV Review My favourite moment in Bitter Lake – Adam Curtis' new two hour film about Afghanistan – is a clip of a posh British graduate teaching conceptual art to a class of Afghan women in traditional dress. She shows them Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. You know – the dirty urinal. One shakes her head. The others just stare politely. “It was …
Andrew Orlowski, 31 Jan 2015
Jersey cow

Three to pleasure bumpkins with 800MHz

Hutchison's Three will finally launch into the prime 800MHz band later this year, which it expects will improve rural coverage significantly. H3UK won two bands of 800MHz spectrum in the auction round held two years ago. Previously it was the only operator without lower frequency spectrum dating from the first digital handouts; …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Jan 2015
iPhone 6 Plus opened up

Smartphones merge into homogeneous mass as 'flagship fatigue' bites

People are turning away from pricey "flagship" smartphones sold on complicated expensive contracts, according to industry figures. Dealmaker site uSwitch says it's seeing steep declines in year on year sales of flagship smartphones in 2015, with Sony hit particularly hard. Even Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone 6 exhibited the …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Jan 2015
Close-up of a YouTube logo as viewed on a computer screen in close up...

'YOUTUBE is EVIL': Somebody had a tape running, Google...

Analysis It's not often a $450bn multinational is humbled by a single classical musician with a tape recorder. Yet that seems to be what happened this weekend. Google spends billions on marketing, paying lobbyists and buying influence. It funds over 150 organisations and overtook Goldman Sachs last year as the biggest corporate political …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2015
Gold Plate My BlackBerry Passport

Friends, Canadians, countrymen: Would you buy a GOLD PLATED BlackBerry Passport?

Review A couple of weeks ago, BlackBerry released a limited edition series of Passport phones plated with 24 karat gold. Priced at $999, the run was limited to just 50, each one numbered. To which you well ask, "Why?" Gold Plate My BlackBerry Passport Missed out on BlackBerry's own special edition? Goldgenie makes the case for …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2015

A year with Canada's Volvo-esque smartphone – The BlackBerry Z30

Comment Why return to the Blackberry Z30, a phone that's over a year old? Well, the smartphone has matured impressively since its launch in 2013, and BlackBerry is about to introduce a major revision to its software: BlackBerry OS 10.3.1. The Z30 remains the most up-to-date all-touchscreen BlackBerry to run this operating system. There …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2015
Nokia Lumia 830 group

What's that, Microsoft? Yep, a Lumia and Surface SALES BOOM

Microsoft shipped a record number of Lumia smartphones in the final quarter of calendar year 2014, as Surface revenue finally started to make an impression. Microsoft reported that 10.5 million Lumias shipped, the most in a quarter, on the strength of low-cost devices. However, to put that in perspective, Samsung sold over 78 …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jan 2015

Opera Jon weaves a brand new browser

The man behind the Opera browser has created a new one, he says, because power users are poorly served. The new Vivaldi browser launched today in a "Technical Preview" form, with customisation and speed taking it in a different direction to the mainstream, where minimalism rules the day. "We're creating a browser for geeks and …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jan 2015
Close-up of a YouTube logo as viewed on a computer screen in close up...

YouTube: Nobody needs to get hurt Zoe, just sign the Ts&Cs

+Comment Google has revived its "our way or the highway" contracts with independent artists and labels, according to popular cellist Zoe Keating. On her Tumblr blog, Keating recounts a series of demands she says were made this week by YouTube, the ubiquitous video-sharing site bought by Google for $1.65bn. Either Keating signed the new T …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jan 2015

Microsoft: We bought Skype. We make mobiles.. Oh, HANG ON!

Analysis Microsoft has given us a glimpse of Windows progress this week – and it was generally well received – particularly the one-year "grace period" allowing Windows 7 holdouts to climb on board for free. While price won't induce Enterprise customers to upgrade, lower retraining costs will –and the majority will wait to see what the …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jan 2015