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Andrew Orlowski

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El Reg's Giant Mobile Industry Roundup of 2014: Part Deux

Part 2 Here's part two of El Reg's mobile industry review for 2014, where Andrew Orlowski picks out a few of the key trends. Click here for part one. Windows Phone made big strides in 2013, but was pegged back in 2014 for a number of reasons. Microsoft got a hyperactive new CEO Satya Nadella, who regarded the Nokia mobile devices …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Jan 2015
BlackBerry Classic QWERTY key smartphone

QWERTY-tastic BlackBerry Classic actually a classic

Review BlackBerry has looked into the abyss and seen ... a vintage BlackBerry staring back. Two years on from a catastrophic “modernisation”, BlackBerry has finally made a modern BlackBerry that people who used and liked a classic QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry will feel right at home with. Which accounts for the name. Natch. BlackBerry …
Andrew Orlowski, 31 Dec 2014
Android icon desktop toys

El Reg's Giant Mobile Industry Roundup of 2014

Part 1 It has been a crowded year in mobile. Apple breathed life into its iPhone brand, Google tried to take control of Android, while Microsoft fell asleep at the wheel. The Chinese handset tide began to reach Europe. Nokia waved goodbye to its phone division and jumped back in with a tablet – and an unusual business proposition. …
Andrew Orlowski, 31 Dec 2014

OnePlus vs Micromax: Dream of Google-less Android now further away

+Comment An obscure court case in India appears to have dented hopes of the mobile industry weaning itself off Google dependency - and has raised questions about the goals of Cyanogen and its backer, a Silicon Valley VC firm with close ties to Google. In the cosy world of Menlo Park VC firms, Andreessen Horowitz (or "A16Z") is as close …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Dec 2014
Google UK office logos

Blind justice: Google lawsuit silences elected state prosecutor

Comment Google's success in "assassinating" a democratically-elected legal opponent last week raises troubling questions about corporate power and accountability. The feisty attorney for the USA's poorest state is now trying to make peace, after being on the receiving end of a highly unusual lawsuit from Google. Even if you will have no …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Dec 2014
David Gerard and Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia UK "Bootstrap Meeting"

What's Jimmy Wales going to do with $500k from the UAE?

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales says he'll "start a foundation" to process a large amount of money he has received from the United Arab Emirates' regime. Christmas came early for Wales, and Tim Berners-Lee, earlier this month when they shared a $1m cash award from the Gulf state. The "Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Dec 2014
Nunslinger: The Complete Series

Nunslinger, Yosemite For Dummies and Life Inside The Fall

Page File El Reg bookworm Mark Diston is joined by Andrew Orlowski to review the pick of publishing this week. A compilation of works from mysterious Stark Houghton tells tall tales of the wild west. Mac users can brush up their skills or get a break from hapless relatives with the latest from Bob LeVitus. And music lovers get a down to …

Pitch Black: New BlackBerry Classic is aimed at the old-school

Hands on How can a phone maker sell out of its new smartmobe in advance when no one even knew what was inside? BlackBerry has somehow managed that feat. Click to enlarge pics Back in February it announced the Classic, which be could be ordered online last month, and until today nobody knew the specifications. “Too many things …
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Dec 2014
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Little big phone: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, a toothsome hand-fulla Android

Review This has been a year of pain for Android phone makers, and Sony has suffered as much in this over-saturated market as anyone. But manufacturers' pain is your gain. Sony's overlooked Z3 Compact is, for you if not Sony, the happy result. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact: the flagship for smaller pockets It’s a …
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Dec 2014
Google_skull

Spanish scraper scrapped: Google axes Google News

+Comment Google will close its Google News service in Spain next week, rather than pay newspapers for news excerpts. Spain recently revamped its copyright law and the changes take effect (PDF, Spanish) on 1 January. Law-makers threw newspapers a bone: the right to be remunerated by news aggregators. According to academic Eleonora Rosati …
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Dec 2014
BBC Testcard

The Great Unwatched: BBC hails glorious digital future for Three

+Comment The BBC's director general Tony Hall hailed a great digital future for the little-watched terrestrial channel BBC3 today. The BBC wants to move it to the internet to save money, and has submitted the proposals for rubber-stamping by the BBC Trust. The channel's budget has been cut from £55m to £30m, but TV programme expenditure …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Dec 2014

One-click, net-modelled UK copyright hub comes a step closer

Britain's experiment in "making copyright work like the internet" reached beta stage on Tuesday following a deal with a major picture library which gives developers half a million photos to work with. The non-profit, open source Copyright Hub is designed to bring about one-click licensing of relatively low-value digital works, …
Andrew Orlowski, 09 Dec 2014

GOOGLE is COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Comment Google is developing children-specific versions of its products aimed at the under-12s, smashing one of the tech industry's taboos. Pavni Diwanji, Google VP of engineering, says of the playground invasion that the goal is to "change our products to be fun and safe for children", or so she told USA Today. The paper drily notes …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Dec 2014

Whitehall at war: Govt’s webocrats trash vital digital VAT site

Special Report Open warfare has broken out in Whitehall after the Government’s own much-hyped in-house IT team, GDS, publicly trashed a new VAT service vital to small digital businesses. The Register understands the service works well - but didn’t use GDS and was failed for meeting its taste guidelines. This week the Government Digital Service …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Dec 2014
Pebble Steel

Pebble: The brilliant stealth wearable Apple's Watch doesn't see coming

Interview The wearables bandwagon rolled into town this year – heralding the arrival of glossy and expensive new wearable timepieces. Android Wear and Apple’s Watch have grabbed most the headlines, but I suspect that come Christmas morning, more people will be unwrapping a Pebble than the glitzier rivals. We caught up with Pebble’s …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Dec 2014

Wikipedia won't stop BEGGING for cash - despite sitting on $60m

+Comment The latest accounts for the charity behind Wikipedia show it has assets of $60m, including $27m in ready cash: up more than $12m from 2013. That's far more than the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) needs to run a website. And the timing is embarrassing: Wikipedia is currently begging for more cash to (in its own words) "keep Wikipedia …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Dec 2014

Einstürzende Neubauten's haunting World War I tribute

Music Review “We must have the only recording studio with a compressed air supply,” says Blixa Bargeld as he tunes up his band, Einstürzende Neubauten. Three compressed air hoses hiss into life. String quartet and chains Here in Utrecht the middle-aged band, plus accompanying string quartet, are performing their World War One concert …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Nov 2014

Sharing Economy sharks need love, cuddles and SUBSIDIES – UK.gov

Analysis The government’s controversial “Independent Review” of so-called “sharing economy” companies – such as Uber – has concluded that they should be encouraged to self-regulate while receive government nurturing and love – and your money. To lead the review, the government appointed Debbie Wosskow, the CEO and founder of LoveHomeSwap …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Nov 2014
An obese belly, dangling freely. Pic: Tony Alter

Software firms are over-valued, says Huawei

Inflated valuations for software companies are discouraging possible acquirers, says Chinese giant Huawei. The Chinese giant’s global IT chief Yelai Zheng told us the high prices software companies asked made them less attractive to Huawei. “Communications companies are not expensive but IT and software companies are,” said …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Nov 2014
The BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry's turnaround relies on a secret weapon: Its own network

Analysis Last year we invited you, as a thought experiment, to value BlackBerry as an oddball cluster of startups – and now it seems the company has taken our advice to heart. It forms the heart of its strategy: the once tightly coupled divisions are free to compete – even if it means taking business off each other. It also means playing …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Nov 2014
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/eddiedangerous/ licensed under creative commons http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ please attribute

Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix

Musicians and composers have launched a High Court legal challenge to a change the government has made to UK copyright law. British bureaucrats insisted on introducing a long-overdue private copying exception without compensation - the only European state to do so. The exception "legalises" the making of a copy of legitimately …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Nov 2014

Whistling Google: PLEASE! Brussels can only hurt Europe, not us

+Analysis A few days ago President Obama wrote a cheque he knew he couldn’t cash - and this week the European Parliament will write another. Reports suggest that the Parliament is drafting a motion calling for the break-up of Google and its ilk. Much like Obama’s net neutrality pledge, it’s meaningless, but even so, it’s still hugely …
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Nov 2014

Two driverless cars stuffed with passengers are ABOUT TO CRASH - who should take the hit?

Comment Data analysts don’t need philosophers to help them with ethical decisions - the “science” can figure that out, a top boffin said this week. Asked about the ethics of big data, the head of Imperial College’s new Big Data dept said: “We treat [ethical issues] not philosophically, but scientifically”. It’s a startling assertion. …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Nov 2014

Huawei: KRYDER STORAGE CRISIS is REAL and 'we’re working on it'

Huawei’s chief storage boffin says the company has looked at the looming crisis in storage technology with concern. Until 2010, the cost of storage per dollar had dropped exponentially. The decline has been dubbed the Kryder rate, or “Kryder’s Law”, a reference to an article in a 2005 issue of Scientific American of the same …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Nov 2014

NOKIA - Not FINNished yet! BEHOLD the somewhat DULL MYSTERY DEVICE!

Nokia is back in consumer electronics with an iPad rival, the new N1 tablet, just six months after Microsoft snorked up its phone division. The Finnish firm has said that many more devices will follow. Youtube Video The Atom-powered, Android-based, mini-sized N1 enters a crowded marketplace with a price tag of just $250. It's …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Nov 2014
Taxi Driver

Now Uber can take EVERYONE for a ride

+Comment Casual car hire company Uber is teaming up with Spotify, ensuring neither your favourite musicians nor your driver get paid very much. "Uber users who link their Spotify account to their Uber account can push a button, get a ride and get in to the car their Spotify station is playing,” explained Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO. …
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Nov 2014

Players gonna play (play, play): Google confirms YouTube Music 'access all areas' key

The year's most controversial new music service has arrived - with a sense of anticlimax. Google's YouTube music streaming subscription service has finally been confirmed - with indie labels on board. "Google YouTube Music Key" (yes, it's really called that) feels provisional, a cog in a bigger picture. As the comments under the …
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Nov 2014

BlackBerry comeback: BES12 server revealed – it will manage ALL THE THINGS

Turnaround artiste John Chen marked one year as BlackBerry boss with an avalanche of enterprise software news related to the firm's new BES12 server, which can manage enterprise mobe devices running Android, iOS, Windows Phone – and of course, BB's own mobile OS. BlackBerry wants to manage absolutely everything: PCs, Macs, …
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Nov 2014
City Lifeline cable guys get busy outside

'Net Neut' activists: Are you just POSEURS, or do you want to Get Something Done?

Analysis On Monday, President Obama wrote out a cheque he knew he couldn't cash. The President is signalling to activists and his Silicon Valley backers that although, yes, he may spend much of the time playing golf, he actually truly and deeply does care. He "gets it". City Lifeline cable guys get busy outside You want cable? It's like …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Nov 2014

FCC to Obama on net neutrality: We work for CONGRESS, SIR, not YOU

US watchdog the FCC has politely told President Obama to get stuffed, gently pointing out that the agency reports to Congress – not the White House. President Obama excited his supporters yesterday, following a drubbing in the mid-term elections, by going nuclear on internet regulation. The White House said it backed the …
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Nov 2014

Behold the Lumia 535 NOTkia: Microsoft wipes Nokia brand from mobes

Microsoft is finally putting its own brand on the phones it makes and sells itself. The Windows giant's latest Lumia 535 drops the Nokia branding completely – as expected – and will instead sport a proud "Microsoft" front and rear. The device itself is unremarkable except for a very aggressive price: it's a mere €110 (£86) …
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Nov 2014
Swiss alps

Has Switzerland cracked the net neutrality riddle?

Analysis Broadband providers in Switzerland – a country synonymous with neutrality – have formulated new rules for ISPs that may save regulators and lawmakers from fruitless battles over "net neutrality". The code of conduct formulated by Swisscom, Sunrise, UPC Cablecom and Orange pledges to allow all subscribers "to use the content, …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Nov 2014
Barney Rubble driving with Fred Flinstone

Forget 5G, UK.gov is making 2G fit for the 21st century!

Analysis The government flagged up the biggest shake-up in mobile regulation for 25 years yesterday. Tories who ridiculed Ed Miliband’s intervention in the energy market might need to remove the large wooden beam from their field of vision first. Four major policy options are suggested in the Ministry of Fun’s rural mobile consultation …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Nov 2014

Why Comrade Cameron went all Russell Brand on the UK’s mobile networks

Analysis Dropped calls between President Obama to Prime Minister David Cameron on the Vodafone network over Christmas led to the government getting bossy with the mobile networks, according to industry sources. Shoulda used a landline, Dave... The PM was in rural Oxfordshire over Christmas and decided that “something must be done” …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Nov 2014

Pop starlet Taylor Swift DUMPS Spotify: It’s not me, it’s you

Taylor Swift's record company has removed her entire catalogue from Spotify, becoming by far the most popular artist to snub the streaming service. Spotify rarely responds to artist snubs, but snapped back with a cringeworthy blog post begging her to return. It's acutely painful timing for Spotify: the company's IPO is likely to …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Nov 2014

The Great Smartphone Massacre: Android bloodbath gathers pace

Analysis The bloodbath continues for smartphone vendors, results from the leading Android vendors have confirmed in the past week. While it’s a great time to be a buyer, in saturated Western markets, only LG can show black ink on its earnings statements. Sony, Samsung and HTC also reported and the pages were awash with minus signs, …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Nov 2014

That 'TECH-FREE' Nophone? It was already out years ago

A “tech free” phone has raised over $18,000 on Kickstarter. The electronics-free "NoPhone" provides “a rectangle of smooth, cold plastic to clutch without forgoing any potential engagement with your direct environment” – according to its makers. The NoPhone Backers receive a 3D-printed model of the dummy, which is itself a …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Nov 2014

UK.gov rushes out broken 'Orphan Works' system as EU Directive comes in

+Comment The Government has rushed out its controversial “Orphan Works” licencing scheme – but it’s broken on arrival, and if it doesn't start working almost at once it probably won't get the chance. The rushed release is no coincidence. It means, perhaps, that the UK can technically claim that it had a “pre-existing Orphan Works scheme …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Oct 2014
Apple first-generation iPod

Tim Cook: The classic iPod HAD TO DIE, and this is WHY

Apple head honcho Tim Cook has explained why the iPod classic had to die: Apple couldn’t get the parts any more. Cook explained to the WSJ.D Live conference in California that “the engineering work” required to sustain the spinning-platters jukebox “was massive, and the number of people who wanted it very small. I felt there …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Oct 2014

Hey, YouTube lovers! How about you pay us, we start paying for STUFF? - Google

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has confirmed that the Google vid service is open to introducing subscriptions. This is not exactly news – one of the most controversial sagas to rage this year concerns complaints from independent music companies over YouTube’s yet-to-be launched subscription music service. Indies requested emergency …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Oct 2014
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon hopes FIRE STICK will light up its video service

Amazon hopes a new dongle will revive its flagging video ambitions. The Fire TV stick is essentially the same as Google’s Chromecast concept: a low cost HDMI dongle bundled with a taster of Amazon’s own entertainment service – and a miniature version of the Fire TV box 'n’ remote that it revealed in April. Both old box and new …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Oct 2014
European Union Flag

Netflix and other OTT giants use 'net neutrality' rules to clobber EU rivals

+Comment Cable giant Netflix and other big firms are using calls for greater net neutrality to drive down the prices they pay, according to recently published research. Referring specifically to the Dutch internet market, late last week John Strand of Strand Consulting said: “Net neutrality law (which limits operators’ ability to manage …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Oct 2014

Does the Googler tapped to run the US Patent Office still believe in patent reform?

Analysis The nomination of former Google lawyer Michelle Lee to run the US Patent and Trademark Office has been hailed as a victory for Silicon Valley. In 2007 Lee said the patent system was "out-of-balance" and needed "to be remedied". But does she still think that? Lee was appointed deputy director of the USPTO last year, having served …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Oct 2014

Lumia 830: Microsoft hopes to seduce with slim 'affordable' model

The Lumia 830, which is already available in the UK, is another midrange Lumia (from Microsoft, but it retains the Nokia brand) fighting for your attention. It squeaks in at under £300 SIM-free (it's £279 on PAYG at EE) or is free on contracts at around £25/month. I must admit, before the device arrived, the omens weren't good …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Oct 2014

Microsoft discovers long-lost phone division down back of sofa

Nokia phones generated $2.6bn in revenue for Microsoft as the division arrested its decline. Redmond sold 9.3m Lumia devices in the quarter, the most ever. In the quarter a year ago, Nokia (then the owner) shifted 8.8m Lumias. In June only 5.8m Lumias moved. The company had failed to refresh its product line as it, and other …
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Oct 2014

Meet Mr Gamification: He's got a NUDGE or two for you

Battle of Ideas Do you ever get invited to talk and wish that Steve Bong was there instead of you? That’s what happened to me last weekend. The subject was "gamification" at the Battle of Ideas. Things got really strange, really quickly – I think you’ll find what is coming up to be quite eye-opening - but I’m sure Steve would have taken it all …
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Oct 2014

Nokia STORMS back into profit, FREE from phones and Windows

Nokia reported solid results on Thursday even after giving long-suffering shareholders a dividend and taking the hit of a one-time charge. Profits (non-International Financial Reporting Standards*) rose to €353m on earnings of €3.3bn, up from €2.9bn a year ago. With the Windows Phone albatross thrown to a reluctant new owner, …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Oct 2014
OnePlus One Android smartphone

OnePlus One cut-price Android phone on sale to all... for 1 HOUR

Word-of-mouth sensation the OnePlus One smartphone finally goes on general sale to the public next week – six months after the phone was launched, and after a number of not-always successful promotional gimmicks. But only in 16 territories. And you only have an hour on Monday to check out. OnePlus One Android smartphone Like …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Oct 2014

ISPs handbagged: BLOCK knock-off sites, rules beak

The UK's biggest ISPs must block websites that flog knock-off goods, after a successful High Court case brought by luxury goods firm Richemonte, the first time trademark pirates have been blocked in the EU. Richemonte, Swiss-based holding company for brands including Cartier (watches), Alfred Dunhill, and Montblanc wanted six …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Oct 2014

The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?

Battle of Ideas The idea that computer programming should be compulsory in schools is hugely popular with metropolitan media luvvies and quango-hoppers - but serious questions were raised by people who do it and teach it this weekend. Some argued that the current overemphasis of the field, rather than encouraging an enquiring technical mind, …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Oct 2014