The Register Columnists

Andrew Orlowski

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed

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
Windows 10

FIVE Things (NOT 10: these are REAL) from the WINDOWS 10 event

Analysis Microsoft offered a teaser of its work across its three main platforms yesterday, enough to give us an insight into how well Operation Relevance is going. It’s very much a work in progress. Here are the five key points on Windows 10 and the accompanying strategy. 1. 'Please come back to Windows 10 – for free' The challenge is …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Jan 2015
Evernote iPad app

Evernote says goodbye to Hello, shuts lid on Peek

Evernote, which makes a useful free form database with over 100 million users, has taken an axe to some little used services and platforms, while extending its new chat service to iDevices. The contact manager Evernote Hello is getting the chop – the company explains its functions, which include business-card scanning, have been …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2015
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft just saved Windows Phone... Now stop whining

Analysis It's always jam mañana for Windows Phone owners. In 2011, the "Apollo" update (which became Windows Phone 8.0) would bring new riches. Then it was 8.1. Now it's mid-year before Windows Phone 10 devices can storm the market. So at the enthusiast end of the market, they're not a happy lot. There hasn't been a headline-grabbing, …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2015
Pretty woman looks miffed. Copyright: Danil Nevsky via Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=149618984&src=id

Cheer up UK mobile grumblers. It's about to get even pricier

You may not think being a mobile phone customer in Britain is much fun, what with rural Not Spots, the world's most irritating advertising campaigns*, and LTE arriving later (and rolling out slower) than anywhere else. Readers are quick to complain. But you actually get a better deal than you think. So enjoy it while you can, …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2015
Julia Reda MEP, Pirate Party. Pic: Joachim S. Müller

Last Pirate in Brussels: Put ME in charge of yer IP treasure chest. Yarr!

Analysis With more individuals than ever posting their words and pictures to social media and sites like Flickr, you may think it's an odd time to weaken the copyright controls and protections we have over our work. Yet Europe has got itself into a unique pickle over copyright – and it was advised this week to slash such protections as …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Jan 2015
No Sale

Samsung and BlackBerry: Coming together? Not at this price

Analysis A Reuters report that Samsung held talks with Canada's BlackBerry over a possible acquisition doesn't ring true, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the deal as reported would represent a haircut for BlackBerry's biggest shareholder, and financial saviour Prem Watsa. Watsa's Fairfax Holdings bought most of BlackBerry stock at $17 …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jan 2015
Microsoft's Lumia 532 Dual-SIM

Microsoft rolls out even cheaper 'Notkia' Lumias

Windows Phones fanbois aren't happy that there's no new €600 flagship to fondle – but nobody can accuse Microsoft of complacency as it tackles the low-cost smartphone business. Microsoft's Lumia 435 The 435 – the cheapie with the front-facing camera Six months after it revealed its lowest cost model, Microsoft's phones …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Jan 2015

Spotify flips bird at Taylor Swift, adds MILLIONS more users

Spotify says it now has 15 million subscribers, up five million from last May, having added 2.5 million paying punters in the Christmas period alone. It also claims to have 35 million users on its free ad-supported version. Spotify launched a new “family plan” in October, allowing two household members to subscribe for £17.99 …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2015
BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry Enterprise chief: Yes, we did leave users behind

Interview BlackBerry's previous management left its users behind and underused a vital asset, its enterprise chief told El Reg in a wide-ranging interview. John Sims is part of the rescue team brought in a year ago, when the Canadian giant was at rock bottom – and was seemingly on the wrong end of every trend in the business. The company …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2015
Huawei Campus Shenzhen Bantian

Huawei? Apple and Samsung's worst nightmare, pal

Huawei claims to have banked over $11bn in smartphone revenue in 2014 despite falling short of its volume prediction. Consumer chief Richard Yu says the Chinese giant shifted 75 million units in the year, a little short of the 80 million it had predicted - but still up 40 per cent from 2013, the WSJ reports. Three of the top …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Jan 2015
Swiss Cow

Magic streaming beans? Sure, have my cow - music biz

"Why do people keep buying CDs?" we asked in 2009, after a decade of declining plastic sales. And the year after. Yet no matter how many times it was pronounced dead, the CD just wouldn't die. Figures from industry group BPI show the plastic relic remains a market favourite – and surprisingly is proving more resilient than …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Jan 2015
BlackBerry Passport

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