Safari users win right to sue Google over privacy

BBC reported on Safari users winning the right to sue Google over privacy.

The case revolves around a so-called Safari workaround, which allegedly allowed Google to avoid the Safari web browser’s default privacy setting to place cookies, that gathered data such as surfing habits, social class, race, ethnicity, without users’ knowledge.

Users prefer Safari because it prevents tracking by default.

The landmark case potentially opens the door to litigation from the millions of Britons who used Apple computers, iPhones, iPods and iPads during the relevant period, summer 2011 to spring 2012, said Jonathan Hawker who represents the Google Action Group, a not-for-profit company set up to manage claims against the internet giant for breach of privacy.

Google protests:

“Google, a company that makes billions from advertising knowledge, claims that it was unaware that was secretly tracking Apple users for a period of nine months and had argued that no harm was done because the matter was trivial as consumers had not lost out financially.”

Google is practically begging Firefox users to switch their default search engine

Search Engine Land reported on Google begging Firefox users to switch their default search engine.

Why would Google give up the top two-plus inches of its search results page like this? It goes back to the November announcement that Mozilla was dropping Google in favor of Yahoo as the default search engine in its Firefox web browser. Even as the No. 3 browser with about 16 percent market share (according to StatCounter), Firefox still drives a substantial number of searches.

Since the deal was announced, Yahoo’s search share rose from 8.6 percent in November (again, StatCounter estimates) to 10.9 percent in January. According to comScore, Yahoo’s market share in the US jumped from 10.2 percent in November to 11.8 percent in December. More recently, though, there are signs that Yahoo’s market share may have hit a ceiling, at least in terms of the immediate bump from its deal with Mozilla.

What does Google need on mobile?

Benedict Evans wrote about what Google needs on mobile.

Over time Android has also evolved to provide reach in collecting data as well – you’re always logged in to Google on your Android phone, and it knows where you are when you do that search or open that app, and where everyone else who ever did that search was, and what they did next (this is one reason why retaining control of the Android UI, and heading off forks, matters to Google). There’s an old computer science saying that a computer should never ask a question that it should be able to work out the answer to – the sensors and other capabilities in smartphones in general and Android in particular massively expand the range of things that Google can work out. So, Android transforms Google’s reach both in collecting and surfacing data.

Inside the US antitrust probe of Google

WSJ reported on the US antitrust probe of Google.

In discussing one of the issues the FTC staff wanted to sue over, the report said the company illegally took content from rival websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to improve its own websites. It cited one instance when Google copied Amazon’s sales rankings to rank its own items. It also copied Amazon’s reviews and ratings, the report found. Spokesmen for TripAdvisor and Amazon declined to comment.

When competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, it threatened to remove them from its search engine.

“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and did produce, the desired effect,” the report said, “which was to coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down.” The company also sent a message that it would “use its monopoly power over search to extract the fruits of its rivals’ innovations.”

Shocking.

Samsung caught hiring fans to attend their S6 press conference

Dave Mark wrote on The Loop about Samsung hiring fans to attend their S6 press conference.

South Korean smartphone giant Samsung paid people to pretend to be its fans at a press conference for its products’ release on Friday, reports Shanghai-based news outlet the Paper.

A person specializing in recruiting these “fans” said he brought over 100 people to the event. They and the other groups of people brought by other recruiters reached 400 to 500 in total. These hired “fans” amounted to around half of the 1,000 people at the event, according to the Paper.

They had to hire people to fill half the event.

The smartphone brand has also hired several groups of 20 to 30 people to be its professional fans. A woman surnamed Huang who joined one of the groups said she applied for the job after seeing a recruitment ad in a group chat on popular messaging app WeChat. Every hired person is required to post their picture, register their name and phone number and like the fan page of Samsung Galaxy on Baidu’s online forum Baidu Tieba. A Samsung staff member who also joined the group chat checks and monitors the application process.

They did not just buy their attendance, but likes on the fan page as well.

The recruiters told them to tell reporters they were at the event because they are Samsung’s fans or interested in the smartphone brand’s new model the S6, said the paper. Over half of the people taking photos of Samsung’s latest model the S6 and the S6 Edge were using iPhones. One of them told the news outlet that she went to the event after reading a post on microblog, saying that Samsung offers secret gifts for attendees.

But apparently these “Samsung fans” are iPhone users.

If consumers don’t see your brand as premium, then it’s not

Michael Mulvey wrote on Daily Exhasut about Ewan Spence’s Forbes piece regarding the price of the Samsung S6.

Ewan Spence on Forbes:

Arguably the price difference could come down to Samsung running with 32 GB of storage compared to the 16 GB Apple has fitted to the iPhones, but I do like the idea of Samsung exploiting a higher price than Apple. If the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge handsets turn out to be more expensive than the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, then Samsung will have some powerful arguments available to help sell the device.

I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that.

He continued:

Now the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge have the advantage Samsung should push hard on the specifications battle. That will be helped by Apple essentially ducking the numbers fight, so Samsung should be able to play hard on the fact that the S6 is a more powerful phone with more features.

And the easiest way to say that a phone is ‘better’ than another phone is to be more expensive.

Mulvey summed it up aptly:

Premium pricing only works if your brand is perceived at premium and this perception is controlled by people who buy your products, not the company making them.

With Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung tries to regain its footing

Farhad Manjoo wrote for The New York Times reported on Samsung’s attempt to regain its footing with the Galaxy S and S6 Edge.

Samsung’s internal code name for its latest top-of-the-line smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, is “Project Zero,” signaling what Samsung calls “a return to fundamentals.”

The code name also suggests that Samsung finally seems to understand the many criticisms that have long been leveled at its phones: the plastic hardware looked cheap, the most promoted features were mostly useless and the software was too complicated.

Samsung, according to Samsung, has realized the errors of it ways.

He goes on to detail these errors.

The new S6 and S6 Edge — which are nearly identical to one another except that the Edge’s screen curves intriguingly, though mostly uselessly, on its left and right side — are at least an answer to critics who say Samsung’s devices look cheap.

The S6 phones are made out of aluminum and glass rather than the plastic in Samsung’s older phones. Both the S6 and S6 Edge strongly resemble Apple’s iPhone. The S6 in particular looks like Apple’s brother from another mother. Samsung has also co-opted many of the design ideas for which its fans have long criticized Apple. The new Galaxys no longer offer a removable battery, for example, or a slot for add-on storage cards, and unlike the Galaxy S5, the S6es aren’t waterproof.

But with a premium price the same as the iPhones, can Samsung compete?

If you pay the premium price to Apple, you get a phone with a well-designed operating system, no overlapping preloaded apps, and a host of services that often work very well, like iMessage, Apple Pay and expanding compatibilities with Apple’s personal computers and devices like the Apple TV and, soon, the Apple Watch. You can criticize Apple’s sticky ecosystem as a form of consumer lock-in, but Apple sure has built a luxurious prison, and customers are willing to pay extra for it.

If you pay that premium to Samsung, you don’t get a whole lot more than you can get on, say, a phone made by Xiaomi, OnePlus or any of a dozen smaller players.

Bottom line:

Hence the catastrophic question for Samsung: If lots of other, cheaper, almost-as-good phones run Android, why pay extra for a Samsung?

Samsung expects Q1 profits to drop 30%

AppleInsider reported on Samsung forecasting a 30% drop in Q1 earnings.

Samsung on Tuesday provided investors with a new forecast for its March quarter sales, indicating that earnings declined yet again, likely falling 30 percent from the same period a year ago.

You would expect their earnings to increase with the launch of its flagship Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones.

Samsung executive delighted that Apple followed them

CNBC reported on Samsung executive expressing delight at Apple following them into the smartwatch market.

“Great competitors offer great things to consumers and the fact that there are so many great competitors in this space mean that there is absolutely a market. I mean, that’s what it tells you,” Rory O’Neill, the vice-president for mobile Europe at Samsung, which launches its S6 smartphone Friday, told CNBC.

“It’s with great delight that Apple has followed us into that market.”

Nice try, but those of us who have been following tech news would know that rumours of the Apple Watch surfaced back in 2012. In response to the rumour, Samsung rushed out its first smartwatch in September 2013.

Besides, Sony and Pebble already had offerings in the smartwatch market prior to that. It is delusional for Samsung to proclaim itself as the pioneer.

Samsung executive mocks iPhone bending

CNET reported on Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

Samsung even used its move into metal as a chance to take another shot at Apple. Younghee Lee, a marketing executive for the company’s mobile division, touted the aluminum alloy that it employs for the new smartphones as 50 percent stronger than the competition.

“This stuff will not bend,” she said to laughter and applause.

The shots fired at Apple struck Samsung in its own feet when its new phones are found to be as bendable.

Marketwired reported on SquareTrade’s New BendBot showing the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is as bendable as the iPhone 6 Plus and is more likely to crack.

  • The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge deformed at 110 pounds and created a crack in the screen. When pushed to catastrophic failure, its breaking point was 149 pounds, at which point it ceased to function.

  • The Apple iPhone 6 Plus deformation occurred at 110 pounds, but it continued to function normally. When pushed to catastrophic failure, its breaking point was an impressive 179 pounds.