Although the iPhone remained the top smartphone by customer satisfaction, with a score of 81 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) published Tuesday, Apple’s lead largely evaporated. Not only did Apple’s score fall two points from the year before, satisfaction in competitors’ devices jumped.
Samsung’s satisfaction score grew the most, increasing by five points to 76, a 7% gain. Motorola’s score climbed 5.5% to 77 points, while Nokia’s gained a point to close at 76, a 1.3% increase. Other smartphone manufacturers’ scores slumped: Those of HTC and LG slid 4% and 5.3%, respectively.
2012′s eight-point gap between Apple and the best of the rest was halved in 2013, as Apple now leads the next-closest, Motorola, by just four points.
ACSI’s director, David VanAmburg, attempted to explain Apple’s shrinking lead.
“While the iPhone 5 had strong sales, it has not bolstered Apple’s overall customer satisfaction,” said VanAmburg in a report accompanying the survey results. “[And Samsung's] improvement is the largest yet for any cell phone manufacturer.”
VanAmburg credited the 2012 launch of the Galaxy S3 for the boost to Samsung’s score, and noted that the 81 scored by the iPhone lagged behind the 86 garnered by Apple’s Mac personal computers and iPad tablets last September.
ACSI’s results generally conformed with media coverage and customer reactions to the iPhone 5 — which was seen as a minor upgrade, even though it sported a slightly larger screen — and Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4, which have been applauded. Most analysts, for instance, have portrayed Samsung as Apple’s only real competitor.
According to IDC, Samsung shipped 71 million smartphones in the first quarter, while Apple shipped 37 million iPhones, or just over half as many. Apple’s share shrunk to 17.3% for the quarter, down from 23% the same period in 2012; meanwhile, Samsung’s share climbed from 28.8% to 32.7%.
The term virus is frequently used as a catch-all for malicious software, but actually describes a very specific type of program that infects files and replicates, noticeable impairing a computer. Most malware these days tries to not be so obvious.
But Microsoft has noticed that viruses — which have been present on around 5 percent of the computers the company regularly polls — have increased in prevalence in some regions, wrote Tim Rains, director of the company’s Trustworthy Computing section.
In the fourth quarter of last year, viruses were present on about 7.8 percent of computers scanned by the company, he wrote. In some locations, such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Somalia, Egypt and Afghanistan, the percentage of computers with viruses ranged from 35 to 44 percent, he wrote.
Those developing nations all have a low percentage of broadband connections, which may contribute to those computers having fewer security protections.
“Although we don’t have complete data for all the aforementioned locations, we can see that 30 percent to 40 percent of computers in some of these locations do not have up-to-date real-time anti-virus software installed, compared to the worldwide average of 24 percent,” Rains wrote.
More than 8 million computers worldwide are infected with Sality, a virus that infects files with certain extensions such as “.scr” and “.exe” and can also shut down the processes and services of security software, he wrote. It mostly just affects computers still running Windows XP.
To infect computers, Sality has used a vulnerability that was also targeted by Stuxnet, the malware designed to wreck Siemens equipment used by Iran in its nuclear fuel refinement program.
“Sality’s success proves that file infectors can be still be successful,” Rains wrote. “Unlike viruses from yesteryear, attackers today are trying to steal information, sometimes by turning on computers’ microphones and cameras.”
Google Inc announced on Thursday a half-dozen apps specially designed to work on its Glass devices. News network CNN, fashion magazine Elle, as well as online apps Tumblr and Evernote were among the half-dozen new apps for Glass unveiled during Google’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.
Google Glass is a stamp-sized electronic screen mounted on the left side of a pair of eyeglass frames which can record video, access email and messages and retrieve information from the Web.
Google began distributing the devices last month to a limited number of developers, but it has yet to specify when a version will be available for consumers or at what price.
The futuristic-looking devices have been a common sight at the Google conference this week, with many of the attendees and staffers wearing Glass. But Google executives gave Glass short shrift during the more than three-hour keynote talks on Wednesday, barely mentioning Glass among the litany of new products and services discussed on stage.
Dell’s profit for the quarter, ended May 3, was $130 million, down 79 percent from $635 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue declined 2 percent to $14.07 billion.
Dell’s PC division was particularly hard hit. Sales for the quarter were down 9 percent to $8.9 billion, Dell said, and the group’s operating profit skidded 65 percent lower to $224 million. Laptop sales were hit especially hard.
Its enterprise business showed mixed performance. Sales of servers and network gear were up 14 percent but storage was down 10 percent. Dell’s services division reported a 2 percent increase in revenue.
Dell is trying hard to build an enterprise software business, which it hopes will eventually generate higher profits than its PC division. The software group reported an operating loss for the quarter, however, as Dell invested in new sales and R&D staff.
Dell’s earnings for the quarter on a pro forma basis, which excludes one-time items, were $0.21 a share, well off the analyst forecast of $0.35 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.
In a statement, CFO Brian Gladden said Dell’s profits were affected by steps it took to improve its competitiveness. “We’ll also continue to make important investments to support our strategy and drive long-term profitability,” he said.
Michael Dell announced in February that he planned to take the company private in a deal with Silver Lake Partners valued at $24.4 billion. The company founder has said he wants some breathing room to focus on long term investments without the constant scrutiny from Wall Street.
Users wearing Epson’s Moverio BT-100 smart glasses will be able to play, pause, rewind, fast forward or select a video by tilting or turning their head in a specific direction. The capability is made possible through an application developed to enhance the end-user experience of YouTube.
The smart glasses and hands-free YouTube capabilities will be demonstrated at the Google I/O conference, which will be held in San Francisco between May 15 and 17.
Moverio smart glasses run on Android software and have technology that projects a virtual 80-inch display at the center of the user’s view. The smart glasses being demonstrated have gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometers to track head movement, which ultimately enables hands-free playback of videos on YouTube.
The Moverio glasses are tinted like sunglasses but are see-through, much like Google Glasses. But users can also block out the see-through capability to watch videos from the Internet. Users can also run Android applications on the glasses.
The Moverio glasses are also connected to a remote that allows users to control or play back videos. They have Wi-Fi capabilities and also can display 3D images.
Epson is widely known as a printer and projector maker. The company has already said it wanted to improve gesture-based controls on its smart glasses, and bringing hands-free interaction to YouTube could set the stage for improvements in virtual reality applications.
The smart glasses are already available and are priced at US$699.99
Google Inc unveiled a music service on Wednesday that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
With its new service, announced at its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Google has adopted the streaming music business model ahead of rival Apple Inc, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes.
Google’s “All Access” service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked. It will be launched for U.S. users first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
At the conference, Google also unveiled improvements to other services, including new mapping features and a voice-activated search. The focus was on giving more options to users of mobile devices using its Android operating system.
Google’s shares jumped more than 3 percent while Pandora Media Inc shares were down more than 1 percent on Wednesday afternoon.
The entry of the world’s largest Internet company amps up the competition in the nascent market for subscription-based, streaming music. Amazon.com Inc and Apple are among the Silicon Valley powerhouses sounding out top recording industry executives, according to sources with knowledge of talks.
Pandora is spending freely and racking up losses to expand globally. Even social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter are jumping onto the streaming-music bandwagon.
All these companies see a viable music streaming and subscription service as crucial to growing their presence in an exploding mobile environment. For Google and Apple, it is critical in ensuring users remain loyal to their mobile products.
Music has been integral to the mobile experience since the early days of iTunes, which upended the old models with its 99-cent-per-song buying approach.
Now, as smartphones and tablets supplant PCs and virtual storage replaces songs on devices, mobile players from handset makers to social networks realize they must stake out a place or risk ceding control of one of the largest components of mobile device usage.
At $9.99 a month, Google’s service is costlier than the $3.99 required for Pandora, but on par with Spotify.
Google executives said their new service takes the work out of managing massive music libraries, noting the streaming model can be endlessly customized.
Outlook.com, which replaced Hotmail and offers a similar feature for chatting with people on Facebook and Skype, will roll out this Gmail capability over the next few days to its 400 million users worldwide, according to Microsoft.
People will also be able to engage in IM chats with Gmail users from the interface of their SkyDrive cloud storage and file sharing application.
“With this feature, the next time you’re reading an email from someone who uses Gmail, you can reply with a quick chat right from your Outlook.com inbox. And if you’re working together on an Office document in SkyDrive, you can send an instant message to a Google contact with just a click,” wrote Microsoft official Douglas Pearce in a blog post on Tuesday.
Pearce also took a dig at Gmail in the blog post, saying that the new feature is “one more reason to make the switch” and that part of the motivation was to help Outlook.com users chat “with friends stuck on Gmail.”
Microsoft launched a preview of Outlook.com with much fanfare in July 2012,positioning it as a re-imagining of webmail from the data center to the user experience, and as a better option to Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
Microsoft has also been attacking Gmail for months via its Scroogledcampaign, in which Microsoft accuses Google of disrespecting the privacy of Gmail users by matching ads to the text of their messages.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it had completed migrating all users from Hotmail to Outlook.com, whose improvements include a redesigned user interface, broad syncing capabilities, improved message sorting and native integration with Facebook, Twitter and other sites.
Analysts regarded the move — announced today at BlackBerry Live — as mostly positive, since it could help an improving BlackBerry expand its reach beyond its own new Z10 and Q10 smartphone customers.
Today, there are 60 million BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) customers, a tiny fraction of the number of messages sent via Facebook or Twitter. But BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said BBM users are very active, sending 10 billion messages a day, and half the messages received are read within 20 seconds.
Opening up BBM to iOS 6 devices and above and Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices and above will expand BBM’s reach, Heins said.
“BBM is so great that it’s too good to keep only to ourselves,”Heins said during an upbeat keynote presentation at the event, which is mainly for BlackBerry developers and partners. “Why now? It’s a statement of confidence, that BlackBerry 10 is strong and the response is so good that it’s time that BBM become multi-platform.”
BBM’s interoperability with Android and iOS is now in beta, and will launch commercially this summer, Heins said. At first, only text messaging will be available to individuals and groups on other platforms. Features already available in BlackBerry 10 on BBM such as voice and video and screen sharing will be added later this year, with updates every two to four weeks.
The improvements include a new “all photos” view that displays thumbnails of all the pictures, organized in a monthly timeline grid.
Microsoft also tweaked both the SkyDrive desktop app and its server counterpart to increase upload speeds, achieving a 2X to 3X improvement, according to the company.
In addition, Microsoft said it has improved “the readability” of files and folders stored in the service, remaking the thumbnail format for PowerPoint and Word files to make it easier to identify and find them.
Photos are the most common files stored in SkyDrive “both in sheer number and in total storage consumed,” Omar Shahine, group program manager of SkyDrive.com, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
It will take about 48 hours for the changes to be applied to all SkyDrive accounts.
SkyDrive rival Dropbox has also been testing new photo storage, sharing and management features, including the ability to organize photos in albums and to share more than one photo or a folder at a time.
Google Drive, another SkyDrive competitor, also has specific features for managing photo files.
Nokia will offer a new high-end smartphone through U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless, it said on Friday, hoping to expand its share in the high-margin premium market after years of falling behind Samsung and Apple Inc.
The new Lumia 928, priced at $99 if customers mail-in a $50 rebate and agree to a two-year deal with Verizon Wireless, is similar to the 920 model currently sold through AT&T, but is lighter and slightly different in appearance.
It weighs 162 grams compared with 185 grams for the 920, which some critics had said was too heavy.
The 928′s 4.5-inch screen also extends to the edge of the phone, giving a sharper impression than the curved edges of the 920. The new models also come in black and white compared with the colorful options of the earlier Lumia range.
Most other features, such as a 8.7 megapixel camera and 1.5-gigahertz dual core processor by Qualcomm, are the same as the 920′s.
The 928 is the latest in Nokia’s Lumia range of smartphones which use Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 software.
Nokia switched to Windows in 2011, aiming to compete with Apple’s iPhones and rivals using Google’s Android system. Sales of Lumia phones have grown in recent quarters, but at 5.6 million in first quarter, they still account for only around 5 percent of the market.
The company has recently launched new products in the lower and mid-tier range to protect its position in emerging markets, but analysts have said its success in the high-margin smartphone market will be crucial for its long-term survival.
Nokia is due to unveil its new Lumia strategy at an event in London on Tuesday.
It appears that the Ouya is going to be a bit delayed.
This is good news though, as it is being delayed because the console developers have more cash to spend on it, $15m more to be precise.
Ouya already raised around $7m on Kickstarter, and now, when it should be taking its last steps towards completion, it has had almost twice as much more injected into it by lovely venture capitalists.
We were expecting the console in early June, but that has slid back to 25 June. The time and money will in part be used to solve an issue with sticky buttons, something that usually only happens once consumers have taken some hardware home with them.
The money comes from venture capital firms and other companies including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Nvidia, Shasta Ventures, and Occam Partners. KPCB’s general partner Bing Gordon will join the Ouya board of directors as a result.
“We want Ouya to be here for a long time to come,” said Julie Uhrman, Ouya founder and CEO.
“The message is clear: people want Ouya. We first heard this from Kickstarter backers who provided more than $8 million to help us build Ouya, then from over 12,000 developers who have registered to make an Ouya game, next from retailers who are carrying Ouya online and soon on store shelves, and now from top pioneering investors.”
Gordon is in charge of digital investments at KPCB and is a veteran of the games industry, having started at Electronic Arts in 1982.
“Ouya’s open source platform creates a new world of opportunity for established and emerging independent game creators and gamers alike,” he said.
“There are some types of games that can only be experienced on a TV, and Ouya is squarely focused on bringing back the living room gaming experience. Ouya will allow game developers to unleash their most creative ideas and satisfy gamers craving a new kind of experience.”
Ouya consoles should start arriving in living rooms on 25 June. If you want one, you are going to have to come up with around $100 dollars, plus another $50 dollars if you want two controllers.
Anti-virus software for Android is easily fooled, according to insecurity experts from Northwestern University and North Carolina State University. The university tested ten of the most popular AV products on Android, and discovered that they were easily fooled by common obfuscation techniques.
AV software from Symantec, AVG, Kaspersky Lab, Trend Micro, ESET, ESTSoft, Lookout, Zoner, Webroot, and Dr. Web was tested as part of an evaluation of mobile security software. Using a tool called DroidChameleon malware samples were transformed to generate new variants that contain the exact malicious functions as before. These new variants were then passed to the AV products, and much to the surprise of the paper’s authors, they were rarely flagged.
The paper said that the findings showed that all the anti-malware products evaluated are susceptible to common evasion techniques and may succumb to even trivial transformations not involving code-level changes. More than 43 per cent of the signatures used by the AV products are based on file names, checksums (or binary sequences) or information obtained by the PackageManager API.
Minor changes to a virus will render their protection useless for the most part.
Amazon.com has updated its mobile app store to include support for its Chinese customers, a potential signal that the U.S. company may be preparing to sell its Kindle e-readers and tablets in the country.
The update effectively launches a new version of Amazon’s app store built in the Chinese language. The store comes in the form of an Android app, and the company has been promoting it since this past weekend.
The arrival of the new store comes just months after Amazon launched its Kindle e-book service in China last December. Both are key platforms for bringing content to the company’s Kindle devices in the U.S. market. But in China, Amazon has yet to start selling its tablet and e-reader hardware, and its local offices have been mum on a future release date. The company on Monday did not immediately respond for comment.
Despite the absence of official sales, the Chinese market is showing some “pent-up demand” for Amazon’s e-readers, said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. Research data from last year showed that Chinese consumers were increasingly buying the e-readers from overseas markets, he added.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets could also sell well in the country, Natkin said. Apple currently dominates the nation’s tablet sector, but the company largely focuses on the higher-end market. Amazon’s Kindle Fire products, which start at $159, could appeal to many consumers wanting a lower-priced device from a well-known brand, he added.
Lenovo became the country’s second-largest tablet vendor after Apple, with a 14% market share, by its focus on budget tablets, according to analysts.
Though a big name in the U.S., Amazon is, however, a small player in China’s e-commerce market. It faces fierce competition from the local rivals, including Alibaba Group’s Taobao sites and 360buy, another major online shopping mall. Both Taobao and 360buy also sell e-books.
China’s market is also already saturated with local app stores, some of which are operated by handset makers and telecom operators. Amazon’s new Chinese app store has been designed to include more local products. Software from Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo and video-sharing hub Youku Tudou are listed, but U.S. apps including Netflix and Twitter are not.
The Pentagon has cleared BlackBerry and Samsung mobile devices for use on Defense Department networks, a step toward broadening the military’s variety of technology equipment makers while still ensuring communications security.
Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department cleared the use of BlackBerry 10 smart phones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets using its Enterprise Service 10 system, as well as Samsung’s Android Knox.
“This is a significant step towards establishing a multi-vendor environment that supports a variety of state-of-the-art devices and operating systems,” Pickart said in a statement.
The Pentagon said last Wednesday it also expected to clear Apple mobile devices using the iOS 6 system at some point in early May.
The move to open up Defense Department networks is expected to set the stage for an intensified struggle for Pentagon customers among BlackBerry devices, Apple’s iPhones or iPads and units using Google’s Android platform such as Samsung Electronics’ phones.
The Pentagon currently has some 600,000 users of smart phones, computer tablets and other mobile devices. The department has 470,000 BlackBerry users, 41,000 Apple users and 8,700 people with Android devices. Most Apple and Android systems are in pilot or test programs.
The move to open up the networks to a broader array of mobile devices is part of a Pentagon effort to ensure the military has access to the latest communications technology without locking itself in to a particular equipment vendor.
To ensure security, mobile devices and operating systems go through a security review process approved by the Defense Information Systems Agency. Once their Security Technical Implementation Guide – or STIG – is reviewed and approved, the devices can be used on the network.
Revenue for the social networking company increased to $1.46 billion for the quarter ended March 31, up 38% from $1.06 billion from the same period last year.
The company’s advertising revenue was $1.25 billion, representing 85% of Facebook’s total sales and a 43% increase from 2012′s first quarter, the company said. Mobile advertising revenue constituted 30% of the company’s total ad revenue.
Facebook posted net income of $219 million for the quarter, up 7% from the year-ago quarter. The company’s net earnings per share were 9 cents, less than the consensus expectations of 13 cents in a poll of analysts by Thomson Financial.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in the first few months of the year,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings announcement, also citing “strong growth and engagement across our community.”
Facebook’s daily active users were 665 million for the quarter, 26% more than last year. Monthly active users increased by 23% to 1.11 billion, the company said.
On mobile, monthly active users increased by 54% to 751 million. Facebook did not disclose numbers for mobile daily active users.
The mobile ad revenue gains Facebook reported Wednesday were on par with the gains it reported in 2012′s fourth quarter, when its mobile ad revenue as a percentage of total ad revenue jumped from 14% in the third quarter to 23% in the fourth quarter.
Monetizing its services on mobile devices as more users migrate away from the desktop and onto their smartphone and tablets is one of Facebook’s biggest challenges today.