The app lets users see who’s online for a private or group chat, and lets them decorate messages with pictures and stickers. Users can also share their location, and contacts are automatically added to the app.
For now, some features available on the Android and iOS versions — such as the ability to record messages and send photos privately — are missing on the Windows Phone app. The pop-up chat heads Facebook has implemented on Android are also missing.
The availability of apps on Windows Phone has been a problem for Microsoft when competing with Apple’s iPhones and the Android camp. At an event in conjunction with Mobile World Congress, Joe Belfiore, who runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, highlighted recent additions such as Instagram, Vine, Waze and Mint.
The arrival of these apps is more than a coincidence: It’s a result of Microsoft working with third party app developers and slowly growing phone sales, according to Paolo Pescatore, director of apps and media at market research company CCS Insight.
“They are very much needed. Microsoft has been trying to bridge the gap with iOS and Android, but frankly the rate of development hasn’t been as fast as it should have been,” Pescatore said.
The company still needs to convince or help developers of many local video and entertainment apps to create Windows Phone versions, according to Pescatore. For that to happen, Microsoft and its partners need to sell more phones, he said.
The Mobile World Congress event also detailed the company’s plans to make Windows Phone a better fit for low-end smartphones and presented new hardware partners, including Foxconn, Karbonn, Lenovo, LG Electronics and ZTE. With Microsoft soon closing its acquisition of Nokia’s handset division, Windows Phone is at a critical juncture.
Analysts speculate that Facebook may want to use the drones to bring Internet connectivity to the two-thirds of the world that are not connected.
The social networking company is reportedly paying $60 million for Titan Aerospace, according to TechCrunch, which cited unnamed sources.
Neither Titan Aerospace nor Facebook responded to requests for confirmation.
The aerospace company builds light-weight, high-flying drones that can take off at 20 mph and remain aloft for five years. The company’s Solara 50 drone, for instance, can fly as high as 65,000 feet above Earth.
“Drones are the latest rage with tech companies these days,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “Amazon, Google and Facebook, plus a whole lot more seem to be looking for ways they can shoehorn drones into their business plans. And what young geek didn’t dream of having a remote control flying machine that could do anything they wanted it to do?”
But could Facebook use these drones to bring Internet connectivity to remote areas? Sure, but it’s not the only way they could go about it.
Last June, Google’s research arm, Google X, announced that it was working on affordable Internet connectivity through the use of a fleet of high-altitude balloons. The company tested its plan by launching 30 balloons that flew twice as high as commercial airplanes with 50 users trying to connect to the Internet from below.
Amazon.com had another use for drones, and in December announced plans to use the machines to deliver merchandise to customers. Possibly taking a page from Domino’s old promise of delivering pizzas in 30 minutes or less, Amazon said with drones, some customers could get their purchases within half an hour.
“Could drones be the way to provide net connections in Third World countries?” asked Olds. “Yeah, maybe, but wouldn’t a set of non-sexy, long-range cell towers or low-power, cost-optimized microwave repeaters be a better solution? Sure, there are some drawbacks to physical infrastructure on the ground, but they can be worked around.”
He reiterated that drones simply are the cool new tech tool. How could a tech company with very deep pockets resist?
The site, which enables strangers to meet for shared-interest activities ranging from parents’ groups to software development, was back online but still being attacked , Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman told Reuters.
Meetup has refused to pay the small ransom as it believes doing so would make the perpetrators of the attacks demand more money.
“It’s a cat and mouse game,” Heiferman said, adding he was not yet sure how long it would take to keep the site reliably online.
A Meetup blog had earlier said the company was a victim of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) campaign, a type of attack that knocks websites offline by overwhelming them with incoming traffic. It said that no personal data, including credit card information, had been accessed.
Heiferman said he was open to the possibility of some financial relief for members who pay between $12 and $17 a month to organize Meetup groups in their geographic and thematic areas of interest. He said his first priority was to resume the service of creating communities wholly via an Internet connection.
“we’re going to come out of this much stronger. And I don’t mean that as just a trite euphemism, I mean it literally. Like, we are going to be much more secure,” he said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating the attack since late last week when the assumed criminal group first offered to withhold it if Meetup paid $300.
The attack was the first in the site’s 12-year history, and Heiferman defended the move not to pay the paltry ransom.
“We made a decision not to negotiate with criminals,” he said in the post. “Payment could make us (and all well-meaning organizations like us) a target for further extortion demands as word spread in the criminal world.”
Meetup has almost 17 million members and, when online, was signing up between 15,000 and 20,000 people every day.
The site represents a soft target for online criminals, who often attempt to extort companies in return for calling off DDoS attacks, said Kevin Johnson, chief executive of cybersecurity consultancy Secure Ideas.
“It’s very common for this sort of attack to start off with a small demand,” Johnson said. “It’s not like Meetup can write a check for a million dollars.”
Heiferman’s blog post said the site should be able to protect itself over time, even though it has struggled to stay online since the attacks began on Thursday morning. He said Meetup spent millions of dollars a year to secure its systems.
The Meetup site and related mobile apps have been intermittently unavailable since Thursday.
In what may be one of Facebook’s first failures, the social media giant said that it has begun notifying email users that the service is ending.
The service will be shut down and users’ emails will be redirected to their alternate email address by early to mid-March.
Facebook had a simple problem with its email service: Not enough people were using it. The company did not respond to a question on how many people use the email service.
“This reminds me of that old saw about a tree falling in the forest,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “If a tech service that no one knows about goes away, does it make a noise? In this case, not much of one, no.”
In the fall of 2010, Facebook unveiled what CEO Mark Zuckerberg called a “modern messaging system” — one that encompassed e-mail, instant messages, Facebook messages and SMS. Facebook was looking to move all of these different styles of communication under one social umbrella.
The move gave users a chance to have a facebook.com e-mail address.
Zuckerberg noted at the time that more than 4 billion messages were sent every day on Facebook, with the vast majority of them between two people. He said he started thinking about those numbers after talking with a group of high school students who told him that they rarely used e-mail.
And then come to found out, those students were part of a trend. People didn’t use the email service that Facebook developed to bring them in.
“By the time Facebook became popular, pretty much everyone had email, plus plenty of free email services available,” Olds said. “In fact, I wonder if there are more people still using @AOL.com than currently use @facebook.com.”
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said shutting down the email service is a big failure for Facebook, but it won’t hurt the company because there won’t be many disappointed users.
“If you’re not failing, it means you’re not trying hard enough,” he said, explaining that big, successful companies have to take chances.
Olds agreed that closing down email won’t hurt Facebook.
“You can’t hit home runs, or even singles, every time at bat,” said Olds. “Facebook has definitely struck out when it comes to email services, but that’s OK. It doesn’t really impact any of their other lines of business.”
Still, Verizon has had its own interconnection discussions with Netflix related to increasing the video provider’s traffic speeds on the broadband carrier’s networks, Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said. Following a Sunday announcement that Comcast and Netflix had reached an interconnection deal, McAdam said his company has had similar discussions with the video provider.
The Comcast and Netflix deal shows “the commercial markets can come to agreement on these to make sure the investments keep flowing,” McAdam said.
McAdam addressed the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules during a conference call about the company’s acquisition of Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. The FCC’s move this month to resurrect net neutrality rules should provide “clarity” for the broadband industry, said McAdam, whose company successfully challenged an old version of the regulations in court.
McAdam dismissed concerns that his company would selectively block or slow some Web content. “We make our money by carrying traffic,” he said. “That’s how we make dollars. So to view that we’re going to be advantaging one over the other really is a lot of histrionics, I think, at this point.”
But McAdam suggested that broadband power users should pay extra. “It’s only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the Web healthy,” he said. “That is the most important concept of net neutrality.”
The FCC needs to look at the broad Internet industry, not just broadband providers, when it considers new net neutrality rules, McAdam said. Companies like Netflix, Apple, Microsoft and Google have a role, and “any rules will have to include all of these players,” he said.
McAdam called for the FCC to create “light touch” rules on net neutrality. The FCC needs to consider growing uses of broadband in medicine and other fields, he said. “Everything from health care to telematics to the energy grid need to be balanced with someone who’s trying to watch last year’s episode of [TV show] NCIS,” he said.
McAdam said he’s “encouraged” that the latest FCC effort may bring clarity on net neutrality rules.
The world’s largest messaging service WhatsApp will add voice calls to its product in the second quarter of this year, its CEO Jan Koum said, only a few days after its gigantic $19 billion acquisition by Facebook.
“We are driven by the mission that people should be able to stay in touch anywhere and affordably. Our goal is to be on every mobile phone in the world,” Koum said on Monday, speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Koum also announced a partnership with KPN’s E-Plus under which it will launch a WhatsApp branded mobile service in Germany. “We are working with carriers in established markets to bring value to end users,” he said.
Over 90 million people play Candy Crush Saga every day. Say whatever you like about London- based social game developer King, but its headline game is an unquestionable success. Like many games (most games, perhaps) it iterates upon previously existing formulae rather than being a breakthrough, unseen innovation. Like many games, the real DNA of its success can only be analysed honestly if we first admit that one of the dominant genes involved was luck. Still; 90 million players. About 1.3 per cent of the entire population of the planet try to clear candies and jellies at least once a day. Whether you consider that to be a depressing reflection of the state of humanity or not is entirely subjective; whether you consider it to be a remarkable business success is not. King’s got a touch of magic in its sweet jar.
Now King wants to convert that magic into cold, hard cash, so it’s going to float on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s proposing an initial public offering valued at $500 million, but given that its net income last year was $568 million (on revenues of $1.9 billion), everyone involved will clearly be hoping to make a killing off an early spike in share value.
When any company announces an IPO, it’s reasonable to ask why it’s happening. There are two ways for an entrepreneur to “exit”, cashing in his or her chips on the company that’s been built. One is by being acquired by a bigger firm (like the recent purchase of a major stake in Supercell by Puzzle & Dragons publisher GungHo). The other is an IPO. In both cases, there are two clear reasons for cashing in – the first one, which everyone always claims to be pursuing, is to raise more money to facilitate further growth and make your company bigger and better. The second is shadier but not uncommon. You reckon you’ve taken the business as far as you can – organic growth is looking rocky from here, maybe you sense a change in the market or an oncoming headwind, and you want to grab as much cash as you can while the going is good, before your valuation starts to heavily decline.
“Take the money and run” isn’t an uncommon reason for a sale or an IPO, although none of the parties involved would ever be so gauche as to admit to such a thing. Still, the logic underwriting such a thing is cold and undeniable. If you can sense that your company is facing rocky ground and its valuation has likely peaked, you want to make sure you get as much of a return on your holdings as possible before they become devalued. Laws and rules force lots of disclosure of financial data, of course, so you can’t hide a decline that’s already started – but if your instinct says next year won’t be as good as last year, now’s the right time to sell, and “instinct” doesn’t appear on SEC-mandated documents.
Is King taking the money and running? Yes, I think they are. I think this IPO is actually a little late – it’s going to occur just as King is on a downslope – but it’s far better timed than the easiest comparison, Zynga. Zynga launched on the stock exchange far too late, after it had already become obvious that the company was completely hobbled by the rapid transition from Facebook to smartphones in social gaming. Its IPO was a flop from an investor’s perspective, although plenty of people still made a lot of money from it – it certainly made more money than it would have if they’d waited around until the depths of the company’s troubles became apparent. On its current timeline, King will be IPOing while it’s still within touching distance of Candy Crush Saga’s peak.
“Is King taking the money and running? Yes, I think they are”
I foresee two problems, both of which ought to ring huge alarm bells for investors interested in the company. The first is that Candy Crush Saga’s peak is just that – a monolithic, dramatic peak climbing up out of a landscape of foothills and gentle valleys. There are no other peaks in sight. King’s other games do “okay”, but nearly 80% of its revenue comes from Candy Crush Saga, whose 90 million daily users figure is six times greater than the daily users figure for the firm’s second-place game, Pet Rescue Saga. There is nothing on the horizon which might replace Candy Crush Saga; once you start descending from that peak, the danger is that you end up back in the foothills with no more peaks to ascend. There’s simply no evidence, let alone proof, that King is capable of recreating the lightning-strike success of Candy Crush Saga. Bluntly, I don’t think King believes it can manage that either – because if the firm and its investors genuinely believed that they could repeat the success of Candy Crush, they would IPO after doing so, knowing that a company with a proven ability to turn out enormous hits is vastly, vastly more valuable than a company with one lucky strike and a string of also-rans to its name.
The second problem is Zynga itself. The stock market has already had one market-leading social game company perform absolutely dismally after flotation. Investors now know that this sector, while it’s exciting and interesting and extremely profitable, is also insanely volatile, completely hit- driven and largely subject to the rapidly changing whims of technology. On the surface, the F2P model is far more investor-friendly than the old-fashioned boxed game model, since you actually get a steady revenue stream from your products rather than a single burst of revenue after a couple of years of expensive development. In practice, though, you still need to keep turning out hit titles in order to ensure revenue growth (which is all the stock market gives a damn about). Few studios have shown any capacity for doing that – there are laudable exceptions like Supercell and Nimblebit, but most mobile gaming studios are still dining out on single successes. King has Candy Crush Saga; Rovio has Angry Birds; GungHo has Puzzle & Dragons. None of these companies have managed to create another game as popular as the one that made them famous – lacking a track record, each of them can fairly be considered a one-hit wonder until proven otherwise.
What about recent controversies around King? The company’s aggressive approach to trademarks, its reputed cloning of games and so on have done nothing to endear it to the gaming world and cultivated an atmosphere of negativity around the company. I would caution against reading too much into the likely impact of such stories on an IPO, though. Investors, bluntly, don’t really care if a company stands accused of not being terribly innovative, as long as the results are good. They certainly couldn’t care less about trademark spats with independent developers, I fear. Such issues are important and relevant to those directly involved, but of no consequence to the IPO prospects of a company like King.
What they do, however, is set mood music around the firm. Being seen as a bit ruthless is no bad thing, but I suspect that investors burned by Zynga will be quick to note the parallels between the sort of behaviour of which King stands accused, and the sort of behaviour in which Zynga engaged. The two companies are, in my mind, very similar both in culture and in approach. Neither was founded out of any attachment to games as a medium, a culture or an artform; both are simply entrepreneurial vehicles to exploit a potential market, and as such, it’s to be expected that both would struggle to adapt and succeed at points where they encounter obstacles that can only be surmounted by creativity rather than by management bullet points or business model refinement.
That’s not entirely a criticism, by the way; in a capitalist economy, there’s no sin to creating a business just to exploit a gap in the market. If the market in question happens to be a creative medium, one has to expect significant blowback to this approach. Moreover, there’s a limited lifespan to such a strategy – a company in a creative sector which is not founded on creative principles cannot expect to significantly outlive the market conditions it was originally designed to exploit.
In summary, I find it hard to view King’s IPO as anything more than Zynga 2.0. It is better-timed, certainly, but the companies involved are similar enterprises facing similar challenges – and thus far, demonstrating a similar lack of capacity to overcome them. Zynga is much, much further down the slope from its peak than King, so of course there remains a reasonable possibility that King can surprise us all with a second title on the scale of Candy Crush – and by doing so, establish itself as a genuine leading light of this new market. For all the negativity poured upon the company of late, I honestly hope King can make lightning strike twice for itself. I don’t like Candy Crush Saga personally, but that’s a subjective view – objectively, I cannot find a trace of the supposed immorality, grasping and nastiness of which the game regularly stands accused, and can’t help but recall all the awful stuff of which Flappy Bird also stood wrongly accused when it dared to be a break-out mobile gaming success. King faces problems down the line and I question whether it represents a good investment opportunity for anyone – but should it overcome those issues and prove itself capable of the creativity required to replicate its Candy Crush success, it would be churlish to call that anything other than a fresh triumph for UK game development. Fingers crossed that it happens.
“Member blocking,” was recently released by the professional social networking site after receiving requests from users. The feature adds an additional layer to privacy controls by allowing users to block profiles, direct interactions and network activity from other members with whom they do not wish to interact.
“We built this feature not only because it was a feature our members requested, but because we also knew it was the right thing to do,” said Paul Rockwell, who heads trust and safety at the site, in announcing the tool.
The tool is available in a dropdown menu on the profile page, by clicking on “block or report.” If a user chooses block, then the two members won’t be able to access each other’s profiles or send messages to each other. If the two are already connected, then they won’t be connected anymore if one person blocks the other.
People can view and manage their list of blocked members within a block list in their privacy and settings page.
In addition to blocking, LinkedIn also provides more granular controls to let people customize which elements of their profiles are discoverable by search engines, and who can see updates to their profile, among other settings.
With the tools, LinkedIn aims to cut down on abuse of its site and give its members a new method to prevent themselves from being spammed.
That’s if users know who they should block. LinkedIn already gives members the option to view others’ profiles anonymously. If someone enables this option, then only anonymous details about them show up, like their job title or school, when others check to see who visited their profile.
LinkedIn said that at this time, people can’t block anonymous viewers of their profile.
Facebook Inc’s awe-inspiring $19 billion bid for fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp sent shares of BlackBerry Ltd surging after the closing bell as early as Wednesday, as investors were cheered by the lofty valuation for the messaging platform.
The deal sent shares in BlackBerry up as much as 9 percent in trading after the bell because it put a rough valuation metric around the smartphone maker’s own BlackBerry Messaging service.
BlackBerry Messaging, or BBM as it is more commonly known, was a pioneering mobile-messaging service, but its user base has failed to keep pace with that of WhatsApp, in part because BlackBerry had long refused to open the service to users on other platforms.
WhatsApp, with a user base of some 450 million, has grown rapidly. Its service works on Apple Inc’s iOS platform, Google Inc’s market-dominating Android operating system, along with devices powered by both the Windows and BlackBerry operating systems.
BBM remains popular, even though BlackBerry devices have waned in popularity. Late last year, the Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone maker finally opened the messaging platform to users of iPhones and Android devices, and the service currently has over 80 million active users.
However, investors have attributed little value to the asset within the company. On Tuesday, Raymond James analyst Steven Li, in a note to clients, broke out a sum-of-parts valuation of the company and pegged the value of BBM at merely $240 million, or $3 per user.
Facebook’s valuation of WhatsApp translates into roughly $42 per user, and that could lead investors and analysts to rethink their valuation of the asset within BlackBerry.
BlackBerry has given no indication it is keen to sell the asset. While there has been some speculation that BlackBerry may seek to carve out the unit, or even sell it, the company’s new Chief Executive John Chen has so far said that BBM remains a core asset for the company.
BlackBerry Ltd Chief Executive John Chen directed pointed words at T-Mobile US Inc earlier this week, calling ill-conceived a promotion run by the company that encourages customers using BlackBerry smartphones to upgrade to iPhones.
T-Mobile US, which is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, sent out emails to some of its customers last week, pitching free iPhone 5s and touting the promotion as a, “great offer for BlackBerry customers.”
That sparked a brouhaha in social media forums after some of the telecommunications company’s loyal BlackBerry customers reacted angrily to the offer, which they perceived as a slight.
The backlash prompted T-Mobile US Chief Executive John Legere to respond publicly. In a Twitter posting on Sunday, Legere said T-Mobile would continue to support BlackBerry smartphones and he assured BlackBerry users they do not have to give up their devices or “loyalty.”
In a blog post on Tuesday, BlackBerry CEO Chen slammed the T-Mobile US offer as a, “clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion,” and he thanked BlackBerry users for their loyalty to the company.
“Your partnership with our brand is appreciated by all of us at BlackBerry, and draws a sharp contrast with the behavior of our longtime business partner,” Chen said in the posting, noting that T-Mobile had not discussed its promotion with BlackBerry.
T-Mobile US later said it is happy to work with BlackBerry and will by Friday offer speedy and free shipping of BlackBerry devices to T-Mobile customers who order them.
BlackBerry, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry, has been struggling to claw back market share lost to Apple Inc’s iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy devices, and other smartphones powered by Google Inc’s Android operating system.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s new line of BlackBerry 10 devices has so far failed to win back market share, and Chen is attempting to reshape the company and focus less on the handset segment, and more on the company’s services business.
Chen has stressed, however, that the handset business remains a core component for BlackBerry as the company attempts to engineer a turnaround.
Chen called on T-Mobile US to “find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again.”
“Today we`re announcing that the SlickLogin team is joining Google, a company that shares our core beliefs that logging in should be easy instead of frustrating, and authentication should be effective without getting in the way,” said CEO Or Zelig, Chief Technology Officer Eran Galili and Ori Kabeli, vice president for research and development in a post on the company’s website. The three executives co-founded the company.
Google said in a statement that “the SlickLogin team has shown they can build secure, easy-to-use authentication tools, and we’re excited to welcome them to Google.” The Internet giant declined to comment on the terms of the deal.
Not much is known of the technology developed by SlickLogin in Tel-Aviv, Israel, which hasn’t launched a commercial product. It has been working on making the authentication easier by a process whereby the website plays a uniquely generated, inaudible sound through the user’s computer speakers, according to the Haaretz newspaper in Israel. An app running on the cell phone of the user picks up the sound, analyzes it and sends back a signal confirming it is the authorized user, it added.
“No complex interactions. Just place your phone next to your laptop\tablet and you can login,” SlickLogin said about the technology. The three founders are recent graduates of the cybersecurity unit of the Israel Defense Forces, and have worked for over six years on leading edge of information security projects, according to the company’s website.
Google was the first company to offer two-step verification to everyone for free and is working on “some great ideas that will make the internet safer for everyone,” the founders said in their post. “We couldn`t be more excited to join their efforts.”
Kickstarter, the fundraising website used by millions of people to raise capital for creative projects and businesses, acknowledged that hackers had gained access to some of its customers’ data but that the breach had been repaired.
“No credit card data of any kind was accessed by hackers. There is no evidence of unauthorized activity of any kind on all but two Kickstarter user accounts,” Kickstarter Chief Executive Officer Yancey Strickler said in a blog post on the website. It noted that it does not store credit card data.
Recent data breaches at Target Corp and Neiman Marcus have sparked concern from U.S. lawmakers and consumers over who should bear the cost of consumer losses and how to improve cybersecurity.
Kickstarter’s information that was accessed without authority included user names, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and encrypted passwords, said Kickstarter, which was informed of the breach by law enforcement officials on Wednesday night.
It added that while passwords were not revealed, persons with computer expertise could still decipher encrypted passwords, and recommended users change their passwords as well as those for other sites or accounts for which the users had the same password.
Kickstarter said it had beefed up security in recent days. It also said it was working with law enforcement officials.
Kickstarter launched in 2009 as a conduit for funding of projects ranging from films and stage shows to video games and restaurant launches. Contributors to a project’s launch are often compensated with rewards, discounts, credits or other offers from the projects they help fund.
Since its launch more than 100,000 projects have been funded, with hundreds of millions of dollars pledged.
Online music streaming service Spotify is looking for a U.S. financial reporting specialist, further fueling rumors that the Swedish start-up is preparing for a share listing, which one banker said could value the firm at $8 billion.
Meeting U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) standards for filing financial disclosures are essential for any firm planning to go public and bankers and lawyers said they inferred from the job ad that the company is getting ready for an initial public share offer (IPO), possibly next year.
“It looks like they are preparing themselves for an IPO,” said one corporate finance lawyer, who is not advising the firm.
The job advertisement, posted on Spotify’s website and on LinkedIn, said the successful candidate would be required to “prepare the company for SEC filing standards. Set up all reports necessary to be SEC complaint.”
Spotify declined to comment on whether it has plans for an IPO.
“As Spotify grows and becomes a more mature company we are looking for people who can help us keep our financial reporting in order and up to global standards,” a spokesman said.
Spotify raised $250 million in a funding round in November, making it one of the world’s most richly capitalized start-ups.
One investment banker said that last year’s fundraising meant the company would probably focus on further expansion so that it could go to the market with a flotation next year, by when the company could be valued at as much as $7 billion to $8 billion.
He said it would be advisable to employ expertise in filing the company’s accounts to listing standards well in advance of any flotation.
“They would need such a person, and to make sure that person is settled in, in order for it to be possible to list the company in the United States next year.”
Now shipping estimates for new orders stretched into April in several foreign markets, including China, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K., as first reported by MacGeneration, which is based in France. Soon after, Apple’s U.S. and Canadian online stores followed suit, showing April as the estimated ship date.
Although the Mac Pro — a distinctive-looking black cylinder that’s 10 inches tall and about 7 inches in diameter — went on sale Dec. 19, it almost immediately slipped into back order. The February estimate was later pushed into March before today’s change to April.
The pricey computer starts at $2,999 for the low-end stock configuration and can be tricked out to a top price of $9,599.
At least one analyst predicted that the Mac Pro, while catering to the line’s traditional power users, creative professionals and engineers, would also become a status symbol of sorts for those with the wherewithal to buy one.
The shipping delays continue to hint at low production volumes at the new Apple factory in Austin, Texas, where the computer is assembled. Apple has touted the Mac Pro’s built-in-the-U.S.A. trait, including a rare tweet by CEO Tim Cook at the machine’s launch.
Shortages of the Mac Pro will not materially affect Apple’s bottom line, as the Mac division accounted for just 11% of the company’s revenue for the December quarter. The Mac Pro, while expensive, will make up only a fraction of the unit sales of the line overall, which last quarter reached 4.8 million, the majority of those notebooks from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro families.
But the extended shortages mean that the revenue the Mac Pro produces is being pushed from the current quarter into the calendar’s second. They also are reminiscent of the fiasco Apple created in late 2012 and early 2013, when it announced a redesigned iMac without an inventory even as it pulled the older models from its stores.
The shortages also spurred profit takers to list their new Mac Pro systems on eBay at prices significantly higher than list.
Mac Pro prices on the auction and sales website today were as high as $6,250 for a configuration that Apple sells for $3,999, a 56% markup. Another of the several listings asked $4,499 for a system that runs $2,999 from Apple, a 50% profit for the seller.
According to Jaime Sanchez, the security researcher who discovered the issue, authorization tokens accompanying Snapchat requests from authenticated users don’t expire.
These tokens are generated by the app for every action — like adding friends or sending snaps — in order to avoid sending the password every time. However, since past tokens don’t expire, they can be reused from different devices to send commands through the Snapchat API (application programming interface).
“I’m able to use a custom script I’ve created to send snaps to a list of users from several computers at the same time,” Sanchez said. “That could let an attacker send spam to the 4.6 million leaked account list in less than one hour.”
Hackers exploited a different vulnerability in Snapchat at the beginning of January to extract over 4.6 million phone number and user name pairs from the service. They then posted the list online.
However, in addition to spamming a large number of users, the new issue discovered by Sanchez can also be used to attack a single user by sending him hundreds or thousands of snaps using unexpired tokens.
When this attack is performed against a user who uses Snapchat on an iPhone his device will freeze and the OS will eventually reboot itself, Sanchez said.
The researcher demonstrated the attack against the iPhone of a reporter from the Los Angeles Times with his approval by sending 1,000 messages to the reporter’s Snapchat account within five seconds. A video of the demonstration was also posted on YouTube.
“Launching a denial-of-service attack on Android devices doesn’t cause those smartphones to crash, but it does slow their speed,” Sanchez said. “It also makes it impossible to use the app until the attack has finished.”
There is a limiting factor to this attack: the default privacy setting in Snapchat that only allows accounts in a user’s friends list to send him snaps, meaning the attacker would first have to convince the targeted user to add him as a friend. According to Snapchat’s documentation, sending a snap to a user without being in his list of friends will result in the user receiving a notification so they can add back the sender.
Users who changed their account’s default privacy setting so they can receive snaps from anyone would be directly exposed to the attack described by Sanchez.
Snapchat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.