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Baidu-droid; Samsung ‘no to WebOS’; Amazon Kindle tablet; Apple iCloud design - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Welcome back if this is your first week in the office after the summer holidays - here are the top two Key Telco 2.0 items to note. 1. This week is your last chance to input to our Apple, Google, Facebook, Skype and Amazon research. We’ll send you the survey results and a special deal on the report when it’s out if you do. 2. Book up now for our next Brainstorms in New York (5th-6th October) and London (9th-10th November) run in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Speakers and registrants so far are top-notch, so don’t miss out.]

We’ve been talking about the possibility of a “ForkDroid” - a parallel development path to Android, using its open-source components but replacing the Google-specific apps and services - for a while. Now it’s here - Baidu has its own Android-clone. In some ways this isn’t really surprising as Baidu occupies the same industry niche as Google - a search engine that branched out into advertising, maps, mobile, e-mail, social networks, etc. and eventually got its own Linux-based mobile OS.

In a sense, the Baidu (aka ‘The Great Firewall’) should be considered more as a customs barrier than anything else - a subsidy to China’s internal Web industry funded by a tax on foreign competitors. In general, more task-specific or forked ‘Droids should be expected.

Elsewhere, Samsung vigorously denied that it had any intention of buying WebOS off HP or of producing licenced WebOS devices although, as Horace points out, this would be about the first mobile platform Samsung hasn’t made a phone for. He has some interesting thoughts about what they may be up to, as well.

A German court tied up Samsung tablets, again, in a patent dispute with Apple. Meanwhile, Apple claimed it really invented Android and Openwave claimed it invented software updates and offline e-mail. We wonder if it’s fun being a patent lawyer?

More reaction to the BlackBerry Bold 9900 - the New York Times thinks it’s great but complains that it’s not an Apple product (we paraphrase - a little). Perhaps they have a point, as RIM has been losing users in North America since October, 2010, although their problems look nowhere near as bad as Microsoft’s.

Speaking of Microsoft, Phone Scoop has a review of HTC’s two new WP7.5/”Mango” phones here. They look, well, very much like all the WP7 previews, and come with HTC’s usual top-of-the-line hardware specification.

In Uganda, meanwhile, you can expect to pay $230 for a real Nokia E71 and $50 for a fake. If we hadn’t dropped ours we’d probably still have an E71…and still be cursing at the horror of trying to package a Python for S60 script into a signed .sisx on a linux machine.

Finally, in the future, everything turns out to be based on Unix.

TechCrunch has met the planned Amazon Kindle tablet, and reports that it’s a charming 7” Android tab with a heavily “Amazon-ised” UI. However, it seems to be a conventional device which doesn’t make use of the revolutionary e-ink screen found on the Kindle. And it will come with Amazon Prime streaming. Meanwhile, Reuters reports, Amazon is redesigning Amazon.com extensively.

TechCrunch’s sarcastic editor Michael Arrington is on the move - he’s launching a VC fund of his own with $10m from TechCrunch’s owner AOL and the same again from a group of other VCers. Blogger Granted Operational Responsibility: what could possibly go wrong?

On the other hand, the Nokia EVP who gave us Ovi and Comes With Music and also this is off to run a Nokia-financed investment fund, “Vision+”. We’ll be fascinated to see how ‘CrunchFund’ does vs. ‘NokFund’.

Over at Apple, we’ve got some more clarity, although only just a bit more, about how iCloud will work. Peter Kafka at AllThingsD reports that Apple is going to stick with its successful model of storing content on your local hard disk, rather than putting everything in the cloud and hoping you don’t need to listen to it on the Tube. Specifically, if you select something that isn’t already in your local library, it gets downloaded and synced to your other devices, although you can listen or watch while this happens.

After all, Apple invented their own progressive-download protocol (HTTP Live Streaming), and one imagines they did so for a reason. If you HLS-stream something you must end up with a complete copy of it unless you explicitly throw the chunks away as they arrive. This probably also sheds some light on the de-duplication issue.

Further, it’s been confirmed that the iCloud backend is a mix of Amazon Web Services EC2 and Microsoft Azure.

V3.co.uk reviews the iPad against the MacBook Air 11” and concludes that the Mac is better. Horace, king of the Apple bulls, concludes that the real reason the shares aren’t higher is that everyone’s expecting another stock market crash.

AllThingsD interviews VZW’s CTO about launching iPhones, LTE deployment, and more. Notably, Verizon is planning to launch LTE roaming with China Mobile and Vodafone. Dan Rayburn tests out Slingbox streaming over the LTE network and reports that it works.

With all this stuff flying around, CDNs will be more important than ever. EyeWonder is up for sale, as its owner Limelight Networks clears the decks for the impending merger with Level(3).

Elsewhere, Dealbook covers some interesting details about the US government’s intervention to block the AT&T-T-Mobile deal. Reuters reports that it’s not guaranteed that the $6bn break clause will be payable if the regulators kill the deal. The Onion nicely summarises the objections to the merger:

It really wouldn’t be fair to the competition if AT&T had cell phones and cell phone reception.

Reliance Comms is going to restructure. Belgacom and KPN might merge.

It turns out that enormous Spanish bank Santander bought a huge pile of data on Telefonica’s 190 million Latin American customers back in 2009 for $54m. We told you it was valuable!

A paper in PLoS Medicine reports that it was possible to monitor a cholera outbreak in Haiti after the earthquake in near real-time by analysing GSM network information provided by Digicel.

China tried to force everyone to register their prepaid phones, but nobody took a blind bit of notice and apparently you can get one anywhere using the universal language of money.

Meet Tellapart, an Amazon AWS-powered customer data analytics startup that bids automatically for Google Ads based on its assessments and gets paid in much the same way Google does.

British Gas opened the kimono on their smart meter plans. Apparently the M2M device will have two radios, a GSM/GPRS unit provisioned on Vodafone’s network for wide-area connectivity and a ZigBee low-power radio to let other appliances communicate with it locally. Interestingly, some M2M systems broke down around Heathrow Airport last winter when the snow caused thousands of delayed travellers to flood the network - voice and SMS having priority, the M2M devices just had to wait.

Nokia thinks NFC will be useful beyond mobile payments, for the same sort of things Bluetooth was meant to do.

T-Mobile UK’s head of technology strategy is interviewed by Telecoms.com. At the same time there’s a much less rosy open letter to Olaf Swantee by an anonymous EverythingEverywhere exec.

White-space spectrum may soon be available in the UK. OFCOM is planning to issue a regulation regarding it fairly soon. Virgin Media’s business division has snagged the MBNL backhaul contract from BT. GigaOm talks to a FTTH operator.

Canadian cableco Shaw Communications is going to rely on carrier WLAN for its mobile service rather than building any cellular infrastructure. NSN claims signalling won’t be a problem in LTE. 3UK CEO Kevin Russell is concerned about spectrum auctions.

In more broadband news, Google and a team of DNS and CDN operators have announced an initiative to provide for standardised global DNS-based load balancing and therefore, faster Web sites. There is already code (a patched version of the familiar BIND name server) and a draft is before the IETF.

Akamai is such a hell of a CDN that the Israeli government is trying to recruit spies inside it. Other vendors are spying on everyone else.

Up in the cloud, Salesforce.com announced the launch of Database.com, a full-featured enterprise database in the cloud. ZDNet points out that one company that deployed Salesforce Chatter turned it off again because it was just too chatty.

Netflix cloudmeister Adrian Cockcroft has a fascinating blog post on the whys, wherefores, and problems of the cloud.

Cisco, VMWare, and others are working on an IETF draft to standardise ways of creating software-defined Layer 2 networks over the Internet. I/O presents its impressively spaceshippy data centre management package.

Google, however, is facing a developer exodus after changing the pricing structure of Google App Engine. GAE users typically paid for units of CPU time, but now the key billing item is the time used on “front-end instances”, which means that a lot of relatively resource-light applications are suddenly much more expensive to run.

It turns out that GAE creates more instances of your app dynamically, whenever the average latency of requests to it goes up (in a sense, Google’s shifted from billing for CPU to billing for RAM and management network overhead). Also, Google has started to charge heavily for reads against the Datastore, the big key-value database GAE apps use.

The upshot is here and here - it looks like a pro-tip is to avoid doing limit or offset queries, as they touch all the records in the database, even the ones the limit or offset excludes. Another response is here.

Those of us who remember f*ckedcompany.com, the snarkiest website of the .com boom years, were delighted to see that its founder is on High Scalability. Follow up on Hacker News.

Beware Facebook Pages - a hacker who gets access to the controls can delete the original admin and there is no way to reclaim the page.

Unexpected IMS market leader Genband announced the winners of a voice apps contest. HOWTO use Phono and XMPP to sync a web page with an IVR process. Hack FreePBX to link specific outbound trunks to specific extensions. A new ATA for Skype. 46Elks - like Tropo or Twilio, but Swedish. Developing world users think it’s good to talk. Virgin Media’s call centre lets you choose your music on hold, but will they tell you the wait time or schedule a call-back?

The Register gets hacked. HP reissues the 12e and 15e pocket calculators. The European Commission has 15 business IT functions and 2,498 systems. How much does cheap hardware cost your business? Securityfail at Flickr. Generate secure and memorable passphrases. Get Sina Weibo on your phone or possibly don’t.

Re-builder of COLOSSUS, Tony Sale, dies.

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