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Amazon Kindle tablet-fest, Akamai update - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Many of us are in New York this week for the Americas Brainstorm, so we hope we’ll see you there or at the London Brainstorm (9th-10th November). Also, our Strategy report on ‘Dealing with the Disruptors’ - Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft/Skype, and Amazon will be out in the next couple of weeks - see here or email contact@telco2.net or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003 for more.]

Speaking of Amazon, its new Kindles were out this week, and everyone was fascinated by the Kindle Fire, a 7” tablet based on yet another fork of Android, designed specifically as a content-consumer device (not much local storage, no cameras). There was also a rumour about Amazon buying WebOS off HP, but as usual no substance to it as yet.

Amazon fire image oct 2011.jpg

iSuppli estimates that the devices cost $209 to make, and that therefore Amazon is selling them as a loss leader on the razor-and-blades model. The devices come with Amazon’s own web browser, Silk, which talks to an accelerator/prefetch reverse proxy in the cloud. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s what Opera Mini has done for years.

Horace Dediu argues that subsidised devices eventually stagnate, but it’s worth pointing out that the Kindle line of devices, which will carry on, are designed for a specific purpose and don’t have any ambition to be PCs. The Monday Note discusses pricing and content rights.

Amazon Web Services, meanwhile, announced more features for CloudFormation (including the ability to reference other templates inside a CF template), and also deployed CloudFront CDN and Route 53 DNS servers in Brazil, opening their first location in Latin America. Reuters, meanwhile, reports on problems with Foxconn’s effort to build iPads in Brazil.

Up in the cloud, Oracle was having its annual OpenWorld and JavaOne shindigs this week and Larry Ellison took the opportunity to announce a new line of specialised servers dedicated to cloud-based data analytics. Some other businesses are also taking the opportunities the Oracle-fest provides.

Elsewhere, ReadWriteWeb has an interview with the founder of the OpenStack cloud OS about managing enormous open-source projects, which includes a link to this four-year struggle to fix a minor bug in Mozilla Firefox.

Google announced a commercial version of Google Analytics for enterprises, priced at $150,000 a year at a flat rate. They also announced a huge new data centre in Ireland. Data Centre Knowledge reports that telcos are buying data centres at a fierce pace.

And Google apparently intend to do more experiments on their users. There’s a reassuring statement for you.

Eric Schmidt, meanwhile, said that patents weren’t the main reason for the Motorola Mobility acquisition, but then spent the rest of his interview with Bloomberg talking about them. He also promised not to “play favourites” among the Android manufacturers.

The latest twist in the Yahoo! saga - Jack Ma of Alibaba.com has changed his mind. Rather than Yahoo! buying him out, he’s now considering buying Yahoo! Will any regulators be concerned about the thought of all Yahoo!’s data on its customers belonging to a Chinese company? For a while this week, DNS queries to the F root were passing through the Great Firewall from outside China after a BGP routing leak caused its Beijing anycast node to be announced to all Hurricane Electric’s peers - or in other words, the whole of the IPv6 Internet.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union launched a coordinated campaign of requests under the Freedom of Information Act to determine exactly what mobile subscriber data was being kept by whom and who could read it. Interestingly, AT&T keeps the content of text messages for five years. And T-Mobile USA’s good reputation about these issues appears to hold up.

Oh dear: hackers discover a massive security fail in HTC Android devices. So HTC decided to implement its own logging feature on its devices, presumably in order to help debug its Sense UI. Unfortunately, it turns out that any app that has the Internet permission - i.e. anything that ever needs to go online for whatever reason - can read out the logged data, including the full Linux system logs, the metadata and content of SMS and MMS, user account status, the call log, recent locations, and an enormous quantity of app-level information that would probably permit a malicious app to get at, for example, e-mail. For example, an exploit of this vulnerability would have access to the e-mail sync log and also to the file system.

And, of course, if you have the Internet permission set you can go online, so they could send the collected data home, and receive data from elsewhere and insert it. Worse, HTC also helpfully shipped a VNC remote desktop server with the devices, which now looks like a gun waiting to go off. The best advice for those affected is either to get root access to the device and then delete the file /system/app/HtcLoggers.apk, or else to install an unofficial Android ROM like CyanogenMod over the original firmware.

That said, do you want to have an open mailbox on your phone for NFC devices to leave things in? Neither do we, but just in case, here’s a standard for so doing, from the NFC forum. If you feel like experimenting, Nokia will sell you a C6 phone and a variety of NFC devices for €180, or about half the price of the phone. In other Nokia news, Computer Weekly gives the E6 a mixed review and fears they won’t be around in 10 years. WinRumours has details of the first three Winokias and the Nokia Maps app for MS Windows Phone.

Wired fisks a piece by the author of a book called Buyology that claims to have identified the desire for iPhones on functional-MRI brain imaging scans. On the other hand, Horace compares the iProducts with Microsoft and points out that, well, they’re going places Redmond just isn’t. (Oh, and iTunes exists to sell hardware, but we knew that.) Also, IBM pulls ahead of Microsoft for the first time since 1996.

RIM cut the price of the PlayBook by 40% this week and vigorously denied that it was planning to scrap it. It would be tough, anyway, as the PlayBook has to struggle on at least until the first lot of QNX BlackBerry devices launch in order to support the OS and developer platform.

Speaking of RIM’s developer platform, it has a new boss, longstanding Telco 2.0 ally, Calliflower inventor, and voice-head Alec Saunders! He’s taking up a new role as VP of developer relations and ecosystem development, and he seems to be talking a lot about HTML5. Isn’t everyone these days?

Elsewhere, the Linux Foundation has basically killed off MeeGo, if it needed any more killing, in favour of a new project with Intel called Tizen, which focuses on supporting a common HTML5 app environment.

Dale Lane blogs about his first app with BlueVia. The experience was positive.

iDate reports that FTTH deployment rose 24% in Europe this year, with the leader being…Russia. You may not be allowed to do what you want on the Internet, but you can surely do it fast! Of course, this is explained by a combination of cheap labour, aerial plant, and starting from scratch.

Is Akamai under pressure? Dan Rayburn at Streamingmedia.com argues the CDN market leader is in trouble, pointing to increasingly successful competition in both the pure delivery and the media-services elements of the business, growing interest from telcos in creating their own CDNs, and the fact that it’s been a long time since Akamai’s last product iteration. Notably, their competitors seem to be making progress in mobile and in applications acceleration. [Ed. We’ve also just published new research on CDNs 2.0: should telcos compete with Akamai?.]

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 games consoles will soon be getting streaming TV, if you’re a Comcast or Verizon subscriber. It’s worth noting that these two operators have in common that they both control a fatter pipe than DSL - Comcast has DOCSIS cable and Verizon its GPON fibre network - and that TV is already a big line of business for them. That said, they’ll also need a more-than-decent CDN unless MS is thinking of doing something cunning with cable broadcast or RF-over-glass - which would require a significant hardware upgrade. So you might as well look out for a big CDN RFP coming up.

Swindon, meanwhile, is getting a 3.4GHz LTE network from UK Broadband. We’re not sure what for, but the council seems very keen. In France, the first 2.6GHz band auction raised a little under €1bn. Later this year, the second phase will sell the 800MHz band.

Brough Turner points out that only 192MHz of the 538 allocated for mobile service in the US is in use.

This is cunning - China Unicom has invented a sticker containing a chip that wraps round a SIM or Micro SIM card, intercepting device-SIM communication, so that the device uses their 3G network for data service but falls back to China Mobile’s GSM network for voice and messaging and for back-up. Users have to have their calls redirected to their China Unicom number to make sure they get through, and presumably to make sure Unicom doesn’t miss out on the termination money. Essentially, it’s a cunning way of making a 3G iPhone work properly in a market where the exclusive Apple partner doesn’t have a UMTS network any more. More here.

BitTorrent.com CEO Eric Klinker criticises the Australian rightsholder lobby for suing iiNet because they’re not Telstra. Or Vodafone-Hutchison. Or SingTel, or indeed any giant telco with hordes of lobbyists.

Here’s an M2M opportunity for British operators. The government wants to hugely increase the number of criminals sentenced to electronic tagging. Presumably they don’t want a repeat of the incident in 2004 where a young offender with a landline-dependent tag disabled the phone line, went out, and robbed a jeweller’s shop.

Voice-analytics team Freespee have signed up a web application provider for car dealers as a channel partner. Robert Scoble hits “like” on Google +, or shouldn’t that be “+1”? Vibe, the anonymous group messaging app and new street fighter’s favourite after the summer of BlackBerry Messenger-mediated rage. New MySpace owners to announce strategy beyond “sell shares to Justin Timberlake”. ADP, the dullest and most important cloud in the world.

And finally, is this the worst idea ever?

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