Short Takes: June 7, 2013

Short Takes: June 7, 2013

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

Back from New Orleans, but No Rest for the Wicked

I flew home from New Orleans yesterday after a week at Microsoft TechEd, which was frankly one of the better and busier trade shows I’ve attended in quite a while. If you’ve not done so, please check out my overviews "Cloud OS v. Next" and "TechEd 2013: Microsoft Details Cloud-First Strategy for the Enterprise" for information about where things are headed. (Also, check out the winners of the annual Best of TechEd awards contest.) I’ll be writing previews for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 Essentials before the end of the weekend on the SuperSite for Windows, and of course other related follow-ups as the code for these and other products and services is released.

Another Take on Windows Phone’s Future Successes

Last year, IDC and a few lesser tech analyst businesses got in a bit of hot water when they predicted that Windows Phone market share would surpass that of the iPhone by 2017. It seemed like a ludicrous claim, given Windows Phone’s relatively tiny sales figures, and the trends since then haven’t exactly changed much. But this week, Kantar Worldpanel claimed that Windows Phone jumped to 5.6 percent market share in the United States in April—up dramatically from 3.2 percent in April. And a separate firm, Canalys, now says that Windows Phone will snag almost 13 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments by 2017, barely below Apple’s 14 percent share. (Android will of course still be number one, with an unchanged 67 percent of the market, Canalys says.) Why all the euphoria? Alhough Nokia is currently the number-one Windows Phone vendor by far, it is in fact the Chinese that will put Windows Phone over the top (or, at least up significantly). “The Chinese vendors are best placed to challenge Samsung's market dominance,” Canalys notes. “Lenovo, Huawei, and ZTE.” Although the latter two already make Windows Phone handsets, Lenovo currently backs Android. If that changes—it will soon be the biggest PC maker and thus the biggest Microsoft partner, so it’s possible—Windows Phone could surge. Make it so, Lenovo. Make it so.

Report: NSA Is Mining Data from Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Others Without Their Knowledge

A joint report by The Washington Post and The Guardian claims that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has secretly established back-door access to systems maintained by the world’s leading tech giants—Google, Microsoft, and the like—and is monitoring what people are saying and doing online. There’s been a lot of obvious privacy complaining, as expected, and of course all of the firms involved claim to have absolutely zero knowledge of this activity, which means either it’s not happening or they're all willing participants. The program, called PRISM, provides the government’s most secretive agency with “direct access from the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, [and] Apple.” But the “people” that the NSA is monitoring are, I think, at the crux of this issue. That is, if the NSA is monitoring so-called foreign nationals (i.e., terrorists and others working against the USA) by hacking (or knowingly accessing) the US-based servers of tech firms … so what? Isn’t that what we want our government doing? Isn’t that, in fact, what we expect to be its most basic of responsibilities: protecting the citizens of the United States? I suspect a lot more information about PRISM will arrive in the coming days. But as of now, nothing to see here, folks.

Samsung Shares Tank Amidst Worries that Galaxy S4 Sales Are Slowing

In the wake of its record-setting launch of the Galaxy S4 “hero” smartphone, Samsung has been introducing a series of lesser S4-branded phones, including a mini version of the device that is quite inexpensive. So, as you would expect in such cases, sales of the super-expensive S4 have slowed post-launch while sales of the low- and mid-level new phones have increased. But since these less expensive new phones are less profitable for the firm, analysts are freaking out that Samsung is leaving money on the table. “As the portion of low- to mid-range handsets is expected to increase in Samsung's overall mobile phone business, this has also sparked concerns about thinning margins and lower growth,” analyst Kim “Captain Obvious” Young-chan noted this week in a widely circulated quote. Anyway, as noted, all as expected. But this little analyst concern triggered a 6 percent drop in Samsung’s stock price, shedding $12 billion in value from the company. Not quite an Apple-level drop—not yet. But it's concerning, given that this information isn’t even “news,” it’s just obvious and expected. Then again, so was the Apple stuff.

If You Thought Google’s Privacy Invasions Were Disgusting, Wait Until You See the Movie

You might have seen the TV advertisements for the movie The Internship, which teams Wedding Crashers co-stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson again in another presumably hilarious, feel-good buddy comedy. And you might have noted that this movie takes place at Google, and that given that, Google presumably OK’d this filming. That’s not what this movie is. The Internship, in fact, is nothing short of a 90-minute advertisement for Google, an unprecedented bit of in-movie product placement that makes previous efforts look quaint by comparison. Taken with the not-coincidental release of Google Chairman Eric “Evil Boy” Schmidt’s book, The New Digital Age, this movie can and should be seen as exactly what it is: a crass attempt to establish the online advertising firm as some kind of religious and moral center that all logical people must follow. In short, this whole thing is disgusting, and as reviews in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have thankfully pointed out, so bald-faced as to be laughable (unlike the movie, which is apparently otherwise terrible). I miss the good old days when these kinds of movies were just about Scientology. In fact, I’d almost like Google more if there could somehow be aliens involved in the backstory.

OK, One More Rant

So if you were to go to the YouTube website and skip past the huge The Internship advertisement at the top of the site and then search for the official The Internship trailer, here’s what you’d get: a non-skippable 15-second video commercial that you’re forced to watch before you can watch the Internship trailer, which, again, is an advertisement for what is really a 90-minute advertisement for Google. So there’s four ads right there. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with the real Google. Disgusted yet?

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. And check out my free e-books, Paul Thurrott’s Guide to Windows Phone 8 (currently in progress) and Paul Thurrott’s Guide to Xbox Music!

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