Henry Mance

Henry Mance is a companies reporter, covering UK technology.

Which is better value: Netflix or the BBC?

Some TV viewers – especially younger ones – seem to think the answer is Netflix. It has cool new shows, including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. And a subscription costs UK viewers roughly half as much as the BBC – £6.99 a month, compared to the BBC’s licence fee, which works out at £12 a month.

But the BBC wants to knock down the Netflix-mania, at least when it comes to drama. Read more

For the past year, new internet subscribers in the UK have had to make an “unavoidable choice”.

No, it’s not whether to pay for speeds of 152Mb per second, or whether to subscribe to Premiership football. It’s whether to turn on a “family-friendly network filter”, affectionately known as porn blockers.

And what did Brits decide? Read more

The BBC thinks its iPlayer service is “the best online television service in the world” – a platform so good that it’s the envy of Silicon Valley. So will Apple and Google be impressed by the platform’s latest redesign, unveiled in London on Tuesday?

This is a crucial time for the iPlayer: it will soon become the only home of BBC Three, the off-beat channel which is being taken off air to save costs. Tony Hall, the BBC’s director-general, wants the platform to be the “front door” to all the broadcaster’s content.

So what’s on offer in the new version? Read more

Almost five years after launching, crowd-funding platform Kickstarter has received pledges worth $1bn. Half of the money has apparently been in the past twelve months (see chart below).

If Kickstarter were a venture fund, it would be a fairly significant player. So how exactly has humanity been enriched, for its money? Read more

Some newspapers hate Google, so trust the Economist to be contrary and hire its executive chairman.

The Economist Group said that Eric Schmidt (pictured) had joined its board for a three-year term.

Schmidt is, of course, only the latest internet evangelist to get his hands grubby with news. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos paid $250m to buy the Washington Post, while eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar is investing a similar amount in an investigative outlet to be fronted by Glenn GreenwaldRead more

China’s biggest ecommerce company, Alibaba, has joined the growing enthusiasm for cloud storage applications, buying Kanbox for an undisclosed amount.

Kanbox offers free storage for documents, photos and other files, bringing Alibaba into competition with other Chinese heavyweights Tencent and Baidu, which offer similar services. The company raised $20m in Series B funding two years ago, so the acquisition value is likely to have been several hundred million dollars. Read more

If you’re wondering why Jack Dorsey’s payments company Square hasn’t launched in Europe, here’s one possible answer. The market is just too competitive.

Already several European companies do what Square does – allowing small businesses to process card payments without a monthly contract. They are now engaging in a price war, ripping up the 2.75 per cent transaction fee that Square made standard. Read more

Every six months Mediacom, the media buying agency, surveys 1,000 kids in the UK and asks the name of their favourite website. The big story over recent years has been the decline of Facebook.

In 2010 nearly half of kids (aged 8-16) said it was their favourite site – now that number is just one in six. The top performer is YouTube, which is quoted as the favourite of more kids than Facebook and Twitter combined (see graph below).

That’s interesting for a couple of reasons. Read more

Ever since Apple launched the iPhone 5S with a fingerprint scanner, hackers have been trying to embarrass the company by circumventing it. Now a German group says it has succeeded – by making a copy of person’s fingerprint and using it to unlock the handset.

This trick is less ludicrous than the idea that thieves might chop off people’s fingers to unlock their iPhones (a new definition of computer hacking). But is it a serious blow to Apple’s foray into biometrics?

The Chaos Computer Club posted a video in which a person’s fingerprint on a glass surface is photographed, then printed out onto a thin film used to make a fake finger, which can unlock the phone. Read more

So sales of tablets will soon overtake those of PCs, according to the new figures from IDC. But one mobile device that isn’t surging is the ereader.

Sales of ereaders, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, seemed to have peaked – with sales currently declining faster than even those of PCs. Only 16m ereaders will be sold this year, Gartner estimates, down from 24m in 2011 and 18m in 2012. Gartner cut its forecasts for future shipments by nearly half earlier this year.

Ereaders face two big problems. Read more