Henry Mance

Henry Mance is a companies reporter, covering UK technology.

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

Elop (l) and Ballmer in 2011

Why now? The key seems to be Microsoft’s ambition.

Since it joined forces with Nokia in mobiles in 2011, neither company has prospered. Microsoft remains a distant third to Google and Apple in terms of operating systems, while Nokia’s share of the smartphone market has collapsed from 17 per cent in 2011 to 3 per cent in the first half of this year, according to Gartner.

“We know we are number three in the market, we’re not number two or one and we need to accelerate,” Steve Ballmer, chief executive, told the FT’s Richard MilneRead more

According to media reports this week, HTC is developing an operating system for Chinese mobile phone users. The company has now issued a statement – but it makes for a pretty unconvincing denial.

HTC says it is in conversations with the Chinese government and telephone operators. But the troubled Taiwanese company did so, i) without denying the OS exists, and ii) in a way that suggests it isn’t in charge of its own destiny. Read more

From the makers of Candy Crush Saga and Farm Heroes Saga… Court Room Saga!

King, one of the UK’s hottest start-ups, is suing rival 6Waves for allegedly copying two of its games, and has provided screenshots (below) to back up the claim.

6Waves denies the allegations and said it did not copy King’s games.

King’s app offering is highly dependent on a few successful hits and, as the company prepares an IPO in New York, it needs to show potential investors that it is prepared to defend its brands. Read more

Facebook has agreed to pay $20m to settle a class action lawsuit, after it included users’ names and photos in paid advertisements.

Some 614,000 users who appeared in a Sponsored Story on the site without giving their consent will now receive $15 each. That’s slightly more than anticipated under an earlier proposal, partly because lawyers and activists will receive less.

For Facebook, whose market cap has just surpassed $100bn, this is hardly an Erin Brockovich moment. But it’s another reminder that there’s a fine line between social advertising – which uses your friends’ buying habits to influence your own – and anti-social advertising, which just annoys everyone. Read more

After thirteen years in the role, the ever-quotable Steve Ballmer will step down as Microsoft chief executive within twelve months. Here are some of his most memorable soundbites:

On the iPhone: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.” (April 2007)

On Apple: “In every category Apple competes, it’s the low-volume player, except in tablets.” (October 2012) Read more

It takes some nerve to sell a company for $850m and then describe it as “the biggest repository of online cock and balls ever recorded”.

Step forward Michael Birch, founder of social network Bebo, who, after repurchasing the site for $1m in July, has now launched a spoof video to promote its impending relaunch. Read more