Karsten Nohl, the celebrity mobile cryptography expert, has been at it again. Two years ago he caused a stir by showing that the secret code that protects GSM mobile handsets was easy to crack, leaving phone calls open to interception by third parties.
This year, he is due to show that handsets can also be hijacked to make unauthorised calls and send text messages, running up huge bills without their owners’ knowledge. GSM networks, which are vulnerable to this flaw, are used by around 80 per cent of the world’s mobile users. Read more
When Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt on Wednesday addressed a Taiwanese audience for the first time, he was in some sense preaching to the choir.
As Mr Schmidt noted, Taiwan already fared better than the US in terms of broadband penetration, the speed of its internet, and the percentage of its people with smartphones. Yet there was still one looming problem, he noted, and that was the rising cost of building more advanced telecommunications networks. Read more
HTC has had an amazing run as it grew from anonymity to one of the top Android phonemakers. This has been reflected in its shipments, which have been record-breaking for the Taiwanese company for each of the last six quarters.
But is that run about to end, amid intensifying competition and a weak global economy? HTC said on Monday that it expects fourth-quarter shipments, and revenues, to be down slightly from the third quarter. Read more
Now there is another mobile wallet to add to consumer confusion. The UK’s three largest mobile operators, Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere, on Thursday said they had teamed up to create a single platform for making payments by mobile phone. Read more
Qype is nothing if not a survivor. Since its founding in Germany in 2005 as a local reviews site, it’s managed to fend off intense competition in the UK (including the arrival of American pioneer Yelp), the rise of mobile-location services such as Foursquare and the stomping success of GroupOn, the local deals service.
Now it’s raising €6.5m – including €3.5m from Vodafone, with the remainder from existing investors Advent Venture Partners, Partech International and Wellington Partners – to redouble its efforts on mobile. Read more
The version of Google’s Android operating system for smartphones due out in a few weeks can be used with specialised chips to authenticate the precise location of the mobile devices, paving the way for secure payments at physical stores, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said Monday.
Because the Near-Field Communication chips can store and exchange precise data about the phones, well beyond ordinary GPS, their adoption will allow phone owners to tap their gadgets against a physical surface to confirm their presence and identity, Mr Schmidt said. Read more
Part of the charm of HTC, the fast-growing Taiwanese smartphone company, is that it strives to maintain an air of eager-to-please humbleness – or as its marketing tagline goes, of being “quietly brilliant” – even as it climbs through the ranks of the world’s biggest smartphone makers.
So it was a bit of a surprise when Cheng Hui-ming, chief financial officer, bawled out an analyst during the quarterly results conference call on Thursday for asking what seemed a rather innocuous question. Read more
MediaTek is going decidedly upscale. The Taiwanese company, the biggest supplier of mobile phone chips to China, was until a year ago still best known as the enabler of gray market ‘bandit phones’ that flooded Chinese and other emerging markets.Within the past year, however, MediaTek has increasingly sold its chips to top-tier international phone brands such as Samsung and LG, and expanded its repertoire to include an advanced third-generation chip for smartphones. On Tuesday it announced its next step – licensing fourth-generation LTE technology from Japan’s NTT Docomo.
Nokia‘s latest restructuring, announced yesterday, is just one aspect of its many-fronted smartphone war.
As Nokia’s senior vice president of design and user experience, Marko Ahtisaari is the man charged with leading the software and hardware designers who must craft the challenger to the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices that the Finns have so far lacked. Read more
Facebook revealed on Wednesday that more than 100m people use the social network on their mobiles every month. That’s around a quarter of their total membership.
As seems to be the norm for Facebook at the moment, even with such big numbers, the growth rate is huge – in September it had 65m mobile users. That suggests the number is likely to double annually. Read more
Shazam, the mobile phone music discovery service, could be on track for an IPO, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers taking a stake in the company. Shazam, which was the original service that allowed users to hold up their phone in a noisy bar to identify what music track was playing, has seen phenomenal growth over the last few months, reaching the 50m user milestone this week.
The company has seen rapid growth after launching the service free on the iPhone App Store in the summer of 2008. The iPhone app has been downloaded more than 10m times. Read more
Part of Amazon’s success is attributable to the ease it has brought to the payments experience. Shopping on Amazon.com is made simple by Amazon storing much of a customer’s checkout information and minimising clicks, and a few years ago Amazon rolled out Checkout, which lets users on other websites pay using their Amazon credits or payments information stored on Amazon. (Amazon doesn’t reveal Checkout has been successful.)
Now Amazon has released a Mobile Payments Service. The programme will let e-commerce sites integrate the Checkout experience into sites designed for mobile phones, presenting yet another option for developers who are eager to encourage more mobile-commerce. Read more
Nokia’s response to Apple’s mobile applications marketplace has finally launched in a blaze of publicity – but hardly the kind the Finnish device maker can have hoped for.
Nokia announced the Ovi store in Barcelona in February, although its Ovi internet services brand has been around since August 2007. Clearly it has built up more anticipation than it could handle, as the “extraordinarily high spikes of traffic” caused the site to crash soon after opening. Even after downloading the Ovi software, some users reported seeing a limited selection of applications available in the store. Read more
The success of Yelp (which is very popular, if not profitable), has drawn attention to the local user-generated review site as a potentially viable business model. Indeed, with millions of small businesses looking for new customers (and presumably willing to advertise), accurate, comprehensive and trustworthy local directories are invaluable services for companies and customers alike.
So when Yelp introduced its London site in January, it signalled its intention to attract advertising from a chunk of the city’s 300,000 local businesses. Other similar sites were already active in London, and now one local competitor, TrustedPlaces, is trying to outflank Yelp before it gains traction. Read more