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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.