Thurrott Daily: April 4

Thurrott Daily: April 4

Tech tidibts from around the web.

4/4/2016 9:28:32 AM

Some quick thoughts about a Surface 4

We’re quickly coming up on the one-year anniversary of Surface 3, which was released on May 5, 2015. This cute and useful little Surface is undermined a bit by its Atom processor and quite a bit by its slow eMMC storage, so like many of you I’m wondering how Microsoft will follow it up this year.

Assuming of course that it does so. A few thoughts.

On the one hand, an Atom-based Surface 3/4 is out of line with Microsoft’s new premium approach to the Surface product lineup. This tells me that Microsoft will either can the non-Pro Surface—leaving the Core m-based Surface Pro 4 as the new “low-end” Surface—or it will upscale the device somewhat.

I’m voting for the latter approach since Surface 3 is so important to the “get ’em when they’re young”—sorry, education—market. So what I’m proposing and hoping is that Microsoft simply tweaks the current device with superior SSD/flash storage. This would provide a necessary performance boost and make the Surface 4 capable of lasting through a four-year college cycle. (Also, changing the 2 GB/4 GB RAM options to 4 GB/8 GB would help enormously.) Beyond that, I’m not sure Microsoft needs to change a thing.

“BlackBerry CEO: ‘If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business'”

Microsoft should look into apply this same logic.

This is what would have happened to Nokia if they had gone Android

Forbes’ Ewan Spence notes that Blackberry’s Android gambit has failed, and it’s worth reading, especially for you history rewriters who incorrectly believe that Nokia should have chosen Android over Windows Phone OS. This is exactly what would have happened to Nokia had it done so.

It’s looking like the sun is setting on BlackBerry’s smartphones.

While there is a chance for sales to pick up during the rest of 2016, missing both Wall Street’s expected sales target (850,000 units) and a drop of 14.3 percent on the sales in the previous quarter is an extremely worrying sign for BlackBerry’s hardware department.

CEO John Chen has previously said that BlackBerry would need to sell three million handsets to reach the break-even point. That target looks like wishful thinking. The initial burst of sales around the Android-powered BlackBerry Priv has not delivered the expected level of sales.

Blackberry’s time as a relevant handset manufacturer is coming to an end.

Arguably, it is already at an end. Even with the attention of the press and love of stalwarts, the Priv has done exactly nowhere.

“Best Buy is offering the best Galaxy S7 deal we’ve seen yet”

On the flipside, you have to go to Best Buy.

iPhone SE just as bendy and breakable as other iPhones

And that’s good for Apple, since its revenues rely on customers repeatedly upgrading to new device versions at an ever-quicker pace. Anyway, Squaretrade has beaten the living bejeezus out of an iPhone SE to see how well it stands up to day to day wear and tear and accidents. About as well as any modern iPhone, as it turns out. Watch the video to see an iPhone SE bent, submerged in water, tumbled, dropped on its screen, and dropped on its corner.

“Apple at 40: Are company’s best years behind it?”

Define “best.” From an innovation standpoint? Yes. From a financial standpoint? No: They can coast for a long, long time. And will do so.

The warped logic of championing “lawful hacking”

The problem with this whole iPhone encryption thing is that so many people see it in terms of black and white when in fact it’s really a giant gray area. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Christopher Mims comes out in favor of “lawful hacking” as the superior solution to Apple providing a so-called back door. which is an interesting argument until you remember that the FBI/DOJ was not in fact asking for a back door.

With the help of outside hackers, whose identity remains a mystery, the FBI successfully circumvented Apple’s much-touted security. In the process, the agency did exactly what defenders of encryption and digital privacy have advocated for some time. It is called “lawful hacking,” which is another way to describe law enforcement exploiting weaknesses in a security process.

Advocates say lawful hacking is an alternative to, and preferable to, creating a new “backdoor” into the system. An author of a recent paper on the subject, Columbia University professor and cybersecurity expert Steven Bellovin, says “I don’t have any problem with what the FBI did. The whole premise of lawful hacking is there are vulnerabilities.”

Here is why that is a good thing: It makes software more secure.

If you look at the image at the top of the article, you’ll see well-meaning dufuses holding “Secure phones save lives” posters. That’s interesting, though I can’t find many examples of why it would be true. But allowing law enforcement to search phones with lawful search warrants could in fact literally save lives. That a concept this basic could be so contorted by a sound bite is the real problem with this debate: This is a nuanced topic, and it can’t be reduced to a pat sentence that ignores the broader issues at stake.

“How to fix Windows 10 so it will go back in time”

… and kill Hitler? You know, if Microsoft did add that to the Anniversary update, some privacy fanatics would still spread FUD about it.

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