Dan Swinhoe (Global) - News Roundup: Pirate Bays, Bitcoins and eBookworms

Apple losing its bite?
The big Apple-related news of the week was that the company made a net profit of just $9.5bn in the last quarter. Column inches proclaiming Tim Cook's company were going down the spout multiplied like rabbits. Yes, the company made a little less than this they did this time last year, and yes they have lost a lot of it value in the stock market, but it's not the end of the world. They are still massively valuable, have $100 billion+ in cash, and had its best quarter ever in China. The smartphone market was never going to be a monopoly for long, and who knows how the rumoured iWatch could change things?

Smartphones KO feature phones
In more mobile tech news, IDC reports that smartphones have outsold feature phones. While that's not big news in places like the US or UK, in regions such as LatAm and Africa feature phones are still the norm for many. So the news that smartphones made up 51.6% of phones sold in the first quarter of 2013 bodes well for the likes of Samsung, but Nokia looks increasingly shaky. And with the first phone carrying the Firefox OS shipping this week and selling out within hours, it could be an interesting year for mobiles.

Pirate Bay accepting Bitcoins
The bubble might have burst, but Bitcoins are still as viable as ever. This week Pirate Bay started accepting the cryptocurrency, and other torrent sites quickly followed suit. The Pirates join the likes of Wikileaks, Reditt and Wordpress in accepting them, plus independent physical vendors are now starting to accept payments too. Top that off with Paypal's President David Marcus saying he might be considering it too and it looks like BitCoin is refusing to leave the spotlight.

Mark Zuckerberg and his company make the headlines almost as often as Apple. This week is the news that Facebook acquired Parse, a mobile app development company. Some of the tech press are viewing it as a way to "get as much of the value of owning an OS as possible without actually building one."

And in another blow to Facebook's credibility, Iran's internet police this week blamed the company for a third of divorces in their country. And for being a dangerous and disgusting spy tool deployed by the US. It's not the first time this claim has been levelled, but it obviously carries a bit more weight when accused by a country the site is meant to be banned in.

Oz loses its whiz
Akamai have just released their quarterly ‘State of the Internet' Report. And it's good news; globally the average connection speed has risen 25% year-on-year, to 2.9 Mbps. Countries such as China, Vietnam and Indonesia all saw large rises, as did many parts of Africa. So why has Australia's speed dropped by over 25%? The average speed for the land down under may be a lot higher than the global one (4.2 Mbps to 2.9), but it's still anything but progress. Failure to keep up with data growth will only cause more slowing down.

Following Manchester United's win over Aston Villa on Monday, which confirmed their place as Premier League champions for the 20th time, Robin Van Persie was inundated with Tweets congratulating him on his hat-trick. Except he wasn't. The Twitter handle @RVP belonged to an Indian IT consultant Ravi Visvesvaraya Sharada Prasad, and the poor guy received thousands of mentions in just a few hours. Luckily he took it all in his stride, joking the limelight might get him a trial, but it does raise an interesting point about identity on social media. The Metro ran an interesting feature on the issue, and how easy it is to create a social media celebrity [http://metro.co.uk/2013/04/19/meet-santiago-swallow-the-biggest-social-media-star-youve-never-heard-of-3640048/].

Some new research shows that while eBooks take up some 22% of total book spending in places like the US, in Vietnam that figure is less than 1%. This is despite efforts from the government to digitize textbooks and training material. Piracy and a lack of eReaders actually on sale are cited as the main inhibitors.

And in a related bit of self-promotion here, our Reading Habits survey released this week found IT people don't just read Sci-Fi. No, they like fantasy too, and Jane Austen. And The Economist. Check it out here.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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