Plus the Briton who invented the search engine (too early), how long do lossmaking phone companies get?, and more

A burst of 11 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Google saved an estimated $887m by paying Adblock Plus to show its ads >> Business Insider

PageFair is a service that measures how much ad blocking cost websites. According to its estimations, ad blocking cost Google $887m in 2012. Granted Google hit $50 bn in revenues this year, but that's still a sizable chunk.

While many strongly value AdBlock Plus, which is downloaded 50,000 and 100,000 times a day for Chrome and Firefox, respectively, PageFair believes that its power is ominous. According a PageFair blog post:

"Other publishers must follow suit and rethink digital marketing strategies and the way they interact with customers, or our web experience may change drastically in the near future. The concept of a fully pay-per-view internet is a frightening but potential reality."

How Google can avoid becoming the next Microsoft, as told by an insider with knowledge of both >> Quartz

Quartz has already written about how Microsoft veterans who left the company see its problems, and what they think needs to be done to fix them. But the observations of one of the veterans we spoke with are worth writing about separately—because of their implications for Google, the company's most visible competitor. This person, who requested to remain anonymous, has inside knowledge of the workings of Google as well. Here are some of our key takeaways from talking with them.

It's not a big risk, but still Microsoft was Google's size once too.

How a killer game sucked me and my son back to iOS devices >> CNET News

Danny Sullivan:

I'd been testing the Samsung Galaxy S4 over the past few weeks. It's a remarkable phone in that, for the first time, I found myself comfortable going out with only that phone and not also my iPhone as well. I'll have a future column about this, but a great camera, video, and the large screen have made it really compelling to me.

Clash of Clans changed that, however. I'm back to carrying either both phones or the iPhone, if I want to keep an eye on my gaming activity.

There are things exclusive to other platforms, of course. I love making and sharing Photo Spheres with my Nexus 4, something I can't do with the iPhone. (Yes, there's Photosynth, but it doesn't work as well.) I can't do it with the Samsung Galaxy S4, either, as Samsung dropped this native feature of Android.

If I'm headed somewhere scenic, I make a point to take the Nexus 4 -- so Photo Sphere is a kind of killer app, in that regard.

Clash Of Clans is made by Supercell. Now see the next link for why Apple should be worried - unless it can crack the Asian market in a big way.

Supercell plays with Android games launch >> FT.com

Supercell, the Finnish mobile gaming company that tops Apple's app charts around the world for the iPad and iPhone, is "very actively" weighing releasing games for Google's Android operating system.

The move would represent a big shift for one of the world's fastest-growing companies as it has hitherto focused solely on Apple, where its Clash of Clans and Hay Day games head the list for top-grossing apps from China and Japan to the US and UK.

But Ilkka Paananen, Supercell's chief executive and co-founder, said he wanted the first mobile games company to be big in Asia as well as the west.

"You can't be global without being in Asia, and you can't be big in Asia without being on Android. I guess that's a long way of saying that we are very actively thinking about it," he said in an interview with the Financial Times.

The not-so-secret recipe to disrupt TV >> Medium

Jeremy Toeman:

Want to know how to "kill" the traditional TV industry? It's easy. Come up with a cash flow of roughly $70bn. That's it. Pure and simple.

The thing about it, that so many people out there seem to not grasp (which frustrates me to no end, I must say), is it takes about that much money to maintain the rough production costs (and profits) for all the shows we love to watch. See, we all know that there's some perfect blend between Live TV broadcasting and an all-streaming/on-demand library (neither end of the spectrum are "correct"), but we don't know how to get there. Meanwhile, everyone wants to talk about killing/disruption the TV ecosystem. So let's talk about the cold hard facts of this world.

A lot of people think it's just a question of hooking a TV up to the net. It isn't.

Balky carriers and slow OEMs step aside: Google is defragging Android >> Ars Technica

Android updates roll out too slowly, so start releasing all the cool stuff separately. The hard part is making it actually work. But the first reason this is now possible is a little app that has finally come of age: "Google Play Services."

Calling Play Services an "app" doesn't really tell the whole story. For starters, it has an insane amount of permissions. It's basically a system-level process, and if the above list isn't enough for whatever it needs to do next, it can actually give itself more permissions without the user's consent. Play Services constantly runs in the background of every Android phone, and nearly every Google app relies on it to function. It's updatable, but it doesn't update through the Play Store like every other app. It has its own silent, automatic update mechanism that the user has no control over. In fact, most of the time the user never even knows an update has happened. The reason for the complete and absolute power this app has is simple: Google Play Services is Google's new platform…

The only features left that would require an OS update are things like hardware support, Application Frameworks APIs, and Apps that require a certain level of security or access (like the lock screen, Phone, and Settings apps).

It's part of the Google apps package, which OEMs can't change. A neat solution to the problem of slow updating. (Thanks #GambaKufu for the link.)

September 2010: smartphone OS forecast for 2014 >> IDC

Demonstrating the problem of forecasting network effects, this comes from the time Stephen Elop joined Nokia:

"As the worldwide smartphone market continues to grow at a strong rate, the market dynamics among mobile operating systems continue to shift," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team. "Longtime operating systems leaders BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile are about to or have already launched refreshed operating systems to compete with recent newcomers Android and iOS. The latter operating systems have taken away both mindshare and market share from the old regime, and have helped propel the market forward."

"Android is the wild card, deserving close observation for the rest of this year and the years to come," added Llamas.

Proving that hindsight is 20/20 (or 6/6).

Jonathon Fletcher: forgotten father of the search engine >> BBC News

"With a degree in computing science and an idea that there had to be a better way, I decided to write something that would go and look for me."

That something was the world's first web crawler.

[Jonathon] Fletcher called his invention JumpStation. He put together an index of pages which could then be searched by a web crawler, essentially an automated process that visits, and indexes, every link on every web page it comes across. The process continues until the crawler runs out of things to visit.

Ten days later, on 21 December 1993, JumpStation ran out of things to visit. It had indexed 25,000 pages.

But he couldn't get funding at his place of work, the University of Stirling. A pair of people in Stanford University did. A modern morality tale for British venture capital.

Microsoft and Nokia >> Benedict Evans

So, the acquisition solves Nokia's problem (running out of cash) and hence is a tactical move by Microsoft: it prevents the only significant Windows Phone OEM from exiting the market. It is possible that Nokia threatened to switch to Android otherwise (the relevant contracts are getting close to renewal), rather as Motorola threatened to sue other Android OEMs before Google bought it.

But ownership by Microsoft will not of itself change the sales of Windows Phones. If anything, it will decrease them, since it prompts other OEMs to give up on it entirely. It will not make more developers make Windows Phone apps or more consumers buy the devices. And it does little or nothing for Windows on tablets. Something else needs to change.

Nokia really was at risk of running out of cash. Microsoft is offering a €1.5bn loan through to January 2014.

Unforgiven, continued >> asymco

Horace Dediu:

In June of 2011 I asked "Does the phone market forgive failure?" Not much time has passed since but the answer still seems to be no. The trigger I was using for this point of no return when the vendor began making losses.

The list at the time consisted of 13 phone vendors who either merged, were liquidated or acquired after this trigger point was reached. There were no examples of vendors who recovered. Since then two more vendors reached the threshold (Nokia and RIM) and a third will do so this quarter (HTC). One vendor (LG) may be recovering but Nokia has just been acquired and RIM has put itself up for sale. Some Japanese vendors like Panasonic have also called it quits since then. So the score so far is about 18 triggers, 15 exits and three pending.

Only LG, owned by a bigger conglomerate, has escaped the black hole. It's not promising for HTC or BlackBerry.

Google and Nestle announce Android KitKat | Nestlé Canada

The creators of the world's most popular mobile platform have teamed up with the world's biggest food and beverage company to name the next release of the platform Android KitKat. 
Android has been developed by the company's engineers under sweet-themed names ever since the release of Android Cupcake in 2009 and continuing in alphabetical order until the most recent version, Android Jelly Bean.

The news that the letter 'K' will be dedicated to Nestlé's Kit Kat will surprise most technology commentators, who had widely thought the latest version would be Android Key Lime Pie.
"We couldn't imagine a better name for our Android K release than the tasty chocolate that's been a favourite among the team since the early days of Android," said Marc Vanlerberghe, Director of Android Marketing…

To mark the release of Android KitKat, more than 50 million specially branded Kit Kat bars will be available in 19 markets including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Middle East, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The packs will lead consumers to the website android.com/kitkat where they will have the opportunity to win prizes including a limited number of Google Nexus 7 tablets, and credits to spend in Google Play, Google's online store for apps, games, music, movies, books and more.

In 2000, Google turned down a $3m offer from Visa to brand its search page. Apparently this didn't cost Nestle a thing. And everyone knows how healthy chocolate is, and how obesity isn't a problem in the US or Europe.

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Charles Arthur

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