links for 2009-08-10

  • Shipments of mobile handsets were down 8% year over year in Q2 2009, but in fact, that represented a positive trend.
    According to Strategy Analytics’ “Q2 2009 Global Handset Market Share Update,” 273 million handset units shipped in Q2. After year-over-year declines of 10.7% in Q4 2008 and 13.7% in Q1 2009, shipments are slowly trending better.
    (tags: Mobile)
  • Most people leave a trail when surfing the Web. Information such as a computer’s IP address can be traced back to users, or used to reconstruct a profile of browsing habits. Search engines amass large quantities of data on individuals. Though they don’t store this along with usernames, researchers have previously shown that individuals can still be identified using this data.
    People who want to avoid leaving this trail can turn to services such as Tor, an open-source system designed to muddy the path a user’s data travels over the Internet (see “Dissent Made Safer”). But Tor struggles with slow network performance, and the service might be overwhelmed if too many users adopted it without also contributing resources.
    Last week, at the 9th annual Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, researchers described some more robust protections. They wondered if privacy protection could come from the ISPs responsible for the backbone of the Internet.
    (tags: security)

  • We all know the iPhone’s been a huge success, right? Well, a Kleiner Perkins presentation about its $100,000,000 iFund offers some jaw-dropping statistics that will force you to re-evaluate – upward – all of your perspectives about the iPhone’s impact on mobile technology, mobile business, and the interplay between people and the tools they use to experience the world around them.
    Calling the presentation “unbelievable,” venture capitalist Michael Eisenberg of Benchmark Capital writes that a company he’s funded, called Tunewiki, experienced “3+X growth in 30 days from the moment it launched on the AppStore.”
  • The denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that started on July 4 garnered typical headlines about cyberwar, but in fact, from a technical standpoint, those “attacks” may be the opposite of real cyberwar. A much less noticed report in Israel’s leading daily, Ha’aretz, on Israel’s operations against Iran’s nuclear program may give greater insight into how cyberwar actually will work.
    It is no secret that several countries, including the United States, China, Russia and Israel, have examined cyberwar capabilities. What those capabilities might be or how a cyberwar might look are shrouded in mystery. The denial-of-service attacks that made headlines are not it.
    (tags: security)
  • Uncertainty over the censoring of a dictionary application for the iPhone and iPod Touch once again brings up the challenges Apple faces by being the gatekeeper for the App Store.
    The tech blog Daring Fireball reported Wednesday the Ninjawords dictionary program was forced to remove offensive words before it was approved for the iPhone, and it still received a mature rating once it hit the market. The app pulls in definitions from, and many developers and online pundits believed Apple was being heavy-handed with the move.
    (tags: apple Mobile apps)
  • The timing, really couldn’t be more perfect. Just as no less than Apple VP Phil Schiller has started making comments on the record about App Store rejections, Apple yanks another very popular one from its store. Sex Offender, an app to locate sexual predators in your area, had been consistently in the top 10 paid apps for weeks. And now it’s gone — not just off of the list, but off of the store.
    (tags: apple Mobile apps)
  • E-mail marketers are used to seeing reported delivery rates around 95%. However, data from Return Path, an e-mail services company, indicates they may be missing the hard truth.
    Hard bounces, which are admittedly rare, are not the only reason for nondelivery of e-mail. ISP and corporate filtering systems quietly weed out messages without informing the sender. Some messages end up in bulk or spam folders, while others are, according to Return Path, “completely missing.”
    In all, Return Path found 79.3% of permission e-mail messages made it to inboxes in North America in the first half of 2009.
  • Over the past 15 years I’ve been to thousands of board meetings. Last week I had four; this week I have two. I’ve spent a lot of time – often during board meetings – thinking about how to make them better and more effective.
    Yesterday, Fred Wilson (who was at the Return Path board meeting in Boulder with me) wrote a great post titled Face To Face Board Meetings. Fred and I have been on a number of boards of the years and I strongly agree with his post. To be effective, board meetings need to be (a) in person and (b) there is immense value in a board dinner the night before a board meeting (maybe not every meeting, but at least once a quarter).

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