Windows Phone 8.1 hits 3.1% saturation rate after a week

About a week after release of Windows Phone 8.1, the operating system is now on a bit more than 3% of the devices that Aduplex surveyed; the data comes from 3,886 apps running AdDuplex SDK v.2 and it was compiled on April 17.

Seeing that Windows Phone 8.1 is on 3.1% of the devices, it’s likely safe to assume that most, if not all, of the 3.1% are developers who are building applications for the platform or enthusiasts who signed up to receive the bits early. The obvious statement here is that the more developers with the new bits, the sooner existing apps can be updated to include the new features like the updated backgrounds for live tiles.

Another takeaway from the report is that when Microsoft closes the Nokia deal on Friday, it will take ownership of the brand that holds 93.5% of the Windows Phone market. Knowing this, it becomes quite clear why Microsoft had to buy the Lumia arm of Nokia, as it controlled too much of Microsoft’s user base.

Finally, there are some unnamed Nokia devices that are in testing that show up in these reports. Adduplex says that there are quite a few RM-10xx models showing up, including the 1010, 1020, and 1027.

If you were looking for new devices by the OEMs announced at BUILD, unfortunately, nothing was spotted in this month’s report.

via Windows Phone 8.1 hits 3.1% saturation rate after a week – Neowin.

Kantar: Windows Phone, Android see massive growth at expense of iOS, Blackberry

We’ve already heard that Nokia and Samsung had disappointing fourth quarters, and Apple’s iPhone has been slowly losing market share throughout 2013. So many may be wondering if anyone’s actually winning the smartphone wars since everyone seems to be losing.

Now the latest report from Kantar Worldpanel gives us a clearer picture who is gaining market share and which markets are the most volatile. Kantar’s data is based on the previous three months, ending in December 2013.

First up, checking the tables below, we can easily see that Android has had another phenomenal year, with increased marketshare around the world. In the U.S., Google’s OS managed to increase its presence and is now sitting just shy of 51%. China and Europe have also seen greater adoption of the OS, which is sitting comfortably at 78% and 68%, respectively. However the biggest change occurred in Latin America, where Android saw a 21 percent increase year over year, and it now pretty much owns the market with an 83% adoption rate.

Despite all this, Samsung has had disappointing results lately, mainly due to increased pressure from local manufacturers in China, and more competition in the low-end market from players such as Nokia.

Speaking of Nokia, which practically owns the Windows Phone market, it too has had a good year in terms of adoption. Windows Phone has seen growth almost across the board. The biggest change is in Europe, where Microsoft’s platform has held double digit figures for the last three months of 2013. That’s almost double compared to last year’s results, when Windows Phone only accounted for 5.6% market share. Other markets have also seen growth, but Windows Phone is still very anaemic when it comes to the U.S. and China.

Finally, the year’s biggest market share losers are Blackberry, which is clinically dead, and more surprisingly Apple. The Cupertino company has seen decreases in pretty much every market. Even in the U.S., where it holds the most sway, iOS has seen a 5.8% decrease with most of those users moving to Android. Another big drop was seen in Europe where Apple’s products lost another 5.2% compared to 2012 and are now sitting at 18.5% marketshare.

Already we know Samsung is going on the offensive with the new Galaxy S5 being supposedly launched in the next couple of months, and there are a ton of rumors as to Apple’s upcoming plans. And let’s not forget Microsoft, which now owns Nokia’s smartphone business. All in all, 2014 is shaping up to be a very interesting year in terms of the smartphone race.

via Kantar: Windows Phone, Android see massive growth at expense of iOS, Blackberry – Neowin.

Rumor: Microsoft offering to drop Windows Phone license fee for HTC

It’s hard to see an area at Microsoft that isn\’t going through some degree of transition, and Windows Phone is definitely no exception. Having carved out a small piece of the market, Microsoft has taken some big steps to improve the position of its still fledgling mobile operating system. Its first step was to develop a close relationship with Nokia; the second step seems to have been to buy Nokia\’s handset division outright. But that move has spawned much speculation that Microsoft\’s handset partners are disgruntled and considering eliminating their Windows Phone portfolio. According to a report from Bloomberg, Microsoft may be making a big move to stem the tide by cutting or eliminating its licensing fee.
Bloomberg reports that conversations between HTC and Microsoft have revolved around the idea of HTC putting Windows Phone onto its Android handsets as an alternative. It\’s unclear how this would work, but it could mean that users would choose a handset model and then choose an operating system, similar to being able to choose between Windows and Linux in some notebook models. The prospect of a dual boot solution seems ludicrous and impossible to implement, but Bloomberg\’s reporting leans strongly in that direction. As enticement to pursue this strategy, the report states that Microsoft has offered to cut or eliminate the licensing fee.
Whether it\’s a dual boot solution or something more sensible, the move would require Microsoft to broaden the supported hardware specifications of Windows Phone to support the higher-end hardware that\’s de rigueur in Android handsets. Evidence for such an expansion of hardware support can be gleaned from the near certainty that this fall\’s GDR3 update to Windows Phone will include options for 1080p displays.
Microsoft has long derided the free operating system strategy, even going so far as to brag that licensing issues with Android have resulted in handset manufacturers needing to negotiate licensing deals with it—effectively saying that Android isn\’t free, it\’s just that Microsoft collects the money. For Microsoft to eliminate the licensing fee for Windows Phone would be a huge shift in strategy and might help revive the somewhat dormant Windows Phone lines from the likes of Samsung or HTC. At the same time, it would help repair any damaged relationships that Microsoft may have incurred in becoming a first-party handset manufacturer with the purchase of Nokia.
HTC may be a ripe target for such a deal. Its unaudited quarterly results, announced yesterday, demonstrate how tough things have been financially. After laying off a big chunk of its US staff, HTC reported a quarterly loss for the first time in the company\’s history. While it has had some design wins with the HTC One and One mini handsets, it has also had its share of weak spots, including the HTC First handset, which it made in partnership with Facebook. The last Windows Phone handset that HTC released was the HTC 8XT, a decidedly mid-range handset that hasn\’t delighted users the same way last year\’s HTC 8X did.
At press time, neither HTC nor Microsoft had any comment regarding these rumors, though Microsoft\’s representative did stress that conversations with their device partners are confidential. We will report further as this story develops.
via Rumor: Microsoft offering to drop Windows Phone license fee for HTC | Ars Technica.

Researchers crack iOS-generated hotspot passwords in 24 seconds

If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner who uses hotspot mode but never bothered to change the seemingly-random password suggested by iOS, now is definitely a good time. German researchers have discovered (pdf) the passwords iOS issues can be easily predicted, allowing them to be cracked in as little as one minute using consumer hardware.
The algorithm iOS uses to generate hotspot keys takes a dictionary word, adds a couple of numbers and voila — an easily memorable password is born. The problem though, is despite the endless variety of words available in the English language, iOS draws its password inspiration from a narrow selection of just 1,842 words.
The second issue is certain words appear several times more frequently than other words. For example, out of nearly 2,000 words, “suave” had a 1-in-125 chance of being used. Meanwhile, “macaws” — the tenth most-likely word to be used — appeared 1-in-345 times. Knowing iOS’ preferred word selection allows brute force crackers to start with the most common ones first, further reducing the time needed.
A PC armed with a Radeon HD 6990 GPU was able to crack the average iPhone hotspot in 52 seconds while four Radeon HD 7970s yielded an average of just 24 seconds. GPUs are favored amongst crackers for their ability to perform massively parallell computations.
Although researchers revealed how easily an iOS-generated hotspot password can be brute forced, other exploits like attacking iOS’ PSK authentication method help to facilitate the process. Because handheld devices aren’t equipped with high-end GPUs, researchers even discussed offloading the computational work to a cloud-based service like CloudCracker for cracking hotspots on-the-go.
Of course, Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on devices with easily cracked hotspot passwords. Windows Phone and some Android handsets don’t fare much better.
Windows Phone, for example, auto-generates hotspot passwords consisting of eight numbers. This means you already know what the password could be, making Windows Phone susceptible to brute force attacks. More research may reveal an additional weakness though, which could narrow that selection of 10^8 possibilities down to something even more tractable.
Meanwhile, Android’s default password generator conjures sufficiently strong passwords, but some vendors have taken the liberty of greatly reducing its effectiveness. “Android-based models of the smartphone and tablet manufacturer HTC are even shipped with constant default passwords consisting of a static string (1234567890)” researchers noted.
When boiled down to its nuts and bolts though, the moral of this story is probably this: always create your own passwords, provided you follow some of the basic principles for creating strong ones.
via Researchers crack iOS-generated hotspot passwords in 24 seconds – TechSpot.

Windows Phone overtakes BlackBerry in market share

New data for March 2013 released by Net Applications shows that Windows Phone has finally overtaken BlackBerry in market share, which now sits at 1.50%. Despite still trailing behind Apple’s iOS (61.41%) and Google’s Android (24.85%), climbing the market share ladder is always a positive step.
Even with the recent release of BlackBerry’s “10” OS and the Z10 smartphone, it appears the company have not made a great enough impact to hold on to their lead over Windows Phone, despite reportedly shipping a million units in the first quarter of availability.
Looking back to February’s data, Windows Phone held just a 1.24% share whilst BlackBerry held 1.39%. BlackBerry have not just lost the spot to Microsoft, but indeed dropped back 0.01% to just a 1.38% share. These numbers may seem negligible, but when a single percent can account for millions of devices, the significance is clear.
Most notably, Apple’s iOS has increased its market share in March by 6.50%, whilst Android dropped 0.80%. These numbers do, however, only account for U.S. sales and do not take into account global market share of which Google holds the majority stake.
Given circulating rumors that Microsoft is creating their own “Surface Phone”, Microsoft’s 1.50% share could begin to rapidly increase. The news will likely come as a disappointment to BlackBerry, given that sales were faster than expected in February.
via Windows Phone overtakes BlackBerry in market share – Neowin.