Breakfast Briefing: Windows RT's sales errors, Apple's working conditions progress, Facebook angers developers
This morning's top tech news includes stories about Windows RT, Apple working conditions, Facebook data, and early computer art
To round off the week, we have a look at the teething troubles still impacting Windows RT, Apple's improved working conditions, and how Facebook's lack of data sharing could backfire. Plus, the world's first computer art turns out to have been 50s-style porn.
Why Windows RT isn't selling
Microsoft has still not detailed sales of its Surface Tablets, but it's fair to say Windows RT has yet to set the world on fire in an explosion of overheating cash tills. The Register has documented seven reasons why the operating system – and related tablets - is facing challenges, citing everything from device price to user experience and the "closed" nature of the software.
The marketing campaign comes in for special treatment. "For all its faults, Windows RT might still have stood a chance if Redmond had managed to communicate who its audience was meant to be. But it hasn't. Three months after the Surface RT launch, it's still hard to say who the target market for an RT device is," The Register argues.
"Microsoft's first mistake was to focus all of its marketing efforts on its Surface hardware, rather than the OS that runs on it. The words 'Windows RT' never even figured into its campaign. Buy a Surface, it seemed to say, and the OS comes with it; no need to worry. But as we have shown, running Windows RT instead of full Windows isn't an advantage. It's a gotcha." Ouch.
Apple claims progress on labour issues
Apple has issued its latest Supplier Responsibility Report, claiming it has made progress in cutting hours worked in factories making its wares, reduced the number of under-age workers in the supply chain and forced companies to, you know, pay for overtime.
According to All Things Digital, the company also cut its ties with a widely used tech manufacturer – Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics - after discovering 74 under-age labour violations.
Facebook keeping data close to chest
Facebook's Social Graph has plenty of information that other social companies would like to access, but it's blocking several rivals - or partners, depending on your stance - from accessing information from its APIs. The company has been quick to respond to Twitter Vine, by blocking its Find Friends function, as it did days earlier with voice messaging app Voxer.
TechCrunch has explored the tactics in this tit-for-tat posturing and believes Facebook is playing with fire and could alienate developers.
"Facebook reaffirmed this fear this morning when it enforced its ban on exporting data for use in social networks. Russian search engine Yandex’s new social search mobile app Wonder got all of its API calls blocked just three hours after launch. That’s a lot of programming and product work down the drain," TechCrunch argued.
"If this enforcement scares off developers whose apps might otherwise provide content that could be shown next to ads in the news feed and piped into Graph Search, Facebook could get burned badly."
World's first computer art? Porn, obviously
The Atlantic has a fascinating piece documenting how – at the dawn of the computer era - an IBM staffer working on a $238 million military super computer created the first piece of computer art. In a 1956 graphics breakthrough on the most powerful machine of its day, normally used to spot potential threats in US airspace, an unknown worker commandeered some valuable resources to create a likeness of an Esquire pin-up girl.
The image was "was programmed as a series of short lines, or vectors, encoded on a stack of about 97 Hollerith type punched cards", the article explains, and showed up as part of a "diagnostics tool". Later iterations included a dancing Hula girl whose grass skirt fell off when prompted by the viewer.
"That probably was the first pornographic show," said an eye witness. "As close as it gets. It was so innocent."