Breakfast Briefing: Google's threat to net neutrality, passwords here to stay, inside a Jobs business deal

Today in tech news, Google's deal with French ISPs, password survival, Steve Jobs' management style, Android data, and stream music payouts

21 Jan 2013

We start the week with Google's threat to net neutrality, Steve Jobs' tactics for closing out a deal and more news of streaming services' lowly earning contributions for artists.

Google traffic tolls – a threat to net neutrality?

After French ISPs kicked up a fuss over paying for carrying traffic from Google's capacious servers, the search and advertising giant has apparently agreed to pay France Telecom-Orange to pass its video and other content on to the ISP's mobile customers. Is this the thin end of the wedge for net neutrality, with Orange now given an incentive to prioritise Google data? Gigaom certainly thinks so, saying that Google, as a longterm advocate of neutrality, should be ashamed of its agreement.

"Google has not only set a terrible precedent for up-and-coming mobile innovators, but it has also made it more likely that the quality of new services will be degraded over Orange’s networks — all so that the quality of Google’s services can be maintained," the publication argues.

Passwords are here to stay

The demise of secure passwords has often been reported as a side effect of significant advances in processing power, with GPUs potentially able to crack human-generated passcodes for fun. The Register reports how a Cambridge academic has investigated the way technology and security advances have evolved in tandem, with passwords no easier to crack now than in the past.

"I charted 20 years of password cracking improvements and found an increase of about 1,000 in the number of guesses per second per unit cost that could be achieved, almost exactly a Moore’s Law-style doubling every two years," said Joseph Bonneau. "The good news though is that password hash functions can (and should) co-evolve to get proportionately costlier to evaluate over time."

How Jobs did business – take it or leave it

MacRumors reports on business insights from a former employee a Color, which was snapped up by Apple under the direction of the late Steve Jobs. Aubrey Johnson explains how and why deals for Color and Lala were put together, with the final discussions involving a Mafia-style lunch meeting, with offers that couldn't be refused.

"Steve led the conversation while eating a beet salad: 'I’m going to give you a number, Bill, and if you like it, let’s do it and just be done with this whole thing. Okay?' Bill agreed," said Johnson of the meeting. "Jobs passed a piece of paper to Nguyen and Bill nodded. The deal was done."

Google's battle to recoup Android payload

A blog post from telco strategist Benedict Evans probes the relationship between Google and its mobile platform Android, making some interesting conclusions on the motivations and relationships between the two.

It might come as little surprise, but the post argues that Google's strategy with Android has little to do with selling phones and everything to do with collecting user data. And the company needs to milk its connection. "Google's penetration of Android is as important as Android's penetration of the handset market," Evens argues.

Streaming services remain marginal earners

The success of streaming and subscription services have been touted by the industry as evidence of how maturely they've dealt with the threat from online, HMV aside, of course. However, for the artists actually making music, selling CDs is still where it's at, according to a report from The Atlantic.

In an investigation into the earnings of cellist Zoe Keating, The Atlantic found Spotify accounted for only $300 of that artist's income, compared with more than $45,000 for music sold via iTunes.

"Streaming is not yet a replacement for digital sales, and to conflate the two is a mistake," said Heating. "I do not see streaming as a threat to my income, just like I've never regarded file-sharing as a threat but as a convenient way to hear music. If people really like my music, I still believe they'll support it somewhere, somehow. Casual listeners won't, but they never did anyway."

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