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Breakfast Briefing: IE 10's Flash whitelist, Apple in Belgian warranty probe, HMV's decline

Breakfast Briefing

Posted on 15 Jan 2013 at 08:49

Today's tech news highlights include how to stay on Microsoft's Internet Explorer Flash whitelist, a look inside the demise of HMV, and Apple's warranties under investigation - again.

The Flash whitelist inside IE 10

ZDNet has an insightful look at the whitelist of sites that are able to run Flash in Internet Explorer 10, with a piece that looks at why some sites are approved, even on RT-based devices, while others are locked. With Flash often criticised for security issues and battery munching by poorly coded apps, it's not the most popular software.

According to Microsoft, with the desktop version of IE 10 on Windows RT or the Metro version of IE 10 on either platform, Flash content "runs only if the domain hosting that content is listed on Microsoft's Compatibility View list".

ZDNet discovers the whitelist is long and growing. "When I first began looking into this issue, I assumed that this whitelist represented an exclusive club," reports Ed Bott. "That's not true. The most recent version of the CV list includes more than 4,300 domains where you can view and interact with Flash content in the otherwise plugin-free IE versions."

Inside HMV's web-driven decline

HMV's fall from musical grace and into administration may have been predictable for anyone observing the online trends – in fact, it was even brought up at company meetings years ago.

According to marketing expert Philip Beeching, he pitched for business at the troubled high street retailer back in 2002, warning bosses that they were facing serious threats from web-based rivals.

"I said: 'The three greatest threats to HMV are, online retailers, downloadable music and supermarkets discounting loss leader product'. Suddenly I realised the MD had stopped the meeting and was visibly angry," Beeching said in a blog post.

"'I have never heard such rubbish', he said. 'I accept that supermarkets are a thorn in our side … as for the other two, I don't ever see them being a real threat, downloadable music is just a fad and people will always want the atmosphere and experience of a music store rather than online shopping'." Not so much atmosphere these days.

Apple facing Belgian warranty probe

An eagle-eyed Slashdot poster has uncovered a lawsuit from the Belgian consumer organisation Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats that accuses Apple of breaching European warranty laws.

In a move that echoes an earlier case brought in Italy – in which Apple was fined €900,000 – the consumer group claims the company is confusing customers with the differences between the standard rights consumers are eligible for and more expensive top up cover such as Apple Care. The Italian fine might have seemed like a drop in the ocean, but if the situation is replicated across the EU, the sanctions could start to bite.

Please insert disc to reboot your phone

It might not be a blue screen of death, but The Register has a picture story that it claims shows Windows Phone 8's roots as a Windows family member. A handset owner tinkering with his phone's internal memory managed to break the device, sparking a prompt from the phone to "insert your installation disc and restart your computer".

Instagram loses half its users

Instagram lost half its daily active users after a backlash over new terms, The Register has reported. Data from AppStats shows daily users fell from 40m to 17m after Instagram announced plans claim ownership of users’ photos. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service has since retreated from those plans.

The news comes as reports suggest Facebook itself lost 600,000 users in the UK alone in December, a slide of 1.86%. The UK was the only country in the top ten for Facebook to shed users, The Telegraph said.

What really happens at tech press conferences

Ever wonder what it’s like at a tech press conference? Games journalist Grant Howitt went to his first tech launch, covering a new Toughbook tablet from Panasonic, writing up his bewilderment in a brilliant blog post.

"Jan talks about retina displays and the way that the human eye can only perceive a certain number of pixels at a certain range and something about PPI," he writes. "I think Panasonic has invented a new kind of pixel. A bendy pixel. I don’t understand. What does PPI stand for? What am I doing with my life? Why am I here in this basement in Munich at the age of 26 staring at a man fire a laser pointer at a graph? How did this happen? I wanted to be a Sky Pirate. I don’t understand any of this."

In case you’re wondering, his description is spot on - this is what tech press conferences are actually like.

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User comments

HMV atmosphere...

One could understand the former HMV MD's comments if the majority of HMV stores had actually had any 'atmosphere'. The sad truth is that most of their stores outside Oxford Street have for years been utterly bland, grey and soulless.

I have known people in their twenties put off from prolonged browsing in some of their stores due to inordinately loud music - even when it is to their taste. Worse still, when they did try and introduce the technology to allow you browse and even download tracks in-store, it didn't work - one suspects due to penny-pinching by bean counters.

Older friends, with no doubt better taste than I, who would happily spend a lot more money on physical copies - of classical music especially - have complained for years that they could not find the releases that they wanted in-store.

I have no doubt that there is a place still for a high street audio-visual content retailer, but the current model adopted by HMV was bound to fail.

By Ol_Git on 15 Jan 2013

HMV - Hadn't bought anything from them for at least a decade

On the few occasions I walked in the door in recent years, they only had box sets of old TV shows (friends mostly) and no PC games in stock.

All the aisles were narrow, meaning you had to squeeze past people to get around the shop.
With the loud music and black décor, it was like a nightclub's junk room.

When you can't find what you want in a shop and have to order it anyway, then going home and ordering from an on-line retailer is simply cheaper and more convenient.

Driving into town, paying to park and finding the shop simply doesn't have what you were looking for, versus instant MP3 download to your PC from Amazon, iTunes or Play.com is a no-brainer.

HMV would have been more successful had they narrowed their customer base and specialised, but by trying to sell "a bit of everything", they were jack of all and master of none.

By cheysuli on 15 Jan 2013

The problem I have with HMV is either I typically find them more expensive (with exceptions to their e.g. £3 DVDs) or when buying CDs I prefer buying online where I can at least try tracks first.

Recently most of my activity with HMV has only been where I get free tracks from their online music store.

That said, for when buying or selling second hand games they can be ok.

By tech3475 on 15 Jan 2013

A Message for the BPI?

...but probably one that they won't understand!

The fact is that the retail space for audio/video media distribution has changed forever. The on-costs of high street premises can no longer be recovered from overpriced physical goods.

Digital distribution is the future (as HMV has belatedly discovered) and that means that the pricing/profit model has to change.

For digitally distributed media, if the prices are seen as "right" then the market will expand. If the prices continue to be seen as "wrong" then piracy will never be reduced.

Time to move into the 21st century, BPI.

By jontym123 on 15 Jan 2013

I can't think when I'm in HMV because they blare dreadful music all of the time. I have to know what I want before I go there, so I may as well order online. There are listening stations with headphones, but they're all loaded with the tat you hear 5-6 times a day on the radio anyway.

I'm only glad I spent my vouchers before yesterday. Any vouchers that I may have had left over would now be useless.

I just hope Game stays afloat until Aliens: Colonial Marines comes out. I need to spend my Game vouchers too.

By John_Greythorne on 15 Jan 2013

@jontym123

The other problem with current DD models (not just music) is that they almost all rely on lower quality formats and/or DRM (with music as an exception).

I still like physical media myself, but I think that they should embrace the digital world fully by offering the choice of higher quality formats, remove DRM and always offer a digital copy.

By tech3475 on 15 Jan 2013

@tech3475

Couldn't agree more. :-)

By jontym123 on 15 Jan 2013

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