Long Live the Kill Switch

    The northeast – especially the Boston area – continues to suffer a terrible winter. Perhaps that’s put a chill on the telecommunications and IT industries, since no big news was made during the past week. The biggest drama, of course, is the back-and-forth over net neutrality. Real news on that front will be made by the end of the month.

    Meanwhile, we saw interesting smaller pieces of news and some good commentary and analysis. Here are highlights:

    The Kill Switch Is Working

    Theft of smartphones, especially iPhones, is a big problem that led civic and law enforcement officials to ask vendors to add kill switches to the devices. The logic is simple: As it became known that stolen phones soon would be rendered worthless, the impetus to snatch them would fade.

    The drive was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, London Mayor Boris Johnson and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. This week, numbers from Save Our Smartphones (SOS), the overall name of the initiative, showed that the kill switch approach is working.

    The New York Attorney General’s office reported a 16 percent drop in cell phone robberies (and 25 percent drop for iPhones) in the period from January 2013 to December 2014. During the same period, San Francisco saw a 27 percent drop overall and a 40 percent drop for iPhones. In London, a comparison of the 12 months prior to October 2013 to the 12 months prior to 2014 shows a 40 percent drop. There was a 38 percent drop in smartphone-related personal robberies, which involve violence or the threat of violence.

    3D Printed Weapons Found

    3D printing is both promising and scary. One of the scariest possibilities is that criminals can 3D-print weapons and other dangerous items. The bad news is that it’s happening.

    CNET reports that police in the state of Queensland, Australia found a cache of 3D-printed weapon parts at the home of a 28-year old man near the region’s Gold Coast. They found drugs, ammunition, and a .22 caliber sawed-off shotgun in addition to the weapon parts. The story said that there were enough parts to make four weapons with about eight parts each.

    The 3D printer belonged to a business and had been left with the suspect to be calibrated.

    Yes, Mobile Is Growing in Business

    The Citrix Mobile Analytics Report was released this week and, according to Datamation, it revealed something that certainly can’t be considered a surprise: Lots of Android and Apple devices are in the workplace.

    The number is growing, according to the report. It said that worldwide mobile device enrollment rose 72 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. Apple had 64 percent of the enrollments, Android 27 percent and Windows 9 percent. An interesting finding was the nature of the growth:

    Device preferences differ by region and industry, Citrix found. In a statement, the company noted that “Android is gaining popularity in Asia, and Windows is more than twice as popular in EMEA (16 percent) as it is in North America (7 percent).” Banks and brokerages are particularly fond of Apple, “with 71 percent of managed devices in the financial industry being on iOS and 39 percent penetration of managed Android devices in healthcare,” said Citrix. Windows, meanwhile, is finding some success in manufacturing, with 7 percent adoption.

    Mobile Device Management

    Here Comes Xiaomi

    The already crowded smartphone landscape is about to have a significant new player, though its initial appearance won’t be to sell phones.

    Xiaomi, which Computerworld says has moved in four years from being virtually nothing to the top player in the Chinese market, is coming to the United States. The Android device maker is known in China for its “low-cost, high-spec phones.” However, in the states, it initially will feature accessories such as battery packs and headphones, the story said.

    Selling phones in the future has not been ruled out. If that happens, it will be interesting to see if the company uses the approach it uses in China. The company seeks advice on improvements to its version of Android and publishes an update each Friday evening. It’s been doing this for more than four years.

    Robots Rising

    And, finally, comes a story about the rise of the integrated circuit workforce. A report by the Boston Consulting Group says that the takeover of manufacturing jobs by robots is accelerating as the machines get smarter and less expensive. The study said that investments in robotics will triple during the next decade. This will drive costs down by 16 percent among the world’s top manufacturers by 2025, the story said.

    For example, the cost of a robotic spot welder fell from $182,000 in 2005 to $133,000 in 2014 and is expected to continue falling. At the same time, the capabilities of the robotics, such as their ability to handle unexpected situations, are growing. The study says that robots are expected to assume more than 25 percent of industrial manufacturing tasks. They handle 10 percent today.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.
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