Monday tech roundupDo you use Facebook’s “Other” messages folder? This is the folder where all the beautifully weird, many times spammy, messages sent to you go and die on Facebook. Any messages from people who aren’t on your friends list will go in the “Other” folder but it seems like this feature will soon come to an end, or at least evolve. Instead, Facebook is rolling out the “Message Requests” feature. David Marcus, who takes care of messaging at Facebook, explained the new rules in a recent post saying: “The rule is pretty simple: If you’re friends on Facebook, if you have each other’s contact info in your phone and have these synced, or if you have an existing open thread, the new messages from that sender will be routed to your inbox. Everything else will now be a message request, minus spam attempts that we will continue to ruthlessly combat.”

Also last week, we were shocked to find out details of the new iPhone’s real price, we discovered Apple is breaking the enterprise market without even trying and we learnt of a new Outlook phishing scam.

The real price of an iPhone is way higher than the advertised $199

I have a wife and four kids. For me that means there are six iPhones in the household. So I should know what an iPhone costs, right? Not really. You see, phones aren’t sold like laptops where you plunk down the cash and you own it. Phones are paid for in installments, normally through a carrier, and it’s hard to figure out the actual cost of the darn thing.

Pricing is becoming clearer in one aspect. Apple now have an installment plan just for the phone itself – like a car loan – and here is where you can clearly see how much the phone costs – it is simple math. However, the $199 price tag advertised almost everywhere is far from the truth and according to a recent feature on ZDNet

Apart from that, it also turns out prices are going up – round about (USD) $650-$850 when bought through a carrier plan. Compare that to a laptop. For (USD) $850 I can get a pretty smoking machine, and laptops are far more durable and resilient than smart phones which can fry at the slightest hint of rain.

Those prices I quoted are based on the contracts from major carriers which obscure what you pay for the phone by mixing it up with all the other fees that constitute your monthly cost.

The PC market has been driven by competition, innovation and Moore’s Law. Prices go down as power goes up. However, for some reason these dynamics don’t seem to apply to phones and in fact, Apple revealed recently that the price of an iPhone has gone up 11% this year.

Apple making enterprise bucks without really trying

I’ve long argued that Apple could be far more successful selling desktops and laptops into to the enterprise, and that the tech-giant is basically ceding that market to Microsoft with its Surface.

But Apple products designed for consumers can also be used in the enterprise. In fact, the company claims it pulls in (USD) $25 billion a year selling to the enterprise. Part of this is through the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon. This is where end users bring their own machines to work – this could be a phone, tablet or even laptop. Here buyer preference rules the roost and many buyers simply prefer Apple.

Leading the Apple charge are iPhones whose sales are up over 22%. In the latest quarter Apple sold nearly 40 million phones. Coming in second is the iPad, which is down about 20% compared to the previous quarter. Coming in last is the Mac, which sold 5.5 million units for the quarter. While this is more than Apple has ever sold in a single quarter, it pales when compared to Windows machines.

The good news is that Tim Cook, the CEO who replaced Steve Jobs (who didn’t give a hoot about the enterprise), does indeed care. “Enterprise business is not to be underestimated. Everywhere I look, I see significant opportunity,” Cook said in the latest earnings call.

Microsoft Hotmail, err, Outlook phishing scam

Phishing scams are all about fooling folks into thinking the email is really from their bank, PayPal or whatever. Some of these scams are really well thought out and can fool even a veteran like me.

Yesterday I got an email presumably from the Microsoft Outlook team. The design of the mail was impeccable and it told me that Outlook.com has a new privacy policy and “Services Agreement.”

Granted, this sounded a little off to me. Then it told me that if I don’t update my account in the next day, it will be disabled. Obvious bunk, but how many people would fall for this? Oh, and the email address it came from was awfully suspect. Here is the text with malicious links deleted:

Dear Outlook.com User,
As part of our effort to improve your experience across our consumer services, we’re updating the Microsoft Services Agreement and the Microsoft Privacy Statement. We want to take this opportunity to notify you about these updates for your safety.
If you do not update your Microsoft account within 24 hours your account will be deactivated and deleted from our server and you will no longer have access to many of the outlook.com features for improved Conversations, contacts and attachments.
Take a minute to update your account for a faster, safer and full-featured Microsoft Outlook experience and to avoid your account being De-Activated.
Thank you for using Microsoft services.
Microsoft Admin:
Microsoft respects your privacy. To learn more, please read our Privacy Statement.
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

The email even contains a legitimate link to Microsoft’s Privacy Statement to further reinforce authenticity and the language used seems professional and similar to something Microsoft might send. So how can you spot a phishing scam? Have a look at our phishing lessons here.