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Code/red: HTC Shareholders Lose Shirts, Demand Free Phones

Plus, Marc Andreessen's deep thoughts on Yo and an observation or two about Amazon's Fire phone.


You Know What Would Make Me Feel Better About HTC’s Catastrophic Loss in Share Price? A Free Cellphone, That’s What.

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC’s shares have lost 90 percent of their value since 2011, when the company trailed only Apple in U.S. smartphone sales. And its shareholders are understandably pissed. So you’d think that HTC’s plans for improving its increasingly ugly fundamentals would be top of mind for those attending the company’s annual meeting this morning. Or at least more top of mind than the handset giveaway many came expecting. Not so, reports The Wall Street Journal, which notes that calls for free phones continued three hours into the meeting. “One shareholder, who rode on a motorcycle for over an hour to come to the meeting, said a free phone would have made him ‘feel better about HTC’s sinking share price.'”

“That” Being “Ride a Life-Size Robotic Giraffe”

President Barack Obama: “The Secret Service would not let us do that.”

T-Mobile CEO Proposes New AT&T, Verizon Slogans

T-Mobile CEO John Legere: “These high and mighty duopolists that are raping you for every penny you have? … The f—ers hate you.”

BlackBerry Kicks Off Un-Dead Campaign

BlackBerry finally gave some good news to its long-suffering shareholders today, posting a surprise net profit after a string of ugly quarterly losses. Shares of the dilapidated smartphone pioneer surged to their highest levels in months on the news. Evidently, there was some truth to BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s proclamation at our Code Conference last month. “We have a lot of problems. But we’re not dead.”

What Is the Sound of One Hand Shopping?

“If you never had to type again on a phone that would be great. We want you to go from ‘I want that’ to ‘I bought that’ in 30 seconds or 10 seconds … a very short period of time.” That’s how Amazon executive Paul Cousineau described the retailer’s aspirations for mobile shopping back in January. And after Wednesday’s unveiling of the new Fire phone, Amazon may finally be positioned to meet them. Because the device is just as much an Amazon shopping cart as it is a handset.

Let Me Guess, You Could Have Sworn You Used the BCC Field

An administrative cock-up over at the U.S. Marshals service has revealed the names and email addresses of potential bidders in the upcoming auction of bitcoins seized from Silk Road last year.

Point/Counterpoint: Meet Pepper, the Emotional Robot vs. Meet Pepper, the Unrelenting Pitchman

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son: “We want to have a robot that will maximize people’s joy and minimize their sadness.”

Sam Byford, The Verge: “The first thing Pepper said to me was about the advantages of buying a SoftBank-branded iPhone battery pack. The second conversation involved shilling a TV tuner for smartphones, flashing ads on the chest-mounted tablet.”

Optimus Prime

Kevin Roose, New York Magazine: “… the biggest news about Amazon’s new phone isn’t the phone itself. It’s what the phone tells us about Amazon — namely, that the company wants to turn all of its customers into super-customers as quickly as possible by getting them into Amazon Prime. … Think of the Amazon Fire as a Prime subscription-selling machine that also happens to make phone calls and send text messages.”

By the Way, My “Screwed by Oracle” Support Group Meets First Thursday of Every Month

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise: “Like most people in government, I’ve been screwed by Oracle.”

Really? Then Let’s See You Add It to the Andreessen Horowitz Portfolio, Marc.

Marc Andreessen on Yo: “Lots of Mirth over ‘Yo’ today but actually there’s a fascinating aspect lots of people are missing. Yo is an instance of “one-bit communication” — a message with no content other than the fact that it exists. Yes or no. Yo or no yo. Other instances of one-bit communication: Police siren, flashing stop light, “Open” sign, light turned on, taxicab roof indicator lit. … I’m not saying Yo will be the next $100B social media powerhouse. But instant dismissal makes little sense; let’s learn & keep minds open.”

Off Topic

HTTP status dogs.

Thanks for reading. Got a tip or a comment? Reach me at, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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