The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Thursday, January 29

Samsung's mobile profits slide as Apple catches up ... Amazon has an enterprise mail service up its sleeve ... and more

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Samsung's profit slides as mobile power wanes

Samsung Electronics' smartphone business saw a slide in operating profit of 64 percent in fourth quarter results reported Thursday, as competition from Apple at the high end and Xiaomi and Lenovo at the low end cut into business. But its semiconductor business improved thanks to increased demand for its DRAM. Overall, net profit fell for the third quarter in a row, this time by 27 percent from a year earlier.

Apple ties with Samsung for smartphone market share

The iPhone 6 has sold so well that Apple tied with Samsung for the top position in the smartphone market in the fourth quarter, closing the gap with its South Korean competitor. Both Apple and Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones during the period, each claiming close to 20 percent share of the market, research firm Strategy Analytics said.

Qualcomm issues a warning as "major customer" defects

Samsung may be fending off competitors on all sides but it's still a hugely important customer in the mobile space, and its rumored decision not to use Qualcomm's 64-bit Snapdragon 810 in its upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone may be hitting the chipmaker hard. Qualcomm said revenue from its chip division will be lower than expected in the second half of the year, in part because the 810 "will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer's flagship device."

Amazon takes the email fight to Google and Microsoft

Amazon.com is getting ready to jump into the online hosted apps space, with an email service that will go up against Gmail and Microsoft's cloud-based email. The offering is said to be called WorkMail, and targets the enterprise.

Tech firms balk at new Chinese cybersecurity rules

The Chinese government will require companies that sell IT gear to Chinese banks to turn over source code and build back doors into their systems, and foreign tech companies have registered their concern in a letter to the authorities, the New York Times reports. Copies of the rules, not yet public, have been circulating, and companies believe they are also intended to force them out of one of the world's biggest markets.

Bill Gates drops hints about secret Microsoft project

During an "ask me anything" session on Reddit Wednesday, Bill Gates dropped an intriguing hint about an unreported Microsoft project. Asked about future technologies, he said he's working on a "Personal Agent" which will "remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to." Sounds like it could be related to some of the machine learning stuff that Microsoft Research has been deep into?

Write privacy into cyberthreat laws, advocates say

Planned U.S. laws that would encourage companies to share cyberthreat information should include strong privacy protection if they are to pass without too much controversy. Representatives from Microsoft and the Center for Democracy and Technology told lawmakers Wednesday that they should require companies and government agencies to strip out personally identifiable information before sending cyberthreat information to other organizations.

Supersecure phone was not so supersecure

If you go to the trouble of buying a communication device that promises to protect you from eavesdroppers, you would expect the thing to be free of serious security holes. Unfortunately for users of the BlackPhone, the SilentText secure messaging application bundled with it had a serious vulnerability that would have allowed attackers to decrypt messages, read contact information, gather location data and even execute malicious code on the phone. The issue is fixed, but if a device built with security in mind can be flawed, consider the holes left behind when security features are an afterthought.

Watch now

In case you hadn't heard, a big snowstorm blew through the northeast of the U.S. this week. You can watch 40 hours' worth of snow pile up just outside The Upload's offices in this quick time-lapse video.

One last thing

Operating outside the law has always left criminals vulnerable to shakedowns, and that's true in the virtual world as well. Testimony in the Silk Road trial ongoing in New York revealed that the online black market had a particular business expense: paying off hackers.

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