Circling the wagons

I had not expected a follow through on yesterday’s thoughts, but here we are. It seems that there is a business dispute between UKTV and Virgin Media. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/22/four-million-virgin-media-customers-lose-uktv-channels-dave) gives us: “after Virgin sought what UKTV called a multimillion pound cut in fees, leaves fans of shows including Judge Romesh, Harrow and Red Dwarf unable to watch some of their favourite programmes“. Let’s be clear, this is a business decision, so when Virgin wants a 7 figure fee cut, there must be something behind it, should there not? In addition, we need to offer in opposition, that reporting on (as quoted) “According to UKTV, “around 4 million households” were no longer able to access the channels after the midnight deadline passed” should also have an impact on advertising, as you are broadcasting to 4 million less viewers, so there is that in the mix too. Is it merely pricing?

The quotes: “Virgin Media has accused the broadcaster of seeking “inflated sums” to provide its paid channels and linking those to provision of free channels such as Dave and Home“, as well as “Steve North, the head of comedy and entertainment for UKTV, said the company provided thousands of hours of on-demand content to Virgin, with viewings of its programmes, such as Taskmaster, via the service up by a third over the year“, finally we need to add the part mentioned much earlier in the story. With: “The BBC holds back the video-on-demand rights to its programming, instead selling them to players such as Netflix. Virgin Media said this strategy was no longer acceptable as viewers expect to be able to watch shows on demand” we see a linked part in all this, and perhaps also the part where Virgin Media dropped the ball. You see when we see ‘viewers expect to be able to watch shows on demand‘, which I thought was a silly thing to mention, because of the mere fact that Virgin Media was unable to manage the expectations of their customers is a much larger fail. It is a first duty in support and customer care to manage expectations, some use SLA’s, some use other methods (like pricing), but managing expectations was never on the plate of UKTV. We can argue in addition that as viewing was up by 34%, fees would go up, but in addition, so would advertisement revenue. When you report that programmes are watched be an additional 34%, you have an advertising selling point. The question becomes was this merely about fees?

The BBC mentions the Netflix challenge, as well as a picture of a relaxed Greg Davies sitting in a chair (who is apparently no longer trying to destroy the city of Tokyo). Yet the article gives us two points, the first is: “On Twitter, Darren Woodward said he was “gutted” not to be able to see Taskmaster, while Tom Langdon was one of a number of subscribers to wonder whether his monthly bill would be reduced because they could no longer watch the show“, and the second is: “Richard Blunt from Birmingham told the BBC: “Practically all the stations we watch on Virgin have now been withdrawn. I think we will give it a couple of weeks, hoping that the decision is reversed, before deciding whether to stay or to go.”” The entire setting could now escalate in very different manners, not all good for Virgin, actually none of them good for virgin. Even as the Guardian article ends with: “The 10 channels are still available on other TV platforms including Sky, BT, Talk Talk, as well as Freeview and Freesat. Viewers can also watch them online via UKTV Play“, we need to see that this is merely a first step. I personally believe that UKTV has figured out a few things and in this, it has options that go further than merely a fee. The fact that 4 million users are in a setting where there is 34% growth, that is a section that Netflix (and others need), so this is not merely about money, I believe that there is a shift happening. I knew that this would happen, that part is clearly seen in the Netflix pressures. That we would see it shown the very next day was not on my calendar.

So when I decided to dig a little deeper, I found an article (at http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2018/07/uk-tv-networks-are-looking-at-creating-a-british-netflix-to-combat-falling-viewing-figures/), which gave us 5 days ago: ‘UK TV Networks Are Looking at Creating a ‘British Netflix’ to Combat Falling Viewing Figures‘, so was that a self-fulfilling prophecy or not? So as the article ends with “BBC News reports that the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have already had early conversations about the possibility of working together to create a combined streaming service with the potential to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime TV. Whether such a thing will come to fruition currently remains a mystery, but considering the shifting trend to online media, it seems a likely step that broadcasters will eventually have to take to remain relevant“, we see exactly the play that seems to be unfolding now, and from the pressures shown, there is every chance that through pressures applied, this new venture starts with a rather delicious slice of 4 million viewers leaving Virgin. Even as some stated that they will see in a couple of weeks, the sooner this shift happens, the more power Virgin loses, implying that Netflix will not merely grow business, it has the option to grow an advertisement branch much larger overnight as well giving them more options.

Even as we agree that some changes are about to happen, we need to realise that the UK will have a new venture in ‘package deals‘. The quicker that Sky TV and other shops include the UKFlix side of things, the quicker momentum can be gained. It is in this setting that it can grow in the UK as well as gain momentum in Western Europe, where UKTV has always found happy recipients of the series that UKTV fathered and promoted.

It does set a new tone on where places like Virgin Media are going. The UK always had a little saturated niche in all this, the fact that the Netflix equation unsettled the walls in place making it a dog-eat-dog battle field, is both good and bad, the good is that overall the pricing will become interesting to households, the bad is that those with the larger budgets can overturn whatever independence remains. It will be a fight where those with the biggest wallets will be able to out buy whatever is in play and that is not always the positive outcome for households on a budget. The issues that follow soon after that is as one is diminished, how far can it go abroad? The direct setting for the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Scandinavia is also added to the board, because a shift like that tends to move outside of the borders. for example in Sweden where 50% is set by SVT1, SVT2 and TV4 gives options for growth, especially when you consider that Disney and Fox each have less than 1%. The same we see in Norway where 50% is with NRK1 and TV2. They are all markets with options for growth; from an advertising view Norway is more of a nightmare. The two large cities merely represent 14%, whilst the villages 11th in size and smaller are less than 50,000. This is different in Sweden where the four largest cities are 25% of the population and a chunk of the smaller places are still a lot larger than most places in Norway, Sweden has twice the population, but they also have that population in larger communities. These are all elements that have an impact on growth, so that is one side and merely one side. You see Netflix and their methods are rubbing off on the other players and that is where Scandinavia becomes a much more interesting market. The land that gave us Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö and their fiction in the 60’s and 70’s; the land that had Pippi Longstocking and the White Stone for the kids, whilst giving the adults Beck and Swedish Dicks is a treasure trove of IP and that is very much on the mind of the decision makers behind the screens. You see, getting the right IP is half the distance towards profitable series, and there is plenty to find in places like Scandinavia and Australia. They have built quite the score list. That setting needs to be on the forefront of all the board member minds. Getting decent writers for new series is one thing, resettling an existing gem comes at 40% less cost, whilst upgrading a series to today can score places like Netflix millions of viewers with minimum expenditure, when we consider the 8 billion that they are setting in now, delaying one series and replacing that with 10 retrenches that are unknown in the bulk of their places is a way to quickly fill needs, to up the amount of IP and the value it represents as well as open up new doors to other ventures. You merely have to see the impact of the TV series Humans, which got the makers the British Academy Television Craft Award for Best Digital Creativity, as well as a 94% rating is what matters to those in the boardrooms and even as they missed out on Humans, there is plenty to find in some of these places. The relaunch in Sweden of Beck is one part, getting that to the Netflix audience is potentially an additional market to tap in to. In the end, merely buying IP is an option and I personally see is again as short sighted, it is the interaction and engagement of these markets where new innovative IP becomes an option. You merely have to look at the past on the history of the 70’s series Kung Fu to see that the creation of IP that shines for decades is seen. And they are not alone, especially when it comes to TV series for the younger viewers. Sweden had several series like the ones mentioned earlier, the Dutch had the still immortal ‘Kunt U mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen meneer?’ loosely based upon the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’, even as the materials were lost over time, that TV Series is still remembered 48 years later, that’s IP that sets a provider apart from all the other players! As such growing interactive markets, not merely acquiring IP, whilst at the same time investigating what IP is close to readily available is what pushes the Netflix investment invoice of $8 billion a year down, whilst creating content that will be around for a long time. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog ‘Chivalry vs Rivalry‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/22/chivalry-vs-rivalry/), we need to consider “The value of those rights has now spiralled, which has pushed up Netflix’s content budgets and fuelled its drive to produce its own content“, that is still going on, so the one moving fast into areas and setting the stage to acquire the IP, that is where it will be at in 3-4 years, so whomever moves now ends up having the home field advantage, giving additional rise to production settings that are currently a steal at twice the price, yet as the impact of digital content and growth becomes more and more visible, the other players will circle their wagons faster and more determined to get either much better prices, or become players in this field themselves. the moment that all this IP hits 5G and goes global, at that point the entire game changes for all the players involved, so getting there sooner is what it will be about and from what I personally expect that visible push will be all over the news with some frequency no later than 2019.

 

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Chivalry vs Rivalry

The news is still hanging onto several things that are playing. This is not a bad thing; this is the setting as news moves forward and remains news. Even when we consider the events in Saudi Arabia, where we get the Guardian quote: “Saudi Arabia has rushed to boost oil production under pressure from US President Donald Trump – only to discover that global markets might not need it yet, according to some financial experts“, we see that certain players do not tend to use a presidency as a tool, so the quote might be correct, but there is a game in play, played between Donald Trump and Wall Street. So far it works, because everyone thinks he is an idiot, that is the popular story, but I am not convinced. This is direct and it is with purpose, so something else will rear its ugly head soon enough. Yet this is not about that. You see, when it comes down to chivalry versus rivalry, we see that chivalry is dead, it has no place anymore. Even as Saudi Arabia wanted to come to the aid of America, we see the news that “the Saudis are struggling to sell as much extra oil as they’d hoped and are privately fretting that they may have opened the taps too quickly, according to people briefed by Riyadh in the last few days“, it this merely an American ply to keep the reserves maxed so the President can haul away a cheap political victory as heating prices remain low this coming winter?

Even as the Independent offers: “Societe Generale’s Mr Wittner, said: “We have hardly started to see a reduction in flows from Iran. Though there’s a lot of crude coming out from Saudi Arabia now, spare capacity is really going to be the big issue going forward. And spare capacity is getting very tight very quickly.”“, I am not convinced that this is about Iran; this is about keeping prices down over the next 8 months. The flow fall of Iran is merely a nice bonus. Even as we start on oil, we now see that a similar fight is going on in entertainment, the actual issue. In the light of Netflix against the world, we see a few changes that are now more adamant and also impacting us all. The Guardian starts the event with: “Below-par subscriber numbers last week were bad news for a service that must keep growing to survive. How will it respond?“, yet the story is not there. You see, from my point of view, 100 million subscribers is nothing to sneer at and the saturation makes new members a much harder setting, it is by no means the setting for a down draft. Even last week, when I wrote ‘Pushers of media value‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/17/pushers-of-media-value/), I was confronted with several responses, that I was crazy, that there was no saturation. Yet now we see in the Guardian: ““Netflix’s big challenge is maintaining growth worldwide while its customer base saturates in core western markets,” says Richard Broughton, analyst at Ampere. “Netflix is having to work ever harder to gain new subscribers.” The low-cost nature of the streaming service – a premium subscription costs £9.99 per month in the UK and $13.99 in the US – means that it needs inexorable growth to pay for its content“, so apparently with ‘while its customer base saturates in core western markets‘ my setting shows to be the correct one. Now that we have that out of the way, and for now I ignore the one market that Netflix ignored in the UK and a few other places, worth close to an additional £15 million a month, we see that Netflix is for now all about the “it costs a lot of money to attract a Hollywood star such as Will Smith to a sci-fi film like Bright – and in recent years it has been raised by about $1bn annually. Netflix is stuck in a costly and precarious cycle“, Netflix has chosen a short term solution that will go nowhere in about 3 years.

It is the setting of the man who makes a deal with the devil, to bring 10 souls a day to stay out of hell, and accepting a 20% annual increase, as a sales director he accepts it, because he knows it can be done, yet souls are not revenue and in 3 years he needs to have accumulated 12,230 souls. After 6 years it is up to 34,200. A setting that started with 10 souls has now been increased to 25 a day, no option to fail. Greed is like that, it has no problems, because in the end the house wins or collapses, until the second happens, all serving the house are in a spiral of servitude with sliding morals. You see, the first 10 years seems fine, but after 10 years the daily soul quota has gone up to 51 a day and after that it gets interesting with decennial party where 319 souls a day will be required. That is the game everyone forgets about, steps absent of long term vision with in the end the executive having to hand over his soul, no matter what. The house of greed always wins!

Netflix is now in that downward spiral, not when it comes to members, but the setting to gain followers, set against the tides of resources, that is the war they cannot win, not until they resist temptation and take it to a very different level. They have the option and the means, but will they be willing to take the plunge?

Rivalry

This is the setting of greed, rivalry is everything, because now that Netflix has shown the value, now that the others are seeing that the setting is not merely revenue, it is massive profit for the one holding the data, that is the setting that we now get with: “Netflix was able to get hold of the rights to TV shows and films on the cheap. Rights owners and future rivals had not identified the global potential of subscription video-on-demand rights, and Netflix prospered. The value of those rights has now spiralled, which has pushed up Netflix’s content budgets and fuelled its drive to produce its own content“, there are solutions and the nice part is that both the UK and Australia have a leg up in all this, they have an advantage if the proper person gets the parties working together, but can they realise the potential that is still out in the open for the next person to grab?

I am certain that the issue is there, but sees it? I am not giving away the plot here, because there are three aces up for grabs, the question is whoever holds the fourth ace is in the running to get the clean sweep. Yet, the second party is Netflix, are they up to the task to get set up for the chop? That is the game, it is not merely winner takes all, failure is at this stage slightly too dangerous. It took me a day to realise the opportunity, because even as an IP master, I had to wonder how far it could be stretched, yet it can in the Commonwealth and as far as I can tell in the US as well, so this gives Netflix the option, however, to get this up and running, they need to truly focus. It cannot be half baked!

The next pitfall

With “Youth-targeted shows such as Stranger Things and Thirteen Reasons Why have been major hits, but Netflix faces some of the same pressures caused by the rapid generational shift in viewing habits“, that is true, but in that same setting, we see that in some cases everything old is new again, so there is space and place to grow and to do that, a first step is needed, but are the shareholders willing to play the longer game, a game that could potentially grow value by 400%? The long game is not something that shareholders are good at. They believe in short term gratification (not just on 42nd street mind you), so the game is optionally out of the hands of the Americans, giving the UK and Australia now a partial advantage over America on the entertainment business and there is plenty of famous entertainers here, beyond the Australian King and Queen (Geoffrey Rush & Cate Blanchett). This gets us to the final part in all this. The quote “Netflix’s long-term strategy is that it has to increase its revenue from subscribers; it needs to move into those content genres to replicate the journey of traditional pay-TV companies,” says Mulligan. “You need a full suite of content if you want to be a real substitute, not just an additive service.”” we see here is a dangerous one. I do not completely agree with Tim Mulligan, analyst at MIDiA Research. You see, he relates Netflix back to TV, yet we all forget that Netflix is not merely new, it is in a position to become more than: ‘the large new kid on the block‘, yet what Tim fails to see is that Netflix is optionally the new cornerstone of entirely different block, Netflix has been setting new grounds, but the inconceivable still exists, Netflix and rivals have the option to become the rulers of Tinsel town II, a setting that scares Hollywood and the large players in cinematography. They know that this is still a reality that they face and it makes every analyst take a 90 degree turn, but the reality is that short sighted on what makes for any Tinsel town is the opportunity that hands Netflix the goods. Whilst the realisation of avoiding ‘value of those rights has now spiralled, which has pushed up Netflix’s content budgets and fuelled its drive to produce its own content‘ is clearly there, the fact that no one sees the options available is equally disturbing, are they not seeing it, or are they too scared and pushing away FROM it, two very different realities. and one is a steal to own if you see beyond the 4 lines that makes the square that some analysts put you in, realising that lines on a map mean nothing to the map itself, only then can you embrace the new course where those talking the leap have an option (if ALL the conditions are right) to become the new rulers of a market no one saw coming in the first place.

That is what separates the visionaries from the second rate followers.

 

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In this peachy White House

There have been a lot of issues going on lately when we get to the American El Jefe. There is a larger issue and there is consideration whether the larger issue exists for real. When it comes to the 45th President of the United States, the looneys and the conspiracy theorists are having a field day, this President has been the acceleration of looney tunes and goofy vision holders. He has been able to give rise to more conspiracies than the previous ten together. So there is what happens, what belongs to the ‘other’ classes of rumours. We now get ‘Michael Cohen recorded Trump discussing payment to Playboy model – report‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/20/michael-cohen-trump-tapes-recording-playboy-model-karen-mcdougal-latest), so there is that adding fuel to the fire. By the way, have you seen Karen McDougal? I know that it is shallow to judge by looks, but if I got the attention of a woman THAT good looking, I would not be hiding it. OK, I get it, the man is married! Yet as we get another escalation that is taking the focus off the economy, there is now a serious setting where we need to look at the impeachment process (because of the shouting). It is not a new process, it was initially suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1787; he thought it was a better solution then assassinating the ruler, which I disagree with, because I did not master 10 versions of Assassins Creed, just to get some idiot impeached. I was actually looking forward testing my skills against the US Secret Service, LOL!

The impeachment process plays is done in Congress and requires critical votes from both the House of Representatives as well as the Senate. So the House of represents the conviction and the Senate does the execution. This is not a simple setting. The House Judiciary Committee decides whether there is a case for impeachment or not. If they go for the Yay! Setting it will be up to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to propose a resolution calling for the Judiciary Committee to begin the formal inquiry towards impeachment. At this point we see the Judiciary Committee getting the resolution composed of one or more “Articles of Impeachment” to the full House stating that impeachment is warranted and why or that impeachment is not called for. So far there has not been a successful impeachment (Nixon resigned and Clinton got acquitted. Let’s get it out in the open that if President Trump gets to walk the path of former President Clinton, at least it was whilst he got allegedly caught with a woman (roughly) 2587% better looking than White House intern Monica Lewinsky ever did.

What gives?

Well the sweet part of all this is Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanours.

So now we get the list.

Bribery anyone? Well unless Karen McDougal was offered Hawaii for the optional alleged invasive action of penetration, there might not be a case, in addition to that, she is not a government official and there has never been any mention of a presidential vote being swayed by any of her deeds of desire.

Now we get to the part that is a bit of an issue. You see High crimes and misdemeanours seem to be intentionally ambiguous to cover a lot more than initially intended. The Constitutional rights foundation (at http://www.crf-usa.org/impeachment/high-crimes-and-misdemeanors.html) gives us:

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the framers wanted to create a stronger central government than what existed under the Articles of Confederation. Adopted following the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation provided for a loose organization of the states. The framers wanted a stronger federal government, but not one too strong. To achieve the right balance, the framers divided the powers of the new government into three branches—the executive, legislative, and judicial. This is known as the separation of powers. They also gave each branch ways to check the power of the other branches. For example, although Congress (the legislative branch) makes laws, the president (the executive) can veto proposed laws. This complex system is known as checks and balances“.

So now we have a setting that covers allegations of misconduct peculiar to elected officials. This gives us: perjury of oath (Clinton), abuse of authority (Nixon), bribery, intimidation (Nixon), misuse of assets (Clinton and Trump, although the penis is personal property and is disregarded from being accused of misuse in this particular setting), failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, unbecoming conduct (Nixon, Clinton and Trump several Times), and refusal to obey a lawful order. There is another setting which we got in 1970 under Representative Gerald Ford. It was “Representative Gerald R. Ford defined impeachable offenses as “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
Which opens the trough in a few ways, because in modern settings (when married) you are supposed to lie about having an affair, making it no longer an alleged crime, in addition, a Gentlemen is not supposed to tell on what he shoves where, which puts both Clinton and Trump in the Green. And let’s be honest, in public opinion, would you really want to be the one having to admit looking at other women when you are married to a woman looking like Melania Trump? And in finality, when it comes to ‘conduct unbecoming’, the media has been soiling their own meadows for the longest of times whilst acting unbecoming, shielding big corporations in regards to activities as they were advertisers and stake holders, so there!

So we think we have the foundation of an impeachment, the question becomes will the US government push ahead on this? If it is to the 1970 setting of getting this past the House of Representatives that has 240 republicans, good luck to that setting. I think that we can throw out any chance of getting traction here; any impeachment is dead in the waters. The issue is that this might become a tactic next year in light of the 2020 presidential elections. Yet it only holds any serious grounds if the Democratic Party has anyone to offer as a serious contender. It does not as far as I can tell. You see, they have two serious players (for now), Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden cannot get the numbers, nowhere near what is needed, which gives us Bernie Sanders. He might be ready to get that distance, but the setting needs to become the conversion of all the independent votes to go towards the Democratic Party. A lot of them remain independent for a reason and that is the loss for Bernie Sanders. The conversion path is not there and is unlikely to get there, giving the Republicans a large advantage, so any impeachment needs to die in the House of Representatives and it likely will. So as Fox News is all about ‘Trump impeachment push emerges as next Dem litmus test‘, I can tell you now that this is not going to happen, if it cannot be opposed in the house for starting, it will most definitely end up getting killed there.

As we see Fox giving us: “CIA Director John Brennan all but endorsed impeachment when he tweeted that “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors'” and was “nothing short of treasonous.”“, the non-republican Americans get all emotional, yet the setting is that John Brennan does not see it going anywhere, and he did not endorse impeachment as it would never happen. That is the clarity of the matter. Over half a dozen video’s and news bytes, all about impeachment, yet the cold sighting of the rules of impeachment were all ignored by the news readers, all hoping for dozens of cycles on what gets Americans emotional, whilst the clinical side show us that this for now is not going to happen, if it would proceed, it would never make it through and that indicated that any impeachment action is about turning heads and taking attention away from matters that actually require attention.

The one act I moved away from is Treason. Treason is a dangerous setting, especially in this day and age. If we go back to the 1970 setting discussed earlier, we see acts of treason from Edward Snowden and Bradley Edward Manning. They got out, acquitted and given a ‘hero’ welcome, yet they fit the traitor bill, although in the case of Manning, it is likely to fall over on the indictment when discussing gender. I can already see the headlines: ‘Falling over technicality, Male, Nay Female overthrows conviction’, this is not some anti-LGBT rant. I think (s)he choose the exit strategy that no other person would have chosen. Julian Assange did not make the Traitor cut as he was not an American, in addition, he has given materials and as s publicist he might have acted wrongly. It was his mistake to make and that does not qualify for treason.

Especially in light of Snowden, the traitor issue becomes a much harder setting. I have written many articles in the past on Snowden and I stand by them, I believe that this matter is far from over. This is an entirely different setting, but it requires reflection for the mere reason that any consideration of President Trump being considered, and convicted a traitor whilst Snowden got acquitted should be regarded as a first marker that the insane are truly ruling America, but that is merely my personal view on the matter.

 

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Trusting Anti-trust cases?

Today will be about Jennifer Rankin and her article ‘Google fined £3.8bn by EU over Android antitrust violations’. First off, it is a good article, she did absolutely nothing wrong (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/18/google-faces-record-multibillion-fine-from-eu-over-android). We get the goods (not all mind you) but a clear picture and that is what I like, a clear picture to work with.

Right off the bat we start with “Google has been hit with a landmark €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine by the European Union over “serious illegal behaviour” to secure the dominance of its search engine on mobile phones“. Interesting setting as there are Android based phones and IOS (Apple brand X phones). The android systems ALL have full access to Google. As for the search engine, there are two elements. The first the engine for searching itself, which is in android, giving us an open source setting and (at https://searchcode.com/), you can take a look yourself, now you will still need the skills to program, but that is a discussion for another day. The second part is to find stuff, which requires the PageRank. Now we have an issue, because (as the Americans say): ‘that shit is patented!‘ plain and simple. Whilst Microsoft and IBM were belittling Google in 1999 (heard it myself in the UK) Google was working and growing in what is now defined as ‘the development of the Android mobile operating system, the Google Chrome web browser, and Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system based on the Chrome browser‘, it took 5 years for them to get serious traction and whilst they grew, the other two were marketing their BS on every level whilst trusting in VP and players who actually did not know any of their shit, people relying on PowerPoint presentations, bullet points and hype expressions. Now we get the first part that matters: “The European commission imposed the record penalty after finding that the US tech firm required smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google’s search and browser apps on devices using its Android operating system, which is used on 80% of all phones“. This is the first part. You see, there is a merely a partial truth and it is largely incomplete. Any mobile smartphone needs an OS. So we have Apple with IOS, there is or was) Blackberry, Microsoft and Google with Android. The rest was either not willing or eager to play on any serious level. They all had this: ‘it is much better going for larger systems‘. Even the larger players ignored the power of Mobile and Smartphones for too long. That evidence is seen with NBC where we see “In a farewell post on LinkedIn, Microsoft’s former head of Windows, Terry Myerson, explained why Microsoft failed in the smartphone business“, (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/29/why-microsoft-failed-in-phones.html). The quote: “It comes down to two problems: Underestimating Android’s business model, and building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job“. So in two mere dimensions we see the acknowledgment of large corporations set in a place of short sighted expectations whilst using a narrow minded business model. That is apart from the issues that Windows Mobile had, I wanted to add that list of issues, but I calculated that this section would be no less than 6000 words, with the additional issues on Windows 10 mobile adding a serious amount of words to the 6000 words required. Blackberry did not survive the times either. It had a good platform, but ultimately too expensive for most businesses. It is still going on, but not in the same way it was. Blackberry was not flawed, it focused on specific groups and those groups, those who choose Blackberry will love it forever, it merely could not hold up the settings there were, I reckon that the 2008 crash wiped well over 35% of their customer base instantly, a setting that many corporations tend to see as a fatal blow, Blackberry was no exception. So 50% of the ‘larger’ players are already gone, none of it had anything to do with Google, or with the patented parts. So I would love to scrutinise the Danish Margrethe Vestager (without resorting to Denmark and Hamlet). It starts with: “Google has used its Android mobile phone operating system “to cement its dominance as a search engine”, preventing rivals from innovating and competing “and this is illegal under EU antitrust rules”” No! They did not! We see the clear admission from Terry Myerson giving us ‘building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job‘, knowing that already sets one of the two outside of the consideration. I have given the audience evidence again and again on how stupidity rules at Microsoft. The Surface and Xbox platforms are two distinctive places where this is visible. Both have a narrow minded setting, both are short sighted and even the business approach to grow the customer base failed to do its job. Reuters gave us that last year with ‘Microsoft Surface devices fail on reliability: Consumer Reports‘, an overpriced system that cannot even get close to 80% of what Apple could do with its very first iPad in 2011. In addition Reuters gives us: “The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday“, how can any device with a 25% failure issue be in the market in the first place, and it is very connected, as this is the mobile industry, the mobile industry is more than merely a mobile phone, all connected devices that rely on mobile technology (Wi-Fi or cellular) are part of that failure. The Reuters article (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-surface-idUSKBN1AQ1EP) we also get “According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said. Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc. had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said“, so how many corporations should be considered when they are the outlier in a negative way? #JustAsking

It is time to look at article 101 (antitrust) (at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12008E101&from=EN). Here we see:

  1. The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market, and in particular those which:
    (a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions; (not charging for a service is a right anyone has)
    (b) limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment; (impeding your own technical development, intentional or not is merely your own visionary stupidity)
    (c) share markets or sources of supply;
    (d) apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage; (nope, the non-patented part of android is open to anyone)
    (e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

The first issue is that the Page rank which is part of this is patented, so there is already a setting of exclusion. The fact that the others are 10 year late to the party is equally evidence that there is a wrongful conviction here. The setting that they are all scared with the coming of 5G, whilst Apple and Google are the ONLY ONES who will be decently ready, both ending up with a massive market share. We see at this point the third failure of Microsoft. You see, it was not merely the two that Terry Myerson stated at CNBC, the ‘Underestimating Android’s business model‘, as well as the ‘an older technical platform that wasn’t ready for the job‘, it is to some extent the ‘25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices‘ failing, they are all connected to overlapping user groups making the damage even larger. The Xbox debacle that showed a bullying setting of ‘always online’ as well as storage shortage issues (a killer in the mobile devices), their bullying setting of pushing people online is equally part of the failure. It was the fourth part that truly took Microsoft out of the race. Google (as I personally see it) looked at roughly 1.7 million university students and looked at where the future was pointing. They saw where the future was heading and they build on that long term view. Just look at the Gmail storage, the YouTube facilitation, and to openness of their business suite apps, just a few examples. Over 3 years I have only two parts where I missed Microsoft Office a little, over 3 years that is nothing. That in a setting where Microsoft went into the ‘greed’ setting it becomes a lot more funny, especially when we see students having to get by a few dollars a day, yet Microsoft has a $199 version for these students, yes it will be cloud, secure (so they say) and update cost free, a subscription service. Google merely states $0, on the cloud. You tell me what students want! The issues are linked, because Microsoft had been actively growing the anti-Microsoft feelings for almost a decade. I understand that Microsoft has a business model and ‘free software’ is an issue for them, they have a right to be like hat. Google understood that the poor students who hardly can keep a budget now, are going to be the executives of tomorrow, those people then are executives now and they all embrace Google (well, most of them anyway). There was no force, there was no (how did that Danish lady put it?) ‘Restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market‘, many went to iPhone and IOS and Google is fine with that. No, the issue is that the other players are confronted with the stupidity of the previous post holders and that is an issue now, it links together.

By not realising the future 15 years ago, the present is close to unobtainable for them. I watched how I saw again and again how some of them went by ‘We are now working on the new technology surpassing the others‘ again and again (and not delivering). You merely need to find the history of ‘SPSS Data entry for Windows‘ and realise that this was an excellent way to lose 6000 businesses, and close to 35,000 users (relabeling it ‘form design software’ was never a solution). Microsoft went in that same direction and now they are close to side lined from the next technology by their own stupidity. No resources, no ‘know-how’ and no vision, yet Google is the big bad wolf here!

This is the underlying story that links it all and some companies are merely indicative, but they overall went the same direction. So where we see ‘preventing rivals from innovating and competing‘, I see that this was not the case, they merely went a greed driven path (OK, I admit, I should say ‘revenue driven path’), whilst actual new technology is all about innovation and never about iteration. Microsoft, after IBM the larger player feeling left out has shown us on several fields that innovation is merely marketing, not actively pursuing issues and with a ‘25% failure issue’ setting in the Surface department, I believe that their flaws are clearly shown. It becomes more of a farce when we see “Vestager added: “The vast majority of users simply take what comes with their device and don’t download competing apps.”“, users want what works; we are not interesting in a $199 fee for apps that they we get for free, ask any student. There are apparently 207 million higher education students globally, ask them! In addition, that mere setting where we see the onus of the user, to not look for more is punishing a company because the users are lazy? Since when can we convict Google for not installing in the second degree, because the user was lazy?

In many situations there are no competing apps, not of any quality that is and when you look in the Google play, we see that the users are allowed to set the tone. I will be the first to agree, that there are issues and that there might have been a case to some extent. Microsoft faced that years ago when it was still in the delusional setting that they had the better browser. Now we see a different picture. Now we are faced with IBM that put everything on Watson (not sure if that was a good idea), but it can facilitate to the larger degree in every direction, including the third parties banking on 5G, IBM is eager to oblige. Microsoft has nowhere to go, they burned down their options and as they screwed up again and again, it has nothing left but to sulk like a little child. Just consider the upcoming Microsoft Surface Go, for people with budgets. Now consider the News we are given: “With a starting price of $469, the Apple iPad (with Wi-Fi connectivity only) is the winner on affordability”, “The consumer/education version is priced at $599 and will run Windows 10 Home in S mode – which only allows apps that are available in the Windows store”, all this, for a system not out yet, and the Australian Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/technology/mobiles-and-tablets/will-the-surface-go-boldly-where-other-tablets-cannot-20180713-h12n71) gives us: “Why has Microsoft just released a tablet at a time when almost everyone is buying smartphones and almost no one is buying tablets? Sales of tablets such as Apple’s iPad have been in steep decline since 2015, a decline that shows no signs of reversing in the next four or five years, analysts say”, so in that setting another optional failure is introduced. That whilst I saw it coming, just as the short sighted failures that are part what now with giggles is called the ‘most powerful console on the market’ (The Xbox One X), that is the company that is connected to all this.

That part can be found in a few places. In this case I give you the New York Post where (at https://nypost.com/2015/04/15/microsoft-the-big-winner-in-google-antitrust-lawsuit/) we see “While Google CEO Larry Page took his lumps with the suit, Microsoft, very quietly, came out the big winner, sources said. “Microsoft complained a lot,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation. “Microsoft definitely counselled the [EC], suggesting it made sense to send Google a statement of objections so Google would be forced to produce documents” showing its search-result recipe, another source said”, this was a joke 3 years in the making. I hope that I can turn that joke on these losers as they have diminished consumer trust in their narrow minded way (not to mention short sighted ways).

Even when we turn this in another direction through the Register two month ago (at https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/21/antitrust_google_us_government/), where we see ‘On 20th anniversary of Microsoft antitrust, US Treasury Sec calls for Google monopoly probe‘, I am not arguing how right or wrong it is. I am merely pointing out that Google went in a direction that was long term, whilst all the others went into the short term path that was demanded from their board of directors, who for the most could not read a spreadsheet properly because the bullet points were missing (their optional opposition to the NRA perhaps?). That was the setting and those with vision are dumbfounded and they got hurt through the inadequacy of stupid people.

So the Danish party was already active then. What is an issue is Jeremy Stoppelman, he had vision with Yelp, even as he did not understand certain markets (miscalculated is a better word), he had faith in his product, which I applaud. it worked for a while, yet I see that bad choices (unfortunate choices is a better setting) impacted it all, so even as Yelp failed to meet expectations, if it survives and gets 5G traction, it will be ahead of others a decent amount, it turned down Google who wanted them when the going was good and he would have had a strong place if he had taken that part, but it was his decision and I applaud him for it. Yelp and Turnstyle Analytics would have an optional strong 5G setting if it had kept international operations and grow the data the way they had, it will not be easy now for them, but I digress. With: “Mnuchin’s comments on Google came after a special 60 Minutes episode that focused in part on the company and its effective search monopoly. That segment was notable for the inclusion of two people: EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman“, yet all parties have their ‘its effective search monopoly‘, what they are not telling us is that they had a vision that everyone would come with a future need and they got Stanford University to create the algorithm that got patented. All the other players remained dumb to the future. And then we get the one gem I expected: “Also, the EU announced it was launching a probe of Google’s Android operating system to see if its agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals. While Microsoft likely does not care much about search preference, “the investigation throws sand in the gears of Google’s innovation,” the former FTC official said“, so there it is ‘agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals‘, phone makers had options, Apple had its own system and there are NO non-Apple IOS phones. Interesting that this does not make that cut is it? An open system was offered and the alternative Microsoft (rejected because it was not up to the job), Blackberry (is only after the collapse that it became an option to others), we see that Google has an open option, yet they are the boogeymen. So we get two elements, a partially failed entrepreneur (only in part) and a limelight seeking politician. The power of the google Appeal is found in a simple statement: “Her staff ran through over a billion Google searches and found that Google was knowingly manipulating its search algorithms to promote its own products and push competitors far down the ranking“, that evidence must be shown in court and get scrutinised! You see, the timeline for a billion searches can only partially be automated and those results can be used by Google as evidence against Margrethe Vestager as well. The evidence of ‘manipulating its search algorithms‘ will be equally a discussion point putting EVERY intern and assistant of Margrethe Vestager in the witness box, no exception. A setting that I personally see as the EC has close to no chance of winning. Even as I saw the algorithm in my University classes for an assignment, I am decently certain that I did not see the whole 100% of all elements of the algorithm, one element out of place and that is as I (again: personally) see it the crushing of the EC case, the appeal will be won by Google.

The fact that Microsoft was part of this in several ways from 2015 onwards and likely before that is more than enough for me to consider the premise that trusting antitrust is not always a good thing. I do agree that antitrust should exist, yet it should be clear that this is not a handle for the narrow minded, the short sighted, the greedy and the stupid to use because they could not get their shit together. They should reread Chapter 11 of their favourite pornographic work, whether that text comes in 50 shades of mixing several combinations of white and black. A colourless equation in a setting where colour was the only part that the global users demanded, listening to them would have been a first requirement. It is the setting, which gets me to the final image.

An interesting to set the stage, because if Microsoft was a marketing firm, they would be reduced to merely being a spammer, look at the first screen of your Xbox One (X optional) for that part, also all the parts people have to go through in Windows 10 (https://www.windowscentral.com/how-remove-advertising-windows-10), so in the end, the advisors have their own games to play (quite literally at some point). The Independent was kind enough to give us this with: “In the meantime, we probably ought to do our bit to help her by making a little more use of Google’s rivals, such as Microsoft’s Bing, which is a perfectly serviceable search engine“, it is seen at (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/google-eu-fine-margrethe-vestager-android-search-microsoft-bing-silicon-valley-mobile-phones-a8453486.html)

Just ‘Bing’ “UK Law firms”, to get a UK law firm and immediately I see 10 law firms (page top view), 50% Australian ones (3 of those advertised), so if Bing cannot give me what I am looking for, why should I even consider them? With the term “Dutch Lawyers” I get 25% fulfilling the search. I can go on for a while, but I think the case of the doubt regarding ‘a perfectly serviceable search engine’ and the case on how it isn’t one has been made. I did not need to go far. Oh, and if you do have a sense of humour, try “Microsoft guilty” (with brackets), to see Bing give you “We didn’t find any results for “Microsoft guilty””, whilst Chrome giving us an immediate 8 results, with the quotes on these links. So when it comes to censoring (or is that just their flawed algorithm), we can soon see that there is an optional setting where Margrethe Vestager could be seen as a tool for Microsoft (as they might have been ‘searching’ for optional solutions), it might not be a fair setting, yet the entirety of the Antitrust case is seen by me in that way. Microsoft and a few others need time to catch up, being stupid merely gets you at the back of the line (which is where all future opportunities are lost), they need time and they are using the EC to try to catch up. My sense of giggling will be found the moment the appeal is won by Google; we are likely to see a tsunami of ‘carefully phrased denials from European political players trying to avoid the limelight’.

Oh, and whilst we are at it, when we see ‘placing them at a competitive disadvantage‘, that in light of Huawei surpassing Apple (source: the Verge). With: “Huawei has surpassed Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone brand. Sales have overtaken Apple for the first time”, Margrethe Vestager will call it ‘proving her point’, yet the truth is that Huawei went for the affordable option, a side Apple has not considered in decades, whilst in addition, the decline of Samsung and the growth of Huawei reinforces that it was about affordability for the longest of times, those losing market shares are their own worst enemy, because the wrong people are setting the price, I added enough evidence of that for the longest of times. This all in a setting where we see that even as Huawei realises that Europe is the key, the others are isolating themselves even more. Soon enough it will no longer be about Google and Android, it will become on non-American mobile players gaining the upper hand  over all the others, I wonder what anti-trust case will be filed at that point.

#PriceDiscriminationAnyone?

 

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They did what?

Newsweek is bringing out the news, news that had me rattled. The story (at https://www.newsweek.com/saudi-arabia-bans-47-popular-video-games-general-commission-audio-visual-1028013) gives us ‘Saudi Arabia bans 47 popular video games including ‘Assassins Creed,’ ‘Deadpool’ And ‘Final Fantasy’‘. For a moment I could not fathom why video games would be banned. Now, even as Deadpool is unlikely to be my choice of game ever. It does have a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ approach to gaming, which gives it a positive flair. Yet overall, even as I loved the movies, I never read the comic books, so there is a gap there and I reckon that the comic book fans are most likely the ones who would want the game.

So, I was intrigued to learn what the reasons were. The article merely gives me “The kingdom’s General Commission for Audio-Visual Media said Monday that 47 games will be banned for violating rules and regulations“, pretty much all the media gives the same setting some of them give other titles, even though as far as I could tell, none gave the full list. All of them set the stage that the game ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘ is the starting point for the decision involved. Now, I do get the fact that censorship remains strong in Saudi Arabia, the fact that this is the first year that the cinemas are open, the movies are still all to be screened before allowed in the cinema.

The National (at https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/after-suicide-in-saudi-arabia-parents-urged-to-do-more-to-curb-gaming-effects-1.746328) had another side in all this. Here we see one of the Saudi fathers in question giving us: “A Saudi father has blamed the suicide of his 12-year-old son on an online game that he said “broke the spirit” of his child. But therapists and gaming experts say the onus is on parents to step in“, I feel sorry for the loss of that father and the other parents. Yet in this part, even as a gamer and gaming expert for decades, I do not agree with the response. Yes, parents need to step in at time, yet the setting given against that father is unrealistic. You see, for a large portion of the world, gaming is life. Let me explain that, so that you do not get the wrong idea. Our lives are bettered through social interaction, at times we also need our own space to unwind, to relax and let the brain work things out. Gaming allows for all that. The multiplayer games allow friends and schoolmates to compete and sometimes cooperate in games like Fortnite and online RPG’s. By ourselves we can escape our place for a little while and seek comfort elsewhere. I myself can lose myself for hours in Minecraft by myself and feel really awesome after an hour or so, games have that ability. The nice part of Minecraft is that you can play it at times without even thinking, a version of virtual Lego that allows you to create, explore as well as destroy spiders and skeletons. Now with the ocean world addition the game just become more than twice the size it already was. It is great to game at times. All these games are positive reinforcements, no matter what the game is. You might be scared of every corner in Bloodborne; you might see the cliffs and not know the next move like a Tomb Raider should, or sneak through the corridors removing the henchmen of the Arkham Knight. None of them are negative against you and for the most they are positive parts. Even in Assassins Creed where you are correcting great injustice through killing mind you. You are one against an army! It is a challenge and at times even more. The cultural references and the additional scenes in Assassins Creed Origin were overwhelming, making it a learning experience as well.

In the darkness there are monsters

Yes, there are monsters too; in this case it is one person. It is Philipp Budeikin. The information on him is sketchy to an extent. He is a former psychology student who was expelled from his university for reasons I have not found yet. According to his own claims he invented the game in 2013. In more than one source we (BBC was one of them) he gives it to the press that his intention was to cleanse society by pushing persons to suicide whom he deemed as having no value, they were he referred to as “biological waste”. This is new; this is the first time where someone with psychological skills was out to make children destroy their own life. The game known as the ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘, the game allegedly instructs challengers to participate in a series of strange and disturbing challenges. These can include live streaming self-harm and staying up late to watch horror movies (source: The New Arab). The challenges are stated to grow increasingly extreme, until they are reportedly instructed to kill themselves as part of the 50th and final challenge. Apart from any person doing that, or being willing to do that. The fact that someone is willing to go this path (I refer to the game maker) is just weird and insane. In addition, the fact that this person was intentionally and knowingly targeting vulnerable people and the fact he is merely facing 3 years in jail is equally an issue. I will be the first one to sign any petition to ban this game for life on a global scale. This is not about the freedom of expression; this is not about freedom of speech. This is about protecting children! I have seen weird games in my lifetime. The most offensive game I saw was on the Commodore-64 in the late 80’s. It was a game called ‘Paki bang’, an offensive game where you have to shoot Pakistani’s. You got 1 point for every Pakistani you shot and -1000 for every Caucasian. It was offensive and I walked away within a minute, a game with absolutely no redeeming values, little did I know how bad could turn to worse. In my life, the setting where children are intentionally targeted by someone with psychological skills is just too unnatural; the setting clearly makes Philipp Budeikin “biological waste”, as he states the value himself. I do like and agree with the response that we see in The National. With “Omar Sharif, owner of Geeky Lizard, a gaming community and store in Dubai states: “But it’s the job of parents to make sure that kids are engaging in healthy online habits”“, I believe that to be a truth, online has many positive sides, but it has negative sides too. Parents need to be aware what their children are up to, it might not make sense at times to parents, but there is a difference between kids shouting at their friends in competition and collaboration in a game, against the setting that they are given a challenge to physically and emotionally harming themselves. We can argue that children do not always realise this, but the setting of protecting ourselves form harm is coded in our DNA, we tend to not act in self harm, the fact that ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘ is stripping away these defences is an issue and the ‘defence’ given by some with “But therapists and gaming experts say the onus is on parents to step in” is not one that I can agree with. The fact that this ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘ is not hunted down on every server by government and hackers alike is much larger issue. This setting is so unnatural that parents would not have been ready. We all should have stepped up and made sure that any server having this software got hacked and all its data removed any way possible.

In the end, the Saudi government will need to make another ruling here, it might not be immediate, but in the long run it is perhaps essential to consider the reason for any games banned other than ‘Blue Whale Challenge‘. In the end, we need to realise that Saudi Arabia has strict rules on what is allowed and the event that caused the death of two children was the one step that caused a clamp down on certain matters. Saudi Arabia has a sovereign right here. Gamers might not like it, but it is a reality. Even as we might not agree with the verdict on nearly all but one game getting the “Saudi Arabia today banned dozens of video games that it says lead children to harm themselves” label of non-approval.

Time will tell on how things evolve, in the end, we need to realise that it is a list of 47, whilst most consoles have hundreds of titles that were not banned, let’s make sure that we do not forget that part of the equation either.

In other gaming news

The predictions I have given in the past regarding Butterfingers Microsoft versus Eagerly Innovating Nintendo is taking a stronger turn, unofficial numbers (and not from a reliable source I must add) have implied the setting that Nintendo has now approached the 2/3rd marker. It is about to pass (or has just passed) the line where since the release of the Nintendo Switch (March 2017) now equaled two thirds of all the Microsoft Xbox One sold in its life cycle (since November 2013). In less than 18 months it has reached the speculated 2/3rd marker (It is hard to be precise as Microsoft is no longer releasing total consoles sold). It might be because the ‘most powerful console in the world‘ is getting surpassed by the weakest one, but that would be speculation on my side. I see it as the price for being short sighted and narrow minded, not to mention the inability to listen to their customers. 3 elements that became the alleged cause on a lessened revenue path for ‘the most powerful console in the world’.

That moment is still important, it is the clear message that it is all about playing the game and Microsoft has not been doing that. Even as Forbes gave us merely 4 days ago “Microsoft continues to surprise us with strong support for backwards compatibility and an equally remarkable offering with its subscription Xbox Games Pass as it quickly becomes the Netflix of video games” (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2018/07/14/xbox-one-vs-ps4-vs-nintendo-switch-the-state-of-the-console-wars-in-2018/#21fbe2571a8e), yet it is interesting that Forbes seems to be so protective of Microsoft, ignoring that the ‘the Netflix of video games‘ does so with a massively inferior storage system. It talks hard against Sony (validly I might add), and acknowledges the ‘Nintendo has had a remarkable resurgence‘ with the added ‘but investors are still spooked about the system‘, is that not interesting on how soft Forbes is on Microsoft? so as we get ‘will investors ever give Nintendo a break?‘, which might be a valid statement, yet it is not properly set in the dimension against the Microsoft failures (four times over), as well as ‘and will Sony stop being such sore winners?‘, which is a fair call, yet the question is how many are truly hurt by no cross playing? In the past it was never an option and we all wanted it, Sony might not be ready on a few levels, but the Sony remark is still valid, correct and acceptable, so why be so soft on Microsoft, because they are getting a beating from Nintendo? I do not recall such sentimental considerations when Microsoft Word took WordPerfect to an abattoir and gutted it completely. It was not about consideration then, so why is it now?

I am still uncertain whether Nintendo Switch will surpass Microsoft before New Year’s evening this year. The delay of 2-3 big titles are largely the cause of that, yet in light of the amount of games released, there is good cause for joy around Christmas time for Nintendo. At that point it does not really matter whether the Xbox One life cycle sales gets surpassed no sooner than Q1 2019. What matters is that gamers get to play games, perhaps it will wake up the board of directors of Microsoft to rethink their choices on all the times that they fumbled the ball, because one fumble was enough to end a console in the past (with the exception of the Sega Dreamcast, they lost because Sony was willing to be the marketeer with deadly intent). Or perhaps the fact that Microsoft advertises in Forbes? I might be speculating on the three steps on a certain Wi-Fi enabled print ad, but that does not take away the setting that we see the valid existence of ‘its subscription Xbox Games Pass‘. For me that setting comes across as someone telling a leprechaun to go screw an elephant, to which the leprechaun responds: ‘with what?

Having a small drive tends to be not so memorable. #PunIntended

 

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Pushers of media value

We all heard of the name ‘pusher’, usually it is seen in the drugs community. People who prey on children and weak students with: ‘try this, makes you feel good‘. Knowing that as their customer base increases, he can continue his lifestyle of booze and bitches, because that is his only priority, to feel good and to live like a rock star at the expense of everyone and anyone else. So when I saw ‘Alarm for Netflix as shares plummet on worse-than-expected subscriber growth‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/16/netflix-subscribers-numbers-forecasts-wall-street) and was confronted with both “But it also warned that subscriber growth in the current third quarter would likely be around 5 million, again below analysts’ expectations of 6.3 million“, as well as “spooked investors and suggested the company’s explosive subscriber growth may now be slowing. Netflix shares fell 14% to $346.05 in after-hours trading in New York. For the second quarter, Netflix reported a profit of $384.3m, or 85 cents a share, up from $65.6m, or 15 cents a share, a year earlier“, I wondered what the analyst had to offer that gave rise to the situation.

In a world where we see that the quality of life is down, where we are struggling to merely pay the rent in some places, in that world where we learn that “Netflix has almost reached the 100 million mark for streaming subscribers, thereby more than doubling its subscriber numbers from the start of 2014“, so the numbers are showing us an almost 25% year on year growth, that is pretty amazing in many settings.

In this day and age, getting over 10% growth is pretty well done. We all recognise that 100 million users might not be that much on one side, yet the entire business is set against a facade where there is more to the picture. Still, in this the entire setting a 14% drop seems a little extreme. It is set against what I regard to be the pushers of the world (also known as analysts). I have had issues with these analysts before; they are like the drug pushers of Wall Street. They might not see it in this way, but I do. In this setting when we see “that subscriber growth in the current third quarter would likely be around 5 million, again below analysts’ expectations of 6.3 million“, so explain to me where they got that 6.3 million new subscriber issue? Where is the evidence that expected 15 people from Hoboken New Jersey decided not to become a member? Sickness, getting laid off, hospital cost, daughter getting married, all optional reasons where 15 people decided on not becoming a member, now set that number in EVERY zip code in the United States. We can go on with the thousands of additional cases in the US alone, yet the wisdom of some person telling us that a mathematical model should have produced another 1.3 million uses cannot be vetted is merely the setting of a person giving a speculative result and that speculator is the cause of a 14% drop in value?

Now, we do understand that Netflix has responsibilities and with their expected growth is of course linked to the content they can afford to buy. So when I see “Netflix is expected to invest as much as $12bn on content this year, but could face growing competition in the streaming market. Apple is upping its spending on original content in video, music and publishing to $4.2bn by 2022 from $1bn this year. Amazon is expected to almost double its spending on original content from $4.5bn to $8.3bn“, there are two issues. The first is that if we quadruple the quarter and consider the 1.53 billion in profits (or expected profits) for 2018, how come that this year the acquired spending is $12 billion? We get that content is a long term pay off and all the movies acquired now will fuel the customer base for a long time, yet the fact that the profits merely represent 7.5% of the annual content spend is very unbalanced. It also gives us the additional setting that the 1.3 million additional members would not have made a dent there. The setting is fishy and it does not add up. Now, we can all agree that such services are perhaps a lot more complex, but the value long term is also setting the pace that something does not seem to add up. To see that picture we need to realise that Netflix realised well over $11.5 billion in revenue last year alone, so by giving you this, the $20 billion is not only no longer a stretch, it implies that Netflix still ends with $1.5 billion of pure profits, that is nothing to be sneered at, and in that light the spooking of the shareholders make less and less sense and in this, the entire analyst setting comes to the foreground once more, especially when we also add the one small fact that Netflix has $19 billion in assets. It is even more puzzling when we add the NY Times findings with “The company also saw its net income rise to $130 million, well over last year’s third quarter total of $52 million but short of the $143 million that Wall Street expected“, again the analysts now imploding, or is that setting back the market, whilst the records are still showing enormous growth, we see that dark cloud called Wall Street stating that it should have been better. There is nothing that shows evidence of the numbers that Wall Street holds others accountable to. In a system that is unrealistic, punishing realistic growth is not merely dangerous, it tends to be counterproductive in the end.

An additional part seen in the NY Times is now giving another light. They gave “Netflix already outspends its rivals, including HBO, FX and CBS, while Apple has recently signalled to Hollywood it would spend more than $1 billion on original content“, whilst the Guardian treats us to “Apple is upping its spending on original content in video, music and publishing to $4.2bn by 2022 from $1bn this year. Amazon is expected to almost double its spending on original content from $4.5bn to $8.3bn“, so the other two players are also spending billions in a market that is short of resources creating a bubble and bubbles are never good, so then the question becomes, is Wall Street intentionally creating bubbles to overinflate the mess and then short sell the cycle to make it implode in the future?

The fact that three players will represent close to $4 billion a year, each year is already a signal that the big screen, through internet or big screen itself is still flourishing, as the IP is brought through different ways, the only way will be up. So when we consider Australia who gives us “Netflix Australia starts from $9.99 per month for the entry-level, single-stream standard definition package, all the way up to $17.99 for the deluxe, 4K quality, four-stream package“, we see the simple selling point that a month of maximised streaming is close to a mere cinema ticket. That is the simplest of selling points and when we consider that, when we consider that this is not merely on that level, but that the setting also needs to fit the bandwidth that people sign on for, some will not charge Netflix, some do. That is also an influence. So there is more than one player that impacts the Netflix subscriber, all elements in that equation and some we can predict to some extent, but we remains in a setting where the analysts all claim that predictions were outclassing achievement in a place where growth is pretty sweet, it does not add up and that might just be me.

Yet this is where we get the Washington Post with ‘Netflix’s subscriber growth slows, panicking Wall Street‘, this is where we get to the golden egg, the part that Americans never understood, not in 1994 when some made claims on ‘saturation is a myth’, giving us an example with an elastic band, showing that 20% stretch again and again is possible and not today when we see that especially in Australia where housing prices in the big cities are through the roof, where we see that making a budget work is to cut out all extra excesses. In that setting many people can’t merely afford the $18 a month extra. That is supported with: “Professor Muir said it was important to realise that not all of those who live in poverty were unemployed. “One in three people who are living in poverty actually have wages, so we have challenges not just about how we make sure people have jobs, but we also want people to have stable jobs,” she said“. So we have an Australian setting where 1/3 is in poverty and a chunk of that has an actual income. So at that point, who of those people will have Netflix? Will they be willing to sacrifice two meals just to have Netflix? This is not a setting that is only seen in Australia. In America the UC Davis center for Poverty treats us to the setting of a few important characteristics of the 50% percent of minimum-wage earners with an age that is 25 or higher, 50% has a part time job. They have an average family income of $42,500 per year. At this stage it comes down to 20%-25% that live in poverty, when you consider that in 2016  around 43 million Americans were living in poverty, how much of an influence does that stop others from spending sprees outside of the Christmas season? When you see the hardship of anyone in your street, a person who works, fights and does whatever he can to feed his family, often both working, still not making the bills go away. How long until others start to save for the rainy day? I believe that these people are set to the economy as missing values. They do not matter, but they are still part of the total count. I personally believe that there is intent.

When we look at Wiki for a quick explanation, we get the optional view of an economic bubble with the text: “One possible cause of bubbles is excessive monetary liquidity in the financial system, inducing lax or inappropriate lending standards by the banks, which make markets vulnerable to volatile asset price inflation caused by short-term, leveraged speculation“. Yet what happens when it is not the ‘financial system‘? What happens when a bubble is pushed through analysts on the places like Netflix, creating friction with investors that apparently get spooked when a company still reports an optional 1.5 billion annual profit? So what happens when we see ‘volatile asset price inflation caused by short-term, leveraged speculation‘? Now take the leveraged speculation, asset price inflation (due to Apple and Amazon in the market) and it all suddenly implodes as all the analysts stated that Netflix could have easily gotten a million more subscribers that quarter. I hope that you get the drift now!

I am no Netflix fan (I have nothing against Netflix either). I always preferred to watch the big screen whenever I could afford it. I prefer to buy the season DVD/Blu-ray of a TV series I enjoy, that’s how I roll. Some prefer Netflix and that is fine by me too, whatever loads their canon, I say.

So when we see the Washington Post treating us to “they could validate investors’ fears of a company in slowdown mode for the first time in years. Wall Street has already been watching closely as Disney ramps up its subscription-content efforts and HBO, under incoming owner AT&T, is adopting a new strategy to compete“, we are treated to the setting of Pluto and two other dogs competing for the same bone, it is called market saturation and I have had the impression for the longest of times (around two and a half decades) that Americans either do not comprehend that part of business, or they merely do not care and ignore it. Now, we understand that at such points, the stock value of Netflix slows or even halts, yet to see a 14% drop is equally weird, which leaves me to think that Wall Street and all their analysts are in a bubble creating setting, which I believe has been going on for the longest of times. Do I need to remind you of Moody’s and S&P regarding the 2008 events? In the end they paid a fine, but compared to the damage done, it was miniscule. So when we take a step towards FLETC and the ‘Economic Crimes Investigation and Analysis‘ parts. They seem to be all up in arms for investigators, auditors, analysts and individuals serving as direct law enforcement support personnel who provide a foundation for fraud and financial investigations. Yet, when we look closely, how much effort has been done to investigate the Wall Street Analysts and other analysts who seem to be tweaking the expectations?

So when we look at the FLETC syllabus and see: “Successful completion of the ECIA will enable students to:
(1) identify various investigative techniques that may be used to investigate economic crimes;
(2) identify evidentiary documents that may be used to prove the source and disposition of monies;
(3) demonstrate how computer software may be used to organize, analyze, and present information;
(4) identify various ways that an accounting system may be used to conceal the true nature of fraudulent transactions;
(5) demonstrate how indirect methods may be used to identify illegal income; and
(6) demonstrate how effectively present investigative findings

Yet as I see it, in all this the global analysts who are spiking the expectations are all considered not a factor and have the privilege of remaining outside of the scope of all this. That also gives us that unless a 2008 version disaster happens; they and their overpaid asses quite literally get to walk away.

So how does that make sense in any universe, especially when we see the damage others faced over a decade?

Which gets us to the last quote in the Post with “Hastings did acknowledge the second quarter has historically been rough for Netflix, noting another under performance in 2016. “We never did find the explanation [for that],” he said“. In this we need to ask, was this merely a real under performance, or was it all based on a flawed algorithm, one that all the analysts using them will happily silence away?

A group of people never scrutinised, whilst a company making a clean billion plus a year is axed by 14%. Some will say it is all logical and that my lack of an economic degree makes it all my ignorance issue. Yet the Margin Call quote “2 and 2 no longer makes 4” gives the indication that it was not math and according to the math involved the 14% cut is optionally wrong, yet the reality of bubbles and the intentional creation of them is set on greed and that is the one thing that Wall Street thrives on and I wonder how closely some of its players are actually watched, more importantly, once proven, will the events actually be acted on, or will they merely receive a $401K fine in the mail?

 

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The Qatarian debacle

There is no denying it, we sometimes take the most stupid steps, even though it was for the best intentions. Yet when we are confronted with the reality, it becomes a different thing, especially when corruption and corporations intervene. First we were confronted with the prospect of Qatar 2022, I was actually pretty happy about it. To bring the enthousiasm of Soccer into the Middle East is a good thing, it opens all kinds of dialogues between Middle Eastern nations and as Europe has one universal event in common, soccer could have become the bridge between the nations in Europe and the Middle East. That’s how I naively saw it. But it took merely a week or two until suddenly the accusations of corruption came out of the woodwork. More and more news outlets have become the ‘whores’ of shareholders and stake holders, all in fear because it wasn’t merely about Qatar, it was the fact that it would be held in winter overlapping the normal soccer season, leaving us with the clear set that clubs could not play with their stars representing the national teams. With all that advertisement opportunity gone, they are all screaming like bitches. The biggest of them (Martin Ivens) is part of this (at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/plot-to-buy-the-world-cup-lvxdg2v7l7w), and when we see “revealed for the first time this weekend in a bombshell cache of millions of documents leaked to The Sunday Times“, the editorial has a clear duty to inform the public showing the evidence. The fact that ‘millions of documents‘ were parsed is close to impossible, but that’s going to be another story. Yet since June 1st 2014, we keep in getting more and more speculations, yet no evidence was presented. In the end, the FIFA corruption was merely parsed aside, no clear imprisonment, merely ‘a six-year ban from participating in FIFA activities‘, the corruption and the facilitation to the stake holders and shareholders have gone that far, yet no one presented clear evidence at any level to the public, partially my setting for demanding Martin Ivens that he gets the hell out of journalism.

In all this, Qatar has remained the battered victim (in this instance) and I thought it was good for those shareholders and stakeholders to feel the consequences of diminished value for a change. Yet that is not happening. Still, we see is some olive branch towards soccer by setting the news as we saw it in the Washington Post with ‘FIFA could expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2022, ahead of schedule‘, either it is a 50% bigger strain for Qatar to keep up with the changes or it collapses and the torch quickly gets handed over to another soccer nation pleasing all stake holders involved.

Yet the issue is now escalating and not in a good way, it is also not on the soccer side that things are becoming a mess. In this case it is not about the article (at https://www.thenational.ae/world/britain-warned-over-qatar-s-london-intelligence-network-1.749819), where we see the quote “A group of Arab countries demanded action from the British government to restrict an expansion of Qatar’s intelligence activities in London, including surveillance operations as well as political and propaganda activity“, I am not sure if this is actually happening, but it is one part that increases the pressures going on. The actual dangers are coming from two siders, the first is seen in Haaretz (at https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/how-qatar-is-warming-ties-with-both-trump-and-iran-at-the-same-time-1.6247714), where we get ‘How Qatar Is Warming Ties with Both Trump and Iran – at the Same Time‘, it is the Iran side that is a worry. We might take notice of an old fact given in “Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of fomenting regional unrest, supporting terrorism and getting too close to Iran, all of which Doha denies“, yet that is not the danger (at present). In addition we see the actions (the clever actions) from Qatar with “A review on Monday of Foreign Agent Registration Act records show that since May 31, six U.S. companies or individuals have registered new Qatari lobbying contracts with the Department of Justice. That number includes the major firms Ogilvy (which is being paid $10,000 per month) and Portland PR ($20,000 per month)“, in addition, Ogilvy gives them full access to the Commonwealth, so London (as mentioned earlier), Canada and Australia are part of the setting to change public opinion, a task Ogilvy is very good at. The second part is different, when we look (at https://en.mehrnews.com/news/135396/Iran-1st-quarter-export-to-Qatar-quadrupled-year-on-year), we see something that seems harmless enough, yet the fact that “In the first quarter of the current year of 1397 (March 21, 2018- June 21, 2018), 74 million and 61 thousand dollars of goods were shipped from Iran to Qatar, which has increased by 214 percent year-on-year“, seems innocent enough, yet it also gives us that with over $300 million of trade goods before the end of the year, a large amount of people go back and forth, which also optionally offers military advisors as well as people of the Hezbollah persuasion opportunities and now it becomes a very different game, now we have a setting that allows for the settling of units and their sole reason for playing possum the next three years is to go out with a bang in November 2022. Consider this setting against the Washington Post of April (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/hacked-messages-show-qatar-appearing-to-pay-hundreds-of-millions-to-free-hostages/2018/04/27/46759ce2-3f41-11e8-974f-aacd97698cef_story.html) where we see ‘Hacked messages show Qatar appearing to pay hundreds of millions to free hostages’, the operative word is ‘appearing’. When we see both: “with a half-dozen militias and foreign governments jostling to squeeze cash from the wealthy Persian Gulf state. “The Syrians, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Iraq — all want money, and this is their chance,” Zayed bin Saeed al-Khayareen, Qatar’s ambassador to Iraq and chief negotiator in the hostage affair, wrote in the message. “All of them are thieves.” And yet, the Qataris were willing to pay, and pay they did, confidential documents confirm“, as well as “they appear to consent to payments totalling at least $275 million to free nine members of the royal family and 16 other Qatari nationals kidnapped during a hunting trip in southern Iraq“, there are issues that do not add up. Now consider that such a large group of dignitaries was too unprotected as well as the fact that this event did not become world news on every level!

Now we have a series of players like Kata’ib Hezbollah and Hezbollah-Lebanon ready for the next event. This they will play really clever, with $150 million ready, they have the time to prepare and truly make the beginning of Qatar 2022 go badaboom (big badaboom); Qatar gets to play the wounded victim and whatever happens will be in the news for years to come after that. The fact that this threat is actually growing and no longer unrealistic is also part of the issue now for considering the relocation of Qatar 2022 to somewhere else. That setting was not there in 2014, or not as far as I would be able to tell. What is now a given is that not only is there an actual danger here, the fact that this setting exists, is an additional threat to Saudi Arabia, if they will be able to attack the stadium as well as fire missiles on Riyadh, the stage changes as Riyadh is now a mere 449.23 Km, very much within range of several missile solutions. Tactically speaking they would come into Qatar into parts, like as spare parts for engineering equipment, most could be hidden in several ways and with $300 million in goods, the chance of finding even one part is close to impossible. They will have 3 years to assemble it all. Saudi Arabia is not alone, as this situation unfolds, we need to realise that the UAE and Abu Dhabi is a mere 200 Km away, an equally appealing target for Iran. You might think that it is not an option, yet the ‘goodwill’ that Iran bought with missiles for Hezbollah is exactly why it is an optional reality to face; it is the cost of doing business.

So, as we consider the cost of doing business we can only hope for the places like Ogilvy that if this happens that they have all the right paperwork ready for their presentations on what they facilitated for. It’s not like it might actually impact its parent company WPP plc, is it? We can only watch (and smile) from the sidelines when its £55.56 billion value starts fading like snowflakes in the summer sunshine. Should you think that I am kidding and my view is far-fetched? Consider what happens when 200 countries filled with an estimated 3.5 billion devoted soccer fans go berserk. I will be selling tickets and popcorn to that event and make a killing (figuratively speaking).

The Qatarian debacle was poorly set from the very start, it was a non-issue and whilst people filled their pockets we saw close to no concise actions against FIFA for decades. Now that the world stage, especially in the Middle East is polarising and escalating on several fields, we see that the allowed setting is becoming more than merely ‘optionally hazardous‘. The actions on several sides give a clear danger that no matter how you slice it Qatar 2022 is a clear tactical target, not only for the players, but the amount of dignitaries attending are now are set in a stage where the tiger gets offered a pound of flesh and everyone on the sidelines is considering that the tiger might be a vegetarian whilst it all gets aired in prime-time to every part of the world, you tell me who the short sighted player in that stage is.

 

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