Exploiting mobile users

Is it not amazing that in an age, where we all move into areas where things getting cheaper and cheaper, we see that mobile phones is the one article that remains into the top priced push. Yes, when you move to the post office, or to some ‘budget’ place, the only ‘cheap’ phones are the ones that are the ones that are basically in the bottom part of functionality, phones that have less than 6 months of decent quality usage before Google pushes for more updates, more android and the applications will add towards the maximum RAM.

This is my situation, I got a new phone in 2012, I needed a new one, and the one I bought was ‘decently’ priced at $299. I never regretted buying it. It still has a good screen, I have one game and a few applications, yet over the last two months the push has shown that when I have more than 2 apps running (including the dialler) the lag, the jittery screen, it all starts getting slightly wobbly, so I lock the phone, unlock it, remove all apps except the one I need and it all works fine again. Yet, my phone needs replacing not due to the hardware, but purely due to software. Looking around has been quite the revelation.

Looking at those options, I see that the $99 phones are less and less useful (specifically the smartphones). So as I started to dig, I am seeing a new change. If you want to find the price of a phone, it is often harder and harder to get clear pricing, more important, we can find less and less about how prices were and how the prices devolve.

Is it not strange that there is such an abundance of buy now places, but less and less information on the devices, the price and how long these articles are set to be for? The mobile is the new field for the technological armistice race and there are too many parties willing to make certain that the people cannot be properly informed. You see, this field has evolved for control. In the 90’s and the decade after that, it was relatively simple to get information on what graphic card one needed, which soundcard would be best. But not unlike the gaming industry, the information places are given less and less information. Is it not strange that Ubisoft (a gaming company) did not give a testing sample of Assassins Creed Unity weeks in advance? Especially when literally billions are riding on it? This is at the core of the issue, at the core of some ‘technology’ pages that are less and less information, more and more ‘typed’ marketing, not for their readers, but for the prospective buyers of the product. The media has been changing more and more and many readers remained asleep whilst reading. I must admit that the last description might not be accurate. Many will not realise this faltering until they are confronted with the fact of change (not unlike me).

If you’re looking for a console you can Google ‘PS4 price console’ and you will get pricing information on the very first page, even price drops, all localised. For mobiles it is a jungle out there and no matter how many ‘suddenly’ appear, when you want to look for that actual good deal (like the ZTE ZMAX) you will suddenly find that no one has such a good deal in stock (finding a decent site is also a challenge). They have cheaper (ad therefor useless) smartphones (I will dwell on that shortly) and of course the really ‘up to date ones’ which are not that much better than a ZTE, but will cost you 275% – 450% more. It is all about the money in the end!

You see those who choose Android (like me), will now learn what the cost of alleged abandonment is. (at http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-stops-providing-patches-for-pre-kitkat-webview-abandons-930m-users/), we saw early this week that Google is now stopping the update of the older versions. This means that as we see the headline ‘Google stops providing patches for pre-KitKat WebView, abandons 930 million users‘. This includes the bulk of the people who bought their mobile before Q4 2013. What a fine android web we weave!

You would think that it is a simple matter for updating, don’t you. Well that is not entirely correct. In my case Motorola was pretty decent in giving the information, however, when I press system update, it tells me that I am up to date, so I cannot get beyond 4.1.2 Android. This is now at the heart of several problems.

Who knows what version they are on and more important, when we consider the following text from ZDNet “In other words, the next time a researcher or hacker finds a way to exploit WebView on pre-KitKat Android, Google won’t create a patch for the vulnerability itself. However, if anyone else builds one, Google will incorporate those patches into the Android Open Source Project code“, more important, as long as this is not fixed, an increasing population will be at the mercy of forced upgrades through buying new phones outright, or chaining themselves to a new contract.

There are two sides. In fairness, should Google keep on fixing their ‘flaws’ ad infinitum? Yet on the other side, if my 2 year old mobile is now a security risk, what on earth am I paying for? More important, in this economy we would keep on paying premium just to be connected? The math does not balance out towards the need of the user. So are we witnessing a start from smartphone, back to normal phones? Let’s face it if smartphones are charged to your account and after that abandoned to this extent, what should we do?

Some will push for Apple, but there to some extent, the danger is changed, not necessarily removed. A normal phone will less likely have these issues, or change to the new player. Even though the brand leaves (from past events) a bitter taste in my month, Samsung has taken a new direction with their mobiles called Tizen OS. The following parts are known at present “It is Linux-based platform built from Nokia and Intel’s ditched MeeGo“, open source means many views, so perhaps better patches. The fact that it is Linux based is not bad either. The fact that Tizen is using HTML5, it means that we will get a wave of content that is state of the art, slim and memory efficient (no flash needed). You can look for yourself to some results (at http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/examples-of-html-1233547), so it seems that the new road that Samsung is taking is also changing the perception that they are getting. From these upgrades, Samsung could evolve from ‘player’ to ‘top contender’. It will definitely bring the fire to the ankles of Apple, which is never a bad idea.

Tizen is not new or just a gimmick, it had been announced before and more important, it has been in development for years, yet with the Google decisions and with the issues that mobile users might be facing sooner rather than later, the timing for Tizen is pretty good and Samsung could benefit greatly, they will get additional benefit as people realise that patches are no longer coming for their less new mobiles, which will hurt consumer confidence.

If you have any doubts then the clarity from Greenbot.com should help. “Google drops Lollipop on November 3rd 2014,  if you have the right device“, which makes us wonder, do I have the right device? “Maybe you don’t have a Nexus phone or tablet. Well, then the situation gets a little murky. If you have a phone purchased in the last year, odds are good that you’ll get an upgrade to Lollipop…eventually“, which gets us, what if your phone is older than one year? Then what? Which gets us the last part “Manufacturers like Samsung, LG, HTC, and Motorola have promised swift updates (typically within 90 days of release) for top devices, but those have to go to carriers to be tested before release, too“, knowing I am ‘up to date’ with my version ‘4.1.2.’ does not inspire confidence! How many people asked questions about versions of Android when they bought their phone? I am a technologist and I never gave it too much thought (other than that I wanted an Android phone). Now, it seems that my Motorola is will remain on Jelly Beans (4.1.2) and now, we have ourselves a ball game, because as this unbalanced approach is pushed from both the desire to remain free (not chained to a provider) and as the life cycle of a mobile phone is now in danger of staying under two years due to the Google changes, we now see the need to not just chastise Google, but to make it clear (actually demand) that consumers are properly informed on the limitations that they are buying at $300, if we regard that patching is done to undue the lacking security of a product sold, we get a new game where the consumer must be informed clearly in a shop regarding the purchase they make.

A costly jump that might not have been needed! This year will bring changes to the mobiles and the shops selling them, I wonder if Google considered that, or perhaps they never cared. Especially when the people get told that they will not face any issues, if they had a Nexus phone (Google’s mobile). Samsung is not without options either, as they progress towards ownership of Blackberry, they might drill into a new mobile market that revolves around data and communication security, which is another mobile hot potato, and it instantly gets them huge chunks of the financial sector for reasons not here speculated! Tactically both Google and Samsung have made brilliant moves, for the consumers not the worst move but likely a costly one this year!

Will you remain in a Google mind or move to Tizen?

Will Eva choose to try the Apple in the end?

Time will tell!

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “Exploiting mobile users

  1. Pingback: Challenging fruit | Lawrence van Rijn - Law Lord to be

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