What we waste away

This is an issue that bugged me for a little while. Even though it started small, the near exponential growth of waste is now looking towards me, looking at me as I look into an abyss of squandered opportunity. You see, this is in part the Monday morning quarterback speaking, whilst in that same view I should hold a mirror to my own choices. Just like you should do.

The idea for this article started small, it started when I realised that Huawei was willing to sacrifice its Australian market share by tweaking the skewing profits they have. They are now making short-sighted decisions and as they do that, they stand to lose close to 10% of the Australian market share. So why waste that? Let’s not forget that before the P7 Huawei was almost synonymous with ‘whazzat?’ and now after the P7, which was and still is awesome, after a less appreciated P8, Huawei is close to being a global household name. Now with the Nexus being a little outdated (Nexus 6P), the 9P could have been ready to gain a decent market share, hurting both the iPhone to a lesser degree and the Samsung phones to a larger degrees. So what does Huawei do? They decide to not release the 64 GB in Australia. Now until recently, we could have expected that, yet when you consider the exponential demand for mobile games that Pokémon GO is pushing, the fact that we now see ‘Apple plans to invest in augmented reality following success of Pokémon Go‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/26/apple-earnings-pokemon-go-augmented-reality-steve-cook), whilst the players are not thinking their decisions through could be regarded as a larger (read: massive) act of wasting away opportunity.

So why is this a waste?

Until Pokémon GO, the need for storage had not been visible to the degree we thought we needed. Even I did not see this coming and I have been connected to games and gaming in excess of 30 years. Forbes (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/bensin/2016/07/25/these-photos-show-how-crazy-the-pokemon-go-craze-is-in-hong-kong) gives us a clear view with the quote “special phone plans from local companies offering unlimited data usage just for the game“, which shows the amount of users, but not the need for storage. The fact that millions of people are now getting dozens of screenshots every day (more than before) of every Pokémon they caught and even more interesting where it was caught. Of course the average teenager is also feeding the image streams on how they caught a Diglett on their boxer short, so the wildfire of images is growing. All these images require storage and this is only the first game, within a year I expect close to a dozen games with features requiring storage, because there will always be copycats. So do you really think your 32 GB phone will suffice? I think not, with all the other needs your mobile life has, buying any phone less than 64 GB from this point onwards is a massive flaw. It is short-sighted, even if you are not a gamer, this market is erupting into new fields and the chance that this will not affect you is near impossible. So as the difference should be no more than $100, sticking with the 32 GB is in my view for the nuts and fruits, the fibre based mobile user needs 64 GB, yes there is in some cases a 128 GB, yet this is except for the very few really overkill, you need to be a seriously intense user of large files to really need something this big, but by 2019, who can tell?

In my view, you need to consider a mobile phone for the next 2 years. 32 GB will not cut it, especially as Android OS is also growing and will require more space.

Now it is time to take a look at the Apple side, the Guardian gives us “The comments came during an earnings call to discuss the results of the company’s third financial quarter, the three months ending 30th June, in which the company earned $42.4bn in revenue, a 15% decline from the same period last year“, so as Tim Cook is making claims towards Augmented Reality (AR) he seems to have forgotten that Nintendo, with their 3DS got to that point 5 years ago. So, not only did he miss that entire cycle, we can conclude that 3 iterations of new Apple products were not near ready either, so he is running behind the ball, whilst someone saw the AR on the 3DS and game it a little more thought. As we see how Microsoft has been bungling some of their projects, in all of those steps Apple wasn’t just absent, they had no clue where the gaming world was, so as they are trying to pick up the pass, we see the lack of innovation and shear absence regarding the creativity of options that Apple happily avoided. Now as some ask questions we see a sudden mention of AR whilst none of the hardware is ready to facilitate innovation for this track.

As I stated that all (including me) missed the hype this caused and yes, it is a hype but one that is creating a beachhead, not one that is fading away. So Nintendo has options and opportunity here. Beyond the IP needs that are now rearing its ugly head, we need to realise that Apple is now moving to the shallow end of the pool. They moved from innovator to facilitator and until they change the mindset on what a gamer wants and what a game needs to be Apple is now the one barking up the wrong tree. In that regard evidence of their hardware is simple enough. Only the iPhone 6 started to have 2GB or RAM. The issue is that games tend to be memory hungry and no matter how good the swap architecture, the fact that you need it will drag gaming speed and swapping speed down, which makes for a bad solution. The fact that Huawei is skewing profitability by limiting storage is less on an impact, but knowing full well the impact on mobile gamers, the fact that Huawei has not adjusted it view means that they will not be able to keep up. That last one is a little incomplete for Australia, because it is one of the few places where the mobile phone providers do not offer a 64 GB edition, whilst the models do exist. Here we get that Kogan.com is the only open provider offering 64 GB phones, in the non-open field it is only Telstra that offered it (their iPhone 6S), the rest is now trailing storage land with a dangerous backlash that could come their way.

So how important is storage? It might not be that big on one side, until you run out. Ask yourself, when was the last time you deleted pictures, removed MP3 tracks and removed APPS you never use? The moment you run out of memory and as you suddenly see that you do not have enough storage you will freak out like the short-sighted PC users who used to think that 20 GB was enough for their PC. Most of those people ran out of resources less than a year after getting their PC, when they did not know how to clean up their PC they started everyone except themselves. That is what you now face with your upcoming needed Mobile, because that moment with your kids, or your partner who just made that one gesture just as a bus passes by and the water pool near her feet became the inverted waterfall covering her, that moment when you miss it will introduce you to the term ‘frustration’, which is the moment as you realise that storage was everything at some points.

Yet these were not the only parts, just the directly visible ones.

There are more options and several are being missed out on. I am currently sitting on a billion in revenue, yet until the right person comes along. I can’t afford to move towards it without leaving it open for others to pick it up. I just need to get lucky. In that same way, some game developers are sitting on optional IP, some are now finding its way towards us in other ways, some through redesign, some through the mini console gadgets, yet they are coming. Is it enough? That depends on your point of view. For those coming with the mini console, it is a way to cash in on old IP in an easy way, a way where the seasoned gamer will get joy from. Just remember that this $99 solution, with the original games which would have come at a price of almost $1900 when the games were initially released, yet I digress.

You see, the need for gaming is still growing and it is moving away from consoles and moving towards the mobile realm of gaming needs. AR is only one field and it is not the only field. Ubisoft had initially created a small wave with a brotherhood app, one that interacted with the console/PC games and soon thereafter stuffed it up with the AC Unity versions by not proper testing and considering options. Yes, that Ubisoft! Still, they are not done! Consider the options they still have. For one, they have the IP of Just Dance. How long until they get the idea to push songs to the mobile and kids in schools and colleges start holding a little Just dance marathon? Sydney of all places is one place where a dance app could make it big not just in the parks, but on the streets too and summer is coming!

How long until that Just Dance would evolve to work in selfie video mode, so that you can get a rating? This would require storage and some of these speculated options could be just around the corner. Even though Ubisoft dropped the ball initially, they are leading the way of combining gaming with mobile gaming. So there are more options that AR games, even if everyone is running that direction (which is not a bad idea), it will require an open mind to find something that could create the interest that the tsunami of Pokémon GO gamers crave. I will let the developers work that out.

The final part can be seen outside of the economic requirements of technology. It is found in the overly eager acceptance of ‘speculative estimation’. It is not based upon what could be, it is not set on the prediction of what already exists, it is seen in the quote “Shares plunge 10% as revenue falls short of analysts’ estimates amid modest gain of 3 million users“. In this case it is Twitter, you know that great tool. A connectivity tool that link you to existing interests, both professional, personal as recreational. No matter that it is limited to 144 characters, it enables you to get the information you care about. An invention that is profound and its value drops as revenue falls short of what a limited group of people expects it to make. So as we see a solution that is making “Twitter forecast current quarter revenue of $590-$610m“, we get the cold shower because some people claim that it is “well below the average analyst estimate of $678.18m“, so we have half a billion profit and someone says it is not enough. This is the waste, reduction in value, reduction of what those who do not create anything is just not good enough. Yet, this picture that the Guardian initially paints is not accurate either. We see should consider this when we take into account Revenue and Profit, no matter what the profit was, it did beat the expectations of some, making me wonder why analysts cannot get their act together.

Some of those are pretty much the same types who would increase the value of Nintendo by 10 billion, even as Nintendo themselves did not make Pokémon GO. Those same category of people who seem to expertly know that Twitter is supposed to have up to $70M more in revenue, did not realise that “Tokyo Stock Exchange has plummeted 17% in one day, apparently due to investors belatedly discovering that the company doesn’t actually make Pokémon Go, the latest mobile gaming phenomenon“, even as we all knew from day one that Niantec is an American development company in San Francisco, they were not making any mention when Nintendo stock went through the roof. So is this just plain playing the field or just short-sightedness? Even as shares went up 13 cents per share (up 3 cents), they had no good news on Twitter. It seems to me that there is a massive waste coming from analysts predicting values, setting targets that are a little too weird even as Twitter had achieved 20% revenue gain, it still missed targets (according to analysts). The pressure on false targets and fake values is dragging down people and it is dragging down quality of life for those who still made well over half a billion dollars. How is that not a waste?

It seems to me that we need to make large changes, not just on the way we think, but on the way we accept certain values. How is pushing by externals in any way acceptable? Let’s consider the following parts. These analysts we all about predicting the ‘opportunities’ for Greece in the era 2009-2012, even as we saw misrepresentation in more than one way. How did that work out for the Greeks? Brexit was never going to happen, they did not catch on to that part until the day of the election, how again did Wall Street overreact? Now consider the following definitions: ‘Slavery existed before written history, it continues through such practices as debt bondage & serfdom‘. Now consider debt bondage, where we see ‘a person’s pledge of their labour or services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation‘, our debts, our essential need to work, the pledge of labour as analysts seem to chasten Twitter (and many other companies). Serfdom is another issue. It is not the same as it was. As the description might be seen as: ‘Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land, and in return were entitled to protection, justice and the right to exploit certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence‘, many might deny that this still exists, yet in an age with high levels of unemployment we seem to push out own boundaries to do whatever it takes to keep levels of ‘protection‘ (read: not being unemployed) and ‘rights to exploit your position‘ (read: additional work requirements), even as we might disagree with parts of this (which is fair enough) the similarities are close to undeniable. In all this we see an iteration of analysts changing predicted needs, raising expectations, after which their errors are released through waves of managed ‘bad news’. Now, this might be just my speculative error of insight. Yet the evidence is all around you. In that regard, many analysts also get it wrong the other way. When we see Facebook exceeding ‘expectations’ by 59%, can we at that point agree that the analysts making the predictions have no real clue? In this age where we can all miss a trend, the fact that we see a 60% miss is not as much as a miss, as it is a massive inability to read your market, which is how I would see it (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/27/facebook-ad-sales-growth-quarterly-results).

You are now wondering how the latter part connects to the initial part. As I personally see it, we are receiving more and more hindrance from places that make one claim, yet in reality they are mere facilitators towards profitability to ‘satisfy’ the greed of ‘investors’ on the terms of analysts. I have nothing against profit and profitability. No company forsaking its ROI will live for long, yet when we see a company surpassing the 600 million revenue and they are turning a profit, everyone seems to have this surrealistic love affair with ‘Number of Users’. This gets us to what is behind the screens, you see, when we see the blind focus on number of users, is it about the product you have, or the data you collect? Those who are still about mere virtual profit through acquisition of personal data, those who proclaim comprehension, those are the same people who were unable to comprehend the value that products like Minecraft and Pokémon GO. Even if I got one wrong, I did not get both wrong, in that same light I can see that No Mans Sky will raise the bar for gaming and even as some proclaim the word ‘disappointment’ with the initial Alpha release of ‘We Happy Few’, I believe that this game can be a lot of fun and can end up being a decent game with a 90% score. Now, it is important to mention that this view was from a reviewer with a good reputation, it is a good review and as such it should not be ignored, yet in all this, it is still an Alpha version and as such there is plenty of space for improvement. This is possible, because the initial engine does look good.

These elements are all linked, the link is imagination and creativity. Not the imagination of hope in the view of ‘I have the winning ticket‘, no it is in the path of ‘What can we do to make a change‘. It is about the imagination to employ creativity to achieve a result. In the first case it is for Huawei to adjust its incorrect (as I see it) stance of that what they make available and for which nation at the bequest of whatever Telco. This is a mere adjustment of policy, it comes with the smallest requirement of creativity and a decent comprehension of data.

The second case with Tim Cook, which requires both immense creativity and imagination (and a good development team). We can make whatever claim we want, but the reality is, is that too much value is given to reengineering, and way too little towards actual true innovation. Where is the creativity and insight that brought us the iPod, iPhone and iPad? Oh, right, I forgot, he died! Yet, should Tim Cook be any less than his predecessor? So why are they not looking at raising the bar and instigating a different mode of gaming? Perhaps the next hype is not gaming at all. I might not have the answer here, but the bringer of the next challenge that will create a real hype might know, for Apple the need of finding that person makes all the difference.

Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”. I wonder if that is still just the case. So far I have learned that “Any innovator will soon after their first big success become the pawn of the needs of Wall Street”. If you doubt that, then consider Adobe, Apple, Coca Cola, IBM, Microsoft, Nintendo and Twitter and let’s not forget that they all started through true innovation.

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Politics

One response to “What we waste away

  1. Pingback: Brilliance or Donkey mode? | Lawrence van Rijn - Law Lord to be

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