Tag Archives: Instagram

ULE can kill any e-firm

Yes, there is an issue, yet is it a real one? The LA Times (at http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-snap-earns-20170810-htmlstory.html) gives us ‘Snap shares plummet after Los Angeles tech company misses expectations‘. Now, there has in my view always been an issue with “frustrated financial analysts and investors by adding new features for advertisers too slowly“. You see, there are two issues right there. In my personal view, I have always sided with the ‘premium‘ edition of pretty much any app when the price is right, to avoid advertisements and I will dump any app the moment that there is a replacement app offering such an option. So with ‘new features for advertisersI will instantly snap to another app at the drop of a hat, any hat. You only need to Google: ‘Snapchat’ to see the impact, anger and frustration the users offer (loudly). So when I see “Snap hasn’t delivered promising results in its first two earnings reports” I am not at all surprised. In my view what was a great idea was suddenly bombastic and radioactive. So when the option “and Snap [at 173 million daily active users] can’t add 8 to 10 million” it is not a surprise, it is not even a mystery. With the response “That is why the shares are down — and they should be!” from Laura Martin, managing director of equity research at Needham & Co, I merely have the thought that this lady does not comprehend user base needs and desires. In this for Snap to offer a +$5 option and not have any kind of pop up, ideas and advertisements, any of them disabled separately would have been a much better option. For the record, the app by Jack Underwood named ‘Today Calender Pro‘ at $5.99 took 8 minutes to contemplate. So as hatred of advertisement goes, I am surprised that the equity research firms are not more up to date as to the needs and desires of the users. In addition, we can argue all kinds of directions, yet when we consider the Wiki statement “the idea was to create a selfie app (application) which allowed users to share images that were explicitly short-lived and self-deleting“, in an age where trust of stored images is at an all-time low, there will be debates and there is more than one user with the thought ‘what if’. In addition, there is the consideration on the need (read: reasoning) to short term viewing and deletion of images to some degree. So as we see Snapchat as a possible opponent to Instagram, where would you put your money? Now that Instagram is linked to Facebook, we need to reconsider where we put our efforts as a user. We might want to go with: ‘there is an app need for everyone‘, yet when the novelty warez off (pun intended), we need to consider the users that go with ‘One size fits all‘, that is where the first issue of Snap now lies, as the people are reconsidering their place in photo sharing. Some people who go with short term deleted options are optionally not part of a social sharing media type. They will also need ‘their’ solution, there is no denying it, but overall that need will diminish faster soon enough. In addition there is the need for the user to be ‘entertained‘, which means other options, more options and diversity. In this Snap might be seen as too much of a niche.

Does that inhibit the drop in value?

Partially yes, but in this the response “surprised that Snap added only 7 million users during the second quarter” is actually a lot less surprising. As we now see places that are setting the stage for increasing ‘engagement’ (at https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/08/10/7-tips-increase-engagement-instagram/#.tnw_DmOvDLuY), we see the evolving side of Instagram, whilst Snap strays and is getting left behind. In this, 3 of those engagement ideas are actually right up the alley of Snapchat and as such the evolving need of Snap and their app needs to be reckoned with. In addition, the numbers in the LA Times article shows that there are other situations, in all the loss of expected gains, which is actually not the largest issue, it is the actual loss and that it is off by $76 million which is a much larger issue. So as I personally see it, the need to adhere to ‘new features for advertisers‘ dwarves to the need to ‘switch off advertisement features for users‘ If that opts the setting of $5 for a potential 150 million users getting to a ‘plus’ or ‘pro’ edition would be an awesome alternative, because every day that this is not considered implies that Snap Inc. Is giving the market to whoever is giving the users some Snapchat++ option. The market is there for the person stepping in and as far as the news goes, Snap is doing something, but not stepping in and as such is losing the market and whatever market share they had, in addition, the aggressive growth of Instagram does not help Snap that much either.

There is additional information in the LA Times, when we consider “Of the daily users Snap gained during the April-through-June period, 4 million came from North America, 2 million from Europe and the rest from elsewhere in the world. Snapchat had 148 million users this time last year“, It is when we start looking at Omnicore, is when we get some interesting results (at https://www.omnicoreagency.com/snapchat-statistics/), the two that caught my attention are ‘71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old‘ and ‘Roughly 70% of Snapchat users are female‘ that is an impressive part, so when you toss away the advertisements, how can you cater to these two groups? The mere fact that you have 100 million users in either part is a lot more interesting; it is the market share worth enabling and growing upon. With ‘More than 25% of UK Smartphone users are on Snapchat, in Norway the number goes up to 50%‘ we see an even more interesting part. A part that could (if investigated properly), could see the need of the reference to the three engagement parts I hinted at earlier. So when you consider the options, is Snap even aware to the better part of their numbers of the needs of their users? That is seen even in more optional ways when you consider two of the fun facts given in this article, which was from January 2017. the first being ‘More than 400 million Snapchat stories are created per day‘ which means that there is a huge following and in equal measure more than one story a day per user is created. The second is ‘It would take you 10 years to view all the photos shared on Snapchat in the last hour‘, so there is a given one sided engagement, the question is can this be evolved to a much stronger engagement number that is two sided or more? The answer to that is basically a lot more appealing that the ‘optional’ requested growth of those 2 million users. It is the answer to making Snap the stellar grower Snap would like it to be. In all this the fact that close to 50% of the users is younger than 35 should be a clear path into engagement and facilitation. It is merely up to Snap to pick up the pieces and see where growth can be found, once they are there the ‘anticipation‘ of these analysts might get crushed in favour of Snap in more ways than one.

So where should Snap begin?

I always go with comprehension, know your user base and see what they need, no matter how that impacts other predictions or needs. If growth is the key need, than adhering to the users is the only way to exceed expectations of whoever seems to be wielding the stick of the analysts’ predictions. As I see it, they need to get there before Instagram and Snapchat++ give light to make Snapchat a mere memory, because there is no coming back from that, no matter how stellar the improvement becomes, for that places the User Level Expectations where it is not desired, with the other application that listened or offered the gimmick of the week.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Science

Double standards, no resolve (part 2)

Part two is not about Greece or the Greeks, it is about what has been behind several parts for a long time now. Yet, the visibility of certain events is now forcing another large change to the surface. First let us look at the events as we see them in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/25/wikileaks-google-staff-emails-us-government).

The title ‘WikiLeaks demands answers after Google hands staff emails to US government‘ calls for a few thoughts, but I think you should consider a few quotes and then reconsider how you feel. The first one is “Google revealed to WikiLeaks on Christmas Eve – a traditionally quiet news period – that it had responded to a Justice Department order to hand over a catch-all dragnet of digital data including all emails and IP addresses relating to the three staffers“. The second one is “Harrison, who also heads the Courage Foundation, told the Guardian she was distressed by the thought of government officials gaining access to her private emails” and then we get “The investigation followed WikiLeaks’ publication, initially in participation with international news organisations including the Guardian, of hundreds of thousands of US secrets that had been passed to the organisation by the army private Chelsea Manning“. So this was specific! Let us not forget that this person (Manning) should be regarded as guilty of treason! This is nothing less than an intelligence analyst going beyond rogue! Manning was a simple E-1 private with no comprehension of the complexity of wars, especially the war the US found itself in, a theatre that is hard to grasp for some of the brightest generals (you know these highly educated, passed their middle age point individuals with a few decades of military experience, in the US seen wearing stars on their shoulders). No, Manning decided on the safety of hundreds if not thousands of lives. In addition US diplomatic efforts were thrown out of the window, setting economic options back for up to a decade, if not longer.

So when we see the response by investigative editor Sarah Harrison “Knowing that the FBI read the words I wrote to console my mother over a death in the family makes me feel sick“, seems a little hollow. For one the FBI does not care about her mommy, two, what did you expect to happen when you access unauthorised data to the size, scope and extent as Manning had transmitted?

I think Harrison is overreacting, if we accept chapter 13 in the Art of war, both the spy and the receiver of information should have been put to death. Is it not a good thing that it was merely investigated by the FBI?

Yet, there is a side that many are ignoring; many do so in an unintentional way, mainly because it tends to not hit us in any way. For that we need to take a step back to Forbes 2013 (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2013/08/06/excuse-me-apple-google-starbucks-h-p-irs-wants-to-tax-stateless-income/), here we see the following parts: “U.S. companies are said to have more than $1.5 trillion sitting offshore. Most claim that they must keep the money there to avoid the taxes they would face by bringing it back to the U.S.“, “the money at stake is enormous. Plus, the companies involved have treasure troves of cash for many war chests. Big and protracted battles seem inevitable. Still, some big companies may be in for battles that are even larger than they think. They may even need to think different” and “The OECD plan claims that companies like Apple and Google avoid billions in taxes. The G20 is made up of 19 leading world economies plus the European Union. It too has voiced support for a fundamental reassessment of the rules on taxing multinationals“. These thoughts all sound nice, but there is an additional element to all this. You see, as I stated more than once, currency is slowly on the way out (loosely approached). The nations that are left with manageable debt are now slowly but surely diminishing to zero. Greece may be the first one, but at minus 18 trillion, the US is the clearest one to end up with nothing, especially as those large US firms have become stateless. You see, now we get to the good part, the new currency will be IP, but here is the kicker, most (including me) seemed to forget that IP is more than Patents and Trade Marks, it includes data! Now we get to the nice stuff, you see, Google adhered to a situation, Twitter and a few others did not, or at least in a delayed way, but the new currency will include massive amounts of data and many players are now catching on that data is at the core a stateless, virtual and duplicable currency. No matter how Sony called its hack attack, does it now look a little clearer that those having a copy of that data are preparing for more than just a data dump? This is what McKinsey & Company had to say in August 2014 “Indeed, the analytics performed by actuaries are critically important to an insurer’s continued existence and profitability“, as well as “While the impetus to invest in analytics has never been greater for insurance companies, the challenges of capturing business value should not be underestimated. Technology, as everyone knows, changes much faster than people. The key for insurers is to motivate their highly skilled experts to adopt the newest tools and use them with creativity, confidence, and consistency” and finally there is “The proliferation of third-party data sources is reducing insurers’ dependence on internal data. Digital “data exhaust” from social media and multimedia, smartphones, computers, and other consumer and industrial devices—used within privacy guidelines and assuring anonymity—has become a rich source for behavioural insights for insurance companies, as it has for virtually all businesses. Recently, the release of previously unavailable or inaccessible public-sector data has greatly expanded potential sources of third-party data“. Yes, it sounds nice that there is public-sector data, but the one part no mentioned is how the analytics is not driven by those, but ascertained through private-sector data fields. You see the data that Sony had on its employees and on the actions of 70 million customers is a lot more insightful when you link it to medical records. Consider how much profit a company gets if it could ascertain more precisely the risk 7 million of its own customers are. If the connection of medical (obesity) and the gamer data of one person results in a $12 per month surcharge, what happens when we see the US having an obesity rating of around 32%? Now we have 70 million accounts and their gaming behaviour. So if we do the following math 32% of 70 million (falsely assuming that they were all American gamers), then we now get the number of people confronted with a $144 a year additive. So in one swoop, this data set gives way to an additional $3.2 billion for insurance fees. Data is going to be that simply applied sooner than you think. With the cloud being forever virtual (as one would think), people forget that a personal space is linked to a real location (wherever that drive is), but what when the data set is beyond massively huge? What if it is spread over several locations? How do we think then? You see Stateless data is not a new concept, but until recently it was never a realistic concept. It is interesting how tax dodging makes engineers a lot more creative.

At the foundation of all this is not the Wikileaks part, that part just illuminates the nutty side of data. Consider the amounts you as the reader had shared in the last 72 hours via Facebook, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram and such. You freely distributed that, you gave up your privacy rights for whatever you openly published. Now consider that whatever you shared got collected. Several people were on vacation (so someone knows that their house is empty and possible unguarded), some revealed that they were sick (health data) and some revealed other details like parties attended and such.

Now the empty house is the most direct one, but not the most important one. Consider the times you updated your status that you were at home with the flu, or something else. Under normal conditions you just had a sickie, or perhaps another way. Now consider that someone now automatically collects the times you were sick, how does that affect your premium? How will your health cycle be analysed if you are shown to have attended 15-30, or even 50-100 parties a year? How long until this shows as detrimental on your health chart? Weirdly enough not having that does not lower your premium, but there is every evidence that doing it will increase your premium.

Do you think that this is over the top?

Then see the following (at http://www.qbe.com.au/Personal/Home/Managing-Your-Risk/Insurance.html). Here we see “Importantly, reducing the likelihood of making a claim helps protect your No Claim Bonus, helping to keep the cost of your insurance premium down“, which has been a truth for a long time. Yet when we consider the mention ‘Don’t alert people you are going away (including on social networking sites)‘. How long until someone combines the two? At reputation.com we see the following “Life insurance companies are increasingly turning to the Internet to determine a potential customer’s risk“, so if you like extreme sports, you might pay for that passion in other ways too. In addition, the one most disturbing was “Donating to charitable causes is a noble gesture, but if you show too great an interest in any particular medical-focused cause, say breast cancer research or prostate cancer awareness, it might indicate to insurance companies that you’re at a higher risk for certain illnesses“, that gives a possible (implied, but not proven), connection that your social responsibility comes at an insurance price. Did you consider that? And this is not starting this year, or next year. Some of these events started no later than 2010.

This all was nothing but to pave the way for that what comes next. You see, there are several sides to Google and Facebook. They are all about bandwidth and several nations are now seeing that even though Facebook is too large, there is a clear path that data is currency, so how long until we see a growth of radicalisation through localisation? This is not radicalisation in the violent way, but in the opposite way. You should see radicalisation of data, attained by washing all the data markers in local server environments. You can’t wash all the markers, but you can make access to it a lot less available. This is the fear Google (possibly Facebook too) has had for some time. As these privacy acts, that data acts and data collection rights of the US grew in a need for compliance, people become falsely fearful of what is dangerous and what is not. The US government ascertaining whether you are a terrorist is not a danger. An insurance company upping your fees by $150 through collected data is a direct danger (to your cost of living). Now we see the link as it gets us to the first story that included Greece.

There will soon be a higher need for localised connected providers. Localised forms of Hushmail (www.hushmail.com), where the people get encrypted mail accounts that can be accessed online, through the web. How long until mobile users will select encrypted android apps, that do not connect to Google, but to local Hushmail providers. We still have the internet, but it will now go through national portals. The fact that Sony happened was only a matter of time. The fact that people now want that there data comes with actual privacy is a growing wave. The Wikileaks issue was the most visible and the most harmless one (for us citizens at least). The world is changing a lot faster than last year and many are now getting clued in that the things of value have not been guarded in the right way.

We will soon see new options on cheaper internet, cheaper mobiles and on package deals, this is what was skated around when this so called IP hearing was going on. Yet, when we look at an earlier statement by Mr Turnbull, in regards to IP, who said at the time. “It is very, very, very difficult if not impossible for someone that is just selling connectivity, just providing bandwidth to then be monitoring what people are doing“.

This is at the heart of the problem, they live of bandwidth, because bandwidth implies data, and the more used, the more data collected, which leads to the better their lives are. This is why they do not want monitoring. I am fairly certain that as their bandwidth falls away, as people move to localised solutions, which remain at the core local, these providers will ‘suddenly’ opt in a ‘possible’ solution. Only at the end of the tether will an industrial give in. Oddly enough, with fear of privacy and the dangers of insurance exploitation on the rise that tether will end up a sudden two inches shorter and now those providers will have to share that what they never had to share before.

Greece has changed the way they play the game; now perhaps we can change the game that is played and make a first monumental change for all!

2 Comments

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Military, Politics

Privacy and (fake) fears

It has been all over the news. The US government has access to your email and your details. It was quite the show to read this all yesterday and the issues this morning was set in a nothing less than A-level theatre play. A play that would make Robert Ludlum envious I might add.

The issue is that the US Government (NSA in this case) is reading your e-mails. They have been doing that for some time. Basically, it was the Patriot act that opened the (back) doors for them to get access to all this information. As they were dealing with data on a lower level in those days, their task was simple. Find Terrorists! Find those who attack America and deal with them. So readers, here is your fake fear! This is one moment where I agree with President Obama 100%. You cannot have 100% security and 100% privacy. Anyone claiming different is lying to you.

The NSA is not interested in you soliciting erotic acts from a recipient on the other side of the e-mail track. They are not interested in the deals you make offering a quick buck! So those in fear (roughly 99.8932353%) you have nothing to fear but fear itself. The part you are not afraid of is the part that SHOULD scare you. You see all that data that you ‘surrender’ to Facebook, Google, MySpace, and Friendster and so on. All THAT data you gave can be crunched, marketed and sold to companies, corporations and all who would buy them. THAT is an interesting part. That is the fear people need to have when they looked at the dangers that Dutch Equens represent (as reported in the earlier blog: ‘You might soon be sold by the banks!‘).

It is not just that part, it is the possibility that data miners offer as they combine data files in one coherent file that could be a personal ‘danger’ to you.

The NSA issues are not that. They need these abilities to fight the existing and growing threat called ‘the lone wolf terrorist’. These people are guided by sources like ‘Inspire’ magazine, which is created by AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). It is however not that simple. The real lone wolves get their ‘guidance’ remotely from sources most do not know and all that under the eyes of the Intelligence Community. To have a grip on stopping these people, monitoring the internet is essential to keeping us the common people safe. If you think that reading mails was enough, then you are wrong. The further going plans by some to monitor the internet is going to be an essential part. Do not think that this is a fun exercise for those involved. It is pricey, it drains resources and it is never ending. As people move to the cloud the need to monitor upcoming dangers will only increase.

Most readers will have heard of the soldier killed in Woolwich UK. Home Secretary Theresa May was quoted when the mention came that this attack was not from a ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist. I am not opposing this thought. Yet, it cannot be denied that magazines like Inspire might be central to these events. As such it is no wonder that GCHQ wants to peek over the shoulders of the NSA to see if dangers are hitting their small island (I meant the UK, for those who wonder).

There were additional issues that are growing on several grounds, which give weight to the need of monitoring and in all of these cases people like you and me are not an issue.

For most of you feeling fear of this, your fear is unwarranted. Your fear should be how Microsoft and Sony are very interested on squeezing your details out of you as they are preparing and implementing their Next Gen consoles. That will affect you a lot sooner than the security services ever will. (Blog: ‘Government ministers, be warned!‘)

It looks almost sanctimonious that people are so shouting at these government actions and after that spread their visions with pictures and reveal all they can (and sometimes with way too much info) using Shutterfly/Instagram and Facebook. When their identities are stolen they will whine that it is ALL the fault of the government on how their identity was not safe.

Seems almost laughable doesn’t it.

When we sit on the fence we do see that there is a responsibility to hold parties to account for what they do. In case of the NSA this is Judge Roger Vinson. So, yes, someone does take a look at what is done. When did you last hear a loud scream on what Facebook is doing with your details? How about never? Only when Facebook had certain plans involving Instagram did the inner demon of personal greed scream out stating that the pictures were not to be open for business. Again we see a show of double standards. Judge Roger Vinson, born in the state where the delicious Forest Reserve Bourbon is from (Kentucky). He is the Federal Judge for the state famous for Pina Colada and cool Mojito’s (Florida). He approved the data request that the NSA made. So, yes there is oversight on this. It is however not needed for foreign requests. Is that bad? We give it freely to Facebook, so why are they stopped from sharing that with the government. Are you having that drink yet?

The NSA, GCHQ, DSD, CSE and a few others need these data streams. They would like to prevent people who are eager to get other people blown up. For you and me to stand on ‘principle’ on one side and then we give away our identity to be marketed and spammed to commercial content is just way too weird.

The world is now visibly changing. It is in my mind a little frightful as we are soon to become part of something different. As the finance markets were not contained, and soon no longer can be contained ever, we see a move away from nations and nationalities. We are about to be reduced to a metadata tag. With an added weighting that is soon to be set to ‘useful’ or ‘waste’. This was not instigated by governments and not even by the intelligence community. It was instigated by corporations behind Social media; and as we openly surrendered our details we are now placed in boxes where we can be approached. When we have moved through all the boxes and we are no longer an asset in any box we will be given the ‘waste’ tag. Then what?

These are my words, but funnily enough I was not the first one to mention this. In the Netherlands there was a New-Age entrepreneur called Luc Sala. Even from the late 80’s he evangelized the dangers of the groups “have” and “have not” and how we were allowing ourselves to be placed in these boxes. I wonder if he ever realised that not only was he correct, but that it could even fade national borders? Consider what you heard over the last months, what we will see in the next 13 months. Prime Minister David Cameron was strong about keeping the UK identity safe, to protect it. He was not willing to step out of the EU for this. That step is now being sought after by UKIP and their leader Nigel Farage.

How are these related? This is a valid question that is forming in your mind. And I have been fighting with these thoughts and especially evidence around this. Without evidence all this is nothing more than a bad level of Conspiracy Theory. You see, all these messages we read in the last few days and the next week are in my mind a smokescreen to some level. We are all so shouting about privacy. Yet, who was up in arms when MySpace started to sell their data in 2010. (Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/191716/myspace_selling_user_data.html).

Did you stop to think about your data on Facebook? Did you think ‘whatever’? So what other ‘evidence’ is there? In that case I point to several blogs I wrote, but more important you should look at more reputable sources like the Guardian and the Wall Street Times, where we faced stories in regards to the pay outs by all towards Greece, Cyprus and other nations to keep the economy ‘alive’. Whilst now we read how the IMF made errors. How a train line sucks up over 7 billion and is presently still not operational in the way it should be. This is a time and place where other nations are now giving aid as budgets are not met in various degrees by nearly all EU nations. So is it such a far stretch to see National borders fade as these issues are ‘resolved’ (read: ‘put on hold’) by group driven options. All this happens whilst we hear ‘voices’ that seem less and less aware of consequences or claim ignorance and error afterwards.

For this train of thought we need to see three parts

In the first part there is last year when this was quoted “The slight uptick is largely due to Europe, which is expected to return to very slow growth of 0.3 percent after the -0.2 percent contraction in 2012” (Source: http://www.conference-board.org/data/globaloutlook.cfm). Yet the guardian in two articles where the 2012 version stated in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/07/eurozone-growth-next-year-ec the following “with the 17-nation Eurozone eking out expansion of just 0.1% in 2013”. However 6 months later we read in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/06/ecb-eurozone-recession-deepen, where it states “European Central Bank says the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.6% in 2013 as it considers unconventional policies to kick-start growth”. Numbers change and get adjusted, but the game can only be one of profit by those who have the right numbers (read the better data source). This game is played and replayed, again and again. This has bearing on all the privacy issue in the form of the collected data these predictors require. If the power of voicing the future is based upon data then your privacy is a thorn in the eyes of commerce as they do react to data, but whose data and created how? So as companies are making less, as economic values go down, other paths to revenue must be found and this does have bearing on your privacy, as you are data. This means you are commercial currency, not government currency as such.

This is the other side of data. Many corporations decided to ‘store’ their backup data in some High-Tech solution off-site facility, not unlike the hosting solution Peer1. Peer1 is a Canadian corporation with hosting locations in for example San Antonio (when they acquired ServerBeach). That is corporate data and as such there is an issue in this place. There had been soft voices of concern in those early days on who gets to access these data servers. American linked companies implementing off-site storage options in America from all over their European locations. Was local management realising that they gave their customer base and (financial) details to US insight?

There is NO; I say again NO evidence that these data files were ever ‘violated’ for commercial gain. If we consider the dangers of greed and in the light of what we read earlier, can we be certain that this did not happen, or even whether this is not likely to happen in the near future?

It had been clear that parties like the NSA had access. There is however a side we do need to take proper heed of. If they have access, then who else has access? From corporate documents from these hosts, corporations would have likely read how impossible access was, and how they never give out access. If that part was shown to be ‘violated’, then what other dangers lurk that these companies did not expect? (In this concept violated does not mean a legal violation as the data storage company would have been adhering to their government rules, yet the fact that corporations might not know this is a question for many and as such legal questions should be asked).

So think again, as social media is in their right to sell the data they have in some shape and that it is the price you paid for all these ‘free’ abilities that these places give you. Most do not worry, but then worry about information the government has/looks in to.

For private individuals all this is simply a fake fear.

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics