Tag Archives: IOS

Business will be booming

There are all kinds of settings in the tech industry, some we like and some we like a lot less. It is the most visible in the mobile industry, the clear discriminatory setting there is almost unheard of. No matter what the reason is, a person for the most is iOS (Apple) minded, or they tend to go the way of the Android (Google, Huawei et al). There is for the most no in-between there. The reasons are as wide as the drops of water in a lake on a rainy day and for some these reasons make sense, or they do not. Yet we all tend to have them. I have been and remain an Android follower. I have nothing against apple. The initial setting was done by their marketing departments. Where Apple gave us: ‘You can do all these things and it is a phone too‘ and Android gave us: ‘This phone can do all kinds of things, some you will not have believed was even possible‘. I went the way of Android. You see, they are stating the same thing, yet Android focussed on a phone that can do other things. Apple went towards the things they could do, including being a phone. So from my point of view, I needed a phone, so I went the non-iOS way.

I know that in the end the difference is negligible, but it did matter. So it is a little over three years when I got myself (because it was a bargain) the Huawei P7. The difference from the previous phone (Motorola) was so distinct I became a Huawei fan overnight. Now that it is time to put that phone to bed and switch it off for the last time, I find myself clinging onto the idea that I need a new Huawei. Let me be clear, apart from my distinct non liking Samsung (a past issue I had with them), I do think that the other brands are decent too. Yet, when you have the option for a Google Pixel 2 XL, or a Huawei P20 close to $500 cheaper, what will you choose? Let’s also consider that the difference is almost nil, well it is not nil but the real differences do not stand out too much, not worth $500 as I see it. For me, if I get that phone, it will be a 300% improvement of what I have now and I am not dissatisfied with what I have, it merely has been acting up and after 3 years of working 24:7, that makes perfect sense. The little workhorse has earned its retirement. So when I started to look around, and I took a new look at the P20 and P20 pro, which is a $300 difference, I wondered why I would want the P20 pro for the usage I have. I have been able to do everything I needed with 2 GB RAM, so the 4 GB and  6GB RAM issue is not one I need to worry about. Both come with 128 GB storage, which is 800% more than I have now and even as I ran out of storage merely once, it did not worry me to any degree. The camera options are not the same, yet the PRO has an additional 40 MP camera option, which is slightly over the top need for someone who uses an EOS 1 Camera. The only issue is the battery, it is 3400 mAh versus 4000 mAh and I am not sure that this constitutes the value of $300 difference, not on my budget. More important, the P20 holds its own against the $1500 phones out there and when you consider the fact that it is 30% cheaper, what would you choose? This constitutes a difference that is well over a week’s rent for some people, so there is that to consider as well.

Yet, it is not about that part, it is that Huawei has seen the light of opportunity in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, so when we see (at https://www.albawaba.com/business/pr/huawei-announces-%E2%80%98vip%E2%80%99-service-p20-pro-saudi-arabia-1135384), the fact that branding is getting momentum in the Middle East with their Huawei Consumer Business Group and their “a ‘VIP’ service for its customers in Saudi Arabia through its authorized service centres for any customer buys Huawei P20 Pro with Huawei KSA warranty”. Some call it marketing, which in all fairness it actually is, yet with 95 million people in Egypt and 33 million in the KSA, the market could be booming for Huawei, even as an Apple store is coming in 2019, the Apple SA store is pointing towards “Apple-designed outlets located within selected Apple resellers and other retail shops. Many are staffed with Apple-trained experts who can help you to find the right solution for you“, which is a perfectly valid and acceptable text. Yet, when you can consider an ‘outlet’ versus “Huawei has announced “Huawei Flex” which is a free drop off service in which customer can drop his device for service in more than 300 locations across kingdom for Huawei device under Saudi Arabia warranty to be send for Huawei Authorized service centre for warranty repair and return“, we see that Huawei is on the ball (I am not saying that Apple is not), but the service minded sales pitch is clearly there and as we see: “Pablo Ning, President of Huawei Consumer Business Group Saudi Arabia said: “The Kingdom is a strategic market for us, and this announcement reflects our commitment to doing business in the region. It is our effort to always cater to the specific needs of the markets we operate in. Recognising the needs of our loyal customers in the Kingdom, we are very pleased to announce these services and we are looking forward to announcing many more unique offers for them in the future”“, we see that even as we realise that too is a marketing setting, it also states that Huawei means business. With a chunk of a 125 million customer base, these two alone could drive sales even further in the Middle Eastern nations; in addition, the Huawei centre is rumoured to be coming to Neom, which could drive the brand even further. Even Forbes was recognising the growth Huawei had in 2017, even though we do take notice of the fact that anti-Chinese sentiments in the US barred the phone from the US markets, we need to realise that the planet is a lot bigger than the 325 million in the US. Also consider the fact that Huawei does a lot more than merely smartphones and the opening of the market that is a third of the US population matters, in addition the 740 million Europeans are now more than ever looking for a good deal. So the group of people who have the cash to go all out and get a phone $500 more expensive is shrinking fast. Yet Huawei is not out of the woods there either. It is up against Samsung and Samsung is doing a good job of gaining ground. In there we see that Apple is losing their footing, losing sales share in the UK, France and Spain. So even as some had growth, iOS was merely growing at 0.1%, against Android 2.8%, that is a massive difference, and Huawei is tinkering very effectively on these two markets. Although, I have to admit (speculatively) that the largest growth was due to the release of the Google Pixel family. Still Huawei remains in the fight of growth and its setting in the Middle East is as assertive as it gets. I reckon that if Pablo Ning pulls it off, he might be looking forward to his new apartment overlooking Chaoyang Park in Beijing. It is that extreme because the market share that Huawei has to grow is pretty astounding. You see, not everyone is looking towards the coolest marketed phone that most cannot normally afford, in the Middle East revenue is often set towards pragmatism and that is a setting that Marketing on a global basis tends to be unfocussed on. It is in this setting that mobile phones will gain traction in sales. So when we consider the progress that Huawei is making towards growth by going via the support and customer care path, or as Pablo Ning phrases it “the needs of our loyal customers in the Kingdom“, we see not some message on selling a phone like ‘iPhone X, Say hello to the future‘ with after that ‘Sales, Apple Authorized Resellers‘ or ‘Sales, Apple Authorized Resellers‘ but with ““Huawei Flex” which is a free drop off service in which customer can drop his device for service in more than 300 locations across kingdom for Huawei device under Saudi Arabia warranty to be send for Huawei Authorized service centre for warranty repair and return“, we see that Huawei means business. It is not about the initial sale, it is putting to bed any worry the consumer has afterwards and the Huawei version sells much stronger than the other messages and that is how commercial traction leaps forward making it market share gain. The lower sales threshold only speeds it up. In that we see that “aiming of strengthening its business base, its operations and customer service in the Kingdom“, is not just vital for growth of Huawei, the commitment of 5G in Saudi Arabia as it is at present, will only fuel the need for the Huawei smartphone (and smart phones in general); with its upcoming Huawei Mate 30 (Q3 2019) Huawei could give a further boost, as those buying today would be ready for a new phone just as the Mate 30 will be released and it will drive it a lot faster if it is both 4G and 5G enabled (which is not officially confirmed), so as Apple and others are looking to open a shop at that point, we will see that if (consider that it is an ‘if) Huawei kept its services and exceeded the expectations of the consumer, they will have a much larger advantage and as such Google might profit with their own Android phones on the coattails of Huawei. This is shown in another way too. Statista (at https://www.statista.com/statistics/271774/share-of-android-platforms-on-mobile-devices-with-android-os/) gives a view that takes some mulling. When we consider the Android market share, we see that the largest part is owned by Marshmallow (v6) and Nougat (v7), so that means that those who update now to Oreo (v8) will be most likely to update the moment 5G is out, those who delay more than 6 months are not likely, or better stated less likely to update more than once, so either they miss out on 5G or are in a much smaller segment (not serious smartphone users). So they use it as a phone and that is it, which is fair enough, because a phone is a phone and for that 5G is not essential. Yet when we consider that this group is almost 37%, there is an option for smartphone sales everywhere to evolve those users towards a more smartphone driven use of apps and data, yet what are these consumers made of? There is no data that I had at my disposal, yet finding out is actually a lot more important here. If we know what the consumer needs, we can see if there is a better solution in new hardware, not merely because of the security risk that older phones hold, the fact that smartphone functionality is optionally missed out on is basically a sales opportunity missed and when it affects an optional 37% slice of smartphones it starts to matter as that involves a serious amount of cash. Now we need to accept that it is not merely the phone, for the larger places like the island of Australia mobile data was until last year pretty expensive, so why upgrade when the data used will monthly kill your budget? to go from 15GB a month for $65 in 2016 to 200Gb for $70 in 2018 is actually a massive leap and not all places have made such changes, so not everyone is on board yet, but with 5G that will change by a lot, not only will they drive down the 4G data prices, but the mobile setting in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia (outside of Cairo and Riyadh) will drive the need of people much larger. The fact that Egyptian TV outside of the large cities is not fabulous, for these people to suddenly get a clear reception of matches of Al Ahly SC or Zamalek SC could drive sales, so the larger the part of that 37% slice is actually found in the Middle East, the easier the upgrade sales will get; when we consider the joke (that is how I personally see the Vodafone Egypt site), as well as the clarity of http://www.egyptsim.com/, we see that there is still space to improve it all and Huawei is in an interesting place to make that happen. In addition, the Egyptsim site shows a setting that was almost the 2016 setting in Australia, so they are not that far behind, so when we see the evolution where the prices reflect 500% if what they offer now (which is what we can get in places like Australia nowadays), we see a more competitive setting where upgrading any smartphone will become the essential need of anyone wanting to use such amounts of bandwidth. Even a mere 50 GB at €15 could change the game, it will drive app use, phone use and more important, the need for phone upgrades and competitive phones will become more and more desired. This is shown in direct opposition to the anti-Huawei feelings that we see from America (at https://www.politico.eu/article/huawei-china-ghost-in-europe-telecom-machine/), a story from last January. So in all this when we see “The Chinese tech giant is banned from bidding for government contracts in the U.S. over concerns that its telecommunication equipment could be used for spying by Beijing“, that whilst it refers right next to it a story regarding ‘Mark Zuckerberg hearing: As it happened‘, in all this Huawei is a concern? As the US has not even got clear legislation on data and as we see the Facebook events, I can state that some people have their mindset in the wrong place. In addition, if we can believe the Daily Mail who gave us “Google caught using $580 million worth of Australians’ phone data to spy on them by monitoring their movements“, so in that, is Google getting government contracts? And if the second is true, why is there no outcry in that setting? Is it about the company, or where the revenue is going to? It is a multiple facetted setting of greed, technology and whose ego is the largest to present. How does that help the consumer who wants a good affordable phone, if the Google Pixel and Huawei phones offer the same thing, yet Huawei can do it 30% cheaper, why would we want the more expensive one, our privacy? Facebook gave that away and there is no actual act in place to thwart that, in addition, the US senate hearing gave more and more reluctance as we seem to get the impression that these senators do not even comprehend technology in its basic foundation. We merely have to look back at the moment with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who asks on: ‘how do you sustain a business model where users don’t pay for your services‘, the answer by Mark Zuckerberg was priceless: ‘Senator, we run ads!“. When we are confronted with such a level of what I regard to be ignorance towards business reality, that is the not party we should rely on when they state to us: “its telecommunication equipment could be used for spying by Beijing“, yet in that foundation, not one piece of evidence has been presented that this is actually the case. The “potential for secret ‘backdoors’” is astounding. Not one piece of evidence, not one setting that gives any level of reliability on ‘potential‘. I wonder how many of these gentlemen have been receiving calls from Cisco, Apple, IBM and other parties on their fear of China getting a slice of American business, or perhaps it is even more simple. With American firms the government of the USA can make tax deals, because the inability of paying invoices can always get bartered on a national level, not international. And there is where Huawei has its opportunity. As it grows its segments in both Europe and the Middle East it can potentially grow the services they offer as the reach of those services and in that light and the next level of growth towards 5G, we see that Huawei has a growing distinction against all competitors. It can offer a new price range, one that consumers have not had for the longest of times and it can place a setting where customer loyalty can grow towards Huawei as it offers something affordable, now when the providers think it is time, but when the consumers need them, which is always a war that works in favour of the consumer. It is a war of settings between optionally, actually, and eventually. The first one offering it has the benefit. Yet is Huawei ready to make that commitment? I do not know, yet should Huawei grace the settings and be announced as a participant of the new high tech city Neom, at that point you can be decently certain that Huawei will become a much larger player in the Middle East and from that, growth in Europe will be a near certainty. Business for Huawei will be booming and it all started by making high end mobiles an affordable item for those not in high paying jobs, or forced to get themselves chained to a two year contract with a telecom provider.

 

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The sting of history

There was an interesting article on the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-43656378) a few days ago. I missed it initially as I tend to not dig too deep into the BBC past the breaking news points at times. Yet there it was, staring at me and I thought it was rather funny. You see ‘Google should not be in business of war, say employees‘, which is fair enough. Apart from the issue of them not being too great at waging war and roughing it out, it makes perfect sense to stay away from war. Yet is that possible? You see, the quote is funny when you see ‘No military projects‘, whilst we are all aware that the internet itself is an invention of DARPA, who came up with it as a solution that addressed “A network of such [computers], connected to one another by wide-band communication lines [which provided] the functions of present-day libraries together with anticipated advances in information storage and retrieval and [other] symbiotic functions“, which let to ARPANET and became the Internet. So now that the cat is out of the bag, we can continue. The objection they give is fair enough. When you are an engineer who is destined to create a world where everyone communicates to one another, the last thing you want to see is “Project Maven involves using artificial intelligence to improve the precision of military drone strikes“. I am not sure if Google could achieve it, but the goal is clear and so is the objection. The BBC article show merely one side, when we go to the source itself (at https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1254719/project-maven-to-deploy-computer-algorithms-to-war-zone-by-years-end/), in this I saw the words from Marine Corps Colonel Drew Cukor: “Cukor described an algorithm as about 75 lines of Python code “placed inside a larger software-hardware container.” He said the immediate focus is 38 classes of objects that represent the kinds of things the department needs to detect, especially in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria“. You see, I think he has been talking to the wrong people. Perhaps you remember the project SETI screensaver. “In May 1999 the University of California launched SETI@Home. SETI stands for the” Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” Originally thought that it could at best recruit only a thousand or so participants, more than a million people actually signed up on the day and in the process overwhelmed the meager desktop PC that was set aside for this project“, I remember it because I was one of them. It is in that trend that “SETI@Home was built around the idea that people with personal computers who often leave them to do something else and then just let the screensaver run are actually wasting good computing resources. This was a good thing, as these ‘idle’ moments can actually be used to process the large amount of data that SETI collects from the galaxy” (source: Manilla Times), they were right. The design was brilliant and simple and it worked better than even the SETI people thought it would, but here we now see the application, where any android (OK, IOS too) device created after 2016 is pretty much a supercomputer at rest. You see, Drew Cukor is trying to look where he needs to look, it is a ‘flaw’ he has as well as the bulk of all the military. You see, when you look for a target that is 1 in 10,000, so he needs to hit the 0.01% mark. This is his choice and that is what he needs to do, I am merely stating that by figuring out where NOT to look, I am upping his chances. If I can set the premise of illuminating 7,500 false potential in a few seconds, his job went from a 0.01% chance to 0.04%, making his work 25 times easier and optionally faster. Perhaps the change could eliminate 8,500 or even 9,000 flags. Now we are talking the chances and the time frame we need. You see, it is the memo of Bob Work that does remain an issue. I disagree with “As numerous studies have made clear, the department of defense must integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning more effectively across operations to maintain advantages over increasingly capable adversaries and competitors,“. The clear distinction is that those people tend to not rely on a smartphone, they rely on a simple Nokia 2100 burner phone and as such, there will be a complete absence of data, or will there be? As I see it, to tackle that, you need to be able to engage is what might be regarded as a ‘Snippet War‘, a war based on (a lot of) ‘small pieces of data or brief extracts‘. It is in one part cell tower connection patterns, it is in one part tracking IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) codes and a part of sim switching. It is a jumble of patterns and normally getting anything done will be insane. Now what happens when we connect 100 supercomputers to one cell tower and mine all available tags? What happens when we can disseminate these packages and let all those supercomputers do the job? Merely 100 smart phones or even 1,000 smart phones per cell tower. At that point the war changes, because now we have an optional setting where on the spot data is offered in real time. Some might call it ‘the wet dream’ of Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor and he was not ever aware that he was allowed to adult dream to that degree on the job, was he?

Even as these people are throwing AI around like it is Steven Spielberg’s chance to make a Kubrick movie, in the end it is a new scale and new level of machine learning, a combination of clustered flags and decentralised processing on a level that is not linked to any synchronicity. Part of this solution is not in the future, it was in the past. For that we need to read the original papers by Paul Baran in the early 60’s. I think we pushed forward to fast (a likely involuntary reaction). His concept of packet switching was not taken far enough, because the issues of then are nowhere near the issues of now. Consider raw data as a package and the transmission itself set the foundation of the data path that is to be created. So basically the package becomes the data entry point of raw data and the mobile phone processes this data on the fly, resetting the data parameters on the fly, giving instant rise to what is unlikely to be a threat and optionally what is), a setting where 90% could be parsed by the time it gets to the mining point. The interesting side is that the container for processing this could be set in the memory of most mobile phones without installing stuff as it is merely processing parsed data, not a nice, but essentially an optional solution to get a few hundred thousand mobiles to do in mere minutes what takes a day by most data centres, they merely receive the first level processed data, now it is a lot more interesting, as thousands are near a cell tower, that data keeps on being processed on the fly by supercomputers at rest all over the place.

So, we are not as Drew states ‘in an AI arms race‘, we are merely in a race to be clever on how we process data and we need to be clever on how to get these things done a lot faster. The fact that the foundation of that solution is 50 years old and still counts as an optional way in getting things done merely shows the brilliance of those who came before us. You see, that is where the military forgot the lessons of limitations. As we shun the old games like the CBM 64, and applaud the now of Ubisoft. We forget that Ubisoft shows to be graphically brilliant, having the resources of 4K camera’s, whilst those on the CBM-64 (Like Sid Meier) were actually brilliant for getting a workable interface that looked decent as they had the mere resources that were 0.000076293% of the resources that Ubisoft gets to work with me now. I am not here to attack Ubisoft, they are working with the resources available, I am addressing the utter brilliance of people like Sid Meier, David Braben, Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux and a few others for being able to do what they did with the little they had. It is that simplicity and the added SETI@Home where we see the solutions that separates the children from the clever Machine learning programmers. It is not about “an algorithm of about 75 lines of Python code “placed inside a larger software-hardware container.”“, it is about where to set the slicer and how to do it whilst no one is able to say it is happening whilst remaining reliable in what it reports. It is not about a room or a shopping mall with 150 servers walking around the place, it is about the desktop no one notices who is able to keep tabs on those servers merely to keep the shops safe that is the part that matters. The need for brilliance is shown again in limitations when we realise why SETI@Home was designed. It opposes in directness the quote “The colonel described the technology available commercially, the state-of-the-art in computer vision, as “frankly … stunning,” thanks to work in the area by researchers and engineers at Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a $36 billion investment last year across commercial industry“, the people at SETI had to get clever fast because they did not get access to $36 billion. How many of these players would have remained around if it was 0.36 billion, or even 0.036 billion? Not too many I reckon, the entire ‘the technology available commercially‘ would instantly fall away the moment the optional payoff remains null, void and unavailable. $36 billion investment implies that those ‘philanthropists’ are expecting a $360 billion payout at some point, call me a sceptic, but that is how I expect those people to roll.

The final ‘mistake’ that Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor makes is one that he cannot be blamed for. He forgot that computers should again be taught to rough it out, just like the old computers did. The mistake I am referring to is not an actual mistake, it is more accurately the view, the missed perception he unintentionally has. The quote I am referring to is “Before deploying algorithms to combat zones, Cukor said, “you’ve got to have your data ready and you’ve got to prepare and you need the computational infrastructure for training.”“. He is not stating anything incorrect or illogical, he is merely wrong. You see, we need to realise the old days, the days of the mainframe. I got treated in the early 80’s to an ‘event’. You see a ‘box’ was delivered. It was the size of an A3 flatbed scanner, it had the weight of a small office safe (rather weighty that fucker was) and it looked like a print board on a metal box with a starter engine on top. It was pricey like a middle class car. It was a 100Mb Winchester Drive. Yes, 100Mb, the mere size of 4 iPhone X photographs. In those days data was super expensive, so the users and designers had to be really clever about data. This time is needed again, not because we have no storage, we have loads of it. We have to get clever again because there is too much data and we have to filter through too much of it, we need to get better fast because 5G is less than 2 years away and we will drown by that time in all that raw untested data, we need to reset our views and comprehend how the old ways of data worked and prevent Exabyte’s of junk per hour slowing us down, we need to redefine how tags can be used to set different markers, different levels of records. The old ways of hierarchical data was too cumbersome, but it was fast. The same is seen with BTree data (a really antiquated database approach), instantly passing through 50% data in every iteration. In this machine learning could be the key and the next person that comes up with that data solution would surpass the wealth of Mark Zuckerberg pretty much overnight. Data systems need to stop being ‘static’, it needs to be a fluidic and dynamic system, that evolves as data is added. Not because it is cleverer, but because of the amounts of data we need to get through is growing near exponentially per hour. It is there that we see that Google has a very good reason to be involved, not because of the song ‘Here come the drones‘, but because this level of data evolution is pushed upon nearly all and getting in the thick of things is when one remains the top dog and Google is very much about being top dog in that race, as it is servicing the ‘needs’ of billions and as such their own data centres will require loads of evolution, the old ways are getting closer and closer to becoming obsolete, Google needs to be ahead before that happens, and of course when that happens IBM will give a clear memo that they have been on top of it for years whilst trying to figure out how to best present the delays they are currently facing.
 

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Songs in the key of Technology

Yesterday saw an article in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/03/pixel-2-google-apple-iphone-htc-pixel-2-xl), with ‘what does Google need to do if it wants to beat Apple’s iPhone?‘ which is one way of looking away from what is actually happening. You see, with the opening part on how Google ‘could become big player in smartphone-making with acquisition of part of HTC and forthcoming Pixel 2 launch’ is merely the front for something a lot bigger. You see, for a year Huawei had an optional advantage towards Google whilst the one advantageous player (read: Apple) wasted their time on iteration and presentation, perhaps only partially on innovation and marketing the hell out of an event that will happen in December (read: the iMac pro). Now the gap is closing and with the HTC part Google has stepped into the space where it can compete with Huawei on an upcoming £30-45 billion market. A new market that is about to happen. Whilst everyone is playing with themselves on how some of these people are ‘rulers of the universe‘, or so they think, Google now is moving on the inside track to take that market and at least three niche markets, which will give them a long term advantage. You see, Apple might be number one, the largest and the richest, but the danger of the number one is that you need to make sure you comprehend what numbers 2, 3 and optionally the player in position 4 is doing and Apple seems to have lost track of that part. Now they are in a place where they lose one edge and as such they might remain number one, but the players in position 2 and optionally the one in the third position will be closing the advantage gap that Apple had and had been making them complacent in their actions. Now, we will wait, living on conjecture and gossip as we will get to live with 15 months of movement below the surface of the waters. For those on the sidelines, it will be like watching a submarine race, a real spectator sport (read: not really). Now we get to the accusation in regards to what Samuel Gibbs is writing about. With: “it can pull off the one thing other Android smartphone manufacturers have struggled with: differentiation” it is staging that Google is not differentiated, which might be true to some respect, but in another regard he fails to see what truly matters to the millions of users. It is actually very simple: “To give the people, the users what they desire”, so basically something pretty amazing at an affordable price. We see his claim of ‘homogenous sea of sameness‘ (it does sound cool though) whilst these same styled writers seemed to price Apple for consistency for the longest of times. What he fails to see is that this homogenous ocean creates users, users that know what they are getting and they know the value of Android (well many seem to do that). So after the age of VHS, MSDOS and MP3, where it was to get as many people as possible to adapt a standard, it suddenly becomes about ‘being different‘? No, that is not the way it is played! You see, the market Tata lost, the market Apple ignored and that same market that Huawei is waking up to, is the one that is now almost within the grasp of Google and it can potentially grow the value of Google not overnight mind you) up towards a growth of 40%-70%, that is almost unheard of and we have not seen such spectacular growth since Windows 95 was introduced. That is the key of technology that we are about to face and ballads will be composed to those creators when it hits us all.

In this I equally oppose Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. With “The Achilles heel of Android at the moment is that software updates take forever. Unlike Apple where it controls everything, you’ve got to go through the device manufacturer, and be approved by the network operator, which means it takes ages to get services and experiences out there.” He knows that he is (as I personally see it) misinforming you. All the Android hardware makers have used Android and then tweaked it for their optimisation. So when the new versions came, we all had to wait, because these makers preferred to sell new phones, not update old ones. In addition the workforce needed to truly test new android versions and test and update all the elements were not in place either. As I see it, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei and other Android facilitators should all be regarded the same and as I see it, people like Ben Wood know that, they literally can’t ‘not know’ it. So as we see the hidden Apple tweet in their story, they are missing on the fact that Android, or perhaps we would soon call it Cyborg (or Android plus) will potentially crush Apple as it goes past the stratosphere. In this, how do I know it? Well, to be honest I cannot say that for certain, yet the lull in the patent registration department is a little less loud. So it might still come, but with the time lap we see under those conditions, I would speculate that Apple is already slow, too slow to that punch, which gives the larger players (Google and Huawei) now an edge they have not had before.

So as I see the end of the article with “In doing so the Pixel could also be Google’s stake in the ground. A demonstration of what the best of Google can really do that is as much a statement as a product”, it seem like a filtered version of what we might be seeing after the Pixel 2 comes. The grounds are already starting to shift, the question becomes who will attend the changed surface and which of these players are ready to show what the other players were too slow or even worse nowhere near to address. There will not be any ‘defection’ or people dropping there IOS device, yet the growth that comes is almost a certainty, which will vocally set another motion. That changed motion would be: “Every IOS user has an Android device, but not every Android user has an IOS device”. The moment that happens, and it is a realistic shift, it is at that point that the people in the higher echelons start realising that believing ones marketing and moving the borders of true innovation are not the same thing. Going for a market with a Pro device priced at 40% more whilst not giving the people that much more power is not innovation, it is iteration, an expensive lesson that Apple might end up learning the hard way. I wonder if I end up being proven wrong. We are less than 18 months away from that moment.

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Challenging fruit

There is an old saying: ‘An Apple a day, keeps the doctor away‘, which could be regarded as correct, or at least as something that is not wrong. These are essentially two statements that depending on your way of life is either more or less correct. Yet, in technology it is a lot less correct, mainly because our health does not have a chance to survive if it comes with the daily cost of $679 a day.

You see, the fruity side of mobile phones is not really an issue when we look at the IOS side of things (aka: the iPhone world), it is quite another when we look at the Android side of things. Even though this was last Wednesday’s news. There have been a few things that required digging and it has been a little bit of a chase. The article was not the first one I saw as I was watching the Google event at 04:00 (as stated in a previous blog). The article ‘Pixel is a direct challenge to Apple – and a referendum on Google‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/05/google-pixel-phone-market-apple-iphone), was on my mind, but so were a few other items.

The article raises a few issues, some of them are not entirely agreeable from my point of view, so let’s deal with them.

Some do get monthly security updates, but others get Android version updates sometimes years after Google releases new versions, creating so-called fragmentation that makes it harder to develop apps and services” is the first quote I have an issue with. For this I need to step back to one of my earlier smartphones. The Motorola Razr-V. Now, when I bought it I though it was an amazing phone. I still have it, it still works and it is in a drawer somewhere. When I bought it 4 years ago 1GB was ‘da bomb’. I had 4GB storage, so I was happy as can be. I had one update, which was from Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) to Jelly Bean (4.1) at some point and still, all was fine, just a little nagging need for RAM. What happened was what always happens, we need more storage and we need more RAM. Yet it was not the only thing that was an issue. You see, this model would not support Kit Kat (4.4) and now we had ourselves a horse race because we saw more and more news regarding security flaws and the essential need to have android as updated as possible. Now we get to the issue with the quote: “sometimes years after Google releases new versions“, which is not that correct. You see, the makers of phones did not consider upgrades to the OS, for the mere reason that they prefer to sell a new phone instead of upgrading your old phone, when the phone is deep within warranty it is one thing, however after that passes, the seller tends to not care and getting the new system vetted and fitted requires resources and a serious amount of them. So Motorola came with a notice that it would not be possible to update this model beyond KitKat. Now, because it was a cheap deal and I had actually not considered that updating the Android OS would be a biggie, I ignored it, and it was just one of those few lessons you tend to learn the hard way the first time around. You see, I am an Android user for a reason. As Apple advocated a device that can do a million things, and it can call people, the Android was the opposite. It was a phone that could do a lot of additional things. With Android the phone remained the centre, not the apps (as I personally saw it). The issue is more than semantics, I felt it was a state of mind, which is why I prefer Android (whilst not hating the iPhone).

Now with my feelings regarding safety and security, I believe that it is very important never to be more than 2 versions old, so as I am on Lollipop, it is essential for me to get a new phone capable of Nougat. Those on Marshmallow should decide for themselves if they want to wait another version before getting a new phone. In light that the average functional phone is over $600, that rule becomes a lot more important, also knowing that you are buying something that will need essential replacement after 2 years makes it even more important to find the right device and especially at the right price. This is why I have been hammering on systems with 64GB storage and at least 2GB RAM (3GB preferred). The fact that the makers are withholding these devices, whilst they are available, angers me. This is because the Telecom companies love a consumer forced to upgrade on an annual basis. What they fail to realise that our budgets are not as wide as their need for coke and hookers (if we believe the NY marketing needs, so the entire greed philosophy falls away. So when I go to the shops now, I expect a Nougat device, or a Marshmallow version at high discount. When a shop offers a Sony with a 2 year old operating system at $900 (Lollipop, aka Android v5), they have obviously lost their minds! Now this is the part that matters in the case of Sony. They call it ‘The pioneering 4K smartphone‘, as well as ‘Sony’s next-generation camera technologies in collaboration with Sony’s Alpha engineers‘ and then they promote it, whilst not updating the phone with an operating system that is less than a year old? And only this month, will they come with a previous version of Android (Marshmallow, aka Android v6). Now, this falls in line with the quote from the Guardian, the issue I have is that if they had their ducks in a row, the phone would have been in the shops with Marshmallow (v6), with the option to update to Nougat (v7).

It is my suspicion that the service oriented devices have not caught onto the need to have a more generic framework oriented approach. I touched on it in my article ‘Chicks for free‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/03/31/chicks-for-free/), where I touches on SaaS in March 2015, as well as the advantage Huawei gave to its customers by being competitive in price and hardware. They had cornered a nice chunk of market in just one year. Parts of all this were also discussed in January 2015 (https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/15/exploiting-mobile-users/). So the issue has been around long enough for the market to adjust, they just decided not to do that. So for Google to come with the Google Pixel (XL) makes perfect sense. Although, from my point of view, $1400 for a device that might initially not last beyond 2 years is still a hard pill to swallow. Apart from the retired groups who are out of cash and comprehension of the technology, we are now facing a growing group of people where the risk of malware exposure goes up tenfold. So the precedence to slam the mobile market is very appealing.

I do not believe that Google is the bad guy here, I believe that our comprehension of accepted support is changing. Let’s take the new Pixel. For one, the marketing was perfectly done and so far from cheap Telco page to Forbes, they are all wildly enthusiastic. A fair point of view, especially as I (from my needy point of view) found just one flaw. Now, there is a side that is not yet known, however, if Google delivers on the statement ‘Two years of OS upgrade from launch‘ as stated, meaning that your Google Pixel will support the installation of Android v9 (whatever that candy name will be, I vote for ‘Liquorice’), then the Pixel will be a steal at twice the price. Meaning that your $1400 should last you 3-4 years, twice the current expected lifespan, easily making it the only choice as an Android phone.

I have an even bigger issue with the quote “Francisco Jeronimo, market research firm IDC’s research director for European mobile devices, says: “Many people care about updates. They recognise that getting the latest update is about getting something better, unless they’ve got an old phone. But it’s about how easy it is to do. Going online and finding an update is something most will not do. If you present it as a notification, as Apple does, then most will jump on board.”“, in this I state that it is my personal believe that Francisco Jeronimo didn’t give the right ambiance to this spin. I have presented evidence that this issue has been known and was visible for the better part of 3 years. Old phone or not, the issue has been limitation of hardware and now that the players realise that the gig is up, they are likely to go into some form of blame mode, whilst their own approach should have changed years ago. The fact that brands like Oppo and Sony are selling what they call state of the art today with a 2 year old OS is just as big a joke, especially if it doesn’t come with the clear notice that an upgrade is available. If I need to give it a name, I would call it the annual update Telco requirement is pushing back and most people are willing to switch providers on a moment’s notice if needed. So Google went Fruity, looked at Apple (it has its own model of OS) and from that point of view, the power of a dedicated mobile became apparent. So now we see that for a mere $150 extra, we get a phone that is not 32GB, but 128GB. So only the dedicated silly would not get that, mainly because logic suggests that Android v8 and Android v9 will all be larger than the previous versions, as could logically be deduced. So not getting storage constraints over the next 3 years makes perfect sense, even if you have a minimal amount of apps. In this case it is not the 10 apps I have now, it is the notion that over the next 3 years I might get another 10-20 apps, as well as a few thousand pictures and knowing that storage will not be an issue, that peace of mind is very important, the moment you get hit by the limitation, it will make sense.

So as Google is challenging that fruity named competitor Apple, it needs to adjust its own model a little bit too. You see, there is a reason why corporate clients still rely on Blackberry. It is the one market Apple has not been able to penetrate, once Android does that, if will be able to shift its interests to another field of data gathering (I mean client instigated data gathering) and data encryption interactions, fields that Apple was not able to surpass Blackberry in, Google has a fair chance at changing that field, with Google now entering layer 1, they have a complete layer coverage allowing to take on the industrial strength enterprise security that Blackberry is famous for, which would give Android the push into the areas where critical security issues are the number one need.

The reality is that this would take at least one additional android upgrade before they enter that field, which have giving Apple the time, but not the engineering skills or the architecture to compete with Blackberry on that level. With this I imply that Apple by keeping to its consumer market views, it ignored a corporate side, or so has create the potential to rule the market, whether it will depends on what they do next, but they have been off to a great start.

The final quote is one that the article has dealt with already “Jeronimo says: “With the Nexus, Google attempted to bring the best device running the latest version of Android, but couldn’t give priority to one of the tier two manufacturers that were interested in making it when you have companies like Samsung and Huawei leading the market. It meant Google struggled to differentiate with its own device when its partners were already making very good devices that were good value.”“, it still requires a little extra and the element that is kept silent is the one I dealt with in ‘The smokescreen of a Smartphone War‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/30/the-smokescreen-of-a-smartphone-war/), you see, making a version and then making it not an option in Australia reeks. It reeks of Telco managed collaboration, the article stipulates why I feel that way. Now that Google blows storage apart with 128GB for $150 should show those two brands and a few others too, the stupidity of their actions. Huawei had an advantage by offering the 64GB, now that is a no no, it seems that Google can make a massive change, what was once a 0.2% market has the potential to become a 10% market in the next 12 months, which would be a growth that is unheard of. A market Huawei decided not to engage and now Google has voiced it will offer options that I would have considered overkill and not essential. Google seems realise that it does not matter whether the person prefers 64GB or 128GB, by offering them 128GB at a 64GB price is a winner in everyone’s books and it shows the consumer that 32GB might be good for nana and grandpa, the rest should just go big at the additional requested fraction more. In that regard the entire model race with two price additions, one for size of screen and one for size of storage is in my view brilliant (I will give credit that Apple had this approach already).

Which leaves us with the last speculation, no matter how we see 2016, with the changes of 2017 we see that Google is entering a new innovative phase of connectivity. Android devices like Google Home, might seem like a party trick, but the reality of Android devices and the option to connect them is more than a fab, the world presentation blew me away and where it matters, your Pixel could become the hub in all this, music on that little boom box, whilst streaming the pics to your TV. For the mere giggles in me, the device (an entertainment unit), which Microsoft promised the Xbox One to be and not delivered. Google now presents and delivers an actual entertainment system whilst not promising it. It is just too funny for words.

So whatever path you take, whether IOS or Android, just make sure it delivers long term what you need, if you do that, you will remain happy with whatever choice you make and that is what truly matters in my humble opinion.

 

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Dangers of Android?

Today I got confronted with a danger that Android poses. Yet, is this truly an Android issue? An Apple user will of course nod yes in a very rapid way. My Huawei is not the only one hindered by this. At Android central the following was found: “Are the apps definitely being removed from the App Drawer, or is it just that the shortcut is disappearing from your home screen?

This is of course a fair question, it still is not OK, but the difference between an app and a shortcut is quite the difference.

It turns out that the apps are on my phone, but they no longer run, they are now called ‘com.spyfox.tripletown‘. The apps seem to have gotten themselves damaged. The question no becomes why. At this point I also notice a program called ‘Li emotion’. The kanji next to it gives it away. My question now becomes ‘what is this and what does it do? This is because it is a separate app, I never installed it (as far as I can tell) and the rights it does have are massive. Yet there is no indication what it is, why it is on my phone and why it is allowed to do many things without my permission. It does not take too long that this is part of the Huawei Emui, so there is no real issue as the operating system needs to be able to do all this. Comprehension was the mere element that resolved everything.

This does not solve my app issue (which actually fixed itself) and gets us to the Guardian video (at http://www.theguardian.com/silent-circle-partner-zone/video/2015/aug/17/smartphone-users-read-their-app-permissions-out-loud-video). So yes, when we see the rights and speak them out loud, they sound very disconcerting. But why is it such an issue? ‘Modify calendar events and send e-mails without my knowledge‘ sounds extremely offensive, but now realise that you set up a meeting, you change the meeting and all parties are automatically updated through messages. Did you know that they got another mail stating that the meeting had changed? There you go, mystery solved. Apps ‘reading your text message‘ sounds like a worry, but is that program actually comprehending the information, or does ‘reading’ mean ‘parsing’, processing the text in all this? Computer lingo for the layman is not the easiest task.

In all this the one that stood out for me was ‘I give this app permission to automatically turn of airplane mode‘ if airplane mode was there for safety reasons (the airplane message no one ever believed that mobile phones interfered with airplane instruments), than the option to turn that off should not be allowed, but in all that, this could be as simple as the dialogue box ‘Would you like to deactivate airplane mode?‘ The video ends with ‘the biggest risk to you and your privacy is your smartphone‘, this is a decent claim to make. In all this, it is actually about users and consumers who do not understand (read comprehend) what they are agreeing to. They do not understand what they have consented to. That is always dangerous, because the things you do not realise are the issues that turn you into the greater fool. Here we can paraphrase the greater fool theory which states that “the price of an object is determined not by its intrinsic value, but rather by irrational beliefs and expectations of market participants” into “the security of your environment is determined not by the borders you mentally erect, but rather by naive believe that the applications on your smartphone will respect them“.

You see, I believe that people should be worried about privacy, and #Privacynow is a valid need, but what is your actual privacy? The way that they are getting there is a little bit of a worry, yet the path is not without valid reason. Consider the quote “It’s common for users to employ the same username and password across systems, so if someone compromises that particular password, the potential also exists for them to compromise additional user accounts“, this is a worry in one way, because is this about the safety of the phone and its apps or is this about Common Cyber Sense? Something I have been advocating for about 2 decades. So how is this a danger for Android? That is part of the issue. In my view the danger to IOS is not smaller and the danger is nor subsiding any day soon. One of the earliest sources is around 2008, in 2010 Computer world, CNet and other sources stated “About 20 percent of the 48,000 apps in the Android marketplace allow a third-party application access to sensitive or private information, according to a report released on Tuesday“, there are two sides here. In the first, is this like the earlier issues in the video and stated, ‘a form of feigned transgression?’ Or is this in the second ‘leaky security that leads to open access of information?’ There is however a third option, apps that were created that are intent on creating a backdoor that allows access to all data. It is the third that is a true danger, yet how realistic is this danger?

Computerworld stated this from a Google representative: “This report falsely suggests that Android users don’t have control over which apps access their data.  Not only must each Android app gets users’ Permission to access sensitive information, but developers must also go through billing background checks to confirm their real identities, and we will disable any apps that are found to be malicious“, this is not just clearly the case, there is supporting evidence on several levels that this is true. In addition, these parts are quotes from 2010 and since then both Apple and Google have upped the security game by a lot. Still, it is the news from last week (at http://www.wired.com/2015/10/iphone-malware-hitting-china-lets-not-next/) ‘iPhone Malware Is Hitting China. Let’s Not Be Next‘ is the issue today. The quote “Unlike previous spates of iOS-targeted malware, many of those victims hadn’t jailbroken their phones to install unauthorized apps. The two back-to-back attacks—one far more sophisticated than the other but both unprecedented in iOS’s history—suggest that complacent iPhone users around the world could be in for the same nasty shock“, the issue has now become the fact regarding ‘non jailbroken systems’, which implies that either a flaw has popped up in the Apple device, or overall a new level of access has become a worry. It is the quote that follows which now is centre in all this “Apple has said that only iOS 8.3 and earlier were left open to the attack. Later versions limited access to the APIs it exploited to plant its ads“, so we can accept that we all install the latest versions, yet what happens to those who have an older device (like the iPhone 4)? There are plenty of things people can do that prevent these issues, and in all this ‘Common Cyber Sense’ remains the big issue. So is China hindered by a massive lack of Common Cyber Sense?

Here we now see the evolution that is the danger. It is the assumption of the user. The laziness of their usage and the ignorance of the effects that they easily embrace. The quote “Don’t install strange apps that appear in pop-ups online and aren’t found in Apple’s App Store” is the big part we must adhere too (well Apple users anyway), for most people like you and me, we use the Google Play Store sources only! Both Google and Apple have their methods in place. Would a three pronged app remain the issue as implied in the article? That is hard to state, but what is clear is that 99% of the dangers can be averted by using the reliable source and that reliable source only. The application of ‘Common Cyber Sense’ can aid you in averting another 0.9999%, which means that if you install 10,000 apps, there is a one in 10,000 chance of you ending up having a chance of being in danger.

Yet in all this, we should never relax about the technology we use and the danger it could bring. It is that fear that is driving people in all kinds of corners they never need to be in. When you have sex, not the committed relationship one, but the quickie with that girl next door for some slap and tickle. In that case do you practice safe sex? When you live in the city, do you go to work leaving the front door to your apartment wide open? In that same sense, when you use any technology that has your personal information, you use more than the minimum safety. That last part requires Common Cyber Sense. To the previous generation it is a harder thing to do, but it can still be done, to my generation it is an additional side to my workflow. It is the next generation that is now the part that matters. Many are taking the casual approach their parents (or bigger siblings) have, whilst not realising that Common Cyber Sense will be at the foundation of their lives. So, any OS will come with its own perils. Be it Windows, LINUX, Android, IOS or any other OS. They will face a new area that is on the move with such high speed that there is no way to predict where they will be in 7 years’ time. The dangers of a complete rewrite in an iterative world. You see until 2000, both hardware and software remained highly innovative, it was after 2003 that the iterative world was set in high gear. First Hardware and now to a larger extent Software has been in iterative mode. Yet the world behind all this, the security part has made leaps and bounds and to some extent not in a good way. Here we can make a connection to an article by Tarleton Gillespie from 2014 called ‘Facebook’s algorithm — why our assumptions are wrong, and our concerns are right‘. The quote “I will say that social science has moved into uncharted waters in the last decade, from the embrace of computational social scientific techniques, to the use of social media as experimental data stations, to new kinds of collaborations between university researchers and the information technology industry“. In addition there is “Those who are upset about this research are, according to its defenders, just ignorant of the realities of Facebook and its algorithm. More and more of our culture is curated algorithmically“. This is not upsetting or ground breaking, but it is the next part that links to all this. It is a blog article called ‘Analytic Suspicions‘ (at https://analyticsuspicions.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/metric-failures-and-data-assumptions-4-myths-of-social-analytics/), he is looking at a few myths in social media, in all this (it is a nice read and well written), I personally see one point that is not a myth, it is a worry and it seems to me that many remain ignorant on that danger. You see, the myths whether all Social Media is analysed, that Social Media data is clean enough to Analyse, Influencers should be targeted and sentiments analyses works. In all this we forget the 5th issue (this being the non-myth). The interaction of apps and data. The dangers that we interact our apps and the data that is linked to all this that is now becoming the true issue. You see, even with all the common cyber sense no matter how safe our mobile is, the data is still somewhere and that data becomes available, more data than we agreed on. Yet in all this is the mobile OS Android/IOS the weak link?

That is the part that is not addressed by many speakers in this realm. Some get scared by places like ‘life hacker’ and some are ignoring the woeful text that passes us by, yet when places like Forbes report that ‘Report: 97% Of Mobile Malware Is On Android‘ (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2014/03/24/report-97-of-mobile-malware-is-on-android-this-is-the-easy-way-you-stay-safe/) people get worried (even though the article is more than a year old). Yet the article enlightens us in many ways. The most important quote here is “here’s the part Google’s rivals don’t want you to know: the figures are misleading“, which is one side of the foundation. The second on is the part I already discussed “stick to buying apps on the Play Store and every one in 1000 apps you buy may have had malware for a brief period“, the word ‘may’ is essential and ‘brief period’ is also essential, in the end, the chance of you getting the winning lottery ticket could be slightly higher, odds I’ll take any day.

Yet in all this, with all the protection these providers offer, the number one danger is you!

Common Cyber Sense is the essential step of reducing that danger to almost zero (like 0.0001% chance).

In the end the danger of Android is almost the same as the danger to IOS, both large players presenting into the margins, which is where the mobile phone user (you know that pesky consumer) does not tend to be. Which takes us to the final part in all this. It was my blog article from the 4th of October (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/10/04/cisa-and-privacy-are-not-opposites/) ‘CISA and Privacy are not opposites‘, we get confronted with Silent Circle and their Blackphone 2. I have no doubt that Phil Zimmermann and Mike Janke are men of knowledge, determination and possibly even innovation. Yet, these skills do in my humble opinion not match up to the killer skills of the Google engineers with their keyboards. So when we see the quote in the Guardian (see previous blog link) “Google didn’t support the initial software build, something that probably helped make the phone more popular, rather than less“, do you think that this was done in envy by Google, or because their build did not hold up to scrutiny? That last part is speculation because I have no data or any evidence going one way or another. The Blackphone is marketed by intelligent people with skills, no one will doubt that, and it is also clear that Silent Circle is now tapping into a direction that is gaining traction, which means the market will most definitely grow in this direction. Yet in all this, considering all the facts, in how much danger is your data?

Sit in a quiet corner and let that questions sink in for a minute. I have been in the data field since 1989, in all that time the biggest threat was ‘data at rest’ (data saved on a device), meaning that this implies that you have strong passwords on your hotspot and Bluetooth capabilities, or just switch these options to ‘off’, not data that is moving from point A to Point B. Today both areas are a ‘threat’ and the second one only since very recent.

Since November 2012 I have had 2 phones, the second one I got this year because only now, my Android needs had grown beyond a 1 GB RAM phone. As far as I can tell I have only faced one issue and that was due to an ignorant third party developer and their dim witted approach to synchronisation. The simple use of Common Cyber Sense is all I needed. Basic steps that nearly anyone can adhere to. The threat of criminals and organised crime will not go away. Common Cyber Sense will keep them at bay and common sense should do the rest.

Which now takes us back to the title, you see, the dangers of Android are largely between your ears. The only dangers you face are the ones you open yourself up to! You should never stop asking questions on where things are and what you sign up to, that is common sense, but also feel free to question what certain things mean, it is in the comprehension that you find the answer. If there is one conundrum to leave you with then it is not android or IOS, consider the idea that a Facebook game wants you to give them access to your religious views, whatever for?

To pray for ammunition?

Well, so be it: ‘halleluiah’, now die you zombie master and give me my 10 points towards a high score!

 

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The choice of a new religion

The Guardian had an interesting article yesterday by none other than Alex Hern. He and I look towards the gaming world in very different ways, it does not make him wrong and it does not make my view right. We have at times different views on things. That is the wonderful world of gaming, it is one of the few fields where the approach to any solution tends to be almost artistic, many views, none the same can still warrant true correctness or success. In ‘Apple wants the Apple TV to be a games console. But can it be trusted?‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/12/apple-tv-games-console-can-it-be-trusted), which is a very true piece. The subtitle states ‘Apple would like to see its new set-top box become the next Nintendo Wii. But it’s questionable whether the company really understands gaming‘, which is as true as it gets. I have been ‘connected’ to Apple systems in one way or another since 1990. One thing from the very start is that the Apple systems were always ahead in many ways, even in artistic ways, yet true gaming was never supported to the extent it should have been. One of my very first freelance jobs was to take a look at ‘Balance of Power’ (by Mindscape), I ended up checking it on the Mac as well as the Amiga. Another one was Shadowgate by the same makers. Even though these games were always worshipped, but on the Mac they seemed to be on the side, accepted as in existence, but never truly part of the ‘Apple’ environment accepted. It is hard to get it into words. You would have had to be there to understand it.

The quote “The problem is that games are treated as just another type of app by the company – albeit a very profitable type. The games store, for instance, is organised in exactly the same way as the rest of the app store, with prominence given to a few select apps and then three charts of top-selling paid games, most-downloaded free games, and “top grossing games”“, helps here. It is like a bunch of economists see games in the spreadsheet as deep green and those economists really like deep green (as in profit). Yet games is a lot more than numbers (something Ubisoft has an issue with too). To see Apple people look at games and advice their users on is like going to your accountant for sex guidance. That person gets off on spreadsheets and a balance books, for many people not the orgasmic solutions to embrace. Yet there is also a side where I have to disagree on.

Part one is “Similarly, in the newly-released guidelines for Apple TV apps, the company reveals that “the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB”, with no persistent local storage. In other words, apps must be lean, and they must download everything they show from the cloud“, part two is “The top-tier consoles right now ship their games on Blu-ray discs, which store at least 25GB and can rise to 128GB per disc (twice the total storage of the highest-capacity Apple TV“. Now, Alex speaks the truth and he is 100% correct. My issue is that quote 2 implies (he never really states it anything in that way) that size makes the game, that is wrong. Still there is a truth here. 200Mb is nowhere near enough for any decent game. If we look at previous games, like Metroid Prime on the GameCube, that game exceeds the 200Mb. Many games from the PC could get close to the 200Mb, but will in all likelihood exceed that part.

In addition, the statement “In other words, apps must be lean, and they must download everything they show from the cloud“, which now implies that we are all dependent on quality connection. A property that is even debatable in parts of Western Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. For Apple it must be good to know that at least Scandinavia and its 18 million people will see the bulk of Apple TV gaming. The second issue is “Unlike PC games, consoles have always been fairly locked down by the platform manufacturers. In a way, it’s “no sex, no drugs, only rock and roll” attitude is merely replicating the same approach that Nintendo has emphasised for years in its efforts to keep its games consoles family friendly“. Now I am all for family friendly games, yet some people want more than Mario Kart. Some want to play the master Sergeant (HALO). Some want to be in the wasteland (Fallout) or they want to sneak their ways around a city (Thief). Many of these games would never be allowed, with a massive portion of the gamers being 21+, they end up being nothing more than a nuisance to Nintendo and without a massive arsenal of IP that will not happen any day soon.

It is the final quote that is concern as well as the source of howl of deriving laughter “But its success as a games console would be handing yet more control of the medium to a company which fundamentally looks down on games and gaming. And that should concern anyone who likes to play“, wasting this level of resources on a system with no expertise on quality gaming will put a dent in the Apple coffers, in addition, once rejected by gamers, those at the helm will be forced to take a harsh look at their choices and their considerations. It seems that so far in new gaming only Elite Dangerous made it. If the iMac 5K would have one additional hardware update. If they had something in equal or exceeding the Radeon R9 295X2, the system would become something to behold, not just with Elite Dangerous, but in addition with games like No Man’s Sky (if it ever gets here). The iMac would be an option, the Apple TV is clearly not that option, beyond Minecraft there is not a lot that plays on the Apple TV. So do I disagree with Alex?

Actually no! When we consider his quote “Despite my concerns, there is the chance that the Apple TV could be good for gaming“, it connects to my thoughts that good gaming is not about the size (well not completely). Consider that some of the games that were a massive success on the Commodore 64, the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST can still be the games in the new generation systems like the Apple TV. The games by Sid Meier, games like seven cities of gold, some of the legends like Lemmings, Dune 2 (Command and Conquer), pretty much most of the games Peter Molyneux made (including Dungeon keeper), there are loads of other games. The opposite is also true, now we can get a pirates game Sid Meier could never offer when he did because technology stopped him. In equal measure quality gaming has dwindled as there are no limitations, so that game designers are no longer trying to squeeze the maximum out of a console. Tomb Raider is an example here. When we consider that Apple TV could get a market, whilst the hard core end games on consoles and PC remains, I state ‘Yes’, that is a definite option. Yet Alex does illustrate a side of Apple that the foundation of Apple should be ‘concerned’ with. “If you want to criticise a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical App. It can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store”, in all fairness there should be space for that approach, but it will hinder your business. You see, the guidelines at 15.1 state “Apps portraying realistic images of people or animals being killed or maimed, shot, stabbed, tortured or injured will be rejected“, which is nice but that pretty much sums up almost every game ever made, including New Zealand Story, where the little Kiwi loses health when he touches a spike. 15.3 makes any WW2 game a non-starter, unless Apple insists that Nazi Germany was never a real government where my response becomes: ‘good luck with that one!’

So, even though we can accept that guidelines are needed to keep certain groups (read children) free to wander on the app store selecting games. I get that, but as I stated before, it limits the Apple TV to the realm of Nintendo who already has a massive grip on its user base through several means, why would Apple TV wander in that field? It almost reads like Apple wants to add to the foundation of a failed system. The idea that was a write off in 2007, regarding a big fat fail in 2010, suddenly got the title ‘How Apple’s biggest failure could be one of its greatest accomplishments‘ in 2014 (at http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/saving-apple-tv-think-different/) we see: “Apple has a chance here to beat its competitors to the punch, first and foremost, by making sure that you can play every significant type of video file type that Apple TV doesn’t offer now. This will broaden the range of apps the device can support, and ensure they never have an issue like they did with Hulu again. They would also be wise to create a browser for the device, and to let users access its hard drive“, which is true, yet the article reads like a marketing approach to ‘new’ options for Apple TV and now a year later we see the games ploy. Is it truly about that, or is there a fear within Apple that they are being passed by, passed by those who had a clear goal and by growing in any direction they get to hold onto non-write-off a little longer.

I will let you decide on the parts that are a given, but are they truly a given? I must warn my own view that it is tainted and also clouded. There is a view that comes from true gaming and as such Apple TV does not add up to much, yet what is small can grow and as I stated, let true innovation grow through limitations. It gave us true pearls on three generations of consoles, innovations that seem to be missing in NextGen. Yes, there is still innovation, but not to the extent there was in the past. The idea that Apple starts it up again is partially pleasing. Pleasing because that is the one part that have been downplayed by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to the larger extent, if you doubt that, then look at how many independent productions made it to consoles in the past. The fact that this year is a lot more about independents is not a given, it is a fab and no guarantee exists that independents will make it through in 2016 and 2017.

That is the part where Apple could grow, you see I personally believe that the next 12 years will be all about the small innovators. As larger players have become vultures, eating the small ones and carrion eaters as they devour their brands in the insane vision that growth comes from interactive innovation, large jumps are ignored. You only need to see the success of Markus the Notch and Minecraft to see that I am right. Will Sean Murray be the next one to show this? David Braben is on the right track to do so too and they are not alone. Even though Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is not likely to be the success others are becoming, the truth is that this game is innovative. Even though in respect to my Tomb Raider view that 10 hours of game play is not acceptable, it would be equally unacceptable to see a 6 hour story as a good thing (source: YouTube). Yet, it is a story and the challenge as such is too small. You only need to look back at the game Portal (by Rob Swigart) to see something a lot larger, even though not in an open world environment, the result as well as the story was truly unique. That does not make the game a failure or inferior, yet the truth remains that the challenge needs an upgrade. Too small, yet remains a true innovation compared what is out there. In all this my own perception is an issue for discussion too. Where is it a given that a 10 hour game is insufficient? I base it on past play and play that some games give, as such 10 hours of gaming just doesn’t hack it neither does 6 hours. Yet all this started with a new religion, one of gaming. not the worship of a controller, or the divination of a system, but the choice of what we believe is to be an open direction, a choice of innovation, because without innovation gaming seizes to survive and we get iteration of a given, in the artsy world gaming exists in, that part can never be allowed to remain in iteration. This is one of the core reasons why the iteration of Assassins Creed, the iteration of Lara Croft the raider of Tombs and Call of Duty will simmer down, will cease to be the cash cows they once were.

The future is all about true innovation in gaming, in that Apple TV could have a space if it opens the doors to independent developers. When we consider the iPad, it has had a nice collection of games and some are truly innovative, in all that IOS has a place and the Apple TV could bring it to the big screen (and I do mean on your TV). In the final part, I agree with Alex for the most, except for the part “a company which fundamentally looks down on games and gaming“. I am not certain it does. It seems to have an approach not unlike Nintendo. Do we look down on them? The question does remain when we see gaming as a religion. It could be the one religion that should be without a bible, which is fair enough, but what about the 10 commandments? Should we not consider some guidelines? Personally I state no, but then again, I started in a world where gaming was born, where it evolved. In all this gaming can evolve within any limited system (consider the 16KB VIC-20), as such any system can bring the joy of gaming, we only need to consider where we take gaming. Nintendo took a direction, there is nothing stopping from Apple taking it in the same direction. In my mind, it should be now and forever about innovation, because that is what draws us to a new game. Consider how Elemental Kingdoms took the concept of CCG and gave it a digital evolution, that is just one of many options, I hope many that are yet unemployed and it awaits the next visionary to create that path.

Who? That is up to the developer that dares to dream and make it reality.

 

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In continuation

Perhaps you noticed it, perhaps not. The last article was left a little unfinished. I had to do this because we are faced with two separate parts and I needed to isolate a few things, leaving you with the idea that this was it, alas (or fortunately) it is not!

In the past we saw that software required to pass “a manner of manufacture”, the linked issue of physicality, which is one I do believe in. It is for that reason I still consider the article by Ben McIniery ‘Physicality in Australian Patent Law‘ (at Deakin law review) to be the article that everyone in IP should read. It is an absolute must in the field. The article opened my eyes to a few parts of IP. On page 465 He goes into National Research Development Corporation v Commissioner of Patents (1959) 102 CLR 252, where we see “the High Court explained that the patentable subject matter inquiry is a broad test that recognises all new and useful innovation as patent eligible, irrespective of whether it involves a physical embodiment or a transformation of physical matter“.

This is where we are now. The gaming industry is only one side of it, the mobile data and mobile device market is the big one. No matter how much you see how mobile markets are worth hundred, two, three or even four hundred billion. As I see it, the mobile device market has now passed the 1 trillion dollar mark. As the people involved are looking at ‘their’ corners, the overall interaction market, including apps, data and hardware has exceeded a trillion dollars. So why does this now matter?

This is at the core of it all. The new games are only one side, the other side connected to all this is the value of data. There was a reason that Microsoft paid 2.2 billion for a videogame. The massive connection here is not just the data, it is the collection technology that you can link to it that matters.

Software was taken to satisfy the requirement for patentable subject matter; that is, it was “a manner of manufacture”. As articulated in the watershed NRDC decision, it is a mistake to ask if an invention (in the present context, software) is a kind of manufacture because it tends to limit one’s thinking by reference to the idea of making tangible goods by hand or by machine. Rather, the correct emphasis is that the application of a manner of manufacture results in an artificially created state of affairs, and that a manner of manufacture has an industrial, commercial or trading character in that it belongs to a useful art, as distinct from a fine art, and consequently its value to the country is in a field of economic endeavour. Software would appear to satisfy that requirement. Apple found that out the hard way, when it ‘learned’ that Smartflash owned the patent (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-ip-apple-verdict-idUSKBN0LT0E720150225), the bandage for that pain has been set at half a billion dollars. Here we see the link to both gaming and mobile devices.

The hottest ticket in the gaming industry is not just the game, it is the one who gets the race horse right on cross platform workings. So, a person on an Xbox One meets a person on a PlayStation 4 and they both fight it out ‘Doom’ style, who is the baddest, deadliest and most determined player on his console? That is currently not an option to the extent it should be. If you think it is easy, than think again, Bethesda with its Elder Scrolls online has not been able to bring that baby to life (Neither has Diablo 3 for that matter, who has a lot more experience in this field).

The jackpot value goes up even more when we consider the Android and IOS devices. Cross platform is the one ticket (read: patent) that once solved will hold the trump card to instant super wealth. Leave it to greed to properly motivate innovation, but that is usually the case.

So as we see the E3 to the largest extent about gaming. I am looking at it from the additional view of Intellectual property. If you have read yesterday’s article called ‘As the heart thumps‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/06/15/as-the-heart-thumps/), you might wonder if there is a reason behind my focus on the navigational view of Elite: Dangerous. Now consider the design patents that Microsoft holds and consider the Elite HUD in a car window as a heads up display. It is the next step. You see, several players (read: car manufacturers) have been looking at implementing something like this, but the costs were scary. Now consider Corning’s Gorilla Glass technology solutions, not just to be a stronger screen, but a screen ‘film’ solution on the inside of the glass linked to a device that feeds the screen, whoever holds the quality design patent here will make a killing. The ‘technology’ that we saw in games for HUD, is technically already possible, now it only needs one clear implementation with the right patent and that person is sitting on the platinum patent. That same train is linked to interactive data transfer and consolidation cross platforms. Not what you think already exists (like feeds to every device), no, I am talking about true bi-directional interaction of the mobile world. We are getting closer, but we are not there yet.

In gaming terms, we are talking interactive intelligence versus scripted moments. The bulk of all games still rely on scripted moments. When you walk into a door, a new house, or meeting that ‘special’ character in the game. Games are full of that, no it is the intelligent design, regardless of moment, character or location that decides the interaction. That will be the upcoming frontier. Yes, you might think that this is about gaming, which is partially true. Yet that part is one step away from intuitive marketing; to reach any person regardless of device, location or state of travel, the holy grails of Direct Marketing and the Business Intelligence field is pursuing. You see, when we travel we tend to be decently idle. That is the moment marketing could hit us square in the face, possible resulting in us pressing the ‘buy’ button. That is as I say the platinum patent that allows for almost instant wealth beyond measure. Most of the technologies exist in generic form, whoever delivers the focus narrow enough to get set into patent will be holding onto the Chalice of Avarice.

In all this, the IP market remains in development, in addition, these events with added complication of what the TPP will offer large corporations is centre as to why I had an issue with the TPP. It gives unbalanced strength to large corporations, whilst diminishing the efforts of small innovators and it is the latter part that is most likely to come up with the golden idea, which was always my issue against the TPP.

So, when you take another look at what the E3 offers in gaming, consider how much bigger the net is that could catch options in other parts and other business segments.

 

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