Tag Archives: iPod

The smokescreen of a Smartphone War

Yesterday’s news gives us ‘The secret smartphone war over the struggle for control of the user’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/29/smartphone-war-operators-user-phone-service) held my initial interest for about 7.0 seconds. You see, it is an interesting story, but it is not the real battle that is being fought. As I personally see it, the secondary war is about the agreements that the Android phone makers seem to have with one another. That war we are kept in the dark about. In the end, the Telecom companies want you to be dependent on them, their products and their solutions. They give you some BS reasoning of ‘we weren’t offered that option‘, whilst their head office is all about containment. They only hold they have is by pushing you in a position where you need a new phone EVERY year. That is the service path we are all getting pushed into. Which is one reason why outright buy seems to be so overpriced in many cases. For the next bit we need to see GSMArena.com. There we find the following parts:

32/64 GB, 4 GB RAM
32/64 GB, 4 GB RAM
32 GB, 3 GB RAM (EVA-L19/EVA-L09)
64 GB, 4 GB RAM (EVA-L29)

You would think it is all the same, right? The last two are the same brand. I will get back to the list, but for now, what you would like to do is to check where you can get a 64GB edition, and for some that list is zero, you see, in Australian (not the only place) they are making sure that you cannot get the 64GB edition, in an age of consumerism, is that not weird? In that regard, Apple is the only one offering this, because of different reasons.

In all this, I have used my phone with a philosophy. It is a simple one and in my life of budgets an essential one. In the past, I learned the hard way early in life that chasing technology is a race that costs money and never leaves you with a true advantage, the gaming industry in the 90’s on PC were all about that. The mobile industry, like the PC industry learned this from the arms industry and they were really good students. So no matter what competitiveness they have, if they agree on a few ground rules, there will be enough space for exploitation for all of them. Now, in 2015, Huawei decided to rock the boat and as such they got a larger share than ever before, now that they are on par, they seem to go with the average lot of them. My hopes are that LG tries a same approach, which will cost Huawei et al dearly this year.

When you have been around your mobile for a little while, you will see that storage is (nearly) everything on a mobile and with marshmallow, a 32GB system will end up having about 22GB space left. There is the Android system and the mandatory apps, the amount leaves you with 10GB less. This is not a big deal you think, but over the year we will see an exponential growth of apps and they cost space too. Some people already learned this lesson with Pokémon Go and all the pics that were taken. They were realising how much space was lost. Now, we know that you can add a SD card and store pictures there, but apps must be run from the main storage and those apps are growing too. So over 2 years you would have run out of space. Meaning that you either clean up your system, or buy a mobile with more space. This you might have learned if you had an iPad or iPod. Storage was running low for some a lot faster than they bargained for.

So in this age, when the difference between 32GB and 64GB is one component which is in total a mere $32.87 more expensive, why would we even consider a 32GB system? Because at this point, the mobile warranty of 24 months could be served completely and we would not need another phone one year later! In addition, after 2 years we would have the freedom to choose a better and cheaper provider, so as I see it, neither Optus nor Telstra wants a 64GB phone in their arsenal and the only reason is that the iPhone is that size is because Apple has in general a global approach to their hardware.

Now let’s look again:

32/64 GB, 4 GB RAM – Samsung
32/64 GB, 4 GB RAM – LG
32 GB, 3 GB RAM (EVA-L19/EVA-L09) – Huawei P9
64 GB, 4 GB RAM (EVA-L29) – Huawei P9

Unless LG takes advantage of the option they have now, none of them offers the 64GB version in Australia! Is that not weird? Amazon UK offers both, and at times the 64GB is definitely more expensive, yet consider that at $100 more (for some a little more), you have peace of mind that this phone can last you 2 years without storage issues. That seems a pretty big deal to me. In addition, unless Android past Nougat (V7) grows a massive part, the user will have plenty of space to update their system, if the update would be offered. In addition, with all the other stuff we carry (photo’s music and so on), twice the size is pretty much the only way to go.

So why the mobile providers refuse their product to be on sale is just beyond me and the fact that none of them are offering a product in a place seems to be massively out of bounds. With Huawei the fact that there is a single slot and duo slot 32GB option makes even less sense to me. In my mind, this is all about control of the users, and controlling where the users go, which is a limitation on freedom devices have never offered before, so in my mind it was not with the consumers consent. The fact that Samuel Gibbs did not mention that part in their article is not as quoted “Fewer purchases mean the big smartphone players are now under pressure to extract more revenue from their existing user base, which is easier for Apple and its App Store than others reliant on Google’s Play Store, and to try to convince users that life is greener on their side of the smartphone divide“, it is to make sure that continuity prevails, to some extent for the smartphone makers, to the larger extent to mobile providers to keep them in their not seeking another providers place!

In addition the quote “At the same time, the mobile phone operators are in a similar competition. Switching between the major phone networks has always been an issue, whether it’s over price, customer service or the latest handset“, more important it is over bandwidth and facilitation, the more limits the hardware has, the less issues of competition the provider needs to deal with. So is Samuel Gibbs informing you on some ‘secret war’ or is he trying to keep your sight away from the options that matter? The fact that phone limitations is not part of his view (which could be because the UK offers both models) is equally disturbing that he did not look at this from a global point of view, when you are not made aware of what is by me expected and therefore implied is the limitation of hardware offered is as I see it, part of a secret war that they require you not to be aware of. If that is done intentionally, what do you think is in play?

So as the Samsung Note 7 is now an ISIS tool (when you install the 10 second countdown app) and only LG remains to go public with their new model, they now have an option to capture a much larger share of the audience as several of the participating parties refused to consider the consumers’ needs and seems to cater to the telecom request of limitation. LG has an option to grow much stronger in this market than ever before. Apple as IOS has a different situation and as seen on many fronts they have created their own walls of disturbance, so LG could even go after that lot, but we must respect that there is a huge offset between IOS and Android and as such, people are at times less willing to switch there. For now the latest rumours are that the V20 will start the pre-orders this Sunday in the US and European markets will be getting them, yet there is at present no confirmation for both the UK and Australia. So we will have to see about that part too.

The article had more. So consider my words and now see this quote: “Bibby says: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Flexibility like this is just the next stage of innovation so we’re not surprised to see others adopting it. Manufacturers are trying to ensure that more of their own handsets are sold in the market. They’re trying to clearly compete with each other.”” I disagree with Nina Bibby, marketing and consumer director for O2. The quote is not untrue, but incorrect. It is the presentation of what they want the issue to be, because is sets our mind at rest. I believe that the more correct quote is “They’re trying to clearly compete with each other within the agreed limits of the presented options“, which is not entirely the same! In that same view, the limitations due to the telecom agreements are equally in question. The fact that none offered the complete spectrum is just as much of a worry. Because it is like a corporation trying to make sure that its employees can never truly become independent, because that would be too dangerous for their own continuation. The second part in all this is the entire upgrade service program. It creates brand dependency, which is not essentially a bad thing, but guess what! I reckon that soon thereafter the 64GB option will come and there will be a churn for 12 and 24 months. At that point, the telecom providers would want a phone to last as long as possible. It could be in different ways. For example after 12 months 65% off and a $1 upgrade after 24 months. This is just speculation, so this is not a given, yet overall not that far-fetched.

The most interesting quote is at the end “For now, the battle for control of the phone in your hand is happening behind closed doors. Soon we’ll begin to see the phone-as-a-service idea pushed by one of the big manufacturers, but only once the operators are no longer crucial to sales“. The first part is that not all of the closed doors is about the phone, bandwidth has been a forever war between iiNet, Optus and Telstra in Australia, and the phone-as-a-service is not all in the hands of the manufacturers, that will come soon enough (in one case it already is) in hands of the Telecom companies, because that is a direct factor for customer loyalty, who does not see the $45 a month phone as the margin, it is the $90 a month subscription where their margin is and that part can be set to non-taxation a lot faster too. The phone is merely a hardware write-off, increasing their ROI.

So when you consider your new phone do not be fooled by the SD slot, wonder why the full version is out nearly everywhere else, except Australia? For Australians, consider one nice issue, the Kiwi’s do get the 64GB edition several stores have it available to order. So, do you feel special now, of just used by both the handset sales people and your telecom provider? More important, what other issues did that secret war of smart phones not inform you about? Perhaps you haven’t seen the implications of not having a choice in certain cases. People have been so busy bashing iPhone’s Apple that they forget that Android phones have their own collection of imposed limitations for the consumer.

 

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Who runs America?

This is a question that has been in the back of my mind for some time. When we consider the economic events from 2008 onwards and how slow (almost 2 administrations) it has taken for any economic legislation to take shape for the (at present) ineffective halting of moving tax dollars off shore. Even now, several economic boffins are slowly and casually mentioning that current measures are not going far enough.

The entire issue took a new foothold as we see the Ukrainian events unfold. We see how some politicians are acting so….outspokenly against certain acts. Now, I am not speaking out against these people, I believe in the freedom of speech and as such, we need to hear all sides. The issue was shown the most visible in the UK when some stated on how economic sanctions against Russia would be taken, like getting gas from a different source.

It was at that point when I saw just how hollow their boasts were. In my view those politicians would soon be dragged to a separate room where several high powered industrials would add these politicians to the Christian choir of ‘Mare Castratum’, see this as a slightly more efficient form of gagging a politician.

Why this view?

Consider that politicians would make that rash decision and also consider the fact that in the UK (amongst most EEC nations), the energy prices are way above normal. So in a place where like the US, 1 in 7 lives below the poverty line, where these people can hardly pay their bills, get confronted with a 10%-15% raise on energy bills. What do you expect to happen?

I expect something similar to happen in the US, as I see it there are two elements in play here. The first is the claim (at http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=957624)

The two quotes are “The Senate on Tuesday expressed its support for Ukraine by passing strongly worded resolutions, using tough language against Russia and urging it be suspended from the Group of 8 world powers.” and “The House of Representatives also passed a resolution to condemn what House Speaker John Boehner called ‘Russia’s hostile acts of aggression’

I understand the second quote and I reckon that House Speaker John Boehner was quite correct to pass such a resolution. It is the first one that is an issue, I understand that governments want to stand in support of the Ukraine, there is no way that any objection to that is valid, consider however what the G8 stands for. If we accept the following ‘G8 nations comprise 50.1% of 2012 global nominal GDP‘, then without Russia, will the G8 be a valid office of existence and what to do to keep its validity? Replace it with China?

That part would make sense as in many ways, the Chinese economy would be much more interesting to America then Russia is for the mere fact that China imports almost 3 times more than Russia does (based on 2012 numbers). Yet, if this happens, then what will be the long term consequences? Consider that the Ukraine is in an even less prosperous situation then most EEC countries. Now consider the information (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2014/03/05/in-ukraine-crisis-russias-natural-gas-tactics-could-backfire/), basically the Ukraine was getting gas at a 36% discount. If that fell away, then what will the Ukraine do? The quote seen here “The UK National Balancing Point (NBP) futures for natural gas jumped nearly 10% to $10.28 per MMBtu, according to Bloomberg. Prices have since moderated as the political situation appears to be calming down” gives validity to my claims of the energy prices; if futures would take that must a blast, then I reckon the people could face a charge at nearly twice that percentage. There was a side in all this that I had not reckoned on. When we see the quote “The U.S. wants to become a large LNG exporter later this decade and a portion of that would be bound for Europe” we see two dangers. The first is that this is not just government, but this is definitely a ‘Big Business’ push. Yet, consider the amount of customers could be the issue as the amount needed would far outstrip what could be delivered. That part is implied in the Dutch article (at https://decorrespondent.nl/299/eerst-het-gas-dan-de-moraal/32952491-c7e501ab) called ‘Eerst het gas, dan de moraal‘, which could be loosely translated and paraphrased as: “Business before morality“, which is basically at the heart of all these events. The article states that the Russian pipeline is supplying well over 26 million households, which is well over twice the size of California (in households). There should be no illusions that Gazprom has its powerful claws firmly in the EEC.

Let’s make sure that I am not stating that the politicians are acting purely or mostly out of economic reasons. I am to a lesser extent implying that it is possible that the Natural Gas lobbyists in Washington have been speaking with politicians over a lunch or two (which is how things are done in the US and UK). That latter part was discussed in the Guardian in October 2013, as UK Labour leader Ed Miliband mentioned that these lobby groups are not getting the proper levels of scrutiny (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/07/energy-firm-lobbyists-scrutiny-ed-miliband). So it is IMHO Big Business that is the second danger element in these cases. If the politicians represent the people, yet big business has the funds, ability and know-how to override the views of the people, then what use are the people at the end of all this?

This all goes a few steps further than just the energy groups. I started all this with a mention of economic sanctions. So how does this connect? Well, it does not directly connect, yet the elements all have their political influence. Consider the needs of Apple in Russia (at http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/03/07/russias-megafon-deal-with-apple-inc-guarantees-sales-of-750k-iphones-over-3-years). This was less than a week ago. So we consider the value of a little over 20,000 iPhones a month for the next three years and we should expect that this sparks the sale of iPad and iPod and other Apple articles. Do you think that the members in charge of Apple are hindered by morality? They have parked billions in taxable dollars away from the collecting hands of the IRS (and other taxing governments). The commission these people get from their deals in Russia will not stop them in any way. Whether there will be some ‘illusive’ distributor in India, Japan or China will not matter, the show (read sale) will go on. The same could be said for Dell. You think that they stop selling to Russia and leave their market share to ASUS? I think not! These are just two examples of the dozens of massively large companies doing business with Russian one form or another, not just from the USA, but also from Europe. In that same regard, there is not export without import, so as we see the boasts of economic sanctions to Russia by politicians, remember that when we see that when Russians show off their latest Apple gadgets on TV, the question ‘who runs America?‘ should remain firmly on your mind. In the end you should also remember that the entire situation is a lot more complex then I make it out to be.

As we focus on ‘Business before Morality‘ then remember the bills most of you have in your drawer still awaiting payment. We are nearly all of us overdue to the smallest or a larger extent and as some are more fortunate not to be one of the seven people living below poverty, consider that most of us are in the same place where 45% of us are, most of these people are all a little below getting by, which comes down to one step from a total nightmare life.

I am not stating it is a good place or an acceptable place; it is merely a realistic place. It is in this realistic place the question gets the volume it needs to have: ‘Who runs America?

 

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Look horny!

Seems an odd title to start with, but whenever I see certain reports by boards of directors as they make it to the press, then I am reminded of an old Dutch cartoon called ‘father and son‘ about the conservative father and the progressive son. It was a political cartoon by a man called Peter van Straaten. In one of these drawings a man is standing with a camera whilst the woman is standing not that dressed next to the fireplace, the by-line is ‘Look Horny’. It was hilarious! So was the published remark from the Apple board of directors “Apple’s (AAPL) Board of Directors has grown frustrated at the company’s lack of visible innovation.”

Be innovative in this light is as weird as being horny on command. We can all be innovative at times, but we are innovative with the means at our disposal. In his case this is about vision. Was Steve Jobs the visionary, or was he the man who could recognise it when it was shown to him? Let’s face it; we all have ideas at time. I remember coming up with something that is now called Facebook. Hold on, wait! I am not claiming I invented Facebook. In the late 90’s Warner brothers had these web spaces that were hosted through a provider called Angelfire. There was the Halliwell home, the Babylon 5 home, the Bat cave. All forms of addresses that linked the subscriber to their favourite series, or movie. It was free and it came with 20Mb space. However, it was completely static. I thought it would be a good idea to have something similar and to let these members talk to one another. Our benefit would be that we could talk to them all, a place for free advertising at the cost of one web server and a few additional costs. My boss stated that this was not our mission (which was true) and that this would never work (Really?). I think I still have the e-mail somewhere. I had no other means to pursue this idea and in the end it would never have been anywhere near Facebook, so it does not matter.

The moral is that if your boss lacks insight, things will never get pushed forward. It seems that Steve Jobs had this insight in abundance. Likely he was one of these true visionaries and the timing was right. Timing is all in that field, come a little too soon and it will not happen, come too late and you are a copycat at best.

Does the board of directors at Apple comprehend this?

Perhaps Tim Cook has part of these abilities, perhaps not. Perhaps there is no real innovation to be gotten. Let’s just face that between the cassette, the mini-disc and the iPad there were many years of waiting. The origin of the cassette recorder was around the 1930’s, which was PRE WW2 and would not be a consumer item until decently after WW2. So it took almost half a century to get to the Mini-Disc and almost a decade to get to the iPod. Will it take that long for the iPod to evolve to something truly new? There is no way to tell, innovation comes in many forms and a real breakthrough is needed to shape innovation.

I reckon the new Mac Pro is sure sign that innovation is not dead, this is however nothing more than displayable innovation with to a smaller extent an engineering level of innovation, yet, this is nothing more than a new step forward, not a leap forward onto a new train. As for ‘new’, let’s not forget that Cray had the round professional computer (read mainframe) first, the Cray CDC8600, which was released in the late 60’s, so is the idea Apple had truly innovative? The Cray version came with a bench around it, so where’s my chair Apple!

There is also a downside to innovation the way Apple does it. That part is becoming more and more visible with the iPad. There is now the iPad2 and iPad3. My iPad1 is great, I bought it to use in University and it does exactly what it needs to do and I was until recently quite happy. Developers make applications for the device and I have bought a decent amount of them. However, recently, more and more applications can no longer be updated. Even more irritating is that some updated applications will no longer work and crash as these developers only seem to consider the new iPad’s for testing and not the old ones. More important, new software often no longer works on the old models, so from that we could come to the thought that the innovation of Apple comes at the price where a device like the iPad, must be replaced after two years, which seems an expensive approach for consumers.

Now let’s take a step back. Innovation should not be a hype word. The dictionary states it as: “the act of innovating – introduction of new things or methods.”

So Apple is not really adding anything truly new to their cascading fleet of devices. There is even the idea that in the end this step like approach is a really bad idea. They seem to forget that the economy is in a slump and most of us cannot afford a steplike replacement of our devices.

I reckon the board of directors should also realise that the ‘innovative’ track of Apple has been an expensive one for its consumers; I lost close to $8000, whilst Apple was all too eager not to step forward on their failings and I am not alone. How is that related? Well, when you lose money, until something TRULY innovative comes, why would you purchase that brand? In my case my expensive laptop had to be replaced after only 14 months and as such I did not buy an apple. I am not alone; several around me had such an uncomfortable experience with the iPhone 4 that they have since moved to a non-Apple android solution.

So perhaps their board of directors need to focus on quality of the innovation, not quantity of innovations. In the end, they have nothing valid to complain about. Apple is in the bulk of the homes in one way or another. Whether it is through desktop (iMac), laptop (Macbook Air/Pro) or handheld (iPad/iPod/iPhone). If you talk to 10 of your friends then it is likely that 5 out of 10 have at least one Apple device and 2 out of these 5 are likely to have more than one device. Plenty of CEO’s would sell their first born into slavery for such returns. So in plain words, what are these board members bitching about? Is it truly about innovation or is it about simple greed?

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