Tag Archives: Marketing

The future arrived Yesterday

I was at an interesting gig yesterday. I was introduced by a friend to several new options to engage with an audience, and options to interact in engagement, not mere presenting, we got to see true engagement. Several solutions that by them self are impressive enough, but combine the abilities we see options for engagement that will knock the socks off from players like Marvel and Nintendo, options that large players like Microsoft set aside for too long, options missed by some players as they are pushing for similar results again and again. Yet like the failures of Ubisoft in the past, as I stated it ‘a game that was designed to not be a failure will in equal measure never become a true winner‘, Ubisoft learned that the hard way with the their Assassins Creed franchise and now, we see opportunities that EA Games could get with FIFA19 and micro transactions, not just that, the act of engagement would allow for plenty of additional visibility towards groups that are currently not considering certain products. Engagement has always been the primary key in that and I saw a truckload of that, much of it in a new wardrobe that fits basically everyone.

So even as some are given to be a display towards retail, they have the ability to be much more, this is a marketing dream and all available for so many participants before this year’s Christmas shopping spree sets in. Options that are more than just engagement, they are optional content distributors, unlockable gems that people in certain areas love, a simple image that can immediately translate with you in the foreground and your destination in the background, combined send as a postcard to your mobile on the spot.

It is a simple setting, where an RFID scanner that could instantly reveal what the Nintendo Amiibo offers to the customer in store, not relying on dodgy third party lists, one Nintendo list and places like EB Games could in store reveal what the person is buying. The applications are here and not in the stores, not used by players that could gain the brand additional momentum, so what gives?

Well, for the most retail and larger places are seeing these devices and solutions as a cost, which they are (to some degree), but they in equal measure forget the opportunity that they bring. If we consider Market Watch (which I question), we see the setting that the games market, in particularly the Augmented reality Gaming Market, we see a forecast where we are treated to According to Infoholic Research, the “AR Gaming Market” is expected to reach $284.93 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 152.7% during the forecast period 2017-2023“, I still think that this is ludicrous, I have zero percent faith in that, or to state this that I am predicting that this is 100% wrong. Gaming is a 135 billion dollar market globally, if we get “expected to reach $75 billion by 2023“, then this would be an awesome result for AR gaming. I am certain that Infoholic Research did not just get their wires crossed; I feel that they are buttering someone’s bread on both sides. In both normal gaming and gambling, we see that there is a trend on the rise and some of the systems shown yesterday can grab in on these potential markets in several ways, it is up to the creative marketing mind in the larger places to use this not merely for branding, but also for creating awareness and grow interest through engagement.

Consider that this goes further than mere advertising and branding, consider the information kiosks, you might wonder what a mere information kiosk could add. The new generation can also scan you or what you are holding. A logo, a brochure, or merely a QR code. These parts can immediately be converted to a shop with location, a digital travel brochure that can be interacted with on the screen or merely a QR code that your mobile device can scan, giving you the app, the additional information or a mere YouTube video to watch. All options actively available now and when you place such solutions in a place like Neom (for those not in the know) “Neom is a planned 26’500 sq. km transnational city and economic zone to be constructed in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia close to the border region of Saudi Arabia and Egypt“, and Saudi Arabia has set aside 500 billion for the creation of that city. The option of being the first and more important, setting up the 5G hub allowing a primary spot for a 5G growth in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, a place where Huawei is already roaring to set up shop, they have the lead there, and now consider that the push from the Saudi Arabia government is all about being ahead of the rest, the smartest of all smart cities and it will not take long before they realise that to get ahead of all the others you need to be willing and ready to have solutions for engagement there, primed, active and ready to grow. More important, three months ago, we were treated to “Chinese tech conglomerate Huawei is already committed to training 1,500 local engineers over the next two years“, so this is one place where Telstra got in way too late, as did the European players. The hub for a 120 million customer 5G population, when I mentioned this in the beginning of this year I was not kidding. Now we see that certain paths have started, we need to look at how you can get a smart city population to engage, because that is the trigger for growth. This directly relates to gaming as gaming is the big equaliser here, it has always been that, as early as the early 90’s. For 25 years I have seen how gaming and engagement lowered the threshold for those nervous about technology and yesterday I saw a whole range of engagement opportunities. Not merely interactions and RFID application in other ways to show interaction, but a setting where it pushes non-personalised data to a tenfold and that data can push the curiosity towards engagement for everyone.

When he European commission gave us the ‘What 5G is about‘ most looked at it and thought ‘Nice!’ what they missed is that is goes beyond mere RFID and Domotics. The direct interactions of Smart Wearables, Smart Mobility, Smart Grids and Smart Parking show that when the car is low on fuel (or an almost empty battery is you have a Tesla), the SATNAV will reveal the closes fuel point, or warn you if you cannot make it to the homestead, the smart wearable can link directly to health care, the nearest pharmacy, the doctor allowing for a prescription on the spot, the phone that now shows a map and receives the information YOU wanted to engage with from a kiosk that is now also a data hub and transfer point of information, all on the fly without YOU having to type anything, all done intuitively on the spot. In all this, you remain in charge of your data and (except for the healthcare part) all null and void of actual personal data.

 

Let’s take this to a next level, some have seen something like this, it looks like an old amplifier volume knob, but it is actually a Bluetooth speaker, place it on nearly any table and it becomes an amazing speaker, yet the next level is not merely a speaker, it is also perfectly placed to be a data hub. Now combine that with a sheet of Perspex as a display (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdDAG0uwg3s), when we combine the three, we get the information on the kiosk, transferred instantly to your ‘speaker’ that is also the data hub and displays the information on that sheet display, wearable or other option. Maps, data, and brochures, all instantly available; Google already owns that solution, a solution that is merely awaiting implementation. A setting driven by what I would call ‘dumb’ smart devices. All the fear of personal data gone and total interactivity remains, engagement and the ultimate lure that draws consumers into your business; that is what engagement allows for, no other way will get that great result because that is the advertisement of tomorrow, not the data they hold, but the curiosity that they bring, all linked to the need for engagement. All those people, millions, who would walk in because your window had something interesting to show, yet now it is not your window, your window is also in every data kiosk, every advertiser point and every screen.
It is no longer about the mobile, people are less trusting with their data, but a smart (dumb) device, their watch, their Pendent or ring, now a data hub and consider that the 15 mm for a micro SD fits into rings, pendants and watches, all optional long term data hubs on the go, without any long interaction and we can get 32 GB for a mere $5. Picking up the ideas and interacting from place to place, our shopping needs and information on the fly when YOU want it; the data kiosks merely one of many places to interact with the addressed needs everywhere.

All settings not yet available in such an advanced state and all options out in the field for those willing to be the enterprising in the new places where they are willing to spend $500 billion in total, to make a next gen tech hub a reality. Or as Jeremy Irons stated in Margin Call: “There are three ways to make a living in this business. Be first, be smarter, or cheat“, he said it and I agree, it is always best to be first and whilst some are still trying to market what they are trying to set as 5G, we see that Huawei who are setting the stage on what 5G could be, Huawei s in the implementation stage of preparing the engineers of setting it all up in a live environment. So whilst America is still in anti-China mode, we see “Now, the whole industry is taking the final sprint towards 5G commercialization. The completion of SA specifications which complements the NSA specifications, not only gives 5G NR the ability of independent deployment, but also brings a brand new end-to-end network architecture, making 5G a facilitator and an accelerator during the intelligent information and communications technology improvement process of enterprise customers and vertical industries” and Huawei has already started in Saudi Arabia, so my other prediction is coming to pass as well, By Q1 2019, Saudi Arabia will become a market leader in 5G and will connect with Europe soon thereafter. In all this Australia things will go from bad to worse, especially as we cannot tell whether we need to consider if people like John Watters, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc is bedding Telstra or the USA, the fact that no one has been able to produce any clear evidence in Huawei’s ‘dependency’ on the Chinese government and the overly fearful US Tech as well as Telstra in all this is more than what I consider to be merely a sham, they are currently quite the opposite of embracing engagement and new tech, it will end the end make them look like the fools they should have been trademarked as in 2017.

So as we might remember Telstra at IT News with “Telstra said in a slide deck that “full commercial deployment of 5G in capital cities, major regional centres and other high demand areas” would occur in financial year 2020“, we can now see that they will be almost a year behind Huawei. Al this angers me, merely because it stops advancement and innovation, which makes Saudi Arabia the one remaining golden opportunity for true 5G innovation and yesterday’s presentations showed me how much many more avenues can be approached, because some of the innovations are out here today, in some cases, merely linking the solutions remain. It is important that we consider the Huawei part a little longer, it is important because 5G is so crucial to all this. When we see the article (at https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/59w49b/huawei-surveillance-no-evidence), we see that the title gives us: ‘There’s No Public Evidence Huawei Spies on Americans‘, in addition we see “Huawei’s efforts to make inroads in the U.S. quickly resulted in numerous allegations over the company’s alleged connections to Chinese intelligence. Despite breathless hysteria, numerous investigations (one 18 months in length) found absolutely no evidence of such a threat.“, as well as “a follow up report by Reuters indicates that there has been pressure applied on U.S. telcos to avoid doing business with Huawei, with companies like Verizon and AT&T being told they risk losing their lucrative government business contracts if they strike deals with the massive Chinese multinational“, when we complete it with ““We knew certain parts of government really wanted (evidence of active spying),” one person familiar with the probe told Reuters at the time. “We would have found it if it were there”“, now we see the parts missing, in all this the Australian government needs to be optionally seen as a dog collar without a leash around the neck of a rabid dog named USA. This all smells like AT&T and Telstra in desperate need to not get drowned by an actually innovative technological opponent, who did just that, they became truly innovative. We need Huawei in all this more then most can comprehend.

To get this a little better, we need to look at ‘Media Engagement and Advertising Effectiveness‘ by Bobby J Calder and Edward C Malthouse. Here we see “Traditionally, marketers have thought about advertising as a process of translating a brand, expressed as a benefit, a promise to the consumer, a value proposition, or a positioning in the consumer’s mind into a message that is delivered to the consumer through some medium. This advertising will be effective to the extent that the consumer values the brand idea and the message does a good job creatively of communicating the idea“. Yet when we consider it more fully, we see: “It is engagement with a TV program that causes someone to want to watch it, to be attentive to it, to recommend it to a friend, or to be disappointed if it were no longer on the air“, through engagement, the TV Series Lucifer was not cancelled, it moved from Fox to Netflix, merely by the acts of engaging fans. Engagement can be that powerful and it goes beyond merely revitalising a TV series, it will be the bread and butter for most companies as growth is often seen as  linear with ‘advertising’ whilst we have to accept that exponential growth can only be achieved with an actual engaging audience. Because like in Facebook, that one engaging person is linked to dozens, if not hundreds of others, and their actions are more easily accepted by their close connections then the one advertisement is. In two stages this is seen that one engagement is optionally 900 hits in a low estimation, versus a mere advertisement that gets 5% out of 10,000 shows, so it took 10,000 attempts to get 500 people taking a second look, whilst one engagement event could be the start of 900 instant opportunities, so which option would you more likely turn to?

Yet, we must also be aware of the negative side in engagement. Calder and Malthouse give us that with: “Intrusion may produce a negative response from consumers because the advertising harms the experience of the media content. This in turn could lead to a negative reaction to the advertising, compromising its effectiveness. The consumer may feel that the ad has intruded on the experience with the content and accordingly may have a less positive reaction to the ad“, so in this the interactive kiosk becomes again not merely a vehicle, but THE vehicle in all this and Time is the one currency that is at the centre of it all, it is time that usually and largely triggers the intrusion emotion (waiting, or idle time tends to do that). With the smart ‘dumb’ devices, the automatism of storage whilst the interaction is merely a second, perhaps even two seconds. The element of intrusion decreases and engagement remains, or optionally even increases. It is achieved as the advertisement is not the focal point, but merely part of it and the experience is not impeached, as we get 125Mb in that one second, we get the brochure, the movie clip, the setting, the review and the applicability; all available to watch at our leisure and when we want to decide what to see and how to watch it. So from a $5 32GB Micro SD card, we can get more with a $100 200Gb card, and that is now, in 2-3 years we can get 5 times that storage for the same price. In this non-personalised interaction setting, we achieve to get heaps of analytical information whilst driving engagement. So in that we are confronted with all the latest trailers by merely passing a cinema. And we can just leisurely watch what we need and wipe the rest. It is a brand new day and those ahead in the game get to set that stage of new tech needs for an entire population, engagement is the key element to drive all that.

The future arrived yesterday, whatever will we get treated to tomorrow?

 

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Commerce inverted

A decently intelligent salesperson educated me (some time ago) in the concept of think global, act local. it is something to live by for several reasons. It made perfect business sense, yet what I did not know at the time that it came from the consideration towards the health of the entire planet; to take action in communities and cities. It comes from that ‘sane’ period of time when individuals were coming together to protect habitats and the organisms that live within them. It is what founds the event we now call grassroots efforts, occurring on a local level and are primarily run by volunteers and helpers. So when we consider this and in the business sense we see that It asks that employees to consider the global impact of their actions. It can be applied on a near universal scale and it is a setting of common sense as I see it. So why exactly is Microsoft doing the opposite of it by acting global on a local way of thinking?

Now, they are not alone, but they are the most visible one, because that is how they played the game themselves. When you want to consider an eCommerce move, you need to consider what you are up against and adjust your model accordingly. So why exactly do they advertise the new game Shadow of the Tombraider for AU$144 and the Digital download for AU$114, whilst the shops in Sydney are already offering it for AU$79 and a special edition for AU$89? How does a 42GB download (speculated size) become 44% more expensive, whilst getting an actual physical copy in Sydney is stated to be up to 61% more expensive to download from the Microsoft store? So here we saw (all over the E3) ‘pre-order it on the Microsoft store‘ to be slightly too none lucrative for anyone to ever consider it. Another (weaker) example is FIFA19, where the download is a whole AU$2 cheaper than the physical copy. Yes, it seems to make perfect sense that 4-11 hours download to get that game AU$2 cheaper, does it not?

Now, in itself, I have no issues with the Microsoft store, there are several perfect examples where the store comes with awesome deals, absolutely a given, but now, just after the E3, the new games are what counts and that is where we tend to look. OK, not everyone, I saw ‘games coming soon‘ and the entry was the anticipated game ‘We happy few‘, so I wanted to take a look at what it would cost (and when it is released), and guess what, it wasn’t even in there at all. It is just as deceptive as ‘Play FIFA World Cup Free‘, whilst you are taken to the FIFA18 game of AU$24 (which is a good deal) and in the text is somewhere that it is an addition, a free DLC for anyone who has FIFA18, so why not state ‘Free FIFA 18 World cup DLC‘? It would clearly indicate that it is part of FIFA18 and gives out that it comes with a DLC. None of that is seen and Microsoft is not learning how to properly play the game, not to treating gamers like kids, but like the savant controller users most of them are (and many of them are adults). Microsoft needs to up their game by a fair bit at present.

Oh, and before you think that this is all me, that this is merely an error. I first mentioned it in regards to Shadows of War on May 13th in the article ‘It is done!‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/05/13/it-is-done/). There the difference was 50%. Microsoft made no adjustments of any kind. Now, let’s be clear, they are not required to do that, yet in light of the evidence we see where buying from the Microsoft Store will regularly be well over 30% more expensive than a physical copy, why would we consider getting new games there unless we needed that title desperately? This gets us to the entire ‘think local, act global‘. When the question becomes: ‘we need x% margin‘, and when it comes from an overpriced place, the equation changes and logic goes out the window (as I personally see it).

So when we tally the issues that Phil Spencer has on his desk, we also feel sorry for the man. Not, pity mind you, I do not give a hoot about giving him pity, his income is likely in line with a fortune 500 CEO, so he is laughing to the bank on payday (every month), yet he does have an awful mess to clean up from the previous sceptre wielding bosses, not a job I envy.

You see, these small matters are important. The gap with Nintendo is getting smaller and when you consider that Fortnite was downloaded 2 million times in the last 24 hours, you get to see the issue. These players will play on route to somewhere, it merely takes a view for others not having a Switch to consider one getting one at the earliest option, the Fortnite clans are also growing the Nintendo Switch population and cross play gives these people options to get the Switch. The bad side for Microsoft is that they buy additional games, non-Xbox games and that is where the hurt begins, because any gamer will initially get 3-4 games, so that takes an additional $300 away from both Sony and Microsoft. And that is not all, what kind of an impact do you think 120 million Fallout shelter users can make? You see part of this is that the top 10 of downloaded games has 5-7 titles with well over a million downloads, those numbers rack up. Anyone with a passion for multiplayer gaming will not ignore millions of gamers, especially when it comes to half a dozen games of multi-player capable titles. The numbers start to add up at that point, so when we see such shifts Microsoft really cannot afford the issues seen in the Microsoft store as they are at present and it has been an issue for a long time. Their only positive side is that Sony made pretty much the same mistake from day one, so there is no competitive issue on that side for them.

That brings us to another side, which to some regard shows Microsoft marketing dropping the ball. To be honest, it took me by surprise as well. We got to see a filmclip at the Bethesda show with a very special edition of Skyrim. We all laughed, yet the joke is on us, so as Business Insider (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/skyrim-very-special-edition-amazon-echo-alexa-bethesda-video-2018-6) gives us you can actually download the game for your Echo‘, and with Keegan-Michael Key on the sofa, why would you not think it was comedy? Yet when you look at Amazon (at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D6STSX8), you get the goods. So there is an actual Skyrim Very Special Edition on Amazon. The movie you can watch again (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=FnEW6dX_BmU). When we read: “Fans have since uploaded videos of themselves playing “Skyrim: Very Special Edition.”“, we see that Bethesda marketing is creating waves in several fields on several places and in places where we never thought to look before. So as we keep on seeing ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, there is a much larger need to adjust view and vision. Even as the hardware is slightly too flawed, the Game Pass, which I tend to call: ‘GamerPass’ is something to work with. Anyone who has the intent of buying more than 2 games a year would be crazy not to get it. No matter the congestion, the hardware flaws and other matters. Game Pass is an almost certain game changer for Microsoft, it will give them time to clean up other matters and it will set the stage for more. So why am I not seeing Game Pass on YouTube and on web pages at least once a day? In the last 3 days I have seen nothing from Microsoft. Anthem, Fallout 76, Summerset, Fortnite and a few others, they all got their advertisement minute in (more than once I might add), not Game Pass though. The digital visibility is everything and Microsoft seems to be blindly staring at some surface (pun intended), how will that help Phil Spencer? I might not be pro Microsoft, yet I remain pro-gaming no matter what format it is on. There lies the setting from both EA Access and Game Pass, to give but a simple example.

None existing example

When printing these ‘credit card funds‘ to buy and enter a code on your console, why do places like Gamestop, JB Hifi, EB Games not have the Game Pass out in front? There seems to be an English version. Why can’t we get a load-n-go Microsoft debit card to use for the Xbox for gamers? All simple implementations of systems that are already in the field, with additional account linking as well as additional download bonuses with every purchase (over a specific amount). If visibility is the essential need of any console, I am confronted with a personal belief that Microsoft Marketing is looking at the wrong surface, the surface of some tablet, not the surface of a 130 billion dollar a year industry. Does Microsoft want to matter or not, that should become the thought on the front of anyone’s mind that has one. I am getting pissed off and angry for the same reason I have been pissed off with Yves Guillemot (he apparently owns Ubisoft) for half a decade. He had an amazing IP and let it go to waste for years. We are starting to see the same thing here and it becomes a much larger field of where Microsoft needs to look. We can agree that to some extent Ubisoft is adjusting its trajectory (last 2 years already), now we see Microsoft starting a similar spiraling downfall (from the gamers point of view). Some things cannot be prevented, but a lot of them can be fixed and change the path for the future. It needs a visionary! The presentation showed that Phil Spencer has vision, but is it enough and will is he fast enough to correct all the previous mistakes (not done by him), that is the part I cannot tell at present. It is also unfair to confront him this strong a mere two days after the E3, but he needs to recognise that the third period is starting and he has 2 goals against him, so he needs to get his star players on the ice and against the teams that are slowing him down, even if it is his own Azure team dragging issues along (a 2014 issue). Now as the game changes, or better stated as Microsoft wants to change the game, they need to be on the ball all the time and that does not seem to be the case (a personal observation). You cannot do this with a static shop 11% the size of an Apple store down the road (less than 100 metres down the road), you do it be creating engagement. You set the stage where everyone can game for an hour and feel the goods, to get the parents involved and show why the Game Pass is the solution, get to the mothers, seeing how AU$120 per year gets them 100 games (valued at an average total of AU$ 7500), and how that value increases year after year, especially on money saved from not buying games.

Get the ‘Consider Game Pass‘ on every digital download card you buy in store, post office and supermarket. Because parents see the ones in the post office and supermarket, these places can start engagement, a path that gives long term visibility. In all honesty, I haven’t seen any of that. Is it merely placement of product? If it is that important, I should see something like that twice a day and not on my console, when I am there, I merely want to start the game I felt like playing.

Oh, and that is not merely my thought, Google has all these free advertising classes on learning to use their products, pretty much stating the same thing. The foundation of digital marketing seems to be missing. So when I get to the start page of a place like JB Hifi (everyone in Australia knows that one), I would care less on seeing ‘Surface Pro‘ every time I get there, There is no mention at all of Game Pass. I can actually search ‘Game Pass’ and I get all kinds of passes and the 19 linked to the Xbox One, not one is about the Game Pass. That is the game! That is how you lose it, by merely not having visibility. Oh, and they are not alone, seeking it on Amazon gives you one option in the ‘Currency & Subscription Cards, Subscription Cards‘ department. It is the 12 months Gold Live subscription. A mere example on how visibility is the key to forward momentum. Sony knows it, Nintendo definitely knows it, and it is time for Microsoft to wake up to the proper digital age. For these examples are all clear pieces of evidence of inverted commerce in the digital age. I’ll let you decide on how many of those corporations stay afloat whilst making a living through applying inverted commerce, if you find one, ask them to send me a postcard.

Was that over the top?

 

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Taking Xbox to Court?

Microsoft seems to have done it again and if the evidence holds up, there will be a powerful backlash towards Microsoft which will have interesting repercussions for Sony. Now, we have seen this all before and even I have a few issues with this all, which was until the following evidence was presented.

  1. The Broadband 4G modem had been exclusively used for the Xbox One.
  2. Security was properly in place (as far as I have been able to confirm)

The following had happened:

Without consent, the Xbox One has seemingly uploaded the following amounts of data:

Date Uploads Date Uploads
2017-01-13 339.1 MB 2017-01-21 591.0 MB
2017-01-14 445.1 MB 2017-01-22 277.6 MB
2017-01-15 242.3 MB 2017-01-23 607.5 MB
2017-01-16 268.8 MB 2017-01-24 210.6 MB
2017-01-17 113.1 MB 2017-01-25 358.8 MB
2017-01-18 793.6 MB 2017-01-26 493.5 MB
2017-01-19 251.6 MB 2017-01-27 482.4 MB
2017-01-20 332.0 MB 2017-01-28 65.2 MB

 

According to the mobile provider the uploaded files are all labelled Windows Azure – support large files download? When calling Microsoft, the help was not any better, the lady was trying to be nice, yet not really aware of what she was talking about. Her response was: ‘we have no influence on uploads, that is the responsibility of your ISP!

So, as the Xbox is uploading, that is suddenly the worry of the victims ISP?

So far the player has only played Fallout 4 without DLC’s, Diablo 3 and the Ezio Collection (Assassins Creed), all these games were played in single player only, so there is absolutely no reason to upload at all. What is even more disturbing is that there are no checks on this part, the mobile provider data so far matches the times that the system was in use for gaming and the times the uploads were happening.

What Microsoft would not be realising, which was a former Microsoft executive referred to as Don Mattrick, who tried to be funny with: “Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity; it’s called Xbox 360“, yes and as orders were cancelled all over the place Xbox suddenly had a new boss. This all started in November 2015. Well as we seem to gather Microsoft is at it again and they haven’t been thinking this through as per usual (that is, if the facts handed to me and collected are correct), because some gamers are now facing a $120 a month additional bill, so year one for these gamers would be 12 * $120 + $450 for the console, making this device at $1850, three times more expensive than any other console. I think Microsoft forgot about mobile broadband users, they just get additional hardship. What is the issue is that all this is happening without consent and as far as the absent help from Xbox support has indicated, without the ability to switch it off. You see, there are plenty of places where broadband is an issue and those people are depending on mobile broadband and at $10 per 1 GB it adds up really fast.

So, even as Microsoft has now changed this approach (again), would customers have a case to get a full refund for console and all purchased games? Let’s not forget that Microsoft has done a 180 degrees turn on their ‘online requirements’ twice now, as well as it seems the requirement to be online to upload, which in light of single player games should result in several additional questions by parties involved.

So this is where I now stand. Awaiting two additional pieces of evidence. Should they arrive, the plan as the victim wants it is to prohibit Microsoft to continue sales of their devices until the forced uploads are deactivated, as well as reimbursements have been made. I do not think that this has any decent chance, but I will lend my support to all this. Microsoft has been playing their game via third party ‘players’ and as such there have been a few things rising to the surface. I personally believe it to be a harassment approach by Microsoft ‘to be online or else‘. I tested that with the Ezio collection. I went offline and played the game, so far after two days, after restarting the game, the achievement begotten whilst off line did not update. An issue the Xbox 360 never had and actually until recently it was not an issue (so this might be the side effect of something else). As I see it, the same day our victim suddenly say his annual Xbox one usage cost go up by a potential $1440, so we can agree that Microsoft, as per their usual self decided that profit at the expense of anyone else is preferred to a situation where the needs of the customer were respected, especially after the backlash that the first attempt had given them, again, awaiting those two pieces of evidence.

So far all contacts with Microsoft have been with the given air of ‘Well, everyone has unlimited broadband, don’t they?‘, which is nice until you get confronted with the most dangerous of obstacles, the disagreeable landlord, which in this day and age is not a good person to cross and that tends to happen more and more often, yet that is not what this fight is about. We are dealing with consent and undocumented consequences that doubles a person’s internet bill, through means that were not even essential. Off course that is not regarding the need Microsoft has to keep a record and copy of everything you are doing on your console, which by the way is well over 1000% of what multiplayer bandwidth would require, so there too are questions that need to be addressed.

From my point of view, apart from the financial damages that some players are now facing there is:

  1. How can uploads without consent be allowed?
  2. How can 2 single player games trigger a 5.8 GB upload in 15 days?
  3. The reference that the Mobile operator gave was: ‘Windows Azure – support large files download’, all uploads have that same title!
  4. Why is there no logging of uploads in the Xbox One?
  5. Which files and what exactly is being uploaded?
  6. Why did this suddenly start at midnight Friday January 13th 2017? (Which reads equally weird).

These are questions that matter, the reason is that without certain facts, there is absolutely no guarantee that this isn’t merely a hijacked router, which I have been able to prove that this is not the case to some extent.

Questions remain, you see, that part is given by the following sources: “They have clearly mentioned that their commitment to the UK is unchanged. In particular, those customers in Microsoft’s UK data centres should continue to rely on Microsoft’s significant investment plans there“, as well as “Microsoft highlighted that they have more than 5,000 highly qualified people working in fields including support, marketing, gaming, communications, cybersecurity and computer science research in the UK. Also, they have built a global centre of excellence for the development of artificial intelligence and other computing disciplines“, which we see in MS Power User (at https://mspoweruser.com/microsoft-re-affirms-its-commitment-to-the-uk-data-centre-expansion-plans-are-still-on-track/), now we need to realise that these are statements from a spokesperson, which means that that we are misrepresented without being lied to. I know, it’s a harsh world. Yet ‘5,000 highly qualified people‘, whilst seeing ‘marketing, gaming, communications, cybersecurity‘, could clearly imply that these are employees and it is not impossible that 40% of that workforce is not working on or connected to Azure. You see, the issue is when we see “Global Data Center Market Strategies, Analysis and Opportunities 2017-2023: Amazon (AWS), Microsoft, Google, and Facebook are in a Class of Their Own“, which we see in Global Newswire. The question that these parts lead to is whether it is possible that:

  1. Microsoft is trying to get an advantage on its capabilities and is trying to maximise the load of their Azure data centres, someone had the bright idea to use gamers for that and the people who tend to be useless in the technical field (read: senior management) forgot about the fact that not everyone has unlimited broadband and that some people (all over the world) pay per gigabyte and after a certain point that gets to be very expensive.
  2. Because the test requires that all (read: unknowingly) must participate, there is no option to switch uploads off, leaving us with the mess in option 1.

Now, this is for now speculative, but in light that I got this scoop and the media is ignoring gaming issues, just like the Sony Issue of 2012, so I am going ahead, so mind you, this story will be updated and there will be a part 2 when the rest of the evidence arrives, which could spark an official request against Microsoft with the Australian ACCC and the British CPS, and if Microsoft is proven not to be the evil organisation that they have been too often, than I will report that too, because just and fairness go both ways, and because it must rain on the just and unjust alike.

So stay tuned!

 

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You might not like it

This morning I got confronted with an article so in my face it literally made me stagger. This article came from the brilliance of a YouTube element called ‘Veritasium’, it was all about the dangers of Facebook, moreover, the dangers of actual investing in Facebook. Of course the hilarious part that I read this on Facebook, so we see a slightly additional view when we consider winking at social media. Yet, before I start we must not forget to show divine humour by emulating the platypus. If Pig Latin is a reconstructed language and we see the Dutch expression of Fisherman’s Latin as ‘catching that really big fish’, is Veritasium a new elemental truth or a truth in mere reconstructed elemental words?

The article is about the concept of buying ‘likes’. The link is here (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVfHeWTKjag) and I can tell you now that it is worth seeing from beginning to end. The movie takes 9 minutes and it gives you the low down on buying likes and more important the dangers of pushing your visibility.

Now it is best for the reader to see the video, because the speaker does so in a very eloquent way and the only way to get his point across is to quote his entire article, which no longer makes this MY article.

I have seen these issues before, why do we need to ‘like’ things? I do, there are a few likes on my list, I see some advertisement on Facebook and as such, I have no real issue with the advertisement part. It is the price for a free Facebook. Yet, why would you want to pay for more likes? It seems that apart from it costing you money, the video shows that paying for likes is ultimately bad for business. This is only the top of the equation.

The video is calling into question other issues too. The fact that one issue made them shed 83,000,000 fake accounts, one might wonder how many fakes there really are on Facebook. The second is that the linked algorithm is also in question. If we consider the data linked here, then we see a different issue, which links them all.

  1. How are bought likes regarded, especially in the approach towards a percentage of linked advertisements through connected friends?
  2. How can we get actual advertisement pushing flagged towards an engaging audience (which shows growth and possible commitment), while we know that bought likes will never be engaging likes.
  3. How is the data cleaned to show a better mapping of audience versus engagement as well as geography versus interest?

The last point is not just linked over the two issues, we see in the video that there are profiles in the system that are there to like ‘everything’, not in a Zen way, but in a way to mask fake accounts, which gives another matter regarding the algorithms and how they could likely be fooled by those who understand the system.

Yet this is not just about Facebook, we should now also look at the medium that gave us this treasure, namely YouTube. You see, YouTube is all about creating hypes, vibes and types. It is the last of these three that have been a worry for some time and there is no indication that this will stop anytime soon. So, what happened? It started a few months ago, I was looking for a game trailer and there it was right in front of me, the movie Silent Hill. Now, as I am between apartments, I have no access to my DVD collection, so watching this one was heaps fun. I was just a little upset that a Blu-ray was never released of this movie. So, as the month progressed I started to dig into this phenomenon as this seems to be a copyright violation. As I started to dig deeper into this, I noticed a league of movies, some extremely recent all watchable. Even 2014 movies like Godzilla and the new X-Men movies were on YouTube. Now, there is at times a massive drop in quality and 1-2 were clearly filmed in a cinema, but the movies are there. But it is not all that clear. In some cases there are hundreds of copies yet none of them have a movie, they just have a link to click on, or the weird text ‘this movie was deleted by YouTube’ (if that is so, why is the file and the entry still there), so YouTube is used in a growing league of non-trusting reasons. Yet, is the approach for marketing or criminal reasons? That is also the issue, because it tends to skew the people who go there and the reason why they went there. I can very much understand that there are scores of Bollywood movies there, but are they any less a case of copyright infringements?

How does the YouTube issue relate to the Facebook issue? It seems to me that the second is an automated form of getting people to do for the click farm so that they go undetected for a lot longer. Consider the effort it takes to add 100 copies of a film, people might want to see and they all go to a link (for implied free download), we now have a person losing possibly up to 15 seconds, whilst they at that point are facilitating the work of a click farm. The farm remains less detected, whilst the farm gets 100% of the revenue from the click. Now consider that when these movies come out over tens of millions will try a few links, so these farms get all those attempts for a mere 100 uploads, it seems like this is easy money. So as we consider that Google, Yahoo, MSN and others are now trying to battle these farms more and more, yet the fact that YouTube (a Google child) seems to have kept the backdoor open, should be a massive issue, because this puppy tends to go straight to Facebook and Google+, which leaves the impression that people were mopping the floor whilst the tap remains running. So nobody is going anywhere fast.

As such my question now becomes, how anyone can proclaim that keeping the status quo in these matters is nothing less than running backwards on a highway patrolled by blind drivers. So, here is the kicker, how come Google has been unsuccessful to stop such levels of copyright infringement? In my view there are two options, they either are unwilling or unable to do so, unable means that they are not clever enough and that their system of facilitation is there to keep them non-accountable, if it is unwilling, then we see another version where their lives (Facebook and Google) revolves around bandwidth, which gives us the old Telco revenue issue. It is all about the money!

You might not like that reality, but it is a reality we all helped create. What a difference an algorithm makes!

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About them copyrights

It’s all good and fine to get through the day, to read on how it is all ‘sooo’ virtual, so available. Yet, in the end, is this ‘the truth’? Consider when we see the article, again the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/15/taylor-swift-uk-itunes-out-of-the-woods), so we could say how it sucks to be Taylor Swift at this point. You see, when you use the ‘excuse’ “due to a new strategy my record label is working on in the UK“, we can safely assume that this is about something else. Likely commission, possibly ‘better’ kickbacks, or better margins, yet overall the fans will suffer and they are now looking at other means like uploaded records to get their music.

I wrote about such events in ‘The real issue here!‘ where I stated “So, almost 20% end up buying the discs (implying 80% will not)“, I had written about such issues in gaming, in movies and as Taylor Swift will soon learn in music too.

By playing for tougher deals, you end up losing a lot. And in this case, as I see it Team Swift only have themselves to blame. Just like the gamers of day old were ignored by the US at large, music fans will not tolerate delays on such events. That is the drawback of the digital age. When you offer it NOW, you better offer it to all. So when we see the quote “Out of the Woods is likely to be available for at least some of Swift’s fans in the UK soon, then. But many will have turned to other means to hear the track: for example, there are already a number of uploads of its audio to YouTube“, you better believe that fans will find another avenue. In the end, her real fans will buy it one way or the other, yet Taylor lost out on a vibe that could have gotten her a few hundred thousand, perhaps even a million additional downloads. She will miss out on that one this time.

So is this fair to Taylor? Does that matter? When you decide on a strategy that leaves one out, that one will either find an alternative or will move on to something else. Such is life. In gaming, when this happened in the 80’s, people had no choice but to copy or wait for outrageous prices. So, those with copied games got to play it, those who had no contacts ended up waiting in excess of one year. The digital age now has given us the option to get it ANYWHERE fast, usually at a base price and often as fast as day one. In the age where product outstrips demand by a lot, the digital age becomes a different field. An opportunity missed is a chance lost, not delayed. Music is exactly that to a massive group (the Taylor Swift fans will always buy), but that leaves a large group missed and it loses out to potential new fans, but is that a given?

No it is not, yet we see that the digital wave tends to attract the curious, those who get one song and then learn that the music is interesting to seek out more. Through Audio Galaxy in 2000-2001, I got to know the Corrs, Bond, and a few others. Now, I have almost all their albums, which I bought in the record store, it started with one simple song. That market relies on the new waves of songs, not anticipated waiting.

So, is this me changing my view on copyright? Not entirely, when a movie comes out, one should buy it. I have no issues with buying a movie or watching it in the cinema, so when I decide to buy a game, movie or album, when it is released, I expect it to be released. When we get an alleged form of discrimination where the consumer is discriminated against, should such injustice not be fought? I am not talking about a simple delay like we tend to see it in games, where movies tend to be out in the US one moment, and a few weeks later the rest sees it. That part I have no real issue with. Yet, in the case of Star Wars Episode 1, where the movie was released in May in many places, it would take 5 months until it was released in the Netherlands, for a movie like that, such a delay was just unheard of and as such an illegal download of the movie was circulating within a few days. Many would still see it on the big screen, but not all. Evidence of such events have been seen for decades, so why would the team of Taylor Swift be this ‘uninformed’ (ignorant might be a better word) in thinking that the fans would accept it, and beyond that the rest would just ‘wait’ for a girl named Taylor Swift?

Some might, most will not.

And if you want to consider alternatives, then think of the time, the line and the timeline. Our world is changing, it is less about the product that is convenient for us, it is more and more when it becomes convenient for them, not us (cinema and TV marketing has been all about that for far too long). We could read it as a form of maximised profit, yet overall it is about marketable momentum. That is seen as we see at present that ‘analysts’ already are stating that they predict ‘Star Wars: Episode 7’ will make $1.2 Billion at the Global Box Office. The movie is nowhere near release and these predictions are already made. As we see that this movie is coming out in 2015 as a summer release, so much can go wrong! And we are already been ‘tailored’ to fit a 6 week gap.

People are still in a financial depressed era. Even though it is now starting to pick up, the longevity of our economy is currently not a given, with the Tesco issues still  in play in a hardy way, there is a real issue in the UK, even though there unemployment is now down to 6%, yet overall the cost of living is still rising faster than most of the incomes correct for, so as such, income is still not in the level that we see where people en mass (especially those with family) can just go to the cinema. The last movie to really make it was Avatar in 2009; it was a unique wave not unlike Titanic, they are still the first two movies in the all-time box office records. So, at present SW7 is already ‘anticipated’ as one of the top 6 movies of all time. That, whilst the first Avengers movie, making 1.5 billion, took the cake in 2012 and the anticipation of the second movie is extremely high on many minds. Beyond that there will be Fantastic Four, Pan (with Hugh Jackman) and at least three additional movies are on the list for the summer of 2015. Now consider that until the economy is truly repaired families might have the option to see two of these movies. What are the chances that they choose Star Wars? There is no denying that Star Wars will be very high on the list of many, but then so are the Avengers. That is if nothing else happens, like new games, new records and shifting time lines.

So as we see the escalations of ‘needs’ and ‘options’, we will see a change on how people perceive copyright and translate this into the ‘right to copy’, welcome to the new economy of those who cannot afford it!

So as we see what team Swift thought would be and what Team analyst expects it to be. I would state that the truth is nowhere in the middle, and that the truth is revolving around two points of flexible perception, whilst a placement of either is not a given either positive or negative, but what will be, is not linearly in the middle of what would be and that what is expected to be, that what is, is not a given ever in marketable approaches!

But what ‘might be’, requires us to take another look at what we see that is currently done to us. As we are all reduced to ‘product to purchase’ and no longer regarded as ‘consumers to buy’, we see a changing market of expected anticipation.

Is this a negative evolution of marketable industries?

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The danger ahead

It was the BBC that gave me an insight I had not been aware of. It is easy to miss an item, even though I have been involved in IT on many levels for over 3 decades. It is just not possible to keep it all in focus all the time.

It is kind of fun to consider the words of my late grandmother. It was the only issue we could never see eye to eye on. She had an expression ‘Johnny of all, master of none‘. It was not a positive expression! I always went the other way in that regard. Whilst most went to some ‘temporary’ master as they mastered a certain niche skill. I went into the width of IT. I got exposure to such a wide field that my knowledge covered the entire foundation of IT (yes, in the time of the mainframe). After that I started to grow the base of this knowledge trying to evenly grown my knowledge of all IT fields (to some degree). My knowledge grew from programming, to consulting, to training and so on.

So where is this going?

I wrote at an earlier date about IT and the iteration approach to IT (at ‘Year of the last Euro?‘). The entire field goes a lot further. In an age of the similar devices, last week as I was prohibited from moving for 4 hours, I decided to let my mind wander and I came up with an entirely new Notebook. I categorise it as a fat notebook and I call it the ‘True Mobile System’. In an age where Sony, Asus, IBM et all seem to come up with a different names for the same flavour, my mind designed a new approach to a mobile business system.

Was it clever? Not sure! The issue is that many could have come up with it and either they are limited to what their boss dictates or they are just not thinking in a user based forward motion. Here lies the crux of many issues we have seen lately. Their way of thinking is not user based. It is often revenue based, there is a HUGE difference!

If you have read my previous blogs (especially ‘Fifth in a trilogy!‘) then you might notice a trend. In my mind most corporate IT is now all about what is in charge, not who! So as marketing decides on deadlines and evolutions, many learn the hard way that marketing is basically the extension of the CFO (and/or the stakeholders) and as such it is all about the money. If development is the science, then marketing should be seen as the ‘tainted’ picture. The problem is that too many CEO’s and others are all about this tainted picture (and as such the perception of what comes next), the science/engineering side gets too often ignored, or just briefly listened to and after that they get shut down and pushed forward to meet the deadline.

In that regard I still see the game ‘Assassins Creed 4’ (yes that pirate game), which could have been truly great and ended up being less than that (at least in my personal view)! The same can be said for business based ideas. If we consider this message (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25859360), where Google Chrome might be considered an eavesdropping risk, then what is safe to users?

The quote “The malicious site you visited can continue listening in on you long after you have left it said Mr Ater. As long as Chrome is still running nothing said next to your computer is private.” gives ample reason for worry. The danger from our side is that this could be a topic for conspiracy theory. Was this really ‘accidental’? I am not saying it was not or was not. It is however interesting how we as computer users have been exposed to a massive amount of security flaws in the last year alone.

In my mind, is this due to shoddy programming, or is their local marketing so set on certain deadlines and as such proper testing is no longer done? I personally think it is a combination of the latter two. As additional ‘evidence’ in my train of thought, my recent Yahoo experience comes to mind.

I have been a faithful Yahoo user since the early 90’s, for me it always sufficed. The e-mail was robust, it gave me the space I needed and as such I never regretted it. Yet, since the ‘remake’ of Yahoo it changed by a lot. The amount of failures I viewed are on a new low level of customer experience and as such, at present I am seriously considering leaving Yahoo mail and move to Google permanently.

The feedback does not have any options for filing bugs or complaints. It is all about ‘submit an idea‘ and ‘send public feedback‘. To me this all seems like the marketing image left by someone who should be lobotomised and left somewhere far away from any IT endeavour (preferably forever). Yahoo mail now exposes us to additional dangers as we no longer see a status bar in certain places. So, we no longer see ‘the’ link, which I consider a bad thing. The new system also ‘assumes’ spam, so I now have to scan my spam even more often. I can no longer sort by sender, which means that organising my inbox take a massive amount of time longer. The list goes on and on. Is it marketing at the expense of functionality?  To be honest, I would need a little more evidence before I can state that as a fact to some level, but the deadline push has been visible with too many corporations and for far too long.

These issues go a lot further when you consider the article called ‘Android’s biggest security flaws‘ at ZDNet (at http://www.zdnet.com/androids-biggest-security-flaws-1339338283/). As they mention the dangers of inexperienced and malicious developers, they actually forgot about the third group, the ‘callous developer’. These firms (not the individual programmer), who are all driven to meet certain deadlines and as such might not properly test or secure their application.

It is important to note that I do not see the inexperienced developer as a real threat. Yes, they offer the same level of danger, but they are not out to harm you. You, the user, who wants applications for free (as many do) should not blame that new person for trying to get a foothold. If that developer is to be held for one thing, then in my mind it would be that too many of these freebies should bare the mark ‘Beta’ or ‘Trial’, to add an extra warning level for user downloading their new endeavour.

The big issue becomes: ‘What to do about Android?’

As the influence of android increases and interacts with all manner of devices in other ways (like with a person’s Sony-id account, so that a gamer keeps online with friends and achievements when they are not at home), gives way that security flaws become more and more harmful. More important, as we become more and more oblivious of the interaction, we might be spreading all our personal details all over the internet and that danger could grow exponentially with every additional application.

These events also shine an interesting light on an article that was in the Guardian last Friday (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/24/justify-gchq-mass-surveillance-european-court-human-rights). When we consider the issues I listed on application security, we should take a second look at the quote in the article “Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch said: ‘This legal challenge is an essential part of getting to the bottom of why the public and parliament have not been properly informed about the scale of surveillance and why our privacy has been subverted on an industrial scale.’

Perhaps the quote could also be read as “Speed and disregard of proper development has allowed for open access to many computers and devices, which allows for almost complete collection and stored and such storage can only be done by just a few. This open level of availability allows the NSA and GCHQ (amongst others) to collect open source intelligence, hoping to gain the upper hand in the war on terror.

I am not stating this is the case, but it could be seen as such. In that regard I call for the issue I mentioned in a previous blog called ‘Internet Privacy?‘ on December 27th, where we see the dangers of some applications (at http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/dec/27/snapchat-may-be-exposed-hackers). If we consider the dangers consumes are exposed to for whatever reason, it seems odd that Big Brother watch is not more outspoken on the industrial subversion of privacy by software designers.

So here we get back to the beginning of this blog where I wrote “I designed a new way for a mobile business system.” As Microsoft has moved into a field of computers utilising an approach in the air of “With our computers you do not need to use the brain you never had in the first place“. An automated system that assumes all the time to cover 95% of its users, loaded with gaps and security flaws.

People need to get licensed to get a gun, drive a car, a boat or a plane. Yet, the dangers that computers expose us to are currently not dealt with in any serious way. I reckon that in the next two years identity theft and identity fraud will be regularly in the back of our minds, as it grows into the very visible danger it already is. If we look at some of the numbers then I could speculate that 90% of the people will directly know one victim of identity fraud or identity theft. Lexis Nexis, in their paper ‘2013 LexisNexis® True Cost of Fraud Study‘ state numbers that should scare us all. In 2013, 58% of the merchants were confronted with credit card fraud and 36% of the 2013 population was confronted with lost or stolen merchandise. These numbers by themselves are not that useful as such (at http://www.lexisnexis.com/risk/downloads/assets/true-cost-fraud-2013.pdf). Yet consider that 12.6 million U.S. adult victims of identity fraud had to deal on average with $1,653 of damage per fraud victim. The total amount becomes a staggering one and this is just the US! As technology is not properly attuned to a better level of security, but to set to please a growing marketable population these dangers will only increase. This is the true danger ahead, not what the government can see. In that regard Foreign Secretary William Hague is quite correct when he states “law-biding members of the public have nothing to fear“.

 

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