Tag Archives: Microsoft

Just like everyone else

For the longest of times, I have worshiped Google. I have always been pro Google, and having worked in their offices for a year, being exposed to the options within Google is just overwhelming (and the food is pretty much the best in the world). So what happens when you are shown that Google is basically just like all the other large corporations? What when you wake up to an early e-mail where google advises you on the new Google Home Hub and the Google Pixels 3 (which is appealing even if it is at the price of your soul), yet 150 minutes later, you are shown by the Wall Street Journal that Google is just like every other corporation at present, how would you feel?

I can tell you that an ice bucket of water over your head at that point would have seemed a soft caress in contrast to the rude awakening I was made privy to.

To get the better view, we need to go back to May 2108, where we were treated to: “Google Australia’s boss Jason Pellegrino, who spoke on a CEO panel at Sydney’s CeBIT tech conference today, told the audience there had to be a “utility exchange” for the data a business obtains, adding if there is no trust, it can prove detrimental“, as well as ““That was about a leaky bucket. That data was going to places that consumers didn’t expect, didn’t agree with and got not value out of themselves. “None of these data buckets should be leaky. However, it’s started a discussion about what’s in the bucket itself. The data that’s there has been used to deliver a great service – no one has been sitting there saying Netflix ‘I can’t believe the data that you’re sharing’ – because they are delivering a wonderful service.”“. So as we were given on Monday ‘Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public‘ with the two quotes: “Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal“, as well as “A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident“, so basically Jason Pellegrino (not the exquisite Italian sparkling water) was basically calling the kettle black, whilst we can agree at this point that he had no business opening his mouth in the first place in light of 3 years of hidden software screw ups. It seems to me that both are in equal hot waters. Even if we water it down (not using sparking Pellegrino) into a setting that Cambridge Analytica was doing it on purpose and that the implied setting by Alphabet Inc. is that their software engineers basically did not know what they were doing (to some extent). We can call a fair dinkum, but something this hidden for three years. What optional issues can we expect from the Google Pixel 3, with Android version 3.14159265418 (Android Pie), as well as the Google Home Hub where the consumer is optionally revealing all their daily needs (including the speculatively implied and roughly estimated 54,233 daily attempts to watch Pornhub) with or without the optional keywords Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, Shania Twain, Selena Gomez, Kirsten Dunst and Taylor Swift. Yes, that is the data those marketeers are willing to pay handsomely for, not to mention those unnamed parties speculatively involved in election persuasion consultancy projects.

It gets even more interesting that the Home Hub could potentially reveal when a person is at home or not (like on vacation), because there is no one who would want that data, right? Last week we would not have given it a second thought, yet with the revelations in the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-exposed-user-data-feared-repercussions-of-disclosing-to-public-1539017194) we now have a much larger issue. It was fun to see the review on the Verge where we see this puppy in action (the Google Home Hub) where the operator asks for the overview of the Pixel 2, whilst pre-orders of the Pixel 3 are happening all over the world, another fallen blobby in all this.

So as we see the turmoil that one of the world’s biggest tech giants will face over the last quarter of the year, we need to realise that you should never meet your idol whilst he is still alive. I reckon that Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai will be able to hold his cool for the smallest amount when he meets me, but that is presently not a given.

So as well are treated to “The closure of Google+ is part of a broader review of privacy practices by Google that has determined the company needs tighter controls on several major products, the people said. In its announcement Monday, the company said it is curtailing the access it gives outside developers to user data on Android smartphones and Gmail” we need to wonder what is next for the social media people. I actually preferred Google+ as it was less junk driven then Facebook. And it also gave me the timeline as a first instead of the populist drive, which still annoys me in Facebook. So even as some at Google as trying to wane us to slumber, the cold reality is : ‘the company has no evidence that any outside developers misused the data but acknowledges it has no way of knowing for sure‘. That is the immediate setting in this, we no longer know who has our details and we might never know how we were optionally specifically phished and targeted as per 2015, is that not a nice new reality to face?

So as we need to realise “The company will stop letting most outside developers gain access to SMS messaging data, call log data and some forms of contact data on Android phones“, we might think it is no big deal, but this has the data potential to be a lot larger than any nightmare scenario that the UK ‘Hacked Off‘ ever envisioned in their nightmare settings that the press would have been up to, when people with less scruples (not by much though) have been given optional access to and let’s not forget, the criminals tend to be more creative then the law enforcers ever have been (or some of the intelligence services for that matter).

So even as we accept that the Google plus issue is a dwarf compared to the Facebook scandal, it still optionally victimised the setting through: “It found 496,951 users who had shared private profile data with a friend could have had that data accessed by an outside developer, the person said. Some of the individuals whose data was exposed to potential misuse included paying users of G Suite, a set of productivity tools including Google Docs and Drive, the person said. G Suite customers include businesses, schools and governments“.

I am not alone in this, a few hours ago, the New York Times are giving us: ‘How Will Google Play Its New Product Announcements on the Back of a Data Scandal?‘ (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/business/dealbook/google-data-products.html). It is not merely that part, we need to consider that at present only Apple has a seemingly clean slate and they can use this to their advantage. It is in the end watered down by the NY Times through “They’re all part of Google’s strategy to highlight the company’s services via hardware (rather than necessarily become best-sellers in their own right)“, they are all still ruled by software and the cold setting here is that it is their software that was incompletely tested and prodded by those who should have done so. I refuse to merely blame a programmer here, it is a much larger problem!

The failing here can be seen in places like Ubisoft, EA Games, Bethesda, Microsoft and several other large developers. The non-stop trivialisation of proper testing and proper timelines to test settings is at the back of all this. It is not merely a lacking QA, it is a non believe in the power of testers and longer conversations in their insights that is here as well. Issues seen in FIFA 19, several shortcomings in NHL 19, AC Odyssey bugs reported mere hours ago and the less said regarding the Microsoft Surface Go the better and the list goes on. These issues shows that Google is part of the entire problem, the quality testing and scrutiny is seemingly not done (or not done to the extent needed), and with the Google Pixel 3 just around the corner, with a lessened confidence level at present, would you at that point trust the Google Pixel 3XL 128GB at $1500, or will you play it cautiously and select the less powerful, but still a large step forward when selecting the Huawei nova 3i 128GB Handset at $600, in this day and age, can we feel comfortable with spending an optional $900 too much? I will admit that there are a few alternatives at that price, not merely Huawei, but the list of quality choices is very small.

The revelation that the Wall Street Journal exposed us to on Monday is probably the most inconvenient that Google has faced in a long time. Even before we see whatever Google has to promote in the near future on 5G capabilities and enabling technologies, they now have a visible problem to address. It is not merely a dent in their armour, it now shows us a Google that was optionally never the knight in shining armour it has largely been seen as, which is a much larger problem for Google then they are willing to admit to any day soon.

Too many are hiding behind hype terms like AI and machine learning, yet the realisation that non repudiation and authentication was required on many more levels where data is involved in all this, is a failing on several levels, predominantly the developers one and it is there that Google will possibly face a very hard time to come.

#Halfwaytotheweekendnow

 

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One thousand solutions

Yes, it has been 5 years in the making, or was that six? But the day is here, today is my 1000th article. So in light of some of the slamming that I have done against Microsoft (which they deserved and it was highly entertaining for me as well), it is also just to give recognition where it is due.

To see that in its proper light, we need to take a jump towards Sony, the very first PlayStation and a game called Gran Turismo. The first having the highest rating was one that stood out. You see, Kazunori Yamauchi gave us with Gran Turismo something that we had not seen before. Oh, we had seen racing games going all the way back to the CBM-64 with pole position. Yet Gran Turismo was something new, something unheard of and the screenshot that you see here might seem laughable to you now, but this was 4 console generations before now and then this was amazing. It was new it was fresh and it gave the players something that they had not had before and we all loved it!

These elements are important when we realise the article on Forza Horizons 4 for Xbox One (X) when we read “There’s almost been a sense of rediscovering what Britain is. I don’t think we’ll ever make a game quite like this again“, they were the words of Ralph Fulton. I personally believe he got it right, but he was not correct. I believe that this game added heart to Britain, which is a lot more then you bargained for. If there was one game that gives light to the consideration to buying a model X console then this game is it. The images are not merely about the cars, the views of wherever you drive, whenever and in what weather just jumps at you; it surpasses almost everything you will have played in racing games, and in this, even me, who is not a racing fan at all, I got blown away. They did not merely add some tracks to race, they gave us the UK to race in, and everyone, not merely those in the UK seems to be loving it.

I have written this before, so why repeat it?

Well, in my view Microsoft did something that Ubisoft should have done. You see, if you plan to make a game that is designed not to be a failure, you’ll never create a true winner. To do this, you need to jump out of the box and optionally burn it. This is seen on a much wider scale. We get part of this with ‘Instagram co-founders resign to explore ‘creativity again’‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/sep/25/instagram-co-founders-resign-to-explore-creativity-again). Here we see that “Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, have announced their resignation from the company, which is owned by Facebook Inc, saying that they are leaving to “explore our curiosity and creativity again”“. We can speculate on whether this is the full truth, or whether there is the setting that Mark Zuckerberg has made some colossal errors and these errors are not done yet, they are still to some degree escalating and as the wild wild west of the internet is now in a stage where governments are starting to ‘cooperate’ on setting rules and regulations in place. We see the Independent giving us last year: ‘Government outlines plans to ‘regulate the internet’ and get rid of problem content‘, which is hilarious for all the usual reasons.

So, as we see how government is introducing rephrased ways to set censorship, instigate discrimination and avoid issues of accountability, we are left to our own devices and there are more and more devices arriving, all remaining in some set league to avoid setting the stage where data is the most eagerly desired currency, because some people are not willing to go there just now. the one element avoided is that whilst we see in paces everywhere that porn is a problem, we see that it is so widely available that the internet is not the problem and that identification is at the heart of the matter, because America is not the solution, America has for the longest time been part of the problem. It has been for quite a while. It wants to police the internet, it wants to have freedom and set boundaries, but only as long as it does not hinder American business and that was the problem all along. Even as the numbers are not up to date, when you consider that “When faster internet led to a boom in video pornography in the mid-2000s, worldwide industry revenue skyrocketed to an estimated $40-$50 billion” is set on taxable dollars, do you think that America wants to do anything that is realistically achievable? I remember the short discussion that was going on somewhere around 1993-1996. I forgot the actual date, but there was a discussion that was started by the adult entertainment industry. They were the adults staging the setting that by having an .XXX domain (or something similar), there would be a place for adults and children could more easily be kept away. It did not go far and it was not successful as some religiously pushed people wanted all the porn from the internet. So tell me, after 20 years, how did that go? American bias, ego and greed stopped a whole range of solutions getting through and some could have made a decent impact. All stopped by ego and greed. It gets to be worse, because as the US is now trying to arm wrestle IP powers away from the people and making it government goods. To see this, we need to take a look at the IP Watchdog (at http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2018/03/01/u-s-patent-system-americas-decline-competitiveness/id=94249/), and we get treated to: “To find out who is responsible for the demise of American competitiveness you only reflect a mirror against U.S. innovation policy“. We see additional parts with: “China has established courts that specialize in intellectual property litigation so litigants have an experienced, fast and cost-effective forum to resolve patent disputes. These specialist courts take about 10 months to resolve patent infringement lawsuits with litigation costs running at approximately $200,000. In contrast, patent litigation in the U.S. often takes five or more years to resolve with litigation costs running in the many millions of dollars. A fairly ordinary dispute when litigated in the U.S. can easily surge past $3,000,000 when you factor in the inevitable post grant challenges (each of which will run $500,000 to defend, sometimes more) and the federal court litigation after that“, Yet another source (the Diplomat) gives us: “The United States government believes that IP protection is critical to both the physical and economic security of the country. IP protection ensures that American businesses, which produce a disproportionate percentage of their value in IP, will remain competitive on the international market. The U.S. government also believes that advanced technology is critical to U.S. military superiority, and that protecting this technology (through IP law and other means) will keep the United States ahead”, the setting of security and the stage of innovation have been opposing one another almost forever, so how does that help innovation? And when we consider ‘IP protection is critical to both the physical and economic security of the country’, how long until some level of ‘national security’ stops the IP from remaining with the actual owner that filed the IP?

It gets to be shown as worse off, when we consider both: “patents challenged in federal district court as claiming unpatentable subject matter were invalidated 67% of the time. The vast majority of these invalidated U.S. patents would have been deemed valid under current Chinese patent law, and some of these invalidated patents do actually remain valid and enforceable in China, Europe and elsewhere throughout the world“, as well as the economic setting which we got last March with “a whopping $215 billion in sales for medications could be lost from patent expirations between 2015-2020 and $31 billion are at risk in 2018 alone“. How do you think the US economy will get hit when certain nations start their generic solutions, lowering medication costs by optionally thousands or dollars per patient for both hospitals and patients?

As the patent holders are now also realising that there are added benefits to be part of the Chinese IP system and due to a lack of enforcement, the US market is no longer of decent value, we see that they are confronted with global benefits against much larger local setbacks and limitations.

How does one relate to the other?

There is a correlation between video games and patents (yes there really is). The correlation is seen in creativity and out of the box thinking. The conservative path of: ‘make sure it is not a failure‘ stops innovation. You see, we have been treated to so many resources that some people cannot fathom how some solutions were designed on a 2 MB RAM, 1 MB VRAM system, with a disc that had a maximum of 650MB (the original PlayStation). The makers avoided all kinds of traps and found new innovative solutions to make the game work. Gran Turismo is one of those jewels that show what a system when properly used to the max could achieve. As we went to iterative solution thinking, we lost the ability to become truly innovative and that is where we see that innovative patents no longer are, merely in the presentation are they optionally regarded as innovative, and that is where we see the next wave of technology.

Even as we are still confronted with the allegations against Huawei, we got shown 6 months ago: “Huawei filed 2,398 patent applications with the European Patent Office in 2017 out of a total of 166,000 for the year“, basically 1.44% of ALL files European patents were from that one company. And when it comes to innovation, we were treated to: “In our first [5G] smartphone we’re going to introduce a foldable screen“, and if you think towards the old flip phones think again, you merely have to consider the concept image to see that actual innovation in not merely a jump from iPhone 6, to iPhone 7. When we start seeing Huawei optional speculated settings, we see an actual jump and we can agree that to some extent 2398 patents do make for an interesting push towards the future.

This all takes another leap forward when we consider that if we want to be players, the iterative model no longer works. We need to be first and we need to be better than everyone else and iterative thinking is what merely gets them second place. It is not merely brand marketing, it is becoming a new level of marketing all together. We merely have to see the settings and changes we see towards Neom in Saudi Arabia to see the potential there. It is Ericsson that has already set the stage where the UAE has the potential to gain business benefits of $3.3B over the next 7 years, that is an additional $500 million, nothing to sneer at and when we consider the opportunities we see when we add the stages and places that Salini Impregilo is already working on, we see the growth of a long term stage with dozens of golden parachutes for those who have the financial backers to get it up and running. Take information to a new level, not merely showing up on a display, but for you to tune in with your phone or tablet and select what you want to see, with the optional setting of “Line 3, also known as the Orange line, is 41.5km long with an 11km underground section. It will have 22 stations“, two 5G stations on the line and repeaters at every station will suddenly give you thousands of users, getting informed by you, giving them choice of what they want to be informed about and with the smart dumb devices I mentioned a month ago, you get the setting of any train with up to 250 people getting informed. It is not merely marketing at this stage; it becomes entertainment facilitation with personalised advertisements. Creating branding and loyalty at the same time, because it is the first trip, that moment when you are going to work, or going home when consistency tends to be a need for so many travelers, that is where the next stage is and that is in Riyadh, expose that to the Neom stage where the city is 32 times the size of New York, it is no longer merely on how fast people get from one place to the other, it is the setting that people will want and need information at this moment, the one giving what they need is the one with the information required. It is no longer mass media; it becomes what I would call ‘Legion media‘, a facilitated one to one media solution for all. Not one stream all watch, but hundreds of media streams interacting seamlessly on the needs of the user giving them one seamless stream of information. A fluidic setting of interactions as configured/disseminated for the viewer, all personalised and automated; a situation that requires 5G to work and a solution that remains fluidic for the changing need of the user. We know the reality of Neom being years away (apart from the act that building will take quite a while), it will be now that we see the need to prototype and pilot those new projects to get the flaws out and stage the setting for large deployment, for the mere reason that new solutions are nice to have, but when your new idea fails on day one, that entire city will switch to the next solution on day two and never consider you again, because that too is the stage of 5G. It will be more and more about getting it right the first time. I wonder how many developers have realised this and most of them will trivialise that of course, and it makes sense that they do. Yet when the backers learn that the 5G community will be a lot more critical than ever before, will they still continue backing, or will they hide behind alternative wealth bringing solutions?

You see the apps that will be the most valued and priced ones are not the ones that look cool. In 5G it will more and more about enhanced pragmatism and managing of your personal infrastructure. Did you not figure that out? When we see the options that Saudi Arabia brings, we need to also see the limitations that it has. So the right ability to manage that through domotics and smart solutions will be close to everything, pre heating, pre cooling, adjusting, shopping and groceries, all done on the fly when you have time.

Even when we see the opposition (always important) giving us: “King Abdullah Financial District north of Riyadh, meant to rival Dubai as an economic hub, is still incomplete after more than a decade. As of last April, nary a financial institution had agreed to occupy any of the district’s 73 buildings“. I think that this is important too. Is it merely the language? You see, when we see: ‘Financial District‘, we think Wall Street and consider that area. Yet when we see: “Designed by architecture firm Henning Larsen, the 17.2 million-square-foot master plan calls for over 60 residential, office, and retail towers, several schools and parking garages, a medical clinic, civic buildings, and three hotels“, we see a lot more than merely a financial district, we see an almost self-contained city. You see when we see the larger scale I see an optional obstacle, not a negative one, but one none the less. To give comparison, I need to take you back to an original game. It was called ‘Sim City’ and it was a game, but gave the player an insight into designing his city of the future. Zoning was important at this point, so it required gradual growth. By going too large in one area, you would be broke and could not gain momentum in other ways. Even as it looks amazingly beautiful, how will you get people there fast? How can you vacate 2 million people (most likely from Riyadh and other larger cities) and set them in the new stage? There are two ways. You either create a need in the new place, or you create opportunity in that place. The first requires essential growth; the second requires a staging investment drive.

In the first example, we need ‘a pressing need’, when there is an infrastructure or a structural need, you create jobs and people will move there for the new job, which is fine, but requires vast amounts of money and large players getting there. The second one is great, but is initially also costly. For the second example I will use a solution that was in South Australia some time ago. To get people there, they gave away land. They still need to build the house, but in this setting he people had 50% additional money, or lessened costs, yet to break even the government stated that the land was given, but represented value X, and when they sold the house, they would have to pay the invoice for the land first. Now consider this in the setting of the King Abdullah Financial District. And there we set the stage of ‘selling’ houses/apartments at a mere 10% of the price, yet cannot be sold until the 100% price is satisfied first. So you now have a setting where the next 10,000 apartments only seem really cheap, yet in that setting you also create need, because these 10,000 households will need infrastructure like food, water, clothing, transportation, entertainment, schooling and so on; with that we see the investors come. build their shops and grow their business, as a result housing value rises fast and creates not merely a need, but also creates additional growth, so as these houses exchange hands and new occupation, the government gets the outstanding 90% back and a thriving place. It is not a short term, or a fast solution, but it is one that brings growth, and creating larger infrastructure solutions, because at that point with the additional 10,000 people or more we see the growing need in every direction. As these elements grow other needs can grow too, when there are 10,000 potential candidates in the financial industry and a clear path of growth exists, only then would there be interest into growing the stock exchange in a new place. Yet in that setting we need to realise that for many industries the capital remains alluring. So when we are confronted with “potential tenants and investors are less optimistic than the district’s planners about its future success“, as well as “The potential is amazing. The inside is impressive,’ one Dubai-based expat, who toured the site and preferred to remain anonymous, told Reuters. But he added, ‘It will not be finished. Decision-making is very slow (on the project, and) people don’t have cash“, we see the clarity of what I described. The ‘not having cash’ can be alleviated in one way, creating additional needs. It is the ‘decision making’ part that now requires to be decided on (yes I see the trap here) and there too is a solution. If we consider the statement that Business Insider mentioned: “Some of the kingdom’s strict social codes, including one requiring women to wear dark robes, will be relaxed“, we see the option of creating an opportunity for the foreign players in Qatar to become a larger mesmerising target for ‘poaching’. When we consider the Bloomberg message earlier in May this year giving us: ‘Qatar to Allow 100% Foreign Ownership of Firms in All Sectors‘, we see the setting that there is interest, especially in the financial sector to grow options on a global scale and there too Saudi Arabia would be able to set the stage for the future. More important, once these investors see the benefit in one place, there will be an added stage towards growth towards Neom for them too. This could have additional benefits as a much larger stage between Saudi Arabia and places like Egypt could become a much more interesting choice for the future. that part is not merely seen in one way, it becomes an entirely different stage when we consider yesterday’s news with ‘Award-winning Dubbo solar home uses Tesla Powerwall 2 battery‘, you might think that this is a ‘So What?‘ stage, but it is more than you think. That part is seen with: “A building company in Dubbo says the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery in its new display home means the Dubbo solar home could potentially go off-grid. Award-winning Greenmark Homes installed a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery to boost the display home’s energy efficiency“, it becomes even more impressive when you consider the added: “Tesla big battery wins awards, prevents blackouts“, you see, even as Saudi Arabia has plenty of sunshine, at some point the sun goes down and that is where the usage changes and whilst we know that air-conditioning takes the bulk of the energy, we see that the overall need could be filled in more efficient ways and that too needs time to evolve and refine. It is taking solutions out of the box where we see the beginning of true innovation and there are plenty of places that can benefit, but we need to open the door to creativity to make it thrive and set the next stage of innovation. We can make fun of some situations as we are offered (a very old joke): ‘a new powder for hydration, to make it, merely adds water‘. It is the innovative person that uses the solution and creates a powder to capture the moist in the air and end up with water. That same application is seen when we see applications on energy and hydro needs and creates another solution, the one we forgot about. That is the nice part about these stages and on why we need to keep our focus on Neom, you see it is not about the size of the city, it will be about how certain situations get solved and how innovative those solutions are. That is where we will be able to test our creativity and optionally become an actual innovative player ourselves, driving solutions and new technologies forward, not iterative over time, but by leaps, which is how you end up with one thousand new solutions not a thousand versions of one solution.

 

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Warring consoles

There are a few wars to look at, but the setting for the consoles is one that is shifty as hell. I have been outspoken against a certain brand whose name starts with ‘M‘ and ends with ‘icrosoft‘ for a few reasons, but that is not what it is about. It starts with the Sato. A writer for Siliconera giving us the sales of consoles for last week. The systems that matter for the week of 10th to the 16th of September in this are Nintendo Switch that sold 38,738 consoles, down from 43,513 last week. The PS4 12,057 down from 12,281 last week, the Xbox One 58, up from 19 last week, the PS4 pro 4,959 down from 7,442 and the Xbox One X 159 up from 30 last week (Japanese sales numbers). So we can go with the fact that Microsoft is the only one on the rise. We can go with the optional truth that Microsoft consoles (plural) merely represent 0.5% of the Nintendo Switch sales. I did not even consider News Nintendo DS systems in all this, the number would become laughingly small (and blow away whenever you open a window), if it has not done that already. Microsoft Xbox One systems are a mere 3% of the PlayStation 4 systems and that is not a good thing either (for Microsoft that is). Yet we must also acknowledge that Nintendo is a force of nature at present. You see, at present the Nintendo Switch might merely be at 45% of all the PS4 systems sold (normal and Pro), the fact that they did this in under 2 years is an amazing achievement and there is no stopping Nintendo. I expect that they will break additional records at both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year (as well as the Saint Nicholas festivities in one or two places).

It goes even further when we see the Nintendo games exploding on the screens when it comes to the revenue. This year alone, the revenue for Nintendo went up by a cool 100% to a net value of almost 10 billion dollars, that is a massive achievement in gaming and their growth is still enduring. With online play being free and Fortnite still on the rise and with 30 titles still arriving before the end of the year. It seems to me that Nintendo figured something out and Microsoft is paying a high price for the wisdom gained (Sony gets hurt too but much less).

So whilst Xbox UK is still hiding behind what I would clearly define as ‘deceptive conduct’, they might think that it is ‘innovative thinking’ we are merely confronted with a once growing game maker that is now becoming obsolete in its thinking.

So why deceptive conduct?

You see, the people were confronted with a tweet a mere three days ago. The tweet: “Play 500+ Classic Xbox & Xbox 360 titles on your Xbox One today… totally for free“, yet when we read down the tweets, we see the hitch. We see: “If you already own them – no need to buy again! Just download or put the disc in, and away you go“, news that is 2 years old and we are still confronted with a digital department that just does not get it. They did not tell us “We have upgraded our backwards compatibility program to 500+ games“, no that would be too honest. No we get: “Play 500+ Classic Xbox & Xbox 360 titles on your Xbox One today… totally for free“, it is not merely deceptive conduct, it is what I would personally call an open blatant lie. You see: “totally for free” would have been the setting if pre-owning the game was not a requirement, so some purchase was required, giving the setting one that is a an outright lie, as I personally see it.

Getting back to the sales I mentioned earlier, we need to realise that this is not global. The numbers come from merely a Japanese source, sales in Japan. Yet the setting is still clear (to some degree), Nintendo is here to stay and it is growing its influence on a global scale and when we see the mere achievement of 58 Xbox One systems over a week in a nation that is around 130 million people, whilst some sources give us that 50% of them are into gaming. We do not have a comprehensive data file that gives us a more complete picture. Yet we see that there are around 700 million online gamers, which is well over 40% of the online population, when you consider that, we see that the numbers and the setting is massively important. Venturebeat gave us in the past that spend per person is Japan (#1) with $120 per person, the US (#3) with $62 the UK and Australia in 4th and 5th, whilst they are on equal footing with $62 and $55 per person. So at that point do you still think that all this misrepresented loot box mess is merely about gambling? So when we were given: ‘Australian Senate inquiry extended after study calls loot boxes ‘psychologically akin to gambling’‘ merely three days ago as well as both “The Australian Senate inquiry into micro-transactions is taking into consideration a large-scale study that claims “loot boxes” are psychologically akin to gambling“, as well as “The paper is the result of a paid online survey among 7422 gamers. Curiously, over 6000 responses to the survey were discarded because the answers were either not serious or incomplete“, which is interesting because I never saw that link in any place and I have been a gamer since 1984, long before the word ‘gamer’ was cool. The article is actually good and gives us one part that I can stand behind: “recommends adjustments to the current game classification system advising “parental advisories for games that feature loot boxes” as well as “a descriptor outlining that the game itself features gambling content”“. I would be willing to take it one step further. I would demand that there are two additional parts. The first is that there needs to a clear path where we can earn loot boxes for free (not unlike the Mass Effect 3 setting), in addition we need to see a clear sticker on the front of the box stating that ‘no loot boxes are required to play or complete the game‘ Several games have clearly stated that in the past, yet adding this on the front of the cover is not the worst idea.

I still disagree that it is gambling, yet having a clear mention that loot boxes are set to chance and optionally the chances of getting a certain rarity is not the worst idea either. And in all this, the console war is now setting to a much larger stage, even as they all (partially correctly) point their finger at EA Games. Ubisoft has unlockable content (at a price as well, yet they ALWAYS clearly stated ‘this item can be unlocked through regular gameplay‘ as well. So it is not immoral that they offer it as an initial unlock for $5, it merely shows us that that person is not really a gamer, merely a player.

In this there is more to Ubisoft; it is clearly seen in their Assassins Creed games. Going back to Assassins Creed 2, they had the Ubiclub. You can buy things there. Unlocking premiums and extra’s (skins, backgrounds, outfits and weapons), to buy them you play the games and when you get to a stage, like completing a set of conditions, making it to a certain point in the game you get points, these points re kept in you profile and you can unlock them for any Ubisoft game you have, giving you more and more by merely playing. It opens up the need to complete, the drive to achieve and the option to get cool things. Here I clearly state: ‘Well done Ubisoft!‘ and this is still an ongoing stage with badges and cool stuff with every additional game that they release. So as I state that loot boxes are not gambling, I am for the most not against the setting: ‘Study urges games with Loot Boxes to be Restricted to Players old enough to Gamble‘, which is not the same. The question is not merely on how to check it; the issue will soon be that abuse is harder to check. Even if they cannot be merely bought online, even when the loot box cash needs to be bought in the store, we will see the irresponsible act of the parent giving in to ‘junior’ buying more and more loot boxes. It is important to raise the issue as more and more consoles are confronted with games that depend on loot boxes, and that is not nearly the beginning. We see part of this in Eurogamer (at https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-07-23-fifa-player-uses-gdpr-to-find-out-everything-ea-has-on-him-realises-hes-spent-over-usd10-000-in-two-years-on-ultimate-team), when we are given “Michael was sent a data dump by EA via two PDF files each over 100 pages long. This amounted to a huge number of files, which include engagement data, FIFA 18 stats, device information and more than 10 audio files (these are recordings of his calls to EA support). It also included details of every player Michael bought and sold over the past two years in FUT“, so beyond the setting of “EA also provided data relating to how much real world money (in dollars) Michael had spent on FIFA Points, and he told Eurogamer he was “gobsmacked” to discover he’d spent over $10,000 in just two years“. Apart from the fact that you are losing your screws, the mere fact that you are not aware wasting cash to such a degree is one part, yet in this, the part that everyone ignores is “30 days later, Michael was sent a data dump by EA via two PDF files each over 100 pages long. This amounted to a huge number of files, which include engagement data“. I never played FIFA, yet when Microsoft remained in denial that 5 GB in 10 days was uploaded without my consent or knowledge into the Azure cloud, they merely pointed at the internet provider and stated that this is their responsibility (whilst I had not played any multiplayer games), and now we see what EA collects, in all this, the collected data is not an issue in any of this?

And the console wars are not done, not by a close margin. This goes beyond which system is popular, with system has loot boxes. This is about data and with all these systems being online and optionally ending up collecting personal data, there is a larger for not merely gamers and players. It is about classifying people and the setting of how bankable have we become? We saw this a few months ago with ‘Esports streamers and gamers are among the most bankable influencers, pitching to a new generation of consumers that don’t track traditional‘, it is about finding money people, those who propel the brand and when we realise that we seem to have a few additional problems and the fact that no attention is given to that part in the equation is equally a problem.

 

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Deadlock removed

Forbes gave us news in several ways. It merely flared my nostrils for 0.337 seconds (roughly) and after that I saw opportunity knock. In all this Microsoft has been short-sighted for the longest of times and initially that case could be made in this instance too. Yet, I acknowledge that there is a business case to be made. The news on Forbes with the title ‘Why Microsoft ‘Confirmed’ Windows 7 New Monthly Charges‘ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/09/15/microsoft-windows-7-monthly-charge-windows-10-free-upgrade-cost-2) gives us a few parts. First there is “Using Windows 7 was meant to be free, but shortly after announcing new monthly charges for Windows 10, Microsoft confirmed it would also be introducing monthly fees for Windows 7 and “the price will increase each year”. Understandably, there has been a lot of anger“. There is also “News of the monthly fees was quietly announced near the bottom of a September 6th Microsoft blog post called “Helping customers shift to a modern desktop”“, so it is done in the hush hush style, quietly, like thieves in the night so to say. In addition there is “Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing, explained: “Today we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year.” No pricing details were revealed“. This is not meant for the home users, it is the professional versions and enterprise editions, that is meant for volumes and large businesses. So they now get a new setting. Leaving pricing in the middle, in the air and unspoken will only add stress to all kinds of places, but not to fret.

It is a good thing (perhaps not for Microsoft). You see, just like the ‘always online’ folly that Microsoft pushed for with the Xbox, we now see that in the home sphere a push for change will be made and that is a good thing. We all still have laptops and we all still have our Windows editions, but we forgot that we had been lulled to sleep for many years and it is time to wake up. This is a time for praise, glory, joy and all kinds of positive parts. You see, Google had the solution well over 5 years ago, and as we are pushed for change, we get to have a new place for it all.

Introducing Google Chromebook

You might have seen it, you might have ignored it, but in the cast of it all. Why did you not consider it? Now, off the bat, it is clear if you have a specific program need, you might not have that option. In my case, I have no need for a lot of it on my laptop, yes to the desktop, but that is a different setting altogether.

So with a Chromebook, I get to directly work with Docs (Word), Sheets (Excel) and Slides (PowerPoint) and they read and export to the Microsoft formats (as well as PDF). There is Photos, Gmail, Contacts and Calendar, taking care of the Outlook part, even Keep (Notes), Video Calling and a host of other parts that Microsoft does not offer within the foundation of their Office range. More important, there is more than just the Google option. Asus has one with a card reader allowing you to keep your files on a SD card, and a battery that offers 7-10 hours, which in light of the Surface Go that in one test merely gave 5 hours a lot better and the Chromebook is there for $399, a lot cheaper as well. In this it was EndGadet that labelled it: ‘It’s not perfect, but it’s very close.

Asus has several models, so a little more expensive, but comes with added features. In the bare minimum version it does over 90% of whatever a student needs to do under normal conditions. It is a market that Microsoft could lose and in that setting lose a lot more than merely some users. These will be users looking for alternatives in the workplace, the optional setting for loss that Microsoft was unable to cope with; it will now be on the forefront of their settings. In my view the direct consequence of iterative thinking.

And in this it is not merely Asus in the race, HP has a competitive Chromebook, almost the same price, they do have a slightly larger option 14″ (instead of 11.9″) for a mere $100 more, which also comes with a stronger battery, and there is also Acer. So the market is there. I get it, for many people those with stronger database needs, those with accounting software needs, for them it is not an option and we need to recognise that too. Yet the fact that in a mobile environment I have had no need for anything Microsoft Specific and that there Surface Go is twice the price of a Chromebook, yet not offering anything I would need makes me rethink my entire Microsoft needs. In addition, I can get a much better performance out of my old laptop by switching to Linux, who has a whole range of software options. So whilst it has been my view that Microsoft merely pushed a technological armistice race for the longest time, I merely ignored them as my windows 7 did what it needed to do and did it well, getting bullied into another path was never my thing, hence I am vacating to another user realm, a book with a heart of Chrome. So whilst we look at one vendor, we also see the added ‘Microsoft Office 365 Home 1 Year Subscription‘ at $128, so what happens after that year? Another $128, that whilst Google offers it for free? You do remember that Students have really tight budgets, do you not? And after that, students, unless business related changes happen, prefer a free solution as well. So whilst Microsoft is changing its premise, it seems to have found the setting of ‘free software’ offensive. You see, I get it when we never paid for it, but I bought almost every office version since Office 95. For the longest times issues were not resolved and the amount of security patches still indicates that Windows NT version 4 was the best they ever got to. I get that security patches are needed, yet the fact that some users have gone through thousands of patches only to get charge extra now feels more like treason then customer care and that is where they will lose the war and lose a lot.

So when you see subscription, you also need to consider the dark side of Microsoft. You partially see that with: “If you choose to let your subscription expire, the Office software applications enter read-only mode, which means that you can view or print documents, but you can’t create new documents or edit existing documents.” Now we agree that they clearly stated ‘subscription’, yet they cannot give any assurances that it will still be $128 next year, it could be $199, or even $249. I do not know and they shall not tell, just like in Forbes, where we saw ‘News of the monthly fees was quietly announced‘.

When we dig deeper and see: ‘Predicting the success of premium Chromebooks‘, LapTopMag treats us to: “The million-dollar question is whether these new, more expensive Chrome OS laptops can find a foothold in a market dominated by Windows 10 and Mac OS devices. Analysts are bullish about Chromebook’s potential to make a dent in the laptop market share“, which was given to us yesterday. Yet in this, the missing element is that Windows will now come with subscriptions to some and to more down the track, or lose the security of windows, now that picture takes a larger leap and the more expensive Google Pixelbooks (much higher specs then the others mentioned) will suddenly become a very interesting option. One review stated on the Pixelbook: “the Pixelbook is an insanely overpowered machine. And, lest we forget, overpriced“, which might be true, yet the little lower Atlas Chromebook was $439. So yes, the big one might not be for all and let’s face it. A 4K screen is for some overkill. That’s like needing to watch homemade porn in an IMAX theatre. The true need for 4K is gaming and high end photography/film editing, two elements that was never really for the Chromebook. At that point a powerful MacBook or MacBook pro will be essential setting you back $2900-$11400. So, loads of options and variations, at a price mind you. As I see it, the Microsoft market is now close to officially dissolving. There is a whole host of people that cannot live without it, and that is fine. I am officially still happy with my Windows 7, always have been. Yet when I see the future and my non-gaming life, Linux will be a great replacement and when being mobile a Chromebook will allow me to do what I need to do. It is only in spreadsheets that I will miss out a little at time, I acknowledge that too, but in all this there is no comparison with the subscription form and as it comes from my own pocket is see no issues with the full on and complete switch to Google and its apps in the immediate future. I feel close to certain that my loss will minimal at the most. A path that not all will have, I see that too, but when thinking the hundreds of thousands of students that are about to start University, they for the most can make that switch with equal ease and there we see the first crux. It was the setting that Microsoft in a position of strength had for the longest time, enabling students so that they are ready for the workplace changes. They will now grow up with the Chromebooks being able to do what they need and they will transfer that to the workplace too. Giving us that the workplace will be scattered with Chromebooks and with all kinds of SaaS solutions that can connect to the Chromebook too. The Chromebook now becomes some terminal to server apps enabling more and more users towards a cloud server software solution. As these solutions are deployed, more and more niche markets will move in nibbling on the Market share that Microsoft had, diminishing that once great company to a history, to being pushed beyond that towards being forgotten and at some point being a myth, one that is no longer in the game. It is also the first step that IBM now has to bank in on that setting and push for the old mainframe settings, yet they will not call it a mainframe, they will call it the Watson cloud, performing, processing and storing, available data on any Chromebook at the mere completion of a login. It is not all there yet, but SPSS created their Client server edition a decade ago, so as the client becomes slimmer, the Chromebook could easily deal with it and become even more powerful, that is beside the optional dashboard evolutions in the SaaS market, the same could be stated for IBM Cloud and databases. That is the one part that should be embraced by third party designers. As SaaS grows the need to look in Chromebook, Android and IOS solutions will grow exponentially. All this, with the most beautiful of starting signals ever given: ‘Windows 7 New Monthly Charges‘, the one step that Microsoft did not consider in any other direction and with G5 growing in 2021-2023 that push will only increase. If only they had not stuffed up their mobile market to the degree they had (my personal view). I see the Windows Mobile as a security risk, plain and simple. I could be wrong here, but there is too much chaff on Windows and as I cannot see what the wheat is (or if there is any at all), and as Microsoft has been often enough in the ‘quietly announcing‘ stage and that is not a good thing either.

Should you doubt my vision (always a valid consideration), consider that Veolia Environnement S.A. is already on this path. Announced less than two weeks ago we see “So we propose a global migration program to Chromebooks and we propose to give [our employees] a collaborative workplace. “We want to enable new, modern ways of working”“, linked to the article: ‘Veolia to be ‘data centre-less’ within two years‘ (at https://www.itnews.com.au/news/veolia-to-be-data-centre-less-within-two-years-499453), merely one of the first of many to follow. As the SaaS for Chromebooks increases, they will end up with a powerful workforce, more secure data and a better management of resources. Add to this the Google ID-Key solution and the range of secure connections will go up by a lot, diminishing a whole host of security issues (or security patches for that matter). All options available now and have been for a few years now. So when we see the Chromebook market push forward, we should thank Microsoft for enabling exponential growth; it is my personal believe that the absence of a monthly fee would have slowed that process considerably in a whole range of markets.

So thanks Microsoft! You alienated gamers for years, and now we see that you are repeating that same silly path with both starting students and businesses that are trying to grow.

I’ll ask Sundar Pichai to send you a fruit basket, it’s the least I can do (OK, the least I can do is nothing, but that seems so mean).

 

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Bragging becomes the burden

We have all done it; we have all made that one claim that was in our imagination the better truth, or perhaps the better part of a truth. I myself offered a certain lady a 10″ penis (a long time ago), it would be delivered in two installments. I kept my word, she basically faltered in math, was I fraudulent?

That is the thought I went with when I got the annoying message on more than one game trailer when Microsoft stated: ‘Play it on the world’s most powerful console‘, which is hilarious for a few reasons. Now when we consider the quote from Japanese Analysts that “Nintendo Switch Sales To Surpass Nintendo’s Forecast“, which is of course really good for Nintendo and with “Japanese analyst, Hideki Yasuda, from the Ace Economic Research Institute in Osaka, has released his latest forecast for Nintendo’s full fiscal year – predicting the company will shift 25 million Switch units and 140 million software units. According to DualShockers, this would put the total amount of Switch sales at 42.79 million units by March next year“. This now also implies that the total sales for the Xbox One (not just the world’s most powerful part) will be surpassed in their total life cycle in approximately 13 weeks, which is just before Christmas, making my worst case scenario for Microsoft a reality. By the end of the year, which I actually did not expect, but there you have it, a console surpassed via short-sightedness and of course the blatant stupidity of NOT listening to their customers. From these parts we get the setting that if Microsoft is pushing forward on Project Scarlett, they have to do it standing from last position, the wooden spoon place, all because certain players (Microsoft executives) thought that they knew better than those who actually are the gamers, who play the games, who live the frustration.

And that is not even the good news, the good news was hidden in the previous quote, with “140 million software units” we see that the Nintendo gamers are not merely happier gamers, they also game significantly more, adding largely to the coffers of Nintendo wealth. Even as Nintendo was less enthusiastic, we need to consider that Nintendo is still picking up momentum in the US, or better states (by US Gamer): “The holiday frenzy is about to gain some sick momentum“, implying that both Thanksgiving and Christmas could be ruled by Nintendo this year around. Apart from that the pressure is on for Sony as well. Even as Sony has been the front leader for the longest of times, we were treated to ‘Nintendo Switch Set to Overtake PlayStation 4’s Lifetime Sales in Japan‘ a mere 3 days ago. It has no chance to catch up on Soy global sales any day soon, but this milestone is important, because that is a milestone we did not expect to see passed this early. For any console to surpass its own Japanese opponent locally, as well as the other player globally is just too strong an achievement, it cannot be ignored; all this whilst software sales are equally booming for Nintendo.

Venture Beat added to that setting a mere two weeks ago when we were treated to: “The NPD Group revealed its list of the top-selling games of July in the U.S. today, and Nintendo is the month’s big winner. Octopath Traveller is the best-selling game of the month. Nintendo not only wins July in terms of software sales, but it is also at the top spot for the year so far when it comes to physical game retail sales“, all because one player listened to their consumer base and the other one merely considered its own ego. That is how businesses collapse into any basement. In addition, we see that half of the July’s top 10 are Nintendo exclusives. In variety we see the additional info: ““Nintendo Switch is the only platform showing year-on-year growth in full-game dollar sales with gains of nearly 70 percent when compared to a year ago, despite digital sales on Nintendo platforms not currently being tracked by The NPD Group,” said analyst Mat Piscatella. “Year-to-date sales of full-game software on Nintendo Switch have more than doubled when compared to a year ago.”” That is the simple situation when we are faced on giving the customer what they desire or giving them what we think they desire.

That difference is the one bringing doom (not the game) to Microsoft. Yet we also need to give consideration to the other side. CNet did (at https://www.cnet.com/news/xbox-chief-aims-to-be-the-voice-of-consumers-inside-microsoft/) and we see a few things there. The first is “Looking at Phil Spencer’s role at Microsoft is a bit like playing the game “One of these things is not like the other”“, I like the setting because it gives the voice of gaming at Microsoft in another way, my interpretation is ‘something here does not belong‘, not as diplomatic but it seems to fit, the business side of Microsoft for the longest of times never understood gaming and Phil Spencer is at the deep end there. We also see: ““The analogy I use with some people is we were like the garage band for a long time,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming. “As long as we didn’t play our music too loud, we’re allowed to keep practicing.” He’s allowed to play music as loud as he wants now” this is a comprehensible point of view and it makes sense. It is almost like ‘you can play, but do not disturb the people doing actual work‘, which is wrong on so many levels, mainly because the other players (the work people) are set in a stage of making less and less revenue whilst the gaming sector could have been the supporting pillar for them if they had only listened to their customers. A mistake still not tended to I might add. The question now is not whether Phil Spencer comprehends the market, we know he does, but does Satya Nadella have a clue in all this? That is one part I am not convinced of, basically time will tell. Yet it is the escapist that gives us other goods, goods that matter not merely for the systems, but for the players too. You see, we are smitten with titles, with games, with ideas and in all this the JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) has been tremendous in all this, it has been driving sales and desire among the players, which is exactly the well of goodness for Nintendo. Sony has benefitted as well but not as much, so when we are treated to: “Even 17 years after the arrival of the original Xbox, Microsoft still hasn’t gained a foothold in Japan. At this point the situation probably seems hopeless. But I think there’s a way in, if Microsoft is willing to do something unconventional“, I partially agree here, it can work if the unconventional is addressed into a form of curiosity for the new players and an irresistible urge for those who are not new players. That whilst the article ends with: “History has shown that drastic reversals in fortune are possible, particularly when the buying public is being denied something they really want“, which turned out to be the killing game show that murdered their own console. Storage and off line achievements are the two most damning part, both easily adding to 40% of the non-buyers, or switchers (to another system). How can Microsoft survive? Well, first of all they need to get the right indie developers (and fast too), because there is a market that embraces indie developers. You merely have to look at Elite Dangerous and Subnautica on the waves that they created. Microsoft had the right moves there, but as those players are now no longer exclusive, people moved away. There are a few more options. The still anticipated System Shock will get people to the Xbox/PC if released in the right way, the following for that title was huge and they are still there waiting to replay the game that these players loved for decades, that is a need that will not die and there is more in the open to get. When we look back even further we see that there is a world of untapped games, games that were OK and sometimes even great in the old days and they are awakening the next generation, whilst at the same speed also calling back the old gamers.

The essential next step is not merely looking at new IP; the power is that old IP under new conditions can become a truly great IP. When we consider the older games on the CBM Amiga, we see a setting that a decent game remained decent game despite the utter lack of resources. What do you think will happen, when it gets true resources? When those playing the game realise that was merely passable on that system with 512Kb gets to be fully versed in a system with 8GB RAM and plenty of gigabytes on the Drive? What happens when we see a game like Seven Cities of Gold with some real resources? We are seeing that the makers of the Bards Tale moved to today’s systems and the reviews are giving us ‘Contemporary take shows Bard’s classic tale stands test of time‘, so basically, what was old is new again and it is one of several games that are out there. I mentioned Seven Cities of Gold, yet there was also the Black Crypt, Paradroid, Space Hulk (now released as Martyr Inquisitor), a collection of thousands of games, where several dozen could be revitalised, Indie developer can get the gamers what they desire, the question is which console will get to these games first? Will we see a smoother version of what was one of my favourites Knights of the Sky? You see, it is not merely about copying the idea that has been done before, but to set the stage on a scale of arcade versus realism, where the setting can be tweaked by the player to their own preference is more important than you might think. Some of the players are not Forza dedicated (they admire and love it), some are more for a little more arcade version of that game and the one who gives both will rule that land. Will Forza remain or will the Crew 2 take it all? When we see Steam giving it 60%, IGN 70% and Gamespot 80%, yet we see that 94% loved the video, we see that something does not add up. I was personally overwhelmed with the E3 video, even as I accept the review by some on ‘jack of all trades‘ to some part, the game is graphically amazing and it is perhaps more arcade then Forza, which is for some the part of gaming that many prefer. I have had my issue with Ubisoft for the longest of times, and even as I am not a racing fan (I never was) this game drew me in and that is what matters, or what should matter. So where is this going?

I think that we need a stronger setting for adjusting a game to the player. If the Crew had the option to switch ‘realism’ levels and become a Forza? Would that change the game? Is that even possible?

These issues are important because even as we want a true Crew 2 game, how far can we get? This now links back to Knights of the Sky (Amiga), the Red Baron (PC) was in that basic setting of realism versus more arcade playability. It is not merely the graphics, even as the comparison video (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFTO7JHXn7s) gives us the part that we accept and that pushes us towards a decision which game to buy. The Crew does not win, and against a game that has been out for 2 years, it matters, yet the Crew 2 gives us a much larger arena to have fun in and that matters too. For gaming it will be to find a larger community and that is where we are when we see the upcoming game Forza Horizon 4 (due in one month), giving us a setting that is more Crew, all open and in Britain with all the seasons available making it an entirely new challenge. In all this Microsoft has outdone themselves, anyone claiming not, trivialising that achievement is merely a Microsoft hater. The question is, why is Microsoft not more aggressive in gaining this level of excellence on more fronts. If we accept that exclusive games are the wining card in any console war, why is Microsoft merely running behind other crews doing new stuff? When will the Xbox and PC gamer get treated to a set of games that gives them some level of an upper hand? God of War and Spiderman on PS4 shows that the queues in shops are large and growing. Merely waiting for the next Assassins Creed and Lara Croft is no longer good enough for Microsoft, not when they are about to become a mere third position, right behind the least powerful console in the world. Microsoft has to change the game and the games they play. Indie developers are soon to be the essential first in all this. That, and to address the pressures from the gamers, which is something they needed to do a long time ago, just some of the issues that is dragging Microsoft down. So even as some shareholders are smitten with that ugly term ‘Play it on the world’s most powerful console‘ they will be less impressed as they are soon confronted with a third position and that ‘most powerful’ expression merely ended them with the wooden spoon console trophy, at that point their enthusiasm will simmer down really fast.

Microsoft is running out of time and options, when they do get surpassed, the options they did have are very likely to melt away like snowflakes in the sun.

#HappyGamingSunday

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That did not take long

Wow, it has been a mere 22 hours since my last Blog. In there I wrote: “The additional part where we see that Pakistan is importing close to $400 million from the Netherlands each year is optionally be getting hit as well“, which comes to pass when I see the flames on Twitter between Geert Wilders (https://twitter.com/geertwilderspvv) and the Pakistani Government (https://twitter.com/pid_gov). Even the the Pakistan Defense forum(https://twitter.com/defencedotpk), they immediately went to their copy of ‘Art of War‘ and gave us “Royal Dutch Shell, Phillips, Unilever, ABN AMRO interests in the Muslim World should be nationalised, levy heavy duties on Dutch shipping passing through the Suez, Hormoez shall be closed off for Dutch ships. Their airlines should be barred from using OIC airspace. Watch it melt!“, now a forum is not a government speakeasy, so there is time, but this riled up well over 100,000 Pakistani’s in all walks of life. Yet in here a few cool heads prevailed with: “Doesn’t matter to them, as it will hurt Pakistan itself, thousands will be unemployed, lakhs of people are working directly or indirectly in Unilever Pakistan, not even 0.1%profit generated from Pakistan, of total Unilever profits, even all oic countries ban it, it will hardly damage them“, yes it will hurt Pakistan, yet will it hurt enough? When Pakistani interests are moved from Unilever to European or American alternatives, do you think that the pain is long term? No, that is unlikely to be the case, yet the long term pain to Dutch industrials will be clear when they lost the ability to meet quota’s and to meet the expectations of analysts. That pain will be very visible. So even when we see the response by Geert Wilders with: “Don’t claim victory too soon @pid_gov I am not finished with you yet. I will expose your barbarism in many other ways“, we have to wonder if he is exposing barbarism or instigating discourse through attacks on Islam? That has always been the setting here. Perhaps we need to take another look at the setting, which started as early as 2015. I implied it in my title ‘Lollies to the Right‘ (Yesterday’s blog), in this lollies is an English slang for money. Someone is funding all this. The Cartoon competition shows another side, from the $12,500 in Garland Texas, and the amount (unknown) for the Dutch event. This is not from the pocket of Geert Wilders, someone is funding these fumes hoping that a war will erupt and we need to find out who is behind the screens on the far right, it is more important then you know. It is not merely about the hatred, the setting of economic strike backs was always going to be a clear setting. And I was right all along. We now see in the Daily Pakistan: ‘Dutch govt seeks improved bilateral ties with Pakistan after blasphemous contest saga‘, where we see: “Dutch envoy to Pakistan, Ardi Stoios-Braken announced on Twitter that the Embassy team will work with fresh energy and focus on promoting the bilateral relationship with Pakistan and mutual understanding“, yes I saw that coming a mile away and the question becomes, how much will that cost the Dutch government? By the way, in that same period of contemplating my correctness, I also designed two new (optional) Google devices, so it required close to no brainpower, so I had three other things running in the back of my head. Here too we are fed the lies by Geert Wilders. The lie “to avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided not to let the sacrilegious cartoon contest go ahead“, yet that was not really the case was it. The game was not set on the competition, but on the backdrop and I wonder what happened on May 1st 2018. When we were shown: ‘Far right leaders gathered in the southern French city of Nice‘, we were not in the picture on the rest. There was another player there, ready to use Geert Wilders as the tool he is. This was merely foreplay, binding the hands of certain politicians and setting the stage for others. The Independent gave on that very same day: ““The European Union today has catastrophic consequences for our countries, and yet another Europe is possible, the Union of European Nations,” she told a rally as she met with the leaders. “Europe is a good idea and the European Union is killing it.” The next European Parliament elections are scheduled for the 23 to 26 of May 2019 – after Britain is set to leave the European Union.“, that is the part that matters more, when things go out of balance, other players can come in and have some fun making money fast, that is the one part were the right seems to be blind. With Italy much more firmer in the right, with the AfD (Alternativ fur Deutchland) we see that they are still growing, even more so as Angela Merkel is now in a much lower ratings than ever before, so even as that does not indicate that AfD will push to better staging and more seats, that is not a given. Yet, in this I was proven wrong in my assumptions (based on data) on how Matteo Salvini was not really a risk and he got a much larger slice of Italian politics then we imagined and with Germany we cannot afford that mistake again. In all this it is more and more clear that the UK got out in time (a little too late though), with the European settings we all get to look at, there is a clear path that half of Europe will be in an anti-Muslim stage soon enough and not being part of that war is the only good we can hope for.

Yet the only links that I get back to in the end (thanks to some data that I found in Austria) from sources like the Wiener Zeitung and the Freedom Party of Austria and Heinz-Christian Strache is Steve Bannon of all people. Right on the same day that Cambridge Analytica became a non-entity, we see that Steve Bannon was always part of this, the question becomes: Was that why the data was needed? Was this why there was a nice dinner in Nice? OK, I admit that this is slightly too ‘conspiracy theoretic’, but the elements are there; we forgot that 87 million Facebook users are not merely there to use for the far right, they can also be used against the left and more important, once properly mined and grouped, other elements can also be addressed. We were treated to Channel 4 and their ‘Cambridge Analytica CEO filmed boasting of using entrapment, bribes and honey-traps to influence election‘, but the much larger cake is not merely the elections, it is the fact that creating discourse in Saudi Arabia as it is ready to start a trillion dollar investment setting (well over half for the creation of Neom, city of the future), we see a lot more opportunity for those players. Even in history we saw the UK push Egypt in another direction as it feared the larger hold and more importantly the hold that the UK would lose, we see a variation now by the escalations of Islam and anti-Islam and in all this Geert Wilders is the most visible tool. In this Steve Bannon played the game very well. Even as we saw him being close to Islamophobic in Breitbart and his film script, on which the Washington Post reported with “The script for the film, Destroying the Great Satan, which was never produced, opens with a fantasy scene of the US Capitol adorned with a star-and-crescent flag and broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer, according to a script obtained by the Washington Post. The film imagines a “fundamental clash of civilizations” between the west and “supremacist” Islam“. So, this is clearly not in my imagination and there is heaps of data behind it all, but there is no clear link, all the direct links are hidden. I am not speaking about ‘advertised’ open admiration between the players. No, there is a larger part in this and it is between middle men so there is nothing to prove. That evidence is not out there and it unlikely never ever will be. Steve Bannon is slightly too intelligent for that, because over time it comes knocking at his door, so he got it truly insulated against that, using tools like ‘Wilders’ as he sees fit. Marine Le Pen is in her heart too nationalistic (French) so she is an ally, but just up to a level and the same can be said for Matteo Salvini, all set in a stage of anti-Islam. Now that we see the Dutch impact others will be more cautious. When the Guardian informed us of “Steve Bannon has announced plans to establish a foundation in Europe that he hopes will fuel the spread of right-wing populism” we also got the push from Politico with “his potential European partners are ambivalent, saying they want to keep the controversial American at arm’s length even as they seek to tap his expertise on how to disrupt politics on the Continent“. I do not think it is false, but I do believe that there is orchestrated caution here. Yet as we also see: “Bannon’s connections to Europe’s leading populists, many sound unsure about letting an outsider play a central role in next year’s election, let alone one with his reputation. Some pointed out they are already working on their own pan-European alliances“, as well as “Rivière, his party’s international spokesman, said he has talked to Bannon about how he could “provide us with new ideas or share his experience.” Rivière said The Movement would be “a good non-partisan tool box” to achieve that. Bannon, who formerly ran Breitbart media, helped lead the successful Trump campaign in 2016 and went on to serve in the White House for seven months“. Here we see levels of facilitation and that facilitation will only go as far as Steve Bannon gets an industrial upper hand and it is not clear to me if these political players will be aware. What is very clear is that both Israel and Saudi Arabia need to become a lot more cautious when it comes to America. In the end, the Iranian escalations, the Syrian, Russian and Turkish setting in all this sounds nice and it sounds nice that America is on THEIR side, but only for as long as the economic fallout blows the wind to America, in the end those nations stand alone, in the end, America has a protection barrier called the Atlantic Ocean and they can retreat to ‘home ground’ , that is the play any bankrupt nation makes, lets others do the work for them, they only come when the cream is there to be scooped. When that does not happen, they walk away and we need to find a way to stop anti-Islam movements now, because they endanger the State of Israel in a similar way and even if these far right settings do not care, we should because when escalated it is a mess that no one can visit for at least a generation.

I think (as I stated before) that the seriousness of Saudi Arabia and the push for innovation has scared America and Europe. You see, the last time anyone was this driven we ended up with Google and now they are 4th in size on a global scale, that is until 2023 when they will jump back to number 2. Both IBM and Microsoft have issues and they will polarise clearly in view in 2019, at that point we will see a new shift and Google will bypass them pretty much overnight with all the 5G issues brought to the well willing hands of close to 2 billion people within a year, it is that same fear that made certain governments strike out against Huawei technologies. And that has nothing to do with security issues. When you realise that, we also see why the entire Wilders cartoon issue is a larger one. So, when you consider that the richest companies’ revenue wise in 2017 had Royal Dutch Shell on 7th with 240 billion in revenue. Now consider that the entire Wilders situation is still playing in Pakistan, with escalations still opening up in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. So when you consider that Shell could get hit and those hits are translated to additional opportunities for Exxon, which country benefits that? In the end Exxon and Shell might up trading revenue places on that same list in 2019.

There are enough markers in all this, but no direct evidence, that is likely to be seen after it is too late. At that point what will Europe do? Wake up, or just let it slide? I will let you decide, just be aware that the impact will be the economy, it usually is the first one to take a body blow in such events.

 

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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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