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Brotherhood of Heineken

As we stepwise push forward towards 5G, we think that it all stays the same, it will not. A few parts will change forever. Google has an enormous advantage, yet they too are now pushing for different changes, changes that they had not seen coming a mere year ago. In this case there is no direct link to my IP, so I am happy to give you all the inns and outs of that part (pun intended).

To start this we need to consider a few sides, all with their own premise. The first is the focal point:

4G: Wherever I am
5G: Whenever I want it

That first premise is a large one, it is not a simple localisation part, it is all about getting access at a moment’s notice, yet what we need access to changes with the push we face. The initial part is the creation and the impact of awareness. As we re-distinguish ‘awareness’ the metrics on awareness will also change and for the first year (at the very least) market research companies on a global stage will be chasing the facts. They have become so reliant on dash boarding, Tableau, Q-view and Q Research Software will all have to re-engineer aspects of their software as they fall short. Even the larger players like SAS and IBM Statistics will require an overhaul in this market space. They have been ‘hiding’ behind the respondent, responses and their metrics for too long, the entire matter when the respondent becomes the passive part in awareness is new to them, and that is all it is, it will be new to them and the constructs that are behind the active and passive interactions will change the metrics, the view and the way we register things.

Google has the advantage, yet the stage for them will take a few turns too. Their initial revenue stream will change. Consider the amount of data we are passing now, that amount also links to the amount of ads we see. Now consider that everything in 5G is 10 times faster, yet 10 times more ads is not an option, so they now face revenue from 10% of the ads compared to what we see now. In addition to that, as we adjust our focus on the amounts we face implies that more advertisement space is optionally lost to the larger players like Google and this too impacts the stats for all involved. Google will adjust and change, in what way, I cannot tell yet, but the opposition is starting to become clear a in this example we see Heineken, a global established brand who now has the option to take the lead in 5G awareness.

Introducing

Ladies and gentleman, I am hereby introducing to you the Brotherhood of Heineken, in this fraternity / maternity, we invite all the lords and ladies of their household to become awareness creators towards their brand. In the Netherlands thousands are linked through a company like Havenstad and similar operations, this stretches through Europe and all over the place going global. These lords and ladies can earn points in the simplest thing, by setting a stage for Heineken to spread the message, we see that the initial power is with the consumer to support their brand. Awareness and clicks are converted to points and that leads to exclusive offers and rewards. Consider the unique stuff that Heineken has given to its professional public now for all to get, to buy and to earn. Bags, coolers, clothing, accessories. For decades we saw the materials created and most of us were envious of anyone who had that part others did not, now we could all earn it and because Heineken (Coca Cola too) have created such an arsenal, these players could take the lead in pushing their own awareness to new levels.

Now it is easy to say that Google is already doing this and that is partially true, but that equation will change under 5G and these really large brands could pay a fortune to Google or take the lead and create their own powerhouse and in this day and age that powerhouse will become more and more an essential need. Anyone not looking and preparing to this will hand over opinion and choice to Google and watch how that goes, yet consider that some sources gave us a quarter ago: “Google will remain the largest digital ad seller in the world in 2019, accounting for 31.1% of worldwide ad spending, or $103.73 billion“, now consider that they need to grow 20% quarter on quarter and that in two years that metric has changed and as such the ads could cost up to 30% more, now do the math on how YOU will survive in that environment.

Samsung, Proctor & Gamble, Coca Cola, Nike, Heineken, Sony, Microsoft will all face that premise and that is how it all changes. As we see that the metrics will have reduced reliability, the market research players will need time to adjust and in that lull a player like Heineken can create its own future and set its digital future in another direction to exceed their required expectations. This step seems short now, but as the stage alters it becomes an essential stage. Google may remain in denial and oppose that this will never happen, but the data and metrics are already suggesting this path and that is where we are now; the option to be first or pay the invoice, what would you do?

I believe that the visibility starts to get a little focal just before 2020 games, and it is in full view before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and in full swing by the time the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar starts. These two are close together and the people will pay through the nose for that visibility, especially the European parties in all this. I expect a more evolved 5G advertising stage via apps as well, seeing ads to unlock premium view and data is likely to happen, all this is coming to us and our view of advertisement will alter to a larger extent. We will be told that this will never happen, it is not how they work, yet they are deceiving and lying to us. Consider that change in the last 25 years alone, in 1994 advertisement through printed medium and TV was at an all-time high, they all claimed it remained this way, within 5 years that stage was already changing with online ads to some extent and the slowing of printed medium, in addition the international channels would push into national advertisement. A mere 5 years after that (in 2004) it started to take off in earnest and would increase revenue to over 100% in the 4 years that followed. Between 2005 and 2017 that would push from $6 billion to 26 billion, do you really think that their words holds true? To keep that growth and their need for greed the metrics and approach has to change, there is 0% chance that these players will accept a growth of data based impact of a mere 10% of what is was in 4G, there is too much riding on this.

For the largest players there is an alternative and it will not take long for them to set the stage to this and start finding their own solution to keep awareness as high as possible. If you have to pay through the nose to keep awareness or create the environment to reward achieved awareness, what path would you choose?

Let’s not forget players like Heineken did not get to the top by merely offering a really good product, they offered a lot more, a view, an awareness that all embraced; Sony learned that lesson the hard way by losing with a superior product against the inferior competition (Betamax versus VHS). 5G will set a similar yet new battle ground and for the most the media is seemingly steering clear for now.

That is with the nice exception of Marketing Interactive, who gives us (at https://www.marketing-interactive.com/going-beyond-the-big-idea-creative-leads-on-5gs-impact-on-advertising/) “There is no denying that the rollout of 5G will change storytelling and the consumer journey“, it is a true and utterly correct view. They also give us: “creatives need to evolve from old habits and stop hiding behind “the big idea”. “We, as creatives, need to evolve from old habits, stop hiding behind “The Big Idea” and evolve our creative process and creative structures to be based on this new digital reality, to create content based on this new innovative context“, this is the view from Joao Flores, head of creative, dentsu X Singapore and he is right. We also get “For agencies, the opportunity calls for unorthodox alliances to make sure our creativity is the beating heart of this quiet revolution“, which is true, but it ignores the alternative path where the largest players start getting this path in house and in light of the two revelations, we see that during the last decades players like Heineken had been doing just that and that makes them ready to take on the 5G behemoth and push the others into second place or worse. There is a need to have expertise and many do not have it, but in that Heineken has been different for the longest times. It is most likely due to the unique view that people like Freddie Heineken had on their market and consumers. You merely have to realise that they were the first to embrace ‘Geniet, maar drink met mate‘ (enjoy, temper your drinking) it was a slogan that came into play around 1990, as well as ‘Drink verantwoord. Geniet meer‘ (drink responsibly, enjoy it more). All pushes to set a better stage, it is there that we see that a new push could be produced by players like Heineken.

We see so many more paths opening, but in all this the one overwhelming side is not what paths there are, but the stage of metrics that they all rely on, as such having control on the expenses as well as the foundation to create a reliable stage for their metrics will be a first soon enough. Not merely: ‘Who is your population?‘, it is the stage where the passive and active awareness can be differentiated on, that too will push advertisements and the applied visibility through 5G apps and 5G advertising and how the funds are spent, that will be the question that impacts player like Google Ads on the next 24 months, because if they do not do that, their quarter on quarter growth will suddenly take a very different spin, and they are not the only ones affected.

 

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The biggest issue

The Guardian has given us several articles, by themselves there is nothing strange there (well there is), yet it is when we look at them together that an image starts to form. It is united that the larger problem becomes visible and the fact that a larger group is not catching up to this is a worry.

The first one is ‘Greta Thunberg hits back at Andrew Bolt for ‘deeply disturbing’ column‘, which happened less than 12 hours ago (at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/02/greta-thunberg-hits-back-at-andrew-bolt-for-deeply-disturbing-column), then we get ‘Revealed: Johnson ally’s firm secretly ran Facebook propaganda network‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/01/revealed-johnson-allys-firm-secretly-ran-facebook-propaganda-network), as well as ‘Brexit, cycle lanes and Saudi Arabia: CTF’s Facebook campaigns‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/01/brexit-cycle-lanes-and-saudi-arabia-ctfs-facebook-campaigns). Now let’s start up that on the whole nothing wrong was done by the Guardian. They reported and we can agree that reporting is what the Guardian does. Yet the larger issue is not what they do, it is what we are not getting that becomes the issue.

It starts with the Houthi attack on Dammam with missiles, a missile attack on a civilian target, Al Jazeera informs its audience, but the Guardian is not there. Bloomberg, the Guardian, basically the Western Media are all shunning it, yet they go to lengths to waste paper on the issues that “Women in Saudi Arabia will no longer need the permission of a male guardian to travel“, however the BBC did report on ‘Houthi missile attack on military parade kills 32‘, where we are told that “The parade in the southern port city of Aden was targeted by missiles and an armed drone, a Houthi-run TV channel says“, yet it seems that it was limited to the BBC, the near complete Western Media ignored that one too.

Now, I can accept that plenty of people are no fan of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, yet to shun attacks that cost lives is new, they all group together to give accusations without evidence (that journalist no one cares about), yet actual events are shunned. It is a new level of discrimination, it is political discrimination, where unwelcome groups are given exposure when it can be tilted to the negative side of the seesaw and the more negative it gets, the larger the exposure.

Now, let’s get back to the first article, because that is seemingly not linked. With the Quote “The widely read Herald Sun columnist and Sky News commentator used his significant platform to take aim at the 16-year-old campaigner, dismissing her followers as members of a cult and disparaging her decision to sail across the Atlantic in a high-speed racing yacht to attend UN climate summits in the US and Chile“, as well as: “The highly personal character assassination published in Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids repeatedly referred to Greta’s mental health, saying she was “deeply disturbed”, “freakishly influential” and “strange”“, yet in all this, we see no exposure on how that information was acquired.

As I personally see it The editor of the Herald Sun, Damon Johnston, as well as his fucked up sidekick Andrew Bolt did something in addition, is it the small part “the evidence does not suggest that humanity faces doom“, all that to hide the smallest snippet to oppose the environment. It actually gets more interesting, that is when we consider the case that Justice Bromberg presided over. When we consider “Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt and his employer Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp clearly violated the Racial Discrimination Act“, we could argue that he could face court again in this case. When the case was judged and we get: ‘The lack of care and diligence is demonstrated by the inclusion in the newspaper articles of the untruthful facts and the distortion of the truth which I have identified, together with the derisive tone, the provocative and inflammatory language and the inclusion of gratuitous asides‘, we see the chance that history might repeat itself. The article (at https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/andrew-bolt-continues-on-about-adam-goodes,12947) gives a lot more, what is key here that the Guardian exposes it and that is good, I have no issues with it. Yet it also shows the lengths that Murdoch media goes through to set the stage in one place, whilst other parts are seemingly intentionally ignored. Perhaps some of you remember the mental health escalation at Martin Place in 2014. Rupert Murdoch acted personally and the responses like ‘Rupert Murdoch’s Response To The Martin Place Siege Is As Tasteless As You’d Expect‘, as we were given: “AUST gets wake-call with Sydney terror. Only Daily Telegraph caught the bloody outcome at 2.00 am. Congrats“, it seems to me that bloodshed are his bread and butter, it also is seemingly implied that as long as it is not Saudi Blood, Rupert Murdoch has no issues. Some gave us: “the hostage situation as the work of an IS “Death Cult CBD Attack”, something we labelled at the time – and will continue to do so – as one of “the most vile, deliberately inflammatory, fundamentally wrong and wholly speculative front covers in the sordid history of Australian print media“, all whilst from the beginning, within a few hours it should have been clear that not only were the journalists not doing their job, the issues that in the beginning, hostages were seen holding an Islamic black flag against the window of the café, featuring the shahadah creed. It was wrongly identified by the media and the part where Monis later demanded that an ISIL flag be brought to him should have been clear that this was not a terrorist, at the most a wannabe, and more viable a person with mental health issues, but as I personally see it, Murdoch and Channel 7 were all about milking the event as much as possible.

At what point is journalism about milking?

The fact that this was buried as fast as possible is another part where we see a mingling of political discrimination, racial discrimination and religious discrimination and no one is telling Murdoch in clear language that it needs to stop.

The other two

Ok, it becomes essential to get to the deeper side of the pool here. First of all, there is a larger setting that has not settled. The accusation is twofold. The first is actually the one that does not work for the campaign players. It is also reported by CNN through ‘Facebook announces first takedown of influence campaign with ties to Saudi government‘, even as we accept “covert campaigns on Facebook and Instagram in a bid to prop up support for the kingdom and attack its enemies“, CNN et al are not reporting on the media blackout that is pushed out towards Saudi Arabia either. So anything that makes Saudi Arabia look like an attacked victim is suppressed, whilst actions by Saudi Arabia are spun to its most negative path and spattered over all media and all social media. Yet as the article gives us: “Facebook has hired staff with backgrounds in areas including intelligence, law enforcement and journalism to be part of a team finding and closing down coordinated campaigns on the platform, including some spreading disinformation and linked to nation-states“, it is equally absent in the case of “bogus mainly far-right disinformation networks were not identified by Facebook — but had been reported to it by campaign group Avaaz — which says the fake pages had more Facebook followers and interactions than all the main EU far right and anti-EU parties combined“, so we get one group with a following of 13 million in the past three months, with a following larger than all the European main party pages of the far right combined. Yet in all that, Saudi Arabia was specifically mentioned (they also illuminated the false pages of Iran). It is shown in a larger degree with: “Avaaz reported more than 500 suspicious pages and groups to Facebook related to the three-month investigation of Facebook disinformation networks in Europe. Though Facebook only took down a subset of the far right muck-spreaders — around 15% of the suspicious pages reported to it“. The fact that Facebook only took down subsets that represents 15% of the reported pages shows that there is a larger degree of political discrimination in play and even as some are overly clear, that larger extent shows that Social Media is optionally promoting to some degree the survival of Racial Discrimination, Political Discrimination, Religious Discrimination and Age Discrimination.

It is the revelation of: “vote manipulators are able to pass off manipulative propaganda and hate speech as bona fide news and views as a consequence of Facebook publishing the fake stuff alongside genuine opinions and professional journalism. It does not have algorithms that can perfectly distinguish one from the other, and has suggested it never will“, it is at this point where the realisation grows, when we add the two elements and we add the fact that the media is filtering what we are ‘allowed’ to know, it is there where the larger failing becomes clear, it is the axial and the seesaw of illumination of the view that opposes clear news, the media is now part of the problem. And it is there where we see the wisdom of TechCrunch with: “loud Facebook publicity effort around “election security” looks like a cynical attempt to distract the rest of us from how broken its rules are. Or, in other words, a platform that accelerates propaganda is also seeking to manipulate and skew our views“, it is merely part of the issue, it is not merely Facebook, it is the Media to a larger degree, their alliance is towards the Shareholders, the Stake holders and the advertisers, in that the larger issue is seen, those who advertise are optionally the controllers of what we see is possible, and that is where the truth is pushed out of view. It is seen in one final swoop when we consider the key word “Neom City“, a project like that, a project initially designed to be well over 30 times the size of New York, a project that has well over half a trillion dollars, set to construction, engineering and IT, should be on the front page of EVERY Newspapers, yet when you seek, you get Bloomberg last January (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-16/saudi-arabia-to-begin-building-homes-in-futuristic-city-neom) and Business Insider in October 2018 (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/jamal-khashoggi-saudi-arabia-neom-megacity-2018-10?r=US&IR=T). The view that is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan is silenced to death and that started before the journalist no one cares about vanished. In addition a new bridge that will connect Saudi Arabia to Africa is kept silent. In this day and age how does that make sense? I am looking at billions in 5G revenue in Neom City alone, as well as the underlying infrastructure required, opening a much larger need for the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, all ready to be set to a much larger stage (when the first phase region is a fact), yet the media is more about the rumours of the PS5 which is well over a year away with 6,940,000 mentions, and that makes partly sense, it is about awareness and creating hype, so when we see in the Guardian “the latest revelations reveal that the company has pursued that approach more broadly, in the service of previously unreported corporate interests and foreign governments. And they expose a major flaw in Facebook’s political transparency tools, which make it possible for Crosby’s company – which boasts on its website that it deploys “the latest tools in digital engagement” – to use the social network to run professional-looking “news” pages reaching tens of millions of people on highly contentious topics“, so if it is about ‘provoking argument‘, we should see nothing wrong as Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft rely on that part 24:7. If it is about ‘involving heated argument‘, we still see no issue as this is Sony versus Nintendo versus Microsoft, as this has been the media bread and butter for close to 7 years and more. When we look at the ‘likely to cause an argument‘, almost nothing changes. It is the part I did not mention “without apparently disclosing that they are being overseen by CTF Partners on behalf of paying clients“, where we need to question the use of ‘apparently‘, is it or is it not mentioned? The Guardian did or did not do their job becomes the issue and yes, we can see ‘on behalf of paying clients‘, and how does that differ from Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Nespresso and a whole league of others? They are all in it for the money, the awareness and the creation of viral messages, over-hyped and often way too short on facts. That part is not given to us either and it is there where we see the interactions of layers of discrimination and ‘misinformation’ that is usually brought as ‘missed information’, I would personally see it as an exercise in ‘miscommunication’ and it has been happening for a much longer time. So when we get from the Guardian: “employees always operate within the law”, and if they take to the bank the task of giving positive visibility to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is there an actual issue here?

The biggest issue is that we see the information that “It does not have algorithms that can perfectly distinguish fake news from the other, and has suggested it never will“, whilst the underlying issue is that what is not fake news is not that trustworthy either, it is limited to the filtering of shareholders, stakeholders and advertisers and Facebook has no clue what to do, they to relay on those three groups. The news for the longest time never gave us that part. As I see it people like Greta Thunberg will never get a fair deal here, not as long as people like Andrew Bolt keep on being regarded as Journalists. That part is seen when we see: “the evidence does not suggest that humanity faces doom” all whilst that statement is not scrutinised to the largest degree. The opposition to that claim can be seen in the simplest sentence by World Vision, their quote: “Globally, 844 million people lack access to clean drinking water” gives the goods, close to 10% of the population of this planet lacks access to clean drinking water. When we consider that a person can only survive a few days without water. How much danger is the population exposed to, does that qualify as doom facing? How many must die before the ‘humanity faces doom‘ is satisfied? It seems trivial, but it is not, that same media that ignores attacks on Saudi Arabia, that does not report on Houthi transgressions, acts of terror and other events also ignores Yemeni plight for water, food and medication to a much larger degree. So the question becomes a simple one, give us the list of parameters that must be placed on staging or dismounting the accusation that ‘humanity faces doom‘, when we realise that there is a larger collection of evidence, we merely have to set that stage to those elements. I am not stating that Greta Thunberg is right or wrong, yet we can look and accept that Andrew Bolt and his so called opinion piece on Greta Thunberg should be seen as triviality towards journalism and that does matter, because if that is allowed to continue, Facebook will never solve anything, as such the only way to solve it is to push media deliverers like Andrew Bolt into the ‘Fake News’ category so that we might find a solution. The fact that SBS called it an opinion piece and the Guardian did not is the larger failing, any opinion piece, especially those in newspapers, digital or not should be clearly labelled as such like [opinion piece] before the text begins, identifying those pieces will also change the way that they are perceived and we might get a better quality of journalism. When writers get $100 for an opinion piece and $200 for an actual journalistic piece (researched and all), the matter might resolve itself soon enough.

 

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Exposing lies?

We are confronted with lies all the time, the CIA (who is truly gifted in the act) uses it to spread all kinds of discourse, but that is their operandus mondi, so we are not surprised. Yet now we are confronted that these tactics have been embraced by both the FBI and the Pentagon. And it is not my source; it is an American source that gives us this part.

To get to the heart of the matter, we will have to borrow a TARDIS and do some time-travel (a valid Dr Who reference). During this trip we will not be looking at apples and oranges, but we will be investigating fruit, and this has all the bearings on the case.

Trip one

Let’s travel back to November 24th, 2014. It is a sunny day at Sony Square New York, 21 degrees, nice and relaxing weather. It had all the marks of it being a lovely day, were it not that someone decided to hack Sony and they did it, not only did they do it, they left all the markers blaming North Korea. The FBI send their cyber experts and behold, they too agreed that it was North Korea. Even as we were extremely aware that they had no way of doing it, the FBI stood firm on their findings.

Trip two

We are pushing the envelope and stopping at 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. We are given “North Korea’s offensive cyber capabilities” and we see Randall Schriver, a top Pentagon official and all the ‘so called’ expressionistic ideas on how North Korea is the big nasty, the large danger and the big hacker. In addition to this the Financial times gives us (at https://www.ft.com/content/cbb28ab8-8ce9-11e9-a24d-b42f641eca37) “Pyongyang controls an army of thousands of hackers who bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually, according to experts’ estimates“, which was given to us in June 2019.

Into the Heart of Darkness

It was only hours ago that we were given the first light of truth by the Washington Post. To give you that we need to change the topic to fruit and not apples or oranges. You might realise that to get ahead, you need to be ahead. Unless you build a system yourself, you need access to a system of equal quality to hack into a place. Unless you have the passcodes (current password = Inc0rrect%) and inner workings, you cannot hack past the Pentagon Cray, it is close to impossible to do with even the most updated equipment and North Korea is well over a decade behind. It is defended by firewalls and other encrypted matters. Sony is not that advanced, yet still has a lovely set of firewalls and other means to limit access. Yet North Korea, with technology that was considered advanced in 1990, was nothing of the sort a decade before they hacked Sony. In addition, certain access methods or planting of other abilities would have required 4G mastery, a mastery that they do not have. The digital footprint does not match up and it is there that the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/leaked-documents-reveal-huaweis-secret-operations-to-build-north-koreas-wireless-network/2019/07/22/583430fe-8d12-11e9-adf3-f70f78c156e8_story.html) is giving us the goods.

So as we are given: “Before 2008, North Korea struggled to find multinational companies willing to build a 3G network in such a risky business environment. That ended with the creation of the wireless provider Koryolink, which emerged from a discreet visit in 2006 by Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, to Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China” this is the first piece of evidence, 6 years before the hack North Korea did not have access to 3G, it was not there, as such the knowhow of hacking would have been severely limited. In addition to this we need to consider “Alexandre Mansourov, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, who in 2011 wrote about North Korea’s digital transformation. “They decided to work with Huawei from that time on.”” gives us that in 3 years that stage was not surpassed, or even achieved. The paper by Mansourov also gives: “less than 3 percent of the population currently use modern telecommunication services, it has adequately trained human capital, a rather developed industrial and technological base, and sufficient financial resources to pursue the digital revolution to the benefit of the majority“, which now implies that the fall back is actually a lot larger. If they truly had a ‘rather developed industrial and technological base‘, then they would be the oranges that need not rely on Huawei, yet they are technologically speaking merely apples, they are both fruit, but on a different shelf, a lower shelf and that is where we see the technology fail (especially in North Korea). In his paper we also see: “Because the cell phones connect to Chinese cell phone towers it is difficult for the North Korean government to eavesdrop on the calls, but it does mean use is restricted to the border area“, this implies that the limitations in North Korea are actually larger and as such knowledge is more limited. that last part came from ““How Chinese Cell Phones Help Information Flow,” Martyn Williams, 1 April 2010” which was 4 years before the hack, there is no way for any nation to evolve their technology level in that amount of time without having billions, as well as all the technology available for installation and implementation. Which was never the case, North Korea is hardly on the 3G path keeping them a decade behind everyone else.

Fruit, Apples and Oranges

So even if I am looking at fruit, looking at mobile technology versus hackers is like setting apples against oranges, yet the larger truth remains, a hacker cannot surpass certain levels of access if they lack access to the current generation of technology and that is where we see the flaw in all this. To have antiquated equipment access the Sony mainframe calls for all kind of issues as the access requires speed, and if you rely on old technology there is a limit to what you can get. For example getting a 4TB drive for a PlayStation 3 is bogus as it cannot address the complete drive, so when you look at it from that path, you lack the ability to store all that data and Sony was all about data. More important, if the skill to get behind a 4G system is not there, there was not even 3G, how can you get into the hack? Now we might rely on normal lines, but the flaw is already shown, you need a larger comprehension of technology and telecommunication to proceed and North Korea is stated that it could not get 3G without Huawei; at that point we should recognise that it could not get into Sony. If they actually had done that, then they would have been able to design and build their own 4G (which would still be half a decade too late), but that would be the premise. That absence gives us that the Washington Post, who also gives us: “According to a 2008 contract, Panda would transport Huawei equipment to Dandong, a town in northeastern China known for cross-border trade. From there, it would be taken by rail into Pyongyang“, as well as “In spring 2008, Orascom and Korea Post tasked Huawei with developing an encryption protocol for the network, noting that the government would create its own encryption algorithm, according to the documents” this much larger stage does not absolve Huawei (it is not about that), but the fact that encryption protocols were not in existence implies a delay of at least 2-3 years to get their 3G up and running, the entire matter would have given North Korea less than 2 years to get trained to the levels required to visit the Sony Server and become an actual cyber threat. There is no realistic chance that this would be the case and again, when we consider the press visit to North Korea (somewhere in 2012) where the Dutch press learned that their high ranking escorts had no idea of what a smartphone was, that alone gives a lot more insight in the technological limitations of North Korea and its army.

There is no doubt that North Korea would love to be an actual threat, but when it cannot comprehend 3G to the degree it needs and it has no 4G, how is North Korea an actual threat? I believe that Sony was hacked by someone else, there is also enough valid intelligence to see that those people would love to do business with North Korea, yet the entire matter connected to Huawei implies that North Korea is missing several links on the chain of telecom cleverness, the reigns of the horse of innovation and the armour of progress is all rusty, heavy and useless. In this stage the North Korean cavalry might be the most advanced they had but it still does not match up what other nations have had access to from the late 1800 onwards, when you realise the difference to that degree, do you still believe that North Korea could have been the hackers?

That is seen when we look at ‘The Hill’ in 2017. There we get North Korea and the quote: “Today, when warfare can include the operational use of nuclear weapons, the cumulative consequences of underestimating “friction” could be exponentially more serious. This conclusion is true by definition and thus, thoroughly incontestable” yet when we see in a 4G world that North Korea has not even mastered 3G to the degree it needs, we see a shift of needs, needs that are all about the consultants charging their overexposed ego’s by the hour, whilst we see a lack of evidence on the abilities towards the dangers that we are seemingly exposed to. In that regard the FBI and the pentagon has played into the hands towards consultants like Randall Schriver, yet the actual evidence (implied to be) as we now see in the Washington Post gives us another picture, one that bounces against earlier accusations and speculations. March 27th, 2019 C-Span gives us the premise that China and North Korea are set together as a threat, yet the overbearing accepted evidence shows that the division sets the stage where China is 99% the threat and North Korea a mere 1%, yet together is nice to bump the budget. So far no actual or factual evidence has been shown where North Korea is an actual cyber power. As I personally see it, even the NY Times is in on it.

When we are given: Their track record is mixed, but North Korea’s army of more than 6,000 hackers is undeniably persistent, and undeniably improving, according to American and British security officials who have traced these attacks and others back to the North“, as well as “North Korean hackers tried to steal $1 billion from the New York Federal Reserve last year, only a spelling error stopped them“, and “only sheer luck enabled a 22-year-old British hacker to defuse the biggest North Korean cyber-attack to date“. when we are confronted with ‘spelling error‘ and ‘sheer luck‘ we are sold a bag of goods, the fact that North Korea is at the most about 3G, we see the lack of certain abilities. If these hackers were that good, than their abilities would have been to acquire all the technology that we have full access to and that has seemingly not happened. In any war we acquire the weapons to be an equal footing, or more advanced footing, von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu taught us that. You do not rely on the flintlock when the opposition is walking with a 7.62mm MAG. The accusation (also from the NY Times) “the country is suspected of having thousands of hackers capable of carrying out global cyber-attacks, like the recent ransomware attack in more than 150 countries” gives us that they are a large threat and this is only possible with a large established infrastructure. That is seemingly not the case so as we ponder ‘suspected‘ we see the speculated inflated danger that North Korea is, and until today, until the Washington Post gave us the article, that part was too eagerly accepted.

There is no doubt that there are hackers in North Korea, but as the technology shows, they are fighting with one hand on the back wearing a blindfold. It does not make them less dangerous, but it also implies that the events that have taken place were done by others and as such the cyber operatives trying to stop it are not merely failing, they are at present completely unaware who they are actually up against and that is the sad part of this story. after all the billions they got they are still clueless in the dark, a sad story that only came to light as the Washington Post gave us: ‘Leaked documents reveal Huawei’s secret operations to build North Korea’s wireless network‘, seemingly a 3G network no less. And even there we have no evidence at present. That part is given through: “Since then, any company to provide Panda with telecom items intended for North Korea and containing at least 10 percent U.S.-origin content without a license would be in violation of the export ban”, so not only is there a question on one side, the lack of evidence at present gives rise to a lot more issues and that makes for such a sad situation at present.

 

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The wider field

There is a wider field, the field is ignored by many because it overlaps in several ways and most people (read: media) tend to stare at one element. We can argue whether it is bad or good, but it does mean that the bulk of the information is not there. To get this view we need to look at several sources. First we get the International Business Times, they give us two headlines. The first is ‘Samsung Expecting Profits Slump For Q2‘ as well as ‘Huawei Ban Helps Company Earn More‘, in one way we get an increase of revenue due to the Huawei events in the US, yet there is still a Q2 slump. There are several plays that apply, but it is not about the play as such. The firs realisation is that 5G is currently being ‘advertised as here‘ by several players and at present there is an increased question on which phone is 4G and/or 5G and most people are holding off on phones this year until that field has a better view on what is available. Most people cannot afford to buy a new phone when some new models are $1800, most people cannot afford a step like that and being tied to any provider at present is an increasingly bad step to make. Even as Huawei is 20% cheaper, it remains a lot of money, and the Google (Android) issues are still there, so people are hesitant. I might have committed myself to Huawei, but that is in part because I renewed my phone in the beginning of the year, so it has to last me 2-3 more years (I have principles towards blatantly buying new phones) and I am happy with my phone.

then there is the new stage hat is now evolving when we see CNN Business give us (at https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/04/tech/huawei-us-ban/index.html) ‘US government asks judge to dismiss Huawei lawsuit‘, they are rightfully scared because the claim: “Huawei had filed the lawsuit in March, arguing that a law preventing US federal agencies from buying its products violates the US constitution by singling out an individual or group for punishment without trial” is almost a given, the US government made sure that every media outlet on the planet took great painstaking effort in illuminating that and now it becomes the anchor attached to their legs as they have to swim across the Pacific river (or Atlantic river). If the case goes through and discrimination is proven, the impact will be monumental, especially as no evidence was ever brought forward and if we are a nation of laws, the impact will be large, moreover, at present Huawei is still growing its pool of 5G contracts and should the Case fall on the side of Huawei, the impact on Europe will be much larger, it could signal a much larger run on trying to get a quick deal with Huawei, not because they are nice people (they optionally are), but because Huawei 5G equipment is more advanced and all the telecom players know this. Ericsson and Nokia fear that side, they had a good run due to the escalations, but Huawei is still on par to have well over 50% of 5G by themselves and that is what the US fears, that large a disadvantage because its pool of CEO’s and CTO’s were increasingly stupid, flaccid and complacent in an age where pushing innovation was essential.

The issue is not out of the room yet because there is the larger issue that everyone has not been looking at. There is still the Google issue around Android. Consider that Huawei’s Oak OS is now 60 days away from release, it is the start where people who were initially ‘forced’ to dump Android, they now will be part of the Oak OS group, a data core that involves millions from adding data to the Oak servers and no more to the Google servers. The impact seems small, but it impacts the US to a much larger degree, this stance has given China a much larger boost than ever possible. For the users it will only be a temporary setback, as apps will be supported through Oak/OS, these players will continue, yet the overhaul as people push away from android is much larger than the interaction of IOS versus Android. Consider what you need. The bulk of all android apps we use will almost immediately be available, leaving us with optionally some issues regarding LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Now there is a new stage where Chinese options could be considered and for the most when we can address who we need, we might not care on where we are. The idea that advertisements might initially fall away will be a massive reason to do that. I am certain that there will be a Facebook Oak and LinkedIn Oak, the rest remains open, the usage is huge but that too might be a reason to try something new, people love new things, especially if it comes with cool additions and new we see a different stage, it is not the US that matters, it is whether China has options that appeal to India and Europe, these three represent 3 billion people and there is the data crunch, they will not all go the Chinese solution, but even 10% would be massive, it would be a an intense gut punch to Google, more important over time as word of mouth make more people switch, the damage will increase for Google. Make no mistake, it will merely impact the total, it will not sink Google, it is too large, but in light of their predictions when they have 20% less data points to make predictions with, granularity becomes an issue for the professional side and there too there will be an impact, Chinese app owners will have their own digital advertisement agenda and business dictates that you cannot ignore that population, so budgets will be shortened to cover an audience as large as possible.

All that because of the Huawei ban, which was shown to be short-sighted from the very beginning. Consider that we were given in June: “Huawei can no longer pre-install Facebook apps on its smartphones after Facebook fell into line with a US ban on exporting software“, now consider that suddenly millions are offered a pre-installed WeChat and they are willing to try it, the impact on Facebook will be seen in less than 60 days, the fact that Facebook had been playing games with its mobile users for a much longer time will also entice users to give it a try. Not all will stay, but some will and the dimension of ‘some’ will imply a drop of Facebook of several million user. In addition we see “Chinese users spend an average of over 70 minutes a day within the app. All this makes it one of the most popular choices for businesses looking to get started with social media marketing in China“, yes it was overwhelmingly Chinese, yet in the shift it will now have optional access to a large Indian and European following. In addition the shift we optionally see when we realise: “WeChat allows for one-to-one personalized interaction between brands and users. This allows brands to communicate directly with their followers through the messaging functions on their account. This also allows brands to provide customer service directly through their WeChat account. It’s due to this reason that many companies in China don’t even operate traditional websites instead of focusing their efforts on constantly improving their WeChat official accounts” direct granularity towards the user, not mass marketing, but adjusted marketing for the individual, and then consider players like Tableau, Salesforce (now one and the same), SAP, Sony and Microsoft all wanting to address the person, not the masses, do you think that they will ignore this group of users? These people invest hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a day towards addressing their growing need of users, all revenue that is soon lost to Apple and Google. It goes beyond merely Facebook; Twitter and Snapchat, all have a Chinese version that now has the option to surpass (read: close the gap) towards their competitors. Surpass is perhaps the wrong word, the fact that people will consider the alternative in the immediate is a risk for these players, it sets the dangers of schools of users to switch to another pond, so those fishing for ads, visibility and awareness, they will all have to adjust the way they operate. There now are now only two parts where I have no idea how it will play out. Youku Tudou is the Chinese version of YouTube, but YouTube is so strongly placed that I have no idea how that will go, the same for LinkedIn. these are the two we cannot predict, no one can, but if they remain absent from Oak/OS something will have to budge, the question becomes how much do you need LinkedIn to be on your smartphone when you can just catch up daily at home, or in the office. I personally do not believe that its equivalent Maimai will be embraced as strongly as Maimai would hope, but that is my speculation on the matter.

Only YouTube as it is and remains the behemoth of Google, is too strong an app to ignore, it is too strongly desired, especially on smartphones, some might give Youku Tudou a try, but the library of YouTube increases with 300 hours of material every minute, there is no real competing with that, no matter how you slice that. There is no denial that their Chinese competitor will grow, but there the impact is less than a mosquito bite for YouTube, it is perhaps the one part of Google that no one seemingly can be without.

Is there another side?

Well there is always the option that everything in Google will be accessible on Huawei phones and that is for Google the best solution, but at present that part is just not a given, and when many Huawei smartphones are between 20%-40% cheaper, they will have an advantage and only because of US stupidity that impact is now optionally becoming much larger. And now the shift is changing faster, the Observer gave us on Saturday ‘UK mobile operators ignore security fears over Huawei 5G‘, when we consider the quote “The Observer understands that Huawei is already involved in building 5G networks in six of the seven cities in the UK where Vodafone has gone live. It is also helping build hundreds of 5G sites for EE, and has won 5G contracts to build networks for Three and O2 when they go live“, we see how things are escalating away from the US. the massive part in all this is “a firm line against the company amid claims, strongly denied, that it is controlled by the Chinese government and that its equipment could be used to spy on other countries and companies” all from the point of view that clear evidence was never provided and the commercial corporations need to remain on top or drown and that was the larger flaw the US never seemingly understood (or blatantly ignored). Yet the other side also matter, as the numbers are given: “The consultancy Assembly suggests a partial to full restriction on Huawei could result in an 18-to-24-month delay to the widespread availability of 5G in the UK. The UK would then fail to become a world leader in 5G – a key government target – costing the economy between £4.5bn and £6.8bn” (source: the Guardian). People tend to get nervous at a loss of millions, so the loss of £4,000,000,000 plus is something that can start cardiac arrests all over the telecom boardrooms. More important as Huawei is still ’embraced’ in Germany, the German players will get the upper hand over other European players giving a larger technological shift. The final straw was the consideration of “They have taken note of what happened last December when the O2 4G network went down for 24 hours due to problems with technology provided by the Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson“, a danger as this was 4G technology that should have been clear and non-problematic, now consider that this happened to established technology, so what optional risks are Ericsson users exposed to when in involves 5G, a technology that Nokia and Ericsson is still trying to figure out?

In all this, Huawei has not stopped adding pressure. Now that we see that less than 24 hours ago we were notified that Huawei has completed the contracts with Msheireb Properties. It seems small and insignificant, but it is not. With a smart experience centre in Qatar, it is my expectations that they are ready to approach and upgrade Al Jazeera to 5G, it is speculative but it will be the first time that Al Jazeera surpasses CNN technology (as well a Fox News), It might not matter to most of us, but to people like Nasser Al-Khelaifi (beIN Media Group) it matters a lot, so when we are informed that Al Jazeera getting ready to offer 5G streaming during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Huawei as a Chinese company is mentioned everywhere in Tokyo, you better believe that these two are on top of making this work as fast and as quickly as possible, so when I created my base station IP, I never considered this, but it fits and that is another notch that some miss out on. Half the planet goes nuts for sports on a regular day, how nuts do you think the planet goes when ‘their nation‘ is fighting its fight (against up to 205 other nations) to be the best at the Olympics? When you get to watch that live, streaming it all at 5G, do you really think that people will care who brings it as long as it is true 5G? In several nations the brand jump was huge when 4G became real and some were not up to scrap, I believe that this time around the jump will be close to 300% larger than before, and the Tokyo Olympics will be a clear driver on that part. When 206 nations fight for the laurels (gold medals) every nationally driven sports fan tends to get a little (read: abundantly) nuts, and at present that group of people is well over 3 billion people, all factors some players did not consider when they were playing the short game, Huawei never played the short game, it gives them an advantage in several ways.

That is merely my view on the situation at present.

 

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Games and more

Yes, the E3 is upon us, it is now mere hours away and anyone who is into gaming will be hyped to see what comes. It might be about their franchise, it might be about a maker, or it will be a little more generic. No matter how we slice it the next 4 days will be about that is likely to come, what will be hyped and let’s not forget the giveaways, free DLC codes and optionally the speculated hardware.

What makes the headline?

It is important to see the headline in this, and the headline is Google Stadia. We see several sources giving us information, yet the direct impact is there and it is less positive than one might gather. Let’s look at two quotes, first there is Techradar giving us: “A world in which all you ever have to do to start gaming is open up your browser, select a game and start playing – no lengthy download required. This could soon become a reality if Google’s cloud gaming service, Stadia, delivers on its promises – you’ll be able to go from opening a Chrome tab to playing a 4K, 60fps game, in five seconds, no installation required“, this seems awesome, yet I have been around long enough in this business to notice that when someone states ‘look left’ I also ‘look right’. So when I look to the right, I see PC Gamer giving us ‘Stadia 4K streaming will use up 1TB of data in 65 hours‘ and that is not a good thing. Now, we all accept that gaming takes power and resources, yet 4K gaming in a setting where in some countries that could set you back $1,000 per month is not something you want to consider. Here in Australia (no Google Stadia coming here for now), a person pays (when it is not unlimited) $10 per GB, so that adds up really fast in a non-unlimited contract stage, yet with unlimited there has been noise that above a certain usage the download speed gets throttled, so there could optionally be that risk to consider.

Before we start crying, there is the additional info given with “That works out to around 15.75GB per hour of 4K streaming, 9GB per hour of 1080p, or 4.5GB per hour at 720p“, when you have a 1TB contract, which is a lot, you get 65 hours, 110 hours, or 227 hours of gaming. So options 2 and three should be fine, it is a reality to face that 4K gaming is not immediately available for usage for all, and that is beside the setting whether you have a 4K TV or not.

Gizmodo

Gizmodo was a lot less positive (at https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/06/is-stadia-already-screwed/), and when we see: “We have an updated guidance here,” he said. “You actually need 10 Mbps to stream at least 720p, but actually, it could be higher depending on specific details of the kind of network situation or your game. And then to comfortably stream 4K—the best experience—we recommend 35Mbps.” It takes out all the wireless 4G players, they can pretty much forget about it and even in the lowest mode there will be issues, even if you are with a major Australian player like Optus, it is the direct impact of bandwidth and it is likely to remain an issue in the foreseeable future, yet only until you get 5G, at that point speed is no longer an issue, total usage might remain, but that is depending on the providers and no one has any clear information at present which makes sense for now.

The writer gives us: “as long as it’s streaming over a broken internet, it’s fucked” at the very end, which is only a truth for today, and even then it is still only a partial truth. Google has been playing the long game for enough time to know that anyone getting 5G will seriously consider Google Stadia, especially Online players in MMO games. It gets to be even better when you consider the Verge who has the list (at https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/6/18655380/google-stadia-games-list-cloud-streaming-service-e3-2019), It includes the newest games as well as other games like DOOM Eternal, Rage 2, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Final Fantasy XV, Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, NBA 2K, Borderlands 3, Mortal Kombat 11, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Just Dance, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Trials Rising, and The Crew 2. I believe that to be a decent start of any service. There is a little too much uncertainty on pricing; one source gave me $10 per month for a pro license, which is not outlandish when you consider the game list. In addition Google Stadia has started its own game development studio, headed by Jade Raymond. A well-known producer who has earned her marks at both EA and Ubisoft.

In this regard, I believe it might be seen as a rocky start, but not a fatal one, in the long run Google is now set up to remain a force to be reckoned with. I also disagree with the view that Forbes has. Paul Tassi gives us trivialisation like ‘this offers something like Microsoft’s Game Pass the ability to eat Stadia’s lunch‘, which is true, yet Microsoft never fixed their problems, did they? Not in 6 years, and as he gives us: “While Google is indeed starting to develop its own games in-house, it could take years for those to arrive, and there’s absolutely zero guarantee of their quality when they do“, this is true too, yet the failing of quality by Ubisoft has been noted for years, what has he done about it to illustrate that? And when we saw the lack of Microsoft exclusives last year, the mention of ‘their lengthy roster of must-have exclusives‘ should be regarded as work in progress. That few to none part is easily rectified, and even the PS4 had loads of long delays for some of their games and exclusives, with the Ubisoft Watchdogs the delay was long enough to get your wife pregnant and still not being able to play the game until the child was born, so pot and kettle are both utensils of a similar colour in this setting.

Then we get the last overstated statement with: “but with 200 million consoles sold every year and untold number of gaming PCs“, I wonder how he got those numbers, over 6 years Sony sold 93 million consoles, Microsoft is on that same stage at 41 million at best and Nintendo in 2 years got to 34 million, so his math is in the toilet as well, unless he includes the handhelds which is a skewed finding, still there the 200 milllion a year will not be reached, not even close.

I believe that Google is an early starter in a stage where Microsoft hoped to get their Scarlett (whatever they named it in 2018) system, I am not sure it has a real chance, but I have been wrong before, it might work, Google on the other hand still has a lot to learn and optional plenty of promises to break, time will tell where they go, but there is space to succeed, especially when 5G arrives at homes it is then that Google Stadia truly gets an option to earn its laurels, and it is likely to do so.

There is a part that matters, Paul rightfully asks the question: “it’s hard to know how this actually poses a threat to traditional industry staples like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft“, it does not as such, but Google has the option to grow on the side, the fact that many consoles have online and multiplayer issues (mostly due to the software), we see the setting where this failing falls away (having to download massive patches again and again will not be an issue for the Google Stadia), MS Scarlett might have been the initial option, but Microsoft has issues and they have also been in denial of that to some degree (that is my personal view).

As I stated it will be a rocky start, yet those with a good internet stage and a decent income will have this option there as early adopters. For these people they have no interest in walking into a game shop trying to find a game, Google Stadia, like Netflix lets you browse and try and try and try, until you find something you like. It is optionally the stage where gamers are born and is Google Stadia the worst place to start gaming? For years people started their gaming habit on Facebook and was that such a hi-res 4K solution?

Paul Tassi asks good questions and they are real questions that need answering, but he also overlooks (as a hard-core gamer) on something he forgets. When a person wants to do 4K gaming, he needs a console or a PC, when you see the cost of a good 4K system; you have the risk of cardiac pressure issues. With Console, will you go Sony, or Microsoft? The fact that Google is now option 3, but not set in hardware is a choice, an option, one that was not there before. So what is needed? An internet connection and a TV, yes when you look deeper it is a 2 choice system, now with option 3. He is right, there are issues (for now) and I believe that with the arrival of 5G many issues will resolve itself immediately, yet at that point, will Google be standing as a survivor? I believe that with the right games it will and that too is the setting for the E3, how much more support for Stadia will we see. It seems that Ubisoft is on board and so is Bethesda, yet how many more players will commit to Google Stadia? That is where Google Stadia could win making unique or remastered good games. There are dozens who could become Stadia hits, 3 generations of games that are still regarded by some as excellent games, some are even legendary.

We will just have to see and wait how it all unfolds, there is plenty of space for a new player in this game and it also means that some of the other players will have to up the ante to remain a choice with consumers, which is equally a good idea.

Then there is another reason, for well over a year we have seen the stage: “a higher-end Xbox One X replacement as well as a less-expensive entry-level machine“, yet there is a host of issues especially with Microsoft, can the entry model update to high end? If that is not possible will we see any other impact on gaming? Will Microsoft keep their bully to ‘be online’ issues. Will Microsoft force advertisements on their consoles (like with the Xbox One)?

Microsoft has lost so much credibility (as I personally see it), the fact that the correlation between entry model and Google Stadia is so high that plenty might consider Google over Microsoft and I think that they know this. Another issue is how close Microsoft streaming service ProjectXCloud is next to Google Stadia, all issues that will optionally come head to head in the next 4 days. We can lose time reading on speculations or wait, I decide you need to wait and even better watch the live shows on YouTube.

The biggest issue will be on the last day, Nintendo have amazed nearly all with the Switch and all they have done in these two years, now that the larger games are due this year, it will be a sight to see, at the very end one or two little spoilers. It seems that Sony has gotten themselves in a little spot of hot water. Tom’s Hardware (at https://www.tomsguide.com/us/ps5-120hz-ps4-cross-save,news-30268.html) gives us: ‘120Hz Display Support‘, this is really good news if it was not for the fact that most 4K TV’s, even the ones from Sony do not support this speed yet, so yes the PS5 will be a sight to see, when you  get the TV that supports it. Then there is crossover play, so you can continue your ps4 games on ps5 forth and back (switching between consoles so you do not lose anything like friend lists and game saves, this is really good news, and a nice feature to have when you get the console in 2020. I have my mind set on that and do away my Xbox One completely, the one game I bought it for is on Sony as well now so there is no reason to keep it around any further, especially when it options me to remove Microsoft from all considerations, it is not like they have been considerate.

Even as it is about the games, I do hope to see some hardware as well.

See you all on the flip side, and don’t forget to seek the YouTube streams of the E3, missing out is such a drag.

 

 

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Bones and Boobs in gaming

Gaming has two sides, the hardware and the software side, or as some might call it the boobs and bones of gaming. We will look at the boobs later (desert always comes last), yet the bones are another matter. Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2019/06/04/there-are-tough-times-ahead-for-the-playstation-4-and-xbox-one/#3ca33e3562b4) gives us ‘There Are Tough Times Ahead For The PlayStation 4 And Xbox One‘, I do not really agree, and if so then mostly for the Xbox side, but the man makes a decent point and that is always a good reason to contemplate an article.

Bones

Even as he makes the case, I believe him to be wrong on certain matters. The numbers only partially support him. In case of Microsoft, they had a good run on the Xbox360 and they had decent sales even beyond the Xbox One launch. The reasons was that those with too small a budget decided to pick up a pre-owned console as those prices went down by a lot. Even today, people still buy Xbox 360 games, which is pretty astounding. The premise holds true for the PS3, from day one the PS4 was the child to have and for the next two years there will be plenty of people upgrading from PS4 to PS4 pro as Sony will be dumping the prices for that puppy. The market will slow down, but I believe that Sony has a good foundation to work with, Microsoft a little less so.

Nintendo remains the larger question in this. They are still ascending by leaps and bounds and even now we see in Forbes (three weeks ago actually) ‘The Nintendo Switch Just Topped The PS4’s Lifetime Sales In Japan‘, and that sounds overwhelming, yet the global numbers with PS4 on 97 million and Switch on 35 million gives the equal global sales towards the Xbox, but not the PlayStation. It has only been two years, whilst the other two have been around 7, the Nintendo Switch is still gaining momentum and it is doing so faster than last year. The fact that two of the most enticing (and addictive) games are free helps matters. With Fallout Shelter and Gems of war being great games to play on the Switch, we see a larger appreciation of the console. Nintendo upped the ante by handing all those with an online subscription (less than $40 a year), we see that they all get access to the old games from Donkey Kong, Metroid and Super Mario Bros, with dozens of additional games, all for free for those with the online account. It is one of the most enticing deals you will find in console land. As such the Switch goes on and on and on. That and the pre-owned market makes me oppose the view that Dave Thier has to some degree. the part that is also in debate is “I could even imagine PlayStation 4 sales recovering after the PlayStation 5 comes out and people realize they can still get good use of the old machine, which is likely to see a price-cut“, I believe that he setting is sound, yet I have seen Sony Marketing in action, as such they will cut prices on all options long before the sales recovery issue becomes a real issue for Sony. With exclusive titles like Last of Us 2 (2020), Death Stranding, Sekiro, Ghosts of Tsushima (2020), there is everything to look forward to and besides the fact that there are still plenty of people without a PS4 (or Xbox One for that matter), many of us (including me) still have not upgraded to the PS4pro (a budget issue), for many mainly because we have no 4K TV and that is the big factor (equally so for the Xbox One X), so as Sony starts bundling it’s console with a 4K TV, we might see another rush to upgrade. With several brands (including Sony) offering 55” or larger 4K TV’s for less than $1000 at present, the push for package deals will be very alive at the end of this year pushing the options of additional consoles right up to 2020 at that point the PS5 (and whatever Microsoft has) will become an optional issue. We have seen that many day one people held on to their previous console. I still have the PS3 and Xbox 360; I just never expected that the 360 would be higher regarded than the Xbox One (by me). These are all elements that play a part, as such I partially oppose the view Forbes gave us and I believe to be handing out the correct version (I have been proven correct often enough).

I agree with his slowing down part, but not to the degree he expects it, and the additional factor is not the slowing down, it might be: “New consoles pose question marks for the industry, and people are inclined to wait for answers before making large purchases“. I believe that to be the correct statement, but there was one other factor, it is 4K gaming and that is slow because the larger group of gamers does not have a 4K TV at present, as 4K will be the bees knees this Christmas, we will see a push to a much larger degree and Sony has an advantage over Sony here. It is how I got my PS3 and I never regretted that, especially as that TV was dirt cheap in those days, I expect Sony to do the same caper this year (and other brands as well), which is as I see it the larger stage for the difference between Dave Thier and me, as well as the large purchasing part, there is no ‘wait for answers‘ anymore on 4K TV, as such it optionally prevents a larger slowdown on the consoles and to be honest, you need to see Xbox One 4K with AC Origin to believe just how amazing 4K can be, it blew my socks off let me tell you that; and yes it was on a Xbox One X. Ubisoft & Microsoft actually got that part truly right.

Boobs

Yup, we got there, or as the Bloodhound Gang would state: ‘Hooray for Boobies‘ Yet the software is always a happy place for any gamer, whether it is Minecraft or Spiderman, seeing stuff in 4K is always reason to cheer. So when we look at value how angry do we need to get? When we are confronted with a AAA game (triple A game) we think it will be about quality, but it is not. It merely means that the game comes from a ‘mid-sized or major publisher, typically having higher development and marketing‘ and as I see it, it will be mostly about the marketing. So here comes Ubisoft who as far as I can tell is the only one who truly mangled and downgraded the IP of two franchises, namely Assassins Creed and optionally now Far Cry.

In comes a hard truth: ‘AAA game development has been identified as one environment where crunch time and other working pressures that negatively affect the employees are particularly evident‘, a given that is handed to us by Tweaktown and GamaSutra. In Tweaktown we see: ‘Ex-Ubisoft dev reveals the grim reality‘ with the quote: “it’s more like a mechanized assembly line than a dream job“, this might be a true stage, yet in all this it is not the creators, it is its board of directors as well as their marketing department. Like several software makers, setting a realistic goal is not something either department is any good at; the horrendous Far Cry 5 is clearly evidence of that. I completely disagree with the ratings that IGN (89%) and the 81% that Metacritic gave, I fall in line towards Digital Trends and their 60%. There should be a stage that games like that can no longer be called AAA games when its rating to become this below average. I even have some reservations on the games I traded in for this new version (at $23). Far Cry 5 infuriates me; they really had to do a better job. Not the graphics guys (gals included), graphically Montana is so overwhelmingly amazing that I would be willing to move to Hope County with the next available flight (if there is a decent job there). The story is something I leave in the middle. It is over the top, but there is a side that is actually enticing and you haven’t felt hatred until you are getting a tattoo on your chest by John Seed, the characters (even the over the top ones) are impressive. It is the game play itself that got to me in a massive way. To name just a few:

  1. Planes that touch a tree top dead in their track and in some cases end up on the ground in perfect working order without a scratch.
  2. Like the screaming eagles in Far Cry Primal (one every other minute) the stage comes when planes are there and they are there all the time, I have shot down enough to make a nation go bankrupt, but not for the Seed family, they merely seed more planes (or is that conceive?) And it is not merely me; I found hundreds of posts of gamers irritated by that, it seems that some people at Ubisoft are unwilling to learn.
  3. Spawn, not the Todd McFarlane hero, but the spawning of opponents. In a bunker scene (trying to avoid spoilers), the troops started spawning in front of me, which is a big no-no! This all indicates that the game was either never clearly tested, or the test results were ignored, either way that is an easy 20% degrading on any 89% score, so we are already on 69%. The fact that these issues were never addressed one year down the road implies additional failings on the Ubisoft front.
  4. Ballistics anyone? I love my sniper rifles, it gives me an edge and even in a bunker, the rifle can be a huge advantage, even if you only have 35 bullets to work with (unless you find more ammo). So when that rifle suddenly does not kill with a head shot, but only knock of the helmet, I am speechless. You see, anyone who knows their weapons would know that a helmet is protecting in nature, but the impact of a .50 that travels at 3,029 feet/second giving an impact of 13,350 ft-lbf (foot pound force) does not merely take off the helmet, it rips of the entire head. Now I get and accept that Ubisoft is not giving us that image, but to not see a headshot as an immediate kill is just stupid and silly. That should be 35 instant kills, even in the chest the power alone will crush the chest to death, and no Kevlar thickness in the world will stop that.
  5. The enemy avalanche. I get that throughout the game, it becomes more and more taxing, but the boss fights with wave after wave, where topless people keep running after 5-7 shots is just silly. And it is not 2-3 we get thrown into a stage of dozens and Ubisoft is unable to learn that wave after wave gets to be tedious and actually does not make a game better. Now there is an arcade more and I am not touching it, arcade is arcade and there the rules tend to be slightly different, which is fair enough. Yet in the normal game, Ubisoft makes the same mistakes we saw in Far Cry Primal and Far Cry 4. What was Far Cry 3 has become less and less (as I personally see it).

There is a lot Ubisoft got right too and the extra’s (like the Vaas outfit) and particularly the outfits you get when you have another Ubisoft game is cool, an immediate reward for those who have other Ubisoft games like the Rainbow six outfit is actually really cool to see (I did not have the game so it did not unlock for me), but the effort towards its gamers must be recognised. The bubbleheads (for in the car) if you have certain games is also cool and gives a little extra a fact that has always mattered to gamers.

Tweak town gives a lot more, but when I read: “When people realize they’re just one very replaceable person on a massive production chain, you can imagine it impacts their motivation“, I see it and it might impact, but that is an HR problem, not on my watch here, it is an element I care not for at present. There is also: “How do you get the right message to the right people? You can’t communicate everything to everyone, there’s just too much information. There are hundreds of decisions being taken every week. Inevitably, at some point, someone who should have been consulted before making a decision will be forgotten. This creates frustration over time” that is an issue, it is management that is either not there, not properly ready or even worse, it is ignorant. That also gives light to the connection of testing, an issue that Ubisoft has had for at least a decade. The experience that even now in Far cry 5, the event of looting a corpse and switching the weapon they dropped are nearly always overlapping, making a quick grab for ammo impossible and at times even disastrous. An issue not fixed since Far Cry 3. The article (at https://www.tweaktown.com/news/49863/ex-ubisoft-dev-reveals-grim-reality-aaa-games-development/index.html) had a few more items, but it was less important for me in this case. Gamasutra (at https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/282922/AAA_game_dev_lifestyle_is_unwinnable_says_veteran_game_designer_Amy_Hennig.php) gives a few more items, issues like: “There are people who never go home and see their families. They have children who are growing up without seeing them” get a different rating, it is either a lack of time management, or slave labour, one is a choice the other is criminal; you tell me which is which. Yes, I trivialise the issue here, but at some stage you need to recharge and if you decide not to do that, you burn out. It is the quote: “It’s pressure that rolls downhill and piles onto those behind the industry’s biggest releases, forcing them to go above and beyond to meet rapidly approaching deadlines” that hits pay dirt, they either haven’t learned to neuter their marketing department, or the board members have forgotten what realistic time frames are. Either way it tends to stop proper game testing and that is how we get a screwed up product and we have seen that from AC Unity onwards, Ubisoft has had way too many events like that. As such as we see the quote referring to ‘over-expectant publishers‘, the view we see matches mine pretty much flawless. If you cannot control your marketeers with their hype creation, you fall flat and you get the pressures that should have been avoided in the first place. The evidence is there too, for example Project red with Witcher 3 as well as Cyberpunk 2077. There no one is fussed about the 2020 release, we all know that they broke the mould with Witcher 3 and we want to see that again, we the gamers are willing to wait for excellence, mainly because it has become such a rare thing. A 93% rating comes at a price. It is the oldest stage of sales.

You can have something cheap, something fast and something good, but you can only chose two of the three elements, so the product ends up arriving slow, becoming a bad product or an expensive one, which of those three can you live with the best? Of those three the late arrival is the best (my personal view), but as far as Ubisoft goes, they got that choice wrong more than once, because they were unwilling to delay the release late, costing them points all over the place. It is me not liking Odyssey that requires me to quote Samuel Axon who wrote a massive story on ArsTechnica. He ends with: “Odyssey was not a perfect game. But it was the perfect game to win back this series superfan. It’s so good, I want to go back and replay older games in the series—even some of the bad ones—just to examine and appreciate the evolution“, I get his vision yet it is not my view on the game and that is fine. Ubisoft does not need to appease me, it needs to protect its IP and there we might not see eye to eye on the matter. This is fine, I am merely one view and that too needs to be taken into account, Samuel clearly had another view on the take and I accept it because the article (at https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/03/i-played-11-assassins-creed-games-in-11-years-and-odyssey-made-them-all-worth-it) is an absolute must for any Assassins Creed fan.

When I look back, no matter how much we like to stare at the boobies, when they are not the ones (or shape, or size) you hoped to see, the interest fades really fast (unless you are a hungry baby) and that is the core for Ubisoft, the absolute essential part was proper testing and fixing (optionally with a day one patch) is something they seemingly have not been steered towards for too long and it shows. As I see it, they efficiently massacred two IP’s at present; the question becomes what will happen with Watchdogs 3? When we accept (I do) that the second was way better than the first, I fear for the third, because they need to get it right. I only got Far Cry 5 well over a year later when it was sold at a mere 17% of the full price gives rise to what we are willing to pay. When you consider that this was a game with a budget close to $100 million and a rising amount of gamers will no longer consider it at full price, and even as it made $310 million, how much money did Ubisoft in the end miss out on? Going home with $200 more is still good, but what could they have gotten? I wonder if they learn this lesson too late, perhaps it is me and perhaps I expect too much from the gamers of today. I merely chase excellence in gaming, and a game that is created substandard will not ever give a feeling of excellence, which is sad on many levels, especially when someone forked out an 9 figure number.

Just consider that GTA5 made $6 billion so far, Red Dead Redemption had a $725 million opening weekend, and that list goes on, all games that have a 90% score of better. It shows when we see that (according to VGChartz) Far Cry 5 seemingly sold less than 4 million copies, God of war far beyond 11 million, and that is also set toUbisoft being on three systems, whilst God of War was on only one system. I see it as the main difference between a 70% game and a 95% game. A difference of 250% or better in sold copies. I reckon that Ubisoft needs to focus on quality a lot more than they are currently doing and that view is shared by global player on an increasing larger scale endangering Ubisoft initial revenue more and more.

 

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Epee and quarterstaff

It is an old riddle that goes back to the renaissance: ‘What do the Epee and quarterstaff have in common?’ The answer is that they extent reach. The lesson is that everything has its reach and the power remains when you do not exceed the 90% of it until you are either forced, or if you have a 100% certainty of causing a fatal hit. Making the mistake in those days meant certain death. Those days were not about points, it was not about bragging on besting a person, it was kill or be killed, plain and simple. A lesson that is 500 years old and Apple apparently never learned it. So in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/30/apple-iphone-sales-first-quarter-earnings) we see ‘Apple’s iPhone sales fall 17% in first quarter as flagship product struggles‘, what was interesting was: “The company made a profit of $11.6bn – ahead of expectations. But this quarter marked another quarterly decline in profit and revenue as the company struggled to move beyond the iPhone“, even as Apple is in a buyback phase to regain its heralded one trillion dollar company, there are still clouds in the background. It starts with the iPhone, an iPhone Xr 128GB is $1299, the not most powerful version of the iPhone Xs is $2049. Yet the competing Androids are $1499 (Google Pixel 3), $1599 (Huawei P30 pro) and $1699 (Samsung S10), those are all on the same, or in some regards on a more superior level; if we are concerned consumers and we are willing to step down a little we can get decently competitive phones for $449, that is what Apple is up against, you can shout all you want on how refined, elitist and top range your phone is, but the amount of people with that kind of cash available is dwindling down and Apple is realising that buying back stock and take control of the smacking they are about to get is indeed a wise choice, but so far my prediction remains that Apple is heading towards a 30% decline of net value is not unrealistic at all. Then there are the issues on the computer side of apple too. What Digital Trends called ‘Flexgate’ last January is still on the mind of many, and as they gave us the quote: “the stage light effect is caused by flaws with a cabling system that Apple uses to attach each MacBook display to the internals of the laptop. In MacBook models from 2016 and newer, Apple switched to a new flexible and thin ribbon cable, which over a long period of time can face fatigue and eventually tear as the lid is repeatedly opened and closed on the laptop” with additional information (at https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/flexgate-issue-plaguing-some-macbook-pro-owners/) we see that Apple has played the ‘presentation innovation’ card slightly too visible, so now there is a backlash. Then there is bendgate (iPad Pro bending), then we get in addition the May 2018 class-action lawsuit that alleges that Apple has “failed and continues to fail to disclose” problems with its butterfly keyboard. It says Apple’s actions are violating several competition and regulatory laws, including California’s Unfair Competition Law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The lawsuit is seeking damages for the class, as well as an acknowledgement by Apple that there’s a problem with its keyboard design. This case is not over and done with, because it will be a global problem soon enough, so the steps that Apple has to take will take a massive chunk on their value and profit reporting within the coming year. Al these actions whilst they have plenty more issues coming their way. Now in their defence, the entire Flexgate could have happened to anyone, but proper testing does give light to these dangers, it is interesting to note that IKEA might have a better quality testing department than Apple does, which shows that Scandinavians optionally have a better idea towards exceeding customer service and keeping proper tabs on quality. This all before you realise that Tech Insider reported ‘Apple is squirrelling away money to pay for lawsuits related to its iPhone ‘batterygate’ throttling scandal‘ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/iphone-batterygate-lawsuits-cause-apple-to-set-aside-money-2019-2) an issue that is still not done with and might not be done with until 2020. So when you see that list costing them optional billions, do you think that my view was unrealistic?

As they give us: “previous class-action suits have resulted in $US450 million judgments against the iPhone maker“, I feel certain that this will not get it done in this case and if they are really really lucky, it might only cost them $45 billion, you forget that the Euro courts are snapping at the heels of Apple as well, 27 nations all with a score of angry customers, we realise that there is always a cost to doing business and there is premium to pay when the limelight is set on what might call ‘intentional deceptive conduct’ and ‘batterygate’ fits that bill and then some. This is not the end; there is also indirect damage to come. This was given by Apple Insider with ‘Latest Facebook-related security breach finds millions of records exposed on Amazon servers‘, there we see (at https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/04/03/latest-facebook-related-security-breach-finds-millions-of-records-exposed-on-amazon-servers) that Apple was connected: “These include data sharing deals with companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Sony, plus people being able to look up strangers based on phone numbers submitted for two-factor authentication“, so when we see data-sharing, we think it is only Facebook, but sharing goes in many directions and what did Apple share? the entire ‘people being able to look up strangers based on phone numbers submitted for two-factor authentication‘ implies that Apple optionally has a decent amount to answer for, or perhaps better stated, there is plenty of issues brought to light that the Apple legal teams need to ignore, deny or carefully phrase into another direction, there is only so many fines any company can live with before the larger population bails and if that happens before December 2019 than my prediction of 30% could end up being way too optimistic, but I keep a conservative view on the matters for now. Consider the steps that Apple has been making, their ‘new’ iMac Pro, it is a computer that starts at $7,299, whilst the normal new iMac, a computer that would satisfy 95% of all Apple users is a mere $2,799. Now, I am not opposed to an overpowered computer, but consider the cost of creating it, redesigning parts and making it look more expensive, do the amount of buyers rectify for that? Is the ROI curve not massively overstated and when we realise that, is a company where its marketing is insisting on annual innovation not out of control? What is the price tag of that you reckon? It becomes even more laughable when we consider a review (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YwYZvmYecI) where we see the MacRumors channel giving us at 5:30 that the iMac Pro (2017 model) exports 4K video in 2:44, whilst the normal iMac (2019 model) does the same thing in 2:31, it seems trivial, yet remember that there is a $7,299 versus $2,799 in play and within 2 years the value of $4,500 was lost to the user, as such the life time value of an iMac has pretty much gone into the basement taking out customer loyalty overnight. the last time I looked, looking cool for a year at the price of $4,500 was decently overrated for most people, and it makes for a business case that the iMac pro could be regarded as wasted investment for its consumers soon thereafter (in some places they refer to that as: ‘warranty until you exit the premises‘.

These are some of the issues that Apple is facing and there are a lot more issues (yet most of those are actually trivial). It is there that we return to the Guardian with: ‘the company struggled to move beyond the iPhone‘, that and the 2018 iPad Pro Bendgate issue does not help any and that is where we see that quality assessment has failed miserably. The need to look innovative, lighter and thinner means that testing becomes more and more important. So when the consumer was treated to ‘Apple releases an official statement on reports that some iPad Pros have come bent right out of the box’ on January 2019 with: “Relative to the issue you referenced regarding the new iPad Pro, its unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple’s high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing.”, and as such the consumer feels duped to say the least. One source also gives us: “Apple claims that the bending can’t exceed more than 400 micron–“the width of fewer than four sheets of paper at most,” which is a “tighter specification for flatness than previous generations,” the note says.

The tech note further states that the antenna splits “may make subtle deviations in flatness more visible only from certain viewing angles that are imperceptible during normal use.”“, whilst the image from MacRumors (at https://www.macrumors.com/guide/ipad-pro-2018-bending-issue/) shows a bending issue close to 1,000% of what they claim, making the issue rise to the surface and also gives a much larger light of additional class actions that might be filed later this year if Apple does not change policy immediately, so is my 30% drop still off? I already gave some visibility to that (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/02/24/future-through-the-sub-line/) almost 3 months ago, and I have not noticed any clear loud actions by Apple Marketing to counter the damage that this issue was bringing.

It is not what Apple claims to do, it is the failing on a few levels, the marketing on several product lines and the neglect of services that shows that not only is it struggling to move beyond the iPhone, at present they have very few options left to them in any of the product lines to set any stage of ‘moving beyond’ and that too will suppress growth to a much larger degree, and optionally for a much longer time. All that whilst they should have known when they started the Pro and high priced iPhone series that they are selling to people who demand perfection and high end quality especially at the prices that they are selling it at, at that point your QA department is the most important department you have, not your marketing department.

It is the direct visibility when you extent beyond your reach, you get hammered down and you get hammered down hard, in the renaissance that apple individual would not be defeated, that person would merely be dead and forgotten, I hope that this is the lessons that apple takes to heart because the treasures of 5G are looming and Apple might be out in the cold soon enough. I reckon that the $4.5 billion payment to Qualcomm is making that obvious and clear to all, which is news that was released only hours ago with: “As pointed out by Axios, Qualcomm will record $4.5 to $4.7 billion in revenue from the Apple settlement, which includes a “cash payment from Apple and the release of related liabilities.”” (Source: MacRumors).

Apple still has a long way to go to get back on top, I wonder if they ever will.

 

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