Verimatrix Sponsored White Paper Explores Why a Unified Security Platform Best Positions Operators to Offer Multi-Screen, Multi-Network Services
Facebook has more than a billion users, and is bidding to reach more by a smartphone takeover – with a twist
Infectious diseases, says the World Health Organisation, “are caused by pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; the diseases can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another.” Quite so. Just like Facebook addiction, which also spreads from person to person and has now reached pandemic proportions, with more than a billion sufferers worldwide.
The Facebook pathogen doesn’t kill people, of course, for the good reason that dead people don’t buy stuff. But it does seem to affect victims’ brains. For example, it reduces normally articulate and sophisticated people to gibbering in the online equivalent of grunts. Likewise, it obliges them to coalesce all the varieties of human relationships into a simply binary pair: “friends” v everyone else. I have some real friends – as opposed to “friends” – on Facebook and every so often one of them posts a comment on something I’ve written. I’ve just looked at one such observation. It’s thoughtful, subtle and nicely written. But beneath it is a button simply labelled “Like”. If I click on it, my friend will doubtless receive a message from Facebook telling him that I “like” his comment. Big deal.
What’s interesting about this is the way a software system has been designed to strip all of the nuances and complexities that characterise human interaction and compress them into a channel with the bandwidth of Morse code. Actually, the bandwidth is even more attenuated than that. At least with Morse, something can be either a dot or a dash, but Facebook lacks even that binary sophistication. It only has a “Like” button, possibly because a “Dislike” one might facilitate a higher level of discourse than that deemed desirable by the system’s architect.
Cultural critic Neil Postman once observed that you can’t use smoke signals for philosophical discussions: the communication channel simply doesn’t have the necessary bandwidth. One wonders what he would have made of Facebook, or of the fact that a sixth of the world’s population is apparently satisfied by such a primitive medium of communication.
Meanwhile, the efforts of Facebook’s owners to “monetise” these poor saps continue unabated. The basic idea is to use their personal data to refine the targeting of ads at them, which means that, as time goes on, the system becomes more and more tiresome to use. This raises the spectre that, one day, the worms might turn and depart.
But – hey! – Facebook management has a plan for that too. It’s revealed in a fascinating patent application just published. Like all patent applications, it consists of three coats of prime technical verbiage, and the devil is in the detail, but the essence of it is that in exchange for a monthly payment Facebook users will be able to get rid of ads and specify exactly what should replace them on their personal profiles. This is subtly different from what other “freemium” services like Spotify currently offer.
You have to admire the chutzpah implicit in this. First, you bombard your hapless users with ads. Then you offer them relief in return for payment. There’s a word for this in English, but m’learned friends don’t approve of it, so I will avoid it. I’ll be surprised if the patent is approved, but the US Patent and Trademark Office has a track record in granting daft patents, as, for example, US Patent 5,443,036 for a method of exercising a cat by getting it to follow a spot generated by a laser pointer, so I might be unduly optimistic.
For fiendish ingenuity, however, Facebook’s latest move into the mobile phone business takes the biscuit. Neatly avoiding the trap of getting into the handset-manufacturing game, the company has instead developed an Android app that really ought to be codenamed Cuckoo because it effectively takes over any handset on which it is installed. It can be downloaded for a subset of recent Android handsets and last week HTC unveiled the first phone that comes with Facebook Home pre-installed. The app conceals the array of apps that normally dominate Android home screens and instead puts Facebook activity squarely in the centre of the phone’s screen. It splashes status updates across the phone’s lock and home screens and makes Facebook’s messenger application ubiquitous with little “Chat Heads” that follow you from app to app, thereby making it easy to keep up with what pass for “conversations” on Facebook.
What Facebook Home means, of course, is that Facebook will be the first – and perhaps the only – thing that new users of smartphones, especially in emerging markets (ie poor countries), see when they fire up their phones. And when they want to search for something, why, they will use Facebook’s search engine rather than that of Google, the company that created the operating system on which Facebook’s app runs. Howzat!
Category : Stocks
Panel of Experts Discuss the “Operator as an App” Market Dynamic in Multi-Screen Solutions
The Oscar-winning visual effects pioneer Petro Vlahos – who pioneered blue and green-screen techniques used by thousands of movies – dies aged 96.
Continue reading here: Blue-screen effects pioneer dies
Category : Stocks
VCAS for Internet TV to Provide Multi-Screen Security for Expanding Library of Premium OTT Content
RIM’s new devices are stylish, but only their hidden corporate-user features mark them out from their competitors
Asked repeatedly what the company behind the BlackBerry has learned from the iPhone, its UK managing director struggled to answer. “It’s unique,” said Stephen Bates, reassuring listeners in a stilted appearance on BBC Radio Five Live. “We have a unique proposition.”
The USP – unique selling point – is what every technology marketer strives to identify to ensnare the would-be buyer. For the BlackBerry brand, and the new all-touchscreen Z10, and keyboard-toting Q10, there is indeed a USP. But it’s very well hidden. And it will cost you.
BlackBerry’s problem is that it has to court three groups. First there are the existing corporate and consumer users who remain loyal but might be looking at defecting to rival platforms: Google’s Android; Apple’s iOS; and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Second are those who have already defected, whom it badly needs to win back. And third are the not-yet-smartphone users, the people still carrying around ageing Nokias that do calls and texts, but not the internet. With the touchscreen Z10 and BB10 in general, BlackBerry is really chasing the first two groups. In particular it is trying to reclaim its former status as the most secure and easy way to get the internet – one which has been taken, in many ways, by the iPhone, and to a lesser extent by Android.
But “unique”? The Z10 and BB10 are different, certainly, but once you get past the main difference – that you unlock the phone by swiping up, and rather than pressing a real or virtual home button to get to your main screen you swipe up again – you’re left with a familiar set-up. There is a grid of icons – just like iOS, Android and Palm – and a People Hub pulling together your texts, emails, Twitter responses, and BlackBerry messenger messages – like Windows Phone. It’s not unique so much as reordered. So where is the USP? Buried deep inside, and only if you are working for a company that pays for the new BlackBerry Enterprise Server software. BB10 offers corporate users a feature called BlackBerry Balance. Swipe upwards from the middle of a screen, and you flip from your personal phone – with your Angry Birds and other apps – over to the corporate space, whose content your company decides. You can’t copy from one to the other because the firewall is total. It’s very neat, and for the properly paranoid corporate IT chiefs it will be the answer to a prayer. The Q10, with its keyboard, will probably fit in nicely again.
For the average consumer, though, the Z10 is just another black mirror when locked and just another touchscreen phone when unlocked. The Q10 has a small screen, so won’t be such a consumer hit. Lots of apps? Well, quite a few and some of them such as Twitter show the haste with which they’re been ported over from Android versions. A big selection of films and music? Yes, but the others have that too. Maps, search, some voice control – yes, yes, yes. None of those is a USP, though. Everyone has them now.
I tried the Z10 for about five days ahead of the launch, and generally liked its style – though the upwards swipes can be hard to do accurately. It’s tidy, clearly thought out and smooth. But given the lack of compelling apps, it’s not likely to tempt the not-yet-smartphone users, nor to tempt back already defected users. That leaves the corporates who are still with it, and the 79 million consumers – it was 80 million until December – around the world who use it. Even on Wednesday I heard of a company that is considering not using BlackBerrys any more because of fears RIM might implode during the two-year contract. The challenge for BlackBerry’s management is to keep the ship steady. And that challenge is not unique in the smartphone market.
MegaFon Deploys VCAS to Enable Integrated Multi-Network, Multi-Screen Protection for Premium Content Services
The Today programme’s business presenter Simon Jack investigates the future of the of the flat screen television market.
See original here: AUDIO: What is next for flat screen TVs?
Accountant Deloitte predicts the smartphone will become a mass market phenomenon and an everyday object worldwide
The smartphone is predicted to become a mass market phenomenon this year, with annual shipments soaring to 1bn globally for the first time, although a fifth of the devices will rarely be used to go online.
In 2013 the smartphone will become an everyday object worldwide, according to a study by accountants Deloitte, bringing the number of active phones with either a touch screen or an alphabet keyboard to 2bn by the end of the year.
The everyday accessibility of what was once a luxury device will be made possible by falling prices and better mobile networks. The average selling price of an iPhone has remained above $600 (£370), putting Apple’s gadgets out of reach for most buyers, but high performing smartphones with good cameras, bright screens and fast processors are now available for a fraction of that cost from other makers such as HTC and Nokia.
Deloitte estimates 500m phones have already been sold for $100 or less, and initiatives to create $50 devices for emerging markets are under way.
However, research in several countries suggests one in five owners of these sophisticated portable computers rarely or never connect to the web. Hundreds of millions may not even bother to subscribe to a data package from their mobile network.
These devices will not be idle, but their owners will use them for the traditional mobile activities of text messaging, voice calling and taking the occasional photo.
“They are like [traditional] feature phones in a smartphone casing,” said the report’s author, the Deloitte telecoms research head Paul Lee. “Smartphone penetration goes up but data plan penetration doesn’t go up as quickly. Not every mobile will be used in the same way.”
Many phones in use will be older hand-me-downs, whose software is out of date and cannot cope with new applications and website graphics.
Older owners may have been put off going online by reading about high bills in the press, and many may be wary of the complicated data tariffs on offer. For many of those living outside cities, 3G internet connections are still hard to come by.