This is the end, my old Blackberry

nobody-wants-a-blackberry

Sad news today for Blackberry owners, if there are any left. Facebook just decided to pull its’ app for the device.

The phone company stated that it was “extremely disappointed” in Facebook’s decision, because “we know so many users love these apps”.

A few weeks ago WhatsApp dropped support for Blackberry users.

“We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time, their decision stands,” the company wrote in a blog post. They also invited those who use Facebook or WhatsApp on their BlackBerry to post about it on social media.

iphone_blackberry_ufcThis is not a simple blow. This is a knockout. According to statistics website Statista, “As of the fourth quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.59 billion monthly active users”.

WhatsApp, “as of February 2016, announced more than 1 billion monthly active users, up from over 700 million in January 2015”.

Blackberry is losing a market that comprises enough people to double the population of China, the world’s most populous country.

Why? Well, clearly, more people are turning into other devices, mainly Android and Apple. However, this move could potentially end the company, as we know it. Who would pay for a smartphone that can’t access Facebook or WhatsApp? What if other apps like Twitter decide to remove support for Blackberry as well?

A possible turnout of events could be another corporation buying it, just like what happened to Nokia mobile department when Microsoft saved it from bankruptcy. Who would be interested though? I see it as another interesting effect of technological convergence.

Is it really the end of this device? If so, what will be the company’s future?

 

sources and links:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/facebook-drops-support-for-blackberry-phones-following-whatsapp-in-leaving-platform-a6944361.html

http://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/

http://www.statista.com/statistics/260819/number-of-monthly-active-whatsapp-users/

http://www.infoplease.com/world/statistics/most-populous-countries.html

 

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Copyright by location: geoblocking restrictions

geoblocking

On Youtube or other video streaming platforms you might get a message like this one.

It mostly occurs when you’re sitting down using your tablet, smartphone or laptop trying to watch a tv show , a music video or sometimes even a small clip of a movie that was produced or owned by a company outside the country you live in.

Why do media companies restrict content to selected locations?  Most of them, like American Broadcasting Channel (ABC) or the BBC’s iPlayer , cite International rights agreements.

CBS for example, which owns and produces shows that reach a global audience like “The Big Bang Theory”, can earn money by reselling the show to Channel 4 in the UK, It will not allow UK viewers to access it on CBS’ website. Therefore, their online on demand streaming is reserved to US residents.

Basically what they’re doing, is selling exclusive rights to another media company strictly for that particular country. As a matter of fact, CBS has different deals for each country with each broadcaster. This means more money.

In recent years though the Internet has changed a lot. Online piracy brought issues that broadcasters had to deal with. Most of the content from the original channel was and still is being posted online illegally.

Services like Netflix and Amazon Video, became successful since they were the only concrete strike to piracy.Shutting down websites like Megavideo, which hosted TV shows and movies uploaded by single users illegally, was never a solution. The more you took down, the more would pop up later.

With Netflix the same programmes people enjoyed in America were easily available online to users worldwide, legally. In addition, shows that were not even available to some countries, because there was not a deal with any TV station, became accessible.

In the end though, Netflix still didn’t solve the problem. Much content that is available in America is not available outside the USA. According CBC News, “The streaming service is available in 50 countries, but has different content in each country, depending on its licences with content providers”. Moreover, many would prefer not to pay obviously.

Netflix

How does Geoblocking work? Websites will read our I.P. (Internet Protocol) addresses, a “unique numerical identifier” which contains information on our location. Getting around the Geoblock is easy though. All it takes is a VPN, a program widely available online that can mask our IP address to a country of our choice.

These geographical copyright restrictions do not make sense. They just slow down user experience. If companies were to remove them, it could actually be beneficial. The amount of online traffic on the sites would be enormous. Monetarily, they could benefit from online advertising which is booming.

Today’s technologies make the world a global community, at least virtually, and trying to stop that from happening would be silly. In music, major record labels understood that. Instead of removing songs uploaded by users individually on YouTube, they decided to put the songs and videos themselves, for free, available everywhere, to help spread their popularity as well.

 

sources:

Schaffarczyk, K. (2013) Explainer: What is geoblocking?. Available at: http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-geoblocking-13057 (Accessed: 15 March 2016).
Francis, H. (2016) Netflix starts blocking Australian customers from US catalogue. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/hometech/netflix-starts-blocking-australian-customers-from-us-catalogue-20160121-gman3y.html (Accessed: 15 March 2016).
Streaming U.S. Netflix from Canada could soon become more difficult(2015) Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/netflix-upholds-geoblocking-rules-amid-reports-of-crackdown-1.2889895 (Accessed: 15 March 2016).

Google and Facebook have more details of you than you think

ChartOfTheDay_620_Estimated_display_advertising_revenue_of_major_digital_ad_selling_companies_in_the_United_States_n

A lot of posts I read here seem to say that if googling yourself won’t turn up much, then you’re almost invisible online. On the one hand I agree that a lot of people in society are becoming paranoid with online privacy and too many  argue about silly conspiracy theories without enough foundations.

I, like many here, googled myself and found mostly my social media accounts, a bunch of other people with my same name, and that’s it. Well, there was an article about ex Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Afghanistan; damn you racist Google, just because we have the same name you can’t put us in the same category!

Jokes apart, on the other hand, big tech companies have more than just our profiles. Specifically, Facebook and Google are known to collect our personal details, especially our preferences, and sell them to advertisers. I’m not even bringing up intelligence or government programs like PRISM, which many of us consider illigetimate, but at least there is the idea of security behind it, whether true or not. However, that’s another issue.

What I don’t like is advertising firms knowing what I do on social media and don’t just so they can annoy me with creepy personalised ads. All of this is no secret though, as Google and Facebook themselves state it in their “terms and conditions of use” pages. The ones we never read, to put it briefly, because we have no time to do that.

Here’s an extract from Facebook’s policy page:

“We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. We also collect information about how you use our Services, such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities.”

Sounds creepy, doesn’t it? Especially the part of the ”message and communicate with others”. And it’s even creepier to think advertisers will pay for it. What about Google?

‘When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services.’

They can do basically anything with what we upload and they can do it even if we delete our accounts. What can we do about it, especially since most of us need these services? All I can think of, is don’t put online anything you do.

 

Sources:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2986988/privacy/the-price-of-free-how-apple-facebook-microsoft-and-google-sell-you-to-advertisers.html

https://www.google.com/policies/terms/

https://www.facebook.com/policy.php

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/apple-boss-tim-cook-slams-google-and-facebook-for-selling-their-users-data-10295158.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2012/01/27/be-prepared-to-sell-your-soul-if-you-use-google/#3843de9f7dc2

Crowdfunding: Kickstarter

swing-kickstarter-logo

An example of positive trends that involve a large group of people online is crowdfunding. The idea is to support an artist, an entrepeneur, a charity or help someone fufill their lifetime dream with a simple donation. This is because so many times people have great ideas, but no resources to fund it. What the concept really relies on, is the power of the internet in connecting people, strangers in this case, for one cause.

The most famous and successful platform is probably Kickstarter. According to the website, since its’ launch in 2009, ”10 million people have backed a project, $2.2 Billion has been pledged, and 101,065 projects have been successfully funded”.

It is amazing how many people genuinely offered money without asking for anything in return. What is more, is that each artist or businessman has complete control over their project. ”The backers” have only the role to back, they don’t get to have a say in the projects.

What I love about Kickstarter is that it’s all about the creativity. Many other crowdfunding pages focus more on charity and philantropy, but here the general purpose is to spread innovation and kick it off to become global, thanks to a global community.

On the one hand it may be a limitation: if there were more charity campaigns, there would be more funds circulating and more influential people. On the other hand, it makes the fundrasing more genuine and different. There already many charities, but very few places to go and raise funds for your ideas.

Does user participation always work?

There is absolutely no doubt that audience participation has increased year by year. As technology develops blazingly fast, a new product on the market will try to improve the user’s participation.

One of the first products to make users’ integration its’ main feature was the Nintendo Wii. Released over ten years ago in 2005, the product was enormously successful. Even if the games on this platform were extremely inferior to other consoles, this was the first time you could actually be part of the game 100%. To be fair, Sony’s PlayStation did it before with the “EyeToy” in 2003, but it was very limited.

Yet, in recent history Audience Participation was not always successful. I’m referring to Google Glass: the product, very futuristic, offered the ability to be part of the net while just wearing eyeglasses. The lens would display information from Google while walking for instance, telling you which street you were in. You would receive notifications from social media as well, without having to use a smartphone: basically a hands free, fully integrated internet always at disposal.

Sounds amazing right? Yet Google Glass was a flop. A big one. After millions were invested, the product was too expansive ( around 1500 dollars) and its’ technology not good enough. According to Investopedia, “the technology required lengthy battery life, improved image-recognition capabilities and a lot of data”.  As the MIT Technology Review points out, “no one could understand why you’d want to have that thing on your face, in the way of normal social interaction.”

On the other hand, other reality augmentation products are being developed, and investments are being made continuously, which would make us think that Audience Participation is absolutely important to tech companies and that they’re making efforts to improve it.

An example is Oculus Rift, a “Head Mounted Display” which projects images straight into the eyes, giving you the feel of being inside what you’re watching, usually a game. Oculus VR created it with just a 2 million dollars crowd founding campaign on Kick-starter and then the virtual reality gadget was acquired by Facebook for the astonishing sum of 2 billion.

riftblogpierre1

 

References:

How & Why Google Glass Failed http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/052115/how-why-google-glass-failed.asp#ixzz416e66rCI

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/22/facebook-oculus-rift-acquisition-virtual-reality

 

 

Technological convergence: Is the era of personal computers coming to an end?

In 2016, at this point, almost 10 years after the release of the first Iphone and six after the first Ipad came out (yes, we’re that old) we all realise how much time we spend on our smart devices. We’re all aware how much we need them, whether we are using them for serious purposes or just for entertainment.

_77782703_smartphonesmanyafp

Yet, if we look at the figures, the stats are still surprising. Just three years ago a Nielsen study, conducted in the U.S, U.K and Italy, found that in all three countries people were spending more time on their mobiles than their PCs. Another interesting stat, is that TV still dominates overall monthly usage, although that could change in the future.

AVERAGE TIME SPENT PER PERSON BY PLATFORM

U.S. U.K. Italy
Monthly TV time spent 185 hours 129 hours, 54 minutes 143 hours, 20 minutes
Monthly online time spent 26 hours, 58 minutes 29 hours, 14 minutes 18 hours, 7 minutes
Monthly mobile time spent 34 hours, 21 minutes 41 hours, 42 minutes 37 hours, 12 minutes
Source: Nielsen

PHOTO: NIELSEN

The portability and practical convenience of these devices made them the real technological revolution in recent years, one that could mark the end of PCs.  According to the International Data Corporation, 87% of connected devices sales in 2017 will be Smartphones and Tablets. In addition, market share will be at 5%, whereas in 2013 it was 8.6%.

However, even if smartphones and tablets are more popular today,  PCs still play a relevant factor in our lives. The main reason is there are still things that a smart device can’t do. I prefer to use a PC to write essays, articles or for any other academic purpose.

I just don’t feel comfortable enough when dealing with a touchscreen keyboard and a screen smaller than 15″. Moreover, many softwares still require an actual computer. An example could be Adobe’s editing softwares as well as more elaborate video games that mobiles cannot yet support from both a technical standpoint and an overall experience one.

 

 

It all started within the military

R-37205-1255396274.jpegWhen I think about the Internet, what first comes into my mind is either Google, or Social media, like Facebook, Twitter or video sharing websites like YouTube. All user – related platforms.

Yet, as we all know, this was not always the case. The precursor of the modern day Internet, called ARPANET, was created in 1969 by the United States Department of Defense (DoD). That, is what really surprised me about the History of the Internet. The fact that it was born from a governmental agency.

When I first learned that, I was baffled. We all consider the Internet our thing now. We have our private chats on Whatsapp, our public chats with Facebook groups, communities in Forums (although they’re out fashion), our online shops and so on.

Learning about the history of the Internet made me realise how much the relationship between governments and the network itself has changed dramatically. The government created it, but then it became so popular, because of its’ almost infinite possibilities, that we now consider any military involvement an invasion of our space.

The surveillance scandal of the NSA was seen by most of the population as an invasion of our privacy. We all felt violated by the thought of some random employee reading our e-mails or text messages.

In light of this, I find it interesting that now we all see the government as a dark body that interferes with our personal space, whereas they are the ones who actually started the whole thing.