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Tag: mobile

Goat simulator acquired by Coffee Stain

Monday, 5 February, 2018 0 Comments

Yes. That’s a real English-language headline: “Goat simulator acquired by Coffee Stain”. A decade ago, it wouldn’t have been possible to write it and even today 99 percent of those who understand its six English words have no idea of what it all means. So what’s it about, then? Here goes:

“Goat Simulator is an open-ended third-person perspective game in which the player controls a goat. The player is free to explore the game’s world, a suburban setting, as a goat, and jump, run, bash things, and lick objects. Licking objects attaches the goat’s tongue to the object and lets the player drag the object around until they let go. At any time, the player can let the goat drop into a ragdoll model, allowing the game’s physics to take over.”

This is 2018, after all.

Anyway, up Scandinavia way last week up, Swedish game maker Coffee Stain Studios, based in Skövde, acquired a majority stake in the Stockholm-based Gone North Games, the makers of such hit mobile games as Goat Z and Goat Simulator: Waste of Space.

This is 2018, after all. And Goat Z is a goat simulator, not a goat stimulator, by the way.


The End of Typing

Tuesday, 8 August, 2017 0 Comments

The full title of Eric Bellman’s excellent Wall Street Journal article is “The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice.” Some commentators are criticizing the tech companies Bellman writes about on the grounds that their push for video and voice means that they have a vested interest in prolonging illiteracy. Possibly, they have, but those low-end smartphones also have the potential to enhance the lives of millions of people who are desperately disadvantaged. Snippet:

“Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers — ‘the next billion,’ the tech industry calls them — is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world’s less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy.”

Eric Bellman gives the last word to Megh Singh, a railway porter in New Delhi, who uses a basic Sony phone with 4GB of storage. “Life has become better. Life has become faster. I wish I had it earlier. We wouldn’t be so backward.”


Yahoo and the end of Web 1.0

Thursday, 28 July, 2016 1 Comment

More than a billion people now check Facebook on their phones every single day. The social network revealed this new milestone last night when it released its impressive second-quarter earnings. What’s that got to do with Yahoo and the headline on this post? Well, context is important. Consider these stats:

Facebook now owns a $17-billion-a-year mobile ad business. In the second quarter, mobile sales made up 84 percent of its $6.24 billion in advertising revenue. Overall, the social network reported $2.05 billion in profit, up 186 percent year-over-year, on $6.43 billion in total revenue, which rose 59 percent compared to the same period last year. And Facebook ended the second quarter with 1.71 billion monthly active users.

Which brings us to Yahoo, which was was acquired on Monday by an American telephone company, Verizon, which paid $4.8 billion for the brand and its internet properties. The cause of this ignominious end was simple: Yahoo became irrelevant for adults quite some time ago, and young people don’t use it at all. They spend their time now on Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Spotify and Facebook.

Yahoo’s major missed opportunity was the rise of the mobile web. That failure had a lot to do with the short stint as CEO of Scott Thompson, who departed in a cloud of controversy. Distracted by its internal troubles, the company took its eye off the ball, as it were, at a critical moment. Thompson was replaced in July 2012 by Marissa Mayer, who bought Tumblr for a billion dollars in an attempt to attract younger internet users. A blogging platform is not what the yoof wanted, though.

Note: Yahoo had the chance to buy Google for $1 million and Facebook for $1 billion.

The new benchmark is that more than a billion people check Facebook on their phones every day. The old benchmark was Yahoo’s directory of websites and this week began with the purchase of the gravestone. Yahoo belongs, with the rotary phone, to another era, and its departure marks the end of Web 1.0. Those riding high on the Web 2.0 wave now should remember, however, that “the bubble fame” does burst and voice-based interfaces on devices such as Amazon’s Alexa are moving the web beyond browsers and smartphones. Blink, and you miss it. Yahoo fell asleep and its legacy includes happy memories of the “Site of the Day” feature. The web was young then. It’s mobile now.


The future for Intel is small

Wednesday, 20 April, 2016 0 Comments

Headline: Intel to Cut 12,000 Jobs, Puts Focus on Cloud. Why this? Why now? Because of two self-inflicted mistakes:

  • (i) ignoring the decline of the PC
  • (ii) ignoring the rise of the smartphone

“The old way of doing things reaches perfection just as it’s time to be replaced,” says Benedict Evans when telling people that mobile is going to eat the world. And it’s true. As one technological ecosystem becomes obsolete, it is replaced by a new model that expands to fulfill the needs of an even larger market. So, Intel out.

Is has been predicted that 70 per cent of the sub-Saharan population will be on 3G network connections by 2019, and that 80 per cent of the world’s adult population will have a smartphone by the end of this decade. In other words, the market for the IT industry is, for the first time in history, everyone on this planet. Intel thought that the “complete” internet was available on a PC while smartphones offered a “miniature” version of the web. That view has been upended and smartphones now offer a more mobile, flexible, full-featured internet experience. Mobile has eaten Intel’s lunch.


Playground: The next Big Thing, again

Friday, 15 April, 2016 0 Comments

The history of computing over the past four decades shows that a new platform emerges roughly every 12 years or so:

So, what’s next? Artificial intelligence as a service. Andy Rubin has created Playground, which aims to create a manufacturing and development platform for AI-equipped devices. Playground will build a common infrastructure for these, just as Windows did for PCs and Android did for smartphones. It’s all about the device, not the network:

“At this point, that big, big idea may sound familiar. For the past several years, technol­ogists have heralded the dawn of the Internet of Things — networked thermostats, lightbulbs, refrigerators, and other gizmos that talk to one another. Companies like Google, Apple, and Samsung have all built proprietary ecosystems to enable that communication and are racing to convince manufacturers to build products for them. But Rubin says they have it backward; ecosystems arise to support popular products, not the other way around. Play­ground’s first step is to provide startups with the tech­nology to build new devices; the network will emerge later.”

That’s a quote from “Andy Rubin Unleashed Android on the World. Now Watch Him Do The Same With AI,” which appeared in the March issue of Wired. Earlier this week, John Battelle expanded on Jason Tanz’s article in a NewCo piece titled “Android’s Founder Wants To Give The Internet A Body.” Now that house prices in San Francisco have fallen for the first time in four years, one gets the feeling that the search for the Next Big Thing is taking on a new urgency around the Bay Area.

Playground


comma.ai

Monday, 4 April, 2016 0 Comments

Given its name, one might think that a business titled “comma.ai” is working on a venture that combines punctuation and artificial intelligence. And the story gets more curious when one learns that it’s hiring “Competitors:”

Competitors: People who have done well at math competitions(USAMO, PUTNAM), competition programming(ACM, USACO, codejam, topcoder), science fairs(ISEF, STS), or capture the flag(DEFCON, secuinside, GITS). Those competitions don’t just select for ability, they also select for quickness. We are in a very competitive space.

comma The company slogan is “ghostriding for the masses”, which might be an obscure reference to punctuation, but it’s a nod to transport, in fact, because the brains behind this is George Hotz, a brilliant hacker, who has built his own self-driving car. He’s now forming a team of machine learning experts specializing in hardware, software and data, and Andreessen Horowitz announced today that it is leading a $3.1 million investment in Comma.ai.

Interestingly, it was on this day in 1994 that Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark founded Netscape. Eight years later, it was acquired by AOL in a deal valued at $4.2 billion. Back then, it was all about the web. Today, the key words are mobile, data and AI. On 21 February, the startups investor Chris Dixon wrote a post on Medium titled “What’s Next in Computing?” Snippet:

“I tend to think we are on the cusp of not one but multiple new eras. The ‘peace dividend of the smartphone war’created a Cambrian explosion of new devices, and developments in software, especially AI, will make those devices smart and useful.”

Comma. Punctuation, is? interesting!


Mobile is everything, everywhere

Friday, 19 February, 2016 1 Comment

On Monday, the annual Mobile World Congress begins in Barcelona and the slogan this year is “Mobile Is Everything.” Those who follow the industry, will be aware that the Barcelona motto echoes the title of a presentation made by Benedict Evans in October 2014: “Mobile is Eating the World.” Both claims sound somewhat bombastic, but that’s only because many people are unaware of how powerful smartphones have become.

Most mobile phones today are equipped with an array of sensors and these enable completely new kinds of connected experiences. This can be seen in the title of a Barcelona event titled Digital Farming and Connected Car. Visitors to the “Digital Farming” presentation will see how “how field sensors transfer data directly to the farmer — with important information on water needs, fertilizer supplies and the right time of harvest.” The informed farmers will then drive (laugh?) all the way to the bank in their SEAT Connect cars, which will “initiate parking and fueling transactions,” while “Payment will be conveniently done in-car through Samsung Pay.”

“Where there’s muck, there’s money” was the old saying about farming. The updated version goes, “Where there’s data, there’s money.”

Looking at the bigger picture in which connectivity is redefining farming and transport, we find ourselves in a world where our bodies, homes and factories are becoming part of an invisible network of sensors called the Internet of Things (IoT). Is mobile a subset of this Fourth Industrial Revolution or is it the catalyst? That’s the debate that will rage this year. In Barcelona, it seems that they’ve made up their minds: Mobile is everything.

Mobile World Congress


Paja escribir!

Monday, 29 June, 2015 0 Comments

Figures from the fourth quarter of last year showed that 78 percent of South African mobile internet users were active on WhatsApp. Malaysia was second on the global list and, in third place, was Argentina. What’s driving this? Well, WhatsApp is simple to use, it’s free, it’s fast and there are no ads, no games or no gimmicks. And there’s another thing in South America: voice messages. WhatsApp introduced voice messages in 2013 and users in Argentina have fallen in love with the feature.

Writing in Motherboard, Kari Paul notes that the voice message fits with Argentina’s talkative culture. “The volleying of voice messages often starts off with the same phrase: ‘Paja escribir,’ or ‘Too lazy to write.’ Then the exchange begins.” The result? “Everyone in Buenos Aires Is Communicating by Voice Memo Now.”


Body of glass

Monday, 2 March, 2015 0 Comments

“Seemed like the real thing, only to find mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind.” That’s what Blondie sang in Heart of Glass back in 1978. At the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona last night, glass was front and behind when Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge phones. According to Gigaom, “Samsung has done away from the plastic cases that always characterized its phones and adopted Gorilla Glass front and back panels, which are then encased with a metal band.”

This is very good news for Corning, and it reminds us of the glass stats cited by Benedict Evans in his “Mobile is Eating the World” presentation last year.

Glass

Note: “Samsung has be known to copy Apple’s design before, which led to record sales and record-breaking lawsuits. It’s hard to say if the Galaxy S6 will bring about any lawsuits, but the similarities between it and the iPhone 6 are undeniable.” Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge from Barcelona.


The ideology of digitality

Monday, 12 January, 2015 0 Comments

“Never mind the platforms,” writes Leon Wieseltier. “Our solemn responsibility is for the substance.” His essay, “Among the Disrupted,” is a fierce attack on what he calls “the ideology of digitality.” Snippet:

“All revolutions exaggerate, and the digital revolution is no different. We are still in the middle of the great transformation, but it is not too early to begin to expose the exaggerations, and to sort out the continuities from the discontinuities. The burden of proof falls on the revolutionaries, and their success in the marketplace is not sufficient proof. Presumptions of obsolescence, which are often nothing more than the marketing techniques of corporate behemoths, need to be scrupulously examined. By now we are familiar enough with the magnitude of the changes in all the spheres of our existence to move beyond the futuristic rhapsodies that characterize much of the literature on the subject. We can no longer roll over and celebrate and shop. Every phone in every pocket contains a ‘picture of ourselves,’ and we must ascertain what that picture is and whether we should wish to resist it.”

Talking of phones, here is a photo by Peter Dejong/AP of people holding their mobile phones in front of Rembrandt’s painting, The Night Watch, during a visit by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, with King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on 5 April last year.

Amsterdam

Tomorrow, here, fear of AI (artificial intelligence) and its role in “the tyranny of technology.”


Amazon and the mobile shopper

Monday, 29 December, 2014 0 Comments

Two big little sentences in the Friday, 26 December, press release from Amazon: “Nearly 60 percent of Amazon.com customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday. Mobile shopping accelerated as customers got later into the shopping season.”