Tuesday, September 9. 2014
iPhone 6 launched today, apparently the "Biggest Advancement" in iPhone history. In 2010 we made some predictions about iPhone 6 specs based on a Moore's Law progression (see chart above, written in 2010 - as a commentator notes, 2010 "Hot PC's" had gone up a few notches too by 2014), we thought it would be interesting to go back to that - we were estimating it would:
- Launch in 2014 (got that right)
- 4Ghz processor (actual apparently 25% faster than the 1 GHz processor in the iPhone 5)
- 2 Gb RAM (not yet known but unlikely to be 4Ghz)
- 256 GB Memory (currently only 128, same as iPhone 5)
- 1.2 kppi (currently at iPhone 4 levels, at c 330 ppi, but has a slightly bigger screen)
Now it could be that an "iPhone 6s" will come along with more oomph, we shall see, but right now its an iPhone 5+
It is a bit thinner, so chalk a semi-win for Moore there as its also longer so little change in actual volume, and the battery lasts c 20% longer than an iPhone 5 playing music - but its probably a bigger jump in reality as the iPhone 6 is feeding a bigger engine and doing more internal "added value" tasks.
Pricing is always a hard one to track with mobile phone deals, by our rough estimate its about 2/3 that of the initial IPhone 5 launch price, so maybe we shouldn't be too harsh about capability - you don't get a halving of the price AND a doubling of your capability every 2 years - but its mainly Android competition pushing the price down rather than a Moore's effect we reckon, that was much less a concern in 2012.
Now to be fair, we reset this prediction once iPhone 5 came out, but even applying Moore's Law to iPhone 5 would have predicted better than these iPhone 6 specs. But it is still interesting to look at rate of development by Moore's Law vs actual nonetheless over a number of cycles to see the rate of development. By our 2010 Moore's Law predictions, the new iPhone6 is actually more an iPhone 5 with "added value" lateral functionality rather than a new product cycle in capability. Certainly not the "biggest advancement" ever.
There is an iPhone 6Plus (bigger screen device) but it too is no further on than the 2012 Androd Nexus 4*
Whether the development cycle has slowed mainly due to a falling off of Moore's Law, or more due to price point pressure, is an interesting thought for the next 4 years.....
* Hat Tip James Cridland for that link
Today Apple unveiled the next iPhone (v 6), which pretty much follows our Moore's Law iPredictions, and a watch - Grauniad.
The Apple Watch will monitor health and fitness, tracking the wear’s movement, heart rate and activity with built-in sensors, feeding the information into Apple’s Health app for the iPhone and iPad, allowing review and analysis of the data.
Most people stopped wearing watches when mobile phones became ubiquitous. But this is no ordinary watch though, it watches you - and sends the data on to Big Apple.
This is called progress, in the same way as the choice of U2 as the promo band..... perhaps the Police would have been better?
Friday, September 5. 2014
There is a new trend emerging, perhaps - these 2 posts from Nick Carr & Awedience blog's Chris Arnold are thought provoking.
In essence, Nick argues the that the big, imepersonal, autobotted and analysed social mediascape is becoming counterproductive:
These trends, if they are actually trends, seem related. I sense that they both stem from a sense of exhaustion with what I’m calling Big Internet. By Big Internet, I mean the platform- and plantation-based internet, the one centered around giants like Google and Facebook and Twitter and Amazon and Apple. Maybe these companies were insurgents at one point, but now they’re fat and bland and obsessed with expanding or defending their empires. They’ve become the Henry VIIIs of the web. And it’s starting to feel a little gross to be in their presence.
Now Nick is a fairly reliable curmudgeon, but much of his scepticism is based on hard analysis so this is an interesting observation. Nick is pretty good at setting current trends into historical aptterns, one cann imagine that big data driven SM may well go the way of pop-up Ads. (there is already a movement gaining momentum to limit how much user data can be picked up)
Map to that an interesting observation by Chris Brogan, who I've always seen as a "everything's rosy" kind of fellow, but note this piece from Awedience on the idea of Warm Data:
Have you ever seen that whole “we’ve got mountains of data on our customers” experience play out? In lots and lots of cases, most organizes aren’t really equipped to actually do anything with the data. And “big” data just means that there are mountains of information points that, in the right hands, can make interesting things happen.
If I were to pour cold water on this (as if...) I'd say this is just Personalised Data, reheated - and this message about the medium is a year or so old....but it's been striking a chord again recently and sort of fits in with Nick Carr''s observations. Awedience makes another interesting point, quoting Rob Hatch:
There’s a big counter-trend going on where people are pushing harder and harder to automate and dehumanize their use of communications tools like social media and email and the rest of the digital channel. Go ahead. Do that.
Now, 2 tropes do not a trend make, but seems to me the Social Media market is starting to recognise a distinction between mass produced commodity SM and high value SM as a value proposition, not an interesting theoretical concept. The limits to "big" social media automation benefits may be approaching, perhaps. Which stands to raeson - any market eventually shakes out into a commodity type offering. midrange offerings, and more added value/one off offerings so its clear SM will too (and faster than we think, perhaps)....
Tuesday, September 2. 2014
For those who are not aware of the unfolding story, this is a summary from Channel 4 News:
Bear in mind that in theory they have committed no crime that should trigger a Europeam Arrest Warrant either, yet one materialised astonishigly rapidly.
But that is the main story. However, there has been a very interesting secondary story to this, for those interested in Social Media. There was quite a lot of poor information disseminated at first by the "official sources" via mainstream media (for example unnecessary scare mongering about safety, and aspersions about the parents). The kindest conclusion one can come to was that there was initial confusion and now continuing uncertainty over what is permissable to divulge. The net effect was to paint a very negative picture of the parents for public consumption.
However, the parents used Social Media very well to get their side of the story across in the face of this mainstream narrative:
Clearly this will be an increasing trend - it's hardly new, after all - the medium may be the message, but with multiple mediums multiple messages can get out. But what the lesson is here is the high quality of the messaging that a fairly ordinary family is capable of today, and that the size of the "alternative medium" channels to spread it can trump the mainstream. Control of the message on the Old Media is a busted flush if these new channels pick up the story (If.....there are lkely many worthy cases that do not go viral, so its not a failsafe for the "little man" - but its a start)
Now there is probably information that the authorities cannot divulge, that would help explain their position and actions better, but right now they are coming off very badly by keeping quiet in this multi-medium model. Senior Government figures are now stepping in to halt the impending sh*tstorm before it gets fanned all over them, which will only increase the kicking these services get. Which points to the inevitable corollary to this event (all actions have reactions, 'tis the law....). If the services involved - medical, police, legal - did make available some of the confidential information they had, and it would help stop them inevitably being seen as the chumps in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario, they will be under increasing temptation - and pressure - to do so. I can imagine that currently mores of patient confidentiality may well shift to more of a "dump if provoked" process - i.e. data will be let out if the other party starts to refer to it.
You read it here first....
(Update - as predicted, the senior poiticos got involved, and are now busy scoopng up the plaudits...and more interestingly, the hospital concerned has published some of its notes of the medical situation in its defence. )
Whoever could have predicted that naked pictures of famous people stuck up in the Cloud would ever be hacked and published. Surely not, I hear you say?
Well, in ths case it was an open secret the system was compromised- Business Insider:
The ability to gain access to Apple's iCloud accounts has been an open secret among users of porn message boards for years, with enterprising users charging others to "rip" accounts and share nude photos.
But even if it was not an open secret, from an information security point of view data in Cloud systems is a nightmare compared to data on your own systems. Consider the ways data can be compromised when shifted to the Cloud:
What could possibly go wrong?
Of course there is now much examination of the stable door post horse bolting, but it's a basic truism of data security that there are always more smart people trying to break in than people trying to keep them out, and putting one's precious private eggs in public baskets doesn't help matters. There shall be more of these attacks for some time. If you want to keep something private, the Cloud is not yet the place for it.
The Second Law of the Internet is still true - If you don't want private stuff made public, don't stick it on the Internet.
Friday, August 22. 2014
Richard Dawkins (respected/hated Evolutionary Biologist and loved/hated Atheist) has touched off yet another Twitterstorm, via that unfortunate habit Evolutionary Biologists (and Vulcans) have of looking at humans from a viewpoint of mass mathematical game theory participants, rather than as - well, humans. Cue yet another Twitterstorm du Jour. (Huffington Post summaries it best):
The irony of Dawkins being called "immoral" by religious and various other "strong beliefs" based groups often proposing far worse things is piquant, but there is an even bigger irony here with Mr Dawkins doing this. He actually was the first person to coin the term "meme" and to postulate how they work. So, depending on your point of view on Mr D, he is either a master memeticist or a complete c*nt who has been hoisted on his own memetic petard by the #Offended on Social Media.
Oh yes - there were 12 points to the Huffpo article, and these are the clinchers I think:
11. Attempting to squeeze a few last hits out of the now-subsiding "outrage", a journalist will write a meta-piece attempting to explain the anatomy of a Dawkins Twitter scandal*.
He is clearly a master memetic tactician therefore, Twitterstorms and meta-pieces being the sign of memetic success - but whether continuing to offend large numbers of people in exchange for viral Twitter publicity is a good strategic memetic play is less clear. Wildean theory says it is effective, but in a Social Media Age where everything you say remains online to be held against you, it may not be. After all, one of the first lessons of social game theory is being nice wins - eventually...
*13. Attempting to extract the last ounces of traffic, a blogger writes a snarky piece on the whole affaire...
Monday, August 11. 2014
Very interesting article in the Economist about "Entrepreneurial" vs "Innovation" economics. the whole article is well worth reading as it is one of those very rare items in the UK "Tech Startup" space - a systemic analysis with actual numbers. There are 3 key points dealing with the UK's current Startup / "Every Person is an Entrepreneur" craze:
Firstly, State money is wasted on funding too many entrpreneurial SMES with too little money, they do nothing for the economy overall:
....once you take into account the number of SME jobs lost after the first three years of their creation, there is very little net job creation by these firms. Only 1% of new enterprises have sales of more than £1 million six years after they start. Research at the University of Sussex shows that median sales of a six-year-old firm is less than £23,000 (Storey, 2006). These firms also tend to be the least productive and least innovative (R&D spending—the best measure we have for inputs in the innovation process—in Tech City is not higher than in other parts of London or Britain). Indeed, the few high growth innovative firms (about 6% of the total SME group, Nesta, 2011)—those that really should be supported—do not directly benefit from the hype that surrounds SMEs and startups: once they get the funds these are too diluted to make a difference.
Secondly, what the State should be funding is an Innovation ecosystem, not an Entrepreneurial/Startup one per se
Innovation-led “smart” growth has occurred mainly in countries with a big group of medium to large companies, and a small group of SMEs that is spun out from some of those large companies or from universities. These firms have benefited immensely from government funded research. Indeed, in my book I show how many firms in Silicon Valley have benefitted directly from early-stage funding by government, as well as the ability to build their products on top of government funded technologies.
The author points out that nearly every "entrepreneurial startup" in Silicon Valley today would not exist without huge US government funded projects that underpin it's technology, and direct low cost (aka non VC) early days investment - Apple is a case in point:
Every technology that makes the iPhone smart was government-funded (internet, GPS, touch-screen display, SIRI). Apple spends relatively little on R&D compared with other IT firms precisely because it uses existing technology. It applies its remarkable design skills to these technologies, effectively surfing on a government-funded wave. Apple, Compaq and Intel also all enjoyed the benefits of early-stage public funds (SBIC in the case of Apple, SBIR in the case of Compaq and Intel).
Thirdly the UK's state spend on innovation and pull through is small by competitive standards. Silicon Valley was largely built on the huge government backed spendiing, not the VC community - and it is probably still the real case:
Silicon Valley firms were initially not funded mainly by venture capital. It came in after the ball had got rolling thanks to funding by the Department of Defence, the Department of Health and, more recently, the Department of Energy. In fact, there is increasing evidence that many startups are told by venture-capital firms to go first to SBIR and then come back (Block and Keller, 2013).Venture-capital funds are not providing the kind of patient long-term finance needed for radical innovations. They are too focused on a profitable “exit”—usually through an IPO or a sale to a bigger company—within 3-5 years. But innovation often takes 15-20 years.
This sort of state pull through is what China is using too, and the numbers are measured in $ Trillions. In fact even in Europe, the UK underperforms hugely on this sort of state investment:
In Germany such links are created by well-funded Fraunhofer Institutes. In Britain these are being imitated through the Catapult centres, which in theory should be linked to Tech City-type projects, either through procurement policy or via learning. Currently there are no links between these. And whereas the Fraunhofer system has an annual research budget of €1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) and a network of 20,000 staff across 60 centres (in 2010), Britain’s Catapult centres were given just £200m to spend over 4 years. When the Tech-City gurus in Number 10 Downing Street criticise the Technology Strategy Board, which is in charge of the Catapult strategy, for not being more like Darpa, they ignore the very different size of TSB’s budget in comparison with Darpa—and even more the fact that the TSB does not have the market creating potential that Darpa does.
Leads to a fourth point, about the competence of No 10's "Tech City Gurus" and advisors - but that's for another post. To end though, the observation is if small beer is what the government is willing to put into the game, its better to spend it on tertiary education and R&D, where impacts are proven, rather than launch a million underfunded startups:
Research at the University of Cambridge (Hughes 2008) suggests that the British government spends (directly and indirectly) close to £8 billion ($13 billion) annually on SMEs—more than it spends on the police and close to the amount it spends on universities. Is this warranted? How do we know it would not be better to simply direct that money to teachers where there is plenty of evidence that quality education raises human capital and growth.
This post is just a summary, I recommend reading the article.
Tuesday, June 24. 2014
Robobuzz (Source: NESTA - see link in text)
As readers of this blog may know, we started watching Robotics again in about 2008* when it became clear to us that the advance of Moore's Law meant that finally enough computer power and battery life made it possible to build robots with all their systems onboard, so they could become self-mobile and (to an extent) self directing. This change was labelled "3rd Generation" robotics (as always it was hyped long before it became reality, but over the last 5 years or so there has been a tipping point), and heralded a "Cambrian Explosion" in new robot design. This happens in every new technology, see here re: ships, steel and steam for example, and a plethora of ideas (and companies) start up up in the Darwinian ooze of the startup ecosystem, until eventually the category killers emerge.
Anyway, you know the robobuzz is well and truly ringing the bells of the early mass mind when someone like NESTA produces a 100+ page book on Robotics, it is called "Our Work Here is Done", and I read it over the weekend. It's a series of essays by various people on the topics of robot evolution, robot economics, robots and society, and of course What is To Become Of Humanity.
As to the individual papers - as you'd imagine, they're a bit curate's eggy, but there is a lot of good stuff, and some real nuggets in just about every paper. There are 4 main sections:
Overall though it is a good introductory overview to all the emerging socio-economic issues. My two critiques overall are that:
- it is light on the actual technologies and how it all works, IMO its useful to have a grasp of the basic emergent technologies - stops the flights of the the fanciful.
But with those caveats, its a cracking read.
I'm sorry I missed the launch, as one of Broadstuff Towers' all time heroes, Carlota Perez,, gave a keynote talk and it was excellent (see here). She would be the first to note there is usually quite a bit of Destruction before the happy Creation phase. I suspect that will also be the case for robot futures - take longer to happen, be nastier while happening, and take longer to get better. As one grounded participant (Ben Russell, Curator of Mechanical Engineering at the Science Museum) tweeted:
"The cry of forthcoming robot revolution won't be "I'll be back" or Exterminate, but 'Unexpected item in bagging area"
No one knows what to do with those who will be displaced by this industrial revolution, but at least this time round most of the writers note the displacement will happen...
(*Bit of background - my Honours dissertation & design project was on Robotics, years ago when they were very 1st generation - I reckoned robots were at least 30 years away from being more than auto-Waldos and went on to d other stuff, but now things are getting very interesting again).
Wednesday, June 18. 2014
People Invested $1 Million In An App That Just Says ‘Yo’
"It’s not just an app that says Yo,” says Mr Arbel. “It’s a whole new means of communication"
'nuff said... are we getting to an age when every startup gets $1m just for existing? Will tomorrow see $1m for an App that says Ni! ?
As was noted by James Surowiecki* in the New Yorker, the problem is increasingly not getting started and seeded these days, its finding a way out the Darwinian stew of all the other crap ideas encouraged to start up - and this ain't the way to fix that.
* Author of Wisdom of Crowds
Friday, June 13. 2014
When the Twitter IPO was mooted, we believed that although the company has potential, one of the major risks to its future valuation was its management - see here for example, where we wrote :
6. As always though, realizing potential comes down to execution.
The fun and games this week was totally predictable (see above...), now we await part 2 of our prediction - an Eric Schmidt type character brought in to reassure investors.
Who's your money on?
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