Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Boot up: pricing personal data, sizing mobile apps, dwindling tablets

Google Nexus 7 Small tablets are suffering from competition from big phones and big tablets. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

A burst of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

In total, the team ran 596 auctions over 60 days and paid out a total of €262 in the form of Amazon vouchers to 29 participants. The median bid across all the data categories was €2. They also paid out €100 to one of the participants with the highest response rate who they chose using a raffle.

The results clearly show that some information is more highly valued than others. "We have found that location is the most valued category of personally identifiable information," say Staiano and co. And participants tended to value processed information more highly as well because of their perception that it gave a greater insight into their lifestyle.

But interestingly personal information becomes even more highly valued in certain circumstances. For example, the study covered two unusual days. The first was a holiday in Italy known as the Immaculate Conception holiday. The second was a day of particularly high winds which caused multiple roadblocks and accidents.

"The median bids for all categories in these two days were significantly higher than for the rest of the days in the study," say Staiano and co. In other words, participants value their information more highly on days that are unusual compared to typical days.

€2 per day is over €700 annually. You can read the Arxiv paper.

I think unbundling is a strategy that has not yet been applied with vigor in the emerging markets on smartphones. I think there are potentially disproportionate advantages to be had by unbundling in countries like India, in the short- to medium-term. Why is this? Because low device memory limits (typically less than 16 Gb), low bandwidth limits (mostly 2G) and relatively high bandwidth prices result in dramatic drops in conversion rates, download success rates and retention rates as app size increases. Also, in my opinion, discovery on the app stores is easier when there is a single focused value prop (kind of the approach that Whatsapp has taken with a singular focus on messaging).

The graph of downloads against file size is persuasive.

"Tablet PC demand in 2014 is being affected by falling demand for the 7" class in emerging regions and in China, where many local white-box brands have experienced lower-than-expected shipment growth," said Hisakazu Torii, vice president, smart application research at NPD DisplaySearch. "Most major brands have recently reduced their business plans for 2014. There is a risk that the replacement cycle for tablet PCs will lengthen beyond the one to two year range unless brands can develop more attractive usage scenarios."

Forecasts declining notebook sales.

In Hua Qiang North Market, the heart of asia's electronics market, there is a building called YuanWang Digital Mall.

There are dozens of iPhone 5 & 6, iPads, and Macs such as Mac Mini's and Macbook's. These units vary from real, and fake units. All the real units and all their accessories are  being showcased and traded throughout that mall, and later sold and distributed around the whole world. Almost all the goods there are smuggled goods from HK, due to 17% tax at China customs, so smuggling to avoid high tax is very very profitable.

On May 27th, Shen Zhen Customs (Shenzhen anti-smuggling governing body), and Hua Qiang street authorities, stormed the YuanWang Mall to try to catch some of those smugglers and whoever was said to sell Apple/Samsung/Nokia/etc units, or fake Apple/Samsung/Nokia units. More than 120 government officials are involved in this operation.

Apple may have had a role in this raid, since Apple have the ability to track all serials & activations between HK and China.

There are 3 major smugglers and sellers who own 10 warehouses, 38 shops inside the mall, and around the area have been caught. During these operations more than 2 thousand people witnessed the whole raid, making it such a scene in the area.

Colin Eberhardt:

A few months ago I published a blog post which showed the results of analysing the meta-data of 75,000 apps from the iTunes App Store. This analysis revealed some interesting results; 75% of apps are free, 60% have no ratings and the Entertainment category has the worst user ratings. This blog post continues the analysis by adding 60,000 Android apps into the mix.

For those of you that like their information presented in tweet-sized portions, here are some quick results

• The iOS store has 3.5x more business apps than the Android store, and 2x more Education apps.
• Both stores have roughly the same number of free apps, at 75%
• The most expensive category in the Android store is Medicine at $21 avg, which is double the most expensive iOS category, Business, with an average price of $12.
• The average user rating of Android apps is slightly lower than iOS apps
• The Apple store has 3x more apps with zero user ratings.

Would have been nice - with the Android apps (as it's not available for the iOS store) - would have been an analysis of the number of downloads. (Thanks @HotSoup for the link.)

A German court has ordered Motorola to stop selling selected smartphones in Germany to do a dispute over the design of their antennas. The company's flagship Moto X, Moto G, and other devices infringe a patent for "Laser Direct Structuring" that is owned by German engineering firm LPKF.

"On July 8, 2014, the Mannheim Regional Court ordered Motorola Deutschland and Motorola Mobility USA to refrain from selling cell phones in Germany that infringe the patent and ordered Motorola Deutschland to recall all cell phones that infringe the patent from commercial customers," LPKF said in a statement today.

Recall the phones from customers? That's going to be fun. (Via @arebee on Twitter.)

Leisa Reicheit:

At the airport earlier today I had to switch my ticket from one flight to another. Joy was the customer service person who helped me do this.

Joy's notebook is about two inches thick, she's created an A-Z index for it, it is packed full of handwritten notes about how to do different tasks in the various system she uses – steps that need following, codes that need inputting. It sits beside her every day, beautifully decorated (with stickers) evidence of the horrendous usability of the software she uses to get her job done.

Joy has been working for this airline for years. She told me that some of the stuff that is in her notebook she doesn't need anymore – either because they've upgraded to a new system or that, after years, she's finally managed to memorise it.

She told me that each time they upgrade the system it seems to get harder, not easier, to use. Joy told me that all the customer service reps have a notebook like this. You can't use the systems without one. Joy is digitally literate and confident with the computer, but it is impossible to use without the notebook.

Joy is frontline staff for a major international airline.

Trouble it, it's never Year Zero at an airline, so there's never a chance to start over afresh.

Josh Constine:

"Go disr*pt yourself" is what I have to say to founders of startups like ReservationHop and Parking Monkey.

They're emblematic of a compassionless new wave of self-serving startups that exploit small businesses and public infrastructure to make a buck and aid the wealthy. Let's call these parasites #JerkTech. It's one thing to outcompete a big, stagnant company with new technology. It's another to screw over the little guys just because you can sell what's usually free.

So what do these tools do? ReservationHop places phony reservations at the hottest San Francisco restaurants, and then sells them for $5 or $10 apiece on its site. That makes it harder for the common man to get a reservation, since if they call the restaurant directly, they'll find all the spots taken.

And if ReservationHop doesn't sell the spots it stole? Tough luck for the restaurant, which just had a table go empty or wasted a half hour because the fake Dick Jerkson that ReservationHop put as the name on the res never showed up.

beyond the annoying limitations of carriers and the realities of software development, there is a further mechanism that can - and in some cases, does - restrict the availability of certain Windows Phone features in particular markets. Documentation seen by Neowin, shown to us by a source at one of Microsoft's hardware partners, describes how OEMs must comply with "Embargos" set by Microsoft, which may prohibit or restrict distribution or announcement of certain features within the Windows Phone OS.

For example, on WindowsPhone.com, Microsoft says that Wi-Fi Sense - a feature that allows users to automatically connect to wireless networks, and share Wi-Fi details with trusted contacts - "is not available in the following countries/regions: Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand."

Not explained: why (beyond services that might just not be ready in some countries, eg Cortana/speech) Microsoft would do this.

Jon Russell went travelling and has some notes:

In no particular order:

• Lots more people using iPhones (and to a lesser extent Samsung smartphones). What struck me most is that folks you wouldn't expect to have them – such as migrant workers in Bangkok, who catch the bus to back up-country on their breaks – have older devices, like the iPhone 4 or 3GS. All the usual apps, Line, Instagram, Facebook, etc are on-board (from what I've seen) thanks to the fact that iOS supports older devices like no other platform. Unlikely that money is being spent, but very likely that users are highly-engaged and active (most have probably spent most of their time online in an Internet cafe).

• Lots of folks with two phones. A feature phone for calling, and an older smartphone for games, apps and other computer-like activities. This is their version of an affordable tablet/computer, I guess, and feeds back to the above.

• A great many smartphone users still evidently on pre-pay deals, as they toggle 3G data settings on/off. Also watched a number of people toggle location on/off, presumably to check-in on Facebook or Foursquare, while taking into account older devices have older batteries which drain quicker.

• Most tablet usage appeared (at least from what I saw) to be among middle-class and upwards. Spotted more Galaxy Tabs than iPads, but not sure that is a country-wide trend.

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