iTWire - iTWire - Fuzzy Logic iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs http://www.itwire.com Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:49:59 +1000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Zuckerberg Selfie Stick – can Zuck stick it to himself? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62414-zuckerberg-selfie-stick-–-can-zuck-stick-it-to-himself? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62414-zuckerberg-selfie-stick-–-can-zuck-stick-it-to-himself? Zuckerberg Selfie Stick – can Zuck stick it to himself?

Ruslan Kogan, Australia’s e-tail revolutionary, has created a stick not so Mark Zuckerberg can go stick it, but so that he can take his very own selfie, while giving Ruslan Kogan some much loved free publicity.

On the very day that I decide to stick it to Mark Zuckerberg following his mind-numbingly ironic advice to the US Government to stop “blowing it” on surveillance, comes a gadget designed to help Mark Zuckerberg share more of himself with the world.

This gadget, which I’m sure I’ve seen before somewhere online before Ruslan Kogan created it, is called the “Selfie Stick” – which comes with the "bonus" of Facebook and Instagram compatibility.

It’s not being called the Kogan Selfie Stick as you might imagine, but instead, the Zuckerberg Selfie Stick, albeit with a good-humoured warning to Mark that if he doesn’t actually use the stick in the manner in which Ruslan Kogan hopes, the stick will be renamed the “Kardashian Selfie Stick”.

Ruslan Kogan’s “open letter” to Mark Zuckerberg can be read here, where we see that Ruslan has gone to the trouble of sending Zuck the very first Selfie Stick to come off his production lines, and recorded the fact that DHL advised of successful delivery in his letter.

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The Selfie Stick itself is on sale here, for the bargain price of AUD $19 which includes free shipping.

The stick is portrayed with an "old-fashioned" digital camera screwed onto the camera attachment, giving you up to 22cm of length with which to properly position your camera – and a handy mirror which lets you see the camera’s rear screen that you’d otherwise be unable to see.

Old-fashioned digital cameras come with timers, thus theoretically giving you enough time for ideal camera placement, although anyone using their smartphone (in some kind of case that has the standard tripod attachment screw) will presumably have to use a third-party camera app with timer feature, for such a timer isn’t part of the standard iPhone camera app, for example.

That isn’t a problem though as there are gazillions of third party camera apps out there.

The big question now is whether Mark Zuckerberg will take Ruslan Kogan up on his challenge to actually use the (for now) eponymous Selfie Stick to take a selfie that would presumably end up on Zuck’s own Facebook page.

However, from Ruslan’s point of view, it doesn’t matter whether Zuckerberg ever uses it or not, for the obvious initial goal of free global publicity and presumably a few sales has already been reached.

Of course, should Zuck shy away from the rather straightforward challenge, presumably because he is so busy with his quest to eliminate privacy from human existence, then the Kardashian Selfie Stick will be born.

I just hope Ms Kardashian doesn’t decide to use it while riding backwards, naked on a motorcycle. Especially when she isn’t wearing a helmet (or anything else).

That said, Ms Kardashian isn’t camera shy, having already famously appeared in an earlier video without any clothes on, and while a stick of sorts did apparently make an appearance in that video, it presumably wasn’t Ruslan’s.

Which reminds me of the fact Ruslan reportedly has a big pen. Is that a happy enough ending?

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 26 Nov 2013 23:13:52 +1100
Is Zuckerberg ‘blowing it’ with Facebook surveillance? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62411-is-zuckerberg-‘blowing-it’-with-facebook-surveillance? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62411-is-zuckerberg-‘blowing-it’-with-facebook-surveillance? Is Zuckerberg ‘blowing it’ with Facebook surveillance?

Facebook Mark Zuckerberg says he thinks the US Government “really blew it” over its surveillance programs, but he has no problems in using Facebook as the world’s biggest privately owned spy program.

When it comes to Facebook and privacy, then entire world knows that “Facebook privacy” is an oxymoron, as I wrote about way back in 2010.

So when I read an article in Bloomberg, quoting a US ABC program called “This Week”, I certainly did a double take.

Here’s the world’s richest social networker, who seemingly lives to play with end-user privacy in ways that are just as nefarious as Google, suggesting that the US Government “blew it” on its global surveillance programs.

What is wrong with Mark Zuckerberg that he’s all worried about the US Government, but doesn’t give two hoots that he keeps changing the privacy settings on people’s Facebook pages, so much so that he or Facebook itself often ends up having to make public apologies?

{loadposition alex08}Zuckerberg is taking the world and his users for suckers.

He is quoted by ABC’s This Week program saying: “They're continuing to blow it in some ways and I hope they become more transparent. These things are always in balance, in terms of doing the right things and also being clear and telling people about what you're doing."

Yeah, well, Mr Zuckerberg, perhaps you should be practising what you preach, especially as you practise the world’s most opaque transparency ever seen – even more opaque than Mr Transparency himself, President Obama.

After all, there are countless stories of people finding things having mysteriously changed after one of Facebook’s famous privacy policy re-writes, with content once private suddenly available for others to see or find through searches.

The article then explains that Zuck has been getting involved in political issues. Well, of course Zuckerberg is getting involved in politics – his questionable nature and ethics are what landed him the goldmine that is Facebook in the first place, and like a politician, Zuckerberg only truly cares for himself – not you, dear reader (and likely Facebook user).

Mr Zuckerberg then goes on to suggest that illegal immigrants in the US who have lived there a long time should be given the right to stay in the US, incredibly suggesting it is a “civil rights issue”.

What a load of crap! What if you had someone illegally living in your roof or a spare room for years – does the length of time they’ve been there change the fact that they’ve broken the law?

Since when did possession go from nine tenths of the law to ten tenths?

Mark Zuckerberg really is living on another planet – the same planet as the Google exec who suggested privacy isn’t the natural state of human beings.

Then, Mark Zuckerberg tried to give President Obama an out over the appalling failure that is the Healthcare.gov site.

He said that: “Sometimes stuff doesn't work when you want it to. We've certainly had plenty of mistakes and things that haven't worked the way that we want to. The right thing here is to keep on focusing on building the service that you think is right in the long term."

Yes, just like Soviet Russia which took 70 years to “keep on focusing on building the service that you think is right in the long term”. We all know how THAT turned out.

In the end, something wrong can never be right, and what you end up with is a revolution.

Mark Zuckerberg had better hope, for his sake, that revolution never entails his users taking the red pill and waking up, realising they’ve been stuck in Zuckerberg’s private matrix – for his entertainment and profit – at the expense of yours.

The thing is, revolutions are always coming, especially when the world turns to tyranny as it slowly is doing now.

In the end, I guess that revolution will be Facebooked like it was in Egypt - if it isn't all squished first by all that US Government surveillance Mark Zuckerberg is so sincerely concerned about. Thanks, Mark!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 26 Nov 2013 13:32:27 +1100
Aldi’s $35 ‘unlimited’ plan: now with limits http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62375-aldi’s-$35-‘unlimited’-plan-now-with-limits http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62375-aldi’s-$35-‘unlimited’-plan-now-with-limits Aldi’s $35 ‘unlimited’ plan: now with limits

Aldi Mobile’s once “unlimited” $35 voice plan has seen the introduction of new limits that remove much of the plan’s allure, a move that makes Boost Mobile on the Telstra network the best non-Telstra pre-paid provider, while also providing a handy fillip for MVNOs such as Amaysim.

Telstra’s dalliance with third-party MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) ISPONE has seen the destruction ISPONE itself, the closure of the once super-popular Kogan Mobile service, and now sees limits imposed on Aldi Mobile’s unlimited plan.

Kogan Mobile and Aldi Mobile were once ISPONE customers, but while Aldi Mobile was able to do a direct deal with Telstra itself for survival, Kogan Mobile has since tried doing deals with Optus-powered MVNO Yatango and Telstra-MVNO powered Telechoice for its customer base.

Two months ago to the day, Aldi Mobile then stunned its pre-paid user base by cutting the once surprisingly generous 5GB monthly data allocation in half, to 2.5GB per 30 days, as iTWire reported at the time.

But now comes more pain, with Aldi Mobile’s Critical Information Summary PDF explaining the new limits on what was once a $35 per 30 day unlimited voice plan.

{loadposition alex08}The plan price remains the same - $35 per 30 days, but now you’re limited to “up to 2500 minutes to standard national fixed lines and standard national mobiles, 13, 1300 and 18 numbers and voicemail”, “up to 2000 SMS to standard national mobiles”, “up to 500 MMS to standard national mobiles” – alongside the still halved 2.5GB data limit.

Given the fact that Aldi Mobile customers were pre-paid only, disaffected Aldi Mobile customers need only port their service to another MVNO should they so desire, but it certainly does make you wonder what new limits for Aldi Mobile’s services are yet to come, with the $15 for 2GB data-only SIM potentially next on the chopping board.

These moves, which are presumably all at the behest of Telstra, bode well for the pre-paid Boost Mobile service, which operates as a Telstra MVNO.

Unencumbered by the limitations of using only “part of the Telstra 3G network” as is Aldi Mobile and Telechoice, Boost gets full access to the entire 42.2Mbps-class Next G network, although Boost Mobile customers don’t get access to Telstra’s 4G network.

Boost Mobile charges $40 per month for 30 days of unlimited Australian voice calls to landline, mobile and 13/18 numbers, unlimited SMS and MMS messages alongside 3GB of data.

However, given the changes to Aldi Mobile, Boost Mobile customers can only be wondering whether they’re next for the chop, although given Boost’s direct relationship with Telstra from the start, Boost Mobile customers can only hope Boost’s deal is a tad more robust than we’ve seen the industry and various customers suffer.

While there are countless other “pure” MVNOs out there on the Optus network alone, the most well known is arguably Amaysim, seeing as it has no stores or the presumably much higher level of expenditure of Virgin Mobile.

Amaysim offers a very similar package to Boost, with the main differences being that it is 10c per 30 days cheaper than Boost, while offering 4GB of data, albeit on Optus’ slower-than-Telstra 3G network.

So… while Aldi Mobile’s deal is still a good one, especially on a historical basis, it will certainly make many of its customers wonder whether it’s time to change to better value plans with Boost, Amaysim or someone else.

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Fri, 22 Nov 2013 18:40:23 +1100
Scroogled: Keep calm while Microsoft gouges Google http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62369-scroogled-keep-calm-while-microsoft-gouges-google http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62369-scroogled-keep-calm-while-microsoft-gouges-google Scroogled: Keep calm while Microsoft gouges Google

Google must be feeling screwgled by Microsoft’s endless mocking, with the “magic of software” mavens making hay over Google’s non-gregarious groping of your digital data and online life through hilarious new anti-Google Microsoft merchandise.

As you can see from the image above, Microsoft really hates Google. It hates Google so, so much, that it seeks to make money from anti-Google merchandise bearing boorish slogans stating statements along the lines of “Keep calm while Google steals your data”.

Although Microsoft itself no doubt “steals” as much data as it can from users of its Bing search engine, Windows operating systems, Windows hardware and more, the mighty Microsoft sees merit in mauling Google as garishly as possible.

After all, given Google’s rise from back-rubbing page ranker to back-stabbing data stealer and privacy pincher – much of which has been at Microsoft’s expense – it’s easy to see why Microsoft is mad.

So, while Microsoft tries valiantly to make a better Bing, while it tries to wake up Windows 8.1 sales, while it tries to promote its phones, while it tries to send Surface sales into the stratosphere, while it tries to excite Xbox sales, Microsoft is also engaging in guerrilla anti-Google marketing.

{loadposition alex08}Microsoft is, of course, no stranger to such marketing attempts, having been at the receiving end of similar-style statements from Apple over many years.

An Apple T-Shirt a friend purchased for me from Apple’s Californian campus a few years ago states that Cupertino is 859 miles and 180 degrees from Redmond, while we’ve all heard Apple’s taunt that Microsoft needs to fire up the photocopiers in Redmond once more.

Of course, back in those days, Apple’s money making was a mere drop in the bucket compared to the mega-millions Microsoft was making.

While Apple is a vastly stronger competitor today than it ever was, Google’s gargantuan gorilla-like gumption has been an even greater eye-gouging threat to Microsoft, thanks to all those cheap Androids and Chromebooks that simply didn’t exist just a few short years ago.  

So… whatever you think of Microsoft’s marketing mischief making, it certainly is quite a sight to see the Microsoft attack in action.

It’s also interesting to see Google simply responding with its products and services, rather than proffering a range of prissy anti-Microsoft paraphernalia.

The Chrome browser, Chromebooks, Android and all of Google’s products serve that role already.

None of this is to excuse Google’s ever increasing overreach, in terms of prying away our privacy, or ruining beloved services such as iGoogle or Google Reader.

It’s just that, if Google wasn’t making an impact, Microsoft wouldn’t feel so compelled to mischievously market anti-Google products with so much malice.

So… if you too would like to poke some fun at Google, Microsoft’s “Scroogled Store” awaits your credit card.

We also await to see whether or not any “Microstuffed” or similar campaign emerges from Google, but somehow, as explained, we doubt it, for their entire existence is already so anti-Microsoft, which is just one of the reasons why Microsoft is so mightily miffed!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Fri, 22 Nov 2013 15:00:43 +1100
Click Frenzy statement: Kogan generates frenzied clicking http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62328-click-frenzy-statement-kogan-generates-frenzied-clicking http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62328-click-frenzy-statement-kogan-generates-frenzied-clicking Click Frenzy statement: Kogan generates frenzied clicking

Ruslan Kogan, the world’s most frenzied customer clicker, has issued a statement following news reports of a cease-and-desist letter sent to Kogan by the Click Frenzy camp.

Ruslan Kogan sure knows how to stir the pot and quicken the clicks, having learned a thing or two from the world’s best earners of free PR and publicity, and even managed the crack today’s jackpot: a cease-and-desist letter from the Click Frenzy company.

Everyone knows that attempts at getting anyone to cease and desist anything can dramatically increase the publicity for that which you are trying to have ceased and desisted, although perhaps for the folks at Click Frenzy, this is exactly what they wanted.

No, not for Kogan of course, but for themselves, especially seeing as some in the Australian tech media seem to be dripping with contempt for the Click Frenzy operation.

{loadposition alex08}Perhaps some of those tech journo types wish they had the courageous cojones to craft a Click Frenzy-like site of their own, but I can only speculate, seeing as some of the contempt is real given the meltdown of Click Frenzy’s site last year.

We first looked at Kogan’s crafty copying of its own single-store Click Frenzy concept earlier this morning, in an article entitled “Kogan clucks clique of clacker-free pre-Click Frenzy deals”.

Then, following news reports of Click Frenzy sending Kogan a cease-and-desist notice, we published an article entitled: “Click Frenzy telling Kogan to click the cluck off?”.

In that second article, we published some of Kogan’s comments on its Click Frenzy conundrum, which we’ll copy here – but which is followed up with some new commentary from the cool and crazy cats at Kogan HQ.

“Click Frenzy's attempt to own the concept of an Online Sales Day would be the same as Harvey Norman trying to own the concept of a Boxing Day Sale. These sales events should happen organically with retailers responding to consumers' needs.

“In the same way that Boxing Day sales started happening organically, because all retailers had excess stock after Christmas, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the US grew organically with retailers independently electing to promote sales on these days, we can have similar initiatives in Australia too, and we’re hoping to convince other retailers to put forward their best offers too independently of some central managed body, which merely tries to profit off the sale event.

“The online retail industry in Australia is big enough that it can sustain a huge day of discounting without a central body - retailers should band together to put their best foot forward for customers, on a single day event for online shopping. No one company should own Christmas Sales, Boxing Day Sales, or Online Sales events - these events are not any individual person's or company's for the taking, they are "owned" by the shopping community in general.

This day is all about the shoppers. It’s all about the best deals. The deals available at Kogan speak for themselves - we encourage all shoppers to compare online and save. We're confident Kogan's Frenzy deals are much better than anything promoted through Click Frenzy.”

So, now is where we see Kogan’s new commentary, where he presumably coolly and none-too-coyly collected himself before committing to text that:

“We congratulate Click Frenzy on achieving a registered trademark over the words Click Frenzy. While this is certainly a laudable achievement, we do question whether the registration of this trademark grants a monopoly to Click Frenzy over online frenzies, clicking or any other form of sale activity.

“In our view, no one person or company should be able to monopolise either frenzies or clicking. It is a basic right of online shoppers to click frenziedly, when seeking to take advantage of a hot online deal, and all online retailers should be free to offer awesome deals at any time of their choosing.

“If Click Frenzy is truly an organisation devoted to establishing a day of awesome online sales, then they should be happy that Kogan is offering great deals right now. Unfortunately, the fact that Click Frenzy is upset with Kogan's offers seems to imply that Click Frenzy cares more about profiting from an Online Sales Day than it does about ensuring shoppers get the best deals possible.

“An Online Sales Day should be an organically generated event, like Boxing Day Sales, where all online retailers independently decide to promote awesome offers. Awesome deals generate frenzied clicking, and not the other way around.”

Presumably it is Kogan’s use of the term “Click Frenzy” in one of its site URLs, and in whatever image it was I copied and which can be seen in my original article.

Kogan will likely have to be more cagey when appropriating the registered trademarks of others, but Kogan presumably knows all too well – like the Zuckerbergs and Grace Hoppers of this world – that it is better to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.

Hopefully all this frenzied clicking from all sides won’t end up in the courts, lest Click Frenzy become Court Frenzy – although as is well known, and as we've mentioned before, there’s no such thing as bad pub-click-ity.

So, wherever you click, click on, click in and click out, the medium and (modicum of discount) is, as always, the true message!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 19 Nov 2013 17:28:47 +1100
Click Frenzy telling Kogan to click the cluck off? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62327-click-frenzy-telling-kogan-to-click-the-cluck-off? http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62327-click-frenzy-telling-kogan-to-click-the-cluck-off? Click Frenzy telling Kogan to click the cluck off?

There must have been cuckoo clocks going off over at the Click Frenzy campus in alarm at Kogan’s clever attempt to pre-click the Click Frenzy sale by over 12 hours, with a cease-and-desist letter reportedly sent Kogan’s way.

Earlier this morning we brought you the story of Kogan.com’s own “Klick Frenzy”, not that Ruslan Kogan or Kogan.com ever called it that.

The story was entitled “Kogan clucks clique of clacker-free pre-Click Frenzy deals” and looked at Kogan’s clever attempt at gazumping the Click Frenzy sales stampede.

Naturally, Kogan isn’t the only canny retailer with cunning enough to cajole clients into clicking their way, for everyone knows that the early clicker gets the worm – especially if they’ve clicked, clacked front and back. So to speak.

Update: Kogan has reponded with an expanded, updated statement to reports of a cease-and-desist letter from the Click Frenzy people, details are here.

Original story continues below:

{loadposition alex08}So, it was with some interest that I read in The Age online that Kogan has received a legal threat from the official Click Frenzy organisers in the form of a cease-and-desist letter.

The first thing I thought was the official Click Frenzy cats must be crazy – everyone knows that trying to ban or stop something only increases publicity and sales for that which is trying to be stopped or banned.

Of course, you don’t have to be click-happy to know that some people just never quite understood “PR 101” or “website traffic management 101” (at least when the official Click Frenzy website first started), but there’s hope for the official Click Frenzy people – at least they too are basking in free publicity, something that at least clicks with the well worn statement that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

I reached out to Ruslan Kogan earlier in the day, before knowledge of Click Frenzy’s cease-and-desist letter became public (and before I knew anything about it), and received a statement which mirrors some of which is published as Ruslan Kogan’s own commentary in The Age.

Here Ruslan Kogan states that: “Click Frenzy's attempt to own the concept of an Online Sales Day would be the same as Harvey Norman trying to own the concept of a Boxing Day Sale. These sales events should happen organically with retailers responding to consumers' needs.

"In the same way that Boxing Day sales started happening organically, because all retailers had excess stock after Christmas, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the US grew organically with retailers independently electing to promote sales on these days, we can have similar initiatives in Australia too, and we’re hoping to convince other retailers to put forward their best offers too independently of some central managed body, which merely tries to profit off the sale event.

"The online retail industry in Australia is big enough that it can sustain a huge day of discounting without a central body - retailers should band together to put their best foot forward for customers, on a single day event for online shopping. No one company should own Christmas Sales, Boxing Day Sales, or Online Sales events - these events are not any individual person's or company's for the taking, they are "owned" by the shopping community in general.

"This day is all about the shoppers. It’s all about the best deals. The deals available at Kogan speak for themselves - we encourage all shoppers to compare online and save. We're confident Kogan's Frenzy deals are much better than anything promoted through Click Frenzy.”

So… I doubt that Ruslan Kogan or any of the other “frenzy-inspired” sales sellers are too worried about cease-and-desist letters, and are simply basking in all the hard-earned cash they’re earning from what has become yet another reason for an ever earlier sales season, and presumably, anyone that doesn’t like it can click the cluck off!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 19 Nov 2013 16:12:52 +1100
Kogan clucks clique of clacker-free pre-Click Frenzy deals http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62319-kogan-clucks-clique-of-clacker-free-pre-click-frenzy-deals http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62319-kogan-clucks-clique-of-clacker-free-pre-click-frenzy-deals Kogan clucks clique of clacker-free pre-Click Frenzy deals

Ruslan Kogan, the world’s rowdiest e-tail rogue, is gazumping Australia’s yearly Click Frenzy phenomenon by jumping in more than 12 hours before the actual Click Frenzy website kicks off with a stack of for-real sweet deals.

Anyone who has been online over the past couple of years has heard of the Click Frenzy website, a site which aims to bring the US-style “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” special deals down under.

UPDATE: Kogan.com has reportedly received a "cease-and-desist letter" from the official Click Frenzy organisers - more info here in an article entitled: "Click Frenzy tells Kogan to click the cluck off?".

UPDATE 2: Kogan.com has issued an updated statement, which we've covered in a third-follow-up article entitled: "Click Frenzy statement: Kogan generates frenzied clicking."

Original story continues below:

The US sales revolve around the US tradition of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving sales, and really helps to kick off the 30+ days worth of shopping (and shipping) time before Christmas day itself arrives.

Although Australia doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, the large volume of retail and online sales is one that any modern economy would want to copy, with the local ClickFrenzy team having more or less done that, despite some Click Frenzy meltdown fails last year that saw too much traffic trip into Click Frenzy's servers.

So, it should come as no surprise to see Australia’s richly roguish e-tail retailer, Ruslan Kogan, launching his own last-minute bid to pre-click the sales of the Click Frenzy sellers, with Kogan’s logo not appearing amongst the raft of regular Click Frenzy retailers.

Although Click Frenzy itself won’t click off until 7pm AEDST tonight, Kogan’s own personal version a click frenzy sale kicked off at 7am AEDST this morning, promising deals on “hundreds of tablets, smartphones, TVs, gadgets, home appliances, and more”, with all details of the deals available here.

{loadposition alex08}Proudly proffering deals of “up to 80% off”, we see a 16GB iPhone 5c model on sale for AUD $589, a 32GB Samsung Galaxy S3 for $409, a 4G 32GB HTC One for $559, a 32GB Wi-Fi iPad Air for $669, a Canon Powershot S110 for $239, a Nikon D5200 DSLR camera with 18-55mm VR kit for $619, a full HD 3D Kogan Blu-Ray player for $109, a Kogan 46-inch TV for $469, a Kogan 47-inch Full HD 3D TV for $599 and plenty more.

Naturally, Kogan.com CEO Ruslan Kogan was easily able to rustle up some rousing reasons for ripping into the pre-click sales season, not only predicting huge sales for online Christmas shopping, but also stating that: “While we’re glad to see other retailers waking up to the fact that Australians want a great deal online, shoppers shouldn’t have to wait for a small window of a few hours for the best deals.

“Starting right now, Kogan.com has the best prices in Australia for Christmas in 2013 -- online or offline. What’s more, we’re not going to invade your TV viewing and shout at you to tell you this. Our prices speak for themselves.

“More gifts under Australian Christmas trees will be bought online than ever before this year. We’re seeing huge rises in shoppers looking for the best deals on headphones, coffee machines, smartphones, tablets, and TVs.

“We’ve already helped over two million Australians save money on consumer electronics, and we want to help millions more”.

No doubt Ruslan Kogan’s bank balance will be richly rewarded with millions, too, but it seems that’s what happens when you’ve got the guts to take on Australia’s biggest retail dinosaurs and do your best to out-sell them with discount deals on first and third party products in a way that generates more free publicity than even Richard Branson could snare with his usual bevy of PR stunt beauties.

To see the technological beauties Ruslan Kogan has surrounded himself with in his own Branson-esque cunning stunt-making, avoid any frenzies and just calmly click here.

Here's to some clucking good clicks!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Tue, 19 Nov 2013 09:09:35 +1100
An open letter to Frank X. Shaw re: Apples and Oranges http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62027-an-open-letter-to-frank-x-shaw-re-apples-and-oranges http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/62027-an-open-letter-to-frank-x-shaw-re-apples-and-oranges An open letter to Frank X. Shaw re: Apples and Oranges

The following satirical post is 70% from Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft, 2% from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO and 28% from me, Alex Zaharov-Reutt, Technology Journalist and Sometime Satirist (TM). There's a message for Mr Shaw at the end, an invitation to reply with a better try.

Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications, has written an article that seeks to debunk any positive impact from Apple making iWork apps free for Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and even Windows PCs in the browser for anyone with a freely acquirable Apple ID by suggesting that Office 2013 on Surface tablets makes all the productive difference in the world. Among other things.

This article looks at what this piece might have been like had it been written in 2007, and includes real, actual quotes from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer slamming the iPhone and its chances of success, which you can check by clicking the source links for yourself.

Mr Shaw’s article, entitled Apples and Oranges, dated 23 October 2013, regarding Apple’s moves to make iWork apps free is here.

Below is the re-imagined, fast and fluid version from the not too distant past:

Apples and oranges: the 2007 edition

September 5, 2007 11:24 AM

I’m still over in 2007, where the only thing hotter than the weather are the new Windows Mobile and iPhone comments unveiled by Steve Ballmer at the USA Today CEO Forum, about the iPhone, which we’ll get to in a moment as they are so stunningly on the mark - just like I am today.

I have to say, I’m really excited for the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 with its calendar and Internet Explorer Mobile browser so I can keep a close eye on more people, more news, more stuff.

Of course, even with the stylus-driven and physical keyboard-enhanced Windows Mobile Palm Treo 700w smartphone I’m using right now, I could easily spot some coverage today that needs to be corrected.

Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino.

So let me try to clear some things up.

Note: If you are the TL;DR type, let me cut to the chase over the next 20 paragraphs, with only occasional use of the Enter key and my kinda unique, kinda cool stream-of-consciousness-style. Windows Mobile 6.x phones include an exclusive mobile version of Office, the best there is, from us, Microsoft, the guys and gals that make it, the world’s most popular, most powerful productivity software for free with every Windows Mobile smartphone, and many models are priced on contract well below the insanely expensive $599 iPhone, which just got cut to a still crazy $399 today. Making Apple’s decision to build the unproven, unpopular and less powerful “Iphones” without even basic features like copy and paste, nor video recording, nor even any third party programs is not a very big (or very good) deal.

{loadposition alex08}Since we launched the Pocket PC line years ago, which we originally called the Palm PC in an attempt to rip, I mean, riff off the Palm Pilot, we later introduced Pocket PCs with phones in them and called them Windows Mobile smartphones. We’ve been doing this for a long time now. Embrance, extend. Extinguish as needed. Enjoy. Lather, rinse, repeat. 10 Print "hello world", 20 goto 10. End. It's basic stuff.  

One of the themes we’ve consistently used to talk about them is that they are a terrific blend of productivity and entertainment in one lightweight, affordable package. In fact, we’re confident that they offer the best combination of those capabilities available on the market today. I mean, everybody knows that Windows Mobile phones absolutely rock (well, they rock my world) and Windows Mobile 6.5 is going to make it EVEN BETTER!

That’s not an accident, it’s exactly what we set out to design. We saw too many people carrying two devices around (a PDA and a basic phone) and dealing with the excess cost, weight and complexity that “dual carrying” entails.

We believed that there was another, better way: A Windows Mobile phone built to offer great stylus and button keyboard based entertainment activities combined with a productivity powerhouse that helps people crank through the stuff they have to get done before they watch zombie movies converted to the industry-leading WMV format or flicking styluses accidentally off the screen when screen scribbling in a hurry. Alongside using their actual PCs for real work, rather than tapping away on a tiny screen with a stylus.

That’s what Windows Mobile 6.x is. A single, simple, stylus-enabled affordable device that helps you both lean in and kick back. Let’s be clear – helping folks kill time on a Windows Mobile is relatively easy. Give them books, music and videos on the Windows Mobile media player and games like Solitaire and other stuff out there on Handango, and they’ll figure out the rest. Pretty much all smartphones do that - Symbian powered Nokias, those Sony Ericsson A1000 models, so none of this stuff is revolutionary, and three quarters of it the iPhone just doesn’t do at all. The iPhone doesn’t even have any kind of Office at all either, unless you’re telling me Notes is a word processor. Us having Office is kind of a big, big, big deal. Did I mention Office was a big deal?

But helping people be productive on Windows Mobile is a little trickier. It takes an understanding of how people actually work, how they get things done, and how to best support the way they do things already.

The good news is that Microsoft understands how people work better than anyone else on the planet. We created DOS, Windows 3.11, Windows 95, XP, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows Live Search. We killed Netscape, Amigas, Ataris, Microbees, Apple ][e's, C64s - you name it in the tech world, and we're probably the ones that helped kill it - indirectly, directly, it doesn't matter. We did just release Vista earlier this year but hey, don’t worry, we’ll have a better, faster version out in around two years, which isn’t that long to wait. Sorry about the decades between XP and Vista though. Our bad on that one and Vista too (but shh, don't mention it. Or the war. The Apple vs Microsoft thing was won long ago - by us).

Look, we created the personal computing revolution by giving people around the world a low-cost, powerful, easy-to-use piece of software loaded onto OEM hardware from Dell and whoever that helped them accomplish an unbelievable array of tasks - all in the era well before today’s Internet connectivity, in a world of floppy disks, in a world where we had crushed Apple decisively before, even lending the company $150 million to stay alive.

We’ve done the same with Windows Mobile smartphones. We have over 50 partners globally. We have all the big and small names in every form factor imaginable, all with our gloriously amazing Mobile Office, the Office compatible software that makes all the difference from the people that make the real, full Office on your computer. Those Office people. Not Officeworks or OfficeMax. Office. Not The Office on TV (neither British nor US version). Not the Oval Office. But Office. From Microsoft. That Office.  

This is a big deal. It’s bigger than apartments and leather bound books smelling of rich mahogany. I mean, it’s big. BIG big. Mobile Office on Windows Mobile is what sets Windows Mobile apart. This is a brand, an OS, a UI and a paradigm set to stand the test of time – free Mobile Office inclusion only makes its enduring success to come even more so.

And together, Windows and Office ended up reaching every corner of the globe and powering every academic institution, industry and profession. Of course both Windows and Office are evolving all the time – to reflect the way people work today – more file formats, more mobile and connected through the email attachment.

Now we’re doing this with Windows Mobile phone, and you can be certain: the future for Windows Mobile is strong. This iPhone nonsense is, as Steve Ballmer says, something businesses – or most anyone – isn’t going for.

Windows Mobile -OWNS- the business market - heck we’re about to release Windows Mobile 6.5, our best yet - that business and consumer market share isn’t going anywhere, and no-one else is going to be dumb enough to try and compete.

iPhone is a rip-off name too, like iPod was. Windows Mobile ran on an iPaq long before Apple’s iRipoffs landed on the scene.

Steve Ballmer was asked at the recent USA Today CEO Forum summit what he thought about the iPhone and if people were going to get as passionate about it as the iPod.

Steve Ballmer replied: “It's sort of a funny question. Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? (Laughter.) I want to have products that appeal to everybody.

“Now we'll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players. There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.”

“In the case of music, Apple got out early. They were the first to really recognize that you couldn't just think about the device and all the pieces separately. Bravo. Credit that to Steve (Jobs) and Apple. They did a nice job.”

“But it's not like we're at the end of the line of innovation that's going to come in the way people listen to music, watch videos, etc. I'll bet our ads will be less edgy. But my 85-year-old uncle probably will never own an iPod, and I hope we'll get him to own a Zune.”

A bit later, Mr Ballmer was then asked: “Q: When can we look forward to a Zune phone?”.

Steve’s reply was: “A: It's not a concept you'll ever get from us. We're in the Windows Mobile business. We wouldn't define our phone experience just by music. A phone is really a general purpose device. You want to make telephone calls, you want to get and receive messages, text, e-mail, whatever your preference is. The phone really is kind of a general purpose device that we need to have clean and easy to use.”

That’s what Windows Mobile is.

I mean, I heard a rumour that Google is looking to make a phone that going to look like a BlackBerry ripoff. What, them in the phone business, too? Hahahaha… Give me a break.

That’s even weaker than this iPhone thing Jobs has released, after all, what does a stupid search engine company know about making smartphones and operating systems, for goodness sakes? It’s never going to happen - you can take Frank X. Shaw’s word for it, bet your house and get me to eat my hat word for it. I’m that serious. Someone will ask me one day, “Why so serious?”. Because I am. That’s what the X in my name stands for, you know. Xerious. Seriously? Yes. Blame my parents.

Anyway, heck - we literally wrote the book on getting things done, and doing things over, like IBM, Apple in the first two and a half decades and of course our users. And that’s how we knew that Windows Mobile 6.5 needed to include three things to help people do their best work:

1. The gold standard in productivity software for mobile devices – Office Mobile, not some QuickOffice clone garbage or lame iWork rubbish like on Mac OS. I can’t see that cheap, feature free “suite” ever coming to iPhone, a device which doesn’t run third party programs anyway.  

2. Faster and more precise input methods like a stylus and a real keyboard - none of this stupid “typing on glass” business, it’ll NEVER take off as slow iPhone sales and iPhone price cuts (but no cut and paste) are already demonstrating.

3. The ability to use third-party programs and documents from store partners like Handango and others, allowing the comparisons, analysis and synthesis that happens frequently during browsing smartphone program stores from different companies.

We haven’t bothered to make our own smartphone program stores, or a mobile application store over the past few years - we let our retail partners do that. I mean, we’ll never make our own hardware - that’s what our partners do. We make software. That’s a promise - Alan Kay never knew what he was talking about, poor idealistic fool that he was - that idea nearly put Apple out of business and would have if we hadn't saved them! 

So, that’s what we delivered. And it’s why the Windows Mobile 6.5 and Office Mobile-powered smartphone is the most productive smartphone you can buy today. We also knew that it would make our competitors take notice.

That as consumers got a taste of devices that could really help them get things done, they would see alternatives as being more limited - and, after all, you can’t get as limited as Apple with its iPhone that can’t even copy and paste, can’t multitask, can’t record video, can’t use 3G data, doesn’t have a camera flash, can’t run Adobe Flash, can’t run third-party programs, doesn’t have a stylus and doesn’t even have a physical keyboard!

And so it’s not surprising that we see other folks now talking about how much “work” you can get done on their devices, like with weak sauce Office clones on Symbian or the pathetically weak Google Docs effort. Adding watered down productivity clones just isn’t that big of a deal. I mean, I can’t smell the mahogany or the leather.

iPhone doesn’t even have aftermarket input devices - our Pocket PCs and Windows Mobile devices have had plug-in and even Bluetooth keyboards for years. All in an effort to convince people that our Windows Mobile devices are really work machines.

In that spirit, Apple announced yesterday that they were dropping their iPhone price for the 8GB model from $599 to $399.

Now, since the iPhone has never gotten much traction, with now the 4GB model to be abandoned to due lack of interest, and was already priced like an afterthought of the original high 8GB iPhone $599 pricing, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move.

And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a stylus and physical keyboard for true input mastery and quick access to multitasking.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading some of the coverage I’ve read today. Perhaps attendees at Apple’s event were required to work on iPhones devices that don’t allow them to have 3G connections or third party apps, so let me help them out by highlighting the following facts:

• Many Windows Mobile 6.5 phones are less expensive than the iPhone 4GB and iPhone 8GB respectively, and yet offer more storage, both onboard and in the SD card slot expansion capability.

• … come with full versions of Mobile Office, including Mobile Outlook, not non-standard, non-cross-platform, imitation email programs that can’t share photos, videos or other attachments with the rest of the world.

• … offer additional native productivity enhancing capabilities like the stylus, SD card slots and multiple form factors to choose from, with and without button keyboards.

• … include interfaces for opening multiple mobile programs, either from our standard industry-recognised “Start Button”, all layered with programs you can easily open to fit the way most people actually work. iPhone doesn’t have third-party apps.

So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight iPhone, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up.

I think they, like others, are waking up to the fact that we’ve built a better solution for people everywhere, who are getting things done from anywhere, and who don’t have hard lines between their personal and professional lives. People who want a single, simple, affordable device with the power and flexibility to enhance and support their whole day. :)

That’s Windows Mobile 6.5. With cut and paste. And 3G. And a stylus. And a physical keyboard if you want a device with a physical keyboard. And third-party software. And inbuilt email, inbuilt Solitaire. All of this choice is the very embodiment of a better solution.

It’s top secret, but our first “Retail Experience Center” or Microsoft Store will open in a couple of years, so don’t bother coming to our headquarters, but go to any cell phone store to see the gloriously large range of Windows Mobile phones at all kinds of price points, from HTC, Motorola, Samsung, LG, iMate, HP and many others.

If you want more of me, Frank X. Shaw, you can go back to the future with my 2010 article where I look at Microsoft by the numbers, which notes a projected 7.1 million iPad sales in 2010 compared to projections of 58 million netbook sales and 355 million total PC sales in 2010.

Go further back into the future and compare that with Cupertino’s Reality Distortion Field now trying to distort you into reality realising Tim Cook’s revelation that 170m iPads have been sold to date, alongside the fact that netbooks are a dead category and PC sales have fallen for six quarters, the 170m iPad claim which can be seen in the first few minutes of this keynote.

But back here in 2007, all that is yet to come, and Windows Mobile 6.5 will soon rule the roost, thanks in large part to Office.  

After all, with all this success we’ve written the book on, no-one’s going to even remember what an iPhone is this time next year, let alone in the 2010s and beyond, so please, stop wasting my time with all this Steve Jobs hubris on how i-Wonderful this is and iPod in a phone blah blah blah.

It’ll never happen, because my name is Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft, and I know what I’m talking about. Xeriously!

The real TL;DR: This satirical post takes to task Frank X. Shaw’s actual post from the 23rd of October 2013 on how Surface 2 and Surface Pro with Office 2013 is going to slay the new iPads with free iWorks apps, except looking at it through the lens of 2007 when the iPhone was just released, which Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer expected to be a big failure, never getting more than 2 or 3% of the market. We know how that ended up, but what about Frank X. Shaw’s statements and previous predictions?

The article links to actual, real non-satirical news stories and blog posts, so take a look at Frank X. Shaw’s original post, then read mine again (instead of just this TL;DR section) and make up your own mind on what you think might happen with iPads, iWork, Surface 2 and Microsoft Office, and whether you think Frank’s actual version or the one from my alternate time-shifted universe which depicts what happened the last time big predictions from Microsoft didn’t quite go as planned.

Mr Shaw, do you have any comments on the above re-imagined scenario? Do you fear history repeating itself if you and Microsoft don't do a heck of a lot more to suport Windows 8.1, such as full-screen tablet touch versions of Office, and a raft of other quality first party apps of the GarageBand, iPhoto, iMovie quality? I know Microsoft has released some new apps, but Bing Food and Health alongside Movie Moments doesn't quite cut it, as such.

I'm not sure Office 2013 alone can save Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. It didn't scratch the surface of saving the first Surface and Surface Pro models, so while your positive bullishness is to be admired, and hopefully is a portentious harbinger of far better, stronger and more competitive times for Microsoft's Surface models (and the entire PC industry), but based on your own past history of "favourite numbers" and the sayings of one day perhaps Chairman-to-be Ballmer from 2007, reality turned out to be quite different.

It makes me wonder where this RDF reality distortion field is, and who's really using it. Xeriously!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Fri, 25 Oct 2013 03:18:14 +1100
Apple’s October 2013 MUST-SEE-KEYNOTE-TV: Brilliance. http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/61998-apple’s-october-2013-must-see-keynote-tv-brilliance http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/61998-apple’s-october-2013-must-see-keynote-tv-brilliance Apple’s October 2013 MUST-SEE-KEYNOTE-TV: Brilliance.

I’ve just watched Apple’s October 2013 keynote, complete with new iPads, iLife, Mavericks, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, iWork collaboration and more, and it’s a blast – such a great demo of the very latest technology in beautiful style that just works.

Hellllo Microsoft. Hellllo Google. Helloooo HP, Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and everyone else. Are you watching Apple’s October 2013 keynote presentation, unveiling and unleashing a cornucopia of new product?

What a presentation! You can watch it here at Apple’s site right now.

Simple and effective, the powerful presentation demonstrated all of Apple’s latest technological products and services, from the latest hardware through to awesome software, even including collaboration in iWork apps – from iPhone or iPad to Mac and even Windows PCs (presumably only in the browser for Windows) – free of charge with any new Mac or iOS device – with all available today but the iPads coming in November and Mac Pro coming in December. 

Over 1,000,000 apps in the iOS App Store. Over 475,000 iPad specific apps. Over 170 million iPads sold. This isn’t a reality distortion field – this is Apple bending reality to its will – and succeeding!

An amazing video was shown demonstrating how the iPad and iPad mini is being used by customers just played – and what a stunning range of places the iPad is being used, places PCs running Windows or Linux wish they were running as beautifully, powerfully and portably as we see in the ad.

Now an iPad video is playing – the video for the new iPad – now called the iPad Air! Thinner and lighter than ever before, this is the iPad we all originally thought we were getting after the iPad 2 – it just took a while to get here as Apple got the size down.

{loadposition alex08}Indeed, Jony Ive said in his video that Apple had been working on this design for years, so you can see just how long a view Apple takes on things, rather than being flustered at stock price fluctuations.

There’s also the fact the iPad Mini with Retina display now exists, with the A7 chip rather than any A6 copout, and even in a 128GB configuration, although the 5 megapixel camera seemingly remains the same and there’s no Touch ID feature for either iPad yet – or at least, not this year.

Despite the fact the critics will crow that there was no iWatch, Apple TV update or television real, all those articles you might have read wondering about Apple’s performance post Tim Cook officially taking on the CEO role full time have clearly been wrong.

Apple under Tim Cook has been very busy indeed working on new devices, including undoubtedly the long rumoured iWatch and Apple iTV device, along with who knows what else the crunchy creatives from California are cleverly crafting for the future.

Its computers, tablets, smartphones, software programs and services, beyond fuller iCloud synchronising, are seen as the best in the industry.

Microsoft is supposed to be a software company, but aside from endless Windows Live software versions, where is Microsoft’s true answer to GarageBand? Or iPhoto? iMovie?

Sure, Microsoft has released some updated new apps, including a new version of Fresh Paint and a basic Movie Moments app – but these aren’t in the same class or league as the brand new iLife apps. Please don’t bore us to death, Microsoft – you’re supposed to be a masterful software company – let’s please see some truly masterful software, get those photocopiers started up again in Redmond!!

Yes, the new Windows 8.1 tablets at 8-inches in size running Bay Trail still look extremely promising despite the brand new iPad mini with Retina display, but where are the apps? Apple has 475,000 knock-your-socks-off iPad specific apps.

Microsoft has a range of quality key apps by itself and some third parties including finally now Facebook, but certainly not all the big apps, and it has tons of shovelware, from endless Windows Media Player-esque ripoffs at various prices – all with different names and perhaps various logos but the same developer, through to inane “memory puzzle games” that steal the IP from Disney or whoever they are ripping off images from, several mostly lame Pacman clones and just endless samey-same-same Metro-blocky crude basic apps designed to catch Microsoft’s $100 per-app creation handout or whatever it was when that was happening.

There are good apps there, but there desperately needs to be so very much more, and now that Windows 8.1 has arrived, more are sure to come, but Microsoft needs to seriously quicken the pace – and focus on creating the most beautiful, the most compelling first party apps.

Free apps that are included with your OS have traditionally been crap you couldn’t wait to replace with something else. As always, Apple has turned that on its head – and did so long ago.

Meanwhile, desktop Windows still has the basic paint from Windows 95 with a ribbon interface upgrade, despite a new Fresh Paint for the Modern/Metro tablet interface. Microsoft the software company must re-commit and re-double its efforts to make the most stunning software – or it will always and forever lag behind Apple and eventually see its dominance fall by the wayside.

There is good there - Windows 8.1 is what Windows 8 should have been, and brings better split-screen all-app multitasking which we don’t see on iOS and only selected Samsung Androids for selected apps, but for all the good, Microsoft can still find ways to annoy its customers – the people that keep it in business.

Microsoft literally screws Windows 7 users who want to upgrade to Windows 8.1 with the extreme penalty of needing to re-load all existing desktop applications including Microsoft Office – something that wasn’t necessary with the now unavailable Windows 8 upgrade - while charging well over $100 for the privilege!

Apple, on the other hand, not only ensures Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks is free of charge, lets you upgrade from OS X 10.6.8 onwards on iMacs and MacBook Pros from 2007 and beyond. It delivers a software-powered hardware upgrade - and it doesn’t force you to re-install all your software!! This is customer service, not the customer service gruel that Microsoft is serving up and only revealing in the fine print isn’t upgrade caviar but forced re-install hell.

Then there’s Google. Google’s apps all look so drab, grey and utilitarian, save for the regularly changing logo, that you’d be forgiven for thinking you were a modern day version of Winston Smith, destined to end up with Google’s boot in your face and liking it, or while thinking “Brazil” style that you really have escaped from its bureaucratic and authoritarian clutches as you sit in the chair from which there is no escape beyond death.

Tablet apps for Android just aren’t up to par, either, what with stretched out phone apps making for unimaginative tablet apps. Sure, there’s vastly more hits than misses on Android when it comes to apps compared to the Windows Store, but both stand well in the shadow of the App Store. Perhaps standing on the shoulders of the giant Apple, in the shadow of an earlobe.

Apple’s closed garden might be a so-called prison all its own, but it’s the prettiest one with the most accessories, the most apps, the best apps, the best hardware, the best design, the best software. It’s the most open to usage, creation, consumption, collaboration with developers and third-party accessory and hardware makers.

Apple seems to eventually open up many things it once closed at first, simply because it knew the time was not yet right – even if competitors had been offering for years the features that Apple hadn’t.

Apple’s is the most open closed system there is, while Google’s so-called open system is the most closed there is. Microsoft is somewhere in between, desperately trying to copy Apple while hoping for Google-like levels of distribution, as was the case when Microsoft and Windows were at their pre-iPad-era peak, and hoping that Windows 8.1 is the big success, at last, that Windows 8 was supposed to be, as was Windows 7 before it.

What it comes down to is this – for all the companies in the world that have ever been thus far, whether it’s retailing, design, software, hardware, marketing – whatever it is – Apple is the adult in the room.

The rest of the world is running some kind of decades-long ongoing amateur clown show of mostly poor products and mostly poor customer service, with computers whose fans make their presence loudly felt, whose underpowered units populate (or is that pollute) various levels along sub $1000 price points with ever slower machines are destined to quickly be filled with adware, spyware, toolbars, so-called optimisation software and registry fixers, fake AV software, ransomware, malware, search engine browser default changes to rubbish like Snap.do and other search hijackers.

Even Google Chrome is able to have its defaults changed with the Google search engine itself removed from the list of search engines and no one-click way of getting it back. You can do a google search to find out the correct string to enter or you can uninstall and re-install to get the Google search default back.

What kind of silly nonsense is that? Why do we put up with it?

I use Firefox for the iTWire content management system but Safari (on a MacBook Pro, about to be upgraded to the just downloaded fresh new OS X Mavericks once this article is published) for everything else I don’t use my iPad or iPhone for, and I am unencumbered by stray toolbars and search engine hijacks or an endless rampage of adware – unlike Samsung Galaxy 2 owners I know whose phones have to be regularly cleaned of Android adware/searchware/get-in-your-faceware.

Microsoft, Dell, Google, HP, Asus, Samsung, LG, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba – everyone – you are simply not doing a good enough job compared to Apple. Your current performance leaves a heck of a lot to be desired. You’re doing it wrong, and copying Apple MacBook designs just isn’t good enough. Where is the true innovation beyond endless, now touchscreen capable but Windows-powered MacBook Air clones?

Your systems and solutions just aren’t up to par with Apple’s latest and greatest, let alone what was its latest and greatest 24 hours ago.

There’s a long, long way to go for the competition to catch up to Apple, let alone pull in front of it and eventually beat it.

Right now, there’s everyone else, and there’s Apple. Software. Hardware. Design. Manufacturing. Marketing. Retail. Customer Service. There’s everyone else – and there’s Apple.

Apple, under Tim Cook, has continued emanating its famous reality distortion field, now stronger than ever, with Apple having seen its vision become reality in a way that few could have predicted just a few short years ago.

Today, the world’s technological bar has been raised substantially higher, with Apple’s competition sorely needing a kick up the backside to see just how much better they could be doing at delivering incredible software and hardware to us, the end-users and customers that keep the companies alive that we love with our hard-earned dollars by choice, the ultimate free market vote.

If you want to see the future of computing unveiled right now, go and have a look at today’s must-see-keynote - or watch it again!

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Wed, 23 Oct 2013 07:43:46 +1100
Why I cancelled my gold iPhone 5s order with Vodafone today http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/61938-why-i-cancelled-my-gold-iphone-5s-order-with-vodafone-today http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/fuzzy-logic/61938-why-i-cancelled-my-gold-iphone-5s-order-with-vodafone-today Why I cancelled my gold iPhone 5s order with Vodafone today

As Vodafone Australia is the only telco in Australia offering the iPhone 5s on a 12 month plan on its website, I decided to reward the company with my business by ordering a gold 64GB iPhone 5s, but after a major customer service snafu by Vodafone, I’ve cancelled my order.

Let me first start by saying that in parts of greater Sydney and across the state of NSW in Australia today, bushfires have raged and reports suggest well over 50 homes have burned to the ground.

Dark smoke has billowed from Sydney’s west across the skyline, with some radio callers and announcers suggesting it almost looked like the giant mushroom cloud of a nuclear bomb.

Thankfully, at time of publication, there have miraculously been no reports of fatalities, with only one fire fighter in hospital being treated for burns and smoke inhalation, but as ash falls across parts of metro Sydney and as fires continue raging across the state, my thoughts go out to those who have lost their homes, the belongings, their photographic and other digital memories, their animals and more, and I thank God no-one but a brave fire fighter has been injured.

With some Australians facing life and death issues, having had to evacuate homes in several areas, my level of frustration with Vodafone clearly registers very lowly on the scale of importance compared to the real world catastrophe happening to fellow Australians, while reaching very highly on the scale of #firstworldproblems.

So, with all of that said and sincerely acknowledged, I want to explain why I cancelled my iPhone 5s order with Vodafone Australia today.

Vodafone Australia has gone through some hard times following its merger with Hutchison’s 3 Mobile, a situation which saw Vodafone without a 3G network able to cope with the demands of modern smartphones.

The debacle led to the Vodafail affair, where Vodafone’s customers experienced painful call dropouts beyond the norm, coupled with glacially slow Internet speeds.

Customers spoke with their actions and not just their words over the last couple of years, with an exodus of customers defecting to rival telcos.

Naturally, Vodafone has been slowly and steadily fixing and upgrading its 3G network in response, upgrading its network and deploying new 850MHz 3G base stations across the country, while also delivering superfast 4G in what Vodafone says is “selected metro areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane”, with availability “in other outer metro areas like Wollongong, Gold Coast and Newcastle that have 4G sites” and the promise of more new 4G sites being enabled “every week”.

Vodafone’s 4G network is even faster than Telstra’s in some capital cities – although Telstra still wins the 4G coverage and overall 4G race, having started so much sooner than its competitors.

Thus, the Vodafone Australia of today is in a far better position than it was two years ago, and has been actively working for some time now to make things even better – something it had no choice but to do if it intended remaining in business in Australia. (Article continues below ad.)

{loadposition alex08}


Because of Vodafone’s network improvements, and because it is the only major Australian telco with 4G to officially offer a 12 month plan for smartphones on its website (as its competitors only officially offered 24 month plans on their sites), and because I wanted to upgrade to an iPhone 5s, I decided to reward Vodafone with my business.

I was getting a new service with a new number and access to Vodafone’s superfast 4G network to complement my existing number on Boost, using Telstra’s Next G network. It doesn’t hurt to have the backup of two services on completely different networks.

So, on the day the new iPhones launched, I placed an order for an iPhone 5s by phone with a very nice lady in Vodafone’s new Tasmanian call centre, and having eventually successfully navigated the process of signing up for a new 12 month plan for a 64GB iPhone 5s on the Red $65 plan, I was told there would be a wait time of 2-3 weeks, which I happily accepted.

Indeed, I was on my way to an iPhone 5s and 5c briefing with Apple at the time, where past history suggested that journalists invited to a briefing receive a time-limited loan device for purposes of review, so a short delay in actually receiving my own iPhone 5s was inconsequential.

Even if I weren’t a technology journalist, I still wanted the phone – and indeed, still do, with a wait of 2-3 weeks hardly remarkable on launch day for Apple’s latest and greatest if you don’t get your order in immediately.

So, naturally, I’ve been waiting for a package to arrive from Vodafone over the past week or so, thinking to myself that it’s probably about time the iPhone arrived, especially after having become well acquainted with the iPhone 5s review model and its dramatic speed improvements over the iPhone 4S (which I was using as my primary phone), the vastly improved camera and dual LED flash and the unequalled Touch ID.

Instead of a nice package from Vodafone, the package I received was most unexpected: a phone call from a blocked number, from a lady that didn’t sound like she was sitting in Vodafone’s Tasmanian call centre, telling me they were from Vodafone and asking me for my 4-digit identifying passcode, which I gave.

I was told that my new iPhone hadn’t been delivered by the courier, who seemingly had an unspecified issue in delivering the package, and who then returned it to Vodafone, and was told that they wanted to check my address.

The rep told me the address they had in the system, which was the correct one. I gave some extra tips on the buttons the courier should press on the apartments intercom keypad to ensure the doorbell rang correctly – it’s a touch pad system that is nowhere near as efficient than an iPhone’s touch screen, and when you press the “bell” symbol it must say “call” on the dim red screen, which sometimes catches some couriers out.  

As the delivery address is always staffed in during working hours (and beyond), meaning someone was always there, and as both Australia Post and couriers have had few issues in delivering to me in the past, I just expected this call to mean there was a small delivery snafu that would see the phone delivered next week.

So, I then asked if the phone would now be re-delivered next week, only to be told that it would now take an addition six to eight weeks for the iPhone to arrive!!

That’s up to two months additional wait, suggesting to me, at least, that “my” gold 64GB iPhone 5s had simply been redeployed to the next person in line on the waitlist, with my order placed to the back.

Now, I’d ordered on launch day. There was no notice in my letterbox of failed delivery, or I’d have immediately called to arrange re-delivery or even personal collection.

Vodafone had already issued me an electronic bill by email, to have been automatically debited from my account on the 23rd of October onwards, for a pro-rata amount of approximately $83.

When I questioned whether I was hearing the six to eight week delay correctly, I was assured this was the case. Obviously I wasn’t terribly delighted to be hearing this news and decided that, if this is the way Vodafone is going to treat a brand new customer, then my decision to reward Vodafone with my business is revoked.

So I cancelled. I explained I did NOT want to cancel, but if their delivery stuff-up meant it was more important to get the phone back to Vodafone than getting it to a brand new customer, and if they really couldn’t deliver in the timeframe I was originally promised, for which they were already going to bill me, they really gave me no choice but to cancel.

Six to eight weeks is just not good enough – why couldn’t the unit originally assigned to me simply be put aside while a -phone call- was made to me?

Why wasn’t a phone call made at the time of delivery if there were delivery issues, especially given this is a brand new iPhone that someone is obviously waiting to receive, something Vodafone’s courier company is probably well aware of, even if only by package size!

Vodafone -was- able to call to advise of a significant, business-losing, deal-breaking delay. It was not able to call to check delivery details, it was not able to call to make a genuine effort at next-day, next week or just timely redelivery.  

I’ll either have to reward one of Vodafone’s competitors (and see if they offer 12 month plans despite their sites not saying so, something that some friends have nevertheless managed to activate with their non-Vodafone telcos by asking on the phone) – or simply buy one outright – perhaps sometime over the next six to eight weeks!!

Sure, I could have just waited an extra six to eight weeks, but I just can’t see why I should reward a company that – quite literally in this case – cannot deliver, or at least not on the first try!

Had they delivered, this article wouldn’t have been written, and my order wouldn’t have been cancelled.

Look, I’m not trying to start a new revolution against Vodafone, and I know that my decision to stop being a Vodafone customer will have infinitesimal effect of Vodafone’s bottom line. Nor am I looking for special treatment from the PR or marketing team for expedited delivery – I’m not interested in that.

I’m just amazed that this is how an everyday customer is being treated, shoved to the back of the line because of a delivery issue that Vodafone failed to rectify before it became a problem, and I’m just not going to put up with it.

In the meantime I have an iPhone 5s (and 5c) on temporary loan from Apple, something similarly affected iPhone 5s Vodafone customers don’t have access to, so while this is all very nice for me for the temporary time being, anyone else who has received a similar call from Vodafone this week (or any week) can’t be too happy about it.

No, I haven’t lost everything like some Australians have today, and again I note this is very much a #firstworldproblem, but now you know why I cancelled my iPhone 5s order with Vodafone today.

Have you had a similar experience?

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alex@itwire.com.au (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Fuzzy Logic Thu, 17 Oct 2013 22:06:43 +1100