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The Unacceptable Planned Obsolescence of the Android

June 5, 2015

The op ed on Tom’s Hardware titled Google Can’t Ignore The Android Update Problem Any Longer inspects the release process for Androids, particularly the Android 5.0 Lollipop and the 5.1 iteration. The problem Google faces with its major upgrade per year schedule is that while the Lollipop garners 9.7 percent of the market, it might be several years before the majority of android users catch up to this version, by which time Google might be releasing Android 8.0 (Snickers? M&M?) The article explains the issues with transitioning,

“Because Android is open source and because so many (essentially) OEM-tweaked “forks” of it exist, a “clean” upgrade path is almost impossible. To have a clean standardized update system would mean all the OEMs would have to agree to abide strictly by Google’s guidelines for what they can and cannot modify on the platform.

However, as soon as Google tries to do something like that, the OEMs usually cry foul that Google is making Android more proprietary.”

Obviously Google does not want to lose the business of those OEMs, either. But the article argues that this is unlikely due to Android and iOS cornering the market. The final point is the weakness in the update system due to users desiring more secure platforms, meaning Android adoption will only lessen.

Chelsea Kerwin, June 5, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SoundHound Voice Search

June 3, 2015

Annoyed with Cortana and Siri? SoundHound has an alternative for some folks. SoundHound’s recognition technology can pinpoint the name of a song . According to “SoundHound’s New Voice Search App Makes Siri and Cortana Look Slow.”

I highlighted this passage:

Mohajer’s [SoundHound wizard] original vision is here in the form of Hound, a voice search app that can handle incredibly complex questions and spit out answers with uncanny speed. Right now, you have to ask those questions inside the Hound app, but the company hopes to get the technology everywhere — even your toaster…

The article continues:

Hound the app functions and feels almost exactly like Google’s Voice Search, but seems much faster at identifying words and delivering answers.

Will Google and Siri improve their systems? Worth watching and checking out the SoundHound system in real world conditions with loud background conversation and a person with less than BBC grade enunciation.

Stephen E Arnold, June 3, 2015

Search Functionality for the Roku 2

May 29, 2015

In with search, out with the remote-based headphone jack. Roku has had to weigh their priorities while considering user-friendly features, we learn from “Roku 2 Gets a Facelift with New Search Engine” at ITProPortal. The need for an affordable price point required the Roku 2 media-streaming player to drop some features so new ones could be added. Writer Sead Fadilpaši? reports:

“The new remote will work on IR, meaning you’ll need a clear line of sight to switch channels. The remote has also lost the headphone jack, which some will find quite saddening, as well as the motion sensor. Both remotes will now feature four dedicated buttons, which can’t be reprogrammed, giving users quick access to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Rdio. New features also include a search engine and show notifications, letting people know when a certain show is available. The new Roku 2 will cost as much as the Apple TV after its price drop – a very competitive £69. Aside from improved hardware specs Roku has confirmed to Pocket-lint the new box will come with improved software that should have a dramatic affect in speeding up accessing your favorite channels, shows and movies.”

All Roku devices will be getting the revised interface, which adds a couple of features and is expected to speed boot times. The write-up reminds us that the Roku has a mobile app, with a new version due out soon. So if you really miss that headphone jack, just swap their remote for your smart phone. I leave the motion-sensor hack to you.

Cynthia Murrell, May 29, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Decrease from TrueVue

May 21, 2015

The article on Business Insider titled Google Has a New and Unexpected Explanation for Its Falling Ad Rates places the blame on Youtube’s “TrueView” video ads. For some time there has been concern over Google’s falling cost-per-click (CPC) money, the cash earned each time a user clicks on an ad. The first quarter of this year has CPC down 7%. The article quotes outgoing Google CFO Patrick Pichette on the real reason for these numbers. He states,

“TrueView ads currently monetize at a lower rate than ad clicks on  As you know, video ads generally reach people earlier in the purchase funnel, and so across the industry, they tend to have a different pricing profile than that of search ads,” Pichette explained. “Excluding the impact of YouTube TrueView ads, growth in Sites clicks would be lower, but still positive and CPCs would be healthy and growing Y/Y,” Pichette continued.

It is often thought that the increasing dependence on mobile internet access through smartphones is the reason for falling CPC. Google can’t charge as much for mobile ads as for PC ads, making it a logical leap that this is the area of concern. Pichette offers a different view, and one with an entirely positive spin.
Chelsea Kerwin, May 21, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at


Make Mine Mobile Search

May 21, 2015

It was only a matter of time, but Google searches on mobile phones and tablets have finally pulled ahead of desktop searches says The Register in “Peak PC: ‘Most’ Google Web Searches ‘Come From Mobiles’ In US.”   Google AdWords product management representative Jerry Dischler said that more Google searches took place on mobile devices in ten countries, including the US and Japan.  Google owns 92.22 percent of the mobile search market and 65.73 percent of desktop searches.  What do you think Google wants to do next?  They want to sell more mobile apps!

The article says that Google has not shared any of the data about the ten countries except for the US and Japan and the search differential between platforms.  Google, however, is trying to get more people to by more ads and the search engine giant is making the technology and tools available:

“Google has also introduced new tools for marketers to track their advertising performance to see where advertising clicks are coming from, and to try out new ways to draw people in. The end result, Google hopes, is to bring up the value of its mobile advertising business that’s now in the majority, allegedly.”

Mobile ads are apparently cheaper than desktop ads, so Google will get lower revenues.  What will probably happen is that as more users transition to making purchases via phones and tablets, ad revenue will increase vi mobile platforms.

Whitney Grace, May 21, 2015
Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Lousy Search Results. An Attention Span Issue?

May 15, 2015

I read the enervating “Humans Have Shorter Attention Span Than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones.” Yep, thanks. When I am working and someone speaks to me, I often let out a squeal and twitch. I concentrate on the task at hand to the exclusion of the world. Some folks may lack this old-school concentration.

According to the write up, short attention spans are due to smartphones, not stupidity, a failure to exercise discipline over the mind, or the cranial wiring which permits one to focus. I learned:

According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer. Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms. The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.

Right, 12 seconds. That is probably enough attention for pre-Millennials. Eight seconds is too darned long to concentrate on any one thing.

Is this the next Dark Web research specialist I will hire?

When one of the people lobbying me for work whips out a smartphone, scans an iPad, and lets his or her eyes roam around the room—that’s it. No work. The goldfish has a nine second attention span. The fish I have watched in the holding tank in a Chinese restaurant in Wu Han seemed to be able to fix their attention for far long. One red fish just hovered in place and regarded me for 30 seconds maybe more.

Instead of hiring humans, perhaps I should go with a giant koi? Are lousy search skills an example of what happens when one cannot concentrate? Nah, blame the vendor or the IT department. Entitlement management works well.

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2015

The Desktop Search Model: Doomed?

May 6, 2015

Nah, doom is too strong a word. Desktop search will become a niche service. The future is mobile. Who wants to “work” from an old fashioned office? The switched on, 24×7 world is just so much more efficient. Check out the lines outside of the Washington, DC passport office or the traffic bottlenecks in Chicago. Mobility is the new modality.

I read “Now It’s Official: More Google Searches Are Coming from Mobile Than Desktop.” The write up reports:

Smartphones account for more than half of searches in 10 countries—including the U.S. and Japan—according to Google, which didn’t release exact percentages or a full list of countries. But it is playing up mobile at its annual AdWords Performance Summit, being live-streamed this afternoon. “The purchase funnel is officially dead,” proclaimed Jerry Dischler, vp of product management at Google. “What we’re seeing are these short bursts of activity that we’re calling micro-moments. We see the new challenge for marketers is to be there at those moments anytime, anywhere.”

The shift is likely to have some profound impacts. For Google, the company has to figure out how to keep its revenues flying high. For marketers, the methods for capturing attention have to be rethought. For consumers, the “search results” are likely to be skewed by the system and the advertisers.

My view of the shift is one of amusement. Those who are unable to identify and analyze information will be affected in ways large and small.

I like the old fashioned approach to research: Talking to people, reading, and using online and offline sources of information. Even then, getting a sense of what’s correct and what’s crazy is not easy.

Why work when one can allow a predictive algorithm and marketers to figure out what one needs to know? As Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, wrote:

“It is extremely difficult to obtain a hearing from men living in democracies, unless it be to speak to them of themselves. They do not attend to the things said to them, because they are always fully engrossed with the things they are doing. For indeed few men are idle in democratic nations; life is passed in the midst of noise and excitement, and men are so engaged in acting that little remains to them for thinking. I would especially remark that they are not only employed, but that they are passionately devoted to their employments. They are always in action, and each of their actions absorbs their faculties: the zeal which they display in business puts out the enthusiasm they might otherwise entertain for idea.”

Yep, the mobile thing. Busy schedules. No time to figure out what’s on the beam and what’s off.

Stephen E Arnold, May 6, 2015

Mobile Search: Google in Line for a Swift Treatment

May 4, 2015

In the Jack Black “Gulliver’s Travels,” the protagonist found himself tied down by little people. I love Swift’s words for the small ones: Lilliputians and Blefuscusians.

I would recommend the 1735 edition, but I know that the one or two readers of this blog prefer to consume their history via videos.

The article “Search Start Ups See Opening to Challenge Google in Mobile” is the child of an earlier blog post “Start-Ups Try to Challenge Google, at Least on Mobile Search.” Both write ups drive a single point:

The GOOG is big, clueless, and vulnerable.

The write up did not include an illustration of the comedian Jack Black, but I provided that to make clear how the New York Times perceive Mr. Google.

I learned:

Europe’s competition regulator filed antitrust charges against Google on the belief that the company’s search business had become so powerful that it was pretty much impossible to compete with.

Okay, “pretty much.” The thread knitting together the examples in the article is the notion of “deep links to connect mobile applications the way websites are linked on the web.” Oh, so that’s what a deep link is. I find that connecting applications is one function, and deep linking is another. But, hey, let’s not disrupt the flow of the Swiftian analysis.

I highlighted the names of the Lilliputians mentioned in the article:

  • Quixery
  • Reley
  • URX
  • Vurb

Why are start ups bedeviling the data hungry giant? The write up reports:

Mobile also has several special challenges for an entrenched player like Google. With its constellation of apps and competing operating systems, mobile is a highly fragmented universe, making it harder for one company to index all of the most relevant information the way Google has indexed the web. Also, the answer to many of the most common — and lucrative — queries is neatly structured inside popular applications like Yelp, the local directory service, making it easier to create focused search products that are unlikely to sink Google but could give it “a thousand tiny leaks,” said Jeremy Kressmann, an analyst at eMarketer who covers the search business.

Yep, an expert who is an analyst in eMarketing.

But Google, according to the write up, may not be a dead mobile search goose yet. The write up says:

The company’s biggest bets have been a voice-searching tool, along with Google Now, an application that tries to predict what users are looking for by showing a stack of cards with timely information, using cues like coming events in the user’s emails or recent activities on mobile apps and the web. Like her start-up competitors, Ms. Chennapragada is still unsure exactly what people want. “Google Now is such an early effort,” she said. “We’re still trying to figure it out.”

Poor Google. Just not able to “figure it out.”

My thought is that vendors with mobile search technology may want to pursue a slightly different path than one that pesters the Google. SRCH2, another mobile start up founded by a Xoogler, is focusing on providing a service to larger outfits that need a mobile search solution.

My hunch is that the opportunity to suggest that Google is a vulnerable giant was more important to the write up than fiddling around with deep links and looking beyond the names of outfits with pipelines to eMarketers.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2015

Microsoft Goes Mobile with Delve

April 30, 2015

Microsoft has made enhancements to the core functionality of Delve, as well as rolling out native mobile app versions for iOS and Android. ZDNet breaks the news in their article, “Microsoft Delivers iOS, Android Versions of Delve.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft has made native mobile versions of its Delve search and presentation app available for Android phones, Android wear devices and iPhones. Delve presents in card-like form information from Exchange, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Yammer enterprise-social networking components. Over the coming months Delve will be adding more content sources, including email attachments, OneNote and Skype for Business.”

This seems like a Microsoft component that has great potential for mobile use, since its focus is “at a glance” information retrieval. Keep an eye on to see what Stephen E. Arnold has to say about it in coming months. Arnold has made a career out of following all things search and enterprise, and he reports his findings at His dedicated SharePoint feed collects a lot of interesting reporting regarding SharePoint and the rest of Microsoft productivity offerings.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 30, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Retail Feels Internet Woes

April 29, 2015

Mobile Web sites, mobile apps, mobile search, mobile content, and the list goes on and on for Web-related material to be mobile-friendly.  Online retailers are being pressured to make their digital storefronts applicable to the mobile users, because more people are using their smartphones and tablets over standard desktop and laptop computers.  It might seem easy to design an app and then people can download it for all of their shopping needs, but according to Easy Ask things are not that simple: “Internet Retailer Reveals Mobile Commerce Conversion Troubles.”

The article reveals that research conducted by Spreadshirt CTO Guido Laures shows that while there is a high demand for mobile friendly commerce applications and Web sites, very few people are actually purchasing products through these conduits.  Why?  The problem relates to the lack of spontaneous browsing and one the iPhone 6’s main selling features: a big screen.

“While mobile-friendly responsive designs and easier mobile checkouts are cited as inhibitors to mobile commerce conversion, an overlooked and more dangerous problem is earlier in the shopping process.  Before they can buy, customers first need to find the product they want.  Small screen sizes, clumsy typing and awkward scrolling gestures render traditional search and navigation useless on a smartphone.”

Easy Ask says that these problems can be resolved by using a natural language search application over the standard keyword search tool.  It says that:

“A keyword search engine leaves you prone to misunderstanding different words and returning a wide swath of products that will frustrate your shoppers and continue you down the path of poor mobile customer conversion.”

Usually natural language voice search tools misunderstand words and return funny phrases.  The article is a marketing tool to highlight the key features of Easy Ask technology, but they do make some key observations about mobile shopping habits.

Whitney Grace, April 29, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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