Honkin' News banner

Myanmar in Mobile: A Reminder of How Easy It Is to Make Assumptions

January 25, 2016

I suggest you read the write up “The Facebook Loving Farmers of Myanmar.” Useful information. You can work through the article and get a sense of the importance of connectivity to farmers in a region which is quite a bit different from Silicon Valley and Route 128.

I want to highlight two points which I noted. My hunch is that these will be different from many other folks’ reaction to the article.

The first point is a reference to the failure of the “one laptop per child” thing cooked up by someone in the US of A’s right coast. Here’s the quote I highlighted:

But the more we probe, the less justifiable the Samsung premium becomes. The Chinese phones are cheap but capable. I wonder if this makes Negroponte happy. His one laptop-per-child dream was never fully realized but one smartphone-per-human—far more capable and sensible than a laptop, in many ways—has most certainly arrived. I take notes.

The point is that traditional desktops and laptops are not what has captured the attention of the farmers of Myanmar. The shift to phones, Chinese phones in particular, can be described as a miss, a big miss for the “one laptop per child” idea. How many other high tech beliefs are going to be shown to be just wrong enough? This, for me, is a reminder that what seems obvious to those on the left and right coasts in the United States are pitching the equivalent of snowshoes to people who live where it does not snow.

The second point I circled was:

I realize then that smartphone tech crossed the Good Enough threshold years ago.

What if the money pumped into improving smartphones by making them bigger, smaller, in different colors, etc. is a living, breathing example of diminishing returns. No mater what the phone designers and manufacturers cook up, the pay back will keep getting smaller. Apple is becoming mobile dependent. Google is becoming mobile dependent. What if these investments creep toward lower and lower returns. In a lousy economic environment, could there be financial trouble ahead for these and allied companies?

My hunch is that there are more farmers in Myanmar type folks than there are those who can get hired at the likes of the sparkling tech citadels on the left and right coast of the US, the silicon fen, and the other confections of techno-wizardry.

The one laptop per child play was not just wrong by a little; it was wrong by a mile unless Google knows something the folks in Myanmar do not. See “Google Donates More Than $5 Million to Give Chromebooks to Refugees.”

Stephen E Arnold, January 25, 2016

Alphabet Google Android Revenue

January 22, 2016

I read “Google’s Android Generates $31 Billion Revenue, Oracle Says.” Who knows how accurate this “number” is, but I find it interesting because the “number” allegedly spins off $22 billion in profit.

My math is not too good. But I think it means that the Alphabet Google thing has more profit than costs when  it comes to Android. Numbers north of 200 percent strike me as okay.

The write up asserts:

An analysis of the search engine giant’s tightly held financial information was disclosed Jan. 14 by an Oracle attorney in the database maker’s lawsuit accusing Google of using its Java software without paying for it to develop Android. Google said in a court filing that the lawyer based her statement on information derived from its confidential internal financial documents. “Look at the extraordinary magnitude of commerciality here,” the Oracle attorney, Annette Hurst, told a federal magistrate judge as she discussed Android revenue and profit, which have never been publicly disclosed.

I wonder if Oracle perceives that the use of its Java technology has contributed to this revenue.

I think so. The write up states:

The five-year-old showdown between Google and Oracle has returned to U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco after a pit stop at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Google lost a bid to derail the case. The damages Oracle now seeks may exceed $1 billion since it expanded its claims to cover newer Android versions.

There is nothing like a flock of legal eagles circling alleged revenue to signal that spring is not far away. Yandex is grousing a bit about Android. Gee, I wonder why.

Stephen E Arnold, January 22, 2016

Yandex Faces the Reality of the Android Phone Trojan Horse

January 20, 2016

I noticed this statement in “Russia’s Google Could Be Poised for a Huge 2016”:

…Just two years ago Yandex had twice the search market share as Google, the company only owns 57%  of the Russian search market today. Google, on the other hand, has increased its share from 25% to nearly 35%. But this is where the story gets interesting. Yandex contends that the reason Google has increased its market share is because Android phones — which account for 80% of the smartphone market in Russia, according to Yandex — are preloaded with the Google search app, while the same isn’t the case for Yandex’s app.

The Yandex system is pretty good. If you are looking for information in Russian, the system is excellent.

What Yandex lasts is a Trojan horse like Android to carry the search clicks to the mother ship.

Will litigation in Russia thwart the Alphabet Google thing? Nope.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2016

Advice for Marketers, Not Consumers, on the Present and Future States of Location Data Technology

January 14, 2016

The article on Mashable titled Location Data’s Dirty Secret: How Accuracy is Getting Lost in Today’s Data Shuffle relates the bad news for marketers, and hugely relieving news for paranoid consumers, that location data quality is far from precise. The money being funneled into location-targeted mobile ad revenues is only part of the picture, but it does illustrate the potential power of this technology for marketers, who want to know everything they can about shopping habits and habits in general. But they may be spending on useless data. In fact, the article states,

“Studies indicate that more than half of mobile location data is inaccurate. In fact, a report from the MMA offers a laundry list of variables that negatively impact location data quality. Culprits include a “lack of accuracy standards and market education,” “urban density,” “inaccurate interpretations” of location data that have been translated into a latitude/longitude coordinate and poor “data freshness.”

The article is largely optimistic that if marketers do a little research into the source of their locating data, they will know whether it can be trusted or not. That, and an objective third party will help marketers avoid big money-wasting mistakes. Must be nice to be a marketer instead of a consumer, the latter has little chance to avoid being a pawn followed around the chess board by her cell phone.


Chelsea Kerwin, January 14, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


SEO Tips Based on Recent Google Search Quality Guidelines

December 30, 2015

Google has recently given search-engine optimization pros a lot to consider, we learn from “Top 5 Takeaways from Google’s Search Quality Guidelines and What They Mean for SEO” at Merkle’s RKG Blog. Writer Melody Pettula presents five recommendations based on Google’s guidelines. She writes:

“A few weeks ago, Google released their newest Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which teach Google’s search quality raters how to determine whether or not a search result is high quality.  This is the first time Google has released the guidelines in their entirety, though versions of the guidelines have been leaked in the past and an abridged version was released by Google in 2013. Why is this necessary? ‘Quality’ is no longer simply a function of text on a page; it differs by device, location, search query, and everything we know about the user. By understanding how Google sees quality we can improve websites and organic performance. Here’s a countdown of our top 5 takeaways from Google’s newest guidelines and how they can improve your SEO strategy.”

We recommend any readers interested in SEO check out the whole article, but here are the five considerations Pettula lists, from least to most important: consider user intent; supply supplementary content; guard your reputation well; consider how location affects user searches; and, finally, “mobile is the future.” On that final point, the article notes that Google is now almost entirely focused on making things work for mobile devices. SEO pros would do well to keep that new reality in mind.

Cynthia Murrell, December 30, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Clamps down on Surprise Costs in BigQuery

December 23, 2015

The article titled Google Promises to Rein in Runaway Query Costs on Fortune discusses the obstacles facing Google’s BigQuery data tool. Google hopes to make BigQuery a major resource for big companies considering cloud technology, but unpredictable costs are getting in the way of the “low-cost big data analytics option” marketing that Google has deployed. Hence, the introduction of “custom quota” and Query Explain,

“Google is now offering potential inquisitors a way to set a “custom quota” to ensure that the number crunching on a specified project does not exceed a pre-set daily limit. In addition, a Query Explain feature promises to lay out, how BigQuery will go about processing the question on the table in advance. That way, in theory, you can see if your questions will be “write, read, or compute heavy” and better anticipate where performance bottlenecks could lurk…”

One might fairly ask why there was any delay in these services, since customers are not known for their fondness of mobile phone type billing surprises. Amazon is also standing next to Google waving at RedShift, a BigQuery competitor in the air. But the simpler pricing and efficiency of BigQuery might be more appealing to many companies, especially with the more controlled processes now available.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 23, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Score One for Yandex

December 21, 2015

Russian search powerhouse Yandex has successfully sued Google, we learn from re/code’s article, “Meet the Russian Company that Got Its Antitrust Watchdog to Bite Google.” Reporter Mark Bergen interviewed Yandex’s Roman Krupenin, who has led this legal campaign. In his intro, Bergen relates:

“In October, Russia’s antitrust authority ruled that Google’s practice of bundling its services on Android handsets violated national law. The case’s lead complainant was Yandex, an 18-year old Web search and advertising company. It’s not a global name, but is big in Russia. Last quarter, Yandex raked in $233.1 million in revenue. (For context, Google averaged about $179 million in sales a day over the same period.) Most Russians use Yandex for Internet searches — an estimated 57 percent in the last quarter, though that share has slipped in recent years. The culprit? According to Yandex, it’s the favored position of Google’s apps, including its search one and its browser, on Android smartphones, which outnumber iPhones in Russia considerably. To fight it off, Yandex has pushed to cut handset agreements of its own: It finalized one with Lenovo last year, and paired with Microsoft last month to make Yandex’s homepage and search results the Russian default for Windows 10.”

Furthermore, we’re reminded, Yandex is also taking part in the EU’s latest antitrust investigation. Naturally, Google is appealing the decision. See the article for text of the interview, where Krupenin discusses the focus on Android over Search, the unique factors that made for victory over the notoriously slippery company, and the call for an end to Google’s service-bundling practices.


Cynthia Murrell, December 21, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Google Timeline Knows Where You Have Been

December 16, 2015

We understand that to get the most out of the Internet, we sacrifice a bit of privacy; but do we all understand how far-reaching that sacrifice can be? The Intercept reveals “How Law Enforcement Can Use Google Timeline to Track Your Every Move.” For those who were not aware, Google helpfully stores all the places you (or your devices) have traveled, down to longitude and latitude, in Timeline. Now, with an expansion launched in July 2015, that information goes back years, instead of just six months. Android users must actively turn this feature off to avoid being tracked.

The article cites a report titled “Google Timelines: Location Investigations Involving Android Devices.” Written by a law-enforcement trainer, the report is a tool for investigators. To be fair, the document does give a brief nod to privacy concerns; at the same time, it calls it “unfortunate” that Google allows users to easily delete entries in their Timelines. Reporter Jana Winter writes:

“The 15-page document includes what information its author, an expert in mobile phone investigations, found being stored in his own Timeline: historic location data — extremely specific data — dating back to 2009, the first year he owned a phone with an Android operating system. Those six years of data, he writes, show the kind of information that law enforcement investigators can now obtain from Google….

“The ability of law enforcement to obtain data stored with privacy companies is similar — whether it’s in Dropbox or iCloud. What’s different about Google Timeline, however, is that it potentially allows law enforcement to access a treasure trove of data about someone’s individual movement over the course of years.”

For its part, Google admits they “respond to valid legal requests,” but insists the bar is high; a simple subpoena has never been enough, they insist. That is some comfort, I suppose.

Cynthia Murrell, December 16, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Search and Apps: A Surprising Infographic

December 1, 2015

Let’s assume that the data in “A Survival Toolkit for the Planet of the Apps” is spot on. I draw this conclusion because the write up has a title which tickled by funny bone. Yep, I have one. One.

I did not know that 27 percent of mobile apps are located via a search engine. A surprising 52 percent are found via referrals. And the much maligned Web site pitching app? The company Web site sparks 24 percent of the app action.

The data appear in this graphic:


Apps are, it seems, the go to way to close deals. However, for apps which focus on selling things to consumer. The write up reports that 38 percent of the folks installing an app to buy something, uninstall the app once the product is ordered.

What does this mean for outfits like the Google? The in app search function will be useful, but the old fashioned Web site cannot be kicked to the curb yet.

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2015

Latest Global Internet Report Available

October 30, 2015

The Internet Society has made available its “Global Internet Report 2015,” just the second in its series. World-wide champions of a free and open Internet, the society examines mobile Internet usage patterns around the globe. The report’s Introduction explains:

“We focus this year’s report on the mobile Internet for two reasons. First, as with mobile telephony, the mobile Internet does not just liberate us from the constraints of a wired connection, but it offers hundreds of millions around the world their only, or primary, means of accessing the Internet. Second, the mobile Internet does not just extend the reach of the Internet as used on fixed connections, but it offers new functionality in combination with new portable access devices.”

It continues with this important warning:

“The nature of the Internet should remain collaborative and inclusive, regardless of changing means of access. In particular, the mobile Internet should remain open, to enable the permission-less innovation that has driven the continuous growth and evolution of the Internet to date, including the emergence of the mobile Internet itself.”

Through the report’s landing page, above, you can navigate to the above-cited Introduction, the report’s Executive Summary, and Section 2: Trends and Growth. There is even an interactive mobile Internet timeline. Scroll to the bottom to download the full report, in PDF, Kindle, or ePub formats. The download is free, but those interested can donate to the organization here.

Cynthia Murrell, October 30, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

« Previous PageNext Page »