Wearable, Global, Neutral

Intel Takes on Wearables

There was a time not too long ago that Intel was synonymous with computers. If you had a PC, it came with a reassuring “Intel Inside” sticker, and if you had a Mac you were secretly embarrassed if you still had the PPC version. Fast-forward a few years, and the slow death of the PC means “Intel” starts to sound a little more throwback than state of the art. But not for long.

Intel is making an aggressive comeback in the mobile space, going after Qualcomm’s enormous chunk of the processor pie, and now getting into the wearables market. Intel’s New Devices Group is in the front row at Fashion Week and on the cutting edge of wearable technology. Looking to design wearables that are more than just smaller versions of smartphones, New Devices Group head Mark Bell has managed to land partnerships with design house Opening Ceremony and sportswear and accessories giant Fossil.

Global Mobile Internet

GSMA Intelligence estimates that by the year 2020, a full 50% of the world will be using mobile internet, with the overall number of people using mobile devices reaching a staggering 3.8 billion. One of the fastest technological shifts in human history, the rapid adoption of mobile internet is thanks in large part to the proliferation of affordable devices like phones and tablets. While you may only be able to name a few, Open Signal reports that there are 18,796 distinct types of Android devices alone. Add to that the greater than 800 million iOS devices that have been sold, and it becomes clear how even Sub-Saharan Africa has 17% mobile internet penetration.

Mobile devices have brought the internet to parts of the world that would have otherwise left behind, and this sea change in human communication is incredible to watch. It also cements mobile’s position in the marketing space, underscoring the importance of a solid mobile strategy for every company.

“Put on your big boy pants and accept the agreement.”

So, it turns out that behind Apple’s friendly, egalitarian exterior lies a pretty fierce heart. But we knew that, right? No company posts $7.5 billion dollar quarterly net profit without knowing how to protect its own interests. But even so, we cringed a bit when documents from the bankruptcy proceedings of GT Advanced Technologies were released.

In them we get to see the extent of Apple’s unwavering control over their suppliers. From a complete lack of negotiation (GTAT was told to “not waste their time”), to $50 million penalties (per occurrence) for breaches of confidentiality, to Apple’s ruinous withholding of a $139 million payment, it’s clear that Apple’s stellar success is due in part to their willingness to rule partners with an iron fist. And while we certainly respect their undeniable business savvy, we can’t help but be a bit disturbed by the agreements, which even the judge described as “onerous and massively one-sided”.

Neutrality, Netflix, and Mobile

This week, President Obama announced his support for Net Neutrality, the idea that network providers have to treat all traffic as equal when switching packets, and can’t force Netflix to pay for “fast lane” treatment while demoting other traffic sources who don’t pay the fee. As soon as Obama made his announcement, out came the opinions.

While he agrees with Obama’s stance, columnist MG Siegler declaimed the support as a political stunt; after all, he argues, the head of the FCC is a former cable company lobbyist, so it would seem that Obama isn’t too worried about cable companies misbehaving. But while it’s easy to label the cable companies as the bad guys, Ben Thompson pointed out that it isn’t as simple as it seems, and that regulations could remove incentives for providers to improve their offerings (after all, if they can’t charge more for better and faster stuff, why should they invest money in making their services faster and more reliable?

So why isn’t mobile part of the discussion? End users are charged based on how much data they consume, and multiple providers battle it out to provide the best service and attract the most subscribers. It would seem that mobile provides the perfect model to talk about the pros and cons of regulation. If users are paying based on usage, why should the providers be permitted to also make money off the content creators?


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