1: The number of teams that have completely collapsed and been eliminated after holding a two goal lead with less than 90 seconds to go in game seven of a Stanley Cup playoff series.
Yesterday the geek world was all a-twitter (heh) about the announcement from Blackberry – neé Research In Motion – that Blackberry Messenger was coming in app form to both iOS and Android this summer. Thorsten Heims put on a brave front, and tried to spin this as a disruptive and preemptive sort of a move, but it is nearly impossible to look at this as anything but a tacit admission that while the smartphone wars may rage on, they are going to rage without Blackberry as any sort of relevant player.
There are only three possibilities as to what the Blackberry brain trust is thinking here, and how the move will play out. To wit:
- They are going to offer the BBM app for free on competing platforms. The thinking could only be that people who are abandoning Blackberry will somehow decide to stay if their friends who are already on the other dominant platforms can message them on BBM. This is inane at best – those friends are already either using an OS-agnostic way to chat, or they aren’t bothering at all. This particular horse has already left the barn and nobody cares. Worse, BBM is one of the last exclusive functions of the Blackberry platform, and one that carriers are still paying a premium to have access to. Why give away a revenue stream, no matter how thin, to solve a problem that has long passed from “challenge” to “moot point”?
- They plan to offer the app for free and charge a subscription fee – basically emulating the way that BBM works on real Blackberry devices now (albeit with the subscription fee buried in the monthly carrier fees). This is an automatic fail. Users already have instant messaging, Google talk, Jabber, FaceTime … a veritable host of messaging services including real-time video chat, for free. The other side of the coin, charging for the app and offering the connectivity for free, meets the same fate. People will gladly pay for something innovative and cool and useful. People will not pay if they already have that something for free.
- They are going to pony up the app and the basic connectivity for free, then offer an in-app purchase or subscription for “premium” features – BBM video or screen sharing. This is the model that startups like Dropbox and Evernote have built wildly successful businesses on, and it is a proven winner. It would be a killer idea here … provided you have a time machine and could go back to 2008 to roll this out. It could have set the mobile world on it’s ear, and given RIM a running start on transitioning from a badly-dated handset maker to a cutting-edge mobile tools and services provider. They could have created and owned a new business space with literally no competition, a built-in base of loyal business users with big and long-term investments in infrastructure, and the same sort of head start on everyone else that Apple forged for themselves with the first iPhone. But now? Like everything else in Blackberry’s quickly-dwindling hand, it’s simply too late. Everyone else has video chat, so that’s not much of a selling point. And the screen sharing, while of marginal utility on the screen of a pocket computer, is one of the very few things that Blackberry still has to try and differentiate themselves from the handset makers who have eaten up their market share and profits. Is compromising that for a few bucks really worth the play at this point in the game?
No matter how you work this one out, the end game comes out a stalemate at best, and a stalemate does Blackberry no good at all. Either the movers and shakers at Blackberry still have no clue as to why the mobile computing business has trampled them and left them writhing in the dust, or they have finally seen the writing on the wall and are now just throwing things out there in sheer desperation.
My money is on the desperation.
866: The number of teams that have held a two goal lead with less than 90 seconds to go in game seven of a Stanley Cup playoff series.
It has been said people don’t judge art. They may posture and opine, but in the end the only real critic of art is time. And when time judges the visual legacy of the 21st century, this will undoubtedly be seen as one of the most beautiful and inspiring things of all.
As always, you can click on the picture to see it in all of its full-sized glory. And it is undeniably glorious. Go ahead, click.
It is rare that a week goes by without someone asking me (or, as is more likely, outright demanding) to show them how they can “get all the paid apps for free.” I always respond with “I dunno, can you show me how to shoplift?” And invariably they stare back at me with a completely blank look on their face. The connection, while seemingly obvious, is not one that they have the mental fortitude to make.
So I was more than a bit interested when the guys at Greenheart Games decided to remove the connection entirely and make piracy an insurmountable obstacle in the pirated versions of their game-development game.
You may need a moment to wrap your head around that last sentence. The game is about developing games. And in the pirated version, piracy sucks away all your potential profits. It’s sort of meta-gaming with a vengeance.
So what happens when the people who pirate the game can’t succeed in said game because of piracy? I don’t want to spoil the fun, so I’ll let your read the whole tale for yourself. Its worth it. But if you thought that maybe this would finally get a few people to understand the connection between “paying for apps” and “average joes getting paid for their work” … well, don’t hold your breath.
Not fair, indeed.
For those who asked, I generally connect to play any of the Ticket To Ride titles via Gamecentre, and my tag is “Geekboy_X”. But, if you connect through Days Of Wonder’s own servers, you can find me under “Geekboy”. And yes, we all do dream about the day that the two are somehow integrated …
Galen Weston anointed himself as the proverbial poster boy for everything that is wrong with the North American consumer system yesterday, from the greed that rules at the top right down to the uncaring selfishness of the average shopper. He shed some crocodile tears, pledged to make changes that amounted to nothing, and in the end confirmed that he and his company are still ready to exploit the most wretched people on earth just to make a few bucks.
To be fair, he did stand up and admit that yes, his Joe Fresh sweatshop clothing line is in fact produced in the factory that collapsed in Bangladesh last week. There are 28 other companies that are refusing to do even that small thing – if nothing else, at least Loblaw’s isn’t hiding behind a wall of denial. But sadly, any of the good that someone like Weston and his company could have brought out of this tragedy ended right there. Everything that came out of his mouth after that was nothing more that double-talk and an affirmation of money-grubbing avarice.
First he made a grand show and pledged a big fat nothing when he said that Loblaw’s would add building inspections to the company’s list of priorities. Great – except that collapsing buildings are far from the norm, even in hellholes like Bangladesh, and don’t even come close to counting as one of the everyday problems of the exploited workers in the evil human meat grinders where clothes like Joe Fresh are made.
With his big sound bite out of the way, Galen came to the meat of the matter: Loblaw’s will continue to make the Joe Fresh line in Bangladesh as long as “local labour laws are respected”. Which is a nice, media-friendly way of saying that they will keep making clothes for pennies in a country where it is legal to have 16 year-old girls working 60 hours a week for much less than a bare living wage. If they really wanted to change things, they would stop sourcing their junk from like this … either leave the country entirely or take a real stand and break the mold by paying these desperate workers a real wage, let them work real hours, and give them a real life. But that would cut into the startlingly obscene profits that can be made selling five dollar shirts and 10 dollar pants, and that hits just a little too close to home for a guy like Galen.
He’s got eight billion dollars. He couldn’t possibly commit to paying his cadre of seamstress slaves more than 4 dollars a week. Could he?
Listen. I know that Loblaw’s is trying to compete for the ever-growing market of low-class western consumers who want to buy disposable shit for no money. But there are real choices available. Cut into the profits by making a real change in the lives of the people you are exploiting. Reward a country that has made positive changed by moving there. Or take the high road and get out these ugly and distasteful retail spaces completely. Anything but wringing your hands and looking tragic while continuing to stand on the necks of the desperate and downtrodden.
Anything but that.
50: The number of U.S. states in which it is legal to refuse accommodation to a tenant if they are gay.
So if you have any sort of contact, no matter how tenuous, with the newspaper game you hear the same refrain over and over again: The internet is killing newspapers. It’s a gospel truth in the business, despite the fact that there are more people hungering for more news and consuming more content than ever before.
So what do you do if you are a big newspaper chain? Do you get people who are connected, technically-savvy, who understand why the traditional newspaper model is broken and that there is lots and lots of money to be made in digital news with a better model, one that the newspapers are already equipped to roll out and exploit?
No, of course not. You put the whole mess in the hands of a couple of out-of-touch dinosaurs, try to cut costs by gutting the parts of the operation that can actually generate revenue in the modern world – content and design – and then wring your hands and complain that it doesn’t matter what you do, the Evil Interweb is out to get you. You don’t even have to read the whole article. As soon as you see the two names mentioned in the second paragraph you will know where this is headed.
So long, Postmedia. Enjoy your last slide into oblivion.