Fogey Friday 25th August
Broadband Speed, Apple
Barnes & Noble’s Nook
4G, Best Buy

Aug 24, 2012 No Comments by

Hunt for Broadband Speed Increase

Another Jeremy with a need for speed

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants the UK to have the fastest broadband in Europe by 2015.  His target is for 90 per cent of Internet users to have 24mbps (megabytes per second) broadband speed by then.  Tech Fogey’s current down speed is 54mbps wireless.  If we’d wired the laptop into our router it would be 100mbps. But we live in London and if broadband speeds aren’t fairly rapid here we’re all in trouble.  The UK average, according to Ofcom, is a pitiful 9mbps.  Good luck trying to stream video at that speed.

To achieve the desired aim money will have to be pumped into laying fibre-optic cable and, where that’s not cost effective (everywhere outside cities), initiating some sort of mobile/satellite broadband (that’s what 3G/4G – see below – is).  The former is costly for the cable-layer (usually BT) and the latter is expensive for the consumer because mobile broadband requires a significant tranche of bandwidth which is cheap-ish now but will become less so as demand increases.  There’s only so much that can be transmitted over the airwaves, the capacity for doing so not being infinite.


Apple Pips Microsoft


Apple is now, officially, the most valuable company in history at a juicy $623 billion.  The honour previously went to Microsoft which hit $620 billion in 1999. It’s worth more than the top three companies on the London market combined.  Imagine what you could buy with $623 billion.  Netflix for a start.


Men Use Computers for ‘Entertainment’

Rich blokes, busty babes, booze, cars etc

Here’s something from reporting on a survey done by  “According to “The Great Male Survey” conducted by from May to July 2012, men favour computers over television for entertainment and one in 10 men uses a gaming console to watch online content. The poll, which surveyed 55,000 males in the US, UK, Australia and Canada, found that, during their non-work time, half of respondents spent the most time with a computer. That was more than double the number (24 per cent) that spent more time on a television. And smartphones were not far behind in the device popularity contest, with 21 per cent of respondents saying that’s where most of their attention went during recreational hours.”  All porn, of course. What a bunch of saddos.


You say 4G, we say Monopoly

You may have read some blurb in the papers this week about 4G and how it’s not the lowliest class at Bash Street but a new standard for mobile communications.  Like 3G only better.  TF plans to live long enough to see those Gs go all the way to 11. Apart from 4G being a techy story in its own right, the news is that Orange/T-Mobile (who are now as one under the clunk-mungous soubriquet ‘Everything Everywhere’) have been given a year’s head start to flog 4G services and handsets before anyone else – Vodafone, 3, O2 – gets a look in.  And since the next 12 months are likely to see the arrival of at least one new iPhone and almost certainly another market leading smartphone from Samsung and since most new handsets will have 4G capability which will make them extra-scrumptious to impressionable geeks, you can see how being able to steal a march on the competition puts EE in an unfeasibly strong position.  It goes without saying that the companies Ofcom ignored when they doled out the licence are livid.  Another factor is that as the Gs proliferate more frequencies will be required to transmit all that oh-so-crucial audio visual drivel to your smartphone or tablet and that’s why the government (which rakes in a ton of money selling off rights to the airwaves) wants us all to embrace digital radio and digital TV.  It has little to do with quality of the experience and much more to do with making money (from all us mugs).


Nooky Nook

One of the inevitable consequences of the rise in digitally rendered reading material (aka eBooks) has been a commensurate decline in bricks and mortar book stores selling paper and print books.  Wasting time in Borders is another of life’s little pleasures that ‘progress’ has destroyed.  The name Barnes & Noble won’t mean much to anyone in the UK who doesn’t visit the US that often but the company has been a book-ish institution over there since they opened their first store in 1917.  The arrival of Amazon and then that company’s Kindle eReader, however, has seen Barnes & Noble stores closing faster than a whippet’s fart.  Their response was the Nook which has around 30 per cent of the eReader market in the US to the Amazon Kindle’s 60 per cent.  And now the Nook is set to launch in the UK.  There is more than one model, though, and TF doesn’t know which one(s) we’ll get.  In the US, the Kindle to have is the ‘Fire’ variant, which is like an iPad only much cheaper.  There’s been talk about the Kindle Fire launching here but that’s all it’s ever been – talk.  Unfortunately that’s where the UK is in the great scheme of economic scale; an afterthought.  More info on the Nook hereand the Kindle here


Better Buy Best Buy

Brian ‘Walrus of Love’ Dunn

It’s all part of the business reporting game to refer to companies as ‘beleaguered’ or ‘troubled’ when all that’s happened is their massive profits didn’t turn out to be quite as massive as the soothsayers had predicted.  Would you say that a market leader in its field with revenues of $10.55 billion in the second quarter of 2012 alone was ‘struggling’?  Best Buy is still collosal.  Not, perhaps, quite as ginormous as it once was (they shipped out of the UK last year after their warehouse stores didn’t do the necessary) but very large nonetheless.  Profits are down but that’s because money has been used to make important changes; invested, if you will.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if Best Buy had been able to predict consumer tendencies they might have seen that smartphone apps would give consumers instant access to the best prices for electronic goodies (possibly undercutting Best Buy’s in store prices) and that having stuff delivered is easier than carting it home yourself, especially if it’s a 60-inch flat screen TV.  All of which tends to make the big box store model somewhat redundant as anything other than a showroom.  It probably didn’t help market confidence that CEO Brian Dunn was hoofed out in April for having an ‘inappropriate’ relationship with a colleague and that Best Buy’s founder, Richard Schulze soon followed because he’d known about Dunn’s naughtiness and chose not to squeal.  Dunn had a platform chat at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year which is why TF has a snap of him.  Middle-aged men are notoriously drawn to a young, cute cliché but you have to wonder how ‘inappropriate’ he was being and how it could have affected his ability to run a company.  Sometimes you need the space shuttle to get close to the moral high ground in corporate America.  Although it would seem that Dunn might supplant the late Barry White as the Walrus of Love.  Any-hoo, Schulze wants his company back – he still owns 20 per cent – and is offering around $25 a share against the current price of $18.  Do we care?  Not really.