Fogey Friday – 6th July

Jul 04, 2012 No Comments by

Fogey Friday is a round-up of allegedly interesting, somewhat Fogey-ish tech news from this week’s mainstream media.






Tough Times for Compact Snappers

Two cameras in one very smart phone.

A Mintel report has shown that sales of compact digital cameras are in freefall (down 29 per cent in the last five years). The decline has been mirrored by a commensurate rise in sales of smartphones and since most people use their compacts to take snaps and that’s what smartphone cameras do, why carry two devices?  Manufacturers have tried to introduce new features to compact cameras such as 1080p Full HD video but as fast as they’ve done that the smartphone crew have done the same.  The Apple iPhone 4s, Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC Incredible S all have cameras that are the equivalent of a state-of-the-art standalone compact from a few years ago.  It’s an example of convergence that can inflict self-harm on the likes of Sony and Samsung, which both make digital compact cameras and smartphones.  But we think both companies know where the money is.  Apple and HTC don’t have such issues but it presents problems for the likes of FujiFilm, Canon, Nikon and Casio which don’t make smartphones.


 In an Internet Minute

Somewhat sobering article here from The Sun about what happens online every minute, such as 34,000 Facebook ‘likes’, 200 million emails sent and 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube. An article in the Sunday 1st July New York Times magazine puts the YouTube upload figure at 72 hours per minute.  Who do we believe? What’s indisputable is all this activity requires some gigantic servers – the hardware centres that process the information and make an Amazon warehouse look puny – and new, larger ones are being constructed all the time.  Facebook, for example, are spending £480 million or so on a ‘mini town’-sized server complex in Northern Sweden.  One statistic we at TF can do something about is the 350 new blog posts that are published on Word Press each and every minute.  So that’ll be 351, then.


BT Vision.  They Play, You Pay.

Michael ‘I’d rather be racing’ Owen makes hay for his gee-gees.

In Monday’s Guardian, Marc Watson (if only it’d been Mark Watson, the comedian) head of BT Vision was given a whole page to plug his service and the deal they’ve struck with the Premier League to pinch a slice of Sky’s live footie.  No mention of ESPN who’ve been showing live Premier League matches for a few seasons now.  TF remembers the launch of BT Vision and the bold promises that were made and not delivered.  Onesuch was pay-as-you-watch live football.  If you support Man Utd will you be that interested in Fulham v QPR or Swansea v Stoke?  No; you just want to watch your team. TF appreciates the dynamic – it’s not unlike paying taxes that go to pay for education when you have no children of your own. The largesse has to be spread around. Cherry-picking live games would have been wonderful for the consumer but less wonderful for the Premier League whose priority is obviously to create an economic climate in which pampered prima donnas can ‘earn’ £150,000 a week.  For the beleaguered consumer, only having to pay Sky to watch live football is a good thing; having to pay again to another supplier is not.  And there’s no guarantee that the BT Vision games will be available on Sky even if you do have to pay again to receive them.  Historically BT Vision has only been available to BT’s highest-paying broadband customers but this is changing and the YouView free TV service due to launch next week will have some BT Vision content on its platform.  But if you want it, you will have to cough up the readies.  We remember paying through the nose for BT telephony and broadband services when there were no alternative suppliers. And having been milked mercilessly for so many years, hell will have to freeze over and fossilise before we’ll willingly bleed another groat in BT’s grasping direction.  The three year deal to show 38 top-flight matches per season (as opposed to the low-rent leftovers that ESPN broadcast) cost BT £738 million.  It’s good to know where their priorities lie given that BT Vision has already cost BT an estimated £800 million and never made a profit.  You could lay a fair few miles of fibre-optic broadband cable for £2.5 billion.  There’s also a telling quote from Mr Watson regarding BT Vision’s teething problems: “The business launched with great ambition but it turned out to be a much tougher marketplace, especially for content, than we thought it would be.  Content is king and getting deals is difficult, that is indisputable.”  BT, huge rich company, can’t get the right content at the right price to show on its VoD (video on demand) pay-to-view platform?  Any thoughts as to why that might be?  Content providers wanting too much money for their inconsequential fluff?  Surely not.  The more TF digs into this the more we think file-sharing is no more than these whining money-grubbing shysters deserve.  Read the full article here.



Feature here, alluded to above, from the NY Times magazine about wannabes who’ve become bes on YouTube.  This is more than just posting videos of otters holding paws or a baby panda farting.  YouTube runs a programme whereby regular, popular video posters take a slice of the revenue gleaned from advertising that’s displayed next to their ‘work’.  Many full time YouTubers are viewed by more people than watch any number of mainstream TV programmes to the extent that the boundaries between the two will become increasingly blurred.  Trust us – video-bloggers will rule the world.


More Bangs for Your Buck

Beolit 12 iPod dock with added stirrup

Bang and Olufsen, the Danish purveyor of beautifully-designed, over-priced audio-visual paraphernalia has finally caved to market reality and brought out the B&O Play range.  Entry-level and affordable, the idea is to snare younger, less monied buyers into the B&O fraternity from whence they will graduate to the wallet-shrivelling fare further up the range. Having said that, the Beolit 12 speaker dock (right) is £599, more than the top-of-the-heap B&W Zeppelin Air or the Arcam rCube. B&O trades, to some extent, on its products being long-lasting and eternally stylish, which is fair enough but much of the tech landscape doesn’t allow for longevity; TVs, cameras, smartphones, iPod docks – all update/mutate with depressing frequency.  B&O’s principal business is in music systems, landline telephones and TVs, areas in which future-proofing is pretty much impossible.  So TF wishes them luck with Play; they’ll need it.  More info here.

Freeview Hates 4G

4G’s the name, interference is our aim

The Independent reported on Saturday 30th June that up to 3 million Freeview customers will have to fork out over £200 each for signal-filter gubbins that will prevent the new 4G mobile phone signals interfering with their TV pictures.  Things could get fuzzy on-screen if you live within a mile or so of a 4G transmitter.  And how, pray, do punters discover whether they’re within a mile of a transmitter?  Somewhat coincidentally, the cost of the filter is about the same as the cheapest deals on Sky or Virgin.  So if you are affected maybe do yourself a favour and dump Freeview and go satellite/cable.  It’s been argued that the mobile phone networks should pay for the signal filterng equipment.  Fat chance.  Oh, and next week sees the delayed launch of YouView which has some of the advantages of Sky+ such as pause/rewind live TV, record TV, access catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and Channel 4 on-demand and sundry pay-to-view fluff without the crippling long-term subscription costs but with a one-off payment (for the receiver box and its related gizmos) of around £200.  Will anyone care that much?  Content providers certainly hope so because it’ll be money in their velvet-lined pockets.  But the great British public?  Isn’t there enough tripe on the goggle-box already?  Read the full, huffing and puffing article here.