Start up: more on AMOLED deterioration, Panic in the stores, tracking the trolls, questions for 2015 and more


AMOLED screens. What will they look like in a few years’ time? Photo by RafeB on Flickr.

A selection of 9 links for you. May contain nuts. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Are AMOLED displays at risk of burn-in? >> PC Pro

Paul Ockenden:

The blacks are better on an AMOLED screen, since its pixels are turned off and emit no light; IPS black pixels merely attempt to block the backlight, with only partial success. AMOLED screens aren’t as sharp as IPS panels, however, and can be more difficult to read in bright sunlight. To my mind, however, the biggest problem with AMOLED displays is that they suffer from screen burn.

The problem is the “O” in the AMOLED acronym, which stands for “organic”. The organic compounds used in AMOLED displays are polymers or copolymers, such as polyfluorene (PFO) and polyphenylene vinylene (PPV), both of which degrade with use.

This is partly due to the fact that the chemistry involved in creating the electroluminescence is irreversible, so the luminous pixels degrade as they’re used up, like a battery. These organic materials tend to crystallise, too – an effect that is exacerbated at higher temperatures. That’s something to bear in mind the next time your phone becomes warm while you’re playing a game or watching a video.

The answer to the headline’s question is “yes”. This seems like the sort of thing that would be easily overlooked by reviewers who use a device for a few days and praise its “gorgeous AMOLED screen“. But come back in a couple of years, and is it still?


The 2014 Panic report >> Panic Blog

Cabel Sasser:

This is the biggest problem we’ve been grappling with all year: we simply don’t make enough money from our iOS apps. We’re building apps that are, if I may say so, world-class and desktop-quality. They are packed with features, they look stunning, we offer excellent support for them, and development is constant. I’m deeply proud of our iOS apps. But… they’re hard to justify working on.
Here’s a way to visualize the situation. First up is a sample look at Units Sold for the month of November 2014: Wow! 51% of our unit sales came from iOS apps! That’s great!

But now look at this revenue chart for the same month… Despite selling more than half of our total units, iOS represents just 17% of our total revenue.
There are a few things at work here:
1. We’re not charging enough for our iOS apps. Or Mac users are simply willing to pay more for apps. Or both.
2. We’re not getting the word out well enough about our iOS apps.
3. The type of software we make just isn’t as compelling to iOS users as it is to Mac users. Our professional tools are geared for a type of user that simply might not exist on the iPad — admins and coders. We might have misjudged that market.

It’s really hard to say for sure. One thing is for certain: we are more likely to increase the price of our iOS software over time in an effort to make it make sense. And we’re less likely to tackle any huge new iOS projects until we get this figured out.

The problem with getting enough revenues from the iOS store, quite apart from the hassle Panic had when one of its apps was yanked from the store by Apple, is one that will be echoed by many companies. The question is whether it’s inherent to mobile – that niche apps (high value-added, small user numbers) – or to Apple’s store structures, which don’t allow trials (for example).


Global smartphone market to record de-growth [in value] for the first time in 2015, semiconductor to advance as high return industry >> ETNews Korea

It has been forecast that 2015 will be a year in which the global smartphone market will record the first negative growth in history based on the amount. Although a growth is expected based on the forwarding volume, the rate at which average selling price (ASP) decreases has accelerated. The global smartphone market scale in 2014 is estimated at $298.1bn, which increased by 10% from the year before. However, it is forecast that the scale will decrease by 4.3% to $285.2bn next year.

Stock market analyst Kim Hye-yong from Woori Investment and Securities forecast, “The global smartphone ASP this year [2014] is $234.50, which decreased by 13.9% from last year. Next year [2014], it will drop by 16.3% to $196.”

According to Kim, common carrier subsidy policy is not working in the emerging market that centers on the open market and, as a result, high-end smartphones are not selling well across the world. He estimated that Chinese companies, despite their growth on the outside, will record a deficit or just about meeting the breakeven point as their profitability is insufficient.


The Death Of Expertise >> The Federalist

Tom Nichols:

I am (or at least think I am) an expert. Not on everything, but in a particular area of human knowledge, specifically social science and public policy. When I say something on those subjects, I expect that my opinion holds more weight than that of most other people.

I never thought those were particularly controversial statements. As it turns out, they’re plenty controversial. Today, any assertion of expertise produces an explosion of anger from certain quarters of the American public, who immediately complain that such claims are nothing more than fallacious “appeals to authority,” sure signs of dreadful “elitism,” and an obvious effort to use credentials to stifle the dialogue required by a “real” democracy…

…I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all…

…None of this ignorance stops people from arguing as though they are research scientists. Tackle a complex policy issue with a layman today, and you will get snippy and sophistic demands to show ever increasing amounts of “proof” or “evidence” for your case, even though the ordinary interlocutor in such debates isn’t really equipped to decide what constitutes “evidence” or to know it when it’s presented. The use of evidence is a specialized form of knowledge that takes a long time to learn, which is why articles and books are subjected to “peer review” and not to “everyone review,” but don’t tell that to someone hectoring you about the how things really work in Moscow or Beijing or Washington.

This is a storming essay about the ways in which the value of real domain expertise is being degraded and devalued. Read it and gape.


20 questions for 2015 >> Benedict Evans

I wrote a detailed post a few weeks ago looking at some of the key structural questions in mobile – with the platform wars over (their first phase, at least), what’s happening to Android, what will happen to interaction models and so on. But it’s also worth looking at just how much could change just in 2015 – or even in January. Everything is wide open. So, here, in no special order, are 20 questions for 2015, any one of which would change things a lot. I’ve written about most of these topics already in 2014 – in 2015 they’re even more interesting.


Apple questions for 2015 >> Above Avalon

Neil Cybart:

In recognition of the beginning of a new year, I want to share my running list of questions that I have been keeping for Apple in 2015. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but rather things that I know to be on the lookout for.

It’s a pretty long list, if not exhaustive. Some key questions in there, with designer Marc Newson, SVP operations Jeff Williams and ex-iOS chief Scott Forstall all in there. Plus would you believe in an Apple Pen?


Meet the dogged researchers who try to unmask haters online >> MIT Technology Review

Adrian Chen:

Internet hatred [näthat] is a problem anywhere a significant part of life is lived online. But the problem is sharpened by Sweden’s cultural and legal commitment to free expression, according to Mårten Schultz, a law professor at Stockholm University and a regular guest on Troll Hunter, where he discusses the legal issues surrounding each case. Swedes tend to approach näthat as the unpleasant but unavoidable side effect of having the liberty to say what you wish. Proposed legislation to combat online harassment is met with strong resistance from free speech and Internet rights activists.

What’s more, Sweden’s liberal freedom-of-information laws offer easy access to personal information about nearly anyone, including people’s personal identity numbers, their addresses, even their taxable income. That can make online harassment uniquely invasive. “The government publicly disseminates a lot of information you wouldn’t be able to get outside of Scandinavia,” Schultz says. “We have quite weak protection of privacy in Sweden.”

Imagine what the childish (and sometimes dangerous) doxxing wars being played out over various hashtags would look like if every country made available the amount of information that Sweden does. Stieg Larsson, author of the “Dragon Tattoo” books and an investigator into far-right hate groups, didn’t get married because doing so would have required him to state his place of residence.


What it would really take to reverse climate change >> IEEE Spectrum

Ross Koningstein and David Fork were in charge of Google’s “moonshot” announced in 2007 to come up with renewable energy sources that cost less than coal. It was shut down in 2011:

Our reckoning showed that reversing the trend would require both radical technological advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering the carbon.

Those calculations cast our work at Google’s RE<C program in a sobering new light. Suppose for a moment that it had achieved the most extraordinary success possible, and that we had found cheap renewable energy technologies that could gradually replace all the world’s coal plants—a situation roughly equivalent to the energy innovation study’s best-case scenario. Even if that dream had come to pass, it still wouldn’t have solved climate change. This realisation was frankly shocking: Not only had RE<C failed to reach its goal of creating energy cheaper than coal, but that goal had not been ambitious enough to reverse climate change.

We’re a long way down the climate change road; what would really be needed would be an all-in effort on something like fusion and solar power.


No credit >> All this

Dr Drang:

Thursday night I got a fraud notice via text and email. When I called the bank, I found several charges from an online video game company that my older son uses. He’d made a single purchase, which went through, and then fifteen minutes later four or five charges from that same vendor were attempted and blocked. Was this a programming error at the game company? fraud by the company? fraud by some third party masquerading as the game company? Don’t know. I do know it wasn’t because my son was buying things by mistake—he’s eighteen and has enough experience online to know better. The bank cancelled the credit card and we canceled his game account. Happy New Year.

As I said, this will be our fifth card in the past twelve months. We started 2014 with a card we’d had for a couple of years, but it was replaced in early February after the Target breach. Sometime in spring, the bank caught a fraudulent charge at a Kmart in Chicago, so our 3–4 month old card was cancelled and a new one issued. That one lasted all the way to October, when it was cancelled because of the Home Depot breach. And now this.

When the new card arrives on Monday, I’ll go through the list of accounts and change them all to the new number. My list is on paper, but this time I’m going to switch to a system like Jamie Phelps’s, that’ll allow me to just click a single link instead of dig my way through a series of pages for each account.

It’s puzzling how European banks and retailers were able to coordinate the introduction of Chip+PIN – which would kill this sort of fraud almost dead – and yet the US has completely failed at it. The UK introduced Chip+PIN in 2004. The problem hasn’t gone away – it’s forced it to different places, principally online, where phishing is still a big problem that await Apple Pay-style methods to reduce them.


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