Start up: Apple’s GPU hiring, Samsung’s VR plan, our changing media habits, streaming $1bn loss, and more

“Look, it’s a smartphone gamer who spends money!” Photo by chris_rivait on Flickr.

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A selection of 9 links for you. Leaves no sticky traces. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Hardly pocket change: mobile gamers spend an average of $87 on in-app purchases » Slice Intelligence

»There’s a reason why free-to-play games have major advertising campaigns: it turns out,  users spend a lot via in-app purchases. Slice Intelligence just revealed that people who bought products in mobile video games last year spent an average of $87 dollars on their “free-to-play” games. This redefines how we view hardcore gamers: people who purchase games for traditional consoles and PCs spend only $5 dollars more on average on their gaming entertainment.


Ah yes, but pay attention to the way that “average” works out. As you might guess, it’s amazingly skewed: loads of people spend nothing, a tiny number spend huge amounts. Here’s what it looks like:


Data shows that only 10% of the mobile in-game purchasing population accounts for 90% of mobile gaming sales. Further listening to the statical sonar reveals that the top one percent, the “white whales”, of mobile gamers account for an astonishing 58% of the mobile gaming revenue from in-app purchases. This trend doesn’t occur among traditional games, where roughly 28% of the audience accounts for 90% of game sales.


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Samsung’s VR Plans Include Standalone Headset, Hand-Tracking Tech » Variety

Janko Roettgers:

»Samsung’s plans for virtual reality go beyond the company’s current Gear VR headset: The company is working on a standalone virtual reality (VR) headset that will incorporate positional tracking similar to the technologies now available on higher-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, revealed the company’s head of R&D for software and services Injong Rhee during the company’s developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday.

“We are working on wireless and dedicated VR devices, not necessarily working with our mobile phone,” Rhee said. Some of the other features that Samsung is exploring for the next generation of VR headsets is hand and gesture tracking. However, Rhee cautioned that it may take a few more years before we see these kinds of features in devices from Samsung, or anyone else for that matter. “VR is amazing, but the industry is still at its infancy,” he said.


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Minister says NHS needs more data sharing » UKAuthority

Rob Merrick:

»The UK risks falling behind in the race to use health data to save lives because of protests over privacy, a Government minister has warned.

George Freeman revealed his “frustration” that progress is being held back by a combination of public and media ignorance and, he admitted, “badly communicated policy”.

During a Commons debate, the life sciences minister issued a rallying cry for the widespread use of data to “accelerate the search for cures and to prevent unnecessary suffering”.

Freeman told MPs: “It is all too easy to jump on a bandwagon and launch a campaign to say, ‘No data to be used’. That would profoundly betray those who are suffering from disease today who want their experience to help to prevent disease tomorrow.”

The minister spoke of his “frustrations with the situation”, adding: “The truth is that healthcare is digitalising very fast.

“That is not just driven by commercial app manufacturers. Many doctors are developing apps for their own benefit and that of their patients. Many patients are also developing apps. The revolution is coming.”


Not clear that this was sparked by the Google DeepMind/NHS data share, but that has risen up the agenda.
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Seven reasons customers are changing faster (and slower) than we thought » Fluxx Studio Notes on Medium

Paul Dawson:

»Every year, OFCOM produces a 200 page report into media habits in the UK. It represents real, mainstream activity — normal mass market customers, not early adopters or insiders. At Fluxx, we use the report as a sense check when designing products and services. This is what stood out this year.

1. Death of the desktop and laptop
“There has been a considerable rise (from 6% in 2014 to 16% in 2015) in the proportion of adults who only use smartphones or tablets to go online, and not a PC/laptop.”

Who’s up? Companies who built responsive websites

Who’s down? Companies who built responsive websites — yes, you read that right. 84% of the adult population still uses their desktop/laptop (sometimes) to go online, but that is not 84% of your customers, and when they use that particular device, they’re choosing it for a reason.

You simply don’t know if they will care, or not care about the degraded/simplified experience that might be implicit in a responsive website design until you get close to them and their needs.

So What? Disregard the generalised stats. Before you make such a big investment decision, get close to your customers to see what they actually need. The answer may be something entirely different…


Plenty more, and all worth considering.
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The great music biz money pit: How streaming services have lost $1bn » Music Business Worldwide

Tim Ingham audits the financials for all the streaming services (apart from Apple and Google, which don’t publish separately; Google doesn’t even publish subscriber numbers):

»what have we learned?

Well, the biggest independent streaming services in the US and Europe are losing millions of dollars every month (caveat: that’s a bit of an assumption when it comes to TIDAL).

Therefore, they all require gigantic levels of future investment to deal with their cash burn.

Not a huge problem for the likes of Spotify ($1bn recently secured) or Deezer ($110m recently secured).

But when you look at platforms such as Rhapsody/Napster, and its 3.5m subscribers, things look a little more fragile.

(The company took on a $10m loan from Real Networks and an unnamed co-owner last March – money which, according to our net loss analysis, would have lasted it just over three months.)


So basically, wait for the dominoes to fall.
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Lead water pipes in 1900 caused higher crime rates in 1920 » Mother Jones

Kevin Drum on a new scientific study:

»the effect is consistently positive. “Based on the lowest and highest point estimates,” the authors conclude, “cities that used lead pipes had between 14 and 36 percent higher homicide rates than cities that did not.” They present further versions of this chart with various controls added, but the results are largely the same. Overall, they estimate that cities with lead pipes had homicide rates 24 percent higher than cities with iron pipes.

As a check, they also examine the data to see if lead pipes are associated with higher death rates from cirrhosis and infant diarrhea, both of which have been linked with lead poisoning:

As expected, we observe large, positive, and statistically significant relationships between a city’s use of lead pipes and its rates of death from cirrhosis and infant diarrhea. Unexpectedly, we find that cities that used lead water pipes had higher rates of death from scarlet fever and influenza. Cities that used iron pipes, in contrast, had higher rates of death from circulatory disease, cancer, and cerebral hemorrhage. We know of no scientific literature to motivate these latter relationships.

So it looks like lead really is the culprit, and it really is associated with higher crime rates.


The other suspicion is that lead additives in petrol affected crime rates too, but that that’s now tapering off.
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Apple increases iPhone prices by steep 29% » The Times of India

»Apple has increased prices of iPhones in India. The surprise revision in retail prices comes at a time when the company’s new device SE got a poor response and managed to sell only a few thousand units. And, the hike is as steep as 29% for the iPhone 6 device. The company also decided to tinker with pricing of iPhone 5S, making it costlier by 22% to nearly Rs 22,000.

Sources said Apple decided to withdraw some of the discounts offered in January-March 2016 period. “It was felt that SE, which was criticized for having a ‘high price tag’, will not be able to see much traction if prices of bigger-sized iPhone 6 and 6S devices are not corrected. So, the decision was taken to revise the price upwards,” a source said.


I missed this originally (it’s datelined April 23). It’s either madness, or supreme confidence, to raise prices like this – a decision made ahead of the rejection of imported refurbished iPhones earlier this week.
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US woman forced to provide her fingerprint to unlock seized iPhone » Ars Technica UK

Cyrus Farivar:

»A Southern California woman was recently ordered to provide her fingerprint to unlock a seized iPhone, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

The case highlights the ongoing balancing act between security and convenience and how the law treats something you know (a passcode) as being quite different than something you are (a biometric). Under the Constitution, criminal defendants have the right not to testify against themselves—and providing a passcode could be considered testimonial. However, being compelled to give up something physiological or biometric (such as blood, DNA sample, fingerprint or otherwise), is not.

As the Times reports, Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan was ordered by a federal judge to provide her fingerprint on February 25, and the warrant was executed and unsealed on March 15.


The long gap between the warrant and its execution probably means that she wasn’t aware of it; the police served it on her on the 14th or 15th. Any longer than 48 hours since using the passcode would mean fingerprint unlock wouldn’t work.
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Apple hiring in Orlando amid rumors company designing own GPU » Business Insider

Kif Leswing:

»Graphics experts who want to work for Apple might not need to move to California. The company is currently hiring several graphics-chip specialists in its Orlando, Florida, offices.

In the past week, Apple has posted seven new job listings for graphics-processing unit (GPU) engineers in Orlando. Four of the positions are listed as graphics-verification engineers and one listing is for a graphics-software engineer, and Apple is also looking for a graphics RTL (register-transfer level) designer.


Virtual reality and augmented reality systems both need high-quality GPUs. Just sayin’.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.

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