19 posts • joined Saturday 5th June 2010 22:49 GMT
They've a pretty huge presence in Dublin
Just to point out, Google in Dublin is not a 'brass plate' operation by any means.
There's a huge presence in Ireland. They just spend €100m in cash on a new office 15 story office complex ( 210,000 sq ft) and employs over 2,500 people at their EU HQ in Dublin's docklands area and sank a further €75 million into huge eco-friendly, air-cooled data centre in West Dublin.
So it's a bit unfair to say they don't actually do stuff in Ireland, they most certainly do.
It's down to wider choice of operators in Europe in particular
The iPhone's being pushed by AT&T and Verizon in the US, where as in Europe it's just another phone that's available on a huge range of networks and virtual networks without exclusivity.
Pretty much ever network here in Ireland, including some pretty small MVNOs all have the iPhone 5 available.
The other issue in Europe is that a lot of carriers tend to stick you on a special 'iPhone' tariff and contract which gives you fewer minutes, and fewer texts, and often less data than an equivalent general plan with a high-end Android and often a longer lock-in contract.
Given that the raw price of the iPhone is similar to the raw price of some of the top end Androids, I can only assume that the European carriers are getting a worse deal from Apple than they are from other handset makers, otherwise they would offer similar deals on them.
I also think in Europe the hype around the iPhone kind of died off more quickly than it did in the United States. Again, I'm not sure that Apple did as good a marketing job over here as it did in the US. The in-store displays are often rather lacking in luster and the networks generally seem to give the iPhone a push when a new model launches, then it just gets a stand down the back of the store somewhere. The top-end Androids look and generally are FAR more impressive in many respects too. I think many of us were waiting for some kind of radical new iPhone 5, and instead we basically got a slightly better screen and an extra row of icons.
The interface is also, as mentioned in previous posts, almost totally unchanged since the original iOS launch. It's a grid of icons. You can't even easily organise them without spending hours doing what is a bit like sorting tiles in a tile-puzzle game. Where as with most android setups, you have only the apps / widgets you want on your home screens and the rest are nicely (usually alphabetically) sorted in an app folder/drawer, neatly out of the way and easy to access. The iPhone's setup is akin to a computer that forced you to have absolutely everything on your desktop! It was fine when there were only a handful of apps to deal with, but nowadays it's getting a bit cumbersome and ridiculous.
From a European perspective, Apple is also obviously very very much more interested in its home market, particularly when you see things like the 4G just not working on European and Australian LTE networks as the iPhone 5 supports all the wrong bands for European networks which will be seeing widespread rollout in 2013. So, I mean why would I invest a lot of money / sign a long contract for a phone that will not fully support my local LTE networks, when there are androids that will?
That kind of stuff just annoys people and gives an impression of 'we only care about US customers'.
Siri didn't work in most European markets (even Ireland and Britain which speak English) for ages (still doesn't work in some markets), visual voicemail doesn't work in most setups here, etc etc etc..
If Apple want to get more market penetration in Europe, which is the world's largest consumer market in terms of raw spending power, it needs to compete with other suppliers and get pride of place on the networks, without just trying to lock them in and it needs to look at actually launching devices that work on European networks FULLY. Not releasing a handset that is not ready to roll on European LTE frequencies and not one with key features like Siri and Visual Voicemail forgotten about.
Anyway, I think that's why Android's doing better in Europe than in the US.
Re: Yikes! - they're not earthed
European CEE 7/7 "Schuko" plugs are actually fully earthed (grounded) and have a 3rd contact.
The earth's a strip of metal across the top/bottom of the plug which connects to two clips at the top and bottom of the recessed socket (in most countries).
Or, in France/Belgium there is a pin which sticks out of the recessed socket and connects to a hole in the face of the plug. This also polarises the socket/plug connection i.e. you can only insert it one way. (German and other European countries use non-polarised sockets. However, EU appliances [including those sold in the UK] are designed to operate 100% safely in either polarity, so it makes no difference)
The sockets are recessed to prevent you from being able to touch the pins when inserting the plug and the earth connection makes first and breaks last. Quite a safe design actually.
The Apple adaptors are weird however:
If you use the snap-on plug (regardless of which one, including the UK one) it is not earthed.
If you use the original cable that came with the adaptor, it is earthed. There's a metal lug on the transformer that goes into a slot on the cable connector which has an earthing contact.
You'll notice with the MacBook Pro that if you use the adaptor with the cable, you get no tingling and if you use the snap on plug or a figure-of-8 connector you do get tingling !
They're not THAT ugly but we need to plan for the future.
I don't really know what the fuss is about. We've always lived with street furniture and I don't think this is any worse than anything else!
We have similar looking Huawei and even larger Alcatel-Lucent cabinets in Ireland. In fact, some small telephone exchanges over here were housed entirely in on-street cabinets before VDSL ever appeared.
The main cable television operator over here, UPC, has even larger green cabinets which contain their fibre-to-kerb and distribution amplifier equipment. However, they deliver sweet 100mbit/s - 120mbit/s broadband and video on demand, and my HDTV so I am not complaining and they are usually quite well camouflaged.
We have always had street cabinets since the dawn of utility companies and modern technology going right back to the late 1800s!
Telephone companies have always had large cabinets housing junctions and distribution equipment to connect up local lines. Those big green cabinets have been around for decades.
Power companies have cabinets with fuses, metering gear, earthing points, junctions, telemetry, network control etc etc.
Gas companies have similar boxes for similar reasons.
Water companies and local councils have cabinets housing meters and telemetry for keeping the water networks leak-free.
Other boxes house traffic light control systems.
Modern life requires these services and in general, they are reasonably well integrated into the built environment.
I don't think those green VDSL boxes are particularly ugly. In many cases, they're less ugly than the buildings they're standing next to :)
I think though there's a bit of a risk that if it become a total free-for-all the whole place will be dug up to lay ducts and cables.
It would make more sense if local authorities did some joined-up thinking and actually laid neutral ducts that could be used by any utility company that needed them. Or, as is common elsewhere in Europe, provide easily removable areas of brick pavement or grass-margin that can be dug up and restored without all the need for cracking up paving and road surfaces.
ALL new build housing and all new road surfacing projects should include laying neutral ducts. Space should then be provided for street cabinets for whatever technology's needed now or in the future.
The reality is that we have no idea what technology might arrive and the most sensible approach is to provide the physical infrastructure (ducts, vaults and cabinet spaces and easily accessible 230V/400V power) to easily rollout whatever technology comes along as it evolves.
Next up - English speakers!
I wonder will Apple now go after fruit growers, marketers and supermarkets for their continuous abuse of this noble computer company's totally original name.
Then maybe go after the world's English-speaking population for using the word in reference to that common tasty fruit that grows on trees.
Is an OS upgrade not risky at that distance?
What I don't understand is why NASA would even risk an OS upgrade on a probe on Mars?
Surely you'd want a system like that 100% tested, tried, approved, validated, validated again and then validated a third time for good luck!
What if the OS upgrade had bricked the rover?!
The iPhone looks old now.
I was looking at buying a new smartphone recently and I was browsing my local eMobile store here in Ireland where they'd a nice selection of Androids, Windows phones, iPhones and others all plugged in and playable-around with.
I have to say that the current iPhone form factor is showing its age at the moment. The new Galaxy SIII in particular looks stunning in comparison to it as do many of the other Android phones on the market at that end of the market.
Apple really need to innovate the form factor a bit and produce something that is market leading again. They seem to spend all their time chasing patent law suits these days rather than actually tweaking their phone design.
The Magstripe HAS to go! - (including in Europe)
This is not a US vs EU debate. Although, on this issue the EU has led the way.
Chip and PIN is an excellent system, if and only if it is used without backwards compatibility with magstripe.
The majority of credit, debit and ATM card fraud in Europe does not involve transactions with chips. Cards' magnetic stripes are skimmed by criminals and the PINs are captured at point of entry. Those cards are then cloned as magnetic stripe cards and used in ATMs elsewhere.
If the cards were issued without magstripe and with only chips they are almost impossible to clone and the only way of making a transaction would be to physically steal the card and know the PIN.
The banks are being ridiculously slow to phase out what is absolutely archaic technology. The PIN pads and card readers are not that expensive. In fact, the majority of POS terminals in the United State are probably the same basic models as those found in Europe. They simply need a software update and an EMV card reader/pin pad plugged in!
Most European customers also do not need magnetic stripe cards. I do not know why the banks continue to issue Chip and PIN cards with a stripe on the back. They should be chip-only and a second card with a magstripe could be issued if customers wish to travel to a technologically-backwards banking destination.
I suspect the problem with this is the banks have been able to simply cover the cost of fraud using insurance. That bottomless pool of funds is drying up fast and fraud levels are getting totally out of hand.
This is like the Mac V PC religious wars of the 1990s all over again!
I don't know why people get so invested in an OS!
Android's a fantastic smartphone OS. It does exactly what it is supposed to do 99% of the time. Apple's iOS is another fantastic smartphone OS and it also does exactly what it's supposed to do most of the time.
I haven't found anyone who has a major issue with either platform to be perfectly honest.
The only comments that I do hear quite a lot is that a lot of people are finding the iOS grid of icons on a desktop approach rather limited, particularly if they are familiar with Android.
The main thing that most people notice is that with iOS, all of your apps are dumped on your home-screens and are rather difficult to sort. Where as on Android, your apps are stored in an apps folder / drawer and you can decide which ones you want to put on your home screens. The ability to add widgets to the screen also differentiates Android.
Also, you have to compare like with like. Apple does not make low-end smartphones. Where as Android runs on everything from cheap and nasty devices with small screens and limited processing power to devices that have significantly more power than any iPhone. So, it's quite hard to generalise about Android as it is only an OS, it's not an OS + hardware combination unless you're talking about the the Google Nexus range.
Also, I don't understand why people would want Apple or Google to be the absolutely dominant player. We have a wonderful situation at the moment where several major players are competing in this space and it's driving innovation forward rapidly. Google, Apple, Microsoft/Nokia, RIM/Blackberry are all still there.
The only problem is that the majority of "unlimited" data plans are actually subject to acceptable usage policies and the vast majority of mobile users world-wide still do not have anything like unlimited bandwidth.
Data plans will often provide enough capacity to give you unlimited browsing of the web, email, app downloads, etc or reasonably huge limits that you are unlikely to reach. However, when you add streaming media to this, you can very quickly run up quite a large data balance!
If it's streaming everything off a server, it's not going to be very popular with the mobile networks as it will create havoc on their infrastructure and it could end up costing some end users an absolute fortune in data charges if they go beyond their 'unlimited' plans.
Globalisation going too far? Time to introduce balancing tariffs, standards etc?
There's no way that the US, the EU, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea or any developed country can compete with Chinese, Indian and other very low labour cost markets.
If I am operating a business in the EU, there are vastly more costs than in China and huge amounts of regulatory requirements for environmental protection, workers' rights protection, health and safety protection, pensions, contributions to the social welfare system and healthcare system / insurance etc
The US and EU are the two largest markets for Chinese goods, taking roughly 50:50 share of the Chinese export market.
We need to exert our position of power as the world's biggest consumers. There should be a set of balancing tariffs which calculate the difference between costs in China or elsewhere and costs in the EU or the US.
Also, to protect the planet and people, EU or US environmental laws and human rights laws should be required to be complied with by any company exporting to those markets.
As it stands, we're in a race to the bottom. There will be no manufacturing or even design jobs left in the "west" before long and we'll spiral into a complete collapse. We're already on our way there with the financial crisis i.e. there's nothing much going on in the west anymore except speculative industries like banking.
I think there's a terrible arrogance in the deeply flawed logic that Western countries can be the designers and the far east and other developing areas of the world can be the factory floors. We are no more intelligent and no more qualified than our Chinese or Indian counterparts. What exactly will stop them from just doing the whole job there?
Our large corporations are all multinational. There's no such thing really as a US, British, German, Japanese or whatever company anymore. They're bigger than the countries that they originated in, they're often owned by anonymous, very aggressive stock market funds who care nothing about where they come from or what level of loyalty to their home town / home state they show. All they want to see is quarterly profits.
I think we have entered a situation where corporations are getting more powerful than they should ever have been and countries are being left behind.
When China gets too expensive, these guys will be off to the next source of cheap labour and outsourcing Chinese jobs there.
I really think it's time that we reconsidered this whole notion of totally unfettered globalization. Whose agenda does it suit other than shareholders of major corporations?
I have no problems with countries competing for jobs, but the gulf in costs and basic standards between China (and some other places) and the West is just ridiculous. It's pure market distortion and abuse and nothing else.
Isn't 2G only a bit shortsighted?
What would concern me about these meters is that the mobile technologies are likely to progress very quickly over the next while and 2G GSM will disappear faster than a lot of people think.
At present, the major problem with UMTS-3G is that it's stuck on the 2100MHz band which is giving it relatively poor signal propegation characteristics comapred to GSM-900Mhz.
Once the licensing and auctioning of spectrum is complete, you'll find that mobile operators will move very quickly to using their 900Mhz spectrum for 3G/4G services. The majority of mobile phones already support both GSM and UMTS, and their life expectancy is typically only a year or two at most so, there's no real difficulty in switching over to exclusivley 3G networks. It is not in any mobile operators interest to continue using GSM beyond its "best before" date as UMTS makes far more efficient use of the available, and very expensive, spectrum allocations that each operator has. So, if you ditch GSM and go with UMTS only, you can support far more customers in the same space.
Many newer handsets already preemtively support UMTS 900Mhz e.g. most new smart phones.
Also, because UMTS is part of the GSM family of standards, the switch off and cut over to exclusively 3G networks will be seamless. Most users won't even notice, unless they've very old handsets.
I sincerely hope that this power company has easily swappable out modules or has some plan to deal with the cut over to 3G/4G wireless.
The typical lifespan of an electricity or gas meter is something like 60 years, where as the typical lifespan of a mobile phone is more like 2 years. So, mobile network providers really have no particular interest in supporting legacy devices.
If you're a power utility with millions of installed devices depending on an old, soon to be killed-off data transmission system, you could be left high and dry with millions of meters and no way of reading them far sooner than you might imagine!
Nokia simply couldn't do smartphones
Nokia, along with quite a few other companies, simply did not have the skill set to produce a decent smartphone on their own. It is *entirely* about the GUI and the user experience.
I tried an N97 Mini and on a lot of occasions I felt like throwing it against a brick wall. It was unintuitive, confusing, unreliable and extremely prone to crashing/freezing or behaving oddly.
The touch screen was totally insensitive to touch and required endless fiddling to get it to work and it was just dated and generally not pleasant to use.
Back in the days when phones were still "stupid"phones and before the iPhone, Motorola was having the floor wiped with itself by Nokia and Sony Ericsson as they were producing very intuitive basic 2G/3G phones with nice menu systems. While Motorola's menu systems often felt like you were trying to interact with a 1970s mainframe with a teletype keyboard.
However, when the iPhone and then Android came along, Nokia was simply unable to come up with anything competitive at that end of the market.
Remember, Nokia's smartphone business is only a small % of it's overall business. Apple on the other hand only has 1 current model of phone at anytime i.e. the iPhone and the android manufacturers have a major focus on smartphones i.e. HTC.
The developer community and the IT media all salavate over smartphones, but Nokia's bread and butter is still 'dumbphones' and it churns out a vast amount of these.
It also holds vast numbers of patents on networking technologies and churns out a huge amount of network equipment through Nokia-Siemens Networks, it's joint venture company.
So, I wouldn't write Nokia off completely.
Also, they may occupy a certain niche with their smart phone windows phone offering i.e. dull business people who will see Nokia and Microsoft as two sensible trusted brands.
That being said, it could equally be a marriage made in hell with two slow corporate giants who can't innovate.
I am not going through backscatter X-Rays - end of!
The simplest solution is that business people and tourists should simply boycott all destinations that have these backscatter x-ray devices installed.
We need an up-to-date list of all airports using them so that consumers can make a choice of destination based on health risks.
Millimeter wave scanners are fine, I have no issue with them as they are essentially completely passive.
I don't even care that much about being patted down. It's a bit annoying, but I'd rather minor embarrassment than skin cancer!!
Who cares what the ISO says? :)
.uk is far more recognisable than .gb, which could be Gibraltar or Gabon
Ireland got stuck with .ie / IE which is only correct in French!
EI would have made more sense *EI*re as per the aircraft call signs.
Network Operators have some responsibility too.
I find it utterly ridiculous that you cannot entirely opt out of premium rate text messaging. It's a completely insecure service that is wide open to abuse.
Also, can all of those who make money along the route i.e. network operator and the telco providing the "service" be prosecuted for being in receipt of money that is the proceed of a crime / profiting from a crime ?
Should we add India to a list of business unfriendly nations then?
Blackberries, iPhones and other e-mail enabled mobile devices are pretty core to many business travellers' day-to-day lives. I could see quite a lot of people re-thinking hosting conferences or meetings in any country that has a blanket ban on a Blackberry devices.
This will just damage the Indian economy and tag it as somewhere that's unfriendly to internet technology.
Virgin don't operate in the Republic of Ireland
I'm not really sure why the Irish Regulators are involved. Virgin doesn't operate in the Republic of Ireland, the main cable service (including what was NTL Ireland) is operated by UPC.
I wonder how this is going to impact on UPC? Their HD service is missing all of the sky HD content at the moment.
Hopefully the cozy relationship between Sky and Virgin in the UK won't undermine UPC's bargaining position for channels on Irish cable as they won't be part of that deal.
UPC is part of liberty global, they own / jointly own quite a few channels on the sky line-up too, so they're not exactly insignificant players as one of the world's largest cable and broadband operators.
That being said, Sky doesn't have a broadband, phone & TV bundle in Ireland and UPC's "fibre power" is shaking up that market.
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