WEEK 13-Hasta La Vista, Baby

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That’s right guys. This is officially the last post on this blog. Feeling a little attached after all these weeks of posting, reflecting on what I learned about the internet.

Looking back, some posts were really interesting to write such as Week 2’s post: The power of social media, as I realised how much the social media can do, especially in this digital age we live in.

Social media can bring people together for a good cause or cause harm to individuals through flaming, threats, cyber-bullying etc. Indeed, it is our responsibility to optimise the internet, like how we are using it for educational purposes in this class!

Another post I found interesting was Week 8’s post: Cyber crimes in Singapore. The research I have done for this post was really insightful as I realised the extent of cyber crimes in Singapore and inevitably became more cautious when shopping online.

Also, after checking out a few of my friend’s blogposts (yes I stalk some of them), I found one of Hanis’ post on the Internet of Things really interesting because she explored some really cool inventions which I totally need in my life. Go check them out!

Finally, here is an interesting video by Wah!Banana that illustrates life with and without the internet, enjoy!

One last time, hasta la vista baby! 🙂

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WEEK 12-Apple vs Microsoft vs Google

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Based on week 12’s lecture slides, I learned that we can know a little more about the future of the internet by understanding the innovation and innovators. Indeed, we can predict the future trend of the internet by watching out for the new products launched by a few big companies which essentially dominate the market. In particular, we touched on the business models of Apple, Microsoft and Google in class and I decided to research further into how they dominate the market.

I found out that all three companies rely on unique product offerings to generate the bulk of their revenues, and each has tried to break into the others’ markets with alternative services and varying degrees of success.

In 2015, all three companies offer a phone, tablet, TV-based operating system and a desktop operating system. Each firm is rapidly competing for a place in cloud-based technology. Google still performs best with business and information revenue since AdSense sells far better than Microsoft’s Bing Ads or Apple’s iAd-which has been discontinued since 30 June this year.

Even though they compete across a huge range of subindustries, such as computing software, hardware, operating systems, mobile devices, advertising, applications and Web browsing, each firm takes a different approach from an organisational and philosophical perspective.

For instance, the Apple model is all about Dominance and Risk, and of course, thinking differently.

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It is difficult to recall a modern American business so thoroughly dominated by the ideas and personality of one individual as Apple and Steve Jobs. Jobs’ remarkable innovations propelled Apple to unprecedented heights until his sudden passing. During Steve Jobs’ second reign, Apple returned to relevancy and revolutionised multiple subindustries. It took over the Walkman industry from Sony and completely redefined mobile phones when the iPhone was released. Apple also practically invented the tablet industry by introducing the iPad series.

Jobs was also ruthless about using patents, litigation, intimidation and other hardball tactics to limit competition, and his successors are no different. This has led to more than one protracted legal battle, including some high-profile clashes with Samsung, but it has greatly benefitted Apple’s effort in gaining dominance of the market.

Apple easily beats its competitors in terms of hardware sales and high-end gadgets. Thanks to the company’s early 2000s reputation as a nonconformist response to Microsoft, millennials grew up using Macs in large numbers. More than Google or Microsoft, Apple can rely on a loyal consumer base. This is buoyed by the company’s brilliant insistence on integrating its products, making it easier and almost instinctive to keep using new Apple products and simultaneously more difficult to switch to a competitor’s interface; this is sometimes referred to as the “Apple Ecosystem Lock.”

As compared to Apple, Microsoft takes a newer approach in doing business and innovation.

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For years, Microsoft dominated the computer industry with its Windows software; Apple was an afterthought for more than a generation of operating products. Before Google Web browsing began to dominate the market, Microsoft gave away Internet Explorer for free and drove Netscape out of business.

The Microsoft revenue model historically relied on just a few key strengths. The first, and most important, is the licensing fees charged for use of the Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite. After a few years of increasing irrelevance in the race against Google and Apple, Microsoft unveiled a new vision in April 2014, instantly shifting focus to make Windows software more compatible with competitor products, such as the iPad. Microsoft also has a few successful products, highlighted by the Microsoft Surface and Surface Pro, that challenge Apple devices.

Moving forward, however, Microsoft realises it cannot simply stick with the same old method and continue to compete with Apple and Google. Paid software is a more difficult to sell in an age of low-cost alternatives. Additionally, tablets and phones are replacing PCs. A newer Microsoft business model has been telegraphed by CEO Satya Nadella, one that emphasises product integration and a “freemium” software package.

For example, Microsoft wants customers to be more engaged and fixated on its products. In 2015, CMO Chris Capossela explained this concept with a simple example: “Rather than using Skype on Sunday night to phone home, you are using Skype for messaging 15, 20, 30 times every single day. That’s engagement.”

Lastly, the Google model may familiar to most of us, as they envision an accessible database for everyone, for free.

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Unsurprisingly, the heart and soul of the Google revenue stream is its search engine and Web advertisements. While Google is not the only company to give away free services and bundle them with other goods, few do it as well or as successfully.

Google services do not cost the user anything. Instead, Google lures in users and collects their data, and then sells access to eager buyers across the planet. Every marketing firm in the world wants the kind of information and repeat usage Google enjoys. Moreover, the company keeps getting better and more sophisticated at targeting consumers and businesses, syncing preferences and playing economic matchmaker.

This no-fee model is not just profitable, it is very disruptive to Apple and especially to Microsoft. While Apple and Microsoft keep competing to find better and more innovative products to charge consumers, Google is all too happy to find a way to monetise activities for which users are eager to stop paying.

Google does not charge for Android, which is one of the chief reasons manufacturers are so drawn to it. The Google Web apps, which bear a striking resemblance to Office programs, are also free. Since Google began offering a free operating system and computer software, sales for Microsoft Windows and Office have slowed and, in the long term, threaten to die out.

Indeed, all 3 big companies offer various benefits to consumers, improving our lifestyle and the way we use the internet, yet threatens our use of internet in one way of another, be it our privacy or our unsusceptibility to their business marketing strategies. Through their business models, we gain an insight into the vision and strategies employed by the company, making us more informed users of the internet.
To end off, here is a video that compares Apple and Microsoft marketing advertisements, see if you can notice any similarities between the two and you will realise how one business affects another, and potentially impacts the future of the internet, helping us as consumers, predict upcoming trends.

WEEK 11-Will there be gender equality in the future?

One of the post that was shared with us last week regarding the Internet of Things (IoT) was an interesting article named “What are the 10 biggest global challenges?”.

Just like what I mentioned last week about IoT, we are living in an increasingly connected world, with both humans and machines. The internet is changing the way we live, work, produce and consume. With such extensive reach, many experts have proposed the idea of us entering the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a technological transformation driven by a pervasive and portable internet. The challenge however, is to manage this change in a way that promotes the long-term health and stability of the internet.

Within the next decade, it is expected that more than a trillion sensors will be connected to the internet.

By 2025, 10% of people are expected to be wearing clothes connected to the internet and the first implantable mobile phone is expected to be sold.

If almost everything is connected, it will transform how we do business and may help us manage resources more efficiently and sustainably.

However, with the recent uproar of the US elections, it seems that the efficient allocation of resources may be a big issue. As Donald Trump wins the US election, what’s ahead for women, Muslims, Hispanics and immigrants may not be favourable.

Hence, I would recommend anyone believing in Trump’s ideology to see this post, because many research studies are suggesting that rising income inequality is the cause of economic and social ills, ranging from low consumption to social and political unrest, and is damaging to our future economic well-being.

Also, achieving gender equality isn’t just a moral issue – it makes economic sense. Equality between men and women in all aspects of life, from access to health and education to political power and earning potential, is fundamental to how societies thrive.

Although we are getting closer to gender parity, change isn’t happening fast enough. For the past decade, the World Economic Forum been measuring the pace of change through the Global Gender Gap Report, and at current rates, it would take the world another 118 years – or until 2133 – to close the economic gap entirely.

There has been a significant increase in awareness of the importance of gender parity and much has been done by international organization, civil society, governments and business.

However, often the work centres on single-issue awareness-raising campaigns. Existing work also frequently involves either cooperation between different public bodies or different private bodies.

More needs to be done to bridge the gap and facilitate cooperation between the public and private sectors. As individuals, we can start by treating everyone without any discrimination, collaborating with one another to make the world a better place in future!

WEEK 10- Rise of the Machines

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Last week, we talked about the Internet of Things (IoT) in class and I have always been interested in the future of technology, especially with the influence of sci-fi films like Minority Report and the Terminator franchise which almost always tops box office with its new series. (Ok I may be a little biased here.) For those of you who haven’t watched any of the Terminator franchise, you are really missing out. I would recommend everyone to at least watch Terminator 2: Judgement day, and decide if you love it or not.

However, since we talked about the IoT last lesson, I thought the third franchise, Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines would be more appropriate to introduce in this blog post. Check out the trailer below!

Just like what we covered in class, IoT is “Things having identities and virtual personalities operating in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate within social, environmental, and user contexts”.

Rarely depicted visually in any of the Terminator series, Skynet gained self-awareness after it had spread into millions of computer servers all across the world; realizing the extent of its abilities, its creators tried to deactivate it. In the interest of self-preservation, Skynet concluded that all of humanity would attempt to destroy it and impede its capability in safeguarding the world. Its operations are almost exclusively performed by servers, mobile devices, drones, military satellites, war-machines, androids and cyborgs (usually a Terminator), and other computer systems. This potentially means that Skynet is able to infiltrate into any device that has access to a network, and take control over it.

As a programming directive, Skynet’s manifestation is that of an overarching, global, artificial intelligence hierarchy (AI takeover), which seeks to exterminate the human race in order to fulfil the mandates of its original coding.

Essentially, Skynet is a highly advanced artificial intelligence which saw humanity as a threat to its existence after gaining self-awareness and decided to trigger the nuclear holocaust Judgment Day and deploy an army of Terminators against humanity.

Even though we talked about the benefits of the IoT in class, I decided to post something that leaned on the darker side of technological advancements. This film suggests the danger of AI and the IoT and seem to be warning people against such advancements in technology. Indeed, just like what Moore’s law suggests, computers, machines that run on computers, and computing power will all become smaller and faster with time, and will experience an exponential growth every year.

This may sound like good news to many computer manufacturers or to the IT industry in general, but all may not be good news in time to come. Just like what the Terminator franchise suggest, people could generate systems and make things beyond their control, posing threat to humanity and realising it only after the harm has been made. Ultimately, it is up to us humans to know our limits and make the ethical decision when designing these systems. Hopefully, all these futuristic sci-fi films can help us see the potential danger in technology and aid us in making the world a better place without compromising our humanity in any way.