State of Social and Internet 2017

A while back, my friend Jeremiah Owyang wrote his perception of the state of social to which I contributed. Decided I’ll add onto my blog as well.

Twitter: dumpster fire but central to US current events, news
Facebook: where The Olds who ‘don’t get’ other social networks congregate to get attention, Asia’s LinkedIn, and others have an account for the sole purpose of Messenger (messenger.com via web)
Messenger: communication utility (Skype / Hangouts replacement; the Westerner’s WeChat and Weibo — encrypted messaging and P2P payments? Yes please!)
LinkedIn: depot of shameless self promoters and what NOT to do cues for teens and millennials professionally networking. I.E., Stay away from descriptors such as, but not limited, to: ‘futurist’, ‘keynote speaker’, ‘innovator’, ‘change agent’, etc., etc.,
Snapchat: dancing Hot Dog and awesome filters to cross post onto IG
IG: branding tool for the non-olds (teens). Lifestyle diary for Millennials (food, beauty, fashion, etc.)
Google+: Huh? What’s that???
Telegram: status symbol to show you’re ‘in the know’ about cryptocurrencies.
Slack: quickly becoming the new email
WhatsApp: where European Android users are
LINE: only relevant to Thais and old Japanese people
Ding Talk: where Chinese who don’t trust Weibo or WeChat conduct business

Social networks aside, my phone is the place I do the most internetting and boy has my homescreen changed a lot. Take a look:

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The three apps on the bottom are apps most used: Twitter, brower, mail.
1. Apple’s mail app has been replaced by Outlook (yes, Microsoft Outlook) because Gmail loads the quickest plus the experience is much better. I can’t believe I’m saying this either but hey — it is what it is.
2. Safari has been replaced by Brave — which I wrote extensively about here.

Despite having 256gigs on my phone, I only have one page of apps. Mainly because I realized long ago I only use a handful on the daily. I also turn off the little red circles because they induce anxiety and helped me wean off my addiction. (Read about that journey here.)

Funny how things change!

Related: Snap Chat should be worried — check out this neat graph I found. 300M daily active users for Instagram stories! Amazing.

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Why Aren’t More Tech Journalists Talking About This? #Apple

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…this was my stance after the Apple announcements of iPhone 6, 6+, and the watch but all jokes aside, there is good reason Apple is the most valuable brand on the planet and simply “mind-blowing“.

Personally, the Watch does nothing for me. I would never own one. The app screen (points below)

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triggers my trypophobia (yes, trypophobia is real) and the design is just outdated — totally 80s.

However, what Apple did with the watch, as well as all the iPhones after the 4, is create a problem then solved the problem for us. First world problem-ing in the highest order. Or in scientific terms: they tap into the last triangle of Maslo’s Hierarchy of Needs, by making us need things we didn’t know we needed.

This deep understanding of human behavior and finding ways to hook people with design and hardware is something very few companies can achieve. Apple consistently creates problems then seamlessly and elegantly solves them for us — truly, one of the most innovative companies of our time.

People say now, things like “why do we need payments on our wrists, when we can do them on our phones?” Or, “why would we need payments on our phones and wrists?” I say, just wait – people will start getting lazier because they’ll adopt to the convenience of phone functionalities on body parts (wearables) and soon, it’ll be the norm.

Think about it: everything about technology is creating and solving more convenient ways of living. Telephones, email, computers, laptops, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets… and the next: wearables.

With the Apple Watch, Apple is now giving us 1) predicted text so we don’t have to type. 2) a way to transact without the extra effort of pulling out our phones. 3) a new type of push-pull notification system in a way that no other product or software does.

Which to me, is the most exciting part of the Apple announcement – all personal thoughts about style aside. It’s a bit peculiar to me how a lot more people aren’t excited about that vs the new and shiny hardware.

Asia Lacks iOS Talent

This morning, LINE had a major update.

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Their new features are only part of the reason LINE differentiates themselves from the other messaging apps. They are truly, the leader in this space when it comes to long-term product and business strategies. Man, they are so smart.

The one thing that really blows my mind is how the iOS app is so much crappier compared to the Android app.

I only user banner notifications for apps because the little red circles drive me batty. Before, the banner notifications used to tell me who sent a message with a preview.

After the update:

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What is ‘MT’? Manual Transmission?? More Text??? Mt. Fuji???? Margaret Thatcher?????
This just makes no sense.

Hoping it was a bug, I switched the notifications to alert style and…

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Ummmm same thing. I really wonder what MT means.

Check out the notification for the Android though:

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Legit.

I don’t understand the thinking behind the iOS notifications but that’s neither here nor there. This only goes to show the dominance of Android over iOS in Asia, and how more emphasis is placed on developing on the former than latter.

Living in Asia makes me really want to switch to Android.

Smartphone Penetration in Japan: WTF

I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I know I shouldn’t. And I get it, I really do. Feature phones (flip phones) back in the what? the 90’s in Japan had mind-blowing technology. I remember being in awe every time I visited Japan from the states. I couldn’t believe what flip phones could do. How beautiful the large screens were. How colorful everything seemed. Even ringtones, were better on Japanese phones.

Japan always felt like I time warped into the future.

Fast forward to 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone and the world USA* adopted to smart phones. While Sony and NTT Docomo and Sharp and Panasonic and the rest of the Japanese portable electronic giants looked the other way, iPhones now have the largest market share in Japan.

But still. The rate of smart phone market penetration is just insane. I look at the numbers and can’t help but be awestruck by how behind Japan is…

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I mean… really????????? (chart via here)

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And I look at most recent figures of people who purchased a smartphone from April to September of 2013. 82%. Of those, 68.5% of people switched from a feature phone (flip phone) to a smart phone. (chart via here)

I have no words…

But the good news is, because Japan is slower to adopt to smart phones than other developed nations, there is massive room for disruption. The Japanese are just now getting accustomed to visually appeasing, gesture friendly user experiences, so think of all the possibilities.

You know? I am so so so glad to be here right now.
This is one of the most exciting times to be in Japan.

*edited — Karl, you are correct indeed :)

Cell Phone Carriers in Japan are Weird

On Sept. 10th, Apple announced the iPhone 5s and 5c (yay). I’ve been waiting since I arrived to Tokyo in June to sign-up for a Japanese mobile because of the iPhone.

Japan has three major carriers: NTT DoCoMo, KDDI / au and Softbank.
KDDI and Softbank have carried the iPhone and the only major carrier that was holding out was DoCoMo — which according to everyone I’ve asked around me, has the most superior network.

In the US, I think DoCoMo would be Verizon. KDDI is AT&T and Softbank is Tmobile or Sprint.
I found market share charts over on a Mobile in Japan blog (thanks, Paul) and took screen shots of the pie charts.

This is what the market share was like in 2006:

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Then, in August 2013:

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As it’s pointed out, a lot has changed and following this trajectory, DoCoMo had no choice but to carry the new iPhones or their market share would keep decreasing.

Whatever — that’s fine. I’m not really interested in Japanese mobile economics.
I mean, if you ask me, all three carriers have major sub numbers, considering the population in Japan.

What really annoys me, is that everything in Japan is backwards. For example, in the US, carriers give new subscribers incentives such as special pricing or handset discounts…makes new customers feel welcome. In Japan, mobile carriers reward returning subscribers.

In particular DoCoMo is a bit bizarre as they are only allowing returning VIP customers to reserve the 5c online. New customers or non-VIP customers are treated like second class citizens and I guess we have to wait in line or something. Fine, whatever. I’m planning to get the 5s which can’t be reserved so it doesn’t matter too much.

Then when they announced their pricing plan*, it made me not want to choose DoCoMo, even if apparently they have the most superior network.

New customers have to pay a monthly fee of 6,030 yen (apprx $60 USD) plus voice, while returning customers only have to pay a monthly fee of 4,200 yen (apprx $43 USD) plus voice.

That’s almost a $20 difference. WTF.
Oh well, I guess I’ll wait until the 20th to see which carrier offers the best price plan to decide which company to go with.

*source (in Japanese)

[EDIT] Update: the news article I got the pricing from, updated the post and apparently this is only student pricing. I feel a lot better now!

Step Aside, Flickr. Instagram is Replacing You.

Poor Flickr.

For years, photographers and amateur photographers had only one hub: Flickr. I also used to be addicted to Flickr and made many great friends on there. It’s a huge bummer they became stagnant and really hard to use. I don’t even remember the last time I logged in…  And I noticed more and more of my friends using Facebook as their main outlet for photographs.

Enter Instagram.

Now I didn’t understand Instagram either, until I actually created an account and started using it. And the more I use it, the more it’s clear, Instagram is the next social platform for photographers. There are already ridiculous amounts of insanely talented photographers on there. I can’t wait to see the community keep growing.

So what makes Instagram so great? Well:

  • discoverability with solid filtering. The noise to signal ratio is on. point.  From the popular page to following your immediate friend’s photos, to even seeing activities from your friends (what they liked, what they commented on, etc.) Reminds me of the FriendFeed friend of friend feature, but it’s filtered, so you can choose to look any time you want to and doesn’t clog your feed. (News -> Following)
  • community: interaction is pretty much like Flickr, where people can talk to each other without reservations. Plus, you can use handles, which is rare for newer sites these days. Part of the reason so many Asians are on there, to protect their identities.
  • shareability is seamless — such a smart implementation, perhaps the best out there.
  • MOBILE — it’s in all CAPs because that’s how important mobility will become. I’m excited to see how Instragram will keep iterating its product. And when the Android app comes out? I think the adoption will snowball, trickling down to the mass.

Hopefully, the Instagram team is working on an archiving system with option to store photos at higher resolutions. But I still stand by my statement from a few weeks back: “Finally get Instagram. It’s like Flickr (community and discovery), Myspace-Livejournal (hot girls posting self portraits) but way better.”

If you’d like to connect on Instagram, my user ID is ‘monagram’

Bonus: Check out these two photos from me and Christine. We were at the same place, sitting next to the other, drinking the same thing but the photo, well, take a look.  It was so neat when it popped up in our feeds — we both said WOW at the same time.

Holy Epic FAIL.

Just remembered I never finished my tech predictions for 2010. #fail Maaaaan and my predictions are usually really good or straight on point. But I do know one prediction that was debunked way earlier than I thought: WinMo. Boy was I truly blown away. Microsoft’s WinMo team deserves major props for executing a social centric data driven OS overhaul. Too bad they didn’t make launch at the same time as iPhone (2G at the least.) I hope they are not too late to play catch-up. Also extremely curious as to how the browsing experience is. I would not want to be locked into any of their (sh*tty) products: Office, IE, and Silverlight, specifically.

Latter is the reason I am going Android. I really want to wait for the third iteration of Android but I am sick of my iPhone and most of all, sick of AT&T’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad service.

NexusOne baby, I’m looking at you!
 
 
…why I woke up at 1:20am and felt compelled to punch this out is beyond me.

How My iPhone and Twitter Apps 1UPd My Twidiction

Twitter

Damn you iPhone.
Damn you Tweetie2.
Damn you SimplyTweet.
And most of all, DAMN YOU TWITTER.

…ok fine. So my Twitter addiction is not because of the above, but hey, I need something to blame, and I am sticking to the above as excuses.

When I first started Twitter, I had close to zero friends and didn’t really…well…get it. And by “getting it”, I mean Twitter. Most of the interesting people only interacted with each other and completely ignored me.

What. The. F**K.

It was sucky to be disregarded and I felt really lame…well…more like I was talking to a wall. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. *crickets*…ok, so I’d say more interesting things than HI or @Oprah I JUST ATE A GRILLED CHEESE FOR LUNCH TALK TO ME. But I digress. Where was I? Oh, ya. Twitter addiction.

Continue reading

Three iPhone Push Apps Every iPhone Addict Must Own

Don’t know about you, but the iPhone app store is about 80% useless redundant. There are so many frickin’ apps, I don’t know what’s good, what’s bad, which apps have push notifications that actually…well…work…?

However (!!!!)

I may have found the triad of apps with push notifications. Since I’m feeling generous today, I will share with y’all.

1. For the email junkies: PushGmail
Now before you barrage the “TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW“s; wait. And read. For people who have:

  • multiple Gmail accounts
  • one Exchange email already set-up on phone

PushGmail is the perfect solution. Still don’t follow? Ok, so I have my work Exchange email set-up, but I also Gmail all day errrrday. With PushGmail, my work emails get pushed onto my phone, and now my Gmail gets pushed too -read: best of both worlds. Have my cake and eat it too. I love this app more than fat kid love cake. At any which way, PushGmail RULES and is only 99cents. WELL worth the dollar (and some change)

2. For the sports addicts: Sportacular
In complete agreement with Kevin (jkontherun) who said: “Sports junkies that have an iPhone or iPod Touch owe it to themselves to take a look at Sportacular.” Holy smokes, this app is amazing. Scores are pushed (multi level settings, create alerts for only games and or teams you keep with) and it’s not just scores. Articles, breaking news, standings, etc., are available too but the best part? It’s free. Free. Screw ESPN. Sportacular is notch.

3. For the breaking news types: Twitter

Ok fine. So this one isn’t an app. But I’ve tried the AP and CNN apps but frankly, for instant breaking news, Twitter’s mobile alerting beats all. First, enable mobile alerts from Twitter to phone. Find your favorite news source and click the lil cell phone logo right by the “Follow” button and breaking news will be texted to you.  Like this (points below)

So these are my three must have apps for push – what’re yours?

Tweetie 2 isn’t free – so what. Quit whining.

Seriously, you guys? So WHAT if Tweetie isn’t free.

Hold on, hold on, let me back up. Earlier, Patrick (whom I ADORE) over on Just Another iPhone Blog snagged an interview with the Tweetie creator to address the pricing issue. Apparently, there are people who are unhappy Tweetie is going to be a paid upgrade. (Patrick’s interview was awesome btw – even goes into upgrade, what an upgrade means to developers, etc., etc.)

Now I am definitely a cheap Asian when it comes to certain things. One of the most popular posts over on PixelBits (my geek blog) is the “How I Got Two iPhone Apps Refunded” post –and I was happy to share the information.

BUT

I am a firm believer of getting value out of my hard earned money – if the ratio is imbalanced, I am not afraid to ask for money back. In this case, Tweetie is one of the best Twitter iPhone apps and it’s really annoying how people are complaining about shelling out 3bucks.

Three. EFin. Dollars.

That’s like…two bags of gummi bears. A pint of beer. Three bags of 99cent chips. A cup of stinkin’ coffee. What the hell, people. Can we have some perspective, please? Do y’all realize how much time and effort goes into developing an app?

I’m sorry (well not really) but all you whiners please: SHUT YOUR TWITTERHOLES.
Thank you and have a great day.

How I Got Two iPhone Apps Refunded.

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Holy Moly, Apple does return and refund iPhone apps!!

I am THE biggest stickler for value:money (ratio), and firmly believe in “You get what you pay for.” Upon recommendation, I forked over cash for Beejive –an IM application, when iPhone OS 3.0 was released; mainly for the push function. (Push is notification of new activity, even when the application is closed).

Long story short, Beejive is still extremely buggy and utterly useless. i.e. super crashy, couldn’t log on with mutiple accounts, server errors galore…I just had all sorts of issues with it.

I felt ripped off.

$10 bucks for an iPhone app is HELLA money in my book. For 10bucks, I can get four iced espressos at Starbucks, eight bags of Swedish Fish, 9 soft serves from McDonald’s, or nine 99cent iPhone apps, etc., etc., you get the picture right? So I spent a few days complaining on Twitter about how much Beejive sucks.

On Saturday, I couldn’t take Beejive’s suckiness anymore so I Tweeted: “Dear Beejive, I would like a refund.”

I assumed iPhone application returns and or refunds were near impossible…iTunes and Apple’s site are clustermesses and for the life of me, I could not figure out how to request a refund. Seriously, try “Search” on both, it works but seriously needs help. People were sharing their personal nightmare experiences with Apple refunds, and Sean even got locked out of his iTunes account.

It looked like a refund wasn’t happening…until FriendFeeders Drew and Kisha linked me to two successful refund stories. I followed the directions and requested refunds for (1) Beejive and (2) Chocolatier –a game I purchased by “accident”. ;) hehehe.

These are the steps I followed to request a refund:

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Log on to your account
  3. Go to purchase history
  4. Report a problem
  5. Fill out form with reason for refund (nicely)
  6. Wait

Apple resolved my issues with a quick turn around time, hassle free, and was really really nice about it, too. And I am not going to lie, it shocked the crap out of me! …It may have helped I was clear and concise: “Beejive is not working out for me because x and x. Therefore, I would like x.” Manners and politeness can be advantageous, too. :)

At any rate, thank you, once again, to the wonderful FriendFeed and Twitter communities for helping me out and offering advice, as well as sharing your own personal experiences. Though it is hard to respond to every single @reply and comment, I read every single one of them and appreciate the insight you guys provide. :)

Reason no. 98273948379823 Social Networks RULE.

*if you are interested, there is discussion on apps and personal experiences with Beejive here. Beejive sucked for me, but there are many who experience no issues.
**Apple’s iTunes help web form’s direct link is here.

Self Portrait Whores, this iPhone App is for You

I am way too cheap to buy apps and don’t do product/app reviews, since they are so time consuming (taking screen shots, explaining, etc) but this I have to share. I found this neat iPhone app by GAM products and it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen.

It’s a filter that applies light to iPhone photos.
Confused? Well, see for yourself:
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1

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Ta-daa
iTunes link: Light . It’s only two bucks.
Images from digitalfilmtools

BTW whoever says the iPhone’s camera sucks is WRONG. Proof is here.

15 FAQs About 3G iPhone Unlocking I’m too much of an A-hole to Individually Respond to

unlock_iphone_anysim-1So the 3G iPhone unlocking software release, due out on New Year’s Eve is being talked about on the Internet. The Dev-Team released a demo video of said software, ‘yellowsn0w’, working its magic by effortlessly switching the 3G iPhone from AT&T’s network to T-mobile’s, and actually made a call.

…sounds bad ass but um HUH? – seemed like the general consensus cuz I got A LOT of people asking me to explain. Don’t lie, your IMs, texts, and e-mails prove it.

Though fret not, even some geek friends have asked me privately via Twitter DMs, e-mail, and Facebook messages what this crap is all about. So you’re not totally technologically idiotic.

Well – since I am an asshole, have no patience, and sure as heck not going to respond to  every email, IM, DM, etc., etc., I consolidated the 15 most frequently asked questions here. Kinda like my Christmas gift to you guys? And if you don’t have an iPhone – well you’re assed the EF out. This is the only thing I’m giving this season. ;)

Any which way, here we go! Continue reading

iPhone’s Biggest Problem is Not the Firmware or Hardware

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It is the stupid, piece of crap, totally evil network.

I have lived and visited countless cities across the US of A.
I have been on Sprint, T-mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.
I used all four networks across those countless cities.
AT&T is still the worst. network. EVER.

Since my 2007 comparison, I continue experiencing:

  • Echo
  • Dropped calls
  • FAILed connections
  • Bizarre background buzz
  • SMS errors
  • Voicemail errors
  • …shall I continue?

AT&T’s stagnancy and their failure to improve is apalling.
The only thing that went up is the damn pricing.
I truly truly dislike AT&T.

So much so, I wish somehow, some way, AT&T’s towers will be blown to bits. Completely dissipated, so they can start from ground up and rebuild better towers. You know, just like the other evil Empire’s super weapon was destroyed and the Death Star II was constructed? It was a more superior battle station, though it ended up being destructed. Actually, that sounds like a good solution since I refuse to Jailbreak my phone and hop on T-mobile’s network.

Anyone down to start a Rebel Alliance?

(image borrowed from Giz, found Googling “AT&T” and “evil”, made by Jesus Diaz. Go figure. Oh – the chicken scratch is mine)
BTW there’s a great discussion over at FF regarding real user experiences. Lots of people from various parts of the country weighing in. Come join! http://bit.ly/MB4G

Is Steve Jobs an Evil Dictator or Our Savior?

There was an article on Forbes.com about a Finnish cyber securities firm discovering malware for the iPhone named”Mobile Spy”. For $99 a year, you can monitor calls, mobile web activities, and SMS this software logs, through your Mobile Spy account.

But fret not, Mobile Spy is not a security risk since it needs to be physically installed in the phone you want to monitor. So unless someone has access to your handset or you have a psycho stalker, an ex that turned psycho stalker, or you choose to have relationships with psycho stalkers (no judgements, to each their own!) that can access your phone, you’re safe. Now Spyware/malware, or what have you, is not breaking technology and has been around since I was an Internet n00b.

But this got me thinking. Continue reading

To the Undecideds: It is True What they Say. “iPhone or NO phone”

I used to be an early adopter, especially with all things mobile. I had to have everything first. From the Treo family (300, 600, 650), Hitachi’s monster PocketPC, Samsung’s compact Palm, MotoQ, I was addicted to all multi-tasking (mainly CDMA) phones and wasted invested a lot. I blame my Japanese genes, since in Japan, we go through electronics like new parents go through diapers. (That analogy was for you, LG)

Then, I grew-up. I was the cautious consumer for a few years, waiting for feedback before actually purchasing. I controlled urges. The only “new” technology I jumped on was MMS (multi media messaging) and stuck with the same handset for three years. A complete geek faux-paux. Finally, I was no longer an early adopter.

Until 2007.

If you remember, last year was a mobile junkie’s dream and worst nightmare. The industry stepped up their phone games launching products and services targeted beyond business users. And it worked. 2007 changed the American mobile industry. Continue reading