Mobile more prevalent than Electricity, Sanitation, Education

According to the latest Ofcom Communications Market report, Northern Ireland has become a “smartphone society”.

In the last five years, smartphone ownership among adults has tripled (from 21% to 63%) and is now the preferred way to access the internet, having overtaken the laptop.

Additionally in the same time period, tablet ownership has gone from 2% to 54%.

Fixed line broadband take-up still remains well below than the UK average and we now lag behind England and Wales for coverage. But with the trends of 4G being available (considering all operators) to 91% of premises in Northern Ireland, it would seem that our internet usage is not only growing up, but growing even more mobile year on year.

Northern Ireland has always been a quick adopter of new technology – from having the most rapid growth in portable music players and also having the highest penetration of the iPod brand in Western Europe.

The full communications market report is available here.

The last thing to notice is that mobile is more prevalent than electricity, sanitation, clean water and education.

Courses in @unity3d announced this week…

We’re just about to announce new courses in Unity 3d, organised by Digital Circle and the Image Centre in South West College. They’re beginner courses – designed to turn some designers and 3D modellers into Unity developers and also allow some programmers to get their hands dirty with the visual side of Unity.

This is the sort of thing you can develop with Unity on Mobile:

But really – it’s an amazing networking opportunity for industry, teachers and academics and new entrants to the industry. We’ll be reserving spaces in each course for individuals from each group and we intend that each group will take the opportunity to learn, make contacts and maybe even gain in other ways. We would see this as an opportunity for teachers and new entrants to gain placements within local companies. We would see this as an opportunity for industry to talent-spot. We would see this as an opportunity for new entrants to seize a niche in a global market. The only cost to this course is a cost in social capital – make the commitment, in return for a days training, to network and help your fellow course attendees.

Are games really that big of a deal? The beauty of games is that they subsume every other aspect of the digital media industry. They include 2d design and 3d modelling, animation and music, camera work and storytelling, art and special effects. With modern games engines like Unity, you can achieve amazing results without a single line of code but it also provides a fertile ground for being introduced to code.

And you have to consider that it’s not just games. It’s an engine for developing experiences, for developing e-learning tools and for creating new interactive information displays incorporating real-time data.

I hope you’ll keep an eye out on the Digital Circle web site. Courses will be announced soon in Belfast, Derry, Coleraine and Enniskillen. Places will be limited in each location and the cost, other than the social capital commitment, is free.

These courses would not be happening if not for the Arts Council and the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure in their commitments to new entrants, who may not previously have been in employment, education or training. This course is paid for using the Creative Industries Innovation Fund, supported by South West College, the University of Ulster and Digital Circle.

UK GOV: There is an urgent requirement to find an alternative to BlackBerry


A review by CESG concluded that iOS6, the latest operating system (OS) for iPhones and iPads, is now secure enough to handle restricted government information, providing departments build in additional security controls.

CESG has warned that security on iO6 requires organisations to extend their network monitoring and security systems and relies on users correctly using the iPhone security features. Failure to follow any of these controls could compromise information security, said the guidelines.

…the government ought to be able to enforce the same policy on Apple iO6 devices as RIM’s BlackBerry 7 OS, including full device encryption, the ability to remote wipe, and locking down apps to ensure no further ones could be added to the device if necessary.

It was only a matter of time. I’m guessing that a lot of government types will keep their Blackberry devices. A lot might mean 20% of the 20,000 devices out there.

Digital Surveillance: why are we surprised?

Heather Brooke on BBC News Channel, talking about proposed legislation that would allow the British government to legally monitor the phone calls, emails, texts and website visits of members of the public.

Why are we surprised? Considering the millions that have been spent on surveillance and biometrics by the Security Services via the Technology Strategy Board, it’s a matter of public procurement “value for money” that we actually start to use this stuff.

A quick search on the TSB web site brought up these SBRIs:

And, really, what do you think the Internet of Things is about other than the normalisation of data collection in everyday objects?

“If all objects of daily life were equipped with radio tags, they could be identified and inventoried by computers.”

“Mislaid and stolen items would be easily tracked and located, as would the people who use them.”

Notable that it doesn’t mention the privacy implications?

My Opinion: They’re Watching. Get Over It.

There’s a huge amount of data for them to sift through and they’re going to be spying on millions of Britons as well as millions of foreign nationals (regular, plain ol’ tourists). So, try not to do anything that causes them to turn their baleful eye your way. Try not to be “interesting” to them.

iPad growth curve: I have run out of superlatives

Lovely visualisation by Horace Dediu @asymco

It’s hard to appreciate how popular the iPad is until you see it compared to its peers. In the same time frame, the iPad has completely obliterated the amazing success of the iPod and the fantastic success of the iPhone. At this point, I have run out of superlatives.

No honest money in Android. And only crack at Google.

Distimo recently published a report saying there was no honest money in Android.


  • 80% of all paid apps have been downloaded less than 100 times until now.
  • There are only 5 Android games that cost money and have reached 250,000 downloads. The App Store has ten in the U.S over the past two months alone!

Yes, I’m being a little melodramatic here but advertising is such a bad experience on mobile, it’s a point I feel very strongly about. When you see apps like angry Birds being paid on iOS and advertising-supported on Android, it makes me feel very uncomfortable regarding the money-making potential on the platform.

Doesn’t it depend on the product? If your content delivery is what you’re trying to sell (and not additional services) then you are really just trying to sell the bits that you’ve crafted over many months. And when you can’t sell them, are you seriously supposed to survive on the pennies gleaned from producing a polluted application experience?

Over at MobileOrchard they have a different report.

“During the LeWeb conference in Paris Eric Schmidt (Google Chairman) commented that he believes developers will abandon iOS for Android in less than 6 months”

The reason for this shift will be the “high volume of Android shipments”. There’s no doubt that this will favour Google and they are motivated to make it easy for developers to sell advertising but they don’t have the same motivation to help developers make money directly off consumers.

It’s plain to me that Android has replaced Symbian in the market. There have been a plethora of app stores for Symbian over the years and still, bugger all money came out of them.

How do you reconcile releasing a polluted (advertising supported) product for free on Android and a premium paid product on iOS?

University of Ulster Telecommunications Survey

It is kinda important that you add your tuppence to this survey.

The biggest issue I see is this constant fascination with DOWNLOAD speeds.

“23% of consumers in Northern Ireland are on average receiving less than 2Mbits/sec over their broadband connections. This percentage is higher than anywhere else in the UK.”

“The Ofcom report also states that the average maximum speed available around Belfast is 8.9Mbits/sec compared to 5.7Mbits/sec in Coleraine, 4.3 Mbits/sec in Fermanagh, and 5.4 Mbits/sec in Down district.”

“Mobile coverage in Northern Ireland remains lower than the rest of the UK. 87% of the population of Northern Ireland live in a postcode district with at least 90% 2G coverage; however the figure for 3G coverage is much lower at 54%. This is well below the UK average of 95%.”

Find my Friends isn’t quite there yet. Unlikely to be.

While Apple can do no wrong in software and hardware (other than be TOO POPULAR), they often fail in one area and that’s social. Find my friends is the third social attempt by Apple. They’ve failed to set the industry on fire with Ping (their music sharing social network) and Game Center (their game matching service) and now we have real world location with Find my friends.

Find My Friends is “better” for some values of “better” than the other attempts but it still highlights a lack of vision, a lack of “what could this do, where could this go”.

For instance: I’ve added a couple of people on Find My Friends.

Setting Status
Finding friends is one part of the equation but being found is another. Where is the option to set a status update so that people can see this. Even something as simple as “Busy” or “Available” will let people know if they should message you. This is even more important than selecting the “temporary” setting to be found.

Where is the alert that tells me my friends have entered within a mile of my location? Having a travelling GeoFence is an obvious feature for Find My Friends enabled smartphone users. And yes, it could be great for the untrustworthy or unfaithful but giving people an iota of credit, if there’s a ‘situation’ where location becomes an issue, the stupid will get caught.

Finding Friends Again. And again.
I have connections established by Ping and Game Center but Find My Friends wants to rifle through my address book to find people I can connect to? Really? In 2011, this is a solution? Why not give me a list of my Ping and Game Center connections and just ask me if I want to add them to my FMF list?

Time Alerts
Why can’t I set my non-existent status alert by the time of day or by the entries in my calendar? This stuff is all interconnected. Why doesn’t it just work? For that matter, why does my phone still ring when I’m plainly in a meeting! I don’t think Siri will help with that!

Group Messaging
Where’s the option to message all of my friends? Where’s the option to ping them with a “Anyone free for lunch” or to set a status change “Free for lunch”. Where does this actually work for friends? In the video, they say it’s good for when the family (obviously all toting iPhones) are at Disneyworld but seriously do we have to message each one individually?

The daft thing is that group messaging is excellently supported in Messages (via iMessage) but not in Find My Friends. Dumb.

So, in my opinion, Find My Friends, just like Ping and Game Center, is a pretty half-assed solution. Apple can still tie this all together and make it just work and maybe they will – maybe this is all part of the plan. Maybe the NEXT MAJOR RELEASE will tie all of these loose ends together? But I doubt it.

Cultural Tourism – new apps competition!

A new Cultural Tourism app competition for Northern Irish mobile companies.

The DCAL initiative aims to harness the innovation and entrepreneurial potential of culture, arts and leisure by encouraging local digital companies to use these sectors as a source of inspiration and content for mobile Apps. Digital technologies are transforming how people access information and how business sectors, such as tourism, communicate with consumers. Billions of Apps are downloaded globally each year and this competition offers opportunities to grow the creative industries and tourism sector in the north of Ireland.

The competition is being managed by Momentum / Digital Circle, which promotes the ICT and digital content sector in the north of Ireland. Local digital companies are invited to put forward creative and innovative ideas for two apps showcasing Irish and Ulster-Scots culture respectively. The winning applications will be funded to develop the apps in time for the 2012 tourism season.

The tender documents are located: