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Several voices both inside and outside the smartphone industry have been quoted saying that handsets have reached the pinnacle of their evolution in their current form. Today, smartphones are more powerful than the average desktop PC was a few years ago, millions of times faster than the computers used to send a man to the moon. At the same time, statistics have shown that the majority of smartphone owners don't even use a fraction of their handsets' processing power. The majority of smartphone owners use them to play games, known to be the most demanding type of smartphone apps, but most of the time these games are simple, casual titles, mobile pokie games, word games, and their likes, hardly a challenge for even a two-year-old handset.
Considering the lack of exciting news on the smartphone market, and the release of a great variety of high-performance and affordable smartphone models, it seems safe to say that we should reconsider our future smartphone purchases and focus on accessibility rather than hype.
Samsung Galaxy S7, the best example
Samsung's Galaxy S7 was surrounded by a lot of excitement before its release in February 2017. When it hit the shelves, though, users couldn't hide their disappointment with the handset. Compared to the previous year's flagship phone, the Samsung Galaxy S6, the S7 failed to produce any significantly new and exciting features. It had the same size screen with the same resolution and pixel density, it had a slightly faster system-on-a-chip, a newer GPU, it had 1GB of extra RAM and a slightly improved performance. In short, nothing that would've justified switching from the Galaxy S6 to the Galaxy S7.
Now let's take a look at another Samsung model released in 2016, the J7. Compared to the same Galaxy S6, it brought forth several improvements, including a newer chipset, a larger screen, a dedicated MicroSD slot (the S6 didn't have one), FM radio (something many of us still appreciate today), a larger battery with longer battery life, and a price tag that made it much more affordable at the time than the previous year's flagship model. In short, a phone with enough performance to be a perfect choice for everyday use, without the need to sell an arm and a leg to buy it.
The performance gap
The performance gap between "affordable" and "flagship" handsets becomes narrower every year. One of this year's more affordable smartphone models, the Galaxy A7 (2017), has a price tag almost $300 lower than any of last year's Samsung flagships, coupled with a performance that's not too different compared to these models. An average user will surely not notice the difference in performance between the two but welcome the price difference nonetheless.
Considering all of the above, I think it's safe to say that we shouldn't focus on flagship models anymore. They might be the ones surrounded by the biggest hype in the press but this doesn't make them the right ones for us - and they shouldn't be the models we desire the most.
Samsung took a big step toward being able to sell its smartphones as the way to control a smart house. Samsung officially purchased SmartThings for $200 million. The company produces devices that can be controlled using apps installed on a smartphone. Imagine controlling the lights and locks in your home by tapping on certain buttons on your phone. You should be able to spook burglars casing your house, by remotely turning on or off the lights inside or outside your home.
Samsung plans on keeping SmartThings open, thus allowing developers and producers of hardware to write software, and produce devices for the platform. Samsung rival Apple will also be offering a similar technology for a connected home with the launch of HomeKit. The latter will be featured on iOS 8, and will allow iPhone users to turn on or off smart home devices using their handset.
"We will continue to run SmartThings the way we always have: by embracing our community of customers, developers, and device makers and championing the creation of the leading open platform for the smart home. Our growing team will remain fully intact and will relocate to a new headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. In short: SmartThings will remain SmartThings." - Alex Hawkinson, CEO, SmartThings
If you haven't heard about Pokemon GO yet now may be the time to wander back underneath your rock as not only is Niantic's Pocket Monster themed app dominating the Android and IOS App markets, it is also helping itself to the lion's share of the global market for in-app purchases claiming a whopping 47% of the market in a single day on July 10th.
In layman's terms, Pokemon GO made more in a single day than all the other mobile apps combined. This is impressive enough in itself but the news doesn't stop there as the app is also reported to be introducing first-time mobile gaming spenders to the market. Unbelievably, less than 53% of users who spent money on Pokemon GO had made one or no mobile game purchases in the last six months.
As it stands, the most popular in-game purchase has been the 100 Poke Coin bundle (the in-game currency for purchasing items). Approximately 37% of all purchases were the 100 Coin bundle but the app has actually profited most from the five dollar (£7.99 in the UK) 1,200 Coin bundle.
In total, it is estimated Pokemon GO has already made $14 million, far outperforming developers Niantic's previous effort: Ingress. Ingress played a big part in the design of Pokemon GO as it relies on the same mapping software and the previously mapped out ‘energy points' are also now the in-game PokeStops where players refill their inventories.
Nintendo's company shares have also risen an incredible 86% in Tokyo as a byproduct of Pokemon GO's success. In financial terms, this translates to an unprecedented $17 billion increase of market capitalisation.
The company have desperately needed a win since falling behind console rivals Sony and Microsoft and the venture into the mobile gaming market has paid off more than could've been predicted. People in the United Kingdom were recklessly abusing their devices to confuse them into thinking they resided in America or Oceania to access the app early - there hasn't be such madness since Microsoft first introduced Xbox Live to the gaming market.
It was a definite risk to allow a third party to develop the app on Nintendo's behalf, the Nintendo logo features only for trademarking purposes, but it has certainly paid off for the Japanese gaming giants. The incredible rise in market stock will stand Nintendo in excellent stead as the world awaits details on its next console: the Nintendo NX and could see them retake their crown as the king of games.
Granted, Pokemon GO isn't for everyone so if you're looking for alternative games such as free casino games, offline gaming or apps without in-game purchases we can point you in the right direction.
If you have played any of the free to play mobile games for more than just the initial hours recently, then you probably know how the system works. These do not function like a video game should, but rather as sales funnels. What's worse is the fact that they rely on addiction to get in their sales, over and over again. To understand why in-game purchases are so dangerous for your wallet, and to what extent, read on.
Why Gambling is More Ethical than In-App Purchases
If you visit any online gambling platform, then you already know what you are getting into. You will make deposits, enjoy new player bonuses, play live dealer roulette, progressive jackpots, slot games and card games in exchange for real money. The chances of winning are not always high, which is why it's a gamble, but the chances are not absent either.
As long as you are playing at legal online casino sites which have the necessary authentications, you do stand a good chance at winning back your money and then some. There are also instances where players have hit the jackpot to become millionaires, although that does not happen on a regular basis. The point is that online casinos are gambling platforms and there is no pretense here. If a consenting adult wants to bet or gamble with his/her own money, that's their business, which is how it should be. Unfortunately, mobile games follow a business strategy which is based on deception to begin with.
Disguised as Something It's Not
Most of the apps disguise themselves as video games, while in truth they are just cycling sales funnels, which only take away your money, without even the slightest chance of you ever winning that money back. Furthermore, unlike how it is with online gambling sites, mobile games can pretend to be innocent, children's games with cute graphics and catchy animations. They target even young children with their shameless in-app purchases, so that the kids bug their parents for buying in game items for them.
There are plenty of instances where parents have lost hundreds of dollars on their credit cards, because their children had spent that money on in-app purchases without their consent. Even adults who would perhaps never gamble, readily spend real money on in-game items that have no real world value, and will lose its in-game value soon as well.
Why they are Not Really Video Games but Sales Funnels
If you are aware how the classic sales funnel works, then you know the basic idea is to slowly track and push the customer towards making a purchase. The in-app purchase models used by almost all modern mobile games are similar to a sales funnel, rather than being similar to a real video game.
A video game is one where skills are involved, and people with the best strategy, hand eye coordination, decision making, experience or reflexes win. This should hold true both for PvP matches as well for in-game content. However, mobile games use the in-app purchase model as a sales funnel via the following steps.
● The free-to-play moniker lures new players in, as they don't have to spend money in order to gain access
● Lots of new items, gems, coins, weapons, spells, gear, equipment etc. are given to new layers for free initially
● The first few stages, matches or battles are also made to be easy, so the player feels in control
● After the "honeymoon" period, all those free items, gear, powers, etc. begin to shrink in their availability
● At the same time, the game's difficulty level is increased to a height where winning or progressing is no longer easy
● Finally comes that stage when a player is left with the option to either purchase something or stop playing it.
● At this point, the app will suddenly present the player with a "one time bonus" offer for an "unbeatable price"
● After a while, everything that was included in that package will lose its value, and unless the player pays again, they will not be able to progress or win
● This cycles over and over, using the addiction of the game to make players pay on a continuous basis for things that will lose value in the very near future
● PvP battles become little more than pay-to-win matches, as people with the best paid gear will always win
As of now, there is no other legal business model in the world which is as greedy and as well-disguised as most modern mobile games and even some of the PC and console games are. They can reach out to children, have little to no restrictions on them and passively force children and adults alike towards spending real money on virtual things unendingly. Gaming as we know it might be coming to an end soon.