Getting Lost in the Galaxy: Apple Falls Behind in the Smartphone Race

On June 27th, 2007 Apple released the first iPhone, the first multi-touch interface smartphone. More than a year later on October 22nd, 2008 the HTC Dream became the first Android powered touch screen phone, and so started the heavily contested smartphone race. For many years the major competitors have been Samsung and Apple. For many years Apple has led the race as the most successful smartphone in the US. But is Apple falling behind?

AppleBeginning in the first fiscal quarter of 2010 Android had taken the lead for global sales of phones. Since that time the increase in total sales of Android products versus Apple products has been striking.

At the end of 2012, Apple’s total phone sales were $135.9 million. By the end of 2013, Apple’s total phones sold had grown to $153.4 million. Pretty good, right? Well let’s take a look at Android’s phone sales for 2012: $219.7 million. Wow, that has stomped out iPhones sales for 2012! What about 2013? In 2013 Android sold 313.9 Million phones.

Apple2The iPhone has held its ground in the United States due to a loyal fanbase and killer advertisements by Apple’s marketing department. But, Apple isn’t one to take to innovation. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, stated in an interview, “Improving is not Apple-style innovation.” Apple is losing ground because they only make what they know how to make.

The current flagships for Apple and Samsung are the iPhone 6 and the Samsung galaxy S5. The technology inside each phone determines which phone is the most advanced.

Both phones are competitive, and while the Galaxy is definitely the more advanced phone, with its larger phone screen, larger battery, and 12 megapixel camera. The iPhone 6 is still in the race because of its loyal fanbase.

Samsung has something in store for Apple though. Recently Samsung has taken the next step to make the next innovations with the Samsung Galaxy S5, but they have also introduced a new phone that is very similar to the iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha mimics the iPhone in more ways than one. With an aluminum casing, the exact same screen size, and a smaller overall build the Alpha has copied the iPhone in several key ways. Samsung is looking for innovation and also providing a cheap alternative to the iPhone. The iPhone lists for $650 dollars without a 2-year contract, but the Samsung Galaxy Alpha will most likely list for considerably less, as is the current trend with the Galaxy S5.

The iPhone is more expensive and is basically the same phone as the last version—and then there are a number of key features the S5 has that the iPhone does not have.

The S5 has an improved wireless transmitter that actually allows for better access to cellular 4g networks. While Android was the first phone to accept 4g wireless in 2010, it was more than 2 years before the first iPhone that would connect to 4g. Android was also the first to offer a fully functional landscape mode for horizontal typing on their phones. In 2010, Android embraced bigger screen size, allowing people to type in landscape mode. Apple only adopted this feature for the iPhone 6. The S5 has a 12 megapixel camera versus the iPhone’s 8 MP camera. One of Apple’s biggest “new features” is Apple Pay. This allows you to pay with your phone, by sending your bank information to pay stations. Android offered similar capabilities back in 2010.

Apple came into the phone game very strong and fast. In 2007, they provided a phone that was revolutionary, but they haven’t improved their product much since then. Apple’s loyal fanbase will always be willing to pay $600 for the newest phone, but Android is offering a wide array of competitive phones, many of them better.

- Thomas Winkleman

Touchdown for TV? : How Television Coverage Affects Professional & College Sports

TOUCHDOWN! Your favorite football team has just scored the game-winning goal with time expiring. The crowd is going wild, the players are dancing, and the other team’s dreams have just been crushed. You are on top of the world, and you have experienced all of this excitement from the comfort of your own La-Z-boy recliner miles away from the action. How are new technologies changing media coverage of sports, and how is this changing our experience of watching sports in the media?

SportsThe behind the scenes of sports media is not something your average viewer thinks about when enjoying a sporting event on their television. This operation isn’t quite as simple as setting up a camera and plugging it into a satellite truck. The National Football League is the perfect example of how extensive coverage of a live sporting event can be.

On average, 150-200 people are working on a single production. This is everyone from a cable grip, to cameraman, to on air announcers. About 17 cameras are used to ensure the viewer doesn’t miss a second of the action on field. Everything happens very quickly, and the ultimate goal is to tell a story. This piece from The Verge takes us behind the scenes of a live broadcast:

The future of media is changing very rapidly. Today, we have everything from 4K technology, to Skycam’s, to microphones on the players and coaches. With new smaller cameras, we can put GoPro technology right on the playing field or surface. We can even put them onto the players themselves so as a viewer we can get every camera angle we could imagine.

But are these technologies too good? Technology updates have been amazing for in-game features such as instant replay, improving the technology for reviewable plays as well as game tape. These features bring the on field experience to the viewers at home putting them on the field right up and personal with the fans, players, and coaches.

With professional sports tickets prices rising quickly, fans are more likely to stay home for a game, especially because they can have a better overall experience. As a result, average ticket sales are down across the nation. According to sports writer and analyst Bill Shea, many stadiums will cover the number gap by including season ticket sales into their statistics, but ticket holders simply are not coming to every game.

Experiencing the game in the comfort of your own home is too nice to pass up for many people. This kind of pressure has escalated the competition of game coverage. Putting small cameras next to the field or on the mound brings the viewer right on top of the game.

This sometimes comes with a price, sometimes affecting the game in a negative way. In the 2011 Incite bowl, a Skycam actually malfunctioned and fell onto the field. No players or fans were hurt, but this was a very expensive mistake as it took away from airtime when it delayed the game. Not to mention the camera itself was a very expensive piece of equipment at $35,000.

New technology will continue to affect the in game experiences for all types of fans. Professional and college athletics will need to continue to market new promotions and incentives for people to continue to come to the games. People need to continue to attend the events to maintain the atmospheres and create revenue for the sports world to maintain the success that it has today.

Will you continue to be in the stands on game day? Or will you settle for watching that touchdown from your home?

- Austin Hansen

New App Era: Are We Surrendering Our Privacy?

In this day and age, it is not out of the ordinary to have a plethora of apps downloaded to your phone. While they may be convenient and easy to use, there are also many dangers we face in our app dependency.

Apps3For starters, how frequently do you input personal information into certain apps without giving it a second thought? These types of problems will not go away unless we pay more attention to what they are. Here are three main app security problems that we often blindly face.

Browsing in Third Party Apps- While most of the main alternative web browsers such as Safari and Google Chrome are safe, not all apps are. Apps that allow you to load browsers within them are often manipulating the JavaScript and gaining access to your screen. These apps record information in clear text, as you enter it into your own phone. An example of this can be found here.

Apps2Insecure Data Storage/Unauthorized Data Leakage- Apps like Starbucks failed to properly store their information. It was easily accessible and stored in plain texts on multiple devices. Other apps like Angry Birds have had consumer information recorded and stolen from companies like NSA. This could potentially violate individuals rights depending on the kind of information that is stolen.

Inviting Risky Devices into the Workplace- Since app security is not advancing as fast as applications are themselves, workplaces often don’t have the means of protecting their networks from these problems. They also allow individuals whose devices are not protected to connect to the main servers. This is extremely harmful for businesses and could potentially put important corporation data at risk.

The biggest thing we can do towards improving security is make people more aware of the problems that already exist. This means paying more attention to where we log our information and what kinds of apps we allow on our phone. It’s also good to mindfully put in information, rather than just surrendering it right away because the app is telling us too.

- Sam Fickett

Kids, This is the Story of How My Show Ended- HIMYM and the Difficulties of Ending a TV Series

With the recent release of the final season of How I Met Your Mother on DVD, I was once again confronted with an important question: How should a television writer end a show? Should they write for the fans? Should they write for themselves? As someone who is interested in writing for media in the future these are some very serious questions.

HIMYM1According to a Deadline.com interview, the show’s creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas originally had an eight season plan for the show, but through many of the show’s early seasons, the show was run on a season by season basis. Bays and Thomas had other ideas, should the show have a shorter run than eight seasons, but with the eight season plan in mind the two filmed scenes with Ted’s children back in 2006. They did this so that the kids would still be young, should the show go as long as they had planned. For more info visit: Deadline.com.

The show actually went nine seasons instead of eight. So therein lies another challenge: what happens if you have to write more seasons than you had originally planned?

The final season meandered through a wedding weekend, taking 23 episodes to cover events that take place in just 48 hours. The final episode covered future events, over the following 17 years.

The finale has been hotly debated. Just take a look at the show’s Facebook page. Users are still commenting on the finale. The response was so negative, that they released an alternate ending on the DVD. Here are YouTube links for both the original and alternate ending.

Original ending: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW82fRNJc84

Alternate ending: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoHUs8J7x94

The night the finale aired, Craig Thomas went on Twitter with this to say: “Thank you all. I mean it: Every possible reaction to the last 44 minutes … thank you all … The fact that we have been a TV sitcom that has received this much passion from fans, for 9 years (not just tonight) — thank you. We wrote a comedy with dramatic elements till the very end. Thanks for taking that ride with us. We did a finale about life’s twists and turns and that is not always what happens … but THANKS! Seriously – no matter what you thought of tonight, THANK YOU … you were with us. We love you. Thanks for this ride.”

I was an audience member who was shocked at the ending, and my suggestion for writers would be: write for the fans! The fans sat there through nine seasons, many expecting a very different outcome. However, as an Electronic Media major and as a creative person, I feel that writers have to write for themselves. And you can’t go back later and re-write history. The writers of HIMYM wrote the ending they wanted, and although the fans were upset, the fans aren’t the ones who created it. You have to stick with your vision.

HIMYM2For me personally, I was more upset with their execution of the final season than I was with the way the show eventually ended. Spending so much time on one wedding event that lasted into the final episode seemed like a waste. They could have spent anywhere from 3-10 episodes on the wedding and used the rest of the season to wrap things up. Seeing Ted and Tracy’s relationship develop more before she passes would have helped tie up more loose ends. It has been six years for the children, but for the viewers it was just a few seconds and the mother is suddenly dead. In the finale there was too much ground to cover, not enough time, and too many abrupt endings. Many of my feelings are summed up in this article from tv.com.

What do you think: Do writers have an obligation to their fans when ending a show? Or is the obligation solely for their own artistic needs? What shows in the past have disappointed you, which ones haven’t, and why?

- Chris Breja

Is College Radio the Only Saving Grace for the Industry?

I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you didn’t know that UNI had a student radio station. The station a glorified closet jammed with equipment, music, and a DJ or two in the basement of Maucker Union. It is in a location that is pretty easy to miss unless you’re doing a lap around the labyrinth of this campus’ top hangout spot. Not to mention, its coverage only reaches a 0.9 mile radius of the beercan-shaped tower on top of Schindler Education Center.

However, if you are a music aficionado, or a person who takes pride in keeping up with rich culture and hot topics that are delivered by students who truly know what they are talking about, then I do blame you. UNI’s radio station (94.5 KULT-LPFM), along with countless others in the United States, cater to multiple audiences that would be considered “indie” or “hipster” in this decade’s vernacular. It is a common myth to most students of public universities and colleges (and regular citizens as well) that college radio is a dying antiquity—but that statement couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Bradford Cox, member of the bands Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, grew up on the local college radio stations in Atlanta. He was strongly influenced by what he listened to, and he eventually started spinning on the campus radio station. He connects music education to college radio, as something that has been around for an entire generation, and informs people about the music they’re missing, and not discovering and loving.

KULTUNI’s KULT, although very small in size and reach, is expanding in ways that provide awareness and listenership for the station. The number of social media fans, on both Facebook and Twitter, has tripled since March. The growth in student participation is staggering—six months ago 22 DJs had their own show, but this Fall that number has jumped to 48! Spinning music at live events on and off campus, a new concept adopted by the director team at the end of last school year, has caught on very well. Around a dozen events have been emceed, with another dozen on the way before Thanksgiving break.

There is a myth floating around, that the number of stations in the country are decreasing. But according to radiosurvivor.com, nearly 50 LPFM stations (like KULT) have been granted licenses at college and universities recently, and dozens more are awaiting word about their applications.

I had the chance to briefly chat with John Michael-Secor, General Manager of WTBU radio of Boston University. The general idea is that when college stations and markets help each other out and expand on ideas, the listenership and interest increases exponentially. It also doesn’t matter how big the market is, there are always loyal listeners. The College Hill crowd in Cedar Falls contains many loyal listeners that are always interested in indie music and programming, as well as getting involved in the station with their ideas or the bands they play with. Most importantly, however, if you have online streaming capability, the listenership can be endless. It doesn’t matter whether your campus station is located in Cedar Falls, New York or the northern tip of Alaska: people around the world are always listening.

CMJWhile these ideas and findings stew in your mind, it is important to think about the missing impact of radio in your life. With professional rock and country stations in the Cedar Valley, are you expanding your mind as much to the possibility of music and news, as opposed to hearing the same songs every hour? Then start thinking nationally. Tools like iHeartRadio, College Music Journal and many other indie music and news sites can really open up your mind to what’s out there. It’s the fact that these tools are falling by the wayside that rub people the wrong way about radio.
Going forward KULT staff will conduct a broad search of listeners in the Cedar Valley. Surveys are the perfect tool for this, as it’s easy to gain information from students where they gather the most: right above our walls. I will be searching for the true following of KULT by reaching out to past participants of the station, and those who have been following the progress of the literal radio cult happening at UNI.

The next time you claim you haven’t heard about student-run radio on your campus, you will be the one to blame.

- Brendan Wood

Who’s The Real MVP: The Battle Between ESPN and FOX Sports 1

ESPN has been the worldwide leader in sports since 1979. Many companies have tried to challenge its reign, but they have seen their efforts fail. So who in the world would try to take down this sports media juggernaut? That would be Fox Sports and their new 24/7 sports network, Fox Sports 1. Fox Sports 1 replaced SPEED Channel, which was a network for racing fans. After one year in the race, Fox Sports 1 is still far behind ESPN.

Sports1Fox Sports 1 said that they would be the “fun” alternative to ESPN. They have instead practically become a copycat of ESPN. While ESPN has their shows “NFL Live,” “Around the Horn,” and “Pardon the Interruption,” FOX Sports 1 saw their alternatives to these shows: “FOX Football Daily” and “Crowd Goes Wild” cancelled within a year of their launch. To make the comparison, Crowd Goes Wild, which aired at 5 P.M. eastern, only averaged 80,000 viewers during its best month. That same month ESPN’s Around the Horn and PTI, which aired during the same time period, averaged 883,000 viewers.

While ESPN has dominated the late night sports stage with their top show “Sportscenter,” Fox Sports 1’s “Fox Sports Live” has had issues. The two times “Fox Sports Live” has averaged over 2 million viewers have been after two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Even though Fox Sports Live hasn’t seen the ratings that they wanted to, I do think they have some potential.

Along with the co-anchors Jay Onrait and Dan O’ Toole, Fox Sports Live has their own panel of former athletes. I personally like the unique idea of having former basketball star Gary Payton and former tennis star Andy Roddick talking about football with former quarterback Donovan McNabb. It gives the view multiple perspectives of different athletes, even though they aren’t an “expert” about that sport.

With Fox Sports 1 trying to compete, ESPN has come up with some new ideas to stay atop the sports media world. First, with Sportscenter, ESPN has created their new Studio X (above). Studio X is a brand new set, which has a more futuristic and bright look to it.

Sports2Another brilliant move by ESPN was the addition of Keith Olbermann, who worked for ESPN from 1992-1997. Olbermann was given his own show, “Olbermann,” where he gives his own viewpoints on many topics in the sports world. One thing that I like about Keith Olbermann is that he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He recently called on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to resign after the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.

While Fox Sports Live hasn’t quite lived up to Fox’s expectations, the sport I think they need to continue to focus on is NASCAR. Even though Fox Sports 1 replaced SPEED channel, NASCAR has continued to lead the way in the ratings. When NASCAR released their 2015 schedule on August 26, NASCAR Race Hub had 178,000 viewers, this just for a schedule being released. NASCAR fans love their coverage, and if FOX Sports 1 wants to keep their head above water, they need to keep NASCAR in their main plans.

Fox Sports 1 came out of the box saying they were going to challenge ESPN right away. While at times I do switch over the watch the non-NASCAR coverage on Fox Sports 1, ESPN still reigns supreme in my opinion. ESPN has more programs where their sports media gives their opinions. They also have many experts for particular sports, compared to Fox Sports 1 who only has three or four for each sport.

Finally, I think the reason most people watch ESPN is that it is what they are accustomed to watching. ESPN has been on the airwaves since 1979, and firmly established itself as the go to sports network. Fox Sports 1 says they are going to rival ESPN, but I believe it’s not even a fight. ESPN is the MVP, and they are pulling away from the pack.

What do you think? How much Fox Sports 1 do you watch compared to ESPN? What could Fox Sports 1 do to catch ESPN?

- Andy McConnell

You Might Want to Get Bigger Pockets-Are Phablets the Phuture?

Millions of people recently flocked to their local Apple store to purchase the new iPhone 6 Plus. The new iPhone 6 Plus as well as the Samsung Galaxy Note have been given the name of “Phablet,” combining the words phone and tablet, due to their large size. The concept of the Phablet is not a new one in the digital world; it was first brought up in 2011 when the Samsung Galaxy Note was originally launched.

iphonesAlthough I’m sure many of the purchasers were informed about the new Phablet and what it had to offer, there are many people who don’t know the pros and cons of purchasing a Phablet. While many are overwhelmed by the size of the Phablet, others love it for that exact reason as well the technical specs that come with it when compared to a regular phone.

After searching the web I found a few of the main reasons why people love Phablets. A few of these reasons include the large screen size, the immersive user experience, and the multitasking capabilities. To find out more about the pros of owning a Phablet check out the article 5 Reasons Why Phablets are the Best Mobile Device on Inspirationfeed.com.

As with any product there are also a few cons that I found. A few of the negative aspects of the Phablet include the limitations of portability due to their large size and poor battery life. Some negative aspects of the size are further discussed In the article What’s the Hype Behind Phablets? Won’t a Smartphone or Tablet Do? At Phonearea.com.

The technical aspects of the Phablet are astounding when compared to a regular smartphone. The technology along with the screen size of the Phablet allows for photo and video editing and note taking, along with a higher megapixel camera, as well as faster processors and higher storage space. To see a full technical comparison of the top Phablet brand phones check out cnet.com.

phabletWith well known brands like Samsung and Apple leading the way for Phablets and their growing popularity this new concept will soon become the norm in society. Personally, I believe that the advancement of other portable technologies like smart watches and Bluetooth will help propel the success of the Phablet by diminishing the idea that the large size is a problem.

I also believe that the Phablets increase in screen size will be cost effective for many people because it will eliminate the need to buy a phone and a tablet. For some it could even eliminate the need for a laptop. The Phablet is already capable of completing just about anything a computer can and with the ongoing advancement of technology it will soon be able to do much more.

phabletsAlthough many people are still uninformed about the Phablet and all of its capabilities I still believe this gadget is the future of mobile devices. From a technical aspect the Phablet hugely outweighs the smartphone, and it is also a cost effective choice for many individuals and families. The size may be big negative point for many, but with the help of Bluetooth and a growth in popularity this “bad” aspect will soon be forgotten. Ultimately the choice of whether or not to purchase a Phablet is up to you, but I think I’ll need bigger pockets.

- Tanner Heinrichs

Mobile Evolution: Smartphone Advancements and the Media Industry

There is a very good chance you are reading this on your smartphone.  More likely you are one of the 1.75 billion persons who are in reachable distance of their smart phone. Or at the very least you fall in the category of being one of the 6 billion people who have a mobile device. Whichever category you belong to, it is clear that smartphones are continually changing our lives and the world around us.

ManSmartphone manufacturers design their products to eventually fail; screens break, CPUs slow down and fail. In the worlds of Robert Frost, “nothing gold can stay.”

The average life expectancy of a smartphone is 21 months (significantly lower than their former three-year average lifespan). This should not be seen as a bad thing. If smartphones were designed to last well past a two-year contract, manufactures would hesitate to unveil new models of phones with the latest advancements, and consumers would hesitate to purchase them if they had a phone that continued to “get them by.”

MChartSmartphones have a faster replacement time than any other electronic device on the market, which allows more users to have new and cheaper phones while simultaneously allowing the media industry as a whole to advance faster than ever. Consumers around the world are closer to becoming technological equals with each other now more than ever thanks to smartphones.

In the past year the penetration of smartphones have reached more than 72% of the entire mobile market and estimates show the U.S. growing significantly this year. This increase in market penetration is not limited to only the US and other developed countries; of the world’s six billion mobile-phone subscriptions, 73% are now in the developing world, even though those countries account for just 20% of the world’s GDP. This equality is helping move content faster than ever, media producers are no longer held back by fears they once had of alienating audiences.

Last month the FCC held a roundtable discussion to address these changes and revisit the current exemption of the mobile broadband market from Net Neutrality regulations saying, “The growth of smartphones and LTE — and the constant change in our ecosystem — is the clearest evidence we should retain a mobile-specific approach, because it has worked so well for consumers.”

After the round table several key organizations and corporations had their own response. The Writers Guild of America West released a statement saying:

If the Commission does not apply the full complement of Net Neutrality rules to mobile broadband, wireless carriers will be able to pick winners and losers. They will have the power to decide what applications and services are available to consumers and on what terms. Data caps and current pricing models have not yet made mobile Internet service a viable substitute for all video consumption, but the failure to apply rules equally dooms the platform.

Google and Microsoft responded with similar claims, stating that Net Neutrality should apply regardless of whether you’re accessing the Internet using a cable connection, a wireless service or any other technology.

mChart2Technology in mobile broadband is changing rapidly and with it, we are seeing new trends in media consumption. In a recent Nielsen report the average time adults viewed media on their smartphones as gone up 77% since last year. To put this into perspective, TV viewing has gone down 4%, and Internet access via computer has gone up just 2%. Even as an increase in mobile broadband use is advancing our world into the digital age, it is clear that mobile technologies that were once a luxury are now necessities.

We are fortunate to live in an age where we are able to reach technological saturation in the mobile market at unparallel speeds. Because of this the FCC must recognize this growth and proactively adopt regulations for ISPs to promote Net Neutrality on the mobile broadband level. Only then will we see continued progression in mobile technologies that will benefit all consumers and media producers well into the heart of the 21st century.

- Aaron Sprengeler