The iPhone may be starting to steal Android’s lower-inc

Robert Scoble Verizon iPhone Flickr


When I was working in Tajikistan, a desperately poor country, my driver had an iPhone. He’d saved extensively to afford it, and prized it as a status symbol. And when things got tight, he didn’t trade it for a cheaper, equivalent Android model — he traded it in for an older iPhone.

Apple has begun clawing back market share from Android, which has for years dominated the mobile phone market. For a long time, iPhone was the phone of the most wealthy consumers, and Android served everyone else. But Apple’s record-breaking iPhone sales suggest that lower-income people now feel that an iPhone is worth saving up for.

business-insider-logoCEO Tim Cook talked on Apple’s last earnings call about new “Android switchers” joining Apple. Could it be that Android is now funneling new consumers to Apple? And could those consumers be status-conscious people who are willing to spend money on the top brand, even if — from a strictly utilitarian point of view — they probably should not?

Things have never been better for Apple. The U.S. company’s last quarter was more profitable than any other company ever, driven largely by the runaway success of the iPhone business.

Along the way it has
dealt significant damage to high-end smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, who have seen their profits drop as a result.

For a long time, Samsung held its own against Apple as a genuine competitor in the high-end smartphone sector. Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note ranges consistently did well, and drove profits for the company. But the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus changed the game.

Samsung’s profits are now cratering — a 60 percent drop in Q3 of 2014. And in South Korea, Apple is seeing massive sales. It’s unprecedented for any foreign smartphone manufacturer to pass the 20% market share mark in the country. Apple is now at 33 percent, and still rising fast.

Apple Samsung South Korea market sharesIt’s rapidly becoming clear that much of Samsung’s previous success was simply because it provided a product that Apple could not provide — a larger-screen smartphone. Now that an Apple-branded phablet is on the market, there’s no reason for consumers stick around on the less attractive platform.

Here’s another detail demonstrating Apple’s success in the high-end market: Its products are now considered the top luxury gift item in China, ahead of designer goods maker Hermes, fashion house Gucci, Luis Vuitton and Chanel.

But Apple’s status as a luxury brand isn’t sufficient to explain its runaway success. And if Apple were content for the iPhone to be a desirable
high-end product alone, that wouldn’t justify its significant discounting in retailers like Walmart.

So here’s one possible way to explain it.

Apple is fully penetrated among high-end consumers, and it’s now moving down the market. Consumers think of the iPhone in a unique fashion, because of its unparalleled desirability.

It’s not that no-one wants an Android. While the iPhone is undeniably a more attractive product, there are still loyal Android fans. There’s the die-hard Android community for one, and Chinese Apple rival Xiaomi also has an extremely passionate fanbase. The OnePlus handset, which runs a forked version of Android, also proved incredibly popular.

But by and large, Apple holds an allure with consumers that Android
products find it almost impossible to emulate.

Apple’s move to discount iPhones on contract to affordable levels, and to market older iPhones at lower price points, is reflective of this: Having cleaned up the top end of the market, the company is successfully moving down. If you want an iPhone but don’t have much money, there are plenty of wireless service providers willing to offer you a contract that will reduce the iPhone to a fraction of its total price tag.

There are not many hard stats to back this up, but plenty of anecdotal evidence. Everyone knows how desirable the iPhone is, and how nearly everyone either has one or wants one — even if they can’t really afford it.

As Sandip Roy writes for Huffington Post, “it goes without saying that the iPhone is a status symbol.” But, uniquely, it’s “a status symbol that actually does something instead of just sitting there, being a status symbol.”

The
iPhone’s functionality compared to jewelry or designer options could explain why consumers are willing to save and shell out for what’s realistically above their price point — why they’ll buy a $700 smartphone when a $300 one would suit their needs.

Apple is successful because it’s produced a great, high-end product. It’s record-breakingly successful because it’s produced a product that has such a desirable cachet that it’s not even considered in the same breath as other smartphones. As a consumer item, it’s totally unique.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.


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A Modular Thumbstick Extension for Gamers with Disabilities

Hackaday alum [Caleb Kraft] has been busy working on control modifications for gamers with disabilities. His latest release is a modular system of thumbstick extensions for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Since starting The Controller Project, one of [Caleb’s] goals has been to create a system to facilitate the use of analog thumbsticks. Now that he has a few controller mods under his belt, [Caleb] decided to attack the problem head on. Rather than print a custom adapter for each gamer, he’s created a set of 3D printed extensions which can be mixed and matched to produce the perfect controller mod.

The base fits perfectly over the Xbox thumbstick. The fit is tight enough to stand up to some serious gaming, but can be easily removed with no permanent change to the controller. Extensions stack on top of the base to build up a large easy to grasp stick. There are straight and angled extensions to accommodate specific disabilities. The stick can be capped off with a rounded tip or an easy to grip knob. The exertions are designed to fit together loosely for testing. Once the gamer finds a perfect stack of extensions, a bit of glue locks everything together.

The best part is that [Caleb] has released the files for the entire system. 3D printers are becoming common enough that nearly everyone has access to a printer, or knows someone who does.  Click past the break to see [Caleb] demonstrate the modular thumbstick extension system!

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks

Cracking Weather Station Checksum

[BaronVonSchnowzer] is spinning up some home automation and settled on an inexpensive ambient temperature sensor which is sold to augment the data a home weather station collects. He found that the RF protocol had been reverse engineered and will use this information to harvest data from a sensor in each room. In true hacker fashion, he rolled his own advances out to the Internet so that others may benefit. Specifically, he reverse engineered the checksum used by the Ambient F007TH.

He got onto this track after trying out the Arduino sketch written to receive the sensor’s RF communications. One peculiar part of the code turned out to be a filter for corrupt messages as the protocol’s checksum hadn’t yet been worked out. Figuring out how the checksum byte owrks wasn’t an easy process. The adventure led him to dump 13k samples into a spreadsheet to see if sorting similar sets of 5-byte message and 1-byte checksum would shed some light on the situation. The rest of the story is some impressive pattern matching that led to the final algorithm. Now [BaronVonSchnowzer] and anyone else using these modules can filter out corrupt data in the most efficient way possible.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, security hacks

Hacking the Nike+ Fuelband

[Simone] was trying to reverse-engineer the Bluetooth protocol of his Nike+ Fuelband and made some surprising discoveries. [Simone] found that the authentication system of the Fuelband can be easily bypassed and discovered that some low-level functions (such as arbitrarily reading and writing to memory) are completely exposed to the end user or anyone else who hacks past the authentication process.

[Simone] started with the official Nike app for the Fuelband. He converted the APK to a JAR and then used JD-Gui to read the Java source code of the app. After reading through the source, he discovered that the authentication method was completely ineffective. The authenticator requires the connecting device to know both a pin code and a nonce, but in reality the authentication algorithm just checks for a hard-coded token of 0xff 0xff 0xff 0xff 0xff 0xff rendering the whole authentication process ineffective.

After he authenticated with the Fuelband, [Simone] started trying various commands to see what he could control over the Bluetooth interface. He discovered that he could send the device into bootloader mode, configure the RTC, and even read/write the first 65k of memory over the Bluetooth interface–not something you typically want to expose, especially with a broken authentication mechanism. If you want to try the exploit yourself, [Simone] wrote an Android app which he posted up on GitHub.

Filed under: hardware, wearable hacks

Hacking the Nike+ Fuelband

[Simone] was trying to reverse-engineer the Bluetooth protocol of his Nike+ Fuelband and made some surprising discoveries. [Simone] found that the authentication system of the Fuelband can be easily bypassed and discovered that some low-level functions (such as arbitrarily reading and writing to memory) are completely exposed to the end user or anyone else who hacks past the authentication process.

[Simone] started with the official Nike app for the Fuelband. He converted the APK to a JAR and then used JD-Gui to read the Java source code of the app. After reading through the source, he discovered that the authentication method was completely ineffective. The authenticator requires the connecting device to know both a pin code and a nonce, but in reality the authentication algorithm just checks for a hard-coded token of 0xff 0xff 0xff 0xff 0xff 0xff rendering the whole authentication process ineffective.

After he authenticated with the Fuelband, [Simone] started trying various commands to see what he could control over the Bluetooth interface. He discovered that he could send the device into bootloader mode, configure the RTC, and even read/write the first 65k of memory over the Bluetooth interface–not something you typically want to expose, especially with a broken authentication mechanism. If you want to try the exploit yourself, [Simone] wrote an Android app which he posted up on GitHub.

Filed under: hardware, wearable hacks

Finding an Active TX Pin on Cheap GPS

Twenty Euros will score you a small, self-contained GPS keychain. Crack that case open and you can have a lot more. [j3tstream] explored the guts of the thing and found that the NMEA data can be streamed out of the TX pin on the GPS chip.

First off, check out that miniscule GPS antenna module, crazy! But we digress. For testing purposes the asynchronous UART of the GPS was probed, proving that the data can be acquired. From there [j3tstream] moved to an Arduino Pro Mini with an SD card for data logging. The uC is powered from the GPS board but this will quickly exhaust the stock battery so [j3tstream] swapped it out for one from an old cellphone.

That little dot-matix LCD that comes with the unit also caught our eye. If you can hack a headless interface for the GPS that could be repurposed for your next project. May we suggest a wearable gaming project for it?

Filed under: gps hacks

Finding an Active TX Pin on Cheap GPS

Twenty Euros will score you a small, self-contained GPS keychain. Crack that case open and you can have a lot more. [j3tstream] explored the guts of the thing and found that the NMEA data can be streamed out of the TX pin on the GPS chip.

First off, check out that miniscule GPS antenna module, crazy! But we digress. For testing purposes the asynchronous UART of the GPS was probed, proving that the data can be acquired. From there [j3tstream] moved to an Arduino Pro Mini with an SD card for data logging. The uC is powered from the GPS board but this will quickly exhaust the stock battery so [j3tstream] swapped it out for one from an old cellphone.

That little dot-matix LCD that comes with the unit also caught our eye. If you can hack a headless interface for the GPS that could be repurposed for your next project. May we suggest a wearable gaming project for it?

Filed under: gps hacks

Kill Time Making Flappy Bird, Not Playing It

With all the Flappy Bird clones floating around in the ether after the game’s unexpected success, there are some that are better than others. And by better, we mean, hacked together from misc hardware. If you’ve got an Arduino on hand, then you’re half way to making your own:

The “Minimalist” Version

[aron.bordin] created his own Flappy Bird game with a short list of parts some of us likely have lying around on our bench. An Arduino loaded with the appropriate code is wired to a 16×16 LED matrix, which apparently displays the minimal amount of visual information you’d need to play the game. The only other parts required are a single pushbutton and resistor tethered on a breadboard to control your flapping. With the wire hookup laid out by convenient diagrams and the libraries required for the code all found on the same page, this is easily something one could bang out in an afternoon. If afterwards you still find yourself with more time to kill than you can stand to play Flappy Birds, there is always the option of fashioning a humorously-sized cell phone case to squeeze it all into… which we’d like to see.

The “Fancy” Version

If you want more resolution than solid colored LEDs, or you just have a fondness for the terrifying bird abstraction the game is known for, you can switch out the 16×16 matrix for a Nokia LCD screen. [Huy’s] rendition of this build over on Hackaday.io will deliver a “more detailed” graphic for the game, and is still roughly just as easy to assemble. Similarly, an Ardunio is loaded with the smarts required to generate the game, along with a single pushbutton tacked on for control. The code and the daunting (/sarcasm) two steps needed to wire the Arduino to the screen can be found on his project’s page.

If you must kill boredom playing Flappy Bird, there is no excuse not to do so on something you made yourself.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

Kill Time Making Flappy Bird, Not Playing It

With all the Flappy Bird clones floating around in the ether after the game’s unexpected success, there are some that are better than others. And by better, we mean, hacked together from misc hardware. If you’ve got an Arduino on hand, then you’re half way to making your own:

The “Minimalist” Version

[aron.bordin] created his own Flappy Bird game with a short list of parts some of us likely have lying around on our bench. An Arduino loaded with the appropriate code is wired to a 16×16 LED matrix, which apparently displays the minimal amount of visual information you’d need to play the game. The only other parts required are a single pushbutton and resistor tethered on a breadboard to control your flapping. With the wire hookup laid out by convenient diagrams and the libraries required for the code all found on the same page, this is easily something one could bang out in an afternoon. If afterwards you still find yourself with more time to kill than you can stand to play Flappy Birds, there is always the option of fashioning a humorously-sized cell phone case to squeeze it all into… which we’d like to see.

The “Fancy” Version

If you want more resolution than solid colored LEDs, or you just have a fondness for the terrifying bird abstraction the game is known for, you can switch out the 16×16 matrix for a Nokia LCD screen. [Huy’s] rendition of this build over on Hackaday.io will deliver a “more detailed” graphic for the game, and is still roughly just as easy to assemble. Similarly, an Ardunio is loaded with the smarts required to generate the game, along with a single pushbutton tacked on for control. The code and the daunting (/sarcasm) two steps needed to wire the Arduino to the screen can be found on his project’s page.

If you must kill boredom playing Flappy Bird, there is no excuse not to do so on something you made yourself.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

Want a new tech job in 2015? Here’s what to look for

job search


If you asked your friends about their 2015 goals, I bet that a new job is on the list for most of them. For many professionals, the beginning of the year brings a new impetus to take stock of career goals, compensation, and satisfaction. Companies, too, are preparing for a major influx of new employees, with 19 percent of employers anticipating an increase in staffing levels in Q1 of next year.

When deciding on a new job — especially in the tech industry — it’s hard to resist the shiny, enticing perks that companies offer today. The ping pong table culture of the Valley is thriving, and it’s rare that a business doesn’t provide catered lunches or unlimited vacation time. It’s smart, actually: As industries become increasingly more technical, companies are reliant on skilled, quality talent, giving job seekers their pick of the best opportunities out there.

Unfortunately, these perks can often be too good to be true — and they don’t last forever. What does last? A strong ecosystem, a well-founded company, and great people. When evaluating a new opportunity, it’s important to consider everything a company has to offer — and as you start applying for jobs in 2015, it’s time to get serious
about managing your career and yourself.

1. Evaluate the Ecosystem

As you shop for your next job, make sure to widen your scope and examine the company from the outside in. A company’s ecosystem matters more than you probably realize. The kind of professional culture that a company builds is a direct indication of how successful you’ll be there. Think about it: Today, most tech employees average far above 40 work hours per week. The tech jobs of today require long hours, intense dedication, and some serious sacrifices, so being part of an environment slated for success is the best way to ensure payoff.

Working for a market leader helps ensure that your stock is worth something
and that your hard work actually moves the needle within the company. A company that prioritizes growth and greatness will be the place where you can make a noticeable contribution — and where you’ll be ultimately rewarded for your efforts. Working for a company that’s a leader in its space affords you the opportunity to make noticeable progress and gain recognition for your achievements, and that’s not something to pass up.

2. Recognize the Leadership Funnel

When you think of Apple, chances are, Steve Jobs isn’t far from your mind. If Salesforce comes up in conversation, no doubt Marc Benioff is discussed alongside. It’s no secret that successful companies start with successful leaders. But what many job seekers don’t realize is that a company’s executive board can and should affect their decision to apply. Disruptive tech companies are emerging in the Valley every day, but only 10 percent of startups actually succeed. If you want to work for a company that lasts, look for quality leaders that create a success-oriented environment.

Do your research on the company C-suite. Have they been at any other prominent companies before? How have previous ventures turned out for them? What is their involvement in the greater industry ecosystem, and how have they gleaned knowledge from it? At any company, good leaders are supportive, motivating, and grateful, and they set the tone for the future. If that tone doesn’t strike a chord, don’t waste your time.  

3. Don’t Fall for the Fluff

While the luster of a discounted gym membership or free dry cleaning might
weaken over the years, businesses will continue using competitive perks to draw people in. What will change, however, is your journey at the company, so it’s important to balance incentives with company growth, career development, and your financial success.

I’ve found that, with many young, glitzy companies, candidates will be wooed with massive signing bonuses or ridiculous perks. But it’s important to think about what lies beyond the shiny exterior of these companies and what makes them a valuable endeavor for your career. Consider things like growth opportunities, career development programs, and team dynamics — things that will last after the first 90 days of your tenure. Again, it’s the ecosystem that should be the biggest perk. Without a success-oriented culture and solid environment to back it up, the fluff is just too good to be true.

Navigating your future career is a tall task. While there’s no way to guarantee that any career move is going to be
the perfect one, if you start managing your career now, you’ll be one step closer to the future you want.

Jim Yu is the CEO and cofounder of BrightEdge