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Apple’s App Store generates a billion dollars a week

On average, Apple generated over a billion dollars a week from the half billion plus people visiting its App Store every week in 2019, the latest data shows.

That’s $54.2 billion in the year.

Chasing the (long) tail

There’s lots of reasons for this, principally a successful push toward subscription-based business models and rapidly growing consumer acceptance that there actually is a value in digital products.

This renaissance in digital engagement is also generating new opportunity for enterprises who seek to meet customers where they are with digital-first experiences.

Subscription revenues increased in 2019, with more developers offering to let users try their apps before paying out for the full feature set, according to SensorTower data. Growing subs revenues prove shoppers will pay monthly fees for apps.

Nurturing this kind of perception has been one of the big challenges for the tech industry. In the early years the success of Napster and file-sharing showed what can happen to industries when people don’t value digital product.

The success of iTunes, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime and services like iCloud and Dropbox helped most users recognize digital value.

Now it’s generating massive money.

User spending at the App Store climbed 16% y-o-y from $47 billion in 2018. Games accounted for a mighty $37 billion of this, while entertainment apps hoovered up $3.9 billion more.

We’re also seeing physical product sales become more deeply digital. 

“People are more connected today than ever before,” said Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product & platform at Adobe.

“We all have a smartphone in our pocket, and that is really what is driving the uptick in mobile commerce and e-commerce overall. You can literally think of something you need, and just purchase it right that second.

“This always-on and always connected trend will continue to accelerate, especially as the definition of mobility continues to expand to new devices and modes of accessing the Internet.”

Best in store

Apple recently announced that App Store developers earned over $155 billion in App Store sales since 2008.

The company added that “over a quarter” of these sales came in the last year and confirmed customers spent $1.42 billion at the App Store between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 2019 — up 16 percent. The App Store store generated $386 million in sales on New Year’s Day 2020, Apple said — up slightly on the $322 million generated the same day last year.

The trend isn’t merely visible on Apple’s App Store, even Google Play also saw increased revenues – despite which the sum generated by iOS was 85 percent greater than the $29.3 billion spent on Google Play.

The digital value chain

This flurry of statistics proves perception of digital value is growing. (This is also proven by news that Pokemon Go generated nearly a billion dollars in revenue on in-game purchases alone last year).

That is something that should matter to enterprise professionals attempting to identify and deliver new services and business models.

Consumer willingness to pay for digital services shows business models such as ‘information as a service’, expansion in digital channels and sponsorship of key digital experiences are more likely to build revenue, attract customers or enhance relationships than before.

In an intensifying competitive environment, delivering such services may be mandatory – and there may be some way to go, given Gartner’s analysis that 84 percent of consumers using digital tools and services in 2018 reported “underwhelming” experiences.

This matters.

  • 60% of enterprises that have engaged in digital transformation projects have also built new business models.
  • 78% of customers use mobile channels to communicate with brands.
  • 80% of millennials are more likely to purchase from companies that have a mobile customer services portal.

The attention economy isn’t at all stable. A better product or service can come along and quickly steal away hard-won hearts and minds. This has always been true in business, but the rapidity with which digital solutions can be developed and distributed means competition is rapid and response must be more agile.

It’s an intense environment.

“By 2022, 72 percent of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology, such as machine-learning applications, chatbots or mobile messaging, up from 11 percent in 2017,” predicted Gartner in 2019.

Within this it is interesting that Calm and Headspace became the biggest grossing apps in the health and fitness category across both Apple and Android platforms in December.

Perhaps all those ‘digital first’ executives badly needed some time out as they grappled with the challenge of continued transformation?

Though on a more serious note this also reflects consumer willingness to invest in a huge array of tech-driven services, even those we don’t usually associate with “digital”.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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The Piper Computer Kit Is an Amazing STEM Project for Lots of Dollars – Review Geek

Rating:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $300

The Piper Computer Kit with red mouse and green battery bank.
Josh Hendrickson

Fundamental knowledge of how computers work is essential for many future careers. For $300, the Piper Computer Kit promises to teach children computer science concepts. At that cost, it needs to be perfect. Is it? No. But it’s close.

Here’s What We Like

  • Fantastic Build Instructions
  • Breadboards made easy
  • Captivating lessons

And What We Don’t

  • Teaches How but not Why
  • Unstable and finicky
  • Expensive

I’ve spent a good deal of my career around computers. I’ve worked in computer repair, software development, and tech journalism. As such, my seven-year-old son is no stranger to technology. But I’ve run into a problem: thanks to devices like smartphones, tablets, and all-in-one desktops, he’s convinced that all screens are computers. Whether it’s the dumb TV in my bedroom or the monitor in my office, he can’t grasp why they can’t simply load up his favorite iPad app, an Xbox game, or stream Netflix.

I’ve tried explaining it to him, walked him through my desktop connected to the computer, but nothing ever clicked. That’s why I was excited to try out Piper’s computer kit. Piper shouldn’t be confused with Kano, which focuses heavily on coding and software development. Piper hits the other things, how hardware works, and how that hardware interacts with code. And it all starts with building a computer. Well, at least the shell of a computer.

I Can’t Believe He Built It Solo

The Piper Computer Kit arrives in pieces, and it’s up to you (or preferably your child) to assemble it. Piper says it aimed its computer kit at children eight and up, and my son only just turned seven. So I was somewhat worried the Piper kit would be too difficult for him. He does build Lego sets on his own, but this is a whole different beast. I thought I’d have to help at every stage, or worse, complete it when he grew bored.

The Piper Computer kit, disassembled.
Josh Hendrickson

I’m happy to say my fears were completely unfounded. I want to say that’s due to my son’s Lego experience, but a lot of credit goes to the company as well. The kit comes with a large Blueprint poster with clear illustrations and labels. The company labeled every piece according to the step it belongs to (1-1, 1-2, 1-3, etc.), and all screws and connectors come in labeled bags.

A Blueprint poster, with pieces of the Piper Kit being assemble on top of it.
The big Blueprint poster was immensely helpful; we built right on top of it. Josh Hendrickson

For the most part, I stayed hands-off. To start, I helped my son orientate pieces to the Blueprint, but he figured that out quickly as well. The only thing I did was sort the screws, and that was just to speed things along. My son connected the pieces, inserted nuts, and drove all the screws.

The process isn’t an exact computer build, though. Essentially, your child will build a shell that houses a Raspberry Pi 3, monitor, speakers, mouse, and cables. Since it’s a Raspberry Pi powering the computer, your child won’t insert ram, attach a hard drive, or connect fans. But that process (followed by the next steps I’ll get into later) finally got the difference between a monitor and computer to click for him—a big win in my department.

A young boy building a monitor component to the Piper Computer.
At this stage, he mounted the screen, connected the cables, then sealed the enclosure. Josh Hendrickson

Most importantly, he stuck with it. I’ve purchased a lot of different STEM-focused projects (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the past, and typically, he quickly grows bored of assembling gadgets. I usually finish on my own then pull him back in for “the good parts.” But that didn’t happen here. Despite the build process taking the better part of two hours, he stuck it out until the end. He was excited to see his progress and wanted to finish “his computer.”

No Keyboard is Good Thing—Mostly

Upon finishing the computer assembly, I was surprised to realize it came with a mouse but not a keyboard. The kit comes with a preformatted microSD card with the Raspberry Pi OS, Minecraft Education, and Piper’s software. We turned it on, and the screen didn’t work. I took it apart, reseated the cables, and the next time the screen worked. But the OS didn’t. One more restart, and everything was fine.

The completed Piper Computer Kit with game started.
The missing keyboard confused me, but the box on the left side will be a controller soon. Josh Hendrickson

I mention all this because that level of finickiness reared its head frequently. Be prepared to restart the Raspberry Pi. Once it loaded up, it wanted to update, but that meant connecting to either Wi-Fi or ethernet. Wi-Fi calls for a password which calls for a keyboard.

Thankfully, Piper’s real computer hardware is a Raspberry Pi 3 (with 4 USB ports), which runs a version of Linux. I grabbed a wireless keyboard with USB dongle, connected it, input the password, and then started the update. That was annoying, but it’s also the last time you’ll need a keyboard. As long as it’s USB, any keyboard will work. Just make sure to disconnect it when you’re done.

A boy connecting two wires to a Raspberry Pi and then tapping the ends together.
This was such a cool moment in the game, touch the wires, and away we go. Josh Hendrickson

That’s because once the game (Minecraft with lessons added) begins, your kid will build a controller. It’s fantastic. In a giant “Wow!” moment, the game instructed my son to connect two wires directly to the Raspberry Pi then touch them together. The character moved forward. During the build process, the blueprints had him create a breadboard enclosure with open slots. The game showed him how to connect the wires and buttons, and now he had a controller.

The kit comes with a second breadboard, and your child will use this connect switches, LEDs, and buzzers. The game includes a storyline: you are a robot on Mars, and it’s your job to stop an asteroid from destroying the Earth. You’ll travel to places, build tools, and solve puzzles to that end. Along the way, your child will connect new switches and lights to the breadboard to accomplish different tasks.

Teaching the How, But Not the Why

I do have a complaint about the lessons the Piper Kit teaches. When the game wants to throw a new switch or light in the mix, a video plays with basic steps of what to do. You can see the wires connecting a Raspberry Pi to the breadboard, and the switch or LED in its place. You follow along and make everything match.

But it doesn’t explain what a breadboard is. It doesn’t explain why you must use a particular Raspberry Pi GPIO pin. It doesn’t even clearly explain why you must insert the switches or LEDs into specific holes. My son counted the holes, followed the diagram, and it worked. So he has “the how.” But he didn’t understand “the why.” That seems like a miss to me. But I’m pretty Piper didn’t want to overload information.

The kit with a three button controller and a second breadboard with red LED light.
At this point in the game, the LED is acting as a blinking McGuffin detector based on his location. Josh Hendrickson

And I have to give Piper credit. My son played on the system for hours. I had to pull him away from it; he didn’t want to stop. The very next day, the first thing he asked to do after school was “play my new computer.” He played for an hour more, and once again, I had to stop him. He had actual homework, after all.

That trend continues to this day. He enjoys playing the system; he likes that it’s Minecraft, which he’s played, and every time he accomplishes a new task like building a slider switch that extends a bridge, he cheers over his success.

Expensively Successful

So I’m left with an issue. The Piper Computer Kit is clearly a success. When the software hasn’t locked up again, requiring another reboot, that is. My son loves the thing, and he is learning from it. Finally, he understands the difference between a screen and a tablet.

But the Piper Computer Kit is $300, and that’s expensive. Very expensive. On a hardware level, it’s a Raspberry Pi, an admittedly nice LCD screen, some breadboards, and a dozen or two wood pieces. Nothing about it seems “cheap,” but it doesn’t feel like $300 either. But that doesn’t account for the total cost.

A small skeleton posed to look like it's playing on the Piper Computer.
Artist’s rendition of how long my son wanted to play. I kid, I kid; my son did this when I wasn’t looking. Josh Hendrickson

The Piper Kit includes a copy of Minecraft Education Edition, and a host of custom created lessons. Those include cut scenes with (really awful) voice acting. All that’s time and money too.
I think $300 is out of the realm of what a lot of people would be willing (or able) to spend on their child. And that’s a shame because the Piper Computer Kit is fantastic. Every kid should get to try this, and I mean that seriously.

Piper offers education pricing, and if you’re a teacher or school administrator looking for a great computer STEM project, I implore you to check into it. And if you’re a parent looking for a great gift and can afford to drop three Benjamins on a single present, go for it. Assuming you can’t or won’t spend that much on a single gift (which seems fair to me), then keep an eye on it. Should a sale come along that brings into the right price, jump on it.

I say that with confidence based on one fact alone: my son knows that review units usually go back to the manufacturer. And he’s been asking, with sadness in his voice, if today is his last day to play with Piper. Every day he wants one more day. That’s the mark of an excellent STEM project.

Here’s What We Like

  • Fantastic Build Instructions
  • Breadboards made easy
  • Captivating lessons

And What We Don’t

  • Teaches How but not Why
  • Unstable and finicky
  • Expensive





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Dialing for dollars | Computerworld

Consultant pilot fish who is contracted to handle network issues at a chain of dollar stores is called in by a branch where the VoIP phones aren’t working.

Being a network guy, he starts off by rebooting the cable modem and then the phone mux. Then he checks out the phones themselves.

One won’t power up. The other has been smashed, or possibly thrown in a fit of rage, and its screen is cracked and unreadable. Adds fish, “It also appeared to have possibly been submerged in water.”

Replacing phones isn’t part of fish’s deal, so the dollar store has just wasted several dollars on a network tech’s service call that involved no real service.

Sighs fish: “Sending an assistant manager to the nearest Walmart, OTOH, would restore their phone service quite nicely.”

Don’t phone Sharky; just email your true tales of IT life to [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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What Company Did Google Almost Sell Out To For Less Than A Million Dollars?

Geek Trivia

What Company Did Google Almost Sell Out To For Less Than A Million Dollars?

Who Was The First To Celebrate Christmas In Space?


The Excite logo, circa 1999
IAC

Answer: Excite

In the early days of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin severely undervalued their budding organization. The search engine and information behemoth Google, with an estimated current net worth of 300 billion dollars, was once put on the bargaining table in discussions with rival search engine Excite for a paltry million dollars. Excite CEO George Bell rejected the offer and, even after the duo countered with an offer of $750,000, he still turned them down.

So what would motivate Page and Brin to even put Google on the table? They worried that tweaking and managing Google was taking too much time away from their research. Today, with Google’s market valuation in the billions of dollars, they have more than enough capital and free time to research whatever their hearts desire.





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