Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

Eric Metaxas, The Wall Street Journal:

For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces — gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces — were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction — by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 — then no stars could have ever formed at all.

Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row.

The entire article, which is quite short for such an important topic, is worth a read.

Kantar: Apple On Track For ‘Record Quarter’ As iPhone 6 Sales Bump Up Its Market Share Vs. Android

Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch:

Apple has been seeing its smartphone market share erode over the last several years as its simple-and-small line up of iPhones competed against model after model of low-priced, big-screened, fancy-featured Android-based handsets. But it looks like its latest iPhone 6 models — with their larger faces, 4G compatibility and Apple Pay support — may be helping it turn the tide a bit.

Lunden uses the latest figures — the last three months ending on October 31 — from Kantar Worldpanel. The figures show nine countries and year-over-year changes in the three-month (August, September, October) smartphone operating system sales share. The nine countries are: Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, U.S.A., China, Australia, and Japan, in no particular order. For instance in Great Britain, iOS gained 10.4% points from 29.1% in the Aug.-Sep.-Oct. period in 2013 to 39.5% in the same period in 2014. iOS showed gains in Australia too: 35.0% to 40.4% for a gain of 5.4% points.

Sounds good. But doesn’t the size of the market matter? For instance, a 1% point gain in China (about 1.4 billion in population) should be way more significant than a 1% point gain in Australia (about 24 million in population). So I did some math and added in the total population — for simplicity sake — for each country and then figured out how significant these percentage point changes reported by Kantar and TechCrunch really were. I understand that there are differences among the countries mentioned (wireless infrastructure: overall reach, LTE deployment, cost, monthly payments, discounts, etc., per capita income, smartphone penetration/saturation, smartphone replacement rate, and many other differences), but all I wanted to see was how the size of a country’s population impact these numbers that seem to point to Apple turning the tide. The results are quite interesting.

Android, in order of significance:

  • China: +4.8% points → +65.7 million
  • Japan: +11.9% → +15.1M
  • USA: +1.1% → +3.5M
  • Italy: +1.4% → +851K
  • France: +0.9% → +595K
  • Spain: -1.9% → -8834K
  • Australia: -4.1% → -971K
  • Great Britain: -2.3% → -1.5M
  • Germany: -2.6% → -2.1M

All nine countries combined the percentage points changes from 2013 to 2014 resulted in an addition of about 80 million Android users, primarily because of the relatively small 4.8% point change in China. Now let’s look at iOS, also in order of significance:

  • Great Britain: +10.4% points → +6.7 million
  • China: +0.2% → +2.7M
  • Germany: +3.1% → +2.5M
  • France: +3.7% → +2.4M
  • USA: +0.7% → +2.2M
  • Italy: +3.4% → +2.1M
  • Australia: +5.4% → +1.3M
  • Spain: +2.3% → +1.1M
  • Japan: -13.1% → -16.6M

All nine countries put together iOS added over 4.3M users, despite the relatively large (-13.1% point Y/Y) percentage point decrease in Japan. The percentage point decrease in Japan is quite significant (-16.6 million users) because Japan’s population is the third largest (almost 130 million) in this group, after China and the U.S.

Limiting our discussion to just these nine countries that Kantar profiled, Android added significantly (almost 19x more significant using our really simplified model) more users than iOS. So did iPhone 6 sales bump up the share of iOS versus Android? In Great Britain, yes. In China? No, because while iOS added 0.2% points (+2.7 million) Android added 4.8% points (+65.7 million). China is where it matters and Apple didn’t bump up its market share there. Japan? No. And in the nine countries as a group? Nope.

iPhone: 2007 – 2014

I remember June 29, 2007 like it was yesterday. I called the Apple Store, asked the Apple Store employee whether the iPhone was in stock, and upon confirmation that there were iPhones in stock drove to Valley Fair. I waited for maybe ten minutes, charged an enormous amount of money to my credit card, and walked out with an iPhone. Up until that point the only portable gadget I have wanted as badly was a Sony Walkman.

Six months prior to that day I was in San Francisco, and watched Steve Jobs introduce to the iPhone. At the time smartphones were run by Windows Mobile 6.x or Palm OS. Windows Mobile 6.x was the desktop version of Windows shrunk to fit a tiny screen. There were nested menus! It didn’t take too long for me to ditch the Windows Mobile 6.x-based Motorola Q. The Palm Treo was better, but the iPhone was a revolution. Multitouch? On a phone? Just incredible.

Next came the iPhone 3G, which was really fast, though I didn’t care for the name. (3G? Are we later going to get 4G?) Then the even faster 3GS came out. Still didn’t like that name. The year after that Steve Jobs came up on stage and changed the smartphone game with the retina iPhone 4. The display was amazing; so was the industrial design. Yes, there was that antennagate thingamajig, but the iPhone 4 was beautiful. The iPhone, 3G, and 3GS had a 3.5-inch LCD with a 480×320 pixel format. The iPhone 4 quadrupled the number of pixels to 960×640 and increased the resolution to 326 ppi. The experience of looking at images and text on the iPhone 4 was like nothing else. The doubling of pixels on both the x and y axes also made it easy for developers to upgrade their non-retina apps. Then the 4S came out: faster, and with an improved camera. The iPhone 4 was already the most popular camera on Flickr, and Apple made the camera even better.

I loved that the iPhones were easy to use with one hand, not like the enormous Android smartphones. The Samsung Galaxy S2 had a 4.5-inch screen! Huge, and just too big for normal hands. But something happened in 2012, something kind of weird. Apple decided to elongate the display. The original iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4, and 4S all had a 3.5-inch LCD with a 3:2 aspect ratio. But the new iPhone 5 had a 4-inch LCD with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The pixel format was an even weirder 1136×640. There was one thing Apple did right: the resolution stayed at 326 ppi, so the visual experience remained pretty much the same. I thought, “Why bother going to 16:9 if you can’t even watch 720p videos at 1280×720?” The whole point of a 16:9 aspect ratio was HD video. Now developers had to have three versions of their apps: 480×320, 960×640, and 1136×640.

The year after that the iPhone 5S came out. Just like in prior years the 5S was faster and had a better camera. But the iPhone 5C came out too. The 5C was a lower-cost iPhone 5 (not 5S) with a plastic shell. Mmm… okay. The display remained the same, which was a relief: 4 inches was large enough. I couldn’t believe the size of some Android smartphones; the Sony Xperia Z Ultra had a six point four inch display! That wasn’t a phone it was a tablet. I made fun of those who had these gigantic phones by putting my iPad to the side of my face and pretended I was talking to someone. Ridiculous.

Then the iPhone 6 happened, along with the stupid big iPhone 6 Plus. I wasn’t too happy with the black plastic bits that covered up the antennas in the iPhone 5 and the 5S. Nor was I happy with Apple moving the audio connection from the top to the bottom. There were other niggles, but overall it was a good design. (I consider the 4 and 4S to be the best designed iPhones.) Instead of black plastic pieces the iPhone 6 has toyish-looking antenna bands. I don’t think the designers even tried to hide them. And the cameras stick out. This wouldn’t be a problem if the cameras always stuck out, but the cameras were always nicely integrated into the flat backs of all prior iPhones. Despite the bulging cameras these new ones are even better than the ones before, especially the optically stabilized camera on the iPhone 6 Plus. Still, Apple didn’t need to make the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so thin that the camera had to bulge out. But the biggest issue I have is with the display.

The iPhone 6 sports a 4.7-inch LCD with a pixel format of 1334×750. (What in the world is that?!? I would have gone with a 4.5-inch display and a 1280×720 pixel format. Nice and tidy, and it would have also resulted in a resolution of 326 ppi.) So Apple is at least keeping the same resolution, right? Not really. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus features a 1920×1080 pixel format. The resolution? 401 ppi. That sounds pretty good, but not when compared to the latest and greatest from the competition. The LG G3 has a 5.5-inch 2560×1440 LCD good for a resolution of 534 ppi, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 features a 5.7-inch 2560×1440 OLED display with a 515 ppi resolution. But it isn’t all about the pixel format and resolution. According to DisplayMate’s Dr. Raymond Soneira, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has the best mobile display. The Galaxy Note 4 had the best color accuracy, and that to me is very important. I want to know that what I see on my screen is as close to the real thing as possible. I don’t think making the best display on a smartphone is Apple’s top priority anymore. How can Apple? The company had to split its focus and resources into developing — not just one as it has been doing since 2007 — but two displays.

Let me just briefly touch on how complicated it is for developers to develop apps for iPhones now. Developers need five versions (four if iOS 8.0 is required): 480×320, 960×640, 1136×640, 1334×750, and 2208×1242. Yes, you read that right: 2208×1242, not 1920×1080. Developers need to render pixels at 2208×1242 and then they are downsampled to 1920×1080. I’m not a developer (yet), but that sounds quite a bit more complicated than it should. Read the easy-to-understand explanation by PaintCode. I think simplicity is on its way out Apple’s window.

Apple had a great run with its iPhones, but 2014 was the first year since 2007 when the original iPhone came out that I didn’t upgrade to the latest and greatest iPhone. I think I found a better smartphone: the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

IBM: 2014 Cyber Monday Mobile Sales

Emil Protalinski, VentureBeat:

As always in the U.S., iOS beat out Android in mobile shopping this holiday season. iOS users averaged $114.79 per order compared to $96.84 for Android users, a difference of 18.5 percent.

iOS traffic accounted for 28.7 percent of total online traffic, more than double that of Android, which drove 12.2 percent of all online traffic. More importantly, iOS sales accounted for 17.4 percent of total online sales, more than four times that of Android, which drove 4.4 percent of all online sales.

I’m going to come at this from a different angle. Most of us are not made of money, but most of us spend more than we should. And most of us have large debts: credit cards and mortgages to name the two largest.

Based on the above findings by IBM, users with iPhones and iPads spend more time shopping and spend more money buying things during Cyber Monday. If your goal is to spend less time on your smartphone and spend less money on your smartphone, a simple trick might be to trade in your iPhone for an Android smartphone.

PS: I’ve used both and if I were to guess as to one of many reasons why iOS users tend to shop and buy more is because there are more shopping apps that are better — as in easier on the eyes and easier to shop and buy — on iOS than on Android.