A digital brave new world – new ways to pay, privacy law and gaming consoles colliding with mobile phones
From precedent-setting legal battles to payment systems that have the potential to completely revolutionise the retail industry, 2011 is shaping up to be a big year for mobile and social media platforms.
Payment 2.0 – Google Wallet and Square
Big advances have been made in the way we pay for goods over the past couple of years.
Cheques and cash have given way to debit and credit cards, black swipe strips have been replaced by new, high security chips, we’re purchasing almost anything you can dream of online, and we’re paying for an increasing number of things – from parking to charitable donations – directly from our mobile phone account.
So what’s next?
Near Field Communication, of NFC is technology that lets you complete any transaction by waving your paying device, (anything from a credit card to a mobile phone) in front of a "target”. This target could be a scanner that reads credit information stored in your device. It can also be as simple as a printed image that sits on a sticker next to the item you’re interested in, which sends special discounts or information to your device.
Google Wallet is the latest application of this technology to hit the early-adopter blog sites. Set to be released in the States soon, this android-only feature will enable you to swipe your phone against special NFC scanners to buy your new TV without getting your wallet out.
Sound scary? Lots of people are crying "security risk!” Despite the transaction system actually being very secure, this is certainly a perception issue Google is going to have to contend with as they launch their new app. Another is the numerous lawsuits popping up from competitors like PayPal and eBay claiming the new technology was developed using trade secrets "stolen” from PayPal.
Whether it’s true or not, there’s no mistaking the fact this is a game-changing move that won’t be limited to android platform phones for long.
Apple is rumoured to be including the NFC chip technology in their new iPhone5 model – a step forward from the Square technology they’ve currently been partnering with and a rumour the heads at Apple have been very careful to avoid confirming or denying.
One thing’s for sure though, there are tech-heads, tel-cos, big chain retailers and banks all over the world watching with bated breath to see how the consumer market reacts to Google Wallet’s brave new step.
Twitter Vs Ryan Giggs
Privacy and intellectual property law has been a hot topic over the past couple of years and this last month has been no exception.
May saw a high profile social media court case between Manchester United superstar, Ryan Giggs, and Twitter. Giggs, one of a raft of playboy footballers, had an injunction issued to prevent a newspaper exposing an affair he was alleged to have had with a prominent reality TV star in the UK. In reaction to this "cover up”, a Twitter user named and shamed the ManU star.
The twittersphere (predictably) blew up. Within minutes over 70,000 mentions of Giggs’ name had been recorded on the popular micro-blogging platform.
This left the lawmakers scratching their heads and Giggs’ lawyers quickly filing legal action against Twitter, demanding the California based social media platform hand over the details of the tweeters who leaked the player’s name.
The case is still being fought out in the courts (and the media) but it highlights an issue that will have lawmakers and PR agents around the world shaken up. And users of these social media platforms beware; the days of lawless freedom are numbered.
Sony FINALLY gets their game console/mobile phone mix right
With their great interfaces and really slick audio quality, I’ve always had an appreciation for Sony’s mobile phones. What the Xperia Play phone adds now is superior video quality.
As a gaming device it’s on par with the PSP 3000 and the PSP Go. It feels like it’s the first step towards what we’re eagerly awaiting at the end of the year - the PSP NGP. The graphics run really smoothly and the controls are surprisingly comfortable. The sensor-operated analogue sticks are a little tricky to use at first but after a bit of practice they become more comfortable.
The most interesting part about this phone is where the audience meets the operating system. Bringing gaming nerds and computer geeks together around a device like this that uses open-source software creates a world of opportunities. I’ve done bit of trawling around the Xperia forums and found people already talking about how they can use the Xperia Play as a controller for their PS3 or as a media hub from which they can stream all of their music and videos. That’s the most exciting thing about this phone. The community surrounding it is going to make the device do a lot more than was initially intended.
The Android Gingerbread operating system is a bit clunky, but the reality is that were Sony to create a custom operating system it would have pushed the RRP of the phone through the roof.
They’re slightly expensive as it is, coming in at around $1100. But if you’re remotely interested in mobile gaming or have a PS3 at home, this little device will fit in with everything really easily. We gave the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play a 4/5 in our review. We’d love to hear what you think though!