eXtensions - Suturday 6 May 2017

Cassandra: Apple Worries Settling Down; Thai Unease with Television Systems Including AppleTV; Ethics in Photography

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


There is still an amount of fallout from Apple's Q2 2017 financial results, but now that a couple of days have passed, there is a more measured level of criticism. That does not mean that all the cranks have finished: we may have some odd reflections still to process. The authorties and AppleTV in Thailand. Plagiarism by professionals unacceptable

One frequent Seeking Alpha commentator is Mark Hibben and he falls in the pro-Apple column most of the time, although I do not always agree or accept what he writes. Like many this week, he comments on the figures that show Apple's reductions in sales of the iPhone and other products. He makes the point that the company is fighting against some touch competition: the Chinese government. This is the de facto owner of both Oppo and Vivo and there may be some helping hands there. Oppo, Vivo and Huwei are not Apple, and Apple should just keep doing what it does best. Population numbers there are so high that even a single percentage point has significance (up or down).

iPhone 7 Plus Another comment he makes is that while many (too many?) commentators focus on the iPhone as the sole metric of success, this is not all that Apple makes or does and that a reduced focus may be more realistic, with wearables, services and other products. This is how some of us have always looked at Apple.

Looking at a larger picture, sales of phones dropped as a whole this year, so while Apple is affected, this is a problem, that affects other handset makers, including Samsung. Putting the Chinese market in a wider context, Ivan Tang suggests that the figures for all will rise in coming quarters. He also notes that, although sales were stagnant, they were still "huge" and some of those apparently rising stars are expected to face problems in the coming months: Huawei from misleading customers about flash memory speeds; and all the Chinese stars from offline revenue growth.

Others also fret about the lower sales of iPads, when tablet sales all over are dropping. What they fail to take into account is that reduced sales of the iPad is now translating into increased sales of Macs and Apple never worries about cannibalism: it is all going into the same big pot.

With all the doom, a drop in the share price and recommendations from experts to sell, by Friday Apple shares had begun to rise again ($148.96). Warren Buffett was holding on to his, but selling a third of his IBM shares, and others began to note that the figures were not that bad after all. Is any company capable of producing a quarterly income of over $50 billion?

There has been some confusion in the local press about the intentions of the government over control of journalists (and just what constitutes a jounalist), and over set top boxes through which people can receive content over the internet, like I do with AppleTV. The regulators want to impose a regulatory framework governing over-the-top (OTT) video (Komsan Tortermvasana, Bangkok Post - the link may not be available for long).

AppleTV The Apple product was specifically mentioned in an announcement a week or so ago with regard to piracy potential, which suggests that whoever is providing the information is misinformed or has an axe to grind. In the light of dwindling subscriptions - a worldwide problem - there has been some finger-pointing.

The authorities have come out with a slightly altered stance but still the concern is over access to content. In normal fashion here, those in power put together a committee of wise old men from academia (Mass communication) and they are examining the question from certain angles which on the face of it seem sensible, but one might read between the lines to see real intentions. They want to

  • Set a fair competition environment between OTT and traditional broadcast companies

  • Implement measures to prevent improper advertising content on OTT platforms; controlling those OTT services that affect social perception;

  • Implement a content filtering system;

  • Maintain the same standards between OTT and broadcasters;

  • Impose controls on illicit content; and

  • Educate people to learn about the risk of spreading "bad information" through social media (Komsan Tortermvasana).

Looked at from a Western perspective, this just appears to be censorship and protectionism (for old media). The military-backed government does not work in the same way as those outside do and they will do anything they need to maintain their idea of order. I also sense that the monopolist TV providers are using this to make sure they do not lose: at least not yet.

The authorities and academics are examining the situation in the light of the status quo - trying to apply rules which were created for old media forms. This is apparently what happened when the first attempt to write a law for the internet was made about 20 years ago. I was involved in making this and its problems public in a series of articles I wrote for the Bangkok Post in 1997-98.

By the time I came to write the second article, the draft law was only put out in Thai and I needed help in translation. The pressure, of which I was only a part, led to a public meeting after which the proponent withdrew it. I am not sure if what was eventually enacted was any better.

It is no coincidence (in the light of recent examination of the proposed control regulations on journalists) that that the 1997-98 drafts were based on Singapore laws for controlling radio. That was as near as they could approach back then and there is still the same lack of imagination. As I have written on a number of occasions, with regard to TV delivery, the landscape has changed and those unable (or unwilling) to evolve will be pushed out of the way.

I teach a course in Ethics and Morals for Computer Engineers and bring in examples of behaviour that could be questionable, from the first computers that were designed to break in (Enigma decryption), the serial murders by Dr Harold Shipman, to steganography, malware and plagiarism, with a lot of other ideas in between.

One of the themes concerns the use of metadata and it is easier to show students this with file searches on the Mac and with photographs. Metadata has been used to prove and disprove guilt particularly with the use of time stamps. While plagiarism is unfortunately common with text, it is less so with images, although these are sometimes stolen (even images from this site appear elsewhere with no link or accreditation).


I was disturbed to see an example of plagiarism by an award-winning photographer. This is detailed by Dunja Djudjic in Photography, where images are compared and a clear case is set out. I take great pains not to use others' photographs (apart from officially available product images) and, as I mention above, am annoyed when people steal my own modest work. For a professional photographer to be a serial plagiarizer is unforgivable.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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