The UpStream (Page 230)

Agawi Brings PC Games to Android

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Agawi Brings PC Games to Android

I think everyone is recognizing that mobile gaming is on the rise, and I am not talking about PSVita or 3DS. As more and more tablets make their way into the hands of consumers, gaming is becoming more common on the platform. Agawi has decided to bring a platform to allow developers to deploy existing Windows and web games to "iPads, Android devices, Windows 8 tablets, smart TVs, PCs, Macs and more."

This new platform, dubbed CloudPlay, requires no special work on the part of the developer. This is good news for indie game developers, who usually have little to no capital to work with. The platform relies on server conversion, streaming the game directly to your device. The platform allows for game trials, freemium and full-pay business models, allowing for almost any type of game to be ported.

This is not the first time streaming gaming has been launched. There was big-name OnLive, who has had troubles, trying a full corporate reboot, so far unsuccessfully. One of their products was a mobile streaming service, which never took off. Now, OnLive suffered from early lag on their servers and was never able to move out from under that cloud.

If Agawi wants to be successful in this industry, their lag will need to be low right from the beginning. There is no room for a botched launch, and if you need proof, call John Riccitello formerly of Electronic Arts. As a developer, I certainly like the idea of code once, deploy everywhere, especially for games, which have a different user interaction model from standard apps; what I don't enjoy is my user experience being damaged by something outside of my control.

Would you giving mobile game streaming a shot, or has OnLive ruined the concept for a while? Sound off below.

BlackBerry CEO Points Out Apple's Lack of Innovation

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

BlackBerry CEO Points Out Apple's Lack of Innovation

BlackBerry's new devices launched in the States this week, and with a recent purchase for one million devices from an unnamed buyer, things look to be going very well for the company formerly known as RIM. It seems the wave of good news has really uplifted BlackBerry's CEO, Thorsten Heins, to the point where he would like to speak up about his competitors.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Heins was quick to talk about Apple and their iPhone no longer being an innovative device. Due to the problems and repetition we've seen from Apple, we haven't called Apple innovative ever. I mean, they finally included copy and paste in 2010, but more power to you, Heins.

In his interview, Heins said that the iPhone, while innovative years ago, has refused to change and now is no longer the cat's meow.

The rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don't innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about, is now five years old. The point is that you can never stand still. It is true for us as well.

Granted, until the BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry hasn't really been innovative in the past couple of years, and almost went the way of Palm. Still, the company was pushing the boundaries of technology back in the day, as almost every executive and their mother had a BlackBerry device back in 2003 to 2007. I also want to commend the CEO for not only pointing out that this industry moves so quickly - as we see with the International CES every year - but for also pointing the finger at Apple for refusing to adapt to consumer's needs. As we've said countless times in the past, just because something is popular doesn't mean it's a great solution.

A lot of people are now responding to Heins by saying that he's not one to talk and perhaps the new Q10 copies a little off the Heins-quoted five-year-old interface, however he's well within his right to point out the lack of true update to the FruitPhone 5S+. What do you think? Is Heins correct to point this out? Will the BlackBerry Q10 push Apple into maybe really upgrading its product line? Do you agree with us that Apple really isn't innovative? The place to answers all those questions can be found below, in the comments section.

Eric Schmidt Ensures Android and Chrome OS Will Remain Separate

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Eric Schmidt Ensures Android and Chrome OS Will Remain Separate

As part of Andy Rubin's departure from Google, the Android and Chrome OS divisions were merged. While many saw this as a merging of leadership during a vacuum, some saw the beginning of the end for one of Google's operating systems. Since its introduction in 2009, many have wondered why Google would create a second operating environment in Chrome OS, and how long it could survive in an already shrinking marketplace.

The environment, designed to be web-centric like webOS, has had a tremendous amount of trouble gaining any traction with customers, developers and hardware partners. To date, it seems like only Acer and Samsung have attempted Chromebooks, plus Google's own recent entry into the market. Google had hoped that the OS could live in the space being created in the low-power netbook category, but when that market collapsed, so did any hope of a successful Chrome OS.

Unfortunately for Google, that all happened several years ago, and Chrome OS has floundered since. In fact, I would wager that more machines have been sold running android than Chrome OS. That leads us to the odd decision that was creating competing products within the same company. Google has had huge success with Android, on phones, tablets and even some in the netbook space. With all of that success, why would you compete with yourself? It's a little like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works, both of which had word processors, neither of which could read each other's files early in their life.

That leads to last week's decision to merge the departments for Chrome OS and Android into one. With the duality behind Google's OS strategy, it surely seems to suggest one will go away, but Eric Schmidt, Executive chairman of Google, ensures us that both will continue. He did suggest that the two might have more overlap in the future, however. My guess is that this is a Steve Jobs-level deception and that we will see one of these brands fade away in the future.

Would you be upset if Chrome OS vanished from the face of the Earth? Did you even know there was such a thing? Let us know below.

HBO GO Might Go Stand-alone

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

HBO GO Might Go Stand-alone

In a world where appointment television is giving way to services like Hulu and Netflix, HBO GO lives in a weird middle-ground. While HBO GO is a service that allows people to watch HBO programming over the Internet on devices or via browser, it also requires its users to already be subscribed to HBO's cable service to get the service. This alienates a lot of people who are cutting the cord on traditional cable service in favor of these services, not to be augmented by them.

HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler said,

Right now we have the right model. Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve.

He suggested that the service could be packaged with Internet packages instead of cable services, allowing non-cable subscribers to access HBO's content. While the existing setup is profitable for HBO, which is not something other cable stations have been able to say, so circumventing a working model is something that is a scary prospect for the company, but knowing that there is a market that will watch their shows only online is a start.

Seeing companies like Hulu and Netflix launching direct-to-customer original programming over the Internet, such as Hulu's successful series Battleground, is certainly another cause for concern at HBO. The challenge, however, is one that is making the company consider its options, not jump to a hasty decision, like we have seen from other companies in the past.

My personal hope is that we will see HBO GO offered as a stand-alone service that I can subscribe to without having to have HBO's TV service, but not if it causes HBO to stop its original programming over financial issues. How about you? Would you subscribe to HBO GO if it were a Hulu/Netflix/Amazon style service? Let me know in the comments.

Apple Flaw Allowed Easy Account Hijicking

posted Saturday Mar 23, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Apple Flaw Allowed Easy Account Hijicking

This series of articles is quickly becoming my favorite and least favorite to write: Apple security flaws. As a developer and media person who has always known Apple software was written in an incredibly lazy and insecure way, it is a lot of fun to see others realize it. As a consumer, it is incredibly disheartening to know that Apple cares so little about their customers and their security that issues like this have been come a weekly occurrence.

This week's major security flaw from the company rated #1 by JD Power again involves the incredible ease with which Apple's iCloud accounts could be hijacked. The only thing needed to reset an iCloud account password was an email address and date of birth.

While this may seem like enough information to uniquely identify an individual, it is also information available on a number of Facebook or Twitter profiles. So, with that said, the only real information needed to steal someone's information from Apple is a Facebook or Twitter profile, both of which are mostly public. This harkens back to the "game" that was going around Twitter at one point encouraging people to find their porn name, combining the street you grew up on with your mother's maiden name. A lot of people played and a lot of bank, email and other accounts were hijacked because of it.

This, however, has less to do with coordinated online phishing and more to do with Apple making it easy to change a password with information already available online. It's not like the hackers have a lot of work to do to get ahold of this information: just browse the Internet and collect it. Impressive.

Now, Apple has "patched" this flaw by requiring a 2-stage authentication system for password resets, similar to what Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others have had implemented for a while. While always late to the party, at least Apple has finally shown up.

EA CEO John Riccitiello Steps Down, Possibly Opening New Doors for Next-Gen

posted Wednesday Mar 20, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA CEO John Riccitiello Steps Down, Possibly Opening New Doors for Next-Gen

It seems like just last week we were discussing all the heads of the major mobile players have left their respective companies lately. That's because it was last week. And now this week, we have yet another departure, and it's just as impactful. On March 30th, Electronic Arts CEO, John Riccitiello, will resign from his executive position with the company, as EA continues to bleed money and shift to a new focus.

On the reasons for the transition, Riccitiello said,

EA is an outstanding company with creative and talented employees, and it has been an honor to serve as the Company's CEO. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, and after six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the Company into its next phase of innovation and growth... My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.

So while it sounds a lot like the Groupon firing, his resignation could also have a lot to do with the SimCity disaster, the outlash from consumers over EA's massive support for micro transactions and DLC, or both. A lot has changed since Riccitiello took over in 2007 up to now, with major shifts to mobile gaming and a high consumer demand for non-broken games at launch.

At any rate, while Electronic Arts looks for a new CEO, former CEO, Larry Probst, will take over in the interim. Probst ran the game studio and publisher from 1991 to 2007. He also spoke on Riccitiello's stepping down, as well as give some insight into his plan moving forward until a new CEO is found.

John has worked hard to lead the Company through challenging transitions in our industry, and was instrumental in driving our very significant growth in digital revenues... EA's strategy and future are rock solid. Our business is built on more than a dozen powerful, globally recognized brands. We are clear leaders in the fastest growing category in games - mobile - and we are positioned to lead on the next generation of consoles.

A lot of people are upset with Probst back in the picture, claiming he sunk EA into a big mess during his tenure. However, with the EA's stock now at just under $20 when it was over $60 back in 2007 when Riccitiello took over, I'm not so sure I agree. Ever since the inception of the Xbox 360 and PS3, along with the new CEO at EA, we saw the studio take their foot off the pedal and refuse to innovate their products. We saw, and still see, broken sports titles, released year after year with merely a roster update, less than stellar performances in their racing games and a lackluster showing in the mobile division. All of that goes in line with the failed stock price and definitely justifies the resignation. To that point, I commend Riccitiello for stepping down and taking responsibility as leader of a large company like this. I look forward to seeing a new CEO step in and hopefully take EA back to its old glory days, when there was integrity and respect behind each product put into the consumer market. The next generation of consoles is right around the corner, and, so long as the lack of success and poor company culture hasn't consumed the developers yet, they should be ready to show the world what they can do.

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