Categories
Business Technology

Information technology security and business

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Technology has had an undeniably colossal affect on how we do business. We can now communicate with people around the world in real time, pay for goods with the swipe of a card or click of a mouse and download files from the cloud with the push of a button.

Like with most things in life though, technology does have its downsides. Historically, technological problems have centred around speed and reliability. Thanks to advances in programming, processing power and cabling, technology is now faster and more reliable than it has ever been. This is also in part thanks to more people becoming ‘tech savvy’. People expect more of technology, and more people are working to improve it. As such, the age old issues of speed and reliability which have plagued almost all forms of technology, are no longer under the spotlight. I would argue that security is now a bigger issue.

A padlock on an ethernet cableThe growth of the global tech savvy population means that more people understand how technology works, which is great in some respects, but from a security perspective, it can be concerning. If your employees know how to access confidential files you store on your server, or your customers are able to apply 99% discounts to products in your online shop then you have a problem.

In 2014 eBay was one of the most high profile victims. Vulnerabilities in Javascript and Flash code on some listing pages enabled hackers to steal users information, post fake listings and redirect visitors to fake payment pages. In 2013 Sony was fined a quarter of a million pounds by the ICO in the UK for compromising customer details in a 2011 data breach.

In it’s recently released business security e-book, Dell state that they believe many of the security problems we face today are because businesses use fragmented systems and they use a different security solution to protect each one. Whilst your payment system might be completely watertight, if it’s linked to your website, which happens to contain some vulnerable Java technology, then hackers may be able to crawl into your systems. To quote Dell’s Director of Product Marketing, Bill Evans “Patchwork solutions that combine products from multiple vendors inevitably lead to the blame game“. He goes on to say that when using fragmented systems, each vendor “is responsible for only part of the problem” making it very difficult to properly secure your systems.

There are many different solutions for companies out there. As a business you could ground yourself firmly in the first half of the 20th century and refuse to adopt technology of any kind. After all, if all the details on your client, Mrs Jones, are kept in a file in filing cabinet 35B on the sixth floor of the of your customer information storage centre, a hacker cannot squirrel their way into your network and then publish Mrs Jones’ details on the Internet. That does however mean that when Mrs Jones pops in to see you, you have to keep her waiting for 20 minutes whilst you go to find her file – as opposed to typing her name in and pulling up her details on your tablet.

There are often benefits of using software and technologies from different vendors, and it would be foolish to dismiss a good business system just because it has a few minor potential security floors. The challenge then is to find a security system than can protect your new technologies.

A security key on a keyboardUsing a single, comprehensive security system, such as Dell Endpoint Security to protect all your information technologies would help top alleviate many of the problems that arise when using a patchwork network of security systems. Using one system would instantly eliminate conflicts between security software. It can also be much easier to manage one unified system than trying to juggle several separate schemes.

Naturally each individual security system may have some specific advantages that one universal security system may not, but the fact that a universal system is just that, universal to all your businesses technology, is a huge advantage.

Dell believes that all good universal security systems should: protect the entire business both internally and externally; comply with all internal policies and indeed national laws; and enable employees to adopt technologies with confidence and ease, promoting efficiency and innovation.

What are your views on business technology security? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories
Business

Amazon – destruction and revival

Amazon's LogoAmazon. A great big, greedy multinational company. Destroying countless companies and even eradicating whole industries in a matter of years.

France has recently taken measures to protect book shops, as it understands the devastating impact Amazon’s operations can have on a country. Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder) argues that “Amazon is not happening to book selling, the future is happening to book selling” suggesting that people want to buy books online now, and that virtual books would be rising in popularity without Amazon’s help.

In the UK, Amazon have come under scrutiny for not paying their fair share of tax.

BBC research suggests that the way in which Amazon treat their employees, means that their employees face a higher risk of mental illness.

There are numerous other scandals surrounding this online retail giant, but is it all bad? Believe it or not, Amazon is also proving a critical element in the survival of some industries and communities.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail and AmazonThe Royal Mail has had a turbulent decade. The internet has started to reduce the number of letters sent. Why pay to send a letter when you can send an email for free? Why fill your house with bank statements and insurance documents, when you can now access them all online? There are of course reasons why you might want to send a letter or receive a hard copy of something, however ultimately, the rise of the internet has significantly impacted the demand for postal services.

Amazon has actually played a critical role in the success of Royal Mail over the last few years. Yes if someone shops online, shops loose out on purchases, however online orders have to be delivered somehow, and the organisation with by far the biggest distribution network in the UK, is the Royal Mail. As a result, Amazon currently work closely with Royal Mail and provide the organisation with a massive amount of business.

So am I saying Amazon is actually good for Royal Mail? Well until Amazon opens up its own distribution network, and fills the skies with drones, yes, I think it is.

Rural Communities

Remote communities are often cut off from the rest of society in many ways. They often have very few local shops, which do not stock a wide range of goods, meaning local residents often have to travel miles to shop, or just go without. If you want to buy a new radio alarm clock (costing £20) do you take a 30 mile round trip to the nearest town to buy it, or do you order it on Amazon – probably for £15 – and have it delivered to your door the next day?

Without Amazon (and other online retailers) such communities would be cut off, leading to people either having to leave, or them feeling isolated and outdated.

Small Retailers

Like eBay, Amazon lets anyone buy and sell their goods through the site. Customers have the assurance that they will get good customer service, and if something goes wrong, Amazon will deal with the problem.

Many individuals now make a living from selling goods through Amazon. Some manufacturers sell directly through Amazon. Some people buy goods somewhere else and then sell them on Amazon for a profit. So Amazon is creating more jobs than just those who work for the company.

Authors

Amazing, J.K. Rowling struggled to get the first book of her Harry Potter series published. She was turned down several times, before she eventually managed to persuade Bloomsbury to publish her book. Amazon lets anyone publish a book. Nobody reviews it to see if it is any good, it just gets ran through a copyright checker, which determines whether it is original or not, and therefore how much of any profits the author is able to take home.

Our in-house expert on this is Mr Hankins, so if you want any more info, check out his article on the book he wrote and published on Amazon, and feel free to ask him question there.

Are Amazon another Google? Do they want to own everything, and destroy all their competition. Probably yes. But need everything they do be negative? No, almost everything they do will have some good related to it.

Categories
Computers Fun

Vintage Computers For Sale

Buoyed by the sale of one of the first and few remaining Apple 1 computers for $650,000 I started thinking about the old machines that were lying in my mum’s garage and wondering if I was sitting on a fortune.

Although I myself was never interested in computers my younger brother was a guru, going on to study computing at University, so we have a real vintage lot just awaiting discovery.

The first Hankins computer was a 1981 Sinclair ZX81. What a machine that was. It was manufactured by the famous watch maker Timex in Scotland, and really represents the movement from mechanical to digital technology. I remember recording programs onto a cassette recorder that were broadcast over the radio as a series of sounds similar to the noise a fax makes. Then you play them into the machine and bang you are off, you could use your 1kB of memory to do almost anything (or nothing).

A Sinclair ZX81
A Sinclair ZX81

The keys were part of the machine, like an old cash register, and it is through these that my brother learned the skills of programming in Basic, although I never got to grips with it. Then he moved on to Extended Basic and machine code (whatever that is).

Anyway it will not make me rich, they go from about $2 to $20 on eBay.

But even 1 kB of memory was not enough for us so a couple of years later we (my parents) invested in what was in its day the height of technology, a TI99. This was altogether greatly improved, it had a cartridge system in the front so you could slide in games and use the cursors to maneuver through the asteroid fields.

The TI99 was manufactured by calculator maker Texas Instruments and was the first computer with a 16 bit processor. Texas Instruments were big on voice synthesis and the big use of it for us was during the game Parsec. With 16kB of memory we had moved on considerably, and my brother made the most of learning Extended Basic using their wonderful program.

A TI99 Home Computer
A TI99 Home Computer

Just look at the lines on this beast, a design classic it sold almost 3 million units and with 68 by 48 pixels in colour the picture was a joy to behold when plugged into our TV.

It was high finance though for our family, it cost more than $500 US when newly released but as with all of these things the price fell over the following years to $150, and so the question arises again, am I rich today?

The answer unfortunately is no, you can buy one on eBay for about $20. Could be a great investment though, they have one in a museum in Paris.

Well a couple of years passed and my brother needed a serious computer to take to University. At great expense my parents went for the BBC Microcomputer built by Acorn. This was much more of an educational tool, and its release was followed by a BBC educational series that taught its user (my brother and unfortunately not me) to program, and it was the machine of choice for UK universities and schools.

Our model B had 128 kB of memory, a giant leap that allowed graphics programing and increased complexity of use. It also had a floppy disc for ease of data transferral. It was a beast of a thing though as it sat in my brother’s bedroom, and it is the most expensive machine in the house to date.

A BBC Acorn Computer
A BBC Acorn Computer

Oh how I could pay my mum back if it were now worth the same as the first Apple I thought, but once more eBay broke the spell. From $10 to $150 with all the extra hard and software, so sorry mum the Austin Martin will have to wait.

After University (and post BBC) my brother went to work and we moved into company machinery, laptops, blueberry, blackberry, apples and other fruits of commerce, and I lost touch a bit, but I alone have owned 3 desktops and 3 laptops to date and it is all awaiting disposal, so there certainly isn’t much room in my mum’s garage today (certainly not enough for an Aston Martin anyway).

Categories
Business Internet

PayPal – is the internet giant a force for good?

PayPal, its an internet giant – you can’t really argue with that. 110 million active users worldwide and counting.

Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google+, PayPal, Instagram and eBay ranked by active number of users
The number of active users top internet sites have – PayPal ranks among them with 110 million.

PayPal claims that 59% of purchases are completed using its service, however on average in the US, 88% of users abandon their virtual cart before the checkout.

The debate is still open as to whether people user PayPal because it offers the best service, or because it has a market monopoly – so like with Windows and Facebook, it is hard for people to choose another company, as everyone seems to be using it.

One cannot argue that PayPal offers a useful service. Users can exchange funds, send gifts and purchase goods from an account which gives additional security and guarantees, and doesn’t hold the key to an individuals personal life savings – as a bank account does. PayPal will also convert [many] foreign currencies into your local one, taking a small commission.

PayPal is easy to use, just get someone’s email address, and you can send money to them, or request funds from them. PayPal is also integrated with eBay (well, eBay owns PayPal) and many other sites, making buying online very easy. That said, Amazon still refuse to support it – maybe because eBay is one of its major competitors? Who knows.

Charges

One of the [major] downsides of PayPal are the charges. If one individual transfers money to another individual via a bank transfer, then there are usually no charges. PayPal however does charge.

PayPal's logoIf you use sterling, 3.4% of your transaction and an additional 20 pence will go to the folks at PayPal. So if you get a payment of £150, after fees you will have £144.70; so you lose £5.30. If you trade in US dollars, then the fee is 2.9% and $0.30 – slightly more reasonable. All the Scandinavian countries are charged 3.9% in addition to a fixed fee, as is Japan.

If every month you have a large inflow of money into your PayPal account, your fees do get reduced, and in the UK your fees can drop as low as 1.4% if you receive over £55,000 a month.

You could argue that these charges are fair, as PayPal is a business and needs to make a profit. However you could also argue that users are a little overcharged for the service PayPal provide.

PayPal Here

You can do almost anything on your mobile these days. In terms of business, there are mobile payroll apps, contact managers, and even mobile trading apps, so is it any surprise that PayPal has a mobile application? Probably not. It has several in fact, one for Android, one for iPhone and another for Windows mobiles. As the firm boasts:

“You don’t have to be at a computer to use PayPal – you can shop or send money securely wherever you are.”

But the PayPal app is no longer the only connection between your smartphone and the internet giant.

Last month, PayPal announced that it had developed and was launching a chip and PIN device, called PayPal Here, which (as they put it) provides “a simple, secure way, to accept payments on your mobile device“.

The PayPal Here device wirelessly connects to the sellers smartphone, which hosts a PayPal app, and gives the user the security of a wired chip and PIN, via the phone. So, the seller inputs the amount they want to charge, links their phone to the device, gives it to the customer, who inserts their card, enters their PIN, and the sale is complete.

This could potentially allow anyone to take a payment from virtually everywhere. Industries which were previously solely reliant on cash like taxi services and market stalls, can now potentially take payments by card.

Debit Card

Late last year, PayPal launched its own debit card, so users can directly access their funds via a card. Users can also earn 1% cash back when enrolled in PayPal’s Preferred Rewards Program.

These recent changes are leading me to wonder whether PayPal might choose to move into the banking industry soon? A debit card and an easy access ‘current’ account are both features of most high street banks.

Do you think PayPal will (in the near future) be launching a savings account? Could it start to offer users an overdraft facility, or even short-term loans? I believe it is a possibility – and not an unlikely one either.

Categories
Business Internet

The story of the online auction monopolist eBay

eBay. A firm which in 2011 had a net income of more than 3.2 billion. A website which almost everyone has heard of.

In an article I recently posted which explored whether there is really that much diversity online, I noted how eBay owned four websites in Alexa’s top 100 ranking – eBay.com, eBay.de, eBay.co.uk and PayPal.com.

There is no doubt that eBay holds a monopoly on the online auction market. But how did it get there? On September the 2nd 1995, eBay didn’t exist. One day later on September the 3rd it did, and after just over 3 years and 6 months, the site made its first major acquisition, the auction house Butterfield & Butterfield which it purchased for the price of $260,000,000 USD. A spend of 260 million after less than four years trading? eBay’s rapid early growth set it up to become a global internet phenomenon.

eBay kept buying up smaller firms, but not spending nearly as much as it had on its first purchase until mid-2000 when it forked out 318 million (USD) to buy Half.com. This was an amazing investment at the time, as even today it stands as eBay’s 6th largest ever investment, and it has made hundreds.

PayPal's logoThat said, the purchase of Half.com was to prove small fry to PayPal, which the now giant auctioneer purchased 2 years later in July 2002 for an astounding $1.5 billion. PayPal integration with eBay is (in my opinion) one of its greatest ever business moves. eBay is now able to seamlessly integrate processing credit card payments without having to pay millions every year to third parties. Fees eBay would have lost to PayPal are now extra revenues.

eBay wasn’t done though, going on to make the biggest purchase in its history, by buying Skype Limited for more than $2.5 billion. The auction site purchased the Luxembourg based company in 2005, only to sell 70% of its shares in 2009 for $2 billion – a healthy profit. Later, in May 2011, Microsoft bought Skype in its entirety for $8.5 billion, an investment which I am not sure it will see great returns on in the near future at least.

Skype's LogoeBay started to turn into a Microsoft and a Google. It was fast becoming an internet giant which bought up pretty much anything it could see turning it a bigger profit, or anything which posed a threat – in terms of competition. Just some of its purchases include StumbleUpon, Bill Me Later and Magento, the ecommerce web application.

Many say that eBay is one of the most notable successes the dot-com bubble, and I have to agree. Without the internet, eBay would be nowhere. It got in early and grew from the start, giving its competition very little chance.

Like it or hate it, eBay is an internet phenomenon, and also an internet giant. In my opinion it is successful down to luck: a good idea at the right time. Had it been thought of a year later, eBay might not be what it is today, had the internet not really taken off as it has and still is doing, eBay would again might not be where it is today.

What are your views on eBay? Were you aware of how much it owns and how rich it is? Is its monopoly unfair, or don’t you mind?

Categories
Computers Internet

Data centers – where would we be without them?

It is hardly a controversial opinion to suggest that data centers are an indispensable part of modern life – it really is impossible to envisage a world without the vast capacity and power that data centers grant the business and information technology sectors – where would we all be without Google, eBay and Facebook? But what exactly are the advantages of a data center that their absence would remove? Let’s take a look…

Firstly, the cost to enterprises of running an in-house own data center is increasingly prohibitive, given the growing size requirements of such facilities. As more and more information is transmitted online and more transactions take place online – just as computing power continues to grow – then a data center needs exponentially more power and more hard disk space. Server racks just keep on getting longer and even keeping them cool enough becomes uneconomically costly for most small, medium or even large-sized enterprises.

Server RoomSecurity is the second big issue – in a world where cyber-crime and espionage is constantly growing, there needs to be a very robust response to security. Most enterprises just don’t have the time and resources to police their IT operations to the level required, and a good data center can give them the reassurances they need. Technicians can be on hand throughout the 24-hour cycle, not just to ensure that the server racks keep on functioning perfectly and that any problems are swiftly dealt with, but also to ensure that information is kept safe and secure and that hacking or phishing attempts are roundly thwarted.

So, where would we be without data centers? The answer is that we would have a vastly more limited cyber-world, with businesses forced to keep their computer operations artificially scaled back due to cost considerations, with the knock-on effect of a hobbled e-commerce sector. Social networks would be slow, unsafe and prone to disastrous infiltration, while search engines would also be grindingly slow and frustrating to use – welcome back to the late 1990s.

It’s safe to say that data centers are not only here to stay, but will keep getting bigger and better so long as the computer world leads the way.

Categories
Internet

Is there really that much diversity on the internet?

The internet is big right? Okay it is massive. With that massiveness one naturally associates extreme diversity. Don’t get me wrong, across the entire internet, there is amazing variation, with billions of people adding their spin to the net.

What I am going to investigate in this post though is how diverse the ‘main’ internet is. What I mean by that is the internet that we use every day. How diverse is the most regularly used/visited content? Is there really as much choice as we think, or is the majority of the internet dominated by a few firms?


In order to go about this research I am going to use Alexa, who gather statistics on websites traffic. For most sites, the data isn’t that accurate, however for really busy sites, the numbers are so great, the reliability of the data is much higher, hence why I can use it.

Alexa's Logo

Google

According to Alexa, Google.com is the most visited site on the web. How could it not be? Alexa estimates that 50% of all internet users visited Google.com in the last three months. Second on the list for most visited sites is Facebook, which is trailing with just 45% of internet users visiting the site.

Remember however that is just Google.com, Google has a massive monopoly over the internet. In the 100 most visited sites on the web, 18 of the sites are owned by Google – 16 localised sites, Google.com and GoogleUserContent.com (the site you see when there is an error finding/displaying a page).

Google undoubtedly has reduced diversity on the internet, having such a monopoly on the sites we all visit. The thing is, it isn’t just 18 sites. Google also owns YouTube and (the third most visited site on the net) Blogspot which is ranked 10th, Blogger at 47 (Blogger and Blogspot are now one) and Blogspot.in (India) ranked 73. That means 21 of the most visited sites on the net belong to Google, meaning it owns more than one fifth of the ‘main’ internet.

Googlite Logo
Google’s dominance on the web suggests that a lot of us are Googlites!

Can you call the internet diverse, when in the top one hundred sites, one firm owns more than a fifth of all sites? Maybe, what does the rest of the field look like?

Microsoft

Unsurprisingly, the company that is arguable Google’s main rival is in second place. Yahoo and Microsoft are currently in a ‘Search Alliance’ therefore restricting competition, so I am going to count them in the list of sites that Microsoft owns/influences. Here is the list of sites that Microsoft owns/influences which are top 100 websites:

  • Yahoo.com – Ranked 3rd
  • Live.com – Ranked 7th
  • Yahoo.co.jp – Ranked 16th
  • MSN.com – Ranked 17th
  • Bing.com – Ranked 29th
  • Microsoft.com – Ranked 30th – ironic how it is lower many of the other sites it owns!
  • Flickr.com – Ranked 53rd and Yahoo owned

Therefore Microsoft own/influence 7 of the top 100 sites. Add that to Google’s 21, and 28 of the top sites on the net are owned by two firms. More than a quarter.

I am starting to think the ‘main’ internet is not as diverse as one may first assume.

Amazon

Next on the list of internet giants comes Amazon. Amazon.com is ranked 10th, whilst Amazon Germany (Amazon.de) is ranked 91st and Amazon Japan (Amazon.co.jp) is 95th. Amazon also owns the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) which is the 50th most visited site. Amazon owns 4 of the top 100 sites.

Amazon's Logo32 sites gone.

Alibaba Group

The Alibaba Group is a privately owned Chinese business, which owns Alibaba.com, Tmall (tmall.com), Taobao (Taobao.com) and Sogou.com. The group therefore account for four of the sites that make up what I am calling the ‘main internet’.

36 sites taken by just 4 companies. How diverse is our internet?

eBay

Next we come to eBay.com which sits 23rd on the list of top 100 sites. eBay International AG (ebay.de) is in 80th place, followed by eBay UK (ebay.co.uk) in 86th. eBay also owns PayPal (paypal.com) which is ranked 46th.

eBay steals another 4 sites, leaving just 60 of our hundred left, and so far only 5 firms are involved.

Time Warner

CNN (cnn.com) AOL (aol.co.uk) and The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com) are all sites owned by Time Warner. Time Warner is the sixth business involved now, leaving just 57 sites.

WordPress

The blogging platform WordPress (wordpress.com) is ranked 19th, and its brother, which allows users to host the content management system on their own site (wordpress.org) is ranked 83rd.

The Official WordPress LogoThere goes another two sites, meaning just 55 left, and only seven players so far.

Twitter

Ranked number 8 on the list is Twitter, however its URL shortener (t.co) is ranked 31st, meaning Twitter is also one of the big players in the top 100 sites, arguably with some form of domination over the internet.

Twitter's Logo47 sites of the top 100 accounted for and a mere eight organisations involved.

The Rest

Of the final 53 sites, 5 are adult only sites leaving 48 sites – although many of these either are a part of, or are a much bigger group.

Some familiar faces appear in the other 48 sites, Facebook (2nd), Wikipedia (6th), LinkedIn (11th), Apple (34th), Tumblr (37th),  Pinterest (47th), BBC Online (48th), Ask (54th), AVG (62nd),  Adobe Systems Incorporated (67th), About.com (81st), ESPN (82nd),  Go Daddy (85th), Netflix (89th),  The Pirate Bay (92nd) and CNET (97th).

Remove these very well known, well established, and massive brands, and we are left with 32 sites – less than a third. Of the remaining sites, around half are Chinese, showing the growing influence and usage of the internet in China.

My Verdict

In this post I have established that of the sites we visit most regularly, 47 are owned by just eight organisations. Does that really represent the freedom that we all believe the internet offers?

I was surprised by the type of content, and the limited number of different sites that there are in the global top 100. It would seem that the most visited sites consist of search engines, social media sites and news websites. Interesting statistics.

So, what is your verdict on how diverse the internet we use everyday is? I personally am not quite as convinced as I was before writing this article that the internet is quite as free and diverse as we all believe.

Please note these rankings are changing all the time, and all content was correct according to Alexa.com at the time of writing – the 6th of July 2012.

Categories
Business News Social Media

What we now know about Facebook

As you may have heard, Facebook plans to become a public limited company (plc) and float on the stockmarket. It hopes that this will raise around the sum of $5 billion USD (this is only about half what most people thought it would try to raise) in finance for the business, a colossal amount!

Facebook's LogoThanks to the flotation it is estimated that around 30% (roughly 1,000 people) of the companies employees will become millionaires! That said, Mark Zuckerberg is reducing his annual salary to just $1 as of January next year. Why? Because he will have shares estimated at the value of around $100 billion!

Anyway, due to Facebook wanting to become a plc, it needed to release more detailed financial data than it ever had before, into the public domain. This means that we now know much more about this previously rather secretive internet giant, than ever before!

Finances

Thanks to its choice to become a plc, we now know that Facebook makes 85% of its income from advertising. Furthermore we know that last year it made almost $4 billion USD! Out of this, it turned an impressive 25% into profit, bringing it in $1 billion (supposedly exactly) in net profit.

It is now possible to value to company as a whole, and it is thought to be worth $100 billion USD. To compare that to other industry giants, Amazon is valued around the same amount, eBay is values at about half that figure, and Google is thought to be worth double that.

Ownership

Facebook will still be owned and controlled largely by Mark Zuckerberg. He currently owns 28.4% of Facebook and has a majority in terms of voting rights with over 50% of votes. Basically Zuckerberg owns Facebook still, and he seems to want to stay in the driving seat for a while yet!

Mark Zuckerberg the founder of FacebookUsers

We now also know that Facebook have around 845 million active users around the world, of whom, around 450 million visit the site very regularly – that is a crazy amount!

The Future?

Facebook would be worth nothing without its users. Some people say that its users are not Facebook’s customers, but in fact the networks products. If people get bored or move on, the site will die.

If you were buying shares in an internet based business, Google would probably be a much safer bet than Facebook, as its future looks much more certain. Facebook may pay massive dividends to investors in the future, or it may go into decline and cost investors a collective $5 billion!


Friends Reunited was once great, now it stands in Facebook’s massive shadow, as does Myspace, Bebo, Foursquare and many other social media sites. All these sites how now been superseded by Facebook, the question is, will Google Plus or something else dwarf Facebook? Personally I believe that in 10 years, there will be something bigger, but we will just have to wait and see 🙂

Categories
Gadgets How To Guides Technology

How to choose the right iPhone 4S for you

Buying an iPhone 4S is more complex than brain surgery! There’s a mind boggling 6 options to choose from if you count the black and white colour variants. Next you’ve got to make the dare devil decision as to how much memory you’ll need (or rather how much memory you can afford!).

A brain showing the decisions that need to be made when choosing a new phoneAfter all that it’s a question of whether you buy SIM free, pay as you go or on contract. Choose to get the iPhone 4S on contract and you’ll walk into yet another wall of confusion.”Help!” you say! If you’re thinking of getting your paws on Apple’s latest must-have, then the following guide should point you in the right direction.

It don’t matter if you’re black or white!

There’s no difference whatsoever between the white and the black iPhone 4S. The white option is slightly more prone to finger marks as the black is to dust gathering. Whether you choose virgin white or classic black is down to taste. For whatever reason, the white iPhone 4S does sell on eBay for a touch over what the black fetches – so if you’re concerned about re-sale value, white is right for you.

Don’t forget your memory!

The difference in price between the 16GB and 64GB versions is around £200, so you best think carefully about how much storage you’ll actually need. With the A5 chip from the iPad on board, the iPhone 4S is capable of delivering a gaming experience like never before, but as such we can expect the games themselves to grow in size considerably (the current version of FIFA 12 for the iPhone is already more than 1.5GB). Download more than 10 games of this size and you can kiss your 16GB goodbye (let alone any music, films, pictures, videos and email attachments you want to store on your device).

Own an iPhone already? Check to see how many MB’s you’ve munched and then add 15% on top – if this adds up to more than 16GB, splash out the extra and go for 32GB option. On the hole, the 64GB monster should be reserved for the rich or super-geeky – but if you’re not the one stumping up the cash, then why not?

SIM free, Pay As You Go, or Contract?

OK, so as you might expect, there’s no definitive right answer here. There’s plenty of reasons that you might choose any of these options – it’s just a case of figuring out which is best for you.

A SIM free iPhone 4S will suit those who don’t want to be ‘tied in’ to a particular network. Perhaps you move regularly between two locations where signal is only available on a certain network, or maybe you’re moving abroad imminently.

Choosing Pay As You go for regular use will always work out more expensive than contracts, but if you want total control over your bills it’s worth investigating further. Remember that if you buy the iPhone 4S on Pay As You Go, it’ll be locked to the network that you bought it with.

Although SIM free deals are marginally more expensive than Pay As You Go, if you’re planning on switching networks, unlocking your iPhone 4S might be more hassle than finding an extra tenner for the SIM free option.

If you make a lot of calls (by a lot I mean more than 300 minutes worth per month) an iPhone 4S contract will work out far cheaper than Pay As You Go, plus you won’t have the hassle of ‘topping up’ regularly.

Another advantage of choosing an iPhone 4S on contract is the inclusive data. Unless you’re going to be using your 4S for phone calls alone, it’s likely you’ll need to connect to the internet. Email, apps, social media and of course web browsing will all use ‘cellular data’. Most contracts will come with a monthly data allowance of between 250MB and 1GB (stay away from contracts that don’t!).

Finding the best iPhone 4S contract for you

Finding the most suitable contract is largely a case of matching what you’ll use with what’s on offer, then finding the best price. If you’e already on contract then finding out how many minutes, texts and how much data your using is simple. Just give your network a call and ask!

Most of the UK networks now have login areas of their websites where you can view your latest bills. Take a look at your usage from the past 3 months and note down how many minutes of calls you’ve made, how many texts you’ve sent and the number of MB’s you’ve downloaded.

Now you know roughly what you’ll use in a month, the quickest way to find the best iPhone 4S deals is to compare contracts using a specialist mobile phone contract comparison site. These sites make it really easy to pick and choose your options and see all the tariffs available without the need to visit every network’s website. Buying your iPhone 4S online also means you avoid commission thirsty ‘assistants’ you seem to find in every high street mobile phone shop.

When you make your contract comparison, you’ll notice that the shorter the tariff length, the more expensive the monthly cost tends to be. 12 month contracts are the most expensive and although networks must offer 1 year deals by law, they more than make up for it with excessive monthly charges. Most will find that a 24 month contract works out cheapest with 18 month tariffs falling somewhere in between.

So that’s about it! I hope you enjoyed my first post on Technology Bloggers, please comment below and I’ll do my best to answer questions.