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Only for squares

1 Oct

First published on MyBroadband | 01 October, 2010

If you are on Twitter and you follow a reasonable amount of people at some point you will see a tweet that looks something like this: “I’m at Joe’s Burger Barn (888 Fattie Street, Johannesburg).…”

Most of the time you mutter a little curse about people cluttering up your Twitter stream with useless foursquare updates and on the odd occasion you realise that you and your buddy are in the same shopping centre and you can hook up for a coffee and a catch up.

From my perspective there seems to be a reasonable amount of foursquare users in SA. Personally I enjoy checking in at places just for the fun of it. I honestly don’t expect to find anyone else there and I rarely send my updates to Facebook or Twitter, where the majority of my social contacts hang out.

I was wondering, however, what would it take for a real location-based service to take off in SA? And is it already too late for foursquare to become that service for the majority of users.

Although there are two main location services around at the moment, on an international level, foursquare and Gowalla. Some people like one or the other but I am squarely in one camp (bad pun intended).

For South African users there is one important thing to take into consideration. At some point in the near future the peeps over at Facebook are going to expand the reach of Facebook Places from its current US reach and take on the whole world.

The question is: How long will it take Facebook to complete its rollout? Will foursquare be big enough to hold off the irresistible Facebook and will South Africans ever embrace location services?

My answer to these questions are as follows. Facebook will take as long as it please to roll these things out. And like all Americans they probably think that Africa is one country so we will get it after the Europeans, Australians, Indians and Brazilians. That said it should be available pretty quickly and we won’t have to be the guinea pigs like those nice folks over in the US of A.

Sadly, despite the fact that I am rather fond of foursquare I don’t think it can stand up to Facebook. Unlike a service like Twitter, which seems to have excelled because it is simple, the issue of location services is one that will become exponentially more valuable when tightly integrated into a Facebook style social network. Unless there is a sudden run on location-based services in ZA over the next six months and everyone signs up for foursquare, Facebook will launch Places and we will all move invariably across, because we are sheep.

The real question is: Will South Africans embrace location-based services? This largely comes down to the push by the networks to get people to use them. Already we have services like The Grid, but in the face of international competition I don’t think this will last. What will make the difference is the adoption of smartphones by SA’s mobile users. The more people use their phones to access Facebook apps and the site itself the greater the amount of people that will start using Places.

That is unless Twitter and foursquare merge, then all bets are off.

3D can stay at the movies

4 Feb

First published on MyBroadband | 04 February, 2010

The first movie I saw in 3D was Up, in the middle of last year. Now I am a huge fan of anything that comes out of Pixar and Up did not disappoint. The only distraction I had was trying to keep my four-year-old son from taking his glasses off. Eventually I gave up and I guess he saw a blurry version of the movie while the rest of us were enjoying the film.

When Avatar came out I dragged my girlfriend along to the movie on the Thursday before it officially opened and I made sure we watched in 3D and I was not disappointed.

The greatest part of both those experiences is that it really allows you to immerse yourself in the film as film makers seem to have understood that 3D is not about scaring the crap out of your audiences, but rather adding an additional dimension to the viewing experience.

For some reason the technology gods have decided that it is not good enough to have 3D tech in the cinemas, but we also need it in our lounges as well.

Personally, I am not completely sold on this idea. From my cinema experience I can see the value of immersing your audience in the movie and if you were watching a movie at home there is an argument to be made for watching movies in 3D, but for me this is where it ends.

When it comes to 3D tech there are two options, either you have a special screen that provides you with some level of depth or you have to wear glasses to ensure you get the full 3D effect.

The only reason I would want a 3D capable TV would be to play games on it. Firstly because games are a focused activity only the people actively playing the game need to have the equipment – with TV broadcasts, or even with sport I struggle to see the point of doing this in 3D.

The reality of the situation is that for 90% of television viewing activities there is no call for 3D. If the television companies are throwing in the tech for free that is one issue, but if this is something that I am expected to pay extra for I think I will take a pass this time.

I’ll get my 3D fix in the cinema and stick to 2D at home, thanks very much.