Monthly Archives: August 2020

Antimonopoly justice: wheels finally turning, or another flash in the pan?

Business done successfully will always tend toward becoming bigger. C’est la vie.

It often goes like this: In a given field, the big and strong gobble up the small and… smart (exceptions prove the rule). But what also sometimes happens is the big and strong with breakthrough technologies in one field gobble up everyone in different field. Example: once upon a time there was the giant, all-powerful Kodak, but then the era of digital photography came along, and the film-based photography field was wiped out. And this is how scientific-technical revolutions come about, and they’re useful: they help humanity progress.

But there’s another scenario: the big and strong become… so incredibly big and strong that they start dictating rules to all the other players in their industry, they strangle the natural selection of innovative and successful companies, and even try to hamper the development of any allied companies or markets that represent potential danger for their business. And in this case, antimonopoly bodies have to intervene to put a stop to such abuse of power so as to protect progress.

Domination in a market isn’t unlawful under antimonopoly rules. However, companies that dominate have a special responsibility not to abuse their power by limiting competition.

This latter scenario is being played out right now on a (socially-distanced) stage in a suspenseful IT-show whose main characters are Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – operators of the world’s largest online platforms – three of which (all bar Facebook) also act as the world’s largest online marketplaces. The other main characters in the show are the U.S. authorities, which are trying to rein in these online platforms – meaning checking they’re not unfairly taking advantage of their powerful positions – including hindering their ability to be judge, jury and executioner in their marketplaces. They are trying to prevent unfair competition – including exertion of pressure on competitors to ease promotion of the marketplaces’ own products. I’ve already written about one such high profile show case like this: the one where Apple has been driving out independent developers of parental control applications from its App Store.

Let me give an analogy here:

A landlord starts to lease out his land to farmers on equal terms and conditions, which suit everyone just fine. But at the same time, the landlord keeps a close watch on the farmers to see which are doing best. The following year, he starts doing what those successful farmers do himself. He also changes the terms and conditions of the leases ‘to protect worms’: now all farmers under those leases aren’t allowed to use spades – they must use trowels, and they should stop using fertilizer. But this rule doesn’t apply to the landlord. It’s like, he’s not actually preventing the farmers from going about their farming business – and he’s declaring worthy intentions – but how on earth can the farmers with trowels compete with the landlord with his spades and the very latest fertilizer?

Sounds all very Middle Ages, right? But a similar thing is happening in 2020 – only not in farming but in the modern digital economy; however, finally, the powers-that-be appear to be waking up to the fact. Or so it seems…

In early 2019, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a watershed interview to The Verge, in which she stated that she “would classify any company that runs a marketplace and makes more than $25 billion a year in revenue as a ‘platform utility’, and prohibit those companies from using those platforms from [sic] selling their own products.” Put simpler – incidentally when referring to Apple in particular – she stated: “Either they run the platform or they play in the store”.

And that was that: despite the fact these were Very Big Boys she was talking about, the starting gun was duly fired…

Read on…

Into resource-heavy gaming? Check out our gaming mode.

Nearly 30 years ago, in 1993, the first incarnation of the cult computer game Doom appeared. And it was thanks to it that the few (imagine!) home computer owners back then found out that the best way of protecting yourself from monsters is to use a shotgun and a chainsaw ).

Now, I was never big into gaming (there simply wasn’t enough time – far too busy:); however, occasionally, after a long day’s slog, colleagues and I would spend an hour or so as first-person shooters, hooked up together on our local network. I even recall Duke Nukem corporate championships – results tables in which would be discussed at lunch in the canteen, and even bets being made/taken as to who would win! Thus, gaming – it was never far away.

Meanwhile, our antivirus appeared – complete with pig squeal (turn on English subs – bottom-right of video) to give fright to even the most fearsome of cyber-monsters. The first three releases went just fine. Then came the fourth. It came with a great many new technologies against complex cyberthreats, but we hadn’t thought through the architecture well enough – and we didn’t test it sufficiently either. The main issue was the way it hogged resources, slowing down computers. And software generally back then – and gaming in particular – was becoming more and more resource-intensive by the day; the last thing anyone needed was antivirus bogarting processor and RAM too.

So we had to act fast. Which we did. And then just two years later we launched our legendary sixth version, which surpassed everyone on speed (also reliability and flexibility). And for the last 15 years our solutions have been among the very best on performance.

Alas, leopards are thought to never lose their spots. A short-term issue affecting computer performance turned into a myth – and it’s still believed by some today. Competitors were of course happy to see this myth grow… to mythical proportions; we weren’t.

But, what has any of this K memory-laning got to do with Doom? Well…

Read on…

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Top-5 K-technologies that got us into the Global Top-100 Innovators.

We’ve done it again! For the second time we’re in the Derwent Top 100 Global Innovators – a prestigious list of global companies that’s drawn up based on their patent portfolios. I say prestigious, as on the list we’re rubbing shoulders with companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec and Tencent; also – the list isn’t just a selection of seemingly strong companies patents-wise: it’s formed upon the titanic analytical work of Clarivate Analytics, which sees it evaluate more than 14,000 (!) candidate companies on all sorts of criteria, of which the main one is citation rate, aka ‘influence’. And as if that wasn’t tough enough, in five years the threshold requirement for inclusion in the Top-100 on this criterion has risen some 55%:

In a bit more detail, the citation rate is the level of influence of inventions on the innovations of other companies. For us, it’s how often we’re mentioned by other inventors in their patents. And to be formally mentioned in another company’s patent means you’ve come up with something new and genuinely innovative and helpful, which aids their ‘something new and genuinely innovative and helpful’. Of course, such an established system of acknowledging other innovators – it’s no place for those who come up with mere BS patents. And that’s why none of those come anywhere near this Top-100. Meanwhile, we’re straight in there – in among the top 100 global innovator companies that genuinely move technological progress forward.

Wow, that feels good. It’s like a pat on the back for all our hard work: true recognition of the contributions we’ve been making. Hurray!

Still reeling – glowing! – from all this, ever the curious one, I wondered which, say, five, of our patented technologies are the most cited – the most influential. So I had a look. And here’s what I found…

5th place – 160 citations: US8042184B1 – ‘Rapid analysis of data stream for malware presence’.

Read on…

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