Is Nokia Ready to Take India by Storm?

This episode of Orbital focuses on Nokia’s new smartphone launches. Nokia launched three Android phones – Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. These three Android phones have been hotly anticipated but will they be able to make a mark in a market where there are so many good mid-range Android phones? Games editor Rishi Alwani and “former” host Pranay Parab join host Aditya Shenoy to discuss.

Is Nokia Ready to Take India by Storm?

We start the episode by talking about the three Nokia smartphones and whether the hardware matches up against what the competition has to offer. We look at the specifications of the three Nokia smartphones and wonder whether they can take on excellent mid-range and budget smartphones from rivals.

Nokia’s distribution strategy is also a big point of discussion. We wonder why Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 are offline exclusive and why Nokia 6 is an Amazon exclusive. Rishi and Pranay offer theories about this, before we look at Nokia’s official comments on its strategy.

Then Aditya brings up the topic of after sales service. We talk about how difficult it is to provide good service and whether Nokia can differentiate itself from competition on this front. Finally, we close the episode by talking about Nokia’s naming strategy for its smartphones.

Destiny 2 on PC Is Exclusive to Battle.net and That’s Great. Here’s Why.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Steam may be convenient but the user experience is dated
  • Valve’s new restrictive policies don’t bode well for consumers either
  • The outrage over not using Steam goes against the PC as an open platform

Destiny 2 for PC will be available on Blizzard’s Battle.net instead of Steam. There’s been a tremendous amount of outrage from the community due to this, with many citing the inconvenience of using another client to play Destiny 2. Some people even plan to boycott the game because of it.

There are plenty of reasons for Destiny 2 publisher Activision to keep it exclusive to its own platform – thirty at the very least. That’s the percentage of revenue Activision would have to pay Valve, if Destiny 2 was on Steam. This alone is a massive plus point for Activision. However, having Destiny 2 on Battle.net will be great for gamers too.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYxVRWAJnNg?ecver=2]

For one, Battle.net is a better client. Sure, it might not have the Big Picture Mode of Steam, or the sheer number of games on sale, but the desktop and mobile apps are easier to use, sporting an intuitive design that’s slick and stylish. On the other hand, Steam resembles something that would have been cutting-edge in 1995.

If looks or usability aren’t a problem for you – and they probably aren’t for a majority of the millions of users on Steam – there is also the question of policy. Right now, Valve has been clamping down on some of the core features of Steam, such as gifting games.

Gone are the days when you could buy games and store them in your inventory to gift at a later date, nor can you send gifts via email. Valve’s also done away with cross-region gifting, which means games that weren’t available in India – such as those in the Dragon Ball Z series – for reasons such as licensing restrictions, can’t be obtained anymore either.

On the other hand, Battle.net makes gifting easier, allowing you to do so via email. This is not just just limited to games either. World of Warcraft for instance, allows users to gift pets, mounts, items, or even game time. In fact, you can even buy Destiny 2 using World of Warcraft’s in-game currency. The ease of use where it matters is what makes Battle.net a better choice for gamers.

destiny 2 squad destiny_2

Beyond that, while Steam has made strides in customer support over the years, it still trails behind Battle.net. Blizzard has been the gold standard for years thanks to its thorough approach and speedy responses. We’ve all experienced this time and again, after experiences like being locked out of the Battle.net account due to hackers, or simply forgetting the password and secret question. Regaining access usually happens in under a day and is hassle-free. Steam on the other hand, is still figuring out how to serve its users better in this regard.

Much like GOG Galaxy, Battle.net’s treatment of its users is something Valve should take notes from. Steam has its fair share of fanboys thanks to its regular game discounts, but it lags in other departments that are often glossed over. Steam Greenlight for instance has resulted in a seemingly infinite assembly line of cookie cutter games borne out of stock assets bought from the Unity Store. It’s taken Valve the better part of five years to realise the need to replace Steam Greenlight and even then, it hasn’t decided what should take its place.

With Destiny 2 coming to Battle.net, it opens the doors for other non-Blizzard games to as well, which sounds like a net positive for gamers. Sure, you might just boycott Destiny 2 on the PC anyway, but in doing so, you’re essentially casting your vote for the future of PC gaming to be utterly dominated by Gabe Newell and friends, with Steam’s restrictive practises, and poor policies, instead of the PC being an open platform, unlike consoles.

Kevin Smith’s Krampus movie is now a non-Christmas-related horror anthology

Kevin Smith has announced that he’s retooling his Christmas horror comedy Comes The Krampus, after the film became a victim of the infamous Krampus movie rush of Winter 2015. Refusing to be cowed, Smith has stripped out the film’s Christmas elements, repurposed its monster, and now announced that the movie has become a horror anthology flick, titled KillRoy Was Here.

The anthology’s name comes from the famous “Kilroy Was Here” graffiti that became popular in America circa World War II. (Apparently, the film’s long-nosed monster resembles the cute little guy.) Smith has cast the film as a kind of gory morality play, noting that, “No one wants to see you spill the blood of innocents, but when someone crosses the line and goes bad, you get to make them pay in horrible ways, and the audience cheers.”

Smith’s last two films, Tusk and Yoga Hosers, were both incredibly messy efforts, albeit ones occasionally livened up with utterly bizarre ideas and visuals. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the shift to a more vignette-based filmmaking style will suit Smith’s current cinematic attention span, allowing him to cram more gross-out spectacle and strange ideas into Killroywithout so much of the meandering padding (or, god help us, Johnny Depp cameos) that diluted his most recent work.

YouTube Is Down, It's Not Just You

If you are wondering why YouTube is down for you, you are not alone, the world’s biggest video-sharing website is suffering an unknown outage currently and the users are unable to access the website.

The users who visit the website can see a 500 error along with a message saying, “500 Internal Server Error Sorry, something went wrong. A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation”, like the one seen below.

youtube-is-down

According to the DownDetector, the YouTube came down around 6 pm GMT. However, we do not have any clear reason for the site coming down. People at Hackread are keeping an eye on this situation and once the website is up or if there is an official statement about the incident from Google about the downtime we will be updating this article.

Update:

After being offline for more than 2hours YouTube came back, but, there has been no word from Google on this incident and why the website was down. Stay tuned and we will update Google’s comment on this issue.

Lorde’s second coming: ‘Pop music is my number one inspiration’

There’s a lyric on Lorde’s new album, Melodrama, which catches the ear. It runs, “bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark,” and it’s tart, taut and right. It sounds like the work of someone who has learned the power of words.

There are plenty more standouts where that one came from. You have the “couple of Top Gun pilots flying with nowhere to be” on Homemade Dynamite or “I do my make-up in someone else’s car” on Green Light. When it comes to lyrical snap, the New Zealander is truly running things this time around.

It’s taken a couple of long years for Ella Yelich-O’Connor to follow up her debut, Pure Heroine, but the results demonstrate that it has been time worth taking. That debut and its success changed everything for her, turning the then-teenager’s universe upside-down, so it’s natural that this record seems to be about coming to terms with all those changes and transformations.

Lorde: “My writing this time was inspired by records I really admired, the classic albums like ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac or ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon. Photograph: Brendan Walter

In New York, I could be Ella, getting my subway card out, sitting in diners for hours, eavesdropping on people and being myself”

In the last few weeks since she reached the end of the recording and mixing hullabaloo, Yelich-O’Connor has finally been able to begin to make sense of what the songs represent.

“It’s kind of amazing to look at things now from a place of relative calm. I was grappling with and fighting my way through a lot of things on Melodrama as I went along so I can now go ‘oh yeah, that’s what I was upset about a year ago’ and ‘that’s what I was hypothesising about’.”

Young hearts

Melodrama is a record about many things, but chiefly what happens when young hearts run free in a new city. “This record was born out of me going out and dancing a lot and wanting to write music that would work in those spaces,” she says. “I hope you can hear the prints of bodies and dancefloors and you can hear where the love came from. Pure Heroine was much more stationary – I was in one town and there were certain parameters to what I was doing – but Melodrama is something much different.”

She spent much of the time working on this record living in New York. For the most part, she went unrecognised in the city, allowing her to get on with the job of writing and recording, and especially observing.

“Part of why I went to New York was for that anonymity. In New Zealand, everyone knows who I am and while they’re very sweet, I was never able to forget who I was and what I was doing. I’m Lorde and I’m making an album.

NASCAR's first lady of racing Louise Smith is the inspiration for 'Barnstormer' in 'Cars 3'

“Cars 3” character Louise “Barnstormer” Nash was inspired by real-life racer Louise Smith.

Before Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick, there was Louise Smith — pioneering race car driver and NASCAR legend. As the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999, the “Good ‘Ol’ Gal” from Greenville, South Carolina, is also the inspiration behind Disney Pixar’s “Cars 3” character Louise “Barnstormer” Nash (voiced by Margo Martindale). The name serves as a tribute to the driver and her infamous No. 94 1950 Nash Ambassador. Known for her flair and fearless crashes, Smith’s success and style made history in the racing world.

Her journey began with the support of a then-young promoter, Bill France Sr., the eventual co-founder of NASCAR. France helped launch Smith’s career, and she quickly fell in love with the sport.

She gained national notoriety in 1947 at the Daytona Beach and Road Course race, where, legend has it, Smith went to watch but ended up on the track. Entering her husband’s new Ford coupe in the race, the “Barnstormer” wrecked and landed herself on the front page of newspapers across the country.

Known as the “First Lady of Racing,” Smith crashed several cars and broke innumerable bones. In fact, one wreck left her with 48 stitches and four pins in her left knee; others are claimed to have nearly taken her life. Her boldness and spectacular speed took the racing world, and many of the men in it, by surprise.

Smith won an impressive 38 races across four divisions from 1947 to 1956, when she retired. She remained active in the racing world for nearly four more decades before her death in 2006 at age 89. Her legacy lives on with “Car 3,” which hits theaters on Friday.


Louise Smith
ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images

Smith posed in front her car after a crash at North Carolina’s Occoneechee Speedway in the late 1940s. Her car went airborne into the surrounding woods. It took rescue workers more than a half-hour to free Smith from the wreckage.

Louise Smith
ISC Archives/Getty Images

At the first NASCAR Cup Series in Daytona Beach on June 19, 1949, Smith accepted the trophy for sportsman win. Daytona Beach was instrumental in the formation of NASCAR, home to several of its earliest events and the sport’s first track: the Daytona Beach Road Course. Smith was one of three women to compete in the race.

Louise Smith
ISC Archives and Research Center/Getty Images

In another accident at Occoneechee Speedway during the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock Series on Aug. 7, 1949, Smith emerged with several injuries from the crash but crawled back into the crushed car for a photo op. Most early NASCAR races, including this one, were held on dirt-surfaced short tracks or dirt fairground ovals. The race was renamed the Grand National series in 1950.

Ethel Flock Mobley, Sara Christian and Louise Smith
ISC Images & Archives/Getty Images

Ethel Flock Mobley and Sara Christian were the two other female NASCAR drivers to compete in the circuits of that era. Before a race at Philadelphia’s Langhorne Speedway on Sept. 11, 1949, the three posed in their rides for a publicity photo intended to attract women to the sport. Mobley drove No. 92, the ’48 Cadillac. Christian, middle, wheeled No. 71 — the ’49 Oldsmobile — finishing best of the three at sixth place overall. Smith sported a ’47 Ford.

Louise Smith
ISC Archives/Getty Images

Smith standing next to her Leslie Motor Co. Nash Ambassador at Occoneechee Speedway on Oct. 29, 1950. Her famed No. 94, the car she raced in the NASCAR Grand National Series in both 1949 and 1950, was the inspiration for the style and name of Disney Pixar’s “Cars 3” character, Louise “Barnstormer” Nash. Smith was both the driver and the owner of this car, an extraordinary claim for a woman behind a NASCAR wheel. She finished 19th in the 200-miler, holding her own against some of the sport’s early greats including Buck Baker and Flock brothers Tim and Fonty.

Louise Smith
AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

Smith, the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, showcasing memorabilia in her Greenville, South Carolina, home in 1998. After retiring in 1956, she returned to the racing realm in the 1970s as an owner, sponsoring cars and supporting drivers. Her decades-long involvement in the sport is captured in this room.

'Marketing Is About Inspiration': CMO Leadership Talk With Telefónica/O2's Nina Bibby

What makes a successful marketing leader? In this interview series, I’m meeting up with leading CMOs to discuss the secrets of marketing leadership: what works, and what doesn’t. This time: Nina Bibby, CMO of Telefonica UK (O2).

Thomas Barta: Hi, Nina. I always like to start off with a simple question: What’s great about being a leader in marketing?

Nina Bibby: At its best, marketing is about inspiration: inspiring customers to choose us, buy from us, stay with us and recommend us. It is also about inspiring colleagues behind our customer offer. We are storytellers. Of course, we need to craft that story and ensure there is a compelling fact base behind that story — but we are storytellers. And marketing leaders need to be chief storytellers, engaging and aligning the entire organization behind delivering our best for the customer. It’s very exciting to inspire your colleagues to get behind an ambition. That’s one of the reasons I love marketing.

Barta: Can you share a story that helped you energize your colleagues?

Bibby: Just after I joined InterContinental Hotels (IHG) as senior VP for Global Brand Management, I was handed the massive task of relaunching Holiday Inn globally — the biggest hospitality relaunch in history in terms of number of hotels, number of countries, etc. I was new to the industry and I was new to the company. So, getting the engagement and the belief from many colleagues was pretty hard. This wasn’t just about engaging people at IHG but also about energizing the many franchisees. The way we engaged people was by retelling the story of Holiday Inn from its inception to the current time. We used many quotes from customers about what they loved about the Holiday Inn brand. Those stories and the link with Holiday Inn’s heritage are what helped us win the hearts and minds of all staff involved.

Barta: What’s marketing’s reputation inside your C-suite?

Bibby: We’ve got a firm seat at the top table. We’re fortunate that marketing has P&L accountability at O2, so we are accountable for revenue and for profit. We’ve got pricing within marketing, products, promotion, of course, insights and analytics — it’s very comprehensive. Both on the Executive Committee and on the Management Board, marketing is present. Equally important, our brand is a great source of pride internally, and the organization feels almost a sense of responsibility to do what is best by that brand. Our former CEO used to say, “We are a brand that runs a business, not a business that runs a brand.” Marketing, brand, and customers are up front and visible, and acknowledged to be the most important drivers of our success.

Barta: How do you manage the tension between what customers want and what your CEO wants?

Bibby: I have a simple mantra: “We have to create value for our customers in order to create value from our customers.” It’s got to be a win–win. At O2, for example, we have a digital loyalty program called Priority, where we give people early access to unforgettable live experiences in rugby, entertainment, or music. The program is one of the reasons people choose us and stay with us. But I’m also clear about the value Priority creates for us. We’ve known exactly the loyalty and churn benefits — and the financial impact. We’re creating value for our customers, and we’re creating value for the business.

Barta: Has leading marketing changed from the time when you started to today (if at all)?

Bibby: Because of the ubiquity of digital channels and social media, it’s a more transparent world. As marketers, we have to understand that we’re not going to control all the conversations or all the narratives, and it’s become more challenging for brands to cut through the noise. As we’re a service business, consistency and excellence of the experience is paramount because every interaction is a representative of the brand experience. In fact, everybody who works here is delivering the brand experience, and therefore, I go back to my earlier point that it’s so important to inspire all colleagues. If you can’t inspire your colleagues, you’re not going to be able to inspire your customers. Inspiring colleagues, having them all understand the importance of what we’re trying to do for the customer, making sure everybody’s pointing in the same direction is more vital than ever before.

Ubiquity of digital also brings opportunities, of course, such as the ability to have more personal interactions with customers. I want to create value for customers through every interaction. In order to do that, we use data-driven customer insight to power personalization, ensuring a consistent O2 experience that delivers to customers’ needs.

Credit: Telefonica / O2

Barta: In our research for “The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader,” we’ve learned that successful CMOs don’t just talk about customers — but get their hands dirty and go to the frontline. Do you agree?

Bibby: Absolutely. As a board, we’ve committed that we go to as many of our stores as we can. We talk not just to store leaders but to all the store colleagues or the people in our contact centers. That way, we hear firsthand what customers are saying, what’s working, what’s not working. Last summer, one store manager told me, “How come you do so much research amongst customers, but you don’t do research amongst us?” I thought, “Yeah, that’s a really good point.” We have a permanent panel of customers to test ideas quickly, why not for frontline colleagues. So, we’ve launched the equivalent panel for our retail and contact center staff because they are hearing and seeing what works every single day. Just yesterday, I did store visits in the west of the country again. I think that’s absolutely critical, for marketing leaders to leave the office!

Barta: What’s going to be your biggest future leadership challenge?

Bibby: For me, I guess there’s a couple of things. Leadership was always about having the right team, the right people. The team is number one, two, and three of what I’ve got to get right. This means to make sure we have the right people at the table, that we’re developing them, that we’re coaching them, and let them go to another role when the time is right. Also, the workplace is changing, and therefore, peoples’ expectations are changing, too. Because of digital, we all have the ability to work more flexibly today. In fact, flexible work options are a huge part of what O2 offers. The other challenge on the horizon is the convergence of customer expectations across sectors. Customers expect to receive the same level of service, the same immediacy of fulfillment across their transactions. Why wouldn’t they? We have to continually innovate and re-engineer to ensure we are meeting these expectations.

Barta: Nina, in your organization, what makes you a role model?

Bibby: I’d say I hope I’m a positive role model. First off, I’m a working mother, which is still perhaps too rare on executive committees and boards. I strive to make life work. I love my work. I’m passionate about it; it excites me. Of course, I adore my family, and I’m passionate about them and devoted to them. These are not mutually exclusive things. I’m not trying to balance them. I want to embrace them, and I want my team to see and feel it’s about making life work versus work–life balance. And I think that’s a really important message — getting away from the guilt.

I guess the other thing is customer first. I am always the one who is loudest, strongest, most vocal about “Where’s the customer in this?”

Barta: What’s the most important leadership advice you’d love to give to other people?

Bibby: If you want to get true “engagement,” you’ve got to really invest time. People value your complete attention and focus on them as individuals. It’s about letting people know that you’ll support them. You are only going to grow if you encourage risk-taking. And if you take risks, mistakes will be made. That’s just a fact. Your people need to know you’ve got their back. Mistakes are going to happen, and that’s okay.

My other advice: Let go of your ego. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability, to say, “I’ve been there. This is how I learnt. This is how I grew from that position.”

Barta: Nina, many thanks for your thoughts.

Marketing leadership expert and keynote speaker Thomas Barta is a former McKinsey partner and the author of the new leadership book The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader (with Patrick Barwise).

Ashly Burch 'Heartbroken' She Won't Play Chloe In Life Is Strange Prequel

As the longest strike in Screen Actors Guild history chugs on, video game voice actors are making painful career sacrifices to show solidarity with their union. 234 days into the strike, after Microsoft announced Life Is Strange: Before The Storm, fans immediately sussed out that award-winning voice actress and SAG-AFTRA member Ashly Burch will not reprise her original role as the rebellious teen Chloe.

Shortly after Microsoft’s E3 presentation, Burch, who has voiced Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn and Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2, said that Square Enix had decided to go with a non-union actress.

“I’m pretty heartbroken,” Burch told Kotaku. “It feels sort of like you were forced to put your kid up for adoption.” Burch’s performance as Chloe in the original Life Is Strange earned her the “Best Gaming Performance” award at 2015’s Golden Joystick Awards. She will stay on the prequel project as a writer and consultant.

In October 2015, SAG-AFTRA members voted to strike strike against 11 video game companies, including EA, Activision and Take 2. Video game voice actors comprise a large part of the union and since early 2015, several had been in negotiations with games companies over better compensation.

“Nobody becomes an actor in order to not act,” Phil LaMarr, who sits on SAG-AFTRA’s interactive negotiating committee, told Kotaku. LaMarr, an experienced film, television and voice actor, had voiced Aquaman for Injustice 2prior to the strike (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is one of the publishers that SAG-AFTRA is currently striking). LaMarr said he is disappointed that, if negotiations remain on hold, he wouldn’t be able to reprise the role if there’s DLC or future Injustice games.

Ashly Burch

“Fortunately, there are a lot of companies that have looked at what we’re asking for and said, Oh yeah, that makes sense,” LaMarr said. “There are a lot of games we’re not able to continue working on, but there are a lot of new games, too.”

Primarily, these voice actors want residuals—post-release payments dependent on game sales. The strain placed on voice actors’ voices when characters die, are injured or run screaming into battle seriously impacts their well-being, SAG-AFTRA has argued. That, and the fact that game publishers’ desire for absolute secrecy often leads them to obscure what game voice actors are even working on, can make these gigs particularly tough, the union says.

Since the strike began, SAG-AFTRA has signed agreements with over 30 game companies covering over 40 games.

No voice actors have broken the strike. So when Burch was approached by Square Enix about voicing Chloe in the just-announced Life Is Strange prequel, she had to make a difficult decision.

“When the strike happened, you know there will be sacrifices you have to make,” Burch said. “This particular one is genuinely pretty difficult for me. It wasn’t one that I was anticipating. This is my sacrifice, and it’s a big one.”

Burch feels that SAG-AFTRA’s demands are reasonable, not just for her and her colleagues, but for up-and-coming voice actors, too. The strike persists, she said, so SAG-AFTRA can ensure that anyone involved in the industry will be safeguarded.

But that doesn’t mean hearing another woman voice Chloe doesn’t hurt. Chloe, a deeply flawed and endearing character with whom fans have developed a strong connection, is the main character’s best friend, a blue-haired, angry girl who, Burch said, “in her core, desperately wants to feel safe, loved and lovable.”

Burch said that voicing Chloe wasn’t just a gig but also an act of self-care. Burke said that as a teenager, she resembled Chloe a lot. “I broke off a little piece of my soul when I did the first Life Is Strange and put it in Chloe,” Burch said. “Playing Chloe turned out to be a tremendously personal experience for me, an almost cathartic experience.”

When asked for comment, Square Enix referred Kotaku to a blog post that stated, in part: “Ashly Burch, Chloe’s original voice actor, makes a welcome return to the family this time on writing duties. . . It’s great to have her writing dialogue for a new younger, 16 year old Chloe, this time voiced by extremely talented actress Rhianna DeVries.”

Resident Evil Revelations 2

Burch isn’t the only voice actress to report some bad strike-related news during E3. Canadian voice actress Alyson Court, who has played Resident Evil’s Claire Redfield throughout five of the game’s iterations, posted a YouTube video on Monday explaining that she would not be returning for Resident Evil 2’s newly-announced remake, although she featured in the original.

Court said the producer for RE2’s remake did reach out about a year and a half ago, but later, she said she was informed that the role would go to a non-union voice actress. Court is not a member of SAG-AFTRA, but Canada’s ACTRA, which, in solidarity with US union actors, is also refusing struck work. Capcom declined to comment to Kotaku for this story.

Asked for comment, Court sent Kotaku a new video explaining her disappointment. “It’s one thing to make a decision to replace me for a creative choice—and I totally get that,” she said in the video, “but if the only reason they chose to replace me is because they wanted to go non-union, it’s petty, it’s disrespectful.”

Samsung Pay Is Here, and It Could Be the Best Reason to Get the Galaxy S8

On a trip to the mall late last year, as I got to the checkout kiosk to pay for the clothes I had just bought, I realised I didn’t have my wallet on me. Forced to make the walk back to where I had parked, I envied people living in countries that have had the option to pay with their phones for a few years, and wondered when I would be able to have that luxury too.

Well, that day has come. Samsung Pay launched officially in India on Wednesday, allowing you to simply make payments with your phone – as long as it’s one of six Galaxy devices, including the Galaxy S7, and Galaxy Note 5. If you have one, then all you need to do is get the app, and enter your card details on first run (assuming your account is with one of the supported banks, such as HDFC and ICICI). Voilà! Who knew the future would be so easy?

Of course, India isn’t the only region to get Samsung’s mobile pay service. Samsung Pay launched in Korea in late 2015, before moving to the US a month later. Since then, Samsung Pay has expanded to the likes of Australia, Brazil, China, and Russia. It’s a tiny market right now, overall, but there’s growing competition from all sides, mostly Apple Pay and Android Pay, at least in markets outside India.

Samsung Pay been here slightly longer for more enterprising people, thanks to an early access programme Samsung made available earlier this month. I’ve tried the beta several times during those weeks, and it’s worked flawlessly so far. To be honest, I have had reservations every time I stepped up to the head of the queue, but the only issue has been the curious/ puzzled faces of the people behind the counter.

It is also really easy to use, too. Like Apple Pay, it’s accessible from the lock-screen. Simply swipe from the bottom, and then swipe left or right to pick the desired one. It remembers what you used last time around, so if you frequently make payments with the same card, you’re good to go with one swipe. Then, align your phone’s back with the card reader, and authenticate using your fingerprint/ PIN combination.

Now if I find myself having forgotten my wallet again, all I’d have to do is get my phone out, and I’d have all my cards with me. Soon, the Gear S3 will have it as well, so you won’t need your phone either. Much more importantly, it’d allow me to leave my clunky wallet behind that I hate having to carry in my back-pocket. It’s a constant annoyance when I’m sitting, and I’d be glad to get rid of it.

Samsung Pay Is Here, and It Could Be the Best Reason to Get the Galaxy S8

This won’t be as universal for everyone, as it depends on your lifestyle. Samsung Pay doesn’t work with ATMs, so you’ll still need to carry your card around if you tend to withdraw cash frequently. Fortunately, I live a cash-less life for the most part, and visit the ATM roughly once every three months, so it’s not a bother for me. But that may not work for you. For what it’s worth, Samsung Pay already has Paytm support, and UPI is on its way, so you can use those routes if you prefer.

The biggest concern for most seems to be security, but mobile payments can actually be more secure. For one, card skimming isn’t possible since you don’t need to physically give your card to anyone, and two, like a chip-and-pin card, Samsung Pay only shares a random token with the reader, not the card number. Plus, it also needs your fingerprint/ PIN for authentication, so you don’t have to worry if your phone gets stolen – although the fact that your phone’s been stolen will still be worrisome.

The other problem with digital payments methods is that support can often be limited. Samsung Pay supports both NFC – which is the common standard for mobile payments – and MST (magnetic secure transmission), which works with most existing card readers, as it emulates the presence of a card by wirelessly transmitting, well, magnetic waves. NFC might be the true future of payments, but it’s a future that’s still not here, even in places such as the US. Samsung Pay’s MST feature is essentially a form of backward compatibility, so you can use this method of payments nearly everywhere, though the people working there might themselves be unaware.

For Samsung, this feature is a fantastic trick up its sleeve, as it gives the Korean company a leg up on its competition. By comparison, the other big two – Apple Pay, and Android Pay – will be limited to NFC-equipped readers even when they do make it to India. Samsung then has a clear advantage in that regard, and one that it can leverage to market its smartphones, and peripherals.

With the launch of the Galaxy S8 just around the corner, Samsung Pay looks like a real selling point. No thanks red iPhone, I know which one I want.

What’s Yours is Mine? The New Sharing Economy and Small Business

In recent years, many workers have found new ways to earn a living, becoming their own bosses as they enjoy a freelance lifestyle. Whether they’re offering rides to the airport through Lyft or Uber, or running errands through TaskRabbit, people are redefining the way they earn a living and blazing a trail for future generations.

But there are downsides to working this way. For freelancers, the unpredictability of work and changing pay structures make it sometimes difficult to make a reliable living. But for businesses and the American economy as a whole, the impact can be far more widespread.

Pros and Cons of Our New Sharing Economy

Pro: Growth of Outsourcing Opportunities

The increase in freelance workers gives businesses a great alternative to hiring full-time, salaried workers. Instead they can outsource work on a per-project basis and continue working with those employees if they do well.

Additionally, errand services like TaskRabbit give professionals the ability to outsource mundane personal tasks, like picking up dry cleaning or running errands. They can then focus on their own work. For traveling professionals, Lyft and Uber have proven to be a better alternative to taxis and public transportation, allowing them to call for a car and pay all on their mobile devices.

Con: Shortage of Skilled Workers

Unfortunately, a sharing society also means fewer professionals in the workforce. As the unemployment rate drops, this could result in there being a national labor shortage, where businesses scramble for help from what is a much smaller pool of skilled workers who are willing to work a structured office schedule.

The Millennial generation is now filling the workplace, and they have expressed their preferences for a fun and flexible workplace. The workforce of the future will require a performance-based workday rather than one that is measured by time clocks and traditional 40 hour work weeks.

Pro: Entrepreneurs Working Together

The ad hoc environment can be very good for business owners, who can take advantage of the large variety of skilled freelancers available.

More shared work spaces like Canvs are opening up across the country, providing desks and meeting space for a variety of talented independent workers and small businesses. Co-working spaces encourage collaboration, prompting entrepreneurs to learn from and help each other as they build their businesses.

These centers also serve to help build the local economy by encouraging business growth.

Con: Wage Degradation

There are some who are concerned about these shared labor concepts. Economist Dean Baker pointed out to the New York Times, that the wages workers make in these gigs can equate to less than minimum wage. He expressed concern that in time, this could create a downward pressure on wages overall that could impact the earning ability of mainstream America.

However, for the most entrepreneurial-minded workers, this type of work can help build the confidence they need to start their own businesses.

The new sharing economy opens opportunities for both consumers and workers, allowing people to work on their own terms. With the unemployment rate still high, this sharing economy is enabling people to make money while they wait for job opportunities to open up.

It seems to me that the freedom of being your own boss is empowering and has the potential to inspire many to start their own businesses – which benefits the economy as a whole.