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Comment: The Apple Product Cycle (Score 4, Interesting) 221

by Foggiano (#30644620) Attached to: Apple Orders 10 Million Tablets?

So we're at the first step in the Apple Product Cycle? It's nice to see we're right on track.

As an aside, I think it makes lots of sense for Apple to produce a tablet product, but I can't imagine them actually producing 10,000,000 of these things for launch.
First, it's a ridiculously high number, far exceeding the number of iPhones sold in a year and coming close to the number of all types of iPods combined.
Second, I doubt Apple would ever allow any of their new products to be overproduced. Artificial scarcity only adds to the perceived desirability of Apple products, driving the hype engine even more.

Comment: Re:Stupid prices (Score 1) 827

by Foggiano (#29027883) Attached to: US Cell Phone Plans Among World's Most Expensive
Finland is very highly urbanized. Most of the population is clustered in the south of the country near Helsinki in a relatively small geographic area, while northern Finland is mostly empty. Population density is a poor metric for judging the amount of wireless infrastructure needed for such types of population distributions. See also: British Columbia.

Comment: Re:Stupid prices (Score 1) 827

by Foggiano (#29027549) Attached to: US Cell Phone Plans Among World's Most Expensive

Ugh, I see this idea brought out any time someone talks about comparing European and US population density statistics, and it's entirely misleading. It isn't population density that matters in this case, it's percent urbanization. If the population of a country is very highly concentrated in a few central areas, with large amounts of relatively uninhabited space, this will skew your population density and give a very false sense of what kinds of environments people live in. In short, your own argument is weakened by the use of an ill-fitting statistic. You're trying to convince us that Finland is very sparsely populated, which is simply not the case. It is highly urbanized with lots of empty space.

A perfect example of this is British Columbia. The total population of BC is 4.4 million or so, and the total land area of the province is 925,000 square kilometers. That gives a population density of 4.7 inhabitants/sq. km. By this metric, British Columbia is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the world, on par with Montana or Wyoming in the United States. Of course, what this doesn't tell us is that nearly 50% of the entire population of BC lives in the Vancouver metropolitan area, with a land area of about 3000 sq. km. The typical British Columbian lives in a highly urban environment, not the middle of the tundra, as the population density implies. The same argument holds true for Finland, where nearly 1/3 of the total population of the country lives in around Helsinki, and for almost all the rest of Europe, where there is very little suburban-style living compared to the US.

Wireless infrastructure costs decrease dramatically as the population becomes more centralized because you simply don't need to build as many towers, and coverage extends farther because of the relatively flat geography of Finland (and most of western Europe, for that matter). Just slap one up in the middle of your quaint European village and you're good to go, complete with electricity and connectivity.

Contrast this with the costs of building a tower to effectively cover sprawling US suburbs or every 20 miles along a freeway in the middle of nowhere in the western United States and you'll see that a good deal of that price difference is indeed justified and not just a product of greedy and incompetent telecommunications companies.

Comment: Re:Research and Development driven by commerce (Score 2, Insightful) 253

by Foggiano (#28150265) Attached to: How Common Is Scientific Misconduct?

I don't quite see how you came to this conclusion, especially given the text of this article. The authors were specifically looking at misconduct in research published in peer-reviewed journals. The vast majority of material published in these journals originates from universities, not industrial research and development.

I would suggest, in fact, that misconduct is probably at least as common if not more so in a university environment than in an industrial one. Tenure-track professors are under enormous pressure to publish and their research projects are operated in an essentially unsupervised environment. The graduate students and post-doctoral researchers who actually do the lab work are generally in no position to correct or even be aware of misconduct by a professor, and are also under the same kinds of pressure to produce results in order to succeed. Couple this with the fact that much research is esoteric and funding, time, and interest to reproduce others' results is nearly non-existent and you have an environment ripe for scientific misconduct.

In the very least, in industry, you're constrained by reality. If you say you can make a product and you can't, there is an economic penalty (and potential loss of employment) which encourages conservatism and honesty in research. In academics, a paper containing falsified data published in an obscure journal which no one reads is still a publication that you can add to your c.v. and really, who will ever notice?

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