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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Microsoft took a uniquely middle-ground stance when they released Windows Phone in 2009. Admitting that their hand-off approach to Windows Mobile led to lackluster hardware from their OEM partners, Microsoft announced their new, more restricted mobile operating system. Complete with a rigid hardware spec, walled app ecosystem, and closed-source software, Windows Phone imposed far more stringent requirements on OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) than either its predecessor, or the then-burgeoning Android platform. However, one important detail was their commitment to the OEM partnerships who would be making hardware for the platform, which, along with Android, was counter to Apple’s ownership of both the hardware and software of iOS. With Microsoft’s Labor Day acquisition of Nokia’s devices business, this model is in some question.

Eyebrows were raised in 2011 when Microsoft and Nokia announced a high-profile partnership that involved billions of dollars, and a much closer relationship between the two companies. The choice of platform seemed obvious, with Nokia’s Symbian OS struggling to remain competitive with newer mobile platforms, the Android market becoming increasingly dominated by Samsung, and the recently appointed CEO Stephen Elop being a former Microsoft executive. At the time of announcement, many already suggested that Elop may be a Trojan Horse for Microsoft to gain control over Nokia, but the decision seemed to make sense.

The plan went as expected. Nokia’s first Lumia phone was announced some months later and brought some limited attention to the struggling Windows Phone ecosystem. Nokia continued to release a large number of handsets, spanning a wide set of price points. While neither company was seeing breakout success for the platform, it became increasingly clear that Nokia was dominating the market for Windows Phone, accounting for 87 percent of all Windows Phone usage by August 2013. Launch partner LG had announced no plans to launch new phones, and the Windows Phones made by HTC and Samsung seemed to become increasingly lackluster.

With the acquisition of Nokia’s devices division, it seems likely that all other OEMs will abandon the platform. After all, their Windows Phones typically see far less demand than their Android ones, and managing multiple operating systems requires considerable resources. With Nokia (or Microsoft?) receiving even greater preferential treatment, remaining competitive in the Windows Phone market would simply be too challenging for not enough reward.

The consequences of this may seem trivial considering nearly all Windows Phones were Nokia’s anyway, but the longer-term implications may be more complicated. The power of the OEM model is what made Microsoft successful in the PC market, and is what made Android successful in mobile. Everyone has different needs, and choice is the best way to cater to them. In fact, Nokia’s success with Windows Phone became apparent as it catered to many markets, and price points, and color options, a fact made obvious by the popularity of the budget Lumia 520.

Though at the present it feels that Nokia is the only choice anyway, there was hope that if Windows Phone increased its marketshare and consumer demand, old partners like Samsung, HTC, and LG may start investing in the platform again. However, with Microsoft’s acquisition, this seems unlikely.

Traditionally, it was uncommon for a company selling a platform (like Windows Phone) to also make their own hardware. For a company to preserve its relationship with OEMs, there had to be assurances that the game was being played fairly. No secrets or favoritism. However, this landscape may be changing. Google-branded Nexus phones and the acquisition of Motorola Mobility did not slow the production of third party Android devices, and Microsoft seems to have maintained its relationship with PC makers while producing their Surface tablets. Whatever happens looking forward, Microsoft needs to remember the importance of choice and find a way to provide that to consumers either with its recent acquisition, or with a continuing relationship with other OEMs.

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ANDRE: Which days of Bumbershoot did you attend?

CLAIRE:  I only attended Sunday because it was the only day that seemed interesting to me.

ANDRE: What shows did you see?

CLAIRE:  I saw fun. Ra Ra Riot, and Death Cab for Cutie

ANDRE: What did you think of the shows?

CLAIRE:  Some were my favorite bands, one was one of my sister’s favorite bands when she was my age, and then one was my friend’s favorite, so it all three of us seeing our favorite bands together.

ANDRE: What did you think of the Ra Ra Riot performance?

CLAIRE:  I’m not saying it was bad! It just wasn’t my kind of music. It didn’t ‘zing.’ I’m more of a person who goes to cultural songs.

ANDRE: Why did you start spinning?

CLAIRE:  At first I told my sister I wanted to get closer but she said I couldn’t because it could have been dangerous and we couldn’t really stick together, so we just went to the back and she was just pointing out how most of the people were just standing stiff. My sister, my friend, and I started spinning because I just thought that’s what should happen at concerts like these. When you’re on the floor, you shouldn’t just stand.”

ANDRE: Do you spin for fun a lot?

CLAIRE:  I used to a lot when I was younger, but then it started freaking out my dog. So now I only do it at school with my friends, but I have a gift for not getting sick after a spin or two.

ANDRE: When did you first become aware that the audience was cheering for you?

CLAIRE:  My sister told me that the audience was actually cheering for me. I thought they were just cheering at some part of the song that they liked. When I realized they were cheering for me, it was a little embarrassing. I wanted to keep spinning, but I didn’t want them to think I was just doing it for the audience rather than because I enjoyed it.

ANDRE: Tell me what your interaction with security

CLAIRE:  Well I couldn’t exactly hear him but he said you’d have to go sit down. I acted like I was happen he told me to because I felt dizzy, but in my head I was like “Oh my god! What? Nooo!” Hopefully I did a good job covering up my feelings.

ANDRE: Why did they react the way they did? Both at the beginning and later?

CLAIRE:  I don’t fully understand that myself. I’m just kind of glad that they did it because everyone relaxed and started dancing. I don’t really know what they were thinking, because I didn’t see it from their point of view, but I’m pretty sure I would cheer for a little girl who was dancing. I’d get mad at the guard because she’d just be doing what she wants to do, which is dance. And what’s wrong with that?

ANDRE: How did you feel when the entire audience got up and started spinning?

CLAIRE: I felt slightly excited and I wanted to go back to dancing because, “Screw you guards! You can’t tell me what to do! I’m allowed to dance!” That’s what concerts are for.

ANDRE: How did you feel the whole thing affected the performance?

CLAIRE:  The main thing that kept going through my mind was that I hoped I wasn’t offending the band. People were posting things like, “Oh Ra Ra Riot was performing? I didn’t notice. I was watching #SpinGirl.” I hoped I didn’t offend them in any sort of way. I was thinking about it the entire time. It was going through my mind nonstop.

ANDRE: How did you feel when people asked for your picture?

CLAIRE:  I was like, “So this is what it feels like to be known.” I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know what to do and went along with them and said, “Sure!” It’s not like they aren’t allowed to have my picture, but it was kind of weird having people want it.

ANDRE: Are you aware that a lot of people have been posting about you on the internet and Twitter and such?

CLAIRE:  Yeah! Yeah! My friend told me, “This might go viral” and I was like, “Please… I don’t want that to happen,” but then this guy told me, “You know you’re on Twitter?” and I was like, “Great! It’s gone viral!”

ANDRE: Has anything interesting happened afterwards because of what happened?

CLAIRE:  Only a few people who asked me or got my picture know my real name, but a few kids at school who went to the show stopped me and were like, “You’re Spin Girl!”

ANDRE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

CLAIRE:  There’s a story about a guy who was just dancing and the entire audience was just looking at him like, “what are you doing?” And then other people joined him and the audience starts to think, “Hmmm they’re doing it. There’s a crowd. Maybe I want to do it too because it looks fun!” The thing is, you kind of need a leader to get things started, but you also need those secondary people who are also very important in having that thing go on and on.

ANDRE: I asked a fan of yours what he’d say to you if he could have a word. He said he’d tell you to be happy and keep on spinning. I’d just like to say the same and thank you for giving me your time.

CLAIRE:  You’re welcome! And if you bump into him, tell him I will.

Ra Ra Riot had a competing act at their Sunday performance at the Bumbershoot music festival. Claire Sheehan, 11, now known as the “Spin Girl,” found herself the center of attention for over 15,000 in attendance when she rapidly spun in circles at the back of the dance floor.

Over the course of Ra Ra Riot’s performance, Sheehan danced with her arms out, facing the floor, and spinning like a helicopter.

Sheehan, who is just finishing her first week of middle school, explained, “Most of the people were just standing stiff. My sister, my friend, and I started spinning because I just thought that’s what should happen at concerts like these. When you’re on the floor, you shouldn’t just stand.”

Before long, the audience was cheering in periodic bursts that rivaled the cheers directed at the on-stage performance.

“I thought they were just cheering at some part of the song that they liked. When I realized they were cheering for me, it was a little embarrassing. I wanted to keep spinning, but I didn’t want them to think I was just doing it for the audience rather than because I enjoyed it,” Sheehan added.

As she gained attention, the cheers grew louder and her spinning was joined by the spinning of others around her almost virally, until a member of the event security asked her to stop. “That was embarrassing,” commented Sheehan.

The sideshow was far from over though. Throughout the rest of the performance, audience members would spin and be met with more cheers. When Ra Ra Riot finished their act and left the stage, the audience began chanting, “Spin girl! Spin girl!” in succession, demanding an unorthodox encore. All around, attendees were patting her on the back, taking her picture, and clapping for her.

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“You don’t usually get the entire audience chanting for you. The next day, people recognized my big sister as ‘spin girl’s sister.’ It’s kind of weird!” she said.

Her celebrity status is confirmed on Twitter. Check out #spingirl to see what people think.

Though her antics seemed innocent enough, attention was clearly diverted from Ra Ra Riot, who played on showing no indication that they knew of the simultaneous second act.

“I think it probably took away from Ra Ra Riot a bit, because people were focusing on her, but me and my friends had never seen them before and everyone seemed to really enjoy their show, so I don’t think it hurt them too much,” said Todd, an audience member of the show who came to Bumbershoot from Michigan.

Any fault of that nature goes to the audience, and though they paid for Ra Ra Riot to entertain them, granting them full attention is a sign of respect.

“The main thing that kept going through my mind was that I hoped I wasn’t offending the band,” Sheehan said, pointing out that some posts on Twitter playfully named her the performance of the evening.

Spin Girl became a rebel hero when security put an end to her spinning. The reaction of the audience was audible over the concert, including increased cheers for the girl, and boos at the members of security.

As they spoke to the girl, fans on the floor spun behind security personnel’s backs, while nearly half the audience, in what seemed like an act of non-violent protest, stood up and spun in place.

“I think what got everyone was that it didn’t seem necessary. She wasn’t hurting anyone. It looked like ‘the man’ was trying to keep her down and everyone wanted to keep the spirit of Spin Girl alive,” said Todd.

The event was staffed by Staff Pro who claims that their action was done out of safety concerns, explaining that, “The young girl was observed engaging in conduct that caused a potential danger to herself and others. Staff Pro strives to make sure that events are properly managed so that every guest is able to enjoy them in a safe and comfortable environment.”

It’s hard to pinpoint what made her so popular that night. Peculiarly absent from the event program, it’s safe to say she wasn’t the reason people paid money and waited for hours in line to get into the Key Arena. Perhaps it was just adulation of a young girl expressing and entertaining herself in a very outwardly carefree way.

“She was doing what made her happy. Everyone has their thing, whether it’s nodding their heads or tapping their toes. Everyone wanted her to be happy, because everyone wants to be happy themselves, and we all see ourselves in Spin Girl,” Todd explained.

VIDEO OF THE SPINNING WAVE: http://instagram.com/p/dyJ9QxQQCv/#

Whatever the reason, it’s undeniable that the events livened up the show. Where audience members once sat or stood, they now danced and spun. Before Death Cab took the stage, several human waves made it all the way around the arena, with people adding a spin as they stood. “You kind of need a leader to get things started,” Sheehan said. When asked what he’d say to Spin Girl if he had a chance to talk to her, Todd said conclusively, “I’d tell her to keep on spinning.”