Saturday, 14 January 2012

What I've been reading this week

I’m firmly of the belief that participants in the TMT industry need to read widely in order to understand the present and future dynamics of the market. To that end, this post is a collection of the articles that have caught my eye.

This week – businesses binge on social, Google gets it wrong in Kenya, CES points to everything going wireless in 2013 and my ultimate home goes on sale.

Digital media

I’ve always thought that companies having social network accounts is a bit like expecting consumers to talk to a building. In my mind, it is much better to expose individuals within the organisation, so customers can talk to a real person. Anyway, this research just shows the level of experimentation major brands are undertaking in social – not much in comparison to their overall PR spend.

New business models

Google has a number of operations and investments in emerging markets and has done a lot of good things in Kenya. This story, I assume, is an aberration, but serves to demonstrate the difficulty of working in emerging markets. “Entrepreneurism” can go too far in these markets, as in every other – Google will hope that this doesn’t damage their reputation in Kenya, where trust of enterprise and government is historically quite low.

O2 recently messaged subscribers to inform them that access to The Cloud was no longer included in tariffs. This is why. In the UK, Sky is becoming ever more aggressive in pursuing revenues in the communications market. As owners of The Cloud and with substantial ISP market share, I could see them making the opposite play into MVNO this year.

I’m not sure this has any real significance, as terminal devices will remain prohibitively expensive for emerging market merchants... unless reliable, secure, mobile payment apps can be created for those devices, in which case I retract my previous statement!

I have no doubt that Smarterphone is a good technology, I just wonder how it will fit into the Nokia range without confusing consumers. That said, I’ve long believed that most consumers don’t care whether they have an Android, Bada, Symbian or any other operating system, they just want something that works well at a price they can afford. As long as Nokia recognise that and don’t push the O/S in its own right, then they’ll be fine.

X-Box is becoming a more and more important part of Microsoft’s consumer product strategy. I’m looking forward to seeing what they offer to mobile consumers – Vita shows what’s possible in mobile gaming these days and although I don’t expect quite that level of graphics performance, Microsoft should be able to create a great integrated experience. Fingers crossed.

Technology evolution

With ARM seemingly on the verge of breaking into larger format computing through the TV screen, it’s about time Intel made a fist of its efforts in mobile. I’ll reserve judgement on the success of this effort, but as a confirmed Intel-phile I suspect this technology and the partnership with Google are encouraging signs.

Wireless display will be one of the must have technologies of 2013 – with their share in chipsets, a standardisation play by Intel is important for the market.

Another high-speed personal area networking technology, but for data rather than just image. The low power aspect is particularly important as information displays become smaller and people carry more of them.

Low power 3D is becoming a major market as the spec-sheet for smartphones grows ever longer. PowerVR were one of the first entrants into the GPU market in the mid-90’s and remain very experienced and credible. One to watch.

Breakthrough technology

Long term, long range space missions will be vital for the continued prosperity and survival of the human race. Since even short hops seem beyond our collective vision, it’s refreshing to see that at least some people are thinking about that fact.

3-D printing and rapid manufacturing are finally coming of age, due in large part to the availability of designs through – now common – social information share, like Sculpteo’s “Cloud Engine”.

Just for fun

If I had $3Mn lying about, then this is where I’d be living.

And this is what I’d arrive in – what a beautiful machine.

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