Saturday, 21 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 – Retail Fights Back, it’s Zuck’s year in the Netherlands, how Microsoft is making games gamier and dreams of an iPad duck hunt.

Emerging technology

Why do I need this? I want a camera to start super-fast, be incredibly reliable and focussed (sorry) on taking brilliant pictures. Do I need a jury-rigged smart phone O/S for that? Of course not. I predict... Fail.

A big moment for Nokia and Microsoft. The 800 has received great reviews, but the sales figures I’ve seen have been a bit lacklustre – only a few tens of thousands of units finding a home in the UK since launch. I hope the 900 does better as I’m very bullish about Nokia – they remain great engineers and use radio and energy resources on the handset much more efficiently than the consumer-electronics-based competition.

Corporate tablets were a minor story in 2011 as millions of executives used their iPad ownership to proclaim digital understanding. If only it were so simple. This infographic shows a few nice numbers about the market. I now have 3 tablets (iPad, Playbook, Fire), so I guess you could say I buy into the concept, although I’m not sure that any of the current crop are the perfect business device. Much of the reason for that is the lack of integration with back-end systems like email. Unfortunately most corporates are way behind in this regard.

New business models

Ouch! Bad enough that smart phone customers have become local experts in the products they’re looking at in store (hence exposing the poor quality of store staff, which has plummeted over the last 20 or 30 years), now those self-same customers are treating shops like brochures. Many retailers have made noises about creating digital strategies in the last year or so – they need to move fast to avoid being further weakened by online. Their product suppliers need to watch out too – more value and retail savvy points of sale could spell bad news for them as the retailers seek to maximise value by pushing customers towards more profitable product lines.

I’m sure being able to start a conversation from the self-same search results in store will make matters worse, if not massively so.
The Retailer Fights Back – combining in store screens with NFC or short range wireless for identification and loyalty apps for incentivisation brings the best of the web experience to the store and somewhat offsets poor quality of store staff. I’ve decided to call these connected, asset managed and contextually aware in store displays “the third screen”. Pass it on J

What a great piece of analysis by the GSMA and a fabulous example of the ancillary benefits of connected consumers and the data they generate. A more socially valuable take on Tom Tom Live...

A great piece of research into attitudes towards entrepreneurship in various countries. Not a surprise that Indonesia and Nigeria are constrained by poor infrastructure. Sometimes we in the UK forget how lucky we are. And on the subject of entrepreneurship...

If only it were that easy! The Internet is ever-reducing the barriers to entry for all kinds of business. Now, with 3-D printing on the rise and the digitalisation and down-scaling of factories and other manufacturing technology there are more opportunities for the start up than ever. I’m sceptical in the UK, however. Access to capital is still poor and, as has been pointed out to me in the past, the average British citizen is not driven by a great urge to push the limits of modern commerce. Sad but true.,%20start%20educating%20entrepreneurs

Here’s a South American incubator looking for projects.

Meanwhile, within the corporate walls, I like this interview about how the iContest internal competition for interns led to Apple’s textbook venture. Harnessing the most creative - but traditionally least listened to - part of the workforce is part of the solution for large enterprises trying to keep up with start-ups.

Digital media

Last year’s Deloitte paper “Killer Apps” made reference to the fact that apps are very often not the best solution to enabling customers to access content on mobile devices. It seems Penguin agree. This idea of “flat” content is not that new, but will be topical this year as big guns like Sony realign their content strategies in this way.

Seems that the same is happening in News – ITN unifying their ad sales across platforms using Rightster

Interesting study on the way that the Dutch use social and search in 2011. The Netherlands has one of the most Internet-savvy and entrepreneurial populations in Europe, so they’re a nice benchmark for future behaviour in some of the larger countries. What stands out for me is Facebook overtaking local equivalent Hyves in terms of usage – it seems even the strongest of the local social networks can’t resist them. 2011 really was Zuck’s year.

Microsoft are the coolest company in gaming at the moment and this extra feature set to gamify professional games created using Visual Studio. As mobile devices and tablets become ever faster, localised rewards become more feasible and attractive. I’ll be watching with interest to see how the mobile and social gaming category develops this year – I can see budgets sky rocketing. This must not increase consumer prices too much or the casual nature of purchasing will be lost and with it the value of the market. Catch 22?

Just for fun

If only he’d used the “Duck Hunt” light gun. Still extremely cool!

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