Saturday, 4 February 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 – UK broadband speeds jump 22%, Facebook more dependent on pigs than first thought and lacks the cash for mobile, Amazon embarks on an Indian adventure while Stripe guns for Paypal and the FBI hacks Skype

New business models

Sigh – more patent news and what is clearly the opening salvo from Google’s new Motorola patent portfolio weapon. Apple, it seems, are a harder target than Samsung! (see second link)

For all the gnashing of teeth over the years about the poor quality of UK broadband, a good bit of market-based competition between BT, Virgin and Sky has led to speeds being on the rise. Of course, consumers tend to be able to find something to do with that extra speed and capacity...

... for example: Skype, which has been impacting international volumes for years and continues to erode traffic growth. International calls are perfect for VOIP client users, because they are typically scheduled in advance, giving users time to start their applications in advance

I’m not sure that wrapping connectivity into device purchases is the way either. It works for Kindle because the traffic volumes are low and the connections are mainly transactional. Not sure how it works for proper browsing and gaming devices though. I guess Nintendo have to do something!

Sky Go is a great content extender for Sky subscribers and now is coming to the TV set and to Android. Interesting times for Sky as they’re probably close to their realistic ceiling on subscriber numbers and now need to increase ARPU further

Sony has an advantage over the other studios and labels because it’s as much a technology company as a media one. Having its own channel to compete with Netflix, Spotify et al is all very well, but is only a tiny corner of a survival strategy that must hinge around ecosystem experiences combining technology and media

And just to show the challenge they’ll face, Amazon have just launched into the Indian e-commerce market with their Junglee brand. Personally, I’ll think they’ll struggle to gain the sort of dominance they have in the Western world, which they’ll need because the Indian middle class is no-where near as big or as rich as the general press seems to believe

I’m of the opinion that Paypal has lost a little momentum in recent years – it hasn’t really managed to get onto smartphones in a manner that is easy to use or a realistic competitor to the emerging mobile and NFC-type systems that are likely to come to market in 2012 and 2013. Perhaps competition is the spur that they need. Stripe has good backers and seems easy to integrate, but whether it’s a quality alternative to Paypal remains to be seen.

Digital media

Amazing what you can achieve with virtual pigs. Also amazing that a company so loved by ill-informed analysts cannot generate enough advertising to make Zynga an irrelevance. Google bid for Zynga in 2012, anyone?

An interesting thought about whether Facebook will seek to use WebOS to launch its own phones. The article isn’t great, unfortunately - $100Mn will get Facebook nowhere in mobile, nor does the brand really carry any credibility in the mobile space. Look at Kin for examples of software brands screwing up in mobile

A nice little piece of research on the proportion of tweets that people find useful. 36% apparently... which surprises me because it’s so high, although I suppose Twitter is just digital small talk

Perhaps this is why African tweets are so few and far between – when you’re paying for each one, it probably makes one a bit less chatty...

...But when it comes to money, the American Presidential candidates are swimming in it. This infographic shows what happened in 2008 and highlights why social and web is becoming a critical component of campaigning. My view is that CEOs and exec’ teams are the next group to need to focus on their personal social media use

Emerging technology
I’m looking forward to MWC and hope to be able to play with some of these super-fast, quad core handsets, the technology in which is consistently and comfortably exceeding Moore’s Law by doubling in speed every year at least

I’m sure super-cheap tablets will also be news at MWC. None of these will sell in significant volumes and if they do, margins will be horrible! iPad still #1 in shipments and value for 2012 and ‘13

Vizio announced pricing for these 21:9 TVs this week, interesting mainly because it shows how technology is becoming less and less utility and more specialised. 21:9 is really only of use for viewing HD movies, otherwise it’s just a more cumbersome flatscreen

After a slow start, it seems that US government entities are getting serious about cybersecurity and cyberwarfare. Here, the FBI gets in on the act

Breakthrough technology

Understanding the biology of how our brains experience sensations is a crucial step towards creating new interfaces for mobile computers. 2025’s technology, I think

A fabulous engineering and micro-electronics achievement, but don’t expect it to lead to a big change in infantry small arms. Modern combat distances are much shorter than 1600m, so this sort of tech is more likely to find its way into sniper rifles and other specialist weaponry

I suspect that this sort of technology will enable the next generation of drone aircraft to be even smaller and more capable. Neat demo, too...

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