Saturday, 25 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 – Google makes me want to shine lasers in my eyes, Nokia’s brim is full of Asha, differences in male and female social network use, planes and automobiles go robot and I get nostalgic about the number two.

Mobile technology

I’ve been predicting this for years – heads up display is the next step in mobile technology interfaces. Even without a non-manual way of interfacing with the device, there’s plenty of data that can be dragged off the Internet already and overlaid onto the real world automatically. I just hope they make a version for those of us who already wear spectacles... If not then I’ll have to get ‘em lasered...

But before we get to mass adoption, there’s a bit of a problem with LTE... Battery life was a major problem for WiFi before it became a core part of the mobile phone chipset, however it seems that the solution to the LTE problem won’t be so simple. MIMO, in particular is responsible to the excellent radio performance of the standard, but as the article explains, the need to run two additional power amplifiers makes it a two edged sword.

Asha is more crucial to Nokia than Lumia, in my view. Get this right and they will be the smartphone platform in emerging markets – areas where Apple can’t go at its price point.

Strange, then that two Japan-only smartphone manufacturers have decided to go head to head with Apple in Europe. I think they’ll struggle, to be honest. Subsidy has totally distorted our smartphone market, so the difference to the consumer in buying an iPhone is a few Euros a month. Why buy anything else?

This (rather rudimentary) study suggests that not only do smartphone users prefer using the Internet to texting, but they are much more hooked on browsing than Facebook or apps.

Digital media

A quick stroll through the history of social media, which shows (for those who didn’t know) that it’s been around as long as the Web. I firmly believe that Facebook is becoming the Yahoo of social networks – a confusing mass of different ideas in a market where consumers want to isolate the feature they want and enjoy it...

...and here’s 2012’s who’s who of social media. I find the difference between male and female users of interest – basically men dominate the “geek out” networks like Soundcloud and Foursquare; women are the majority on the actually social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin. Me, I like Twitter, am on Facebook (yuck), Google+ and Path and I’ve just started Pinning. Social.

It turns out that Groupon still exist and are now acquiring some companies that let them actively participate in the purchase process using barcode scanning and local data manipulation. I’m not sure this will alleviate the relationship damage they’ve caused on both sides of the market by spamming consumers and ripping off vendors.

New business models

A “must read” article on how organisations use statistics and behavioural economics to better target consumers at moments of inflection in the buying (and living) process. I’ll say it again – monetisation of the in-store “third screen” will be a massive component of the next Internet boom.

Three main takeaways from this infographic: games are the highest grossing category on app stores (which we knew); freemium is the best model to get games up the charts (which we also knew), and smart device gamers prefer iPhone, which we sort of knew. The latter is important because Microsoft is still totally dominant in PC games and the categories are coming together at a rate of knots. In the red(mond) corner...

Some interesting data points here; foremost amongst them being how IM is beginning grow in traffic terms. Worth noting how much pressure YouTube places on mobile networks. Although capping has all somewhat alleviated the situation, some networks in the UK are retrenching from that position and offering all-you-can-eat again. A perfect example of the Prisoners Dilemma MNOs find themselves in – someone will always “betray” the industry by offering the rising star for cash cow rates.

Wow – and here’s one estimate on the effect on the mobile carriers. $14Bn isn’t that much in a trillion+ $ global industry, but much of the industry’s margins were here historically and it’ll be psychologically difficult to let it drop.

App creation used to be a really profitable place to be, but familiarity and new technologies like this one are beginning to erode margins by making it simple to create a decent brochure app that has customer data collection features. There’s still money to be made at the top end, but I can see the app creation market bifurcating and consolidating at the bottom end in the coming year.

Emerging technology

Legislating to encourage driverless cars would be much more impactful on safety and the environment than the current tax-based approaches taken in Europe. If only our governments were as forward thinking as the tech industry.

Drone aircraft were buzzing around IBC this year and I expect we’ll see them in all sorts of productions from here-on-in. Very useful for sports as they’re much more versatile than a blimp... if less good for tyre advertising.

Emerging markets

LATAM is a bit of a lost continent in investment terms – it’s not as populous as Africa or Asia and is starting from a more developed base. That said, I’m really excited about some of the digital innovation happening in Argentina and Brazil, in particular in the area of social. Connectivity will help bring this to the rest of the developed world.

PC sales in India fell in Q4 2011 because of the upward price pressure from supply constraint in the HDD industry. I’m sure it’ll bounce. Also note the role of the big PC players in India. Apple is nowhere – substance can still beat style!

Just for fun

This neat little graphic shows how design language is changing to reflect the market trends in recent years. Particularly online and vintage.

Some nostalgia from my childhood: anyone alive in the early ’90’s will remember the BBC 2 “2”, with it’s weird tubular bell music accompaniment. Here’s a collection of 2’s...

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