Saturday, 31 March 2012

What I've been reading this week

I think 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: Nintendo, RIM under siege, cyber crimes cost Huawei, Amazon gains ground online and in India and why we should be more like Han Solo.

New business models

A brilliant blog on the continuing travails of Nintendo. Wii took them on a different path to Microsoft and Sony, but have only temporarily halted long term inability to compete in hardware.

And as if things weren’t bad enough, Sony’s next generation PS3, codenamed “Orbis” is rumoured to be coming next year.

Housing prices in tech hotspots are rising fast. We see the same thing in the trendier areas of London, where tech companies are landing , buying office space and importing top quality staff.

I like this idea of combining electronic and physical supply chains. I wish the Post Office would put in 24 collection centres. Would be really useful!

Roku is big in the US... but not in the UK. Can’t really imagine why anyone would want one, although at least it’s cheap, unlike YouView.

So for all the talk of ARM beating on Intel, the latter has actually gained market share by 2.5pp since 2010.

Japan’s smartphone revolution continues. I expect penetration to double this year and Apple to continue to oust the domestic brands.

Cyber warfare

I’m starting a new tab about cyber warfare as it’s becoming a critical tool in business and more importantly in international competition.

Here, the actions of it and it’s government prevent Huawei from bidding in Australia’s NGN project. Sign of things to come.

Actions like hacking RSA. The article is worth a read as it highlights some of the techniques of the professional hacker.

Oh dear. A massive security breach at Visa and Mastercard. This story will run...

Digital media

3-10% of digital ads are served to bots either accidentally or fraudulently. Still think that online display is more accurate and targeted than TV?

Someone internally described this as “essential reading”. It is. If you want the cutting edge of thinking from 2010. Honestly, I can’t believe people are getting on stage and talking about the market in such basic terms. No mention here about the impact of smart computing on the physical world, continued focus on the irrelevant iOS vs. Android competition, rather than Apple iTunes vs Google Play vs Microsoft Live (with a supporting cast of Sony 4-screen, Samsung Connected etc...), which is a superpower slugfest between $1.2 Trillion of market cap and a handy $200 Billion of cash. No, let’s focus on Instagram and Draw Something, rather than addressing the future of integrated social networking. Sheesh.

The US Army is now distributing training materials using iOS. Another step towards Government acceptance of smartphones and another nail in RIM’s coffin.

Even RIM’s own shareholders think they’re finished. Poor dears.

Sworly is a neat idea, but it’s a little bandwidth heavy and doesn’t have an obvious business model. Pinterest can “do a Twitter” and sell professional accounts to a huge range of consumer businesses, whereas Sworly is limited to the record industry... and perhaps some promoted feeds.

New technology

I feel the pain of email overload – I currently get about 3-400 a day – however I’m not sure that activity streams will help. I think what will happen is even more communication and even more overload.

HTTP is almost as old as the web. With performance and security concerns arising, HTTP 2.0 will provide a platform for the next 25 years of development.

We’ve been waiting decades, but now commercially available flexible displays are finally here!

Breakthrough technology

It’s easy to focus on amazing feats of complex engineering, but elegant solutions like this perpetual power system for a robot jellyfish are just as fascinating. Swarm robots based on conceptually simple technology such as this will become a feature of research and monitoring over the next decade.

Another robotics article, that investigates whether robots need to look like us. I think they probably don’t, however there are massive mobility advantages in being bipedal, so I suspect we will continue to strive towards it as a configuration.

Active heat shield technologies like this reduce weight and increase safety, all bringing commercial manned spaceflight that little bit closer.

Superpower politics

A badly written article. Useful though because it shows how Amazon are assembling the assets to launch cloud services in India.

Amazon also has succeeded in creating an Android-based ecosystem that makes money for developers – another sign that its customer centric approach is elevating it to parity with Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Microsoft and Nokia are committing $24Mn to help train developers, principally in Windows, but also a bit of Symbian. Feels a bit desperate...

...and Microsoft are in trouble over “Smoked by Windows Phone”, which appears to be a bit rigged in their favour!

More evidence about how ultra efficient Apple is operationally – their inventory turnover is unbelievably fast versus the competition.

Just for fun

A tickertape tweet printer. Nice idea, I just wish it was a bit less steam punk!

Wow. The ultimate drive in cinema... worth a look.

Raising Apollo 11’s boosters – a symbol perhaps of Bezos belief that he’ll change spaceflight in just as large and a much more sustainable way.

A short, but surprisingly insightful look at what Han Solo can teach us about business.

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