Saturday, 7 April 2012

What I've been reading this week

I’m 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: 300Mn reasons to be nicer to my clients, Apple go at gaming, lots of Chinese tech and Akira’s bike rides again

Business models

Fascinating – a “modest” improvement in customer experience versus your peers is worth about $300Mn in annual revenue, according to this study. I need to be nicer to my clients!

The UK coalition government is putting a cap of £100Mn on IT contracts and projects. A brilliant idea in my view as my experience suggests that any project that is too large for one person to direct is doomed to failure.

As if things aren’t bad enough for RIM, a big marketing event in the UK ended with someone being stabbed. There is a high degree of muppetry about everything they do now – for the record, I dug out my Playbook and updated to the 2nd version of the O/S. It’s still a useless paperweight with no applications.

Superpower politics

JP Morgan predict that Apple will ship 70Mn iPads this year as they advance inexorably towards becoming the first trillion dollar corporation...

...and this would put the cat amongst the pigeons! According to this Anandtech article, Apple are working on a game controller for iOS devices, which would finally open the iOS family to exploitation as a proper games machine... or it could just be another random rumour...

...and also in content, the battle between (Amazon’s) Lovefilm and Netflix in Europe is just getting going. Here, Lovefilm scores an early point by getting BBC content into Germany, a market with 80Mn consumers that Netflix is yet to launch in. Great for the BBC too – it’s content is the best in the world, it just needs to make more from it.

Amazon have also got their Prime content service onto the home page of Sony’s PS3 consoles, opening yet another new avenue for them to sell through.

Google’s global datacentre capability continues to expand as it announces work on the final leg of a $700Mn expansion in Asia...

...but Google’s not managing to get Android standardised (if it wants too). Less than 3% of Android users are using the latest Ice Cream Sandwich version of the O/S, compared to nearly 80% of iOS users being on version 5. The real smartphone/ tablet battle to come is between Samsung and Apple (with Sony, LG, Motorola et al playing a disrupting role), not between Google and Apple.


China’s at it again. This time hacking military institutions in India. Naughty...

Digital media

Remember Yahoo? The darling of the pre-dotcom boom has seen better days and things seem to be getting worse. In this scathing blog post one of its senior execs lambasts (using a few choice expletives) the company’s decision making and strategy. Ouch.

Some data about smartphone usage by wealthy owners in the US. They’re more likely to have an iPhone than anything else, which possibly explains why they’re more likely to download apps than the average – 80% of them do so, versus about 60% in the broader population. Also interesting because so many of them are turned off m-commerce by a preference for the in-store experience. Perhaps something retailers can learn from?

More data, this time about marketers’ expectations for 2012 in terms of their platform usage. 22% predicting they’ll do less traditional and a great big slug saying they’ll focus on social. My prediction: that’s all talk! Definitely good to create a buzz by doing something new, but the risks of doing so are pretty high because there’s no playbook. I think that nouveau digital will remain an addenda to broadcast, banner and search... [Warning – PDF link]

...Although the majority of CMOs say that budgets are shifting to digital. Makes sense, but I suspect these are fairly traditional methods being applied to smart devices, rather than new models on new devices.

A-Frame are an exciting company that enable TV production in the cloud – they’ve just received some new investment to enable expansion. I personally think it’s too soon for cloud based production workflows as digital ones aren’t fully embedded in the business. But hey, I’m all for UK digital businesses doing well!

Emerging markets

Content opportunities are emerging all over the BRIC, N10 and beyond. Freemantle are the 4th largest pure-play content producer in the world, so it’s no surprise that they’re getting involved in syndication partnerships in Asia Pac.

It’s interesting that Chinese shoppers are keen on e-commerce (although given the traffic in their cities, it’s hardly surprising) however PwC’s conclusions are hyped and obviously incorrect. Only about a 100Mn or so Chinese are actually able to be surveyed, so the 70% of consumers that shop online probably looks more like 5%.

Despite security concerns, Huawei are having a good time selling cheap kit to telecoms companies and governments in the emerging markets. No doubt helped by big slugs of Chinese bank and government finance... Ericsson are still #1 though

Lenovo are about to launch a new smart TV product in China, doubtless hoping to get a slice of the pay TV market as it develops.

And to wrap up on Chinese technology, here’s another cheap tablet, this time Chinese branded as well as made. $50. Ugly, but no doubt impressive for the money.

Breakthrough technology

As regular readers will know, I think that replacing the human behind the wheel with a machine that drives for him or her is the best way of increasing safety and reducing emissions. This video shows what the junction of the future could look like.

Bionics that are human controlled are also a huge and emerging market. This fairly weak article still highlights an interesting technology that enables paraplegics to walk.

Just for fun

I grew up loving Akira and its exotic, futuristic infrastructure. Now its creator has built a full scale working replica of the famous reclining motorbike from the series. Amazing.

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