Friday, 11 May 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: Moneybull transforms milk production, Kim jams GPS, Apple Targets Amazon and the World’s longest infographic charts the apocalypse

Digital media

Comscore report a sixth successive quarter of US e-commerce growth. The size of that market is now about $44Bn a quarter or roughly 3% of total consumer spending (versus 11% for the UK). What’s most interesting is that kiosk-based DVD and Blu-Ray rental and media streaming services are one of the prime drivers of this increase and of general consumer spending growth (which is c.0.3%). That’s despite falling spending average salaries (down 0.3%).

This article is about how Japanese legislators may ban “Kompu Gacha” games that require users to collect virtual items in a mobile game to be in with a chance of winning a large prize. I worry that the global gaming industry could fall foul of similar legal issues if they don’t self-regulate to some degree...

...Even so, the game’s publisher – Dena – just announced record profits.

Big data applied to dairy cows. Apparently it’s transforming the industry. Personally, this sounds rather more like Moneyball for cows... or should that be MoneyBull? Yes, I do requests...

Mobile will be the death of Facebook and it’s “appstore on an appstore” won’t help one jot. What it needs to do is create its own (Amazon-aping) take on Android fast. Or its dead. It think: dead...

...but not today and not in South East Asia, where it added about 20Mn users in the last 6 months. Most of them using mobile, I should imagine.

Traditional media doesn’t have Facebook’s problems. US TV advertising spending increased 4.4% in 2011, to nearly $72Bn. Impressive for a “dying medium”.

TV is bouncing back in the minds of agency buyers. This survey suggests that an increasing proportion are focusing on TV as their brand media.

Emerging markets

Netflix has a great opportunity in Latam, MEA and to a lesser extent India, provided it’s paying a sensible amount for content. What I’ve heard about these deals suggests that in their land grab phase they’re rather over-paying, which could be an albatross round their neck in future if content providers decide to pull the plug on lower terms.

Facebook is huge in some Latam markets, so now Twitter is getting in on the act with a new mobile version ready for low bandwidth users. Neat.


North Korea has begun blanket jamming of GPS, interference that has leaked over the border into South Korea. Whether this is simple paranoia or sabre rattling is open for debate. To be honest though, if the US really wants rid of North Korea’s almost certainly apocryphal nuclear “arsenal”, then it has other methods. B2 “Spirit” bombers with laser guided ordnance being one very obvious alternative. Military aside, it’s interesting how even airliners aren’t overly bothered by North Korean “tech”.

Anonymous strikes again. This time Virgin Media demonstrates how vulnerable even company’s whose role it is to provide secure access to the Internet are incapable of protecting themselves.

Partly because of the above attacks, we take another step towards a more policed, bordered Internet with the launch of .secure domain names, which the owners suggest will require much tighter security policies to operate.

New technology

Apple-esque touch technology can now be applied to all sorts of objects. Like door knobs. Useful.

Superpower politics

Rumour is that Apple exerted pressure on Target to force them to stop selling Kindle. The most interesting effect of this could be in gifting, which for the Kindle and Fire are possibly somewhat impulse based. If you go online to buy, you’ll probably find something the recipient actually wants. I’ll watch next quarter’s sales figures with interest.

Apple is going to be a terrifying competitor in business devices. Here’s a great article about the fastidious way in which they document how businesses are benefiting from iPad.

Some insider gossip on the specs of next year’s Playstation 4. This will be an important device in the evolution of TV as well as gaming as I expect it to offer 4K natively, providing a source for the TVs that will start to come to market towards the end of the year. The rest of the article is a bit unlikely – I’d expect the PS4 to ship with more horsepower than that described in the article.

Just for fun

This isn’t fun and it isn’t TMT and it is fascinating - an extra-long infographic charting the terrifying killing power of nuclear weapons. The largest ever detonated – the Soviet Union’s “Tsar Bomba” – produced a fireball 5-miles in diameter that reached over 6 miles into the sky. From 100km away, the heat could still give you third degree burns. Windows were broken 900km away. Although no more like it were made, the US and Russia still have nearly 5,000 active warheads between them, each of yield up to about 500kT, plus about 5,000 each in reserve, ready for a rainy day. There are six other nuclear armed states. I find it sobering to remember that even in an increasingly sophisticated world, we live minutes away from Armageddon.

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