Sunday, 20 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: social media ads are bunkum, most efficient computer makes (deliberate) mistakes, Thai schools get 400,000 tablets & how our fear of death affects our decision making

Digital media

An amazing 18% of smart phone users say they use a geo-social service to login to a location. Women use them more than men, and people on low incomes are more likely to use them than those earning over $75,000 a year. Sadly, the survey doesn’t seem to talk about frequency of use, which is a shame. http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media/Files/Reports/2012/PIP_Location_based_services_2012_Report.pdf

US social media advertising to increase at 21% CAGR to 2016, meaning it’ll be $9.6Bn in that year. That’ll be why Facebook’s IPO was such a bust. http://www.biakelsey.com/Company/Press-Releases/120515-U.S.-Social-Media-Ad-Spending-to-Reach-$9.8-Billion-by-2016.asp

A neat analysis of when the best time is to post a link on a social network. I need to adopt this... http://blog.bitly.com/post/22663850994/time-is-on-your-side

36% of UK consumers say they contacted a brand using social media in 2011. 68% say it gives them more of voice. They’re wrong in that assumption – my experience is that social is generally managed by an external agency as a PR exercise. Big business hasn’t worked out what to do with social yet. http://www.fishburn-hedges.co.uk/images/ThesocialmediacustomerFULLREPORT.pdf

Great for all us Facebook bears – an agency chief confirms how badly Facebook advertising performs. Hope you didn’t invest. http://www.businessinsider.com/agency-boss-facebook-ads-are-some-of-the-worst-performing-ad-units-on-the-web-2012-5

Docomo’s acquisition of mobile media giant Buonjiorno looks a bit toppy on price, but should offer fabulous opportunities in emerging markets, where simpler mobile media is still in a huge growth phase. http://www.rethink-wireless.com/2012/05/16/docomo-aims-i-mode-effect.htm

Tablets count as mobile in this definition. The Financial Times will make more money from digital subscriptions than print subscriptions this year. http://thenextweb.com/media/2012/05/18/the-financial-times-predicts-more-digital-subscribers-than-it-sells-print-copies-by-end-of-year/

Traditional still has plenty of miles left in it. French TV group TF1 made $56.1Mn last year from syndicating The Voice to 12 countries. Wow. http://www.rapidtvnews.com/index.php/2012051521868/tf1-brings-in-561m-with-shines-format-the-voice.html

Perhaps traditional companies are also learning that DRM won’t save them from the “scourge” of piracy. Here’s hoping for a softer approach (as suggested by this article). http://paidcontent.org/2012/05/18/a-kinder-gentler-drm

Business models

A terrifying graph that shows how government spending has shifted towards propping up healthcare and social security. Transport and in particular research totally neglected. At least defence has decreased. Small mercies – we’re becoming societies dependent on handouts. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/05/14/152671813/50-years-of-government-spending-in-1-graph

Fortunately, there are some people willing to work for a living. Here’s a really interesting set of anecdotes about the success of Stanford as an incubator for new technology businesses. It’s been profitable too: in 9 years, it’s taken $17Bn in endowments alone. Amazing. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/04/30/120430fa_fact_auletta?currentPage=all

Groupon is a disaster of a business. This article explains how their last quarter’s losses were 50% larger than they expected. I give them another year or so before it all goes massively pear shaped. http://go.bloomberg.com/tech-blog/2012-03-30-so-whats-groupon-talking-about/

An interview with a group of Professors who’ve spent their careers working out how our fear of death affects our behaviours. Some interesting experiments in there – the fact that those reminded of their own mortality are much less sympathetic and more judgemental being one. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/05/how-the-unrelenting-threat-of-death-shapes-our-behavior/256728/

On a similar topic, I’m reminded of this research from 2008 that linked testosterone levels of traders in the morning to their profits in the evening. I’m very interested in the idea of monitoring the physical and mental well being and the output of high value employees in the same way as we do with star athletes. I wonder whether it would be effective. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414174855.htm

One way or the other, if you have got great employees, don’t trap them in meaningless process. So many companies do... http://www.fastcompany.com/1837301/5-ways-process-kills-productivity

Technology

Virtualising GPUs en-masse is a step towards cloud-based gaming for everyone... I’d love to be able to play my XBox games on my phone as part of my Xbox Live subscription, for example. Nvidia could make all this possible. I’m getting (a little) more bullish about them. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/16/nvidia_vgx_gpu_virtualization/

I love this. By creating chips that don’t have the add-ons that create perfect results, you can create a CPU that is 15x more efficient than today’s best in class. 80:20 rule in silicon format, if you like. http://www.futurity.org/top-stories/faulty-computer-chip-is-15x-more-efficient/

Thailand is buying 400,000 tablet computers to revolutionise its education system. If I were a publisher of academic text books, I would be very worried as digital channels + educated philanthropists means plenty of free education materials. http://www.futuregov.asia/articles/2012/may/11/thailand-signs-us328-mil-tablet-deal-chinese-firm/

It actually didn’t make it to the space station (or off the pad) because of a fault, but even so, Space X is the future of space travel. Another amazing story this week. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679870/space-x-to-take-a-private-spaceship-farther-than-ever-before

Superpower politics

I can’t decide whether I believe that Apple will buy Loewe. I do love the latter company, but I’m not sure why Apple would want it when their Studio range of monitors are all you’d need to base a 4K TV around. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-13/loewe-declines-to-comment-on-report-apple-to-buy-company.html

Confirming what we all thought: Google+ the social network is not engaging users... but that’s not a surprise – Google won’t really care whether people use the site, they just want us all to login to all of the services they provide – mail, maps and YouTube being just three of them. Plenty of us are doing just that. http://info.rjmetrics.com/blog/bid/56123/New-Google-Plus-Data-Shows-Weak-User-Engagement

Still, it’s not all bad news for Google – their acquisition of Motorola Mobility has finally been cleared by the Chinese government, provided they guarantee free access to Android for 5 years. Android is vital for Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese mobile manufacturers if they want to compete in global markets. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hYN2wSrLpjlkw315NjrmHTeNEq2Q?docId=adfa482ccdf348208c46b2181a3d5337

Apple’s customer service is a differentiator says tech blogger. Duh. http://gigaom.com/apple/survey-says-apple-customer-service-a-secret-weapon

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