Friday, 25 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: Yahoo banks $7.1Bn, having bought Instagram, Facebook launches new Instagram, Apple ups manufacturing capacity ahead of mystery launch and it’s Chickenball time for Big Data

Digital media

In a week of bad online tech’ news (thanks Facebook!), Yahoo have just made themselves a cool $7.1Bn by selling half of its stake in troublesome Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba. http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/yahoo-sells-alibaba-stake-for-7-1-billion-21-05-2012/

66% of national advertisers in the USA are also spending on local advertising. An interesting finding, but I suspect volumes are small – targeting and high ROI are even harder to achieve at the local level. Flip side is that I suspect a brilliant local campaign is very much more differentiated than a brilliant national one (because it’s much rarer!). http://balihoo.com/thanks/research-microstudy-national-brand-use-local-marketing

The Times will be read more online than in print by 2014... which says more about its decline in print than uptake of digital. http://paidcontent.org/2012/05/22/timesdigital/

I really don’t understand Facebook. Having spent a billion bucks on Instagram, they’re now launched their own copycat service. Bizarre. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/25/facebook_camera_app_on_itunes/

A very interesting little article about the nature of the Millennial Generation – narcissistic, socialist, spend thrift and broke. I’m really interested by what happens when they hit the management layer. http://theweek.com/article/index/228213/narcissistic-broke-and-6-other-ways-to-describe-the-millennial-generation

Emerging markets

Not TMT, but interesting – an article about why some countries are richer than others. Nicely crafted. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/jun/07/what-makes-countries-rich-or-poor/?pagination=false

A mobile money success story in Rwanda, where 6% of MTNs customers are active users of its MobileMoney service. MPESA is much talked about in the developed world as a basis for demand for NFC-based mobile payment. In reality the success of these schemes is patchy and they are far from universally well-regarded. Telcos would be wise to remember this before committing 10’s of millions to these schemes. http://mmublog.org/blog/mtn-mobilemoney-in-rwanda-a-new-mobile-money-success-story

More incredible, Africa’s first supercomputer is about to fire up in Nairobi. Facilities like this are fundamental if Kenya wants to build upon its early lead in digital and become a genuine technology innovator. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/05/africa-developing-its-first-supercomputer-outside-south-africa/

Google has made its mapping software available in Syria. Previously blocked, one hopes that it will be a boon to the resistance in that country. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/256143/google_to_offer_mapping_and_other_software_in_syria.html

Technology

To be honest, I’m surprised that only 80% of phones shipped are Android or iOS. Even so, I expect a gradual rally by Windows Phone as it’s still the best O/S on the market from a functionality and UI perspective. Nokia’s next launch will be crucial. http://www.mobile-ent.biz/news/read/eight-out-of-ten-smartphones-shipped-are-android-or-ios

Some of these new phones will be running Nvidia’s Tegra smartphone architecture – the company says there’ll be 30 devices using it this year. Still a fraction of the market, though. http://www.slashgear.com/nvidia-30-tegra-3-smartphones-coming-in-2012-24229890/

Judging by the frequency with which they’re adorning the faces of Google executives I suspect it won’t be too long before smartphones will be connected to heads-up displays built into eye glasses. This is the next interface revolution. http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/45756/larry-page-spotted-wearing-google-augmented-reality-specs

CDNs have found an interesting new niche as application accelerators. Although the glory days of the late ‘90’s are long gone, companies like Yottaa are still attracting decent slugs of investment, in this case for mobile experience improvement. http://blog.streamingmedia.com/the_business_of_online_vi/2012/05/cdn-yottaa-raises-9m-in-series-b-round-wants-to-become-the-next-cotendo.html

It’s little surprise that London has been selected for Intel’s smart city project. The tech sector is booming here and the population is one of the most digitally enabled in the world... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/25/intel_research_institute_london/


...and we’re not shooting ourselves in the feet, like rival hub, Berlin, whose restrictive taxes and screwed up airport expansion are set to suppress growth. Excellent. http://gigaom.com/europe/berlin-startups-airport-tax

I love this sort of thing – technologists are using massive data processing to analyse the sounds that chicken flocks make in order to optimise the conditions they’re living in dynamically. Chickenball. Smart. http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/agricultural_sciences/listening_chickens_improve_poultry_production_195776.html

Superpower politics

A lot of what happens in the TMT world is fallout from superpower decisions. Here, Apple’s decision to buy up Taiwanese memory supplies cost Samsung $10Bn in market capitalisation overnight. http://m.firstpost.com/investing/apple-elpida-alliance-rumours-cause-samsung-to-lose-10-bn-312062.html

More is going on with Apple though – this report is a little financial in nature, but in summary it says that Apple has really ramped up its ability to build electronics devices this quarter. Is another big launch coming? http://www.asymco.com/2012/05/22/up-to-eleven/

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