Friday, 15 June 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.

I've been on vacation this week, so the list is a little shorter than usual - normal (verbose!) service will resume next week!

This week: Nokia & booksellers take a battering, Microsoft on buying/ launching spree & Aussies beat Cisco at own game

Digital Media
Amazon has added MGM titles to its Prime video streaming service. They're becoming a real threat to Netflix now...

Tesco makes a lot of money out of selling media in stores, so it makes sense to cover all he bases in digital. This week it acquired We7 - a kind of low rent LastFM. Cheap, though, so worth it as a hedge for Blinkbox, if nothing else.

Digital is having a devastating effect on book selling as well. 65 independent booksellers have gone under in the last year and physical book sales are at a 9 year low.

Business models

As Nokia's share price tumbles again on weaker than expected Q2 results, the company's market capitalisation has now fallen well below its cash reserves and to an all time low against revenues. This article explains the multitude of potential buyers for such a business. Personally, I expect them to stay independent for now - Nokia is too complex for a P-E buyer and there's no obvious trade buyer in the wings.

Even now, the banks think the shares can fall further. Bad times in Espoo, but I can't help wondering whether the company is anything like as badly off as the banks and markets are making out. Lumia demonstrates that they can still make awesome products that people love and the phone market is fickle - look at HTC's fall as an example of that.

This interesting infographic shows how obsessed Amazon is with cost saving. Removing the lightbulbs from 20,000 vending machines to save money? Check.

The is a little bit 'Team America', however it's interesting to see the diversity of tech hubs in the US, compared to other countries.

None of them will be IPO-ing before Labor Day though... even GS thinks the bubble isn't as bubbly as it was pre-Facebook.

Taxi apps are suddenly coming to market all around the world - here's one for New York.


Lytro cameras record light as a vector field so that you can choose the focal point after taking the shot. This Wired article explains how the magic happens.

Microsoft has filed a patent for a dual screen mobile device technology that allows users split their display using magnetic docking... I can't explain it very well: read the link!

Zeptronics - an Australian startup - claims to have launched the world's fastest network switch. Remarkable if they've managed to beat Cisco at their own game...

Emerging markets

The interesting parts of this otherwise rather bland interview with Zain Africa's Head of VAS (Value Added Services) is his extensive experience in global telecoms and the answer to question 3, where he mentions African start up VAS developers. Their emergence is crucial to create a sustainable technology economy on the continent.

Speaking of VAS; Orange has extended its partnership with media streaming service, Deezer, to cover its extensive African operations. This makes a lot of sense as there is a growing middle class with a great appetite for high quality content and a vast swathe of (mainly coastal) bandwidth to get that content into the country.

Superpower politics

Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer will only strengthen its Office product still further. Remember, we're only a year out from the Skype acquisition - Office will soon look very social indeed...

...and could it feature on an upcoming Microsoft Tablet? We shall find out on Monday. If it has good X-Box integration, I'm buying. A week without my console has proved rather harder than I expected!

It seems, though, that Metro - the interface for Windows 8 - could be very unpopular with enterprise customers. It marks a total change of direction and could mean mass retraining for users. Although I feel for enterprise IT departments, the wind is against them. Consumer tech' now drives the market and businesses will have to adapt. Sorry guys.

Apple's latest Retina device is the Macbook Pro, which has double the resolution of your average laptop screen. More importantly, it will also (shortly) feature Mountain Lion, the latest incarnation of Mac OS, which will continue to blur the lines between Mac and i-device operating systems.

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