Friday, 22 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.

This week: Comscore disproves Zuck’s business model, Twitter doubles, Pinterest sells, China blocks Japan and Google outs Jelly Bean

Digital Media

Another report suggesting that print magazines can endure in the digital world. I wonder whether consumers only prefer print until the point that they start using tablet magazines. It’s difficult to conceive why you’d prefer digital until you use it in that format.

BSkyB continue to expand the portfolio of movies they can offer on demand via their excellent Sky Go service. This week they’ve added 700 Miramax titles to the bundle. Not many details of the deal have been released, but I’d estimate it to be worth between $75Mn and $100Mn to Miramax over the duration of the contract.

Let me see if I understand this properly. Facebook pays Comscore to write a report saying how good social network advertising is. In one case, there appears to be a statistically significant increase in sales for a brand through earned media... but that’s not how Facebook makes money. It sells display adverts. So, in reality, brands are better off being on Facebook but not paying. Hmmm...

And there’s worse news for Zuck as a pair of studies on the buying behaviour of social network users shows Pinterest members follow 40% more brands than Facebook users, and are nearly twice as likely to make a purchase. In fact, only about 10% of people have bought a product after a recommendation on Facebook. My only caveat to this finding is that I’d expect Pinterest to have a more “early adopter” profile and be more female oriented as a base (although I’m on it too ).

Here’s an awesome start up that’s helping small companies target the right customers on Etsy and Pinterest. Amazing how the price of this kind of complex analysis has plummeted in the last few years.

Daily Twitter users have doubled in the last year – the more data I see on this, the more I’m convinced that familiarity with social and the resultant fragmentation of usage will be the death of Facebook.

A short article about why display advertising isn’t a good brand advertising media. It just isn’t memorable enough...

Bloggers need to update at least 3-5 times a week and promote through social networks to significantly drive traffic. This has worked well for me but I notice a lot of brand blogs are much less frequent – seems like a simple thing to get right.

Business models

Electronic Arts has suffered a dramatic drop in share price in the last 9 months. This article explains why – a combination of an underperforming marquee title and a broader concern in the market over the transition to business models based on micropayment and wide portfolios. I actually think the fall in price is exaggerated versus genuine loss of value. EA still has some mighty brands to fall back on and a prime position to exploit the greatly increasing graphics capabilities of all kinds of consumption device.

Emerging markets

China’s “great firewall” has blocked its first top level domain. sites were out for several days this week, demonstrating the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to continue to restrict free speech. Do business with these people at your peril.

A month ago I posted a link to a story about America’s two-faced attitude to Internet openness. Here’s a similar report about the way that US Government policy helps African autocrats stay in power.


Eat your heart out Retina – the US military now has a gigapixel camera... not sure I’d like my holiday snaps that detailed though...

Superpower politics

Some amazing statistics about the iOS market. Apple makes $4Bn a year from the app store. So much for the idea that it’s a loss leader for them – most companies would kill for that sort of income. Great analysis too...

Ipod/ phone integration is a pretty much standard feature in new cars. This brief article talks about how Apple want to deepen that integration by adding hands free control of other functions, such as the turn-by-turn navigation they announced for iOS 6.

Microsoft is the undisputed market leader in gaming and this leaked documentation about the Xbox 720 shows that they’re serious about holding on to that lead. Think true 1080p gaming, integration with cloud-based GPUs and augmented reality heads-up displays. Amongst other things. I want one!

One thing I think they’ve got wrong, however, is the marketing of their (cool-looking) Surface Tablet. Companies never seem to learn that you need to get products in stores within a couple of weeks of announcing them – the 4 month wait for Surface mean that its chances of success are severely degraded. Why not just go out and buy an iPad?

Amazon announced in April that they’re no longer going to provide affiliate services to independent booksellers. This will drive those booksellers onto another platform, which Amazon probably doesn’t care about – Kindle is fast becoming the industry standard book consumption ecosystem. Now they just need to persuade the publishers to do something about pricing.

Following last week’s iOS 6 and Windows 8 launches, Google this week accidentally outed the launch of Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean”.

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