Monday, 13 August 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: Russian maps Internet, games provide refuge, eBay delivers, BYOD turns nasty and Apple Fancies pinterest competitor

Digital media

Blippar is getting more mainstream. Following a tie up with London’s Stylist magazine, the company managed to persuade 7% of readers to augment the magazine content using the application. They do need to be more integrated to really succeed, however.

A new magazine for self-publishers launched last week. Ironically, it isn’t self-published, but seeing as the US s-p market was $20-$30Mn last year, it should tap into a growing based of aspiring, amateur writers.

It wouldn’t be digital media news without a bit of bad news for Facebook, so here it is. An Australian court has ruled that Facebook brand pages are adverts and therefore governed by advertising standards. Another complexity for marketers to get around and another barrier to Facebook becoming an advertising powerhouse.

“How to be a tech’ entrepreneur without knowing how to code”. How this cr@p is still being put out, I do not know. Worth a read for the comedy value alone.

A marvellous article that explores the cues that make video games addictive.

Business models

I sort of feel sorry for HMV shareholders, in that they’ve had totally the wrong management team in place for the last three years and has thereby turned a difficult situation into an irretrievable one. I stand by my previous thoughts on the issue – as clothing retailers have done, HMV need to remember how to merchandise and how to create a retail experience. Racks of semi-functional headphones ain’t that.

Google’s new London office opened its doors the other day. Looking inside, it’s easy to mock – as the article does – the expensive and unusual fittings, but that’s missing the point. Exciting, interesting office layouts are more stimulating for people to work in and doubtless help creativity. Mainstream corporations should take note.

eBay is testing a same-day delivery model in San Francisco. I can see this kind of model becoming common place as logistics systems become more enabled with mobile, GPS and distributed computing. I’ll have that DVD now, thanks, HMV. Oh... wait...

Square is a really neat technology that allows any smartphone user to process credit card payments by using a small attachment. From later this year 7,000 US Starbuck restaurants will be using the technology to take payments from customers. What interests me most about this is that it might hasten the deployment of new payment concepts like contactless cards, which currently take time to deploy because of the replacement cycle for terminals. We shall see.

A superbly written article about the demise of 38 Studios, a state backed games developer in Rhode Island, which collapsed taking $75Mn of tax payer money with it. An interesting study in the psychology of corporate failure in the second dotcom boom.

I debated whether to put this in, but have erred on the side of sharing. claims to be the social sharing service that Twitter should have been. API driven and independent of advertisers it could enable information sharing unencumbered by news feeds and wall posts... except that the business model doesn’t stack up. No one would pay $50 a year for Twitter.

BYOD (bring your own device) is one of the buzzwords of 2012 tech’. This article shows the chaos that follows uninformed Managers’ decision to implement it. One company bought 14,000 tablets without any clear strategy. I’ve heard another one about an organisation that bought 1,000 Kobo ereaders, likewise, with no idea what to do with them. Paperweights?


This is a fun infographic that plots likely times at which new technologies will emerge. I’m sure it’s totally wrong, but it is entertaining, nonetheless.

An article claiming that tablets will replace the smartphone. I think this is wrong, in that I don’t imagine phones will lose their current functionality. What I do think is that the current expansion in phone screen sizes will cease and then reverse as 7” tablets become more mainstream. There’s also the wonderous possibility of heads up display in the very near future, which renders screen size a somewhat moot point.

Old news, but I just stumbled upon it. Back in February scientists at the University of New South Wales made a single atom transistor. One could see this as either the continuation or the end of Moore’s Law, but don’t get too excited – I’d suggest we’re 15 years away from seeing similar technology in even the mightiest of super-computers.

Until then, we’ll need to keep engineering for speed. This short and accessible article talks about the underpinnings of HTTP 2.0, which should start to speed up the web by introducing parallelism to previously serial processes.

Voice over LTE is finally here. No surprises that South Korea (or “Good Korea” as my other half refers to them) are leading the way. Don’t expect to see it in the UK anytime soon – the standard for it is not yet ratified.

Twheel is worth a download – it visualises Twitter data into a very mod circular format. Fun and informative.

And on the subject of virtualisation, here’s a giant map of the Internet. Cool.

Emerging markets

A fascinating piece on the nature of information security in Africa. Everything will be hacked, so deal with it!

Superpower politics

Interesting. Apple is supposedly considering a move for Pinterest competitor The Fancy. If so, this would mark their first step into mainstream retail enablement... or alternatively it’s a neat rumour that will drive increased sign up rates for The Fancy!

Google’s well documented (tee hee) book scanning programme was aimed at keeping web searchers away from Amazon, it transpires. Smart.

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