Tuesday, 28 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: I’m sad for Facebook and Onlive, Sony move mobile, Samsung launch dozens of products but lose out to Apple and retro nukes over Vegas

Digital media

I feel sorry for Onlive – the cloud-based console – in that they have great technology but have hit the market too soon to make much of an impact. Now Sony and Gaikai are together the writing is rather on the wall. To the detriment of early investors, such as HTC. http://www.zdnet.com/htc-loses-40m-in-onlive-restructuring-7000002856/

I also feel sorry for Facebook. Their earlier swagger is really being knocked out of them post-IPO. Here’s an article slating their Android app. http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-android-app-employees-2012-8

2/3 of the top grossing mobile applications are free to download, generating their revenues through in-app purchases. Classic freemium and worth noting, particularly for all those content owners who’d like to monetise their archives with idevice products. http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-in-app-purchasing-is-driving-mobile-app-revenue-2012-8

Another story about smartphones as health and wellness devices. This will start to really take off in 2013, in my opinion. http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670506/heart-monitor-iphone-app-works-by-scanning-the-blood-in-your-face

Nook, the Kindle-aping Barnes and Noble ereader that has been so successful in the US is coming to the UK. Personally I’m doubtful it will be a big hit here. B&N have a great and popular retail estate in the US to sell it through, but the only option in the UK – Waterstones – are Kindle sellers and I’d be surprised if major electrical retailers would want to be exclusive to Nook. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-08/21/nook-in-the-uk

You’ll have to sign up for this report on trends in ad buying for luxury brands, but it’s probably worth it. The summary is that traditional ad spending on TV is switching to online video. My take on this is that luxury brands – like many of their customers – are pretty conservative consumers of media and therefore the shift in spending to digital has been delayed. http://www.martinimediainc.com/luxurystudy/


Sony Mobile are closing their Swedish headquarters and moving to the centre of excellence in mobile phone design. No wait, they’re actually moving to Tokyo to get closer to global handset success stories such as Sharp, NEC and Panasonic. Oh dear. http://thenextweb.com/asia/2012/08/23/sony-mobile-cut-1000-jobs-globally-move-headquarters-japan-restructuring-move/

Opera – the other mobile browser, once linked with Facebook (remember them?) – posted another round of strong quarterlies. It seems that contrary to my original belief there is some money in non-ecosystem browsers for semi-smart devices. http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/22/opera-q2-mobile-browse/

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 has just been released. Here’s an early review. It’s okay, but since it’s the same price as an iPad, you’d have to be certifiable to actually buy one with your own money. In my opinion. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/08/samsung-galaxy-note-10-1-hands-on-a-solid-tablet-with-big-shoes-to-fill/

Still, I have to question Samsung’s general product strategy. They’ve just launched a 5.8” tablet/ media player. Just in case the 5.5” Galaxy note or the 7” Galaxy Tab weren’t quite the right size. I’m sure it doesn’t cost too much more to make these extra formats, but it’s pretty confusing for buyers. http://www.slashgear.com/samsung-galaxy-player-5-8-ramps-ipod-rivalry-to-5-8-inches-27243954/

Business models

A talk by the founder of Whipcar, a UK service that lets people rent cars off each other. His talk is on collaborative consumption and really is rather good. http://mediaevolution.23video.com/video/6909179/vinay-gupta-access-over

Emerging markets

Africa’s top selling mobile handsets. Nokia still prominent... http://www.itnewsafrica.com/2012/08/africas-top-selling-mobile-handsets/

A great summary article on el-Reg about how the cybercrime industry in China has industrialised fraud to an unprecedented level, using public facing sites for communications and dropping into defined “value chain” roles. Very interesting. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/08/18/baidu_tencent_used_by_chinese_cyber_crims/

It seems that the cold war is starting up again, although this time the “iron curtain” is somewhere in the South China Sea. China is developing a new series of intercontinental missiles designed to penetrate US defences. The US is responding by reigniting missile defence programmes. In this light, the UK Strategic Defence Review looks short sighted. We live in dangerous times. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444812704577605591629039400.html

Snappify is the largest distributor of mobile content in emerging markets. An early example of African tech innovation taking on the world. http://www.itnewsafrica.com/2012/08/african-app-start-up-makes-global-impact/

A slightly unfortunate story for Orange – their cable laying ship “Chamarel” is aground and on fire off Namibia, where it was enroute to fix the SAT-3 cable. http://www.odin.tc/news/read.asp?articleID=1183

Superpower politics

Apple is now the most valuable company ever, but there’s more to come. I expect its valuation to have hit a trillion dollars by the end of 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/9488458/Apple-the-most-valuable-company.html

Apple has also – very publicly – given Samsung a slapping over patent infringement. I have to admit that I’m siding with the former on this one. Samsung’s early designs are clearly iPhone-aping... their latest ones look more like HTCs. I await that lawsuit with interest. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19377261

Despite their protests (and a rather pyrrhic victory in a Korean court) Samsung’s share price plummeted. Just shows the influence of the tech superpowers – cross them if you dare! http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/27/business/south-korea-apple-samsung/index.html

Just for fun

Crazy how attitudes of changed. In the 1950’s it was accepted that atomic bombs could be detonated with gay abandon, even this close to major population centres. http://www.retronaut.co/2012/08/las-vegas-mushroom-cloud-1953/

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