Friday, 31 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: football on Youtube, Amazon gets romantic, Ryan & Ferguson have their facts check, cyber-attacks up 1000% and Harvard makes bionic skin

Digital media

Prismatic is worth downloading – it’s a learning news aggregator app that uses your social network behaviour to recommend stories. It’s quite good too.

There’ll now be a “best of world football” channel on Youtube, the latest in a long line of premium content to come to the service, which is fast becoming a cornerstone of online monetisation strategies for premium content.

10% of magazine adverts now contain an action code, be it QR or AR. The proportion carrying action codes has doubled in a year, suggesting that advertisers are finding increasing benefit in using the mass market appeal of traditional print to drive direct responses on the Internet.

College students are supposed to hate TV and love online... except it turns out that 42% say that TV adverts are the most effective type of advertising, massively outstripping the next nearest format. TV. Definitely dead.

Amazon seems set on becoming a publisher and has now added 1,000 titles from defunct publisher Dorchester to the 3,500 titles they acquired from Avalon earlier this year. This is an interesting development as the relationship between Amazon and publishers has been somewhat strained over the rise of the Kindle. Having its own content is one way Amazon will seek to hedge the risk of a rift developing, although in truth 5,000 titles is fairly meaningless and the publishers need Amazon’s channel as much as Amazon needs them.

I’m a big believer in the use of digital tools in the workplace to create culture and instigate pseudo-democratic decision making that enables a crowd of experts to prioritise initiatives. This Fast Company article looks into the movers and shakers. Interestingly, I’m bearish about Yammer – it falls between too many stools and is therefore largely useless as a business tool.

Following Paul Ryan’s rather inaccurate address at the Republican Convention and Niall Ferguson’s equally error strewn rant about Obama’s record, there has been a run on fact checking emails and more calls for open journalism. The issue for me is that there are very few facts in the world and very many potential interpretations based on the available data. Therefore anyone can find an inaccuracy or inconsistency if they look hard enough. I worry that the core messages are obscured by pedantry. Facts are less interesting than opinions.

Business models

Now this is a fascinating business model and – I think – the first of many media companies to offer connection + content. The Wall Street Journal are offering free hotspot access for subscribers to their digital edition at a number of New York locations. I can see this coming to London soon.

With a new Director General in place, I expect to see lots of rumours about the future of various BBC services. In-house production is one of its crown jewels and although I can see it becoming more commercial a la ITV Studios, I can’t see the corporation going fully competitive. We see.

I’m not sure whether this super-hi-tech Brazilian bank actually offers the experience it promises, but I’d actually be keen to visit it... unlike the drab, 80’s Lloyds branch round the corner from our office. Their computers have CRT monitors. Retro, and not in a good way. In seriousness, perhaps Metro Bank and Virgin Bank could go the Brazilian way in the UK. It would certainly shake things up and bring the online and offline banking worlds closer together.

Google have released another wonderful free resource – an index of global broadband pricing covering many countries and thousands of data points. Brilliant stuff.

Emerging markets

Emerging markets may now support more rich people, but security remains an issue. Fortunately Bentley have the answer in their new armoured range. I’ll have two... Fulham is a dangerous place!

Cyber security

I said at the start of the year that cyber attacks and data loss stories would increase in frequency, and here’s the supporting evidence. Data breaches up 1,000% in 5 years. The major culprits? Government and local authorities. What a surprise.


Harvard researchers have created an artificial skin that’s compatible with our own. A truly groundbreaking technology, even if restrictive medical regulations will mean a decade of approvals before it can be used.

And, in another feat of bionics, Australian medical researchers have created a fully integrated bionic eye that interfaces with the brain. Startling technology.

The term “post-PC” is mindless jingoism. In this link, Michael Dell points out that since it was coined, PC sales have tripled. He also says some other interesting things about the future of personal computing.

It looks like the iPhone 5 will have NFC. I don’t expect this to have many implications as the technology offers relatively limited customer benefit, but stranger things have happened. Perhaps we’ll all ditch our plastic cards next year.

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