Friday, 21 September 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: BT’s vanity project lures starlet, Fortune 500 oblivious to the Internet, Nigeria’s 1st mogul, Google slaps Alibaba & Acer, iPhone best Apple ever

Digital media

US TV ad spending continues to grow ahead of the market. Dead format, of course. In its death throes.

That said, US pay TV households do seem to be falling a little – down 1.3% in Q1. I’d like to know exactly where this Neilsen data came from though – it’s not perfectly clear and may be self-reported.

A presentation on social media ROI by Altimeter. Succinct and fun.

Shoppers referred from Pinterest purchase twice as many goods as those referred from Twitter or Facebook, according to a study... BUT, this contrasts with a survey from 2 months ago that said the opposite. What this shows is the pitfalls of self-reported data, particularly on small sample sizes or new services.

This is one of the dumbest moves I’ve ever seen. Small bookseller Gardners launching its own “colour ereader” – or rubbish tablet – to compete with Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung. I hope they haven’t invested much money in this, because they have no chance of success. Why not just create an app?

This is superb – Michael Dell is now worth more than Mark Zuckerberg. Poor Zuck. Only a multi-billionaire. Sad times.

I’m amazed by this, but apparently only a quarter of Fortune 500 companies have public facing blogs. It’s as if the Internet never happened.

Business models

Entrepreneur Nalden speaks about Wetransfer – a really smart and profitable business and business model. Worth a read.

Jake Humphreys, an upcoming “star” BBC presenter has joined BT Vision to front their sports coverage... I just can’t get comfortable with the amount of money BT are pouring into what increasingly looks like a vanity project. A billion pounds builds a lot of global infrastructure that would enable them to compete properly with Verizon, Docomo and other wholesale players. A billion pounds to compete with Sky is like flushing it away in my view. If I were a shareholder, I’d be out.


LG’s smartphone fight back is the entertaining title to this FT article. Just to be clear, they have no chance at all at the $900 price point against HTC and Samsung, let alone Apple.

Speaking of HTC, they’ve just announced the launch of 2 new Windows 8 phones as they try and regain lost ground against Samsung. It’ll be hard graft though – they’ve lost 10 percentage points of market share in the last 18 months and I’m unconvinced that they’ve solved the customer service and branding issues they’ve had since becoming a branded (rather than an OEM) player.

Here’s a review of one of said Windows 8 devices. The focus on media capabilities is an indicator of how Microsoft want to differentiate their O/S. The One X features Beats audio and 2 amplifiers to improve delivery and fidelity.

Poor Nokia are being slammed for their failure to get out a compelling Windows device. They aren’t even the launch partner for the software – HTC stole a march on them there. Sad times in Espoo.

This is a great vision of the future of air travel from Airbus – I particularly like the idea of aircraft flocking together like birds to conserve fuel.

Google have posted a video shot at New York Fashion week with Glass. Pretty awesome – the quality is impressive and the first person view surreal.

Also in New York, some radical urban planners are trying to create an underground park in an abandoned trolley station. A brilliant and creative use of scarce urban space and showcasing some cutting edge light farming techniques.

Emerging markets

A well written piece on an aspiring Nollywood mogul... by my brother, no less. What’s really fascinating in the Iroko model is that it exists in a TV broadcast vacuum – online is the only distribution channel for this content, so it dominates. Whether it will do so as the market matures will be really interesting to watch.

Latin America is also a hotbed of technology and media entrepreneurism. A link to an article on the subject:

Liberia was one of the worst countries in my recent analysis of affordability of broadband in Africa. This FT article points at a brighter future now that the ACE cable has been landed and true broadband is on the verge of becoming available.

Nine business opportunities in Africa... which reveals the paucity of infrastructure on the continent and how those with capital can become billionaires. I’m all in on the poultry transport.

South East Asia’s mobile market continues to grow, with smartphones up 78% on the year. Mobile phones are also growing, highlighting the importance of cross over devices with some smart and some mobile phone characteristics. “Function” from the former; “price” from the latter. Smartphones are 25% of the market at the moment.


Microsoft is taking on the Nitol botnet with a nest of lawsuits against criminals providing counterfeit Microsoft software for use on “box fresh” PCs to distribute their infection. The message here is to buy a legitimate PC or build your own. Or use a Mac.

US consumers are more likely to be willing to share their religious affiliation than their browsing history. Shows the difference between what they want you to believe about them and how they actually behave, I suspect.

Superpower politics

Google had Acer’s launch of an Alibaba smartphone canned at the last minute because they didn’t want competition with Android. Now that’s influence.

Google are back on the acquisition trail too, having snapped up German photo editing tool Snapseed. Snapseed is pretty cool, by the way – a better edit system than instagram. And sooo much cheaper.

The iPhone 4 had “antennagate”, the iPhone 5 has “mapgate”. Apple’s new maps application isn’t as good as Google’s. What a shock. But it’ll be fixed and rivals expecting it to impede sales will be sorely disappointed.

Here’s a collection of reviews. Basically, iPhone 5 is the best thing Apple have ever made. Let’s see how well it sells.

A big advocacy piece on why to buy Microsoft. I agree with the balance sheet reasons for owning the stock, however I really think that Windows 8 is make or break in operating systems. I’m not convinced that a heavyweight O/S like Windows is as relevant now as in the past, particularly as PCs are increasingly creation-only devices, their entertainment functionality being pushed across onto slate-type devices, be they TVs, smartphones or tablets.

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