Saturday, 20 October 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: Nintendo takes us inside Wii U, NYT plans pan-territory newspapers, Pinterest serves up inspiration and MS accidentally kills Surface

Digital media

Canada’s TV market grew this year. Cord-cutting is rife of course. Rife!

I suppose it’s good to have your assumptions validated. Turns out that those who tweet the most have the most followers. I’ll stop there.

70% of Pinterest users say they use it to get inspiration on what to buy, versus only 17% of Facebook users. I always divide these consumer behaviour statements by three to get to the actual number of people purchasing. It’s a rule of thumb. It’s probably wrong. So sue me.

Small to medium businesses (SMBs in the trade, darling) are oft cited as a significant growth opportunity by companies who aren’t big with consumers or large enterprises. Having worked in SMBs, I’m sceptical, since these are the most frugal, generally risk averse buyers in the market. Advertising inherently requires a modicum of risk to be taken. Anyway, it turns out the spend is roughly flat and fewer than 20% of those surveyed said that they weren’t doing any social marketing. That’s quite a lot of profiles and groups on Facebook that are fallow or impersonal.

The New York Times launches another venture that suggests at a pan-national future for newspapers. An online paper aimed at LATAM. I’ll watch this one with interest.

Business models

3 years after going free, the London Evening Standard is profitable again. Those seeking to replicate the model should take into account the fact that London is one of the largest commuter cities in the world and those commuters are substantially wealthier than average. It’s a potent advertising brew of reach and attractive audience that few other locales can replicate.

Nokia’s losses widened in the third quarter, however Stephen Elop and his team still deserve great credit for returning their networks business NSN to profit. If they can turn that around, perhaps they can do the same in devices... I still think they need to go Android. But that’s just me.

Wowsers, Batman. Bring Your Own Device (aka BYOD – don’t say I don’t educate you :) ) is a la mode again. It turns out, however, that 1 in 5 executives are using their own devices without recourse to a company policy on data storage and without encryption. According to Cisco, at least, who doubtless have a network switch for that.

So now we know. Softbank, Japan’s second mobile operator, have purchased Sprint for $20b. Not sure I really understand this one, to be honest. Although the US mobile market probably still has growth in it, it’s roughly as competitive as Japan’s near-duopoly. Softbank will have to pump in tens billions to give Sprint a level playing field against AT&T and Verizon. All the while Docomo will be sensing blood in the water in Softbank’s domestic market. I can feel failure coming on.


I’ve thought for a while that tablets could do with getting bigger, to take full advantage of the fact that many never leave the sitting room and a bigger screen is great for watching movies, browsing the web etc... Sony agrees. Here’s a glowing review of their new 20” tablet. Yes, you read that right. It’s a Windows 8 monster tab.

I’m surprised that Eidos believe that low broadband speeds are holding the industry back. Other than latency (is that really still a problem in developed markets?), online games are actually reasonably bandwidth efficient. There is a question of delivery of titles to consoles, but that’s really a minor point. Just download the title overnight already...

A look inside the hardware of Nintendo’s Wii U. Major changes: CPU and GPU on the same chip. Heat produced up three fold, combated by a larger heat sink and faster rotating fan. Can’t help thinking they should have licensed PS3 from Sony – they’ll be done with it soon and PS3 still has markedly more horsepower than the Wii U.

Superpower politics

Apple’s seemingly certain launch of a small tablet has caught a few headlines. Personally I’d like to see them launch a 13” iPad at the same time, but I think it’s unlikely. Slow and steady for them at the moment. Note that the live blogging has already started, days before the actual launch.

I’ve been saying it for months – Apple’s share price is headed for $1,000. Here’s another opinion that I like, because it validates my own. No danger there.

Microsoft have put the nail in the coffin of its Surface tablet by pricing at $499. It’s as good as an iPad, so it should be priced like one... no wait, none of that’s true. Sigh.

Hmm... a bit of blunder from Google/ NASDAQ (again). Accidentally publishing weaker than expected results ahead of time doesn’t inspire confidence in either area. That said, it doesn’t surprise me that costs are up so much. The industry is in flux due to the accelerating pace at which computing is proliferating and going mobile (or at least, smart/ wireless), so it makes sense for Google to invest ahead of the curve.

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