Friday, 26 October 2012

What I've been reading this week

This week I’m going to go counter-trend and say nothing about Surface or the tiny iPad or the sleek new Macs. You’ve all heard enough about those things and I can’t add much. Instead, this post is a collection of the less well publicised articles that have caught my eye.

This week: CMOs slam mobile, Mayer prepares for Yahoo! future, Penguin House emerges from shadows, future of wearables and connected cars in focus

Digital media

CMOs aren’t happy with the results they’re seeing from mobile advertising. Not a surprise to me – the techniques of mobile advertising are not well established at the moment, so trial and error is inevitable. http://www.digiday.com/brands/brands-struggle-in-mobile/

Some Olympic Games sponsors saw a lift in brand awareness. I hope it was worth it! http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/topics/branding/some-olympics-sponsors-enjoyed-lift-in-brand-awareness-esteem-24181/

It is a little silly that ebooks are counted as software and therefore attract VAT in the UK. That said, it is a bit cheeky passing those charges onto publishers. Naughty Amazon! http://www.thebookseller.com/news/amazon-charging-publishers-20-e-book-vat.html

Five ways in which Marissa Mayer will change Yahoo!. Mobile! Search! Relevance! Acquisitions! Five ways in which Yahoo!. Another! Executive! Revolving! Door! Victim! Allegedly. http://paidcontent.org/2012/10/22/5-ways-marissa-mayer-plans-to-change-yahoo/

Oh, and here they go: Yahoo! purchases Stamp, a generic mobile recommendations service. http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/25/yahoo-bought-stamped

Emerging markets

Egypt is targeting creating another 20,000 IT jobs in 2013, having seen 10,000 new positions in the sector in 2012. Small beans in international terms, but an indicator of the importance African countries place on the sector. http://www.itnewsafrica.com/2012/10/egypt-wants-20000-new-it-jobs-in-2013/

Vodafone is adding international money transfer capability to its MPESA mobile banking service. I’m sure this story will end up used as justification for similar initiatives in developed countries. Sigh. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6cda7980-1c69-11e2-a63b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2AO94MmOQ

Oligarchy is alive and well in Brazil, where news barons have pulled their new feeds from Google. All the better for keeping the story to themselves and I suspect a move that will ultimately backfire – Brazilians are avid social media users and they quite like Google too. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/23/brazil_newspapers_withdraw_from_google_news/

Business models

It turns out newspapers missed the boat on digital because they couldn’t believe the scale of the change. Should have bought your disruption manual, eh, Clay? Or perhaps you’ve run out of new ideas so need to bring out another tired example from your archives. http://gigaom.com/2012/10/22/clay-christensen-newspapers-and-the-cliff-of-despair/

Joanna Shields is leaving Facebook UK, which is probably scary if you’re an investor since she’s made a career of jumping ship just before IT ALL GOES WRONG. I’d sell, if I were you... Oh, you bought at IPO? Commiserations. In seriousness, Ms Shields is joining London Tech City, where her experience will actually be massively valuable to the UK economy. Every cloud... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20026267

Penguin and Random House are in talks to merge and create a publishing giant, something that I imagine Pearson would be very keen on – it’d rather be an education/ technology player than a publishing one. I think they should call the new business “Penguin House”, because it’s cute. http://www.thebookseller.com/news/random-house-and-penguin-merger-talks.html

Technology

Amazon has quietly discontinued the touch screen Kindle after one generation. A good idea in my view, but expensive, a bit too big and didn’t offer a good enough user experience. http://blog.the-ebook-reader.com/2012/10/14/amazon-quietly-discontinues-the-kindle-dx/

Another miracle technology that packs more bandwidth into those radio waves. A colleague – much smarter than me – described this as “gaming the the FEC mechanism”. So what they are claiming as the bandwidth improvement is only relevant for the moment of sending erroneous packets, but not improvement of the channel throughput in general. So they’ve cheated, which is a shame. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429722/a-bandwidth-breakthrough/

250,000 people have pre-ordered Wii U. Which sounds like a lot but is really quite irrelevant in the scheme of the total console industry. We’ll see how well PS4/ XBOX 720 do next year. http://www.polygon.com/2012/10/24/3551656/wii-u-exceeds-preorder-expectations-250000-customers-on-waiting-list

An interview with Qualcomm on how they see cars fitting into the connected world. I respect the utopian vision the interviewee portrays, but I worry that ecosystem competition may limit the likelihood of cars being able to connect to any device that comes within range. An exciting technology area, nonetheless. http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/48093/qualcomm-car-more-than-wifi-future

Another way of making roads safer and more usable is to adapt the highway itself. Here’s some ideas from a Dutch design firm about tech that could help. http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/16/view/24412/intelligent-interactive-highway-by-studio-roosegaarde-heijmans.html

An article containing some nice anecdotes about sales forces replacing laptops with iPads. Fine so long as they don’t need to customise their presentation on the way to the meeting and therefore good for commodity sales and not so good for solutions. http://www.citeworld.com/tablets/20988/how-st-jude-medical-transformed-its-field-sales-operation-ipads-and-box

Solar firm Brightsource has succeeded in raising $80m to pursue the development and build of more power plants. Brightsource’s technology basically uses concentrated sunlight to heat a boiler and thereby turn a turbine. An old fashioned idea, but apparently more efficient and durable than the photovoltaic technology that has crashed so badly in recent years. One to watch, I think. http://gigaom.com/cleantech/brightsource-raises-a-whopping-80m-for-solar-farms/

Wearable technology will be one of the big growth areas in the next couple of years, empowered by a range of extremely cheap tech’ spilling over from the smart device industry. http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671090/are-wearable-gadgets-the-next-tech-revolution

Here’s one for you – Memoto – a wearable camera that records what you do in a day/ week/ month/ life. Microsoft actually thought of this ten years ago, but the project never saw the light of day. Now it has. http://singularityhub.com/2012/10/25/memoto-the-camera-that-makes-lifelogging-mainstream-selling-fast-on-kickstarter/

Android represents 41% of all tablet shipments. Impressive, but representing the commodity end of the market and that in developing markets rather than Apple’s strongholds in the affluent global middle class. http://blogs.strategyanalytics.com/TTS/post/2012/10/25/Android-Captures-Record-41-Percent-Share-of-Global-Tablet-Shipments-in-Q3-2012.aspx

LG and RIM appear to have sold more smartphones then Poor Old Nokia last quarter. Sad times for the latter. http://twitter.yfrog.com/mnxj8np

Superpower politics

Samsung shipped 57m smartphones last quarter – twice as many as Apple – but it did produce a dozen new models and succeeded in making less money from double the units. http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/25/samsung-shipped-a-stunning-57m-smartphones-in-q3-twice-as-many-as-apple/

Apple shipped 26.9m iPhones last quarter and now has over $120b in cash. Impressive stuff. http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/10/25Apple-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-Results.html

Apple will be hoping to sell some more through its gigantic new retail store in Beijing. Here’s the stats: http://twitpic.com/b7fyar

Cultural reasons why Microsoft prevented the rest of the tech industry from inventing the iPad. All good in hindsight, but are they learning the lesson? Who’s to say that their culture won’t be more relevant in the future? Standardisation grew the market that Apple ultimately created the iPad based upon. Without the PC, there is no tablet. Etc... http://www.fastcompany.com/3002441/below-surface-microsoft-why-samsung-dell-and-others-didnt-invent-ipad

Microsoft design flops through the years, featuring the awesome Office Paperclip. Bless it. http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670740/would-you-like-help-microsoft-design-flops-through-the-ages#2

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