Friday, 7 December 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: Spotify for everything, social advertising only sort of works but everyone loves it, Apple returns to the US, Windows get sticky for Microsoft. US planned to nuke Moon in ‘50’s.

Digital media

This is a well researched article on whether a “Spotify for books” service could work. I’m undecided. I think that a subset of readers will find this a valuable service, but in the early days the subscription charge will have to be set high in order to create sustainable value.

Meanwhile, the real Spotify has just passed the 5 million paying subscribers mark. That’s pretty impressive and suggests that annual revenue will be somewhere around $250M in the calendar year 2012.

Red Box Instant – Red Box and Verizon’s streaming movie joint venture – is delayed until the New Year.

Internet advertising will overtake print in 2015. Perhaps. I’ll be interested to see how the curated, written word news format develops in emerging markets. There might be a little life in print yet.

The Daily, Murdoch’s ill-conceived tablet only newspaper is closing its doors on December 15th. Can’t say I’m surprised. Reputation equity is one of the few things print newspapers have going for them right now. The Daily had none. Hence it failed.

I agree with the author of this post – mindlessly collecting social media rankings is pointless but something that many marketing departments aimlessly pursue.

And social ads are annoying, ill targeted but get this, also “somewhat useful” according to Nielsen. Although I agree, expecting Nielsen to get off the fence on this is like expecting turkeys to vote for Christmas (or anything else, seeing as they can’t reach the table in the ballet box and are scared of pens). In my opinion.

Still, marketers are always one for the Zeitgeist. They’re super-psyched by social and mobile for 2013. Bless ‘em...

...hence why 92% of agencies are using social in client campaigns. I’d love to see the ROI calculations. What’s that you say? The returns are HUGE? Because you value a “like” at $4? Of course... isn’t much better in truth – smartphone and tablet owners have a generally negative reaction to it. They’d better get used to it though, since it’s here to stay.

Technology market

A great report on the platforms in play in the smartphone market. Ars Technica are producing some great stuff at the moment.

Samsung are in the process of doing an Apple and launching a retail brand. A store has just opened in Paris. I worry about the onset of hubris with Samsung – getting retail right is not easy, it requires genuine understanding of consumer experience, which I’m not convinced Samsung yet has.

This is a classic – pointless – tech story. Rumour has it that the Xbox 720 will have only a 1.6GHz processor, half the clock speed of its predecessor. But clock speed isn’t directly analogous to processing power. Even if it were slower clocked, the 720 processor likely has many cores and is much more efficient than that in the 360. It may also have a comparatively low CPU and one or more high performance graphics and even physics processors. So there.

Nokia have suddenly had a mini resurgence and maps are at the forefront – the only area where they’re effectively competing with Apple and Google. Regular readers will know that I believe maps and street view technology to be an exciting growth market due to the rise of self-driving cars from 2013.

Breakthrough technology

The rate at which password cracking techniques are advancing is pretty scary – this monster, GPU-packing PC can break any 14 character password in 6 minutes using a brute force approach. Any of you have a 14 character password? Thought not.

Emerging markets

Syrian rebels are using Skype and sat phones in their campaign to overthrow Assad.

Microsoft is putting $75Mn into digital education programmes in Africa. Admirable.

Superpower politics

Apple is struggling to keep up with demand for it’s products. You can put that down to “supply issues” as this blogger does, or you can put it down to extreme demand in a PC market that’s otherwise stagnant. Windows 8 is the best thing ever to happen to Mac!

Curiously it seems that some iMac 21” models are assembled in the USA. Is Apple coming home? Probably not – likely the supply issues are causing smaller scale manufacturing centres to take up slack.

As these data on the Windows PC market show. Microsoft are in a tough spot.

Just for fun

I love this piece of retro jingoism. It transpired this week that after the USSR launched Sputnik, the USA needed to show that they were ahead in space. So they decided to nuke the Moon. Obviously.

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