Links of the day | 在网上找到

Places – privacy based network that the record and movie industry will hate

Facebook just changed its News Feed yet again. Here’s how it could affect you. – The Washington Post – tweaking the feed algorithm again

WPP’s Sorrell: In-House Ad Buying is a “Temporary Phenomenon” | WSJ – he wishes

Guangzhou police reveal bust of ‘billion-yuan’ counterfeit bag ring | South China Morning Post – with a potential street value of about 1 billion yuan (HK$1.26 billion) – The challenge with valuing these things is multi-faceted. Because it is criminal in nature pricing structure and market isn’t transparent. Secondly purchasers of fake goods wouldn’t necessarily buy real goods so this isn’t about market substitution of Louis Vuitton bags. It is a big statement by the Chinese government (paywall)

Charlie Rose, Tim Cook, Apple and television

Charlie Rose runs the a talk show. His show appears on the PBS network. His interviews give the public something new, without ruffling the feathers of the senior executives and celebrities that he has on his show. He is both inquisitor and coach like a defence lawyer interrogating his client at the stand. Rose studied law at Duke University.
Charlie Rose / Ken Burns
Rose is also one of the elite. His estranged wife is the sister of John Mack, the former chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley. His current partner is Amanda Burden. Burden’s father was an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, her first husband is related to the Vanderbilt family. Her second was the head of Warner Communications. Burden was the former chairman of the city planning commission under New York’s Mayor Bloomberg. Before being a journalist, Rose worked at Bankers Trust; and continued working there for a while whilst working as a reporter on the weekend.

All this is why he has had access to all the titans of the technology sector, including Steve Jobs. So it made perfect sense that Tim Cook would sit down with him after the launch of Apple’s wearable products. Cook also used the opportunity to reiterate Apple’s new positioning on privacy that makes a virtue of the fact Apple isn’t an online advertising company.

Despite being on PBS, Rose’s interviews gain respect and become media agenda setters in their own right. Similar to the way BBC Radio 4’s Today programme influences the UK political agenda.

I found it interesting that Rose’s interview with Cook triggered so many news stories afterwards. I had at least one friend phone me to ask what I thought the significance was of Cook’s comments about television. Like me, they had been peppered with questions about when Apple’s transformation of TV was due?
New Apple TV w/Flickr
I found the interview of interest only because Apple executives rarely do interviews. The questions were a temperature check and update of ones Rose had asked Steve Jobs on a previous interview. The television industry comments Cook made Apple’s position in only one respect. They acknowledged that the Apple TV business is now a bit larger than a ‘hobby’. Steve Jobs called the Apple TV a hobby at AllThingsDigital four years ago. When Cook said TV was stuck in the 1970s; Jobs had said the same thing: the current TV business model squashed innovation. My understanding of news was that it was about events that were new, surprising or noteworthy. The commentary on TV was none of these things.

The media took this to mean that Apple was going to do ‘something’. What they failed to pick up on was Cook’s comments later on where he talked about business focus. Steve Jobs had talked about all Apple’s product range could be fit on a desk, showing the level of company focus. In contrast to industry peers with thousands of SKUs (stock control units). Cook made the same comment about the entire Apple product range fitting on a desk in this interview. The people at Apple are smart enough to realise that lots of products and services are bad. But they will only address a few where they can make the most difference.

The media saw a hook and ran with it, psychologists would call it perceptual closure. There is a temptation with a company as private as Apple to write anything. There is also the pressure of producing enough content for online. This pressure can have a few outcomes:

  • A temptation to ‘chunk’ content without context to create more stories out of a given bit of information
  • Insufficient time to research how this content fits with past statements
  • No longer the same level of fact-checking that one would have seen at traditional publications like The New Republic (and even then they had Stephen Glass)

More informtion
Charlie Rose interview with Tim Cook part one
Charlie Rose interview with Tim Cook part two
Apple sets its sights on redesigning the TV after CEO Tim Cook describes it as being ‘stuck back in the Seventies’ | Mail Online
Tim Cook Hints at Improvements for Apple TV in Charlie Rose Interview | NBC News
Apple CEO Tim Cook talks to Charlie Rose about TV and why he bought Beats | Engadget
Tim Cook Talks up Apple TV, Steve Jobs and the Future with Charlie Rose | Patently Apple
Jobs: Apple TV a hobby because there’s no viable market | AppleInsider
Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organisation | About.com
Stephen Glass | Wikipedia

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Yahoo Stock Crashes As Alibaba IPOs – Business Insider – Yahoo! represents an ideal target to do an LBO and asset strip to pay down the debt

Ashley Madison Steps Up Search For Asian PR Support | Holmes Report – they are banned in South Korea and Singapore. Thailand would likely be added to the list if Ashley Madison launched there

Logistics: The flow of things | The Economist – explains why e-railers are building their own logistics networks (paywall)

Dude, where are my socks? | the Anthill – great story about a small TaoBao reseller

Bits Blog: Net Neutrality Comments to F.C.C. Overwhelmingly One-Sided, Study Says | New York Times – paywall

Apple – Privacy – interesting that Apple didn’t do this sooner

Peter Thiel Says Computers Haven’t Made Our Lives Significantly Better | MIT Technology Review – Peter Thiel often comes across as a bit of a dick but is right on the money with regards the lack of hard innovation and excess of soft innovation

Single Chinese company owns 60% of world market for tantalum | WantChinaTimes – which is really important for electronics manufacture

Move over Hong Kong, here comes…Chengdu? | SCMP – huge economic growth in Chengdu which is viewed as an important city due to its proximity to the western edges of China which are the current high growth areas

Smartphone stress in Coolpad cuts, China Mobile ‘naked’ strategy | SCMP – bottom end of market suffering with Coolpad laying off 1,000 employees

Why news extortion is so hard to uncover | China Media Project – not just a Chinese problem, look at the uncomfortable aspects of media power with NewsCorp / News Int’l

Clamshells Gets Smart | CSS Insight – could we see a return of clamshell devices?

Facebook Is Hiding Important Information – Business Insider – nothing new pointing out yet again that mobile app adverts count for a significant amount of their revenue sales

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week included:

The World Economic Forum held another event in China this year and there was a rare opportunity to hear Chinese policy makers talk about the web. In short, the libertarian values of the web that we all know and love which came from the 1960s counterculture movement is likely to be reined in globally because the one thing governments can agree on is that more regulation and power is something they rather like.

It included Lu Wei the minister of cyberspace administration from the Chinese government. It is impressive that they take it so seriously when the internet was largely seen as a joke by UK politicians prior to Edward Snowden’s embarrassing disclosures.

The only technology vendor / service provider represented was Qualcomm which felt unbalanced.

SmartInsights had a great set of examples of digital experiential marketing using VR headsets like the Oculus Rift.

Virgin Atlantic’s forthcoming #FlightDecks event on board a plane being managed by Cake rather reminded me of the KLM Fly2Miami campaign done some three years ago.

Apparently Virgin will be live streaming their event.

iOS 8 rolled out the other day, my iPhone toting counterparts in the office are happy with it. I am giving it until after the weekend to ensure that any vagaries with carrier settings are ironed out before upgrading my phone.

Liam Neeson’s A Walk Among The Tombstones is actually based on a novel rather than a darker remake of the Taken series of films but the trailer looks epic.

On wearables

The Apple Watch launch gave me a chance to go back and revisit the development of wearable computing and my experience with wearable devices.

Wearable computing had it’s genesis in academic research; some of it government funded. For instance DARPA had a hand in the US Army Land Warrior programme. France has it’s FÉLIN programme and Germany IdZ. All the programmes sought to provide soldiers with location data  and in communication with their colleagues.  Unsurprising  key issues for the soldiers involved included:

  • Weight
  • How cumbersome the equipment was
  • Battery life
  • Reliability / robust product design
  • Value of information provided

It is worth bearing in mind these criteria when thinking about wearables in a consumer context.  SonyEricsson’s LiveView remote control for Android handsets launched the current spurt in ‘smart’ watches. Sony made a deliberate decision to position the LiveView as an augmentation to the smartphone. Think of it as a thin client for your wrist.

Samsung and Apple in some of their communications have looked to muddy the water in the way that they presented their devices, despite the fact that both of them rely on the smartphone  in a slightly more sophisticated way than LiveView.

Much of the early drive in wearables has been around health and fitness where the likes of Nike and Jawbone reinvented the kind of service provided to dedicated fitness enthusiasts by the likes of Polar and Suunto. These devices are primarily about simplification of design to democratise the technology.

By contrast Samsung and Apple have a greater ambition for their devices in terms of the what they can do. I don’t know what the killer app is for a general purpose device and I suspect neither do Apple or Samsung.

Wearables are not particularly robust by design. I have had three Nike Fuelbands fail in 12 months or so. Compare this to the Casio G-Shock and IWC watches that I generally wear. I don’t have to think about wearing my watch; I didn’t worry about washing my hands or stepping in the shower or the swimming pool with it on. You couldn’t do that with a Samsung Gear.

A second unknown factor is how often consumers would be willing to upgrade a smart watch? When one thinks about the expected price point of Apple’s premium watches, it is similar to the products coming out of Switzerland. The cases and straps are well made, but the price of buying an Omega watch is also about buying into a service centre that will keep the watch going for decades to come. Apple’s iPod Classic barely lasted 13 years. The electronic innards of an iWatch would be built from components that would become obsolete, even if Apple wanted to service them.

Would Apple compromise with a modular design that could make it easy to swap out smart watch innards in a case as an analogy to having a watch serviced? I don’t think so, if one looks at Apple’s design move over the past decade towards sealed computing appliances: the iPod, the iPhone, the MacBook Air and the Retina MacBook.

More information
FÉLIN | Army Technology
SonyEricsson LiveView remote and the changing face of mobile computing | renaissance chambara