2014: crystal ball gazing, how did I do?

For the past few years I have been thinking about where digital is going and what it all means. At the end of last year here were my projections

Amazon won’t do drone delivery in 2014 – Whilst trials of drone deliveries have been ongoing and drones seem to be getting more mainstream thanks to companies like DJI Amazon hasn’t done deliveries yet. In addition, the FAA in the US started to regulate commercial drone usage, which is likely to slow down adoption in the short term, while providing a stable legal framework of operation in the longer term.

Small data – Not so much an explicit interest in smaller data sets for meaningful things, but the Hortonworks IPO had an almost Netscapean quality to it with shaky revenue streams and a healthy share price bounce when it came to market. It also made Silicon Valley nervous as companies were concerned about negative perceptions toward the big data ‘sector.

Offline to online integration – O2O seems to be a bigger thing in China and other east Asian markets with ‘mobile search keywords’ put into adverts and TV programmes for years. The QRcode seems to be a uniquely Asian form of integration largely abandoned by western developers – mainly because they didn’t seem to use them in as imaginative a manner compared to Tencent et al. Lower power Bluetooth beacons are still experimental. Weve the joint company set up by the UK wireless carriers to provide contextual data about consumers to integrate online and offline marketing is running at a loss and has abandoned peripheral business opportunities in mobile wallets/ m-payments.

Algorithmic display advertising – there are a number of ways in which greater data is being brought to bear on programmatic ad spend but algorithms weren’t the biggest thing shaping the market this year. Major brands seem to have developed a distrust of the agency trading desks and the lack of transparency into market data. Instead of giving agencies an unfair advantage and allowing them to play both sides of the trade, they are bring the trading desk in-house.

Mobile display advertising gets a radical reduction in formats – at the time I wrote this prediction, I had been concerned about clickthrough rates and mistaken clickthroughs, so I considered a reduction in mobile formats to just the ones that worked best like the page takeover. I didn’t forsee a bubble economy driving mobile display revenues around games apps. This may come to a head soon as western consumers seem to be less open to downloading to new apps according to research by Deloittes.

Content marketing on OTT platforms – WeChat has evolved in leaps and bounds with some amazing campaigns coming out in China, Burberry has worked with Tencent to push the envelopes on their campaigns and have included live webcasts. We haven’t seen so much of this happening with campaigns aimed at western consumers, but one brand springs to mind Vivienne Tam who ran a super model contest on the platform including a voting function and a special blog covering activity around New York Fashion Week as a separate tab on the account – all in English.

Chinese technology brands will finally be successful outside China – It’s still early days, but we’ve seen Lenovo and other Chinese brands demolish Samsung’s share of the smartphone market in the developing world. WeChat has expanded into India, Spain and South East Asia. OnePlus and Xiaomi have started selling direct in Europe, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Alibaba had a monster IPO and Baidu bought into fast start-ups like Uber.

Privacy issues won’t change much with consumers – Back at the end of last year I didn’t expect the Snowden story to continue to echo onwards. On the surface things didn’t seem to change with consumers, but there has been sufficient consumer interest that technology vendors are addressing (some) consumer privacy needs much to the chagrin of the law enforcement/military industrial complex. This privacy experience hasn’t been universally enjoyed (depending on country regulations) but things are changing.

Technology company workers are the new bankers – the tech worker bus protests that started at the end of December 2013 mushroomed, so by August 2014 Westboro Baptist Church got involved. Uber’s surge pricing and Snapchat’s frat boy CEO were just some of the lightning rods that made the tech sector look like vintage Wall Street.

The rise of immersion – When I wrote my predictions I felt that I had been cheated out of the cyberpunk future that I had been promised and saw it as a major opportunity. Virtual reality had lost out in the 1990s when cumbersome helmet displays would disorientate you and cause you to throw up as the visuals and movement created dissonance partly due to a lack of computing power. Now we’ve seen cyberpunk author Neal Stephenson the chief futurist at one VR company, Facebook own another and companies like Zeiss and Samsung enter the fray. Together with advances in AR post-Google Glasses we are likely to see major innovations beyond gaming in the web-of-no-web.

Machine learning will threaten to disrupt programming – while machine learning is making an increased amount of noise in the tech media it is being seen as a leap forward in artificial intelligence rather than as an alternative strategy to traditional application programming. Skype adopted for their latest language training.

A race to the bottom will bring out hyper-competition in mobile semiconductor suppliers – the mobile market did race to the bottom which has made a major dent in Samsung and Huawei’s marketshare. Mediatek and Hi-Silicon are producing innovative silicon that has pushed phone performance forward. However rather than being a race to the bottom on pricing, Qualcomm has been taken to task by the Chinese government and Qualcomm admitted in its own financial documents that there at least some partners who weren’t paying them licence fees.

More information
2014: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara 

Links of the day | 在网上找到

I had been off ill with flu, so I guess this became a bumper edition

Pharma to lose $69 billion in five years as patents expire | Pharma File – patent cliff kicks in

Laurence Fink Says Activist Investing Can ‘Destroy Jobs’ | New York Times – not terribly surprising but interesting that Black Rock has come out and said it

Britain’s autumn statement: Two lost decades? | The Economist – at least since there is no compelling reason for things to improve (like with North Sea oil in the 1980s)

Intelligence: Nike’s CIO Had to Get the Hell Out of Portland | Racked – surprised that Nike hadn’t managed to build a more urbane environment in Portland. I could see this as being a great case study for Who Is Your City author Richard Florida

Intelligence: Gucci Cleans House: CEO, Creative Director Are OUT | Racked – not surprising given poor sales performance

WhatsApp might be working on a web client | VentureBeat – me too feature to catch up with WeChat, expect QRCode hand-off

Yahoo shuts offices in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia | Campaign Asia – Malaysia I understand: closeness to Singapore, less of an economic power machine and a marketing sector that needs to work hard to keep up with legislation and local sensibilities. Indonesia and Vietnam are surprises given the high growth and populous markets that they represent

Sony Lawyers Warn Press to Destroy Documents from Hack | Variety – this is tough one legally Sony as journalists are largely protected by the the US constitution

Top 10 websites in the US according to Quantcast: A few observations | Chris Dixon – some interesting data points, you can still see the power of the IE installed user base and email looking at this data

The Cheapest Generation – Atlantic Mobile – it assumes that will have the same amount to invest

Silk Road subsidies undermine rail link | South China Morning Post – really interesting article about the nitty gritty of rail freight including lack of international common legal standards and requirements for paper work, insurance etc

The Customer Journey to Online Purchase – Think with Google – really handy for media planning

Sony hack: Studio Tries to Disrupt Downloads of its Stolen Files | Re/code – ethically dubious at best

Xiaomi’s Indian expansion could be derailed by a patent tussle with Ericsson | Quartz – this is interesting as IP could put a speed bump on the new smartphone players for the time being, though this may decline in 5G as Huawei and ZTE get a bigger proportion of the IP in comparison to Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm, Samsung, Broadcom, Nokia, and Ericsson

Russia tries again, in vain, to steady its collapsing currency | Quartz – it’s a buffet that the west hasn’t been invited and will end with a stronger China – having got hold of military and strategic industry IP, industrial assets and natural resources to drive further Chinese growth and strength

Wal-Mart is the latest company to badly overestimate China | Quartz – there is a whole blog post in this story about growth, the nature of growth, management by Excel spreadsheets and a bit about China. Maybe I will have the time to write it one day

EDMTCC 2014 – The EDM Guide: Technology, Culture, Curation – white paper trying to defend the bastard child of the dance music scene now that the Americans discovered it including Swedish House Mafia alumni (PDF)

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week.

Interesting and funny film from Mercedes for the SLS coupe AMG. The way the businessman loses his mind trying to define luxury feels like a parody of Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Vice put together a great documentary about a veteran tattooist in Hong Kong

I love the way Honda taps into the inner child of potential customers

PBS have animated interviews that were done with Robin Williams back in 1991, and they’re really good

TOMY’s Cocoro scanner which detects stress (and according to the maker, lies)

Links of the day | 在网上找到

UBS uses artificial intelligence to deliver personalised advice to wealthy clients | South China Morning Post – should this artificial intelligence have to be registered and certified as a financial advisor? I could see a number of legal issues with this

The DRC (Desktop Record Cutter) – a future for vinyl cutting by Machina.Pro — Kickstarter – want

Singapore’s mobile path-to-purchase | Campaign Asia – interesting research from Yahoo! and Mindshare

Netscout unwisely sues Gartner for “Pay for Play” | Influencer Relations  – it is often the case that Gartner salespeople claim that clients get better placement in its research

New offline-to-online (O2O) sports lottery contract with Heilongjiang Province and commencement of live trials of virtual horse racing game | Investegaate – DJI Holdings launches sports betting in China

PayPal and WePay bigger threat to high street banks than tech firms, according to research | Out-Law.com – YouGov and Prinsent Masons

South Korea’s KakaoTalk Adds ‘Secret Mode’ | WSJ – now encrypts messages

Marketers delve into true meaning of real-time social media – Is it a waste of time? | The Drum – not that impressed for what it does

CCC | Chaos Computer Club on the blocking of our website in UK – blocked under a catch-all censorship of extremism – in this case extreme geekiness

An Illustrated History of Mac OS X | Git Tower – interesting run through I’d not even heard of Kodiak

AOL’s Bob Lord: Brands’ In-House Programmatic Teams Driving Growth | Advertising Age – interesting and bad news for WPP

What would music sound like if record labels went out of business? | Quartz – it would likely suck less

Have You Resigned from The New Republic Yet? | Vanity Fair – curiously like the new media figure attempting to buy the fictional network in The Newsroom

Next year’s iPhone-killers are already in trouble | BGR – Qualcomm issues apparently

Does PR have a PR problem? | Marketing Interactive – yes basically

So-called “dark social” traffic turns out to be mostly Facebook — GigaOM – not sure I agree with this and would like to see more data around it. From an analytics point of view does this mean that there is a similar hole in advertising analytics

Popular New App in China Removes Selfie Touch-Ups to Show What’s Really Underneath | TheNanfang – I suspect that its applying rules rather than ‘reversing’ the files given that they are PNGs or JPGs

Power Book 2015: iPhone is most popular must-have item for PR top brass | PR Week  – 24 going for their iPad and 18 picking their BlackBerry.

Here’s what’s really scary about China overtaking America as the world’s biggest economy – Quartz – interesting economic analysis on China

How Defense Offsets Help Drive the Global Defense Industry – Defense One – this could all go a bit Enron in a worst case scenario

Connecting with Digital natives | Huawei – Huawei has surveyed over 6,000 digital natives in China. Hear from a few of them here

Things that made my day last week

A much delayed post that highlights five of things that made my day last week:

Leo Burnett put together this great presentation on the state of the sharing economy (Airbnb, Uber, Lyft etc.)

Code Rush – an amazing documentary on Netscape and its Communicator product: a mix of email client and web browser

The Hundreds X Reebok collaboration movie is a great trip back to the early 1990s and some serious sneaker love

The creators of South Park put together some great animation to accompany recordings by the philosopher and buddhist Alan Watts

Finally, Red Bull put this great documentary together on the origins of video game music. The process that they used to compose the music is amazing