恭贺新禧! | Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese new year 2
I hope that the year of the horse brings all the good fortune that you deserve.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

8 Retail Trends In China – WPP – (PDF)

WeChat overtakes Facebook in Indonesian market|WantChinaTimes.com – Indonesia is a unique marketplace. Big on Twitter, a huge market for Path

Can McDonald’s Hot Coffee Help Put It Back on Top? – but can McDonald’s hack it as a third space

TelecomTV | News | Message Wars: are operators really ready to fight back? against WhatsApp, WeChat/Weixin, LINE or Kakao Talk

AMD Delivers With ARM | EE Times

Reappearance of Google.cn site spurs speculation of internet giant’s return | South China Morning Post – (paywall)

Answers to a Puzzling Deal at Alibaba Remain in the Shadows | New York Times Dealbook – (paywall)

Tim Cook: iPhone 5c popular among first-time iPhone buyers, but not as popular as expected | 9to5Mac – the iPhone 5C says as much about how scalable the manufacture of the mono-body chassis of the 5 and 5s was as anything else. (It wouldn’t scale that well). The 4 and 4S had more of an advance because they still look classier designs

A Quick Guide to Baidu PPC Keywords Quality Score

Young China by Kathy Xiaosi Gong

An interesting perspective on China highlighting progress and negative societal change over the past three decades. Young Chinese are categorised as being born after 1978. Xiaosi (born in 1986) used a computer for the first time at age 14 and had her first cup of coffee at age 15. Interesting analysis on princelings which dispells the idea of them as a new aristocracy as they move away from power to business.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Digital Intelligence :: Internet ad spend up 32% globally- TV up just 4% – Internet, outdoor and television advertising saw the greatest increases in spend throughout the first three quarters of 2013, while TV rose just 4%, according to new global figures via Nielsen’s quarterly Global AdView Pulse report

Ford 2014 Trend Report – The Ford Motor Company’s inhouse futurist pulled this together, mostly about consumer attitudes and behaviours

WeChat creates a social game for giving away New Year Lucky Money. WeChat Payment will be the biggest winner. – interesting commerce play, putting the pieces together

Device recognition technology advances marketing suite Experian incorporates 41st Parameter’s device recognition technology, AdTruth

Chinese Travelers Can Now Use Alipay Wallet For Hong Kong Retail Shopping – ChinaTechNews.com

How did the Korean wave start? | The Korea Blog – Korea was tired of cash outflows to Hollywood and realised the revenue from media could be as big as ‘hard’ goods

China’s Tencent WeChat App Targets U.S. Users – WSJ

CCTV exposes unlicensed and fake goods at Chinese Walmarts|WantChinaTimes.comfeatured around 200 alleged company documents from as far back as 2006 showing that company managers signed off on more than 600 products that lacked the requisite paperwork for distribution. The unlicensed products even included fake products, including counterfeit versions of the Feitian Moutai, Chinese liquor made by Kweichow Moutai – interesting that the fakes highlighted were copies of Chinese brands. CCTV does have an agenda but there appears to be error with Wal-Mart

Davos wrap: beware the EM middle class | beyondbrics – next black swan is emerging markets middle classes?

Keeping the taxman on the other sideof the mountains | South China Morning Post – a commentary in praise of Chinese tax evasion

Intel’s voice recognition will blow Siri out of the water—because it doesn’t use the cloudThere’s a problem with today’s voice recognition systems: They’re just too slow. Anyone who has waited in frustration while Siri or Google Voice “thinks” about even the simplest commands knows what I’m talking about

How a Math Genius Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love – Wired Science

Kantar: Android Accounted For 70% Of Smartphone Sales In Q4, But Samsung Is Now “Under Real Pressure” | TechCrunch

Fast Retailing to list in Hong Kong

微信与全球最大互联网公司谷歌“联姻”——正式进军美国市场  – WeChat gets serious on expansion

Data pick of the day: Android dominance in Asian markets

China Clamps Down on Internet Video Industry – The Hollywood Reporter – micro-film makers need to register their identity

BBC News – HSBC imposes restrictions on large cash withdrawals

A global tour of the emerging-markets currency crunch

Will Retailers Make the Right Choice on Mobile Tracking? | DataWorks – Advertising Age atores have a choice: keep quiet about mobile data tracking technology, OR define its tangible benefits to consumers

Thoughtful China on advertising ROI

Interesting video discussion that highlights the challenges of measuring ROI on Chinese online advertising markets in comparison to more mature digital advertising markets

I don’t think that the problem is one of demand, but one of a tension between media company interests and advertising interests. The benefits are cross platform comparison, but the challenges are technological and talent from an agency perspective.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Your Hipster Mustache Is Destroying Proctor & Gamble’s Profits – is it just me or does anyone else think that the excuse is a bit weak given that hipsters have been around for a while. I have a beard and it still needs trimming for instance. The volume of Braun shavers dropping during the Christmas period is alarming

Ignorance — Benedict Evans – technical singularity in terms of sectors rather than intelligence

Facebook’s referral traffic share grew over 48% in Q4 2013, Pinterest was up 30%, but Twitter dipped 4% – The Next Web

Boyd Multerer: Xbox’s father of invention – interesting profile. The ‘Yes we are innovative!’ messaging that underpins why the interview happened seems a bit desperate though

Yahoo Acquires Virtual World Gaming Startup Cloud Party, Will Shut It Down | TechCrunch – interesting purchase, their skills in dynamic in-browser actions could also reinvigorate a lot of Yahoo!’s core desktop properties

South Korea rules pre-installed phone bloatware must be deletable | ZDNet

Starbucks hit by migration to online shopping – San Jose Mercury News – which is interesting given that most of the high street in my parents home town has been replaced by tearooms and coffee shops

PLA drill in Victoria Harbour seen as warning to Hong Kong protesters | South China Morning Post – (paywall)

IBM sells Intel server business, company is doomed – I, Cringely – I recommend reading Bob’s earlier articles on the state of IBM, not pretty reading, but insightful

Goldman to restrict chat services | NYTimes.com – which severely affects productivity given the way traders use chat services

Letting banks fail is key to public trust – and that’s from a banker

Herr Nein: The Bull in the Euro Zone’s China Shop – SPIEGEL ONLINE – Germany’s new finance minister is skeptical about the future of the Eurozone

littleshedcollective – love some of the design on this

Observations from Shenzhen, China

I spent some time in Shenzhen recently and here is some of the things that I found during my stay.

The pace of development is slower than it was before, the number of cranes I saw and ready-mix concrete wagons on the road was less than before. There is still a lot of building work but there is less of it

Odd products showing up in Shenzhen.

A case in point being an Orange-branded MiFi router that I used whilst I was there. It was your standard Huawei mobile internet Wi-Fi router assold to Orange customers across Europe. We used it with a China Unicom 3G USIM in the device. It wasn’t just a case of badging the device had an Orange admin page and served Orange-branded ‘no internet connection available’ error pages.

Just how did this device end up in Huawei’s back yard? Did the product ‘fall off the back of a wagon’? Are they being dumped in the marketplace? Is there some black market ‘carousel’ sales tax scam going on?

Talking about mobile devices: a quick poll of a mix of people I met:

  • Advertising agency owner: Apple iPhone 5S
  • Creative industry entrepreneur: iPhone 5C for personal use, an iPhone 5S likely to be gifted
  • Professional photographer and interior designer: iPhone 4S
  • 7 taxi drivers: 5 Samsung, 1 iPhone 4 and one Xiaomi handset
  • Businessman who owned a pharmaceutical distribution business and various properties: Samsung
  • Businessman: Samsung
  • Museum/ gallery curator: Samsung
  • Professional driver: Samsung

It is hard to explain the ubiquity and usage of:

  • Weixin (WeChat) – running out of your data package cuts you off more than running out of voice minutes. My friend has her 70+ year old mother WeChatting her incessantly
  • TaoBao – the impact of TaoBao can be seen on the streets with a volume of delivery people darting around the city. Electric mopeds were banned in Shenzhen for anyone who didn’t work for a delivery company as the devices were a silent killer who ran over unsuspecting pedestrians. Shenzhen still has electric bikes (more professionally handled) by delivery people delivering online shopping. TaoBao and its sister site TMall are the e-tailing game. Apple recently opened a store on TMall in parallel to the Chinese version of its familiar online store

The Chinese creative industries are coming on in leaps and bounds. I met with an advertising and design agency owner and was bowled over by the quality of the branding design that they had done for a new creative hub. Having worked alongside western big branding agencies in China working for Chinese clients I can say that the work was equal, if not better in quality.

This is also matched by the creative infrastructure that the Chinese central and regional governments are putting in alongside private enterprises. A classic example of this is the continued development of the OCT LOFT complex. This was once an area of factories run by Overseas Chinese as a separate Town, these sturdy concrete buildings have been converted into retail areas a la the Truman Brewery, offices, studio spaces, co-working spaces and social clubs.

There is a live performance space in OCT LOFT called B10 with a really well engineered sound and lighting system. This has managed to attract sponsorship from the likes of MINI. China is serious about building a creative class and is doing something meaningful about providing all infrastructure needed within a cluster.

Talking of live performances, I got to see a local band play at B10; I don’t know if this was just this band but the crowd did much more interaction with the band on stage, singing along, dancing, synchronised clapping and a lot less viewing the performance through their smartphone than I had been used to in the UK and Hong Kong.

Electric vehicles are big business; Shenzhen now has blue and silver taxis from local firm BYD that are electric powered. BYD is a famous battery company and Warren Buffett is a shareholder. Admittedly, the electricity probably comes from a lot of coal-fired power stations as well asnuclear-powered ones, but China is serious about the future of transportation.

Hailing a cab is pretty much done by app, the Chinese version of Hailo is as ubiquitous on peoples phones as Weixin.

Changing perception of western country brands. This is just anecdotal stuff speaking to a couple of people, but the brand of the UK in China has changed over the past couple of years. It used to be that the UK was thought to be a great nation to do business. David Cameron’s recent trip to China and launch of a Weibo account was seen as an act of desperation to try and capture inbound investment. Now the view that I heard expressed is that Britain is a good place to visit and shop (for luxury goods), to get an education or learn English – but that’s it. Entrepreneur visas didn’t hold that much appeal to the people I spoke with.

There is a change in what it means to be made in China. Over the past few times that I have been in China there has been a move away from products that are good enough to providing a quality experience. Brands like retailer Emoi have been at the head of it, alongside Oppo whose Blu-Ray players give Denon and Onkyo a run for their money.

This time friends of mine have set up a venue, one of the primary purposes of the venue is to showcase quality Chinese-made products from craftsmen made ceramics, to furniture, modern art and vacuum-tube hi-fi amplifiers. Just as China is raising it’s creative game, it is also looking to make better quality products. However this isn’t a universal move; there are still value-orientated companies, particularly those in the business-to-business space.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Nokia Earnings Q4 2013: Smartphone sales growth collapses | BGR

I used Android for 6 months straight. : apple – interesting Reddit post

China households elude taxman – and official GDP bean-counters | Reuters

China’s First Default Is Coming: Here’s What To Expect | Zero Hedge – nice Q&A document by Goldman Sachs

Amazon’s ‘schizophrenic’ open source selfishness scares off potential talent, say insiders • The Register – dicks

China’s Baidu risks a backlash in Indonesia over photos of sexy girls  – a Baidu Indonesia representative said that the girls’ pictures are but one of many features that Baidu Browser offers in Indonesia.

Sichuan cuisine should receive world heritage status, Lee Kum Kee chief says – according to the head of a Hong Kong food group.

Chinese 5-star hotels are asking for downgrades so they can still host officials – Swanky hotels in China have found a way around rules that are meant to stop officials from spending public funds—or ill-gotten gains—on luxury accommodations: lose a star

Developer activates Apple’s upcoming iOS in the Car system, shows different interface | 9to5Mac – working out the right context for in-car usage

Net neutrality is dead, but it probably doesn’t matter – I, Cringely

Reshaping the world economy through reform, opening up and cooperation | The World Economic Forum – interesting essay from a Chinese government perspective on economic growth

Brazil’s Offshore Oil: Abundant, and Expensive – WSJ – similar kinds of challenges to what the North Sea faced decades ago and a similar massive leap in technology

Why Renault’s Low-Cost Cars are Driving the Company – WSJ – developed countries have gone past ‘peak car’

Pinterest Grows 150%, Reddit Climbs 83% | Chinwag – Europe is still a small part of the user base at some 8%

Why you Singaporeans have no influence over Anton Casey’s employer | The Real Singapore – there are some non-social businesses left

ChinaLeaks: Exposé on Chinese elite’s offshore accounts comes at sensitive time | South China Morning Post – the unasked question is who leaked and what was their motive. Secondly, how would one know if the data is real or seeded with fake information alongside the real material? (paywall)

Big Data and Business Decision Making | MIT Technology Review – credit scoring has been around for decades

Tangerine’s ten questions

If you don’t follow Tangerine NY’s blog, I would recommend that you do for the curated mix of zeitgeist and 10 questions interviews. The questions:

Where are you right now?
What did you want to be when you were a child?
How do you think we can keep talent motivated?
What are you reading now?
What is you latest ‘must have’?
What is your favorite piece of technology?
What subject do you wish you’d paid more attention to in school?
Where is your favorite place for a drink?
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
What is one thing about you that most people would be surprised to know?

What would your answers be?

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Is China’s Slower Growth Good or Bad News? – WSJ

MIT’s cool new transparent screen tech could mean better heads-up displays

News Feed FYI: What Happens When You See More Updates from Friends – Facebook Newsroom – marketers need to change their approach

Here’s Why Apple Is Putting So Much Emphasis On Selling iPhones In China

Verizon buys OTT TV assets from Intel

Baidu’s image-recognition software isn’t perfect, but it’s super smart and will make you laugh

How Amazon. Avoids Wal-Mart like reputation

Indian luxury business underwhelms

30% of post paid Verizon customers have a feature phone

Discoverly provides unified access to LinkedIn and Facebook

Liushen focuses on heritage to attract younger consumers

A smart form for the smartphone?  – the “smartphone” is a term we are all very familiar with; first coined in 1997 by Ericsson

Government sugar tsar works for Coca-Cola and Mars – not terribly surprising

MediaPost Publications Trust In Government ‘Decimated,’ Business Now Leads 01/20/2014 – seems to be across countries

The Tipping Point (E-Commerce Version) | Jeff Jordan or the technium blitzes large parts of the retail sector

China’s Twitter is bleeding users – The Tell – MarketWatch – how many of those accounts are real accounts?

Mobile Opportunity: Google the Conglomerate: After Nest, No Industry is Safe – Michael Mace on Google

A disaster in the making: 95% of ATMs still run Windows XP – quelle surprise

I, Cringely The Internet of Crap – I, Cringely

When Apple reached parity with Windows | Asymco – its speculation

The best Murphy’s Bitter advert ever

Apparently during the late 1990s Murphy’s Bitter ran this anime influenced advertising spot on Channel 4 in the UK. I never saw it at the time, but thought I would share it here and now:

There is also a homage to Kurosawa’s chambara works a la The Hidden Fortress and The Seven Samurai, it can’t be embedded, so I have a link to it instead.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

A Sneaky Path Into Target Customers’ Wallets – NYTimes.com

Tech Trends 2014 | frog

Pivot Your Content Mindset: From Marketing to Distribution [Infographic] | – context and away from traditional PR strengths

Facebook plans suite of standalone mobile apps for 2014 | The Verge – interesting move away from their general purpose network approach

Survey Data on the Growth/Shrinkage of Web Marketing Channels in 2014 – Rand’s Blog

MediaPost Publications Paul Donato And The Final Frontier 01/19/2014 – merging of intelligence technologies and market research. It can be done, but should it? Is it an inevitable aspect of the technium?

10 Things I’ve learned at the d.school so far – need finding is the critical first step that leads to problem solving

No shanzhai Galaxy Gear smartwatches – because there is insufficient consumer interest for Chinese manufacturers to want to pirate them

Smart devices hacked into botnet – fridge sends out spam emails

WMPs in China pose challenge for ICBC – WMP (wealth management product) – different types of securitised debt, in this case it looks similar to a junk bond

Is your car spying on you? – yes it is, welcome to the inevitable march of progress aka the technium

JD.com launches mobile messaging app – Tencent going into logistics and payments in WeChat for in-app e-tailing, Sina partnering with Alibaba to do social commerce over Weibo – the messy world of online media and e-tailing in China

More Than 11 Million Young People Have Fled Facebook Since 2011 – Skeptics of Facebook’s business model have long pointed to anecdotal evidence that the social network is losing its luster with teens as evidence that the firm will ultimately be unable to justify its $140 billion valuation

Nu-Skin reacts to ‘brainwashing’ report – disclosure I advised the Nu Skin team at my agency

IBM Turns to Semiconductor Packaging Post-Moore’s Law | EE Times

Opinion: Rethinking “Made in China” « Gear Patrol

Living in a mobile laboratory

According to a commentator in the Hong Kong Economic Times: Hong Kong consumers spend 129 minutes a day on their mobile devices, 90 per cent of that time is using applications and mobile internet-enabled services.

According to Hong Kong government statistics mobile penetration is 223% compared to 128% across the EU, though many of these are accounted for by cab drivers who double as a booking office for other taxis using a string of handsets spread across their dashboard.

Sometime after the summer in Hong Kong, the MTR (think Transport for London running the tube system) changed the message on escalators to the following in a grating passive-aggressive female voice:

Please hold on to the hand rail, don’t keep your eyes only on your mobile phone

Your mobile bill comes with a 12 dollar surcharge to contribute towards the cost of providing mobile access on the underground rail system, yet people don’t talk on the phone, they watch videos, play games, use messenger applications or update their Facebook page.

WhatsApp enjoys an email-like ubiquity, with AllthingsD claiming 50 per cent penetration for Hong Kong back in August this year. That sounds a bit low based on my empirical experience.

There are five mobile network operators for a city of seven million people resulting in price and feature competition:

  • Mobile data is basically all you can eat
  • LTE and Wi-Fi are easy to come by
  • Free local calls
  • Competitive IDD services
  • OTT video services are commonplace for Cantonese speakers
  • Some operator brands, notably 1010 try to differentiate by customer service and providing a sub-Vertu concierge service to business customers

Mobile tends to start filling micro-pockets of time when one might read a book or a paper, on the commute, in a taxi, at a restaurant or bar. It is often common to see couples sitting together at a table, not talking or acknowledging each other’s existence instead engrossed in their smartphone or tablet.

All of this phone use means that consumers have a battery pack that they take with them which can recharge a phone or a tablet over a USB connection. It is no coincidence that Huawei’s Ascend Mate 2 incorporates this battery pack functionality into the tablet, as the primary upgrade this time around.

More information
Hong Kong Economic Times commentary on ‘digital’ over-use (in Chinese)
Office of the Communications Authority – Key communications statistics (in English)
The Quiet Mobile Giant: With 300M Active Users, WhatsApp Adds Voice Messaging | AllthingsD
CES 2014: Huawei announces Ascend Mate 2 | NDTV

Gesture-controlled beat box symphony

Interesting use of Kinect-style control for digital experiential demonstration.