Links of the day | 在网上找到

Azeem’s Exponential View – Revue – great email newsletter

WPP’s Bessie Lee: PR Industry Must Embrace Technology In China | The Holmes Report – calling Blue Focus a PR group is like calling WPP a PR group. PR needs to do technology better, but other disciplines already own that part of the client relationship. China has even faster change going on

Engineering Director Lars Rasmussen Leaving Facebook To Co-Found A Music Startup | TechCrunch – a long time Googler who developed Google Maps and worked in search at Facebook. Interesting move

Yahoo just threw investors a bone: It’s hiring advisors to figure out what to do with Yahoo Japan (YHOO) – the bigger question is what to do with what’s left surely?

Google, Microsoft and Amazon pay to get around ad blocking tool – FT.com – as well as Taboola – the annoying content remarketing network

Audi to Test Plan to Deliver Amazon Packages to Drivers’ Trunks – NYTimes.com – so thieves will know that there is a master key, which will give them an incentive to find it

P&G; Always Mobile App: BackMeApp – really smart application by P&G to market Always sanitary towels

Russian ‘Uber for Boobs’ Start-Up Tittygram Sees Business Boom | Moscow Times – you could not make this up <holds head in hands in despair at industry>

48 hours with the Apple Watch

I decided to experiment with wearables a while ago. My first experiment was with the Casio G-Shock+ series of watches that takes the well-loved brand and drops some rudimentary notification function, BlueTooth LE capability and a companion iPhone app together as a workable but unambitious package.

The Apple Watch is a different experience and has a different ethos to the Casio G-Shock+. The Apple Watch experience starts as soon as you receive the package.

I was surprised to be presented the box by security in reception, mainly because it had roughly the same size and weight as a toner cartridge for the office colour photocopier.
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My immediate reaction was that Apple may have made the packaging look like this to mask the first drop of watches from over-ambitious eBay entrepreneurs in the postal service.
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But it soon became apparent that Apple had built a packing equivalent of a Winnebago RV for the watch.
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Inside a long heavy duty cardboard box is a giant whale of a coffin for the watch and space underneath for the charging cable and plug in charger. All of this seems at odds with Apple’s move over the years towards less wasteful, more environmentally friendly packaging.

At the same time the experience didn’t feel special to me, just slightly perplexing, ok very perplexing. I have been involved in the launch of a new Huawei smartphone over the past few weeks and that packaging provided a more luxurious experience.

An email arrives to my home account letting me know that I can set up a live video call with someone who will help me set up my watch. An alarm bell rings in the back of my head that makes me think that the product might not ‘just work’ which the a core tenet of the Apple experience.

The watch itself has some nice industrial design touches.
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The Apple Watch strap was easy even for a mechanical klutz like me to change, by pushing a button and sliding the strap in or out of a groove on the case.

The case is nicely made (as something the price of a premium Casio or Hugo Boss watch should be). However as a bit of a watch head the case did not blow me away, if I didn’t know about it’s smarts it felt very much like a Fossil watch.

Switching it on and pairing it with my iPhone was very easy, the problems began when the iPhone app schlepped across all my iPhone applications that had Apple Watch capability, without a thought for how often I use them. This means that the home screen is covered in an acne rash of default and third-party applications, 80 per cent of which I don’t regularly use.

Whilst I am in awe of the the way the device hides the process of syncing with the iPhone I am less impressed by the slow speed of glance content loaded from the iPhone more slowly than it would be to just take the iPhone from my pocket and look.
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When glances do appear, they appear in an amazingly high resolution.

The haptic alerts were handy and Accuweather had made the best Watch app. WeChat shamed Twitter with its comparative usefulness. But ultimately I still don’t know a compelling reason to own an Apple Watch beyond trying to understand where it fits in a customer’s digital life.

The Apple Watch is a two-handed device, for instance unlocking the Watch by typing in your PIN. Flashback to a childhood encounter with a friend’s Casio Databank flooded my memory whilst unlocking the watch.

I found that I tended to use the crown when the watch wasn’t on my wrist, probably sounds a bit pointless.

Like the Casio G-Shock+ before it, Apple hadn’t mastered prioritising alerts or putting intelligence behind them. I think that this a major issue, since app developers will try to go for maximum notification real estate as part of the ‘grab’ of the attention economy. I think that this is an Achilles Heel of wearables in general.

Conclusions

The Apple Watch didn’t encourage me to ‘play with it’ to find out its features, the way other Apple products from the original sit-up and beg Mac to the iPod and iPhone did. I can’t say that I have had any real enjoyment out of using one. So much so, that I was quite happy to leave it in its charger most of Sunday, whilst my iPhone is never an arms length away.

Notifications are going to become very tiresome, very fast.

It isn’t particularly friendly to use and at 48 hours in, I still haven’t really got to grips with the device.

This feels like a first step in a long journey needed to fix the human smartwatch interface.

The Apple Watch feels like a solution looking for a problem, just in the same way that the Mac only found its calling with Aldus desktop publishing software and an Adobe powered laser printer, so the Apple Watch is dependent on some clever app development in the future.

I suspect the kind of programmable world that we would need for the device to thrive, for instance your iPhone seeing that you have enough time in your diary, ordering your morning coffee at Starbucks and then the Watch telling you to step in the cafe and pick it up just as you are about to walk past doesn’t exist yet.

The experience did get me to marvel at the engineering that went into the device, but at the moment it feels that all that effort has been largely unrewarding in terms of customer experience. I still wear my collection of G-Shocks or fine Swiss watches on my right wrist. I don’t think that many watchmakers have much to worry about yet, except those targeting the mid-market of big brand, mediocre movements.

More information
On smart watches, I’ve decided to take the plunge
On wearing a smartwatch
On Wearables

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week….

The Joyous Music School’s  string quartet have been playing together for  four years, they started when the lead cellist was four years old and they are awesome

Frankie Knuckles’ loss continues to be felt. Underworld and the Junior Boys Own people have put together a cover of Baby Wants to Ride in tribute to the iconic DJ

At the time when I got my copy of ‘Baby Wants to Ride’ it came with a tale of intrigue and skulduggery. Did Knuckles copy Principle’s track and then compromise and call it ‘Frankie Knuckles presents Jamie Principle’ or was he hard done by? A quick glance at Discogs shows how Frankie Knuckles is slowly written into the history of Baby Wants to Ride – the original FFRR pressing credits Jamie Principle but by the mid noughties we see it as Frankie Knuckles presents Jamie Principle. Although Knuckles is remembered fondly for being the godfather of house, it makes good sense not to gloss over some of the politicking and infighting that occurred back in the day.

Nike Football have put together a beautifully made movie about football fans in Mexico City. It avoids using stars or technical features of their products to show a grassroots love of the beautiful game. I suspect that the football moves were choreographed but the film is none-the-worse for it

Ogilvy and Mather Singapore have played a blinder with this video highlighting the workload and contribution of domestic helpers in Singapore. The clip looks to get Singaporean parents to give maids their legal minimum one day a week off.

Finally Funny or Die annihilate Dove’s latest campaign, its almost like it was done for a prank by the Axe (Lynx to UK readers) marketing team

And here is the original…

Whilst the Dove programme is interesting because it is trying to ‘deprogramme’ women from the media messages about beauty and the marketing messages put out (including other brands in the Unilever portfolio), it starts to sound like Lake Wobegon (from Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion).

Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. – Garrison Keillor

The Lake Wobegon Effect is described in Wikipedia

The Lake Wobegon effect, where all or nearly all of a group claim to be above average, has been observed in high school students’ appraisal of their leadership, drivers’ assessments of their driving skill, and cancer patients’ expectations of survival.

Is it wise for brands to replace one kind of delusion with another?

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Android Sales: Guess how many Android devices are available for sale | BGR – 18,000 which is an insane amount of device fragmentation

Regarding Chrome’s Power Efficiency on OS X | The Verge – interesting how Google is falling into the same traps when coding across platforms that Microsoft did

Why China’s economy is slowing and what it means for everything | Quartz – interesting bit of economic analysis via charts

Fascinating chart in HBR (above) on the relative change in valuation of Brands… | Broadstuff – interesting data on the decline of brand value

Hush Technology will block snoring but play your alarm with its smart earplugs | VentureBeat – interesting how noise cancelling technology has shrunk

Moscase Is Like Batman’s Utility Belt For Your iPhone | TechCrunch – the modular nature of the back is quite interesting, I like the e-ink screen

Daring Fireball: The Apple Watch Edition’s Upgrade Dilemma – it won’t be replacing my Swiss watch any time soon

Nokia nears deal to buy Alcatel-Lucent mobile networks unit | Hong Kong Economic Journal Insight – two turkeys won’t make an eagle

GSMA Intelligence – interesting diagram talking about latency and bandwidth requirements of different applications on mobile networks when you scroll down the page

Activist Puts Pressure on Qualcomm – WSJ – inevitable when one looks at the increasing competition in the chip business for them and the move by major players (Apple, Samsung, Huawei)

Samsung Galaxy S6 review: It’s what’s on the outside that counts | Ars Technica – this review is emblematic of the pedestal that Samsung has fallen off

LINE CEO bets on selfies and macho stamps to expand overseas | Japan Times – really interesting insight into app localisation and branding

Twitter Ends its Partnership with DataSift – Datasift Blog – ok this could be interesting

These slides are all you need to make the case for an all-flash data center | SiliconANGLE – that responsive data has to change the economics of cloud as well and not in a good way

Exclusive: Twitter A/B testing a Yahoo style directory for non-logged in users | SiliconANGLE – and Google seems to be supplementing search results with content from DMOZ about links

If Nokia Map Unit Is for Sale, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo All Might Want a Look | Re/code – it makes sense that Nokia would want to sell this separately from the phones, but who would it go to

I’ve been quiet because…

The past couple of weeks around the launch of the Huawei P8 have been all-consuming

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Anger and Envy in the Chaebol Republic | Foreign Policy – there will come a point when it it will undermine the iron grip that chaebols have on Korean society (paywall)

Tumblr is getting sucked into the Yahoo mothership | Business Insider – likely to suffer similar kinds of challenges to flickr et al

VivaKi integrates anonymised Tencent data into its DMP – Campaign Asia – focus on cross screen campaigns

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that have made my day this week:

Watching Blade Runner after it had been re-released into the cinema. I have watched the film numerous times on TV, VHS, LaserDisc and DVD but there is something magical about watching it on the big screen

Hack-A-Day pointed me in the direction of this old industrial film about a Workington, Cumbria Bessemer steel plant that made railway tracks. At the time of filming the plant had been working for 102 years.

Interesting interview with former BP chairman Lord John Browne

I am a big fan of Miroslav Sasek’s work, from his This is… series of children’s travel books in the 1960s. Art Republic have some amazing prints derived from his illustrations.

Criteo has a really good presentation on m-commerce outside China

The Amazon Dash button post

At the beginning of this month Amazon launched an addition to their Dash ordering hardware with Dash buttons. There was a lot of incredulity amongst the media heightened by the unfortunate timing which overlapped with April’s Fool Day.

Why the incredulity?

I would break the cynicism down into two broad buckets:

  • Dash buttons have a very singular usage / use case, narrower even the Yo! app which was a bit of a tech fad last year. Critics are at best uncertain that consumers would use them? I generally buy toilet roles every 4-6 months, do I really need a button for that?
  • Dash buttons imply that the hardware required is ridiculously cheap. How many boxes of washing powder, packets of Mac & Cheese or toilet rolls would be required for a button to break even?

Business perspective

Rather than ripping into this into too much depth I thought I would share Benedict Evans’ interesting hypothesis about the Amazon Dash button:

Amazon is trying to eliminate both vendor and brand decisions, and turning itself into a utility company – get your house connected to power, water, gas and Amazon. And choosing which commodity product you need is just another piece of friction to be removed by Amazon’s kaizen

There are some interesting directions that come out of this view point. Let’s break Benedict’s analysis down chunk-by-chunk:

  • Eliminating vendor decisions: there are two prongs to this. Firstly, it would reduce the basket size for supermarkets and also reduce impulse purchases. Let’s think about the Walmart ‘beer and diapers’ retail urban legend for a moment – if you weren’t shopping for the diapers, you aren’t likely to have picked up the beer next to it as you would have had no reason to go near those shelves. By implication it is also an attack on some of the categories carried in convenience stores. Given that the button is about ‘just-in-time’ shopping it implies that the users are not likely to have rooms in their lives for big box retailers or CostCo. The buttons are likely to aimed at urban dwellers rather than the suburbs were larger homes and larger vehicles to do the big box store shop are the norm – Sam’s Warehouse is safer than Walmart in this scenario
  • Eliminate brand decisions: since sales are diverted from supermarkets this also affects their private label sales, especially where they are acquired by accident as lookalikes stacked next to well-known brands. Challenger brands find that switching becomes much harder as they can’t intercept the customer at the point-of-intent through shopper marketing and the opportunity cost for the consumer gets raised due to the comparative nature of the friction in purchase.  It also begs a question about how much it affects the share price of WPP and other marketing combines who have spent big on shopper marketing acquisitions over the past few years. Do buttons offer a net gain or loss of value to them? I do know that the button puts Amazon in a much more powerful position versus vendors in terms of discount pricing to retailer and warehousing. The key to understand the power  that Amazon would bring is ‘choosing which commodity product you need…’. The very idea of a product being boiled down to a commodity buy would scare the living daylights of the average brand manager in an FMCG mega-corp
  • Turning itself into a utility: for Amazon this is about locking the consumer in via Prime to the consumer life. At the present time, logistics costs have been an increasing proportion of the cost of sales for Amazon, there must be a hope that the scale of grocery shopping will bring down the price of Prime and drive profits higher?

There is no reason why the likes of Tesco, Ocado or Iceland couldn’t have done this. The wider Dash technology would make it easier for consumers to do grocery shopping and reduce the friction of online purchases. Instead they seem to have wanted to reduce cashier numbers inshore and focused on self-service tills. Time will tell if they made the right technological choice.

What about the user?

This is designed to make the consumers life easier and I can see how it makes purchase of otherwise annoying to shop for items frictionless, but it only works within reason. You can’t have a wall of buttons on the front door of your fridge freezer and just when do you press the button in the bathroom to order up more razor blades or toilet roll? What happens during the run up to Christmas when Amazon has had sub-optimal performance with regards deliveries on occasion? What is the buying frequency required to make the button habit forming, used without thinking about it, without consideration. When does the opportunity cost for the consumer tip in their favour regarding button usage?

What I don’t have yet is a clear understanding on depth and breadth of the customer problem being solved by the Dash button.

Product design

The original Dash device was interesting because it represented a rejection of the broader theme of convergence where functionality is subsumed from dedicated hardware into a software layer running on a computer, via a web browser, tablet or smartphone. Instead Dash is a shopping appliance and wouldn’t look out of place in a cupboard full of Braun kit.

The Dash button represents a further evolution of specialist hardware, a brand-specific, tactile hardware interface. It mirrors software like IFTTT’s ‘Do’ application, the Yo! messenger app and the Dimple smartphone button project.

For non-food products like toilet rolls that come in a plastic bale that is quickly discarded, there may not be a barcode to scan in on your Dash device. Instead you would have to ask for a new pack of Charmin’ or more Mach3 razors. Processing each voice message is expensive, which makes the opportunity cost around creating dedicated buttons for certain classes of product much more attractive. Amazon first and foremost is a data-driven company, they will know which product categories that they want to have buttons for. However, what makes on an Excel spreadsheet doesn’t always make sense to the consumer…

More information
Amazon Dash button
Benedict Evans newsletter edition 106
Investing in smart logistics | Fidelity Worldwide Investments
Amazon, in Threat to UPS, Tries Its Own Deliveries | WSJ (paywall)
Supply Chain News: A 360-Degree View of E-Fulfillment Part 1 | Supply Chain Digest
Amazon joins numerous startups in building delivery networks to disrupt Fedex and UPS. | DataFox
The Amazon Dash post
Dimple smartphone button project | Indiegogo
SpinVox: the shocking allegations in full | The Kernel

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Apple takes smartphone crown in China – CNET – over a quarter of urban smartphones sold; profit share rather than market share approach

A New Wave of Chinese Smartphones Set to Emerge in 2015 – TechNode – the key thing here is likely to be relevant patents which many of these companies currently don’t have

Billionaire Fridman targets US and Europe in $16bn telecoms spree – FT.com – board will include Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman and Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, has been brought together to aid acquisitions in the technology sector to augment an already substantial portfolio of telecoms businesses. It will also include Osama Bedier, a former Google payments executive, former Skype executive Russ Shaw and Sir Julian Horn-Smith, one of the founding management team at Vodafone (paywall) – presumably a shedload of leverage as well since $16Bn won’t go that far

Cyber Trends: 5 Subcultures on the Internet | Highsnobiety – interesting how the internet is melding and spawning tribes

Panasonic to Release Spherical Fan/circulator – Nikkei Technology Online – gives Dyson a run for his money with this design. I love the space age feel of it

From Socks To Sex Toys: Inside America’s Subscription-Box Obsession | FastCompany – I think that there is something to be said about careful curation ridding one from the tyranny of choice and giving the approximation of the great record store clerk or the guy at the comic shop – if they are done well. But I am also reminded mostly by these services of book and record clubs of yore

How To Make A Secret Phone Call | Fast Company – interesting art project which illustrates the complexity of modern privac

Windows RT: Mission Accomplished | Fast Company – leverage on Intel

Casio App Enables Word Searches on Recordings – WSJ – if this works as promised it is amazingly cool and the technology could revolutionise web search

Smart home: is all we want is a better burglar alarm?

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group put together some PR-able research on what consumers think about the smart home.

Methodology
First of all the methodology:  online survey of over 4,000 US, UK and German consumers. The sample size is better than many, however I don’t know if the sample was self-selecting or what kind of biases might be in there. Since it was gathered solely online one has to have a certain amount of skepticism on sample make-up.

The nature of the questions means that answers are prompted which would again affect consumer attitudes rather than open answers which are then categorised.

Finally, some cultures (like the Japanese) are much more accepting of technologies than others. Home ownership differences will also add into the mix depending on the depth of capital expenditure required to deploy a given technology. Renting is much more common in Germany, the UK has an aspiration to purchase.

How valid are consumer opinions?
In evolutionary products such as a new chocolate bar or toilet roll, consumer opinions on developments make more sense than a largely unwritten future a la the smart home, as Steve Jobs is reputed to have said:

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

On to the results
They put together some nuggets of data from the questions as diagrams, the most interesting was
Print
Ease-of-use is an interesting, but largely predictable response. I guess useful was assumed rather than asked in this question.

There was a comparative lack of interest in smart appliances in comparison to smart environment controls (lighting, HVAC and home security), I suspect that this is partly because ‘smart’ technology has rolled out first in offices with touch control A/C and motion-controlled lighting – where respondents have been exposed to it.

The thing that puzzles me is why one would want to control some of this technology via the internet. Something like smart lighting doesn’t need to connect to a cloud but instead use local sensors whether it is a Bluetooth MAC address or infra-red heat signature that moves.

More information
From Sci-Fi to Reality: Almost Half of Consumers Think The Smart Home Will be Mainstream in Five Years
Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group)

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Cheaper luxury goods could be on the way in Asia, say analysts | SCMP – a mix of market forces in the likes of China and cracking newer markets (paywall)

What Luxury Brands Can Learn From Baijiu’s Anti-Corruption Comeback | Jing Daily – this move at re-positioning the brand away from gifting to everyday consumption is similar to work that I did with Bordeaux wines in China

NSA spying caused 9 percent of foreign firms to dump U.S. clouds | SiliconAngle – I don’t think that the military industrial complex would care

Magic Lantern Brings Linux to Canon EOS Cameras | Hack-a-day – interesting dual boot camera project

Patagonia Repair Partnership – iFixit – really interesting bit of native advertising by Patagonia

An update on Microsoft’s approach to Do Not Track – Microsoft on the Issues – disappointing

Road Warrior: Waiting on the Elio, a Three-Wheeled Dream Car of the Future | NYTimes.com – I like the look of this is reminds me of the Messerschmitt KR200 and the Volkswagen 1 Litre concept car

Russian internet trolls are trained to spread propaganda in three-person teams | Quartz – interesting approach to social content marketing using astro-turfing and sock puppetry

Amazon Dash Button – interesting idea

US Used Zero-Day Exploits Before It Had Policies for Them | WIRED – not terribly surprising, regulation and policy is always behind technology

Wearables market action is all in the wrist says market-scryer IDC – wrist devices dominate wearable products

Ditch the Keyboard, Take Notes By Hand | Mother Jones – really interesting, showing the importance or artefacts

If you weren’t head-hunted or referred, it’s hardly worth applying for that new job | Quartz – interesting shows the importance of loose networks, presumably driven by communications technologies from email to social

Meerkat, Periscope, and Hope | Techpinions – interesting analysis

Bits or pieces?: So Amazon fired a warning shot at supermarkets and everyone went April Fool? – interesting reading

Renegades of Junk: The Rise and Fall of the Drexel Empire | Bloomberg Business – great article on the rise of junk bonds

Meerkat Vs Periscope: Tech journalist is a sickly mess | BGR – shows west coast journalists as being basically sock puppets

5 Key Highlights from the 2015 Apparel and Footwear Research – Euromonitor International – economic trends rather than anything else. Slower growth in China and decline in Russia

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that have made my day this week:

Ford Motor Company have managed to pull a content ‘rabbit out of the hat’ in this film with Detroit techno legend Kevin Saunderson wandering around an assembly plant to sample sounds for his production

Great talk by James Frey about his book Endgame: The Calling when he was hosted at Google’s Niantic Labs (who developed Ingress) and has an interesting take on the media industry

We’ve been pushing this video out for a client at work. A kind of 21st century Hype Williams joint, something about it reminded me of ‘No Scrubs‘ by TLC

I find the ‘behind the scenes video for the promo adds more context and helps my enjoyment of the original film

This week I have been mostly listening to this Sons of Dub Meets Mighty Crown mixtape

Links of the day | 在网上找到

LG Eyes New Approach With AKA Phones – Korea Real Time – WSJ – interesting approach to try and shake up the form factor and design as a differentiator in smartphones

Baidu and Alibaba capture 70% of China online ad spending | Resonance China – which shows what a power house Baidu still is

TV for Babies, Born of a Reality | WSJ – with a subsidiary plan of targeting EDM loving millennials?

Intel in Talks to Buy Altera – WSJ – interesting move from a business perspective

WPP’s Martin Sorrell reconsiders strength of newspapers – Media Week – newspapers starting to get some respect from Martin Sorrell