Links of the day | 在网上找到

Report: China’s Tsinghua targeting Korea’s fabless | EETE Analog  – Tsinghua Unigroup, a state-controlled conglomerate that has acquired numerous chip companies, has shopping list of companies specializing in power management, NFC, security, and Internet of Things

Clinton Campaign Using Signal For Encrypted Communication | The Daily Dot – the irony of this given Clinton’s relationship with consumer privacy and Snowden is profound

Getting Started with Branded Content | Facebook – PDF

An Exclusive Look at How AI and Machine Learning Work at Apple – Backchannel – Apple felt that they needed to place this story. Steven Levy has had access since before the Apple Mac launch – the challenge that goes largely unmentioned is delivering high levels of privacy unlike other players

The Dot-Com Deadpool is Back as India’s Tech Boom Turns to Bust | Business of Fashion – not terribly surprising, but interesting that it has happened so soon after the departure of Nikesh Arora from Softbank…

Things that made my day this week

Things that made my day this week:

Some travel hacks:

  • Mytaxi – works for European cities, similar to Hailo or Uber
  • 3 Feel Like Home – not having to worry about roaming charges in a number of countries. There are a couple of things to be aware of:
  1. If you have a tethered broadband component to your phone tariff it won’t be part of Feel Like Home
  2. You will be on 3G networks rather than LTE back in the UK, your mileage may vary

The New Yorker has been producing some fantastic surreal content

The Suicide Squad movie was disjointed to say the least, but one good thing that came out of it was a collaboration between Action Bronson and Mark Ronson

Korean cosmetic brand Innisfree tapped into the aspirations of Korean and Chinese consumers with this fantasy VR bike ride to Jeju Island. The execution was canny, from a technical perspective it deals well with the motion / balance issues that VR projects sometimes have. Jeju Island is a famous for its pleasant weather and more relaxed lifestyle. Chinese investors have recently been driving up property prices there

Finally, man gets tattoo in shape of scar to support son after surgery.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Facebook is testing autoplaying videos with the sound already on | Recode – this sounds very annoying

In the electronics doldrums | The Japan Times – During the 1990s, Japan’s electronics industry made as great a contribution to the nation’s economic growth as automakers. In the latter half of that decade, the electronics sector alone had a trade surplus close to ¥10 trillion a year. After the turn of the century, however, it started showing signs of decline and its trade balance turned into the red in 2013. Statistics for that year showed that electronics components and devices scored a trade surplus of ¥2.9 trillion, but trade in finished electronics products incurred a deficit of ¥3.7 trillion.

Permission to be substandard | Rob Hinchcliffe – interesting post on quality and social

Samsung plans refurbished smartphone program: source | Reuters – taking a leave out of Apple’s book, but it won’t help in China or India

The confusing Labour brand

Ok lets ignore for a moment the divisive nature of the current leadership battle. Or a membership that is fractured between a self-destructive underclass, a squeezed public sector and a despised metropolitan elite.

The thing that struck me about the hustings were not the words but the visual design. This wasn’t the socialist red that we saw from Kinnock onwards, but a dirty pink.
There was a union jack at the back that would have made more sense at a Conservative party conference. The politics of Labour are confused, but not half as confused as current visual presentation.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Access, Accountability Reporting and Silicon Valley – Nieman Reports – interesting, smart read. I thought that press coverage of Silicon Valley has been sycophantic for decades. There were some noticeable exceptions like InfoWorld’s Notes from the Field in the early 1990s

This Is How The Majority Of The World Will Get Online, Google Hopes – BuzzFeed News – “My relationship to Google is like I’m forced to be married to someone,” said Rudiantara, who noted that his government eventually spoke to Google, who created the technology behind the maps and accounts that make the insanely popular game possible and had made sure the game was being played away from sensitive military sites. “We can’t say go to hell to Google or to technology. But we also cannot allow them to do everything they want to do.”

Microsoft helps Mac users ditch Evernote for OneNote with new tool | TechCrunch – never been a big Evernote fan, but this doesn’t look good for them

Chicago’s predictive policing tool just failed a major test | The Verge – this also has implications for the adoption of big data

The stuff we really need is getting more expensive. Other stuff is getting cheaper. – The Washington Post – really interesting paradox of western society

It looks like Watch battery life is still a problem Apple can’t easily fix | BGR – battery technology hasn’t really evolved significantly since lithium ion technology

Why Japan has more music stores than the rest of the world — Quartz – It’s not uncommon for a CD to be released in five different versions, featuring different covers, B-sides, or bonus DVDs.This speaks to a love of physical objects that’s characteristic of Japanese and also German culture, says Mulligan. These two countries have a shared preference for cash over credit cards, and also the strongest sales of physical music in the world. – It reminds me of the UK before chart regulations redefined what length a single could be way before digital formats

China rings up US$32.4b sales of smartphones in second-quarter | SCMP – huge volumes, not so huge margins

Nationwide looks to appeal to A-level audience with Snapchat Geofilter and Lens campaign | Social Media | The Drum – desperately trying to be down with the kids

0.13.0 Binary Safety Warning | – this is their equivalent of a warrant canary. Shit is about to sideways in cryptocurrency and all those fintech startups looking at blockchain will also be tainted by concerns. For the US cracking bitcoin allows them to attack the deep web and tax evasion. It also allows economic warfare against China which currently dominates bitcoin. From China’s perspective cracking bitcoin could help on tigers-and-flies investigations and capital flight

Things that made my day this week

A bit later to post here than I usually am:

Fire in the Booth – Charlie Sloth gets an assortment of drum and bass MCs including Skibadee for some non-stop skills

In terms of skills there aren’t that many rappers who could hold a candle to auctioneers styling over hip hop beats

Lowe’s the DIY chain has made good use of 360 video now available on Facebook

McMansions 101: What Makes a McMansion Bad… – or a great 101 guide to design principles

Orzo a Mexican American DJ producer did a good cover of Bamboleo that is available as a free download

Links of the day | 在网上找到

EU to tighten rules on messaging services | RTE

Why Millennials Are Excited About the 90th Birthday of China’s Ex-President – China Real Time Report – WSJ – “It’s very simple,” says Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Beijing’s Renmin University. “People right now aren’t satisfied…When he was in office, everyone said bad things about him. Now people miss him more and more.” – which by implication is pretty damning for the Xi administration

Panasonic eyes trial sales of tomato-harvesting robot | The Japan Times – interesting challenge in produce handling (tomatoes bruise easily)

Google’s New OS Will Run on Your Raspberry Pi | Hackaday – interesting that Google could be moving away from Linux on everything to RTOS underpinnings – presumably to reduce the footprint and further improve stability. At the end of the day, do you want your phone to control a lift, a defibrillator or anti-lock breaks? Also benefits for IoT in terms of smaller footprint??? Though not so sure as the language says ‘not so minimalistic’

Revolutionary steel treatment paves the way for radically lighter, stronger, cheaper cars | New Atlas – it still doesn’t have the corrosion resistance or awesomeness of titanium though. And titanium doesn’t need paint

New Startup Aims to Commercialize a Brain Prosthetic to Improve Memory – IEEE Spectrum – Johnny Mnemonic comes closer to reality?

Cisco Systems to lay off about 14,000 employees: CRN | Reuters – Cisco moving away from hardware. Interesting, implies that there is no differentiation in networking hardware anymore. Not sure software will be defensible for them as other players like Microsoft et al could get involved. Also means networking hardware to become more commoditised.  On a related note Cisco et al missed a trick on not using work like that done on Bayes Theory and network management in the late 1990s to help prevent buffer bloat. Academics have continued on this theme

Intel Licenses ARM Technology to Boost Foundry Business – Bloomberg – this plugs a gap, whether it is a permanent approach a la what IBM did with manufacturing for Xbox etc or a stopgap until they come up with a new mobile offering who knows? The ARM | SoftBank deal looks strangely prescient and ARM looks like an even bigger monopoly – existing ARM Holdings shareholders who wanted to hold on to their shares will be sick as dogs

Korea’s LG plans to make its own mobile chips — in Intel’s factories – Recode – that’s a win for Intel

Bloated HTML, the best and the worse — Monday Note – it has implications for page load times

What’s behind P&G’s cutback on targeted Facebook ads? – To reach 5,000 targeted viewers on Facebook, the spending needed can reach the equivalent of that required to reach a million TV viewers, according to Peter Daboll, chief executive of Ace Metrix, which tests ads for effectiveness

NASA systems engineering manual – (PDF)

More is different by PW Anderson – fascinating read

Instagram rolls out business profiles complete with ‘contact’ buttons as it offers advertisers greater insights | Social Media | The Drum – finally available in Europe

Beijing spells out strict residency rules for migrants to the capital | South China Morning Post – which will adversely affect social mobility

How do I…

Back in May 2010, I put the search term ‘How do I’ into Google to see what the auto-complete options offered where.
How do I
I did it again in April 2016
How do I... 2016
Getting a passport and registering to vote had risen in importance and apps had replaced Facebook and MySpace as our tech hate.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

The bandwidth bottleneck that is throttling the Internet : Nature News

How the China Shock, Deep and Swift, Spurred the Rise of Trump – WSJ – globalisation gave rise to Trump and others

Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquires SGI for $275 million | VentureBeat – death of a legend

Chinese Tech Firms Forced to Choose Market: Home or Everywhere Else – The New York Times – “The barrier to entering the U.S. or China market is becoming higher and higher,” said Kai-fu Lee, a venture investor from Taiwan and former head of Google China.

Real Time Engagement Platform for Consumers, Fans & Audiences | Mobile Polling & Voting, Social API’s & Interactive TV Solutions at Telescope – useful for using Facebook Live – also has measurement / analytics apparently

Sony Acquires Ministry Of Sound, One Of World’s Largest Indie Labels – hypebot – getting in at the tail end of EDM

Internet or Splinternet? by Joseph S. Nye – Project Syndicate – interesting that this focuses on cybercrime. I think a bigger issue is the walled garden businesses like Facebook

ComScore replaces CEO and CFO, and delays quarterly filing – MarketWatch

Technology companies, we have to talk about China

Uber has been cited as an example of how US technology companies can’t succeed in China, but the wrong lessons are being learned. Let’s look at a couple of examples.


Facebook is viewed as having ‘failed’ in China. There are two parts to this. First of all lets talk about Facebook’s business model, simply put it monetises consumers attention by selling advertising and related services to businesses.  In order to get consumers in a relevant market, it has to comply with local laws. In the EU it has a relatively easy ride as it is policed by the Irish government for compliance with EU regulations.

China has taken much more of hands on regulatory approach to the internet, like all media. Much of this is down to keeping a ‘harmonious’ society. You might not like the way they do it, but the party views internal pressures in a similar way to Western views on terrorism. Whether that terrorism in the name of Islam or black bloc anarchists.

China has an extensive censorship mechanism, it is a part of doing business there. Whilst the content maybe different, it is similar to the censorship structure for the UK in many respects:

  • Government steered industry practice
  • Legislation

One of the big differences in the UK is site blocking to protect commercial rather than government interests such as sporting event rights. Facebook chose not to implement systems that would make it compliant in China – so it isn’t available to ordinary Chinese consumers. Facebook does sell advertising in China to companies who want to reach western consumers. It has been successful in its advertising sales, sometimes to the detriment of western consumers. State-owned enterprise (SOE) Air China features as a case study for Facebook’s advertising business. San Francisco-based Papaya Mobile has built a successful business providing an online portal that allows Chinese businesses to target Facebook users abroad. I’d argue that Facebook isn’t failing in China.

If Facebook wanted to get Chinese consumers on board it had three market entry routes:

  • Build a separate Chinese product. This is something that US companies generally don’t do, they may localise the product but they avoid forking the product
  • Build infrastructure that complies with Chinese regulations. Google had done this in the past, before they chose not to
  • Have a local partner do the relevant work. Skype successfully entered the Chinese market with Chinese partner TOM. The Chinese client of Skype is known to allow government listening and weaker encryption. But in a post-Snowden world that shouldn’t be too surprising, the Chinese lack the subtlety of other countries security apparatus in their implementation but the goals are similar

Facebook somewhere along the line decided that they didn’t want to enter the Chinese market for consumers as is; but may do in the future if market dynamics change.

It is notable that Facebook’s growth in both Korea and Japan was slower than comparable western countries. Local platforms addressed the market better (KakaoTalk) and social norms of ‘nick name’ identities allowed to Twitter to become a comparative success in Japan.


Google had entered China in 2005. They hired a local executive to run the business who had previously worked at Microsoft. Four years later they were third in the market behind local firms Baidu and Soso (Tencent subsidiary). Google had an estimated 29% market share.

So Google was in third place before it had legal issues in China. Why was it in third place? Google is thought to have under-estimated the growth rate in terms of number of web pages of the Chinese internet. In the same way that Yahoo! and Bing under-indexed the western web and paid for it by losing market share to Google, Google lost out to Baidu. This was about localisation and agility rather than the system being gamed against it. Google hasn’t indexed non-Roman languages as well as English, French etc.

Google was particularly beloved of those Chinese who had a more international life; scientific researchers, journalists, bankers, marketers and the more cosmopolitan members of the middle class. But for the average Chinese consumer, other search engines did a better job.

Google services ran into trouble with a YouTube video showing security forces and protestors in Tibet. Google took action in the Chinese market when Chinese dissidents had their Gmail accounts hacked. Again in a post-Snowden world this isn’t the shocking scandal it would have once been. Complaints in the US together with this incident meant that Google was prepared to give up on Chinese consumers. The business still has an R&D team in China and works with manufacturers on Android.

So why do American companies succeed elsewhere?

The simple answer is one of scale. The US is a single country with largely the same regulatory framework, a single language, good infrastructure and access to large amounts of capital. It is a market for approximately 324 million people. This allows businesses to grow rapidly to a scale that is internationally competitive.

By comparison although the EU has an addressable population of just over 510 million people, you have different legal systems (though it is becoming more harmonised by the EU). You have 24 languages, a common currency but diverse banking systems.

This comparative lack of scale in EU technology start-ups has two effects:

  • They are harder to grow as there isn’t a comparable domestic market to incubate businesses. If they do grow, the better access of capital allows an EU start-up to be bought out. Look at, DeepMind or ARM as examples of this.  Some businesses have managed to break like Spotify as they tapped into US funding. It is also pertinent to point out that Spotify isn’t make money
  • With some noticeable exceptions like Spotify, getting capital to grow a business internationally is much harder. It isn’t realistic for a European start-up to pursue the Amazon / Uber model of betting against competition by assuming that they will always have access to cheap plentiful capital

This has meant that Facebook, Google and the like have risen largely unopposed in Europe. They have found it so easy that they’ve gained monopoly levels of market share. This is unlikely to change anytime soon. At best Europe acts like a ‘feeder team’ of talent and IP to US start-ups. Where Europe is successful is largely based on past dominance in legacy industry sectors like vehicle manufacture and pharmaceuticals. This also partly explains Europe’s stagnant growth.

China is different

China is the polar opposite of Europe. It has an addressable market for 1.4 billion people. Whilst there are many dialects in China the party railroaded Mandarin as the lingua franca and simplified Chinese as a common written language.  Live and incomes in the tier one cities would be comparable to parts of Europe. Economic growth has slowed to 6 per cent a year, but the economy is still flush with capital.

A huge population means a huge pool of qualified staff. You combine this with a large amount of capital and you have a business than can out-Uber Uber.

The culture of China is different. Chinese consumers like to go to Starbucks and KFC, use Apple products and wear luxury fashion brands; but only because these fit into Chinese cultural constructs. That means that products need to be optimised for the local market.

China has been through huge change since the rise of the party, which means that the owner executives of these companies have have a greater desire for risk to capitalise on ‘the now’.

This means that most of the advantages Silicon Valley has: agility of action, talent and capital are negated in their competition in China. In addition, since they committed to an approach that already works, adaptation to local market needs are limited. This is interpreted by the Chinese counterparts as hubris; the reality is more subtle.

China does have strategic interests which means that it regulates ‘state secrets’ very carefully. Mapping technology is carefully controlled. It has tried to use its size to benefit its businesses. In the same way that the EU through ETSI defined the GSM standard, the Chinese government tried to do the same with TD-CDMA. The reality is that favoured companies like Huawei have managed to allow their clients to get cheap funding for purchases via Chinese state-owned banks.

Like the US government, the Chinese government uses research funding and infrastructure spending to direct some aspects of technological development. Since the administration of Hu Jintao, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a government focus.

The danger of the invincible China myth

Whilst China wants to have a world-beating successful technology sector. There are problems that comes with a perception of invisibility, China will find it hard to keep open markets. Trade negotiations will become intractable as the other party sees no upsides to working with China. An eco-system where foreigners have a modicum of success is a better outcome for the Chinese government.

Uber’s problems were entirely of their own making, their choice to go into China was likely their first error. Not because it is excessively gained against them, but because they didn’t have any comparative advantages over Didi.

More information
Uber has destroyed the Western myth that companies can grow huge in China without being Chinese
Content filtering by UK ISPs | Open Rights Group Wiki
Facebook “Will Do Everything We Can” To Address Shady Dress Retailers | Buzzfeed News
Facebook for Business | Air China
Papaya Shoptimize | Papaya Mobile
China listening in on Skype – Microsoft assumes you approve |
Spotify financial results show struggle to make streaming music profitable – The Guardian

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

Learning about the latest techniques being used by brand marketers on Facebook. A lot of inspirational work coming out of Brazil (non-olympic related).  Don’t think of it as hyper-targeted advertising, think of it more like TV advertising. The challenge is then where does it fit in terms of relative cost of reach in comparison to old media. At the moment old media has that as an advantage. While we wait for the dynamics to change check out:

  • Telescope TV – great tools producing live TV broadcast experience on Facebook Live (I presume it would also integrate with the likes of U Stream, YouTube streaming etc)
  • Facebook’s business and developer facing site on all things Messenger
  • +rehabstudio – agency with a similar mix of hardware and coding a la Berg London (RIP) who are doing interesting things on Messenger (ok interesting-ish things copying what’s already been done on WeChat and LINE). The website doesn’t show it but they were behind National Geographic’s Tina the T-Rex chatbot
  • Pullstring – better quality chatbots

The World’s Biggest Asshole video went around some of my friends this week

It is a similar concept to one that ran a six years ago in France by CLM BBDO Paris.

Oprah Time: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu

The Three Body Problem like all the best science fiction is multi-layered. It has a complex story which gradually weaves together a large set of characters across time as the story is told in a non-linear manner. It is also multi-layered in terms of genres:

  • It is a space opera as rich as Asimov’s Foundation books, except it is the aliens who will be doing the interstellar travel
  • It has a conspiracy at the heart of it that reminded me of James Bond novels and John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps
  • It is the tail of of hard-bitten detective work as if Raymond Chandler had been in Beijing; complete with film noir levels of smoking and drinking

But most interesting of all is the mirror it offers on the modern China from the cultural revolution onwards. Liu is unflinching in his depiction of Cultural Revolution excesses.

Like all good authors there are hints of Liu’s early life in a rural part of Henan province during the cultural revolution. He has managed to spin the complex web of a story. The Three Body Problem is the first book in a trilogy – I am looking forward to reading The Dark Forest – the second book.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

P&G to Scale Back Targeted Facebook Ads – WSJ – interesting read, P&G moving more towards reach and frequency away from targeting. On a cost basis traditional broadcast media may be more competitive in their fight with online

‘We need to be better and faster at making work’ Ogilvy & Mather UK CEO Annette King tells staff as Ogilvy Labs shutters | Marketing | The Drum – interesting move apparently attached to the Brexit outcome. The tone it sets is interesting

Yahoo patented technology to ‘pre-deliver’ emails before you even write them – Business Insider – interesting…

rule40 – the ironic thing is that their clothing feels like a branded by absence product similar to Muji. I haven’t bothered watching the Olympics and don’t intend to thanks to Netflix and similar

Social Music App Eyegroove Shuts Down, Team Joins Facebook. Should, Dubsmash Be Worried? – hypebot – seems to be a wider challenge in social music based platforms – though Crowdmix are an outlier due to their management issues

Uber uses Brexit to pressure TfL over English tests | Campaign Live – on the other hand it offers another opportunity to close Uber out of London

Hulu Ends Free Streaming Service | Variety – and this makes the Verizon deal potentially more interesting

WSJ City – City Lobby Groups Jostle to Be Heard on Brexit – not terribly surprising, expected that it would be a feeding frenzy of lobbyists

Subway launches refreshed logo | Branding Source – nice in a 1970s kind of way

Artificial Intelligence Drone Defeats Fighter Pilot: The Future? « Breaking Defense – here comes SkyNet…

The Deeper Significance of Didi Chuxing — The Information – this is positioned as new, but the reality is that Baidu out-exexcuted Google in China as well. When Google complied with Chinese law it failed to understand the dynamics of the Chinese web and Baidu out crawled them. Google did its China market ‘stunt’ after having lost the mass market in China

Apple’s stagnant product lines mostly reflect the state of the computer industry | ExtremeTech – Apple’s relatively lax refresh cycle is mostly driven by the low rate of improvements in PC hardware these days. Apple is just more honest about it – and this says a lot about Moore’s Law

Retailer Acceptance – Contactless Life – basically your wallet isn’t dead yet

Bret Easton Ellis weighs in on the ‘snowflake generation’ | Dazed

People are using Instagram’s ‘Stories’ feature to ask for follows on Snapchat | TheNextWeb – interesting to see how Instagram will handle this

This site lists all the Siri commands you’ll ever need | TheNextWeb – useful, but also shows the current problem with AI-like technology; it needs its own guide / instruction manual

Not every white male creative is a member of the boys club – Mumbrella

Reporters, Editors Still Rely on ‘Old Media’ (Study) | SocialTimes – interesting article, surprised that social media as a source ranked so high in APAC compared to other regions

Didi, SoftBank Lead $600 Million-Plus Round for Grab – Bloomberg – which will then be competing against Uber – interesting, I suspect Didi will win this battle as well

China, Not Silicon Valley, Is Cutting Edge in Mobile Tech – The New York Times – actually much of this is a continuum from what was happening in Japan, but a hell of a lot bigger, interesting that Huawei and Xiaomi didn’t get a name check though

4K, 8K: In Japan, ‘TV Is The Thing’ | EE Times

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Really late edition of things that made my day this week:

I spent a good bit of time in Frankfurt this week.

Japan-ized Cities: Surrealistic “Worldwide Tokyo-lization Project” – it gives you a good idea of how information-rich the urban landscapes of Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo are in comparison.

I love this video: Salute – Storm

Clint and Scott Eastwood: No Holds Barred in Their First Interview Together | Esquire – Clint Eastwood’s interview split people along political lines, but the sense you get of him not being beholden to anyone is something to admire.

The Designers Republic Remembered – Creative Review – TDR didn’t necessarily do great graphic design, in reality it was more like art. As art, I think that their work ranks highly