Links of the day | 在网上找到

China’s Robot Revolution May Affect the Global Economy – Bloomberg – “By turbocharging supply and depressing demand, automation risks exacerbating China’s reliance on export-driven growth – threatening hopes for a more balanced domestic and global economy” 

Scrapping the combustion engine: the metals critical to success of EVs | Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy – surprised greater consideration article isn’t given to capacitor storage systems and other Li ion alternatives or hydrogen fuel cells

Apple’s first academic machine learning paper won a top AI conference prize — Quartz – interesting, but I don’t think anyone is advancing as quickly as the hype promised

UK Samsung TVs bricked after firmware update (updated) | Engadget   – “Samsung is aware of a small number of TVs in the UK (less than 200) affected by a firmware update to 2017 MU Series TVs on 17th August. Once this issue was identified, the update was switched off and we’re now working with each customer to resolve the issue. Any customers affected are encouraged to get in touch with Samsung directly (1-800 SAMSUNG). We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers.”

Technics SL-1200GR turntable is finally here – praise be

Cohn & Wolfe CEO eyes 27.3% growth in China | China Daily – huge ask given: rise in domestic competitors and aggressive international competitors, just 6% growth in GDP compared to 14% in go-go years. FMCG sector numbers that are awful etc

Can too much ‘design thinking’ be a bad thing?

First of all, what’s ‘design thinking’?

It’s a term that has been popularised by IDEO to encapsulate user-centred thinking. Wikipedia does a good explanation of how it differs from the scientific method

Design thinking differs from the “Scientific method”, which begins by stating a hypothesis and then, via a feedback mechanism, continues iteratively to form a model or theory, by including consideration of the emotional content of the situation. While feedback in the scientific method is mostly obtained by collecting observational evidence with respect to observable/measurable facts, design thinking feedback also considers the consumer’s emotional state regarding the problem, as well as their stated and latent needs, in discovering and developing solutions. In scientific methods with a heavy emphasis on math or physics, emotional elements are typically ignored. Design thinking identifies and investigates both known and ambiguous aspects of the current situation in an effort to discover parameters and alternative solution sets which may lead to one or more satisfactory goals. Because design thinking is iterative, intermediate “solutions” are potential starting points of alternative paths, allowing for redefinition of the initial problem, in a process of co-evolution of problem and solution

So design thinking builds on the scientific method to also include human factor consideration (beyond physical ergonomic considerations of industrial designers).

The attraction for businesses is that it allows a wider range of intellectual tools to be thrown at a problem. Business problem solving traditionally has borrowed from the scientific method: data is used to form a hypothesis, which is then tested. The lack of consideration of human factors becomes a problem as an organisation tries to become marketing or customer-orientated.  In digital organisations the iterative nature of design thinking mirrors modern approaches to development on software and digital services. Short bursts of iterative work that are then refined regularly. Digital products and services don’t necessarily need to be built by the organisation; banks don’t need to build their bank statement system, restaurants their digital menus or phone companies their billing design interface.

The blind spot that I see in the process is when we forget that the promises made through a proposition built via design thinking has to be delivered in the real world.

Here’s a case in point.

By the 1970s Japanese quartz watch movements with miniaturised watch batteries  had proved an existential threat to the Swiss watch industry. The Swiss had embraced quartz technology alongside their tradition offerings as far back as 1969. 20 Swiss manufacturers came up with the beta21 movement which they released soon after Seiko’s Auctron. Overall the industry was slow to go into large commercial production of quartz watches.

By Museumsfoto (Deutsches Uhrenmuseum) [CC BY 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

By 1974, the price of gold shot up fourfold and the dollar dropped by 40%. These two factors hit the premium market hard. From the end of the war until the rise of China, America was the largest single market for luxury goods, though the Japanese gave them a good run for it. Luxury watchmakers were hit by both rising costs and dollar price inflation in their largest market. Low-end and premium brands disappeared left, right and centre.  In 1978, the number of quartz watches manufactured passed that of mechanical watches as part of what the watchmaking industry still calls the ‘quartz crisis’.

IWC ended up being bought by VDO. At the time VDO was an independent German company that specialised in making speedometers and gauges for both cars and the marine sector. It still makes electronics and instrumentation, but is now owned by Continental (of Continental tyres fame). It was the VDO connection which connected IWC with Porsche Design.

Porsche Design had a reputation for making watches that had a focus on user experience. They adopted a focus on minimal design, legibility and innovative materials.  Their first design was a chronograph which had an innovative  first black steel watch, they used PVD (physical vapour deposition) to provide a stronger surface than paint. They made an innovative model with a compass hide underneath its watch, the watch lifted up

The next watch would be a dive watch, it was partly aimed at a German Navy requirement for dive watches that had a sufficiently low magnetic signature that combat divers could safely work with naval mines.  IWC had invested in machines for working with titanium. Dive watches that perform are usually pretty chunky products.

Panerai PAM 347 + Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea 116660

These two designs by Panerai and Rolex respectively are good examples of the typical design approach. Enough metal is used to keep the immense pressures under control.

IWC Ocean 2000
IWC Ocean 2000
IWC Ocean 2000

Porsche Design took a radically different approach. They managed to make a smaller device by using the water pressure to improve water resistance. The pressure would squeeze the case tighter and tighter. This made it slimmer and necessitated the design of curves. This also make it exceptionally comfortable to wear.

It was a nightmare to the manufacturing function at IWC. Titanium is exceptionally hard to work; to the point that these watches were sold at or below the cost of sale (manufacturing, marketing, logistics etc). The Porsche design literally had no straight edges on the case making it exceptionally hard to manufacture.

In subsequent models of dive models IWC went back to more muscular hard edged designs that make life easier for the manufacturing line.

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What becomes apparent is that Porsche design was very focused on the end customer experience, but it was at the expense of business considerations. This brings us back quite neatly to design thinking which loses that process function over time.

Apple’s design team not only focus on the product design, but how it can be made. It mean’t thinking laterally about possible process improvement. They went to sweet factories in order to work out how to cast seamless transparent  plastic surfaces. Apple spent large amounts of its cash pile to forward purchase in-demand components and machine tools for factories. Foxconn had thousands of CNC machines working cranking out iPhone cases that would have been unthinkable from other manufacturers.

But most companies aren’t organised like Apple. They have limited resources to implement processes for customers. Conventional business thinking usually tries to reduce costs or outsource as a non-core product.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

DIGITAL IS HAVING A MIDLIFE CRISIS. THE WAY FORWARD IS EXPERIMENTATION. | BBH Labs – nice diagnosis but shouty headline. Ironically the problem is the ad industry dashing headlong into technology and expecting it to work

Why You Might Build Your Start-up in China over Silicon Valley | Hacker Noon – or Silicon Roundabout / Silicon Fen for that matter

Invisible Hand Behind WPP Wednesday: Transparency Takes Toll | Agency News – AdAge – Holding company revenue in North America has been flat to down in recent quarters, running well below increases in U.S. gross domestic product and media spending. It’s a trend that started the third quarter of last year, just after the Association of National Advertisers issued its report from investigations firm K2 on media transparency.”There is at minimum a coincidence between the timing of the release of the K2 report and the sudden deceleration in U.S./North America organic revenue growth for the holding companies, which began in the third quarter of last year,” says Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser. “It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t had some impact in terms of clients looking to tighten up contract language. This is reinforced by my conversations with marketers who have only recently learned about how their contracts have allowed for agencies to generate authorized but undisclosed markups. But I also think that a slowdown in spending on media from large marketers is at play, as is zero-based budgeting.”

Hong Kong police launch investigations into suspicious China UnionPay withdrawals amid capital flight concerns – surprised that crypto currency isn’t being used in this more

Ignorance of Pricing is Ruining Ad Agencies | Trinity P3 – it sounds more like ignorance of product marketing

Apple iCloud Keychain easily slurped by cops, ElcomSoft claims • The Register – ElcomSoft’s Phone Breaker 7.0 has gained the ability to access and decrypt iCloud Keychain data, under certain circumstances.

China’s outbound investment to further grow after the party congress, says PwC | South China Morning Post – pure speculation. M&A would need to be balanced against increased resistance from the likes of the EU and ASEAN countries

Hugo: The IT Bot – done by Digitas LBi for HPE

Advertising Philosopher: An Interview with Faris Yakob (Part Three) | Annenberg Innovation Lab – Worth reading on content

Ad Age Wake-Up Call: News about Google, Walmart and WPP | News – AdAge  – WPP cut its full-year revenue forecast, predicting revenue growth between zero and 1% this year. Previously, it had predicted 2% growth. WPP’s share price fell up to 12% after the company released its first-half earnings, and Bloomberg News said it was their biggest drop in 17 years. Agency holding companies have been hurting as some clients trim advertising budgets. UK-based WPP, the biggest agency company by revenue, singled out “pressure on client spending in the second quarter, particularly in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) or packaged goods sector.”

London Calling for Brexit Fix | Agency News – AdAge – “Brexit threatens to diminish the U.K.’s international standing, and arguably has done so already,” says WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, who has been an outspoken critic of Brexit. “One of the reasons we have doubled down on investment in western continental Europe is to maintain our influence in critical markets such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain—four of our top 10 markets worldwide—and Brussels, where our international competitors are already seeking to use Brexit against us.”

The Cult of the Costco Surfboard | The New Yorker – paywall

Will Artificial Intelligence Be Illegal in Europe Next Year? | Entrepreneur – data portability and an explanation for automated decision pose interesting challenges

SOS Alerts – Andy Kinsella – Google now competing with the Facebook alerts system

UK Supermarket May Have Accidentally Infected Thousands With Hep E Virus | LADbible – protecting the supermarket like this will damage trust across the food supply chain

DEA: ‘There Is No Silver Bullet’ for Going Dark – Motherboard

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

I’ve been a bit quiet on here this week, I was freelancing in Shoreditch, living the Nathan Barley dream with smoked salmon coffee. Here’s the things that made my day this week:

乐播报丨七夕节,乐高积木X搜狗输入法送“独家”惊喜啦! – Nice collab between Sogou and Lego on digital assets including stickers and a keyboard

Naomi Wu shared this cyberpunk themed maker festival video by Tao Bao – the Alibaba-owned mainland China marketplace. I quite like it, it has a 1980s post-Blade Runner vibe to the visuals – but through the lens of Hong Kong comedy director Stephen Chow.

Students Nicci Yin and Nan Hung Tsai  from the ArtCenter College of Design gave this interesting talk on making locative art more social. Like the ARKit stuff, these explorations feel fresh like the computer graphics in the early 1990s and Macromedia (pre-Adobe) Flash. The idea of scanning items with a hand controller into virtual reality and it becoming a virtual social asset is was interesting. There are interesting implications handing off across realities in storytelling.

Great interview with Action Bronson – I let him speak for himself

ARKit reminds me of back in the day with start of Macromedia Flash; developers and artists being creative and playful. Check out this brief animation from a Japanese developer

SaveSave

SaveSave

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Logic Gates Under (Air) Pressure | Hackaday – I remember seeing fluidic logic on a packaging production line for motor oil back when I was a teenager. By this time the line was reasonably old, micro-processor controls were becoming the norm, and it broke down on a regular basis. The owners knew my Dad which is how I got to see it. They used to pack small volume SKUs for Shell at their own factory; when the oil company pulled the contract their business closed

Apple’s Secure Enclave Processor (SEP) Firmware Decrypted | Hackaday“Imagine the Secure Enclave as a vault. Apple hung a big, dark curtain over it to prevent anyone from even seeing the vault. Now, that curtain has been opened and people can see the vault. The vault, however, is still locked as securely as ever.” However we don’t know who else has got this far already, and we certainly don’t know if other actors have managed to find vulnerabilities in the code.

China Tech Workers Wanted: Women Need Not Apply – WSJ – Parents often tell their daughters they won’t be good at math or physics or coding. And just like in the U.S., some Chinese companies are reluctant to hire or promote women because of concerns about pregnancy and child rearing, employee advocates say. About 20% of engineers in China’s internet and telecommunications industries are women, according to Boss Zhipin, a Beijing-based online recruiting company. And there’s a pay gap as well. Women were paid 30% less than men in China’s internet industry last year, ranking among the most discriminatory lines of work with medicine, media and entertainment, according to Boss Zhipin, which surveyed more than 365,000 pay samples nationwide – (paywall)

Interim Report Q2 2017 (OMX:MAERSKA) – In the last week of the quarter we were hit by a cyber-attack, which mainly impacted Maersk Line, APM Terminals and Damco. Business volumes were negatively affected for a couple of weeks in July and as a consequence, our Q3 results will be impacted. We expect that the cyber-attack will impact results negatively by USD 200-300m.” – shipping titan Maersk talks about how malware has affected its business

The First True Multi-User Holographic Table Has Been Built – ExtremeTech – cool as fuck

Producers, Songwriters on How Pop Songs Got So Slow – Rolling StonePaul Oakenfold et al who tried unsuccessfully to slow acid house down to 98bpm was just 3 decades too early

Things that made my day this week

Things that made my day this week:

I’ve mostly been listening to a mix by UNKLE (James Lavelle) for Dazed & Confused magazine

…. and the Zhou Family weddings and funeral band

Continuing the China music theme, there is a great documentary on hip hop in Chengdu in Sichuan province – Hip-Hop in the Home of Hot Pot | Sixth Tone – the tension between the underground and sell-out reality TV version of Chinese hip hop comes across really well in this film.

Great interview by Pharrell Williams of Henry Rollins

Maserati Owner Found Fake Version of His Car with the Same License and Registration | Jing Daily – it looks as if registration plate cloning is being used in China to sell illegally imported (probably stolen or crashed vehicles) – but I can’t work out how the driver managed to pay so little for his illegal ride. It would be worth more as scrap

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Booking.com’s global PR head on Japan, data, and the fallacy of awards | PR Week – For Cafferty, no outside party can understand a business as well as the people who work in it. Indeed, she sees the key attribute of an in-house PR person as knowing every facet, from “fun stuff” like brand and product to tax laws. She sees the value of PR agencies as being strong media contacts and local understanding, and less about strategy or creativity – a very traditional view of PR as media relations and a disconcerting read for agencies given the lack of receptiveness to higher value service aspects

McSuicide? Twitter hoax affects McDonald’s Hong Kong | PR Week – probably because Twitter doesn’t have traction in Hong Kong

What Brands Are Actually Behind Trader Joe’s Snacks? – Eater – it reminds me student jobs that I had in factories making breakfast cereals, frozen cakes and frozen meals respectively – we would change brand boxes on the line but the product remained the same

iOS 10 Quietly Deprecated A Crucial API For VoIP and Communication Apps – Slashdot

Ships fooled in GPS spoofing attack suggest Russian cyberweapon | New Scientist – what would have seemed like a straight-up Bond villain pot, now seems to be the new normal

Function and form

Great interview with Henry Rollins with BBC Hard Talk from January 2016. The interesting bit after 6:00 is how Rollins talks about his stage image that evolved from the rudimentary circumstances of being on the road.

The gym shorts and torso look was to cut down on the washing he needed to do in restaurant sinks post-concert.

I noticed that Whiskas had upped its packaging game. They added a bit of personality to the container design with ears. It cut through the tins, oval plastic trays and aluminium trays usual in cat food packaging. It acts as great brand signage.

Whiskas packaging

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Tencent, Baidu and Sina investigated by Beijing for their content | CNBC – likely to keep things buttoned up during the forthcoming party congress

Uber’s new in-app chat will help you avoid exchanging creepy texts with your driver – The Verge – interesting move – unfortunately treating the symptom of a problem

The Guardian reimagines media planning as a B2B bed-time story | The Drum  – Attracting more media planners like Claire would be the ideal scenario for Guardian Media Group right now, as it looks to balance the books by 2019. It reported a 2% rise in revenue last month, largely due to a climb in the amount of paying members and a 15% boost in digital spend. Meanwhile the Guardian’s print newspaper sales declined by 7.4% year-on-year in June to a circulation of 159,007, while its Sunday paper the Observer declined by 5.9% to 192,889, according to the latest ABCs. This is presumably why Claire is seen cutting deals in virtual reality and mobile, rather than in print.

Inside Facebook’s Institutional Policy of Copying Competitors | WSJ – pretty all encompassing embrace of user data – I wonder what Apple thinks about it given the privacy positioning of the iPhone?

Andy Rubin’s Essential phone startup gains backing from Amazon, Tencent – CNET – interesting that Tencent got onboard

Why Google can’t compete with what Apple is doing with ARKit – BGR – however if AR is going to take off cross-platform development is what’s really needed since the iPhone is a small (but lucrative part of the market)

One in three marketers believe ad tech “is broken beyond repair” | Marketing Interactive – quite possibly when also thinks that 85% of online advertising growth in Mann markets is split between Google

Buzzfeed and Breitbart at bottom of media trust list as Americans place trust in British outlets | The Drum – I do wonder about the methodology

WSJ City – Abu Dhabi Sovereign Fund Extends 1MDB Deadline – they really think that they’ll be getting that back?

Mirage World on the App Store – allows you to do ‘briefing’ but in the real world

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that have made my day this week:

Guardians of The Galaxy went post-disco with this video to promote the release of Volume 2 on Blu-Ray and DVD (presumably in the US).

DJ Pierre’s classic Generate Power has been given a remix, which isn’t half bad

In terms of listening materials, I have been celebrating Kurtis Mantronix’ return to hiphop style beat-making. It’s like 1985 called and decided to bring back the golden age of hip hop production.

Chinese internet celebrity Ms Yeah’s content is like a Chinese adaption of The Office with a healthy dose of MacGyver. It captures the slightly listless feeling you tend to get in mainland Chinese office environments and throws in some surreal elements. Anyway, don’t listen to me check it out

Christel pointed me in the direction of the new Singapore Airlines safety video. It doesn’t play for laughs like Delta or Air New Zealand have. Instead it embodies the brands values. I guess it fits into the genre of ambient television and there are some really nice transition edits.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

How This U.S. Tech Giant Is Backing China’s Tech Ambitions – The New York Times – the tricky path taken by Qualcomm (and Intel), what happens when China feels it can move forward without them?

Misunderstanding Apple Services – Monday Note – more clear-eyed view on Apple services than many people drinking the kool-aid

Fiction: Who Killed Windows Phone? – Monday Note  – Microsoft culture did it. Culture is dangerous; under our field of consciousness, it sneakily filters and shapes perceptions, it’s a system of permissions to emote, think, speak, and do.

CTA – Social Media Plays Crucial Role in Chinese Consumers’ Personal – But Not Professional – Lives, Finds New CTA Study – quite surprised by this, having worked with Chinese clients and colleagues where the main channel of contact was WeChat

Financial Times Returns to Apple’s App Store After Six-Year Hiatus – WSJ – HTML versus native app; HTML lost

This fast robot will make Adidas shirts cheaper – and kill hundreds of jobs | The Next Web – this pulls a drawbridge up on countries looking to industrialise and move from the 3rd world into the 2nd world

Harrods Bank sold to digital challenger Tandem | City A.M. – I guess that’s one way to get a banking licence

A Google employee’s viral anti-diversity memo shows America’s political divide has spread to Silicon Valley — Quartz – lack of dialogue in political and social life

YouTube in China is hard – Steemit may save my career — Steemit – interesting comments on the effect of the adpocalypse on YouTube creators

The Kronos indictment: Is it a crime to create and sell malware? – The Washington Post – interesting analysis of the charges agains Marcus Hutchins in terms of intent and level of proof required

The Secret Life of the City Banana – NYTimes.com – amazing complexity in the supply chain

Vape Nation?

My exposure to electronic cigarettes (or vapes) was with seasoned smokers looking for a healthier opportunity, or a path to help wean themselves off nicotine all together. I had seen some research that suggested teen trial of vaping was growing – this was from E-Cigarettes: Youth and Trends in Vaping – Journal of Pediatric Health Care, volume 29, issue 6, pages 555 – 557 (November – December 2015)

Among youth in the United States, e-cigarette use rose from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012 (Grana, Benowitz, & Glantz., 2014). This increase resulted in an estimated 1.78 million middle and high school students having used e-cigarettes (CDC, 2013). The trial and use of e-cigarettes have been higher among youth in Europe and Asia. A recent study on Korean youth found the trial use of e-cigarettes rose from 0.5% in 2008 to 9.4% in 2011 (Lee, Grana, & Glantz., 2014), and among youth 10 to 15 years of age in Poland the rate of those who had ever used e-cigarettes was 62% in 2014 (Hanewinkel & Isensee, 2015).

Now what I don’t know is how good the research quoted actually was, or the factors in ‘trialling’.

You also have to remember that there is a big health research grant eco-system that depends on tobacco control which has sprung up over the past 40 years which will affect the framing of the data.

I am not saying tobacco isn’t harmful, but it is useful to understand the likely factors framing the presentation of information.

I was surprised by this video from the Shanghai Vap Expo in China. It was more like going to a skateboarding convention back in the day:

  • Lots of independent resellers from around the world for vaping liquid – mirroring the variety of skateboard parts makers. Many of the formulations on sale had no tobacco
  • Vaping tricks and demonstrations
  • Clear tying of vaping to sub-cultures: hip-hop, race-girl type outfits. Pretty much any ancillary activity would expect around a Red Bull event or the X-Games

Vaping is clearly being positioned as a central part of a youth sub-culture in China.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

What the Apple store has to teach us about the miserable future of the electric car — Quartz – I don’t even think Apple’s inshore customer service is a good model for Tesla

Jon Ronson on bespoke porn: ‘Nothing is too weird. We consider all requests’ | The Guardian – much of it isn’t ‘porn’ but ways of working through issues

Chinese tourists are everywhere, but why are foreign visitors shunning China? | South China Morning Post – would the Chinese government really want a tourist number increase? Also Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan give you everything the mainland can and more with less downsides. Finally I do think the country has an external image problem as being difficult to  travel in

The China Startup Report — The Information – interesting reading (paywall)

Christina Xu on Chinese user experience and consumer behaviour

I’ve been a big fan of Christina’s work for a while and this presentation is a great example of his work. Bookmark it; watch it during your lunch break its well worthwhile.

Great examples of online to offline (O2O) interaction in processes and services that are continually expanding.  Interesting points about the lack of social norms or boundaries on the usage of online / mobile service in the real world. I’ve seen people live their online life in the cinema there are NO boundaries as Christina says.