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
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.
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
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)
Two China Tech Titans Wrestle Over User Data – WSJ – WeChat owner Tencent Holdings Ltd. contends that Huawei is effectively taking Tencent’s data and violating the privacy of WeChat users, according to people familiar with the situation. It has asked the Chinese government to intervene, these people say – I have to wonder what they are doing to their western customers or what might happen to AT&T subscribers ‘lucky enough’ next year to have a Huawei handset (paywall)
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – The Atlantic – technology demonised for behavioural disfunction. Some of the statistics are interesting, but the conclusions aren’t
Adidas has found that models and bloggers, not athletes, are the key to selling sportswear to women – this could have a huge impact on its sponsorship programme, which might be bad for top level women in sport
China holds drill to shut down ‘harmful’ websites | Reuters – interesting implications beyond censorship of illegal content. Could also have implications for command-and-control servers for malware etc
Digital listening surges closer to 50% | Digital Radio – interesting RAJAR data
Things that made my day this week:
It’s quite rare for someone who has had as as long a career as Mick Jagger to still do relevant material. His double A side single featuring England’s Lost is an exceptionally political track featuring Skepta. The last track from similar artist would likely be Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It wouldn’t sound out of step with The Stone Roses or The Charlatans and the video with Luke Evans performance is amazing.
Omega seem to have spent most of the summer dwelling on the NASA Apollo programme heritage of the Omega Speedmaster with launches happening around the world including PR people in faux spacesuits for photo shoots and socialite cocktail parties. The excuse is the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster’s launch in 1957. They’ve supported it with a scripted film using brand spokesperson George Clooney talking with Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin as ever is awesome.
60 years of production makes the Speedmaster a design classic. At the time of the Speedmaster’s launch Omega would have been a more bankable name than Rolex. That seems surprising now given Omega’s move more towards the fashion end of the market. There is a great interview at The Peak Magazine; with Peter Chow the recently retired veteran salesman at The Hour Glass in Singapore. The Hour Glass is a famous watch retailer that has attracted the world’s richest customers.
“You could buy a manual mechanical watch with a fine Swiss movement for S$20 plus,” Mr Chong says. The well-known brands then were Titoni, Titus, Movado and Cyma. “Omega was the best, not Rolex.” Mr Chong quit his job in 1959 and with S$6000 from savings and loans, opened a shop in Bukit Panjang. But within three years, poor sales drove him out of business.
It was something I heard from my parents, though I had partly put this down to both of them having had Omegas – which they bought for each other when they got married.
Northampton’s most famous son, author Alan Moore Interviewed by Greg Wilson and Kermit – real name Paul Leveridge from the Ruthless Rap Assassins and Black Grape. Interesting dissection of modern counterculture and the general sense of ennui.
I am addicted to videos about mesmerising manufacturing processes and vinyl records. This video combines both of them. The hipster movement has done more than drive up the cost of avocados and gentrification. We’ve seen vinyl manufacturing plants revived and thrive. Over time the machinery has needed to be modernised, this has meant modern manufacturing techniques (like SCADA controllers) have been melted to post-war industrial technology. Anyway enough of my blathering check it out.
My week was soundtracked by this epic mix of Herbie Hancock tracks.
Line Again Tries to Crack U.S. Messaging… With a Times Square Store for Plush Toys? – this isn’t about LINE trying to crack the US market its about reaching an international audience for Brown and Co. Think of LINE as a ‘Sanrio’ analogue with a technology company attached when it comes to markets like the US. Think about the amount of Asian tourist footfall…
China’s newest trend: mini karaoke booths at shopping malls | South China Morning Post – Li said that at traditional karaoke bars, users have to reserve rooms in advance and there were usually extra charges such as service charge and for beverages and fruit served. – interesting because it moves KTV into a more family orientated area with no room for the ‘added services’ including drink and company at the shadier end of the sector
Ad Tech Firm Criteo to Launch Data Cooperative to Help Retailers Take On Amazon – WSJ – a combination of actors here. Criteo’s business is threatened by the all encompassing ad tech stacks of Google and Facebook – who between account for 85% of online advertising growth. The main insurgent online adverting provider is Amazon… E-tailers in many product categories are now dealing with Amazon as the number one product search engine and e-tailer. This won’t address the challenge of breaking consumer habit of ‘let’s hit Amazon and eBay first to see if I can get it’
Under Armour’s sneaker business has cratered | Quartz – not terribly surprised – when you think about how their basketball business relied on Curry, their football boots have entered a hyper competitive market and the brands historic relationships with college sports
WeChat Vs. LINE Battle Of the Merchadise Stores | China Channel – really interesting battle LINE sometimes looks as much like Sanrio as a technology firm, its character Brown is popular merchandise
The UK home secretary is wrong: ‘real people’ need end-to-end encryption | TheNextWeb – probably won’t help digital start-ups either
UK home secretary Amber Rudd says ‘real people’ don’t need end-to-end encryption | BusinessInsider – what would Amber Rudd know about ‘real’ people
Shanghai to build ‘brand economy’ | Shanghai Daily – really interesting. In general China isn’t the most marketing orientated business culture so having them talk about brand rejuvenation and brand building is a step change. Shanghai makes the most sense as historically it was the commercial centre of China. In the longer term this is a big move against global brands currently there. There has already been a move towards local FMCG despite past security scares, this seems to consolidate that move further
Fox Will Bring 6-Second Ads To TV During Teen Choice Awards | Media – AdAge – it will be interesting to see the efficacy of these ads as will have implications for online brand advertising moving forwards (paywall)
Google’s Push for Dominance Brings Big Change to YouTube | Digital – AdAge – working on media partnerships (paywall)
Tesla Model 3 Buzz Belies Tiny Electric Vehicle Market | CMO Strategy – AdAge – (paywall)
Fendi taps Hong Kong millennial consumers by featuring Taeyang and Asian hip-hop acts | Style Magazine | South China Morning Post – interesting that Fendi is further blurring the lines between streetwear and luxury
LVMH Tests the Notion That Brand Trumps Traffic in China – Bloomberg – going it alone in e-commerce in China rather than being on Jd.com or Alibaba
(3) Vic Gundotra – The end of the DSLR for most people has already… – ex Googler Vic Gundotra endorses the iPhone as a camera phone for structural reasons in the Android community, of course you could always use a third party camera software instead. What’s more interesting is the implications around system-level innovation and hardware support
Summer of Samsung: A Corruption Scandal, a Political Firestorm—and a Record Profit – Bloomberg – interesting profile of Samsung. Interesting that they don’t realise Huawei is the big bad wolf yet
The myths of the digital native and the multitasker – ScienceDirect – fits in with what I’ve seen in terms of empirical evidence, millennials are just as bad at technology as the rest of us (paywall)
Russia Bans’Uncensored’ VPNs, Proxies and TOR | Torrent Freak – interesting implications for China. I wonder how they would achieve all this?
Announcing Ghost 1.0 – possible WordPress replacement or niche player?
The ‘real’ reasons manufacturing returning to US – Yahoo! Finance – it depends how you measure costs. Automation requires more capital, upfront costs and benefits big production runs in certain industries. Automation more limited in batch contract manufacturing. Still barriers: ecosystems of suppliers, expertise, skills and access to critical raw materials (rare earth metals, cobalt and coltran). A crisis in shipping (such as the collapse of Hanjin Shipping) will hit both international long supply chains and Chinese finished products equally hard
Chinese Fintechs Use Big Data To Give Credit Scores To The ‘Unscorable’ – I wonder how this intersects with the PRC govt social scores?
Turn Off, Drop Out: Why Young Chinese Are Abandoning Ambition – interesting for the subtle differences between this and gen-x style slackers
Google Adds Autoplay Video to Search Results Page | The SEM Post – this will be terribly annoying
eBay Powers Searching and Shopping with Images on Mobile Devices – eBay Inc – interesting move turning every shop into a potential showroom for the eBay marketplace
P&G cuts more than $100 million in largely ineffective digital advertising | WSJ – (paywall)
Trending posts — Steemit – paid social network. Apparently digital payments of some sort are given per post. They are held in a blockchain database. I won’t lie, I’m sceptical to say the least
Hong Kong’s Lee Kum Kee Group to buy London’s ‘Walkie Talkie’ building in historic £1.3b deal | South China Morning Post – interesting that Hong Kong investors think that central London office property is cheap enough to make big deals like this. I think they might be disappointed at least from the short to medium term. It could be a play to gain a UK foothold well in advance of Hong Kong’s final assimilation by the motherland
Inside LeEco’s spectacular fall from grace | Engadget – I was reminded of an old client Enron, when I started reading about LeEco. Like Enron, LeEco started off in one business (video streaming) and then exploded into several other sectors at once before collapsing under the weight of its ambition. Like Enron, I was left feeling that LeEco just didn’t make sense, except in the mind of a megalomaniac with wicked Excel skills
Great rambling essay by my friend and former colleague Audrey Li. Audrey’s family live in a small town / village in Sichuan province. Sichuan is in the west of China. The essay covers WeChat, payments, crime and the party’s fight against pollution. The battle against pollution has hard costs, which Audrey goes into – Smart Phone, No-cash Society, and Jobless — A Short Conversation with My Mother
Line loses users in 3 of its most important countries – interesting changes in Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand
Dissecting the Jimmy Choo Michael Kors Deal | News & Analysis | BoF – “I think Michael Kors is trying to build up a portfolio of accessible luxury brands. This development strategy is very similar to the one of Coach, rather than to LVMH and Kering which are focused on true luxury brands. Moreover LVMH and Kering are at a more advanced stage of development: they already control dozens of brands and have central structure to exploit synergies among them,” adds Mario Ortelli, European luxury goods analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein
Is Beijing getting serious about selling off state firms? | SCMP – Tencent and Alibaba buying into Unicom could be an interesting dynamic
Kaspersky’s stellar antivirus finally goes free | PCWorld – feature limited but powerful
Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Are More Popular Than Older Models | Fortune.com
Inside Andy Rubin’s Quest to Create an OS for Everything | Wired – wasn’t that a historical Windows vision, there is a tension between general purpose and specialist
In China, Herd of ‘Gray Rhinos’ Threatens Economy – NYTimes.com – Chinese conglomerates who have grown based on cheap bank loans. It hasn’t been said yet, but there must be similar implications for Chinese businesses who have benefited from state bank supported vendor financing to win customers abroad (paywall)
Xi’s Sign-Off Deals Blow to China Inc.’s Global Spending Spree – WSJ – this impacts people like Wanda. I was speaking to a technology start-up who talked about raising their funds and getting them in just in time from Chinese investors, right before ‘the door shut’ (paywall)
The government should fight ‘corporate villainy’ in tech, Senator Cory Booker says | Recode – this isn’t the Silicon Valley that I grew up with and supported through the early part of my career
A Privacy Choice | Rands In Repose – on browsers
Korean Broadcasters Launch U.S. Streaming Service, Taking on Warner Bros.’ DramaFever | Variety – and Netflix is running great K-drama like Secret Forest aka Stranger
One Family, Many Revolutions: From Black Panthers, to Silicon Valley, to Trump – NYTimes.com – interesting reading (paywall)
Three Reasons Abercrombie Has (Finally) Jumped on E-Commerce in China | AdAge – paywall
Twenty years,20 visualisations | SCMP – great step back to pre-internet living
In conversation with Japan’s 82-year-old porn star | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post – What motivates you to continue this work? Tokuda: It’s very simple; I feel very grateful when I get a request to work on a particular film and when a director requests me to be the male lead. I take pride in my work and whenever I have an offer for a part I try my best to make sure I am available and to give a good performance. It is very nice to feel wanted for my skills and I will continue to work for as long as I am wanted
The Dark Side Of “Friendly” Design | Fast Co. Design
Why Vinyl’s Boom Is Over – WSJ – not exactly but it does go into the foibles of mastering vinyl and overcompression of mastering for Spotify et al
Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture – The Agency Review – interesting and disturbing read
Marcel Is Just a Baby Compared to JWT’s Pangaea | Agency News – AdAge – narrow usage case versus Marcel’s ambitious general purpose platform. It also provides an idea of the steep ramp that Publicis will have to climb from the development perspective, let alone the degree of culture change required
IDM model no longer viable for Japan semiconductor industry: Q&A with Socionext CEO Yasuo Nishiguchi – fascinating read
Sky Garden (Stoned Moon) | Robert Rauschenberg Foundation – my favourite work from Rauschenberg’s commission in 1969 by the NASA Art Programme
Amazon.com: Spark – Amazon creates a social network to showcase its products
Moscow spooks return to Hungary, raising NATO hackles – POLITICO – “Back in 2014-2015 [the Russians] went from maybe 50-100 intelligence officers up to 300 plus” in Hungary, said the former embassy official.
“Generally we expect they are openly capturing telecoms, running HUMINT [human intelligence] sources all over Europe, planning and staging all kinds of cyber sabotage, linking up with organized crime and supporting folks in parties like [the far-right] Jobbik with fat sacks of cash and maybe even some intel-sourced dirt,”
Yandex open-sources CatBoost, a machine learning library that can be trained with minimal data– interesting rival to TensorFlow et al
How’s an investor in The Peninsula’s holding company linked to Xi Jinping’s right-hand man? | South China Morning Post (dead link) – this won’t play well in Beijing. It makes the princeling’s wealth look excessive, the article was taken down 24 hours later
China Merchants Bank has got out-of-home adverts in high footfall parts of central London aimed at Chinese consumers shopping in the UK point out a promotion on their Visa credit card.
Those are extremely aggressive promotional offers, 5% back on what they spend. 3,000 yuan (£340) worth of rewards for spending abroad and $5 cash back if they spend $50 via Visa PayWave (contactless payment). The mind only boggles at how much customer acquisition and retention costs are for Chinese high net worth credit card users.
Things that made my day this week:
A new Blade Runner 2049 trailer, the suspense is killing me
McDonald’s seems to be going hard on supporting national service in different countries. Here is the Singapore treatment for the ‘Nasi Lemak’ burger. There is also a coconut pie (a bit like the fried apple pie), Cendol McFlurry (presumably containing green rice flour jelly and coconut ice cream) and a Bandung McFizz (rose syrup flavouring). It would be hard to get more Singaporean.
In Korea, they are giving free meals to conscripts whose parents can’t visit them and providing a special menu in the Seoul Station branch so that parents travelling to see their sons in the early hours of the morning by train could have something more substantial than the breakfast menu.
In both cases, it’s a canny move to catch families at a crucial life stage.
Great radio adaption of Lem Deighton’s Ipcress Files – slightly different to the Michael Caine film version you may have seen which deviates from the book (I am guessing due to budget considerations)
Why do graffiti writers get sent to prison for so long? | Dazed – On the same day that known graffiti writer Vamp was sentenced to 3 years for vandalism, a BBC presenter, Stuart Hall, was given 15 months for the sexual assault of 13 young girls over 20 years, between the ages of 9 and 17 – hard questions indeed.
Chinese digger company LOVOL had mandarin pop act Chopstick Brothers, dance troop and a wheeled loader dance along to their hit ‘My little Apple’ at a trade show (i’m guessing in China).
China Disrupts WhatsApp Service in Online Clampdown – The New York Times – I didn’t realise that WhatsApp worked in China unless you were roaming on a foreign SIM
AI and Wall Street | WSJ City – Robotic Hogwash! Artificial Intelligence Will Not Take Over Wall Street. I guess it depends which Wall Street jobs that you mean
Apollo – Baidu’s automotive OS for self driving cars