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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Is This the End of Drop Shipping from China? | Jing DailyThe profitability and success of the drop shipping model comes from a price disparity between the products manufactured in the Western Hemisphere and those from China, but also from a shipping price disparity. In other words, if the US government increases tariffs on Chinese products, or raises shipping rates for packages arriving from China, the whole model becomes noncompetitive. And this is exactly what has happened. This makes the likes of Shopify look like a Ponzi scheme facilitator. The UK edition of Wired magazine had an interesting article on the weird world of drop shipping: ‘It’s bullshit’: Inside the weird, get-rich-quick world of drop shipping | WIRED UK – In some ways drop shipping feels old to the likes of me. It reminds me a lot of TV shopping and multi-level marketing in terms of persistent agile middle men. This article goes into the get rich quick culture of drop shipping. What struck me was the extraordinarily negative view of the future that these people had. There was a dystopian emptiness at centre of everything that the drop shipping bros did. From this perspective drop shipping bros are different to their peers that would have sold time shares, life insurance, photocopier leases or even crypto currency. It also shows that Chinese manufacturing and business practices haven’t improved over the last decade. The only piece that these two articles miss is the the supply side postal subsidy that the Chinese government gives to domestic exporters. This fuels everything from drop shipping to Chinese Amazon marketplace vendors and Chinese DTC apparel vendors who advertise on Facebook. More on Chinese online marketplaces that fuel drop shipping here.

Mediatel: Mediatel News: “Mind-boggling”: the industry reacts to ISBA/PwC reportIn a study of the “premium parts of the programmatic market”, including fifteen major advertisers, 300 distinct supply chains and 12 premium publishers, just 51% of advertiser spend on digital inventory was going to the working media. Meanwhile, 15% of marketing spend was disappearing into an “unknown delta”, and was unattributable anywhere in the supply chain. In response to the report’s findings, the market was warned that if it could not deliver standards and transparency, advertisers may take their money elsewhere and the Competition and Markets Authority might even intervene – the content came as little surprise, though it is nice to have numbers put to this. Timing-wise this is a body blow to the media industry. Its also concerning given the disruption-driven flight to digital by marketers – I don’t think you’ll see better multi-channel brand building media plans, but a greater focus on direct response instead. More here Mediatel: Mediatel News: ISBA/PwC: 15% of programmatic supply chain costs ‘unattributable’ 

Hamilton Bohannon: Disco Disciple & House Precursor | Attack MagazineBohannon was essentially creating dub mixes of soul records for club DJs. Except he created them with a band, not via studio equipment. In pioneering this minimal, dance-floor focused aesthetic, Bohannon pre-dated loop-based house records and the repetition of acid house and loop techno. On his Worldwide.fm tribute to Bohannon, Francois Kevorkian described the drummer as: “One of the most brilliant and original artists of his time who helped define as well as forge the template for the sound of dance music”. Bohannon, along with many other innovators, contributed to the development of what would lead to house and techno a decade later

How China Has Capitalized on the Coronavirus | The National InterestChinese government’s alleged efforts to hide the facts about the coronavirus. This process is necessary. Equally important, is the imperative to fix a national security vulnerability that the pandemic has revealed: China’s quiet net of influence over the agencies and international bodies that America has relied upon in the post–World War II era. Here, the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) early response to the coronavirus is an unfortunate object lesson. Bad assumptions about the good faith of the Chinese government can have devastating consequences – this is going to bring all kinds of unintended consequences

The Other Pandemic: Why US Youth Continue to Use Juul Despite Reported Drawbacks | The National Interest – mirrors past youth perception on cigarettes

[Letter from Hong Kong] Dream State, by Yi-Ling Liu | Harper’s Magazine – really great article on Hong Kong and some of the percularities and power of Cantonese as a language

Apple’s repair policies are utterly shameful and should be outlawedDigital waste is a huge problem, and Apple is a major contributor to it. All of these old MacBooks, iPhones, iPads and other products just sit around in the deep recesses of our closets, or worse, at the bottom of landfills. The fact that the FTC is willing to listen to right-to-repair advocates and examine the potential for policy change is promising

The Quietus | Features | Tome On The Range | Split: What Love Island Tells Us About Culture & Class In Modern Britainresearchers from the London School of Economics, Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison, published a book called The Class Ceiling, summing up years of research on exactly this relationship between cultural aspects of class and social mobility. They were given unparalleled access to Channel 4 and interviewed a top senior commissioner at the broadcaster to find out how he got to the top of the company. Mark (not his real name) was honest about many of the economic privileges that helped him along the way: a private school education, a place at a top university and the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ to secure London rent while he navigated the precarious world of the creative arts. He recounts how those without this crucial safety net ended up having to take safer and more stable jobs within the industry, such as more administrative roles but with less career progression. In his own words, without such privileges the risk of going for the top job would have been like ‘sky diving without a parachute’

Penguin Classics Cover Generator – create your own classic book cover

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If this blog was a Penguin paperback….

Aspirational Femininity in Contemporary China – How Brands Can Better Engage – trying to deal with alpha female aspirations

What happens when a major media empire shuts overnight? | Digital | Campaign Asia“Primetime segments, which aired key programmes aligned with the advertising of prominent brands, are now no longer available. Brands will feel the pinch with the redistribution of advertising spend, loss of audience reach and reallocation of audiences against different channels.”

HONG KONG: What NXT did next… | What Hi-Fi?3M uses its bending wave touch screens in the development of advertising and kiosk touch panels, while with its partner Qinetiq NXT’s producing solutions for use in transport applications such as high-end ex ecutive jets and even some locations on the London Underground.Work is also going on with printed electronics and other unusual applications: luxury birthday cards from Hallmark now use NXT technology to play high-quality greetings music when they’re opened! – NXT originally came out of work done on Saab fighter aircraft to reduce cockpit noise

Nintendo: Switch it up | Financial Times – interesting analysis on Animal Crossing and the Nintendo Switch. If the Wii taught us anything , it is that Nintendo marches to its own beat. Its games and audience are different to PlayStation and Xbox

Tencent surveils foreign accounts to aid domestic censorship | Financial Timessurveillance of private messages is also applied to accounts registered to foreign mobile numbers, in order to build up its repository of sensitive files and thus better censor China-registered accounts. The research shows how Tencent not only conducts censorship, but also informs and develops its own censorship strategies. In addition, the company is likely to support the government’s political research. “If the Chinese government has any need to regulate public opinion, they will certainly use the database of politically sensitive content by WeChat” to learn from, said a Beijing-based professional who has worked closely with the government. The professional added that WeChat’s database of sensitive content was “probably the most comprehensive and updated one in China”.

Wink to customers: Pay us or your stuff breaks next week ↦ – a lot of the functionality shouldn’t need the cloud in the first place. Instead it opens customers to this kind of blackmail

360 Deep Dive: Today’s Broadcast TV | Park AssociatesTV antenna usage in US broadband households jumped to 25% in 2019 and is expected to grow as COVID-19 has kept consumers at home. Content styles and genres grow and change, while business models and transmission technologies evolve and cause disruption, but nothing changes the end consumers’ goal: to find video that they want to watch. Secondarily, consumers want to find that content in a manner that is affordable and easy

Chinese EV startup accuses Tesla of ‘bullying’ over IP lawsuit – Nikkei Asian Review – Chinese engineer who moved to Xpeng allegedly walked out with code

Future of Our Global Economy: The Beginning of De-Globalization – DER SPIEGELIndustrial machine producers, of the kind that make a huge contribution to the German economy, have begun shifting priorities from making the supply chain as cheap as possible to making it as secure as possible – this sounds more like an acceleration in change rather than radical change due to COVID’19

Britain’s wartime generation are almost as pro-EU as millennials | LSE BREXITthe prevailing political environment shapes the long-term opinions of those in their formative years. Given the current ubiquity of the Brexit debate, today’s arguments and events surrounding integration will almost certainly have a significant impact on the most recent generation, namely those born after the millennium. In exactly what way these debates will shape public opinion, however, remains to be seen. – Hmm, when I think back to the nasty Tory narrative of the Thatcher years that put Blair and Brown into power, I wonder if this won’t make them even more right wing….

WPP wins Unilever media duties in China | Media | Campaign Asia – Unilever and WPP also have a long history. More recent connections include a WPP ‘Team Unilever’ in-house partnership launched in Singapore in 2018 and led by Mindshare’s Sudipto Roy, and the appointment of former Unilever CMO Keith Weed to the WPP board in 2019.

Common Enemy | Harper’s Magazine – interesting article about Taiwanese and Hong Kong resistance to the Chinese Communist Party

The Promise—and Risk—of a Career in TikTok – VICE – but what’s the commercial value of their content?

The Perfect: T-shirt – according to Kim Jones, Samuel Ross and David Fischer

Judge Timothy Kelly Stunned by Facebook’s Violation of Law | Law & CrimeThe allegations in the Complaint reflect many ways in which Facebook purportedly acted improperly. Some of these allegations represent discrete and poorly considered decisions, such as allegedly encouraging users to provide phone numbers to better secure their accounts, but then using those same numbers for advertising without telling users beforehand. Others appear to reflect Facebook’s willingness to deceive its users outright, such as allegedly telling the public that it would not share their personal information with third parties when it was continuing to do so. And still others represent systemic oversight failures, such as allegedly allowing third parties to access users’ personal information without the users’ knowledge and without controlling how those third parties would use the information. Most of these allegations represent violations of the 2012 Order; several are new violations of law. But all of them suggest that the privacy-related decision making of Facebook’s executives was subject to grossly insufficient transparency and accountability

Even After A Large Increase Due To Half-Life: Alyx, Less Than 2% Of Steam Users Own VR Headsets – I was expecting a much higher adoption rate amongst Valve users due to its serious gaming focus and exposure to Chinese gamers

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Demand fall offers glimpse into oil industry’s future | Financial Times – what this story about fuel demand fall fails to take into account is feedstocks. Feedstocks are precursor chemicals derived from oil and gas that go into materials for pretty much everything we make from medicines, electronics and food packaging to stretchy yoga slacks

What we Learnt From Accidentally Printing Over a Billion QR codes on Cadbury Chocolate | LinkedInmarket leaders ultimately didn’t see how this potentially large ongoing investment would truly deliver on their biggest challenges (like most brands, driving penetration into relatively light users) and so they pulled the plug on funding what felt like had become a bloated concept. – found via Matt Muir’s Web Curios newsletter. Less a meditation on the woes of QR codes. China and other markets have demonstrated that used in the right way QR codes can be of enormous benefit in bridging the real world / online interface. Instead it highlights the kludgy dodgy business cases in terms of digitalisation of FMCG products.

Twitter Q1: sales up 3% to $808M as it swings to a loss on COVID-19, mDAUS hit record 166M | TechCrunch – surprised it hasn’t relooked at its direct response offerings like it used to have with cards. There has been a demand fall for brand-based marketing as a brand winter sets in. Personally speaking, the only Twitter ads I have seen recently have been promoting Nokia’s recent financial results

TikTok tops 2 billion downloads | TechCrunch – but this doesn’t necessarily mean 2 billion users….

Start Chatting | Reddit Help – back before I joined Yahoo!, the major internet companies (outside of Aol) had moved away from operating chat rooms themselves – allowing Lycos to largely have the business to itself. Lycos even had white labelled offers for some of the other firms, or a transfer of customer base put in place. The reason was the fear that somehow the internet would generate the Pete Townsend effect and make us all ‘curious’ about child porn and bring down the end of the world – or something similar. Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic, but at the time it was a PR issue for these businesses and the gains from chat rooms were marginal. It is interesting that Reddit are expanding into chat rooms, presumably trying to find even meagre veins of revenue with the demand fall in brand advertising both online and offline. It will be interesting to see how things go

My urge to splurge is over and won’t be returning soon | Financial Timeswhen he thinks back to his public bout of destruction in 2001, he mentions two things that seem relevant to today’s unsettling times. First, a lot of the thousands of people who came to gawk at him began to talk unprompted about their own possessions, and how they really only cared about photos, gifts or things they had made themselves. I suspect a lot of us have thought about what really matters lately. Second, he says people were unexpectedly kind to him.

Facebook may lose seal of approval that gives ad buyers confidence they get what they buy in advertising, WSJ reportsThe company failed to address advertiser concerns arising from a 2019 audit, concerning how Facebook measures and reports data about video advertisements, the Journal reported, citing a notice from the Media Rating Council (MRC). “These exchanges are part of the audit process. We will continue working with MRC on accreditation, as we have since 2016,” a Facebook spokesperson said. The MRC confirmed that the audit of Facebook is in process but did not provide details, citing its policy.

HTC’s Cryptocurrency Mining Phone Takes Half a Millennium to Pay for Itself – ExtremeTech – funny as

Marketers’ strategic responsibilities are eroding away to nothing | Marketing WeekMarketers are becoming more and more responsible for the communication aspects of the marketing mix – with social media, PR, CRM and e-commerce all increasingly under their control as the other tactical and strategic challenges dissipate. By my best estimate, communications should be about 8% of the marketing function’s duties. It increasingly appears to take up almost all of it. I can’t say I am that surprised by this. For all the fetishisation of big data, there is a lot of dodgy decisions being made out there. Brand tracking surveys are not being done, you have major FMCG brands relying on past correlation with Twitter opinions to substitute for more expensive surveys. The marketing communications mix isn’t based on research data but the fear of digital disruption

Major Malaysian publishing house Blu Inc shuts, 200 staff laid off | Campaign Asia – Malaysian publisher for Harpers Bizarre, Cosmopolitan and Woman’s Weekly. Malaysia hasn’t been hit hard by COVID compared to other Asian markets. This feels like the canary in the coal mine for the media sector in general

Mediatel News: UK ad market to lose £4bn in spend this year, says AA/Warc – the interesting bit is that the advertising demand fall is both for online and offline channels involved in brand advertising. This doesn’t bode well for brand equity moving forwards

This Should Be V.R.’s Moment. Why Is It Still So Niche? – The New York TimesThe bad news is that V.R. is still not what sci-fi movies taught us to hope for — a fully immersive experience that transports us to another dimension and gives us all kinds of virtual superpowers. Even the leading systems still lack some basic features and, outside of gaming, there isn’t much you can do on a V.R. headset that you can’t do more easily on another device. Is this a technology issue or a lack of a killer application or compelling content?

Google Meet Is Now Free For Everyone – too little, too late for Google to try and catch up with Zoom on market share and mind share

UK ad market to contract by £4.2bn this year | WARC – some interesting anomalies in this. In particular the lack of decline of out of home versus TV, direct mail, radio and magazines

UK agency staff numbers fall for second year despite growth of media shops | Campaign Live – it will be interesting to hear hypotheses on the why there has been a demand fall in the creative sector

Disney claims media rights to all #MayThe4th replies to one Tweet – SlashGear – this looks like a social media accident waiting to happen

Zoom is so popular even a Google exec’s child prefers it, report says – Business Insider – but then Hangouts suck

China, Offline Retail Isn’t Going Back to Normal | Gartner L2electronics retailer Gome adopted a common strategy for combating the virus in its more than one thousand stores—all customers must undergo temperature checks, masks are mandatory, and the entire big box store will be periodically disinfected. Local beauty retailer Wow Colour similarly mandated that all employees undergo regular temperature checks and wash hands, and specified the disinfectants that will be used to regularly clean its stores. JD even mandated that only three hundred customers are allowed in a store at a time

The success of the Macintosh ideaThe Mac emboldened a new breed of nonconformists (a composite community of intellectuals, artists, designers, independent developers, mavericks in corporations, etc.) and spurred the creation of powerful Macintosh user groups, such as the BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh User Group), which had a sort of double mission. On the one hand, it was a resurgence of the 60’s counterculture with “roots in The Hacker Ethic and Berkeley Radicalism,” as Stephen Howard and Raines Cohen put it. On the other, it was a pedagogical platform, as Reese Jones explained: “I see two different sets of people in our group: those with computer experience who are just now seeing new avenues to follow in computing, and those with little or no experience who are just now seeing what computing can do. We must provide for the different needs of both, but we have in common that our eyes are just being opened to something new and different.”

Covid-19 causes a new wave of economic nationalism | Mercator Institute for China Studies – interesting that the bargain hunting by Chinese companies is being led by state owned enterprises – it could be seen as state directed policies and would be relying on a government open cheque book

Accepting, suffering or resisting: study groups Britons’ response to coronavirus lockdown – ReutersKing’s found 93% of the suffering said they were following lockdown rules completely or nearly all the time, compared to just 49% of the resisting. The latter were around 10 times more likely than the other groups to say they had met up with friends or family outside their home. – The resisting group skewed young.

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Throwback gadget Bush TR 82

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Whilst you might not know the Bush TR 82, if you were from western Europe you’ll recognise its style immediately.

Post-war Britain

In the post-war era Bush Radio Limited tried to fill consumers demands for entertainment.

There were radios that would sit on a sideboard and would have the presence of a TV set. Many of these have fitted out with Bluetooth to create a better sounding sound system. It certainly sounds better than an Amazon Echo. My parents inherited one of these, a Bush VHT 61, which served them well for many years.

There was also radiograms, which is were a cross between a sideboard and a hifi system.

The secret of their warm sound was valve circuits. Before chips with millions of components, were transistors. And before transistors were delicate lightbulb-like valves.

Bush TR 82
Bush TR 82

David Ogle’s iconic design

Over time manufacturers like Bush managed to make valves small enough to make portable devices. In 1957 the Bush MB60 was launched. This was a portable valve radio designed by David Ogle of Ogle Design. The MB60 didn’t last as even minature valve radios were power hungry and delicate. But David Ogle’s case design lived on.

TR 82

Ogle’s product design was mated to a seven transistor circuit to create the TR 82.The TR 82 was big enough to have a decent sound and small enough to be portable. Alkaline batteries like Duracell were only starting to reach the market about the same same as the TR 82. So a high powered long lasting battery would be a 9 volt lantern style battery. This meant that you got months of use out of one battery, but each battery was expensive. (Similar batteries were still commonly used up until recently in the flashing lanterns used to mark road works currently in progress).

The TR 82 received long wave and medium wave so didn’t need an external aerial. VHF or FM radio wasn’t popular yet. In common with cars from the 1950s the Bush TR 82 had chrome plated brightwork. This was around the front panel around the edge of the circular reception dial. Despite this ornamentation you ended up with a very intuitive radio design, with a simplicity that Dieter Rams would appreciate. There was a large tuning wheel on the front of the radio.

On top, there were two rotating controls:

  • Volume
  • A combined tone and on / off switch

Selection between medium wave and long wave reception was done with two large buttons.

The handle ran the length of the case and swivelled at the points at which it was secured. This provided even easier access to the top controls of the radio.

The rear cover was removed by a single central screw. This could be undone with a edge of a coin. Inside the case was a battery compartment at the bottom. The rest of the radio was held on a metal subframe. This rigidity was essential for the tuning mechanism to work seamlessly and for the speaker to provide a good sound.

My personal memories of the TR 82

My own personal memories of a well-used and obsolete Bush TR 82 stem from my time on the family farm in Ireland. The radio lived in the kitchen and provided news at lunch and dinner time. It was also turned on to listen to the latest livestock market prices. This would then affect if, or when livestock and wool were sent to market. It provided live music on a Saturday evening. In essence, it filled many of the tasks that an internet enabled PC would do – if my Uncle and Grandmother had been online.

Radio was the primary media. Ireland had been an early adopter of radio, but a relative latecomer to television. So even into the early 1980s the radio had a pre-eminence in consumer behaviour that was only slowly eroded by the TV.

Television was something only broadcast from after lunch until late evening, apart from the weekends. When the second TV channel launched it only during the evening. By comparison at the time radio broadcast from before 6am in the morning until shutdown just after midnight.

TR 82 and the rise of Sony

The timing of the Bush TR 82 was a high point. The same year Tokyo Tsuskin Kogyo launched the first pocket sized transistor radio – the TR-63. It was the first ‘Sony’ product to be sold in the US. Sony was originally a product line brand for their nascent transistor radio busness. The product was so successful that the founders changed their company name to Sony Corporation. This idea of portable pocket entertainment begat personal stereos, iPods and the smartphone. (You can find more on Sony here.)

By comparison the TR 82 marked the point for Bush Radio as well. Bush Radio had been acquired by Rank in 1945. In 1962, the company was merged with Murphy Radio as Rank Bush Murphy. This was sold to Great Universal Stores in 1978. In 1986, the Bush name was sold to the Alba Group. In 2008 the former Alba Group sold the name for use outside Australasia on to Home Retail Group. Sainsburys acquired Home Retail Group in 2016.

But the iconic Bush TR 82 shape lived on, in more modern, yet poorer quality replicas. Most noticeably the Bush TR 82 DAB which had digital radio, FM, medium wave and long wave. Unfortunately the modern radio didn’t feature the same quality of speaker or internal frame. This meant that the sound suffered from lower power and a muddy sound caused by vibrations in the case. A brief feature on the Bush TR82 by the BBC and the British Museum here.