2016: crystal ball gazing, how did I do?

Here are the predictions made at the top of the year

I expect Uber will continue to funnel money into China and still get sand in its face. Quite what this means for Lyft I am not so sure.

Uber raised more money, realised that things still weren’t improving and then got a face saving exit from the Chinese market. I’ll call that a win.

Twitter gets a change of management, but that doesn’t do any good… All of this would be bad news for potential advertisers and their intermediaries in the advertising and PR world.

God, where do we start with Twitter. It has had extensive management churn and a big staff lay-off. I don’t think that my own view about a change of management is correct though. I envisaged this as a strategic proactive more by the board rather than the current rotating door. I have been impressed by how well Twitter advertising has held up. Twitter might look like the Yahoo! of social media, but it still holds a lot of weight with the mainstream media which still counts for something.

Fintech bubble that will take good ideas and bad ones down together. Banks are currently considered to be ripe for disruption. One of the key problems with this is that technologists think it will be easy to sweep aside regulations that banks operate under.

This one is still percolating out. Banks are looking particularly at Blockchain as the basis of a better transaction ledger/database. Informally, I have heard that VC funding has largely dried up on fintech start-ups; but the other shoe has yet to drop.  Zopa applying for a bank licence and becoming a bank felt like a watershed moment.

The internet in the EU will become increasingly regulated. At the moment the European Union is succumbing to The Fear. 

The fear has grown beyond terrorism to being overrun by immigrants (some of whom will be terrorists). The UK is well on its way to putting into law some of the most Draconian web laws in the western world from porn filtering to sharing citizen web history access with a wide range of government agencies.

Overall this has made less progress than I expected because Brexit became the existential challenge that the EU members will seek to vanquish.

We will have reached peak smartphone and tablet. China has now reached replacement rate for devices, there is a corresponding lack of paradigm shifts in the pipelines for smartphone design and software. Tablets have shown themselves to be nice devices for data consumption but not requiring regular upgrades like the smartphone or replacement for the PC.

We’ve certainly reached peak tablet. Smartphones are taking a longer while to shake out. What we are seeing is declining margins in smartphones. Apple increased its industry share of profits to 90% despite:

  • Making a weak update to the iPhone 6S
  • Having a declining market share
  • Having a higher cost in terms of bill of materials

There were some one-off factors such as the Samsung Note 7 recall and the collapse of Hanjin Shipping which curtailed the supply of some handsets.

VR in 2016 will be all about finding the right content. VR won’t work in gaming unless it provides e-gaming athletes with some sort of competitive advantage, if it does then gaming will blow things up massively. Gaming will not be the only content vehicle for VR, it needs an Avatar-like moment to drive adoption into the early mainstream.

There were two things that surprised me about VR in 2016.

  • It look Sony so long to get VR on to the PlayStation, it will be a while for us to see the impact of gaming on the use of VR. It certainly provides immersive experiences, but does it provide e-athletes with competitive advantage?
  • China blew the amount of VR headsets available out of the water, but there has been a corresponding dearth of content. The stuff on YouTube is nice demo-ware, but where is the ‘Breaking Bad’ of VR

One thing that people aren’t talking about is the role of VR googles as a replacement for a large TV set. I have heard that some of the most used apps for VR is Netflix.

Older predictions
2016: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara
2015: crystal ball gazing, how did I do? | renaissance chambara
2015: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara
2014: crystal ball gazing, how did I do?
2014: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara 
Crystal ball-gazing: 2013 how did I do?
2013: just where is it all going?
Crystal ball-gazing: 2012 how did I do?
2012: just where is digital going?
Crystal ball-gazing: 2011 how did I do?
2010: How did I do?
2010: just where is digital going?

Links of the day | 在网上找到

Hanjin Shipping collapse may be the beginning of the end for profitable global trade | South China Morning Post – As capacity growth has continued at around 6 per cent a year, with the global container fleet four times larger today than it was in 2000, so it is estimated that we today have a 30 per cent surplus capacity on the world’s main shipping routes. The combination of extra capacity and stagnant cargo growth has led to a ruthless price war that has meant wonderfully cheap freight rates for exporters, but has stripped the shipping lines of all profit.

The GeoCities Cage at Exodus Communications – amazing pictures – the cloud today wouldn’t look that different

疯狂希莉娅-电影-腾讯视频 (Mad Shelia) – a Chinese homage to Mad Max Thunder Road. Awkward product placements for apps and the fact that Thunder Road wasn’t allowed in China make this low budget work more divisive. Admittedly critics ignore the efforts by the likes of The Asylum in the US who are famous for their mock buster films

Infineon places its bets on compound semiconductors, lidar, radar | Electronics EETimes – interesting that LIDAR is right up there

Ctrip to buy UK’s Skyscanner for US$1.74b | Shanghai Daily – big move for Ctrip

WSJ City – UK Faces Lost Decade of Real Wage Growth – “One cannot stress enough how dreadful that is. We have certainly not seen a period remotely like it in the last 70 years.”

Autumn Statement shows cost of casual work ‘gig economy’ – BBC News – The UK’s “gig economy”, powered by self-employment and casual work, is starting to hit government revenues. Wednesday’s Autumn Statement for the first time showed how it is cutting into the government tax take. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that in 2020/21 it will cost the Treasury £3.5bn. Wild West Workplace – self employment in Britain’s gig economy by Frank Field and Andrew Forsey – (PDF) the case study on couriers is particularly insightful and gives you an idea of how screwed it all is

China first to record 1m patent filings in a year | FT – interesting debate over what this means. Is it really innovation or driven by state targets. In some areas such as telecommunications there is a definite patent land grab and research being done for competitive advantage

Mainland money distorting Hong Kong land prices, tycoon warns | FT.com – I would have said that has been the case since the handover, its also distorting land prices and property prices

DPC steps up Yahoo! hack investigation | RTE – bad news for Yahoo! from an EU perspective

China’s airports to ‘scrap boarding pass on domestic flights as early as next year’ | South China Morning Post – interesting, I wonder how this will affect foreigners on domestic flights?

Strategy Analytics: Apple Captures Record 91 Percent Share of Global Smartphone Profits in Q3 2016 – which gives you an idea of how thin the margins are. BBK – owners of Vivo and OPPO are killing Huawei by comparison. This implies that Huawei’s premium range isn’t doing as well as its budget Honor range when one takes into account the cost of preparing for production (tooling etc) as well as bill of materials

IBM new server produced by Wistron, adopted by Tencent | DigiTimes – interesting that it looks so different to servers from the likes of Facebook or Google and much more like an enterprise data centre

Apple Takes Record Profit Share with iPhone in Q3, Says Strategy Analytics – Tech Trader Daily – which shows how commoditised the smartphone market has become, especially when you think that Apple itself has declining margins on the iPhone 7

Telegram launches Telegraph, a long-form publishing platform | VentureBeat – new paste bin type blogging platform, though many have considered it as a challenge to Medium / new blogging platform

Apple dumps wireless router development, will exit the market – ExtremeTech – this is a shame as I have found Apple Routers exceptionally easy to set up and very reliable. Apple is being ruined by the tyranny of large numbers and design obsessions in many of the wrong places

Forbes: How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House – it is interesting how the Democrats ‘unlearned’ lessons of the Obama campaign

Things to be thankful for this week

Things to be thankful for this week. I have been out of sorts since Thursday, but now on the mend.

INDUSTRIAL JP / Record Label of Factory – really interesting Japanese record label that takes the principles of music concrete and turns them in to great house and techno tracks. The videos that accompany the tracks are hypnotic.

Virtual reality lets Chinese customers shop Macy’s New York store on the world’s biggest shopping day – really interesting e-commerce offering. It is an illustration of how much China-international e-commerce is so important.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

How the Trump Campaign Built an Identity Database and Used Facebook Ads to Win the Election – Medium – “I always wonder why people in politics act like this stuff is so mystical,” Parscale says. “It’s the same shit we use in commercial, just has fancier names.”

IBM confirmed it is building more data centres in the UK – Business Insider – with Brexit will come a data transition period as UK data comes onshore and EU data leaves

Nude pics as IOU: a new, risky online loan among Chinese university students – People’s Daily Online – interesting dynamic in trading financial risk for social risk

The MacBook Pro is a lie – The Verge – I know of no app developers, globetrotting businesspeople, or digital artists that had “more thinness” anywhere near the top of their priority list of MacBook Pro improvements – Apple has basically served up customers a beautifully designed shit sandwich with sprinkles on top

Pre Black Friday email marketing

I started receiving ‘Black Friday’ emails since the beginning of November. I eventually gave in and opened Apple’s email which arrived on the Tuesday morning.

Here’s what it looked like on mobile (iPhone 7 Plus)
Black Friday mobile email
Here is what it looked like on desktop email
Black Friday Desktop Email
Here is what the landing page looked like
Black Friday landing page

The call to action was to come back on Friday for great deals. There was a missed opportunity there was no reminder mechanism, no suggestion to bookmark the page and no way to build a list of things to purchase on the Friday.

Judging by the artwork, Apple wants the big push to be around the Apple Watch 2. Given the overall performance of smart watches as a sector this might be a bit ambitious, or indicate a supply chain imbalance in other product lines like the iPhone 7 and the new MacBook Pro?

If it was about lower price points, I would have thought that there would be more of a push on stocking fillers like the Airport Extreme or Apple TV to build buzz and store traffic?

The language was quite interesting

Our one-day shopping event will be here before you know it. Come back this Friday to tick everyone off your list

‘Tick everyone off’ in British English also means – annoy everyone or make them upset. Perhaps the copywriting could do with some finessing, given how that this is likely to be viewed at a glance if Apple is lucky by many consumers.