The Good, The Bad & The Ugly | 好,坏和丑

I hadn’t done one of these posts in a while so I decided to focus on the media sector, the consumer electronics sector and developments in search.

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Participants in the Korean wave who are currently doing good business in both Japan and the US:

  • Wondergirls
  • Girls Generation
  • 2NE1
Publishers finding that tablets aren’t a panacea for declining print sales and consumers finding that e-magazine are huge data files and aren’t that well designedMedia industry lobbyists running amok and going to war with their customers a la Digital Economy Bill
SOPA
Protect IP
Samsung including vacuum tubes in their top-of-the-line home cinema set-ups. Now if they could just learn how to make hi-fi separatesStill surprised by the relative lack of support for DAB radio broadcasts amongst hardware manufacturersTraditional Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers who have lost their mojo on high-end products and lost their market everywhere else as there is no longer a compelling reason to buy their brand.Their convergence strategies and undifferentiated SKUs have been a commercial suicide pact
Innovations in trying to understand consumer intent like Hunch and developments in social search like QuoraNew poorer versions of Google tools; notably the new beta Analytics look-and-feel which is just plain awkwardAdvanced search functions and tools. No longer with us

  • Link command
  • Yahoo! Site Explorer
  • + command in building search terms

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly | 好,坏和丑

In this edition of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly we have new Asian films worth going to see if they break on UK shores, underwhelming technology and fashion business trends:

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Cat Shit One – imagine a film that did for the war on terror what The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now did for the Vietnam War. Only as computer animation where the bad guys are camels and the protagonists are rabbits. That’s Cat Shit One. 

Like most anime it is made up of short episodes with the first one in the can and available on DVD from Amazon.com. They are financing the production as they go so hence selling one 22-minute episode at a time.

The idea behind Cat Shit One is a manga series based in Vietnam and later low-intensity conflicts during the 1980s.

In this case bad meaning good as Run DMC would say. Let The Bullets Fly is a Chinese film some of the best talent from Hong Kong. It is set in the chaotic times of the 1920s China. Much of the timing in it reminds me of Sergio Leone’s Dollar’s trilogy or My Name Is Nobody. 

It’s good to see Chow Yun-Fat back in the heart of the Chinese film industry in a role that suits him better than Confucius.

Akira – I love the original but the idea of Hollywood making a live action version of an anime film after the Avatar The Last Airbender car crash doesn’t bear thinking about. I am sure that they will probably try and dump down the story as well.
iPad – its not that the iPad is bad technology. It isn’t, it’s more that I can’t find a way to it it into my life. I think that the real gift of the iPad is that it has managed to press the reset button on the definition of PC, which had strayed of its homebrew roots of lean engineering to being a profligate waster of memory, power consumption and time. 

The iPad is a cure for laptop shoulder providing much of the same functionality in a much lighter package.

But as a content creator I find my Mac laptop irreplaceable.

3D – Let’s be honest about one thing first of all. 3D is all about making cinema films harder to pirate rather than primarily for audience enjoyment. Once you take that into account together with the divergent formats of 3D TVs it all looks like a consumer electronics car crash. 

Glassless 3D displays from Toshiba have apparently been a bit of a disappointment. Let’s see if Nintendo can reinvigorate 3D for consumers, the way it did with moving console gaming beyond anti-social males with social inadequacy issues.

Nokia’s phone range – Symbian has been written off, the low-end phones aren’t as interesting as other people are offering and the MeeGo devices have had the kosh laid on them. Whatever Nokia does to come back with won’t be in mobile or smartphone. 

The deal with Microsoft is kind of like the insurance company that Xerox bought to keep the cash flow going whilst they perfected modern photocopying.

However if Nokia can’t win a sector it owned, how does it expect to come back with something completely new? It also has to make you wonder what will happen with Nokia Siemens Networks?

Gyaru fashion fashions that young Japanese women are shaking up the way the style business operates. Many of the looks come from the customer up. Fashion labels spring up in the Tokyo shopping areas of Shibuya and Harajuku but then find new ways of reaching a customer base: real world events, mobile commerce and e-commerce help customers from outside Tokyo get the latest styles. 

Local brands also ensure that they provide fashions that suite the body types of their customers and even use ‘ordinary models’ rather than your traditional size zero clothes horse to show off the threads.

Luxury wear – most of the real excitement seems to be happening in the board room as fashion labels either look to IPO in Hong Kong or get acquired as part of a large group like LVMH. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of this industry is watching how the Asian markets change and mature at such a rapid rate. Things will get very interesting if the Chinese government drop the luxury good tax. This will cause a realignment in retail strategies and brands may look at new routes to market.

Disposable fashion – high cotton prices and an increasing Chinese consumer market is starting to put a restriction on the high street cancer of disposable fashion and I will be glad to see the back of it.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

In this edition of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly we have groups that have been summed up 2010 for me, vintage options and alternatives to delicious:

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The Boys – Garth Ennis takes the superhero comic book genre, turns it inside out and adds a touch of Hollywood Confidential in this series of stories about vain superheroes gone wrong and the group that has to keep them in order.Take That – I used to have a modicum of respect for Take That because of Jason Orange and Howard’s skills as breakdancers. But now that they have become M&S male models and crooners the goodwill has evaporated.

But then they wouldn’t be relying on someone like me to pay their kids school fees anyway.

X-Factor – I just can’t bear to watch these people on TV or listen to their songs.

It just strikes me that a bizarre masochistic streak is needed in the ‘talents’ involved to put themselves forward on the show. My last words on this are that 5,000 audience complaints can’t be wrong.

Vintage hi-fi – Ok so time and technology usually makes things better. But in the case of hi-fi and even home cinema this isn’t necessarily the case.

The rise of digital entertainment has resulted in audio and video formats that are inferior to legacy technologies like vinyl, CD, LazerDisc and DVD.

Secondly, globalisation has meant that the build quality of equipment has gone downhill. Thankfully, a mix of vintage equipment dealers and eBay now allows you to buy exceptionally well-made equipment at a steep discount.

Snap up bargains before the world suddenly realises that convergence isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Vintage eyewear – I like the way hipsters recycle and re-use fashion icons, notably vintage Ray-Ban eyewear. Unfortunately most of them are actually buying new Luxottica-made Ray-Bans rather than the vintage Busch & Lomb equipment which is almost as bad as buying a fake.

The authenticity is lost. But then their flannel shirts are also more likely to come from Muji than a thrift shop

Vintage t-shirts – at Urban Outfitters. The problem with vintage patterns is that the state of the fabric is inconsistent with the state of the transfer on the shirt.

No is getting fooled here its not even close enough to be ironic. Give it up.

Pinboard.in – When the initial flight from delicious kicked in Pinboard.in was one of the main winners. A clean interface and smart features put this out ahead of the rest.

It would be great if there was some mobile integration; such as the ability to bookmark articles from my iPhone but I guess I can mail them in instead

Mister Wong – is a well established social bookmarking site that is free. It has a nice layout, a mobile application and even shows thumbnail images of many sites.

I have found it a bit slow and managed to load my bookmarks two or three times on to the system by accident. Well worth looking at though.

Diigo – ok to be honest with you I just gave up on trying Diigo as it seemed to go horribly wrong. (This may be due to the great Delicious exodus, but it didn’t inspire confidence.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

In this edition of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly we have super hero films that sucked and deserve a new remake, mobile phone price plan options and Asian cuisine in London:

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The Punisher – Hollywood has taken three runs at The Punisher and still hasn’t got it right. The first Punisher was Dolph Lungren who had the physicality of the character, but was let down by a poor script.The second version couldn’t even be saved by John Trovolta as a bad guy and made Battlefield Earth look like a quality film.The third iteration came out whilst the corpse of the second film was still warm. Not even the acting talent of Ray Stevenson could save it. Despite this The Punisher should be the easiest of the three films to get right. I live in hope.Howard The Duck – George Lucas tried to bring counterculture comic book hero Howard the Duck to the big screen.Values and the plot were compromised along the way (not that Lucas has very been strong on character-development and plots).Film-making technology has come a long way since then. And Tarantino proved that audiences could take a lot more this time around, Howard deserves another chance.The Watchmen – Whilst a brave and valiant effort, the Watchmen was too much graphic novel to try and squeeze into one film, even if it does take a backside-numbing three hours.Visually it matches Moore and Gibbons vision, but it ultimately falls down due to the lack of depth in the storytelling – the essence of Moore’s work. Where is the pirate ship, the clock motif and the grittiness of the original?
Vodafone:Passport – hoping that enlightened roaming fees will cause them to revisit their previously criminal pricing. And they will have the Nokia N97 when it lands in the UK.Orange – I like the brand but don’t like the pricing structure.3 UK – for icing Three like Home, in my eyes their USP. I can’t get reception in my home with them and they have the most appalling customer services, in comparison to other carriers.
Korean food – London has had a boom in Korean food over the past few years, particularly around the British Museum and Centrepoint. It makes a pleasant addition to the world of food in LondonJapanese food – you know that a cuisine has been absorbed into the British palette when you can get a (bad) version of its signature dish from Marks & Spencers. The problem with British Japanese cooking is that most of it is no good.Vietnamese food – unfortunately most Londoners palates (myself included) tend to mix up Vietnamese food with Thai.Whilst there are some good restaurants in Stoke Newington, Vietnamese cuisine has yet to get the popularity it deserves.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In this edition of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly we have product placement in films, phone upgrade options and start-up catering options:

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Ugly

Quantum of Solace – 007 returns in the Quantities of Cash, product placement cash. Looking more like a luxury advert for Omega and the Ford Motor Company Daniel Craig puts in a great performance as brand spokesperson par excellenceIndependence Day – Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith demonstrate the Apple laptops resilience to malware from outer space to vanquish little green men and take cinema-goers on a rollercoaster ride. There was a strong film/marketing synergy with Apple across all promotional activities.Back to the Future – When I first saw this at the cinema I was astounded by the blatant brand close-ups. But without BTTF there couldn’t be Daniel Craig as marketing spokesperson. Tight logo shots and fimsy product integration for Aiwa personal stereos, JVC video cameras, Nike sneakers, Toyota pick-ups and Calvin Klein underwear showed how we were all Material Girls and Boys in the mid 80s.
Happy with my handset, but you can take your contract and shove it – lots of things are changing in the mobile world. Many of the must-have handsets need at least another iteration to get right. Meanwhile once ARPU rate declines, market saturation kicks in and handset deals stagnate the mobile phone companies may crack open their piggy-banks and offer more reasonable tarrifs. My upgrade this year is a new battery for my Nokia E90.

iPhone / Blackberry Storm / T-Mobile G1 on an 18-month contract – Your mobile phone company has just made you their property and you’ll have a phone that will look grubby in next to no time due to your fingerprints on it. Oh yeah, battery life: battery half-life more like it. 

A variant of your existing handset on a 24-month contract – Hello! apart from the fact that it has less scratches, the phone isn’t going to be of any use anyway and 24-month contract is mobile carrier version of indentured slavery.
Bring your own – given that the economy is in the tank, bring your own allows bootstrapped web people to minimise their burn rate and adds an interesting conversation piece in itself to the event.Cup cakes – Whilst the marketing manager may like cup cakes because they offer a great branding opportunity, its not great for the sedentary lifestyle of many web people. I mean what’s the thing we really need; yep you’ve got it lots of calories to pile on the pounds and sugar in the icing to get us well on the road to diabetes. 

Beer and pizza – The old stand-by which has kept programmers going for the past four decades. Unfortunately its also the reason why conference t-shirts could double as hot air balloons. Pizza is basically complex carbohydrates and saturated fat (the bad kind that sticks to the walls of your heart and kills you), whilst beer makes conversation less coherent and is the world’s most efficient delivery system of calories bar none.

Also branding opportunities with pizza toppings are severely limited.