Oprah time: Seventeen by Hideo Yokohama

Seventeen by Hideo Yokohama

Seventeen follows Yokohama’s first break out book translated into English; Sixty Four, but it isn’t a sequel or a prequel.

Hideo Yokohama is a former journalist. he used to write for the Jomo Shimbun, a regional paper in Japan. It was obviously easy for him to write about life as a journalist. Yokohama-san captures the atmosphere in a news room. The egos and tensions. Perhaps the biggest tension being the solitary nature of being a writer, whilst participating in the team effort of a daily miracle of creating a newspaper.

It describes a pre-internet world, where pagers were hot items, cellular phones were starting to make an appearance but outrageously expensive. Two-way radio sets were commonly used by taxi-companies, field services organisations (utility vans) and possibly media who couldn’t afford cellphones.

Seventeen isn’t a straightforward book to read, it has parallel narratives that wind together. One narrative is that of a senior journalist in a local paper in 1985 in the aftermath of Japan Airlines Flight 123; the world’s largest loss of life in a single aircraft accident. The second strand is the journalist some 15 years older; preparing to climb a rock face with the now adult son of a friend who died at the same time as the air crash.

The book mixes the existential crises of the journalist in both home and professional life; with the emotion involved in reporting such a horrific event. Yokohama  captures the politics and internal pettiness of his office colleagues and the perverse nature of the company chairman.

Seventeen is a great read, which I can highly recommend as a summer holiday read.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

Things that made my day this week>

I first knew of Hiroshi Fujiwara though his work on old school Japanese hip-hop label Major Force. He was cited as an influence in Bomb The Bass’ first album Into The Dragon. His influence has been much bigger in terms of streetwear and Harajuku culture that fuelled fashion and culture of the past two decades. He is now collaborating Moncler and did some media interviews :

Thailand is famous for emotion-filled adverts and this Sunsilk film is no exception, dealing with family acceptance of Kathoei (กะเทย). Its a beautiful piece of work by JWT’s Bangkok office.

I’ve never worn Doctor Martens myself but they were often seen in the school yard and during my early working life. They are as British as Marks & Spencers chicken tikka masala. I thought product had been moved offshore as part of globalisation, but it seems that there is still a small production facility in the UK. The process of how the shoes are made is fascinating.

The application of machine learning in the criminal justice system is something of concern. The natural inclination of authority is to inflate itself with every tool that progress provides.

Great documentary on Chinese wealthy migration away from China. The move to Vancouver was pioneered in the early 1970s with wealthy Hong Kongers preparing for its handover in the decades to come. They’ve been followed families who got rich on the mainland following the opening up of the economy.

It reflects the reality of major cities around the world now as capital flight out of China continues. Non-domestic earnings (like that from Russia and Middle East) is a factor driving unaffordability of housing. The experience of Mau and the opening up founded a culture of ‘now’. This has manifested itself in different ways: capital flight, having a bolt hole abroad and a foreign passport in case things go suddenly bad. It also explains historic product quality issues as entrepreneurs think about the now and let the future take care of itself, preferably while you have gone abroad to live a comfortable life.

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

I should have got this posted earlier but life got in the way. Things that made my day this week

I had an amazing opportunity to see the V&A exhibition The Future Starts Here as a preview

faces

The local Unilever business in Hong Kong did their own version of a Dove advertising campaign. What’s interesting is how it differs in tonality from the usual Dove work.

‘Appreciate don’t adjudicate’ is very local as Campaign Asia put it:

The campaign is “by locals, for locals” and because Cantonese is famously colloquial and fond of wordplay, the use of Cantonese lingo is expected to resonate with the audience.

Over 100 sony aibo robot dogs get their own funeral in japan – so much here on human robot interactions and a meditation on the metaphysics of quality. This contrasts with the horror that greeted demos of Google Duplex.

I am a big fan of Eno’s Oblique Strategies so this was right up my street: The Quietus | News | WATCH: Brian Eno Installations Talk

Interview with JJ Connolly, the Author of Layer Cake and Viva La Madness – YouTube – great interview with JJ Connolly of The Layer Cake. I particularly like his description of his creative process

 

App constellations 2018 research

I initially looked at app constellations back in 2014, when Fred Wilson put a name to the the phenomena. And every two years or so I have gone back and looked at a number of major internet companies to see how many different types of apps that they had in play.

I originally selected the companies back in 2014 because I felt that they represented the largest and best of their ilk. It skews Asian because the west can be viewed as one eco-system represented by Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

China is an enclosed eco-system; though Microsoft is actively engaged in the app eco-system there. I chose Tencent and NetEase as being my Chinese bellwethers. DaumKakao and Naver were representative of the Korean eco-system which blends highly-used domestic services with western platforms. Finally LINE of Japan (a subsidiary of Korean company Naver) provided a similar bellwether of the hybrid Japanese eco-system which mirrors Korea.

App constellations survey methodology

For the sake of convenience I have compared the contents of Apple’s mobile app store for each of the companies. While most of the internet companies have some Android-only or iOS-only apps; the iOS app store is still a good indicator of their app activity.

I stayed true to the definition of app constellations in terms of deciding what kind of app should go in.

App constellation definition

I manually assessed each app, rather than relying on the category that the app had been submitted into. Tencent and Netease, had a number of mobile utilities that aided discussion and kept players updated on their favourite game. These didn’t fit within the definition.

Changes in the environment

Since 2016, a couple of things have changed:

  • Apple had a purge of apps that didn’t support 64 bit processing
  • They moved away from supporting the app store within iTunes application and on the web; to within the app store on the device

2018 marks over a decade of mobile apps in the Apple store. Many of the major players have delisted almost as many Android and iOS apps as they currently have in the store. This happens for a number of reasons:

  • The app was serving a purpose for a fixed time
  • It is an application that has fallen so far out of favour that it is no longer worth maintaining
  • The code base no longer meets Apple’s or Google’s minimum standards
Data analysis

I started off by looking at the number of apps. In terms of app constellations:  Tencent, Microsoft and Google were clear winners.

Number of apps

Both Microsoft and Google’s growth has been driven by ‘experimental’ apps that they have put out in the public for their own reasons and enterprise focused apps.

compound annual growth in app number

But it was quickly apparent to me that the number of apps developed were only part of the story. What about the rate of change in numbers of apps developed? This would be indicative of the rate of change in moving to mobile. Here both Facebook and Microsoft’s pivot became immediately apparent. The Asian companies looked less impressive as they had been able to keep steady in their focus on mobile.

All of this growth in the number of apps developed by major internet companies is all the more remarkable when you consider the following:

  • In mature markets consumers are not really downloading new apps
  • They are sticking with a few in terms of regular usage. Many of the apps on their phones don’t get used
Notes on a few of the companies in terms of their app constellations
  • Daum Kakao – notable for being the only company who I looked at who had a decline in the number of applications versus 2016. A lot of this seems to be in service consolidation of both Daum and Kakao to remove duplications or non-core services. It is the Daum brand that has taken the biggest impact. This is understandable, since Daum struggled on the move to smartphones and Kakao is a mobile-first brand.
  • Dropbox – the growth in apps has been down to the larger business acquisition strategy at Dropbox. I don’t expect further growth like what we have seen with  Facebook’s pivot to mobile
  • Facebook – Facebook’s pivot to mobile was one of the reason why I decided to look at compound annual growth rate as well as the size of app constellation in terms of app numbers. In terms of raw app ‘SKUs’ Facebook is dwarfed by most of the other companies that I have looked at. It is only by looking at the growth in apps developed where one can really see their move to mobile
  • Netease – was interesting for its focus in a couple of areas. Like other Asian internet companies, education was a big target area, but Netease went into it with major commitment. Both NetEase and Tencent were big in magazine and book apps as well. I think this is down to the fact that ‘traditional’ web surfing is harder to do with (at the moment) when URLs are written in western script and numbers.
  • Tencent – the raw app numbers beggars belief. There are a number of reasons for this. Like NetEase, Tencent has a lot of apps solely optimised for the iPad and a separate iPhone app. There are free and paid-for product variants. Lastly Tencent will have four or five apps competing in a given category like streaming music which seems insane. Only time will tell if Tencent is spreading itself too thin; like when Yahoo! was described Brad Garlinghouse’s Peanut Butter Manifesto
More information

Jargon watch: app constellation – back in 2014 when I wrote this post, it still took me the best part of a week to research and describe each of the apps in the main eco-systems. It would take me much longer today due to the growth in apps

Peanut Buttergate – analysis of Garlinghouse’s original memo about Yahoo! from back in 2006

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Is Time Running Out for the Swiss Watch Industry? – WSJ – low-end part of the business threatened by digital disruption but not the higher end

Positive acceptance: a reinterpretation of Japanese ‘millennials’ | Analysis | Campaign Asia – 78% are disinclined to save money, meaning big-ticket items like houses, cars or even holidays are low on the agenda. While young people have rarely ever been enthusiastic savers, Harris suggested this could be an unconscious effort to resist “inevitable life changes that they don’t necessarily want”—i.e. responsibilities that make them less flexible.