ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

After Anbang Takeover, China’s Deal Money, Already Ebbing, Could Slow Further – The New York Times

Hello, mobile operators? This is your age of disruption calling | McKinsey & Company – lots of buzz words, diagnosis but not a glimpse of a way forward

Edelman Revenue Up 2.1% In 2018 To $894m | Holmes Report – given that all the global PR groups have had exceptionally low growth or even declines

How Douyin became China’s top short-video App in 500 days – WalktheChat

Nokia on 5G at MWC, what struck me is the sales pitch was more like an enterprise software company like IBM or Oracle than a telecoms vendor. There is lots of tech in the networks but there isn’t a recognisable killer app. His warnings about 5G upgradeable products ring true though.

Asian Boss do some really nice street interviews in different Asian cities and this one about Apple iPhones in Korea is particularly instructive. Samsung is seen as the default as they assemble phones (mostly for Asian markets) in Korea. Whereas in Europe all of the are made in China.

The iPhone seems to have won out on product design amongst younger people.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Siri vs Siri: What Apple’s AI can and can’t do on every Apple device | Macworld – it implies context based on device, but they need to raise the game in particular on the Mac

How Russia’s ‘red tourism’ is luring wealthy Chinese visitors bored with Paris and Milan | South China Morning Post – Russian department stores TSUM and GUM become important for foreign Chinese luxury sales

May braced for Unilever decision on headquarters | FT  – Unilever: ‘stichting’ up a move to the Netherlands, which would make sense. 100VE is a leased building, its overcrowded and a number of the people there were contractors like me. The team that I worked in had already upped sticks to the Netherlands with the roles moving but not many of the people were redeployed, let go or didn’t have their contracts renewed

Millennial insecurity is reshaping the UK economy – interesting impact – not moving out of region to take a job like I did when I had a degree affecting productivity and entrepreneurship. One could see how Brexit will exasperate things further. It doesn’t imply that there will be a corresponding youthquake to overturn it at a later date

The Case Against Google – The New York Times – the problem with Found’em and the way the story was started is that it came off a bit cray cray a decade ago when it first popped up. They weren’t cut from the same cloth as Silicon Valley wunderkinder. That and they looked like Microsoft finger puppets. You had the SCO vs. Novell court case over the future of Linux at the time and there was evidence of Microsoft’s finger prints all over it (via Wikipedia): “On March 4, 2004, a leaked SCO internal e-mail detailed how Microsoft had raised up to $106 million via the BayStar referral and other means. Blake Stowell of SCO confirmed the memo was real. BayStar claimed the deal was suggested by Microsoft, but that no money for it came directly from them. In addition to the Baystar involvement, Microsoft paid SCO $6M (USD) in May 2003 for a license to “Unix and Unix-related patents”, despite the lack of Unix-related patents owned by SCO. This deal was widely seen in the press as a boost to SCO’s finances which would help SCO with its lawsuit against IBM” – And at the time if it had the taint of Microsoft involvement that overwrote any Google wrong. People seem to have forgotten the Judge Jackson trial and what an evil sack of shite Microsoft was shown to be. It would have been really hard sell to the media

NASA Is Bringing Back Cold War-Era Atomic Rockets to Get to Mars – Bloomberg

Amazon is merging Prime Now and AmazonFresh – Business Insider – it should add clarity from a brand point of view as well. Now they just need to get the Prime Now app to work properly

Apple in Talks to Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners – Bloomberg – sounds like a smart use of their capital pile given the rising cost of cobalt due to electric vehicle batteries

Dr. Penelope Boston: “Seeking the Tricorder: The Hunt for Extraterrestrial Life” | Talks at Google – YouTube – interesting challenges in terms of identification, methodology and analysis

APAC Millennials Lead for Sharing Branded Social Content – GlobalWebIndex Blog

George Soros may invest more in fighting Big Tech – Axios – the noose is slowly tightening around big technology

You can call me Al (but you really shouldn’t) – The overclaims of Artificial Intelligence « Comms Planning « Planning Above and Beyond – many technologies take a number of runs to get it right; machine language translation or VoIP being the classic case study. AI takes much more to get it right; this is a timely reminder that we are in an ‘AI summer’ at the moment and may hit an AI winter

“Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War | Vanity Fair – to be fair this is probably a similar situation with Facebook as well

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

I love Connie Chan’s blog posts and presentations. In this talk she covers how Asian applications manage to squeeze so much more features into their apps than their western equivalent to provide a fuller eco-system of services that she terms super-apps.

Interesting couple of articles on the user behaviour associated voice command enabled speakers – Alexa and Google Assistant have a problem: People aren’t sticking with voice apps they try – Recode and Alexa, We’re Still Trying to Figure Out What to Do With You – The New York Times – (paywall) – the low hardware price seems to be encouraging trial but that’s about it for now

Nike footwear supplier Yue Yuen to make HK$6.7b from retail arm’s privatisation plan | SCMP – it makes sense given the rise of e-commerce in China

The staggering scale of China’s Belt and Road initiative – Axios – scale of ambition is impressive but one also needs to think about maintenance. A lot of British laid railway and roads no longer exist due to a lack of maintenance after they left

Why we post – Interesting UCL project

For These Young Entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley Is, Like, Lame – WSJ  – for most of the 18 entrepreneurs and investors, and especially for those in their 20s and 30s, last week’s visit largely failed to impress. To many in the group, northern California’s low-rise buildings looked shabbier than the glitzy skyscrapers in Beijing and Shenzhen. They can’t believe Americans still use credit cards and cash while they use mobile payment for almost everything back home – not terribly surprised. Silicon Valley is no longer the place ‘where wizards stay up late’. Agencies work harder than their Bay Area tech clients and it is full of hubris

The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought – Bloomberg – actually I am not that surprised

Luxury is thriving in China again, thanks to millennials — Quartz – Chinese millennials start buying luxury younger, and they buy high-end products more frequently, the firm says. (It undoubtedly helps that they have more spending power than previous generations did at their age.) What they’re buying is also different. Bain surveyed about 500 Chinese millennials and found their interests leaned toward casual and street-inspired fashion – Supreme rather than Prada, put into context here

Luxury Daily | Rimowa undergoes rebrand – on the cusp of their 120 years in the business, reminds me of all the metal stamped information on each case

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Using page speed in mobile search ranking – makes total sense

Readiness for the future of production | AT Kearney for World Economic Forum – interesting assessement

Global expectations for 2018 | Ipsos – what the world thinks will happen (PDF)

The techlash against Amazon, Facebook and Google—and what they can do – A memo to big tech – reading Scott Galloway The Four at the moment, it seems to be the zeitgeist

Snap confirms reports of up to 24 redundancies in a bid to ‘scale internally’ | The Drum – no, it doesn’t make any sense to me either

RA: Moodymann: A Detroit enigma – via our Jed

Huawei – Really Convincing Story, Not. | Radio Free Mobile  – this means that this feature (RCS – Rich Communication Services), like its AI assistant, AI chip and its now commoditised imaging offering will be unable to generate any differentiation for Huawei in its devices. This leaves it exactly the same boat as all of the other Android handset makers who differentiate purely on the basis of hardware

APAC ads fail at integration, says Kantar Millward Brown study | Marketing Interactive

Things I’d like to see in 2018

There are a number of people who have done great trends / predictions for 2018. I thought that I would focus on what I would like to see.

Smartphones are stuck in a period of innovation stuckness. It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify upgrades to your handset. This has had knock-on effects to mobile networks. In markets where subsidised handsets are the norm like the UK we’re seeing that SIM-only contracts are becoming the norm.

Apple is trying to innovate its way out of this problem with its work on augmented reality interaction. Consumer media consumption will take a good while to catch up.

Smartphone cameras are as good as consumers need (at the moment). Displays are now good enough that improvements look indistinguishable. They are also large enough for you to watch Amazon Prime or Netflix during a commute. Mobile wallets are merely a back-up in case one leaves your wallet at home.

Whilst the app names have changed, much of the smartphone usage now is for the same things I used a Nokia or Palm smartphone ten years ago:

  • Alarm clock
  • Web surfing
  • Entertainment
  • Media playback
  • Communications

I hope that we start to see smartphones going back to the future and looking at different form factors. My iPhone would be much more useful as a productive device if it was available in a similar form factor to the old Nokia communicator. Different form factors of devices for different users. Gamers would benefit from better controls a la the Nokia nGage.

Interfaces can make better use of haptic feedback, and be designed to take advantage of more hardware-optimised devices.

Innovation isn’t only the responsibility of app developers and phone makers. What about a modern 4G version of ‘Enhanced Full Rate’ on GSM (GSM-EFR) ‘hi-fi voice calls’. UK operator One2One launched GSM-EFR on 2G networks in the late 1990s as part of their Precept tariffs, but I haven’t seen any other carrier try to do a similar thing since. Why not? I suspect part of the problem is that ‘innovation’ in your average mobile network provider now is testing vendor products in a lab to ensure they work properly on their network.

The web has developed a digital equivalent of clogged arteries. Part of this is down to buffer bloat and a lack of lean web design approach. Unfortunately the mobile web has not brought a clean slate approach but hacked together adaptations. A bigger issue is the layers of advertising technology trackers, analytics and assorted chunks of Javascript. Ad tech hammers page load time and responsiveness.

Share of time spent viewing video content in selected countries using ad blockers

We’ve seen Apple and Mozilla try to redesign their browser technology to slow down or stimmy ad technology. Consumers are adopting ad blockers to try and improve their own web experience.

There needs to be a collective reset button. I am not sure if we see a resurgence of the paid web or a kinder lighter footprint in advertising technology. Otherwise we have an unending conflict between the media industry and the rest of us.

The debate around machine learning in 2017 highlighted a Black Mirroresque dystopia awaiting us. The good news is that we tend to overestimate technology’s impact in the short term. In the long term the impact tends to meet our expectations all be in a more banal way.

Part of the current problem around machine learning is that Silicon Valley seems to only consider technology rather than the consequences of potential use cases. This needs to change, unfortunately the people in charge of technology companies are the least capable people to achieve it. We need a kinder more holistic roadmap. Legislation and regulation will be far too late to the party. We won’t be able to stop technological progress, but we can influence the way its used.

Lying in bed ill over the Christmas period, I read that crypto currency mining currently required as much energy as Bahrain. By the end of 2018, it will require as much energy as Italy. That is insane.

Apart from speculation and buying products on the dark web what is the killer app for crypto currencies? Why is worth the energy overhead? Steve Jobs focused on computing power per watt as part of his vision for laptops and moving the Mac range to Intel. Part of the move to the cloud was about making computing more efficient for businesses and providing computing power over the network for consumers on ‘low power’ mobile devices. Yet almost a decade and a half later, the hottest thing in technology is a grossly energy inefficient process.

We are starting to see regulators in Korea and China step in to regulate the market and energy supply to miners, but western economies need to look at this. And I haven’t even got on to the ICO (intial coin offering) as Ponzi scheme…

If you substitute the words ‘fax machine’ or ‘call centre’ for app would Uber, Deliveroo etc be considered as technology companies? I suspect that the answer is no.  A company may use a lot of technology – it happens a lot these days. But that doesn’t make Capita, Mastercard or Goldman Sachs a technology company, lets  apply a bit of critical thinking. I wouldn’t mind, but this same mistake was made in the late 1990s during the dot com boom.

Many companies including Enron were ‘repackaged’ by management, venture capitalists, investment banks and consultancies (cough, cough McKinsey) as asset-light technology driven businesses aka ‘an internet company’. It didn’t work out well last time. It won’t this time either.

More information
Enhanced full rate (GSM) – Wikipedia
Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index | Digiconomist
Setback for Uber as European court advised to treat it as transport firm | Reuters
Other trends reports
Fjord: 2018 Fjord Trends
iProspect: Future Focus 2018: The New Machine Rules
Isobar: Augmented Humanity: Isobar Trends Report 2018
J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group: The Future 100
Ogilvy & Mather: Key Digital Trends for 2018 – Whatley and Manson are doing webinar presentations this week if you want to catch them
Campaign Asia did a nice precise of them all
Past prediction stuff that I’ve done
2016: crystal ball gazing, how did I do? | renaissance chambara
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? | renaissance chambara
2014: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara 
Crystal ball-gazing: 2013 how did I do? | renaissance chambara
2013: just where is it all going? | renaissance chambara
Crystal ball-gazing: 2012 how did I do? | renaissance chambara
2012: just where is digital going? | renaissance chambara
Things I’d like to see in 2012 | renaissance chambara
Crystal ball-gazing: 2011 how did I do?
2010: How did I do? | renaissance chambara
2010: just where is digital going? | renaissance chambara
Predictions for 2009 | renaissance chambara













Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week:

My good friend Matt who writes the web curios newsletter introduced me to Yaeji who raps and makes sublime ‘ Fingers Inc. – Washing Machine-esque’ deep house. It’s been my soundtrack for the week. More on her Soundcloud.

Tile’s first corporate marketing campaign is a wonderful piece of storytelling.

The Faroe Islands have put together a great content driven campaign to attract tourists.

As a Mac user, I have only doubted the platform once. The Amiga’s operating system didn’t have anything over the Mac, but its handling of graphic intensive tasks looked like the future. That was until Commodore fumbled the future even worse than Apple under John Sculley, Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio. Here is the former UK managing director’s perspective on it.

Atul Singh on far right populism at Google.