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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

Jargon watch: lights out production lines

If you are of a certain age, ‘hand made by robots’ brings to mind the Fiat Strada / Ritmo a thirtysomething year old hatchback design that was built in a factory with a high degree of automation for the time.

Fiat subsidiary Comau created Robogate, a highly automated system that speeds up body assembly. Robogate was eventually replaced in 2000. The reality is that ‘hand made by robots’ had a liberal amount of creative licence. Also it didn’t enable Fiat to shake off its rust bucket image. Beneath the skin, the car was essentially a Fiat 127. Car factories still aren’t fully automated.

Foxconn is looking to automate its own production lines and create products that truly are ‘hand-built by robots’. Like Fiat it has its own robots firm which is manufacturing 10,000 robots per year.

Foxconn has so far focused on production lines for larger product final assembly (like televisions) and workflow on automated machine lines: many consumer products use CNC (computer numeric control) machines. That’s how Apple iPhone and Macs chassis’ are made. These totally automated lines are called ‘lights out production lines’ by Foxconn.

Foxconn is looking to automate production because China is undergoing a labour shortfall as the population getting older. Foxconn uses a lot of manual workers for final assembly of devices Apple’s iPhone because the components are tightly packed together. It will be a while before Foxconn manages to automate this as robotic motor control isn’t fine enough to achieve this yet.

More information
Foxconn boosting automated production in China | DigiTimes – (paywall)

The QRcode post

A few years ago, I was involved in a project that used QRcodes on OOH (out of home) activity for a retail launch. QRcode scanners varied in performance. In addition you had to think about:

  • Contrast – did the QRcode stand out?
  • Relative aspect – would it be too big or too small for the audience to scan?

In the UK, QRcodes are seen by marketers as old hat (but then they didn’t ‘get’ them in the same way that Asia did). Other people don’t really understand how to use them.
QRcode 101
Above is the picture of the local cafe around the corner from my office. The QRcode is too disjointed and blurred to read. I asked a member of staff about it and he told me that he thought it was some type of logo…

June 2016 online marketing and technology research slides

Here is a copy of the slides that I pull together (when I have the time) each month of publicly available data that would be of use.

This month I have some new data around search which came from disclosures at Google I/O in terms of search volumes. We talk about social as if search has gone out of style but its growth is still staggering, driven by mobile device penetration.
Google global search volume
Looking at global search revenue over time, Google’s monopoly position becomes immediately apparent.
Global Search Revenues
More details about me here.
Slide20
Full presentation available for download as a PDF on Slideshare

MWC 2016 as a case study on talkability, brand mentions and brand performance

Mobile World Congress (or in industry parlance MWC 2016) is where the telecoms industry goes to set out its stand. It has gradually changed from being a conference where the big issues of the day are hashed out, to more of a trade show a la CES or CeBIT.

From a brand point of view, it was of interest to me for two reasons:

  • It offers largely culture neutral brand discussions, many of which occur online
  • I have an interest, having worked on a few mobile brands during my agency career (Palm, Ericsson, Verizon Wireless, Samsung, Qualcomm, Telenor Myanmar and Huawei)

I pulled this slide ware together for a talk I am giving at an internal event at an agency.

The first data that I have put together is looking at the amount of mentions that occurred regardless of the channel. It is a relatively easy data point to pull out of monitoring systems very quickly.

Obviously the value of mentions will depend on how many people view them, what is the context that the mention appears in. What was the content around it? Who said it, are they expert or trustworthy? So looking purely at the number of mentions would be crude, offering little value apart from nice PowerPoint slides.

Breaking the mentions down by platform gives an idea of relative marketing communications competencies of brands. So looking at Huawei and Xiaomi shows contrasting approach to building talkability and conversations. Huawei focuses on traditional media channels where as Xiaomi focuses on social.

By comparison LG and Samsung seem to have a more holistic approach.

I then moved on beyond the mention data to try and look at relative authority of whoever mentioned the brand and looking at the relative distribution by brand and channel.

I had done some initial analysis on the event in general here. These numbers showed how well brands had built high authority communities and the discussions around them.

What was quite surprising was the polarised authority of mainstream media sources. Newswire syndication had destroyed authority of many online traditional media channels. A second cross brand observation was the relatively low authority of the blogosphere.

These slides only start to delve into understanding talkability and are time consuming to create in comparison to looking at raw mention numbers, but offer superior strategic insight for both earned and paid media approaches for future launches.

I did some broad profiling of online conversations around MWC here.