The Irreparable Damage Boris Johnson Is Wreaking on Britain – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – unlike many members of his party, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not have any particular animus toward foreigners. He has betrayed pretty well everyone in his various lives as philanderer, journalist, and politician: wives, mistresses, editors, readers, party colleagues, Parliament, and the wider public. EU negotiators are merely the latest victims of his boundless treachery – wow a sick burn, but factual and truthful in their analysis of Boris Johnson
Pooj Morjaria, founder, Did They Help? – Wunderman Thompson Intelligence – A growing pattern of morally driven consumption has emerged over the past few years, from ethical fashion edits to anti-excess beauty to carbon credit spending to cruelty-free travel. But what was once pioneered by a niche group of true believers is ballooning into a base rate, fundamental expectation of brands. Morally and ethically sound practices are increasingly considered table stakes for brands—and are an important factor in consumers’ path to purchase.The difficulty, according to Pooj Morjaria, was tracking and cataloguing brand behavior. Which is why he created Did They Help?, an independent watchdog website that keeps a running record of brands’ good and bad deeds
Science-backed brands – Wunderman Thompson Intelligence – A heightened focus on health is reshuffling the hierarchy of consumer priorities. In the wake of a global pandemic, consumers are putting more stock in medically and scientifically endorsed offerings. 89% of Americans put their trust in medical scientists, and those reporting a great deal of confidence in medical scientists has gone up from 35% before the outbreak to 43% in April, according to findings from Pew Research Center. Now, brands are harnessing that trust by enlisting medical professionals and spotlighting scientific credentials
Beats by Dr. Dre Sets Its First-Ever Campaign on TikTok – I like when campaigns actually inspire creative action. For this challenge, people need a bit more creative than just replicating a dance. I really liked the emphasis on color, which works well on TikTok as a full-screen, immersive experience. You couldn’t really replicate this on other platforms. What we’re starting to see on TikTok is this mass participation in creativity. The concept of UGC isn’t new, but TikTok has made UGC so much more powerful. – Good TikTok Creative newsletter on the campaign
Ex-Google boss Eric Schmidt: US ‘dropped the ball’ on innovation – BBC News – In the battle for tech supremacy between the US and China, America has “dropped the ball” in funding for basic research, according to former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt. And that’s one of the key reasons why China has been able to catch up. Dr Schmidt, who is currently the Chair of the US Department of Defense’s innovation board, said he thinks the US is still ahead of China in tech innovation, for now. – The irony is that at Google Schmidt & co. pretended that this was precisely what they were doing
Why Epic isn’t an innocent victim in the Fortnite battle with Apple, and why it deserves a loss today – BGR – interesting argument that goes against the popular media narrative. I wonder why Epic haven’t gone after console makers as well? Not all gamers might get the fact that Epic has created this crisis fully knowing it would breach the contract, fully knowing what Apple’s responses could be, and full knowing that Apple will call its bluff. That’s why it had all those lawsuits on hand and the viral commercial. Whether it expected Apple to go for the nuclear option, that’s debatable, but the same email chain above proves that Apple’s response was swift. From the moment Epic released the update, Apple let the company know that it’s risking losing access to its developer tools, which can hinder app development for games based on the Unreal engine that Epic licenses to other game makers. The same response also details another dishonest behavior from Epic that shouldn’t be ignored. Epic took advantage of Apple’s developer tools to quietly push an update to the App Store that turned on an IAP payment functionality that Apple would never approve. Epic has been cheating, and that’s a company that’s supposedly working for other developers. That’s a company that other developers should trust when dealing with a hypothetical Epic App Store inside the App Store that would be governed by Epic’s own rules
Chinese-Made Smartphones Are Secretly Stealing Money From People Around The World – how cheap Chinese smartphones take advantage of the world’s poorest people. Current security concerns about Chinese apps and hardware have largely focused on potential back doors in Huawei’s 5G equipment. More recently, people have focused on how user data collected by TikTok could be abused by the company and the Chinese government. But an overlooked and ongoing threat is the consistent presence of malware on cheap smartphones from Chinese manufacturers and how it exacts a digital tax on people with low incomes
‘The new definition of luxury’: Highsnobiety unpacks how the landscape of high-end fashion has tilted toward accessibility – Digiday – Carvalho said that through the recent research Highsnobiety performed, his team has learned that younger shoppers don’t care about exclusivity in luxury like previous generations did. Instead, they want accessibility. And for the most part, the designer brands that have successfully attracted a younger audience no longer have closed shop doors that only allow in certain clientele. “Accessibility doesn’t mean that every consumer will have the means to purchase a product, but the doors are open for them,” he said. “The hope is that down the line” this 16- or 17-year-old will become a paying customer of the brand.” More luxury segment content and analysis here
First, private equity holds us to ransom. Now it wants us to bail out its losses | Private equity | The Guardian – Its excessive debts, once the route to fortunes and, it would say, “business discipline”, are crushing it. On top, the commercial property market no longer looks a one-way bet. It wants its vast mortgage debt guaranteed by the government, even though the interest charges drive the underlying companies into operating losses – but this has been apparent way before COVID. Private equity in these sectors has been like an unpleasant game of pass the parcel
Why Protest Tactics Spread Like Memes – The New York Times – often, she noted, the images’ similarity was unwitting. In their spread, their simultaneity and their indirect influence on each other, the protest videos had all the characteristics of memes, those units of culture and behavior that spread rapidly online. The same cultural transfer that gives us uncanny cake-slicing memes and viral challenges also advances the language of protest. “We live in this world of attention dynamics so it makes sense that tactics start to converge,” Ms. Mina said. She called the images’ tendency to build on each other “memetic piggybacking,” and noted that everyday items that are subverted into objects of protest are “inherently charismatic.” – protest groups tactics as memes. A meme is a transmissible idea; whether its knowledge, humour or even cat gifs. Reciting lines from films or TV programmes like The Office are memes. More meme related content here.
Apple Faces $1.4 Billion Lawsuit by Chinese AI Firm in Siri Patent Fight – WSJ – Conflicts over intellectual property, technology and trade are driving bilateral relations between the U.S. and China to their lowest point in decades. Last Friday, President Trump threatened to ban Chinese short-video app TikTok on national-security grounds. U.S. officials have been involved in talks over a potential sale of TikTok’s American business to Microsoft Corp.
Op-Ed: Never Trust Mark Zuckerberg Again- PingWest – a few things in this. 1/ Facebook probably didn’t get anything out of its reprochment with China. Yes China could stop advertising on Facebook, but A/ Chinese state owned companies not advertising on Facebook would be immaterial and probably benefit Facebook politically B/ Chinese private sector companies don’t have a lot of choice, so China would see a good deal of SME job destruction. 2/ The US government have more leverage. In this respect its like the embarrassing HSBC kowtowing in reverse. The Chinese author now realises how lame it looks when you’re on the other side of it
Pompeo the Maoist – SettimanaNews – Borrowing from the logic used by Mao Zedong in his On Contradiction, Pompeo tried to prove that CCP didn’t represent the Chinese people, and that actually the party is the enemy of the Chinese people. This point is fundamental because, as Mao put it, the crucial political element is to know who is with us and who is the enemy, and the party should always represent the people. Pompeo stated: “We must start by changing how our people and our partners perceive the Chinese Communist Party. We have to tell the truth.” What is the truth, according to the US secretary of state? It is that: “We know … that doing business with a CCP-backed company is not the same as doing business with, say, a Canadian company. They don’t answer to independent boards, and many of them are state-sponsored and so have no need to pursue profits… We know too that if our companies invest in China, they may wittingly or unwittingly support the Communist Party’s gross human rights violations… We know too too that not all Chinese students and employees are just normal students and workers that are coming here to make a little bit of money and to garner themselves some knowledge. Too many of them come here to steal our intellectual property and to take this back to their country.” Therefore, he argues that the US should de facto work as a new revolutionary party: “We must also engage and empower the Chinese people—a dynamic, freedom-loving people who are completely distinct from the Chinese Communist Party.”
ARM China Asks Beijing to Intervene in Row With U.K. Parent – Caixin Global – It is interesting that the ARM CEO thinks he has the political juice to go against Hopu and its head Fang Fenglei. Is there more than meets the eye going on here? More from Sina.com’s tech channel (via Google Translate): Sina.com Technology Channel ARM China debacle – the intention of Hopu Investment , which represents 36% of the investors of the central state-owned enterprise financial institution in the joint venture, to join hands with foreign shareholders this time? Hopu and Arm recently appointed Hopu Investment’s Teck Sien Lau (Singaporean) as Chairman of Amou China, and Arm President Graham Budd (British) as Vice Chairman. In addition, Arm and Hopu previously appointed two co-CEOs (one Singaporean and one Chinese) on the disputed board of directors, and the board dispute is currently being resolved in legal proceedings. It seems that Hopu hopes to help Arm replace the existing management team and actually control the operation of the joint venture company through this operation. However, under the premise that HOPU violated the Chinese party’s agreement to act in concert and joined hands with Arm, such an organizational structure obviously did not represent China’s national interests. In addition, can they lead the technical team to realize the original intention of the joint venture company and truly realize the vision of autonomous and controllable core technology that China needs? More on ARM here.
Upfield targets block butters with vegan Flora Plant range | News | The Grocer – repackaging to remove the negative connotations of margarine by creating ‘vegan butter’ in salted and unsalted variants. *Disclosure, I worked with Mullen Lowe and Phd to develop ‘Family Brands’ global digital strategy, prior to Flora et al being sold off to Upfield. My work covered Blue Band, Bonella, Country Crock, Doriana, Dorina, Flora, Imperial, La Perfecta, Maizena, Milda, Mirasol, Planta, Planta Fin, Primavera, Rama, Sana, Stork, Tulipan, and Vitam
Imint is the Swedish firm that gives Chinese smartphones an edge in video production | TechCrunch – The hyper-competitive nature of Chinese phone makers means they are easily sold on new technology that can help them stand out. The flipside is the intensity that comes with competition. The Chinese tech industry is both well-respected — and notorious — for its fast pace. Slow movers can be crushed in a matter of a few months.“In some aspects, it’s very U.S.-like. It’s very straight to the point and very opportunistic,” Lifvendahl reflected on his experience with Chinese clients. “You can get an offer even in the first or second meeting, like, ‘Okay, this is interesting, if you can show that this works in our next product launch, which is due in three months. Would you set up a contract now?’” “That’s a good side,” he continued. “The drawback for a Swedish company is the demand they have on suppliers. They want us to go on-site and offer support, and that’s hard for a small Swedish company. So we need to be really efficient, making good tools and have good support systems.” – Ok a few things. 1/ The hyper competition is a very Chinese phenomenon. Like when in someplace like the UK Chinese restaurant opens in a neighbourhood, another will move in next door. In China, you end up with clusters of barber shops, tea shops and restaurants right next to each other in; actively competing. It’s about rapid small iterative steps of innovation, or what Huawei used call ‘customer focus’. It’s not paradigm shifting stuff. 2/ Its interesting that Imint have taken the German middelstadt model to software. Historically, German companies have managed to focus on a niche and do it really well. There is a long-term focus, continuity, independence, flexibility innovation and customer focus. They are nimble by nature and design with lean hierarchies and a family-like corporate structure.
Europe and AI: Leading, Lagging Behind, or Carving Its Own Way? – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Europe, meanwhile, despite having certain advantages such as a strong industrial base and leading AI research and talent, is punching far below its weight. This state of affairs is especially due to the fragmentation of the EU’s digital market, difficulties in attracting human capital and external investment, and the lack of commercial competitiveness. Fortunately, in recent years, European leaders have recognized the importance of not lagging behind on AI and have sought to raise their ambitions. Leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have stressed the need for Europe to become a leading global player on AI, and the new European Commission has made AI a top priority for the next five years. By declaring AI a major strategic priority, several member states and EU institutions are taking steps to advance the continent’s ambitions for AI leadership
COVID-19 and biopharma in China | McKinsey – fascinating read. In particular the growth of health insurance. Up to now, one of the reasons why Chinese consumption is so low the high amount of savings to cover health costs. (Yes, I know property and parent care are also huge areas for savings). But that is why Chinese people are generally lower in credit use in aggregate and have a large amount of savings. Private health insurance could have a huge impact on future consumption patterns and act as an economic driver
Dundrum Town Centre introduces a ‘Crowd Checker’ | RTE – interesting piece of service design to support opening up of retail. Dundrum shopping centre would be the Irish equivalent of Westfield in London. It is Ireland’s largest shopping centre. RTÉ has a broadcast studio there to capture the opinion of the average Irish person as needed.