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Thought Starters

Thought Starters: Chinese digital media, iPhone’s dominance, Holacracy and Europe’s lagging digital innovation

The following is a look through articles, research and opinion pieces highlighting interesting trends, developments and changes in the world you and I live in, with an emphasis on technology.

We are seeing Chinese businesses increasingly innovate and excel, providing business models that set themselves apart from businesses in the West. Digital media and communications have been a particularly fertile ground illustrated by the following table which illustrates how diversified the revenue streams of Tencent and YY are compared to their American counterparts:

Tencent Facebook YY and Youtube Monetisation

Apple is carving an increasingly dominant place in the world’s smartphone marketplace in terms of market share and profit. Some critics have questioned whether Apple can continue this growth trajectory, but Ben Thompson provides a strong defence for why we’re not likely to see this train derailing in the near future:

Smartphone Marketshare

Closely tied to the issue of smartphone ownership is the penetration of different mobile browsers. Here again Akamai’s figures point to Apple’s Mobile Safari browser dominating globally:

Global Mobile Browser Share

Roger D. Hodge looks at the ups and downs of Zappos’ introduction of the Holacracy system for self-organisation. It’s a long article but provides a valuable window into the challenges (and some of the opportunities) of introducing radical organisational change:

Zappos' Models of Organisation

As we embed the internet in an more aspects of  our lives, countries’ digital readiness provides an increasingly important measure of future economic health. Tufts University created the Digital Evolution Index to measure the building of digital capacity and many European countries don’t come out particularly well according to Bhaskar Chakravorti and Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi:

Digital Evolution Index

One digital innovation with its roots in Europe is the blockchain platform Ethereum (although there’s definitely an argument for it being a global project). Vinay Gupta provides a valuable look at the development of blockchain and smart contracts within the wider context of the evolution of databases and the internet.

Christina Farr looks at the rise and fall of the home cleaning service Homejoy, providing important lessons for startups aiming for growth at all costs.

A lot of media attention has focused on the rapid rise in San Francisco property prices, so it’s interesting to see UBS’ comparison of how overvalued the city’s real estate is compared to other leading cities:

Global Real Estate Bubble Index

Eric Jaffe’s analysis of trends in working hours over the last 130 years points to a downward trend – lets hope that we see this trend continue without leaving us all unemployed:

Annual Hours of Work

The featured image is a mural in Covilhã, Portugal by Pantonio and published in StreetArtNews.

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Thought Starters

Thought Starters

The Fletcher School at Tufts University has researched which countries have the most evolved digital economy and which ones are growing there’s the fastest. The report in the Harvard Business Review provides a valuable look at which countries are on the up and which ones are seeing their lead decline:

Digital ReadySteve Wildstrom profiles Cyanogen’s position in the smartphone sector which is currently dominated by Android and Apple’s iOS. Cyanogen is touted by some as providing a third ecosystem, particularly in markets where AOSP (as opposed to Google branded Android) dominates.

MIT’s Technology Review has looked at the use of bitcoin as currency which suggests that it’s not making significant inroads against traditional fiat money despite all the media attention. That being said, I’m still a strong believer in cryptocurrencies’ innovative potential, although as the underlying technology is employed in different domains:

Bitcoin use

Another report in the Harvard Business Review points this time to the considerable advances society has made in increasing the resource efficiency in extraction and manufacturing industries. Unfortunately these efficiencies are more than counterbalanced by increases in population and increasing consumption:

Resources

In another report in the MIT’s Technology Review, the publication profiles what it sees as the top 10 technological breakthroughs for 2015. Among the innovations profiled are Magic Leapnano-architecture, internet of DNA and Apple Pay.

Josh Elman argues that startups should not focus on monetisation initially, arguing that entrepreneurs should be focusing on growth and engagement.

Marcy Goldman provides a valuable defence of self-publishing, arguing that it shouldn’t be seen as the poor cousin of going through a traditional publisher in this current era.

Following on from a recent look at my favourite podcasts is a panel discussion looking at the format including David Carr of The New York Times, Sarah Koenig, host and producer of Serial and Alex Blumberg, creator of the podcast StartUp and founder of Gimlet Media:

The featured image is a mural by Pejac found on Street Art Utopia.