A mixed collection of materials looking at societal trends and the impact of technology on the way we live.
Despite the growth of the internet, television continues to retain a strong hold on our media habits, but what is changing is how we watch it. Figures from GlobalWebIndex point to younger cohorts moving towards online viewing, something that’s even more prevalent in developing markets:
Statistics from Britain’s Office of National Statistics point to continuing growth in broadband, mobile internet and provide information on what consumers are doing online:
Ethan Zuckerman takes a critical look at the growth of the advertising funded internet. He points to consumers’ loss of privacy as businesses look to capture more elaborate collections of data to enable the more sophisticated targeting of online advertising:
Once we’ve assumed that advertising is the default model to support the Internet, the next step is obvious: We need more data so we can make our targeted ads appear to be more effective. Cegłowski explains, “We’re addicted to ‘big data’ not because it’s effective now, but because we need it to tell better stories.” So we build businesses that promise investors that advertising will be more invasive, ubiquitous, and targeted and that we will collect more data about our users and their behavior.
The mobile app industry has seen rapid growth over the last five years, but commentators and analysts are pointing to a maturing of the sector with the Financial Times taking a more detailed look:
Yet amid the apparent wealth, the mood is gloomy among the independent coders and small businesses that make most of the apps now available for Apple and Google devices.
Luc Vandal, founder of Montreal app shop Edovia, sums up the feeling of many: “Let’s face it, the app gold rush is over.”
Smartphones have traditionally provided a more secure environment aided by the more restricted environment that software works in when compared to the traditional PC. Unfortunately this may not be enough with John McAfee warning that security is becoming increasingly threatened by mobile apps which carry malicious payloads.
The open source nature of the Android ecosystem has fostered a broader array of devices when compared to the more closed environment of Apple’s iOS. OpenSignal have updated their report looking at the fragmentation within the Android ecosystem profiling both the range of devices as well as the operating system versions employed:
Another interesting chart from OpenSignal’s presentation looks at the growing array of sensors in Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone, confirming the devices role as more than just a phone (loss of temperature and barometer sensors presumably to enable S5’s water resistance):
eMarketer’s forecast for the UK market point to Android and iOS continuing to dominate with BlackBerry and Symbian falling off rapidly and WindowsPhone coming up a distant third:
Amazon has moved into the mobile payments market with its Amazon Local Register offering with pricing that is designed to grab marketshare from Square and PayPal Here. Whether we’ll see this being a big money earner for Amazon remains to be seen although the company is well known for taking a long term view when it comes to new market opportunities:
I’ve spent many hours listening to Soundcloud with favourite contributors including 99% Invisible, Andreessen Horowitz and The Fader among many others. So it’s with interest and concern that I’ve greeted Soundcloud’s latest announcement to commercialise it’s streaming audio service:
Now SoundCloud has decided it is time to grow up. On Thursday, as part of a new licensing deal with entertainment companies, SoundCloud will begin incorporating advertising and for the first time let artists and record labels collect royalties. Eventually, it plans to introduce a paid subscription that will let listeners skip those ads, as they can with Spotify and other licensed services.
As consumers spend more time on their smartphones, Facebook has provided a growing array of services for consumers to spend their time either through acquisition (eg Instagram) or in house development (eg Poke, Slingshot). Mark Milian charts Facebook’s mixed results in developing its own solutions but goes on to suggests that they may be on to a winner with Bolt:
Facebook provide a great means of establishing maintaining ties with friends irrespective of location. A contrasting approach is the social network Nextdoor which looks to foster networks among local communities with The Verge describing it as the ‘anti Facebook.’
There’s been some pointed commentary lately contrasting the Twitter and Facebook’s approach to their respective newsfeeds. Facebook’s algorithmically driven newsfeed has been criticised for the ducking of harder news (eg Ferguson) whilst focusing its coverage on more light hearted viral content (eg Ice Bucket Challenge) .
Twitter’s approach is often characterised as being great for more advanced users with its unedited stream of content, but the onboarding process has long been criticised as bewildering for newer users. Twitter is experimenting with a move that will see it injecting content into the newsfeeds of users that it believes they will like, a move that hasn’t been welcomed by some users:
Consumers are spending time on a broadening array of media with newspapers and online news portals no longer monopolising consumer’s attention when it comes to news coverage. Mathew Ingram looks at how news media are using a growing array of channels to reach consumers with NowThisNews’ Snapchat on Ferguson given as an example of where things might be heading:
As ridiculous as the updates posted to Snapchat may look, with poorly handwritten text superimposed on newsy images, NowThis News has gotten something right that many media outlets continue to struggle with: namely, that if it is to be effective, news needs to reach people where they are, not sit on a home page somewhere waiting for people to show up.
Technology report Chris O’Brien’s departure from Silicon Valley has prompted him to look at the region’s ups and downs. Among the greatest opportunities he sees is the Maker movement which PSFK have recently launched a profile of:
Another tech hub which is growing in international prominence is Shenzen in China. The city provides an important incubator for hardware innovations with Joichi Ito of MIT’s Media Lab writing a fascinating profile of this exotic ecosystem for LinkedIn.
Much has been made of the way that new technologies and processes have enabled consumers to escape the confines of a traditional 9 to 5 employment. But the benefits are not equally distributed. The New York Times points to the burden that scheduling software is placing on families and David Mayer criticising the lack of protection for participants in the on demand workplace.
The Brookings Institute takes a closer look at inequality and social mobility, highlighting the effect that education, marital status and race have on people’s attempts to move up the socioeconomic ladder: