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Thought Starters

Thought Starters: WeChat, Android fragmentation, media consumption and Ethereum

The following is a collection of articles and thought pieces highlighting interesting trends and changes in the world you and I live in, with an emphasis on technology.

Connie Chan’s profile of WeChat for Andreessen Horowitz is a strong reminder that there’s plenty of tech innovation outside Silicon Valley which can change the world.

The significance of WeChat can be seen in Benedict Evans’ analysis of the growing dominance of mobile and more specifically smartphone. As handsets increasingly come to dominate the digital landscape there’s been a flow on effect on a range of new tech innovations that are leveraging associated hardware and software innovations:

Growing scale of smartphones

Cities around the world are competing to be seen as the most friendly for internet startups. Startup Compass have looked to rank cities by their performance, funding, market reach, talent and startup experience in the 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking. It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley comes out on top:

Startup Ecosystem Ranking

OpenSignal have updated their findings on fragmentation within the Android ecosystem which provides an illustration of the broad array of devices and challenges in adapting to the operating system:

Android Fragmentation

Ofcom’s Communications Market report provides a valuable window into the changing media and technology usage of UK consumers. A great starting point if you’re doing research into use of TV, video, radio, telecoms and web based content.

Liam Boluk looks at consumers’ changing consumption of music in the US and how the industry is attempting to adapt to new business models:

Consumer Spend on Recorded Music

Ethereum has launched its blockchain based cryptocurrency out into the public realm incorporating a virtual machine and smart contracts. This along with other blockchain based platforms will push the internet into new realms inside and outside the financial sector. Check out the video below, Vinay Gupta’s introduction and Ethereum Frontier Guide if you want to get more actively involved.

Big news this week was Google’s announcement of a restructure that has seen the creation of Alphabet as a holding company with various subsidiaries for its various business arms. Ben Thompson takes a closer look at the motivations and likely implications of the move.

Marco Arment takes a critical look at the increasingly intrusive online media sector.  He goes on to argue (despite being a publisher himself) that this approach provides growing justification for consumers’ use of ad blocking software despite the negative effects this is likely to have on media creators:

“All of that tracking and data collection is done without your knowledge, and — critically — without your consent. Because of how the web and web browsers work, the involuntary data collection starts if you simply follow a link. There’s no opportunity for disclosure, negotiation, or reconsideration. By following any link, you unwittingly opt into whatever the target site, and any number of embedded scripts from other sites and tracking networks, wants to collect, track, analyze, and sell about you.”

The featured image is Cesarea, a piece by Bosoletti in Casarano, Italy 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.