Category Archives: Technology

UK media usage 2019 – still fascinated with TV

The latest Ofcom media report has been released, and here are some of the highlights:

  • On the BBC revenue: 20% of people don’t know how BBC TV is funded, over a third of people don’t know how the BBC website is funded, and almost half don’t know how BBC iPlayer is funded.
  • Almost a half of people don’t know how search engines make money, and 56% of people don’t know how YouTube is funded. (Answer: it’s owned by Google and has lots of video ads).
  • Incredibly, 31% of people don’t know how commercial TV is funded. (Answer: Adverts and sometimes subscriptions)
  • The social network unknowns: In socio-economic terms, why do 74% of the AB group have a social media profile, and for DE it’s only 56%? Yet C1 has the highest percentage of social media profiles. Also, “One in seven adults of working age in DE households do not use the internet, and when they do, one in five only go online via a smartphone.

Continue reading UK media usage 2019 – still fascinated with TV

Inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre

Amazon LTN4 in Dunstable

On Bank Holiday Monday my family and I visited our local Amazon fulfilment centre for a factory tour. It was an eye into the future of robotic automation, and an opportunity to see how something as traditional warehouse stock picking can be reinvented from the ground up.

We visited LTN4, which is in Dunstable (near Luton, Hertfordshire) in the UK. Amazon fulfilment centres are named after their nearest airport codes (Luton airport is less than 10 miles away), and we visited the 4th building on the industrial estate.

From the moment you arrive at the car park, safety is a priority. There are signs every few metres instructing drivers to reverse into spaces.

Inside the warehouse, there are safety signs everywhere. The second priority is security. Employees and visitors need to leave everything except keys, wallet and phone in a locker. There are hundreds of lockers for the 1,200 permanent staff. And there’s even an Amazon locker in the reception area. There are airport-style metal detectors which all staff need to pass through on the way in and out of the warehouse.

Once on the tour, we watched the stock fillers, stock pickers, and two sets of packing teams – for customers who ordered a single item, and on the opposite side of the warehouse, pickers for customers with multiple items. We weren’t allowed to take any photos during the tour, except in the room below. Continue reading Inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre

This person REALLY does not exist

Keep looking at the image and repeating “This person doesn’t exist.”

ThisPersonDoesNotExist is my favourite site of the year so far. It’s mesmerising.

Each time you look at the site, it generates a face from a very clever Machine Learning algorithm. And the algorithm, well the learning, only gets better with time.

The more you look at the site, you then start wondering:

  1. If the facial components on ThisPersonDoesNotExist are from real people, who owns those parts? (E.g. my chin)
  2. If the faces on ThisPersonDoesNotExist are indistinguishable from real-life portraits, how much longer before we are looking at other computer-generated artefacts? Newspaper articles written by robot journalists and TV robot news anchors have already been done.
  3. When will we started reading fictional news items, totally fabricated from non-real photos and facts? How will we certify real things?
  4. What’s next?

Top 10 favourite digital blogs

Photo by Tamás Mészáros

It’s time for my annual blog/ RSS feed clean up, and to share my preferred thought-provoking digital news feeds:

1. Chris Matts (The IT Risk Manager). Chris regularly updates his blog with practical advice for technology teams and senior managers such as “executives and transparency”, and he focusses his agile transformation articles on business managers rather than technology teams. That said, there are also a fair number of more technical articles about automated testing and development. https://theitriskmanager.wordpress.com

2. Doc Searls. Doc has several interests, mainly in privacy, photography and technology. Whilst I don’t agree with his extreme views on privacy and anti-advertising, his blogs and other feeds are very interesting to read occasionally. http://blogs.harvard.edu/doc/

3. Google Webmaster Blog. there are several skills everyone in the digital industry should have, and one of them is an overview of search engines and how they work. The search engines are the key footfall, entry point, gateway and provider of revenue to almost every digital company. Stay up to date with Google on this blog. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/ Continue reading Top 10 favourite digital blogs

2019 Digital Trends and Predictions

Here are my predictions for the digital and online industry for the coming year.

Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how I fared for digital predictions for 2018 and work backwards.

1. Foldable/ rollable and other-able screens

Having been teased with foldable, rollable and extendible screens for several years, I think we’ll finally start to see them next year.

I hope the phones look nicer than the Royole. And I hope the televisions looks as nice as the LG rollable, especially in that low but wide position.

And if you’re thinking that TVs might disappear soon, it looks unlikely, because 70% of Netflix binging still happens on a TV. Continue reading 2019 Digital Trends and Predictions

Review of 2018 predictions

Time to look back on the 2018 predictions from 12 months ago…. how many of the predictions came true?

1. Tesla share price to drop significantly

Tesla stock was $312 on New Years Day 2018 and finished the year at $333, so on the face of it, the prediction was incorrect.

However, on 7 August, Elon Musk made the headlines by tweeting that “funding secured” at $420. The share price jumped 10% to $379. He was personally fined $20 million, and the company was fined the same amount.

Two months later, the stock was $250. The stock has been relatively volatile since then, climbing back to $376 and back down to $333.

Amazingly, the offending tweet is still live.

I also mentioned how “2017 was generally a good financial year, and if consumer confidence drops in 2018, people will buy fewer cars.” Ford stock started 2018 at $12 and is now under $8. General motors started at $41 and is now $33. Jaguar Land Rover (which is a private company) made a pre-tax loss of £90m for the three months to end of September, compared to a profit for the same quarter in 2017. The firm’s Solihull plant, where it makes Range Rover and Jaguar models, was closed for a two-week shutdown due to “fluctuating demand”. That followed a move to a three-day week at JLR’s Castle Bromwich plant.

Prediction rating: 5/10 – Tesla stock has been a volatile stock in 2018 but has actually finished higher Continue reading Review of 2018 predictions

Amazon Alexa vs Google Home under one roof

When the iPhone was launched, industry commentators predicted that everything would have a touch screen. And then Alexa came along, and those commentators predicted nothing would have a screen – everything will be Internet-enabled and voice controlled.

And the latest version of Alexa – has… a screen! Sometimes I think Amazon’s product strategy includes Jeff Bezos’ sense of humour.

We have had a Google Home device in our house for a year now. Actually, my son bought it and it stays in his room. Everyone in our house has an Android phone, and the Home device tries to be extra clever by automatically linking our phones to the speaker. I remember the first time I worked from home after he bought the Google Home and I kept hearing something upstairs. When I went to investigate, all my alerts were being announced by Google Home in his room!

My favourite use of his Home device is when I wake him up in the morning by asking Google to play some music that he doesn’t like, at maximum volume. Continue reading Amazon Alexa vs Google Home under one roof

The future for smartphones, digital media and AR

The 30 second summary of this year’s Deloitte TMT Predictions

On Tuesday I went to the Deloitte TMT predictions (that’s Telco, Media and Telecommunications) event at CodeNode in London.

I’ve covered several of Deloitte’s events in the past – they’re often thought-provoking and insightful, based on some decent consumer research and with a good amount of humour thrown in.

Smartphones

“We’ve entered the beige phase” of mobile phones – they’re all looking the same, with consumers unable to differentiate new features.

One of the stand out quotes was that smartphones are now in an area of “invisible innovation”. That is, the connectivity (e.g. 5G), camera, processors and so on, are all improving, but consumers don’t see these. Continue reading The future for smartphones, digital media and AR

2018 Digital Predictions

Here are my predictions for the ‘digital’ industry for the coming year. I’ve been making digital predictions since 2010 and at the end of each year I review how the predictions fared – see the digital predictions for 2017 and work backwards.

1. Tesla share price to drop significantly

The Tesla Roadster 1 – yes it’s lovely. What will 2018 have in store for the car company? Photo credit: randychiu.

Each quarter, Tesla’s costs keep increasing by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Its profit margin keeps slipping further into the red.

Other companies, both traditional and new entrants, will catch up to Tesla in 2018.

Finally, 2017 was generally a good financial year, and if consumer confidence drops in 2018, people will buy fewer cars. There’s also the debt pile-up in the US car loans industry. Total auto loans in the US have increased 70% in the last 7 years to $1.17 trillion – and much of it is subprime, with some buyers opting for 7(!!) year loans (think about the value of the car at the end of 7 years).

We’ll see Tesla’s share price drop by at least 30% this coming year. Continue reading 2018 Digital Predictions

Weekly news round up 9 November 2017

Here’s a summary of interesting stories I’ve seen over the last week. I try to concentrate on the stories which aren’t necessarily mainstream.

Finance

The Spanish Bank, BBVA, approached its latest mobile app in a totally different way. They reduced the size of the team to 15 and incorporated Design Thinking (for more information about Design Thinking, read this excellent article from the UK Design Council). The results have been very impressive:

  • Credit card applications increased by 80%
  • Current account openings by 20%
  • Sales of investment funds up 50%
  • Sales in pension plans, health insurance and home insurance doubled
  • Car insurance tripled
  • People carrying out mortgage simulations tripled.

https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/31304/design-thinking-pays-off-for-bbva

Technology

Warning: fake WhatsApp apps started appearing this week
Warning: fake WhatsApp apps started appearing this week

It’s been a shameful week for security with two large public scams. The first was a fake WhatsApp app appeared in the Google Play store. It would have taken a very keen eye to spot any problem with the fake app. And the second scam was fake supermarket vouchers being distributed among WhatsApp users. The problem with the voucher was that it took users to a landing page which asked for personal details. Continue reading Weekly news round up 9 November 2017