Category Archives: Trends

Have you ever had a text message warning from your bank about a recent transaction?

Last week my wife told me she’d received this message from our bank:

Have you ever had a text message warning from your bank about a transaction?

Mrs H then replied with ‘N’, following the instructions.

A few minutes’ later her phone rang, and we put it on loudspeaker on my desk. Continue reading Have you ever had a text message warning from your bank about a recent transaction?

Would you click on phishing emails like these?

Google Unsafe websites detected per week April 2020
The number of unsafe websites detected per week has increased sharply. Source: Google

There has been an increase in scam/ phishing emails recently. And the biggest challenge is that they are looking increasingly genuine.

Someone in my immediately family clicked on one of the text messages, and we ended up having to change our debit cards.

Here are some that I’ve received in the last couple of weeks.

Stay alert for the following signs.

Creating an emotional reaction

This is the hardest to avoid. When I received the Thrifty phishing email below my immediate response was “I can’t believe I have to pay an overage for a car I rented last Summer“. I was almost tempted. The O2 text message below managed to convince my close family member because we were on holiday at the time and they thought “I don’t want my mobile to be disconnected while I’m away“. These emotional reactions cause us to stop thinking and start clicking.

Here’s how phishing emails create that emotional reaction.

Urgency

Very few companies need an immediate payment. The phrases “Don’t miss out!” and “valid until...” create urgency, which creates the emotional reaction in the point above.

Too good to be true

As always, if it’s too good to be true, it isn’t. This too, creates an emotional reaction for you to stop thinking and start clicking on those phishing emails.

Links in phishing emails

Banks and government agencies usually make a point of not including any links in their email and directing people to their official website. They recommend opening a web browser and making you typing in their web address, not clicking on a link. In the scams below:

  • The Thrifty email links go to a website that is clearly not Thrifty’s
  • The O2 text message is a NOT an O2 website, it is a subdomain made to look like the real O2 site.
  • The Argos link is a shortened bit.ly address.

Always be super, super careful about checking links because there are ways for companies to make a link look genuine to the naked eye.

Please be careful out there!

Recent examples of phishing emails

Phishing email example from Thrifty car rental
A fake Thrifty car rental email. Beware!!

 

Phishing email example from O2 billing
Fake O2 billing text message. Beware!

 

 

Phishing email example from Argos
A fake Argos text message – don’t click on it. Beware!

Life in December 2021

Amazon movers and shakers April 2020
Home video camera sales have increased over 18,500% this month. Why?? And what will happen in December 2021?

Every year I write an article to predict technology changes in the coming year. The article is one of the most read pages of this blog.

Thanks to Jonathan who came up with an idea to write an updated version due to the Coronavirus situation.

When thinking about and writing these types of articles, there are two easy traps:

  1. We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten”. Well said Bill Gates.
  2. When thinking of the future, we base it on history. No one (except Bill Gates again) would have factored in Coronavirus when planning 2020. Richard Watson, a futurist author who I’ve mentioned several times on this site, calls these unthinkable unknowns “critical uncertainties”. In February 2020 we thought 2020 would be a great year, with a great economy and record UK employment. In April 2020 it’s easy to fall into the trap of 2020 & 21 being REALLY bad years.

So here goes…

Bob. In December 2021.

Bob’s alarm clock woke him up for work.

“Good morning Bob, it’s Friday 10th December 2021 and this is your morning briefing”.

This new, 5am alarm was still taking some getting used to.

“Here’s your appointments for today” his alarm continued.

“OK Google…” He said loudly, trying to not to wake up his wife. “…shut up.” Continue reading Life in December 2021

Samsung’s MPOS on a phone

Trend #7 in my 2020 technology trends, “Apple accepts payments” has come true, enabling small businesses take contactless payments without the need to buy additional hardware or dongles.

The new Samsung XCover-Pro, which comes with MPOS functionality as standard

The product comes from Samsung rather than Apple. Apple is rarely a first mover, so in hindsight I should have called the trend “Samsung accepts payments“.

Among several new features, Galaxy XCover Pro will also have Samsung POS, a mobile-based point of sale (MPOS) solution that has been approved by Visa’s Tap to Phone pilot program.

Continue reading Samsung’s MPOS on a phone

2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

Here are my technology predictions for 2020. I try to predict technology trends that are outside the mainstream, and with high expectations. It seems to get harder every year.

Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how I fared for digital predictions for 2019 and work backwards. Hopefully my technology predictions for 2020 will fare a little better!

1. Alerts from voice assistants

Alexa prank to set an alarm at 3am
Alexa practical jokes were invented in 2015

If 2018 was the year of mass adoption of Alexa and Google Home devices, 2019 was the year of releasing a lot more skills. At the end of 2019, the Google Home device in our kitchen started answers requests with more suggestions of other skills. Cross-selling perhaps.

But this is nothing compared to where these devices are heading. I predict that by the end of 2020 these devices will be making proactive recommendations to us.

“Rain is due today, take an umbrella.”

“You still have 30 unread emails, why not deal with some of them?”

“You ordered XYZ from Amazon recently, and it’s due to arrive today”.

2. Wearables beyond your wrist

In 2020 we’ll see many more wearable devices.

In 2019, several devices for pets became available, from activity trackers to GPS trackers to smart collars.

Next year we’ll start seeing many more devices, such as spectacles from Vue or ByNorth (my favourites). With the announcement of the iPhone 12, we’ll probably hear Apple launch a new type of wearable beyond the Apple Watch.

And remember the $2.1 billion Google acquisition of Fitbit? Expect to see a new type of wearable from Fitbit in 2020. Continue reading 2020 Technology Trends and Predictions

Review of my 2019 predictions

Time to look back on the 2019 predictions from 12 months ago…. how many of the predictions came true?

1. Foldable/ rollable and other-able screens

Galaxy Fold
The Samsung Galaxy Fold. The only commercial folding screen currently available.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold was released in the first half of 2019 and is currently (at the end of December) available for sale. For the SIM-free (unlocked) version, it’s only £2,110 including VAT.

For context, the iPhone 11 (64Gb) is currently available for £729 on the same website.

Despite its name, the Motorola Razr 2019 is due for release in Q1 2020.

As for rollable, LG have shown prototypes, but there’s nothing for consumer sale quite yet.

Verdict – 5/10. We only have one folding screen available for sale at the end of 2019, and it costs much more than my Microsoft Surface Pro.

2. Citizen Data Science

I predicted that we’ll find data applications that won’t require a degree in data science to make sense of all their data. Nothing obvious is available yet, although I find Google Maps is becoming ever more personalised with its routing and recommendations. Continue reading Review of my 2019 predictions

Fintech for Breakfast (CSFI, September 2019)

Last week I went to the CSFI breakfast event and it was great. I’ve been to a CSFI event before (I was one of the panellists), but it was a different format back then.

Last week we went through a document of web links and discussed each one. It was much more interesting than it sounds. Jemima Kelly, the FT journalist who wrote many of those articles was one of the panellists.

Facebook Libra

What’s in it for anyone except for Facebook? (Left unanswered but with some good points made:

  1. It could be extremely disruptive and put massive pressure on the big currencies, making them look volatile.
  2. Governments will try to squash it – and if they do, Facebook might use this as an opportunity to show that it’s not evil.
  3. Facebook needs to find another revenue stream other than marketing, this might be the first.
  4. It’s simply/ only an ETF on Fiat currencies).

Continue reading Fintech for Breakfast (CSFI, September 2019)

Countering fast retail

Bicycle shop with search bar
A bicycle shop with search bar

I was working on a piece of work recently with a colleague about the retail industry. Our thinking was moving into fast fashion, or more like “fast retail” – a made up term describing the sales of low-cost goods increasingly quickly, probably through subscription channels.

We started to consider the counter this trend, but the following piece was dropped. I recently picked it up again when I saw an article about UK retail sales.

Countering fast retail

The Guardian article “Charity shop and antique purchases drive up UK retail sales” is interesting because it’s such a counter balance to the constant product advertising and marketing culture we live in: “Buy more”, “buy it cheaper”, “buy the latest version”, etc. etc.

There’s usually a counterculture that either stops, or prolongs, a trend. With retail sales it might be a combination of Minimalism, the book and Netflix documentary; and Marie Kondo or KonMari – her process of tidying up to create joy. (If that sentence looks peculiar, then watch one of the programmes to get the picture).

Minimalism and Marie Kondo both recommend buying fewer high-quality goods rather than lots of poor-quality goods.

Maybe this explains the increase in charity shop purchases. In the Guardian article, Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said “…households still have the ability to spend and remain the strongest part of the economy.” In other words, people are choosing to go into charity shops over buying brand new goods. Continue reading Countering fast retail

Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

It’s been an interesting week at Netflix, with US subscribers falling by 120,000.

Another interesting piece of Netflix news has been about password sharing. According to analysts MoffettNathanson, 14% of Netflix subscribers share their password, and only 6% share their Amazon password to access Prime video.

The reason why password sharing on Amazon Prime is much lower than Netflix is probably because it’s easy for a friend to purchase an Amazon product once you give them your password. Possibly just as undesirable – it’s straightforward for people to review purchases on your account once you have given them your password!

I’ve been asked a few times this week, why Netflix and Amazon don’t clamp down on password sharing. I think the answer lies with a comment from Spotify.

Think of those Netflix users who are using someone else’s password as ‘freemium’ subscribers. Spotify encourages freemium (non-paying, or trial) accounts to learn “that music is an important part of their life worth paying for”. And consider the data from those listeners, how Spotify can “learn from the biggest possible group of music fans in the world.”

Freemium places a user on the path to a sales conversion. It’s a far better path than traditional or digital marketing channels. When people share a password, it shares the value of the product, that might want to make them ultimately go and buy the product.

Netflix has a vastly different strategy to Spotify though. Netflix is testing the maximum price that users are willing to pay for the service. It recently increased the monthly subscription cost in the US from $11 to $13. Continue reading Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report

Mary Meeker’s latest annual Internet trends report has been released, and it’s as insightful as always.

New sections for this year include:

  • A new section on the ethics of data usage and regulation
  • Interesting sections on healthcare (expenditure by country, and their focus on preventable deaths); and China (the move from manufacturing, and the totally different user experiences, such as live streaming for ecommerce)
  • New section on education – US university enrolments falling, with online increasing

Here are my highlights (aka abbreviated research notes):

  • Slide 25: [USA-based] advertising purchasing is moving to Amazon/ Twitter/ Pinterest (basically, moving from Facebook or Google at a quicker amount than they are growing)
  • Slide 28 & 29: Balancing Customer acquisition cost with Life Time Value!!
  • Slide 32: Drive conversion from freemium (Spotify & Zoom), rather than seeking new customers
  • #51: Echo devices doubled last year to 47M. There are now 90,000+ skills for Alexa. Why? How are they promoted?

Continue reading Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report