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The first phase of the platform wars are over - Apple and Google both won,
more or less. But nothing is remotely settled - it's just that all the
questions have changed. What will Android be? How will Google or
Xiaomi change it? How will

Latest articles

Notes on newsletters

Email newsletters are older than the web, and paid newsletters are older than the internet. Fred Hickey has been writing the High Tech Strategist since 1987, when he sent it by fax, and ‘newsletters’ themselves are almost as old as print. Meanwhile, there’s been a steady flow of people scaling personal email newsletters and blogs into media companies...

When big tech buys small tech

A big part of the discussion around competition in tech today is how to think about acquisitions. It’s easy to say that we wouldn’t let Amazon buy Zappos or Google buy DoubleClick, but everyone’s favourite puzzle is Instagram. Facebook bought a pre-revenue startup with 13 staff, and it’s now commonplace to say that this was anti-competitive, and a failure...

Metabrand

About 20 years ago, Deutsche Telekom bought a UK mobile network called One2One and rebranded it T-Mobile. One2One had been known for low prices and a weak network, so what was this new 'T-Mobile' thing? Well, it had low prices... and a weak network. They changed the name but didn't fix the product. If your brand has become toxic, and you create a new...

Stepping out of the firehose

I’ve been collecting pictures like this for a while now, partly because they’re hilarious, but mostly because I think they say something interesting about how we find room for digital in our lives. The internet is a firehose. I don’t, myself, have 351 thousand unread emails, but when anyone can publish and connecting and sharing is free and frictionless,...

Metaverse! Metaverse? Metaverse!!

Over and over again, the tech industry asks ‘what’s the next cycle?’ Smartphones were the locomotive that drove the industry and all the innovation for 15 years, but now 4.5-5bn people have a smartphone and the market is mature, so what’s the next fundamental trend? Crypto people don’t ask - they know it’s crypto! - but everyone else in tech thinks...

A decade of the Tim Cook machine

Looking back over the enthusiasms, arguments and panics around tech in the past few years, I sometimes think that Apple is the $2tn elephant in the corner, mostly silent and serenely indifferent to the news cycle. It doesn’t worry about the “metaverse”, content moderation or hacked elections, and newspaper companies haven’t worked out how to shake it...

Mainframes, ML and digital transformation

Patrick Collison once made a joke that if you erect enough enterprise software billboards, an airport will spontaneously appear around them. It’s a pretty good bet that all of those billboards would say ‘digital transformation’, and that phrase always sounds to me like a parody of tech marketing. It’s got ‘digital!’ in there, and ‘transformation!’ -...

Ads, privacy and confusion

The consumer internet industry spent two decades building a huge, complex, chaotic pile of tools and systems to track and analyse what people do on the internet, and we’ve spent the last half-decade arguing about that, sometimes for very good reasons, and sometimes with strong doses of panic and opportunism. Now that’s mostly going to change, between...

Do App Store Rules Matter?

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Antitrust posturing

"You give me the awful impression, I hate to have to say it, of someone who hasn't read any of the arguments against your position ever." - Christopher HitchensLate last year the US congress's antitrust committee held a series of hearings, and produced a 400 page report, on competition issues around big tech platforms. The report, co-authored by the...

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