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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

TV, merchant media and the unbundling of advertising

About five years ago, a revenue line buried in the back of Amazon's accounts started to get quite big. ‘Other revenue’ was over $4bn by the end of 2017, and if you looked at the notes to the notes, you discovered that this was ‘predominately advertising’. By 2019 this had grown to $14bn, and I wrote about it here, pointing out that ‘Amazon’ was no longer...

Tech questions for 2022

Sometimes the centre of gravity in tech is very clear - everything is about PCs, or the web, or smartphones. But at other times, there are lots of things going on and none of them are The Thing, and all of them are full of questions. Of course, for some crypto people crypto is the only question and the only answer, but as we enter 2022 there are lots...

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...

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