21 Jul 2016

Pokemon Go and the Physical Web

My last post on Pokemon Go focused on underlying business model innovation -- specifically, Niantic's location-based APIs and the potential of sponsored locations as a lucrative revenue stream. The scale of Pokemon Go's unprecedented success has already made this a reality as its upcoming launch in Japan will see all 3000+ McDonalds outlets in the country become sponsored in-game "PokeGyms". The significance of this event cannot be overstated -- Niantic is on the verge of becoming the first tech company that closes the online-offline loop, i.e. one that can drive measurable real-world foot traffic at scale.

12 Jul 2016

Pokemon Go and Business Model Innovation

Pokemon Go

After months of hype, Pokemon Go finally began rolling out in a few countries this week. At this point, I can safely say, it has turned out to be one of the biggest viral hits in recent years. While the Pokemon IP played a significant role in the game's quick uptake, I believe that Pokemon Go's status as the first accessible augmented reality game at scale will be much more important to its long-term success. There are multiple elements of business model innovation at play here, far deeper than a simple extension of pre-existing IP.

20 Jun 2016

Google vs. Apple: Contrasting Approaches to App Store Evolution

B&H - Android Instant Apps

This year, Google I/O and WWDC seemed to lack the excitement seen in years past with most announcements being fairly mundane -- a combination of maintenance/incremental updates and "me-too" products -- inevitable at this point in the maturity cycle. The most interesting part of these developer events was really the contrasting approaches Google and Apple have taken to evolve the app ecosystem. Unsurprisingly, both approaches are diametrically opposed to each other and favor each company's business model. However, the "winning standard" will necessarily be one that better serves the needs of both consumers and developers.

19 May 2016

Analyse Asia Podcast Part 2: Apple in Asia and Autonomous Cars



Continuing our discussion from the last episode, we analyzed Apple’s Q1 2016 earnings and challenged the notion whether Apple’s Asia (India and China) and their rumored car strategy will revitalize growth. Through the lens of the Apple rumored car, we dived deeper into a conversation on artificial intelligence & autonomous vehicles.

16 May 2016

Analyse Asia Podcast Part 1: Facebook vs. Asian Messaging Apps




I joined Bernard Leong’s Analyse Asia Podcast in a two-part episode to discuss major themes in the technology space from messaging apps to self driving cars. In part 1, we discussed the recent announcements from Facebook’s F8 conference, including chatbots and video live streaming. From there, we analyzed the implications of Facebook’s announcements and their impact on Asia from video advertising to messaging apps. Finally, we explored business models driving artificial intelligence companies.

13 May 2016

Understanding Apple's $1 Billion Investment in Didi

Today, Apple announced a $1 billion investment into China's leading ridesharing service, Didi Chuxing. While this makes Apple a minority investor in Didi (with an ownership stake well below 5%), this investment is notable for a few reasons. For one, it is Apple's largest strategic investment since their $3 billion acquisition of Beats two years ago. It also comes at a time when VC money has been moving away from companies with high burn rates and excessively reliance on subsidies (a fairly accurate description of Didi's business). However, understanding Apple's rationale for this deal is tricky.

14 Apr 2016

Chatbots, Apps and the Path to Victory

Facebook Messenger Chatbots

This week, Facebook opened up their long awaited bot platform within Messenger following similar moves from LINE, Telegram and Kik. It almost seems as though bots have peaked on the "Hype cycle" in just a few short weeks since they entered mainstream discussion. This isn't a criticism of the concept, but rather of industry discourse. Chatbots certainly have potential, but where that lies is just as important as the eventual scale.

14 Mar 2016

Explaining the Struggles of Apple Pay and Mobile Payments

Apple Pay Usage
Apple Pay was introduced 18 months ago to rave reviews from the press and technology analysts. It was billed as an example of "mobile payments done right" -- simple, intuitive and painless. And yet, its impact has been muted at best, even in key western markets. According to a recent survey, 80% of iPhone 6 users had never used the service and just 3% used it regularly. Customer satisfaction among Apple Pay users remains high, but word-of-mouth appears to have had no impact on adoption. What is the cause of this divergence?

27 Jan 2016

iPhone Headwinds


Apple's stock has been battered over the past year due to fears about iPhone unit sales growth. Yesterday's fiscal Q1 2016 results finally give us some data to understand how realistic these fears are. Apple reported iPhone shipments of 74.8 million units in the quarter, growing marginally over fiscal Q1 2015. However, Apple also increased iPhone channel inventory by 3.3 million over the quarter compared to a decline of 0.2 million in the same quarter last year. Keeping in mind that Apple reports sell-in (shipments), not sales to end users, this implies that iPhone sell-through actually declined by 4.3% YoY, from 74.7 million to 71.5 million units. This is the first such decline in the history of the product.

19 Jan 2016

Self-Driving Cars: Incrementalism vs. Full Autonomy

Self-Driving Car

Last week, I came across an interesting piece by Jan Dawson about self-driving cars. In it, he argued that Tesla's (and possibly Apple's) approach of incremental improvements in automation was vastly superior to Google's goal of achieving full automation. His primary argument is that consumers need to purchase and experience semi-autonomous vehicles before they can trust the technology enough to purchase fully autonomous vehicles (especially given the likely cost of purchase). While this does appear to make some sense, there is a key flaw in this argument. The goals and business models of companies following these two approaches are dramatically different.