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.
20 Jun 2016
19 May 2016
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
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
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
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
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
19 Jan 2016
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.
7 Jan 2016
I have been skeptical about the mass market potential of wrist-worn wearables ever since Google unveiled Android Wear in 2014. Since then, we have seen a number of high profile smartwatch launches, including the Apple Watch and the recent Fitbit Blaze (which was greeted with an 18% decline in FitBit's stock price). However, the hunt for a killer app continues and I have yet to come across a relevant use case for mass market users. Benchmarking the current state of this product category has been challenging because of the complete lack of reliable, public data. Luckily, Accenture recently released some data that could ease our way.
1 Jan 2016
In the part 2 of our year-end podcast, we build on our earlier conversation about five major events that rocked Asia in 2015 and make our predictions for 2016: (a) Consolidation of on-demand cab hailing apps, (b) Robots (like Softbank's Pepper) target businesses before moving on to the consumer market while value flows to data / artificial intelligence, (c) Nintendo faces innovator's dilemma, (d) Xiaomi's expansion and (e) Facebook faces challenges in Asia.