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.

7 Jan 2016

The State of Wearables


Accenture - Smartwatch Purchase Intent

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

Analyse Asia Podcast: Five Predictions About Asia for 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.

31 Dec 2015

Analyse Asia Podcast: The Five Major Events in Asia 2015



In part 1 of our year-end episode, we discuss five major events in Asia that occurred in 2015: (a) the surge of venture capital financing in Asia and its implications, (b) SoftBank’s Pepper with Alibaba and Foxconn, (c) the Nintendo-DeNA deal, (d) Xiaomi’s challenging year and (e) global recognition of Wechat’s messaging platform. We also added a short discussion on the upcoming dawn of self-driving cars and examine its implications for on-demand taxi-hailing apps, investors and car makers.

19 Nov 2015

Google and the Evolving App Interaction Model

Google - App Streaming

Google made some interesting announcements yesterday that could have a profound impact on the existing app interaction model and even how we think of apps. Google search now has the ability to search for app-only content, an outcome of Google's app indexing efforts over the past two years. More importantly, Google announced an experimental program to "stream" a limited set of apps directly from the Google app. This appears to be an attempt to make apps behave more like the web, in effect removing friction from the existing app paradigm.

28 Oct 2015

YouTube Red: Trigger For Cord Cutting?

YouTube Red

YouTube announced its first-ever subscription service last week, YouTube Red, with the usual set of (uninteresting) "premium" features -- ad-free videos and offline/background playback. The only interesting tidbit was that YouTube Red would also house "original" movies and TV shows starring well-known YouTube personalities. While it may seem mundane, this move has the potential to present a true disruption to the TV industry.

20 Oct 2015

Google's Amazon Problem

I have long been a critic of the "Peak Google" argument because it is based on a flawed premise -- that deep engagement and consequently "brand advertising" are somehow a threat to Google's model of transactional engagement. While I strongly disagree with that line of reasoning, there are other threats that Google faces within the transactional realm.

13 Oct 2015

On-Demand Startups and Unit Economics

Uber - Operating Margin

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that numerous online-to-offline (O2O or on-demand) startups in China had run out of cash in recent months. Fund raising and valuations, especially those for on-demand startups, have soared globally as burn rates grew in sync with risk appetite. During this time, startups spent heavily as user acquisition became the primary goal. It was only a matter of time before investors paused to look at financial health. Unfortunately, at least so far, there hasn't been much consensus on the way to assess the financial health of mobile commerce startups.

7 Oct 2015

Twitter Moments: Interesting Product with a Crucial Flaw

Twitter Stock Price

Twitter's stock price has declined by over 50% over the past few months because of slower than expected user growth and questions about the company's leadership team. In response, the company just unveiled what appears to be its most important product (or feature) in years, Moments. This is clearly an interesting attempt to attract new users (or "churned" users) back to the platform. However, Twitter seems to have ignored the lessons learned by other tech giants that rely on "deep engagement".