Wiser! #54: Instagram needs to change as TikTok sets the pace. Plus the madness of NFTs, the end of the Blackberry and the origins of the iPhone. Plus more...
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In this issue of Wiser!;
- Predictions, Trends, Questions and some Answers
- Where's Instagram going (spoiler alert: video)
- Apple becomes as big as the UK economy
- NFT madness
- AirBnB racial discrimination
- RIP Blackberry
- The origins of the iPhone
Plus news stories on Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon Web Services, Metaverse, and more...(including Tokyo's trains)
2022 Predictions and Trends
At the start of every year, I like to see where the trends are taking us, answer a few questions and make a few predictions. This is my 2022 essay and was sent to all Premium Members earlier this week. Did you get it?
BackStory: "We're going to have to rethink what Instagram is because the world is changing quickly and we're going to have to change with it.” These are the words of Adam Mosseri, the boss of Instagram, in his end of year message.
Mosseri explained Instagram’s 2022 focus would be to push further into video, bring in new monetisation tools for creators, and focus on messaging and transparency. It looks like Instagram will also go further with parental controls after it cancelled plans to launch Insta Kids in 2021 and faces continued negative press around harms linked to teenage girls and Instagram.
TalkingPoint: Now, the cynic might say that this is (just) another move in the Zuckerverse to deflect attention away from the adverse scrutiny the social media platform is facing.
Others might point to TikTok snapping at its heels, growing much, much faster and stealing the attention of a younger demographic. Or maybe it is simply that Instagram has seen the writing on the social media wall, which is that everything is going video. IMHO, it's a combination of all 3. Mosseri is right about one thing, the world is changing and Instagram has to do something.
ShiftToVideo: A Hubspot survey found that 96% of surveyed consumers reported that their video consumption had increased during the pandemic .
TikTok's land grab in video has forced the other social media platforms into a game of catch-up. Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have all announced more focus on incorporating TikTok-style features for creators to make short videos directly onto their platforms. YouTube Shorts is barely a year old and was already generating over 15 billion global daily views by the end of last summer. However, it's not as easy as it seems. Both Linkedin and Twitter have tried their own short-form video products and both have died on the vine before being pulled.
The other issue for the rivals is that users have realised it's easier to make a video in TikTok and cross-post them onto the other platforms. (This is because TikTok has better editing features as well as owning CapCut, the number 1 downloaded editing app.) The point is that you will see TikTok videos appearing on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. And although the algorithms can detect the TikTok branding and suppress the video, if users want to see it, the video can still get substantial traction in spite of the platforms best efforts to hold it back.
There’s little doubt that TikTok is shaping the market at the moment. Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts are both TikTok copycats. But it’s not just the product that gives TikTok the advantage, it’s also their growth rate. TikTok surpassed a billion monthly users last September, it was the most visited website and also the most downloaded mobile app in 2021. TikTok had 656 million global downloads in 2021, followed by Instagram (545 million), Facebook (416 million), WhatsApp (395 million). In the U.S., TikTok's 94 million downloads outranked Instagram's 64 million.
A year ago, hardly anyone could spell 'NFT' let alone explain what 'fungible' meant. Now it is the Collins' Word of the Year and nearly $41 billion worth of Ethereum-based NFTs were sold in 2021 (according to Chainalysis). For context, the global art market was worth around $50 billion last year, per UBS.
Three quarters of NFT transactions were under $10k, but the wealthiest 9% of NFT wallets held c80% of the market's value (which mirrors the Bitcoin market where 27% of Bitcoin is held by less than 0.1% of all Bitcoin holders).
One of the most well-known of the NFT collections for attracting headlines for high value sales is the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). This is a collection of 10,000 ape avatars that individually act as tickets to an online social club. Over a $1 billion of BAYC NFTs have been traded thus far.
OpenSea: the largest NFT marketplace
The world’s largest NFT marketplace is OpenSea and it saw increased activity in December as NFTs became the must have Christmas present. According to Dune Analytics, the platform logged over $3 billion in NFT trading volume in December following similar volumes in August and September. The timing couldn’t be better as OpenSea is strongly rumoured to be gearing up for what would be the biggest tech IPO of the year.
At a valuation of $13 billion, TechCrunch seem to think that OpenSea are worth it. Source: TechCrunch
In other NFT news...
- Tarantino's NFT auction is going ahead in spite of the Miramax lawsuit. Source: NFT Evening
- Shopify has launched a beta program to mint and trade your own NFTs. Source: Shopify
- Blockchain certification technology from Origyn uses NFTs to authenticate an owner's luxury watch in just 28 seconds, and in so doing, eliminate counterfeiting. Source: Origyn Luxury
- A South Korean Presidential candidate is to issue NFTs for fundraising in upcoming elections. Source: Korean Times
- Samsung to launch an NFT services for on its TVs. Source: The Verge
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BackStory: In 2000, Blackberry released its first smartphone, the Blackberry 957. This week the company officially shutdown its mobile phone infrastructure and killed off all of its existing classic phones. If you have one, your Blackberry can no longer make or receive calls and texts.
Back in the day, the Blackberry was the must-be-seen-in-your-hand corporate gadget amongst professionals that was as much a signal of status as the iPhone 13 is today. By 2009 Gartner reported that Blackberry was the market leader in smartphones with a 20% market share. By 2012, Blackberry had grown to over 80 million active users. However, with the surging popularity of iPhones and the emergent Android operating system, Blackberry (and Nokia) were overtaken as the market leaders by Apple and Samsung, the duopoly that continues to dominate smartphone sales today.
Now, a decade on from leading the market, Blackberry has very few active users and it’s not a phone company anymore. Instead, it focuses on cybersecurity and being a provider of automotive technology. Looking back at the early Blackberrys, they seem so antiquated now and not top of mind that this is tech from only 22 years ago. But they never stood a chance the moment that Jobs gave us the iPhone. And it's a salient reminder that tech comes and goes, although for me I'll never forget my first BB. R.I.P. Blackberry. 🤗 Sources: Investopedia, Morning Brew
Motorola Envoy; the smartphone ahead of its time
SideNote: Did you know that the origins of the iPhone can be traced back to the late 1980s and the Motorola Envoy, a smartphone ahead of its time?
It came about after a bunch of Apple execs failed to convince the then CEO of Apple, John Sculley, of the merits of a combined communications and consumer electronics device handheld device. Apple saw no future in it and a startup business called General Magic was spun out of Apple (who retained a 10% stake). General Magic built the operating system that ran the Motorola Envoy launched in 1989. Although the Envoy failed to take off, it was ahead of its time and the execs behind the venture went on to other projects that included inventing the iPod, the iPhone, Google's Nest, Adobe's Dreamweaver and the Apple Watch. The story is told in this 2018 movie called General Magic that you can find on iTunes or Amazon Prime. Source: IEEE Spectrum
Snippets of Insight and Information
Apple becomes the 1st $3 trillion company
Apple's market cap has hit $3 trillion, the first company ever to do so. This comes just 16 months after Apple reached the $2 trillion mark and was achieved on the 45th anniversary of its incorporation. To give this some context, this is equivalent to the entire GDP of the UK! (I know, I know, before anyone starts sending me correction notices, market cap and GDP is not an Apples for Apples comparison, excuse the pun, but I think you'll agree that it makes the point!)
Meanwhile, Apple apparently has an AirTag problem. Source: The Hustle
AirBnB racial discrimination
A new law has come into force in Oregon that prohibits AirBnB from showing the identity of guests when they make a booking. Instead of displaying the guests full names, they can only show their initials. This is to stop discrimination and racial bias by landlords.
Last year Bloomberg reported that AirBnB spends around $50m a year covering up and settling complaints about a whole host of grisly crimes that take place during an AirBnB stay. According to AirBnB's own figures, the level of complaints accounts for (only) 0.1% of all bookings, which is still around 200k per annum. The big question is; "will AirBnB roll this out across the entire estate?" Source: Mashable
The annual Consumer Electronics Show, aka CES, has gone ahead this week in Las Vegas, although some of the biggest names in tech (Amazon, Google, MetaFacebook) have stayed home due to Omicron concerns. I'll cover the top tech on display at the show in more detail next week but some of the early standouts include;
- Hyundai announced an autonomous luxury ship and plans to make a self-driving cargo ship, so we can blame robots when it gets stuck in a canal.
- Shiftall’s Pebble Feel device lets virtual reality players physically experience a change in temperature, from a cold 48F to a hot 107F.
- The Labrador Retriever is an assistive robot that can move items around the home or get food from the fridge. Great for lazy folks, but even more exciting for those in assisted living facilities.
- BMW's paint job that can change colour. The surface coating of this BMW iX Flow contains E Ink, the electronic paper technology used in e-readers like a Kindle. E Ink contains millions of microcapsules with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair. Each of these microcapsules contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Depending on the chosen setting, stimulation by means of an electrical field causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.
Amazon Web Services under scrutiny
The ability of Jeff Bezos to turn one of Amazon's largest costs (cloud computing) and turn it into a profit centre is up there when it comes to corporate gangster moves. Pure genius. Now, Amazon Web Services is the market leader in global cloud computing and generates $16 billion in revenues and brings in most of the e-commerce giant’s profits. However, it is also under scrutiny for anti-competitive behaviour that has largely eluded Amazon thus far. But that is apparently about to change as the head of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan has set her sights on tackling BigTech. Now, I'm highly sceptical that the US rule-makers will take material action against BigTech and I expect to see the European Union move more decisively and swiftly. So for now, we'll just have to wait and see. Source: Bloomberg
Intel apologises to China
American chipmaker Intel apologised in China over Christmas after its letter telling suppliers not to source products or labour from the Xinjiang region triggered a backlash, making it the latest western firm to be tripped up over rights issues in the country. Intel is not the first and certainly will not be the last corporation in falling foul to the balancing act that keeps different political perspectives in the East and the West happy. Source: Reuters
Elizabeth Holmes is guilty
Silicon Valley's first female tech billionaire entrepreneur, Elizabeth Holmes, has been found guilty of fraud. Holmes co-founded Theranos on the promise that they had developed black box technology that could run multiple tests on a single drop of blood in a matter of hours. Holmes raised a $1 billion and at it's peak, Theranos was valued at $9 billion. Their marquee deal was with US pharmacy chain Wallgreens, placing a Theranos black box in every chemist. Holmes was the perfect Silicon Valley charm machine and it all sounded great, until it turned out that it didn't work and the promises were based on false claims. Source: NPR
Playstation's best-selling games of the last decade
Source: Inverse Daily
Google and MetaFacebook issued record fines in France
France's data protection agency has just issued record fines to Google and MetaFacebook over the way the companies manage cookies. Both companies have 3 months to implement a means for users in France to refuse them as easily as accept them. Source: BNN Bloomberg
Finally, take a look at this site that tracks trains as they move through Tokyo's rail network with a real-time feed and 3D animation. Pointless but strangely entertaining. Source: Mini Tokyo 3D
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