I write a weekly newsletter around tech and media, picking the 10-20 pieces of news that actually mattered and explaining what they mean, with analysis and opinion to put things in context.
Launched in 2013, it now has 150,000 subscribers, with a wide and senior audience in technology, media and finance.
The bigger Amazon gets, the more it’s worth reading the accounts. Does AWS subsidise the whole thing? Is the revenue $250bn - or $450bn? And is that ad business just a footnote, or is it bringing in more cash than AWS?
Both the UK and (today) the USA have given official statistics on how ecommerce and retail have changed during lockdown. The headline numbers are pretty dramatic. The UK went from 20% ecommerce penetration to over 30% in two months, and the USA from 17% to 22%.
The app store model has been a central part of the smartphone revolution, bringing safe, trusted software to billions of people for the first time. Breaking it would be insane. The trouble is, it also means Apple (and Google) aren’t the pirates anymore - they’re the navy, the port and the customs house, so how do they manage that, and how soon do regulators step in?
Most of the things we worry about aren't actually competition problems, but even where they are, breakups are unlikely to be effective. The real answers are in much more detailed and micro work: in regulating the internal mechanics of these products, line by line, much as we regulate telcos or credit cards.
We regulate lots of industries, from food to banking to airlines, and now, increasingly, we’re going to regulate tech. But that means global platforms collide with local regulators, with complexity, trade-offs and mutually incompatible demands. This will probably be expensive.
Zoom is the Skype of video - it turned a technology few people used much into a mass-market product. But next we’ll get the equivalents of Instagram and Snap - products that ask different questions. Zoom solved getting into a call, but why are you in the call?
Events are a bundle of content, networking and meetings, and aggregate people in one place at one time. When you try to take this online, half of it breaks and most of it makes no sense bundled together. We need new tools and new ways to think about networks, not ‘virtual conferences’.
Social apps are pop culture, trying to grab some piece of the zeitgeist, and build a product around how people feel. But so too are a lot of the new wave of productivity apps. They’re not just utilities, but theories of how we might feel about work.
"That is not only not right; it is not even wrong" - Wolfgang Pauli