Morgan Stanley or Google?

From http://www.barrons.com/articles/how-much-do-silicon-valley-firms-really-earn-1435372718

From http://www.barrons.com/articles/how-much-do-silicon-valley-firms-really-earn-1435372718

This is probably why shareholders preferred Google employees over Morgan Stanley employees. 

Also why it's better to work for Google than Morgan Stanley in this tech era ($20.6M total compensation vs $14.3M total compensation). 

Google's compensation is low on cold-hard cash, but it's stock option is quite generous and cost shareholders a lot less. 

World Map of Dominating Websites

Here's an interesting map from webempires

It's 3 years old and it would be interesting to see if the dominating websites are still dominating. I'm particularly interested to see if Yahoo is still the leading website in Cameroon and if Mail.ru is still leading in Central Asia. 

Hopefully, webempires will update this map soon. 

From http://webempires.org/dominating-websites-map/

From http://webempires.org/dominating-websites-map/

20 Years of "This" Amazon

The NY Times article about the work conditions at Amazon has been getting a lot of press and generating major debates on both sides of the aisle. 

I'm not privy to actual working conditions at Amazon, but the Economist made this chart that chronicles the growth of Amazon in the past 20 years and it lends credibility to the idea that the work conditions must have been relentless in order to achieve such massive growth. The article has been criticized for lacking sufficient data, relying mostly on personal anecdotes of former employees. It's difficult to ascertain the truth, but as the saying goes, " where there's smoke, there's fire."

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, said that he didn't "recognize this Amazon.

The good thing that can come out of this is that the working conditions at Amazon will improve and customers will realize that there is a hidden "price" for the cheap prices that Amazon is able to offer (namely that it deprives workers of additional benefits). 

From http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/07/daily-chart-10

From http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/07/daily-chart-10

What is 3D Printing?

Yesterday was about wearables. Today is about 3D printing. Why? 

Simple. It doesn't take a prognosticator to see that 3D printing wearables are coming. 

Stratasys, one of the largest manufacturers of 3D printers and 3D production systems, has an introductory infographic explaining the state of 3D printing.

Just like how a digital printer is ubiquitous in our society, 3D printers will soon find its way into every home and/or office. 

History of Wearables

Although the New York Times might insist otherwise, I still think that the Apple Watch isn't as successful as the company had hoped for.

Still, we're in the early stages of smart wearables and StaySourced has a cool infographic about the history of wearable tech. 

Remember the Sneaker Phone? Those were the times. 

Personally, I'm intrigued by Ringly.

From http://www.staysourced.com/features/the-history-of-wearable-tech/

From http://www.staysourced.com/features/the-history-of-wearable-tech/

What's Up With The New Microsoft?

Been using the new Windows 10. Not much to offer as I'm still trying to get the hang of it. 

The University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business made an infographic about the new Microsoft. 

Overall, Microsoft, like Apple, still has a lot of room for growth as seen in products like the Microsoft Band/Health and Delve. 

From http://businessdegrees.uab.edu/resources/infographic/breaking-down-the-new-microsoft/

From http://businessdegrees.uab.edu/resources/infographic/breaking-down-the-new-microsoft/

Amazon Echo and the Smart Home

Got the Amazon Echo and it's a nifty device. It works well as a smart alarm clock, music player, and general to-do list. You say either "Alexa" or "Amazon" to turn it on and then you just order it to either tell you the latest news, play your music list, or check the weather. It has changed the way I interact with my music player and alarm clock even though I have it for less than a month. From this experience, I can see how the Amazon Echo might become the hub for a smart home. 

Last week, Amazon sent me an email about smart plugs and devices that can be controlled by the Echo. In other words, Amazon is guiding consumers like me toward updating my home to make it "smarter".

If every device is as easy to use as the Echo, then I think the smart home adoption rate will be even faster than the one shown on the infographic below (The chart is from Raconteur). 

From http://raconteur.net/infographics/smart-home-adoption

From http://raconteur.net/infographics/smart-home-adoption

Iphone 6 vs Galaxy S5

Thinking of changing my phone soon and debating between the big 2: iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5. Not trying to start a flame war, just comparing the components/build quality. 

It seems like Samsung charge themselves a lot for the material (so as to justify the price). I mean, Galaxy S5 camera component is more expensive than iPhone's even though it's made by Samsung. Ditto for the SDRAM. NAND and power management components are cheaper than iPhone's which should be the case since Samsung manufactures them. Strangely, iPhone uses Samsung processor, but Samsung uses Intel processor. Wonder why Samsung won't use their own processor which is actually cheaper than Intel. 

Hmm...rumors are already swirling around the next generation. Probably best to wait for one more generation. 

Lawyers and Their Tech

It's interesting the trends that lawyers predict about technology in their firms. Most expect a paperless office and e-libraries, but hardly any mention of the two elephants in the room: machine learning & artificial intelligence. 

Too early to tell or they rather not think about it?

From http://raconteur.net/infographics

From http://raconteur.net/infographics

YouTube, Netflix, and Vine - Vying for Kids' Hearts

Children's media app is the next battleground for the media industry.

Last month, YouTube launched a YouTube Kids app, Vine launched a Vine Kids app, and Netflix announced that its expanding its kids’ lineup with 5 new shows. Why this sudden interest in kids' media apps? I think it's due to the proliferation of content — print, blogs, TV, web videos, film, video games, selfies, vine videos, etc — and the fact that a lot of the content were previously not targeted toward kids. 

Online media providers like YouTube, Netflix, and Vine realize that the market penetration for adult is already very high and if you want to expand your market, you have to look at expanding your demographics. Kids seems like an easy choice because they are a gateway to the household and they eventually grow up to be in the initial target market. If kids were so easy and convenient, why now? That's probably because of the advancement in machine learning and algorithm. It's easier now for computers to categorize content than when YouTube was first starting out. Either way, it looks like content providers are now focusing on the children's market and it'll be that way for some time. 

That's good news for kids, headaches for parents, and a godsend for advertisers. 

Apple's Gold - Real or Fake?

Last Monday, model Christy Turlington Burns wore an Watch at Apple’s Spring Forward event where Tim Cook unveiled the new Macbooks (gorgeous, but slow) and to hype up the Watch.

What seems to be missing from the news is Apple's patent application that was published on Dec 11, 2014 for "Method and apparatus for forming a gold metal matrix composite".

In short, Apple has created a method that makes their 18k gold contain less gold than regular 18k gold by messing around with the metal composite and basically using cheaper materials to accomplish this task. 

Tim Cook said that Apple's gold is harder and more scratch-resistant than regular gold and this might be due to the fact that Apple may be using low-density ceramic particles in its gold composite, which makes it less dense overall and hence less gold. 

The post here has all the lowdown on the mathematical calculations behind this patent. 

Now, while Apple does have this patent, it seems that Apple has not use it...yet. The Watch that were announced last Monday were using standard gold alloy and not Apple's patented gold composite. 

Some questions remain though — how exactly is Apple able to make their gold harder and more scratch resistant than regular gold? Will Apple eventually use this patent sometime in the near future?  

RadioShack's Reversal of Fortune

For a business that sold technology to consumers, it's shocking how poorly RadioShack missed the marks on the technological shifts that were happening right in front of their eyes —  as though they wanted to ignore reality and just coast on their past riches. It's a shame really. A strategic vision is vital to ensure a company's longevity. Right now, I'm curious about Blackberry. By most account, John S. Chen, the current CEO of Blackberry, is a strategist and Blackberry has recovered some cache lately. Still, is it enough? 

From http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/02/radioshacks-strategic-confusion/

From http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2015/02/radioshacks-strategic-confusion/

Wheels Of The Future

60% of all new cars in 2017 will have connected car services. Apple and Google need to launch an impressive car feature soon if they want to dominate that domain. But, even if Android loses to iOS in the next few years, Google has secured its future with its own fleet of autonomous vehicles - something that Apple doesn't have. Seeing this and maybe there is something to the rumor of Apple developing their own electric car. After all, in 10 years' time, 70-80% of all cars are expected to be connected. 

From  http://www.symphonyteleca  .com/media/60031/wheels-of-tomorrow-symphony-teleca.pdf

From http://www.symphonyteleca.com/media/60031/wheels-of-tomorrow-symphony-teleca.pdf

Google's Frenemy Strategy Part II: Uber

I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.
— Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs made that remark in reference to Google launching the Android operating system while Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO at the time, was sitting on Apple board. Needless to say, Eric was removed from Apple board and iOS and Android have been battling for mobile supremacy ever since.

Google launched Android to ensure its search supremacy in the mobile space since Google doesn't actually make money directly from Android, giving it away for free. Given that other mobile operating system (Blackberry, Symbia, etc) may have ended using a different default search engine on their mobile devices, Google wanted Android to ensure that it wasn't beholden to anyone - even Apple. It's safe to say that the mobile space would be very different if Google did not market Android. And while it seems that Android is winning because of its larger market share, Apple continues to profit handsomely from its fat margins and brand loyalty. 

This tidbit of history is important because Google is once again executing its frenemy strategy. This time, it's with Uber. 

Just as Eric Schmidt sat on the board of Apple while developing a competing product, David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, sat on the board of Uber since 2013. News are surfacing that Drummond has informed Uber's board that Google is possibility going to offer its own own ride-hailing service very soon. Furthermore, some Uber executives have seen actual screenshots of this so-called app that is currently being beta-tested by Google employees.

Google's own ride-hailing service, let's call it "Google Taxi" for now, is a product that makes a lot of sense for Google. Google Maps dominates the map service space and Uber drivers are already using Google Maps when they're driving. Google owns Waze, the social driving network, where people share their traffic condition with others. And lastly, Google is the visible leader in the autonomous vehicle space. Combining Google Maps with Waze and self-driving cars and Google Taxi sounds like it would be an amazing service.

Furthermore, just as Google waited to see the success of Apple's iOS, Google has been waiting for Uber to settle the difficult legislation and court cases so that when it launches Google Taxi, all the legal headaches are pretty much settled. 

While I am looking forward to Google Taxi and believe that, like Android, it will probably dominate its market in terms of market share, it is troubling to know that a company that expounds the virtue of "don't be evil" continues with its frenemy strategy - sending its executives to sit on the boards of potential competitors as "friends" and then launching a competitive service/product when the market is big and ready. 

Even if you like Google and their services, just be careful if they approach you as a "friend". After all, who knows when they would stab you in the back?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me


Pre-fab buildings and its impact on society

Prefabricated building, a type of building that consists of several factory-built components or units that are then assembled on-site to complete the unit, has been growing in popularity.

Last year, a nine storey apartment building consisting of 34 one and two bedroom apartments, was constructed in Melbourne in only 120 hours. This year, the city of Amsterdam will be providing prefab pop-up rental houses on vacant city lots. I'm bringing this up to show that the full impact and possibilities of prefabs have not been fully considered.

Why rent a hotel room or a room on AirBnB when you can rent a rental house that will be ready by the time you arrive in the city? Prefab pop-up rental units should scare the hospitality sector. Housing policies and building ordinances will have to adjust to the rapid turnaround cycle of prefab buildings. Imagine a pop-up neighborhood that appears overnight. How will the city react to such a rapid development? 

Rendering of what a pop-up neighborhood of houses might look like as envisioned by the Dutch building company Hejimans.

Rendering of what a pop-up neighborhood of houses might look like as envisioned by the Dutch building company Hejimans.

Housing policies and building ordinances are generally slower to react due to the burden of bureaucracy. As governments adjust to the "sharing economy" of companies like AirBnB and Uber, they should also start planning on how to adjust to the "prefab economy" - where things are rapidly constructed to fulfill a users' need. So far, no one seems ready for the change that's on the horizon. 

A heart-shape phone

Japan recently introduced a new phone - Heart 401AB. A heart-shape phone that is low-tech: no email, no web browser, heck, no SMS. The new phone will undoubtably be an object of curiosity and will definitely stand out among the crowd of phones. Still, you have to wonder about its market. Who exactly is this phone for? 

The low-tech aspect means that the phone isn't for the techies. The heart-shape design removes the majority of the male population. So, the phone is basically for female who does not want nor need SMS or any amenities of a digital lifestyle. Is the market that big in Japan to warrant such a unique phone? Japan has always been a country that waltz to its own beat. Vinyl is alive and kicking, CD sales are the highest in the world, and the fax machine still rules supreme in corporate Japan. 

While it's difficult to ascertain the domestic market size because of the unique characteristics of the country, it's still a good thought experiment if we consider how the phone will fare in the international market.

Microsoft's low-budget phone, the Kin One and the Kin Two, failed horribly because no one knew exactly who the phone was targeted at. While Microsoft tried to market it to kids and parents buying kids their first smart phone, it didn't attract those markets because kids wanted "cool" smartphones and parents wanted value for money. The marketing message got muddled and it was inevitable that the phone would fail. 

The Heart 401AB, on the other hand, is highly targeted: female who doesn't want a high-tech gadget but wants a cute phone. Depending on cost of production, the heart-shape phone might actually end up being extremely profitable for the manufacturer precisely because it's so highly targeted. If the phone is a success, it's certainly only a matter of time until other manufacturers follow suit and produce other unique shape phones to cater to the market. 

Either way you look at it, it's an interesting market experiment.