Snap Inc.’s IPO Shows The Signs of a Tech Bubble

If it wasn’t clear until now that there is a bubble in the tech industry, it is very clear now. Snap Inc.’s shares soared in its initial public offering by almost 50 per cent. This is crazy stuff from a company that Mark Zuckerberg is increasingly trying to emulate with its disappearing messages feature. The only thing that is uncertain is what will happen to this bubble. Will it deflate gradually or burst suddenly? It’s impossible to know but I guess that it will be on a downward trajectory of some kind at some point anyhow. Markets will be markets but what will be more interesting is how Snap Inc.’s hope of growing and changing the company will play out.

Poem: What Next for The World?

What next for the world,

What next for us?

What next for the world,

Is it written on a bus?

What next for the world,

What next for the good?

What next for the bad,

What will happen –

What should?

Could,

Would,

Be,

Is it time for us to live the future free?

The Effect of Technology on Future Employment

The effect of technology on future employment, as highlighted by business leaders at Davos, is profound. More and more software, computers and robots will be replacing human workers, and some of it has already happened (think the lack of as many human cashiers in supermarkets).

One answer to the increased joblessness and lack of expendable income is a “spending wage” for citizens for doing no work at all. This would stimulate the economy by allowing people to purchase consumer goods, though it may not solve the self-esteem issue of people not feeling that they have a purpose in life, or that they at least have a diminished purpose in life.

The Branding of Juventus and Pogba

Like it or loathe it, Juventus’ new logo is another sign of the branding and commercial focus of soccer clubs nowadays. Juventus is up against all the other big clubs and they need to make an effort to stand out. Even if I happen to like the new logo, the announcement was full of the usual marketing mumbo jumbo, so it quickly became annoying and pretentious.

It may also be a mistake. Juventus’ logo is recognised by millions so to change it seems like a silly waste of money and, more importantly, branding capital. They have to start from scratch with this new logo. It helps that it features a capitalised “j”, but still. Much more important, however, is the players this club can attract and what it can achieve on the pitch.

Paul Pogba spent a bit of time getting “p”s shaved into his head and having two capitalised “p”s bleached a greenish yellow colour to signify “Paul Pogba” on his noggin alongside getting his own Twitter emoji. Considering his performance against Liverpool on Sunday he should probably be focusing on how to get the best performance out of himself for his club. Though I think it has become clear to a lot of people that his choice to move to Manchester United was driven as much by commercial and branding ambitions as soccer ones.

The Nintendo Switch and the Video Gaming Industry

You get the feeling that the Nintendo Switch will only be a middling success. The price of the console is too high and it doesn’t look like there are many games that would make the purchase worthwhile. I really think that Apple TV and Android TV is the future of hardcore gaming, though as yet they don’t have enough top-notch studios making games for them. This will soon change, as consumers will be drawn to cheaper games with good gameplay on both platforms.

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have enough third-party support to make it a viable console. And sure it is more portable than the Wii U, the PS4 and Xbox One but I don’t think that is much of a draw nowadays what with smartphones, phablets and tablets. It will be a bit sad to see Nintendo lose and have to give up on hardcore home-based gaming consoles but it has to do so. And anyway, the 3DS and 2DS along with their mobile games will keep their company relevant in the gaming world, though Nintendo will have to accept that they must downsize their company and besides focusing on the 3DS, 2DS and the successor to those portable gaming consoles, they will have to become a gaming studio in the main. This means their profit will most likely decline but it could be a good opportunity for innovation at the company in terms of video game franchises and new iterations of established franchises.

Nintendo will have to work harder to survive and thrive but this could revitalise the company. In the future they may also learn to embrace change quicker and adapt to changes in gaming industry well as a result. My two cents is that Nintendo are a Japanese company and Japanese companies don’t like to admit failure as they have a cultural issue with admitting failure in their honour culture.

Companies like Valve don’t have this type of cultural flaw holding them back so it looks like American companies will dominate the gaming industry going forward. Valve will survive and do well because they have an established PC base of gamers and they may have some success with their efforts to create a console base of gamers too.

It’s going to be fascinating to see who pulls out of the hardcore gaming industry, Sony or Microsoft. Possibly Microsoft will because they don’t make money out of their gaming endeavours with their hardcore gaming offerings. They will have a small future in mobile gaming, perhaps. Sony may have to also pull out eventually, but they are making an effort to establish themselves in the mobile gaming market. This is their future – a highly diminished one. But this could be good news for gamers, as Apple TV and Android TV hardcore games will be much cheaper.

Tablets will (mostly) Replace the Laptop

Are tablets with keyboards replacing the laptop for most people? It seems very likely. The phablet replaced the need for a tablet and a phone. And people are nothing if not willing to save money. Having to buy a tablet and a laptop is overkill to most people. This has big implications for one of the very biggest tech companies: Microsoft. If iPads with keyboards, Android tablets with keyboards and two-in-one Chromebooks take over, the big M may be in big trouble.

Google’s strategy took shape when they announced the addition of Android apps to Chrome OS in May. This will probably have the most effect for two-in-one Chromebooks, with users having the best of both worlds. Microsoft may have a saving grace for its Office product in that Desktop PCs running Windows are still used in most organisations, so people are inclined to use Office software programs on iOS and Android (However, you can use Microsoft web apps for Chrome OS).  But it may be losing users of its operating system business as they are enticed by cheap Chromebooks running a free OS. Chromebooks are doing very well in the US. If Google were to release Desktop PC’s that run Chrome OS – then Microsoft might start to sweat.

What is clear is that Microsoft need to innovate faster so that they can catch the next wave in the fast-moving ocean that is Silicon Valley. They are trying. An example is their Microsoft Holo Lens punt. This technology could have very specialised and useful use cases for workers and businesses. However, they do have to hope that the Microsoft eco-system stays developer-friendly and by that I mean popular. Apple may bring out their own attempt at augmented reality and blow Microsoft out of the water. The same may be true of Google. Even if Microsoft loses, however, they still will be able to be popular for organisations.

Why Nintendo Switch won’t Switch Success for Failure

Nintendo Switch, a console/handheld hybrid is a neat concept, if it was made by Sony or Microsoft. I think that Nintendo will struggle to make Switch a success as it won’t have enough third-party support. Smartphones dominate the casual gaming market, a market Nintendo courted with the Wii. From there it has been downhill. Nintendo’s Wii U failed badly.

The problem Nintendo has is that the hardcore gamers want a PS4 or Xbox One because they both have a huge selection of games on offer due to strong third-party support. Gamers like having a lot of choice, because most of them like a game for a while, then get bored of it and move onto another. The PS4 and Xbox One also have robust online experiences – something Nintendo lacks.

The way I see this playing out is that the Switch will flop, and Nintendo will then finally focus on making games for iOS, Android, Apple’s tvOS and Google’s Android TV (the TV platforms being the future of the hardcore gaming market). They will also focus on the 3DS and the successor to 3DS. So Nintendo will survive, but will have to accept that the company won’t be as big as it used to be, as the amount of profit it will make on games will be smaller in comparison to the expensive prices of console games. Nintendo will face mighty competition on the mobile and TV platforms so its games will be bought or downloaded less than it is used to. The company may go the way of Sega, becoming a diminished corporation that morphs into a gaming studio but with one difference: Nintendo will still sell hardware with the 3DS and the handheld after that.

The fact is, Nintendo got schooled by Apple and Google because of a lack of vision for where gaming was going to go (to the companies making the future of computing), but there is no shame in that. So many companies have gotten schooled by Apple and Google.