Amazon Prime Video is now available on the Apple TV. This could be an important moment for Apple and Amazon. What with Amazon preparing a show that is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Amazon will get some paying customers out of the Apple users, who have a good amount of disposable income. It will also allow Apple to have a more fully formed TV offering for its users.
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.
The court judgement of ZeniMax getting $500m dollars for their lawsuit against Oculus will not take Oculus’s product down from the shelves, which is a great thing for the wider VR industry. That ZeniMax won this suit was interesting. It highlights that malpractice is still a part of the entrepreneurial DNA of Silicon Valley (hey, if you want to fulfil your dreams, sometimes you got to fight dirty).
Microsoft are investing $1 billion into security. This is a very good move. Microsoft are doing very well at present. The focus on cloud computing has been a marvellous strategy, and this investment will help it offer a robust and secure cloud and enterprise offering.
The company has also diversified into mobile with its own suite of mobile apps and premium hardware, with its own computers. Its mobile strategy has been paying off big time, but I still am a bit reticent to praise its hardware efforts. It still feels like a mistake to try to take on Apple and other companies in the hardware stakes, though if they get a little success it may be worth it.
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 –
Is it time for us to live the future free?
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.
Forget what people have said about multinational corporations coming to Ireland only in order to pay our very low tax rate. It’s hogwash. Those companies could go to many, many different countries to avail of low taxes. The real reasons why they have chosen Ireland as their destination is because Ireland is geographically close to the Europe, it is a member of the EU, it has a highly qualified, skilled workforce, its people speak fluent English, it doesn’t have a lot of red tape so it’s fast and easy to set up shop there, it’s a peaceful country so it’s very stable, politically it is also very stable and that doesn’t look like changing. Having a low tax environment is quite helpful for the company to maximise its profits also, but it’s nowhere near the be-all and end-all.
We can be very cynical and negative and display all the signs of an inferiority complex when it comes to evaluating our country, but Ireland’s success is justified only partly by happenstance (such as the fact that we speak English), and partly by visionary planning by the IDA (where they decades ago to focus on technology and pharmaceuticals as two growth industries the IDA should attempt to woo in order to get a lot of investment into the country).
Ireland has been a success story in many ways, and it’s healthy to celebrate that. It may be a relatively small island with a small population, but – to use the cliché – it really does punch above its weight. Most multinationals investing in Ireland are, of course, American, and perhaps there is something to the fact that Irish people make up a proportion of the US population, so they may go with a country for the European market whose culture they understand.
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.
Apple, yesterday allowing developers to have games and apps that are as big as four gigabytes is a sign that Apple TV will be hosting hardcore video games and 4K content for those games and apps very soon. This is a warning sign to the PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch: Apple is coming to eat their lunch. Apple is also going to have 4K content in apps so their apps will be top-notch. In an example of how quickly things exponentially change in the tech world, the previous limit on apps and games was 200 MB file sizes. That’s a 20 times increase. Your move, Google.
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.