Tuesday, July 30, 2013

(TV) Breaking Bad: Final Episodes Trailer

Check out the brilliant Teaser of the still brilliant Breaking Bad

(Business) Facebook: Proving them Wrong

With the news of Facebook posting positive quarterly results derived mostly from ads, the company can celebrate and dish out a few ‘I told you so’ messages to analysts across the media landscape as many were quick to descend on Facebook after a number of high profile companies abandoned its ad service. Now, fueled by mobile ads, Facebook has seen resurgence after recording a 25.6% in share price and posting $333m in profit[1].

Most of the triumph is owed to the performance of mobile ads on it platform as it “made up 41% of advertising revenue for 2013 first quarter[2]. It was feared that Facebook wouldn't be able to make online advertising work and for some time it looked like it wasn't  but recent results indicate that the social media giant has finally managed to master it role as “conduit between users and brands”[3].

However, while Facebook’s second has been impressive, there may be problems ahead as despite the growth of its ads operation, user engagement with ad placements are poor to say the least as “ 76.4 percent of Facebook’s users say they “never” or “rarely” click on advertisements or sponsored listings”[4]. This would seem to be damning for a company that relies on ad revenue but as always, where there is a negative, a positive is not far behind.

 While Facebook users and net users writ large don’t engage with ad content, Facebook could, according to IBT’s Lisa Mahapatra, Facebook bring in an extra £170m annually just by charging it users to avoid being hassled by ads “If only 10 percent of Facebook’s U.S. and Canada users opted out of ads at the low cost of $1/month”[5].

10 percent is a realistic number but it doesn't cancel the vast number of Facebook users who are less than hot about coughing up as according to a poll conducted by Greenlight, 85% of users “would not pay” to “use Facebook without ads”[6]. However, Facebook could get more users to pay to use an ad free Facebook as The Drum reported that 15% of users would “pay more than $5 to see no ads”[7].

In sum, Facebook has proved critics wrong it has been able to make ads pay in an age that is still quite skeptical about whether ads can work on then net due to a clear ambivalence toward online ads by net users. However, Facebook even have an opportunity to capitalize on the widespread dislike of online ads which means Facebook cannot lose which is good news for a company that can profit from the hatred towards its main source of profit.

[1] BBC News, 2013, Facebook results drive shares to a 30% gain,
[2] J. Jerreat, 2013, Facebook silences its critics with 20% jump in value thanks to strong mobile ad sales, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2377579/Facebook-hits-doubters-20-share-price-jump-thanks-strong-mobile-advertising-sales.html
[3] Ibid
[4] L. Mahapatra, 2013, Facebook Has Reached Its Full Potential. Here’s how it can make more money, http://www.ibtimes.com/facebook-hasnt-reached-its-full-potential-heres-how-it-could-make-more-money-charts-1362795
[5] Ibid
[6] Ibid
[7] J. Faull, 2013, %15 of Facebook users would be willing to pay more than $5 to see no ads, http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/07/25/15-facebook-users-would-be-willing-pay-more-5-see-no-ads

Friday, July 26, 2013

(TV) Falling Skies Season 3 Episode 9 "Journey to Xilbalba" Sneak Peek

(TV) The Newsroom Season 2 Episode 3 "Willie Pete" Sneak Peek

The Killing Season 3 Episode 10 "Six Minutes Sneak Peek

(TV) True Blood Season 6 Episode 7 "In the Evening" Sneak Peek

(Business) Smartphones: Smartphone Market Tapped Out

All markets reach a nadir due to an increase competition or lack of demand and the smartphone market look like it’s just reached its own peak. While Apple managed record iPhones sales of $31m which may signal that there is still significant demand for smartphones in a crowded market, the actions of the market leaders may indicate something else in entirely[1].

Samsung’s second quarter sales effectively doubled that of Apple’s yet the South Korean electronics company is looking invest it capital into other sections of it business particularly memory chips “used in personal computers and mobile devices”[2]. This decision is clearly moulded by Samsung realizing that the smartphone market is starting to slow due to a growing number of competitors and weaker demand especially in  developed countries as “penetration for smartphones is between 75-85 percent in developed markets, meaning a saturation point could be reached as early as 2014”[3].

What this means for the future is that we may see a substantial drop in the price of smartphones or at least see the release of model that at last cater to the lower end of the marketplace. Looking at Apple’s example, it quite clear that the magic pill of innovation as far as the smartphone market is concerned is obsolete as for the last three years, Apple have been effectively re-releasing flagship models and Samsung merely making minor aesthetic changes to theirs.

What we will also see alongside a drop in price will be clear focus in penetrating emerging where smartphone is much lower. This may suit both companies as cheaper models will cheap to make despite being obvious need to sell more in order to ensure growth. Marketing costs will be cheaper which is good news for smartphone makers as apart from actually making smartphones, marketing them is among one of their biggest costs. However for Samsung the slowdown of the smartphone market has more implications for them than most as “two thirds” of its business is dependent in how it does in smartphone marketplace[4]. Any decline severe decline in sales or profit is taken by investor as a cue to get bearish.  

In sum, all markets reach a point of saturation some quicker than most but for Samsung and Apple, they can only hope that the Smartphone market can deft the laws of the marketplace for sometime yet.

Shamless Plug:

[1] Sky News, 2013, Record Apple iPhone Sales But Profit Slumps,
[3] M.Clinch, 2013, These ‘smartphone saturation stats could prove Apple wrong, http://www.cnbc.com/id/100913105
[4] P. Olson, 2013, Samsung Earns $7.9 Billion In Q2, Cites ‘Slower Pace Of Smartphone Market, http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2013/07/25/samsung-earns-7-9-billion-in-q2-cites-slower-pace-of-smartphone-market/

(Business) Blackberry CEO interview

Thursday, July 25, 2013

(Business) Apple: Innovation Key To Stemming Apple’s Recent Decline

While there has been much lip service lended of late to the current trend of the decline of Apple’s dominance in the smartphone and tablet markets and it’s less than encouraging stock market performance, the question that really should be asked or addressed is when Apple going to launch a new product that always used to get them out of trouble and stave off competition. While losing a whopping 22% in revenue in  in one quarter shouldn’t inspire muck-eating grins at any department at Apple HQ, a drop from 8.8bn to 6.9bn in real numbers is nothing to panic about[1].

Despite all the focus on the slight decline in sales due to leading two increasingly competitive markets, Apple still has a sound business that has for two decades straight have defied the laws of the marketplace through genius level innovation, marketing and design. But notably since the death of its iconic founder and CEO Steve Jobs, the company has failed to stick to it main strengths that has kept ahead of its competitors for so long with Apple launching glorified updates of existing models for the last three years.

This notable lack of innovation in the last few years has been underlined by its competition making inroads into its dominant position in the smartphone and tablet markets, two markets Apple have had a large hand in creating in the first place. However not all Apple’s recent problem end and begin with its noted stagnation as far as innovation is concerned but with the savvy and market prowess of its competitors. For years, Apple competitors have lagged behind due to the company freakishly consistent habit of innovating its way out of trouble but now with the lack of innovative new products, the business nous and smart pricing of its competitors are now becoming key factors as to why Apple in experiencing a slight decline.

What Steve Jobs understood and Tim Cook must by now know better than the back of his hand is that the tech industry, much like the music industry, is that a hit will solve all problems and a hit for Apple is an innovative product launch. This is why it is important to judge any product launch by Apple in the near future by its success or failure but the company willingness to take a risk and innovate and avoid rehashing successful models of the past. Apple, as with much of modern life, has fallen into the trap of rehashing old hits instead of trying to innovate which has been at the heart of its success.

While numbers are at the heart of most business, the tech industry, maybe except the music and movie business, real currency and source of any real success is the ability to innovate and effectively change the world as business and all processes that come with are only the means to an end.

In sum, Apple are now more than any time in the last three decades subject to the laws of the marketplace, a marketplace they have managed to defy for the best part of two decades through genius level innovation, marketing and design. Now Apple, who seem to forgot the secret to their success for so long have fallen into the trap of rehashing old models which has seen their competitors eat into their dominant position in the smartphone and tablet markets. If Apple are to make a strong return to dominance, it must regain its trademark spirit of innovation that made it the company what it is today and be prepared to take risk that have made the company a cultural as well as business entity recognised and admired across the globe.

[1] Marketing Week, 2013, Apple’s European revenue slumps, http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/news/apples-european-revenue-slumps/4007444.article

Saturday, July 20, 2013

(TV) The Walking Dead: Comic Con Season 4 Trailer

Watch the badass trailer of AMC's gripping smash hit The Walking Dead.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

(Sport) Man United: Fabregas Off To Old Trafford?

In what has been a frustrating summer with Manchester United failing to land any major targets, the club looks to make it biggest coup of the summer yet with capture of former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas.

It’s needless to say that the capture of the Barcelona midfielder would represent good business as he will solve united long term problem of a distinct lack of creativity in the middle of the park and will link well with former Arsenal cohort Robin Van Persie. However, as always, there are obstacles in the way of that happening, the first being whether he wants to move in the first place.

While reports suggest that Fabregas has been less than happy with the fact that has struggled to find place in Barca manager Tito Vilanova’s first team plans, he has publicly stated his intention to stay at the clubs citing that talk of his departure as “completely absurd”[1]. If the fact that Fabregas has expressed his desire to stay at the Nou Camp wasn’t enough of an obstacle, the fact that Arsenal have “first refusal” should the Catalan giants decide to end the midfielders stay and sell him[2].

Barcelona have already rejected Man united £26m bid insisting that Fabregas “is not for sale” which could force Man United to up their offer or look elsewhere to boost their threadbare midfield options[3]. However, if Fabregas was to make some simple calculation of what might be better for his career considering that he is not likely to figure in Barca’s first team plans as much as he would like and with World Cup 2014 on the horizon, his chances of appearing on the first team sheet in game 1 of Spain’s World Cup 2014 Campaign are much better served being Man United playmaker in chief than Barcelona benchboy[4].

In sum, Man united may have other names they are looking to add to the squad but the signing of Cesc Fabregas, should it happen, may the most important signing of the next five years.    

[1] The Telegraph, 2013,  Manchester United told Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas is ‘not available to buy’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/10181738/Manchester-United-told-Barcelona-midfielder-Cesc-Fabregas-is-not-available-to-buy.html
[2] Ibid
[3] J.Boylan, 2013, Barcelona knock back Manchester United’s £26m for Cesc Fabregas, http://metro.co.uk/2013/07/15/manchester-united-target-cesc-fabregas-after-missing-out-on-thiago-alcantara-3882706/
[4] Ibid

(TV) Sons of Anarchy Season 6 Promo

Watch the awesome trailer for season 6 of the excellent Sons of Anarchy due to premiere in September.

(TV) True Blood Season 6 Episode 6 "Don't You Feel Me" Sneak Peek

(TV) Falling Skies Season 3 Episode 9 "Strange Brew" Sneak Peek

(TV) Breaking Bad Season 5 Teaser (Finale Episodes)

Watch the season five Teaser of the brilliant Breaking Bad.

(TV) The Killing: Season 3 Episode 9 "Reckoning" Sneak Peek

(Opinion) Zimmerman Verdict: Evidence that the law is a flawed means for justice

The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial was brought to an end with a tragic but remarkably predictable ending, George Zimmerman walking free. Of course, George Zimmerman will never be “free” for as long as he lives as he will always be known as the man who killed a boy and got away with it. He will probably have invest heavily in personal security and get used to long and dirty looks from people as well as threats and actual attempts on his life.

While it is right that President Barack Obama and a number of public figures and religious leaders have stressed calm in the wake of protests and public outrage over the verdict, Zimmerman has to come to the fact that despite 12 of his peers found him innocent, huge swathes of a nation 310 million strong would beg to differ.

The non-guilty verdict in some sense was never in doubt and all you needed to know to find out how sure this verdict was down line was to watch TV coverage and see how bad a job the prosecution were doing in proving intent. Also another signal that the Martin family were not going to get justice was the attitude Zimmerman’s defence had throughout the case.

 It’s not uncommon for lawyers to be confident in a case they are confident enough to try and prove in open court but I’ll doubt there is a lawyer in this world with enough confidence in his case to start his opening argument with a “knock, Knock” joke. Every time his defence made an appearance in the press, they had the swagger suggesting that the case was in the bag and the rest of the case was just a formality as the prosecution failed to make their case starting with the disastrous witness testimony of the clearly nervous and un-prepped Rachel Jeantel and letting Zimmerman’s defence control the narrative of the trial.

For all the fanfare of the trial, the aftermath of the trial regardless of the verdict is more important than the trial itself as a nation got to reflect on the big issues that underline the case, the most apparent being guns and race. The twittersphere lit up in outrage in lieu of the verdict citing other injustices and the unfairness of the ruling. In the physical world, there were widespread protests across the nation that were largely peaceful despite reasonable worries that all hell would break loose should Zimmerman be set free.

While Zimmerman maybe “free”, it is certainly not the end as the NAACP have made their intent clear urging the Department of Justice to launch an inquiry into the case. Whether the DOJ will look into the case is questionable but the NAACP seems committed in seeing the DOJ involved. This verdict as well the murder of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy as while Zimmerman’s guilt couldn’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt, Trayvon Martin’s death and his family grief goes beyond doubt altogether.

In sum, George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the murder of Trayvon Martin as he will be the only person who knew what exactly happened on that fateful February evening. But from what we know, Zimmerman in the eyes of many is guilty for profiling Martin, stalking him even when the cops told him to wait in his car till they showed up and getting out the car to confront the youngster which in the eyes of the public makes Zimmerman as guilty as sin as if he followed the advice of the cops and stayed in his vechile, Martin would be alive and Zimmerman would not have to watch his back as long as he lives for what he did.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

(Business) Apple: Release Of Ipad 5 Apple’s Saving Grace?

With the rumored news of Apple looking to release the Ipad 5 and the iPad Mini  at a later date, it look like the tech giant is looking to make the second half of this a better one than its first.  According to the Cult of Mac’s Killian Bell, the source of this news comes from within the company’s supply chain but warns that this rumor  as with all rumors  should be taken with “a health helping of salt”[1]

However speaking in terms of strategy, a new product release for the company couldn't come soon enough. With competition heating up in the smartphone and tablet market and Apple experiencing a slight decline of its share price, a product release, or even the rumor of one, could take the pressure off. The iPad and iPhone maker have invested heavily in marketing plunging over half a billion last year as has its rivals such as Google and Amazon but despite an increase ad spend, Apple are miles ahead in ad spend[2].  

However the increase in marketing between 2011 and 2012 seems to reveal a larger malaise that has become more apparent of late that being Apple may be losing its famous ability to innovate it way out of trouble. While it is safe to say that Apple chief strength has been its ability to market its products, it has found it difficult to market itself. There is nobody on the planet that does not recognize the iconic Apple logo but people are starting to forget what that logo stands for. The strength of Apple had over its competitors was ability to sell its values to the point that it became more than a company simply looking to make money.

Apple have made some of the most aesthetically pleasing products ever to grace a marketplace but never really made the best products as the faults and glitches of  it various products are infamous from the Ipod’s infuriatingly low battery life to the iPhone’s inability to run certain apps. In Simon Sinek's excellent book,Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Sinek explains that the power Apple had was that it addressed the question of ‘why should I buy’ first before telling consumers what to buy[3]. Apple, for Sinek proved beyond doubt that “people do buy what you do, they but why you do it”[4]. Apple still has this power but with death of Steve Jobs, the man who understood Sinek’s point best, Apple has largely not used its ability to inspire a purchase.

However with the rumored release of the iPad 5, maybe Apple can tap into their ability inspire a purchase once more.


[1] K.Bell, 2013,  New iPad To Launch This September, But New iPad Mini Could Be Delayed, http://www.cultofmac.com/234627/new-ipad-to-launch-this-september-new-ipad-mini-could-be-delayed-rumor/
[2] J. Del Rey, 2013, Google, Amazon and Apple Pump Up Ad Spending as Tablet Wars Heat Up, http://allthingsd.com/20130708/google-amazon-and-apple-pump-up-ad-spending-as-tablet-wars-heat-up/
[3] S.Sinek, 2013, Start With Why, London, Portfolio Penguin
[4] Ibid

Monday, July 8, 2013

(Politics) US: American parents not so Keen on their children becoming politicians.

It could be you..., not if you're parents got anything to do with it!!
With congress habitually posting depressingly low approval numbers and the almost pathological American tradition of not trusting government never mind their public representatives, it’s no wonder why according to a poll published by Gallup that two 
thirds of the American public would advise their children not to choose politics as a profession[1].

(TV) Watch The Killing Season 3 Episode 8 "Try Sneak Peek

(TV) Watch True Blood Season 6 Episode 5 "Fuck The Pain Away" Sneak Peek

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

(Opinion) Egypt: A revolution can't get behind if you are in favour of democracy

“It is easy to imagine the president from day one as walking a tightrope, on the other side is survival, or at least as far as where his state stolen funds will take him when the going gets tough, the audience watch with suspense some calling for him to fall, some, reluctantly, encouraging balance, and the military simultaneously encouraging him across while having a pair of scissors in one hand and the other threatening to shake the rope”[1]
For all the faults of the Morsi presidency from his less than democratic handling  and drafting of the new Egyptian constitution and his inability to bring stability to a country that has only known chaos for the last two years, the likely event of Morsi getting ousted by the army after it issued a threat imploring the president to either restore calm to the streets of Egypt  or face the possibility of being ousted.

Monday, July 1, 2013

(TV) The Killing Season 3 Episode 7 "Hope Kills" Sneak Peek

(TV) Falling Skies Season 3 Episode 6 "Be Silent And Come Out" Sneak Peek

(TV) True Blood Season 6 Episode 4 "At Last" Sneak Peek

(Opinion) Labour Party: What Happens When You Try The Centre When It Doesn’t Exist

With the news of the conservatives being five points of the Labour party according to the latest YouGov/Sunday Times poll, I think it’s fair to say that Labour have paid the price of not attacking a coalition  government that has floundered for most part of its three years in power.

Labour  have failed to democratic how they will be different from the conservative led coalition as the have often failed to make simple but devastating arguments that would have put the conservatives on the back foot in policy debates. Instead for the last three years all we have seen is Labour make the odd strong argument against the conservative led coalition government on all issues except the ones that count.

Labour have largely been dithering in debates about spending cuts as part of the government’s favoured austerity programme as George Osborne, a far better political strategist than Chancellor, has managed to browbeat the party into deliberation by moving to the right and the Labour Party, often shirking the opportunity to make the key arguments against spending cuts, has now stated that they will stick to the same spending policy as the current government and not reserve any their cuts.

Despite the utter failure of the government’s policy of austerity measures, the question to ask in the face of Labour leader Ed Milliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls effectively backing the policy position of the current government is why? the only answer available is that they can’t and won’t. Both Miliband and Balls were part of the last Labour government and share views of the New Labour evangelists of moving the party to further to the right in the quest of reach the centre of the political spectrum which would not be a problem if they didn’t start every policy argument taking a less hawkish position than the conservatives.
Whether the government should be making such large public spending cuts at all is never debated, where to cut is, so is the speed of cuts effectively making the whole nation approach a wholly political issue as a bunch of managers looking for entry level staff to cull. 

We often hear the comparison often made by government looking to swing the scythe of the family who upon falling on difficult times look to cut their expenses but obviously, government cannot and should not be  a family as a family only have an obligation to its members while a government has an obligation to a citizenry that bankroll it and , in theory, hold it to account.And should the public favour a growth focused economic policy rather than the current policy in place that ineffectively tries to stop the bleeding,  the opposition should take a position that establishes that they would be different in power rather than try to establish ‘credibility’ by taking a slightly softer position than its rivals in power.

In sum, Labour have largely failed to attack a coalition government that has largely dithered in power and has overseen periods of negative growth coupled with growth so miniature it’s hardly worth reporting. Thanks to some smart strategy and the most vulgar use of the self /other distinction, Labour have been backed into a corner and as always moved to the right rather than making the counter argument and this pattern continue, Labour may end up being thankful for being five points ahead instead of the 10 they have been accustomed to for some time.


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