June 3, 2011

Weekly Roundup: Tomorrow’s transport, China’s bubble and Twitter’s growth spurt

Posted by: in North America

Due to Memorial Day office closures, this double-edition roundup covers news items from the past two weeks.

-Global wealth grew worldwide last year, with Asia Pacific and North America in the lead, according to a Businessweek report on a new Boston Consulting Group study.

-The Wall Street Journal explores “Tomorrow’s Transport,” including a look at trends in urban mass transit (monorails and BRT systems) and why air travel may improve. And a Big Think post asks, “Is car sharing the future of the automobile industry?”

-Fast Company outlines how China’s real estate bubble is toying with commodities and the global recovery.

-A Forbes columnist looks at the rising attraction of Africa to international investors.

-The Economist takes a look at India’s changing role in international affairs.

-Recent European and American graduates in industries from engineering to finance are heading to China for internships, figuring experience there will give them a leg up, reports The Wall Street Journal.

-Fareed Zakaria asks whether America can keep up with the pace of innovation, in Time.

-Pearl Buck biographer Hilary Spurling writes about the social revolution for women in today’s China, in the Economist’s Intelligent Life.

-The Economist reviews a new book that examines “How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future.”

-Wired’s report on “the future of work” in America includes looks at “the gradual emergence of a whole new category of middle-class jobs” and the revival of small-city downtowns.

-A Fast Company blogger outlines 10 clean energy trends to watch in 2011 and beyond from Pike Research.

-Clamshell packaging is “a welcome casualty” as the high price of oil pushes companies away from plastic, reports The New York Times.

-Despite economic weakness, sales of organic foods are “robust” in Europe and the U.S., attracting investors who see potential in mergers, according to The New York Times.

-Chicago is adapting its landscape and infrastructure in preparation for a warmer future, reports The New York Times.

-Co.Design reports on one vision for the hospital room of the future.

-Is Oprah the last analog celebrity”?

-Newsweek makes the case that Lady Gaga is the Glee generation’s Oprah, with her pop psychology and message of self-acceptance. And The New York Times finds “evidence of a new order” in the music industry with the marketing of Gaga’s hugely successful new album.

-Businessweek looks at how Apple’s move to shift digital music into the cloud may drastically alter the digital music market.

-The New York Times reports on signs that it’s the beginning of the end for the 3D-movie boom.

-The Guardian looks at how the ascent of Netflix “signals a broader shift in the way we consume television.”

-Digiday argues that the biggest loser in the upfronts was the Web.

-Adweek takes an in-depth look at the growing (and lucrative) market for virtual currency.

-Mobile usage has helped drive a growth spurt for Twitter, according to its CEO, and the Pew Research Center reports a 5 percent rise in U.S. users since November, with even higher growth among 25-44-year-olds.

-Social media is gaining momentum in India, reports Nielsen.

-Internet phone services like Skype are becoming more popular among Americans, according to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

-A new study on consumers in the digital world finds “a sea change” in the ways people think about shopping, according to Digiday.

-The New York Times looks at the rise in iPad catalogs and why shoppers tend to spend more via a retailer’s app than its website. And eMarketer reports on a survey that finds “tablets beat smartphones for online shopping, buying.”

-The Financial Times finds “emulation of all things Apple” at Computex in Taiwan, concluding that “Apple’s ideas have conquered the PC world.”

-Has the concept of rudeness changed with mobile technology? A Wall Street Journal columnist ponders the question.

-Some textbook publishers are experimenting with selling books by the chapter in electronic editions, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education, a manifestation of Breaking the Book, one of our 100 Things to Watch for 2011.

-“The Made-in-America label has undergone a deluxe makeover,” says Bloomberg, as wealthy Americans gravitate toward homegrown goods.

-Goodbye, food pyramid! The U.S. government replaces the graphic guide to healthy eating with My Plate.

-Energy shot products aren’t just for the young but for the young at heart, with The Wall Street Journal reporting a market among “people over 60 who aren’t ready to slow down with age.”

-Vanity, thy name is men: The Wall Street Journal reports that more men are getting plastic surgery or other procedures to make them look younger, more masculine or generally more attractive.

-Vacations interrupted by work are so routine that a new study finds a majority of Americans don’t mind being contacted while away.

-Last year the U.S. consumed more wine than France for the first time, the L.A. Times reports.

1 Response to "Weekly Roundup: Tomorrow’s transport, China’s bubble and Twitter’s growth spurt"

1 | scott shaffer

June 7th, 2011 at 7:10 am

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The “Weekly Roundup” is a great read.

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Things to Watch

  • Uniqlo, H&M and Retail As the Third Space
    April 15, 2014 | 4:30 pm

    “Retail As the Third Space,” one of our 10 Trends for 2011, is rapidly accelerating: As digital commerce becomes habit for consumers, brick-and-mortar is increasingly focused around experiences, unique environments and customer service, giving shoppers new reasons to visit retail spaces. Uniqlo’s flagship in New York is a good example. A newly renovated floor incorporates a Starbucks (a favorite brand among teens) and, as MarketWatch reports, “lounge sofas, tables and chairs and an iPad station, allowing shoppers to stay and mingle.” Thanks to a partnership with the nearby Museum of Modern Art—resulting in a range that uses images from famous artists—the floor’s design is museum-like, with T-shirts in framed display cases.

    Another recent example in Manhattan is H&M’s flagship, which opened in late 2013, which one writer dubs “The most retail fun you can have with your clothes on.” For more on Retail As the Third Space, find our 2103 report Retail Rebooted here. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Uniqlo

  • Bitcoin middlemen
    April 10, 2014 | 2:45 pm

    Given its volatility, security issues and legal concerns, merchants interested in accepting bitcoin have a lot to worry about, especially with the possibility (as some see it) that looming regulation could upend the entire system. To mitigate the risk and open merchants up to new revenue streams, startups such as BitPay and Coinvoice make it easier for companies to accept the cryptocurrency.

    These payment processors act as middlemen: A shopper pays in bitcoin, but the merchant can decide whether to be paid in bitcoin, fiat currency, or a combination. This allows companies to shield themselves from the uncertainty of the currency or to dip a toe into accepting it as payment. Until bitcoin becomes more stable and regulated, payment processors such as these will be a safer option for merchants. (For more on bitcoin, see also our post on the Inside Bitcoins conference.) —Nick Ayala

    Image credit: BitPay

  • Delta’s Innovation Class
    April 3, 2014 | 2:15 pm

    Delta’s new Innovation Class allows the influencers of tomorrow to spend a flight with a current industry leader—the airline calls it a “mentoring program at 35,000 feet.” The first mentor was Pebble smart watch creator Eric Migicovsky, on his way to Vancouver for the recent TED conference, who was paired with visual artist James Patten, a 2014 TED senior fellow. The next flight, in May, will feature chef Sean Brock as he heads to the James Beard Awards.

    While Innovation Class isn’t the first such initiative, it’s the first to leverage existing social networks on LinkedIn, where potential seatmates apply to Delta. The program illustrates creativity in using the plethora of touch points marketers have access to and can leverage to create valuable experiences both online and off. —Matt Goldenberg

  • Virtual reality rugby
    March 27, 2014 | 1:00 pm

    While the Oculus Rift headset doesn’t yet have a launch date, brands are already using the virtual reality platform to amaze consumers. To promote Game of Thrones, HBO made fanboys’ dreams come true at this year’s SXSWi with an experience that took viewers on an immersive trip up the show’s famed “Wall.” And U.K. phone company O2 has created “Wear the Rose,” a rugby training experience that combines footage from GoPro cameras with an Oculus headset to give fans the experience of training with England Rugby.

    “Rugby balls are thrown at you to catch, charging players run at you to teach you tackles, and at one point you find yourself in the middle of a scrum,” writes Eurogamer. O2 recently debuted “Wear the Rose” at a stadium match and will showcase it in select U.K. stores starting in June. —Aaron Baar

  • Security as a USP
    March 20, 2014 | 12:45 pm

    As we note in our wrap-up of SXSWi, security is fast becoming a unique selling proposition. Rather than treating it as an afterthought and scrambling to compensate if user data is compromised, more tech companies will build highly secure environments for their users from the start—selling security as a point of differentiation until it becomes a right of entry.

    The secure-communication app Wickr is offering up to $100,000 to any hacker who can crack its defenses and is selling a suite of six privacy features to developers and apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp. Another such app, Telegram, offers a bounty as high as $200,000 to anyone who can crack it. Meanwhile, the upcoming Blackphone is described as “the world’s first smartphone which places privacy and control directly in the hands of its users.” —Ann Mack

  • Watson, AI and customer service
    March 13, 2014 | 1:45 pm

    IBM has been promoting the commercial applications of Watson, its artificial intelligence service, with CEO Ginni Rometty announcing a Watson challenge for mobile developers at the recent Mobile World Congress. Rometty also noted that North Face is testing a website that incorporates Watson intelligence to answer customer queries, as seen in this video of an IBM demo at the MWC. Watson could serve as a “personal shopping concierge” for e-commerce brands, as Ad Age put it.

    At this week’s SXSW in Austin, where IBM has Watson powering a food truck to demonstrate its multifaceted potential, an IBM exec talked up Watson’s potential in the customer-service arena. We’re seeing the beginnings of a world where artificial intelligence powers (and personalizes) an array of brand interactions with consumers. —Marian Berelowitz

     

  • Spritz
    March 7, 2014 | 5:00 pm

    Slate may have to adjust the Minutes to Read feature on its articles. In line with our Age of Impatience trend for 2014, Spritz is a new reading app that uses a new visual technology to help people read at Evelyn Wood speeds or faster.

    Pinpointing the “Optimal Recognition Point,” at which the brain begins to recognize numbers and letters, the program highlights that space for each individual word and places it at the same place on the screen, reducing eye movement. The program can push reading speeds up to 500 words a minute. (You can see it in action here.)

    Sprtiz will be available on Samsung’s new line of wearable technology. —Aaron Baar

    Image credit: Spritz

  • Virtual fitting rooms
    March 4, 2014 | 11:45 am

    PhiSix, a 3D virtual technology company recently acquired by eBay, plans to bring more of the outside world into physical stores’ dressing rooms in an effort to increase sales. We’ve reported before on websites that offer 3D virtual try-ons at home and brick-and-mortar stores that have become living, breathing websites. But PhiSix’s technology takes the virtual fashion experience one step further, allowing shoppers to see how specific items of clothing look on them, in a variety of sizes and contexts, without actually trying them on. With PhiSix’s computer graphics, which will be made available to third-party retailers, shoppers will be able to enter a store dressing room and view themselves wearing clothing in a number of active settings (e.g., swinging a golf club, walking down the street). The technology also recommends other items to consumers, based on a few basic measurement inputs. Although virtual try-on technologies, which have existed for a while, haven’t succeeded in displacing trying on actual clothing, PhiSix’s sexy timesaver may draw more shoppers into physical retail outlets. —Alec Foege

    Image credit: PhiSix

  • Daily Mail’s Just the Pictures app
    February 25, 2014 | 3:15 pm

    The U.K.’s Daily Mail, whose digital content is dominated by photographs, is planning to release an app called Just the Pictures that strips out the text for smartphone readers—or non-readers, in this case—who are looking for snackable content while on the go. At a Mobile World Congress panel in Barcelona, Melanie Scott of the Mail Online said the app will be out in March. Per Scott, the Daily Mail’s current iOS app attracts about a million daily users in the U.K., and they’re opening it four or five times a day for 12 minutes at a time, largely for the pictures. 

    Just the Pictures is another sign of images replacing words in our increasingly visual culture, one of our 10 Trends for 2014. For more on how this trend is affecting the mobile platform, watch for our annual mobile-trends report in April. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Daily Mail

  • Full-fat comes back
    February 20, 2014 | 6:00 pm

    Bring on the brie! Last week NPR reported on two studies finding that “whole-fat dairy is linked to reduced body fat,” research likely to boost a recent shift away from lower-fat dairy products. Butter has been bullish lately: Annual sales in the U.S. have increased 65 percent since 2000, with per-capita consumption reaching a 40-year high. And while milk sales in the U.S. declined in 2013, full-fat fared relatively well (with sales declining 0.8 percent vs. 4.1 percent for reduced-fat). 

    The trend ties into a growing preference for foods that feel less artificial or newfangled, as well as the ongoing urge to Live a Little (one of our 10 Trends for 2012).  —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: liz west

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