Things of note for the week ending August 8th, 2014.
1. Xiaomi* is coming.
I think it’s fairly reasonable to say that, globally, Samsung are the biggest seller of mobile devices. However, a relative minnow of a hardware manufacturer (but growing incredibly fast), Xiaomi*, actually beat Samsung last quarter to become China’s number one smartphone vendor in Q2 2014.
This is no insignificant feat.
Who are Xiaomi and why is this interesting? This Bloomberg Businessweek article is a pretty good read but, in short: not only does Xiamoi make gorgeous hardware but it also has a rather different way of doing business. From the Bloomberg piece –
Xiaomi’s real invention is its business model. It sells online, never in stores, and avoids conventional advertising, devoting only about 1 percent of its revenue to marketing. (By comparison, Samsung earmarks 5.4 percent.) Instead, the company relies on China’s social networks, Weibo and WeChat, and the free press Lei gets as a national tech hero. The money Xiaomi saves on marketing lets it buy top-notch components while keeping retail prices down. The Mi 3 costs 1,699 yuan, or $270; the iPhone in China starts at more than twice that. A Mi 3, or any Xiaomi phone, is a great deal if you’re lucky enough to snag one—the latest models routinely sell out. Xiaomi sells handsets in batches, usually of around 100,000. The first Mi 3 release, the company trumpeted, was bought up in only 86 seconds. It’s the technology equivalent of Air Jordans.
A few months back, I remarked to a friend that should Xiaomi want to widen its footprint outside of Asia, then it might need to consider a new name; perhaps one that is less worrisome to western tongues. Shortly thereafter, Xiaomi announced it had bought ‘Mi.com’ (two letter URLs, not easy/cheap to come by).
Xiaomi is coming.
*shall, but with a z – me // ‘zshou mee’. According to Hugo Barra, the best way to pronounce Xiaomi is to “think of ‘show me’ and then pronounce the first word as if it [were] ‘shower.’
2. Facebook + Instagram = Smart[er] Advertising
It was April 2012 when Mark Zuckerberg slapped a billion dollars on the table and walked away with Instagram in his pocket and, since then, the two platforms have been very slowly integrating their services together. First came the inevitable sharing of user info then, later, Instagram dropped Foursquare’s location data in exchange for Facebook Places.
When Instagram finally announced its plans to launch advertising last year, there was one particular quote that caught my eye:
We want to show ads from businesses that are interesting to you, and to do that we will use information about what you do on Instagram and Facebook (our parent company). For instance, this might include the people you follow and the photos and videos you like on Instagram, and your interests and other basic info on Facebook.
Basically, if your Instagram and your Facebook accounts are linked, the two companies will use that data to better sell you MORE STUFF.
So far, so what. None of this is news.
What is news is that this is now happening. Mercedez-Benz is conducting an experiment whereby it can retarget Facebook users that have seen its ads on Instagram.
We’re only in the testing phase, apparently. But this is it, kids. THIS IS THE FUTURE.
Digiday has more.
3. A Modern Take on Japanese Kutani Tableware
These are quite wonderful.
– via Colossal
4. Lord of the Rings plot hole busting
Ever wondered about this?
Some smart chap over on Reddit has come up with a fairly sound theory.
5. The Perfect Northen Lights
This, believe it or not, is the design for the newly approved ‘Krystall Hotel’. Currently being developed by Dutch Docklands, this floating hotel will be based in the fjords near Tromso, Norway, and – given its locale (middle of nowhere, zero light pollution) – will be the perfect spot to take in the Aurora Borealis.
Bonuses this week are all video game related:
- Video game controller walk through history. A great photo essay.
- Street Fighter: The Movie – what went wrong. A fantastic read.
- Painkiller Deathstreak. A man’s first foray into the world of video gaming.