Top 10 Fails of the Year

  1. Google Glass – Very disappointingly, Google Glass seems to have become a failure. There are still a few reports of it getting new usage in various industrial settings, but Google seems to have stopped promoting it. But then again, it’s early days for this kind of revolutionary technology, so we don’t know yet if this was a Newton or an iPhone 1.
  2. Twitter changes – In their new shape as a public company, Twitter has been forced to make a number of moves that potentially can bring in more revenue. Unfortunately, most of these changes also tend to upset the existing core users, as Twitter becomes more and more like Facebook and loses a bit of its individual identity.
  3. Abenomics – Japan’s GDP figures are just getting worse and worse, and it’s now back in recession. This is hardly the outcome that Abe was envisioning, and the reason can’t be as simple as the consumption tax or his failure to shoot his third arrow (the regulatory one), it must speak to the momentous task of turning around a moribund economy with an aging population (while turning off nuclear power)
  4. Hedge Funds – Hedge Funds have underperformed significantly this year (again). It seems the old idea that hedge funds would benefit from volatility does not apply to volatility that is actually unpredictable.
  5. Chuck Hagel – Chuck Hagel failed to make a dent in the enormous behemoth that is the Department of Defense and failed to deliver a succinct Middle East policy. Hopefully Carter can improve on his performance.
  6. Iran nuclear deal – The extension to the Iran nuclear deal feels like a cop-out. It goes to show that the negotiators do not actually represent the actual power bases in their respective countries (Congress, Khomeini).
  7. The New Republic – I actually admired Chris Hughes when he bought the failing classic title that is The New Republic, but it seems that was shortsighted of me, he did not seem to have the best of the magazine at heart. Yes, it’s great to be a vertically integrated digital media business, and yes, it is hard, nigh impossible to run a traditional media business these days, but still…TNR is TNR. Or was.
  8. Facebook’s psychology experiments – This year, Facebook’s users learned that they are indeed the product, as Facebook revealed running large-scale tests designed to impact users’ moods. On the one hand, the necessary A/B testing of a data company, on the other hand, never felt more like a guinea pig.
  9. Brazil’s World Cup performance – Rarely, even including England’s constant self-flagellating pre-tournament hubris, has there been such a disconnect between the performance of a team forecasted to win the tournament by everyone and their dog before the tournament, and the actual performance in a game.
  10. Failing itself – This year, we were inundated with a flurry of articles proclaiming the necessity of failure itself. Most of this Silicon Valley-led effort, which might as well have been funded by a SuperPAC-equivalent of VC firms, failed to mention the difficulties of failure and the low success rates.

Pop-ups are the new black

Pop Plus

Pop-up stores are all the rage these days. In an age of shifty consumer demand, due to the lingering recession and the glut of new products coming out, as well as the need to stand out in an overcrowded marketplace, pop-up stores make perfect sense. They require low upfront investment in an age of increasingly pricey real estate, and they can generate high value in sales and gain valuable attention to the cause or the brand.

There has over the last years been some great examples of pop-up stores used for pure retail. See for example this Business Insider listicle of creative pop-ups.

What’s interesting now is that the concept is moving beyond pure retail, and becoming a versatile tool in several industries. There was recently a pop-up store in Sweden that allowed for printing-on-demand of magazines. This seems like a great solution for the new generation of print magazines. For magazines, their online presence will be their main avenue, but it is vitally important to exist in print also. However, it’s an expensive proposition. Printing-on-demand in pop-up stores therefore seems like a great solution.

For more dire human needs, there was recently a discussion in the Monocle 24’s The Stack podcast of how pop-ups can be used in crisis areas, to quickly supply critical materials. One could indeed argue that the whole pop-up revolution takes its inspiration from the by-necessity ephemeral efforts of help organizations, such as UNHCR.

Google Glass and Future Health 25822

And then, last week, San Francisco and the global tech community was mystified as to what Google was doing building barges in the San Francisco Bay. The mystery was solved (for now) with the revelation that it will be a movable pop-up showroom for Google Glass! It sounds like it could indeed be awesome – it could have different rooms with different use cases for Google Glass, and show off this potentially revolutionary product in revolutionary way. It follows on from the niche/luxury efforts they’ve had so far, with $1500 for the explorer program.

Photo credits: Wikipedia, tedeytan

Tech meets fashion for Apple, Google and Yahoo

Français : burberry

Image representing Google Glass as depicted in...

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of fun examples of tech and fashion cross-pollinating lately.

We saw Google giving Vogue some Google Glass, which ended up being featured in a weird, but cool fashion feature, that looked like a 60’s futurism vision. Then Marissa Meyer posed for Vogue in classy, non-CEO-style photos recently (such as upside down on a lounge chair).

Today, we find out that Angela Ahrendts, who is credited of having turned around Burberry (with a lot of help from wunderkind Christopher Bailey) will take over the role of SVP of Retail, online and offline. It’s great to see that this role is finally filled, as Ron Johnson has been away for quite some time, and Apple stores have been less innovative over the last years. It’s also interesting to see that she gets ownership of both offline retail as well as the online stores, which is a similar combination of domains that Jony Ive has for hardware and software design. It shows that Cook is following the Jobs CEO style of concentrating power in the hands of just a few, key lieutenants. And it’s not all women, Apple made another fashion recruitment this summer, of Paul Deneve from Yves Saint Laurent.

All this cross-pollination makes perfect sense since smart phones and other tech products have become important fashion accessories over the last years, and this seems set only to continue with more and more wearables coming onto the scene. Fast Company has for a long time featured tech-savvy designers as innovators, such as Jenna Lyons. We’ve also seen some great tie-ins for tech brands, such as iPhone 5S’s being used in Burberry fashion shows, and Instagram fast becoming the key platform for fashion brands.

However, as much as the tech world can benefit from this infusion of fashion glamour, I’m not sure if it’s a win-win situation. In a few years, when people wear Google Glass over their eyes, an Apple iWatch on one arm and a Fitbit Force on the other, and why not a Melon headband on your head, you’ll probably need to wear something like the below to match it…

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2000

Photo credits: Wikipedia, CrunchBase, victorismaelsoto