To give you some perspective, Coca-Cola spent about US$2.5 billion in 2012, across all of its brands, globally.
Want some more perspective? US$14 billion is more than Iceland’s GDP and more than Google paid for Motorola, according to an article from Reuters, which goes on to suggest that Samsung is spending a lot, but not necessarily seeing a return. It quotes Oh Jung-suk, a business school professor at Seoul National University.
“Samsung’s marketing is too much focused on projecting an image they aspire to: being innovative and ahead of the pack. They are failing to efficiently bridge the gap between the aspiration and how consumers actually respond to the campaign. It’s got to be more aligned.”
Apple spends a fraction of Samsung’s budget (about US$1 billion). Horace Dediu, an Asymco analyst says the lower spend is down to product strength:
“The stronger, more differentiated the product, the less it needs to be propped up by advertising.”
We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? Designer Yves Behar said “Advertising is the price companies pay for being unoriginal.”
To borrow from football, you could say Samsung is trying to do a Man City rather than a Manchester United – short-circuiting its rise to tech brand royalty with brute force spend. Following that logic, it won’t be concerned with the odd frosty reception for product placement or sponsorship.
Researchers working for the Pakistani government developed an early epidemic detection system for their region that looked for telltale signs of a serious outbreak in data gathered by government employees searching for dengue larvae and confirmed cases reported from hospitals. If the system’s algorithms spotted an impending outbreak, government employees would then go to the region to clear mosquito breeding grounds and kill larvae. “Getting early epidemic predictions this year helped us to identify outbreaks early,” says Umar Saif, a computer scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, and a recipient of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 award in 2011.
When we think about “mobility” and its potential in business and society, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the desktop and app paradigm.
The annual presentation of internet trends by long-time influential technology analyst and commentator Mary Meeker has become a kind of a “state of the web nation”, and her latest was given this week at the D10 conference.
Many people, myself includes, take her dense slide decks of stats and insights as a chance to reflect and take stock on how the web is changing.
Today was the second time Mary had given this presentation as part of legendary VCs Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers (KPCB). The format changed a little from her days at Morgan Stanley, with more focus on a insights and discussion of what the stats and apparent trends might mean.
In the post below, I’ve filleted the presentation slides and highlighted some strong insights that caught our attention in the Brilliant Noise office (the slides can be seen in full on Scribd or at the foot of this post).
If you don’t know it, Ushahidi is an open source platform for communicating in a crisis. At simplest, it is a way of aggregating text messages, emails, Tweets, blog posts and mainstream media articles to form a clearer picture of what is happening in a fast moving situation, say in a war zone or a natural disaster. It’s also been put to good use in places like the Lebanon and Mexico by people wanting to monitor the fairness or otherwise of their own elections and to help with the effective distribution of vital medicines in Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.
So on a geeky level Ushahidi’s obviously fascinating, on a humanitarian level it’s seriously inspiring, but there are lots of other elements of the project which are useful to consider.
Listening to Juliana’s presentation (I understand the videos will be live on the Legatum site soon) and chatting to her in the break, there a few notes I made that I will share here:
Web as witness: This is my take on what Juliana was saying, but I got a sense that by managing information on Usahidi served both as resource for people involved in it but also to put things on the record. As Juliana put it: “If a tree falls in a forest and Google doesn’t hear it, does it make a sound?”. Ushahidi means “testimony” in Swahili – so I guess this purpose has been baked in to the development of the platform.
Spreading social web beyond developed countries: Juliana is interested in how you stop “social media becoming an enclave for developed countries”. There are so many talented developers and creative people in the developing world, and she wants “to invest in those minds”. You can see her point – a massive latent cognitive surplus, to borrow Shirky’s phrase, is in developing countries, with all its incredible potential denied to the networks for now. If I was a VC with a long view, I’d think about heading for Africa…
Mobile is key to connecting the developing world: This is not news, I appreciate, but mobile handsets and access are the way that the developing world can connect right now. As Jared Cohen of the US State Department said in his speech earlier in the day, the economy of Kenya is so reliant on mobile payments that it would collapse tomorrow if you were to remove the GSM network. The mobile is the “default device” for Ushahidi’s developers, said Juliana. She also lamented that Twitter lacks a text message interface [I paraphrase]: “With SMS Twitter could become the pulse of the whole world – not just the developed world.” Now there’s a thought…
Near-realtime filtering: A major challenge for Ushahidi is filtering information as it comes in in near realtime. There may be disinformation from antganists, but also incorrect information, and alot of echo (re-tweets count as this) and maybe spam. Ushahidi uses manual filtering, Akismet and Swift River, a kind of crowd-filtering approach which “rescues data from the river and puts it on the bank”. This process involves a lot of human intervention at the moment, but they are working on algorithms to automate a lot of this.
Realtime media with a slow news legacy?: It strikes me that the combination of fact-checking and contextualising of realtime information is an immediate benefit of Ushahidi, with emergent benefits being that complex data has been curated which can be used by journalists, NGOs and others who want to analyse and learn from a crisis later on. This model is maybe how news organisations need to think about their role. I first heard about Ushahidi via the Al-Jazeera Labs project using the platform during the recent war in Gaza. Is there a case for the BBC to run a similar model when breaking news hits, or for news organisations to cooperate with a Usahidi like model to make sense out their reports and the mix of witness accounts on the ground?
There’s more on this approach in this video, which highlights the danger of rumours in a situation like the Mumbai terrorist attacks:
Swift River looks like it could be a very important development, not just for Ushahidi, for everyone living with the explosion of data brought about by the realtime web. There are obviously lessons here for news organisations and others (i.e. most organisations and communities of interest).
: : One more thought. Friends of mine in NGOs have told me before and the theme came up again yesterday that it is impossible to micropayments efficiently online because of the cost of transactions. That is to say, if I donate £1 to UNICEF online at least 21p of that pound will be lost to the transaction cost in the *best case*. PayPal or Google Checkout should develop a charity / NGO model – imagine how much money could be freed up for NGOs they were able to ask millions of people to send a few pence or cents?