In February 2014, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for an unbelievable figure – 19 billion dollars. Within the next few weeks, it was all over everybody’s blogs, Facebook statuses, lunch conversations, and even kids in school were talking about it. People could not understand that a company whose only product is a messaging app could be worth that much money.
WhatsApp is not the only messenger out there. Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, LINE, WeChat, and many others are also stakeholders in the industry. They proved to be a cheap alternative to operator-based text messaging via SMS, and they provide many more features that SMS doesn’t have. According to statistics, in August 2015, WhatsApp has an active user number of 800 million, Facebook messenger has 700 million, and WeChat has 600 million. If we just do a simple math and not include all added features that each messenger provides, all chat messengers have a combined valuation of over 200 billion dollars. That’s half of Google or 4 times more than Yahoo!.
Interestingly on the contrary side, all these messaging apps struggled to figure out their revenue model. Evan Spiegel, the co-founder of Snapchat, acknowledged in an interview the extreme difficulty of making a feasible one. Many internet companies are backed by ads revenue. Google, for example, revealed in their multiple annual reports that more than 90% of their revenue comes from ads. One of their many services, Google Adsense, analyzes a web page and provides advertisements that best fit the content of that page. However, most people on messengers send private messages to their friends, and it is impossible to insert any ad into the conversation. Out of privacy concerns, it is also unlikely to run algorithms on user’s messages to provide personalized recommendations.
Realizing this limitation, apps began to expand their service into other communication areas, such as emojis, playing games with friends, sending money, interesting new content, etc. This is a very successful first step. In 2013, LINE reported in their Q2 quarter report, that out of their $100 million quarterly revenue, game purchase and in-game purchase accounted for 53%, and emojis accounted for 27%. Snapchat is piloting the new discovery feature that pushes sponsored content to the user. With the existing ads before playing video revenue model, the company stated that their revenue is estimated at $50 million dollars this year.
In addition to these efforts, LINE and WeChat also aim to build up their own ecosystems. WeChat launched a feature to send money to multiple friends in January 2014. It targets the Chinese tradition of giving monetary gifts to friends and family for auspicious blessings on special occasions. On 2015 Chinese New Year’s Eve, more than 1.5 billion “red envelopes” were sent on a single day. WeChat also keeps a semi-bank account for a user. Besides sending money to friends from the account, the money could also be used to make purchase, refill phone cards, call a taxi, pay utility bills and many more. WeChat has built a successful image within China and it has penetrated into many aspects of people’s life.
In conclusion, the entire messenger ecosystem is very enormous. The user-to-user communication nature allowed exponential growth in the user base. With the vastly and constantly growing user base, companies are able to reach billion dollars valuation within a very short amount of time. The next step, to achieve their billion dollars revenue, companies are experimenting to expand their services into our daily life. LINE and WhatsApp have built up their ecosystem that allows users to call taxis, stream music, order foods, and we can predict soon other companies will have similar strategies to expand their verticals.
Imagine entering your hotel room after a long flight. You are hungry and tired, but realized you forgot to make a reservation in your favourite restaurant within the hotel. You turn on the television, and you are greeted by a message stating that there are still two more tables left in your favourite restaurant. You indicate that you would like to reserve a table for that evening. When unpacking your suitcase, another notification pops up, asking you whether or not you would like to order a steaming cup of hot chocolate, as you have regularly ordered after a long flight.
Hotel Okura Amsterdam (HOA) is a five-star Japanese hotel located in Amsterdam. HOA recently acknowledged the urge for an interdepartmental IT system integration to improve personalization and therewith customer satisfaction; the company currently operates 40 different operating systems. These insight together with many others were obtained during an in-depth interview on business and IT strategy with Okura’s Rooms, Engineer and IT manager. The business strategy of HOA is dedicated to being ‘’Unique and Complete’’, making striving for a high level of customer satisfaction key; a question in this is how a customer can be convinced of the uniqueness of HOA.
The interview brought to light that the non-integrated structure results in inefficiency. Each division registers its own data and information between divisions is transferred verbally instead of it being retrievable from a centralized data system; many opportunities are lost due to this. The current business strategy is to be improved by integrating an IT infrastructure with IT related processes. The proposed solution therefore strives for a high level of integration. However, due to the issue of scale and the importance of (financial) feasibility of the project, the first generation will solely focus on combining the F&B (Food & Beverage) system with the hotel room system. The solution itself, the infotainment which is further explained below, does have a long term focus of eventually integrating all of Okura’s 40 different operating systems.
The trends of superpersonalization and big data to enhance customer value, in combination with the need for responsive service and modern facilities in the room (current guest satisfaction regarding room technology is low), result in the following proposed solution. To cater for the business need of HOA, we propose to provide real-time personalized information in the hotel room of the guest through a television application. Various systems will be able to communicate with each other and can provide the guests with useful information (or upselling). The system will include the reservation process for the restaurants, the room service information and the room service ordering process. The F&B is initially focused on as this is the main source of income from hotel guests for HOA and it limits the initial investment. Additional functionalities can be added at a later stage.
Authors (BIM2015 – Team 6):
- Stéphanie Visser – 407153
- Job Deibel – 407756
- Dirk Breeuwer – 329445
- Jord Sips – 421144
- Colin van Lieshout – 414788
I am an information geek and I’m here to share the best of it.
In this Internet age, it is extremely difficult to find the useful information which is of high quality and caters to your preferences. That is why I wanted to share with you the best information sources around. I believe in Dave Pell’s idea, that the best algorithm is human. Therefore, most of these sources are newsletters or individuals, who are passionate about knowledge.
The Next Draft
Everything you need to know on the internet
The Managing Editor of the Internet Dave Pell daily sends a digest with 10 days most fascinating news. If I would need to choose only one source that I could read, this would be the one! All media people read it. Just name it: The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Yorker
And you should too!
All you need to know about start-ups
Mattermark has the most successful content marketing I’ve ever seen. I actually only started because my work in a start-up required to do so. If you ever think about being knowledgable about start-ups, then this is a go-to place.
Explain the News
The best news site that I have ever encountered. They write about all the important affairs. And explain them. Only caveat is the fact that they are US news portal and as well coverage is focused more on their issues.
Still marvelous journalism.
Farnam Street Blog
Learn to think
I obsolutely love that this guy is trying to talk about literally everything on how we can improve our thinking. He has mapped more than 100 mental models, starting from creative thinking and ending with Biases.
Just check it out, if you want to become smarter.
Random highbrow cool stuff
I guess that this is already slightly specific to ones taste in the entertainment. Basically, this guy posts everything starting from slideshow on how mobile internet is changing developing countries, and ending with cool movie trailers.
Uhh… Just check it out. Love it or.. ignore it.
Understand what is happening in the Silicon Valley
Great essays on Tech-related start-up industry. He has written 650+ essays for The New York Times, WSJ, Wired, Fortune etc. The best guy to have the real insights from.
Here are some more nice channels definitely worth checking out:
Evergreen – gives really in-depth information regarding the business related topics. I wanted to put it in TOP 5, but forgot.
Quartz – more finance related Europe centered, high quality news source
Barking up the Wrong tree – self-development advises backed up in science from a guy, who writes to the Economist
Buffer – everything about social media strategy you need to know
Direkt Fast News – all crucial news explained in three sentences
Delve – receive movie of the week, nicely presented
lsm.lv – nice source for Latvian speaking audience
Delve – my own information dissemination platform. Exactly my work on sourcing high quality news for it, has resulted in me knowing so many great sources that can be useful for life. [Yes, it is in Latvian, however, almost all the articles are in English]
Still. Don’t trust media, and don’t be ignorant about the world. [MARVELOUS VIDEO]
P.s. I consciously tried to escape from more obvious sources like The Economist, Financial Times, The Atlantic etc. I still believe in them being high quality news sources.
Written by: Gustavs Upmanis
Welcome to the adult world. We love sex. And therefore, we love porn. Although reliable public statistics are difficult to find, porn is estimated to be a $97 billion dollar industry (NBCNews 2015). According to The Guardian (The Guardian 2013), traffic on adult sites easily surpasses traffic on social media- or shopping sites in the UK. And at the same time, Mindgeek, exploiter of amongst others PornHub, claims to attract over 100 million visitors a day who consume over 1.5 terabyte per second (The Economist 2015). According to above, one can easily state that the porn industry is still booming. But what makes the porn industry as successful as it is? From an information technology perspective; nerves of steel.
Before the rise of the Internet, porn used to be exclusive. Amongst others, regulations and taboos ensured that porn was not easily available, which drove the price of porn up. When the Internet got widely available, many traditional industries faced a massive challenge – yet the professional porn industry, contrary to many other industries, quickly picked up the opportunities presented by the Internet to enhance and enrich their business model. The porn industry proved to be extremely technology-driven; according to CNN, many nowadays widely-used online technologies, such as credit-card verification and streaming video, can all “be traced back to innovations designed to share, and sell, adult content” (CNN 2010). Business Insider even states that “the concept of e-commerce (…) owes much of its early existence to porn” (Business Insider 2013). And not only did the porn industry experiment with different types of technologies; several online sales methods can be traced back to the adult industry as well.
On the other hand, the Internet has posed challenges to the professional porn industry, mainly in the form of porn tubes. A massive surge in availability of amateur porn partly contributed to the shift of porn from a speciality good to a commodity good, hence significantly lowering the price of porn. Although professional porn producers have found ways to strategically use tubes to draw customers to their sites, this industry still suffers from lower profits than before.
The porn industry tries to restore its profits by, again, embracing technological innovations and models. PornHub recently announced a crowdfunding initiative for a porn movie (shot in space); an add-free Netflix-like streaming service has been introduced; and options as Virtual Reality and robotics are currently heavily explored.
We all love sex. How do you think that the porn industry should modify its business model through information technology, in order for it to increase profits? What is the future of the porn industry?
Business Insider 2013, Porn: The hidden engine that drives innovation in tech [online]. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-porn-drives-innovation-in-tech-2013-7?IR=T [Accessed 1 October 2015].
CNN 2010, In the tech world, porn quietly leads the way [online]. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/04/23/porn.technology/ [Accessed 1 October 2015].
NBC News 2015, Things are looking up in America’s porn industry [online]. Available at:
www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/things-are-looking-americas-porn-industry-n289431 [Accessed 1 October 2015].
The Economist 2015, Naked capitalism [online]. Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/international/21666114-internet-blew-porn-industrys-business-model-apart-its-response-holds-lessons [Accessed 1 October 2015].
The Guardian 2013, Porn sites get more internet traffic in UK than social networks or shopping [online]. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/26/porn-sites-internet-traffic-uk [Accessed 1 October 2015].
IN THE NEAR FUTURE, INSTANT DNA IDENTIFICATION HAS CREATED AN INFORMATION GRID THAT MAKES CRIME EXTREMELY DIFFICULT, AND ANONYMITY IMPOSSIBLE. BUT, SUDDENLY, THE SAME ID’S START TO APPEAR IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. A PRO-LEVEL AND INTELLIGENT SCI- FI PIECE ABOUT THE GENESIS OF A BIG BROTHER STATE.
Ever since George Orwell coined the term ‘Big Brother’ in his seminal novel 1984, storytellers have become fixated with the notion of a totalitarian state where surveillance reaches total control. Written by Ryan Condal and directed by Dennis Liu, Plurality is the latest science-fiction film to focus on these Orwellian notions, as their 14-minute short explores where hi-tech policing allows for instant surveillance. Feeling like a cross between The Terminator and Minority Report, the plot of Plurality centres around a futuristic New York, where everything you do is traced through ‘the Grid’.
“The Grid takes all those things unique to you, your social security number, your passport, your debit and credit accounts and links them to one thing…your DNA. With just a touch, the Grid collects a tiny sample of your genetic material, ID-ing you instantly. Then a purchase can be deducted directly from your personal accounts, or you can unlock and start your car and it all works within a margin error of 0.001% ….the ultimate social network!”
Revolving around notions of personal privacy in a digital age, the themes, ideas and even some of the technology that exist in the futuristic world of Plurality are not ones that seem implausible. With fingerprint recognition already in use with some automobiles, concerns about computer and phone privacy already spreading due to hacking and social media, hacking, some may even predict aspects of Condal and Liu’s premonition of society as inevitable. Thus the evolution of technology brings many possibilities, but also possible risks concerning privacy. This video illustrates these both aspects.