Policy news for April 2013










April has been a month of transformation for many in the tech industry. Many of the trends we have been tracking for the Digital world in 2030 seem to suddenly mature in a month.


Firstly, let’s see a list of 15 Ways Technology Is Reinventing Society 


This is a good list and includes:

  • Self-driving cars are changing how we get around
  • Google Glass will turn us all into cyborgs
  • Wearable fitness trackers are making us all health nuts
  • The Internet is fueling a sharing economy
  • Robots are changing the workforce
  • Smartphones keep us hyper connected with each other
  • Social networks are changing how we interact with each other
  • 3D printing is reinventing the way we manufacture goods, while also fueling creativity.
  • Nano-filtration technology is helping hundreds of thousands of people produce and drink clean water.
  • Gesture-controlled devices are awakening our senses and fueling collaboration.
  • Touch screen devices and Wi-Fi in underground transportation systems will vastly improve how we get around.
  • iPads and mobile phones are changing our retail experience.
  • Smartphone apps are making us the ultimate consumer but also kind of lazy.
  • Photo-sharing sites are changing our notion of privacy.
  • And the drones are coming.


It’s a good list and reflective of much of the disruption we also see in this month ..

Social media maturity, expansion and im-maturity

Social media both matured and im-matured ..

Firstly, There are some fundamental changes in the nature of social interaction.


  • In the UK, the proportion of time spent on social media slips http://soa.li/itiikhU at the expense of online entertainment services and also new social media services are emerging – With over 200M monthly users, WhatsApp CEO boasts, “We’re bigger than Twitter”” http://feedly.com/k/11apQie
  • With claims of losing users to services like WhatsApp- “Facebook says battle for teen attention ‘not a zero-sum game’” http://feedly.com/k/10Wy9EV.
  • But social media continues to make a difference to services and disrupt physical services – such as NYC taxi apps – which reflect the increasing battle between new (online players) vs. traditional players like Taxi companies(“Put your taxi apps away, New Yorkers: NYC’s smartphone hailing program blocked again” http://feedly.com/k/10tXgY9 )
  • The Boston bombings showed Social media at its best and its worst. The site Reddit became both a source of news for journalists but also became a place for online witch hunts – “Reddit apologizes for ‘online witch hunts,’ asks community to be ‘sensitive of its own power’” http://feedly.com/k/ZixLyg . Sites such as  Twitter, Reddit and 4Chan took on a role of online ‘just in time reporting’ which in some cases exposed innocent people to danger. The BBC reports that the internet detectives got it very wrong for the Boston bombings http://bbc.in/17LE5At  and the news sources like Police scanners (long used by journalists for breaking news – were now available to the people) and “Hyper-connected, real-time news is a good thing — but so is accuracy” http://feedly.com/k/XVOmIF  with news events becoming ‘participatory’. However, no matter how we see it, it’s clear that a seminal change has taken place in reporting with participatory news events here to stay – for better or for worse.


Content players – curation + aggregation to creation

There are some major changes for the content industry as well.

Since advertising drives content – we have reached a milestone with “Digital Advertising Has Now Blown Past All Other Media But TV http://feedly.com/k/13hhwjC .


Digital advertising now dwarfs newspapers and magazines and is bigger than any other media in the U.S. with the exception of broadcast TV, which hit $40 billion.

The breakdown is interesting also because it shows a rate of growth for many sub segments -

The industry totaled $37 billion for the year, in the U.S. alone.

•       Mobile grew 111% to $3.4 billion and accounted for 9% of total internet ad revenue in 2012.

•       Digital video brought in $2.3 billion, up 29%

•       Search was $16.9 billion, up 14.5%

•       Display-related advertising revenues totaled $12 billion, up almost 9%


Retail advertisers spent the most, accounting for 20% of total revenue in 2012. Financial services came in second, contributing 13%.


There are two major changes in the Content industry

Firstly, the nature of TV/video is changing. This is significant considering the huge $40 billion chunk of advertising revenue with  “YouTube users now watch 6 billion hours of videos a month” http://feedly.com/k/YnPR2u. America Now Routinely Watches 10 Billion Online Video Ads Every Month http://feedly.com/k/12RBGly .  Services like Hulu show strong growth with over one billion streamed videos in Q1 http://feedly.com/k/12XwHzT

Secondly, content players are going from content curation to content creation.

We see this in many areas

Flipboard – “Flipboard is a giant iceberg lurking in the path of the media” http://feedly.com/k/10InN6k

Yahoo through its many acquisitions and properties (mainly in mobile) – summly, Astrid (“Yahoo acquires to-do app Astrid, to continue service ‘as is’ for 90 days” http://feedly.com/k/10tWOcz ) , weather -  Yahoo’s Weather App Is A Big Hit! http://feedly.com/k/18awQ5l

Netflix – with shows like “house of cards” – Netflix is becoming a content creator – like HBO (Sopranos) but on the Internet(vs. Cable). Netflix Says Its “House of Cards” Strategy Worked, and Wall Street Agrees http://feedly.com/k/11iERQf . The future of TV, according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings http://feedly.com/k/10AnsYc   says “TV is fundamentally changing from a linear delivery model to a world in which apps compete with each other, and Netflix is spending billions to be part of that future and Netflix is seen as one of the driving forces behind a transition from linear television to a world of internet-delivered on-demand content.”

There are also changes to the existing TV monopolies. Two Tiny Startups Are Exploding The $60 Billion Broadcast TV Industry http://feedly.com/k/12Arg8m  - Aereo, which offers a cut-rate TV subscription for consumers by capturing broadcast signals over thousands of antennas at one time.

And  Dish Network’s ad-eliminating video recording device called the Hopper. Both the Hopper and Aereo take advantage of changes in how TV viewers get their shows (time shifting, streaming, multiple devices etc).

Meanwhile if TV is becoming into apps – apps are migrating to TV – Is TV the future of apps? Draw Something app to be reinvented as Channel 4 quiz show http://feedly.com/k/10Q0rwO

And in another key trend – “A Prominent Silicon Valley Investor Is Talking About The End Of Ownership” http://feedly.com/k/170BiC2   including ownership of content ex Zipcar,  NetJets, Seamless(takeout delivery service) and  Spotify

Meanwhile, there is another interesting test case for legislation around the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act ) safe harbor provisions for audio recordings created before 1972 (

Recording industry threatens YouTube and other music services after copyright law snafu http://feedly.com/k/15TrZ94  )


Mobile industry – seminal shift

The mobile industry also sees major seminal shifts

Firstly, the worst PC sales drop in history http://cnnmon.ie/17rwczX  leads directly to a mobile revolution.    Shipments of PCs fell 14% worldwide last quarter, according to IDC. It was the worst yearly decline since IDC began tracking the data in 1994.

There are many factors for this trend especially Tablets - Mobile device price drop sees tablets outsell PCs http://www.telecoms.com/133811/mobile-device-price-drop-sees-tablets-outsell-pcs/  -

“While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

“As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis.”

Tablets Are Dominating Mobile Commerce http://feedly.com/k/16erfM0 – Tablets will drive 65% of mobile commerce sales in 2013, even though smartphones still make up the majority of connected devices in the U.S., according to eMarketer.  Tablets overtake smartphones on BBC iPlayer   http://soa.li/sQTO2WO

Meanwhile, Global Mobile Apps Market will Reach $20 Billion in 2013 http://wp.me/p15SGl-2MM

Global Mobile Apps Market will Reach $20 Billion in 2013. The rise of apps and smart phones go together.  For first time, smartphone sales top other mobile phones in first quarter http://feedly.com/k/11u1cKS . This leads people to create apps which are becoming commercially successful  “Writer Teaches Himself To Code In His Free Time And Now Has One Of The Hottest Productivity Apps” http://feedly.com/k/13p1x38

Apps are transforming industries – ex tourism – The Mobile Tourist: How Smartphones Are Shaking Up The Travel Market http://feedly.com/k/13y2QN9  and advertising – Online Ads Can Now Follow You Home http://feedly.com/k/18awZG3 (Online Ads Can Now Follow You Home. Firms Are Helping Brands Like Expedia Serve Ads to Users Across PCs and Mobile Devices)

Meanwhile, the world of Operators sees some major changes.

In a wakeup call for Operators! Chat apps surpass SMS for the first time, study finds http://feedly.com/k/12c3KMX

But Operators are counting on video

“Verizon: Video accounts for 50% of mobile network traffic, and it’s only growing” http://feedly.com/k/11VLXwJ . This is significant because it is ONLY data traffic on the air waves (as opposed to WiFi for example). LTE is a major driver for video and also specific techniques for LTE such as LTE-broadcast . This is also reflected on an emphasis on Small cells – How Small Cells are Transforming Mobile Networks http://wp.me/p15SGl-1dw

Meanwhile, carriers are also changing price plans. Verizon dives deep into the budget end of mobile with a new $35 plan http://feedly.com/k/ZPTzM7   and O2 UK moves away from handset subsidies with decoupled Refresh tariffs http://feedly.com/k/17v4JgN

Carriers in Most of the World to See Flat Revenue While Emerging Markets Take Off http://feedly.com/k/10ZDW5U  . The rise of smart phones is making a difference in emerging markets with health care apps  http://feedly.com/k/12KXvTM  and mobile phones are making a big difference – for example by  redrawing bus routes (Mobile phone data redraws bus routes in Africa http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22357748) and mobile banking in Bangladesh http://dthin.gs/15e5YkV

On the devices front, phones that have cameras which don’t need to be focused are in focus ..

Nokia Investing In Camera Tech That Could Change Phones Forever http://feedly.com/k/11UYCOp

These cameras are based on plenoptics (a fixed, square array of tiny lenses in front of a digital sensor) and flexible displays are coming soon – Frog Predicts: Flexible Displays Will Soon Changethe World http://feedly.com/k/18aalNR

Finally, of all the places – Mobile Phones Are Booming In North Korea http://feedly.com/k/12RBTFi  thanks to a growing underground economy.


The Internet of Things becomes mainstream

This month a few announcements also herald a major uptake for Internet of Things

Belkin’s internet of things dreams extend to energy and water management” http://feedly.com/k/ZVaxx7   and we are now speaking of the rise of the Industrial Internet -


SAP believes that the Internet Of Things Will Transform Everything – http://feedly.com/k/11UUazh  and IBM launches an appliance for the ‘Internet of things’ http://feedly.com/k/100CFLe  and then there is Google Glass which could potentially revolutionize many areas such as healthcare “Marc Andreessen Describes How Google Glass Will Revolutionize Health Care” http://feedly.com/k/Yi1h7M  and Jawbone Agrees To Acquire BodyMedia For $100M, Opens UP Platform For Developers http://feedly.com/k/18aaErS

AT&T launches its internet of things effort and it’s pretty big http://feedly.com/k/ZQTyZD  and Google purchases Behavio, a startup that aggregates smartphone data to make predictions http://feedly.com/k/YQOiIw



Identity will play an increasing role as two announcements indicate – Airbnb Now Wants to Check Your Government ID http://feedly.com/k/18awwU6   and the AP Twitter hack prompts fresh look at cyber security needs http://feedly.com/k/11u1rFE

Estonia is run like a corporation, but its president believes government must play a crucial role in areas of digital policy such as secure ID – Estonia – A lesson in public e-policy http://feedly.com/k/17cr6ou


Internet governance

Like SOPA, CISPA also did not go too far in the legislative space – CISPA Changes Show Power of Internet Advocacy http://feedly.com/k/12RBqmA

Meanwhile, a very insightful article discusses the contradictions in Internet Governance.

“An Internet ‘free from Government Control:’ A worthy principle” http://feedly.com/k/17zVhZJ

The U.S. has been deeply enmeshed in this contradiction ever since the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003-5, when it fended off criticisms of the U.S.-controlled ICANN while claiming to oppose ‘government control.’ In the meantime various US government agencies have (largely unconscious of or independently of the Internet freedom rhetoric) cast global shadows of hierarchy over various aspects of the Internet, seeking extraterritorial domain name takedowns, ACTA, restricted online gambling, cyber-weapons, and so on.



The ongoing interplay between social media and politics continues with a Pew report – All politics isn’t social just yet, but it’s getting there http://feedly.com/k/14eFoZo   . A new report from the Pew Research Center breaks down civic participation and social media.


Open systems

Open systems underpin many of the trends we see and yet Open systems are not a straight forward approach. We saw that with the Twitter vs. PeopleBrowsr settlement http://feedly.com/k/1806qTH  for the Twitter firehose (data stream). Twitter has been scaling back access to its data for a while, and most developers found they had little recourse other than to accept the social network’s decisions. In that sense, PeopleBrowsr is one of the few companies that has successfully fought back.

As Mapping Costs Rise, Waze’s Volunteer Army Will Give It an Edge (Video) – crowdsourced content can give a commercial edge  http://feedly.com/k/Znf6Qz    and Twitter is in the news again for a contradiction with developers “Dear Developers: Play by the Platform Rules, or Expect a Smackdown” http://dthin.gs/10MVnrD

Finally, when it comes to Siri vs. Google now – Google now could have an edge because it has the advantage of tapping into Google’s massive trove of data to bring you the answers you’re looking for http://feedly.com/k/16eqHFH



“Patent troll Lodsys sues 10 mobile game makers, despite Apple’s intervention” http://ars.to/YFnoDv

Advertisers and developers ask FTC to delay new children’s protection laws http://feedly.com/k/ZnfzC2

“Florida poised to become first state with anti-drone law” http://feedly.com/k/Z930Mf

Gene wars: the last-ditch battle over who owns the rights to our DNA http://gu.com/p/3f9pg/tw

“Ouya review: can an indie console take on Sony and Microsoft?” http://feedly.com/k/13UpuDL

Porter and Kagame .. Why President Kagame Runs Rwanda Like a Business http://feedly.com/k/17eHzeG

The $5.1 Billion Future Of Crowdfunding Is More Than Kickstarter http://feedly.com/k/14Buq0C

Image – Google/Google Glass