Weekly readings – 15th January 2021

What I wrote last week

Some tips for data analysts

State of Mobile 2022

Book Review – The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Business

Why Apple’s iMessage Is Winning: Teens Dread the Green Text Bubble. “Among U.S. consumers, 40% use iPhones, but among those aged 18 to 24, more than 70% are iPhone users, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners’s most recent survey of consumers.” I think some reading this article may get it backwards: folks use iMessage because they like iPhones first and foremost. They don’t buy iPhones because of iMessage. It’s frivolous that competitors demand Apple to open up iMessage to Android for the sake of open communication. Think about it this way: if you own a restaurant and have a secret recipe that is the appeal of the place, will you want to openly share it with your competitors just so that they become more knowledgeable and the food culture becomes richer?

Is Clubhouse dead? Not if you are in South Asia. To be honest, I didn’t have it in me to imagine that South Asia would be the saving grace for Clubhouse. Would it ever reach the valuation that venture capitalists dreamed of? I don’t know, but if I had to bet, the coin wouldn’t go that way. Being popular is one thing, making money is another. We’ll see

How Shein beat Amazon at its own game — and reinvented fast fashion. “Through its manufacturing partners on the ground in China, Shein churns out and tests thousands of different items simultaneously. Between July and December of 2021, it added anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 SKUs — stock keeping units, or individual styles — to its app each day, according to data collected by Rest of World. The company confirmed it starts by ordering a small batch of each garment, often a few dozen pieces, and then waits to see how buyers respond. If the cropped sweater vest is a hit, Shein orders more. It calls the system a “large-scale automated test and re-order (LATR) model.” The secret is Shein’s internal software, which connects its entire business from design to delivery. “Everything is optimized with big data,” Lin said. Each of Shein’s suppliers gets their own account on the platform, which spits out information about what styles are selling well and can also quickly identify which might become future hits. “You can see the current sales, and then it will tell you to stock up more if you sell well and what you need to do if you don’t sell well. It’s all there.””

Fintech Startup Checkout.com Scores $40 Billion Valuation in Latest Share Sale. “Checkout.com plans to use much of the new capital to fuel an expansion into the U.S. Last summer, the company hired Céline Dufétel, chief financial officer at money manager T. Rowe Price Group Inc., to do the same job for Checkout.com. Many of the company’s top executives and investors now reside in the U.S. It also plans to enlarge its business catering to cryptocurrency companies. Exchanges such as Coinbase Global Inc. and wallets like Novi from Meta Platforms Inc. use Checkout.com to move customers’ money into and out of digital currencies. Crypto and financial-technology transactions account for more than half of Checkout.com’s payments volume, Ms. Dufétel said”.

Netflix Needs New Subscribers. Its Korean Playbook Is Its Secret Weapon. “Bound by certain social taboos and rules on what could be shown on public broadcast TV, mainstream networks in Korea typically passed on most of what they got pitched. The resulting flow of rejected ideas created an opening for Netflix. Because it is a paid private service, Netflix enjoyed more leeway in terms of what it could show its viewers. Netflix began harvesting ideas considered too edgy for the broadcasters and building a slate of programming that leaned into sex and violence, as well as prickly themes, such as social inequality and politics. In 2020, the company turned its first annual profit in South Korea while reporting sales of $356 million. South Korea is now one of Netflix’s largest markets in Asia, trailing only Australia and Japan. The company has more than 5 million subscribers in South Korea, according to Media Partners Asia. To date, Netflix has spent more than $1 billion on programming in Korean, one of its largest content investments outside the U.S. Along the way, Netflix’s status has flipped. Once shunned by the local creative community, Netflix is now courted.

Other stuff I found interesting

My first impressions of web3. We should accept the premise that people will not run their own servers by designing systems that can distribute trust without having to distribute infrastructure. This means architecture that anticipates and accepts the inevitable outcome of relatively centralized client/server relationships, but uses cryptography (rather than infrastructure) to distribute trust. One of the surprising things to me about web3, despite being built on “crypto,” is how little cryptography seems to be involved!”

The Architecture of Tomorrow Mimics Nature to Cool the Planet. I am at loss for words to describe my support to integrate our civil architecture and planning into nature. A city without trees or nature is lifeless and frankly unappealing to me. Why not integrating nature into our architecture? Well, if you haven’t noticed, nature has been here long before our buildings ever have

This Ad-Free Google Search Alternative Is Actually Worth Using. It’s actually pretty good on iOS. The ad-free experience is refreshing

Another masterful article by Morgan Housel. It’s full of interesting short stories with wonderful punchlines and wisdom in the end

Stats

On average, each owner spent $1,400 and $900 in annual expenses in 2021 for dogs and cats respectively

“An estimated 29.2 million general-purpose credit cards were issued to people with credit scores of 660 and below last year”

Apple Books has 100 million users each month.

“Digital tickets in Wallet helped venues and their guests create safe, contactless experiences, and last year, customers used 30 million NFC tickets in Wallet for events across music, sports, theater, and more across the US and Canada.”

Global mobile ad spend is forecast to reach $350 billion in 2022

“There are now 110 million monthly active Android TV devices in the world”

State of Mobile 2022

App Annie released a report named State of Mobile 2022, offering a comprehensive view on the app economy around the world. The report is very informative with lots of data and I really recommend you have a look, but there are a couple of things that make me hesitant to draw any lesson:

  • Hours spent on app is only on Android devices; which doesn’t provide a complete picture of app usage as iOS is a huge ecosystem
  • I couldn’t find the definition of breakout downloads anywhere in the report. What does breakout even mean?
  • We need to be careful about the number of downloads. I suspect these downloads needed to be in 2021 to be included in this report. That means some popular apps that are on consumer phones before 2021 aren’t. Hence, the number of downloads in 2021 doesn’t paint a true picture of how popular apps are

With that being said, here are some takeaways in which I have some confidence.

Total App Spend in 2021 was $170 billion, implying iOS’ has a market share of 35-40%

App Annie estimated that the total app spend in 2021 at $170 billion. On Monday, Apple revealed that they paid $60 billion to developers in 2021 which didn’t include Apple’s commissions. If we assume that Apple takes 15% on every dollar, the total app spend on the App Store would be around $70 billion ~ 40% of the figure that App Annie reported.

Though their population isn’t too far off from each other, China had much more app downloads in 2021 than India

China has approximately 1.4 billion people in population, 20 million more than what India has. However, the number of app downloads in China easily dwarfs that in India and the rest of the world. I wonder if it’s because folks in China cycle their phones more often so that the number of downloads was high even though the number of users didn’t necessarily increase. On a side note, shout out to Vietnam with more than 3 billion downloads for a country with 97 million people.

LinkedIn was frequently searched on the App Store, signaling a vibrant job market

Zoom, Teams and LinkedIn are in the top most searched keywords on the App Store. That’s heartening for Zoom and Microsoft investors because this signals their brand awareness among users. The fact that LinkedIn is among this group signals to me that folks want to update their profile and look for job opportunities. Why else would you look for the LinkedIn app?

45% of markets where Disney+ is available have over 1 million downloads in total. The figure for Netflix is 31%

According to App Annie, there are 24 countries where the number of total downloads for Disney+ exceeded 1 million while there are 58 such countries for Netflix. However, it’s really important to remember that Disney+ is only available in 53 markets whereas Netflix can be downloaded in more than 190. Hence, you can see Disney+ tends to be really popular wherever it’s available.