TicketMaster, Taylor Swift, and the Future of Tickets

In recent news, Taylor Swift partnered with TicketMaster to introduce a new ticket-buying system that would help fans “beat the bots.” Instead of a standard queue as instituted for some events such as New York’s infamous Comic-Con however, the fan’s position in line could be advanced and authenticated through shows of “real fandom.”

Or at least that’s how they’re pitching the new #TaylorSwiftTix system.

Because the factors that would change the fan’s position in queue include things like posting about the event in social media, buying other Swift merchandise, and just about anything that would either give them more money or help them market. If it does help beat the bots, it’ll make people go back to the good old fashioned “beating other people.”

Now I should make a disclaimer that I’m no big Taylor Swift fan (though I admit have a small weakness for “Mean”), but I can’t help but find myself both horrified and unceasingly fascinated by this push. Continue reading “TicketMaster, Taylor Swift, and the Future of Tickets”

GREE: Games as a Cultural Export

As an avid gamer, the news of GREE shuttering its international offices last week came as a shock. In a bit of snark schadenfreude, the news of their international titles not doing well wasn’t anything unexpected– I’ve played some of them before and seen their respective rankings in the App store. Yet what really caught my attention was the plan that their executives had mentioned going forward: “[to shift] to a “Japan-first content strategy” – the plan being to launch games in its home territory, then localise and distribute the most successful ones in other markets around the world.”

Coming from Japan where a shrinking domestic market means businesses need to expand internationally more than ever— this news was disappointing beyond words. PR doublespeak aside, it just seems like GREE is withdrawing inwards, choosing to stick with the safe and known.

But is this really the right move? Continue reading “GREE: Games as a Cultural Export”

The Perfect Cannibal

It’s been a while since the last time I felt so excited by a WWDC keynote. There’s evidently a staggering amount of innovation gone into the iOS UI, particularly on the iPad. We’re talking about an implementation of drag-and-drop that’s far superior than your click-and-drag equivalent, a multitasking framework designed for simultaneous touching, and numerous killer features like instant note and instant markup with the Apple Pencil. At this point, there is no doubt that the iOS platform is the future of Apple’s personal computing. It reminded me of the early days of OS X UI innovations. They truly made people happy and excited.

All this demonstration of vision piqued an interest of a completely different kind in me. It got me thinking about cannibalism, the non-bloody kind. The word cannibalism in the western world carries a connotation of cruelty. One product cannibalizes another with a competing function and reduces the other’s revenue. What I’m intrigued to explore, however, is the effects on innovation driven by intentional and designed product cannibalism, and the ramifications of which on the company as a whole.

Continue reading “The Perfect Cannibal”

Reforged in Fire: Brick and Mortar

The store seemed rather like a paradox at first. I don’t recall its name–it was some luxury french clothing company. Une entreprise de vêtements de luxe. But it was huddled in a section of the mall that seemed to have some kind of invisible barrier between it and the rest of the complex. On the bustling beat of a pleasant Sunday, and where every other part of the mall was packed like sardines, this section alone stood sparse. And the store itself reflected that same feeling. Unlike the tidily stuffed behemoths of H&M or Uniqlo, its interiors were adorned by nothing more than perhaps 15 outfits– each taking up the equivalent of a full display closet they would in their more casual brethren. There were maybe only 4 people inside. Three whom I believe were employees. Because of the sparse collection, the walking space in there was wide. Open. Empty. Dead.

It took me a month to realize the irony.

Because rather than the rest of the mall–abuzz with the laughter and energy of life– it was this almost barren landscape that symbolized and laid the clues to our future of retail. Not that retail was dying– rather that it would simply be transformed. And surprisingly, it would be transformed away from the model currently enjoying the veracity of a Sunday crowd. Continue reading “Reforged in Fire: Brick and Mortar”

On Digital and Analog

Just the other day, Jasper and I were discussing buying Amiibos, those character figurines with NFC chips built-in that give little unique boosts in select Nintendo games.

“I don’t want to end up with a bunch of plastic figurines at home.” He was vehemently against them for both lifestyle and economic reasons.

“Why not?” I asked: “even though you want to build a library?” A library, full of real, tangible books made of tree pulp.

If you know anything about me, you know I mostly prefer electronic books over paper. Yet I didn’t find the idea of owning a shelf of plastic figures conflicting. But why is that?

The conversation got me curious: what are the real differences between a digital display and analog book? And in general, how do we psychologically perceive the ownership and consumption of intangible digital goods as opposed to tangible analog goods?

The Battle of E-Books vs Paper Books

When Borders declared bankruptcy in 2011 after e-book sales soared 1,260% between 2008 and 2010, the industry genuinely feared the digital apocalypse. 6 years later, the mere vitality of paper books in 2017 would probably come as a puzzling surprise to the digital advocates at the advent of digital book revolution. Why didn’t paper books go the way of CDs and vinyl?

In a Scientific American journal titled The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens, Ferris Jabr writes:

…evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way.

I was intrigued by the studies the article quoted. What exactly is missing in e-books? Are we losing inherent signals in e-books that aid our learning and understanding, or can we just write it off as a case of nostalgia? I bugged a friend of mine to pull out the research papers from some psychology database and took a deep dive into them myself.
Continue reading “On Digital and Analog”