Weekly Trends Report – 30 September 2016

It’s time for the final Clarity Weekly Trends Report of September in what has been a busy week for Swedish music streaming giant Spotify.
Spotify to buy SoundCloud?
Rumours abound that Spotify is planning to buy SoundCloud, the champion of independent musicians around the world (and good friend of Clarity!).
  • Soundcloud recently launched its own paid music streaming service, called SoundCloud Go
  • Spotify has more than 100 million users worldwide, and has this week launched in Japan
  • Japan is the second largest music market in the world, worth around $3bn
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Weekly Trends Report – 30 September 2016

Germans and the startup community

Germans have a unique approach to tech startups – but you can turn challenges into opportunities.

Before I get started, I should point out that I´m German myself. Sure, nobody can talk for the whole community, and if they say they can, they probably don’t know what they are talking about. But the German mindset about startups has a special flavour nevertheless.

It would be unfair to say the German startup community is shy or simply behind. It’s more about a different focus, a really unique one. While most of the startup communities around the globe are about fast-growing companies and making life more comfortable and easy, the German mindset is still about sustainable growth and not violating rights in any way. Additionally there is a regulatory framework from the Mittelstand (middle class) that has a big influence on the German company regulations.

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Germans and the startup community

Weekly Trends Report – 23 September 2016

New gadgets, acquisitions, rumours of acquisitions and a retreat from the digital entertainment market all feature in this week’s Trends Report from Clarity.
Google getting serious about selling its own phones
Google’s Android powers 84% of the smartphones sold in the first quarter of 2016, but few of these handsets actually carry Google’s own branding - they are much more likely to bear the marks of Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei or others. However, it seems Google is going to launch new devices next month and is taking the matter very seriously.
  • The handsets are likely to be called Google Pixel, rather than use the previous Nexus name
  • A massive marketing campaign titled ‘Made By Google’ has been rolled out ahead of the expected 4 October launch
  • Reports suggest that the phones will run a version of Android with added features as yet unavailable on any other handsets


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Weekly Trends Report – 23 September 2016

Weekly Trends Report – 16 September 2016

In what’s been a busy week in many different sectors of the tech industry, we take a look at the most interesting headlines.


Twitter is introducing longer tweets
From 19 September it will be easier to fit exactly what you’re trying to say into a single tweet, reports The Verge. So is Twitter increasing the 140-character limit? Well, no, not exactly. But it is changing how it counts those 140 characters.

  • Media attachments like GIFs and images; polls; and quoted tweets will now no longer count towards the limit
  • Plans to do this were first announced in May, but the timescale was never made clear until now
  • Twitter is still looking into other ways of letting users express themselves more thoroughly, rather than just through tweetstorms or screenshots of the iPhone’s Notes app
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Weekly Trends Report – 16 September 2016

#dmexco2016: Trends in the adtech world

1,010 exhibitors crowded into 1 million Sq Ft at this year’s dmexco event in Cologne. As the exchange of business cards and buzzwords comes to a close, what were the discernible trends from the conference?

Data and programmatic
Speaking of buzzwords, here are the two worst offenders. The constant “you must use data, and be smarter with it” mantra has become repetitive. This year, debate ensued over how marketers and brands can go about creating actionable insights on their data. How are you supposed to maximise it and use it to protect and perfect your brand? Many are working on the solution and those who can solve the data conundrum are sure to win hearts and minds at next year’s event.

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#dmexco2016: Trends in the adtech world

Weekly Trends Report – 9 September 2016

In the first in a new series of weekly news round-ups, Clarity brings you the best and biggest tech stories from around the web.
Apple announces iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus
Dominating the headlines was Apple’s ‘special event’ in California where the new iPhone line-up was announced.
  • Reddit users spotted that an over-eager staff member listed the devices on the Apple website before the official announcement.
  • However, the real controversy revolved around the removal of the headphone jack, with Apple instead offering its own wireless earphones - known as Airpods.
  • Apple described this move as ‘courageous’ - but many commentators reckoned the move was more about increasing profit margins.
Microsoft developing Slack competitor
Shifting the focus from hardware to software, reports emerged this week that Microsoft is developing a rival to Slack.
  • Skype Teams, as it is reportedly called, will support direct messaging as well as threaded conversations, a feature that Slack doesn’t yet have - a criticism we’ve often raised here at Clarity HQ.
  • Slack is very much the darling of the team messaging space, raising $540m in funding to date and boasting some 2.7m daily active users, at the last count.
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Weekly Trends Report – 9 September 2016

Vacations are Good

When the parking attendant asked me how it was, he wasn’t talking about the latest Jason Bourne movie or dinner at The Red Cat, he was talking about the breathtaking sunset at Lambert’s Cove, Martha’s Vineyard: the sun glowing, sinking into the Sound, silently, and in this case signaling the end of a perfectly beautiful vacation.

We all know that vacation is a time to take stock, reflect and enjoy family and friends, but this vacation was especially restorative. While appreciating the simple beauty around us, the challenge each year is how to make our stay unique – but the truth is there’s nothing routine about this respite.

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Vacations are Good

An Inconvenient Truth: What Politics Is Teaching Us About the Value of Lies

By Sami McCabe

Does the truth matter any more?

Last month, 17.4 million people in the UK voted to leave the EU – a decision influenced, one assumes, by a succession of outright lies peddled by Brexit campaigners.

To the amazement of everyone who follows US politics, Donald Trump – an amusing rank outsider just 12 months ago – is the Republican Party candidate for the President of the United States, riding a wave of populism fuelled by a litany of untruths.

Image courtesy Gage Skidmore's Flickr:

Image courtesy Gage Skidmore’s Flickr:

Of course history is littered with examples of politicians who’ve achieved their goals by entertaining a somewhat relaxed relationship with the truth. But it’s hard to recall a period of such intense and apparently unchecked political falsifying on both sides of the Atlantic.

This got me thinking. Is there something about the way we disseminate and consume information today that makes the propagation and acceptance of falsehoods so easy, and therefore so dangerous? What is it about modern media that results in the lie often achieving more credibility than the truth?

Here are some initial reflections on how and why truth is increasingly irrelevant:

Traditional media has been usurped

You can’t underestimate the power of Donald Trump’s Twitter account. On average, @realDonaldTrump tweets are retweeted 2,200 times. The immediate mass dissemination of his often-incendiary comments and opinions blows any other media channel out of the water.

The New York Times dutifully runs its fact check of Trump’s speeches, but no amount of fact-checking – however well-intentioned – is going to recalibrate the opinions of many millions of people exposed to Trump’s tweets, whether directly as are his 10.1 million followers, or indirectly via a retweet.

He can say pretty much anything he likes, and even if he subsequently retracts it (usually very quietly), the damage is done. There are literally hundreds of examples of Trump tweeting outright lies.

Perhaps the most distressing and damaging example of this was his tweet that 81 percent of murders of white people in the US were perpetrated by African Americans. The actual number is 15 percent. This is a big, important difference in an election in which race is a key issue.

Images matter more than ever

When I reflect on the Leave campaign, two images stand out in my mind more than anything: Nigel Farage’s appalling ‘Breaking Point’ poster, and Iain Duncan Smith smugly pontificating next to a bus emblazoned with the promise that a post-Brexit NHS would benefit from a £350m per week boost to its budget.

Strong images have long been a key weapon in the propagandist’s arsenal, but even Leni Riefenstahl would have been impressed by the sheer ballsiness of Farage and Smith’s efforts. And Riefenstahl would surely have been envious of the ease with which these images – and the messages they communicate – reached the right people, at the right time, in their millions.

Both images, of course, were based on total fabrications. Smith subsequently backtracked from the NHS funding promise post-win, and Farage robustly defended his poster despite it actually depicting refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, not immigrants entering Britain to put additional strain on public services / take all our jobs / whatever xenophobic nonsense he was peddling.

Fear is motivating

Farrage was simply playing the game, of course. What he knows, much like Donald Trump, is that fear is hugely motivating. And the best way to create fear is to exaggerate the truth of a situation to the point that it bears no resemblance to reality.

This is common to both Trump and the Leave campaign’s approach to communications: focus first on inciting fear – by means of hyperbole and lies – then position yourself as the savior.

I noticed this week that Trump’s playing this game perfectly. After his relentless lying about black people being mainly responsible for white murders, Mexicans being rapists and Muslims being terrorists, at the GOP convention his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan became, at times, ‘Make America Safe Again’.

People are terrified. Trump’s lies have fanned the flames of that fear. And now he’s telling frightened Americans that he’s the only man capable of making them secure again.

Ignorance is bliss

People don’t have the time or inclination to deeply consider anything today.

We live in a 140 character world in which immediately consumable information is thrown at us constantly. We therefore lap-up the sound bites, and remember the stuff that hits us hardest. And often the most startling pieces of information are those we find the most surprising – because they’re not true.

It seems to me that the information overload we’re all experiencing paradoxically makes us less well-informed. The more news we have, the less we question it. We believe and accept things on face value more readily than any population in history.

Depressingly, apparently millions of Britons who voted to leave the EU would now vote differently. Information they’ve processed in the past six weeks – probably just as immediately, and thus with just as little consideration – has persuaded them to completely change their minds.

Thanks to the way we share and consume information, honesty and integrity are qualities that simply aren’t successful in politics.

This shouldn’t mean we abandon integrity altogether. But what can we learn from Trump and the Leave campaign about how to successfully develop and share a message? In an age of information overload, how can brands communicate their value while being realistic about what they do?

If truth is essentially irrelevant to politicians’ relationships with the electorate, is it also irrelevant to brands’ relationships with consumers?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below, tweet me @samimccabe or email me ([email protected]).

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An Inconvenient Truth: What Politics Is Teaching Us About the Value of Lies

The London Startup Scene: An American’s Perspective

By Bethany Hill

A few weeks ago, I took a train from London to York to indulge my inner medieval nerd. I’d lived for three years in New York before finally visiting its quaint namesake. One of the common themes throughout the weekend was that the city had such an abundance of history, it didn’t actually need to be discovered. Our pubs and ghost walks and B&Bs were above medieval manors and Viking compounds and Roman garrisons, but the archaeological attitude towards digging was nonchalance.

Who knows what’s under this field. Literally.

Having written my thesis on medieval English history, it was baffling to me that researchers would simply decline to excavate this treasure trove of primary evidence. Their view: these millennia of objects weren’t going anywhere, what was the rush? Instead, there was value in the knowledge that entire societies were built over ruins and relics, which literally support a cosmopolitan city today.

At a time when another ages-old city is undergoing a technology startup boom, it is precisely this approach that makes London so different from New York. Both cities incubate thriving tech communities, one bolstered by bagels and Dunkin, the other by digestive biscuits and Costa. Yet London presents a larger context to the boom of gadgets and apps: unlike the eager capitalism exemplified by New York and currently propelling San Francisco, London’s been here. (Not to mention, Karl’s got nothing on London fog.)

And what makes these two cities’ tech industries similar, compared to the atmosphere of Silicon Valley SaaSies, is that New York and London have both seamlessly integrated startups into the plethora of other fields that call these metropolises home: banking, fashion, advertising, the arts. These industries thrive because of their diversity, and these cities thrive because of their internationalization.

Where in the world can you walk from SoHo to Little Italy to Chinatown in a few blocks? There are two correct answers.

Time Out London, the week after Brexit (click on image to read).

Time Out London, the week after Brexit (click to read).

What London lends to its residents is a sense of sangfroid, of composure under pressure. New York fast is New York fast. There’s nothing like it. “I couldn’t live in New York, it’s too busy,” is a common refrain I hear from out-of-town friends. London is certainly busy, but it’s a meticulous sort of busy: the loud tick of a clock’s second hand instead of the scream of an alarm. When Brexit happened, there was disbelief and outrage and anger, but not violence or hate. Instead, Time Out London said, “thank you for making YOUR city your home.”

Along with this, Londoners possess the sort of rituals that help us keep calm and carry on. Why doesn’t New York have an evening paper? (My immediate gut response: “Well, I’d be too busy to read it.”) But now, reading the Evening Standard on the way home — and then parking myself at the kitchen table to finish it — has become a daily habit. During what has been one of the most stressful news months of recent memory, physically holding a prudent summary of the day’s events provides a way to process and reflect on our world.

What else is quintessentially London? Even after many trips to the UK, and a semester here in college, little cultural quirks continue to surprise me. For example:

  • Drinking outside in public is OK, but uncommon.
  • Apparently gym buddies are much more of a thing here.
  • Phones and data are much more competitively priced than in the US. A decent UK plan costs a fraction of its American equivalent.
  • It’s difficult to shake the paranoia that I am tipping incorrectly. As someone who’s worked in the service industry (thank you, Tripps Steakhouse!) I’m sensitive to stiffing someone, but don’t want to embarrass with a grossly disproportionate tip.
  • I never knew what “American food” was before coming here, but there’s a whole case of it at the supermarket.

America: giving the world cheese and chorizo macaroni, chicken burritos and Chilli Philly Steak Bake since 1776.

In the UK, I was prepared for my favorite Netflix shows not to work, for the bacon to be thick-cut and for the salmon to be much more affordable. But what’s surprised me is how much these cities have in common. New York tech is rushing ahead, but London moves with alacrity despite the weight of her history. In other words, New York may set the pace of the non-Valley tech grind, but London will match this pace with a steady stride. No matter what happens in the coming months, London will remain a crucial access point between European and American tech markets.

As we enter into a more uncertain time of this city’s history, I encourage entrepreneurs and startups not to take the wealth of international resources they have for granted. Be mindful of what we’ve created, but focus on the people and backgrounds that continue to make this city a progressive place to live and work. Digging up the past can wait. It’s time to keep moving forward.

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The London Startup Scene: An American’s Perspective

An ode to the sharing economy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past four(ish) years you’ll have noticed that consumers have been sharing stuff like never before. In turn we’ve been experiencing new ways of doing pretty much everything in a way that is simple, more fun and frankly more human.


And it’s all been made easy thanks to emerging technologies.


It’s revolutionised our everyday lives and had a massive impact to the way we get around, eat, go on holiday and even make our money, and in the UK we’re engaging with it more than any other country in Europe.


So hearing of the FT’s Sharing Economy Summit, held last week, we felt it pertinent Clarity attend. Not only was our client VizEat’s CEO and co-founder Jean-Michel Petit speaking under the category of ‘the next big sharer’ but we wanted to find out more about the current sharing economy trends and what we can expect from the future – both for businesses and consumers. Plus, we heard they had biscuits.


Speaking alongside VizEat were brands OLIO, Appear [here] and Propoly. Between the four companies, propositions ranged from disrupting how retailers engage retail spaces, matching those who want food with those that have it to reduce food waste, introducing tenants to landlords with smarts and speed, and connecting dinner party hosts from all over the world with travellers and people who simply want to eat and meet new people.


The sharing economy facilitates like-minded meetings, whether that’s to engage for, swap or sell goods or services. The philosophy behind the movement is to remove all things corporate and centres brands around the people using the services themselves. It also helps the ‘little people’ make the most of what they’ve got, whether that’s micro-letting their homes when they’re on holiday, hosting a dinner party which allows them to do what they love and earn some cash at the same time, or sharing their car to help pay for the cost of petrol. Essentially it is the human economy, connecting people from all over the world like never before with the end game being to make people’s lives more enjoyable, easier and at times, more profitable.


Technology is often stigmatised with making communities and relationships grow further apart, moving us away from meaningful or ‘real’ connections. But the sharing economy has shown the contrary, connecting strangers to have more than meaningful connections, facilitating generous and often extraordinary moments with outsiders.


The FT Sharing Economy Summit has given me a taste of what is budding and I for one am excited to see where and how it grows.



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An ode to the sharing economy