H! Lites — Issue #012: Google I/O and digital transformation in the world of fashion retail.
After a sunny weekend, we know that getting back into the office on Monday morning can be hard.
Here at Hi Mum! Said Dad, we’re lighting the mood with a big picnic lunch. Since you probably can’t join ?, we’re treating you with a revisit of Google’s I/O conference and a Medium post on technology in fashion retail. We also have a look at what could be the next African “super-app”…
Hi Mum! Said Dad
Digital innovation is transforming the world of fashion retail
H&M. Abercrombie & Fitch. Gap.
Recognise those names? They have been basking in the limelight of fashion retail in the first 10 years of the 21st century. But lately, the light has been dimming.
The new actors on the stage have names like Amazon, ASOS, Farfetch and Pinduoduo, and with tech like Image Search, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, they’re putting on quite a show…
Africa may just be going the way of China’s ‘super-apps’
We have talked about the concept of super-apps on H! Lites before. They are popular in Asian markets and refers to one app acting as a vehicle to access many varied services such as paying bills, booking cinema tickets, hailing rides, just to name a few. The big player in Asia is obviously WeChat but there exist others such as AliPay (overtook PayPal in 2013 as the leader in global mobile payments) and Meituan’s food delivery app (the world’s fourth most valuable startup).
Interesting developments over the past few weeks suggest that Africa, a pure mobile-first market like China, may just be following in the footsteps of their Asian counterparts. M-Pesa, the region’s dominant mobile money services wants to leverage its popularity and user base to add a social network element to its service via a messaging feature called Bonga (“to chat” in colloquial Swahili). M-Pesa believes this will enrich the ‘pay, play and purpose’ behaviours that African mobile users exhibit on mobile.
Chinese retailers have benefited greatly from the super-apps as it has allowed for highly targeted messaging in such an integrated ecosystem — e.g. “Book now for a free Didi ride to X restaurant — limited time only!”. Admittedly, Bonga is only a messaging bolt-on so far but one would imagine a super-app play would represent a natural conclusion. Creating a sticky messaging network on top of an already dominant payments platform will only serve to make the platform more appealing to retailers. With Africa being a largely untapped market, the potential is huge and being an M-Pesa led initiative, this may be a watershed moment that could herald an evolution in the African tech scene and economy alike.
By Jeevan Jayaprakash, Strategist
The Google Dilemma
Google may have wowed the tech press and the developer community with its machine learning prowess at Google I/O 2018 but this impressive progress is coming at a cost to the firm and its employees with the US military circling.
Technology and the military are inextricably linked — the Internet, the touchscreen, GPS and even good ol’ Siri were largely US military/government funded ventures that eventually made their way over into the civilian world. This time, however, it is the US military that is courting the private sector as it subtly appeals to feelings of patriotism and a sense of national duty.
The likes of China and Russia are throwing serious cash at AI. It is a technology that could be of great strategic importance in determining a new world order. Namely, it is the race to develop autonomous weapons that is of great interest to the militaries of these countries, the US included.
Silicon Valley’s liberalist core is threatened though. 4,000 Google employees have signed a petition demanding that CEO Sundar Pichai withdraws from Project Maven (a state contract in which Google is supposedly analysing drone footage to identify landmines) before Google becomes a pawn ensnared in the ‘business of war’. A number of employees have already quit in protest as the company, which in 2015 ditched the motto “don’t be evil” for the noticeably more malleable “do the right thing”, dithers.
As the old adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility.
By Jeevan Jayaprakash, Strategist
Google I/O: Say hi! to the new Material Design system
One of the most exciting bits of Google I/O for designers was definitely the revamped Material Design system. Not only did Google listen to our often unspoken gripes that its design system was stifling, they also went way beyond and created a plugin for our favourite design tool.
Material 2 is much more fluid and adaptable, not to say, way more fun to play around with. This is a truly grown up design language, and I can’t wait to adopt it. In fact, we already had a sneak peak a few months ago, so we’ve been working in secret to implement some of these changes into our apps; watch this space!
By Taco den Outer, Design Director
Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s weekly newsletter, H! Lites.
H! Lites hits you with a short, sharp, weekly dose of the latest and greatest across tech, business, design and other contemporary issues that we think would be of value to our readers.
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