Archive for October 2021


GM and Ford keep falling down the top 10 table

30.10.2021

It’s bittersweet to get news of the Chevrolet Corvette from what’s left of GM here in New Zealand, now a specialist importer of cars that are unlikely to sell in any great number. And we’re not unique, as the Sino-American firm pulls out of entire regions, and manufactures basically in China, North America, and South America. Peter Hanenberger’s prediction that there won’t be a GM in the near future appears to be coming true. What’s the bet that the South American ranges will eventually be superseded by Chinese product? Ford is already heading that way.
   Inconceivable? If we go back to 1960, BMC was in the top 10 manufacturers in the world.
   Out of interest, I decided to take four years—1990, 2000, 2010, and 2020—to see who the top 10 car manufacturers were. I haven’t confirmed 1990’s numbers with printed sources (they’re off YouTube) and I don’t know exactly what their measurement criteria are. Auto Katalog 1991–2 only gives country, not world manufacturer, totals and that was my most ready source.
   Tables for 2000 and 2010 come from OICA, when they could be bothered compiling them. The last is from Daily Kanban and the very reliable Bertel Schmitt, though he concedes these are based on units sold, not units produced, due to the lack of data on the latter.

1990
1 GM
2 Ford
3 Toyota
4 Volkswagen
5 Daimler-Benz
6 Mitsubishi
7 Honda
8 Nissan
9 Suzuki
10 Hyundai

2000
1 GM
2 Ford
3 Toyota
4 Volkswagen
5 DaimlerChrysler
6 PSA
7 Fiat
8 Nissan
9 Renault
10 Honda

2010
1 Toyota
2 GM
3 Volkswagen (7,341,065)
4 Hyundai (5,764,918)
5 Ford
6 Nissan (3,982,162)
7 Honda
8 PSA
9 Suzuki
10 Renault (2,716,286)

   If Renault’s and Nissan’s numbers were combined, and they probably should be at this point, then they would form the fourth largest grouping.

2020
1 Toyota
2 Volkswagen
3 Renault Nissan Mitsubishi
4 GM
5 Hyundai
6 Stellantis
7 Honda
8 Ford
9 Daimler
10 Suzuki

   For years we could predict the GM–Ford–Toyota ordering but I still remember the headlines when Toyota edged GM out. GM disputed the figures because it wanted to be seen as the world’s number one. But by 2010 Toyota is firmly in number one and GM makes do with second place. Ford has plummeted to fifth as Volkswagen and Hyundai—by this point having made its own designs for just three and a half decades—overtake it.
   Come 2020, with the American firms’ expertise lying in segment-quitting ahead of competing, they’ve sunk even further: GM in fourth and Ford in eighth.
   It’s quite remarkable to me that Hyundai (presumably including Kia and Genesis) and Honda (including Acura) are in these tables with only a few brands, ditto with Daimler AG. Suzuki has its one brand, and that’s it (if you want to split hairs, of course there’s Maruti).
   Toyota has Lexus and Daihatsu and a holding in Subaru, but given its broad range and international sales’ strength, it didn’t surprise me that it has managed to have podium finishes for the last three decades. It’s primarily used its own brand to do all its work, and that’s no mean feat.
   I’m surprised we don’t see the Chinese groups in these tables but many are being included in the others’ totals. For instance, SAIC managed to shift 5,600,482 units sold in 2020 but some of those would have been counted in the Volkswagen and GM totals.
   I won’t go into the reasons for the US manufacturers’ decline here, but things will need to change if they don’t want to keep falling down these tables. Right now, it seems they will continue to decline.

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On Cantonese, for Te Papa’s Chinese Languages in Aotearoa project

26.10.2021


 
What a real honour to promote my reo! Thank you, Dr Grace Gassin and Te Papa for spearheading the Chinese Languages in Aotearoa project and for this incredible third instalment, where I get to speak and promote Cantonese!
   Obviously I couldn’t say anything earlier, especially during Chinese Language Week, but I am extremely grateful the very distinct Chinese languages are being given their due with this project!
   My participation began with Grace and I having a kōrero last year, and how Chinese Language Week was not inclusive. The organizers of that make the mistake of equating Chinese with Mandarin, and claim that Cantonese and other tongues are dialects, which is largely like saying Gaelic is a dialect of English.
   Do read more at the Te Papa blog as Grace goes into far more depth, and brings everything into the context of the history of Aotearoa.
 

 
   It turns out that Grace had been thinking about this for quite some time and had already shaped ideas on recording the Chinese languages here in Aotearoa as part of her job as curator, Asian New Zealand histories. She is a fluent Hokkien speaker, a dialect we Cantos often write as Fukkien, though that can lead to unfortunate puns with Anglophones. She also has some command of Cantonese—certainly far, far more than any Hokkien I know.
   There was such an amazing crew on this, with Yong-Le Chong (who is a Cantonese speaker, incredibly learning the language from television!) directing and prompting me off-camera and Tim Hamilton as DOP—plus Grace and Daniel Crichton-Rouse from Te Papa producing and supervising. Luckily I said nice things about Tim’s work in Lucire (not knowing he would be the DOP) prior to this!
   I was a bit under the weather when we filmed, having had a cough for many weeks and dodgy eggs at a café two days before. Big thanks to the crew for putting up with this and for believing me when I said it was not COVID (a test had confirmed that, and it was just before the August 2021 lockdown, when the notion of COVID in the community was unfamiliar).
   My thanks to Kent Favel and Erica Harvison for their permission to film at my Alma Mater, St Mark’s Church School, and to my darling partner Amanda.
   Note that the Māori terms in this post are only italicized because of the international readers who form the larger part of my visitors; in New Zealand these are words that are commonly used, and are not italicized.

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Farewell, Twitter gadget (is there a point to them?)

24.10.2021

One good thing to having Twitter lock Lucire’s account: there’s no point having a Twitter gadget or widget on your home page any more. Was there ever one to begin with? I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a site and found a Twitter widget useful.
   It did bother me that a Lucire print cover was no longer visible on the top part of the screen with the new theme. The ‘Our latest issue’ has now been moved to the sidebar from the bottom of the page, where it used to reside next to ‘Lucire on Twitter’. It doesn’t make much difference to cellphone users, but all the difference to web ones.
   So that’s one positive development to being locked out of Twitter.
   I’ve also made a minor tweak to this blog: the left-hand column is now wider, and a few more logos appear. Previously the table width (yes, it’s that old) was 960 pixels, but I figured that most people would have larger monitors by now. The blog also has a working, albeit standard, Wordpress mobile theme, so unlike Lucire there shouldn’t be any problems for cellphone users if I changed things. It does make this blog slightly inconsistent with the rest of the site, but maybe one day I’ll stick the lot on Bootstrap as well.

PS.: The first widget to disappear was Facebook’s, in 2018, weeks before the Cambridge Analytica story. Instagram’s was taken off when we most recently reskinned the home page a few weeks ago. They’re all pointing us in this direction.

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That’s the hat-trick: Twitter has locked Lucire’s account

24.10.2021


Pixabay

In the space of less than a month, another US social network has shut Lucire’s account down. This time it’s Twitter.
   When going through the settings to see if Lucire could be verified, Twitter requested that we complete all the information. It specifically states that the date of birth should be entered, even for companies.
   It only seemed logical to put in Lucire’s founding date, October 20, 1997.
   That was enough to have the account locked. As we started the account in the 2000s, it stated we were under age when that happened.
   We’re not sure why an event in the 2000s would have an impact in the 2020s, but more importantly, Twitter should have worded its request far better.
   As a company account, any number of people could be managing it. It so happened that I set up the account, so I provided them with my driver’s licence as proof of my age—but that’s not the age of the company. What if I had assigned a social media manager in their early 20s to do the job? Isn’t it conceivable that they would then inadvertently lock the account if they put in their own date of birth?
   Not even Facebook or Instagram are daft enough to lock an account based on a company’s foundation date. What other date would a reasonable person have put down when the company’s birthday is requested? The date of first operation? The date the idea was conceived? The date of incorporation? All of those would have fallen foul of Twitter’s systems.
   For a company that made US$3·7 milliard in revenue last year, it does seem a rather major error.
   After I noted this on my personal account, spammers and bots began replying—accounts that no doubt have been reported but are permitted to remain.
   We remain in the dark on why Instagram locked us out and deactivated our account less than a month ago.
   It is perhaps best to either lie to these US social media giants (in the case of some, it’s the behaviour their own leadership exhibits), or to not provide them information at all. Or, better yet, to not rely on them at all and to focus on one’s own proprietary web presences. It is no coincidence that with our redesign, we left off all social media links, ironically with the exception of Twitter on our home page.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

Originally published in Lucire.

PS.: The title refers to the fact that all three US Big Tech players have locked us out at some stage. In 2013, Google blacklisted all our sites. In September, Instagram deactivated Lucire’s account. And now, it’s Twitter’s turn.

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Posted in business, internet, publishing, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


The Google analogy of today

23.10.2021

Of course a Reddit post like this appeals to me.
   The one quote a few Redditers have picked out: ‘As I’ve often lamented, Google has reduced the Web to a brothel of whores competing to give a robot the best blow job.’
   One awful thing the poster notes is (link removed, but you can see it on the original post): ‘I got a spam email from a scumbag black hat criminal fraudulent crooked waste of money SEO company this morning … What they do is take money to put up spam links to a company’s competitors’ sites to hurt the competitors’ Web presence …
   ‘The even sadder thing is that the black-hat SEO actually works. Google’s bots are so stupid that tactics like this will in fact harm the targeted companies.’
   This is, in fact, the big concern I have with the Google My Business panels. Anyone can coordinate some negative reviews and mess you up, and there are no safeguards against it.
   Finally, they write this: ‘Without exception, the stupidest people I’ve ever dealt with in IT have all worked for Google.’
   I’ve only met a handful of people who worked for them. One was really on the ball. Another helped me out virtually (Rick Klau). But if they’re right based on a larger sample, this explains a lot.

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Autocade reaches 26,000,000 in under two months

23.10.2021

Overnight, Autocade served its 26 millionth page view, which is a new record, having cracked the latest million milestone in a day under two months.
   Only 24 models have been added since the last post on this topic, bringing the total to 4,524. Of the last 20, 10 were, rather disappointingly, crossovers or SUVs.
   The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee (the short-wheelbase one) was the newest entrant, illustrated by the base model. There’s something more honest about using low-spec pics rather than the high-line ones car manufacturers use. We don’t always see the flashest models in real life.
   You know the drill. I have OCD so here are the months when we reached each million.

March 2008: launch
April 2011: 1,000,000 (three years for first million)
March 2012: 2,000,000 (11 months for second million)
May 2013: 3,000,000 (14 months for third million)
January 2014: 4,000,000 (eight months for fourth million)
September 2014: 5,000,000 (eight months for fifth million)
May 2015: 6,000,000 (eight months for sixth million)
October 2015: 7,000,000 (five months for seventh million)
March 2016: 8,000,000 (five months for eighth million)
August 2016: 9,000,000 (five months for ninth million)
February 2017: 10,000,000 (six months for 10th million)
June 2017: 11,000,000 (four months for 11th million)
January 2018: 12,000,000 (seven months for 12th million)
May 2018: 13,000,000 (four months for 13th million)
September 2018: 14,000,000 (four months for 14th million)
February 2019: 15,000,000 (five months for 15th million)
June 2019: 16,000,000 (four months for 16th million)
October 2019: 17,000,000 (four months for 17th million)
December 2019: 18,000,000 (just under three months for 18th million)
April 2020: 19,000,000 (just over three months for 19th million)
July 2020: 20,000,000 (just over three-and-a-half months for 20th million)
October 2020: 21,000,000 (three months for 21st million)
January 2021: 22,000,000 (three months for 22nd million)
April 2021: 23,000,000 (three months for 23rd million)
June 2021: 24,000,000 (two months for 24th million)
August 2021: 25,000,000 (two months for 25th million)
October 2021: 26,000,000 (two months for 26th million)

   Thank you again for all your support!

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Refreshing the less oft-seen pages on Lucire’s website

23.10.2021



A decade separates these two incarnations of Lucire’s shopping home page. Some Facebook gadgets were added during the 2010s and the magazine cover was updated, but it was woefully out of date and needed to be refreshed.

It’s very unusual for us to go into the less-frequented pages in Lucire and adapt them to a new template before doing a major one such as the fashion index page. But sometimes you go with the creative flow, so it was the turn of the ‘Newsstand’ pages plus the shopping home page, which hadn’t been updated in seven years (and most of it hadn’t been touched for ten).
   Needless to say, on the latter, almost everything was out of date. We’ve removed the links to the shopping directory, which last existed to support the print magazine as it was in the mid-2000s. Since then, we haven’t really had a shopping section in print, and we ceased to update it much online.
   What was disappointing to note, after my lament about the disappearance of so many fashion websites earlier this year, that even more had closed down, so much so that the three ‘Newsstand’ pages have come back down to two (as it was in the 2000s). There are still some that have not been updated in years, but we have maintained the links for historical purposes.
   Poking about the directories did lead me to lucire.com/xp, a framed page with content for our mobile edition in 2000 that was compatible with Plucker. Long before cellphones became the norm, we were already catering for portable devices. I knew we had a Plucker edition, but had forgotten about the xp directory till tonight.
   The copy on that page reads, ‘Lucire Express was the hand-held version of Lucire, powered by Plucker. With more recent developments in syndication and content management, support for Express has been discontinued.’
   It seemed logical that cellphone browsers would be developed to reduce the content of high-res pages to make them readable, but that is yet to happen (unless one goes into a simplified view mode). To think that programmers found a way to do that in the 2000s. How times have changed, with what appears to be a slowing down of innovation—forcing us to adapt to the technology (developing mobile-friendly themes in-house) rather than the other way round.

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Facebook knows it doesn’t have as many users as it claims

22.10.2021

In the ‘I told you so’ department, from the Murdoch Press this week:

An internal Facebook presentation this spring called the phenomenon of single users with multiple accounts “very prevalent” among new accounts. The finding came after an examination of roughly 5,000 recent sign-ups on the service indicated that at least 32% and as many as 56% were opened by existing users. The company’s system for detecting such accounts also tends to undercount them, according to the presentation, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

   They know, and frankly it’s been this case for years.
   Bot nets are the biggest culprit but they don’t even get on to that. But when you get news that milliards of bots have been removed, you know there’s a serious problem.
   And of course even regular people have multiple accounts, because no one can predict when Facebook is going to kill their primary one. I was locked out for 69 hours in 2014 because of a bug, then Facebook decided to force malware on to me in 2016 in the guise of a malware ‘scanner’. Wouldn’t you have a second back-door account?
   The Wall Street Journal also notes that this affects advertisers’ decisions about audience targeting. Considering that there’s no independent verification of these metrics, why would you even bother with that site?
   The newspaper continues: ‘Facebook said in its most recent quarterly securities filings that it estimates 11% of its monthly active users world-wide—which totaled 2.9 [American] billion for its flagship platform in the second quarter—are duplicate accounts, with developing markets accounting for a higher proportion of them than developed ones.’ Notice how that total number is rising. Now ask yourself: do you know anyone who’s recently joined?
   Exactly.
   The proportion is much higher, in my opinion. I’ve long said their total sits at around 750 million. Maybe it’s at 1 milliard now. It’s a great way for dictators to manipulate their countries.
   If Facebook’s own sample of 5,000 says as many as 56 per cent were opened by existing users, it would not surprise me one bit if this phenomenon occurred through the entire user base. As early as 2014 I said Facebook had a bot ‘epidemic’ and I had the user account URLs from just one night to back me up.
   And here’s the biggest joke of all:

Unlike Twitter Inc. and other platforms without such rules, the company requires users to have just one master account under a real name.

   I can find you 5,000 with fake names right now. It’s bloody easy.
   Of course I’ve reported some of them, but it’s not my job to sit there and report all of them—particularly if Facebook consistently gives the ones I report a pass.
   I’m glad the WSJ is keeping the story going because for a while the Frances Haugen whistleblowing had disappeared from the headlines. On that note, here are several links to that, from Aljazeera English, The Independent, and Vox.

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Chatting at a pro level on Leonard Kim’s Grow Your Influence Tree

21.10.2021

Shared on my social media on the day, but I had been waiting for an opportunity to note this on my blog.
   It was an honour last week to guest on Leonard Kim’s Grow Your Influence Tree, his internet talk show on VoiceAmerica. Leonard knows plenty about marketing and branding, so I thought it might be fun to give his listeners a slightly different perspective—namely through publishing. And since I know his listeners’ usual topics, I didn’t stray too far from marketing.
   We discuss the decrease in CPM rates online; the importance of long-form features to magazines (and magazine websites) and how that evolution came about; how search engines have become worse at search (while promoting novelty; on this note I’ve seen Qwant do very well on accuracy); how great articles can establish trust in a brand and falling in love with the content you consume (paraphrasing Leonard’s words here); Lucire’s approach to global coverage and how that differs to other titles’; the need to have global coverage and how that potentially unites people, rather than divide them; how long-form articles are good for your bottom line; how stories work in terms of brand-building; how Google News favours corporate and mainstream sources; and the perks of the job.
   This was a great hour, and it was just such a pleasure to talk to someone who is at the same level as me to begin with, and who has a ready-made audience that doesn’t need the basics explained to them. It didn’t take long for Leonard and me to get into these topics and keep the discussion at a much higher level than what I would find if it was a general-audience show. Thank you, Leonard!
   Listen to my guest spot on Leonard’s show here, and check out his website and his Twitter (which is how we originally connected). And tune in every Thursday 1 p.m. Pacific time on the VoiceAmerica Influencers channel for more episodes with his other guests!

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Big Tech: you’ve already lost against mainland China

21.10.2021

Big Tech often says that if they’re broken up, they won’t be able to compete with mainland China.
   Folks, you’ve already lost.
   Why? Because you’re playing their game. You believe that through dominance and surveillance you can beat a country with four times more people.
   The level playing field under which you were created has been disappearing because of you.
   You’re the ones acquiring start-ups and stifling the sort of innovation that you yourselves once created.
   If the US believes it should create more tech champions, or more innovators, then Big Tech needs to get out of the way and let people start the next big thing.
   But we know this isn’t about China.
   It’s about them trying to preserve their dominance.
   We all know they’ll even sell data to Chinese companies, and they’re not too fussed if they have ties to the Communist Chinese state.
   To heck with America. Or any western democracy. Their actions often underscore that.
   Without the innovation that their enterprise system created, they’ll increasing play second fiddle in a game that mainland China has played for much longer.
   I already said that Chinese apps have surpassed many western ones, based on my experience. Through a clever application of The Art of War.
   And if the world stays static, if all everyone is doing is keeping the status quo in order to get rich, and innovation is minimized, then it’s going to look like a pretty decaying place, sort of like the alternative Hill Valley with Biff Tannen in charge. Just recycling the same old stuff with a whiff of novelty as a form of soma. Pretty soon that novelty turns into garishness as a few more moments are eked out of a decaying invention.
   Where’s the next big thing, the one that’s going to have a net benefit for life on this planet?

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