Mark Latham Commodity Equity Intelligence Service

Tuesday 11th August 2015
Background Stories on www.commodityintelligence.com

News and Views:

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    Macro

    London Property vs Global Growth

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    EU on Recycling

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    The Elephant in the room


    Image titleWe know 'resourceworld' is entering crisis, but 'internetworld' just keeps going.
    Image titleOnly 4% of US readers use paper. This is just apocalyptic it it is any measure of future resource demand.
    Image titleSmartphones are ubiquitous and increasingly the main access point between the consumer and the economy. That means that over time more and more stuff is going to be bought/consumed via a smartphone. We cannot blithely assume that patterns of consumption of raw materials will remain unchanged with this transition.
    Image titleThis is the new economy, its 'on demand' and available 24/7. Its where the growth is to be found right now. As a general observation this raises the utilisation rate of formerly dormant capital stock (cars/housing/hotels/'stuff'), and as a consequence lowers the rate of formation of new capital stock. Thats not good for capex in general. It's excellent for economic efficiency, but a disaster for resource intensity. 
    Image titleClose to a trillion dollars of 'stuff' now moving across internet platforms. That's still only ~5% of global GNP. What happens when the other 95% joins the party? 
    Image titleThere's not one quoted EU company in the top 20. It's striking. 

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    Disruptive technologies

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    Google Project Ara.

    Google's solution is Project Ara...and it's coming inside 2015.

    The concept is a simple one –– you buy a basic model Ara phone and all the bits can be pulled off and swapped as you see fit. Fancy a more powerful camera module? You'll be able to buy one through Google's dedicated store - a treasure trove of hardware modules populated by components made by third-party manufacturers, from the likes of Samsung and its ilk, right down to little independent devs working out of their basements - just like Google Play for apps, in fact. The same will be true of many other components, including things like memory, display panels, physical keyboards, sensors and scanners, ports, modems and wireless modules, and much, much more.

    The Verge got a look at some Ara prototypes at Google HQ. Here's an extract from their report: "This very early version of the phone we played was functional, although we weren't allowed to turn it on and use it, in part because the touch features aren't up and running, Google said. The company showed it booting up on stage, but not working. The hardware itself feels very solid, thanks to its aluminum and steel frame, which looks like a ribcage when all the modules are popped out. The modules on the other hand feel light and plasticky, and made holding the phone feel a bit strange. If you're used to the smooth corners you'd find on most smartphones, the ribbed channels on the Spiral 2 feel bizarre. Nothing rattled or slid out while we were playing around with it, though it's hard to tell how it will really work without the magnets."

    More recently, Google provided an update about what it has been up to since announcing some prior details about Ara at I/O 2014. The Big G has been busy working with Marvell and NVIDIA in order to get some reference CPUs made for Ara. Below is an extract from Google’s G+ update on the subject and what progress has been made. 

    “For the AP modules, we have been working with our friends at Marvell and NVIDIA to create two separate reference designs and form factor module prototypes around their PXA1928 and Tegra K1 processors, respectively, using a Toshiba UniPro bridge ASIC to connect to the on-devicenetwork. You can anticipate seeing these as part of the reference designs in our upcoming MDK v0.20 release. (The Rockchip AP with native UniPro that we blogged about previously is coming along nicely and will be ready in time for our Spiral 3 prototype in the Spring.),” said Google in a post on Google+.

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