Caroline Gosney



Elon Musk and his pursuit of everything 

Twitter, X, whatever the logo turns into next week – it’s hard to keep up with the bird at the moment and this week is no exception. Mr Musk has announced he wants to transform the social platform he bought last year into an “everything app”, similar to the Chinese social media network, WeChat. WeChat combines messaging, video calling, payments, dating, food delivery, news, gaming and social media – the kitchen sink basically – so you never need anything else.

But would that work outside of China? 

China was late to the party when it came to internet infrastructure, so unlike the west where we access apps on smartphones but still default to desktops for shopping, gaming, food delivery etc, in China most internet usage is by phone so an everything app is an easier concept to work with. Secondly, China’s lack of competition regulation – which contrasts with most Western countries – allows an app like WeChat to effectively block rival platforms, such as shopping platform Taobao and video app Douyin.

The major difference between China and the West is the widespread adoption of digital payment technology. While shops in China are legally obliged to accept cash, in practice, digital payments are far more common. It looks like it will take the west longer to implement a truly cashless or credit card free society but Musk is nothing if not a dreamer. 

Will Threads last the year?

The Twitter rival rocketed to more than 100 million users within five days of its launch earlier this month. But Mr Zuckerberg has acknowledged those numbers have now tumbled.

“If you have more than 100 million people sign up, ideally it would be awesome if all of them, or even half of them, stuck around. We’re not there yet,” the Meta CEO was quoted as saying.

Threads was criticised for the limited functionality it had when it launched and Meta has since added new features, such as separate “following” and “for you”‘ feeds, and increased scope to translate posts into different languages.

The issue is, if user numbers are falling off a cliff and you have to come up with “retention hooks” to keep people around, why would brands or creators want to use it? In a world where budgets are often being cut, dollars need to work harder and ROI is top of every client list – it’s stability and safety that matters most. Will Threads last the year? If the flop of Meta’s Metaverse is anything to go by, the jury is very much out. 

A football plot twist 

Fans have been calling Orange’s women’s football ad one of the best sports ads ever, thanks to its unexpected twist and how it challenges prejudices. 

Despite progress in recent years, the buzz around women’s football still pales compared with the men’s game. When there’s a Women’s World Cup on, hype is essential and the new advertisement directly takes on common perceptions about the quality of women’s sport. – 

The ad produced by telecom giant Orange, which sponsors the French women’s team, begins by showing displays of skill by the biggest names on the men’s team – male stars like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

A message reads: “Only Les Bleus can give us these emotions. But that’s not them you’ve just seen.” The footage then rewinds and reveals the VFX editing trickery: the players featured in the ad are actually from the women’s team, including Sakina Karchaoui and Selma Bacha scoring epic goals.

This is just a brilliant example of how to break down stereotypes in advertising and how to bring a whole new fanbase to the women’s game. Allez Les Bleus! (or should that be Les Oranges?) 

Google what you search 

Google says people should use its search engine to check whether information provided by its chatbot, Bard, is actually accurate. Some have suggested chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT could “kill” traditional search, which is dominated by Google. But users have found the information they provide can be wrong – or even entirely made up.

Google’s UK boss Debbie Weinstein said Bard was “not really the place that you go to search for specific information”. Apparently, Bard should be considered an “experiment” best suited for “collaboration around problem solving” and “creating new ideas”.

Bard’s homepage does also clearly state it has “limitations and won’t always get it right”, but doesn’t repeat Ms Weinstein’s advice that all results should be fact checked using an orthodox search engine.

When ChatGPT burst onto the scene in November 2022, it prompted people to question whether Google’s incredibly lucrative search business could be under threat. So far, despite a lot of scaremongering and general panic about how sentient they could eventually become – searches have been limited to things like “How to make money using AI” and “How do I rewire a plug?”.

Seemingly, given chatbots can only search for what already exists, the human race is safe for now. But if we’re being asked to fact check chatbots, isn’t that adding more work when we’re looking to them to reduce the time things take?