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On November 27, 2017, NM commented on Apple combats with Protectionism in India :

It is interesting to study the dynamics of protectionism in this context. Apple is big, but India is bigger, and as such a large economy with a perfectly well developed smartphone market, the reality is that Apple needs India more than India needs Apple. I understand why the government played hardball and in this instance am inclined to think their protectionist strategy will help the economy in the long-run. Whether these strategies support long-term growth when applied across all industries I’m not so sure.

Onto the question of whether Apple should manufacture locally. As you mention, most of their competition in the market already manufactures locally, and therefore by manufacturing in India as well Apple should not have a significantly higher core manufacturing cost structure. Presumably at least some of the higher costs of manufacturing in India would also be offset by reduced transport costs, and it is frankly a small price to pay for market access. I would also argue that, given the market opportunity, Apple could make the necessary investment in human capital which would only strenghthen its standing with government.

On November 27, 2017, NM commented on How Google Can Rebuild Trust in EMEA :

One likely reason that Google faces significant mistrust and pushback in Europe (and the UK especially) is that it doesn’t pay much tax. Google has frequently been in the news in the UK for its nominal tax bill paid on £6bn revenues (a significant share of sales are booked to Ireland, which has a lower tax rate). Paying more taxes may make governments more receptive to Google, but my guess is that it is not a strategy Google is considering. So putting that aside, the key challenge for Google is to give consumers more control over their data usage, or at least give them the semblance of control. More transparency over how data is used is a key enabler for this. Without knowing more about what data is used, when, and why, consumers in the EU will have a hard time swallowing Google telling them that it knows best. Initiatives around digital literacy are positive, but in my mind a somewhat indirect approach that doesn’t address the crux of the issue.

The bullwhip effect in action! A great example of how sharing information with suppliers can yield real benefits to both parties. By giving suppliers more visibility of forecast production capacity requirements, the supplier should be able to reduce its costs over time as it increases utilisation, and presumably at some point some of these cost savings will be passed on to LL Bean, creating a virtuous circle. Your suggestion of digitising the product is interesting, but as far as the supply chain is concerned I think that there is a separate, linked opportunity, which is to introduce blockchain tracking, giving real time visibility of raw materials / WIP / finished goods throughout the production process, which in turn can drive further efficiency.

In general I have some doubts about patient willingness to adopt telemedicine because of the psychological barriers to sharing personal information with an unseen / unknown professional through a screen. What is interesting in this example however is that trust is already established through face to face time in the rehabilitation center, so I could see high value from introducing telemedicine to support long term condition management. Whether it really saves time in part depends on how effective remote diagnosis is (are the quality of images transmitted high enough, are doctors able to pick up on the subtle queues that prompt them to dig deeper etc). Only time and analysis of outcomes will provide the answer to this. It will also be fascinating to see how telemedicine fits into health insurance programs, which typically pay for activity. Should reimbursement tariffs for telemedicine be lower, and what incentives might this introduce?

On November 27, 2017, NM commented on Adidas: Fighting Climate Change in the Name of Sports :

As you point out, it is fascinating to think what the role of the consumer is in driving the sustainability agenda. Would adidas pursue these initiatives if they didn’t think the consumer cared about sustainability? Do they see a strong corporate sustainability strategy as a competitive differentiator? Will consumers be happy to wear shoes made out of recycled ocean plastic (as adidas introduced)? Involving consumers in the recycling process more directly and linking this to the brand may be one way to help overcome any consumer barriers to adoption. For example, rather than taking recycled products just from landfill, adidas could introduce recycling centers in its stores and reward consumers for bringing old items in, making them feel more engaged and bought into the concept.

This article provides a great overview of some of the opportunities and challenges of vertical farming. The positive impact of reducing ‘food miles’ may turn out to be slightly overstated, based on some studies which suggest that food transportation to urban centers is a relatively small component of the environmental impact of food production. However, I agree that tight control of input resources such as water should help improve sustainability and cost efficiency (if the energy costs can be brought down!). It is also interesting to think of the additional benefits from vertical farming – it is by nature much more insulated from extreme or sub-optimal weather conditions (another impact of climate change) and therefore may provide more food security, and by growing in sterile conditions the use of pesticides etc. may be reduced.