bob schukai

London apps launch event

Apps for Good

Last month, our Thomson Reuters office in Canary Wharf hosted the launch of the winning apps from the 2013 Apps for Good competition held last summer. These apps are built by third parties who are really good at working with the kids, refining their winning concepts, and turning them into finished products for the GooglePlay store, although one actually also launched on iOS. We had such a huge turnout for the event, that at one point, the security team was having to hold guests in the lobby until others left to prevent going over maximum occupancy! I owe a special thanks to the Canary Wharf security and catering staff for their hard work all day and to Patrick Webb and Karen McArthur for their support on the ground!

All of the apps can be downloaded from this link as well as apps from previous years. There is also a very nice press release that AfG put out here. I thought it was also very cool that John Thurso, the MP for Caithness, Sutherland, and Easter Ross (the area where our Wick High School kids are from) came to the event and was truly impressed by what he saw. It was a real pleasure to meet and speak with him about this program.

I thought I’d also share with you some of the other press that the kids received as a part of the launch of their apps in local and national media: (more…)

Into the Wayback Machine

Today’s blog post stems from a couple of different stories I’ve been reading lately. The start of the year always feels like a point in time when we reminisce about the good old days or things that had significant meaning in our lives. 30 years ago, Steve Jobs introduced us to the Macintosh.  If you’ve never watched the video of that launch, you should definitely take the five minutes to do so.

In retrospect, that personal computer was truly an amazing machine for its time.  Pick your font, create graphics, all on a machine that could speak. A very young Steve Jobs changed the way that we interacted with computers forever. One of my favorite reads is Siliconvalley.com - a website hosted by the San Jose Mercury news – and Mike Cassidy has a terrific article on that launch and what it has meant to users everywhere.

I also came across a brilliant article on the Huffington Post about a guy who recently bought a bunch of Buffalo, New York newspapers from 1991 as the Gulf War had broken out. At the back of one of the pages was an ad from Radio Shack showing all sorts of gadgets – all of which have functions now that are mainstays in our mobile phones: (more…)

The kids are alright

Apps for Good

Earlier this month, I had a chance to spend the day in Wick, Scotland with one of the schools we have been working with closely in the Apps for Good program. It was great to be joined by our former intern from last summer, Tanya Howden, as well as Kate Farrell who is the NESTA Digital Education Manager for Scotland.

In addition to working with the kids on their current AfG ideas that they will be presenting next year in the competition, I also had the pleasure of judging an event that was genuinely fantastic. I had mentioned to the Computer Science teacher, Chris Aitken, about the simulators that had been created for Google Glass. He and I actually wanted to have Glass ideas be accepted as entries in the AfG competition since it is built on Android, but we were told that they could only be submitted as “over and above” the standard application.

This did not stop Chris or his kids at Wick. Chris decided to run his own little Google Glass competition with no support from anyone other than a donation the corporate mobile team made in two new Samsung Galaxy 3 Mini phones to the winners. (more…)

Hour of Code

REUTERS/Jorge Silva

I’ve used this blog to often talk about Apps for Good and other initiatives that are designed to get kids more interested in technology and software as a potential career. I also often speak about the gap that I see around STEM graduates in the USA as well as the UK. One of the bigger initiatives that I’ve seen on this front is led by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft amongst many others to promote Code.org. Fundamentally, the issue is simple: No matter what career choice you take in life, having a fundamental understanding of computer programming should be a part of your educational upbringing. I’m thrilled to see that countries like Australia and the United Kingdom are taking very proactive steps to make computer programming part of the core curriculum, but stunned to have read recently that in the United States, computer science does not count (!!!) towards math/science graduation requirements in 37 states.

Next week, Code.org is promoting a project called “Hour of Code” during Computer Science Education Week from 9-15 December. Although you will see a distinct American slant to the website, the intent is to see this replicated across the world in 20 different languages. As of today, over four million students and 31,000+ teachers have signed up across 166 countries!

I’d love for you to share the details of this with your own schools. If you’re interested in learning more about computer science, sign up for the Hour of Code yourself. You might find that you enjoy it and want to explore it more!

User design: It’s not about art, but about solving problems

I’ve not written much lately around user design, largely because I’ve been really pleased with the changes that the company has made in regard to taking design seriously in my 3+ years here. When I joined, there were a ton of apps I felt I had to apologize for when meeting customers; this is no longer the case. I owe a lot of this to the work of Marine Leroux, Andrew McGrath, Daniel Lewington, Chris Bassett, and Erin Feller. They have been real champions for the mobile team in setting standards, engaging with the business units on design, and helping build great products across the board.

I came across a really good article on the subject of design that I think illustrates exceptionally well the challenge that user design faces these days; the notion that great UI “looks great.” In other words, as the article puts it:

“Too many designers are designing to impress their peers rather than address real business problems…[with] perfect pixel executions of flat design, but work that doesn’t address real business goals, solve real problems people have every day, or a take a full business ecosystem into consideration.”

I could not have said this better. (more…)

Kicking off Apps for Good – 2013/2014

With the start of another school year underway, the Apps for Good program has also begun. I had the chance to spend some time at the Stratford Upon Avon Girls Grammar School where 18 (yes, 18!) teams are taking part – the same number as last year.  The head of IT at the school, Simon Reid, has done a terrific job of getting the girls excited about the program, and last year, five teams were selected as finalists, producing one winner. (more…)

2013 Apps for Good Awards

Apps for Good

This year’s 2013 Apps for Good awards ceremony took place at London Symphony Orchestra, St. Luke’s music education centre. Thomson Reuters sponsored the Learning & Information category – helping others learn and using information for good. 24 teams from across the UK presented in six different categories out of over 400 teams in this year’s program. I was thrilled that two of the schools I visited in person this year, Wick High School in Scotland and Westfield Juniors School in Yateley, Hampshire, placed fifth and second respectively in the finals.

In our category, the four finalists were: (more…)

When Mary speaks, people listen

Each year, Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers issues her State of the Internet report. It’s a must read for everyone in the space, and without doubt, you’ll probably read stories which analyze, debate, and dissect her report. The stats that she presents are just insane.

For example, on slide 41 (of 117!), she notes that there are 1.5 billion smartphones out there with 3-4x growth still to come!

State of the Internet report

Or maybe you’ll like slide 17 where she points out that nearly zero video was being uploaded to YouTube six years ago; today, 100 hours PER MINUTE is being uploaded! (more…)

Developed world – are you paying attention?

I came across a story today that literally made my jaw drop. It doesn’t happen too often anymore, because after so many years of seeing changes in the space, you almost feel like it is impossible to be surprised. And yet I was.

The reason for my surprise came via the incredibly progressive operator Safaricom from Kenya. Readers of my posts may recall that Safaricom made M-PESA the shining star of mobile payments/transactions in Kenya – essentially creating a solution for millions of “unbanked” people. Last year alone, Kenyans moved over $16 billion via mobile phones - and recall that this is a nation with a total population of about 42 million people.

Safaricom announced that it would stop selling feature phones in an effort to move citizens towards exclusively using smartphones. “Nzioka Waita, Director-Corporate Affairs at Safaricom told the Mobile Web East Africa (MWEA) conference: ‘Safaricom is soon going to stop selling the cheap feature phones in all our retail outlets, as we try to skew the Kenyan market towards smartphones.’” Wow. The reason that Safaricom reckons it can do this simply comes down to the fact that the price of Android smartphones is reaching the point of availability for everyone. We’ve seen this occurring as a mobile team with every trade show we visit. In addition to the big boys bringing out their shiny new smartphone toys, Chinese manufacturers beyond Huawei and ZTE are cranking out low cost Android phones with brand names that are new to the scene. The race to commoditize smartphone hardware is on, and in probably less than 3-5 years time, it would not surprise me to see feature phones literally vanish from the shelves. However, what is interesting is the fact that it is Africa and in particular Safaricom in Kenya that is leading the way. (more…)

Bob Schukai on mobile trends in the legal space

Bob Schukai, Global Head of Mobile Technology at Thomson Reuters, talks about how mobile is important to Thomson Reuters Legal’s transformation into a solutions business, as well as trends in how legal professionals are using mobile.