The Future of Market Intelligence?

Horace Dediu is the founder of Asymco, a purveyor of “Curated Market Intelligence”. He shares his insights on the mobile industry in general and Apple in particular. Started in February 2010, it recently reached a million pageviews and Horace was recently covered on Fortune magazine as the “King of Apple Analysts”.

The above would be a okay news to be aware of, except for the fact that Horace publishes his analysis on a blog and beats every major institutional research firm in the process. Check the ranking here. Also of interest is the fact of how bloggers and their blogs beat a significant percentage of professionals.

I would like to draw your attention to few specifics of Asymco, in no particular order.

Statement of Purpose and the Rules

Horace says its an experiment in collaborative, peer reviewed analysis. Am sure every research analyst would collaborate to arrive at their insights but the scale of collaboration that is possible on the web is just cannot be replicated behind the façade of large institutional research firm’s infrastructure, at least not with this level of transparency and public scrutiny.

Note, this is not the SEC or other compliance rules that require pages of disclosures for a page of research. This is the voice of an individual and the rules by which he wishes to operate. And the clear understanding that it is his personal skin in the game.

The Data Behind the Scenes

Insights do not arrive in isolation. There is always a set of data points behind and the unique interpretation of the analyst. Given the amount of data that is involved, without visual representation it can get rather weary for those consuming this research. Now here is what is unique about Horace. This data, or at least a subset of it, is published via Roambi, a service that allows you to visualize this data on iPhone/iPad..for free.

In the professional equity research space it is still a open question whether an analyst should publish/share their model or not. It is heartening to see a small blogger get on and just do it rather than having endless debates and brainstorming sessions.


And that too made public! Check the widgets revealing metrics and it would be trivial to verify this data using 3rd party analytics firms that help track web traffic. This would be sacrilege in the traditional research space. How would you know how many people consumed a piece of research? Especially when you send it out to via all the 3rd party aggregators. Assuming they can measure it in the first place! Being on the web, without the all the baggage of traditional means of packaging and distributing research allows Asymco to do this naturally.

The Conversations

I could say a lot here but let me limit myself, it is not normal to have these sort of conversations revealed in public by most professional research firms. The collaborative and peer reviewed premise that Horace sets off with drives this feature. And I know that this will be the future of equity research and market intelligence, its just a question of time before the professional firms adopt this model at least in a modified form.

If you are in the equity research/market intelligence space I would ask you to consider this trend carefully. The business model disruption that News firms are going through will hit every vertical industry, nothing will be immune to it. Best to co-opt and learn how the future works than to put regulatory impediments and have a warped  and stunted future staring at you, like the music industry is right now.

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