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经济学人双语:百货商场的逆袭 细数各个领域中的"平台"(下)

2016-12-06    来源:经济学人    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

As everything from tooth brushes to tractors grows more connected, the phenomenon is spreading to other industries.
现在,从牙刷到拖拉机都充满了连接,这个现象已经扩展到了其他领域。

The latest iterations gather mounds of data, analyse them and serve up the results, thus enabling all kinds of digital offerings, from predicting failures to giving advice.
电子产品不断更新迭代聚集了大量数据,分析后再将结果上传,那么从预测失败到给出建议它都做得到。

One example of such a data platform is Nest, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s holding company.
数据平台的一个典型例子就是Nest,谷歌母公司Alphabet的子公司。

It sells devices, such as wireless thermostats and smoke detectors, which double as vehicles to collect information, allowing the company to offer tailored energy and security services.
它的主要产品是像无线恒温器和烟雾探测器之类的电子设备,这些设备同时也是信息收集工具,以便公司在信息的基础上为用户提供量身定做的能源及安保服务。

This trend alarms non-tech firms.
这个趋势警醒了非科技类公司。

They fret that if the likes of Apple and Google come to control such data platforms, these new intermediaries will seize a big chunk of their profits.
他们担心苹果和谷歌这类科技公司控制了作为中介的数据平台,他们一大部分利润将会被瓜分掉。

This fear has sparked a rush to build or buy such systems.
这种恐慌激起了一股系统购买潮。

Last year car-makers Audi, BMW and Daimler acquired Here, a digital-mapping firm.
去年,汽车制造商奥迪,宝马和戴姆勒收购了Here,这是一家地图系统平台公司。

General Electric, an American conglomerate, is betting big on Predix, which helps customers improve how they run locomotives, jet engines and other gear.
美国企业集团通用电气对Predix压下巨注,帮助客户的机车,喷气引擎及其他装置跑得更好。

Apollo Hospitals in India is creating a marketplace for health-care services.
印度的阿波罗医院为保健服务开创了一片市场。

Many more established companies are sure to follow suit, as are thousands of startups.
很多大公司对此都如法炮制,创业公司亦是如此。

But before they tread this path, they should consider a few caveats.
但在他们涉足前,还是要考虑一些注意事项。

First, most products and services are not substantial enough to make a good platform.
首先,大部分产品和服务都没有大到能撑起一个平台的量。

And even if they are, it is not always a good idea to turn them into one, says Ms Gawer, who is co-authoring a book to debunk myths about the concept.
正与人合著一本揭示平台概念的书的加威尔女士表示,即使他们足够大,转型为平台也并不一定是一个很好的选择。

The late Steve Jobs, for instance, long resisted opening Apple’s app store to others for fear of losing control.
例如,已故的乔布斯就因为担心失控而一直抵触开放苹果应用商店。

Second, network effects often fizzle.
其次,网络效应往往虎头蛇尾。

All sides of an online marketplace have to be nurtured in parallel to avoid imbalances, such as having far more sellers than buyers.
在线市场的方方面面一定要平行发展才能避免出现例如卖家远远超过买家的不平衡的场面。

During the dotcom bubble most business-to-business marketplaces failed because their pursuit of growth led to such lopsidedness.
在互联网泡沫时代,大部分B2B电子商务的失败就是因为单方面追求增长而导致失衡。

Even firms that had a head start, such as MySpace and Nokia, a social network and a mobile-phone maker respectively, didn’t manage to turn them- selves into fully fledged platforms.
即使像社交网络我的空间和手机制造商诺基亚这样有先发优势的公司,也没有成长为一个成熟完整的平台。

Most successful ones are the product of specific circumstances and even chance, reckons Peter Evans of CGE.
法国通用电气公司的皮特·埃文斯回想,其实成功的平台都是某些特定环境和均等机会下的产物。

Amazon, for example, took off in part because its customers did not have to pay sales tax if they were outside the firm’s home state, Washington.
例如亚马逊,能够迅速取得成功的而部分原因就是因为如果用户本人不在公司所在地华盛顿购物,通过其平台购买就不用缴付营业税。

Third, it is not always easy to make money from platforms.
再次,通过平台赚钱并不容易。

Misjudge how much to charge each group of customers, and the flywheel can come to a juddering halt.
对不同客户群的定价策略判断失误,利润的飞轮就戛然而止了。

What is more, for a platform to make good money, switching to a rival has to be costly, argues Andrei Hagiu of Harvard Business School.
更何况哈佛商学院的安德烈·哈邱也表示,平台要赚很多钱的话,竞争战非常消耗成本。

This risk even hangs over Uber, the fast-expanding taxi-hailing service: using a competitor is easy for both passengers and drivers.
这种风险也困扰着扩张最迅速的租车服务公司Uber:无论对于司机还是乘客来说,转换到其竞争对手门下极其容易。

Platforms with a leg in the physical world are likely to take more time to emerge than the purely digitalsort.
较纯数字平台而言,立足于现实的平台想获得生存的话,很可能需要付出更多的时间。

And firms have some alternatives: those with outstanding products and a strong brand can try to forgo others’ platforms, hoping that they succeed on their own.
公司也不是没有选择:产品出众且品牌能力强的公司,即使不依靠平台也可以凭借自身成功。

But ultimately most firms will have no choice but to do business on somebody else’s digital property, and to agitate for better terms if the owner gets too greedy.
但最终大多数公司都没得选择,只能和其他人的数字资产交易,并且在资产所有者太过贪婪时焦虑的争取更好的交易条款。

Call it the class struggle of platform capitalism.
我们姑且称之为平台资本主义的阶级斗争好了。



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