Linked List: March 2011

Post Open Android Asset Check 

Guy English on what today’s Android news means for the industry:

RIM. Despite being laughed at constantly today, RIM laughs too. They own their own hardware stack and they own their own software stack and as I pointed out previously — they are maintaining control over their own destiny. Which they’re doing like a drunken sailor on three day shore-leave but, still, that “2 CEOs & 4 Eva” tattoo is their choice.

Vic Gundotra’s Paean to Android’s Openness at Google I/O 2010 

Vic Gundotra in his keynote at I/O last year:

If Google didn’t act, it faced a draconian future where one man, one phone, one carrier were our choice. That’s a future we don’t want. […]

So if you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android.

Businessweek today:

From now on, companies hoping to receive early access to Google’s most up-to-date software will need approval of their plans. And they will seek that approval from Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.

Can’t wait for this year’s I/O keynote.

‘So That No Industry Player Can Restrict or Control the Innovations of Any Other’ 

Google:

Android is an open-source software stack for mobile devices, and a corresponding open-source project led by Google. We created Android in response to our own experiences launching mobile apps. We wanted to make sure that there was no central point of failure, so that no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other. That’s why we created Android, and made its source code open.

RIP, Dickbar 

New version of Twitter’s official iPhone client removes the asinine dickbar.

I Saw This Coming All Along 

Ashlee Vance and Peter Burrows, reporting for Businessweek:

Playtime is over in Android Land. Over the last couple of months Google has reached out to the major carriers and device makers backing its mobile operating system with a message: There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software. No more partnerships formed outside of Google’s purview. From now on, companies hoping to receive early access to Google’s most up-to-date software will need approval of their plans. And they will seek that approval from Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.

So here’s the Android bait-and-switch laid bare. Android was “open” only until it became popular and handset makers dependent upon it. Now that Google has the handset makers by the balls, Android is no longer open and Google starts asserting control.

Facebook, for example, has been working to fashion its own variant of Android for smartphones. Executives at the social network are unhappy that Google gets to review Facebook’s tweaks to Android, say two people who weren’t comfortable being named talking about the business. Google has also tried to hold up the release of Verizon Android devices that make use of Microsoft’s rival Bing search engine, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Andy Rubin, Vic Gundotra, Eric Schmidt: shameless, lying hypocrites, all of them.

Microsoft’s Antitrust Argument Against Google 

Microsoft VP Brad Smith makes the case:

First, in 2006 Google acquired YouTube — and since then it has put in place a growing number of technical measures to restrict competing search engines from properly accessing it for their search results. Without proper access to YouTube, Bing and other search engines cannot stand with Google on an equal footing in returning search results with links to YouTube videos and that, of course, drives more users away from competitors and to Google.

Microsoft Accusing Google of Antitrust Violations 

Times change.

Google Settles With FTC Over Privacy Lapse With Google Buzz 

Facebook should be next.

MacUpdate Spring 2011 Bundle 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their spring 2011 bundle of Mac software. The bundle includes Parallels Desktop 6 (the fastest virtualization tool, according to MacTech Magazine), 1Password 3, and eight other great apps: MacUpdate Desktop, DVDRemaster Pro 7, Mac DVDRipper 2, Hands Off, App Tamer, TechTool Pro 5, A Better Finder Rename, and Civilization IV.

You get all 10 of these apps for just $49.99 — saving 87 percent off the regular combined retail price. Hurry, though: the offer ends March 31.

What’s the Deal With These Windows PC Guys Saying Stupid Things in Australia About the iPad? 

Asher Moses, reporting for the Sydney Morning Herald:

Speaking at a lunch held in Sydney by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Mundie, who reports directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said he did not know whether tablets like the iPad would “remain with us or not”.

Parity 

Lukas Mathis on Skype 5 for Mac:

At the company I work, we use Skype to communicate. A lot of the people here use Windows computers. More than once, a Windows user walked by my Mac, saw my version of Skype, and said something to the effect of «wow, this looks so much better than the horrible mess we have on Windows!» It seems Skype has noticed that there is a discrepancy in quality between the two versions, and has decided to make the two versions more similar to each other. Unfortunately, instead of making the Windows version of Skype better, they’ve decided to fix the discrepancy by making the Mac version of Skype more like the Windows version.

Amazon Isn’t Paying Music Labels Licensing Fees for ‘Cloud Player’ 

Robert Andrews, PaidContent:

But Amazon resists any suggestion that it needs licenses for storage. The company tells paidContent: “We do not need a license to store music in Cloud Drive. The functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes.” We asked if Amazon believes the same holds true for streaming over its companion Cloud Player and was told this is its official statement and there would be no further comment at this time.

Good for Amazon. I really hope they win this. If you buy a song (or movie, or TV show), it shouldn’t matter where it’s stored.

Amazon Cloud Drive 

Andy Ihnatko:

Apple versus Amazon is like Ali versus Frasier. This is two evenly-matched fighters and the outcome of their battle can only benefit consumers.

Is That iPad 2 Really Worth $2,000? 

When’s the last time you’ve seen this sort of argument made about anything other than an Apple product?

Dell-usional 

Dell’s global head of marketing for large enterprises and public organisations, Andy Lark, in an interview with CIO Australia:

“Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. It’s not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex.”

Dell’s enterprise offerings are renowned for their simplicity.

While Apple had entered the businesses as a consumer device, Lark claimed Dell had taken an enterprise approach toward tablet PCs, which would ultimately give the company, which has a major stake in Microsoft Windows and the desktop PC market, an edge.

Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket.

How Did the New York Times Manage to Spend $40 Million on Its Pay Wall? 

Philip Greenspun:

Aside from wondering who will pay more than the cost of a Wall Street Journal subscription in order to subscribe to the New York Times, my biggest question right now is how the NY Times spent a reported $40-50 million writing the code (Bloomberg; other sources are consistent). Google was financed with $25 million. The New York Times already had a credit card processing system for selling home delivery. It already had a database management system for keeping track of Web site registrants. What did they spend the $40-50 million on?

MLB’s Revamped iPad App 

Jason Snell has a sneak peek at the 2011 edition of MLB’s iPad app.

Evan Williams on Stepping Away From a Daily Role at Twitter 

Seems like he forgot to thank or even mention CEO Dick Costolo. A simple oversight, I’m sure.

Apple Design Awards Now App Store-Only 

Apple:

This year’s Apple Design Awards will be awarded to developers whose iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps are currently on the App Store […]

Raise your hand if you’re surprised by this.

Jim Dalrymple Plays ‘What if That Was Apple?’ 

Jim Dalrymple on Google’s refusal to release the source code to Honeycomb:

Can you imagine if it were Apple delaying a software release. What would the press say if Apple admitted it took shortcuts with its OS to keep up with Google and now they couldn’t release it? The press would have a field day with that story.

Total shitstorm.

The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow 

Erick Schonfeld, for AOL/TechCrunch:

One thing Firefox mobile doesn’t have is support for Flash, even though Android has a big partnership with Adobe to make Flash work on mobile. I spoke with some folks from Mozilla yesterday about this topic. Eventually, Firefox mobile will support Flash, but it is just not there yet in terms of responsiveness.

Soon though!

‘Six Million People Who Get Killed’ 

Regarding Stanley Kubrick’s unmade The Aryan Papers:

Frederic Raphael, who co-authored the screenplay for “Eyes Wide Shut,” recalls Kubrick questioning whether a film could truly represent the Holocaust in its entirety. After Raphael mentioned “Schindler’s List,” Kubrick replied: “Think that’s about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. `Schindler’s List’ is about 600 who don’t. Anything else?”

Mobile Web Sites Aren’t in Opposition to Native Apps 

Josh Clark:

But let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot by getting tangled up in this “web vs native” thing. Our future is going to be one of many, many thin clients talking to smart web services. Some of those clients will be accessed via HTML, others via native code. I love the “one web” ideal but I also believe in the very real value (despite its high cost of entry) in crafting carefully tailored and high-performance interfaces for specific devices and operating systems.

Justin Williams: ‘An Updated List of Android Apps for Honeycomb’ 

Take off your shoes: you’re going to need more than just your fingers to count them all.

Hipmunk, Flight Search iPhone App 

Saw this app mentioned on Mashable and gave it a try. I’m very impressed. It’s not just a good experience for flight search for a phone, it’s a good experience for flight search period. I used it to book my flights for WWDC, and I’d rather use this app on my 3.5-inch iPhone than most flight search websites on my full-size Mac display.

Hipmunk’s “agony” filter produces a seemingly ideal sort order. And their custom date picker is simply brilliant. Hipmunk has a good web interface too, but it has nothing on the iPhone interface. This is why native apps matter.

Fugly Android 

Via the “AndroidPR” Twitter account.

On WWDC Now Being ‘Broken’ 

Jeff LaMarche, on criticism that Apple should somehow expand WWDC to something like Oracle OpenWorld:

Making WWDC more like these giant, soulless, “enterprise” conferences is not the answer. Scaling WWDC to 10k, 20k or 40k is fixing the problem by shooting the golden goose. Trying to scale up WWDC like that would utterly destroy everything that is wonderful about it.

It sucks that demand now outstrips supply for WWDC tickets, but I’m with LaMarche: I don’t see any way for Apple to change this other than by ruining what it is that makes WWDC great.

It’s the “just keep selling more and more conference passes each year because demand keeps increasing” strategy that has watered down SXSW.

Update: It occurs to me that Apple did make a major change to help those who don’t or can’t attend WWDC: they release the session videos remarkably soon after the conference ends. Watching the videos is not the same thing as being there (no labs, for one thing), but it’s a big improvement over years past, when the videos were released many months after WWDC was over.

Great Example 

Embarrassingly bad piece by Steve Lohr for the NYT, on the rise of HTML5 web apps:

“Right now, we’re in a native apps world,” says John Lilly, a venture partner at Greylock Partners, a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. “But people are underestimating the power of the Web. I think we’re going to see an explosion of Web-based apps over the next couple of years.”

Indeed, start-up companies like Zite and Flipboard present media content in magazine-style pages on the iPad, using HTML5. The free software from Flipboard, for example, taps a user’s online social networks for reading recommendations. Flipboard is also working with publishers, offering them tools for automating the display of pages on the iPad.

First, no disclaimer that Lilly was CEO of the Mozilla Corporation until May of last year. Second, how is Flipboard an example of a web app? It’s a native iOS app in the App Store. It uses HTML5 and web content views, sure, but it’s still a native iPad app. (Via Kontra.)

WWDC 2011 Sells Out in Under 12 Hours 

Serenity Caldwell, for Macworld:

While WWDC has been selling out before its opening day since 2008, this year’s speedy turnaround is particularly noteworthy: Apple’s conference last year in 2010 took eight days to fill to capacity, while it took a whole month for the 2009 event to sell out. As previous conferences have primarily focused on either Apple’s mobile or desktop OS, but never both, it’s likely the promised double-whammy of available tracks for both the Mac and iOS attracted a much larger pool of developers than last year’s iOS-centric conference.

I don’t know about that. I think it likely would have sold out in the same amount of time even if Apple’s entire announcement had consisted of nothing but “WWDC 2011 tickets are now on sale”. This is the conference for the hottest development platform.

David Worthington’s Mom Reviews the iPad, Her First Computer 

If you don’t think this sort of perspective matters, you’re nuts.

Jack Dorsey Back at Twitter, Leading Product Design 

Remember all the shit I got when I suggested that Ev Williams was forced out as CEO and that his new position as head of product was pure spin? Yeah.

Jim Dalrymple: ‘No iPhone, iPad, or Mac Hardware Coming at WWDC’ 

Surprising, yes. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jim Dalrymple’s sources at Apple are gold.

WWDC 2011 on Sale Now 

June 6-10. Last year’s sold out in a few days. This year’s slogan: “Join us for a preview of the future of iOS and Mac OS X” — sounds like iOS 5 might not ship until later in the year.

Apple’s Web-Based App Store Guide for iPhone 

The emphasis seems to be promoting iPhone-exclusive titles.

RIM: The Inmates Have Taken Over the Asylum 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

RIM reigned at a time when your Blackberry came with everything you needed.

That’s RIM’s problem in a sentence.

Epic Review of Color in the App Store 

“Color is a ground-breaking new entry in the new genre of MMPRLMG (Massive Multi-Player Real-Live Marketing Games).”

Matt Drance Told Us RIM Was in Trouble 

Matt Drance:

RIM has two CEOs and three COOs. Why is anyone expecting straight answers from a company that can’t even decide who’s in charge?

The Noyes Machine 

The Macalope on Katherine Noyes’s bizarre anti-iPad crusade.

Oh, Samsung 

Harry McCracken finds Samsung’s tablet-thinness claims sketchy, and catches them using actors to portray purportedly real Galaxy Tab users. Good journalism.

Harvest 

My thanks to Harvest for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Harvest is a time tracking and invoicing web app that’s perfect for freelancers and creative agencies. Designed with productivity and ease of use in mind, it’s simple to track billable hours from the web or the desktop widget. Free iPhone and Android companion apps help you track time and expenses on the go. At the end of the month, turn your billable hours into invoices with just a few clicks.

Harvest users include smart companies like Happy Cog and Adaptive Path. You can get started with Harvest with a free 30-day trial.

Color Keeps Digging 

Color founder Bill Nguyen explains to Matt Rosoff that his company is misunderstood:

Color is not about photo sharing. It’s a new way to build spontaneous social networks — and collect massive amounts of data about what people are doing and where they’re doing it — without collecting any personally identifiable information like last names, addresses, or even passwords.

So it’s a data mining trojan horse. Well, that changes everything. Who wouldn’t love that? And it’s a good thing personal photos have no “personally identifiable information” — you know, other than images of you, your friends, and your family.

More Open 

J-P Teti:

The iPad only does less than a regular computer to us geeks. To everyone else, it does more. This is what Motorola and Google and Samsung and BlackBerry and everyone else, with the sole exception of Apple, do not get about “open” computing.

Astute analysis of the iPad to regular folks.

‘It’s Like Walking Through Sam Ash With Steve Jobs’s AmEx.’ 

Benjamin Jackson on GarageBand for iPad.

The Talk Show, Episode 35 

This week’s episode of America’s favorite podcast, with me talking about my new computer. Other topics: Bertrand Serlet, the Amazon Appstore, and Diamonds Are Forever. Brought to you by MailChimp.

He Who Owns the API 

Glenn Fleishman, writing for The Economist, on Amazon’s back-and-forth with Lendle:

But on Monday morning Amazon turned off the content tap that feeds the site; it was not switched on again until Tuesday evening. The brief outage demonstrates a fundamental truth about the internet: if you don’t own the data you need to run your business, you’re dependent on the policies — and whims — of the parties that do. Jeff Croft, Lendle’s founder, says he will not make that mistake again.

Really smart take on the story.

RIM Co-CEO on PlayBook’s Support for Android Apps 

Crystal clear.

Color: Breathlessly Overhyped Piece of Crap 

Color is a new location-based social photo-sharing app for the iPhone and Android. Or something. I installed it and couldn’t make heads or tails out of it, and even if I could figure out the app, I can’t see why I’d ever want to use such a service. Yet it was somehow the biggest story in tech news circles today. E.g.: “Color Looks to Reinvent Social Interaction”? Really? This thing looks like a turd to me. Now, maybe I’m the idiot and the joke’s on me and Color is going to be a huge hit. But my figurative money says that the investors who funded these guys just flushed $41 million in literal money down the toilet.

Nice domain name, though.

BlackBerry PlayBook to Include Support for Android and Java Apps 

RIM:

RIM will launch two optional “app players” that provide an application run-time environment for BlackBerry Java apps and Android v2.3 apps. These new app players will allow users to download BlackBerry Java apps and Android apps from BlackBerry App World and run them on their BlackBerry PlayBook.

In addition, RIM will shortly release the native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook enabling C/C++ application development on the BlackBerry® Tablet OS. For game-specific developers, RIM is also announcing that it has gained support from two leading game development tooling companies, allowing developers to use the cross-platform game engines from Ideaworks Labs and Unity Technologies to bring their games to the BlackBerry PlayBook.

These options are in addition to RIM’s previously announced Tablet OS SDKs for Adobe Air and HTML5 web apps. So here’s the question. Which one of these is the native SDK for the PlayBook. Which one’s best? What is RIM’s advice for how developers should write PlayBook apps?

Google Not Releasing Honeycomb Source Code ‘For the Foreseeable Future’ 

Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone, reporting for Businessweek:

Google says it will delay the distribution of its newest Android source code, dubbed Honeycomb, at least for the foreseeable future. The search giant says the software, which is tailored specifically for tablet computers that compete against Apple’s iPad, is not yet ready to be altered by outside programmers and customized for other devices, such as phones.

Guess we need a new definition of “open”.

I’ll Show You a Fad 

Once people see one in person, they want one.

‘Just a Fad’ 

PCWorld’s Katherine Noyes says “tablets are just a fad”:

Yet strong sales are backing up the hype — at least for now — suggesting something about the devices has caught on with consumers. What is that mysterious “something”? Purely marketing, I believe. Apple is nothing if not master of the glitzy sales pitch, and there’s never been better proof of that than the iPad’s current success.

Mark my words: The device — and all the others of its ilk that have sprung up for a piece of the action — are nothing more than a passing fad, at least in the mainstream.

Words marked.

On Working for Bertrand Serlet 

David Cásseres:

Pretty soon he was standing up in front of seasoned Apple software engineers and lecturing us on how not to make mistakes when cutting and pasting code. I said at that time that I had never felt so thoroughly disrespected as an engineer in my entire career. The NeXT/Apple culture wars were at their height.

Seems like ancient history now, but the NeXT/Apple engineering cultures did not mix well at first.

Oh, I Believe It 

NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger, on circumventing their new pay wall:

“Can people go around the system?” Sulzberger asked during an appearance at The Paley Center for Media here. “The answer is yes. There are going to be ways. Just as if you run down Sixth Avenue right now and you pass a newsstand and grab the paper and keep running you can actually get the Times free,” he said.

“We have to accept that. Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to be done by the kind of people who buy the quality news and opinion of the New York Times? We don’t think so,” he said.

“It’ll be mostly high school kids and people out of work,” Sulzberger said, before adding “I can’t believe I said that.”

Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ Set for Cannes 

Justin Chang, Variety:

A full year after it was initially floated as a hot fest prospect, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” is set to make its world premiere in May at the Cannes Film Festival.

Who’s up for a trip to France?

John Paczkowski on Bertrand Serlet’s Departure From Apple 

John Paczkowski:

There’s a reason Craig Federighi, who is to take over Serlet’s role, handled demo duties for Apple’s Lion preview demo last year (see video below). And there’s a reason Serlet has been selling off Apple shares recently. They’ve been preparing for this day, which sources tell me is not at all the result of a spat over differences in strategic direction or the diminishment of OS X’s importance to Apple.

“There’s no acrimony there,” one source close to the company told me. “Bertrand’s just decided it’s his time to move on. Avie (Tevanian, former senior vice president of software engineering) handed off to him and now he’s handing off to Craig. It’s just a changing of the guard.”

Lendle Is Back 

Lendle:

Late today, we received an email from an Associates Account Specialist at Amazon informing us that their concern only relates to our Book Sync tool, which syncs a user’s Kindle books with their Lendle account. Amazon informed us that if we disabled this feature, our access to the api, as well as our Amazon Associates account, would be reinstated. We appreciate Amazon’s willingness to modify the position stated in the original access revocation email and work with us to get Lendle back on line. We have complied with the request to disable the Book Sync tool (which was a very useful, but non-essential, feature of Lendle).

Bertrand Serlet on Vista 

So funny.

Bertrand Serlet to Leave Apple 

He’s one of the good guys. It’s hard to overstate how influential he’s been in the creation of the core OS and Cocoa libraries. He’s been building, revising, iterating, and improving this system since 1989.

Touring the Amazon Appstore 

Justin Williams is on fire lately. Great overview of the Amazon Appstore experience.

Dan Frommer on How Amazon Could Become a Tablet Player 

Dan Frommer makes the case for Amazon as a potential tablet competitor. This tweet by Jeff Kibuule makes the case succinctly:

Amazon is the only other company than Apple with a complete ecosystem of movies, music, apps, and web.

And, of course, user accounts backed by credit cards.

One problem seemingly no one addresses in reviews of Android tablets is how one is supposed to, say, load them up with a movie or two for an airplane trip. Google has no answer for that. Amazon could.

Eight Easy Steps 

Justin Williams on the process of installing the Amazon Appstore on your Android device:

There should never be an eight step installation process in mobile computing. Unless Amazon is able to net a killer, exclusive application that’s unavailable anywhere else, I am hard-pressed to find any logic or reason why this will succeed.

I think this is Amazon’s first step towards launching their own Amazon-branded (or perhaps Kindle-branded) Android devices, where the Amazon Appstore will be preinstalled, and the devices will ship from Amazon with your Amazon credentials already set up on the device (as with the Kindle hardware today). They’re launching now, for existing Android devices, to work out the kinks and build the library of available titles.

Even with the arduous installation process for existing Android devices, I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon’s store soon surpasses Google’s Android Market. Amazon knows how to sell digital content; Google doesn’t.

Amazon Appstore for Android 

“Appstore”, closed up, looks weird to me, but perhaps it’s a bit of defense against Apple’s trademark lawsuit over “app store”.

Everyday 1.0 

Speaking of cool new apps with Sandwich videos: Everyday, an iPhone app for taking daily pictures of yourself and then, after you’ve accumulated a bunch of them, putting them together into a “looking at me, getting older and getting haircuts and shit” time-lapse video. $1.99 on the App Store.

Flow: Task Management and Online Collaboration for Teams 

Very attractive new web app (with an iPhone companion app) for task management, with team sharing features. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to my ideal task management setup. You owe it to yourself to at least watch their Sandwich video. Update: Expensive, though: $10/month for a single account.

Digital Subscription Prices Visualized 

The NYT is way out of line with what people are accustomed to paying for online services.

Project Chameleon 

Open source framework from Sean Heber and Craig Hockenberry:

Chameleon is a drop in replacement for UIKit that runs on Mac OS X. In many cases, your iOS code doesn’t need to change at all in order to run on a Mac. […]

Our approach with Chameleon was to use native AppKit constructs in the context of UIKit. The glue that holds these two frameworks together is Core Animation.

It ends up the current Mac version of Twitterrific was built using Chameleon. Great stuff, and they’re raising money to fund further development.

The Daily’s Pricing 

Patrick LaForge on Twitter:

One test of the @Gruber “simplicity theorem” will be Murdoch’s The Daily iPad app, built with full Apple support and promotion.

The Daily has Apple’s support and some promotional help, but I certainly wouldn’t call it Apple’s “full” support and promotion. It’s a News Corp. venture, not a joint News Corp./Apple venture.

But the bigger point is that I’m not arguing that simplicity of pricing is the only thing that matters. Everything matters. I’d say The Daily’s success depends on three things: the quality of their software, the quality of their journalism, and their pricing. They’ve got the pricing nailed: $1/week or $40/year. The software stinks, though, and so far, I’m not a fan of their journalism. If The Daily fails, it doesn’t mean they got the pricing wrong.

There’s no doubt in my mind that The New York Times is worth more than The Daily. I’d pay double what The Daily charges for The Times, without batting an eyelash. But The Times is charging at least five times more.

One more thought on The Times’s pricing: What’s the thinking behind charging more to use their iPad app than their smartphone apps? If I’m paying for the content, what difference does it make how big my screen is? To me, the extra $5/month they’re charging for iPad app access indicates that they see iPad users as suckers to be fleeced.

Update: We’ll see how long it lasts, but at this moment, The Daily is at the top of Apple’s top-grossing apps list.

Andy Ihnatko Reviews the iPad 2 

Andy Ihnatko:

After a week with the iPad 2, I’ve come to realize that Apple’s true revolutionary change has been conceptual. The first iPad wasn’t just a new product … it was a whole new category of computer. I think in 2010, Apple instinctively understood that with something this different on their hands, they couldn’t go for broke. They could only lay out their cards and imply the iPad’s many strengths and then they’d have to stand back and watch what happened. After all of their efforts, they could only hope that consumers and developers figured out what the iPad was on their own. Only then could Apple make their next move, based on those reactions.

This screenshot comparison of Real Racing 2 HD says it all.

Apple Sues Amazon.com, Seeks Order to Stop Use of ‘App Store’ Trademark 

The App Store vs. an app store.

How Many People Think a Digital NYT Subscription Is Worth $455/Year? 

Frédéric Filloux (Jean-Louis Gassée’s Monday Note colleague):

The New York Times paywall is like the French tax system: expensive, utterly complicated, disconnected from the reality and designed to be bypassed. […]

The New York Times’ pricing structure, the fact that it is also designed to protect the paper’s physical circulation, the paywall’s porosity all complicate projections. One thing is sure: $35 a month ($420/year) to view the online paper on three devices is ridiculous, not matter how elitist the target group is fantasized to be. You simply don’t charge such an amount in a (US) market where services like Hulu or Netflix cost $7.99 per month.

Worse: because they charge by four-week increments rather than “months”, it actually works out to $455/year.

Boxer: ‘The DOS Game Emulator That’s Fit for Your Mac’ 

Mac-style DOS game emulator. Splendid design and attention to detail. (Via Kottke.)

Amazon Kills Lendle 

Via Lendle’s Twitter account:

Amazon has revoked Lendle’s API access. This is why the site is down. It’s sad and unfortunate that Amazon is shutting down Lending sites.

And:

According to Amazon, Lendle does not “serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.”

96 Percent 

David Carr:

Today’s quiz: What company derives 96 percent of its revenue from advertising, has a video platform that is currently negotiating with the National Basketball Association, a movie studio and various celebrities, and is developing a subscription service that would be plug-and-play for publishers and consumers the world over.

96 percent is a big number.

Nintendo to ‘Hobbyist’ Developers: No Thanks 

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime:

“Where we’ve drawn the line is we are not looking to do business today with the garage developer. In our view, that’s not a business we want to pursue.”

Strikes me as an untenable position for handheld gaming today, and perhaps soon for the console.

On Linking to Primary Sources 

Ben Goldacre:

But more than anything, because linking to sources is such an easy thing to do and the motivations for avoiding links are so dubious, I’ve detected myself using a new rule of thumb: if you don’t link to primary sources, I just don’t trust you.

(Via Michael Lopp.)

What Twitter and the NYT Have in Common 

Dave Winer:

Neither company has a way to sustain itself financially.

Not only that, they don’t have any ideas. The difference between the Times and Twitter is that we’ve known that about the Times for a long time, and only suspected it about Twitter.

The most telling thing about the NYT’s digital subscription plans is that you can save money on an all-access plan (web, phone app, iPad app) by getting a new home delivery subscription for the weekday or Sunday editions. Think about that. If you want to pay the New York Times to read the news using both their iPhone and iPad apps, in theory, you should be their ideal customer — you’re willing to pay, and you’re looking forward, technology-wise. But you’ll save money by getting several pounds of paper that you don’t want delivered to your doorstep every week.

Update: Dan Wineman quips:

Of course you save money if you let the NYT dump weekly paper wads on your doorstep. They have the same revenue model as the Yellow Pages.

Ouch.

Justin Williams on Twitter’s Dickbar 

Justin Williams:

If Twitter wants to improve the trending experience for everyone, it should change how they are calculated entirely. Rather than generating trends based on the location of a tweet, they should instead show trends related to what is happening in my timeline, who I am following and who my followers follow.

I.e., in Apple’s parlance, genius recommendations. This would be better than the mind-numbing nonsense the Dickbar shows now, but I still think it goes against the spirit of Twitter. Twitter should show you only what you’ve subscribed to, and, if this is the way they’re going to go, paid ads. That’s it.

Marco Arment on Twitter’s Dickbar 

Marco Arment:

The Quick Bar isn’t offensive because we don’t want Twitter making money with ads, or because we object to changes in the interface.

It’s offensive because it’s deeply bad, showing complete disregard for quality, product design, and user respect, and we’ve come to expect a lot more from Twitter.

Nailed it.

Jeff Rock on Twitter’s Dickbar 

Jeff Rock:

If Twitter wants to run an ad at the top of the scrollview, Twiterrific-style, I’m all for it. It’s your platform. Monetize away. But the problem with the trend bar implementation is that I’m being subjected to what I find to be the poor taste of millions of mouth-breathing buffoons in my own timeline.

Om Malik on the AT&T/T-Mobile Acquisition 

Om Malik:

It doesn’t matter how you look at it, this is just bad for wireless innovation, which means bad news for consumers.

AT&T Agrees to Buy T-Mobile USA for $39 Billion 

Two bad carriers don’t make one good one.

Xkcd’s Radiation Dose Chart 

Radiation levels, in context. Excellent work (as usual) by Randall Munroe. Bonus points for the use of Monaco 10px.

They Should Have Worse Than Headaches 

Laurie Sullivan, writing for MediaPost:

Search firm Marin Software published a white paper Tuesday based on findings and unanswered questions surrounding Apple’s iOS platform. The report identifies Safari, the primary browser for iOS devices, as a major challenge because it blocks third-party cookies by default, making it difficult for ad servers, tracking systems, and ad management tools to link visitors to ads that brought them to the Web site.

And this is a bad thing how?

REAL Studio 

My thanks to REAL Software for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote REAL Studio, their cross-platform application developer IDE for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and the web. REAL Studio uses a simple object-oriented programming language that’s tightly coupled with the integrated visual UI builder. The apps it generates use native controls and are compiled to machine code.

There’s nothing else quite like REAL Studio, especially for cross-platform support. They have several different editions for different types of developers, and a 30-day free demo.

TSA Admits Bungling of Airport Body-Scanner Radiation Tests 

David Kravets, reporting for Wired:

The Transportation Security Administration is re-analyzing the radiation levels of X-ray body scanners installed in airports nationwide, after testing produced dramatically higher-than-expected results.

The TSA, which has deployed at least 500 body scanners to at least 78 airports, said Tuesday the machines meet all safety standards and would remain in operation despite a “calculation error” in safety studies. The flawed results showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.

Shocking.

Flash 10.2 for Android Shipped Today 

Sean Hollister, for Engadget:

First off, you don’t absolutely need a dual-core phone to take advantage of Flash 10.2 — Adobe VP Danny Winokur told us, and we confirmed in testing, that there are slight performance improvements on earlier devices too. With our trusty Droid 2’s 1Ghz OMAP3 chip, we saw a slight but noticeable boost in framerate when playing a YouTube trailer at 480p, which admittedly only took took that particular video from “unwatchable” to merely “fairly jerky.”

Sounds great.

With the Tegra 2-toting Motorola Xoom, however, 480p videos ran perfectly smooth, even as the tablet had trouble rendering 720p content as anything but a series of images.

Sounds great.

However, Adobe says even that will change soon, as this beta release doesn’t take advantage of full hardware acceleration — it’s actually turned off right now.

When will Flash not suck? The answer is always “soon”.

Felix Salmon on the NYT’s Pay Wall Pricing 

Felix Salmon:

Beyond that, $15 per four-week period gives you access to the website and also its smartphone app, while $20 gives you access to the website also its iPad app. But if you want to read the NYT on both your smartphone and your iPad, you’ll need to buy both digital subscriptions separately, and pay an eye-popping $35 every four weeks. That’s $455 a year.

The message being sent here is weird: that access to the website is worth nothing. Mathematically, if A+B=$15, A+C=$20, and A+B+C=$35, then A=$0.

I just don’t get the pricing, and I find it hard to believe there are many people willing to pay $455/year for digital access to a newspaper, no matter how good the newspaper is.

The New York Times Pay Wall 

I think it’s too expensive and too confusing: $15/month for unlimited web site access and smartphone app access; $20/month for the web and tablet app access; $35 for web, phone, and tablet access. (And they’re not really months — it’s a four-week billing cycle.)

Why not just $15/month for everything? Or $10/month for the website and an extra $5 or $10 for “apps”. The distinction between phone apps and tablet apps is just confusing. And The Times should get its software in order before charging extra for it. I might pay $5 extra per month for their iPad app — but not in its current state where it’s buggy, crashy, and too slow. I’m willing to pay for the NYT, but I don’t want to feel nickel-and-dimed.

The above is my take as a consumer and long-time daily reader of The Times’s journalism. Professionally, this pay wall is likely going to result in my linking to stories at nytimes.com far less frequently than I used to. They claim that referrals from blogs won’t count against your free article count:

Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit.

But if they’re liberal in that regard, it’ll prove too easy to circumvent the pay wall. I sure hope this works out for them, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

The Talk Show, Episode 34 

Yours truly and Dan Benjamin, discussing SXSW, Netflix, Twitter’s move against new API clients, and the worst James Bond movie ever made, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Brought to you by two fine sponsors: Sourcebits and Audible.com.

Manton Reece: ‘Where Apple Went Wrong With Free Apps’ 

Interesting take from Manton Reece:

Apple is trapped by their original decision to shoulder the cost of free apps. They encouraged free apps and now they’ve got one band-aid on top of another — advertisements, in-app purchase, subscriptions — all trying to make free apps work for the App Store bottom line. These changes make developers nervous because all the power lies with Apple.

I don’t agree with Manton entirely, but I think he’s mostly right: free is hard.

A Plea for Baked Weblogs 

Brent Simmons:

And so, even in the year 2011, if your weblog gets Fireballed, there’s a good chance it won’t be able to handle it. That seems crazy. It’s not 1997 — it’s 2011.

It freaks me out that this is still an issue. Or, worse — sometimes it pisses me off a little, when I want to read something and I can’t. […]

I think the new technique web developers — or weblog developers, at least — ought to learn is static rendering: writing files to disk rather than building from a database on every request.

That’s how DF itself works — and has always worked — thanks to Movable Type’s default static publishing mode. I do run on a higher-end server today (thanks, Joyent), but software-wise, DF works exactly the same today as it did back in 2002, when it was serving 100 page views a day.

Ingredients 1.0 

Open source Cocoa developer documentation browser, by Alex Gordon and Jean-Nicolas Jolivet. Noticed it via Craig Hockenberry’s review of Xcode 4.

Jeff Carlson Reviews iMovie for iOS 

Jeff Carlson:

iMovie for iOS 1.2 could be the friendliest version of Apple’s video software yet, a welcome introduction to the process of turning raw video clips into movies that say more than just, “I pointed my camera at that place.”

Employee No. 8 

Chris Espinosa, on the 34th anniversary of his official start day at Apple:

Steve Jobs had been paying people out of the company checkbook, and not all that regularly. So Scotty lined folks up to make an official payroll. He picked employee number 7 for himself because he wanted it, and allocated the other 10 or so people in a nominally fair order. (I’m going to skip the legendary story of whether Steve Jobs is number 0 or 2 because I wasn’t there and have no direct knowledge.)

The reason I got number 8 was that Scotty did this in the middle of a weekday, and I didn’t get out of high school until 2:40. By the time Randy Wigginton and I got there the first five numbers were taken, so we got 6 and 8 respectively.

Netflix Confirms ‘House of Cards’ 

Netflix:

Hi, Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer here. We’re delighted to tell you that in late 2012 Netflix will be bringing to our members in the U.S. and Canada exclusively “House of Cards,” the much-anticipated television series and political thriller from Executive Producer David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey. We’ve committed to at least 26 episodes of the serialized drama, which is based on a BBC mini-series from the 1990s that’s been a favorite of Netflix members.

AT&T Cracking Down on Unofficial iPhone Tethering Users 

OSXDaily reports:

Customers are being notified that their service plans need updating to subscribe to a tethering plan, and that they will be automatically subscribed to a DataPro 4GB package that costs an additional $45 per month if they continue to tether. In the email, AT&T also notes that if customers discontinue the use of tethering, no changes will be made to their plan.

That’s not quite right. It’s not $45 “in addition” to whatever you’re paying for your data plan now — it’s $45 instead of your current data plan.

Confessions of an Apple Store Employee 

No surprise here:

We aren’t paid on commission, but you fear for your job if you’re not selling enough. We’re supposed to sell AppleCare product support with just about everything, and honestly, those aren’t that hard to sell, since they aren’t a bad deal. But we’re also supposed to push MobileMe, and that’s really hard to sell. Nobody ever sells it.

Google Translate for iPhone 

A month old, but I missed this when it was new. Jeff Richardson reviews the new Google Translate app for the iPhone:

For example, make sure the app is in English to French mode, press one button in the app, say to your iPhone “where is the train station,” and then a second later your iPhone displays “où est la gare” and you can tap one button to have that spoken in French so that the person in Paris can hear and understand you and point in a direction. You could even press one button to switch the translation from French to English, have the other person speak the answer in French, and then you can see the answer in English.

Life in a Solid State 

Khoi Vinh upgrades to an SSD:

It really is like getting a brand new computer.

Satellite Photos of Japan Before and After Tsunami 

Heartbreaking.

Rafe Colburn on the Nitro Thing in iOS 4.3 

A clarification I neglected to make in my piece on it earlier today:

  • Web apps running from home screen but not in full-screen mode (which launch inside Safari) run Nitro fine.

  • Web apps running from home screen in full-screen mode launch inside Web.app, which is a system app and in theory should be able to run Nitro but it’s not because it lacks the entitlement.

So, yes, it’s only those web apps which invoke the special markup syntax to run in full-screen mode that are affected by this. Home screen web apps that open inside Mobile Safari do get Nitro (and all other Mobile Safari performance optimizations). As for why Apple couldn’t/didn’t allow full-screen web apps to get Nitro in iOS 4.3, I don’t know.

If I Could Have Linked to This Tweet a Few Hours Ago, It Would Have Saved Me a Lot of Typing 

Mark Pilgrim:

Wait, so the big conspiracy is that Apple made their browser faster? We should all have these problems.

WebKit2 and the Split-Process Model 

Still in development:

WebKit2 is a new API layer for WebKit designed from the ground up to support a split process model, where the web content (JavaScript, HTML, layout, etc) lives in a separate process from the application UI. This model is very similar to what Google Chrome offers, with the major difference being that we have built the process split model directly into the framework, allowing other clients of WebKit to use it.

After publishing my piece today on why the Nitro JavaScript engine isn’t available system-wide in iOS 4.3, several readers reminded me of the in-progress WebKit2 project. Surely, this will eventually come to iOS, and when it does, it solves a lot of problems for Apple. I think iOS 4.3 granting Mobile Safari an exception to the rule against marking pages in memory executable is a stopgap.

Study Comparing Android to iPhone Web Browsing Speed Flawed 

Jim Dalrymple:

One of the biggest surprises the Blaze team found was that “despite significant JavaScript performance gains in the latest Apple iOS 4.3 release and Google Android 2.3 releases, these improvement made no measurable improvement on the actual page load times of the sites tested.”

There is a good reason for this. According to Blaze’s own documentation the “measurement itself was done using the custom apps which use the platform’s embedded browser. This means WebView (based on Chrome) for Android, and UIWebView (based on Safari) for iPhone.”

Right. The problem with Blaze’s entire study is that they didn’t test what they claimed to be testing. They used custom apps for iOS and Android, but claim the results show that Android’s browser is faster than iOS’s Mobile Safari. Instead, their results show that Android’s WebView control is faster than iOS’s UIWebView control. Mobile Safari is not just a thin wrapper around the system’s UIWebView control — it has its own caching system, its renderer uses asynchronous multithreading (UIWebView does not), and, as of iOS 4.3, Mobile Safari uses its own much faster JavaScript engine (“Nitro”).

That’s not to say it isn’t interesting that Android’s WebView for apps is faster than iOS’s UIWebView for apps, but it just isn’t true that these results are indicative of anything regarding Mobile Safari’s performance. It’s easy to see that Mobile Safari is faster than UIWebView — just run something like the SunSpider benchmark twice, once in Mobile Safari and once in any app from the App Store with a web content view. On my iPhone 4, Mobile Safari runs SunSpider almost three times as fast as an app using UIWebView.

These Blaze guys are either incompetent or dishonest attention seekers, given that they claim this, in an update to their report:

Some wonder whether the new Nitro JavaScript engine was used in our measurements. We’re still investigating this issue, as the report was completed before it was made known. So far we’ve seen indications in both directions, so we can’t say for sure it’s being applied.

That said, the results from measuring Android show that JavaScript only accounts for a small percentage of the total load time, about 15% on average. This implies that even if Nitro is not in use, it likely can only slightly narrow the gap. We’ll follow up with any additional info.

Because the thing is, Nitro isn’t the only difference between Mobile Safari’s rendering and UIWebView’s rendering. Mobile Safari has better caching and asynchronous multithreading, too.

Improved Flickr Slideshows for the iPad 

Nice. Too bad they still use Arial instead of Helvetica.

Five Years Ago Today: Ze Frank’s The Show Debuted 

I still miss it. Full list of episodes, here on The Show’s iTunes podcast page.

GQ: The Worst Sports Fans in America 

GQ:

The truth is this: All told, Philadelphia stadiums house the most monstrous collection of humanity outside of the federal penal system. “Some of these people would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell,” baseball legend Pete Rose once said.

Or as we call that list here in Philly, “The Best Sports Fans in America”.

Panic: Let’s Help Japan 

Cabel Sasser:

Panic will donate 100% of today’s proceeds directly to the Japanese relief effort.

It doesn’t matter if you buy direct from us or via the Mac App Store, we’ll take care of it. We’ll total up sales from 10:00 AM PST Mar 17th to 10:00 AM PST Mar 18th. And we plan to donate to a mix of the Japanese Red Cross Society and Portland’s own Mercy Corps.

Thorsten Overgaard’s Leica M9 Pages 

12-page “review” of the Leica M9, written over a long stretch of time of actual field use. Effectively, an ongoing journal as camera review. Splendid photos, too.

Netflix to Enter Original Programming 

Nellie Andreeva, for Deadline Hollywood:

In what is probably the biggest gamble in its 14-year history, I hear Netflix has outbid several major cable networks, including HBO and AMC, for Media Rights Capital’s drama series House of Cards, executive produced and directed by David Fincher and exec produced by and starring Kevin Spacey.

Genius move, if they can pull it off.

And, if they do, when does Apple start doing the same thing? Imagine a hit show that’s only available through iTunes.

Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi Edition Due on March 27 for $599 

That’s a much more competitive starting price.

Here’s Why Developers Are Scaring Twitter 

Another great story at GigaOm — this one by Ryan Kim — regarding Twitter’s threats to client developers:

The saga over Twitter’s new hardline stance against developers just got more interesting. While Twitter officials downplay the company’s crusade against new third-party Twitter clients, with claims 90 percent of active Twitter members use official Twitter apps on a monthly basis, fresh analysis suggests third-party Twitter apps account for much more traffic: 42 percent, according Sysomos, a social media analytics company.

This makes sense. Casual users are more likely to use Twitter’s official clients and the twitter.com website, but active users are more likely to use third-party clients.

Why Twitter Should Think Twice About Bulldozing the Ecosystem 

Mathew Ingram:

Without the help of third-party apps like Tweetie and Tweetdeck, the company likely would not have been nearly as successful at building the network (and a ready-made client like Tweetie certainly wouldn’t have been sitting there waiting to be acquired). But the ecosystem didn’t just build demand for the network — it also helped build and distribute the behavior that now makes Twitter so valuable: the @ mentions, the direct messages, re-Tweets and so on, none of which were Twitter’s idea originally. That created a huge amount of goodwill, and led to the (apparently mistaken) idea of an ecosystem.

Great piece, and I share Ingram’s sentiments. It’s not that I think Twitter is wrong in any moral sense to do whatever they want with their own API — it’s that I think they’d be foolish to do anything that dampens the diverse ecosystem of client software that has evolved around Twitter. They’re acting against their own self-interest, but apparently don’t realize it.

Wi-Fi-Only iPads Get GPS When Tethered to iPhone 

As Zachery Bir says, yet another reason to consider a Wi-Fi-only iPad. See also: Kyle Carmitchel at Tablet Monsters.

Hotspot Tethering Allows FaceTime Calls Over 3G 

Jordan Yee:

I’m just putting two and two together here, so hear me out: if an iPhone 4 can only make FaceTime calls over Wi-Fi like the iPad 2, could an iPad 2 make a FaceTime call over 3G by connecting to an iPhone 4’s Personal Hotspot feature which is Wi-Fi?

Yes, this works fine. In fact, while carrying around both my own AT&T iPhone 4 and the Verizon iPhone 4 review unit I got from Apple, I was able to use FaceTime from my iPhone over the Verizon iPhone’s hotspot — and it worked well.

Running Up the Score 

Mark Sigal on the iPad 2:

For while it may be tempting to see the battle between iOS-powered iPads and Android-powered tablets as likely to be close, the truth is that Apple is blowing out the competition. The competition has no offense, no defense, and in the words of Steve Jobs, is getting “flummoxed.”

And they should be. Why? Because comparisons to Android’s strong competitive effort in the smartphone realm hide the fact that in the media player realm — arguably the closer analog to the iPad’s domain — Android is a total non-entity. This speaks to the simple fact that when you remove the artificial “pull” of mobile carriers from the media/tablet realm, Android devices are hosed.

Maybe “artificial” is an unfair adjective. Android was, I believe, designed with the phone market in mind — and thus designed with the pull of the carriers in mind. But count me in with Sigal on the big picture: the iPad is more like the iPod than the iPhone, and that’s bad news for Android.

Twitter Adds Always-Use-HTTPS Option 

Everyone who uses Twitter should turn this on.

White House Forces State Department Spokesman to Resign for Condemning Abuse of Private Manning 

Glenn Greenwald:

So, in Barack Obama’s administration, it’s perfectly acceptable to abuse an American citizen in detention who has been convicted of nothing by consigning him to 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, barring him from exercising in his cell, punitively imposing “suicide watch” restrictions on him against the recommendations of brig psychiatrists, and subjecting him to prolonged, forced nudity designed to humiliate and degrade. But speaking out against that abuse is a firing offense.

Flare 1.0 

New photo editing app for the Mac from The Iconfactory. The focus is on preset filters for adding effects and styles to photographs. The UI is swanky and the default presets are pretty fun — sort of like Instagram, but with the full power of a Mac behind them. Even better, you can tweak each individual effect within a given preset filter, create and save your own presets, and download/share new ones.

Regular price $20, but it’s on sale through March 18 in the Mac App Store for just $10.

The Abuse of Private Manning 

The New York Times:

Private Manning is in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. For one hour a day, he is allowed to walk around a room in shackles. He is forced to remove all his clothes every night. And every morning he is required to stand outside his cell, naked, until he passes inspection and is given his clothes back.

Military officials say, without explanation, that these precautions are necessary to prevent Private Manning from injuring himself. They have put him on “prevention of injury” watch, yet his lawyers say there is no indication that he is suicidal and the military has not placed him on a suicide watch.

Torture, pure and simple.

Instagallery 1.0 

Swell Instagram client for the iPad, by Troy Gaul. It’s weird seeing Instagram photos “big”. $1.99, cheap.

Andy Ihnatko’s Advice for Tablet Makers 

Andy Ihnatko:

If you try to build something the size of an iPad that tries to work kind of like an iPad, you’re pretty much admitting to your potential customers that Apple has The Real Thing and you’re selling a knockoff. One that costs $100 to $300 more, for some reason.

This is why I’m more optimistic about RIM’s PlayBook than any other non-iPad tablet on the immediate horizon. Steve Jobs railed against the futility of 7-inch tablets last year. RIM shrewdly took this as a sign that Apple isn’t going to make something like that. As a result, the 7-inch PlayBook starts off with an immediate and clear answer to the question “What makes this tablet different?”

Jon Bon Jovi Blames Steve Jobs for ‘Killing the Music Industry’ 

Dave Wiskus nails it:

You know who never complains about the shift to digital music? People who buy and listen to music.

You Are All in Publishing 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

So I asked, “Who here is in publishing?”

A few hands were gently raised.

Uh-huh. “And how many of you work on the web?”

Every right hand in the room shot up.

Matt Haughey: ‘Lessons From 11 Years of Community’ 

Matt Haughey’s talk from SXSW: pretty much everything you’d want to know about how MetaFilter works. Fascinating stuff. (Via Kottke.)

Apple’s Role in Japan During the Tohoku Earthquake 

From an email sent to Kevin Rose by a friend working for Apple in Japan:

You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on?  In this digital age, that’s what the Tokyo Apple stores became.  Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones.  Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.

Donate to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund 

Not sure what to say about the catastrophes in Japan, other than to encourage everyone to donate. It’s the most effective way for most of us to help.

North 3 

So, what are you doing this month?

In March 2011 Ben Saunders sets out to reach the Geographic North Pole solo and unsupported, and aims to break the North Pole speed record in the process. In 2005 a guided team using dog sleds and several air-drops of food reached the Pole in 36 days, 22 hours, and in 2010 a Canadian team reached the Pole on foot in 41 days, 18 hours with one resupply flight. Ben is travelling solo and on foot, with no support en route.

Bloomberg: ‘Microsoft Said to Stop Releasing Zune as Demand Ebbs’ 

When has demand for Zunes done anything but ebb?

Charles Arthur on Twitter’s Warning to Client Developers 

One dick move after another.

iPad 2 Sold Out? 

Jim Dalrymple:

The iPad 2 went on sale at 5:00 pm local time on Friday and by the end of the weekend, there wasn’t an iPad 2 to be found anywhere in the country, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Apple’s online store is quoting “3-4 weeks” shipping time for all models.

Using AppleScript to Open the Current Safari URL in Google Chrome 

Nice tip from TJ Luoma; possibly of interest to anyone using my instructions for going Flash-free on Mac OS X.

iFixit’s Smart Cover Teardown 

iFixit:

There are a total of THIRTY ONE magnets within the iPad 2 and Smart Cover: 10 magnets in the iPad 2, and a whopping 21 magnets inside the Smart Cover. They’re the reason why the cover works so well with the iPad 2.

Firefox VP on Flash 

Austin Carr, quoting Firefox VP Jay Sullivan:

So is Flash going away?

“I think so in the long run,” Sullivan says. “A lot of it has to do with HTML5. With Firefox 4, Internet Explorer 9, and Chrome, to the extent that we provide functionality in enough browsers, then the developers will switch over to HTML5, especially in mobile, where you can’t have Flash popping up on every page just to do some little animation. The idea that you’d have to embed an entire instance of the Flash player just to play a 30 second audio clip? It’s crazy.”

Josh Topolsky Leaves Engadget 

Last one to leave, turn out the lights.

RE.minder and GAME.minder 

My thanks to Handelabra Studio for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote RE.minder and GAME.minder, two great apps for the iPhone. RE.minder is a simple reminder app — meant for anything that might slip your mind, like returning a phone call or paying a bill. The interface is designed to make it possible to set up a new reminder in just three taps, and reminders can be set to recur at any interval — from minutes to months. GAME.minder is an app for tracking the release dates of new video games. Version 2.0 of GAME.minder, released just yesterday, adds international support and a bunch of new features.

Both apps are available as free downloads on the App Store.

The Talk Show, Episode 33 

Everything you want to know about the iPad 2, plus, You Only Live Twice, a classic Bond movie. Brought to you by two fine sponsors: FreshBooks and Rackspace.

Instapaper 3.0 

Marco Arment:

This is the biggest update Instapaper has ever had in one version, and I’m proud to finally show it to you.

I like Instapaper on my iPhone, but I love it on my iPad.

Speaking of Shawn Blanc 

He’s gone full-time with his eponymous weblog, and he’s doing a membership drive with a slew of nice prizes to get it off the ground. His site is one of my favorites, and certainly ought to appeal to most DF readers. I know first-hand that it’s hard to turn this sort of thing into a full-time gig, but I truly would love to see more writers find a way to make it work.

It’s Been Quite a Year 

Shawn Blanc:

So I remember this time last year when all the pre-launch reviews of the original iPad were coming out and John was posting up links to them all and in his comments there was this slight tone of being bummed out that all these guys had gotten review units from Apple and he didn’t. But now he does and call me sentimental but I’m really glad for John.

It’s nice to have a review unit in advance, it really is. But it’s not just me — Apple has significantly expanded the number of venues that get prerelease access to the new devices. Engadget, TechCrunch, Macworld, and Slashgear all got iPad 2 review units, too, and I think this allows anyone who takes their gadgets seriously to make a much more informed decision.

eReaderJoy Interview With Adam Engst on iPad and E-Readers 

Adam Engst:

Seriously, I can’t say that working with Amazon has ever been easy for publishers (and we haven’t done much with it), but working with the iBookstore has been the most amazingly horrible, opaque, and frustrating experience I’ve had. Apple’s software is terrible, the iTunes Connect Web site is lousy, and support questions often aren’t answered for - and I’m not kidding here - months. It’s gotten a little better over time, but mostly it makes my stomach hurt.

Lanyrd: The Social Conference Directory 

I hadn’t tuned in to Lanyrd for a while, but I just started using it again this week, in advance of SXSW. What a great site. Their SXSW session guide is so much better than SXSW’s own it isn’t funny.

Square Founder Jack Dorsey Responds to VeriFone 

Jack Dorsey:

Any technology—an encrypted card reader, phone camera, or plain old pen and paper—can be used to “skim” or copy numbers from a credit card. The waiter you hand your credit card to at a restaurant, for example, could easily steal your card details if he wanted to—no technology required. If you provide your credit card to someone who intends to steal from you, they already have everything they need: the information on the front of your card. […]

Our partner bank, JPMorgan Chase, continually reviews, verifies, and stands behind every aspect of our service, including our Square card reader.

MLB.com at Bat 11 for Android 

MLB At Bat 11 is available for $15 (same as the iPhone and iPad apps) on Android Market:

Opening Day 2011 is March 31. Additional features and functionality for the award-winning At Bat 11, including mobile access to live streaming video on select Android devices for MLB.TV subscribers, will be released for Opening Day.

How does one find out which Android devices are “select”?

Josh Topolsky on the iPad 2 

On the cameras:

Let’s just put this out there: the iPad 2 cameras are really pretty bad. They’re not unusable, but it’s clear that the sensors employed are not top shelf by any measure. If you have a fourth generation iPod touch with cameras, you can expect the same results. In fact, it seems to us that these are the SAME cameras used in the iPod touch — there’s an “HD” lens around back (which means it’s roughly a single megapixel shooter), and on the front you’ve got a lowly VGA cam. Neither one of these produces remotely satisfying results for still shots, and in particular (when compared with something like the Xoom), the back camera just seems utterly second rate. For video duties and FaceTime calls, the cameras are reasonably useful — but we would never trade a dedicated camera (or at least a smartphone with a 5+ megapixel shooter) for this.

On GarageBand (and, unlike me, Josh understands music):

Overall, this is a groundbreaking piece of software for tablets. It wasn’t without issues — in fact, we had some major, system-stalling crashes which required a reboot of the iPad. It’s clear that there are bugs to be worked out, and that despite that A5 CPU and increased memory, a music tracking and arranging app remains a fairly heavy piece of code. Still, we found ourselves completely fascinated by GarageBand and unable to put it down. Whether you’re tinkering, writing, or recording, this software’s value will be clear right from the start.

He includes two original songs created entirely on the iPad with GarageBand.

iPad 2 Available for Order Online Starting at 1am Pacific, 4am Eastern 

Can’t help but think that pre-orders (such that they’d arrive in customers’ hands tomorrow) weren’t available because Apple wants to see lines outside Apple Stores around the country.

Jason Snell on the iPad Smart Cover 

I think Snell is the only iPad 2 reviewer to pull the Smart Cover out into its own separate review. It’s that clever.

Pogue’s Review of the iPad 2 

Love his opening.

Apple Set to Open ‘Popup Shop’ in Austin for SXSW 

Two-week lease on a store at 6th and Congress in Austin, so they can sell iPads to SXSW attendees.

RIM and HP are going to lease stores next door, and put up “Coming Soon” signs.

More Than 30, Including ‘Snoop’ Actress, Arrested in Drug Raids 

That’s a shame, but I’m glad to see her alive.

Hypocrites 

Rod Begbie catches VeriFone in some embarrassing hypocrisy regarding their stance on the publication of technical attacks. (He also notes that VeriFone’s FUD attack on Square didn’t happen until after Square reduced its fees to well below VeriFone’s rates.)

Apple: iPad Guided Tours 

So utterly well-done.

‘Enjoy Your Pinto’ 

Jim Dalrymple:

If I were to give a stupid award, today’s would easily go to the Wall Street Journal’s Brett Arends for his latest iPad article.

Martin Pilkington’s ‘Super Mega Awesome’ Xcode 4 Review 

Speaking of Xcode 4, Martin Pilkington has written a novella-length review of it, replete with screenshots:

Xcode 4 is an interesting contraption. It has 4.0 as its version number, yet it is almost a 1.0. Xcode 1 to 3.2 were almost transitional, helping the migration from Project Builder to what we have now. In a sense Xcode 4 shouldn’t be judged on what it is, but what it shows it will be. The one thought that keeps popping into my head while using it is that there is a lot of cool new stuff, but it is lacking. The foundations are pretty much all there to build an Xcode that can compete with the likes of Visual Studio and Eclipse on all fronts. They just need fleshing out more. There are very few areas where Xcode 4 is worse than previous versions. The majority of those areas are where the features simply aren’t there, but where they may re-appear in future versions. In every other area it offers major leaps forward in usability, performance and enjoyment.

NYT Editorial Policy: Waterboarding Is Torture, Except When the U.S. Does It 

Glenn Greenwald:

So according to The New York Times, it’s journalistically improper to call waterboarding “torture” — when done by the United States, but when Nazi Germany (or China) does exactly the same thing, then it may be called “torture” repeatedly and without qualification.

Absolutely appalling.

VeriFone Must Be Scared Shitless About Square 

VeriFone, a large payment processing corporation, has launched a full-on hit job against Square:

Today is a wake-up call to consumers and the payments industry. Last year, a start-up named Square introduced a credit card reader for smartphones with the goal of making it very easy for anyone to accept credit cards through a mobile device. Seems like a great idea, but there is a serious security flaw that Square has overlooked that places consumers in dire risk.

In less than an hour, any reasonably skilled programmer can write an application that will “skim” — or steal — a consumer’s financial and personal information right off the card utilizing an easily obtained Square card reader. How do we know? We did it. Tested on sample Square card readers with our own personal credit cards, we wrote an application in less than an hour that did exactly this.

This is pure, unadulterated FUD. When you swipe a U.S. credit card, the magnetic strip only contains the information printed on the card itself: the card number, the expiration date, your name, etc. Nothing can be “stolen” using Square’s card readers that cannot be stolen by simply looking at the card with your eyes or a camera. Nothing.

Update: The magnetic strip contains a CVV1 number that isn’t printed on the card (it’s the CVV2 number that’s printed, for verifying online purchases), but still, the overall point stands: VeriFone’s attack against Square is FUD.

Xcode on the Mac App Store 

Interesting: Xcode 4 is now available to any Mac user through the App Store for $4.99. (It’s free if you register for an Apple developer account and download it manually.)

Update: But, apparently you can no longer sign up for a free developer account, so other than the $4.99 version from the App Store, you need to spend at least $99 to get Xcode 4. I didn’t notice that there’s no longer a free tier for Apple developer accounts.

Update 2: No wonder I missed the discontinuation of free accounts: they were not discontinued. Sign up here; linked from here. But a free account only allows you access to Xcode 3. The only way to get Xcode 4 is to get a $99 account or buy it from the App Store for $4.99.

Safari 5.0.4 Update 

Apple has the full rundown of security issues fixed.

NBA League Pass for Apple TV 

Basketball more your sport? The NBA just announced a new deal to get games on Apple TV, too.

But wait, I’m confused: I read on the Internet that Apple’s new subscription pricing rules were going to keep iOS users from watching cool subscription-based stuff like MLB and NBA games.

MLB.tv on Apple TV 

Holy shit: MLB.tv subscribers can now watch live games, in HD, on Apple TV.

Apple Releases iOS 4.3 

Speaking of a steady release of mobile OS software updates, iOS 4.3 is out. There’s a bunch of new stuff, including hotspot tethering for the iPhone 4, but the JavaScript performance improvements in Mobile Safari are impressive. Using the SunSpider benchmark on my original iPad, I got an average of about 8100 ms on iOS 4.2.1; with iOS 4.3, that drops to about 3300 ms — about a 2.5× improvement.

For a full run-through of what’s new, check out Rene Ritchie’s tour at TiPb.

Update: Lots of readers asking about the fact that 4.3 is not available for the CDMA (a.k.a. Verizon) iPhone 4. Apple has no official statement on that, but my understanding is that the CDMA iPhone 4 today is a bit like the original iPad was a year ago — it’s on its own branch of iOS. It already has some 4.3 features, like the hotspot, and the word on the street in Cupertino is that it’ll get onto the standard OS update track within the next release or two. I’m not sure if that means iOS 4.3.1 (or whatever), or iOS 5, but it will happen. This is not — I repeat not — the sort of thing where Verizon has any sort of block or hold on OS updates.

Casino Royale: Discovering the Lost Script 

Ben Hecht — renowned screenwriter of such classics as Hitchcock’s Notorious and Spellbound and the original Scarface — wrote several drafts of a serious adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first, and arguably best, James Bond novel, Casino Royale.

Paul Thurrott on the Lack of Software Updates for Windows Phone 7 

They’re going to have a hard enough time trying to catch Android with a series of good software updates. With no updates, though, Windows Phone 7 is dead in the water.

On the Quality of the iPad 2 Camera 

Charlie Sorrel:

It’s extremely likely that the iPad 2 and the iPod Touch share the exact same camera (although we won’t know for sure until iFixit tears one open to see). It seems that it will be fine for movies, and bad for photos. […]

Indeed, based on the published specs and a few test photos I shot at last week’s iPad introduction event, the iPad 2’s cameras are either identical or very similar to those in the iPod Touch — and definitely not of the caliber of the iPhone 4’s. Here’s a test photo I snapped with an iPad 2 in the hands-on demo area, and a corresponding photo taken with my iPhone 4.

Chris Stout argues here that the iPhone 4’s camera might not even fit in the iPad 2. I’m sure Apple could have found some sort of higher-quality camera that would have fit; the question is simply a matter of trade-offs: quality vs. cost. They could have added more RAM, or fashioned it out of solid gold instead of aluminum, too.

Still, for a device that costs a minimum of $500, it would be nice to have a better image sensor, rather than these bottom-of-the-barrel ones Apple insists on using. Will we ever get one? It’s starting to look rather doubtful.

Yes, I’m sure there will never be another iPad.

The Rolling Stone Interview: Stanley Kubrick in 1987 

Tim Cahill’s 1987 interview with Kubrick, while he was promoting Full Metal Jacket:

If the work is good, what you say about it is usually irrelevant.

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s vanity, this idea that the work is bigger than one’s capacity to describe it. Some people can do interviews. They’re very slick, and they neatly evade this hateful conceptualizing. Fellini is good; his interviews are very amusing. He just makes jokes and says preposterous things that you know he can’t possibly mean.

I mean, I’m doing interviews to help the film, and I think they do help the film, so I can’t complain. But it isn’t…it’s… it’s difficult.

Anatomy of a Crushing 

Pinboard creator Maciej Ceglowski, on the day Delicious’s demise leaked:

Before this moment, our relationship to Delicious had been that of a tick to an elephant. We were a niche site and in the course of eighteen months had siphoned off about six thousand users from our massive competitor, a pace I was was very happy with and hoped to sustain through 2011. But now the Senior Vice President for Bad Decisions at Yahoo had decided to give us a little help.

And, toward the end of the story:

If Pinboard were not a paid service, we could not have stayed up on December 16, and I would have been forced to either seek outside funding or close signups. Instead, I was immediately able to hire contractors, add hardware, and put money in the bank against further development.

Remember Google TV? 

Crickets.

Update: Brad McCarty wrote about this a month ago at The Next Web, but I was prompted by this tweet from Justin Williams.

Evocative Photos of Star Wars Toys 

Terrific toy photography by Vesa Lehtimäki. (Via John Nack.)

Sometimes the Reason a Report Is ‘Exclusive’ Is That It Isn’t True 

Jonathan Geller, Boy Genius Report, earlier today:

Oh, and we’ve also been told iOS 4.3 will be available for download publicly at 10AM PT today. Fire up iTunes and get your update trigger-finger ready!

Which iPad 2 Should You Get? 

Great walkthrough of the various options from Marco Arment.

I bought a 3G iPad last year, but I don’t think I ever will again, now that the iPhone (4, and, presumably, newer models going forward) supports Wi-Fi hotspot tethering. I still have my Verizon iPhone 4 review unit from Apple, and the hotspot tethering works great for getting everything I carry around online. (I even used it last week in San Francisco to get my personal AT&T iPhone 4 online at my hotel, where I wasn’t getting a usable 3G signal from AT&T.) Getting an iPad online via hotspot tethering is not quite as convenient as with a 3G iPad where networking “just works” instantly, but it’s close enough. By getting a Wi-Fi-only iPad, you save $130 off the device, and for $20 a month to enable iPhone tethering, you can get anything online, not just the iPad itself.

Update: You might come to a different conclusion if you frequently use GPS on your iPad (Wi-Fi-only models don’t have GPS), or if you frequently use your Verizon iPhone 4 for voice calls while tethering to your iPad. I’m not saying there’s no reason to consider a 3G iPad if you have an iPhone 4. I’m just saying that for me, and probably many others, it’s not worth it. I don’t make a lot of voice calls and I don’t recall ever using GPS on my iPad.

This ViewSonic ViewPad Thing Just Keeps Getting Funnier 

So it’s not bad enough that ViewSonic’s new ViewPad tablet dual-boots with two OSes (Windows 7 and Android 1.6), neither of which are meant for use on a tablet. ViewSonic’s own promotional image for the product shows it running, of all things, a slightly-disguised screenshot of Mac OS X. How does anyone take this seriously?

Update: They’ve updated the press release to show a screenshot of Windows 7, but the original image is still online. (And, of course, I have a copy.)

Jim Dalrymple: No iOS 4.3 Update Coming Today 

He thinks tomorrow.

Headed Soon to a Trash Can Near You 

BGR reports on ViewSonic’s $599 10-inch ViewPad:

Most notably, however, it features a dual-boot configuration that allows users to boot either Android 1.6 or Windows 7 on demand. “The lines of professional and personal life are blurring, which creates a need for devices that are suited for both sides,” said Adam Hanin, vice president of marketing for ViewSonic Americas, in a statement.

On the one side: an OS that wasn’t designed for use on a tablet. On the other: an OS that wasn’t designed for use on a tablet.

Ars Reviews the Motorola Xoom 

Ryan Paul has an extensive (as usual) review of the Xoom for Ars Technica. Seems like a lot of potential, and impressive specs, but unfinished:

Although the Xoom has a lot to offer, the product feels very incomplete. A surprising number of promised hardware and software features are not functional at launch and will have to be enabled in future updates. The Xoom’s quality is also diminished by some of the early technical issues and limitations that we encountered in Honeycomb. Google’s nascent tablet software has a ton of potential, but it also has some feature gaps and rough edges that reflect its lack of maturity.

On page 5, Ryan writes this, regarding Aditya Bansod’s criticism of Xoom’s Honeycomb browser as a mobile web app target:

Bansod’s specific complaints about the rendering engine’s limitations are accurate, but it’s important to remember that he’s speaking from the perspective of a Web developer. The issue here isn’t that the Android browser is failing as a day-to-day Web browser, it’s that it doesn’t support the kind of dynamic and visually sophisticated functionality that is needed to make mobile Web experiences that match the elegance and refinement of native applications.

In light of Google’s vocal enthusiasm for using the Web as an application platform, it’s a bit surprising that the company is so far behind Apple in supporting that vision on a mobile device. When I tested toolkits like JQuery Mobile and Sencha Touch on the Xoom, the gaps in the Honeycomb browser’s rendering engine were painfully apparent. Animated transitions stuttered and certain visual elements were not rendered correctly.

Why is this surprising, though? I’ve been arguing for a while that no platform supports mobile web app development better than iOS.

Sencha’s HTML5 Developer Scorecard for the Motorola Xoom 

Aditya Bansod:

Like we did with the Samsung Galaxy Tab we’re going to put the Xoom through the wringer, focusing on the browser to see how it performs and behaves for the mobile HTML5 developer. The short answer? The Xoom browser is not ready for prime-time — even for “HTML4” — and it urgently needs a patch update if Motorola wants the product to succeed.

Performance looks great, and it seems very capable at browsing typical websites. What Sencha is looking at are HTML5 and CSS 3 features, and treating the tablet as a mobile web app target. Sounds rushed to market, too:

We found consistent and reproducible issues in CSS3 Animations and CSS3 Transitions among other things. We had issues where the browser either hung or crashed. Regular scrolling was slow or below full framerate. We had issues where media playback failed or performed incorrectly. At times it felt like we were using a preproduction device, but we bought our test device from a Verizon Wireless store.

Greed Is Good in NFL Labor Talks 

Great piece by Bill Simmons on the NFL labor dispute.

Hero Doing Well 

I love it when Brent Simmons is blogging regularly — seriously, page back and read the last few weeks — but I don’t recall ever tearing up while reading Inessential before.

Dive Into HTML5: History API 

Speaking of Mark Pilgrim, he’s added a new chapter on the History API to his Dive Into HTML5 magnum opus. The History API allows the sort of clever location bar diddling I praised when I linked to Google’s “20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web” back in November.

Hard to believe I had to go all the way to New Zealand to meet Mark in person.

Open Source Ampersands 

Typographical web font obsessiveness from Mark Pilgrim, inspired by Dan Cederholm’s 2008 “Use the Best Ampersand Available”.

Lukas Mathis on Multitasking 

Lukas Mathis:

However, the argument that multitasking on computers is bad because humans can’t multitask is flawed. It uses the word “multitasking” in two different ways, but implies that the two kinds of multitasking are somehow the same thing. They’re not: a task (or an app) on a computer, and a task performed by a human don’t map to each other one-to-one. In fact, a single task performed by a human can easily make use of several applications running concurrently on a computer.

Completely agree. This is why I tend to use my iPad for distinct tasks. It’s better than the Mac for things like long-form reading and movie watching, and, for me, perhaps, long-form writing. (I wrote “The Chair” entirely on the iPad, on the flight home from San Francisco.) It’s limiting, though, compared to the Mac, for human tasks that span multiple apps, like the short-form blogging I’m doing right now. I’ve never seen anyone put it so succinctly as Mathis does here: human tasks and computer apps don’t necessarily map one-to-one.

What Is a Dickbar? 

Dave Winer:

Being from the East Coast, as I am, I recognize the term “dickbar” as an eastcoastism. It refers to a new feature in Twitter for the iPhone which brings the first instream advertising to the eyeballs of Twitter users. It’s the kind of thing a guy from Philly, Gruber, who roots for the Yankees might say. As far as I know he coined the term.

Coin it I did. What’s funny to me is that I’d never think of it as an eastcoastism — but that’s because I’ve lived my entire life on the East Coast, and that’s just how I talk. Winer picks up on these things because he’s a native New Yorker but spent a long time living in the Bay Area.

Gruber is referring to the first rumblings of the promised business model from Chicagoan Dick Costolo, the (relatively) new CEO of Twitter. He, I conclude is 1/2 of the “dick” in dickbar.

Update: For what it’s worth, I was only thinking “dick as in dick move”; that it works on two levels, as a reference to Costolo, is a happy coincidence.

I love the search stream for “#dickbar”. It warms my heart.

The Talk Show, Episode 32 

Yours truly and Dan Benjamin, talking about the iPad 2 and its launch event last week. Brought to you by two fine sponsors: MailChimp and CodeConf 2011.

GroupMe 

My thanks to GroupMe for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. GroupMe is a new group messaging service, with a bunch of great features. The basic gist is that each “group” gets a unique phone number; texts sent to that number are distributed to the whole group. Anyone with any phone that supports SMS can be in a group.

Where it gets cool is with the brand-new iPhone app, developed by Cameron Hunt (Birdhouse) and Jeremy Schoenherr (MLB.com At Bat). It looks good, works well, and optionally allows you to use push messaging instead of SMS for sending and receiving. It’s easy to switch back and forth between push and SMS — but even when you’re using push, it all still works with every member of your group, no matter what kind of phone they’re using. (They’ve got apps for Android and BlackBerry, too.)

Sounds great for conferences, and GroupMe has that in mind: they’ve got a special promotion where if you’re heading to SXSW next week and set up a group for you and your friends, you’re entered in a contest to win “VIP tickets” to various parties. The service and the app are both free of charge.

Who Is the Customer? 

From the official PayPal weblog:

As we’ve been saying since last October, Publishers need an easy way to monetize their content while also retaining information about their readers across multiple platforms. With Apple’s subscription service, publishers lose both these controls and have few options.

Publishers may well “need” access to subscriber data in their current business models, but there’s no reason they can’t change business models to adapt to a changing market. Just because at one point in history publishers could make large amounts of money selling their subscriber data to junk mail marketers doesn’t mean they have a right to maintain that business model forever.

PayPal understands that publishers and content providers need to make money. That’s why PayPal for Digital Goods pricing has not changed since 2005, and remains at just 5% plus 5 cents. This beats both Google and Apple, while also allowing customers the option to retain information about their readers across multiple platforms.

There are two aspects to this. First, the rate that gets charged. Undoubtedly, PayPal’s fees are far lower than Apple’s. But the second is interesting — access to subscriber data. PayPal uses “customers” when talking about the publishers, and they see the access to subscriber information as rightfully belonging to the publishers. Apple sees the subscribers — the users of iOS devices — as its customers, and they see the control over their personal information as belonging to them individually. Remember, Apple isn’t blocking publishers from subscriber data — they’ve simply made it an opt-in system controlled by the user. That’s a telling difference.

RIM Turning Away From Smartphone Market? 

Interesting news from mobile CPU maker Marvell:

In a somewhat unexpected twist, Marvell’s report also underscored a shift by a major customer, Research In Motion Ltd., to lower-end and lower-margin smartphones in emerging markets. RIM shares declined 2.9% to close at $66.47. […]

The company is widely known to also be a supplier to RIM’s BlackBerry, which is still a major player in mobile computing, but which has struggled in the high-end smartphone category in the face of stiff competition from Apple Inc’s iPhone and devices using Google Inc’s Android operating system.

This makes sense, technically. But, alas for RIM, it isn’t good news financially. (Via Kontra.)

IE6 Countdown 

Microsoft:

10 years ago a browser was born. Its name was Internet Explorer 6. Now that we’re in 2011, in an era of modern web standards, it’s time to say goodbye.

Via Jeff Veen, who tweets:

I’ve never seen a company work so aggressively at getting people to stop using their product.

Points for Honesty 

Jim Dalrymple, on Samsung’s response to the iPad 2:

“We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate,” Lee Don-joo, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile division, told Yonhap News Agency. “Apple made it very thin.”

Currently, the seven-inch Galaxy Tab is listed on AT&T’s Web site for $549. The iPad 2 starts at $499 for the Wi-Fi version and $629 for the 3G model. But pricing is cause for concern when Samsung releases a larger screen model. “The 10-inch (tablet) was to be priced higher than the 7-inch (tablet) but we will have to think that over,” said Lee.

Apple’s ‘Post-PC’ World 

Josh Topolsky:

It won’t be a debate about displays, memory, wireless options — it will be a debate about the quality of the experience. Apple is not just eschewing the spec conversation in favor of a different conversation — it’s rendering those former conversations useless. It would be like trying to compare a race car to a deeply satisfying book. In a post-PC world, the experience of the product is central and significant above all else. It’s not the RAM or CPU speed, screen resolution or number of ports which dictate whether a product is valuable; it becomes purely about the experience of using the device.

The thing is, for some of us, it’s always been this way. That’s why we stuck with the Mac during the stretches where Intel CPUs were faster and cheaper. What the iPad changes is that it takes things even further in this experience-first/specs-second mindset. Spec-wise — CPU speed, RAM, storage, expandability, pixel-count — the iPad pales compared to a MacBook. But experience-wise, it’s better. The iPad is slower, but feels faster.

A Rare Disagreement 

Marco Arment:

The root cause for so much of the subscription ruckus, I think, isn’t that 30% number — it’s that Apple pulled the rug out from under some major apps after the fact. And unlike nearly every App Store rule change in the past, this is a major change that developers couldn’t have been reasonably expected to anticipate, and it’s not based in any practical need for the health of the Store or the platform (malware, abuse, etc.).

I’m not sure we even disagree on this. I concur that worst aspect of these new subscription policies is that something that used to be allowed now is not. It has a bait-and-switch feel to it.

Apple’s Promo Movie on How People Are Using the iPad 

As shown during yesterday’s event. So well done.

Rovio’s Vesterbacka Thanks iPhone for Enabling Angry Birds’ Success 

From an interview at GDC:

Before the iPhone, Vesterbacka recalled, some executive at a cell phone provider was the one deciding which of 27 largely identical poker games was the one to get limited space on that carrier’s mobile store. He compared the system to the Soviet Union, where some beauracrat would dictate which toothpaste was on store shelves, with little concern for quality.

The App Store is closed compared to desktop PCs, but compared to the pre-iPhone mobile market, it’s wide open.

Nielsen Numbers on the US Smartphone Market 

Interesting contrast between OS market share and handset maker market share.

The Apple Strategy Tax 

John Siracusa on Apple’s internal conflict between being a good platform host and promoting its own content services:

This tension between being a platform owner and also trying to build new businesses on that very same platform is another thing that Apple shares with Microsoft. But Microsoft is also a perfect example of how this strategy can seemingly succeed (Windows won the war for the desktop and Microsoft’s applications came to dominate the Windows platform) while blinding a company to the long-term failure scenario (a lack of competition allowed Microsoft’s products to stagnate, and the next round of innovations happened someplace other than the Windows platform).

Smart, subtle argument.

Andy Ihnatko on the iPad 2 

Andy Ihnatko:

But you kind of have to hold the iPad 2 to really get the redesign. It’s thinner by a third, plus its edges taper to a thin line of metal. It’s almost inconceivable that this thing you’re holding is a multicore tablet computer. The Xoom tablet is trim, light, and very pretty … but when you place it next to the iPad 2, it looks as though it was designed and built by angry Soviet prison labor instead of by Motorola.

Video of Today’s Apple Event 

Jobs seemed happy, no?

‘The Xoom Is a Clear Winner’ 

Charlie Sheen, writing for Computerworld:

As I explained in a previous blog, Eight reasons the Motorola Xoom beats the iPad, the Xoom is far superior to the original iPad. And now that the iPad 2 has been announced, it’s clear that the Xoom is superior to the new iPad, for almost all of the same reasons.

Update: My bad. That was written by Preston Gralla.

Charlie Sheen Quotes as New Yorker Cartoons 

“I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitching rock star from Mars.”

iPad 2 

If you do nothing else, watch the video for the Smart Cover. Seriously, it’s amazing.

The Battle for Second Place 

John Paczkowski:

Isn’t this ironic. Hewlett-Packard and Research in Motion, two companies that haven’t officially launched their first tablets yet, talking smack to one another the day before Apple debuts its second.

To the Victor Goes the Pricing Power 

Terrific piece by Joshua Benton at The Nieman Journalism Lab, responding to my “Dirty Percent” piece yesterday. I had forgotten that Amazon does subscriptions for the Kindle:

The Kindle does actually offer subscriptions, both to newspapers and blogs, like Daring Fireball itself. (Given where DF ranks in the Kindle Store, he probably has about 5-8 people paying $1.99 a month to read the site on their Kindles. We have 16! That’s likely to be the only traffic-related number where we edge Gruber.)

I don’t think any publisher would consider Amazon’s Kindle subscription model an improvement over Apple’s, though, for a host of reasons — not least that it’s Amazon who controls pricing, not the publisher, not to mention Amazon takes an even steeper cut than Apple does.

So why aren’t those who are criticizing Apple for taking a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue criticizing Amazon? My theory: everyone understands, intuitively, that the Kindle is a closed proprietary platform; but many people view iOS (incorrectly) as a platform like the Mac or Windows, where third parties are free to do what they want.

Malware on Android Market 

Aaron Gingrich, for Android Police:

Openness — the very characteristic of Android that makes us love it — is a double-edged sword. Redditor lompolo has stumbled upon a perfect example of that fact; he’s noticed that a publisher has taken “… 21 popular free apps from the market, injected root exploits into them and republished.” The really scary part? “50k-200k downloads combined in 4 days.”

Uh-oh:

There’s another APK hidden inside the code, and it steals nearly everything it can: product ID, model, partner (provider?), language, country, and userID. But that’s all child’s play; the true pièce de résistance is that it has the ability to download more code. In other words, there’s no way to know what the app does after it’s installed, and the possibilities are nearly endless.

Macworld’s Live Coverage of the iPad 2 Intro Event 

I’m sitting next to Snell and Moren here in the theater. If the network stays up, I’ll peck out a few comments on Twitter.

Microsoft Delivers Its ‘Other’ Tablet Operating System 

Mary Jo Foley:

Microsoft officials have attempted to distinguish slates and tablets running full Windows 7 from those running Compact 7 by saying those running the Windows Embedded Compact OS are meant to be consumption devices, rather than consumption and creation devices.

Good luck with that.

Joel Johnson Goes to Foxconn 

Fascinating on-site reporting from Joel Johnson for Wired magazine, attempting to capture what it’s like to work at Foxconn.

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