Netflix’s Goal: To Become HBO Faster Than HBO Can Become Netflix ★
Nancy Hass profiles Netflix for GQ. Talking to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos:
He hopes to make at least five new shows a year, he says, leaning
back on a sofa in his Beverly Hills office in an anonymous-looking
suite. His dream project: a Netflix series created by Warren
Beatty. “He’s great in long form,” Sarandos says. “His only
problems have been when he’s constrained.” Sarandos is also
warming up Jodie Foster, who directed an episode of Orange Is the
New Black. “The goal,” he says, “is to become HBO faster than HBO
can become us.” His seductive pitch to today’s new breed of TV
auteurs: a huge audience, real money, no meddlesome executives
(“I’m not going to give David Fincher notes”), no pilots
(television’s great sucking hole of money and hope), and a
(Via The Verge.)
The Amazing Amazon ★
That’s because Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable
organization being run by elements of the investment community for
the benefit of consumers. The shareholders put up the equity, and
instead of owning a claim on a steady stream of fat profits, they
get a claim on a mighty engine of consumer surplus. Amazon sells
things to people at prices that seem impossible because it
actually is impossible to make money that way.
A Lip Reader Deciphers the Umpire-Manager Arguments of 2012 ★
So great. But I love this interchange between Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly and umpire Tom Hallion:
DM: No, it’s only to wake up, wake the fuck up!
TH: You can’t say that, Don!
DM: I can’t say ‘wake up’?
TH: You didn’t say that.
DM: [Obscured] What’s the difference in ‘wake the fuck up’ and
‘Who Needs a 128 GB iPad?’ ★
So I guess I’m curious. Who really does need a 128GB iPad, aside
from those who just have tons of videos, music and photos?
I think Apple’s PR announcing it answers that. Professional users:
iPad continues to have a significant impact on business with
virtually all of the Fortune 500 and over 85 percent of the Global
500 currently deploying or testing iPad. Companies regularly
utilizing large amounts of data such as 3D CAD files, X-rays, film
edits, music tracks, project blueprints, training videos and
service manuals all benefit from having a greater choice of
storage options for iPad. The over 10 million iWork users, and
customers who rely on other incredible apps like Global Apptitude
for analyzing team film and creating digital playbooks, Auria for
an incredible 48 track recording system, or AutoCAD for drafting
architectural and engineering drawings, also benefit greatly from
having the choice of an iPad with more storage capacity.
Back to Haselton:
I think most consumers will be better off either buying a full
featured laptop, such as the MacBook Air, or for portability, the
Surface with Windows 8 Pro.
For some users, sure. But a lot of people — most people, even? — would rather have an iPad than a MacBook Air, no matter the price difference. People like working on the iPad not because it’s cheaper (or at least not only), but because, for them, it is better. (And specifically for people who are looking for a device with more storage capacity than a 64 GB iPad, the Surface Pro seems like a poor choice.)
Anyway, the fact that Haselton thought to write this makes me even more convinced that Apple’s timing of this announcement is no coincidence.
500px Returns to the iOS App Store, Now Rated 17+ ★
Toronto’s 500px got its popular photo sharing iPhone app back on
the iTunes App Store today, following a takedown that Apple said
stemmed from multiple user complaints about pornographic material.
The app returns with an age-gate warning, advising that the
content in the app is for 17+ audiences, and also adds a new
“Report Photo” button to help users quickly tag things they find
offensive for potential removal from the network.
The app still has a category for “Nude” photos for logged in
users, however, which is an impressive allowance on Apple’s part.
Perhaps the company is realizing that it should be rethinking how
its no-porn policy works in the wake of Vine’s unfortunate
“Editor’s Pick” incident, and the general porn problem that
Or perhaps nothing has changed, and 500px could have avoided the problem by rating the app 17+ from the start. I’m no fan of capricious App Store rejections or censorship, but the hubbub over Apple’s removal of 500px from the store has struck me as misguided. The app has a built-in “Nude” category — the surprise to me is that it was ever not rated 17+.
I do have a few questions for Apple, though: If the rating was the only problem, could Apple have not just changed the rating and left the app available in the store? Was the new “Report Photo” feature essential to 500px getting back into the store?
Amazon Misses Estimates on Earnings, Revenue, and Guidance ★
And the stock has jumped up 10 percent after hours. I need a drink.
Loose Grip, All Right ★
Poornima Gupta and Noel Randewich, writing for Reuters, “Apple’s Grip on Carriers, Suppliers Loosens”:
Asked whether carriers are now in a better position to negotiate
lower prices with smartphone makers such as Apple, Fran Shammo,
chief financial officer of Verizon Communications, said having
four strong platforms - Apple, Android, Windows and BlackBerry -
is leading to more competitive pricing.
“The more operating systems we have to compete in this area the
better the competition,” he told Reuters.
Yet Verizon’s just-reported quarter showed the iPhone accounting for 63 percent of all smartphone activations, outselling Android about 2-to-1. Those numbers are higher than ever for Verizon. 84 percent of smartphones sold by AT&T were iPhones. And Reuters is saying these numbers show Apple is “losing its grip”?
Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium ★
The new offering includes the latest and most complete set of
Office applications; works across up to five devices, including
Windows tablets, PCs and Macs; and comes with extra SkyDrive
storage and Skype calling — all for US$99.99 for an annual
subscription, the equivalent of US$8.34 per month.
That’s a good deal, and the student deal is even better: $80 for a four-year subscription — just $20 per year.
(Why does their video try to get me to install Silverlight? They have an HTML5 H.264 alternative, because that’s what I get on iOS. Why not serve that version to everyone?)
Surface Pro Available Storage Space ★
Ben Gilbert, Engadget:
That 64 GB, $800 Microsoft Surface Pro you plan on buying next
week? Maybe you should temper your storage expectations a bit, as
the base model actually only allots 23 GB of that space for use.
The larger 128 GB version offers a bit more space at 83 GB, but is
still losing a massive 45 GB of space to the full Windows 8
operating system and various included applications.
There’s no such thing as “no compromise”. Every design decision involves some element of compromise.
Regarding the Idea of an iPod Touch ‘3G’ as Apple’s Low-Cost iPhone ★
The Verge forums, “Crunkfish” makes a suggestion that I see on Twitter and in my email frequently: that Apple should make an iPod Touch with cellular networking.
It’s a fine idea, but without carrier support it wouldn’t work, and I don’t think any major carrier would support it. Data-only connections and VOIP for all “phone calls” are surely the future, but they are not the present.
Records From Miami ‘Aging’ Clinic Implicate Major Sports Stars in PED Scandal ★
Blockbuster report from Tim Elfrink of The Miami New Times:
The names are all included in an extraordinary batch of records
from Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic tucked into a two-story
office building just a hard line drive’s distance from the UM
campus. They were given to New Times by an employee who worked at
Biogenesis before it closed last month and its owner abruptly
disappeared. The records are clear in describing the firm’s real
business: selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth
hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids.
Interviews with six customers and two former employees corroborate
the tale told by the patient files, the payment records, and the
handwritten notebooks kept by the clinic’s chief, 49-year-old
Among the implicated: the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez.
Update: A-Rod denies the whole thing.
iOS vs. Android Version Adoption ★
While we’re comparing iOS and Android, Doug Hamlin compares version adoption numbers:
Meanwhile, I was reminded via Timehop yesterday how much I hated
the Android Honeycomb emulator two years ago, which got me
wondering where Android version (specifically that two-year-old
Honeycomb) adoption sits. Turns out, according to Google’s own
numbers, that Gingerbread, the version prior to Honeycomb is the
undisputed leader of the market with a 47.4 percent share.
Nothing new here, but an inconvenient truth for the “Android is winning” crowd.
Akamai Mobile Browser Stats ★
Mikey Campbell, reporting for AppleInsider:
According to Akamai, during the third quarter of 2012 there were
more Google Android Webkit browser users accessing content over
cellular data networks than those using Apple’s Safari. However,
by expanding the data to include all networks, not just those
designated as “cellular,” Safari was shown to have dominated the
mobile browser market with slightly more than a 60 percent share.
Using this same scope, Android users accounted for about 22 to 23
percent of the total.
So Android devices outsell iOS, but they’re used for cellular networking about evenly, and iOS devices are used for Wi-Fi so much more than Android that, in terms of overall network consumption, iOS devices consume almost triple what Android devices do. Still haven’t seen a reasonable theory explaining this from the “Android is winning/the Apple bubble is popping” camp.
Blu-Ray Claim Chowder: Shaw Wu ★
Speaking of Blu-ray, here’s some five-year-old claim chowder:
In a report issued to clients early Thursday morning, American
Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu cited sources who say the
Cupertino-based Mac maker, which already occupies a seat on the
Blu-ray consortium, is set to begin shipping some of its computers
with support for the next-generation DVD format. […]
However, Wu hedged his bets somewhat, saying there is “a smaller
chance Apple may use a combo Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive to ensure full
compatibility and not get involved in the format wars.”
Philips Exits Consumer Electronics Business ★
Robert Van den Oever, reporting for the WSJ’s The Source:
“Our consumer lifestyle business was margin dilutive to the group,
so it was time to decide to move away from consumer electronics,”
said Frans van Houten, Philips’s chief executive. “Since we have
online entertainment, people do not buy Blu-ray and DVD players
anymore,” Mr. Van Houten said.
Steve Jobs, back in 2008:
“Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt.”
‘Why the Imminent Release of a 128 GB iPad Is Unlikely’ ★
Didn’t take long for this claim chowder from Adrian Kingsley-Hughes to cook.
That Didn’t Take Long: Apple Announces 128 GB iPad 4 ★
$799 for the Wi-Fi model, $929 for cellular. Timing-wise, note that Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which goes on sale in a week, starts at $899 for 64 GB model. That’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, tech-spec-wise, but I think half the problem Microsoft faces is that most people don’t understand the difference between Surface and Surface Pro.
Oxo Responds to Rip-Off Accusation From Competitor ★
File under “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones”.
HP to Announce Its First Chromebook Next Month? ★
Could be a worrisome trend for Microsoft.
Courier Prime ★
John August, introducing a new typeface he commissioned from Alan Dague-Greene:
Today, we’re introducing a new typeface designed for
screenwriters. It’s called Courier Prime.
It’s Courier, just better.
Better numerals and punctuation (e.g. the parentheses), real italics, a better bold weight. Oh, and it’s free of charge.
iOS 6 Adoption ★
From Apple’s PR this morning, announcing iOS 6.1:
“iOS 6 is the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, and
with nearly 300 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices on iOS
6 in just five months, it may be the most popular new version of
an OS in history,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice
president of Worldwide Marketing.
300 million devices in five months seems pretty good.
Roger Moore on the Best James Bond ★
Speaking of James Bond and Roger Moore, Glen Levy has a nice interview with him for Time.
James Bond Portraits by Ross Burt ★
Terrific work; all six are flattering, but I think I like the Roger Moore one best.
Chrome OS in the Real World ★
Even if Chrome OS devices had accounted for 10% of all computers
sold in the last year (which no one would claim, as they’re not
even available in many markets), that would still amount to a tiny
proportion of the total number of installed computers worldwide.
Neither shipments nor sales tell you the story of installed base,
and installed base is what visitors to a site is a measure of.
I should have been clearer. When I pointed out that Chrome OS accounts for just a wee sliver — 0.04 percent — of DF web traffic, I didn’t mean to imply that that number should correlate to monthly sales. I was simply pointing out that if Chrome OS devices are starting to catch on, it’s still early days.
Betteridge points to a Dixons employee who claims Chrome OS devices (well, to be precise, “Google products”) account for 10 percent of their notebook sales in stores with dedicated “Chrome Zones”.
‘Design Cannot Cover the Mistakes of Bad Management, but Styling Can’ ★
Massimo Vignelli on American Airlines’s new identity.
A 128 GB iPad 4? ★
Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac:
With developers finding code in the soon-to-be-released iOS 6.1
that points to 128GB iOS devices, and with recent findings of
128GB references in Apple’s recent iTunes 11 release,
speculation naturally points to Apple releasing a 128GB iPad in
the very near future.
Seems a little weird, insofar as I could not recall Apple adding a new storage capacity midway through the product cycle of an iOS device. But I had forgotten about the 16 GB original iPhone and 32 GB original iPod Touch, both introduced in February 2008. (I had also forgotten that the iPod Touch used to have larger storage capacity than the iPhone.)
If this 128 GB iPad 4 thing is true, I take it to imply that the iPad 5 isn’t coming until later in the year, and that this is a way for Apple to make a little news, keep the lineup fresh, and raise the bar on tablet storage capacities.
J.J. Abrams to Direct New Star Wars Movie ★
I think he’s a good pick. Two of my favorite aspects of the original trilogy, both sorely lacking in the second trilogy, are camaraderie and mystery. Abrams does both those things well. To that point, as well, is good news on the writing front: the screenplay is being written by Michael Arndt, who wrote the excellent (and camaraderie-rich) Toy Story 3.
(The worrisome part of this announcement isn’t who Lucasfilm has chosen to make the movie, but the “kick-started with dynamite” headline. Who wrote that?)
Nilay Patel Reviews the Pebble Smartwatch ★
Lots of potential, not much there yet. Interesting contrast between the iOS and Android experiences.
Acer and Chrome OS, Sitting in a Tree ★
Tim Cuplan and Debra Mao, reporting for Bloomberg:
Chrome-based models accounted for 5 percent to 10 percent of
Acer’s U.S. shipments since being released there in November,
President Jim Wong said in an interview at the Taipei-based
company’s headquarters. That ratio is expected to be sustainable
in the long term and the company is considering offering Chrome
models in other developed markets, he said.
Sounds like Chrome OS is starting to get some traction, but I do wonder if actual sales match the “shipments”. Looking at my stats here at DF, Chrome OS accounted for 0.04 percent of traffic over the last four weeks.
“Windows 8 itself is still not successful,” said Wong, whose
company posted a 28 percent drop in fourth-quarter shipments from
a year earlier. “The whole market didn’t come back to growth after
the Windows 8 launch, that’s a simple way to judge if it is
successful or not.”
Gone are the days when PC OEMs feared Microsoft’s wrath.
iOS 6.1 Released ★
Minor update to Apple TV, too.
Imagining a 5-Inch iPhone ★
If Apple considers a screen size of 4.5- or 4.8- instead of
5-inches, the basic premises stay the same. Either way, if Apple
stays at 2x, interface elements wouldn’t be blown up as much at
4.5- or 4.8- as they would at 5-inches, nor would density decrease
as much. At 4.5-inches the current 1136 × 640 display would be
290ppi, and at 4.8-inches it would be 272ppi. 3x would be 435ppi
or 408ppi. 4x would be a silly 560ppi or 543ppi.
3x or 4x isn’t happening any time soon. The most likely scenario for a bigger-display iPhone would be to keep the same pixel count as the iPhone 5 (1136 × 640)
and use the 264 ppi density of the retina iPad. My arithmetic is a little different than Ritchie; I got 4.9 inches diagonal for a 264 ppi 1136 × 640 display.
Think about what Apple did when they made the iPad Mini. They kept the pixel dimensions the same as the non-retina 9.7-inch iPads, and used a display with the exact same pixel density (163 ppi) as previous devices (the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and 3GS). From an operations standpoint, they’d be re-using a component they’re already familiar with. From a software standpoint, existing apps would just run, and everything would just look bigger on screen.
I haven’t heard even a whisper about such a device actually being in the works (but Jeremy Horwitz has), but if it is, that’s how I think Apple would do it.
My thanks to Adobe for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Typekit.
“The easiest way to use real fonts on your website” — short and sweet, that was the entirety of their sponsorship message for the feed. It’s hard to top that, but I will point out that in addition to being easy to use, Typekit also offers an unbelievably wide and deep catalog of great typefaces to choose from.
Report: Aaron Swartz Didn’t Face Prison Until Feds Took Over Case ★
Declan McCullagh, writing for CNet:
State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had
planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal
prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of
the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts
Middlesex County’s district attorney had planned no jail time,
“with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to
continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally
questionable manner,” the report (alternate link) said. “Tragedy
intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send ‘a
We all know Ortiz isn’t the only prosecutor to act like this. But a prosecutor “sending a message” is an outrage. It is a plain violation of the accused’s rights for their punishment to be increased because of people unrelated to their case. The more I learn about this case, the more heartbroken and furious I get.
HTC Mini: A Second, Small Phone to Make Up for the Awkwardness of Its Big-Ass 5-Inch Smartphones ★
They headed off in the direction of stupid and came all the way around the world back to dumb phones. All this thing needs is a telescoping antenna.
Marissa Mayer on Yahoo and the Shift to Mobile Computing ★
On stage interview at the World Economic Forum with Marissa Mayer by Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker. Very smart take on where Yahoo needs to go. (Sure seems like a tighter partnership with Apple could be mutually beneficial to both companies.)
Parent Company CBS Bans CNet From Reviewing Aereo ★
This is untenable. CBS either needs to give CNet editorial independence or sell them to someone who will. As it stands, they’re grinding CNet’s reputation and brand into worthless powder.
Original Mac Lego Model ★
I’d buy this kit in a heartbeat.
Nobody Goes There Anymore, It’s Too Crowded ★
Why Scott McNulty dreads visiting an Apple Store:
Given the crazy amount of foot traffic Apple stores get, someone decided that the designated cash registers had to go. Now any Apple Store employee on the store floor can check you out (plus there’s an app for that). It’s an amazing idea—in theory.
Here’s the thing, though: All the Apple Store employees are overwhelmed helping the myriad folks browsing and asking questions. When I walk in with a mission to purchase a Lighting cable, I must push my way through the crowds to the corner of the store and grab the cable. Now the fun begins: I need to track down an Apple store employee who isn’t engaged with a customer. In the past I’ve actually abandoned the whole thing and left the store without buying the cable.
Ideally, you wouldn’t have to wait. But if you do have to wait, it would be better to wait in a proper line.
Update: Lots of readers emailing to point out that you can check yourself out for most items, using Apple’s iPhone app. That is cool, but I don’t think it’s a solution for everyone. What percentage of customers (even just counting only the ones who already own an iPhone) even know you can do this?
And the “How do I pay for this?” question is just one aspect of McNulty’s main point: the stores are just too crowded and busy.
On the Implications of Amazon’s Low Margin Strategy ★
A lot of folks, especially Apple supporters, like to characterize
Amazon as irrational, even crazy, for its willingness to live with
low margins. It must be frustrating to compete with a company like
that. But to call their strategy irrational or to believe they
want to be a non-profit is a dangerous misreading of what they’re
I, for one, don’t think there’s anything irrational about Amazon. I admire them greatly, and think they’re a devilishly clever company. Who I think is irrational are the Amazon investors who support Amazon’s continuing lack of profits.
‘Any Color But Purple’ ★
And speaking of my friends appearing on Mule Radio podcasts, Jim Coudal is on the latest episode of Glenn Fleishman’s The New Disruptors.
‘Running Down the Street, Screaming at People’ ★
Speaking of Kottke, he’s the guest on the latest episode of Dave Wiskus and Lex Friedman’s Unprofessional.
Jeb Boniakowski, writing at The Awl, has an amazing idea:
I figure if a bunch of nerds on Facebook can get Betty White onto
“Saturday Night Live,” together we can make my McDream a
McReality. I would like to introduce you to a concept I call
The details of how I imagine McWorld have changed over the years,
but there are a few constants:
McWorld is a giant McDonald’s flagship store.
McWorld serves food from all the different McDonald’s menus from
around the world.
McWorld is located in Times Square.
Via Kottke, who is totally sold on the idea.
Louie Mantia on App Icons ★
Instead of focusing on what your app does, focus on what your app
is. This will help your personal brand show through, which will be
more unique and more recognizable.
Apple CFO Jerry Seinfeld Addresses the Shareholders ★
Who better to give the last word on Apple’s quarter?
84 Percent of AT&T Smartphones Last Quarter Were iPhones ★
Dark times for Apple.
The Law of Large Numbers ★
Also worth a re-link, this year-ago piece by James B. Stewart in the NYT:
If Apple’s share price grew even 20 percent a year for the next
decade, which is far below its current blistering pace, its $500
billion market capitalization would be more than $3 trillion by
2022. That is bigger than the 2011 gross domestic product of
France or Brazil.
Put another way, to increase its revenue by 20 percent, Apple has
to generate additional sales of more than $9 billion in its next
fourth quarter. A company with only $1 billion in sales has to
come up with just another $200 million.
Update: Yes, yes, what Stewart is talking about is not the “Law of Large Numbers”. But terminology aside, his piece is looking prescient.
‘When They Should Have Gone for Market Share, They Went for Profits.’ ★
Worth a re-link, regarding the iPad Mini and Apple’s profit margins.
‘Apple’s Profit vs. Amazon’s Promise’ ★
Mark Gimein, writing for The Market Now:
Since 2003, the first year in which Amazon earned a profit,
through the end of 2011, Amazon has reported a total of $5 billion
in earnings. Amazon has not yet reported results for this year; it
lost money in the last quarter, but is expected to turn a profit
for the year.
Think of it this way: if Bezos had started the company himself,
still owned all of it, and had taken out every penny in profit,
his bank balance would be less than one-quarter of what his shares
are worth. Or think of it another way: Apple’s profit for the last
quarter alone is well over twice Amazon’s profit over its entire
Apple’s Stock Price Has Always Been Irrational ★
From a year-old piece by Abdel Ibrahim at The TechBlock:
The stock market sell-off of 2007-2009 bears out this cautionary
approach. During that period, Apple released its original iPhone,
followed by the iPhone 3G, the iPod touch, the MacBook Air, and a
variety of updates to their Mac line. They were seeing record
earnings quarter after quarter, not missing a single beat, yet the
stock dropped from roughly $202 to $78 in that period. Why?
Because stocks react to people, not analysts.
In hindsight, everyone should be able to agree that this was crazy.
Via email, here’s the take from DF reader Gregory Ley:
As Apple grew like crazy the past 10 years it never traded like a
“growth stock”. Always had low valuations (infamously low P/E
ratios relative to peers, especially Amazon). Now that growth is
somewhat slowing (profit-wise, at least… not revenue or units —
those are still growing +20% year over year) the stock is “falling
back to earth” except it was never overvalued to begin with.
That’s the best explanation I can come up with. AAPL, the stock,
has almost become disassociated with Apple, the company. The same
craziness that seems to overvalue Amazon also undervalues Apple.
Apple’s Implicit Earnings Forecast for Next Quarter: A Drop ★
Smart analysis by Mark Rogowsky at Forbes:
A lot of people are confused and think Apple didn’t provide EPS
guidance. They most certainly did, but it requires math.
Fortunately, I’ve done the math for you. If you take all the
numbers above and assume the share count stays constant (it
actually fell by amount 1 million shares over the past quarter),
you get a range between $9.25 and $10.50 per share.
Add it all up and you get higher expenses, much lower gross margin
and not enough revenue to keep earnings per share from falling
from last year’s $12.30.
So the predictions that the just-reported holiday quarter would be Apple’s first year-over-year earnings drop since 2003 were wrong, but next quarter — at least by Apple’s guidance, which they now claim is what they really expect, not sandbagged — the range of Apple’s revenue guidance works out to $9.something billion in net income. Even at the high end of that range, close to $10 billion, that would be a significant drop from the year ago Q2 2012’s $11.6B.
Rogowsky’s explanation for the drop is compelling:
Clearly, iPad is significantly more seasonal, but it’s also
becoming a much less expensive product thanks to the popular
Mini. If you compare to last year, iPad unit sales are up 50% in
the holiday quarter. If you take them down sequentially by the 20%
seen last year, you’d lose about 4.5 million units at $469 — a
revenue shortfall of about $2 billion between the quarters. But if
you also take down the average price another $25, you lose another
$4.5 billion in revenue (over 18 million iPads).
Update: David Barnard points out that Rogowsky’s math doesn’t add up there: $25 times 18 million units comes to $450 million, not $4.5 billion. “Sammy the Walrus IV” argues it’s simply about margins: last year Apple’s margin for Q2 was 47 percent; their forecast for Q2 this year is 38 percent.
The Apple Paradox ★
As an investor, therefore, are you buying a company with high
growth and continued high profits, slowing growth and the same
high profits, or the same growth and (due to cheaper products)
lower profit? It really isn’t clear. More cynically, this is a
catch 22: high numbers mean saturation (bad), and low numbers mean
slowing growth (bad).
Finally, Apple has got to the point where all news is bad news.
The paradoxical demands of investors: they want Apple to add a new lower-cost iPhone and think the iPad Mini is too expensive, but, they don’t want Apple’s profit margins to drop. Can’t have it both ways.
‘Go for Broke, Use Up Everything You Have, and We’ll Deal With It Later’ ★
Speaking of Mad Men, season six starts with a two-hour movie April 7.
Microsoft Has a Heart ★
“Child of the ’90s” — a nostalgic, fun ad from Microsoft for IE.
Via email, one DF reader compared it to Don Draper’s epic “Carousel” pitch on Mad Men. I wouldn’t go that far — this isn’t that good — but in that pitch Draper describes nostalgia as “delicate, but potent”, and I think that does apply here. (Maybe I’m one decade too old for this to really hit home, though.)
Tim Cook on Apple’s Quarter ★
Excellent, as usual: Macworld’s consolidated transcript of Tim Cook’s statements during the analyst conference call.
‘Apple’s Semi-Soft Quarter in Charts’ ★
Dan Frommer charts Apple’s quarterly numbers.
No Guidance for Earnings Next Quarter ★
Brian Chaffin, writing at The Mac Observer, points to some actual disappointing news in Apple’s results today:
Accordingly, Apple offered guidance of revenue between $41 and $43
billion. Consensus estimates for revenue were sitting at 45.4
billion. In the old days, Apple’s guidance of $41-$43 billion
would have been perceived as being roughly in line with that
consensus number, but in the new era of a “we’re not sandbagging”
Apple, that represents a guidance miss. […]
Notably — and this could also be having an after-hours affect on
$AAPL — Apple didn’t offer guidance for earnings.
I wonder about the lack of guidance on earnings too. Revenue growth was just fine for the just-reported quarter — it’s earnings that disappointed. Update: Apple didn’t mention earnings, but given the numbers they did provide, you can work it out, and it’s a drop.
Dan Lyons on Apple’s Quarter ★
I wanted an Apple bear’s take on today’s results and the market reaction. I think Dan Lyon’s piece for ReadWrite was actually pretty reasonable. No hysterics, no grave dancing. But it kind of falls apart at the end:
Still, it seems Apple has hit a wall. It’s not just about sales
and earnings, but also about innovation. It’s been years since
Apple did something truly revolutionary. Rumors of Apple
getting into the TV market continue to swirl, but so far it’s
all just rumors.
iPod, iPhone, iPad. That’s the sort of Big New Thing that Lyons — and many others — are talking about. Only Steve Jobs could do those things, Tim Cook can’t. But look at the timeframe: iPod 2001, iPhone 2007, iPad 2010. Even during the era of innovation Lyons is pointing to, Apple spent six years between the first iPod and first iPhone. Again, why is it only Apple that’s expected to invent a time machine?
(Worth pointing out too, that Lyons didn’t see the original iPad as a breakthrough: “Jobs and his team kept using words like ‘breakthrough’ and ‘magical’, but the iPad is neither, at least not right now.”)
Bad News: Apple Is the Most Profitable Company in History ★
Mike Beasley, 9to5 Mac:
Apple today posted its earnings for the final quarter of 2012,
which was “disappointingly” the largest corporate earnings year in
human history by a tidy margin, causing many investors to panic as
Apple clearly circles the drain in what will be the first step in
a short road to the demise of the most valuable company in the
world (If Exxon hasn’t indeed surpassed it tomorrow morning).
Apple’s 13.1B in earnings this quarter was the 4th largest of all
time according to the same metric.
Exxon previously held the top three spots for annual profit. So, to reiterate, Apple just reported the most profitable year of any company ever, the fourth-most profitable quarter of any company ever, and the stock tanked after hours.
After Hours ★
After reporting record-breaking revenue, profit, and iOS device sales, Apple’s stock is down over 10 percent in after-hours trading (which is often more volatile than regular trading), which makes sense because, uh…, because after hours investors are a bunch of idiots? I give up.
For perspective on how much 10 percent of Apple’s market value is, Tom Gara tweets:
Apple’s market value has fallen by the combined market value of
two Nokias plus two RIMs in the hours since its results came out.
Apple ‘A Broken Company’ ★
Bruno J. Navarro, CNBC:
Apple stock is headed to a level of $425 per share this quarter,
DoubleLine CEO Jeff Gundlach said after the company reported
disappointing earnings Wednesday.
“I think this is really a broken company that is over-owned,” he
said on “Fast Money.”
Record-breaking revenue. Record-breaking profit. Over 75 million iOS devices sold in the quarter. Totally broken.
Apple Q1 2013 Quarterly Results ★
Apple today announced financial results for its 13-week fiscal
2013 first quarter ended December 29, 2012. The Company posted
record quarterly revenue of $54.5 billion and record quarterly net
profit of $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per diluted share. These
results compare to revenue of $46.3 billion and net profit of
$13.1 billion, or $13.87 per diluted share, in the 14-week
year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 38.6 percent compared to 44.7
percent in the year-ago quarter.
Average weekly revenue was $4.2 billion in the quarter compared to
$3.3 billion in the year-ago quarter.
Records all around. But even accounting for the 13- vs. 14-week quarters, profit growth has slowed considerably. That said, it was just three years ago that Steve Jobs boasted that Apple had become a $50 billion company in annual revenue. Now they just reported $54.5 billion in quarterly revenue.
The Company sold a record 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter,
compared to 37 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple also sold a
record 22.9 million iPads during the quarter, compared to 15.4
million in the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 4.1 million
Macs, compared to 5.2 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple sold
12.7 million iPods in the quarter, compared to 15.4 million in the
That’s a significant drop for Mac sales. Part of that might be that the new iMacs weren’t available until December, but I think it’s more about the post-PC transition. Cars are in, trucks are out.
‘I’m Sure You Realize the Asymmetry in the Financial Resources of Our Respective Companies’ ★
That’s from a stone cold 2007 email from Steve Jobs to then-CEO of Palm Ed Colligan, regarding Palm’s recruiting of Apple employees to work on what became the Pre and WebOS. The man did not beat around the bush. Could be legal trouble for Apple (and a bunch of other companies), though.
‘Can Siri Go Deaf, Mute, and Blind?’ ★
What happens to Apple’s design advantage in an age of objects
performing simple discreet tasks or “intuiting” and brokering our
next command among themselves without the need for our touch or
gaze? Indeed, what happens to UI design, in general, in an ocean
of “interface-less” objects inter-networked ubiquitously?
Form Follows Function ★
Amazing HTML5 experience demos by Jongmin Kim.
‘What It’s Really Like Working With Steve Jobs’ ★
Glenn Reid, who helped design iMovie and iPhoto, in a year-ago remembrance:
Not only did he know and love product engineering, it’s all he
really wanted to do. He told me once that part of the reason he
wanted to be CEO was so that nobody could tell him that he wasn’t
allowed to participate in the nitty-gritty of product design. […]
Steve’s magic recipe was that he was a product designer at his
core, who was smart enough to know that the best way to design
products was to have the magic wand of CEO in one of your hands.
If he knew he was right, he didn’t have to explain or justify a decision. A designer with carte blanche.
A Close Look at How Oracle Installs Deceptive Software With Java Updates ★
Java is the new king of foistware, displacing Adobe and Skype from
the top of the heap.
Oracle only does this with their Java installers for Windows, but there’s nothing stopping them from doing it with their Mac OS X installers eventually. Well, except for Java’s inexorable slide into obsolescence as a desktop technology.
Peter Cohan, Still a Jackass ★
Remember this guy, who argued back in October that Apple’s board should fire Tim Cook? Still banging that drum. This is the type of nonsense Forbes runs.
Google’s Quarterly Results ★
Google earned nearly $2.9 billion, or $8.62 per share during
the final three months of last year. That compared to net income
of $2.7 billion, or $8.22 per share, at the same time last year.
Revenue surged 36 percent from the previous year to $14.4 billion.
Revenue way up, profit only up slightly.
Horace Dediu’s Asymconf next week in San Jose still has a few seats open. I can’t make it, but sure wish I could.
iPhone Activations on Verizon ★
Yoni Heisler, writing for Network World:
All told, Verizon activated 6.2 million iPhones, with nearly half
of them being the iPhone 5. Put differently, the iPhone accounted
for 63.2% of all of Verizon’s smartphone sales this past quarter.
That figure represents the highest proportion of iPhones sold in
any previous quarter. […]
Last quarter, Verizon activated 3.1 million iPhones, which
accounted for approximately 46% of their total smartphone
activations. […] During the holiday quarter of 2011, Verizon
activated 7.7 million smartphones, 4.2 million of which where
iPhones. That translates to the iPhone accounting for 54% of all
smartphone sales on Verizon for the quarter.
Year-over-year, Verizon smartphone activations were up 27 percent; iPhone activations were up 48 percent. iPhones outsold Android phones about 2 to 1. This, on the carrier that owns and promotes the “Droid” brand.
On their analyst conference call, Verizon said “about half” their iPhone activations for the quarter were for the iPhone 5. I’m betting the “free” (with contract) iPhone 4 played a big part in that — this is the first quarter Verizon has been able to offer a “free” iPhone, because the 3GS was GSM-only. Which in turn is a good reminder that Apple already has a low-cost iPhone — the two-year-old iPhone 4.
Theories on AAPL’s $500 Close ★
Nick Summers, Businessweek:
Take a look at the option chain data for Apple, for those bets
expiring Jan. 19. (Monthly options expire on the Saturday
after the third Friday of the month.) There were more than
66,000 contracts at $500, more than twice as many than at any
“People are correlative animals,” says Lipkin. “They tend to see
things that are patterns. But what they don’t see are the
The conspiracy, if you will, is not that AAPL closed at precisely $500.00 Friday.
The conspiracy is that those who stood to profit from Apple closing at or under $500 have been spreading pessimistic bullshit for months to drive the stock price down.
‘It Might Not Get Weirder Than This’ ★
Fascinating, insightful, well-illustrated trip report by Sophie Schmidt, who accompanied her father Eric to North Korea.
On the Future of the Mac Mini ★
Kasper Jade, AppleInsider:
Therefore, it comes as little surprise that sources, for whom
AppleInsider holds the utmost respect, are now pointing towards
the mini’s impending demise. […]
Ladies and gentlemen, AppleInsider believes in all sincerity that
the Mac mini is dead.
I’d be worried if this article weren’t from 2007.
AAPL: $500.00 ★
Remember the piece I linked to earlier this week, wherein Joe Springer pointed out (all the way back in November) that large institutional investors who’d sold options on Apple’s stock back in the summer stood to profit by billions if AAPL closed today at $500 or under? It closed at $500.00.
I still have that bridge to sell you if you don’t think the fix was in on this.
Enable Quick Look for Markdown Files ★
I linked to QLMarkdown a few years ago, but it’s worth a re-link. Great project.
‘The Mac Faithful’ ★
This week’s episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest John Moltz. Topics include Apple’s battered stock price, just what it is about Apple that makes so many people lose their damn minds, the pace of innovation, and the goofy suit Steve Jobs wore for the introduction of the original iMac.
Brought to you by two excellent sponsors:
- Infinite Refrigerator — The kid- and kitchen-friendly app for archiving and sharing childhoods.
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Samsung Galaxy Fonblet Rumor: 5.8-Inch Display ★
I’ll play devil’s advocate here, and suggest that at a certain point, it’s better to think of these things as small tablets than big-ass phones. Pair it with a Bluetooth headset so you don’t look like an ass while talking on the phone, and you’ve got one device to carry instead of two. There’s a pocket-ability problem for someone like me, but not for men who wear jackets and women who carry handbags. The biggest problem I see is that so many Android apps are designed for phone-size displays, not tablet-size displays.
I sure hope “Fonblet” isn’t what they’re actually going to call the thing, though.
‘Every Empire Crumbles’ ★
A gem from John Moltz.
‘Swallowed Whole’ ★
The Macalope, quoting Byte’s Larry Seltzer:
If anyone’s the leader in the smartphone market now, it has to be
Samsung, which just announced that the Galaxy S3 has sold 40
million units in 7 months. In 2 years and 7 months since its
launch, the Galaxy S line has sold over 100 million. Wow.
Larry, when coming up with that statistic, did you pause to think
for even one second how many iPhones Apple’s sold over that
period? Because it’s more than twice that. FYI.
The NRA’s Successful Campaign to Prevent Firearms Research ★
Michael Luo, reporting for the NYT back in 2011:
Are communities where more people carry guns safer or less safe?
Does the availability of high-capacity magazines increase deaths?
Do more rigorous background checks make a difference?
The reality is that even these and other basic questions cannot be
fully answered, because not enough research has been done. And
there is a reason for that. Scientists in the field and former
officials with the government agency that used to finance the
great bulk of this research say the influence of the National Rife
Association has all but choked off money for such work.
“We’ve been stopped from answering the basic questions,” said Mark
Rosenberg, former director of the National Center for Injury
Control and Prevention, part of the federal Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, which was for about a decade the leading
source of financing for firearms research.
They don’t want pesky facts getting in the way of their “more guns will make us safer” argument. So: no science.
The Success of the Australian Assault Weapons Ban ★
Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard:
In the end, we won the battle to change gun laws because there was
majority support across Australia for banning certain weapons. And
today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only
reduced the gun-related homicide rate, but also the suicide rate.
The Australian Institute of Criminology found that gun-related
murders and suicides fell sharply after 1996. The American Law and
Economics Review found that our gun buyback scheme cut firearm
suicides by 74 percent. In the 18 years before the 1996 reforms,
Australia suffered 13 gun massacres — each with more than four
victims — causing a total of 102 deaths. There has not been a
single massacre in that category since 1996.
The other thing about the success of Australia’s gun laws is that studies have shown there was no offsetting increase in other forms of homicide. More guns, more killing, that’s what the data shows. President Obama isn’t pushing for anything more than restrictions supported by Ronald Reagan. Reagan.
The Big Web Show ★
The one and only Jeffrey Zeldman was kind enough to have me as the guest on his podcast this week. I think you’ll like it.
Napkin 1.0 ★
Also new (and currently featured as the Editor’s Choice) in the Mac App Store: Napkin, an elegant simple utility for making diagrams and annotating images, from my pals at Aged & Distilled. There’s some really clever stuff in Napkin — to draw a shape — rectangle, circle, or a line — you just draw it on the canvas, and the app figures out what shape you want. The app is just chock full of nice details, including a really nice help system that guides you through discovering all those nice details. $40 in the App Store, worth every cent.
See Rene Ritchie’s piece on Napkin at iMore for more, including a video showing a bunch of cool features.
Kaleidoscope 2.0 ★
Fresh out of beta — Black Pixel’s unparalleled file comparison app for the Mac. Shows the differences between text files, folders of files, and, most amazingly, images.
How Apple Sets Its Prices ★
Marco Tabini, writing for Macworld:
Both iOS devices and Macs seem to be impervious to the discount
game. In fact it’s so rare to find a significant price variance
between retailers that, when it does happen, the event usually
draws considerable press coverage.
With so many laws regulating competition among retailers, how does
Apple pull off this amazing feat? It turns out that the company
uses a fairly straightforward strategy, known as price
maintenance, that takes advantage of the popularity of its
products and exploits a quirk in the way retailers are allowed to
advertise their merchandise.
Newsstand ‘Read Them Here First’ Titles ★
Darrell Etherington, writing for TechCrunch:
Apple today quietly launched a new feature for Newsstand,
whereby publications by partner Hearst (covering their entire
catalog) will now be available to subscribers days before they
come to print, or other digital editions. Hearst’s library
includes a number of top titles, including Car and Driver,
Popular Mechanics, Esquire, Seventeen and Harper’s Bazaar among
The ‘Apple Needs a New Hit Product Now’ Argument ★
On the flip side of the coin from the preceding item by Dan Pallotta, we’ve got this one by (the coincidentally similarly surnamed) Therese Poletti. There’s nothing in it I haven’t seen before, repeatedly, and don’t agree with any of it, but it serves as a good rundown of the general consensus of the Apple pessimists.
What gets me is her main point, that Apple “needs” a new product of the disruptive scope of the iPhone or iPad. I don’t get it. Sure, it’d be great — for consumers and for Apple — if they were to soon unveil some major new initiative. New stuff is great. But why would you think they needed to? Why just Apple? Why does no one argue that Samsung “needs” to unveil a major new disruption? What harm would Apple suffer if they spent the next five years refining and growing the products already in their stable? They’re already the most profitable technology company in the world, and their three major platforms — iPhone, iPad, and Mac — are all growing. They don’t need to change a damn thing.
The Market Wants Apple to Unveil a Time Machine ★
Dan Pallotta, writing for the Harvard Business Review:
The critics that are screaming right now are intellectually lazy.
They’re throwing temper tantrums instead of looking at the big
picture. Like two-year-olds, they don’t really know what they
want. And they’re not happy when they get it, anyway. Apple could
unveil a new car and they’d say Apple’s days are over because it’s
just bet its future on an industry it knows nothing about. Not
unlike, say, Apple’s entrance into the mobile phone industry. I
bet that if Apple did unveil a time machine, they’d claim it
wasn’t fast enough.
Apple’s Churning of the Gut ★
I honestly believe people read their gut and say it can’t be
possible therefore it isn’t. Apple can’t be this successful. It’s
not possible. And I know that because my gut tells me so.
I had lunch today with one of my old college professors and his
attitude was almost “about time.” Apple had its day in the sun, it
did well for a while, but it’s time for market realities to catch
up to the company. Apple has been a fad for a decade now — since
the iPod launched in 2001 — and it is time for it to fade into
the sunset like some hokey 1950s western.
Great piece. I’ve made an argument along these lines on The Talk Show, in the context of early impressions. A lot of people formed their impression of Apple in the 1990’s, and to them, that’s what Apple will always be: a niche hardware maker that insists on doing things the wrong way (closed instead of open, etc.) in the name of control. To these people, everything that’s happened with Apple in the past decade has been a fluke, an aberration.
Stay Curious ★
Aaron Swartz, in a 2009 interview with Ronaldo Lemos:
When I was a kid, I thought a lot about what made me different
from the other kids. I don’t think I was smarter than them and I
certainly wasn’t more talented. And I definitely can’t claim I was
a harder worker — I’ve never worked particularly hard, I’ve
always just tried doing things I find fun. Instead, what I
concluded was that I was more curious — but not because I had
been born that way. If you watch little kids, they are intensely
curious, always exploring and trying to figure out how things
work. The problem is that school drives all that curiosity out.
Instead of letting you explore things for yourself, it tells you
that you have to read these particular books and answer these
particular questions. And if you try to do something else instead,
you’ll get in trouble. Very few people’s curiosity can survive
that. But, due to some accident, mine did. I kept being curious
and just followed my curiosity.
(Via Dave Winer.)
Hard to Fool, Eh? ★
Apple has gone from being a sure-thing rocketship to a train
wreck, as far as stocks are concerned. Some people want to cry
“stock manipulation,” but the stock is down 30% since the end of
September. It’s hard to totally fool the market. Something is
amiss with the company.
Hard to fool the market? In the long run, arguably. In the short run, that’s laughable.
As for Apple specifically, maybe “something” is, indeed, “amiss with the company”. But the WSJ and Nikkei reports yesterday claimed something very specific about what’s wrong. Apple’s stock was at $520 over the weekend; then the WSJ ran their “due to weaker-than-expected demand” story on the front page; today, the stock closed at $486. If this weak iPhone 5 demand report turns out to be the complete bullshit it looks like, how is this not proof that the market is easily fooled?
Why the WSJ Got the ‘iPhone Demand Is Crashing’ Story All Wrong ★
Fantastic analysis by Mark Rogowsky at Forbes. Best piece I’ve seen regarding yesterday’s “weaker-than-expected demand” iPhone 5 report in the WSJ, as well as an astute take on the competitive positions of Apple and Samsung:
Similarly, Cnet was very excited about Samsung’s announcement that
the Galaxy S phone line had crossed the 100 million mark in total
sales. The phone is so desirable, “Sales of the flagship Galaxy S3
reached 30 million units in 5 months, and 40 million in 7 months,
with average daily sales of about 190,000 units.” You’d think that
it’s the hottest thing going with those numbers. Of course, as we
were just discussing above, in the quarter just ended, Apple will
have sold about as many iPhone 5′s as Samsung has sold Galaxy S3′s
in 7 months! This is what the “experts” are already calling
trouble and they haven’t seen the numbers yet.
Now, of course, Samsung is also selling the prior generation S2,
which Cnet tells us, “…is described as a steady bet after
recording sales of over 40 million in 20 months.” So that’s about
2 million a month for that model to go with the 17 million S3
phones Samsung apparently moved in Q3. In other words, if we just
compare the last two generations of phones, Apple sold somewhere
around 35-45 million last quarter while Samsung moved about 23
million. It’s certainly true that Samsung has a number of
less-expensive entry models and will outsell Apple in raw numbers.
But when one looks at “profit share” and wonders why Apple will
continue to earn more of it in smartphones than Samsung, those
numbers tell the story.
Read the whole piece, it’s spot-on.
Jim Cramer Explains How the Stock Market Is Manipulated ★
Via Rene Ritchie, in this Branch thread.
Bobo, the Accidental Hit App ★
Claire Atkinson, reporting for The New York Post:
Bob Tedeschi, the Times’ Gadgetwise columnist until last June, who
covered the app world, went undercover in 2010 to develop an app
— and helped create “Bobo Explores Light,” an award-winning
best-selling iPad app, The Post has learned.
Tedeschi undertook the project using the pseudonym Craig Fusco so
Apple wouldn’t give him any unwarranted favorable or unfavorable
treatment. In a recent interview, he said he was moved from the
tech beat after telling his editors of Bobo’s success. “I was
floored by how well it did,” Tedeschi told The Post. […]
Ironically, Tedeschi’s app creation was first discussed with a
Times editor as a possible story that would address how hard it
was to make a living developing apps. The story assignment was
eventually dropped — but Tedeschi continued pursuing the idea.
Makes you think The Times wasn’t looking for the answer to whether it’s possible to make a living developing apps, but rather only wanted a story that concluded you can’t.
Facebook Graph Search ★
So Google got into social networking with Google Plus, and now Facebook is getting into search. Here’s Danny Sullivan’s take.
If You Lose Your Cellphone, Don’t Blame Wayne Dobson ★
GPS glitch with Sprint is pointing “Find My iPhone” results in North Las Vegas to this guy’s house:
Dobson’s misadventure started in 2011, with a knock on the door
around midnight on a weekend. He opened the door and found an
upset young couple demanding that he turn over their phone. Dobson
“I’m standing there and I’m thinking, ‘What are they talking
about?’ ” he said. “They might as well have said, ‘Give me my
horse back.’ “
Now a Bunch of Analysts Are Saying iPhone 5 Demand Remains Strong ★
This is how far we’ve sunk: I’m in complete agreement with Shaw Wu.
Corporate Silence ★
A 2001 CNet article by Sergio G. Non:
For years, publicly traded companies have been citing rules from
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as reasons not to
discuss almost anything related to corporate operations in the
weeks preceding a quarterly report. “SEC-mandated quiet period”
often becomes a boilerplate phrase for public-relations personnel
when earnings are less than a month away.
Yet it’s not even an SEC rule.
“The quiet period phenomenon is a matter of practice rather than
regulation,” SEC spokesman John Heine said. “You’re not going to
find a regulation that says ‘you have to be quiet for 30 days’ or
something like that. However, there are provisions in securities
laws that lead people… to be careful in how they handle certain
types of information.”
Via Virtual Pants. Whether it’s a matter of choice or their interpretation of legal requirements, Apple says nothing in the month leading up to quarterly results — and everyone knows that. So I don’t think the timing of yesterday’s WSJ report of “weaker-than-expected demand” was a coincidence.
Suppressing AAPL ★
Compelling piece by Joe Springer on Apple’s stock price, from back in November:
So here is our logic to being patient. It is threefold:
Apple had an enormous amount of call options speculation
related to its Summer surge
A huge share of this was calls with a strike of around the
current price of $550 and higher that expire January 19 2013
The institutional money managers that wrote those call options
and bought common stock to cover will make a lot of money if a)
those options expire worthless, and then b) Apple runs after
that expiration date
Billions of dollars at stake if AAPL stays near or under $500 a share until January 19 and then makes a run after that. No tinfoil hat required to see the motivation here. (Via Loren Brichter.)
Strong iPhone Sales at Verizon (and AT&T) ★
One last bit for the day on this “iPhone 5 demand is lower than expected” thing. Last week, Verizon made a preliminary announcement on its holiday quarter:
Verizon this morning said in a filing with the SEC that its
Verizon Wireless unit expects to report Q4 retail postpaid
subscriber net adds of 2.1 million, with 9.8 million smartphone
activations, and “a higher mix of Apple smartphones”.
Now, it’s possible that:
- The iPhone 4S could be cannibalizing iPhone 5 sales. Verizon said “Apple smartphones”, not the iPhone 5 in particular. It’s possible that “iPhone” sales are up but that iPhone 5 sales are disappointing.
- Verizon could be an outlier. Seems unlikely, given how hard Verizon pushes its own Droid-branded phones.
- AT&T is reporting “best-ever quarterly sales of Android and Apple smartphones”, so maybe it’s the U.S. that’s the outlier, and iPhone demand is weak elsewhere around the world.
But I don’t think any of the above are likely. Keep in mind that Verizon’s statement is in a legally binding filing with the SEC. The WSJ’s report of “weaker-than-expected demand” for the iPhone 5 was from “people familiar with the situation”.
NYT on the iPhone 5 Component Thing ★
Brian X. Chen, reporting for the NYT:
Apple does appear to be cutting back on orders for its latest
iPhone from its manufacturing partners, as Nikkei of Japan and The
Wall Street Journal reported earlier. Paul Semenza, an analyst at
NPD DisplaySearch, a research firm that follows the display
market, said that for January, Apple had expected to order 19
million displays for the iPhone 5 but cut the order to 11 million
to 14 million. Mr. Semenza said these numbers came from sources in
the supply chain, the companies that make components for Apple
The reduction in orders for screens could be related to excess
inventory, or because consumer demand for the iPhone 5 just was
not as strong as Apple had predicted, Mr. Semenza said.
“Certainly, demand from Apple to the display makers seems to have
been corrected pretty significantly,” he said.
A few differences between this report and yesterday’s from the WSJ and Nikkei (all in the NYT’s favor):
- Specific numbers.
- A named source.
- A range for the drop, which, even in the worst case scenario, is not “half”.
- No assumption that the drop is definitely attributable to lower than expected consumer demand for the iPhone 5. It could be, but might be inventory or something else.
Bloomberg: ‘Dell Said to Be in Buyout Talks With Private-Equity Firms’ ★
“I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
Apple Can’t Respond to Rumors of iPhone 5 Cuts Even if It Wanted To ★
I’ve been asked a lot today why Apple hasn’t responded to the Wall
Street Journal article saying that there have been massive cuts to
iPhone 5 orders. The simple fact is, they can’t.
SEC rules prohibit Apple from talking publicly about the company.
This is known as a quiet period and all publicly traded companies
must adhere to these rules.
Aaron Swartz’s Lawyer: Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Wanted ‘Juicy’ Case for Publicity ★
The Huffington Post:
In a phone interview Monday, Swartz’s attorney Elliot Peters
accused Massachusetts assistant U.S. attorney Stephen Heymann of
pursuing federal charges against Swartz to gain publicity.
Heymann was looking for “some juicy looking computer crime cases
and Aaron’s case, sadly for Aaron, fit the bill,” Peters said.
Heymann, Peters believes, thought the Swartz case “was going to
receive press and he was going to be a tough guy and read his name
in the newspaper.”
Despicable. A betrayal of the word “justice”.
Passing It Along as Established Fact ★
Eric Zeman, writing for Information Week, states the WSJ’s and Nikkei’s unattributed stories that iPhone 5 component orders have been slashed as fact:
Apple, responding to weak market demand, has sliced orders for
iPhone 5 parts by as much as 50%.
One way or the other, there’s going to be a lot of crow to be eaten come two weeks when Apple releases their holiday quarter results.
The design of the iPhone 5 may be quite good, but Apple has
handicapped itself by offering only one new phone each year.
Samsung, by way of comparison, offers dozens of models each year.
Samsung covers every price point, every screen size and every
Whether or not Apple has in fact cut orders for iPhone 5 parts, it
may need to step up the number of devices it introduces each year
if it wants to continue to compete against Samsung in particular,
and Android in general.
Sure, makes total sense that the company that has been generating more than two-thirds of the entire industry’s profits is the one that should consider acting more like its competitors.
The ‘New iPhone in Early 2013’ Theory ★
Michael Grothaus, writing for TUAW:
Do the component cuts, if true, mean iPhone 5 demand is weak? It’s
possible. But it could also hint at another number of things.
Apple usually reduces component orders when they are getting ready
to ramp up for a new product. There have been rumors that Apple
will move to a six-month release schedule for its iOS devices to
keep up with competition. The lower component orders could signal
that an “iPhone 5S” can be expected sooner rather than later.
But an iPhone 5S would almost certainly use the same display as the iPhone 5. The previous “S” iPhones — the 3GS and 4S — used not only the same display as their non-S predecessors, but also sported the same form factors.
If Apple’s component orders for the iPhone 5 really were cut by half, there’s no way to see it as anything but weak demand for the iPhone. My skepticism is all about that “if”.
The Strange Math of Apple’s Purported Massive iPhone 5 Component Cuts ★
Tero Kuittinen, writing for BGR, says exactly what I thought when I saw the WSJ’s story last night:
So if the most likely number of 4-inch screens Apple is reasonably
expected to sell in March quarter is around 30 to 40 million
units, why did Nikkei publish a report stating that Apple had
halved its display orders for the quarter from 65 million units?
Nikkei was quite specific about the 65 million number. And it
clearly tied it to iPhone 5 component orders, not total iPhone or
iPhone 5 and iPod touch orders.
In what world did Apple expect to order components for 65 million
iPhone 5 handsets in the seasonally soft March quarter?
Perhaps the weirdness of the math is why the current version of
the WSJ article no longer cites the 65 million unit figure.
Sometime between Sunday at 8:00 p.m. EST and Monday at 7:00 a.m.,
the Journal decided to drop the number from its article. But if
the 65 million number is not right, is the estimate for halving
March orders correct, either?
The reports claiming 65 million displays for next quarter make little sense; the reports that claim component orders have been “halved” but without any specific numbers can’t be verified three months from now when Apple reports its actual iPhone sales for the coming quarter. In the meantime, of course, Apple’s stock took a beating today on these reports. If you don’t smell stock manipulation here, I have a bridge to sell you.
The Truth About Aaron Swartz’s ‘Crime’ ★
In short, Aaron Swartz was not the super hacker breathlessly
described in the Government’s indictment and forensic reports, and
his actions did not pose a real danger to JSTOR, MIT or the
public. He was an intelligent young man who found a loophole that
would allow him to download a lot of documents quickly. This
loophole was created intentionally by MIT and JSTOR, and was
codified contractually in the piles of paperwork turned over
Greg Sandoval Resigns From CNet ★
With his talent and integrity, I bet Sandoval is already fielding offers from CNet competitors.
CBS Forced CNet Staff to Recast Vote After Hopper Won ‘Best in Show’ at CES ★
Josh Topolsky, reporting for The Verge:
Apparently, executives at CBS learned that the Hopper would win
“Best of Show” prior to the announcement. Before the winner was
unveiled, CBS Interactive News senior-vice president and General
Manager Mark Larkin informed CNET’s staff that the Hopper could
not take the top award. The Hopper would have to be removed from
consideration, and the editorial team had to re-vote and pick a
new winner from the remaining choices. Sources say that Larkin was
distraught while delivering the news — at one point in tears —
as he told the team that he had fought CBS executives who had made
Apparently the move to strike the Hopper from the awards was
passed down directly to Larkin from the office of CBS CEO, Leslie
Moonves. Moonves has been one of the most outspoken opponents of
the Hopper, telling investors at one point, “Hopper cannot
exist… if Hopper exists, we will not be in business with
Disgraceful. This, from the company that was once the pinnacle of journalistic integrity.
Defining the Gram ★
Science moves on. Time is now defined by readily available clocks
that use caesium atoms as their pendulums, while distance is
specified in terms of the speed of light in metres per second (the
caesium atoms having already provided the value of a second), and
these days that speed can be measured with great accuracy using
easily purchased equipment. Mass, however, remains stubbornly
stuck in Paris, under three concentric glass lids (pictured)
strangely reminiscent of cheese covers, which are intended to stop
it either absorbing or shedding matter and thus changing in value.
Unfortunately, the cheese covers have not worked.
Star Wars: Machete Order ★
Speaking of Star Wars, this essay by Rod Hilton is one of the best and most insightful pieces I’ve ever read regarding the relationship between the two film trilogies.
ABC to Look at ‘Star Wars’ Live-Action Series ★
I have a bad feeling about this.
My thanks to Harvest for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Harvest is a terrific time-tracking system for the web, Mac, and iPhone — designed for creative professionals, with an emphasis on ease-of-use and productivity. Well-designed software makes it easy and convenient to track your time and manage projects, and when you’re finished, you can send a professional invoice right from Harvest.
Check it out, then give Harvest a spin with a free 30-day trial.
‘The Administration Does Not Support Blowing Up Planets.’ ★
The White House responds to a petition for the U.S. to build a Death Star.
A Day in the Life of Hunter S. Thompson ★
“Midnight — Hunter ready to write.”
The New Disruptors ★
Speaking of podcasts, my colleagues at Mule Radio have been busy. My favorite among the newest shows is The New Disruptors, hosted by the one and only Glenn Fleishman.
‘Unsolved Forever’ ★
Beautiful tribute to Aaron Swartz from Cory Doctorow.
Lawrence Lessig on Aaron Swartz ★
Aaron had literally done nothing in his life “to make money.”
He was fortunate Reddit turned out as it did, but from his work
building the RSS standard, to his work architecting Creative
Commons, to his work liberating public records, to his work
building a free public library, to his work supporting Change
Congress/FixCongressFirst/Rootstrikers, and then Demand Progress,
Aaron was always and only working for (at least his conception of)
the public good. He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius. A
soul, a conscience, the source of a question I have asked myself a
million times: What would Aaron think? That person is gone today,
driven to the edge by what a decent society would only call
bullying. I get wrong. But I also get proportionality. And if you
don’t get both, you don’t deserve to have the power of the
United States government behind you.
Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide ★
Aaron was a friend and a brilliant mind. He was my only beta tester for Markdown back in 2004, and frequently offered keen feedback on my work here at DF. He had an enormous intellect — again, a brilliant mind — but also an enormous capacity for empathy. He was a great person. I’m dumbfounded and heartbroken. Good thoughts and best wishes to his family and those who were truly close to him.
Film Crit Hulk vs. Tom Hooper and the Art of Cinematic Affectation ★
The most insightful thing composed entirely in all caps you’ll read this week.
Safari’s Announcement ★
Don Melton, on watching Steve Jobs announce the first version of Safari:
Most of the time during those rehearsals, Ken and I had nothing to
do except sit in the then empty audience and watch The Master
Presenter at work — crafting his keynote. What a privilege to be
a spectator during that process. At Apple, we were actually all
students, not just spectators. When I see other companies
clumsily announce products these days, I realize again how
much the rest of the world lost now that Steve is gone.
KHTML may have been a bigger surprise than Apple doing a
browser at all. And that moment was glorious. We had punk’d the
Nokia Decrypts HTTPS Data ★
David Meyer, GigaOM:
Nokia has confirmed reports that its Xpress Browser decrypts data
that flows through HTTPS connections — that includes the
connections set up for banking sessions, encrypted email and more.
However, it insists that there’s no need for users to panic
because it would never access customers’ encrypted data.
Seems like a huge privacy violation. I don’t see how there’s any way Nokia can justify this. (Compare and contrast with Amazon’s Silk, which uses a proxy server for regular HTTP traffic but doesn’t touch HTTPS traffic.)
Olloclip for iPhone 5 ★
One of my favorite accessories, now available for the iPhone 5.
How About AutoRip for Books? ★
Still, AutoRip is painfully close to something I’ve found myself
pining for since starting to use a Kindle e-reader: free Kindle
copies of purchased physical books. Unlike CDs, there’s no way for
book purchasers to create their own digital copy, so an “AutoRip
for Books” would provide much more benefit.
That’s my holy grail of book-buying. I still buy many of my books — particularly ones I really care about — in print, because I remain as uncomfortable today as I did in 2007 about “buying” books with DRM.
Update: Dan Frommer: “How About An Amazon AutoRip For Books?”
‘Focusing on Certain Segments’ ★
This “Apple should make a cheap iPhone” thing reminds me of the “Apple should make a cheap netbook” argument from four or five years ago. Remember this quote from Steve Jobs in 2008?
There are some customers which we chose not to serve. We don’t
know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and
our DNA will not let us ship that. But we can continue to
deliver greater and greater value to those customers that we
choose to serve. And there’s a lot of them. We’ve seen great
success by focusing on certain segments of the market and not
trying to be everything to everybody. So I think you can expect
us to stick with that winning strategy and continue to try to
add more and more value to those products in those customer
bases we choose to serve.
That clearly didn’t mean Apple was never going to ship a $500 computer — in April 2010 they shipped the iPad. Hell, as of two months ago, Apple now sells computers starting at just $329. It just means they weren’t going to ship a $500 computer until they could make one that was both a good product and profitable for the company.
Their approach to lower price points for the iPhone will be the same.
Better Than Expected Quarterly Sales for Nokia, Including 4.4 Million Lumias ★
Good news from Nokia:
Net sales within Devices & Services totalled €3.9 billion for the
quarter. The biggest sellers were, unsurprisingly, the really
low-end Series 40 phones, which sold 70.3 million units. However,
the company also sold 15.9 million smartphones: 9.3 million Asha
full-touch handsets, 2.2 million Symbian smartphones and a cool
4.4 million Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphones.
4.4 million Lumias compares to 2.9 and 4.0 million in the previous two quarters. Good, but still not setting the world on fire. Calling these Asha things “smartphones” shows just how nebulous a term that is. For comparison, Apple has been selling around 20-35 million iPhones per quarter the past year.
Mapping the Entertainment Ecosystems ★
The one area of cloud services where Apple leads the pack, and where Amazon and Google are far behind: worldwide distribution.
Phil Schiller on Cheap iPhones ★
Phil Schiller, in an interview with Shanghai Evening News:
“At first, non-smartphones were popular in the Chinese market, now
cheap smartphones are more popular and non-smartphones are out,”
Schiller added later. “Despite the popularity of cheap
smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products. In
fact, although Apple’s market share of smartphones is just about
20%, we own the 75% of the profit.”
This doesn’t mean Apple isn’t going to produce a cheaper iPhone. Schiller is simply stating what should be — but clearly isn’t — obvious to everyone: Apple goes for profit.
Apple’s Next Battleground Isn’t TV; It’s Web Services ★
Smart piece by John Paczkowski:
Apple, of course, already knows this. That’s why it undertook
audacious initiatives like Maps and iTunes Match in the first
place. But the company clearly underestimated the effort and
skill needed to pull them off with excellence. And now, with
all the world watching, it can’t afford to do so again. Maps,
iTunes Match, iCloud … they all must “just work.” That’s what
A big area where iCloud is falling short is for third-party developers. The tip of the iceberg is the out-of-the-box experience — the iCloud features supported by the apps built into iOS. Calendar, Mail, contact syncing, Safari tab and bookmark syncing. And that stuff actually works very well. That deserves no kudos, though, because everyone else’s cloud services for that stuff works well today too.
Under the surface, though, iCloud is just not there yet when it comes to being a platform for third-party developers. You know how mobile developers rave about how on iOS it’s easier to create great apps — better looking graphics, better performance, smoother animation? You hear the opposite when it comes to things like iCloud Core Data syncing. Last decade it was enough for iOS to be a platform for great native apps. This decade, iCloud needs to be a platform for great cloud syncing and storage.
Apple Now Locking Screenshots for Submitted Apps, Shutting Down Popular Scam Tactic ★
Juli Clover, reporting for Mac Rumors:
Apple today announced on its Developer Portal that screenshots
added to app descriptions will be locked in place once an app has
been approved. […] This small but important update shuts down a
widely used scam tactic, where developers would upload game
screenshots to get an app approved by Apple and then switch them
out with screenshots from another popular app.
Panic detailed one of these scam apps a few weeks ago. Worth noting, though, that this change is a pain in the ass for legitimate developers — any change to your app’s screenshots now requires a full submission/review process.
MLB Interview Caps ★
Paul Lukas at Uni Watch:
MLB already has game caps, BP caps, Elmer Fudd caps, St. Paddy’s
Day caps, All-Star Game caps, World Series caps, throwback caps,
futuristic caps, G.I. Joe caps, flag-desecration caps, wild card
winner caps, division champion caps, league champion caps, World
Series champion caps, snap-back caps, low-profile caps, distressed
caps, and probably a few other caps I can’t think of right now.
Any reasonable person surveying this headwear landscape can
only come to one possible conclusion: We need more
Fortunately, the folks at MLB have taken heroic steps to alleviate
this tragic cap shortage before it reaches Irish Potato
Famine-like proportions. Behold what they have magnanimously
bestowed upon a cap-benighted world: the interview cap.
Can’t wait to find out what the fine is for a player who conducts an interview while not wearing their special interview cap.
iTunes Turns 12 ★
Come reminisce with us over (more than) 12 years of iTunes
Good old Brushed Metal.
Qualcomm’s CES Keynote ★
I’m not sure what’s crazier — the keynote presentation itself, or the fact that the theme is “Born Mobile” but the video doesn’t play on iOS. You really do need to watch a few minutes of this — stick with it at least until Ballmer bounds on stage.
Update: They’ve finally added a version that works on mobile devices. Still a terrible presentation, though.
Wired Gadget Lab’s Daily CES Coverage ★
By far, my favorite daily coverage of CES has been Wired Gadget Lab’s. The format is perfect: a series of updates each day, most of them very brief, colored heavily by the personalities of the writers. It’s blogging informed by Twitter and Instagram. Just a series of “this is interesting/funny” updates.
Hands-On With the Imminently-Shipping Pebble Smart Watch ★
I ordered one and am looking forward to trying it. But physically it strikes me as overly clunky compared to regular (i.e. non-smart) watches. And the software seems limited; if I can see a text message, I want to reply to it (which, on a watch, would mean voice dictation).
Vending Machine Dispenses MacBooks for Student Use ★
Interesting idea from my alma mater. You know what would make this really useful? Dropbox.
Dropbox/Samsung Partnership ★
Lucas Mearian, reporting for Computerworld:
Dropbox said the deeper integration includes several new Samsung
devices, such as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Grand smartphone and
smart cameras. Samsung cameras will automatically push the photos
to Dropbox’s cloud storage service.
Dropbox is available natively on the Samsung Galaxy III, Samsung
Galaxy Note II, and Samsung Galaxy Camera. Users configuring the
devices will be offered free 50GB of capacity when they activate
Dropbox, according to Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, head of mobile
Sounds like a good deal. Out of the box, you get 50 GB of cloud storage — universally hailed as best-of-breed for simplicity and syncing reliability — that works with whatever other computers or tablets you might own. It’s not an exclusivity advantage for Samsung — again, Dropbox works almost everywhere — but it might be an out-of-the-box advantage, and it may well introduce many people to Dropbox for the first time.
As an aside, the other night my third-grade son saw me okaying the latest update to the Dropbox app on my iPhone. He said his teachers are “always talking about Dropbox”. I asked him what he thought Dropbox was. “It’s how they email files from the school’s computers to their iPads.” Like I wrote a few weeks ago, it’s a linchpin in the iPad experience.
The Changing Face of Computers on Screen ★
Preston de Guise, after examining on-screen computers from various science fiction films and TV shows:
What happened between the movies and TVs of the older era (mid-80s
and older) and those of the newer era?
The shift was profound yet entirely subtle, something that a lot
of people wouldn’t have really noticed at all — we shifted from
portraying computer hardware to portraying computer software.
Pairs well with Mat Honan’s observation the other day about CES.
‘Sorry, Stela, We Need to Get Our Name Out There and It’s Your Turn to Say Something Completely Insane.’ ★
John Moltz, on an analyst’s prediction that Windows Phone will overtake Android in smartphone market share — in 2013.
The Cost of Selling Galaxies ★
Worth a re-link, regarding yesterday’s item pondering why Samsung has become the only successful (i.e. profitable) maker of Android handsets: they spend an astonishing amount of money on advertising and marketing. How much? At least 10 times more than Apple — and more than Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola combined.
The Perennial Less-Expensive iPhone ★
Élyse Betters, writing for 9to5Mac, points out that this isn’t the first time the WSJ (among others) have claimed Apple is working on a less-expensive new iPhone model.
Show Us the Pixels ★
Everyone’s favorite rumor rag, DigiTimes:
Some sources claimed that they have seen the sample of the
low-cost iPhone, which will come with a larger display, meeting
the prevailing trend for the adoption of 5-inch displays for
high-end models. They added that the low-priced iPhone will also
have a brand new exterior design.
Any story claiming a new iPhone screen size needs to specify pixel counts. Same pixel count as existing iPhone but a bigger screen? New (higher) pixel count? Makes a huge difference for developers. Color me skeptical that Apple would introduce another new screen size of any sort. Even the minimal shift from a 3.5-inch 960 × 640 to a 4-inch 1136 × 640 has taken months for developers to catch up with.
WSJ: ‘Apple Working on a Less-Expensive iPhone’ ★
Jessica E. Lessin, reporting for the WSJ:
The cheaper phone could resemble the standard iPhone, with a
different, less-expensive body, one of the people said.
One possibility under consideration is lowering the cost of the
device by using a different shell made of polycarbonate plastic;
in contrast, the iPhone 5 currently has an aluminum housing.
Many other parts could remain the same or be recycled from older
Apple’s strategy for lower-priced phones for the last four years has been to sell one- and two-year-old models at a discount. But perhaps the glass-backed iPhone 4 and 4S (and, come next year, the aluminum-backed iPhone 5) are inherently too expensive to produce to hit certain lower price points. Maybe Apple just wants to get rid of the last remaining products using those old grody 30-pin adapter ports. But whatever the reason, this would be a significant strategic shift.
Update: I think this is a misleading way to describe Apple’s market position:
Apple now faces greater pressure to make the iPhone more
affordable. An onslaught of lower cost rivals powered by Google
Inc.’s Android operating system are gaining market share.
In the 2012 third quarter, Apple held only 14.6% of worldwide
smartphone shipments, down from a peak of 23% in the fourth
quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, according to IDC.
This makes it sound like Apple’s iPhone sales peaked in 2011, but that’s not true. They continue to grow. What happened is that “smartphones” were but a sliver over the overall phone market when Apple got started in 2007, and now have reached over 50 percent of the total phone market. So Apple’s share of “smartphones” dropped from 2011 to 2012, because even though iPhone sales continued to grow, they didn’t grow as fast as the entire handset industry’s shift to smartphones (which shift, was, yes, almost entirely about Android).
Apple’s share of worldwide phone shipments has done nothing but go up since 2007. I doubt many WSJ readers are aware of that after reading this article. (Although it may well be true that Apple needs to introduce new lower-cost phones for this to remain true.)
Tradeshow Tailgating ★
Nice piece of gonzo-style CES coverage by Trent Wolbe for The Verge:
The one time I let my steely gaze drift I was ambushed by a
goatee’d representative for a “Flipboard competitor” with a
specialized algorithm for social news gathering. Unfortunately for
the rep, who was just trying to do his job, I don’t use Flipboard,
I don’t think the world needs another social news gathering tool,
and, worse, I’m really bad at disguising my contempt for boring
new software. He could sense my heart growing colder as he pitched
and, in a valiant attempt to score a new media ally, he offered me
exclusive beta access to the product (I wasn’t interested) and,
finally, the chance to win the Samsung LED display at his booth
because it was cheaper to buy than rent it and they needed an
efficient way to unload it after the event ended. While my brief
relationship with the rep ended amicably, the whole thing left me
feeling like a mostly-empty jar of Hellmann’s left to sour on the
kitchen counter: tapped-out, tepid, and slimy. I
speed-walk-of-shamed to the nearest chili bar in a hopeless
attempt to cleanse my soul of the aborted hookup.
Not a Fan of the Movies ★
Christopher Tolkien granted a rare interview, with Le Monde:
Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not
to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie
for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully.
“And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”
HTC Profit Plunges 91 Percent ★
HTC is losing the smartphone sales war, with its devices
continuing to be outsold by Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s
The Taiwanese firm, whose phones include the Butterfly, said net
profit in the fourth quarter of 2012 had missed forecasts and
plunged 91% year on year.
The Android ecosystem isn’t alive and well, the Samsung one is.
Expect to hear a lot more out of this story in 2013.
Qualcomm’s Insane CES 2013 Keynote ★
What is wrong with these companies?
More From the BBC on Supporting Android ★
Rory Cellan-Jones, writing for the BBC:
Why, when Android devices now have a much bigger share of the
smartphone market than Apple, does the iPhone get BBC apps first?
Why does the iPlayer run more smoothly on the iPhone and iPad, and
when will Android users get the same ability to download as well
as stream programmes? These and other questions fill my inbox and
But as I said, this is not my job, so I asked Daniel Danker, the
BBC’s head of iPlayer, apps and all that stuff, to explain. […]
“If you look at the amount of energy we spend on Apple, it pales
in comparison to what we spend on Android. […]
“People write to us saying just that, why bother supporting older
devices, why don’t you just start with - and then they insert
whichever model of phone they have. But more than a quarter of our
requests to iPlayer come from devices running Gingerbread. And the
number one device contacting us is still the Samsung Galaxy S2,
which can’t handle advanced video.”
He seems optimistic that 2013 will be a turning point for Android.
CES Is the World’s Greatest Hardware Show Stuck in a Software Era ★
Mat Honan, reporting from CES:
Sure, hardware is very important. Faster processors. More and better sensors. Radios with better transmission capabilities, running on more frequencies. Pixel density. Delightful chamfers. These things matter. A lot. But the bottom line is software — or it should be. While atoms may indeed be the new bits in terms of production, bits remain king when it comes to consumption.
Even “hardware” features are defined by software, and can no longer be judged on their own. Consider, say, mobile phone cameras. The camera itself is important — the sensor, the lens, the physical size — but ultimately what matters is the quality of the images it produces, and software is a huge part of that.
1998’s Most Intriguing OS, 15 Years Later: Hands-on With Haiku Alpha 4 ★
Jeremy Reimer, writing for Ars Technica on the newest release of Haiku, an open source recreation of BeOS.
I read pretty well in the traditional way of reading: relatively small type laid out in pages. But I’ve long been interested in non-traditional reading apps and layouts, whether for people with low vision or whose brains work differently. There’s nothing “natural” about any sort of reading. ReadQuick offers a reading interface that struck me as crazy when I first heard it pitched, but maybe it’s crazy like a fox. It shows just one word at a time, at whatever speed you find comfortable.
It includes Instapaper account support, so you can think of it as a one-word-at-a-time alternative to the official Instapaper app.
Lenovo’s 27-Inch Tablet ★
Just look at the still frame from the video of the woman lugging it around. This is nuts.
Why Buzzfeed Isn’t Attending CES ★
By Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s reckoning, there are now four
technology companies that truly matter to people: Apple, Amazon,
Facebook and Google. None of them are at CES. Apple’s last
appearance was in 1992. Microsoft, which delivered the CES keynote
for years, announced — before last year’s keynote, even — that
it would not return in 2013. Its keynote spot is being taken over
by Qualcomm, which is mostly known for making chips for phones,
and its centerpiece booth now hosts Hisense, a state-owned Chinese
manufacturer you probably haven’t heard of. There probably isn’t a
more precise illustration of what’s happened to CES: The booth of
the world’s biggest software company is now occupied by a company
mostly noted for its production of cheap HDTVs that line the
shelves of Walmarts across the country.
In short, CES does seem to still tell the story of the year in consumer electronics: it’s just that it’s become a very boring story for all but the biggest companies, none of which bother to attend CES.
The Fifth Horseman: Samsung ★
We all know the “four horsemen” of tech: Amazon, Apple, Facebook,
and Google. These are the companies that pretty much everyone
agrees will shape the foreseeable future of the tech sector. In
some circles, that list makes waves for who is not included:
Microsoft. But any rational thinker (meaning those outside of
Redmond or anyone who hasn’t made a career as a .Net developer)
knows that Microsoft simply no longer belongs on that list.
But that doesn’t mean the list is perfect. In fact, I do think
there’s an omission that’s becoming a glaring one: Samsung.
There are only two companies making any profit in the mobile handset industry: Apple and Samsung. Would anyone a few years ago have expected Samsung to hold such a position? In some sense, what Apple has done is easier, or at least easier to understand: they have their own exclusive platform, iOS. Samsung has eked out a strong second place position selling a platform, Android, that was supposed to be a commodity. Why is Apple number one? Because they have a unique and superior exclusive offering. Why is Samsung so far ahead of HTC, Motorola, LG, et al? That’s a lot harder to understand.
Icelandic Air Passenger Taped to His Seat, Gagged After Drunken Rampage Aboard JFK-Bound Flight ★
No word yet if he worked for RIM.
John Paczkowski on Apple’s Vacant SVP of Retail Position ★
Good piece by John Paczkowski:
So who might Apple look to to fill the shoes of Ron Johnson, the
chief architect of its retail strategy, who left the company last
year to take the CEO job at retailer J.C. Penney? That’s a
conundrum difficult enough to perplex the most skilled of
recruiters; recall that it took Apple about seven months to sign
Browett, and that was with the help of executive search firm Egon
An easier task is to determine where Apple might look for
candidates with the sort of experience needed to drive its
The big question: do they go outside again (as they did with Browett), or promote someone from within their existing retail ranks?
The BBC Sport iPhone App ★
The comments are full of the usual petulant whingeing from Android users.
Explaining Windows 8 PC Sales Over the Holidays ★
It’s not pat to say that the Windows PC market went for volume
over quality, because it did: Many of those 20 million Windows 7
licenses each month — too many, I think — went to machines that
are basically throwaway, plastic crap. Netbooks didn’t just
rejuvenate the market just as Windows 7 appeared, they also
destroyed it from within: Now consumers expect to pay next to
nothing for a Windows PC. Most of them simply refuse to pay for
more expensive Windows PCs.
Shaken, Not Stirred ★
The intersection of martinis and grammar nuances — ideal DF fodder, obviously.
Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish Going Independent ★
I predict success, given the size and (deserved) loyalty of his audience. But I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss advertising:
The decision on advertising was the hardest, because obviously it
provides a vital revenue stream for almost all media products. But
we know from your emails how distracting and intrusive it can be;
and how it often slows down the page painfully. And we’re
increasingly struck how advertising is dominated online by huge
entities, and how compromising and time-consuming it could be for
so few of us to try and lure big corporations to support us. We’re
also mindful how online ads have created incentives for pageviews
over quality content.
All true, given the advertising that is sold by sites like Time, The Atlantic, and The Dish’s current host publication, The Daily Beast. But that’s not the only way to sell advertising. DF, among other notable examples, is living proof that advertising can be quick-loading, noticeable but un-distracting, and unrelated to the corrupting influence of pageviews.
Let’s Have a Contest ★
Here’s the headline and sub-head from a new piece for CIO magazine:
Why 2013 Is RIM’s BlackBerry Year
The iPhone isn’t that great and the Android OS is woefully
insecure. Come Jan. 30, if mobile users take a hard look at their
devices and then look at the new BlackBerry 10, RIM could be in
for a windfall.
See if you can guess the writer.
Bloomberg: ‘U.S. Internet Users Pay More for Slower Service’ ★
Susan Crawford, reporting for Bloomberg:
Also in 2011, six Time Warner lobbyists persuaded the North
Carolina legislature to pass a “level playing field” bill making
it impossible for cities in that state to create their own
high-speed Internet access networks. Time Warner, which reported
$26 billion in revenue in 2010, donated more than $6.3 million to
North Carolina politicians over four years. Eighteen other states
have laws that make it extremely difficult or impossible for
cities to provide this service to their residents.
“Level playing field” — George Orwell must be proud.
Regarding Apple’s New Ad for Do Not Disturb ★
Opening sentence in Chris Matyszczyk’s piece for CNet, “New Apple Ad a Bit Disturbing, as Touted Feature Reportedly Has New Year’s Hiccups”:
However walled your garden, rodents still pad around, cockroaches
Something is disturbing here, all right.
Apple Says New Year’s Related ‘Do Not Disturb’ Bug to Resolve Itself on January 7 ★
Being forced to turn this off manually reminded me just how great a feature Do Not Disturb is. Rather quickly took it for granted, and haven’t given it much thought since iOS 6 shipped. (Seems like a New Year’s tradition for iOS to contain some sort of year-change-triggered date bug.)
Ubuntu for Phones Announced ★
Looks OK aesthetically, but the purely swipe-and-gesture based UI is a loser. It’s confusing. Swipe from the right takes you to the next most recently used app, but swipe from the left does something completely different (show a list of favorite apps). I’ve said before: gestures are the touchscreen equivalent of keyboard shortcuts: a convenient alternative, but almost never a good choice for the primary interface for a task. Ubuntu has designed a phone interface consisting entirely of gestures; it’s like a desktop interface with nothing but keyboard shortcuts.
I expect Ubuntu for Phones to be about as relevant as Ubuntu is on the desktop. Vlad Savov at The Verge has hands-on video of the system as it stands today, and — shocker — it’s laggy as hell.