Linked List: February 2011

New York Times Magazine Profiles Heather Armstrong 

Speaking of successful indie writers, this weekend’s New York Times Magazine featured a long profile of Heather “Dooce” Armstrong, by Lisa Belkin. I’ll tell you what I don’t like about it. The title: “Queen of the Mommy Bloggers”. I think “mommy blogger” is a term intended to be dismissive. Belkin writes of

By talking about poop and spit up. And stomach viruses and washing-machine repairs. And home design, and high-strung dogs, and reality television, and sewer-line disasters, and chiropractor visits. And countless other banalities of one mother’s eclectic life that, for some reason, hundreds of thousands of strangers tune in, regularly, to read.

You know what that mysterious “some reason” is? Armstrong is a fucking great writer, that’s what.

E-Books and Successful Indie Writers 

Speaking of buying lots of Kindle e-books, here’s an interesting story from Eli James:

Amanda Hocking is 26 years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. This is her blog. And it’s no stretch to say – at $3 per book/70% per sale for the Kindle store – that she makes a lot of money from her monthly book sales. (Perhaps more importantly: a publisher on the private Reading2.0 mailing list has said, to effect: there is no traditional publisher in the world right now that can offer Amanda Hocking terms that are better than what she’s currently getting, right now on the Kindle store, all on her own.)

Disintermediation, disruption, and independence.

Update: USA Today reports that Hocking sold 450,000 books in January alone.

Expanding the iPhone’s Market Share 

Eric Savitz, reporting on a research note from analyst Toni Sacconaghi, who had an interview with Tim Cook last week:

The analyst says Cook “appeared to reaffirm the notion that Apple is likely to develop lower priced offerings” to expand the market for the iPhone. Cook said the company is planning “clever things” to address the prepaid market, and that Apple did not want its products to be “just for the rich,” and that the company is “not ceding any market.”

The hard thing, as I’ve said in the past, is getting the monthly service bill for smartphones down. Virgin Mobile is leading the way, at least here in the U.S. — imagine a $149 iPhone with one of those plans. Anyone who thinks Apple won’t expand from the high-end down, price-wise, isn’t thinking about how the company captured the media player market with the iPod a decade ago. Cheaper iPhones are inevitable.

Tim Bray: Making Money in Mobile 

Interesting overview of the nascent mobile software world. I thought this was an interesting juxtaposition, though. First:

Having said all that, I deeply believe that the app-sales business sucks. Selling anything on a one-time basis at a price below $10 is historically the kind of business that’s been owned by companies like Walmart. I acknowledge that it’s working for some people, but it’s just not where I’d want to be.

Then, later in the piece, Bray writes:

The other free app that sends my money to its provider is Kindle (and we’re talking serious money, I just spent $8 for a book that went across my radar while I was writing this piece).

Why isn’t selling apps for under $10 as good a business as selling books for under $10? I don’t think the app-sales business is easy, not by a long shot, but Apple is proving that it doesn’t have to suck.

NZ Developers Supporting Christchurch Quake Victims 

Great apps for a great cause:

Until 5 March, 100% of the proceeds of these 38 apps from some of New Zealand’s top software developers will go directly to the New Zealand Red Cross.

Getting Notified 

Sebastiaan de With on the notification UIs for iOS, Android, and WebOS.

Random House Will Adopt Agency E-Book Pricing Model 

Carolyn Kellogg, reporting for The LA Times Jacket Copy blog:

Apple encouraged the agency pricing model for ebooks sold through its ebook store for the iPad. Up until now, books published by Random House — including Dan Brown’s massive bestsellers — have not been available for Apple’s iPad. Instead, users have purchased them for the Kindle.

Random House is set to begin using the agency model Tuesday, March 1 — perhaps not so coincidentally, the day before Apple’s expected launch of the second-generation iPad. 

Space Shuttle Launch, Viewed From an Airplane 

Amazing perspective.

What Microsoft Can Learn From Mac OS X Lion 

Good piece by Paul Thurrott on Lion. Here, he praises Apple for having a single version:

One version is not just enough, it’s optimal from the customer point of view. Just ask Apple: It offers just one version of Mac OS X. It’s called Mac OS X. Not Mac OS X Media Center Edition or Mac OS X Arbitrarily Limited Edition. Just Mac OS X.

Now, Apple really makes two versions of Mac OS X, one for Mac desktops and laptops (Mac OS X) and one for servers (Mac OS X Server). But I see something in the Lion developer preview that just makes my heart weep: It includes both the client and server versions in a single install, and the server code is actually installed as if it were a feature or add-on for client. Oh my. Now, as unlikely as it is that Apple would ever ship the final version of Lion in this same configuration, you have to dream.

Actually, I’m pretty sure this is Apple’s plan: the separate version of Mac OS X Server is going away, and the consumer release of Lion will be just like the developer preview, with the server version available as an installation-time option.

Also, and I mean this sincerely, I think Thurrott makes some good points about the convolution of modes like Dashboard, Mission Control, Launchpad, Spaces, etc.

Secrets of Thunderbolt and Lion 

Great roundup of news bits from Glenn Fleishman.

Filed Away for Future Claim Chowder 

Christopher Dawson:

So when will Apple finally jump on the train? If Flash isn’t a universal standard, it’s about as close as you can get for web multimedia. […]

I give Apple a year until they cave. Android tablets will just be too cool and too useful for both entertainment and enterprise applications if they don’t.

Flash is cool and useful for enterprise apps?

Regarding ‘The Hangover’ 


Last night, I posted the trailer for the sequel to The Hangover.

This morning, my friend David posts the following on Twitter:

Poleaxed by indication that pop culture aesthete @jkottke might actually like Hangover, the execrable frat boy flick

I absolutely loved The Hangover. I’ve watched it start-to-finish at least three times, and I seldom watch new releases more than once. I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the funniest movie I’ve seen in years. But the thing is, I’m not even sure why I watched it all in the first place, because I thought it was going to be one of those movies, and I almost never enjoy those movies. The thing is, The Hangover really is exactly the sort of movie you think it is — it’s just remarkably well done. It’s a really smart stupid movie — a masterpiece of the form.

Free Kindles? 

Kevin Kelly:

In October 2009 John Walkenbach noticed that the price of the Kindle was falling at a consistent rate, lowering almost on a schedule. By June 2010, the rate was so unwavering that he could easily forecast the date at which the Kindle would be free: November 2011.


My thanks to Pixelmator for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pixelmator is a beautiful, easy-to-use image editor for the Mac that’s based on built-in Mac OS X graphics technologies. They’ve gone all-in with the Mac App Store, and for a limited time, it’s available at the special “transitional” price of just $29 — which includes a free update to version 2.0 when it ships.

Paintings Inspired by Films 

Gorgeous, evocative work. (Via John Nack.)

How Sun Almost Bought Apple in 1996 

Chris Preimesberg for eWeek:

Would there be iPhones, iPads and iPods on the market today if Sun Microsystems had been able to close a deal to buy out Apple in the mid-1990s? 

No, says former Sun CEO Scott McNealy. “If we had bought Apple, there wouldn’t have been iPods or iPads … I’d have screwed that up,” McNealy conceded in a talk Feb. 24 with another former Sun CEO, Ed Zander, at a Churchill Club dinner at the Santa Clara Convention Center. 

Refreshingly honest.

‘Consumer Reports’ Claims Verizon iPhone Still Has Antenna Issues 

Yet miraculously, in the real world, no one has this problem. Seriously, where are the actual Verizon iPhone users complaining about this?

Claim Chowder on Yours Truly 

Me, back in March 2006:

One nice side effect of the continuing growth and success of Apple’s iPod / iTunes / iTMS platform is that we’re no longer subjected to moronic business and tech pundits proclaiming that Apple, despite its initial success, is “making the same mistake with the iPod that they made with the Macintosh in the 1980s.

Maybe the most wrong I’ve ever been. (Thanks to DF reader Tim Ricchuiti.)

You Win, RIM 

Jamie Murai:

You win. I concede defeat. I no longer want to attempt developing an app for the Playbook. Are you happy now? Surely you must be. Considering how terribly designed the entire process is, from the registration right through to loading an app into the simulator, I can only assume that you are trying to drive developers away by inconveniencing them as much as humanly possible. Just in case you’ve forgotten, let me give you a little recap of the process you’ve put together.

Mac OS X Lion Building in Support for Super High Resolution ‘Retina’ Monitors 

This is why the iPad won’t increase in resolution until they can double it — increments less than 2x just don’t work out neatly.

Official Details of the 4G LTE Upgrade Process for the Motorola Xoom 

Droid Life:

As expected, the upgrade will be free to everyone and will be available approximately 90 days after launch, so we’re looking at May before this thing will be cooking up those 4G speeds. And as we were told by Motorola at CES, you will have to send in your device and will be without it for 6 days while they upgrade the hardware and software.

Come on. They’re just making this up, right?

Google Takes on Content Farms 

Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts, Google:

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

They don’t mention “content farms” specifically, but Danny Sullivan reports that the update indeed targets them.

What You Need to Know About Thunderbolt 

Dan Frakes and Dan Moren, kicking ass for Macworld. at Bat 2011 

Guaranteed spot on my first home screen. MLB gets it.

TSA Officer Pleads to $30,000 in Theft 

Sam Wood, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Al Raimi, 29, of Woodridge, pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of theft by a government officer. Raimi worked as a lead officer at a security checkpoint at the airport. Between October 2009 until Sept. 8 2010, Raimi said he stole the cash from airline passengers. Raimi then “kicked up” some of that money to his immediate supervisor, Michael Arato. “In exchange, Arato allowed Raimi to continue stealing,” said Asst. U.S. Attorney Erick Kanefsky in a statement.

The Motorola Xoom Browses to Motorola’s Xoom Website 

Heck of a job, Motorola.

Andy Ihnatko’s Xoom Review 

Andy Ihnatko:

The XOOM is a powerful, functional alternative to the iPad. It’s nicely-built, it’s fast, and it can fill the same sort of role in your life as the iPad.

But the state of the tablet world is still a simple one from a consumer perspective. Any tablet without an Apple logo on it has to provide a fast and clear answer to the question “But why would I buy this instead of an iPad?” A tablet that costs a bit more than an iPad and has little by the way of extra functions is going to struggle.

Great review overall. Can’t believe Ihnatko went along with Motorola’s all-caps spelling of “Xoom”, though.

Robert Scoble’s Xoom Review 

He likes it:

So, take this all together and I really love the new Motorola Xoom. I will be buying it because it’s the best of the Android-based devices I have seen and I need one to track all the apps over the next year and compare them to what’s on iPad.


That said, will I recommend my dad get one? No. Not this year. Why? No apps that have been specifically designed for the 10-inch tablet, which in my experience does demand new apps. Yes, Android phone apps “stretch” to bigger sizes a lot better than iPhone apps did when stretched up, but sorry we haven’t seen great apps like the History of Jazz, Aweditorium, NPR, BBC, Flipboard, Heritage, etc, like what you see on iPad.

The apps are ALL that matters for the market and Android does NOT have them yet.

The core question for the Xoom and all other upcoming tablets: Why buy one instead of an iPad?

Engadget’s Xoom Review 

Joshua Topolsky:

Yes, gone are the hardware buttons of yesteryear — 3.0 replaces the familiar home and back buttons with virtual incarnations, then adds a couple of extra pieces for good measure. Along with those two main buttons, Honeycomb introduces a multitasking icon which pops open a list of recently used apps along with a snapshot of their saved state. The back button is also a little more dynamic in 3.0, shifting between a straightforward back key, and a keyboard-hider when necessary. If your app utilizes the menu key on Android phones, you get an icon for that as well. The home button will take you back to your main views, but it can’t get you to your apps. Instead, Honeycomb introduces a new (and somewhat confusing) button — an “apps” icon which lives in the upper right hand corner of your device. You might think that comes in handy, but you can only access your app pages from the homescreen of the tablet, meaning that you have to use a two step process to get to your app list. We’re not totally clear on why this isn’t another button that lives along the bottom of the device with the rest of the navigation, and frankly it proved confusing when we were trying to get around the Xoom quickly.

Sounds great. (To the Xoom’s credit, though, Topolsky’s testing shows the Xoom getting closer to iPad-quality battery life than Mossberg’s did.)

Walt Mossberg’s Motorola Xoom Review 

Headline: “Motorola’s Xoom Starts Tablet Wars With iPad”. Funny, given how many reviewers used the same phrase in their reviews of the now-forgotten Samsung Galaxy Tab back in November. On battery life:

I performed the same battery test on the Xoom as I have on other tablets. I played video constantly with the connectivity turned on and the screen at almost full brightness until the battery died. Alas, while the Xoom claims up to 10 hours of video playback, I got just 7 hours and 32 minutes. By contrast, on the same test, the iPad, which also claims 10 hours, logged 11.5 hours, or four hours more.

That’s still better than I expected from the Xoom, given the battery life I’ve seen on Android phones. I haven’t yet seen or used a Xoom, but what strikes me about it is that the 16:9 display means the device is clearly intended to be used horizontally. (The location of the “Motorola” and “Verizon” logos stamped on the front face reiterates this.) The iPad’s 4:3 aspect ratio works well in both orientations. The one thing a 16:9 display ought to be better for is video playback, right? But:

I couldn’t locate a working video download or rental service, though Google says these will be available soon.

The Talk Show, Episode 31 

I thought our discussion of the new App Store subscription stuff was pretty good. This week’s show is brought to you by the fine folks at Typekit.

Speaking sponsors for The Talk Show, we have a few spots open for the month of March. If you have a product or service you’d like to promote to the world’s smartest and best-looking podcast audience, get in touch.

Apple’s Updated Mac OS X Lion Page 

Lots of cool stuff, but don’t miss the “Gestures and Animations” video. Coincides with the release of the first developer preview of Lion, via the App Store.

Update: One more notable change:

Lion Server is now part of Mac OS X Lion.

So Mac OS X Server isn’t dead, it’s just no longer a separate product. You can turn any machine running Lion into a server. It’s just a built-in feature (but you need to specify the machine as a server when you install the OS — it’s not a switch you can flip later on). Very cool.

Apple’s Thunderbolt Page 

(Galileo) Galileo
(Galileo) Galileo
Galileo, figaro

Manton Reece: 30% of the Future 

Manton Reece:

The iTunes Music Store wasn’t a business in its own right; it helped sell more iPods. The App Store shouldn’t be a huge revenue stream; it makes the iPhone and iPad better.

The iTunes Store was and remains a business in its own right. Its mission isn’t selling music, or movies, or TV shows, or apps, but building an end-to-end system, a platform that allows people to easily buy anything digital. If you think the App Store shouldn’t be “a huge revenue stream” then you’re not seeing things the way Apple does.

Donate to the New Zealand Red Cross 

They need our help.

New MacBook Pros 

As widely predicted. So: new developer preview of Lion, new FaceTime app for Mac, and an all-new lineup of MacBook Pros — and none of these things warranted a spot in next week’s event.

Apple Launches $0.99 Mac FaceTime App on Mac App Store 

Curious that it’s not free. How many people will hang on to the free beta version to avoid paying a buck?

Update: Dan Moren tweets:

Apple told me that the FaceTime $1 charge for existing Mac users is regulatory related (remember the $2 802.11n patch circa 2007?).

But then how could the Mac App Store itself be a free download?

Store Wars 


Put simply, publishers don’t want readers to opt in, because they know readers will prefer to opt out. Transparency is not a friend of publishers who for decades made a mint by selling out readers to advertisers and list brokers. Most readers may not be aware of this, but those who are don’t like it. Publishers know that and hate Apple for calling their bluff. If personal info harvesting isn’t essential for publishers’ business model and it is in the interest of readers, then why would they be against an instant referendum in the form of the opt in button?

Just How Is Apple’s App Store Subscription Policy Good for Users? 

Shane Richmond:

The case for the defence, as usual with Apple, comes from John Gruber. Greeting the arrival of the subscription plan on his Daring Fireball blog, Gruber wrote: “You’ll seldom go wrong betting on Apple doing something that’s good for Apple and good for its users — no matter what the ramifications for everyone else.”

I agree that is usually the case but in this instance I can’t see how the subscription plan is good for users. And if it’s not good for users then, in the long term, it won’t be good for Apple either.

Here’s how I see it as good for users:

  1. In-app subscriptions are easy to sign up for.

  2. In-app subscriptions are easy to unsubscribe from. This is where things start getting way better than the old days. It’s always been in magazines’ and newspapers’ interests to make it easy to sign up for a new subscription. They couldn’t replicate iTunes-style one-click-and-a-password ease, but they could get close. But they never made it easy to unsubscribe later on, because it wasn’t in their interests.

  3. Privacy protection. Publishers only get your personal information if you opt-in. They want that information so they can sell it to junk-mail companies. This is a big deal to publishers, and most subscribers don’t even know it’s happening. It’s a dirtbag deal, and Apple isn’t allowing it.

  4. The price protection rule — which prohibits publishers from charging iOS App Store users more for in-app subscriptions than they would pay from outside the store — might be a bad deal for publishers, but it’s good for users, because they know they’re getting the best price.

Again, if this subscription policy knocks a bunch of good apps out of the store, sure, that’ll be bad for iOS users. But that hasn’t happened, and clearly, Apple thinks it isn’t going to happen.

(One more note: Richmond, in his headline, calls it “Apple’s iOS Subscription Policy”. I think it’s important to note that it’s Apple’s App Store subscription policy. The App Store is what is closed and controlled by Apple. iOS has MobileSafari, through which anyone can do whatever they want.)

The Overlook Hotel Restaurant Children’s Menu 

Speaking of Kubrick-related links culled from Coudal: the children’s menu placemat from The Overlook Hotel.

What Happens After Yahoo Acquires You 

Matt Linderman examines the fates of Flickr, Delicious, Upcoming, and MyBlogLog:

Below is a full list of Yahoo’s acquisitions since 2005. How many can be described as success stories?

2001: A Space Odyssey Poster 

James White:

This poster was an odyssey within itself. I immersed myself in 2001: A Space Odyssey for a week, watching the film twice along with all the ‘making of’ footage and documentaries, researching concept art and posters online, and doing a bunch of sketching.

I like it.

(Via Joe Dawson at Coudal.)

Pencil Revolution Interview With Aaron Draplin 

Aaron Draplin:

The more I think about it, the more pencils — on some weird level — represent “complete freedom.” Freedom from digital ubiquity and predictability. There something cool about how you feel human when using a pencil. That feeling goes away the back to guys shaping rocks into cutting tools and stuff, I’d reckon.

Part 2 here.

A Good Demonstration of Light Peak/Thunderbolt 

High-performance, multiple protocols — you can see why Apple would like this.

The Big Picture on the Christchurch Earthquake 


For Berra and Guidry, It Happens Every Spring 

Yogi Berra’s valet during spring training: Ron Guidry. Baseball.

The End of the IT Department 

David Heinemeier Hansson:

The transition won’t happen over night, but it’s long since begun. The companies who feel they can do without an official IT department are growing in number and size. It’s entirely possible to run a 20-man office without ever even considering the need for a computer called “server” somewhere.

Update: Certain of the comments on Hansson’s post remind me of this quote from Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Hunter S. Thompson Calls the AV Dealer That Fucked Up His Cables 

“Go to any bookstore, any magazine rack, and you can see what the fuck I can do to you!” (Via Chris Parrish.)

Mobile App Store Revenues for 2010, According to Research Firm IHS 

Android Market grew 861 percent year-over-year, which sounds impressive until you see that it’s still in fourth place, behind BlackBerry App World and Nokia Ovi Store. Erick Schonfeld:

Android Market revenues in 2010 came in at an estimated $102 million, up from $11 million the year before. And how did that compare to revenues from Apple’s App Store? Apple App Store revenues came in at an estimated $1.7 billion in 2010, almost 20 times bigger than Android. And Apple App Store revenue grew at a not-too-shabby 131.9 percent rate. More importantly, Apple accounts for 83 percent of the total estimated app store revenues.

This is why Apple believes they can charge 30 percent for subscription fees. They’re still the only game in town — the only store where people actually spend money.

Thunderbolt and Lightning, Very, Very Frightening Me 

Fscklog gets the scoop on tomorrow’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro, along with the name of Apple’s implementation of Light Peak: Thunderbolt.

Why Has Google Been Collecting Kids’ Social Security Numbers Under the Guise of an Art Contest? 

Bob Bowdon:

It turns out that the company sporting the motto “don’t be evil” has been asking parents nationwide to disclose their children’s personal information, including Social Security Numbers, and recruiting schools to help them do it — all under the guise of an art contest. It’s called, “Doodle-4-Google,” a rather catchy, kid-friendly name if I do say so myself. The company is even offering prize money to schools to enlist their help with the promotion. Doesn’t it sound like fun?  Don’t you want your kid to enter too?

Best thing Larry Page could do as CEO is to change the company motto from “Don’t be evil” to “Don’t be evil or creepy”.

Matt Drance: About This Whole Subscription Hubbub 

Smartest thing I’ve read about the whole thing, by a long shot. I agree with Drance entirely, including this:

The requirement that IAP content be offered “at the same price or less than it is offered outside the app,” combined with the 70/30 split, means developers must make less money off of iOS by definition. They can’t price their IAP content higher to offset the commission, nor can they price their own retail content lower.

If I am interpreting this correctly, I can’t bring myself to see it as reasonable. […] I think a great deal of this drama could go away if Apple dropped section 11.13 while keeping section 11.14: Your prices on your store are your business; just don’t be a jerk and advertise the difference all over ours.

Google Escalates Spat With Facebook 

Sean Hollister:

Simply put, the feature of the Facebook for Android app to provide the social network’s stored contact information to your Nexus S has been revoked from here on out, and as soon as you get the update all that contact information will disappear from your phone.

So Facebook moves against all apps on its platform using Google ads, and Google… turns off a feature in the Facebook app on one model of Android phone, the relatively obscure Nexus S.

Microsoft Issues First Windows Phone 7 Software Update  

Sounds like a clusterfuck.

Base 2.0 

Nice update to Menial’s excellent SQLite developer tool for the Mac.

Two and Two Together 

MG Siegler:

When the rumors today started to spread and the stock started to tank, word started coming out that these rumors were simply not true. Shortly thereafter, we got the news that in fact, Apple would be holding an event to unveil the iPad 2 next week. I’ll let you put two and two together about where that very timely and very accurate information came from.

“Two and two together” is Siegler alleging that Jim Dalrymple and Kara Swisher were fed “corrections” to false rumors by Apple PR.

Kara Swisher, in a series of tweets:

How is it that MG Siegler can just MAKE UP stories about how others — who do actual reporting — get scoops and manage to get it wrong?

He’s like a metronome of misinformation and fictional speculation, writing the same story every time someone has a legit apple scooplet.

I never do this, but for the record, Apple PR never leaked anything to me on 3/2 iPad date and it was not planted in some grassy-knoll plot.

Siegler’s usually pretty smart, but I have no idea why he’d think Apple PR would see the need to quickly respond to two false rumors based on clearly dubious analyst reports. If Apple PR responded to every or even most false reports — even through private back channels to “trusted” reporters — it’d be a dead-giveaway that a rumor was true when they didn’t respond. Update: Via Twitter DM, Siegler told me (on the record): “I never said anything about Apple PR.”

Siegler also wrote:

Let’s say the top tier Apple bloggers bat around .500 with regard to Apple rumors — Apple analysts are probably batting .050.

Half wrong is the “top tier”?

Everything Wrong About the Xoom’s Endorsement of Flash 

Matt Drance:

Until then, we have a product that can’t view its own website. And people still ask, with a straight face, why Flash isn’t on iOS.

Let’s Get Our Verb Tenses Right 

Pete Mortensen, in a piece titled “App Store Subscription Plan Demolishes the Appeal of iOS”:

Think about it. If you’re an average consumer and you’re trying to decide between an iPad and one of the many Android Honeycomb tablets scheduled to ship in the next few months, the ability to put your existing content on that tablet would likely be a key decision in that process. Both can take MP3s, and the iPad can take video content from iTunes. But if the trend continues in the direction is has been thus far, the iPad won’t have Kindle books or possibly even Netflix by the time the full impact of the subscription guidelines plan shakes it self out. It’s a pretty easy choice for consumers under those circumstances.

If the Kindle app goes away, and Netflix goes away, yes. But isn’t that a big “if” at this point? Kindle’s still there. Netflix is still there. And Apple and Netflix apparently get along well enough that Netflix has a premium position on the Apple TV 2 — built right into the system software. I think it’s foolish to speak of these apps in the past tense at this point.

Adobe on Flash Player 10.2 Support on Tablets 

Matt Rozen, Adobe:

Adobe will offer Flash Player 10.2 pre-installed on some tablets and as an OTA download on others within a few weeks of Android 3 (Honeycomb) devices becoming available, the first of which is expected to be the Motorola Xoom.

So it’s February 2011 and Adobe still doesn’t have a version of Flash Player available for tablets.

Consumers are clearly asking for Flash support on tablet devices

By buying iPads?

and the good news is that they won’t have to wait long.

But they will have to wait.

Translations of Selected Parts of Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch’s ‘The Multiscreen Revolution’ to English 

Nice translation work from Jan Lehnardt:

This creates a challenge for anyone building digital experiences, as they will need to deliver effective experiences across many non-PC devices, not only high performance personal computers.

I’m about to sell you a write-once-run-anywhere solution. But not just yet.

CBS and Netflix Announce 2-Year Licensing Agreement for Library Content 

Great stuff:

Episodes from the original “Hawaii Five-0” are included in the package, as are episodes from all generations of the definitive sci-fi series, “Star Trek,” and the cult favorite, “Twin Peaks.” 

The Real Death of the Music Industry 

I linked to this chart on music industry sales last week, and a bunch of DF readers emailed to point out that because the revenue numbers weren’t inflation-adjusted, the chart was pretty much worthless as a historical overview of the industry. There were other problems with that chart, too — e.g. the data was U.S.-only, not worldwide.

Michael DeGusta did the work of generating an inflation-adjusted (as well as population-adjusted) chart of music sales worldwide. And it does look like the industry is shrinking. Why? Because album sales are plummeting, and single sales — though rising — aren’t enough to compensate for the drop in album sales.

Jim Dalrymple: Rumors of iPad 2, iPhone 5 Delays Are Not True 

Jim Dalrymple:

The Internet is buzzing this morning with separate rumors that Apple’s iPad 2 and iPhone 5 will be delayed. The fact is, neither rumor is true.

Count me in with Jim. I think Bloomberg and Dan Frommer blew it.

Kara Swisher: Apple to Unveil iPad 2 on March 2 in San Francisco 

Sounds right on schedule to me.

Update: Miguel Helft at the NYT reports the same date.

Comprehensive Comparison of iPhone Notes Apps 

Dr. Drang compares Simplenote, Elements, PlainText, and Nebulous Notes.

Update: Fireballed; cached version here.

Motorola Xoom Will Ship Without Flash Support 

But they’re advertising it as “Fully Flash-enabled”, with a footnote claiming “Adobe Flash expected Spring 2011”. Expected by whom?

My guess: Flash is killing battery life, so they want the initial reviews of the Xoom to be based on a Flash-free experience.

Readability iOS App Rejected for Violating New Subscription Content Guidelines 

Richard Ziade of Readability, in an “Open Letter to Apple” regarding their app’s rejection:

We’re obviously disappointed by this decision, and surprised by the broad language. By including “functionality, or services,” it’s clear that you intend to pursue any subscription-based apps, not merely those of services serving up content. Readability’s model is unique in that 70% of our service fees go directly to writers and publishers. If we implemented In App purchasing, your 30% cut drastically undermines a key premise of how Readability works.

I can see how many people, including content providers like Readability, wish that Apple had not instituted these new rules. But, given these rules, how can anyone be surprised by this rejection? Readability’s business model is to charge a subscription fee, keep 30 percent, and pass 70 percent along to the writers/publishers of the articles being read by Readability users. Sound familiar?

Maybe I’m missing something, but these guys claiming to be surprised and disappointed by Apple’s insistence on a 30 percent cut of subscriptions when their own business model is to take a 30 percent cut of subscriptions strikes me as rich. And how can they claim that Readability isn’t “serving up content”? That’s exactly what Readability does. What they’re pissed about is that Apple has the stronger hand. Readability needs Apple to publish an app in the App Store. Apple doesn’t need Readability.

The Day the Movies Died 

Mark Harris for GQ on the state of Hollywood. Depressing but unsurprising.

Magazine Publishers Want Data 

David Carr:

Publishers say their objections are less about the steep revenue split than the lack of data. But publishers who sit out Apple subscriptions will be bypassing a huge embedded base of not only iPad users, but also the very people who have already shown a willingness to pay for content. It’s worth pointing out that publishers are already in the business of selling products to consumers they have no data on: it’s called the newsstand. Cosmopolitan and People know nothing about the millions who buy their magazines at retail stores, and that doesn’t stop their respective publishers from making a ton of money there.

Yahoo Engineer Calls Out Flickr for Lack of HTML5 Video Support 

It’s embarrassing that they still require Flash.

Isaiah Carew: Apple’s Three Laws of Developers 

From the Department of Funny Because It’s True.

Marco Arment’s Theory on Verizon iPhone Sales 

Marco Arment, on the sales figures for Instapaper in the App Store:

The results are fairly obvious: I see huge spikes whenever there’s a new iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad released, whenever they become available in a major new country, or whenever there’s a major reason for people to buy a lot of them (like the holidays).

But he didn’t see a spike for the Verizon iPhone.

‘Dead Island’ Trailer 

Brutal, haunting, moving trailer for the video game Dead Island. (Via Matt Drance.)

Update: Alternative link, if you can’t get past YouTube’s having flagged the video.

Regarding a Smaller iPhone With the Same Pixel Count 

Jin Kim:

Picture this: a kid in elementary school wielding an iPhone 4. Kinda big if you ask me. If Apple is building a smaller iPhone, it would be for guys and gals with smaller hands. The physical size matters, which is exactly the reason Apple would build a smaller iPhone. A smaller screen would force app rewrites? No. What if the smaller iPhone had a pixel format of 480×320? The same as the iPhone 3GS, 3G and the original? No rewriting required at all. And guess what? Apple would classify it as a Retina Display. Pure genius.

In theory this would work. You could make iPhone screens of any size, so long as the pixel resolution were either 480 x 320 or 960 x 640. But in practice that’s not how the iPhone was designed. It’s a physical artifact, and the size of the display is what’s important. Nor do I think the existing iPhone 4 is uncomfortably big for small hands. Apple might make the area surrounding the display smaller, and surely they’ll continue making the hardware thinner, but I really don’t think we’ll see screen sizes other than 3.5 inches, unless Apple introduces a new size that developers would need to specifically redesign their apps to properly target — and I just don’t see a need for that.

Update: Good point from reader Andrew MacKenzie, via email:

Ever seen 1st grade pencils? Fatter. Kindergarten crayons? Fatter. Parents intuitively know this. When you buy your kid his first train set, you get him one with large wheels and track, so his little hands can easily get the wheels on the track.

Right. Not that Apple is going to target the primary school demographic, but even if they were, bigger is probably better.

Nokia’s ‘Value-Engineering’ Culture 

Adam Greenfield on his tenure at Nokia:

As it happens, the value-engineering mindset that’s so crucial to profitability as a commodity trader is fatal as a purveyor of experiences. Of course you still want to produce your offering for the lowest achievable cost — but that cost is bound up in intangible, nondeterministic dimensions of design, in ways that are only partially-at-best quantifiable. It’s just not particularly wise to allow engineers to make decisions about things like product and service nomenclature, interface typography and the graphic design of icons: they’re, I daresay, not even neurocognitively equipped to do so. And yet this is what happened when I was at Nokia and, I would imagine, is happening still.

That’s Two 

Ross Miller is leaving Engadget:

As for the reasons why, I won’t get too far into it. The AOL Way isn’t the sole reason, but it’s certainly a catalyst, a symptom of concerns I’ve had for a while. I worry about the long-term viability of what I foresee is the future business model.

NYT Pours Cold Water on ‘Smaller iPhone’ Rumors 

Miguel Helft and Nick Bilton, for the NYT:

Apple has been exploring ways to broaden the appeal of the iPhone by making the popular device less expensive and allowing users to control it with voice commands.

But contrary to published reports, Apple is not currently developing a smaller iPhone, according to people briefed on Apple’s plans who requested anonymity because the plans are confidential.

Translation: Suck it, Yukari Kane, you got it wrong. See, there’s this gentlemen’s agreement where major newspapers like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal will go out of their way not to name each other. “Contrary to published reports”? They know damn well where the “small iPhone” rumor came from: the WSJ.

Anyway, a smaller iPhone would be stupid, if by “smaller” you mean a screen that measures less than 3.5 or so inches. The physical size of the UI matters more than anything else:

More important, a phone with a smaller screen would force many developers to rewrite their apps, which Apple wants to avoid, the person said.


Allan Metcalf on “America’s greatest word”. (Via Jim Coudal.)


My thanks to Xydo for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Xydo is a new social news site, aggregating news on topics like Apple, Android, programming, iOS, politics, and 1,500 other topics created and curated by users of the service. It combines Twitter, RSS, and your social graph to generate custom news feeds based on your interests.

Sign up for the beta to get Xydo via the web and your favorite apps and news readers, including Flipboard, Twitter, Pulse, and Tweetdeck.

Leaving AOL 

Paul J. Miller:

I’d love to be able to keep doing this forever, but unfortunately Engadget is owned by AOL, and AOL has proved an unwilling partner in this site’s evolution. It doesn’t take a veteran of the publishing world to realize that AOL has its heart in the wrong place with content. As detailed in the “AOL Way,” and borne out in personal experience, AOL sees content as a commodity it can sell ads against. That might make good business sense (though I doubt it), but it doesn’t promote good journalism or even good entertainment, and it doesn’t allow an ambitious team like the one I know and love at Engadget to thrive.

The AOL Way.

Ken Jennings on Playing Jeopardy Against IBM’s Watson Computer 

Ken Jennings:

I expected Watson’s bag of cognitive tricks to be fairly shallow, but I felt an uneasy sense of familiarity as its programmers briefed us before the big match: The computer’s techniques for unraveling Jeopardy clues sounded just like mine. That machine zeroes in on key words in a clue, then combs its memory (in Watson’s case, a 15-terabyte data bank of human knowledge) for clusters of associations with those words. It rigorously checks the top hits against all the contextual information it can muster: the category name; the kind of answer being sought; the time, place, and gender hinted at in the clue; and so on. And when it feels “sure” enough, it decides to buzz. This is all an instant, intuitive process for a human Jeopardy player, but I felt convinced that under the hood my brain was doing more or less the same thing.

Mike Monteiro on The Pipeline 

Speaking of interviews with my friends, Mike Monteiro was on The Pipeline with Dan Benjamin this week. Solid gold.

MacTalk Podcast at Webstock 2011 

Speaking of podcasts, I was interviewed alongside Michael Lopp by Peter Wells of the MacTalk Podcast. Peter interviewed a slew of speakers from here at Webstock — a great list of interviews.

The Best of The Talk Show 

No new episode of The Talk Show this week, but Dan Benjamin assembled a “best of” clip show. I’m listening now, and it’s cracking me up. Good stuff. Thanks to our sponsors, Shopify and Rackspace.

Business Insider’s Chart of the Day: The Death of the Music Industry 

Looking at the trends back to the 1970s, maybe it’s not that the music industry is dying, but that the CD era was an aberration.

Pennant 1.0 

“Every team. Every game. Every play. 1951 to 2010.” Splendid new $4.99 iPad app for baseball fans. (Via Chitwood & Hobbs.)


A “pixely, 8-bitty version” of Safari, from Neven Mrgan. Like Andy Baio says, it’s like surfing the web on an Apple II.


Nilay Patel, on yesterday’s “Nokia Plan B” shareholder revolt:

There’s just one problem, though: the “nine young investors” don’t really exist — according to the last tweet on the @NokiaPlanB Twitter account, it was all a hoax perpetuated by “one very bored engineer who really likes his iPhone.” Ouch.

RIM Needs to Shut Up and Ship 

Jim Dalrymple on RIM’s latest PlayBook product announcement:

That’s three generations of PlayBook tablets announced in five months and we still haven’t seen a single product make it to market. The media seems enamored with the PlayBook and don’t ask the obvious question — where are the products?

An Interview With the Daring Fireball 

Mark Webster, interviewing yours truly for The New Zealand Herald:

For someone who owns and runs one of the most perceptively critical blogs in the IT sphere, John Gruber is mild-mannered and affable in person.

I’m nice men.

Motorola’s Xoom Tablet Priced at $799 


Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc’s Xoom tablet will sell for an unsubsidized $799 at Verizon Wireless, with a Wi-Fi-only version priced at around $600 price, chief executive Sanjay Jha said on Wednesday.

When’s that “around $600” version shipping?

“Competing with Apple you have to deliver premium products,” Jha said, adding Xoom software was also upgradable.

But you don’t need to compete on price? Will the software upgrades be as frequent as those for Motorola’s Android phones?

Jha also said the company was looking at possibly having its own application store.

There’s an idea.

Lendle — Kindle Book-Sharing Service 

Lendle is a new service that lets you share books with other Kindle users:

If a fellow Lendler requests a book you own, you’ll get a notification asking if you want to lend it. When you lend a book, the borrower will have it for 14 days, and then it will be automatically returned to your Kindle.

Irina Werning’s Back to the Future Project 

Irina Werning:

I love old photos. I admit being a nosey photographer. As soon as I step into someone else’s house, I start sniffing for them. Most of us are fascinated by their retro look but to me, it’s imagining how people would feel and look like if they were to reenact them today… A few months ago, I decided to actually do this. So, with my camera, I started inviting people to go back to their future.

Amazing. (Via ISO50.)

Jean-Louis Gassée on Apple’s New Subscription Rules 

Jean-Louis Gassée tweets:

Apple’s new rules rile. But not me: I’m the paying customer and I resent the old model. The new rules are customer-centric.

Like, for example, with data sharing. Apple won’t share your personal information to publishers without your permission. Publishers want unfettered access to that information because they want to sell it, because that’s what they’ve been doing with subscriber information for decades.

Brilliant, Brazen, or Batshit Crazy? 

MG Siegler on Apple’s new subscription rules:

He might as well be saying: “Everyone take a deep breath — here’s why this makes sense.” And there’s no question that it does make sense — for Apple. But a lot of third-party developers both large and small are going to be very, very pissed off by this move. Why? Because it totally changes the game. Companies with subscription elements of their content had been accustomed to leveraging Apple’s platform for free. Now there will be a fee. And it will be a significant fee.

You’ll seldom go wrong betting on Apple doing something that’s good for Apple and good for its users — no matter what the ramifications for everyone else.

Hands-On Report on MeeGo Netbooks and Tablets 

Sascha Segan:

The worst product I’ve seen so far at Mobile World Congress is Intel’s MeeGo OS running on a netbook. What’s even worse than trying it is knowing that it’s going on sale in the US.

I think you can make the case that this Windows Phone deal — though a bad deal for Nokia overall — was still the best choice they could make at this point. That’s how bad a position they’re in.

Nokia Plan B: An Open Letter to Nokia Shareholders and Institutional Investors 

The assumption underlying this vigorous dissent is that MeeGo is on track to be a viable competitor — soon. I think that’s a bad assumption. That said, these guys are right about how this deal reduces Nokia to an OEM with no control over their primary software platform:

5. Avoid at all cost becoming a poorly differentiated OEM with only low margin, commodity products that is unable to attract top software talent and cannot create shareholder value though innovation.

Nokia’s between a rock and a hard place.

Update: Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t a serious shareholder revolt. The criticism of Nokia’s position is apt, though.

Apple Launches Subscriptions on the App Store 


“Our philosophy is simple — when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app.”

More on the new rules, from Macworld.

Jim Dalrymple on This New MobileMe Service 

Jim Dalrymple:

Instead of trying to provide everyone with cloud storage, I believe Apple will use MobileMe as the brain of the cloud service. The actual storage will be on our individual machines. In effect, in the cloud.

If it goes like this, though, it’ll require the machine with your full iTunes library to be online in order to access it. What if the machine with your iTunes library is asleep, or powered down, and you want to access music or movies from your iOS device? This sounds like a good feature, but it doesn’t sound like a replacement or alternative to true cloud-based storage.

Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Report 

Includes an entire section regarding the suicides at Foxconn in China.

Obama’s 2012 Budget Proposal: How $3.7 Trillion Is Spent 

Interesting treemap data visualization from The New York Times. Looks like one of those apps that shows you how all the space on your hard drive is used.

Update on Qt 

Aron Kozak, Nokia:

Unequivocally, Qt is not dead. This morning we heard top Nokia executives like CTO Rich Green talk about Qt and the future. Qt will continue to live on through Symbian, MeeGo and the non-mobile Qt industries and platforms.

Translation: Qt is dead.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Hands-On 

Charlie Sorrel:

Honeycomb turns out to be pretty sweet, and as far away from Apple’s iOS as you could imagine. In fact, its closer to something like Windows XP in terms of the look and feel, albeit with a very responsive, finger-friendly touch interface.

Yeah, sounds real sweet.

From the front, then, the Tab 10.1 is easily the equal of the iPad. Then things start to go wrong. It’s very clear that a $500 tablet is impossible for anyone but Apple to build without cutting corners. The Tab not only has a plastic back, but the metal-looking bezel is in fact silvered plastic, and looks as tacky as the dime-store toy-tablets that will surely flood stores soon. This does make the Tab 10.1 light (600g vs. 730g for the 3G iPad), but it also makes it feel cheap. And while overall the Tab 10.1 is thinner than the iPad (10.9mm vs. 13.4mm), the iPad feels thinner thanks to its tapered edges.

What Future for the Macintosh? 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

We’ll start in September 2010. The older MacBook Air is relegated to a low-traffic area of the store. It’s not “moving.”

Now look at the same store today. The Science of Shopping says the “high-value” area must be the first table on the left, because, statistically, that’s how we navigate stores. There we see six MacBook Airs: four 11-inch models and two 13-inch configurations.

Why the change? The attractive price is part of the answer: The base 11-inch model sells for $999, low by Apple standards. But performance is the more important factor.

Speaking of Michael Gartenberg 

I think the analogy in this tweet nails it:

NOK adoption of WinPhone provoking a response on NOK fan sites equivalent of what Mac users might have sounded if AAPL embraced Win NT in 97.

Part of it is emotional. Nokia has devoted fans — just like Apple did in 1996-97. And they see something in Nokia, a cultural backbone, a design philosophy, that is uniquely Nokia’s. How can they possibly maintain that backbone while depending on an OS made and designed by another company?

And while it seems silly in hindsight, there really were a lot of pundits who, in 1996, thought that Apple’s best option was to ditch their own OS and become a maker of “well-designed” Windows PCs.

Microsoft to Pay Nokia ‘Billions’ as Part of Windows Phone 7 Deal 

Nancy Gohring, reporting for Computerworld:

Nokia on Sunday hinted that Microsoft essentially won a bidding war against Google to supply software to the world’s largest handset maker and that the software giant agreed to pay “billions” of dollars for the privilege.

That’s certainly a different take on OS licensing. And so I guess Microsoft didn’t buy Nokia for $0B.

The Mac App Store: It’s an Honor Thing 

Michael Gartenberg on the Mac App Store’s lightweight approach to copy protection:

Apple’s approach is simple. It’s an honor thing. The company believes that, given the choice, people will do the right thing. It also understands that anti-piracy techniques don’t stop pirates, but they do get in the way of honest users.

I touched on this in 2007, regarding the success of Apple’s “family pack” licensing for Mac OS X updates:

What’s interesting about this is that the single-computer license isn’t enforced in code by the operating system. (Or at least that’s been the case with Mac OS X 10.0 through 10.4.) And, I suspect, most DF readers are aware of this. Which means many readers are doing the right thing simply because they’re honest.

Apple Rumors Galore From the WSJ 

Rumors include: reiteration of Bloomberg’s scoop last week of an upcoming smaller cheaper iPhone, making MobileMe a free service for cloud-based storage and syncing, and having iTunes media content (movies, music) stored in the cloud as well.

It’s the lack of cloud-based storage for media that keeps iOS devices tethered to a Mac or Windows PC for syncing. As for the smaller iPhone, I doubt the screen will be much smaller than 3.5 inches diagonally (if at all). I’m guessing it’s just thinner and with a smaller chin and forehead. But this Journal story says “One of the people, who saw a prototype of a new iPhone several months ago, said the new device is intended to be sold alongside the current line of iPhones and would be about half the size of the iPhone 4.” It’s unclear what “half the size” means, but surely it doesn’t mean a 1.75-inch diagonal screen.


Wonderful collection of movie posters, curated by Roger Erik Tinch. I’m particularly enamored of this one by Connor Willumsen for Kubrick’s The Killing.

The Economics of Blogging and the Huffington Post 

Nate Silver:

Do the multiplication, and you find that the average blog post — which we estimate generated a couple thousand page views — was worth about $13 in advertising revenue. The median blog post, with several hundred views, was worth only $3 or $4. […]

When I shared a version of these calculations with Mr. Ruiz, the Huffington Post spokesman, he could not confirm them to this degree of specificity. But, “I can tell you though that you’re right,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The large majority of our traffic comes from news, not blog.”

Interesting analysis.

How the Huffington Post Works 

Long-winded poorly-written defense for why the Huffington Post doesn’t pay a dime to most of its contributors.

MPEG LA Announces Call for Patents Essential to VP8 Video Codec 

So it begins.

Changing Places: Microsoft Trades HP for Nokia 

Horace Dediu nails it again.

Microsoft Buys Nokia for $0B 

Matt Drance:

This is a coup, folks.


My thanks to Pixelmator for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pixelmator is a beautiful, easy-to-use image editor for the Mac that’s based on built-in Mac OS X graphics technologies. They’ve gone all-in with the Mac App Store, and for a limited time, it’s available at the special “transitional” price of just $29 — which includes a free update to version 2.0 when it ships.

Visualizing Jumping Off a Burning Platform 

Horace Dediu:

Fourth problem is that there is no clarity on any long term win for Nokia. Maps licensing seems like the only possible new source of revenue and a minor one at that. What competitive advantage did Nokia just gain? Is there any advantage Nokia has over any other licensee of Windows Phone?

Sebastiaan de With’s HP WebOS Event Roundup 

Nice overview.

The Talk Show, Episode 29 

Maybe my favorite show opening yet. This week’s show is brought to you by two fine sponsors: MailChimp and Sourcebits.

Open Letter From Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer 

Here it is:

Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader.

Facebook Moves to Disallow Apps From Running Google Ads 

Facebook can fuck with Google, but Google can’t fuck with Facebook.

Is Apple Working on a Cheaper, Smaller iPhone? 

Peter Burrows and Greg Bensinger, for Bloomberg:

One version would be cheaper and smaller than the most recent iPhone, said a person who has seen a prototype and asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public. Apple also is developing technology that makes it easier to use the iPhone on multiple wireless networks, two people said.

Apple has considered selling the new iPhone for about $200, without obligating users to sign a two-year service contract, said the person who has seen it.

$200 with no contract sounds great. But: what about lower-priced monthly service plans? That’s the biggest cost of any smartphone today.

Is RIM Working to Get the PlayBook to Run Android Apps? 

Hugo Miller and Olga Kharif, reporting for Bloomberg:

Research In Motion Ltd., looking to score a hit with its PlayBook tablet computer, is working on software to allow the device to run applications for Google Inc.’s Android, three people familiar with the matter said.

RIM plans to integrate the technology with the PlayBook operating system, giving customers access to Android’s more than 130,000 apps, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the effort isn’t public. RIM, after looking outside the company, is developing the software internally and may have it ready in the second half, two people said.

AIR apps, Flash apps, Android apps — that’ll all look and work just great.

And hasn’t RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie been arguing that apps aren’t necessary?

Stay Classy, TSA 

Amy Sullivan, on getting an opt-out pat-down:

The whole thing was over in a matter of minutes and was a completely professional experience.

Or it was, until a male TSA agent walked behind us and hollered: “Hey, I thought she was mine! I was gonna do her!”

Twitterrific 4 for Mac 

Major update to the original Mac Twitter client. A lot of “back to the Mac” iOS-style changes.

No Lines for Verizon iPhone 

Julio Ojeda-Zapata:

Apple clearly was expecting queuing at its retail store in the Mall of America. So were, to a lesser degree, the Best Buy Mobile store and two Verizon stores in the megamall. Security personnel were everywhere, and the usual queue dividers were set up.

Past launches of Apple products — iPhones, the iPad, various Mac OS X updates — have always drawn crowds of varying sizes.

So I was astounded to arrive at the mall at about 6:30 a.m. to find that NO ONE was in line at the Apple store. Ditto for the Best Buy Mobile store. One of the Verizon stores had a couple of people.

I thought there’d be lines, too. Pre-orders were a big hit, but now that’s it’s actually in stores, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

About This iPad 3 

Speaking of Jim Dalrymple, here’s his take on the idea of two iPad announcements in 2011:

At some point, the iPad has to become a product family instead of just a product. The September timeframe makes sense for this to happen for a couple of reasons.

One thing I don’t think I made clear enough yesterday is that if I’m right that Apple will make a second iPad product announcement later this year, such a thing would be in addition to the imminent iPad 2 — not a replacement. Like when the iPod family expanded to include the iPod Mini — the Minis didn’t replace the existing iPods, they were an expansion of the product family.

HP Hires Former Apple Exec Richard Kerris to Head Up Developer Relations 

Jim Dalrymple:

At Apple Kerris was the Senior Director for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Relations, so he knows the developer world and what it takes to work with them. For the past few years Kerris was the CTO of Lucasfilm.

Please Let This Happen 

Jeff Zeleny, reporting for the NYT:

Donald Trump is telling friends and advisers that he is seriously considering jumping into the Republican presidential race in 2012. To make his point, he has accepted an invitation to appear with other potential candidates at a gathering of conservative activists in Washington.

Bath Time 

Bobbie Johnson, reporting for the BBC News on Nokia’s management culture:

In private conversations, staff regularly talk about Nokia’s overtly masculine culture, and describe a world where important deals are usually brokered during visits to the sauna.

While the steam room is a way of life for Finnish people, it has almost become a religion for Nokia’s high-ranking managers. Indeed the spa is seen as so integral to the company’s operation that many of its offices around the world, which span from Afghanistan to Zambia, have had steam rooms specially fitted in order to accommodate their addiction.

One More Reason for Putting the iPad on a Fall Update Schedule 

In the midst of a Twitter discussion regarding my piece today positing a move to the fall for future iPad hardware announcements, Lessien writes:

Curious, as it might suggest that there’s no more real headway for the Fall event to be iTunes/iPod only.

That’s a good point. The iPod Touch is popular and lucrative, but it’s not a big secret. For four years in a row, Apple has released a new iPod Touch in the fall that, spec-wise, is pretty much just like the new iPhone released a few months prior. The music players continue to sell well, but they’re old news. A new top-of-the-line iPad could headline the fall event for the next few years.

Nokia and Microsoft, Sitting in a Tree… 

Carol Hymowitz and Dina Bass, reporting for BusinessWeek:

Nokia Oyj is close to announcing a software partnership with Microsoft Corp., a bet that together the two companies can better challenge Google Inc. and Apple Inc., according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

Breaking the Web With Hash-Bangs 

Excellent piece by Mike Davies on the new JavaScript-dependent site structure (and URLs) used by all Gawker Media sites:

The main problem is that LifeHacker URLs now don’t map to actual content. Well, every URL references the LifeHacker homepage. If you are lucky enough to have the JavaScript running successfully, the homepage then triggers off several Ajax requests to render the page, hopefully with the desired content showing up at some point.

Far more complicated than a simple URL, far more error prone, and far brittler.

Via Jeremy Keith, who compares this style of web design to breaking Postel’s Law.

Dell Drops the Adamo Laptop Line 

Brooke Crothers, CNET:

First revealed — with much fanfare — at CES in 2009, the Adamo was a worthy competitor to Apple’s groundbreaking laptop. Like the Air, it had an aluminum casing, was eye-catchingly thin (at 0.65 inches), used solid-state drives long before they came into wider use, and packed ultra-power-efficient Intel Core 2 Duo processors.

But the Adamo, like the earlier MacBook Air models, was pricey, starting at around $2,000, when it was launched in March 2009.

So it wasn’t really a “worthy competitor” at all. Did you ever think you’d live to see the day when Dell couldn’t compete with Apple on PC pricing?

Flash Player 10.2 

Speaking of Flash:

Today, we’re launching Flash Player 10.2 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. We’re especially excited that this release introduces Stage Video, a full hardware accelerated video pipeline for best-in-class, beautiful video across platforms and browsers.

Prediction of the Week 

Galen Gruman, yesterday: “Why HP might ditch WebOS for Android.”

HP Plans to Integrate WebOS Into PCs 

I called for HP to create its own OS back in 2009. Smart move. They’ve been under Microsoft’s thumb for 20 years.

The BBC Shows by Example Why Apple Is Right to Keep Flash Off iOS 

Daniel Danker, on BBC iPlayer apps for mobile platforms:

For iPad it’s straightforward, but for technical reasons we can’t bring the app to every single Android device. To download and use the app you’ll need a device that uses Android version 2.2 and has Adobe Flash 10.1 Player installed. Our Flash streams need a powerful mobile phone processor and a Wi-Fi connection to ensure a smooth viewing experience, which means that only newer, more powerful Android 2.2 devices connected via Wi-Fi can support the Flash 10.1 streaming experience.

I.e., rather than write a native Android app, they’re going to use Flash. If iOS supported Flash, it seems a safe bet that they wouldn’t have written native iOS clients, but would have used Flash there, too. You can always bring extra batteries, right?

Tomi Ahonen Summarizes Everything That’s Wrong With Nokia 

Tomi Ahonen thinks that purported memo from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is a forgery. It seems pretty clear that the memo is genuine, but Ahonen’s reasons for doubting it are fascinating:

Then he supposedly writes “While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time.” This again smacks of ill-informed US based views of Nokia. “… we missed big trends” (?) WHAT? Excuse me? I can accept, definitely, that Nokia has recently been executing poorly, and its early steps in new areas have been clumsy. But ‘missed’ big trends? Which trend has Nokia missed. Name even ONE! Touch screens? Before iPhone! Internet phones? Nokia did the world’s first. Consumer smartphones? Nokia invented that. Gaming phones? Nokia had years before the iPhone ever heard of Angry Birds. An app store? Nokia followed this trend from Japan five years before Apple launched its first app store. A developer community? Nokia has had it for more than a decade. Apps? Nokia has a whole unit that sells apps and services. Maps? Nokia bundles those on the phones. Money? Nokia launched Nokia Money long ago. Dual SIM phones, Nokia did that years ago. What trend is it that Nokia has supposedly missed. MISSED?

Keep in mind that Ahonen is a former Nokia executive. I think his view probably matches that of Nokia’s long-time managers. In their view, Nokia merely has a problem with “execution”.

Where he (and Nokia, but apparently not Elop) are wrong is in thinking of these things as checklist items. Touchscreen, check. App store, check. Gaming, check. The trend Nokia missed out on? Kick-ass production values, quality, and experience.

Update: BBC News confirms the memo is genuine.

HP TouchPad 

The software looks great, it really does, but:

Planned availability this summer.

Summer feels like a long time away. If my theory is right, they’re not only going to be months behind the iPad 2, but if they slip until late summer, they might bump up against the release of the iPad 3. And not only did they announce this with a distant ship date, they did it with no word on pricing.

(Maybe the “Palm” brand isn’t dead? The TouchPad page is hosted at They’ve got pages for the Veer and Pre 3, too. None of these three products are shipping. And still no WebOS phone without a hardware keyboard.)

Engadget’s Live Coverage From HP’s ‘Think Beyond’ WebOS Event 

Looks like the “Palm” brand is dead, but that makes sense from HP’s perspective. The news thus far:

  • The HP Veer is an upcoming credit-card-sized WebOS phone (sure isn’t credit-card-thin, though).
  • The Pre 3 looks fast, but isn’t coming until “summer”.
  • The TouchPad is physically almost identical to an iPad. The software looks really good. It really seems like WebOS was meant for a device like this.

Best demo: tapping a Pre phone against the TouchPad to transfer an open web page from the TouchPad to the Pre.

Sparrow 1.0 

Sparrow, the most interesting new Mac email client in at least a decade, hits 1.0. Get it on the App Store for $10. Not quite there for me, yet, but it’s close. The Gmail-specific features are very clever.

Education Is for Everyone 

Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis on designing and developing accessible e-textbook software.

Nokia Cancels First MeeGo Phone Before Launch 


Nokia has stopped developing its first smartphone using the MeeGo operating system, two industry sources close to the company said.

Engadget Prints Purported Memo From Nokia CEO Stephen Elop 

Stephen Elop, in a purported company-wide memo:

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable. […]

How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved?

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven’t been delivering innovation fast enough. We’re not collaborating internally.

No word on what his solution is, but at least he’s diagnosed the problem.

(My guess: They’re going to go with Windows Phone 7.)

Support Grows for Tiered Screening at Airports 

Susan Stellin, reporting for the NYT:

One reason airport security measures frustrate travelers is that screening procedures tend to treat all passengers the same: as potential terrorists.

But in the wake of the furor last fall over pat-downs and body scanners, several industry organizations are working on proposals to overhaul security checkpoints to provide more or less scrutiny based on the risk profile of each traveler.

Sanity prevails? (Via Glenn Fleishman.)

Redesigning the Netflix API 

Daniel Jacobson, Netflix:

Growing the API by about 37× in 13 months indicates a few things to us. First, it demonstrates the tremendous success of the API and the fact that it has become a critical system within Netflix. Moreover, it suggests that, because it is so critical, we have to get it right. When reviewing the founding assumptions of the API from 2008, it is now clear to us that the API needs to be redesigned to carry us into the future.

That’s some serious growth. Seems to have spiked in October 2010 — coincident with the release of the new Apple TV. Update: October was also the month when Netflix streaming expanded to Canada, and the PS3 Netflix integration went disc-free.

Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Design Process for the New Gawker Sites 

Exclusive photo from Gawker headquarters, testing the new design.

T-Mobile’s Two-Day ‘Free’ Phone Giveaway 


On Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12, all T-Mobile phones, even the fastest 4G smartphones running on America’s largest 4G network, will be offered for free at T-Mobile retail stores with qualifying plan on two-year contract.

Translation: Christ do we wish we had the iPhone.

Man Killed by Cock 

The San Francisco Chronicle:

A California man attending a cockfight has died after being stabbed in the leg by a bird that had a knife attached to its limb.

Stanley Kubrick’s Cardboard Box 

Designed by Stanley Kubrick; made by Ryder & Co. in Milton Keynes, UK. Update: Fireballed; cached here.

Flipboard CEO Mike McCue on How Chasing Page Views Has Corrupted Journalism 

Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, back in December:

The problem with journalism on the Web today is that it’s being contaminated by the Web form factor. What I mean is, journalists are being pushed to do things like slide shows — stuff meant to attract page views. Articles themselves are condensed to narrow columns of text across 5, 6, 7 pages, and ads that are really distracting for the reader, so it’s not a pleasant experience to ‘curl up’ with a good website.

Journalism is being pushed into a space where I don’t think it should ever go, where it’s trying to support the monetization model of the Web by driving page views. So what you have is a drop-off of long-form journalism, because long-form pieces are harder to monetize. And it’s also hard to present that longer stuff to the reader because no one wants to wait four seconds for every page to load.

By the way, have you heard that AOL bought the Huffington Post?

Stephen Coles on the Design of The Daily 

Solid critique.

‘Hi, Lloyd. Little Slow Tonight, Isn’t It?’ 

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy If We Don’t, Remember Me?

WikiLeaks, Revolution, and the Lost Cojones of American Journalism 

Naomi Wolf:

Another motive is revealed in the comment that Assange is “not one of us.” U.S. journalism’s business model is collapsing; the people who should be out in front defending Assange are facing cut salaries or unemployment because of the medium that Assange represents. These journalists are not willing to concede that Assange is, of course, a publisher, rather than some sort of hybrid terrorist blogger, because of their self-interested prejudices against a medium in which they are not the gatekeepers.


This open source fork of the standard Android Email app (not to be confused with the Gmail app) is widely considered the best Android IMAP client. Interesting discussion here about Google’s lack of interest in adopting its features back into the standard Email app.

This Is the New Gizmodo 


Denton on AOL 

Nick Denton, to Dan Lyons:

“AOL has gathered so many of our rivals — Huffington Post, Engadget, Techcrunch — in one place. The question: Is this a fearsome Internet conglomerate or simply a roach motel for once lively websites?”

Google I/O Sells Out in 59 Minutes 

That was fast.

Bush Cancels Europe Trip Amid Calls for His Arrest 


Bush has traveled widely since leaving office, but not to Europe, where there is a strong tradition of international prosecutions.

Just another former president.

Skin Cancer 

Re: the aforelinked piece by Steven Poole against needless UI chrome, here’s a classic by Greg Knauss for Suck from 11 years ago. (Via Anil Dash.)

Isotope: jQuery Plugin for Animated Dynamic Layouts 

Nifty work by David DeSandro.

Against Chrome: A Manifesto 

Steven Poole on Skeuomorphism gone wild. (He’s against UI chrome, in general, not Google’s Chrome browser.)

AOL to Buy the Huffington Post for $315 Million 

They deserve each other.

Those Non-Profit Packers 

Dave Zirin on the unique ownership of the Green Bay Packers:

In 1923, the Packers were just another hardscrabble team on the brink of bankruptcy. Rather than fold they decided to sell shares to the community, with fans each throwing down a couple of dollars to keep the team afloat. That humble frozen seed has since blossomed into a situation wherein more than a hundred thousand stockholders own more than four million shares of a perennial playoff contender. Those holding Packers stock are limited to no more than two hundred thousand shares, keeping any individual from gaining control over the club. Shareholders receive no dividend check and no free tickets to Lambeau Field. They don’t even get a foam cheesehead. All they get is a piece of paper that says they are part-owners of the Green Bay Packers.

Best Buy Ad Prices Motorola Xoom at $800 

And to think that there are still tech pundits who’ll tell you that Apple’s the company that can’t compete on price.

(The small print footnote on the Best Buy ad reads: “To activative [sic] WiFi [sic] on this device, a minimum of 1 month data subscription is required.” They can’t really mean you need to sign up for a month of 3G service in order to use Wi-Fi, right?)

The Daily’s Blog: ‘We’re Working Around the Clock’ 

The Daily:

But that doesn’t mean we’re sitting still. We’re working around the clock to improve the stability and functionality of The Daily.

One reason I keep writing about The Daily: I hope they make it.

Loren Brichter Fixes The Daily’s Carousel in Two Hours 

60 frames per second, full anti-aliasing, fast touch response.

Super Bowl Commercials on Devour 

If I were running a big-budget commercial during the Super Bowl, I wouldn’t post it to YouTube before the game. But apparently I don’t understand advertising, because a bunch of them are already up.

Fun With Numbers 

Bruno Fernandezs on ITG’s claim that 15 percent of Galaxy Tabs have been returned vs. Samsung’s retort that “less than 2 percent” have been returned:

What if Samsung’s number is based on their distribution shipments of “2 million” units and the report numbers are based on actual sales (what stores would report). Let’s assume the “under 2%” is 1.8% to give them some wiggle room.

That means 36000 returns on 2 million units. For which 36000 is 16% of 225000 units. (100/16 = 6.25 × 36k = 225k)

That could mean only 225k units have actually been sold to customers, of which 36k have been returned. Or 250k if you use exactly 2% in calculation above.

In either case, it sounds like a runaway success to me.

Samsung could straighten all of this out in a minute if they’d just say how many Galaxy Tabs have actually been sold to customers.


The Macalope, on the back-and-forth over just how many Samsung Galaxy Tabs have been sold (and how many have been returned), and the jackass CEO of Netgear, Patrick Lo.


My thanks to Pixelmator for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pixelmator is a beautiful, easy-to-use image editor for the Mac that’s based on built-in Mac OS X graphics technologies. They’ve gone all-in with the Mac App Store, and for a limited time, it’s available at the special “transitional” price of just $29 — which includes a free update to version 2.0 when it ships.

‘Gimme Shelter’ Deconstructed 

So great. Thanks, Craig.

Does Spotify Make Bands Money? 

Metronome asked around. Here’s one response:

Exec 1: “Our income from iTunes, Beatport, emusic, Amazon etc is pretty good. The income from Spotify is MICROSCOPIC - LAUGHABLE - PATHETIC. The fact that haven’t been sufficiently called out on this is a SCANDAL. Spotify are old school monopoly capitalists masquerading as painfully hip young “edgy” entrepreneurs. Their game plan is to devalue music 10 - 20 fold and then swallow it up like Pacman.”

Update: Here’s a graphical illustration from Information Is Beautiful back in April 2010.

The ‘Protect Life Act’ 

Jodi Jacobson:

They want to “protect life” so much that they have written into the bill a new amendment that would override the requirement that emergency room doctors save every patient, regardless of status or ability to pay.  The law would carve out an exception for pregnant women; doctors and hospitals will be allowed to let pregnant women die if interventions to save them will kill the fetus.

Your Republican Party.

Nokia Bubbles 

Clever lock-screen UI from Nokia. (There’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write today.)

Update: Fireballed, apparently. Cached version.

A Fix for My Thing on Writing AppleScripts That Dynamically Target Either Safari or WebKit 

Thanks to Caio Chassot for this fix, and a nice little explication on AppleScript.

The Two Paths to Success 

Paul Buchheit:

My strategy can be reduced to two rules: 1) Find a way to make it fun and 2) If that fails, find a way to do something else.

Chitwood & Hobbs 

Do you like sports? Do you like good writing and a keen eye for the cool? Then you’re going to love Chitwood & Hobbs, by Ryan Sims and Nick Hall.

Inkling: Interactive Textbooks for iPad 

I’ve linked to Inkling before, but I was reminded of it by this tweet from my friend Jonathan Wight, pointing out that Inkling — an interactive textbook reader/platform for the iPad — is fully accessible. (Wight is an engineer on the Inkling team.) Inkling is a free app, and it’s worth checking out just to see how much better an iPad app can be than The Daily when it embraces core iOS technologies. You can even select and copy text in Inkling. Imagine that.

Verizon Commercial for iPhone 4 

Like I said, they’re going to bash AT&T over the head with this. Notice that they don’t even say the word “iPhone”. All they have to do is show it, and brag about their network.

Jason Kincaid’s First Impressions Using Android Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom 

Best preview I’ve seen. The UI looks pretty responsive. What’s the over/under on how much the Xoom is going to cost?

The Talk Show, Episode 28 

This week’s episode of America’s favorite knitting and craftwork podcast. Topics include market share, The Daily, in-app purchasing, and, of course, the Verizon iPhone 4. Brought to you by two excellent sponsors: Edovia’s Screens, and Campaign Monitor.

By the way: 5by5 has some swell t-shirts for sale, for a limited time. Shame on you if you don’t order a The Talk Show shirt.


Here’s the problem: you’re reading something on your browser on your computer, but you’re leaving, so you’d like to continue reading it on your iPhone or iPad. How do you get the page from here to there? Handoff is a clever solution. On your Mac (or PC), it’s a free browser extension for Safari and Chrome (and a bookmarklet for Firefox and other browsers). On your iPhone and iPad, it’s a $1.99 app. The browser extension lets you send the current page to your device with one click. A second or two later, boom, there it is, thanks to push notifications. One click.

Motorola’s Android ‘Laptop Dock’ Will Cost $500 

Dan Frommer:

Today, AT&T announced that the Motorola Atrix “laptop dock” will cost $499.99 by itself. Five hundred dollars! For a laptop that stops working when you unplug your phone from it.

You can also buy it right away when you’re buying the phone and get a discount: You can buy the phone (normally $200) and the laptop dock for $500 total, after a $100 rebate, with a two-year service contract to a “Data Pro smartphone data plan” AND a tethering add-on.

Good luck with that.

Speaking of Rupert Murdoch 

The Dead Homer Society, on what Fox omitted from Banksy’s Simpsons-opening storyboards:

Of all the bleak images in Banksy’s original, the suffering children, the dead cats, the emaciated unicorn, only the giant poster of Kim Il-Murdoch was deemed too hot for teevee.

(Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Judgment Days 

David Remnick on Egypt, for The New Yorker. Best piece I’ve read about this crisis.

The Daily and Accessibility 


Unfortunately, though the Daily’s web site appears to be largely accessible, no effort to make use of Apple’s accessibility API’s is particularly discernible within the application. Outside of a few unlabeled buttons and the major section categories, nothing else in the app is available to VoiceOver users.

A true shame. They started with a blank slate on a platform that has decent accessibility features, and they don’t support any of them.

Verizon Sold Out of iPhone 4 Pre-Orders 

Just another phone.

Apple’s Ambiguity 

Great piece by Kontra:

For any single iOS developer or company, it would certainly be best if everything was spelled out and stayed unchanged. Unfortunately, while Apple is the largest technology company in the world and one of the most nimble, it can’t foresee everything. About 65% of all Apple’s sales now come from iOS devices that didn’t even exist over three years ago.

Josh Topolsky on the Verizon iPhone 4 

When’s the last time Engadget ran a feature-length review of a seven-month-old phone? Actually, when’s the last time anyone did?

Snell on the Verizon iPhone 4 

Jason Snell:

One of the pleasant surprises of testing the Personal Hotspot was its range. I was able to connect to the device even from a decent distance away. This isn’t short-range networking; you should be able to set the phone down and roam around a room (or even an adjacent room) without losing your Wi-Fi connection. This should be great for hotel rooms without free Wi-Fi, for example.

Agreed. It’s nothing like a standalone Wi-Fi base station, but it worked well from anywhere in the same room.

Pogue on the Verizon iPhone 4 

David Pogue, on CDMA’s simultaneous voice/data limitation:

A second C.D.M.A. difference: When you exchange long text messages with non-Verizon phones, they get split up into 160-character chunks. G.S.M. phones are smart enough to reconstitute those chunks into one more readable, consolidated message.

I did not know that.

If the top of your screen says “3G,” an indication that you’re in a high-speed Internet area of Verizon’s network, incoming calls take priority and interrupt your online connection. If you’re online in an older, 2G area, you stay online and the call goes directly to voice mail.

I never encountered this because in my use, the iPhone 4 on Verizon has never had anything other than a 3G signal. And, unlike GSM iPhones, there is no switch in the settings app to turn off 3G manually.

Motorola Cliq XT Won’t Get Android 2.1 Upgrade 

Christopher Trout:

Motorola’s dangled an Android 2.1 upgrade in front of CLIQ XT users for what seems like forever — now it’s putting away the bait indefinitely. In a statement released this morning, the company said that despite months of rigorous testing, the phone will remain on Android 1.5.

That’s OK, because Android is open. Cliq XT owners can just typemkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git:// ; repo sync ; make” and they’ll be all set.

Dan Frommer on the Difference Between the Market for Tablets and Smartphones 

Dan Frommer:

But, you may say, Google Android just kicked Apple’s butt in smartphones! Why won’t this happen in tablets?

The fundamental difference between the tablet market and the smartphone market is distribution.

Whereas smartphone distribution is dominated by wireless carriers, we expect carriers to play a relatively small role in tablet distribution. Tablet sales will be centered around electronics retail — the Apple store, Best Buy, Walmart — and big e-commerce, and not around carrier stores.

Maybe the smartest thing Apple did in the last decade wasn’t the iPod, but rather its retail stores. Remember when people thought retail was a foolish move for Apple?


Fascinating app, rejected by Apple from the App Store.

How do I play?
Click on the Play tab. Then click Increase Your Level. You will be presented with a list of level upgrades you can purchase with real money.

So there’s really no skill involved?
None at all! The person who pays us the most wins. The rest are displayed on a leaderboard in descending order.

Does my money get me anything besides a higher spot on the leaderboard?
When you increase your level you can enter a custom message. All other players can see this when you’re on leaderboard. The top payer player becomes the “Head Honcho,” and their (inevitably more important) message will be the first thing everyone sees when they boot the app.

I can see why Apple rejected it, but that’s actually a very clever idea.

Andy Pettitte Decides to Retire 

A great Yankee and a clutch performer. 19 postseason wins, including two World Series-clinching victories. Not many players retire after making the All-Star team.

Howard Yeend on the Bing/Google Search Engine Spat 

Howard Yeend makes the case that Bing isn’t doing anything wrong, only something clever. They’re tracking which links IE users click on — and IE users click on a lot of Google search results.

Related: MG Siegler tracks the back and forth sniping on Twitter between Google’s Matt Cutts and Microsoft’s Frank Shaw.

Update: Here’s what I think. What Microsoft is doing is clever, but I think it qualifies as a form of spidering. Bing’s automated web crawlers wouldn’t index Google search results because Google’s robot.txt policy forbids it. I think Bing’s click-tracker should obey robots.txt policies as well.

Basecamp Mobile 

Jason Fried:

Basecamp Mobile is not an native app, it’s a web app. All you have to do is visit on your mobile phone. No apps and nothing to install — it just works.

Sean Coleman argues that this strategy renders 37signals “obsolete”. He wants native apps, not mobile web apps.

I don’t think native apps and mobile browser web apps are in opposition. Web-based companies like Google, Twitter, Flickr, and more all have mobile-optimized web sites. They all also have APIs, which can be used for creating platform-specific native apps. 37signals is doing the same thing. Twitter and Gmail are probably the best two examples: great mobile web sites and great native apps. There are a bunch of native clients for 37signals’s services.

Webstock Interview: Michael Lopp and Yours Truly 

Really looking forward to this conference. Have you seen the speaker lineup?


The WSJ has posted a correction on the article that originally quoted a Samsung executive as describing Galaxy Tab sales as “quite small”:

Samsung executive Lee Young-hee said Galaxy Tab sales were “quite smooth,” according to a recording of the company’s conference call with analysts. This post relied on a transcript of the call, which quoted her erroneously as saying they were “quite small.” Samsung said the transcript, done by a third party and initially cited by a company spokesman, has since been corrected.

So the article now reads:

But during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Friday, a Samsung executive revealed those figures don’t represent actual sales to consumers. Instead, they are the number of Galaxy Tab devices that Samsung has shipped to wireless companies and retailers around the world since product’s formal introduction in late September.

Pressed by an analyst at an investment bank, the Samsung executive, Lee Young-hee, acknowledged that sales to consumers were “quite smooth,” though she didn’t give a specific number.

I don’t even understand what “smooth” means in this context.

The Daily: Indexed 

Andy Baio has made a homepage for The Daily. Will be interesting to see if this lasts.

4-Hour Dentist 

Charlie Nadler:

Congratulations! The fact that you’re reading this book means you’re on your way to achieving your WILDEST DREAMS. You want to be a dentist? I’m going to make it happen. And guess what? It only takes four hours. Let me repeat that: in four hours, you will be a dentist. Take a deep breath and get ready for the ride of your life.

(Via Merlin Mann.)

Volkswagen Commercial: The Force 

Funny spot, well-done.

Greg Sterling on Honeycomb, the Android Tablet OS 

Greg Sterling for Search Engine Land:

Apple has largely shunned the idea of producing smaller tablet (“nano”) devices. But the Samsung Galaxy Tab’s relative success shows a demand for the smaller sized, more “mobile” tablet — especially given the inferiority of the overall Galaxy Tab experience.

I thought the news this week was that the Galaxy Tab is a dud — Samsung itself described its sales as “actually quite small”, and even those that have been sold are frequently returned.

Expect Android tablet adoption to generally follow the path of Android handset adoption with a somewhat less aggressive growth curve because the iPad is broadly available unlike its sibling the iPhone.

Why expect the same adoption? Honest question. Android phones are all sold through carriers. iPads are sometimes sold through carriers, but many are Wi-Fi only models sold directly by Apple. What Android tablet maker has Apple’s retail strength? Where’s the HTC Store at your mall? And the iPad is already on more carriers, at least here in the U.S., than the iPhone.

Maybe Android tablets will follow the sales path of Android phones. I’d like to hear an argument for why that doesn’t involve the phrase “openness always wins”. (Not that Sterling said that, though. He offers no explanation at all for why he expects Android tablets to succeed.) And it sure doesn’t seem, thus far, that 7-inch and 5-inch form factors are winning moves.

AT&T Adding an Extra 2 GB to Phone Tethering Plans 

Gee, I wonder what prompted this generous change of heart?

Rupert Murdoch on The Daily 

From an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto:

Cavuto: I want to ask you, how much are you making on that? Because it’s $0.99, but typically, typically Apple takes a third.

Murdoch: That’s correct.

Cavuto: Now, is it taking a third here?

Murdoch: At least the first year, yes. We’ll be getting $0.70.

Cavuto: All right. But it goes — so you say at least the first year. It goes down after that?

Murdoch: We — no. Up, we hope.

Cavuto: But down for Apple.

Murdoch: That’s subject to negotiation.

That surprises me. I really thought the “other shoe” that’s about to drop regarding subscription pricing (and in-app purchasing for apps like Kindle) is that Apple would be taking a smaller cut, more in line with being a payment processor than a store owner. The bottom line for why The Daily is major news is not that it’s particularly good (at least yet), but simply that News Corp. is willing to place a decent-sized bet on a publication that is only available on the iPad.

And Murdoch on Steve Jobs:

Here we have the man who invented the personal computer, then the laptop. He’s now destroying them. That is an amazing life.

Making It Up in Volume 

The second chart is rather striking.

Welcome to Android Market 

Tap Tap Revenge was announced for Android earlier today. There’s already an updated version of the rip-off “live desktop” in the Android Market:


iPhone = Internet 

Bunch of great photos (as usual) from Egypt on The Big Picture, but the iconography on this one seems noteworthy.

‘Growing Is Forever’ 

Take three minutes, a deep breath, and enjoy this beautiful short film by Jesse Rosten. (Via Coudal.)

They Don’t Make Them Like The Mick Any More 

Mickey Mantle, in a letter to the Yankees in 1973, describing his “outstanding experience at Yankee Stadium”:

I got a blow-job under the right field Bleachers, by the Yankee Bull pen.

In the follow-up question, they asked him to “Give as much detail as you can”, and he obliged.

HTML5 and Web Video: Questions for the Industry From the Community 

Long, detailed post by Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch on HTML5, H.264, and WebM. It’s a cogent take, with pointed questions for Google (and other proponents of WebM/VP8):

Offers of “free” or “royalty-free” source code and strong assertions that the technology is “not patent encumbered” don’t help when a patent holder files a complaint that your video, your site, or your product infringes on her intellectual property. The only true arbiter of infringement, once it’s asserted, is a court of law. Asserting openness is not a legal defense. Whether one supports open technology or not, there are practical liability issues today that need to be examined. These issues motivate different potential approaches to risk protection. One path is indemnification. For example, will Google indemnify Mozilla, a PC OEM, a school, a Web site, a chip manufacturer, a device company, or an individual for using WebM? Will they indemnify Apple? Microsoft? Will they indemnify any or all of these parties worldwide? If Google were truly confident that the technology does not infringe and is not encumbered by patents whatsoever, wouldn’t this indemnification be easy?

Crickets chirping.

Microsoft Releases H.264 HTML5 Video Extension for Chrome on Windows 

Claudio Caldato, Microsoft:

Google recently announced that its Chrome web browser will stop supporting the H.264 video format. At Microsoft we respect that Windows customers want the best experience of the web including the ability to enjoy the widest range of content available on the Internet in H.264 format.

Today, as part of the interoperability bridges work we do on this team, we are making available the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which is an extension for Google Chrome to enable Windows 7 customers who use Chrome to continue to play H.264 video.

Android Market Web Store 

Browse and buy apps in your web browser, and apps download to your Android device automatically.

The Daily 

Video tour of News Corp.’s new The Daily iPad app. Nothing groundbreaking, but better than most such efforts to date. The “carousel” feature — more or less Cover Flow view for pages in the current issue — is incredibly laggy. I can’t believe they shipped it like this. Scrolling elsewhere is OK, I guess, but nowhere near as fast as it should be in a native app. I think the rest of the app at first feels faster than it really is because the carousel — which is the default navigation — is so crushingly slow. (And the page thumbnails in the carousel are horrendously JPEG-compressed. I can’t even imagine how slow it would be if the thumbnails actually looked good.)

I like that navigation is a simple left-to-right affair; it provides a sense of place, and a sense of how much content remains. I don’t like how switching the rotation of the iPad sometimes — but usually not — puts you into an entirely different mode, rather than showing the same content in a different context. E.g. for today’s feature news coverage of the tumult in Egypt, landscape orientation shows you a slideshow of photos, but portrait shows you the news article.

Maybe they’ve hired a good staff of writers and editors, but they sure need better designers and engineers. The experience just isn’t good enough.

At a dollar a week, I’m not sure how to predict The Daily’s success. On the one hand, it’s competing with an almost uncountable number of free websites, and large number of free apps. On the other hand, it’s only a buck, and News Corp. can promote it heavily through its existing media outlets — the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the New York Post, etc.

Macworld Expo Panel: The Future of the Mac 

50-minute panel discussion on the future of the Mac from last week’s Macworld Expo, featuring Jason Snell, Dan Moren, Adam Engst, and yours truly.

‘The Daily’ Announcement Event Live Coverage From The Loop 

Other liveblogs: Macworld and Engadget.

Everything Is a Remix, Part 2 

My mind is blown by some of these movie comparisons. Kirby Ferguson is doing amazing work on this project.

The AOL Way 

Alley Insider claims to have a leaked copy of “The AOL Way”, a new set of editorial guidelines from AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.

This tweet sums it up: it’s “like a sadness factory for websites”.

Jim Dovey on the Size of Apple’s Cut for In-App Book Purchases 

Jim Dovey, of Kobo:

At present, all in-app purchases require payment of 30% of list price to Apple. At present, this represents 100% of the profits granted to us eBook distributors by the publishers. […]

Overall, I would love to use in-app purchases. I would be happy to let Apple make some money from that. Just not every single penny that the publishers allow us to keep from the transaction.

The “agency model” deal from most publishers requires them to receive 70 percent of the sale price. So something has to give if Apple is going to require third-party e-book sellers to use their in-app purchasing system.

Jason Snell on Apple’s Changes to In-App Purchasing 

Jason Snell:

What would make this entire policy go down smoother with app developers is if Apple separated its famous 30 percent cut on app sales from its less-known 30 percent cut on in-app content sales. When Apple announced the App store in 2008, the company suggested the 30 percent cut was intended to “pay for running the store.” But app downloads—which are served by Apple and require an approval process—are much more resource intensive than in-app purchases. If Apple were to change the terms of in-app content purchases to be more akin to a credit-card processing fee, publishers would have less to squawk about.

OMS and Tapas = Android? 

Something I glossed over in yesterday’s Android market share news from Canalys was this footnote:

The Google numbers in this table relate to Android, as well as the OMS and Tapas platform variants.

DF reader AP pointed this out via email:

That really makes me wonder. OMS (Ophone) and Tapas are both Chinese-only. I assume (rightly? wrongly?) that, since they’ve been modified for a native market, they lack a lot (all?) of Google’s normal “hooks” in the OS.

Are things like maps, email, search, and advertising served through Google? Or do they come from Chinese companies? Put another way, are OMS and Tapas variants of Android, or separate platforms forked from Android? As far as I understand, neither OMS nor Tapas have any access to Android Market, so they certainly aren’t helping to build a software platform.

Either way, it would be interesting to know how many of those 33 million Android devices are OMS and Tapas.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Return Rates Hit 16 Percent 

John Paczkowski:

ITG Investment Research tracked point-of-sale data from nearly 6,000 wireless stores in the U.S. from the Galaxy Tab’s November debut through Jan. 15 and found the device to have an unusually high return rate. According to its estimates, cumulative return rates for the Galaxy Tab through December of 2010 were about 13 percent. Worse, that percentage is growing as holiday purchases are returned. ITG figures cumulative Galaxy Tab return rates through January 15 were 16 percent. Ugly, considering the return rate for the iPad at Verizon since its debut on the carrier is just 2 percent.


Metagames: Games About Games 

Speaking of Andy Baio, this epic post is terrific:

Over the last few years, I’ve been collecting examples of metagames — not the strategy of metagaming, but playable games about videogames. Most of these, like Desert Bus or Quest for the Crown, are one-joke games for a quick laugh. Others, like Cow Clicker and Upgrade Complete, are playable critiques of game mechanics. Some are even (gasp!) fun.

Since I couldn’t find an exhaustive list (this TV Tropes guide to “Deconstruction Games” is the closest), I thought I’d try to pull one together along with some gameplay videos.

Google Claims Bing Is Cheating, Copying Their Search Results 

Danny Sullivan:

Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this.

Like Andy Baio quipped, “I can’t decide if Bing’s move is smart or just sad.”

How Much Does Market Share Matter? 

Lessien, on market share:

Essentially, the historical advantage of dominant market share has been the ability to raise (discriminately) the switching cost of competing platforms. […]

The table stakes applications (Facebook, Twitter, Kindle, etc.) are available on most of the leading mobile platforms. If not available specifically as native applications, these services as often accessible as web applications. For apps beyond the main set, a reasonably informed consumer can find ready substitutes.

This is a good piece overall. Me, I can’t resist a sports analogy. The object of the game is to win. Market share isn’t winning. It’s just a component that leads to winning. Focusing solely on OS market share in mobile is like focusing solely on batting average in baseball, or yards gained in football. When Microsoft and Intel grew to dominate the PC industry, there was a very strong correlation between their success and their market shares (for OSes and for CPUs). There’s certainly a correlation between market share and success in the mobile market, but it just doesn’t seem to be nearly as strong.

An Android proponent can look at this and say, “Well, that sounds like what an Apple fan would say, now that Android has taken a large lead in smartphone market share.” But Apple never had a lead in smartphone market share. From 2007 through today, they’ve been behind at least one giant (Symbian at first, now Android), and for most of that time they were behind BlackBerry. iOS’s influence on the market has always been disproportionate to the iPhone’s share of the smartphone market.

As Lessien says, profit share seems a better indicator of success than market share — both today, and historically.

Macworld Expo 2011 Best of Show Winners 

Good picks. (Hard to believe the As Seen on TV Hat wasn’t picked, though.)

Engadget’s Review of the Dell Streak 7 

Sounds terrible. Bad software, slow, poor battery life.