Did You Know Apple Pre-Announced Its iPad Sales? ★
That’s great. Only one problem: Apple never announced any such
plans of any sort. I’m sure that Apple planned to sell a certain
amount of both models, but it never reveals those estimates
publicly. In fact, it has become even more conservative in its
forecast reporting in an endeavor to halt projection inflation.
DisplaySearch estimated those numbers from what it saw as a
shift in a specific split of component orders. In fact, these
estimates based on a single component (TFT LCDs).
Much of the news media is afflicted with a collective mental disorder in which any estimate (read: guess), if it comes from someone whose job title is “analyst”, somehow becomes a fact.
Calculator Construction Set ★
Randomly thought of this anecdote from Andy Hertzfeld’s amazing Folklore.org today. Such a great story. (If you’ve never read Folklore.org, prepare to lose a few hours. Or, better yet, buy the book.)
CGI Audrey Hepburn Stars in Candy Bar Commercial ★
Technically impressive, but how can you write about this without mentioning how revolting the entire concept is? What is wrong with the heirs to Hepburn’s estate that they’d sell her out like this? Audrey Hepburn was one of the great talents in cinema history, and they’ve turned her into Ronald McDonald, an animated cartoon peddling junk food.
Groupon Shitcans CEO ★
Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, in a letter to employees:
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of
Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my
family. Just kidding — I was fired today. If you’re wondering
why… you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics
in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our
own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one
quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a
half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
Crummy CEO, but not a bullshitter.
The Fate of Google Glass ★
Wearing Google Glass made users feel like they didn’t have to
connect with the actual humans around them. “I’m elsewhere — even
though I appear to be staring right at you.” Frankly the people
who wore Google Glass were afraid of the people around them. And
Glass gave them a strange transparent hiding place. A
self-centered context for suffering through normal moments of
uncomfortable close proximity. Does it matter that everyone around
you is more uncomfortable for it?
At least with a hand-held phone there was no charade. The very
presence of the device in hand, head down, was a clear flag
alerting bystanders to the momentary disconnect. “At the moment,
I’m not paying attention to you.”
Strident, but I don’t think he’s far off the mark.
U.K. Judge Who Ruled Against Apple Now Hired by Samsung ★
“Lack of integrity”, indeed.
Charlie Kindel: ‘Why Nobody Can Copy Apple’ ★
What I like about his simple theory is that it also explains why NeXT never caught on, yet the same technology led by the same team resulted in such tremendous success at Apple.
Update: Kindel has a good follow-up, too.
Passbook Mobile Ticketing Expanding to 13 MLB Ballparks This Season ★
Right now, he said, iOS users account for 70 percent of the free
version of At Bat. But that’s “shrinking every day” as Android has
grown — he says thanks to Samsung’s good mobile hardware and its
growing cool factor, as well as the Google Play store being better
curated by Google.
However, when it comes to users that pay for At Bat — which is
$20 per season — 85 percent are still iOS. But that’s changing
too, he said. “Slowly.”
Gun Whisky Cologne Cigar Beard ★
Codename for the upcoming less-emasculating version of Android.
Simple, stylish, useful website-monitoring app for the iPhone. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and the service paid for itself when it pinged me at 1am because DF was down.
How to Enable Pinch-to-Zoom on the Chromebook Pixel ★
Why is this not on by default?
‘His Dick Falls Off, That’s How He Mates’ ★
Scientifically accurate Spider-Man.
iCloud and That Sinking Feeling ★
From the new Nice Mohawk company blog, a look at the state of iCloud data syncing. In short: syncing documents works well, but syncing Core Data doesn’t, and sharing is non-existent — neither between users nor between apps.
If Marissa Mayer Were a Man ★
Over the last several days, there has been an internet furor over
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s edict to employees that they can no
longer work remotely (read: from home, from Starbucks…). Almost
all of womankind took to tweeting, blogging, and writing opinion
pieces about what a horrible policy Mayer was instituting and how
she was setting women back instead of being a working mother/CEO
to whom we could relate. I, too, am guilty of going on the
defensive about Mayer’s decision. But then I thought: If Marissa
Mayer were a man, would there be the same outrage?
No. Or at the very least, there’d be no one questioning or even mentioning the parenthood of a male CEO who made the same decision.
Sergey Brin, With a Computer Strapped to His Head, Covering One of His Eyes, Tells TED Audience Smartphones Are ‘Emasculating’ ★
Casey Newton, reporting for CNet:
Speaking at the TED Conference today in Long Beach, Calif., Brin
told the audience that smartphones are “emasculating.” “You’re
standing around and just rubbing this featureless piece of glass,”
Look at the fucking picture of him up there. We’re taking advice on cool from this guy? Seriously?
I can see the argument that dicking around with our phones in public is not cool, that we should pay more attention to our companions and surroundings, and less to our computer displays. Strapping a computer display to your face is not the answer.
Yahoo and Remote Work ★
Richard Branson, on Marissa Mayer’s elimination of work-from-home at Yahoo:
Perplexed by Yahoo! stopping remote working. Give people the
freedom of where to work and they will excel.
I’ve worked remotely. I know some very successful companies where most, sometimes all, employees work remotely. If I were going to start a new company today, it’d be a small team, all remote. But what works for small teams doesn’t necessarily work for large companies. It may well be that Mayer’s policy change will not help Yahoo, but Branson’s statement is clearly wrong: Yahoo employees have been allowed to work remotely, and they have not excelled.
Yahoo needs a kick in the ass. Mayer is not merely trying to keep Yahoo limping along; she’s trying to lead Yahoo to kick some ass. Same old, same old isn’t going to get them there.
Samsung Wallet ★
Dan Seifert, The Verge:
The company showed off a few features of the new app during its developer keynote, and it’s quite clear that Samsung took its design inspiration for Wallet from Apple’s Passbook (even down to the icon that Samsung used).
Looks like someone fixed their copy-and-paste function.
When we asked why Samsung did not include NFC tap-to-pay features in Wallet, the company said that retailers prefer barcodes over NFC because they don’t have to install any new infrastructure to support it.
Dozens of Big U.S. Companies to Back Gay Marriage ★
Roger Parloff, reporting for Fortune:
On Thursday, dozens of American corporations, including Apple,
Alcoa, Facebook, eBay, Intel, and Morgan Stanley will submit an
amicus brief in the landmark Hollingsworth v. Perry case broadly
arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that laws banning same-sex
marriages, like California’s ballot initiative Proposition 8, are
unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection
Marco Arment on MacBooks With Cellular Networking ★
To start, Apple could just put cellular-connection detection and
responsible-usage logic into iTunes and Software Update. That
would be sufficient to launch with new 4G MacBook models at WWDC,
then they could have a session on the new API and start enforcing
responsible practices in the Mac App Store. Along with maybe
working something out with Netflix, they’ll have addressed the
biggest accidental bandwidth hogs that most people will face.
Kickstarter Campaign to Open Source LiveCode ★
LiveCode has a long and varied history as an alternative/successor to HyperCard. The company behind it, RunRev, started this Kickstarter project to fund development to (a) improve it; and (b) open source it. There’s one day left in the campaign and they just hit their funding goal tonight, but they have a few stretch goals that are within reach that promise even more.
I’m always skeptical about cross-platform app toolkits, but LiveCode’s emphasis on education — learning to program — is an interesting twist. I’m in.
Another Way of Looking at It ★
Amir Efrati, reporting for the Wall Street Journal on those numbers from Good Technology regarding mobile device activations in large corporations, paragraphs one and two:
There are signs that Apple’s grip on tablets has
been weakened among consumers, who are buying more devices made
by Samsung and Amazon. Now the trend is trickling into the
That’s according to new data from Good Technology, one of the
biggest mobile device managers, known as MDMs, that give tools to
corporate IT managers to oversee employee devices.
Stop reading there and what is the reader to think, other than “more bad news for Apple”? Two paragraphs later, we get the actual numbers:
Out of all of the tablets that installed Good’s management
software during 2012, Android’s share grew from 2.7% in the first
quarter to 6.8% by the fourth quarter, with the iPad grabbing
nearly the entire rest of the market.
“We’re seeing some glimmers of Android tablet adoption,” said John
Herrema, an executive at Good Technology.
And then only at the bottom of the article do we see that, according to Good, iOS is actually doing better than Android year-over-year:
Overall, Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices made up 77% of new
devices using Good Technology software last year, up from 71% in
2011, with Android-powered devices making up much of the rest.
The headline for Efrati’s story? “Report: Android Tablets Gain on iPads in Business Market”.
Chromebook Pixel and Multitouch ★
Google’s marketing page for the Chromebook Pixel mentions multitouch and pinch-to-zoom, but their documentation page only mentions single-finger taps and scrolling.
Update: Multitouch does work in Maps for pinch-to-zoom, report a few readers who have the Pixel. But it doesn’t work system-wide, and doesn’t allow for zooming web pages. It’s something individual apps need to support explicitly, hence my initial confusion.
Popular Android Twitter Client Hits Token Limit ★
And now there’s another problem: breaking the token barrier means
new downloads are as good as useless, but Vergès can’t deliver
future updates to Falcon Pro if it’s no longer in Google Play. As
such, he’s decided the best course of action is to hike Falcon
Pro’s price into the stratosphere: it’s currently listed at
$132.13 on Google Play.
Way to go, Twitter.
Post-PC Devices in the Enterprise ★
Lots of variety in Good Technology’s list of the top mobile devices activated in large corporations — some are iPhones, some are iPads.
Obsolete, Eh? ★
Brooke Crothers, reviewing the Chromebook Pixel for CNet:
Thank you, Google. For obsoleting my MacBook.
Glad we’re not jumping to hyperbolic conclusions.
Question: What two killer hardware features are missing on
MacBooks? My answer: a touch screen and 4G. What a coincidence.
Just what Google is offering on the Chromebook Pixel. And in a
package that comes close to matching the MacBook’s aesthetics.
Don’t get me started on the pointlessness of a touchscreen on a MacBook. But cellular networking — that, I agree, does feel missing at this point. I make do with hotspot tethering, but the fact that my iPad has cellular networking built-in (and shares the same Verizon account as my iPhone) makes it feel like my MacBook should have it too.
I’m not sure why Apple hasn’t offered it as an option yet, but my guess is that it’s because Mac OS X isn’t designed to behave differently while on different types of networks. With cellular networking, for example, you wouldn’t want iTunes to download new episodes of TV episodes or even podcasts in the background — a single episode could eat up your entire monthly bandwidth allotment.
Using the Microsoft Surface Pro for Drawing ★
Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade:
Sketching with the Stylus in Sketchbook was awesome. It’s
important to note that you can lay your hand on the screen while
you draw without messing up your work. There was no brush lag at
all and the pressure sensitivity worked perfectly. The stylus
itself felt exactly like drawing on my Cintiq except that the
Surface screen is smooth whereas the Cintiq screen has a bit of
texture to it.
How ironic would it be if the iPad becomes the dominant mass market computer and the Surface becomes the one for artists?
‘If You See the Computer They Blew It’ ★
The difference is, of course, I can put the phone in my pocket the
second you start talking to me. It is not part of our conversation
and there is no screen alerting me to a new message or enticing me
with some video. Putting the phone in my pocket is a way to say,
“Okay it’s just you and me talking now.” But wearing that computer
on your face is a reminder that, well, you have a damn computer on
Josh Topolsky on Google Glass ★
In case you missed it Friday, Josh Topolsky got a hands-on demo with Google Glass. Definitely an interesting write-up.
I still don’t see the market for this as a product. It’s cool technology, but to me it doesn’t even look close to being a complete consumer product. This is to heads-up-displays as Jeff Han’s 2006 TED demo was to multitouch: a demo of cool technology, not a cool product.
And the idea that people will wear things like this everywhere (as opposed to special specific scenarios, such as workers in an environment where their hands are otherwise occupied, like, say, surgeons) strikes me as creepy as hell.
‘Do You Think You’re Going to Give This Part to Somebody Else? I’m Going to Blow You Motherfuckers Away.’ ★
Terrific retrospective on Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction by Mark Seal for Vanity Fair. (Via Steve Delahoyde at Coudal.)
The Wu of Maker’s Mark ★
Speaking of whiskies, Matthew Rowley has a good take on Maker’s Mark’s recent “we’re going to water down our bourbon / wait, wait, no we’re not” about-face.
Reinventing a Great Scotch Distillery ★
Kelefa Sanneh on the resurrection of the Bruichladdich whisky distillery on the Scottish island of Islay:
Scotland is the undisputed whisky capital of the world, producing
nearly two-thirds of the global supply, and Islay is the highly
disputed capital of Scottish whisky. The island has thirty-five
hundred residents and eight working distilleries; there is surely
no place that produces more great whisky per capita, and possibly
no place that produces more great whisky, full stop. To rebuild
Bruichladdich, Reynier recruited a native Ileach: Jim McEwan, a
whisky celebrity who had spent his career at Bowmore, a venerable
distillery that faces Bruichladdich from across a coastal inlet.
Bowmore makes whisky that bears smoky traces of burning peat,
which was once Islay’s main fuel source and is now the signature
flavor of Islay whisky. The island’s best-known distillery is
probably Laphroaig, whose flagship dram is pungently smoky and
startlingly medicinal, with a flavor that is sometimes compared to
TCP, a European antiseptic. In reasonable doses and proper
circumstances, Laphroaig can be delicious, but its popularity is a
mixed blessing for the industry, because whisky neophytes who try
Laphroaig and hate it may never return.
Bruichladdich is nearly smoke-free, which is a big reason that
Reynier fell for it.
It’s a great story and sounded like great whisky, so I had to try it. I was right — it’s damn good.
‘If You’re Going to Strike Early, You Must Strike Hard’ ★
Matt Drance on Sony’s vaporous PlayStation 4 announcement.
A Summer With Stanley Kubrick ★
Tim Deegan, who worked as Stanley Kubrick’s summer intern in 1968:
What was revelatory to me was not so much his meticulous process
and attention to even the smallest details, but his absolute
power. I was being paid by the studio to work for him as an
auditor to uncover their deficiency and tell him.
Firefox 22 Will Block Third-Party Cookies by Default ★
Megan Geuss, reporting for Ars Technica:
Blocking third-party cookies would not be new or unheard of among
browsers; Apple’s Safari already rejects cookies from third
parties. In a blog post on Friday, Mayer called the Firefox patch
“a slightly relaxed version of the Safari policy.” Chrome allows
all cookies, and Internet Explorer blocks some third-party
cookies, although not all.
For some reason I don’t expect Chrome to get on board with this.
The Magazine: Now With Full-Article Sharing, Web Subscriptions ★
Since The Magazine had no ads, and people could only subscribe in
the app, I figured there was no reason to show full article text
on the site — it could only lose money and dilute the value of
That was the biggest mistake I’ve made with The Magazine to date.
Strong ideas, loosely held. That’s the path to success.
Chromebooks and Battery Life ★
Good point from Alex Chitu at the (unaffiliated with Google) Google Operating System blog:
It’s not clear why the latest Chromebooks no longer have a great
battery life, but the new batteries are obviously cheaper and
lighter. Google’s Chromebook features page no longer mentions the
word “battery”, even if this was one of the main selling points
for the first Chromebooks.
This was posted before Google announced their own $1299 Chromebook Pixel hardware, but even that doesn’t fare well. Google claims “up to 5 hours of active use”; both the 13-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro With Retina Display promise “Up to 7 hours wireless web”.
Battery life is one reason why I remain a deep skeptic of Chrome OS. Post-PC devices should get better battery life, not worse.
James Bond Lego Kit Concepts ★
Great concept work by Jeff Chapman. Next we need a Little Nelly kit from You Only Live Twice. (Thanks to Kevin Miller.)
‘Denied Permission for an Emergency Landing at Clavius’ ★
The newest episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Jim Coudal. We discuss Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (and the new 70mm print we saw screened in Chicago last week), The Deck network and the state of online advertising, and the just-completed Webstock conference in Wellington, New Zealand.
Brought to you by two excellent sponsors:
- Squarespace — everything you need to build exceptional websites.
- Everpix — a smart photo platform that helps you make sense of your growing photo collection.
My thanks to Everpix for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Everpix is a smart photo platform that helps you make sense of your growing photo collection. It’s an ambitious endeavor: think of it as a cloud-based alternative to iPhoto for organizing and storing your entire photo library. It’s designed with modern photography in mind: the assumption is that we all have thousands of photos (the average Everpix user has more than 10,000), are adding hundreds more each month, and that few of us ever take time to organize our new photos.
Everpix does the organizing for you, based on dates and on very clever semantic analysis of the content of your photos. It’s impressive technology. They have terrific iPad and iPhone apps for viewing and browsing your library, and Mac and and Windows apps for syncing your photos from your computer to their cloud. You can keep using apps like iPhoto, Lightroom, or Aperture for importing from your camera and making editing adjustments.
Everpix is not a social network like Flickr or Instagram, it’s your personal photo library, stored in the cloud, accessible via really well-designed native client apps for iOS. The apps are free, as is the 30-day free trial to start. After that, subscriptions are easy: $5/month, or $40/year. (What a novel business model: charging money.) I’m loving it, and very impressed. I highly encourage everyone to give the free trial a go. Bottom line: Everpix is what iPhoto/iCloud photo syncing should be.
(Sidenote: Among their investors: Bertrand Serlet and Picasa co-founder Michael Herf.)
Zendesk Security Breach Affects Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest ★
Credit to Zendesk for the plainspoken headline on their announcement: “We’ve Been Hacked”.
The Rise and Fall of A-Rod ★
Great piece by Joe Posnanski for NBC Sports:
Everyone talked about his joy for the game, his deference to teammates, his innocence. “On July 27,” Gerry Callahan wrote that year in a Sports Illustrated story called “The Fairest of Them All,” “Alex Rodriguez will turn 21, making him old enough to have a beer with his Seattle Mariners teammates. He says he’s not interested. ‘Can’t stand the taste,’ he says. Rodriguez has always felt more at home among milk drinkers.”
Update: Fixed link to non-mobile URL.
Attractive ultra-simple new weather app for the iPhone, by Jake Marsh.
Those Rumored Google Stores ★
With the news today about the Chromebook Pixel, the pieces are all
starting to come together. Google says it’s selling that product
through the Google Play online store and through Best Buy’s and
Currys PC World’s websites. (And they’ll be available to use,
but not buy, inside some Best Buys and Currys.) That won’t be
Google has been attempting to sell various Nexus products through
their online stores for years now. The results have ranged from
some success (Nexus 4) to fail (Nexus One) to major fail (Nexus
Q). The Best Buy results seem mixed as well. While Chromebooks are
finally seeing some traction, it’s still minimal despite the
reach of Best Buy.
What Google needs for these products is what Apple needed a decade
ago: their own stores that they’re in complete control of to
showcase their products.
The one that most demands a retail presence is Google Glass. The bottom line: a physical presence makes a lot of sense when you’re trying to sell physical products.
Palm OS as a Precursor to iOS ★
I was a big a fan of Palm OS back in the day (I carried a Handspring Visor for a year or two), so I certainly didn’t mean to imply here that the iPhone was the first device to use a home screen that was just a grid of app icons. (Palm wasn’t first, either.) I’d still argue that the iOS “system” interface is simpler — fewer hardware buttons, for example — but the fact that Palm had something so brilliantly simple so long ago shows just how badly they bungled their evolution.
Galaxy S3 Bug Results in Crashing When Text Is Copied ★
First reported to Samsung back in October, still a problem. You’d think if anyone would have a Copy function that worked perfectly, it’d be Samsung. (Via Terence Eden.)
Sony Holds PlayStation 4 Press Event, Doesn’t Show PlayStation 4 ★
What was the bigger shitshow: Sony holding a long press event for a device they didn’t show and wouldn’t give a shipping date or price for? Or the gadget blogs that devoted hours of coverage to this?
Claim Chowder: ‘iPhone Dead in Water’ ★
Henry Blodget, back in April 2011, declaring the iPhone “dead in the water”:
Importantly, it’s not a question of which platform is “better.”
(This is irrelevant.) It’s a question of which platform everyone
else uses. And increasingly, in the smartphone market, barring a
radical change in trend, that’s Android.
So that’s why Android’s gains matter. And, yes, Apple fans should
be scared to death about them.
Strategy Analytics, earlier today:
The data show that Apple’s iPhone 5 overtook Samsung’s Galaxy S3
by some 12 million units in the last quarter of 2012 to become the
world’s bestselling smartphone.
That’s not terribly surprising. What is surprising is that
according to Strategy Analytics the iPhone 4S — discounted by
Apple when the new model came out — also overtook the Galaxy S3.
‘I Don’t Really Know How to Write This Letter’ ★
Letters of Note:
After adapting Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange for the big
screen, Kubrick brought Burgess on-board to write a
Beethoven-inspired Napoleon novel on which his epic could be
In June of 1972, Burgess supplied the filmmaker with the first
half of his manuscript; Kubrick rejected it by way of the
following letter, thus ending the collaboration.
Android First ★
ShiftyJelly, on launching version 4.0 of their podcasting app for Android first:
Pocket Casts on Android has outsold the iOS version historically
at about 5:1. That means for every 1 iOS version we’ve sold, 5
were sold on Android. The Android version also costs $1 more, so
we’re making more per transaction as well. The reasons for this
are a blog post on their own, but it’s a fact.
On Android there is no native podcasting solution, and we see a
massive potential to fill that space. There are other apps out
there, but we feel we have what it takes to become the dominant
podcasting app on that platform.
Makes sense, given that they’re making significantly more money from the Android version. That’s not a story you hear often, though. (Via Benedikt Winkelmayer.)
Google Releases New Preview of Glass ★
I don’t get the appeal of this other than as a network-connected head-mounted camera, which I personally have no need for. If you have a phone in your pocket, why wear this? And it doesn’t seem to replace the need to carry a phone. Whole thing still seems very vaporous to me. (And count me in with David Chartier regarding the pricing and availability.)
iPhoneDevSDK Admins Didn’t Know Site Was Booby-Trapped ★
iPhoneDevSDK — the site apparently responsible for the hacks at
Facebook, Apple, and Twitter — says it was not aware it was being
used to attack visitors until it read press reports this week. In
a news post (do not click if you’re wary of security breaches) on
Wednesday, site admins said they had no knowledge of the breach
and were not contacted by any of the affected companies. Though,
iPhoneDevSDK is now working with Facebook’s security team in order
to share information about what happened.
Headline of the Day ★
Ars Technica: “Two-Year-Old Phone Receives 15-Month-Old Software Update”.
OAuth and Changing Your Twitter Password ★
When Twitter was recently hacked, I was among those who got an
email saying I was affected. So I changed my password.
But here’s what I’ve noticed: changing my password does not cause
any of the Twitter clients on my iPhone to ask me again for
authentication. They just keep working normally. […]
I understand that OAuth is a security win in some ways. But
implementors should, I think, be mindful of what normal people
expect — which is that changing your password locks out every app
until you re-authenticate.
Innovation Through Simplicity ★
“iHKDesign” ably responds to this jacktastic CNN piece by Steve Kovach, arguing that Samsung is “out-innovating” Apple. This bit (from Kovach) caught my eye:
Based on all this evidence, Apple feels behind. Take a look at its
newest fourth-generation iPad. It has a killer processor and other
great hardware features, but the operating system doesn’t take
advantage of any of that. The home screen is still just a grid of
static icons that launch apps.
Kovach’s whole piece is inane, but the above criticism — that iOS’s home screen is behind because it’s “just a grid of static icons” — is one I’ve seen from other, more reasonable critics. Such a mindset completely ignores simplicity and obviousness as benefits. The utter simplicity and obviousness of the iOS “system”, from a user’s standpoint, is arguably the primary reason iPhones and iPads are so popular. Is such simplicity for everyone? No. Is it suitable for all computers? No. But it is both comforting and comfortable for everyone who’s spent the last two decades more confused than not by their computers.
The utter simplicity of the iOS home screen is Apple’s innovation. It’s the simplest, most obvious “system” ever designed. It is a false and foolish but widespread misconception that “innovation” goes only in the direction of additional complexity.
Removing Duplicates From the Finder’s ‘Open With’ Menu ★
Nice tip from Dr. Drang.
Google’s War Against Account Hijackers ★
Google security engineer Mike Hearn:
With stolen passwords in hand, attackers attempt to break into
accounts across the web and across many different services. We’ve
seen a single attacker using stolen passwords to attempt to break
into a million different Google accounts every single day, for
weeks at a time. A different gang attempted sign-ins at a rate of
more than 100 accounts per second. Other services are often more
vulnerable to this type of attack, but when someone tries to log
into your Google Account, our security system does more than just
check that a password is correct.
If a sign-in is deemed suspicious or risky for some reason — maybe it’s coming from a country oceans away from your last
sign-in — we ask some simple questions about your account. For
example, we may ask for the phone number associated with your
account, or for the answer to your security question. These
questions are normally hard for a hijacker to solve, but are easy
for the real owner. Using security measures like these, we’ve
dramatically reduced the number of compromised accounts by 99.7
percent since the peak of these hijacking attempts in 2011.
Mike Isaac has identified the site responsible for the recent spate of hacking exploits against Apple, Facebook, and Twitter:
The site is called iPhonedevSdk, according to sources close to the
Facebook hacking investigation. After Facebook employees visited
the mobile development site in recent weeks, malicious code
injected into the HTML of the site used an exploit in Oracle’s
Java plugin to infect employee laptops, as the company divulged
last Friday. […]
Of note: Do not visit this site, as it may continue to be
compromised. While it’s potentially risky to publicize the web
site, AllThingsD is providing the name to inform readers, mobile
developers and organizations interested in mobile development in
order to keep them from becoming infected.
The site has a Twitter account, but hasn’t posted since June.
Gender Divide in Tablet Size ★
Darren Murph, writing from the AllThingsD Dive Into Media conference:
Kafka then asked about the subscription split, and where the iPad
fit into that mix. Carey’s response? “The iPad is the dominant
player, because the volume is there. What Barnes & Noble and
Amazon figured out early was the 7-inch screen. Our men’s products
did well on the 10-inch iPad, but our women’s products did not.
But, they did really well on the 7-inch units — something that
you can easily slip into your purse. We saw the 7-inch devices
having more traction with women, while the larger 10-inch devices
had more traction with men. We’re really happy that Apple
introduced the iPad mini, and we’re awaiting the most recent
numbers on how our publications are doing on that.” When Kafka
specifically asked about Android traction, Carey added: “Google
Play isn’t the biggest storefront at this point, but we want to
work with everyone.”
New York City MTA Graphic Standards Manual ★
This style manual, written by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda for
Unimark, is the sword in the stone of transit wayfinding manuals.
Andrew Kim’s Sony RX1 Review ★
Another good review.
Reuters: Apple Hit by Hackers Who Targeted Facebook Last Week ★
Jim Finkle and Joseph Menn:
Apple, which is working with law enforcement to track down the
hackers, told Reuters that only a small number of its employees’
Macintosh computers were breached, but “there was no evidence that
any data left Apple.”
The iPhone and iPad maker said it would release a software tool
later on Tuesday to protect customers against the malicious
software used in the attacks.
The recent Java exploit is the root of these recent attacks.
Update: A bit more detail, in a statement Apple provided to Jim Dalrymple at The Loop.
HTC One’s Camera ★
Alexandra Chang, writing for Wired Gadget Lab:
The most exciting is “Zoe” mode (from which the camera gets its
name). Zoe lets you take full-resolution videos while
simultaneously taking full-resolution still photos in burst mode.
Shoot a video and the camera is taking photos for you. […]
This is by far the most useful addition to a smartphone camera.
You can return to a video and literally scroll through the images,
select one and save it to your camera roll or share it. Instead of
pulling a low-res screenshot, you can pull a full-res photo of the
exact moment you want.
Sounds like a great feature. Interesting too, that HTC has gone with fewer but bigger pixels on the camera sensor — this almost certainly makes for better images, but at the expense of a lower megapixel count.
Sounds Familiar ★
Dan Seifert of The Verge, on HTC’s new flagship One phone (sporting a 4.7-inch 1920 x 1080 display with a remarkable 468 pixels-per-inch density):
But instead of having a soft-touch plastic body, the One features
an all aluminum design that is not unlike the iPhone 5 […]
But how do the antennas work if the casing is aluminum? Matt Brian at The Next Web writes:
Developing the One, HTC has opted for an all metal unibody chassis
that measures 9mm at its thickest point. Not only does it feel
sturdy in the hand, the company says it has been able to use 12
years of R&D to incorporate all its antennae into the metal, using
a complex system of patented technologies to automatically utilise
antennae not obscured by your hand when you use it.
Back to The Verge:
Oddly enough, HTC felt that the three capacitive buttons that it
used on its 2012 Android phones were one too many, and it has
pared it down to just two for the One (one on each side of the HTC
logo below the display). The button that got the axe is the
multitasking key, which HTC believes is not used by most Android
customers. We tend to disagree on how important the dedicated
multitasking key is (as would most of our readers, we imagine),
but HTC has now buried the function behind a double-tap of the
home key. Similarly hidden is Google Now, which requires you to
long press on the home button.
Aluminum casing with antennas integrated in the exterior? Long press the home button to get a voice-driven interface, double-tap the home button to bring up the multitasking switcher? Can’t quite put my finger on where I’ve seen these things before.
Unit 61398: The Computer-Hacking Division of China’s Military ★
The NYT reports:
An unusually detailed 60-page study, to be released Tuesday by
Mandiant, an American computer security firm, tracks for the first
time individual members of the most sophisticated of the Chinese
hacking groups — known to many of its victims in the United
States as “Comment Crew” or “Shanghai Group” — to the doorstep of
the military unit’s headquarters. The firm was not able to place
the hackers inside the 12-story building, but makes a case there
is no other plausible explanation for why so many attacks come out
of one comparatively small area.
“Either they are coming from inside Unit 61398,” said Kevin
Mandia, the founder and chief executive of Mandiant, in an
interview last week, “or the people who run the most-controlled,
most-monitored Internet networks in the world are clueless about
thousands of people generating attacks from this one
Samsung SodaStream Refrigerator ★
First time I’ve ever been excited about a new product from Samsung.
James Duncan Davidson Reviews the Sony RX1 Camera ★
James Duncan Davidson:
The Sony RX1 is as expensive as a full-frame SLR, yet small enough
to fit in a jacket pocket or a smallish bag or purse with ease. It
pairs one of the best full-frame sensors made to date with an
amazing lens that has few peers, yet carries a commodity
Cyber-shot label. From more than a few feet away, it looks fairly
ordinary. Maybe even quaint. Close-up and in hand, however, the
fit and finish is exquisite. It’s a study in juxtapositions.
I got to use one for an hour or so last month; it’s a remarkable camera.
Google Reportedly Planning Retail Stores ★
Nice scoop by Seth Weintraub:
An extremely reliable source has confirmed to us that Google is in
the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the U.S. and
hopes to have the first flagship Google Stores open for the
holidays in major metropolitan areas.
The mission of the stores is to get new Google Nexus, Chrome, and
especially upcoming products into the hands of prospective
The WSJ backed up the story yesterday.
The iPhone Plus DPI Argument ★
I don’t think they need to wait until they can go to “4X”
Retina density (in fact, I question whether that will ever be
worth the battery cost), I don’t think they’ll care if it’s
not exactly 720P, and they sure won’t give a damn that some
Android phones shipped with higher-DPI screens and got worse GPU
performance and worse battery life as a result.
I agree with every word of this one. The same people arguing that Apple “can’t” release a mere 264 PPI iPhone in a market with 300+ PPI Android phones (and the 326 iPhone 5 and 4(S)) are the same people who, last year, argued that Apple “couldn’t” ship a 163 PPI iPad Mini in a market with the 200-something PPI Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire.
‘A Simple Little Browser’ ★
From a 2003 CNet story, just after Apple’s release of first version of Safari:
Specifically, [Opera CEO Jon von] Tetzchner said that he had asked
Apple whether it would be willing to license Opera either to
replace KHTML, or to supplement the current Safari version, which
Apple said is a stripped-down affair with a minimalist interface
and limited feature set.
“We have contacted Apple and asked them if they want a
third-party browser, and we’ll see what the answer is,” Tetzchner
said. “They could say we want to use Opera as the core engine. If
they want KHTML as a simple little browser, and also something
more advanced, we would be happy to provide it. Obviously, if we
don’t get any positive signs from Apple, then we have to think
I guess they’ve thought about it.
Anyway, called it.
Must Have Touched a Nerve ★
I just read Daring Fireball’s short so-called « analysis » of
the Opera switch to WebKit. Even I perfectly know that guy is
almost only an Apple PR guy, I’m again surprised by his limited
ability to analyse a situation. The only question that is worth it
is the following one: whatever is the strategic rationale that led
to that choice, it’s obvious Opera had the choice between
open-sourcing Presto to build a larger community around it and
ditching it in favor of an already open-sourced rendering engine.
So why did they choose the latter?
Here’s my piece he’s referring to. Not sure how a single word of it is about Apple at all. Anyway, open-sourcing Presto wouldn’t have solved any of Opera’s problems. Gecko has been open source all along and it too has fallen far behind WebKit. It’s pretty clear why Opera chose to switch to WebKit: WebKit is better, especially on mobile devices, and its lead is growing.
(Also, anyone else get the feeling the Mozilla guys wouldn’t be so worried about a browser engine monoculture if Gecko had won the war?)
Update: Glazman also writes:
And in terms of WebKit better than Presto, well, Opera has always
been a better player with respect to standards than Apple.
In which case, Opera’s involvement with WebKit should help make WebKit even more standards-compliant. I fail to see a problem here.
Posterous Shitting Down in April ★
Sorry, I meant shutting down.
My thanks to Securifi for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote the Kickstarter project for Almond+, the follow-up to their popular and highly-regarded Almond Wi-Fi router. Almond is the top-rated router on Amazon (number two is Apple’s Airport Extreme), and Almond+ looks to be a better product in every way.
Almond+ offers a touchscreen UI for configuration — no need for a Mac or PC for setting it up or making changes — easy home automation, fast gigabit ethernet speeds, powerful signal range, and all the latest Wi-Fi standards. It’s a really nice hardware design too, suitable both for mounting on a wall or being placed on a table or shelf. All this for just $99 — reserve yours on Kickstarter today.
Surface Pro 128 GB Immediately Sells Out ★
Based on the many emails I’ve received, it paid to shop early
online. I heard from several readers who purchased the 128 GB
version of the Surface Pro from Microsoft’s online store just
after midnight ET and were able to complete the sale. But those
who woke up and tried to purchase one at a normal hour were
thwarted: The Surface Pro 128 GB is now listed as “out of stock”
at the Microsoft Store and Staples. At the time of this writing,
Best Buy reports having them for sale, but readers who attempted
this purchase tell me this isn’t the case.
Those who show up at Microsoft retail store locations are
reporting “Apple-like” lines.
Maybe they should have gone 128/256 instead of 64/128 — seems like people are willing to pay for the extra storage on the Pro, and it would have helped differentiate the Pro from the Surface RT. (Would love to see some photographs of those “Apple-like lines”, though.)
Update: Virtual Pants:
My local (Northern Virginia) Microsoft store sold out in 15
minutes, which means there wasn’t much to sell. The local Best Buy
sold out too, but only received one unit. The local Staples
received and sold a whopping two units. Selling out on launch day
doesn’t mean very much when there isn’t anything to sell in the
It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft announces opening weekend sales numbers in a few days.
Tesla Model S vs. the East Coast ★
John M. Broder, test-driving a Model S on the east coast in winter:
I began following Tesla’s range-maximization guidelines, which
meant dispensing with such battery-draining amenities as warming
the cabin and keeping up with traffic. I turned the climate
control to low — the temperature was still in the 30s — and
planted myself in the far right lane with the cruise control set
at 54 miles per hour (the speed limit is 65). Buicks and
18-wheelers flew past, their drivers staring at the
nail-polish-red wondercar with California dealer plates.
Nearing New York, I made the first of several calls to Tesla
officials about my creeping range anxiety. The woman who had
delivered the car told me to turn off the cruise control; company
executives later told me that advice was wrong. All the while, my
feet were freezing and my knuckles were turning white.
The Porsche 911: An Ode to Iteration ★
50 years of iterative refinement.
John E. Karlin, Designer of the 20th Century Telephone, Dies at 94 ★
Margalit Fox, writing for the NYT:
And when, not long afterward, the dial gave way to push buttons,
new questions arose: round buttons, or square? How big should they
be? Most crucially, how should they be arrayed? In a circle? A
rectangle? An arc?
For decades after World War II, these questions were studied by a
group of social scientists and engineers in New Jersey led by one
man, a Bell Labs industrial psychologist named John E. Karlin.
Love the bit about the white dots on rotary phones.
Apple’s Biggest Problem: Retention of Talent ★
Dan Frommer tweeted:
This is not at all a scientific study, but most of the Apple
employees I follow on Twitter have quit within the last ~9
Methinks Guy English’s #3 problem that Apple faces should have been #1:
If there’s a problem for Apple it’s that they’ve already invented
the future. It’s a done deal. The best and brightest engineers and
product managers may move on to other ventures. Less likely to
succeed, of course, but that’s less of an issue for them given the
rainfall of AAPL gains. We’ll have to see what happens.
To be clear, this is not an exodus. Far from it. But it’s a continuous challenge for the company to retain the enormous number of talented people it employs.
Let’s Make Mistakes ★
No new episode of The Talk Show this week, but to fill the void, may I suggest the latest episode of Mike Monteiro and Leah Reich’s Let’s Make Mistakes, with special guests John Moltz (my wife) and Amy Gruber (my other wife). You can also catch Amy guesting on the latest episode of Dave Wiskus’s Unprofessional, which was recorded live on stage during Macworld Expo last week.
Click to Flash in Chrome ★
Another good tip for minimizing Flash but keeping it around for when you really do need it.
Trailer for ‘Room 237’ ★
Not sure how the trailer for a documentary about The Shining could be any better than this. (If you’ve never seen the trailer for The Shining, watch that first.)
Flickr’s Comeback ★
Thanks to bureaucracy and inaction, Flickr missed out on the
mobile and social revolutions that have defined the last five
years. Meanwhile, Instagram became the billion-dollar
photo-sharing service and Facebook became, well, a company that
could afford to buy a billion-dollar photo-sharing service. […]
Flickr could have been Yahoo’s Instagram, or maybe even Facebook.
Instead, it became its Friendster — a reminder of a bygone era
and what could have been but never was.
But something funny happened.
Webstock 2013 ★
A week from now, I’ll be speaking at Webstock 2013, in beautiful Wellington New Zealand. I spoke there two years ago, and I don’t hesitate to call it the best conference I’ve ever attended. Everything about it was great: city, venue, speakers, attendees, hosts. This year’s lineup of speakers is crazy good: Jim Coudal, Michael Lopp, Mike Monteiro, Bruce Sterling, just to name a few.
There’s a handful of seats still available for the conference (as well as for some of the workshops earlier in the week); if you can swing it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Adobe Issues Emergency Flash Update for Attacks on Windows, Mac Users ★
Adobe Systems has released a patch for two Flash player
vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited online to
surreptitiously install malware, one in attacks that target users
of Apple’s Macintosh platform.
If you somehow think you need Flash Player on your Mac, you have to update. But consider that you probably don’t. I wrote “Going Flash-Free on Mac OS X, and How to Cheat When You Need It” back in November 2010, and have been using that strategy ever since. A few years down the road now, I encounter fewer and fewer “only works with Flash” online videos.
So the big new app of the day, deservedly so, is Orchestra’s Mailbox. It’s an email client, currently iPhone-only and limited to Gmail accounts. It’s a well done, good-looking app with some innovative ideas. Because of those ideas, though, using Mailbox requires granting Orchestra access to your email account — the app talks to Orchestra’s server, and Orchestra’s server talks to Gmail. So, clearly, there are some trust/security implications to consider. But that’s how they can do push notifications, for example. That server-side component, however, has forced them to roll out access to the app slowly. Sign up now, you’ll get access later, as they slowly grow their user base. As of today the list is hundreds of thousands of users long.
I’m a lucky bastard and have had access to the beta for a few months. The bottom line for me is that it’s an app I greatly admire, but won’t use personally. For one thing, it’s too Gmail centric. But I can see how a lot of people will really like it, especially people who primarily use email through one main Gmail account.
Lex Friedman has an effusive review at Macworld; he’s sold on it. (I was probably never in the target audience for Mailbox — personally, I really like iOS’s built-in Mail app.)
Ed Bott on Surface Pro and MacBook Air Storage Space ★
Microsoft has been pummeled by critics this week over supposedly
inadequate storage space in its new Surface Pro. But those
criticisms are horribly flawed. Big surprise: when you do the disk
space math, Surface Pro and MacBook Air are practically twins.
Good piece. I sort of can’t believe Apple is still selling the Air in a 64 GB configuration. The truth is that the Surface Pro is a MacBook Air competitor with some iPad/tablet-like features. But when people look at it, they see an iPad competitor with some PC-like features. Hence the mockery regarding how much storage space the OS consumes on the Surface Pro.
The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards ★
Make your browser window big.
What Happens If You Count Tablets as PCs? ★
You get Apple as the world’s number one PC maker.
(We have to take these numbers as ballpark estimates, of course, because companies like Samsung and Amazon do not report sales numbers. Analysts have to estimate them. This report is from Canalys, and they peg Amazon’s Kindle tablet sales at 4.6 million for last quarter. But here’s a report from IDC covering the exact same quarter, claiming 6.0 million tablets for Amazon. A million or two tablets here or there isn’t that big a deal to Apple, because they’re selling around 20 million iPads per quarter, but it’s a significant difference for companies like Samsung or Amazon, who are (seemingly) selling single-digit millions per quarter. But, no matter how loose these estimates are, if tablets are counted as PCs, there is no debate that Apple is number one by a long shot.)
Pickpocket Extraordinaire Apollo Robbins on The Today Show ★
I can’t get enough of this guy.
Language Log: ‘The Cyberpragmatics of Bounding Asterisks’ ★
Ben Zimmer at Language Log takes my piece on bounding asterisks and runs with it, brilliantly:
Now let’s skip ahead to Internet usage. Gruber characterized the
use of bounding asterisks in online communication as a form of
emphasis, but pragmatically it’s a bit more complex than that.
True, bounding asterisks can emphasize a word or words in
plain-text messages where italics and bolding are unavailable, but
the legacy of the comic strips points in another direction — the
use of bounding asterisks to signal non-verbal noises or actions
as a kind of self-describing stage direction. […]
What’s fascinating about these asterisked stage directions is that
they have moved well beyond the onomatopoetic coughs, gulps, and
sighs of the comic strips into more complex actions stated in the
third person, such as *jumps up and
So there’s nearly century-old precedent in comics for asterisk-like symbols to denote onomatopoetic expressions — sigh, cough, gasp, etc. — but this usage never made its way into print typography until after it became commonplace online. But where it’s used in print is not as a Markdown-like alternative to italics in general, but specifically as an alternative to italics to denote stage-like actions on the part of the writer. (Yes, Pogue’s *cough*s made it into today’s print edition of The Times.)
This trend suggests that type designers should perhaps stop creating asterisks that appear quasi-superscripted, as though presumed for use to denote a footnote. Asterisks should be bigger and sit on the baseline — like other common punctuation characters (@, #, %, &) — to better work with this bracketing style.
Update: Some readers are arguing that even in this usage, asterisks should remain superscript-y, to make them more like quotation marks. I can see that argument, but to my mind this asterisk usage functions more like parenthetical brackets than quote marks. (For another, not all languages use English-style quotation punctuation. In European languages that use «guillemets», a baseline-sitting asterisk would seem natural.)
Android Fragmentation as a Security Problem ★
Craig Timberg, reporting for The Washington Post:
In late October, researchers at North Carolina State University
alerted Google to a security flaw that could let scam artists send
phony text messages to Android phones — a practice called
“smishing” that can ensnare consumers in fraud.
Google’s security officials replied in minutes, confirming the
flaw and promising to correct it. Within days they had
incorporated a fix into the latest version of the Android
operating system, Jelly Bean 4.2, and made available a security
update for earlier versions.
But for most Android phones, the fix never arrived. For many, it
Handset Profit Share: 72 Percent for Apple, 29 for Samsung, Zilch for the Rest ★
Rather astounding numbers from Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley:
Apple took home 72% of the profits with only 21.7% of unit sales
(up from 15.4% in Q3).
Samsung’s 29% of the profits came from 28.9% of unit sales (down
from 32.3% in Q3).
The press and investor community have been hammering for the last few months on the idea that Apple is in trouble because the iPhone is under increasing pressure from Samsung. They’re right about one thing: Samsung is doing well. But Samsung isn’t hurting Apple; what they’re doing is destroying all of the also-rans. Apple lives in the high-profit premium range of the market; that’s why their profit share so greatly exceeds their unit sale market share. This is the fallacy of the Church of Market Share — all unit sales are not created equal.
Samsung plays the game the traditional way, where its profit share is very much aligned with its unit sale market share — 29 percent of the units sold, 29 percent of the profits. But what Samsung has done is suck up all the oxygen in the market underneath Apple. But I would bet that the symmetry between Samsung’s market and profit shares is misleading — my guess is that Samsung makes the majority of its profits from a minority of its unit sales, the high-end Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note, etc.
Update: Lots of readers on Twitter are confused by the fact that 72 + 29 = 101. These are rounded numbers; I presume Walkley’s numbers came to around 71.5 for Apple and 28.5 for Samsung. Update 2: Or perhaps Apple and Samsung do, combined, account for more than 100 percent of the industry’s profits, because the rest, combined, are in the hole?
The Verge: ‘Microsoft’s New Xbox Will Include Improved Siri-Like Speech Recognition’ ★
I’ll bet headlines like this drive speech recognition experts — whose work predates Siri by decades — batty. But it speaks to the power of Siri’s brand.
British House of Commons Approves Gay Marriage ★
There’s no reason for the U.S. to fall behind in this race.
‘Real’ Software ★
David Pogue, in his (quite positive) review of the Surface Pro:
Everybody knows what a tablet is, right? It’s a black touch-screen
slab, like an iPad or an Android tablet. It doesn’t run real
Windows or Mac software — it runs much simpler apps. It’s not a
That’s the same shortsighted opinion that command-line DOS advocates had of the Mac in the ’80s. Anyone who thinks OS X and Windows PCs are “real” computers and that the iPad (and Android tablets) are anything less just isn’t getting it. There are many valid ways to fill in the blank in “The iPad doesn’t run ____ software”, but “real” isn’t one.
Will Ferrell’s Super Bowl Ad for Old Milwaukee ★
Hard to believe this only ran in three cities. Easily the best commercial I’ve seen this year.
Vine Now Rated 17+ ★
I don’t understand this piece by Mike Isaac and John Paczkowski, “Nudged by Apple, Twitter’s Porn Saga Ends in a Raw Deal for Vine”:
That gnarly porno found on Vine was all too easily surfaced in the
app, due in part to the nature of the service itself. Search a
hashtag keyword for sex, penis or what have you, and you’ll be
taken straight to the hardcore stuff. That’s not as easy to find
in, say, YouTube, which has a more mature engine for filtering out
objectionable content. Or even Tumblr (though Tumblr is also rated
17+ in the App Store).
The prudish Apple can deal with the fact that yes, we are human,
and yes, we watch porn (lots of it). And to some degree, it will
always exist across the Internet. It’s a fact of life. But what
Apple can’t deal with is said porn front and center, easily
discoverable for any and all to see. It’s why SnapChat has a 12+
rating, and why Vine doesn’t.
In other words, think of yourself as a teenager to Apple’s
repressed mother — you hide your porn under your mattress. You
don’t leave it out on the coffee table.
I don’t understand how Apple is being prudish or giving Vine a “raw deal” here. If pornographic content is easy to find on Vine — and Isaac and Paczkowski agree that it is — how is 17+ not the appropriate rating? If Apple removed Vine from the App Store, pending some sort of de-porn-ification on Vine’s back end (no pun intended), I could see that being called a “raw deal”, or prudishness/censorship on Apple’s part.
An adult rating for adult content. How is that not exactly how it should be?
Margin Call ★
Horace Dediu, on Apple’s drop in margin last quarter:
Relative to adjusted 4th quarter 2011 Sales increased by 27% while
Cost of Sales increased by 30.5%. Margins shrank in late 2012
because the products were more expensive to make.
It’s simple arithmetic.
We can at a glance see that the cost of sales increased as a
proportion of sales. Therefore the margin decreased as a percent
of sales. The cause is higher costs, not lower pricing.
Or lower demand, which many people apparently still think is Apple’s problem.
Canada Drops the Penny ★
There’s no reason for the U.S. to fall behind in this race.
Apple Is… ★
Alex Gollner examines the nine different ways Apple has described itself in its press releases since 1995. The biggest change, no surprise, is from biz-dev bullshit to plain English, four days before Steve Jobs became CEO in September 1997. Also interesting: as the company has gotten bigger, its description of itself has gotten simpler.
How We’ll Know When Google Play Really Has Caught Up to the iOS App Store ★
Where is Android’s Angry Birds? Or its Instagram?
Yes, obviously the game and the photo app are both on Android now.
But where’s Android’s killer, break-out (non-Google, for obvious
reasons) app that explodes on the platform and leaves iOS users
clamoring for it? Vine, for instance, is the buzzy mobile app of
the moment, and as is par for the course for these things, it’s
Yours truly, back in November 2010: “Where Are the Android Killer Apps?” Still waiting.
Simple Bracket ★
Kickstarter campaign by Studio Neat (of Glif and Cosmonaut fame) to launch a gorgeous March Madness bracket management iPhone app. You owe it to yourself to watch the video through to the end.
Should Apple Follow Netflix’s Lead and Produce Its Own Movies and Shows? ★
Bryan M. Wolfe, writing for AppAdvice:
Going forward, Apple could learn a lot from Netflix. With all the
talk of a rumored Apple television, perhaps Apple should consider
getting into the television production business, or at least
partnering with someone else. After all, it is in Apple’s DNA to
control all aspects of whatever they produce.
Just imagine the excitement were Apple to release an actual
television that came with original programming. I bet that it
would be huge, for example, if Apple would work with Disney’s
Pixar to create original children’s programming only available on
Not an outlandish idea. But Apple makes its money selling hardware and building platforms. Why should Apple compete with HBO and Netflix when, as it stands now, they can provide access on their platforms to both HBO and Netflix? Apple’s interests are aligned differently than Netflix’s.
The converse of this is why Netflix abandoned its plans to build its own set top hardware box, instead spun it off to Roku.
Update: It also occurs to me that hypothetical Apple-produced content would likely be rated no older than PG. You’re not going to see House of Cards from Apple.
Lex Friedman and his fellow Macworld staffers poke holes in a scammy exhibitor at Macworld/iWorld. Crazy story.
HP Issues Statement on Dell’s Leveraged Buyout Plan ★
Official statement from HP:
Dell has a very tough road ahead. The company faces an extended
period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its
customers. And with a significant debt load, Dell’s ability to
invest in new products and services will be extremely limited.
Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation
at the curb. We believe Dell’s customers will now be eager to
explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that
No love lost between these two, that’s for sure.
Instagram Feed Now Available on the Web ★
Not bad at all. But I’m surprised they didn’t do a proper iPad app first. Now they’re in the weird position where, for iPad users, Instagram looks and works better on the web than it does in the Instagram app.
That Dell Quote ★
Carl Franzen, writing for TPM:
Back in 1997, when Dell was still reporting major growth (despite
not selling PCs through retail channels at the time), Dell’s CEO
was asked about what a then-struggling Apple, Inc. should do to
right itself. As Dell told an audience at the Gartner Symposium in
Orlando, Florida (in words immortalized by CNET):
“What would I do? I’d shut it [Apple] down and give the money back
to the shareholders.”
Asked about Dell’s comments 16 years later in the context of
Dell’s privatization effort, a Dell spokesperson gave TPM the
“That comment has been taken out of context and is not relevant.”
By which they mean, “We need a drink.”
Why Michael Dell Took Dell Private ★
Ashlee Vance, writing for Businessweek:
The worst-case scenario for Michael Dell would have occurred if an
activist shareholder had gotten into the mix. Dell would have
faced the prospect of being kicked out of the company that bears
his name. I’m certain this is why Dell went private. Dell, Silver
Lake, and Microsoft get a company that pumps out enough cash to
keep all parties happy, while Michael Dell shields himself from
being berated by analysts, investors, and the media. Best of all,
he gets to keep his company.
I’m curious to see how Microsoft’s $2 billion investment in this deal will play out with all the other Windows OEMs. It’s one thing for them to get into bed with Nokia, in a market where Microsoft was floundering, but another for them to get into bed with a particular PC maker.
Google Trends: Droid vs. Galaxy ★
Re: my offhand remark yesterday that Verizon seemingly isn’t pushing its Droid brand as hard as it was a few years ago, this Benedict Evans tweet got me poking around Google Trends. Decidedly non-scientific, but the trend lines jibe with my hunch: Galaxy interest is going up, Droid interest down.
I linked to a U.S.-only chart, because Verizon is a U.S. carrier. Here are the numbers worldwide (which suggests the hottest spots for Galaxy interest are Indonesia and India), and for comparison, a U.S. chart and worldwide chart that include the terms “iPhone” and “iPad”.
Bobby Grasberger, regarding Matt McGee’s methodology for counting Twitter references in Super Bowl commercials:
All 26 of his “Twitter mentions” included hashtags. But many of
the hashtags were platform agnostic: not accompanied by a
In fact, by my count only 3/26 of the hashtags were accompanied
by a Twitter logo. That means the other 88% (23/26) could just as
easily be credited to Instagram, Google+ or, most appropriately,
all three major hashtag-supporting platforms.
Fascinating, really, that when it comes to punctuation-character-prefixed social media network jargon, “#SloganHere” hashtags are now seemingly far more common in advertising than “@CompanyName” account names. I do think the fact that they work across both Twitter and Instagram is a factor here.
Update: Great point by Matthew Hunt:
The interesting part to me is hashtag = “you should talk about
us”, vs. old “go here to see what we have to say”.
Something Has Clearly Gone Wrong ★
Strategy Analytics report on U.S. phone market share:
According to our Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service, mobile
phone shipments grew 4 percent annually to reach 52 million units
in the United States during the fourth quarter of 2012. Apple
became the number one mobile phone vendor for the first time ever,
capturing a record 34 percent market share.
That’s not number one “smartphone” vendor. That’s number one phone vendor, period. According to NPD, one of three phones shipped in the U.S. last quarter was an iPhone. NPD puts Apple at number one in the U.S. in “smartphone” sales, although Samsung has tightened that race. But keep in mind that Samsung’s line of “smartphone” includes a lot of low-end junk, not just high-end Galaxy and Note units.
In terms of usage, Net Marketshare still has iOS with a massive mobile web browser share lead over Android. None of these numbers square with the “something has clearly gone wrong at Apple” belief.
Nokia Reviews the Nokia Lumia 620 ★
They like it.
Designers Running Amok ★
Specifically, Kedrosky thinks that, in the power-vacuum following
Steve Jobs’ death, the design team, led by Jony Ive, have been
given too much latitude — such that Apple is now designing
products that it is not capable of manufacturing as smoothly and
quickly as it needs to to meet demand.
Yeah, it’s not like Apple ever had problems meeting demand with new products when Steve Jobs was in charge. The white iPhone 4 came out right on schedule.
Update: Let’s get serious for a second. Here’s the final paragraph from Blodget:
In any case, something has clearly gone wrong at Apple. And this
is an interesting theory about what that is.
That pretty much summarizes what’s driving the current wave of Apple jackassery: start with the “fact” that something has gone wrong with Apple, then speculate about just what that is. Apple has real problems, isn’t perfect, and faces numerous serious competitors — but it, like every company, has always had problems, has never been perfect, and has faced serious competitors. The error in this line of thinking is that something has “gone wrong” for Apple in the last year or two. The truth is, most things have gone exactly right for Apple for the last 10 years.
Something has clearly gone wrong, but it’s with the perception of Apple, not with Apple itself.
Matt McGee, writing for Marketing Land:
According to my count, Twitter was mentioned in 26 of 52 national
TV commercials — that’s 50 percent of the spots that aired during
CBS’ game coverage. Facebook was mentioned in only four of those
commercials — about eight percent. Google+, which is reportedly
the No. 2 social network in the world, wasn’t mentioned at all.
This is a huge change from last year’s Super Bowl, when Twitter
and Facebook both tied with only eight mentions out of a total of
59 counted national commercials.
Twitter’s rise as a mainstream mass market platform is rather staggering. It doesn’t get any more mass market than being mentioned in 50 percent of Super Bowl commercials. But why the drop for Facebook? My guess: marketers are no longer hedging their bets, and have decided that Twitter is the network they should put their weight behind. Also: Twitter has hashtags, Facebook doesn’t, and “#SomeMessageHere” is how a lot of these pointers to Twitter are being made.
Technical Analysis of the First Untethered Jailbreak Exploit for iOS 6 ★
Putting the politics of jailbreaking aside, I don’t see how anyone can deny the cleverness of what the jailbreak developers accomplish.
Galaxy Versus Android at the Super Bowl ★
Third, and most interesting to me, though, is the fact that
Samsung really doesn’t talk about Android at all in its marketing — which now has a $14bn run-rate budget (around 13-14× Apple). A
lot of Samsung marketing for Android devices doesn’t even mention
Just me, or do we not see as much Droid advertising from Verizon any more, either?
More on a 5-Inch iPhone and Scaling the Interface ★
If you think of the iPad mini as a tablet that’s using phone
density, then the big iPhone is just a phone using tablet density.
You have phone interface at high density, phone interface at
less-high density, tablet interface at high density, tablet
interface at less-high density.
Then, just like there’s an 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air, and a 13-
and 15-inch MacBook Pro, there’s a 4- and 5-inch iPhone, and a 7.9
and 9.7-inch iPad.
Exactly what I’m thinking.
Apple TV and iPhone Displays ★
This piece by Jason Paul Richmond for The Tech Block, speculating on how Apple might do a bigger iPhone, is pretty good overall, but this bit stuck out to me (emphasis added):
Boosting the pixel density at a given size means boosting the
resolution, which poses problems. Some believe that Apple should
just adopt the industry standard 1080p. I don’t think that would
be a bad idea per se, especially if the Apple TV could run apps,
but it can make things even more complicated for developers — complications that have the potential of devaluing iOS’s greatest
asset, the quality of third-party software.
I’ve seen similar sentiments before, that a 1920 × 1080 iPhone could be a boon to turning Apple TV into an app platform, because that’s the resolution of most modern HD TV sets. This makes no sense.
No app designed for a handheld touchscreen could work well on a non-touch TV screen. It’s absurd. I’d love to see Apple TV gain an App Store and third-party apps. I think it’s something Apple would do, and might be working on. But such apps would be their own new thing. They would not be iPad or iPhone apps. That TV displays are 1920 × 1080 has no bearing whatsoever on whether Apple would ever make a 1920 × 1080 iPhone. None.
‘Velocity Hotels’ ★
This week’s episode of The Talk Show, featuring special guest stars Paul Kafasis and Scott Simpson. We talk about last week’s Macworld/iWorld conference and expo, and some big ideas that are going to reinvent the hotel industry.
Brought to you by Squarespace, everything you need to build exceptional websites.
Bill Barnwell Analyzes the Super Bowl ★
You want to nerd out on the intricacies of yesterday’s game? Here you go.
Monoprice Expands Beyond Cables ★
John Herrman, writing for BuzzFeed:
Monoprice had dabbled in headphones and speakers before, but this
was something different. At CES, the company announced a high-end
LCD monitor, specced to compete with $1,000 models from the likes
of Dell and Apple but priced at below $400. It would carry the
Monoprice brand, like everything else the company sells. And it
would be targeted at the same savvy, know-it-all nerds who had
been recommending cheap Monoprice cables on forums and blogs for
years. The company also launched a GoPro-style action cam for
about $90. Almost overnight, Monoprice willed a consumer
electronics brand into existence.
Via Peter Cohen.
Harold Ramis Gets the Last Laugh ★
Harold Ramis, in an interview with Brett Martin for GQ:
When we were writing Animal House, we assumed it would be the
most successful comedy ever. Our generation had broken into
television with SNL, and this was going to be the first “new”
Hollywood comedy. It was our attempt to capture those years, right
up to November 1963, when there was a feeling that the kids were
taking over the country for the first time. In our minds, the end
of that movie — the parade, all that euphoria — takes place the
day before Kennedy was shot. Because the day after, none of that