Linked List: May 2013

RIP, Camino 

Lex Friedman:

Pour one out for Camino. The Mac-only browser, born a decade ago, is no longer under active development.

Camino was a free, open-source browser for the Mac, built on Mozilla’s Gecko engine. Unlike other Mozilla-based browsers of its era, Camino featured a totally native OS X interface from day one. By contrast, Firefox has long used a cross-platform interface markup language, which to this day makes some Mac users feel that the app isn’t quite “Mac-like.”

A precursor to Safari — not in code, but in spirit. Camino (née Chimera) was like a glass of ice water on a hot day for Mac users who wanted a modern but Mac-like browser in the early years of Mac OS X.


My thanks to GetResponse for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. GetResponse makes email marketing easy. They have great template designs that are easily customized with a simple drag-and-drop interface. They have automation tools to eliminate repetitive tasks and drudgery, including auto-responders to handle responses.

Landing pages are customizable too, and include tracking and analytic tools so you can measure the response. Check out their website to see some of the great brands they have as clients, and try GetResponse free.

Counting Tablets as PCs 

Frank Shaw, writing from the D11 conference:

On one hand, looking around the conference, there were iPads and other tablets as far as the eye could see. On the other hand, (as I noted in a tweet), most of the people around me were using their iPads exactly as they would a laptop — physical keyboard attached, typing away, connected to a network of some kind, creating a document or tweet or blog or article. In that context, it’s hard to distinguish between a tablet and a notebook or laptop. The form factors are different, but let’s be clear, each is a PC.

You could have won a lot of money making bar bets a decade ago that in 2013, Microsoft’s communications chief would make an argument that positions Apple as the number one maker of PCs by volume in the world.

It’s a good piece, and I agree with his conclusion:

When you strip away all the post-PC rhetoric, maybe we’re all saying the same thing — the future is about killer devices connected to amazing cloud services. That’s the future Microsoft is embracing, and that’s the future that everyone here at the D Conference is excited about.

CNet: ‘Acer $400 “PC” Will Run Android’ 

Interesting device. Also interesting that CNet put “PC” in quotes in the headline.

Update: They’ve rewritten the article and headline.

The Feature Set Trap 

Rene Ritchie, on Microsoft’s new iPad vs. Windows 8 campaign:

Instead of competing with that, trying to out do Apple at that, Microsoft, like almost everyone else before them, has fallen into the feature set trap. Here’s the problem with that — it doesn’t matter what something can do, it only matters what you can do with that something.

These ads will help Microsoft convince some people to buy a Windows 8 tablet rather than an Android tablet or another kind of Windows PC. It won’t convince the hundreds of millions of iPad customers and iPad-inclined customers to do anything other than to continue buying iPads.

I’m curious what their goal is with this campaign. Do they think PowerPoint is the sort of thing that will take the air out of the iPad? Or are they going after a different market, shoring up the parts of their existing user base that really does need PowerPoint? If it’s the latter, I think this is an effective campaign.

It is a little rich, though, that they repeatedly use the absence of Microsoft apps on the iPad as knocks against the iPad. It’s Microsoft’s choice, not Apple’s, that there is no PowerPoint for iPad. Makes me wonder whether the Office team is being blocked from doing apps for iOS in order to protect Windows.

Help the EFF Fight a Podcasting Patent Troll 

The EFF:

We need your help to save podcasting. EFF is partnering with leading lawyers to bust a key patent being used to threaten podcasters. But we need your help to find prior art and cover the filing fees for a brand new patent busting procedure.

I’m in.

The lesson: iterate, iterate, iterate.

The Verge: ‘Fan TV Revealed: Is This the Set-Top Box We’ve Been Waiting For?’ 

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines strikes again.

WSJ: ‘Apple Shifts Supply Chain Away From Foxconn to Pegatron’ 

Eva Dou, reporting for the WSJ:

Pegatron Corp. named after the flying horse Pegasus, will be the primary assembler of a low-cost iPhone expected to be offered later this year. Foxconn’s smaller rival across town became a minor producer of iPhones in 2011 and began making iPad Mini tablet computers last year.

Pegatron’s rise means an end to the monopoly that Foxconn Technology Group — the trade name for Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer — has held over the production of Apple’s mobile products.

Toshiba KIRAbook 

Good to see this kind of design innovation in the PC laptop world.

A few slides that caught my eye:

  • 28: Some really weird discrepancies regarding how much information people share about themselves online, between people in different countries around the world. Saudi Arabia is off the charts. (I also think many people underestimate how much they’re sharing when they use things like Facebook and Google.)

  • 42: Samsung’s incredible growth.

  • 44: iPad has grown three times faster than iPhone did. This might be the most overlooked/underestimated fact about Apple today.

Pit Pass: Tease Upcoming Apps Via Passbook 

Interesting idea from Second Gear.

WWDC Expectations 

Good piece from Jim Dalrymple on WWDC:

The important thing to remember about WWDC is that it is a developer conference. It’s not a place where Apple is going to show off the newest iPhone or iPad. These are Apple’s flagship products and they demand separate events.

Pretty sure Jim’s right that there aren’t going to be new iPads or iPhones announced. But Apple did announce new iPhone hardware for a few years at WWDC: the 3G, 3GS, and 4. It’s just that the schedule for the iPhone changed. So I think it’s not so much that they wouldn’t announce a new iPhone or iPad during the WWDC keynote, but simply that they don’t yet have new iPhones or iPads to announce.

Apple’s Conundrum: What to Do With Those Profits 

Matt Yglesias:

When you’re sitting on tens of billions of dollars, the sky is really the limit. But Apple CEO Tim Cook has mainly used the cash for dividends and share buybacks. That is a bit boring. And it’s especially disappointing because when they’re not in defensive mode, Apple fans are happy to acknowledge that not everything is perfect. Launching an independent mapping service was a necessary strategic move, for example, but Apple does not have the best mapping data in the world. Developers feel that iCloud has lots of problems. You can buy NBA League Pass Broadband to watch NBA games on your Apple TV, but the package doesn’t include playoff games because exclusive rights have been sold to TNT and ESPN. None of these are crippling flaws in the Apple ecosystem, but they are flaws. And as a customer, I’d rather see Apple address those flaws than give money to shareholders. What’s more, as a shareholder I’d rather see Apple address those flaws than give money to shareholders. Profits are great, but they should be used to do great things.

This is a much more interesting argument. What if they dropped a few billion to get the NFL Sunday Ticket on Apple TV? Why not outbid the TV networks so that they can show NBA and MLB postseason games?

Mariano Rivera Blows a Save 

Something poetic about it being against the Mets. Jayson Stark:

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us this was the first time in Rivera’s career he’d ever blown a save without retiring a hitter. Think about that. It only took him 700 save opportunities! You can make that 747 if you count the postseason, because it never happened there, either.

Tim Cook at All Things D, on Why Apple Hasn’t Made a Range of iPhones 

See also this one, where he talks about market share.


Longtime readers should remember Briefs, which creator Rob Rhyne unveiled back at the C4[3] conference in 2009. It was Rhyne’s vision for a modern, simple, prototyping/UI mockup tool for mobile app designers, and it caught my eye immediately.

And then it entered App Store limbo.

It took a few years and some significant rethinking of the concept, but as of a few weeks ago, Briefs is out. I love this story, not just because Briefs is a terrific app (actually, a few apps — a viewer for iOS, and a developer tool for the Mac), but because this app ever seeing the light of day was the result of such dogged determination. Many people would have given up at some point. Rhyne did not.

SummerFest 2013: Artisanal Software for Writers 

I like this. No gimmicks, no hoops, no bundles. Just a bunch of great Mac apps with discounts ranging from 20-50 percent, sold directly by the developers.

The Sweethome 

New site from the team behind The Wirecutter: “a list of great stuff and supplies for your house or apartment.” The first article I clicked was “The Best Nail Clippers for Home Grooming”; their recommendation: Tweezerman. Funny enough, I have a pair of Tweezerman nail clippers that I bought in a hotel coffee shop a few years ago, and indeed, they’re the finest nail clippers I’ve owned. I also concur with their recommendation for an ice cube tray.

Daring Fireball T-Shirts: Last Call 

Last call on this round of DF t-shirts. If you want one, order today.

Extension 765 

Just what it says on the tin: “A One-of-a-Kind Marketplace From Steven Soderbergh.”

Inside Pixar’s Leadership 

Scott Berkun collected some terrific excerpts from Pixar president Ed Catmull’s 2010 interview with The Economist’s Martin Giles:

The notion that you’re trying to control the process and prevent error screws things up. We all know the saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And everyone knows that, but I think there is a corollary: if everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over-plan things.


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Digging in on the Church of Market Share 

This whole article from Jay Yarow is weak. He disparages John Kirk’s widely-cited Techpinions piece on Android market share, but addresses none of Kirk’s actual arguments. Underlying the entirety of Yarow’s piece is Church of Market Share dogma: higher market share is always better, just because. But here’s a paragraph I actually agree with:

Based on these quotes, the goal for Apple shouldn’t be to be the company with the most money in the bank. It should be to make the best products in the world, and get them in as many hands as possible.

That’s exactly what Apple is doing. No one, or at least no one with a clue, is arguing that making the most money should be Apple’s goal. (Nor is anyone arguing that market share is irrelevant; the argument is whether market share alone is of primary importance.) Apple’s profits are the result of having achieved their goal: making the best products and getting them into the hands of the most people. The and there is very important. In simple terms, iOS is what you get when you try to make the best products and maximize the number of people who use them; Android devices are what you get when you try to maximize the number of people who use them.

Apple has so much money right now that it basically doesn’t know what to do with it. A company that is defined by brilliant, world-changing ideas has decided the best use for its $145 billion in cash is a rather pedestrian stock buyback and dividend to shareholders.

This reiterates my belief that Yarow is digging in to defend Business Insider’s years-long campaign of click-bait sensational anti-Apple-ism. (“iPhone Dead in the Water” — April 2011.) For one thing, what is “pedestrian” about the company’s stock buyback and dividend plans? More importantly, does Yarow really believe that Apple isn’t spending enormous sums of money on initiatives — billions of dollars per quarter — that will drive future products and services? (See Horace Dediu’s third question today.) If he’s not aware of this, he’s not competent to cover Apple for a business publication; if he is aware, then the above is a blatantly dishonest attempt to mislead.

The truth is that focusing on market share as the primary metric is the only way to paint the iPhone as anything other than a roaring success.

Mailbox for iPad 

Even though I don’t use it (because it’s Gmail-centric, rather than a general IMAP client), I greatly admire the design of their iPhone app. This iPad version feels a bit half-assed though:

  • Landscape only.
  • The content pane only appears after you select a message in message pane. Feels unfinished.
  • Popover menus appear centered on screen. That’s wrong on the iPad — they should be attached to the button or object that makes them appear. (E.g. the hamburger button in the content pane.)

See Also: Ryan Tate’s interview with Mailbox founder/CEO Gentry Underwood. It’s interesting, but I almost laughed at this question from Tate:

You did a very cool thing, but in some ways a very simple thing. Why hadn’t anyone tried more of this before?

There is nothing simple about making an email client.

‘The Making of Kubrick’s 2001’ 

Stanley Kubrick:

“I don’t like to talk about 2001 much because it’s essentially a nonverbal experience. Less than half the film has dialogue. It attempts to communicate more to the subconscious and to the feelings than it does to the intellect. I think clearly that there is a basic problem with people who are not paying attention with their eyes. They’re listening. And they don’t get much from listening to this film. Those who won’t believe their eyes won’t be able to appreciate this film.”

Hard to believe this book is out of print. What a find. (Via Adam Schoales.)

Benedict Evans: ‘On Market Share’ 

Benedict Evans:

However, there’s a rather important problem with looking at the data like this: there is no such thing as a “smartphone market”. Or rather, talking about the “smartphone market” is like talking about the “3G” market or the “colour screen phone” market: you’re picking out a sub-segment that is going to grow to take over the whole market. And ignoring the growth. […]

The whole mobile phone market is converting to smart. Apple is taking the high end and Android is taking the rest. Both are growing very fast, and Android is growing faster. But what matters is phone share, not smartphone share.


Android and iOS Are Both Winning 

Virtual Pants:

People often forget that Google and Apple are playing the same game with different goals in mind. Apple strives to maximize profitability in hardware sales. Google, on the other hand, is striving for maximum market share, providing the most users for its services. This is a rare, if not unique, war where both Apple and Google can win, and that seems to be very confusing to people.

This is in reference to yesterday’s “Android’s Market Share Is Literally a Joke” by John Kirk. Judging by my email, Kirk’s piece touched a nerve among many of the true believers in the Church of Market Share. Virtual Pants is right about one thing: the fact that Apple is winning with iOS does not mean Google is losing with Android. They might both be getting exactly what they want.

But Kirk didn’t argue about Google’s interest in Android. It’s the market share zealots who seem to believe there can be one and only one successful platform. And as for Virtual Pants, I don’t think there’s anything rare or unique about this situation. Again I say: just look at the mature, stable PC market. Windows has held a decades-long monopoly on PC operating systems, exactly what Microsoft wants. The Mac reaps an enormous chunk of the industry’s hardware profits, exactly what Apple wants.

My belief, though, is that what Google is winning with Android is a booby prize — overwhelming majority share of the unprofitable segment of the market.

Keyboard Maestro 6.0 

Great update to one of my favorite “secret weapon” utilities. I feel lost on a Mac without Keyboard Maestro installed.

Horace Dediu’s Questions for Tim Cook 

Horace Dediu:

Next week at AllThingsD’s D11 conference in LA, Apple CEO Tim Cook will be interviewed by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. Here are some questions I’m hoping they will ask.

Good questions. Not sure Cook would give a straight answer to any of them, though.

Trucks, Cars, and Vespas 

Watts Martin:

Am I saying Steve Jobs’ famous cars and trucks analogy was wrong, then? Sort of. Desktop computers may be trucks, but the laptops are the cars. That’s why they’ve been outselling desktops for years. Tablets are motorcycles. Maybe Vespas. They’re fun and in some circumstances they’re genuinely your best choice, but most people just aren’t going to get by with them as their only vehicle.

Maybe. And the evidence today certainly fits Martin’s theory. But I say give it a decade — a decade of slow, steady, incremental improvement in post-PC devices and software, a decade for people to gradually adjust their computing habits. (Also, a decade for iOS-using teens of today to become adults who never saw Macs and Windows PCs as anything other than legacy devices for their parents.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re both right, and Apple meets us in the middle with an iOS notebook. (I expect an iOS notebook eventually; I expect never to see a touchscreen MacBook.)

‘Music Every Day’ 

Love this campaign.

Daring Fireball T-Shirts 

Now available for a limited time: a new round of DF t-shirts, including a new heather grey shirt. We’ll take orders through the start of next week, print them mid-week, and start shipping on Friday.

Last month marked the seventh year that I’ve been writing Daring Fireball as a full-time endeavor. T-shirt sales no longer constitute the majority of this site’s revenue, but they remain a significant part of it. My original (years ago) goal was to take this site full-time based on nothing but direct reader support; that didn’t work out, but t-shirt sales and donations remain, to me, the purest form of support. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished with Daring Fireball: a self-published, profitable web site for which I never borrowed a dollar. This has only been possible because of the direct support of readers like you, and I can’t thank you enough.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Joe Nocera on Tim Cook 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

But what will be remembered about Nocera’s latest Apple column is that he called Tim Cook a liar — accusing him of telling, under oath, a “whopper” and a “flat-out lie.” Nocera implies, but doesn’t actually say, that he makes those charges after watching Cook’s testimony.

I watched Cook’s testimony — twice. I find it hard to believe that Nocera saw any of it. And having read the documents and news articles he cites, I believe that on the points with which he has factual disagreements with Cook, he’s provably wrong.


Update: More dissection of Nocera’s claims from Yoni Heisler at TUAW.

HP Envy Remains the Most Aptly-Named Product in PC Industry 

Sean Hollister, The Verge:

This year, it’s not just thin-and-light laptops getting the treatment: according to company representatives, CEO Meg Whitman has now mandated a unified design language across HP’s entire portfolio of consumer machines. “She took a look at our portfolio and said, ‘I don’t know what’s HP.’”

Apparently she decided the MacBook Pro is HP. (Maybe she’s confused about that crazy HP iPod still being a thing?)

Innovative Use of the Word ‘Still’ 

Larry Popelka, “founder and chief executive officer of GameChanger, an innovation consulting firm”, in a piece for Businessweek headlined “Google Is Winning the Innovation War Against Apple”:

Google appears to be on the verge of taking over the tech innovation throne once held by Apple. A sure sign of this was the success of Google’s annual I/O developers conference last week at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Tickets to the 5,000-seat, three-day conference sold out in just 49 minutes at $600 [sic] a pop. […]

This is only Google’s sixth year holding the I/O conference, which is targeted to open-source developers. It has quickly grown into a major media event rivaling Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which the company stages to wow the technology world with its innovations.

Apple’s event is still extremely popular: Tickets this year sold out in just two minutes at $1,699 each.

Let’s get this straight. Google sells out its developer conference in 49 minutes at $900 a seat. (Popelka didn’t even get the price right.) Apple sells out its developer conference — in the same venue — in 2 minutes at $1700 a seat. And this is a “sure sign” that Google is “taking over the tech innovation throne”?

His conclusion is even more bizarre:

Few companies have the self-confidence to take on Google’s launch and iterate model. Most prefer the safety of Apple’s “perfect it before you sell it” approach, because it shields senior managers from criticism. But Google has found a successful innovation process, and companies who follow suit will win the long-term innovation war.

Few companies release crappy products and hope to improve them later? Most companies perfect their products in secrecy before releasing them, like Apple? Apple’s strategy shields senior managers from criticism? What planet is he talking about?

John Kirk: ‘Android’s Market Share Is Literally a Joke’ 

Outstanding, must-read piece by John Kirk for Techpinions:

Scoring by market share alone and ignoring profit is like saying that a baseball team won because it had more hits when the other team scored more runs. Scoring by market share alone and ignoring profit is like saying that a football team won because it gained more yards when the other team scored more points. Scoring by market share alone and ignoring profit is like saying that a hockey team won because it had more shots on goal when the other team had more goals.

Market share without context is not only useless, it is worse than useless because it is likely to be misinterpreted.

Tesla Repays Federal Loan Nearly 10 Years Early 

Chris Isidore, reporting for CNN Money:

Tesla Motors announced Wednesday that it has repaid a $465 million loan from the government nearly a decade before it was scheduled to do so.

The electric-car maker received the loan from the Department of Energy in January 2010, and it made its first payment this past December. That began what was supposed to be a 10-year repayment program, but plans have changed.

‘From Here You Can See Everything’ 

James A. Pearson, writing for The Morning News:

In Wallace’s book, a Canadian terrorist informant of foggy allegiance asks an American undercover agent a form of the question: “If Americans would choose to press play on the film Infinite Jest, knowing it will kill them, doesn’t that mean they are already dead inside, that they have chosen entertainment over life?” Of course vanishingly few Americans would press play on a film that was sure to end their lives. But there’s a truth in this absurdity. Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.

‘Operation Swill’ 

ABC 6 Action News in Philadelphia:

State investigators say at least one bar in New Jersey was mixing food dye with rubbing alcohol and serving it as scotch.

That’s one of the details released Thursday about an investigation dubbed “Operation Swill.” Twenty-nine bars and restaurants in the state are accused of putting cheap booze in premium brand liquor bottles and selling it to patrons who thought they were buying the good stuff.

Thirteen of the restaurants were TGI Fridays franchises. I might need to re-think my opposition to the death penalty.

Screen Size Shenanigans in Microsoft’s iPad Comparisons 

Elliot Temple:

The iPad screen is 7.76 by 5.82 inches. The ASUS screen is 8.8 by 4.95 inches. ASUS is larger in one direction but smaller in the other direction, and has 3.55% less area than the iPad, not 36% more as Microsoft depicts.

How can the screen with a larger diagonal measurement be smaller? Because it’s a different shape. Long and thin gets you a bigger diagonal but a smaller screen, for the same diagonal inches.

Weak sauce from Microsoft, especially the diagrams that are not to scale.

The Beltway Shakedown 

Compelling argument by Tim Carney in the Washington Examiner:

Apple has held out, though. Every couple of years, Politico, the trade publication of the Beltway, has run a piece warning Apple of the dangers of ignoring Washington. “Its low-wattage approach in Washington is becoming more glaring to policymakers,” a 2010 article said, pointing out that the company doesn’t have a PAC and its lobbying spending was a paltry $1 million.

The 2012 Politico warning to Apple included an explicit threat from a Judiciary staffer-turned-lobbyist, Jeff Miller: “There have been other tech companies who chose not to engage in Washington, and for the most part that strategy did not benefit them.”

Businessweek Profiles Google X 

Brad Stone feature for Businessweek, “Inside Google’s Secret Lab”:

While Teller runs the day-to-day operations at X, he reports to Brin. (“Sergey is Bruce Wayne, and I’m Lucius Fox,” Teller says.) Colleagues say that since Page became CEO in late 2011, Brin spends most of his time immersed in the technical details of several projects at Google X. Although he declined several requests to speak for this story, on a typically bucolic day at the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif., Brin happens by a reporter and two Google spokespeople eating lunch outside and spontaneously joins the group. “I think I’m going to spend most of my time now on cars,” he says, by way of introduction. Asked about Google Glass, a project he championed and which he has been photographed testing on the New York City subway, he points to the device perched on his nose and says, “You know, this is basically done.”

(a) Glass is “basically done”? Really?

(b) If Google X is so secret why are Businessweek reporters invited to tour it and profile members of the team?

Windows vs. iPad: Compare Tablets 

Microsoft still loves their product comparison checklists.

Update: And there’s a TV ad too. It’s cute in a playing-for-second-place way. Microsoft is pitching Windows 8 tablets as the natural rival for the iPad; implicit in this is the dismissal of Android tablets from the equation. The message isn’t “Buy a Windows tablet instead of an iPad” so much as “If you want something other than an iPad, you should buy a Windows tablet.” Are iPad users, en masse, clamoring for multiple apps sharing the screen side-by-side? For PowerPoint? No. This is pitched at people who don’t like the iPad. That’s a play for second place, because most people do like the iPad.

Funny how the tables have turned since the “I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” days.

Tim Bray on Glass 

Tim Bray:

But people, and there are a lot of them, who are saying “Glass is doomed because it’s dorky-looking/privacy-invasive/anti-social” are pretty well wrong; it’s more complex than that.

‘Don’t Say GIF’ 

Fun song by Gonathan Mann.

Steve Jobs/James Murdoch E-Book Negotiations 

Zachary Seward, writing for Quartz:

The emails have mostly been viewed in the context of the lawsuit, but they also provide an extraordinary view of high-stakes negotiation between the leaders of two powerful firms, Apple and News Corp. They start far apart, but over the course of five days, Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs successfully pulls the son of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch over to his side.

Interesting too, that the negotiations came so close to the debut of the iPad.

Michael Gartenberg Joins Apple 

Connie Guglielmo, reporting for Forbes:

Michael Gartenberg, a longtime industry analyst known for covering digital media technologies and companies including Microsoft and Apple, has left his post as an analyst at Gartner Inc. to take a job with Apple.

Gartenberg didn’t immediately reply to a voicemail message left at his office at Apple asking him to talk about his new role for the Cupertino, California-based company. He is working on the marketing team under Apple’s global marketing chief Phil Schiller, according to sources.

Smart hire. Going to be weird seeing him on the other side of the line at Apple press events.

Reuters Headline Yesterday: ‘Intel CEO Shakes Up Units, Creates “New Devices” Group’ 

Reuters headline three weeks ago: “Intel Picks Insider as CEO, Dashing Hopes for Shakeup”.

Dashed, indeed.

Azure Is the Future of Microsoft 

Paul Thurrott:

Microsoft is a devices and services company. The services part is the biggest part. Azure is the king of Microsoft services. Azure is the future of Microsoft.

Azure is so key to Microsoft’s future, in fact, that I’m starting to question the use of the name Windows on that brand. In many ways it doesn’t make sense to call such a thing Windows at all. Azure’s a nice name. (And Azure SQL Database rolls off the tongue a lot more easily than does Windows Azure SQL Database. Just saying.)

I wrote yesterday that “Xbox is Microsoft’s foothold in the post-PC world.” That’s really just thinking about the device side. The cloud side is every bit as important. There is no post-PC world without ubiquitous cloud storage and messaging.

The Verge: ‘HTC in Disarray’ 

Chris Ziegler, reporting for The Verge:

The Verge has learned that HTC’s Chief Product Officer, Kouji Kodera, left the company last week. Kodera was responsible for HTC’s overall product strategy, which makes the departure especially notable on the heels of the global launch of the make-or-break One.

It’s not just Kodera. In the past three-odd months, HTC has lost a number of employees in rapid succession — most recently Jason Gordon, the company’s vice president of global communications. Other fresh departures include global retail marketing manager Rebecca Rowland, director of digital marketing John Starkweather, and product strategy manager Eric Lin.

Pew: 94 Percent of U.S. Teenagers Who Use Social Media Use Facebook 

Greg Sterling, Marketing Land:

According to the report, 95 percent of teens (12-17) use the internet and 81 percent of them use social media sites. Facebook is by far the most heavily adopted social site, with 94 percent of social media teens reporting they have a profile there.

That’s rather astounding.

Howard Gleckman on Apple’s Taxes 

Howard Gleckman, writing for the Tax Policy Center:

Because Apple is so profitable, the dollars involved will certainly attract attention (this is a Senate committee after all, so that is the point). The report alleges Apple reduced its U.S. corporate income tax by an average of $10 billion-a-year for the past four years. Since the corporate levy generated only about $240 billion in 2012, $10 billion foregone from one company is a very big number indeed.

But while it added a few interesting twists, Apple cut its taxes with the same tools multinationals have been using for years to minimize their worldwide tax liability. And if there is a scandal, I suppose it is the very ordinariness of these transactions. Apple’s tax avoidance shop, it seems, is a lot less innovative than its phone designers.

Best Moment of Today’s Senate Hearing 

John McCain:  “Why the hell do I have to keep updating the apps on my iPhone all the time?”

Steve Jobs E-Book Email to James Murdoch 

I missed this last week, but John Paczkowski has the entire email from Jobs with the “Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99” line singled out by the DOJ:

Now, this is but one piece of evidence in a much larger case. And the DOJ does claim to have other evidence that reflects poorly on Apple, specifically testimony that suggests it used its prowess in the apps market to push reticent partners into signing its e-books deal. But in this particular case, it does seem to have cherry-picked a quote for maximum effect.

Wikipedia Corruption 

Andrew Leonard, writing for Salon, unmasks a blatantly corrupt Wikipedia editor:

The mind boggles. After years of styling himself as someone who specializes in scrubbing Wikipedia pages clean of “conflicts of interest,” Qworty/Young admitted to editing “the Wikipedia articles of writers with whom I have feuded.” How can Wikipedia possibly allow this man to keep his editing privileges? And how are we, the general public, supposed to trust Wikipedia, when Qworty’s record shows how easy it is to work out personal grudges and real-world vendettas in this great online encyclopedia for years without anyone taking action?

Wired: First Look at the Xbox One 

Peter Rubin:

At this point, fewer than 2 million Surface tablets have been sold. Windows Phone has a 3.2 percent share of the smartphone market. The Xbox 360, on the other hand, has sold 77 million units and has been the bestselling game console in the US for 28 straight months. Not to take anything away from Microsoft’s other consumer products, but there’s no longer any question which side the company’s bread is buttered on. And if the Interactive Entertainment Business division gets this right, the Xbox One is going to be a very, very big piece of bread.

Xbox is Microsoft’s foothold in the post-PC world.

NYT Live Coverage of Senate Hearing on Apple and Corporate Taxes 

Senator Rand Paul:

Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, has taken the floor with a very different tone. He says he is “offended” by the hearings. Who, he said, doesn’t try to minimize their own taxes?

“Tell me what Apple has done that’s illegal,” he said.

And on Twitter:

If there is anyone to blame here it is not Apple, it is Congress and the tax code it created.

The Talk Show, Live 

Speaking of The Talk Show, we’re doing another live audience episode in San Francisco on Tuesday 11 June, the second day of WWDC. Last year’s show was great, this year’s should be even better.

Update: Sold out, but stay tuned. We might have a few more tickets available closer to the event.

All New Flickr Design 

Big week for Yahoo.

‘See You on Larry’s Island’ 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, with special guest Merlin Mann. We cover important, serious issues, such as whether Larry Page more resembles a Bond villain or Magneto. In other words, the usual.

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Apple’s Prepared Testimony Before U.S. Senate 

An interesting read, including this:

Apple does not use tax gimmicks. Apple does not move its intellectual property into offshore tax havens and use it to sell products back into the US in order to avoid US tax; it does not use revolving loans from foreign subsidiaries to fund its domestic operations; it does not hold money on a Caribbean island; and it does not have a bank account in the Cayman Islands. Apple has substantial foreign cash because it sells the majority of its products outside the US. International operations accounted for 61% of Apple’s revenue last year and two-thirds of its revenue last quarter. These foreign earnings are taxed in the jurisdiction where they are earned (“foreign, post-tax income”).

(Via Jim Dalrymple.)

The One-Person Product 

Marco Arment on the Yahoo/Tumblr deal. Great perspective from the inside.

Two Takes on Google Glass at I/O 

Mark Wilson, writing for Fast Company: “Even Google’s Own Developers Won’t Be Seen Wearing Google Glass”:

Those of us who believe in the future of Glass technology can identify other culprits: We can blame price. We can blame availability. We can blame battery. We can blame the silly aesthetic. We can even blame it on the rain! But imagine if Apple announced their new iPhone, yet almost no one at Cupertino felt the need to carry one. Or imagine if Ford announced a new car, but their execs insisted on biking to work.

If Google’s own cohort doesn’t feel compelled to wear Glass in spite of its perfectly predictable shortcomings, why would they ever expect that the rest of us will?

But then here’s Pete Pachal, writing for Mashable: “Google Glass Stole the Show at Google I/O 2013”:

The glaring omission didn’t stop Glass from stealing the show for the rest of the conference, though. Day 2 of I/O was packed with sessions on Glass, including one where official Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr apps made their debut. The sessions themselves garnered the kind of lineups usually reserved Lady Gaga tickets. Many developers were walking around wearing Glass, but it was the looks of jealousy from the Glass-less that underscored just how much interest there is in Google’s head-mounted gadget.

One of these guys is wrong.

Samsung’s Share of Android Hardware Profit 

Andy Boxall, writing for Digital Trends:

Analysts broke it down like this: Globally, it’s estimated the Android industry made $5.3 billion profit in the first quarter of this year, while the profit estimates for Android phones shipped by Samsung comes in at $5.1 billion for the same period. The exact figure quoted is 94.7 percent profit share, and that’s not including tablets either.

According to Strategy Analytics’ chart, in a (very) distant second place is LG, with 2.5 percent profit share, while all the other Android phone manufacturers — think about it, that’s everyone from Sony and HTC to Huawei, Acer and ZTE — are lumped into an Others category, which totals 2.7 percent.

Rather remarkable.

Yahoo Acquires Tumblr 

Marissa Mayer, on her Tumblr:

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to acquire Tumblr!

We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster. […]

I’ve long held the view that in all things art and design, you can feel the spirit and demeanor of those who create them. That’s why it was no surprise to me that David Karp is one of the nicest, most empathetic people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most perceptive, capable entrepreneurs I’ve worked with. His respect for Tumblr’s community of creators is awesome, and I’m absolutely delighted to have him and his entire team join Yahoo!.

Humanely written. Love the “We promise not to screw it up”, because it’s a direct acknowledgement of every Tumblr user’s primary concern. That’s a weird sentence to put in a billion-dollar deal announcement, but I like it.

All Things D: Yahoo Board Approves $1.1 Billion Acquisition of Tumblr 

Kara Swisher:

As part of the deal, Tumblr CEO David Karp — who got a windfall of cash from the deal — will stay at Yahoo for four years at least and retain much control over the service, much in the same way Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom does at Facebook. But, as there, Yahoo will undergird Tumblr’s nascent advertising business with its large and established infrastructure.

If they treat Tumblr the way Facebook has (so far) treated Instagram, I think this will work out well.

EA Sports Developer Calls Wii U ‘Crap’ and Nintendo ‘Walking Dead’ 

Owen Good, Kotaku:

At the end of a week in which Electronic Arts confirmed it wasn’t developing a thing for the Wii U, one of the software engineers in EA Sports’ Canada studio, in a series of since-deleted tweets, disparaged the console as “crap” and suggested Nintendo should give up on hardware altogether.

Bloomberg’s Lazy Apple Bias 

Starting to get silly at this point.

‘Blinking or Winking, as They Relieved Themselves’ 

Nick Bilton on the pervasiveness of Google Glass at I/O.

Everything Apple Needs to Introduce at WWDC to Appease the Internet 

Justin Williams:

With WWDC just a few weeks away, I thought it’d be beneficial to the Internet at large to compile a working list of everything that is expected of Apple during their Keynote and subsequent “State of the Union” addresses in order to appease the Internet. Failure to introduce each and every one of these features and updates will result in another stock price plummet, calls for Tim Cook’s ouster and an infinite amount of comments on tech blogs decrying that Android is superior to Apple’s iOS.

Google Hangouts Drops Support for XMPP 

Open always wins.

Jeffrey Zablotny on Apple’s ‘Photos Every Day’ TV Spot 

Jeffrey Zablotny:

This is a spot by TBWA/Chiat/Day for Apple, called ‘Photos Every Day’. The craft is fantastic, and there’s some subtle, unusual attention to detail in it.

The more I see it, the more I like this commercial.

Google Plus Still Looks Like Facebook 

James Russell:

As I posted a couple of days ago: Everything Is a Remix — so I have absolutely no problem with these two platforms sharing ideas and inspiration… but let’s not pretend one has struck off in a bold new direction.

(Via Om Malik, who sees non-cosmetic differences.)

Tim Cook Doing Interviews in Advance of Congressional Hearing 

Tim Cook, in an interview with Politico:

He also defended his company’s conduct. “I can tell you unequivocally Apple does not funnel its domestic profits overseas. We don’t do that. We pay taxes on all the products we sell in the U.S., and we pay every dollar that we owe. And so I’d like to be really clear on that,” Cook said.

And to The Washington Post:

“If you look at it today, to repatriate cash to the U.S., you need to pay 35 percent of that cash. And that is a very high number,” Cook said in an interview Thursday. “We are not proposing that it be zero. I know many of our peers believe that. But I don’t view that. But I think it has to be reasonable.”

Google Sends Microsoft Cease-and-Desist for Windows Phone YouTube App 

Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

Though the app included account support, playlists, commenting, and most other aspects of YouTube, there’s one thing it was missing — advertising. It also had two features it shouldn’t have had — the ability to download videos and the ability to play videos that the creators have blocked from mobile devices.

As a result, Google sent Microsoft a cease-and-desist demand ordering the company to stop distributing the application by May 22nd.

Microsoft’s response:

We’d be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs. In light of Larry Page’s comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.

Peter Kafka posits that Google played right into Microsoft’s hands on this.

The Three Types of Specialist Necessary for Any Revolution 

Kottke, quoting Vonnegut.

‘My Gut Told Me to Say Yes’ 

Outgoing Intel CEO Paul Otellini tells The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal that Intel passed on a chance to produce CPUs for the iPhone:

“The thing you have to remember is that this was before the iPhone was introduced and no one knew what the iPhone would do… At the end of the day, there was a chip that they were interested in that they wanted to pay a certain price for and not a nickel more and that price was below our forecasted cost. I couldn’t see it. It wasn’t one of these things you can make up on volume. And in hindsight, the forecasted cost was wrong and the volume was 100× what anyone thought.”

It was the only moment I heard regret slip into Otellini’s voice during the several hours of conversations I had with him. “The lesson I took away from that was, while we like to speak with data around here, so many times in my career I’ve ended up making decisions with my gut, and I should have followed my gut,” he said. “My gut told me to say yes.”

Curious whether that was an ARM chip — and if not, what was it?

Update: Ben Thompson says it must have been XScale, which was ARM-based.

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Howard Johnsons Children’s Menu 

Great find by John Sisson. Chock full of spoilers, though.

Mariano Rivera Breaking Bats 

Drew Sheppard, writing for FanGraphs:

Enjoy him while you can.

‘Nothing But Lando’ 

J.J. Abrams takes suggestions for the upcoming new Star Wars movie from The Jimmy Kimmel Show audience. (See also: Harrison Ford a few weeks ago.)


Kevin Poulsen on the story behind DeadDrop, the new open source anonymous inbox for journalists he created with Aaron Swartz. Now in use at The New Yorker.

Google to Sell Its Own Nexus Version of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 

Brian Chen, reporting for the NYT Bits blog:

Google on Wednesday said it would sell a version of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 running its own “stock” version of Android, not Samsung’s modified version. The device will go on sale in Google’s online store, called Play, on June 26, according to Hugo Barra, vice president of product management for Android. The phone will cost $650 and will come unlocked.

DF reader Jim Lipsey asks:

Why doesn’t Google buy up a mobile device company and offer their own phone rather than resell a Samsung handset?

Great question. Why doesn’t Google do that?

Passages From Isaacson Book Part of DOJ Case Against Apple in Ebook Price-Fixing Case 


Apple disputes this in a second filing, also made on April 26 and released on Tuesday. It says that e-book demand “exploded” with Apple’s iPad launch, and the average retail price of an e-book dropped to $7.34 from $7.97.

In a filing released on Tuesday, the Justice Department said that Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO at the time, “conceded the price-fixing conspiracy” when he told his biographer that Apple had “told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30 percent, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway.’”

If anyone else at Apple had revealed this to a writer, they’d have been fired (by Jobs) immediately. I question Jobs’s judgment in picking Isaacson to write the book in the first place, but no matter who he’d chosen to write the book, he should have held himself to the same standards he held his employees to when it came to keeping the company’s internal workings private.

NYT: ‘U.S. Now Paints Apple as “Ringmaster” in Its Lawsuit on Ebook Price-Fixing’ 

Edward Wyatt and Nick Wingfield, reporting for the NYT:

In July 2010, Mr. Jobs, Apple’s former chief executive, told the chief executive of Random House, Markus Dohle, that the publisher would suffer a loss of support from Apple if it held out much longer, according to an account of the conversation provided by Mr. Dohle in the filing. Two months later, Apple threatened to block an e-book application by Random House from appearing in Apple’s App Store because it had not agreed to a deal with Apple, the filing said.

After Random House finally agreed to a contract on Jan. 18, 2011, Eddy Cue, the Apple executive in charge of its e-books deals, sent an e-mail to Mr. Jobs attributing the publisher’s capitulation, in part, to “the fact that I prevented an app from Random House from going live in the app store,” the filing reads.

Eddy Cue, hardball player.

David Trainer: The Man Who Figures Apple Is Worth $240 a Share 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

I watched Trainer’s CNBC appearance (best line: “Steve Jobs was the Bo Jackson of CEOs”). I read his blog post. I looked up ROIC in Investopedia. I studied his Apple model.

I couldn’t make any sense of it. Maybe you can.

Nope, me neither. (Keep in mind, at the end of last quarter, Apple held $153 worth of cash and investments per share. Just cash. Trainer is saying Apple’s entire future is worth about $90 per share, about $85 billion total.)

Update: Ethan Jewett on Trainer’s weird math and wrong numbers.

Square Stand 

Turns an iPad into a point of sale register. Given how many small businesses I already see using Square, I think this is going to sell well.

Update: Square says, “Square Stand works with iPad 2 and 3 (30-pin connector) and costs $299. iPad not included.” Only working with 30-pin connector iPads seems pretty short-sighted, no? Those things are probably going the way of the Dodo bird. And why does it cost $299 if it’s just a stand, a power adapter, and an integrated Square reader? (They send you the dongle readers for free when you sign up.)

As of Today, Every Major Mobile Competitor Also Makes Apps for iOS 

Rene Ritchie, on BlackBerry’s announcement that they’re bringing BBM to iOS:

Apple, by contrast, makes precisely nothing for Android, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry. Not even iTunes.

There’s a reason Apple made iTunes for Windows a decade ago and iTunes for nothing but iOS today.

Larry Page on His Vocal Cord Problems 

Larry Page:

About 14 years ago, I got a bad cold, and my voice became hoarse. At the time I didn’t think much about it. But my voice never fully recovered. So I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with left vocal cord paralysis. This is a nerve problem that causes your left vocal cord to not move properly. Despite extensive examination, the doctors never identified a cause — though there was speculation of virus-based damage from my cold. It is quite common in cases like these that a definitive cause is not found. […]

Fast forward to last summer, when the same pattern repeated itself — a cold followed by a hoarse voice. Once again things didn’t fully improve, so I went in for a check-up and was told that my second vocal cord now had limited movement as well. Again, after a thorough examination, the doctors weren’t able to identify a cause.

‘A Look at Mail in Cyberdog’ 

This week’s episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Dan Frommer. Topics including Windows 8’s “have it all” design leading to it failing both as a tablet and PC OS; the loyalty (or perhaps lack thereof) of new Apple customers; Netflix’s commanding and growing lead as a provider of streaming video; and some utterly un-researched speculation about overseas roaming leading to poor iPhone battery life.

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Aluminum-Framed Lumia 925 

Mikael Ricknäs, IDG News Service:

Nokia’s new Lumia 925 phone has an aluminium frame that functions as an antenna, and is lighter and thinner than the Lumia 920, but otherwise offers similar performance to its predecessor.

A metal frame that functions as an antenna. This, from the company that bragged during Antennagate that they were the “pioneer in internal antennas”.

Declan McCullagh: ‘Apple Deluged by Police Demands to Decrypt iPhones’ 

Declan McCullagh, reporting for CNet:

The ATF’s Maynard said in an affidavit for the Kentucky case that Apple “has the capabilities to bypass the security software” and “download the contents of the phone to an external memory device.” Chang, the Apple legal specialist, told him that “once the Apple analyst bypasses the passcode, the data will be downloaded onto a USB external drive” and delivered to the ATF.

It’s not clear whether that means Apple has created a backdoor for police — which has been the topic of speculation in the past — whether the company has custom hardware that’s faster at decryption, or whether it simply is more skilled at using the same procedures available to the government. Apple declined to discuss its law enforcement policies when contacted this week by CNET.

I saw this report the other day and it confused me. My understanding is that the entire contents of an iPhone with a passcode (or pass phrase) are encrypted. If Apple can somehow decrypt the contents, then there’s a backdoor, and the possibility exists that someone else will discover the backdoor. (Let alone the problem of Apple being able to do it.)

Charlie Miller, who knows way more about this stuff than I do (and probably as much as anyone outside Apple), is also confused. His theory:

Apple probably uses a signed ramdisk and then brute forces from there.

In which case it’s not really a backdoor, it’s that Apple can more efficiently run through all possible passcodes than law enforcement agencies can. But I take it this means Apple can circumvent the setting that deletes the encryption keys after 10 failed passcode attempts, because they’re not doing the passcode attempts on the device itself.

Update: Quinn Mahoney tweets:

No, a signed ramdisk means the brute force is done on-device. The 10 attempt limit is enforced by iOS, ramdisk bypasses that.

Phishing With Forged Links 

Brad Choate is thinking the same thing I’m thinking:

Sophisticated phishing attacks can be hard to detect for most. As software developers, we need to build better detection, prevention, and countermeasures into apps and services that relay and present these messages so users will be less likely to fall victim to them.

How the Syrian Electronic Army Hacked The Onion 

Phishing. (Wonder if it would have helped identify scammy URLs if the emails were in plain text, so that the phishers couldn’t put a URL in the message that was actually linked to an entirely different URL?)

‘We Already Have Money, It’s Called “Money”’ 

Garrett Murray on Amazon’s new “Amazon Coins” virtual currency thing. Sure hope Apple never goes this route; it’s slimy.

Lego Casino Royale 

“Yes. Considerably.”

Visualizing the Internet 

Adam Clark Estes, writing for Motherboard:

An anonymous researcher with a lot of time on his hands apparently shares the sentiment. In a newly published research paper, this unnamed data junkie explains how he used some stupid simple hacking techniques to build a 420,000-node botnet that helped him draw the most detailed map of the Internet known to man. Not only does it show where people are logging in, it also shows changes in traffic patterns over time with an impressive amount of precision. This is all possible, of course, because the researcher hacked into nearly half a million computers so that he could ping each one, charting the resulting paths in order to make such a complex and detailed map. Along those lines, the project has as much to do with hacking as it does with mapping.

More on Facebook Home Looking Like a Flop 

Steve Kovach, reporting for Business Insider:

After we reported the news about the First’s price drop, one source familiar with Facebook employees’ thinking on Home said our headline, “HTC’s Facebook Phone Is Clearly a Flop,” was “sadly, very right.” Another source with knowledge of the HTC First sales wouldn’t provide numbers, but did hint they weren’t exactly flying off the shelves at AT&T stores.

Is this Facebook’s Rokr?

Update: Myriam Joire argues that Facebook already had its Rokr — the HTC Status back in 2011.

NYT on Bloomberg Data Terminal Privacy Breach 

Amy Chozick and Ben Protess, reporting for the NYT:

The news gathering technique appears more widespread than the Goldman incident, which was first reported by The New York Post. A preliminary analysis at Bloomberg revealed that “several hundred” reporters had used the technique, a person briefed on the analysis said. (Bloomberg employs more than 2,400 journalists worldwide. A spokesman declined to comment on the analysis and said no reporters had been fired.)

There are also fears that the monitoring may have gone beyond Wall Street. Banking regulators at the Federal Reserve are examining whether their own employees were subject to tracking by Bloomberg reporters, according to people briefed on the matter. A spokeswoman for the Fed declined to comment.

This is a serious scandal.

Not All Wine Experts Are Full of Shit 

Pretty amazing. (Thanks to Tom Lane.)

Facebook Home Is Looking Like a Flop 

The HTC First (with Facebook Home pre-installed) has already been dropped from $99 to $0.99, and the app is sinking in popularity in the Google Play store rankings.

It’s a well-designed implementation of an idea no one wants.


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Not Sure Why Anyone Would Spend So Much Time and Effort on an iOS 7 ‘Concept’ Redesign, But Here You Go 

There are a lot of clever ideas and nice designs in this iOS 7 “concept” by Philip Joyce of design firm Simply Zesty. But they’re only clever and nice in the abstract, as possible designs for a touchscreen phone interface. Nice and clever though they are, this would be a disaster as a new design for the actual iPhone. A new look is one thing (and we’re going to get it), but when you’re well established and have a large user base, as iOS does, you need to maintain familiarity. If users are asking “What is this? Where am I? Where’s all the stuff I’m used to?” it’s going to be a disaster. (Mac OS X 10.0 was just such a radical do-over, and it was successful in the long term. But the first few years were a slow and painful transition for existing Mac users. iOS doesn’t need that sort of jolt.)

And certain of Joyce’s details are oddly tone-deaf branding-wise. The shape of app icons is not going to change from round-cornered squares to sharp-cornered ones (or any other shape for that matter). Apple owns this shape; this shape says “iOS app” in everyone’s mind. It’s even printed right on the hardware home button of every iOS device. In fact it’s the only thing printed on the front face of every iOS device. And just look at the WWDC 2013 logo. (I’ve long thought we won’t see apps and an App Store for Apple TV until some future hardware revision of the product with a much-better remote control; it occurs to me now that that remote will surely have a home button with the universal empty app icon on it.) And his font choices — yikes. Frutiger (or whatever Frutiger-like typeface he’s using) makes the whole thing look more like a Windows Phone 9 concept than an iOS one. It’s like iOS re-imagined by someone who doesn’t like iOS. Hard for me to see how this is getting praised like this.

His animations and transitions do show how going “flatter” doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating playfulness, though.

Bloomberg Reporters Snooping on Wall Street Via Bloomberg Financial Terminals 

Mark DeCambre, reporting for the NY Post:

In one instance, a Bloomberg reporter asked a Goldman executive if a partner at the bank had recently left the firm — noting casually that he hadn’t logged into his Bloomberg terminal in some time, sources added.

Goldman later learned that Bloomberg staffers could determine not only which of its employees had logged into Bloomberg’s proprietary terminals but how many times they had used particular functions, insiders said.

(Via The Verge.)

The Loop Magazine 

New iOS subscription-based magazine, from Jim Dalrymple and The Loop:

All of the articles published in The Loop magazine are exclusive to the publication and written by some great writers. For instance, the first issue includes articles from Matt Gemmell, Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess, Michael Simmons, Holly Winewell, Peter Cohen and long time Apple analyst Ben Bajarin.

Good first issue. It’s fascinating to me to see magazine publishing emerge as a medium for small independents.

Peter Shankman: ‘If Google Glass Fails, It’s Robert Scoble’s Fault’ 

Bizarre, but telling argument by Peter Shankman:

See, it’s people like Scoble who ruin it for regular people, the masses who will determine whether Glass succeeds or winds up in the land of the Apple Newton. His review was so over the top, so up Google’s ass, so “I’m taking a freaking shower while wearing them” (complete with photos,) that no normal, non-over-the-edge Geek will want to come within a hundred miles of them.

So much for mass adoption. It’s the Segway effect. I was the first person in NYC to own a Segway back in 2003. It. Was. Awesome. But I was also on the damn thing every minute of every single day. I’m not proud of that. I did back then to the Segway, what Scoble is doing to Glass, today, and he should have learned from my mistakes.

This is almost comically misguided. Glass will succeed or fail on its own merits, just as most mass market products do. The problem with Segway wasn’t that Peter Shankman drew attention to himself by riding it all over New York. The problem with Segway is that almost no one wanted a $4000 scooter, and the only people that Segway did appeal to were socially-maladjusted, self-centered, self-important, “Hey everybody, look at me! I’m using this ostentatious expensive new gadget!” blowhards like Peter Shankman.

But so, yes, I do think Glass is headed for the same fate as Segway.

Beware of Quotes That Aren’t Inside Quotation Marks 

Yesterday, Bloomberg reporter Tim Culpan wrote this paragraph:

A decline in revenue from the iPad Mini “is more on demand, while price has been stable,” Pegatron Chief Executive Officer Jason Cheng said. “Not just tablets, also e-books and games consoles, almost every item is moving in a negative direction.”

Philip Elmer-DeWitt was curious about the placement of those quotation marks, and asked Cheng if he actually said that demand for the iPad Mini is down. He did not.

‘This Is Water’ 

The Glossary:

In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn’t become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we’ve ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.

We made this video, built around an abridged version of the original audio recording, with the hopes that the core message of the speech could reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise been interested.

Really well done. I miss Wallace so very much.

Netflix, Reed Hastings Survive Missteps to Join Silicon Valley’s Elite 

Ashlee Vance profiles Netflix and Reed Hastings for Businessweek:

On a normal weeknight, Netflix accounts for almost a third of all Internet traffic entering North American homes. That’s more than YouTube, Hulu,, HBO Go, iTunes, and BitTorrent combined.

Peter Nixey on iCloud and Photo Management 

Good piece by Peter Nixey on the convoluted state of photo management with iCloud. I’d like to see something like this:

Get rid of photo streams. Make the camera roll a single photo stream that shows up in iPhoto (on all devices). I want a single camera roll that all devices feed into. I want to take photos, queue them in my camera roll then pull them out as I organise and sort them into my library. Let me explain: photos and videos have two phases: (1) on the camera roll; (2) in my photo library. Nowhere else.

Amy Worrall’s Proposal for App Store Trial Periods 

I’m surprised Apple hasn’t yet implemented something along these lines. Hope we get it in iOS 7. (Via Dave Addey.)

An Awful Lot of Purported Wine Experts Are Full of Shit 

Robert T. Gonzalez:

In 2001, researcher Frédéric Brochet invited 54 wine experts to give their opinions on what were ostensibly two glasses of different wine: one red, and one white. In actuality, the two wines were identical, with one exception: the “red” wine had been dyed with food coloring.

The experts described the “red” wine in language typically reserved for characterizing reds. They called it “jammy,” for example, and noted the flavors imparted by its “crushed red fruit.” Not one of the 54 experts surveyed noticed that it was, in fact a white wine.

AOL vs. Netflix: The Broadband Era Illustrated 

Interesting chart from Dan Frommer: AOL’s dialup demise is nearly the mirror image of Netflix’s rise.

John McAfee Answers Questions From Slashdot Readers 

Almost certainly the most entertaining thing you’ll read today. A taste:

I haven’t been involved with McAfee anti-virus for 21 years. When I ran the company the software was the best and least intrusive on the market, and in 1991 we had 87% of the world market. What happened after I left was none of my doing. As to name association, I am a master at sullying my own name and, all things considered, being associated with the worst software on the planet ranks way down the pole. It’s barely a blip in the ocean of associations — madman, paranoid, child molester, murderer, drug addict, unstable, liar, to name but a few. Thank god I’m 67 and will probably be too hard of hearing soon enough to have to listen to them rattling around wherever I go. Amy, thankfully, did half the job already by bursting my left eardrum when she tried to shoot me in the head while I slept back in 2011.

Photographer Peter Belanger on Shooting for Apple 

Michael Shane for The Verge:

You’ve almost certainly never heard of Peter Belanger, but you’ve definitely seen his photographs. In fact, you may even see his work every day, and it’s likely that you own some of his most famous subjects. Belanger is the man behind some of Apple’s most iconic product images, a San Francisco-based product photographer at the top of his field.

Beauty, Truth, and Jony Ive 

In a similar vein, John Siracusa asks:

It’s interesting that Jobs and Ive saw eye to eye on hardware design and yet seemed far apart, at least in Jobs’s final years, when it comes to software design. While Jobs was reportedly a champion of rich Corinthian leather, Ive could only wince when asked about it in an interview.

I’m confident that we’ll see less leather, wood, felt, and animated reel-to-reel tapes in Apple’s future software products, but the question remains: what does it mean for an application or an OS to be true to itself?

Put another way, if the hardware should be true to its materials — glass, aluminum (hard not to spell it aluminium when discussing Ive), plastic — what is it that software should be true to? RGB pixels? I think not. I think the on-screen UI elements should (and under Ive, will be) simply true to themselves. Let a button be a button, and make it look good, with an emotional feel appropriate to its context and purpose. No need to overthink it.

Jony Ive on Designing for Emotion 

Jony Ive, quoted by Ben Thompson from a talk a few years ago:

You know we all can look at the same object, but we will all perceive it in a very unique way. It means something different to each of us. Part of the job of a designer is to try to understand what happens between physically seeing something and interpreting it.

Thompson offers some good thoughts on what Ive’s leadership means for iOS7 — but I think he vastly underestimates just how much work even just an appearance-only overhaul of iOS would be. An appearance overhaul plus the usual annual dose of functional changes, additions, and improvements is even more work.

Syncing Is Only Part of the Future 

Brent Simmons:

Even if Apple works out syncing — somehow — that’s just not enough. That just gets us to where we should have been in 2008. The future belongs to apps with more sophisticated services.

And the future belongs (in part) to whoever provides those services. If you’re an iOS or Mac developer, you’d like it to be Apple.

‘iOS 7 Deforestation’ 

“Tell me something weird about the people in Erie.”

“Well, first of all, I think the whole place is made of cigarettes.”

Just a snippet from this week’s episode of The Talk Show, wherein I’m joined by special guest Marco Arment. Topics include: reports of iOS 7’s new system-wide appearance and where Apple might be heading stylistically; Microsoft’s scrapping of the “Hotmail” brand and their generally inscrutable branding as a company; Google and personal privacy, particularly as it relates to Google Glass and Google Now’s location tracking.

Brought to you be two excellent sponsors:

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‘It’s Too Steven Seagal, Not Steve McQueen Enough’ 

Inspiring video short from AIGA profiling H&FJ’s Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones.

Massimo Vignelli on Grid-Based Design 

Massimo Vignelli:

The grid is an integral part of book design. It’s not something that you see. It’s just like underwear: you wear it, but it’s not to be exposed. The grid is the underwear of the book.

Love that he draws each photo as he sketches the layout.

Party Monster 

Cool, clever, simple music queueing DJ app for iPhone and iPad. One of the best drag-to-reorder UIs I’ve seen. You know you want to check out an app with a “Refuse to Play Nickelback” preference setting. $2, cheap.

Grading Kindle Accessibility on iOS 

A good start, but not great.

Apple Cracks Top 10 of Fortune 500 for First Time 

Fortune ranks companies by revenue; if they ranked by profit Apple would have been in the top ten for years. Oh, and have you seen all the news stories about Apple’s stock price rebounding over 15 percent since its nadir last month? Me neither. Odd.

MG Siegler Joins Google Ventures 

MG Siegler:

It was almost exactly 19 months ago that I laid down the proverbial writer’s pen and picked up the less proverbial pen for writing checks. It has been an amazing experience getting a fund up and running, learning, and ultimately, making a lot of wonderful investments. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve decided to dive deeper by joining Google Ventures as a general partner.

Whoa. Did not see this one coming.

Nintendo Taps Smartphone Apps for Console Boost 

The Japan Times:

Nintendo Co. is trying to modify its game consoles so customers can use smartphone applications on them as it searches for a way to return to profitability, company sources said.

The game console and software maker has offered professional-use conversion software to application developers so they can produce smartphone games that can be played on Wii U, a struggling home video game console that helped widen the firm’s operating loss in fiscal 2012.

They’re on the right road, but driving in the wrong direction.

Designing ‘Faraway’ 

Rob Dubbin, writing for The New Yorker:

That year’s festival juries named Faraway a finalist (indie gaming’s Oscar nominee) for Best Mobile Game, as well as an honorable mention (benevolent Oscar snub) in the big-ticket category of Best Design. Faraway was not on my judging docket of randomly assigned games that year, so my iPad was not granted permission to install a provisional copy. At the time, I figured it wouldn’t be long until I could experience the game for myself, as a device-carrying member of the app-consuming public. I even got to try an unfinished version of it once, at the apartment of a friend of the developer, in a somewhat frantic thirty-minute session that left me both slack-jawed with awe and certain I’d no more scratched Faraway’s surface than I had physically exited our solar system’s heliosheath.

That was two years ago.

Kara Swisher on the Instagram/Facebook Acquisition 

Kara Swisher, profiling Instagram founder Kevin Systrom for Vanity Fair:

On a beach walk one day, Nicole told him she would be reluctant to use the app he was working on because her pictures would never be as good as the ones a mutual friend took. “I said, ‘Well, you know what he does to those photos, right?’ She’s like, ‘No, he just takes good photos.’ I’m like, ‘No, no, he puts them through filter apps.’ She’s like, ‘Well, you guys should probably have filters too, right, then?’ I was like, ‘Huh.’”

Great piece. No word on bringing back Gotham, though.

IBM Wearable Computer Commercial From 2000 

Not only predicted the hardware design of Google Glass, but also the glasshole personality of its users. (Thanks to Kieran Healy.)

See also: Fred Armisen on SNL Weekend Update, reviewing Glass.

Photoshop CC 

Some big new features for designers coming in the next revision of Photoshop, including editable roundrects and support for the system’s text anti-aliasing. (Those new app icons seem a little nutty, though.)

Stroke of Luck, Indeed 

Daniel Jalkut:

The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button hasn’t, to my knowledge, been changed to “stroke of luck” in any regional version of Google’s home page. It has, however, been changed into a useless button whose behavior has no relevance to the original “most-relevant result” behavior. It’s just a piece of useless junk on Google’s otherwise still admirably minimalist home page.

Director’s Cut: ‘The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved’ 

Grantland revisits a classic by Hunter S. Thompson.

Mac SuperBundle 

My thanks to Mac SuperBundle for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. For just $49, you get an amazing bundle of nine apps, starting with the award-winning Parallels Desktop 8. Also included: TextExpander, the powerful website builder RapidWeaver 5, Circus Ponies Notebook, MacGo BluRay Player, PDF to Word Converter for Mac, Tidy Up, Font Explosion, and Hyperbolic Smart Trash. All titles are the latest and full versions.

Purchased separately, this collection would cost over $400; you can buy them all today for just $49. The Mac SuperBundle is a limited-time offer that expires on May 15.


Agam Shaw, reporting for CiteWorld:

“The plan for an RT tablet is ongoing,” said Acer President Jim Wong in an interview Friday at a company event in New York.

The company planned to release a Windows RT tablet in the second quarter, but has decided to hold off for now.

“To be honest, there’s no value doing the current version of RT,” Wong said.

Google Changes ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ 

Also interesting: instead of “I feel lucky”, they have “Stroke of luck”.

Google Glass Battery Life 

Joanna Stern:

You can’t wear them all day long. Well, you can, but they will just be a funny-looking accessory since the battery doesn’t last more than 3.5 hours right now.

No problem, just buy three of them.

(Via Jay Yarow’s roundup of Glass reviews.)

J.C. Penney Apologizes in TV Spot 

Excruciatingly embarrassing to watch. A company with no dignity or pride.

Update: Penney claims the ad was developed under Ron Johnson. I don’t care who put it together, it’s awful. Update 2: Regarding that claim, Ken Segall says “Totally untrue. The ad was created by Y&R, who was hired to be the new agency after Ron left.” So as soon as the ad debuted, they started lying about who was responsible for it, which makes the whole thing even more embarrassing.

Acer Iconia A1 Tablet 

The Verge:

Acer also revealed that you’ll be able to use a five-finger gesture to power on the device.

Finally, the modern tablet era can truly begin.

Creative Review’s Design Studio of the Year: Bloomberg Businessweek 

Well-deserved; Businessweek is doing some great design work.


So at least that Glass app is aptly named. (Via Craig Hockenberry.)

Google Glass Developer Writes an App to Snap Photos With Just a Wink 

“OK Glass, let’s be creepy.”

Acorn 4 

An almost unbelievably great update to Flying Meat’s already-great image editor for the Mac. New stuff includes huge performance improvements, non-destructive filters and layer styles, and a completely overhauled UI. Gus Mueller has a quick introductory video showing the new filtering UI, and Jeff Blagdon wrote a long piece for The Verge including an interview with Mueller.

The Chadwick Chair 

Brett Terpstra:

I wasn’t completely sold on the Aeron, though. Then a recommendation from John Gruber for the Chadwick chair showed up on my Twitter stream and piqued my interest. Given that I was already in the market and ready to drop a fair sum of money, that nudge was enough.

The Chadwick Chair costs about $100 less, and I happened to have that much saved toward the Aeron. I took a chance and ordered it. It arrived less than 48 hours later and I’ve been sitting in it for a day now.

Don Chadwick is the designer behind both the Aeron and the Chadwick. The Chadwick is the one he put his name on. I’ve had mine for three years, and consider it one of the smartest purchases I’ve ever made.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Predicts the Future of Streaming Video 

Peter Kafka, summarizing Reed Hastings’s long-term view of the future of streaming video:

The one new nugget here is a Hastings prediction, held by many other people, that we’re moving to a world where “apps replace channels.” Hastings mentions apps nearly 3 dozen times in his essay, and makes it clear that he sees Netflix first and foremost as an app provider.

I’m trying to think of a certain company in a prime position to thrive as apps replace channels. Tip of my tongue, can’t quite think of it.

Why Apple Is Going Into Debt Rather Than Using Its Cash 

Long story short: Because so much of the company’s cash is held overseas, and it would cost far, far more in taxes to bring that cash into the U.S. than they’ll pay in interest on the debt they’ve sold.

See also: Robert Reich argues that this is poor government policy.

John Paczkowski on iOS 7’s Ive-Led Visual Overhaul 

Paczkowski has actual quotes from actual sources on the new appearance:

I’ve heard similar descriptions from sources who say iOS 7 is iOS “de-glitzed.”

“Put it this way,” said one source who has been briefed on iOS. “You know Game Center’s green felt craps table? Well, goodbye, Circus Circus.”

Not a surprise, really. With Scott Forstall — an advocate for flashy, skeuomorphic design and its stitched-leather and faux-wood-grain flourishes — now gone from Apple, and Ive in an expanded role, the current and former Apple employees I’ve spoken to say iOS 7 was destined for a new coat of paint. As one said, “Sounds like a much-needed ‘de-Forstallization.’”

He’s also got a source confirming the scuttlebutt I heard a few weeks ago about engineering resources being pulled from OS X 10.9 to work on iOS 7.

See also: More confirmation from Adam Satariano at Bloomberg.

Apple, Open, and Learning From History 

Ben Evans, on why today’s mobile industry doesn’t much resemble the PC industry of the 90s:

In other words, Apple has product/market fit in the phone market in a way that it never had in the personal computer market. All of the key dynamics that doomed it in the computer market are fundamentally different in the phone market — this time, they all work in Apple’s favour, and in favour of the high-end market in general.

The other thing to keep in mind is that while Apple fared poorly in the PC market as the 90s wore on, they’ve since recovered, and as the PC market has matured and stabilized, Apple has solidified a position as the single most profitable PC maker in the world. It’s not even close — Apple makes more profit selling PCs than the next five PC makers combined.

Apple will do just fine if its long-term position in the phone market settles in like its position in the PC market. (See also: my “Open and Shut” piece from March.)

Feds Prosecute Gamblers Who Exploited a Software Bug to Win at Video Poker 

Kevin Poulsen, reporting for Wired Threat Level:

Kane began by selecting a game, like Triple Double Bonus Poker, and playing it at the lowest denomination the machine allows, like the $1.00 level. He kept playing, until he won a high payout, like the $820 at the Silverton.

Then he’d immediately switch to a different game variation, like straight “Draw Poker.” He’d play Draw Poker until he scored a win of any amount at all. The point of this play was to get the machine to offer a “double-up”, which lets the player put his winnings up to simple high-card-wins draw. Through whatever twist of code caused the bug, the appearance of the double-up invitation was critical. Machines that didn’t have the option enabled were immune.

Now when Kane returned to Triple Double Bonus Poker, he’d find his previous $820 win was still showing. He could press the cash-out button from this screen, and the machine would re-award the jackpot. Better yet, it would re-calculate the win at the new denomination level, giving him a hand-payout of $8,200.

Obviously a bug, but I can’t see how it’s a crime to take advantage of it.

Update 8 May 2013: The feds have dropped the hacking charges, but are still pursuing a count of wire fraud. Not sure how that makes sense either.