Linked List: April 2014

People Who Don’t Use Tablets Want Windows 8 Tablets 

Amazing research from Forrester. Shocker.

Gerry Conway on Comixology and Amazon 

Renowned comic book writer Gerry Conway:

And so, as we could have predicted, Amazon wrecks Comixology.

What has it been, less than a month since Jeff Bezos bought the most promising tool for renewing the mass distribution of comics in the digital era? I’ll give the man this: he’s moved faster to undermine an existing technology for the benefit of his own company than General Motors did when it sabotaged Los Angeles’s public transit Red Line for the benefit of the bus fleet they wanted to sell the City of Angels. Job well done, Jeff.

Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi to Appear at Recode Conference in May 

Interesting — previously, only Apple’s CEOs (Jobs, then Cook) have appeared at the Swisher/Mossberg conference. Late May is kind of crummy timing for this, though, coming just before, instead of after, Apple’s WWDC announcements.

Nomos Watch Manufacturing 

Only a few minutes long, but I could watch this for hours. I find expert craftsmanship utterly fascinating.

Vox Is Publishing Some of Its Stories and the Interviews Behind Them in Parallel 

Great idea, and benefits everyone: subjects, readers, and Vox. It’s hard to claim you are being quoted “out of context” when the context is a click away. Likewise, it’s harder for the interviewers to take things out of context.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorships 
A last-minute schedule change yesterday opened up next week’s DF feed sponsorship.

There are only a few weeks left for May and June, too. Get in touch if you have a cool product or service you want to promote to DF’s discerning audience.

Comixology, Now Owned by Amazon, Removes In-App Purchases to Avoid Paying Fees to Apple 

Hold on a second, while I delete Comixology from my iPad.

‘Peak iPad? We’ll See.’ 

Nice piece from MG Siegler.

If the iPad is a fad, it’s the greatest fad in the history of American business.

And so I repeat: the iPad got too successful, too quickly. And everyone (including Apple) got spoiled by those insane numbers.


My thanks to Bellroy for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Bellroy is a new company that specializes in creating slim, stylish, functional wallets — like the Slim Sleeve, the ultra-compact Hide and Seek, and the Travel Wallet.

Bellroy’s wallets are a great example of the adage that design isn’t how something looks, it’s how it works. These wallets are very functional. They sent me a Slim Sleeve (in Cocoa), and the pull-out tab for infrequently-used cards is very clever. Looks and feels great too — best wallet I’ve ever used.

Crystal Collection for Samsung Galaxy S5 

Even I’ll admit, Apple can’t innovate like this.

‘Mobile Safari Creator’ 

Andrew Cunningham, regurgitating for Ars Technica Brian Chen’s interview with former Apple engineer Francisco Tolmasky:

Today, the New York Times Bits Blog ran an extensive interview with Francisco Tolmasky, the developer responsible for the first version of mobile Safari, and he shared some additional details about the creation of the very first iPhone apps.

Judging by my inbox, an awful lot of coffee was spewed in Cupertino today upon reading Tolmasky’s self-aggrandizing description of his role in Mobile Safari’s creation. There’s a difference between “the developer responsible for the first version of mobile Safari” and “the developer who claims he was responsible for the first version of mobile Safari”.

Update: Said one long-time trusted source: “He definitely was NOT the lead on the project and several other engineers made far more significant contributions.”

Update 2: Ars has changed the headline and appended an update to the article which begins:

This article originally stated that Tolmasky was the leader of Apple’s Web team; he contacted us to tell us that he was just one of its five members. The original headline also referred to Tolmasky as mobile Safari’s “creator,” and Tolmasky made clear to us that each application was the combined work of multiple people.

Former Apple Engineer Francisco Tolmasky on the Creation of Mobile Safari and iOS 

Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT:

“Each one of these things is basically one person,” said Mr. Tolmasky, while tapping his finger on some of the app icons on the packaging for the first iPhone. While all members of the software team worked together on the many different software elements on the original iPhone before it shipped, each piece had a person leading it. Mr. Tolmasky said he was the point man on mobile Safari.

He told how several of the iPhone’s apps and key features came to be created. The keyboard, he said, was the result of a sort of hackathon run by Mr. Jobs. The chief executive had been unhappy with the keyboard prototypes for the iPhone, so he assigned everyone on the team to work only on keyboards for an entire week. An engineer on Mr. Tolmasky’s team won the contest, and from then on his full-time job was to work on the iPhone keyboard.

It’s certainly unusual for a former Apple employee to speak so openly and take so much personal credit for their work at the company. Most stick to the code of silence not out of fear, but because they left the company on good terms and want to keep the door open to perhaps return someday. I suspect Tolmasky doesn’t have to worry about that. (And it strikes me as highly dubious that a 20-year-old, no matter how talented, was in charge of Mobile Safari.)

Tolmasky’s new iPad game, Bonsai Slice, looks interesting, though.

Reuters: Apple, Google Agree to Pay Over $300 Million to Settle No-Poaching Conspiracy Lawsuit 

Dan Levine, reporting for Reuters:

Four major tech companies including Apple and Google have agreed to pay a total of $324 million to settle a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley, sources familiar with the deal said, just weeks before a high profile trial had been scheduled to begin.

So are recruiters from Google and Apple now making offers to employees at each other’s company?

Comcast Response to Netflix 

Jennifer Khoury, Comcast senior vice president:

Netflix’s argument is a House of Cards.

High fives all around the Comcast PR department for that sick burn.

As at least one independent commentator has pointed out, it was not Comcast that was creating viewability issues for Netflix customers, it was Netflix’s commercial transit decisions that created these issues. No ISP in the country has been a stronger supporter of the Open Internet than Comcast – and we remain committed both to providing our customers with a free and open Internet and to supporting appropriate FCC rules to ensure that consumers’ access to the Internet is protected in a legally enforceable way.

As Peter Kafka translates, Comcast is arguing that Netflix sabotaged its own streams:

Now it’s out there, and it’s kind of amazing: If the accusation is true, it means that Netflix shortchanged some of its customers, for reasons that aren’t quite clear. If it’s not, it means that Comcast, which has to be on its best behavior as it tries to get the federal government to bless its Time Warner Cable deal, has made a damning charge in public that it can’t back up.

(I love too how the legal disclaimer at the end of Comcast’s blog post is three times longer than the post itself.)

Welcome to Comcast Country 

Daniel Denvir, in an op-ed for the NYT:

Starting in Philadelphia, Comcast built a hometown political machine and turned it into a national juggernaut. In 2013, the company spent $18.8 million on federal lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s more than all but six other corporations. The company is also a major donor, making nearly $5.5 million in federal political contributions during the 2012 cycle. [...]

The effort to sideline concerns about consumer protection was pioneered in Philadelphia in 1999, when Comcast was aided by City Hall in keeping a rival company, RCN, out of the local cable market.

“Good God!” Mr. Rendell recalled telling RCN, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We have to tear up the streets so you can come in here and compete against one of our best corporate citizens?”

Forget it, Jake. It’s Kabletown.

Netflix: The Case Against ISP Tolls 

Ken Florance, vice president of content delivery at Netflix:

In sum, Comcast is not charging Netflix for transit service. It is charging Netflix for access to its subscribers. Comcast also charges its subscribers for access to Internet content providers like Netflix. In this way, Comcast is double dipping by getting both its subscribers and Internet content providers to pay for access to each other.

It is true that there is competition among the transit providers and CDNs that transport and localize data across networks. But even the most competitive transit market cannot ensure sufficient access to the Comcast network. That’s because, to reach consumers, CDNs and transit providers must ultimately hand the traffic over to a terminating ISP like Comcast, which faces no competition. Put simply, there is one and only one way to reach Comcast’s subscribers at the last mile: Comcast.

And conversely, for many of us, there is only one way to get high speed internet access at home: Comcast.

White House Petition on Net Neutrality 

One more action we can take.

Save the Internet 

If you’re upset with the FCC’s position on Net Neutrality, as I am, here’s a way to do something about it.

Great Moments in Vic Gundotra History 

May 2010: Gundotra on stage at I/O.

Vic Gundotra Leaving Google 

Kara Swisher, Recode:

Vic Gundotra, who aggressively led Google into the social world with the creation of Google+, is leaving the company.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the departure and CEO Larry Page also sent out an internal memo to staff about the move.

Interesting: the news first broke on Secret, a few days ago.

GeekTime: ‘Apple Smart Watch Is Not So Much a Watch as It Is a Smart Band’ 

Roy Latke, GeekTime:

In recent weeks I spoke several times with two sources in Cupertino pertaining to future products to be released by Apple later this year for the holiday season in the U.S. and Europe. Judging on the basis of the information revealed in these conversations, Apple has been working for a long time on a project that appears to be in its final stages of touch-ups.

What became clear is that the much anticipated Apple smart watch is not so much a watch as it is a smart band. It would appear that just as Apple has done with the iPhone and iPad, here too the technology giant plans to create a focal point around which a new ecosystem will evolve. To be more specific, Apple is looking to launch a smart band towards the end of this year whose collection of sensors will be able to be used not only to monitor the activity of the wearer, but also to operate other devices as a gestural controller.

Filed for future claim chowder.

The Upshot on Apple’s Stock Split 

Neil Irwin, writing for the NYT’s new sub-site, The Upshot:

But there’s another way of looking at it. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, has avoided splitting shares of his Berkshire Hathaway so resolutely that each one now trades at a whopping $190,800 per Class A share. (He has bowed to practicality — and the fact that most people can’t invest nearly $200,000 for a single share of a stock — by introducing Class B shares that now go for a more reasonable $127 each).

Mr. Buffett’s logic has been that trying to game the market by doing stock splits attracts the wrong type of trader: people looking to trade in and out of a stock, rather than buy and hold it as a long-term investment. Interestingly, his logic for not splitting Berkshire stock for all these years matches precisely the findings of Mr. Dhar and his colleagues. It’s just that Mr. Buffett would prefer not to have that extra liquidity in Berkshire stock if it means dealing with shareholders who are looking for a short-term score.

With its split decision, then, Apple is effectively choosing its own shareholders — and not the ones who are most likely to stick with the company when it encounters bad times.

I’m curious too, why Apple chose a 7-for-1 split. As per Apple’s own FAQ, the company’s three previous stock splits were all 2-for-1.

Matt Yglesias speculates that one factor might be Apple’s desire to be part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Update: From an email from DF reader ET:

Neil Irwin claims Apple’s move will attract the wrong crowd, but by almost every metric Apple doesn’t seem to be properly valued: so is that the “right” crowd? Who needs enemies when you have friends like that!

Great point.

Apple Reports Second-Quarter Earnings 

Dan Miller, reporting for Macworld:

iPhone sales were up 17 percent compared to the second quarter last year (43.7 million phones sold versus 37.4 million the year before). Revenues from the smartphones were up, too, from $22.95 billion to $26.06 billion, an increase of 13 percent. The iPhone now accounts for fully 57 percent of Apple’s overall revenues (up from 53 percent last year).

In his comments, Apple CEO Tim Cook said demand for each of the three current iPhone models (the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 4s) has been stronger than predecessor (a pointed rebuke, perhaps, to those who have proclaimed the 5c to be a failure). He also pointed out that phone sales were particularly robust in Asian markets, particularly Japan and China (where the addition of China Mobile as a carrier and iPhone 4s pricing led to an all-time sales record).

iPad sales were effectively flat, year-over-year; Mac sales were slightly up (which is impressive, given the continuing decline of the overall PC market).

A few other tidbits from the analyst conference call:

  • They’re splitting the stock 7-for-1 in the first week of June. That’ll bring the price per share to somewhere around $70-80.

  • Angela Ahrendts starts next week.

FCC, in ‘Net Neutrality’ Turnaround, Plans to Allow Fast Lane 

Edward Wyatt, reporting for the NYT:

The new rules, according to the people briefed on them, will allow a company like Comcast or Verizon to negotiate separately with each content company — like Netflix, Amazon, Disney or Google — and charge different companies different amounts for priority service.

That, of course, could increase costs for content companies, which would then have an incentive to pass on those costs to consumers as part of their subscription prices.

Proponents of net neutrality have feared that such a framework would empower large, wealthy companies and prevent small start-ups, which might otherwise be the next Twitter or Facebook, for example, from gaining any traction in the market.

Some claim chowder from 2007, “Obama Pledges Net Neutrality Laws if Elected President”:

The question, selected through an online video contest, was posed via video by small-business owner and former AT&T engineer Joe Niederberger, a member of the liberal advocacy group He asked Obama: “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate Net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint FCC commissioners that support open Internet principles like Net neutrality?”

“The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality.”

He went on to explain the issue briefly: “What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites... so you could get much better quality from the Fox News site and you’d be getting rotten service from the mom and pop sites,” he went on. “And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet — which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

‘Far, Far Away From Your Parents’ 

Speaking of HBO Go, these new commercials are brilliant. (Via John Moltz.)

Amazon Gets Rights to Stream Old HBO Shows 

Peter Kafka:

That means Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to see shows that have already run on HBO, like “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.” And they can also watch older seasons of some shows that are still on the air, like “Girls,” three years after they air.

It’s the first time HBO has offered access to its catalog via a streaming video service that’s not its own HBO Go. And it gives Amazon an important bragging right/differentiation point as it tries to gain ground on rival Netflix.

People familiar with the deal say HBO did not shop the catalog to Netflix or other potential Amazon rivals.

In short: you still need HBO Go to watch new shows, and the only way to get HBO Go is to pay for HBO with your cable service. But Fire TV is getting HBO Go, too, “targeting a launch by year-end”.

A Twitter Grammar Question 

PJ Vogt:

We all know the rule for “a” versus “an.” [...]

So the sentence “I read a Guardian article” is straightforward. But what about on Twitter? Any time you mention someone in a sentence, you use their handle. Which means every name on Twitter starts with @, a vowel sound. Do we count it? We tried to figure that out this morning.

I say no — even if you’d say the “at” aloud verbally, in writing you should choose a/an based on the first letter in the Twitter handle, not the @ character. Tricky question though.

Appreciating Albert Pujols 

ESPN’s Jayson Stark, on the newest member of baseball’s 500 Homers Club:

So the moral of this story remains the same: Lots of men have hit baseballs over many, many fences. Only the greatest hitters who ever lived have been the all-around offensive forces that Pujols has been. And that’s a fact. [...]

But suppose we take all those other numbers out of this and focus just on batting average — which isn’t a measure of power at all but merely of a man’s ability to hit baseballs where nobody with a glove is standing.

At .321, Pujols has the fourth-highest average in the entire 500 Homer Club — trailing only those same three men from the previous list: Williams (.344), Ruth (.342) and Foxx (.325).

Matthew Carter: ‘My Life in Typefaces’ 

Matthew Carter, speaking at TED, on constraints and compromise in design.

iOS 7.1.1 Now Labels Apps With ‘In-App Purchases’ in Top Charts and Featured Sections 

Sort of like putting a (deserved) asterisk after the word “free”.

OS X Beta Seed Program 

New program from Apple:

Join the OS X Beta Seed Program and help make OS X even better. Install the latest pre-release software, try it out, and submit your feedback.

Previously, you had to be a registered developer to get access to OS beta seeds.

Update: I was wrong. The Apple Seed Program for non-developers isn’t new — it’s been around as long as Mac OS X has. What’s new is that it’s now open for anyone to join. Until now, it was by invitation only.

Greg Christie on the Creation of the Original iPhone 

Speaking of Greg Christie, I neglected to link to this fascinating piece by Daisuke Wakabayashi for the WSJ last month. It’s a very rare behind-the-scenes look at Apple’s design process. My favorite tidbit: they simulated the iPhone’s performance by using a then-years-old G3 Mac to run the software while it was in development.

Apple made Christie available to Steve Henn of NPR’s All Things Considered, too. To me, that Apple chose Christie for these profiles is a telling sign that his upcoming retirement from Apple is on nothing but the best of terms. The intention was to let Christie — who is extremely well-liked personally and highly-regarded for his work within the company — go out on top, with well-earned credit where credit is due.

This Week on The Talk Show: Mark Gurman 

Special guest Mark Gurman from 9to5Mac joins me on my podcast for a discussion of Apple journalism, rumors surrounding upcoming Apple products, and UI design chief Greg Christie’s upcoming retirement.

Brought to you by:

Beats Music Starts Selling In-App Subscriptions on iOS 

Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

Beats CEO Ian Rogers says the decision to sell within the Apple app was fairly straightforward: More than half of Beats users use iPhones, and it’s very hard to get an iOS user to subscribe if you don’t sell in-app.

Two other music subscription services — Rhapsody and Rdio — have also agreed to sell subscriptions within Apple’s app, though Rdio raised the price for in-app subscriptions from $10 a month to $15 a month to accommodate Apple’s tariff.

But Spotify, which is much larger than all three of the services, hasn’t made the move. Spotify does have a free, ad-supported tier available on its mobile app.

So Apple is making money on music subscriptions even though iTunes itself doesn’t (yet?) offer them.

Photographs of Golf Balls Cut in Half 

Surprisingly beautiful photos by James Friedman.

On the Leveling-Off of iPad Sales 

Jean-Louis Gassée, on the widespread expectation that year-over-year iPad sales have leveled off:

Despite the inspiring ads, Apple’s hopes for the iPad overshot what the product can actually deliver. Although there’s a large numbers of iPad-only users, there’s also a substantial population of dual-use customers for whom both tablets and conventional PCs are now part of daily life.

I see the lull in iPad sales as a coming down to reality after unrealistic expectations, a realization that iPads aren’t as ready to replace PCs as many initially hoped.

In short, Gassée is arguing that tablet sales have hit a wall, and that the iPad needs to grow more Mac-like capabilities for advanced tasks.

Gassée’s piece spawned an interesting thread on Twitter, in which Benedict Evans argued:

Posit: slow iPad sales are worse news for the PC market: implies phones can take the greater share of PC use cases.

I find that compelling. We might have overestimated the eventual role of tablets and underestimated the role of phones — and the whole argument is further muddled by the industry-wide move toward 5-inch-ish phone displays.

The Decline of Compact Cameras 

Eric Perlberg has a chart shown at Photokina 2014, showing the rapid decline of standalone point-shoot-cameras. No surprise, of course: mobile devices equipped with cameras have taken over (and revolutionized) the casual photography market.

(Source: Original (in Japanese), and translated.)

Apple on Environmental Responsibility 

Interesting choice of narrator.

WSJ: ‘Mobile-Payments Startup Square Discusses Possible Sale’ 

The WSJ:

Square recorded a loss of roughly $100 million in 2013, broader than its loss in 2012, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The five-year-old company paid out roughly $110 million more in cash last year than it took in, according to two people familiar with the matter. Over the past three years, the startup has consumed more than half of the roughly $340 million it has raised from at least four rounds of equity financing since 2009, two people familiar with the company’s performance said.

I’m sure they can make it up on volume.

Layout in Flipboard for Web and Windows 

Charles Ying, describing how Duplo, Flipboard’s new JavaScript-based layout engine, works:

Duplo starts in a similar way as Pages: A designer creates a set of layouts. From this set, Pages selects the layout that best fits the desired content. However, while Pages looks at about 20 candidate layouts, Duplo looks at anywhere between 2000 to 6000 candidates, searching for the best layout to fit the content.

The Invention of the AeroPress 

Zachary Crockett, writing for Priceonomics, on Alan Adler, inventor of (among other things) the Aerobie flying disc and the AeroPress coffee maker:

Adler says the mainstream toy industry has a tendency to push out new products every three years. “Parker Brothers, for instance, has a quota of ten new toys every year at the NY Toy Fair,” he tells us. Aerobie finds this practice counter-intuitive, and goes against the grain:

“A lot of companies feel the need to release new products; they’ll release products that never really deserved to be sold! They’re just not that good. We don’t look at it that way: we only release products that we think are innovative and offer excellent play value. Companies often spoil products by revising them in an effort to make them new.”

Conversely, Aerobie has stuck with a relatively small list of products (18, over a 30 year business), and has never had to discontinue a product (this is a routine practice at major toy manufacturers).

CNet: Nike Fires FuelBand Engineering Team; Set to Exit Wearable Hardware Market 

Nick Statt, reporting for CNet:

Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable-hardware efforts, and the sportswear company this week fired the majority of the team responsible for the development of its FuelBand fitness tracker, a person familiar with the matter told CNET. [...]

There’s increasing competition in the market for wrist-worn fitness trackers, and Nike’s digital app ecosystem, Nike+, has grown less reliant on wearables as smartphone sensors have improved. In other words, it makes less and less sense for Nike to stay in the hardware race when its physical wearables are not bottom-line needle movers, especially as companies like Apple and Google prepare to join the fray.

Interesting, particularly when you consider that Tim Cook sits on the Nike board — and that he wears a FuelBand.

Update: Nike issued a sort of non-denial denial to Recode.


My thanks to JetPens, one of my favorite companies in the world, for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. JetPens offers an incredible selection of the best pens, pencils, and office toys from around the world. A few of their latest items:

My personal favorite for years now is the Zebra Sarasa 0.4mm retractable clip pen (in black, of course). Place an order $25 or more through this link and JetPens will include a free Zebra Sarasa.

If you have any interest in pens and stationery and haven’t looked at JetPens before, you’re in for a real treat.

Typekit Practice 

Tim Brown, Typekit:

Fonts are great, but using them well can be hard. Volumes have been written about typography, yet every good designer will say there are no rules; there is no magic formula for success. Typography simply takes practice. Typography is a practice.

So today, we’re launching a new website: Typekit Practice, a place where novices and experts alike can hone their typographic skills. We hope it will help students learn, help teachers teach, and help professionals stay sharp.

Bloomberg: Apple to Bake Shazam Song Recognition Into iOS 8 

Adam Satariano:

The company is planning to unveil a song-discovery feature in an update of its iOS mobile software that will let users identify a song and its artist using an iPhone or iPad, said two people with knowledge of the product, who asked not to be identified because the feature isn’t public. Apple is working with Shazam Entertainment Ltd., whose technology can quickly spot what’s playing by collecting sound from a phone’s microphone and matching it against a song database. [...]

Among the ways it can be used will be through Apple’s voice-activated search feature, Siri. An iPhone user will be able to say something like “what song is playing,” to find out the tune’s details, one person said.

Sounds like a great feature. (Why not just acquire Shazam, though?)

Update: Interesting theory from Sean Heber:

Maybe the Shazam/Siri rumor is based on a Siri API integrating existing Shazam app. No need to acquire in that case

I’d love to see Siri open up with an API for third-party app integration, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

As for why Apple doesn’t “just acquire” them, as I glibly suggested above — ends up Shazam is shooting for an IPO this year with a valuation of $500 million.

iOS 7 Tint Color Misuse 

Manton Reece:

It has been nearly a year since the first iOS 7 beta, and something about tint color still bugs me. In fact it bothered me enough at the time of the early betas that a filed a bug on it with Apple, something I very rarely do. The problem isn’t so much in the concept of tint color, which I like; having a consistent color for buttons and links, especially now that buttons are so understated, makes a lot of sense. The problem is the implementation in apps that use tint color anytime they want to highlight something, whether it is tappable or not.

Too many buttons that don’t look like buttons — that’s my single biggest gripe about iOS 7.

Lens Blur in the New Google Camera App 

Carlos Hernández, writing for the Google Research blog:

Shallow depth of field makes the object of interest “pop” by bringing the foreground into focus and de-emphasizing the background. Achieving this optical effect has traditionally required a big lens and aperture, and therefore hasn’t been possible using the camera on your mobile phone or tablet.

That all changes with Lens Blur, a new mode in the Google Camera app. It lets you take a photo with a shallow depth of field using just your Android phone or tablet. Unlike a regular photo, Lens Blur lets you change the point or level of focus after the photo is taken. You can choose to make any object come into focus simply by tapping on it in the image.

Interesting idea. Like filters, it’s another way to use software cleverness to work around the physical limitations of the small cameras in mobile devices.

Misunderstanding Innovation 

Horace Dediu:

But there is another form of ignorance which seems to be universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation. The way this is exhibited is in the misuse of the term and the inability to discern the difference between novelty, creation, invention and innovation. The result is a failure to understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence the conditions that lead to economic growth.

This is a step toward understanding why so many people get Apple so very wrong. If you don’t understand what innovation really is, you’re not going to understand an innovative company.

Bloomberg: How Americans Die 

Both the data itself and the visualizations of it are fascinating.

On Yahoo’s Chances of Replacing Google as the Default Web Search on iOS 

Danny Sullivan, on a Kara Swisher report that Marissa Mayer is trying to get Yahoo to replace Google as iOS’s default for web search:

The biggest challenge Yahoo has is that it lacks any solid search technology. Sure, Yahoo has some for very specialized things. But the core technology to sift through billions of pages across the web and ferret out relevant results? Yahoo gave all that up as part of its deal with Microsoft years ago. [...]

Some might think that Yahoo doesn’t need to do as big a job as Google or Bing does. Maybe it just needs to focus on answering popular questions. That, however, overlooks the fact that if Yahoo can’t answer virtually every question tossed at it, consumers will get frustrated. For all the talk about mobile search, contextual search, popular answers, predictive search, local listings, it’s web search that remains the core foundation that everything is built off of. If you don’t have that foundation, everything can topple over.

As Sullivan points out, after the maps switch, Apple is probably more gun-shy about dropping Google as the default web search provider than they otherwise would have been.

What’s New in Tumult Hype 2.5 

Speaking of great updates to my favorite Mac apps, the latest version of the amazing Tumult Hype — a professional HTML5 animation tool — has a slew of new features, including support for responsive design. Hard to believe this app costs only $30.

Screens 3.0 for Mac 

Sweet update to the Mac version of my favorite VNC client. If you ever have the need to control a Mac remotely, you should check out Screens.

Brent Simmons on Build 2014 

Brent Simmons:

While seeing iOS devices on a big screen in Moscone West was normal to us, we knew you’d never see Apple feature Android or Windows Mobile devices in their keynotes.

Nor should they. That’s not a criticism — that’s just not Apple’s thing. It’s the new Microsoft’s thing to be cosmopolitan.

I talked to a number of Microsoft employees — on the Azure side — and got the same sense from all of them. They’re excited. They know they’re underdogs; they know that Amazon Web Services is dominant.

They also know that the kind of dominance Microsoft once had — where just about everything that computed ran Windows — is gone and will never come back.

Could just be my skewed perspective, but one thing I didn’t see much of at Build were references to Android. Like Brent notes, there were many references to iPhone and iPad development, including demos during the keynote (not to mention Q Branch’s brief moment in the spotlight). But Android, not so much.

Microsoft has in no way given up on Windows Phone or the tablet market. But the change I detect is a narrowing of their focus. They now (correctly, I say) view Android/Google as their competition, rather than “everyone”. And there’s a decided “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing going on with iOS/Apple too. I hope Apple sees the same thing.

Justin Williams on Build 2014 

I’m a few weeks late linking to this, but I didn’t want to let it slide. Long-time iOS developer Justin Williams, on attending Microsoft’s Build developer conference:

One of the biggest differences I noticed between an event like Build and WWDC was in the subtle messaging. Both Apple and Microsoft are massive companies that make billions of dollars and answer to their shareholders. Both companies also offer development platforms for third-parties to integrate with.

What’s different though is that it feels like Microsoft is more interested in working with us as a partner whereas Apple has always given off a vibe of just sort of dealing with us because they have to. Maybe that’s a little sour grapes, but as a developer it was a nice change.

The differences from WWDC — especially since both were held in the same venue, Moscone West — were fascinating to me. Little things, like the keynote hall being arranged sideways (wide, rather than deep), to big things, like a press room that was open all conference long. At WWDC, press passes are good only for the Monday morning keynote; at Build, invited press can stay all conference long and attend sessions.

It’s not so much that Microsoft is friendlier, but rather that Apple is distant — cooler, in several senses of the word.

‘It’s a 0.1 Update That Feels Like a 2.0 Update’ 

Peter Bright reviews Windows Phone 8.1 for Ars Technica:

Windows Phone 8.1, therefore, has a lot of work to do. It needs to take further steps along the path toward Microsoft’s vision of a unified operating system. It needs to work better on a wider range of hardware to both strengthen its position at the low end and give it a chance of making inroads at the high end. It needs to also offer features: it needs to do things to get people talking about the platform while attracting both users and developers.

Remarkably, Windows Phone 8.1 delivers on all fronts.

When a Committee Builds a Smartphone 

David Pogue reviews the Samsung Galaxy S5:

What is gunking up your screens is Samsung’s usual not-fully-thought-through assemblage of app flotsam. Why do you need one app for Gmail and another for other kinds of email accounts? Why do you need two photo apps — one from Samsung, one from Google? Two Settings apps? Two text-messaging apps? Two video players?

This is the dark side of the Android experience: One company makes the hardware, another makes the software. Now they’re becoming rivals, and we can already see who the loser will be: you.

My favorite part is the “one-handed mode”. And what’s the deal with all those inscrutable icons in the status bar?

‘The Pinnacle of Fitness Failure: Samsung’s Gear Fit Activity Tracker’ 

DC Rainmaker:

This is a product I wanted to love, but ultimately, it just ended up being a huge disappointment. Hopefully Samsung can iterate quickly on the software, and move the platform forward to something that someone might actually want to buy. In the meantime, mine is going into my desk drawer.

What happens when Samsung doesn’t have a market leader to copy.

Siri Honors Jackie Robinson 


Samsung Launches Website Highlighting ‘Meaningful’ Design 

You can’t make this stuff up.

Apple, Samsung, and Intel 

Matt Richman argues that Intel is a natural fit to manufacture ARM CPUs for Apple:

This arrangement would benefit both companies in a number of ways. Apple would no longer depend upon Samsung, its biggest competitor, to produce the chips at the heart of its most successful products. (This is analogous to America asking China to build its most advanced missiles and hoping the country won’t use any of the top-secret technology it learns about for its own benefit when it’s clearly in China’s best interest to do so.) And because Intel has manufacturing capabilities that other companies don’t, Apple might well be able to create better chips than it would be able to if it were to continue using Samsung as its chip manufacturer. Finally, the company would have peace of mind knowing that its chip producer doesn’t stand to gain anything from a processor shortfall, as Samsung does. Even if the factory were to cost $5 billion — and it wouldn’t — it’d be worth it. Steve Jobs said Apple’s cash hoard is for “big, bold” “strategic opportunities”. This move exemplifies that thinking.

Chris Ware on Apple 

Speaking of Chris Ware, I’m deeply intrigued by his thoughts on Apple, from a 2012 interview with Christopher Irving for Graphic NYC:

“I really admire Apple’s design, and feel that the general idea and driving principle behind it almost since their inception is to make information tactile. They’re finally getting to this point now where one can manipulate information with the hands and the body. As designers, they’re also so sensitive in ways that I don’t think any other computer makers understand, as their chief designer knows it has to do with very measured, combined subtleties of tactility and weight and gesture and materials. In a way, they’re almost a nineteenth century company, more sensitive to the world of nature than to technology, or at least respectful of it. I can certainly see reading comics electronically, with the possibilities for inter-penetrability of story and image, but I think comics will have to develop into something completely different before that happens.”

(Thanks to DF reader Logan York.)

BGR on Amazon’s Upcoming Smartphone 

Zach Epstein:

The most novel aspect of Amazon’s upcoming smartphone is its 3D software interface and the hardware mechanism that enables it.

Our sources state that the new Amazon phone includes a total of six cameras.

Can’t wait to see this 3D stuff. In the meantime, though, I can’t help but think of this.

‘Heads or Tails’ 

Beautiful comic by the incomparable Chris Ware.

‘How Much for the Drums?’ 

Dave Shumka:

Ever since I made this video of David Letterman talking to drummers, I’ve wondered if he’s actually seen it. I recently asked one of his writers, Bill Scheft, on Twitter. According to Scheft, not only has Letterman watched it, but “he loved it as he loved few things.” I realize that it just seems like I’m bragging on the internet, but that’s about the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.

With all the news surrounding Letterman’s retirement, it feels like a fine time to revisit the video.

Dieter Bohn of The Verge Profiles Project Ara, Google’s Modular Phone Project 

I remain highly skeptical that a modular design can compete in a product category where size, weight, and battery life are at such a premium. Even if they can bring something to market, why would any normal person be interested in a phone like this?

Jason Snell on Apple and Wearables 

Jason Snell:

Unfortunately, I fear that tech-industry observers have completely lost their perspective. As Rene has written, no matter how big the wearables market gets, it’s still not going to touch the smartphone market.

IDC reported that in 2013, one billion smartphones were shipped, up 38 percent from the previous year. That’s a fast-growing market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, on Thursday IDC predicted that the wearables market will reach 112 million units in 2018.

In other words, in four years the wearables market might grow to be one-tenth the size of today’s smartphone market — in units shipped. Presumably the average selling price of wearable items will be a fraction of that of smartphones, meaning the dollar value of the wearables market is even more minuscule compared to the smartphone market.

The pricing issue is a big one: carrier-subsidized pricing blinds many people to the fact that iPhones really sell for $700-800 a pop. Some analyst predicted last week that Apple will sell watches “priced at several thousand dollars”. Maybe they will, but if they do, they sure as shit aren’t going to sell as many of them as they do iPhones.

It feels a lot more likely to me that any new wearable devices from Apple will be priced more along the line of iPods: in the $100-400 range. Maybe a little higher at the outset, coming down over time. (I wouldn’t even be surprised if they use the iPod brand for them.)


My thanks to Igloo — “the intranet you’ll actually like” — for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. This week Igloo introduced four new templates to help start your next intranet project. You can start with:

  • an app-based social intranet;
  • a corporate intranet;
  • a customer community;
  • or a partner portal

Igloo’s new templates share a unified visual language, but your Igloo can be fully designed to match your brand and the way your business is structured. All Igloo templates feature responsive design, so they looks great on any device — desktop, tablet, or phone. Igloo built its own public-facing website using the Igloo platform.

You can start using Igloo instantly and, amazingly, Igloo is free of charge for up to ten people.

Researcher Proves Heartbleed Bug Exposes Private SSL Keys 

Josh Ong, reporting for The Next Web:

Fedor Indutny, a core member of the node.js team, has proved that it is in fact possible for an attacker to sniff out the private SSL keys from a server left exposed by the Heartbleed bug. The proof came in response to a challenge from CloudFlare that called on the security community to grab the keys from a demo server.

‘Brightest Flashlight’ Android App Disclosed Location of 50 Million People, but FTC Imposes No Fine 

Jeff John Roberts, writing for GigaOm:

Even judging by the low standards of creepy data-mining apps, “Brightest Flashlight” did something pretty egregious. The free app, which was installed by at least 50 million Android users, transmitted users’ real-time locations to ad networks and other third parties. It was, in other words, a stalking device disguised as a flashlight.

Cocoa for Web Services 

Brent Simmons:

The cloud is more than just a file system. It’s data plus code.

Amazon Buys ComiXology 

Jason Snell, writing for TechHive:

Comic fans may groan about the sale — it’s always sad when a plucky, groundbreaking start-up is bought out by a corporate giant — but Amazon’s track record with purchases is actually pretty good. The company has bought Zappos, Goodreads, Woot, and Audible, all of which continue to operate more or less as they did before, rather than being integrated into

Atelier Playing Cards 

Sweet typography-centric playing card design by Robert Padbury. The Kickstarter project is just a few days old, but already fully-funded. I say we all pile on and make this project a big hit. (Bonus: the t-shirts are being printed by my pal Brian Jaramillo, who’s handled all DF t-shirts for many years.)

Friday Afternoon Taste of My Own Claim Chowder 

Yours truly, three years ago:

Second, how is Flipboard an example of a web app? It’s a native iOS app in the App Store. It uses HTML5 and web content views, sure, but it’s still a native iPad app.

As I wrote in my headline this week, I’ve rethought what it means to be a web app. Flipboard is a great example of a native app that is all about the web.

Samsung Misled Investors About 2011 Galaxy Tab Sales 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

This week we learned, thanks to a February 2012 internal Samsung document marked “top secret” and unearthed by Apple as part of its ongoing patent infringement proceedings, that we were right and those more credulous news outlets were wrong.

When Strategy Analytics was telling the world that Samsung sold 2 million Galaxy Tabs in six weeks, the truth was that it took Samsung all of 2011 to sell half that many.

Shocker. But as Elmer-DeWitt points out, the blame doesn’t lie solely with Samsung or even Strategy Analytics — it lies also with the news outlets that gleefully passed along the report as fact. The reason: they wanted it to be true. iPad Continues to Dominate Tablet Sales is a boring story.

Bloomberg: NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years 

And now, some bad (but unsurprising) Heartbleed news, reported by Michael Riley for Bloomberg:

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts.

For what it’s worth, the NSA Public Affairs Office tweeted a denial:

Statement: NSA was not aware of the recently identified Heartbleed vulnerability until it was made public.

Update: Full statement from the NSA here. Doesn’t seem to leave any wiggle room.

Escape From XP  

Yet another sign that Microsoft has turned a corner.

‘Steve Expected Excellence. Which Is Why He So Often Got It.’ 

Wonderful remembrance of Steve Jobs from Don Melton

So Steve started the rehearsal, going through slides on the “Switcher” ad campaign and then the Apple Stores.

At the end of the retail update, he was supposed to conclude with something like “1.4 million visitors in the month of December alone,” but he added, “so to all of you in the press who doubted us…”

And then clicked to reveal his special slide — poster art I’m sure everyone has seen before — a 1940’s-style rendering of a grinning man holding a big mug of coffee next to his face with this text alongside like a world balloon:

“How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up.”

And then the best part — the part we didn’t know was coming — Steve paused, turned to his V.P. of Marketing and deadpanned, “What do you think, Phil? Too much?”

Can You Get Private SSL Keys Exploiting Heartbleed? 

Some potentially good news on the OppenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability front, from CloudFlare:

While the vulnerability seems likely to put private key data at risk, to date there have been no verified reports of actual private keys being exposed. At CloudFlare, we received early warning of the Heartbleed vulnerability and patched our systems 12 days ago. We’ve spent much of the time running extensive tests to figure out what can be exposed via Heartbleed and, specifically, to understand if private SSL key data was at risk.

Here’s the good news: after extensive testing on our software stack, we have been unable to successfully use Heartbleed on a vulnerable server to retrieve any private key data. Note that is not the same as saying it is impossible to use Heartbleed to get private keys. We do not yet feel comfortable saying that. However, if it is possible, it is at a minimum very hard. And, we have reason to believe based on the data structures used by OpenSSL and the modified version of NGINX that we use, that it may in fact be impossible.

And now, back to changing passwords on a slew of my accounts around the web.

Update: Sadly, the answer is yes, the vulnerability does put private key data at risk.

Scaling the Facebook Data Warehouse to 300 PB 

Pamela Vagata and Kevin Wilfong, writing for the Facebook Engineering Blog:

At Facebook, we have unique storage scalability challenges when it comes to our data warehouse. Our warehouse stores upwards of 300 PB of Hive data, with an incoming daily rate of about 600 TB. In the last year, the warehouse has seen a 3× growth in the amount of data stored. Given this growth trajectory, storage efficiency is and will continue to be a focus for our warehouse infrastructure.

600 TB of incoming data per day is mind-blowing. I can’t fathom it. And it’s great that they’re sharing this information. There can’t be that many entities dealing with this scale of data storage, and the others likely aren’t sharing what they’ve learned. This is the cutting edge of computer science.

Meet the Bag Man 

Eye-opening feature by Steven Godfrey for SBNation on the stream of money paid to college football recruits and players:

Remember, your job as a bag man isn’t to hide the benefit. It’s to hide the proof. In a region as passionate about college football as the American South, there’s no real moral outrage when new cars or clothes or jobs for relatives appear.

“We can only get away with whatever’s considered reasonable by the majority of the folks in our society. That’s why it’s different in the SEC. Maybe that’s why we’re able to be more active in what we do. Because no one ever looks at the car or the jewelry and says, ‘How did you get that, poor football player?’ They say, ‘How did they get you that and not get caught, poor football player?’”

Font War: Inside the Design World’s $20 Million Divorce 

Joshua Brustein, reporting for Businessweek on the Jonathan Hoefler/Tobias Frere-Jones breakup:

Several designers I spoke with said they were under the impression that Hoefler was almost exclusively focused on managing the business in recent years, leaving design to Frere-Jones. This makes it easy to cast Hoefler in the role of the villain exploiting the work of a naïve genius. But Hoefler and Frere-Jones’s relationship was more complicated than that, says Mike Essl, who teaches design at Cooper Union. Hoefler had all of Frere-Jones’s design chops, but also had the ability to propel Frere-Jones to prominence in a way he couldn’t have done on his own. Business partnerships rarely last forever, says Essl, and when they end, it’s often ugly. “Van Halen isn’t going to be Van Halen forever,” he says. “Someone is going to leave.”

Wiretap Proponent Condoleezza Rice Joins Dropbox’s Board 

Brian Feldman, writing for The Wire:

Tucked away near the end of a Businessweek article on the startup is news of Rice taking a fourth seat on the board:

The former secretary of state’s consulting firm, RiceHadleyGates, has been advising the startup on management issues for the last year. Now she’ll help the company think about such matters as international expansion and privacy, an issue that dogs every cloud company in the age of Edward Snowden and the NSA.

You know, privacy and the NSA. The same NSA that, as Ars Technica points out, Rice herself authorized to wiretap UN officials and other domestic targets without warrants. She definitely seems like the right person to help craft Dropbox’s privacy policies.

Strikes me as an oddly tone-deaf move for Dropbox, in the post-Snowden world. Is not warrantless government eavesdropping the single biggest concern people have regarding Dropbox?

Acorn on Sale for $15 

Flying Meat’s Acorn — a wonderful Mac image editor that normally costs $50 — is on sale for just $15. That’s a steal.

Mobile Apps or Mobile Web? 

Pater Kafka, writing for Recode:

Here’s an argument for counting them as “both, sometimes”: Quantcast, the Web measurement/ad company, says nearly a quarter of mobile Web views may be coming from in-app browsers running on Facebook or Twitter. That is: People who click on links and open up stories are in apps and on the Web, at the same time.

Why Stephen Colbert Is the Perfect David Letterman Replacement 

Tim Goodman, writing for The Hollywood Reporter:

Yes, fans of Colbert “in character” will miss his show, but the truth is that the format, despite being an excellent vehicle that launched Colbert to stardom, was far too limiting for Colbert’s talent. He’s absolutely going to blossom with this new freedom. From his time on Strangers With Candy to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, he’s shown his comedic talent in various forms with an improve performer’s fluidity. Those are traits that will make him instantly watchable doing his own taped (and live) skits on The Late Show, plus they will serve him well behind the desk doing interviews.

Stephen Colbert to Succeed Letterman on ‘Late Show’ 

Dave Itzkoff, reporting for the NYT:

“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Mr. Colbert said in a statement. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”

He added: “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

Great choice. Should keep Late Show the funniest of the late night shows.

Matthew Panzarino on Greg Christie’s Departure 

Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

According to multiple sources inside and outside the company, Christie’s exit has been known for weeks — and planned for even longer. His stepping aside has been designed to allow for a transition of leadership inside the Human Interface group. Christie worked under Forstall for many years, and there may have been plenty of times he didn’t agree with Ive, but there has reportedly been a distinct lack of drama in this transition.

If there was any ill-will between Christie and Ive, it doesn’t appear to have taken the form of any open conflict and a flare-up of friction was apparently not behind this exit.

Jony Ive Expands Role in Software Design; Apple Confirms Greg Christie’s Retirement 

Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:

Mr. Christie’s group will report to Mr. Ive, who is Apple’s senior vice president of design, according to the email. The team previously reported to Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief.

“Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple,” said a company spokesman. “He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class human interface team which has worked closely with [Jonathan] for many years.”

I’ve been asking around since the news broke this afternoon. What I’ve heard, from several sources: Christie and Ive may not see eye to eye on UI design style, but his departure isn’t nearly as contentious as Mark Gurman’s report at 9to5Mac implies. The basic gist I’ve heard is that Christie is a guy who’s been in a high-pressure, high-profile job for 18 years, most of it reporting to Steve Jobs. He’s made a lot of money and is ready to enjoy it. That’s largely in line with the Apple PR line given to the WSJ, but I heard all of this from ground-level Cupertino-area pixel-pushing designers.

Interestingly, Christie’s retirement was announced internally a few weeks ago — yet it didn’t leak outside the company until today. Also interesting (and backing up the company line that his departure is not contentious): he’s staying at the company until later this year — and from what I’ve heard, it’s more like “end of the year”. If it’s ugly, why hang around?

There’s no way to spin the fact that Ive is taking more authority (or perhaps better said, consolidating all aspects of “design” under his direct authority), and surely that played some part in Christie’s decision. But from what I’ve gathered, it is wrong to think that Ive in any way forced Christie out.

Mark Gurman: Apple Human Interface VP Greg Christie Leaves Apple Over Friction With Jony Ive 

Mark Gurman, reporting for 9to5Mac:

Following friction between top Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie and Senior Vice President Jony Ive, Apple’s hardware and software design is being dramatically shaken up, according to sources familiar with the matter. After adding human interface design direction to his responsibilities in 2012, Ive will soon completely subsume Apple’s software design group, wresting control away from long-time human interface design chief Christie, according to sources briefed on the matter.

Huge deal. Christie’s influence over the look and feel of OS X and (at least pre-7) iOS cannot be overstated. Say goodbye to Lucida Grande in OS X.

Bruce Schneier on the ‘Heartbleed’ OpenSSL Vulnerability 

Bruce Schneier:

“Catastrophic” is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.

The Ultimate Guide to Solving iOS Battery Drain 

Fantastic resource from former Genius Bar staffer Scotty Loveless. Bookmark this and send it to anyone you know complaining of problematic iPhone battery life.

Apple and the Open Web 

Worth a re-link, as a follow-up from yesterday’s piece: yours truly on stage at the Web 2.0 conference back in September 2010. Holds up pretty well, I’d say.

The Talk Show: Live From Build 2014 

Special guest Ed Bott joins me for a special episode of my podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco last week. Topics include the news from the conference — including Windows Phone 8.1 — and a broader look at the new Microsoft and its position in the industry.

Brought to you by three great sponsors:

Paul Thurrott on Microsoft Office for iPad 

Paul Thurrott:

As for how powerful these apps are, consider this. I loaded up my 575 page Windows 8.1 Field Guide Word document, and while it took a while to download originally (it’s stored in OneDrive for Business as part of my Office 365 Small Business Premium subscription), the performance reading and editing the document was impressive. In fact, it was... amazing. This is the real deal.

As important, the fidelity of the document was perfect: Everything was formatted correctly, including images. I could actually write a book on this thing if I wanted to. (Relax, I don’t.) Microsoft claims that documents look as good on the iPad as they do on the PC. And I gotta say. They really do.

Solid review from Ed Bott, too. Hard to find a bad review of these apps.

New York’s Typography District 

Tobias Frere-Jones, resurfacing after the recent unpleasantness with a new blog:

I re-read Maurice Annenberg’s “Type Foundries of America and their Catalogs”, tracked down business directories of the period, and spent too much time in Google Earth. But I was able to plot out the locations for every foundry that had been active in New York between 1828 (the earliest records I could find with addresses) to 1909 (see below). All of the buildings have been demolished, and in some cases the entire street has since been erased. But a startling picture still emerged: New York once had a neighborhood for typography.

(I couldn’t help but take note of Frere-Jones’s own type choices for his site: Benton Modern and Interstate from The Font Bureau — both of which he designed prior to the Hoefler deal.)

Second Best Evidence From Apple-Samsung Trial: Phil Schiller Email Exchange With TBWA/Media Arts Lab 

Schiller’s “shocked” response to this guy James Vincent is spot-on. Seems bizarre too that Vincent composes serious emails completely in lowercase letters.

Tetris Played on a 29-Story Skyscraper 

Drexel University:

As part of Philly Tech Week, Dr. Frank Lee’s latest creation — a two-sided game of Tetris on the 29-story Cira Centre — illuminates the Philadelphia skyline.

Update: More, including many technical details, in this great feature by Andrew Cunningham for Ars Technica.

The Verge: ‘Why Amazon’s Fire TV Is a Guaranteed Hit’ 

David Pierce:

Amazon doesn’t innovate by crafting new product categories, like Apple does. It also doesn’t make much money selling its hardware. Instead, it takes all the data it gathers as the world’s biggest online retailer, breaks down exactly what’s available and what consumers want, then produces a piece of hardware that it can sell cheaply in order to bring consumers into its ecosystem. Just as Netflix created House of Cards to satisfy the particular tastes of its viewers, Amazon made the Fire TV because millions of buyers are already looking for it. To understand the Fire TV is to take one glance at Amazon’s best-selling electronics list: two Roku models, Google’s Chromecast, and the Apple TV are the only non-Amazon devices in the top 10. The world’s largest online retailer just took on all three.

(Via MG Siegler.)

Steve Jobs’s October 2010 Draft Agenda for Apple’s Top 100 Meeting 

Fascinating email from Jobs to Phil Schiller, entered as evidence in the latest round of the Apple/Samsung patent trial. Makes me wonder, again, whether this legal fight is worth it for Apple. Far more of Apple’s internal dynamics have been revealed through this lawsuit than through unauthorized leaks in the past few years.

It does go to show, though, that Steve Jobs was keenly aware of Apple’s competitive shortcomings. They never show it in public, which leads some to perceive the company as more arrogant than it actually is, and perhaps even out of touch.

Recode has a few other interesting documents and emails that have come to light through this legal battle, but none are as interesting as this one.

Blue Bottle Buys Tonx 

Mat Honan, writing for Wired:

It’s also a good deal for Tonx, which was attempting to raise more money to purchase its own coffee roaster (it currently has a contract deal where it rents one on the weekends) and open a store front. While neither announced a price, Tonx did abandon a $4 million fundraising round it had been pursuing recently. Presumably, the deal would be on par with that. It’s a big win for the three year-old roaster that’s based in Los Angeles, but lives all over the Internet.

“Tony and I were still bagging and boxing the coffee ourselves last year, spending all day just listening to podcasts” recalled Bauman. “Tony would go in and sometimes would take eight hours or so of just stamping bags. We’d go and just stamp and listen to [John Gruber’s] The Talk Show or This American Life.”

That’s good company. Congratulations to my favorite coffee roaster.

The Fallacy of Android-First 

Dave Feldman, co-founder of Emu:

We launched Emu for iPhone on April 2, and we’ve pulled Emu for Android out of the Play Store. We hope we’ll return to Android someday, but our team is too small to innovate and iterate on multiple platforms simultaneously. We’ve concluded iPhone is a better place to be:

  • Our decision to build on top of SMS/MMS involved huge, unanticipated technical hurdles.

  • Even when you don’t support older Android versions, fragmentation is a huge drain on resources.

  • Google’s tools and documentation are less advanced, and less stable, than Apple’s.

  • Android’s larger install base doesn’t translate into a larger addressable market.

A nuanced perspective.

The Vast Discrepancy in User Demographics Between iOS and Android 

Interesting on two levels. First, the content of the story — these maps and statistics show why simplistic market share comparisons do not even vaguely tell the story of the competitive dynamics between iOS and Android.

Second, it’s an interesting contrast in headline writing. I’m linking to a reprint of the story on Slate. Slate’s headline: “Here’s Why Developers Keep Favoring Apple Over Android”. The original, published on Business Insider: “These Maps Show That Android Is For People With Less Money”. When you look at the web page titles (what you see in your browser tab), the contrast is even more stark: “Apple vs. Android: Developers See a Socioeconomic Divide” vs. “Android Is for Poor People: Maps”.

How Politics Makes Us Stupid 

Fascinating piece by Ezra Klein, for the newly launched Vox:

Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values.” Elsewhere, he puts it even more pithily: “What we believe about the facts,” he writes, “tells us who we are.” And the most important psychological imperative most of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are, and our relationships with the people we trust and love.

Kahan’s research tells us we can’t trust our own reason. How do we reason our way out of that?

This is one reason why I went to Build last week — I don’t want to fall into this trap. I want to find the best in design and technology, no matter the platform.

Babe Ruth Is Retiring 

Keith Olbermann on David Letterman announcing his retirement. So great.


My thanks to Crashlytics for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They provide tools for iOS and Android that allow developers to spend less time finding bugs and more time fixing them. Crashlytics provides deep, actionable insights, right down to the line of code your app crashed on.

The Crashlytics platform is designed for scale and enterprise-level security. They’re trusted by apps like Square, Amazon, Yelp, and Path, and they offer unlimited developer seats at no cost. Really — it’s free. It’s a great deal and a great service.

‘Is the Oculus Rift Sexist?’ 

Danah Boyd:

Although there was variability across the board, biological men were significantly more likely to prioritize motion parallax. Biological women relied more heavily on shape-from-shading. In other words, men are more likely to use the cues that 3D virtual reality systems relied on.

This, if broadly true, would explain why I, being a woman, vomited in the CAVE: My brain simply wasn’t picking up on signals the system was trying to send me about where objects were, and this made me disoriented.

Fascinating research.

Amazon Dash 

Jeff Bezos is building up quite the gadget lineup.

WWDC 2014: June 2–6 

“The opportunity to buy tickets to this year’s conference will be offered by random selection.”

Amazon Fire TV 

Like Apple TV but with games and voice search.

Cortana, Microsoft’s Answer to Siri 

Nick Wingfield, writing for the NYT:

Cortana is named after a virtual character in Halo, Microsoft’s science-fiction video game series, that uses her encyclopedic knowledge about the universe to help the game’s protagonist, Master Chief. The actress, Jen Taylor, who does the voice for the character, also provided recordings for the phone assistant’s voice.

Two things jumped out at me regarding this story. First, that Microsoft gladly credited the actress supplying Cortana’s voice. Second, that Google and Android went unmentioned in the article.

Update: More on Cortana from The Verge.

Windows Phone 8.1 

Massive upgrade to Windows Phone; seems like more new features going from 8 to 8.1 than there were going from 7 to 8. Hoping to get my hands on a device running this.

And: Microsoft is making Windows free for phones and tablets with screens under 9 inches. (Insert joke here about 10-inch phones.)

Apple Updates iWork for Mac, iOS, and iCloud 

Dan Miller on what’s new in iWork. (AppleScript improvements aplenty, too.)

‘Stampy in the Hunger Games’ 

Special guest John Moltz joins me on the latest episode of my podcast, The Talk Show. We discuss the just-completed Macworld/iWorld conference and expo, Microsoft Office for iPad, Minecraft, and more.

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What Umpires Get Wrong 

Brayden King and Jerry Kim:

In research soon to be published in the journal Management Science, we studied umpires’ strike-zone calls using pitch-location data compiled by the high-speed cameras introduced by Major League Baseball several years ago in an effort to measure, monitor and reward umpires’ accuracy. After analyzing more than 700,000 pitches thrown during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, we found that umpires frequently made errors behind the plate — about 14 percent of non-swinging pitches were called erroneously.

What I want to know is how come the umps always have it in for the Yankees?

‘Do Not Want This’ 

Charles Arthur, writing for The Guardian, on the demand for the current crop of wearables:

A quick search on eBay for “Galaxy Gear” (excluding the words “protector” and “seal” which are used to sell add-ons) turns up nearly 900 results, of which this one, chosen at random, is typical: “I got it free with my Galaxy Note 3 and do not want this.”