My thanks to Igloo for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Igloo describes itself as “the intranet you’ll actually like”, and it’s about to get even better with their next major release, Unicorn. One of the headline new features in Unicorn is social task management, providing the perfect balance between project management and getting your day-to-day work done.
You can manage projects with task lists, optimized for large groups of people; assign tasks from any piece of content, like requesting changes be made on a document; and you can create personal tasks that are assigned to you or another person. And you can see all your tasks in one unified view.
Learn more at Igloo’s Unicorn landing page. Or come see Unicorn in person — Igloo is hosting an event in Toronto on June 12, with customer presentations by Hulu and Nextel International. Register today as seating is limited.
Kontra’s Law ★
Another one worth a re-link. Kontra, back in 2008, “Why Apple Doesn’t Do ‘Concept Products’”:
Apple would gain nothing from telegraphing its intentions and
capabilities by releasing public conceptual products. The company
is being more than prudent by not displaying their unconstrained
fantasies to competitors, media, investors or customers.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, this inexorably leads us to
A commercial company’s ability to innovate is inversely
proportional to its proclivity to publicly release conceptual
From the DF Archive: ‘The Type of Companies That Publish Future Concept Videos’ ★
Yours truly, back in 2011:
“We’re like Apple in 1987” is not a badge of honor — it’s a flashing red warning light.
This is why I’m so skeptical about Google today. Their biggest, splashiest product announcements are for things like Glass and these new self-driving cars. They’re closer to being real products than Apple’s 1987 Knowledge Navigator, but they’re not real products. The seeds of Apple’s 1996 nadir were sown a decade earlier with unfocused pie-in-the-sky stuff like “Knowledge Navigator”.
See also: “Products for Nobody”, from earlier this year.
Matt Yglesias: ‘Google Wants to Reinvent Transportation, Apple Wants to Sell You Fancy Headphones’ ★
Matt Yglesias, writing at Vox:
There were two striking pieces of business news this week from
America’s leading technology brands. On the one hand, Google
unveiled a prototype of an autonomous car that, if it can be made
to work at scale, promises to end mass automobile ownership while
drastically reducing car wreck fatalities and auto-related
pollution. Meanwhile, Apple bought a company that makes high-end
Which is to say that Apple’s playing checkers while Google
I’m usually a big fan of Yglesias, but this comparison seems like a dud to me. Even if you think Google’s self-driving car announcement is a big deal, and think that Apple’s acquisition of Beats is a bad one, the fact that they hit the news in the same week is mostly coincidence. (It’s possible — I’d even say probable — that Google unveiled their new car prototypes this week to take some wind out of Apple’s sails in the lead-up to the WWDC keynote Monday, and it’s also possible that Apple wanted to get the Beats deal announced before WWDC, which is why I say “mostly” coincidence.) What if Apple’s Beats deal had happened at the same time as Google’s (similarly-priced) acquisition of Nest? Somehow I doubt Yglesias would have written a “Google Wants to Sell You a Fancy Thermostat; Apple Wants to Sell You Fancy Headphones” piece.
Google tends to show its hardware initiatives early (exhibit A: Google Glass). These cars haven’t even hit actual roads yet, let alone hit the early adopter/enthusiast market, let alone the consumer mass market. Apple doesn’t do that. It could be that Apple is completely bankrupt creatively and has nothing truly new in the works. Or, maybe they do. Either way, it would look the same to us on the outside.
Update: Jon Snyder, on Twitter:
Maybe a better headline for Yglesias: Google may get around to
reinventing transportation. Apple wants to sell headphones
Right. It’s foolish (but alas, common) to judge Apple based on what it is actually shipping today against what other companies might ship in the future. And in the case of self-driving cars, we’re talking the distant future.
Update 2: I feel like I’m repeating myself.
Comparison of the Day ★
Jim Edwards, preaching for the Church of Market Share:
Branding and quality are important, of course. Apple usually wins
there. And Apple’s business model is to only do the most
profitable thing, not the most widespread thing. So loss of share
may not bother Apple CEO Tim Cook. It may, in fact, be good for
both margins and shareholders.
But the history of computing has one iron-cast lesson for us all:
Devices get cheaper over time, and better over time. The
high-priced seller usually loses. This is why nobody uses $8.8
million Cray computers anymore.
Yes, that’s what Apple’s iPhone business resembles: Cray. OK, sure.
Update: The 100 supercomputers in the world today. About 20 percent of them are from Cray.
The Internet With a Human Face ★
Remarkably thoughtful piece by Maciej Ceglowski on privacy, memory, and more. Must read.
Kids React to Old Computers ★
Our nostalgia is their “What?!”
Hopscotch: Coding for Kids ★
I mentioned Hopscotch off-handedly during the latest episode of The Talk Show, while discussing iPad apps that allow you to program on the iPad itself. It’s really an amazing app — I recommend it wholeheartedly for anyone with kids, and quite frankly, it’s fun for adults too. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see Hopscotch win an Apple Design Award next week.
Using Apps Side-by-Side on Windows 8 ★
Scroll down to “Using Apps Side by Side” and watch the video. It’s certainly interesting, and I can see how it’d be useful, especially on devices with larger screens like the new 12-inch Surface Pro 3.
But the interface for managing this is opaque, abstract, and complicated. You need to know how to do it before you can do it. There is nothing self-evident about it. If anything, it’s more abstract to manage side-by-side apps in Metro than it is in regular desktop Windows. With traditional windows on Windows and Mac OS X, you directly manipulate the window itself to move or resize it. In Metro, you need to memorize special edge gestures to enter different modes for rearranging, entering, or leaving the split-screen mode.
There has to be a better way.
Massimo’s Letters ★
Julie Lasky, writing for the NYT:
“To see what people are saying, I cannot repeat it even, because I
feel blushing,” Mr. Vignelli said that day, seated at a desk in
his double-height living room next to a giant window of leaded
glass. (Though he lived in the United States for 49 years, the
Italian-born designer still spoke endearingly mangled English.)
Dressed in his habitual black, he had the same aquiline profile as
always, the same irrepressible eyebrows. But he was as gaunt as a
thin stroke of Bodoni, one of the few typefaces he used in his
designs. (He famously confined himself to five or six out of the
expanding font universe.)
Lovely video, too.
‘The Shawshank Residuals’ ★
Great piece for the WSJ by Russell Adams on the lasting popularity of The Shawshank Redemption:
“Shawshank” was an underwhelming box-office performer when it hit
theaters 20 years ago this September, but then it began to redeem
itself, finding an audience on home video and later becoming a
fixture on cable TV.
The film has taken a near-mystical hold on viewers that shows no
sign of abating. Steven Spielberg once told the film’s
writer-director Frank Darabont that he had made “a chewing-gum
movie — if you step on it, it sticks to your shoe,” says Mr.
Darabont, who went on to create “The Walking Dead” for AMC.
Tim Cook’s Memo to Employees on Beats Acquisition ★
The Beats Music team will report to Eddy. The teams will be
getting to know each other better in the weeks ahead, and we are
very excited about the possibilities for the future.
Beats Electronics has become the brand of choice for headphones
and speakers in both the music and sports world, just five years
after its launch. They are among the most popular and
highest-rated third-party products sold today in Apple’s retail
and online stores. We see an incredible opportunity to bring
Apple’s legendary design and engineering capabilities to these
popular products under Phil’s leadership.
Not sure why anyone is surprised by this arrangement. Cue has long run Apple’s entertainment/iTunes stuff, and that’s where Beats Music clearly fits. As for the hardware reporting to Phil Schiller, that’s a little less obvious, but makes sense: what Beats needs as an Apple subsidiary is product marketing, a replacement for Ammunition, the firm that previously handled this for Beats.
The weirdest part of this whole thing to me is the idea of Apple acting as a parent company to an independent subsidiary brand. But with Beats Music that might make sense: Cook told the Financial Times’s Tim Bradshaw today that Beats Music will remain available for Android and Windows.
Imagining Developing for a Split-Screen iPad ★
The case of the status bar might look like a small thing, but I
take that as a significant hint. The iOS 7 transparent status bar
works best with one app on the screen at a time. Apple being the
company that thinks through well before shipping a design, it’s
unlikely that they set the status bar transparent in iOS 7 and
change course in the next major version.
My bet is that we are not going to see split-screen mutitasking
being allowed for third-party apps in iOS 8, at least initially.
If at all we’re going to get this feature, it would probably be
restricted to some of the Apple apps.
Smart take. Either Apple has solutions to all the problems he lists, or this split-screen rumor isn’t happening.
GigaOm: ‘Apple Now Offers Education Discounts on iPads. Is That Because of Chromebooks?’ ★
Betteridge’s Law of Headlines wins again.
Jackass of the Week: ISI Group Analyst Brian Marshall ★
ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall:
Important to note, since 1996 and enacted through Proposition 215,
medical marijuana has been legal in the state of California.
However, based on our knowledge, there are no plans to house a
medical marijuana dispensary in AAPL’s new “spaceship” campus
headquarters currently under construction in Cupertino (expected
occupancy in early 2016). Considering Dr. Dre’s debut solo album
in 1992 was called The Chronic (slang for powerful marijuana),
AAPL may want to reconsider the construction plans…
(Via Darby Lines.)
In Case You Were Wondering What Iovine and Dre’s Titles Would Be ★
Hannah Karp and Alistair Barr, reporting for the WSJ:
Mr. Iovine, a longtime friend of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, said
the two men’s titles would simply be “Jimmy and Dre.” They will
work with both Apple’s electronics and music-streaming divisions,
spending as much time at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus as
necessary, while serving more broadly to bridge the cultural
divide between technology and entertainment industries.
“The ugly truth is that there is such a Berlin Wall between
Silicon Valley and L.A.,” Mr. Cook said in an interview. “The two
don’t respect each other, don’t understand each other.
The Talk Show: ‘We’re Allowed to Make Stuff Up; It’s a Podcast’, With Dan Frommer ★
Special guest Dan Frommer. Topics include Dan’s new gig as senior tech editor at Quartz, tablets as a form factor for full-featured PCs (and the now-aging design of the MacBook Air), WWDC rumors, the rumored iOS-style redesign of Mac OS X, previous Mac OS visual designs, and more.
Listen for ticketing information for next week’s live audience show from San Francisco, Tuesday evening.
Update: The first round of 350 tickets are sold out. I hope to make at least 50 more available later in the week after I finalize seating arrangements with the venue — so if you missed out, stay tuned.
Apple Store: Headphones ★
Apple currently sells a lot of different third-party headphone brands — Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Sennheiser, Marshall, and more. Does Beats get special placement now, or do they remain peers to these other companies?
Apple to Acquire Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 Billion ★
Apple today announced it has agreed to acquire the critically
acclaimed subscription streaming music service Beats Music, and
Beats Electronics, which makes the popular Beats headphones,
speakers and audio software. As part of the acquisition, Beats
co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple. Apple is
acquiring the two companies for a total of $3 billion, consisting
of a purchase price of approximately $2.6 billion and
approximately $400 million that will vest over time.
“Music is such an important part of all of our lives and holds a
special place within our hearts at Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s
CEO. “That’s why we have kept investing in music and are bringing
together these extraordinary teams so we can continue to create
the most innovative music products and services in the world.”
“I’ve always known in my heart that Beats belonged with Apple,”
said Jimmy Iovine. “The idea when we started the company was
inspired by Apple’s unmatched ability to marry culture and
technology. Apple’s deep commitment to music fans, artists,
songwriters and the music industry is something special.”
$200 million less than the rumored price in The Financial Times’s scoop three weeks ago, but who’s counting?
‘My Natural Home’ ★
As much as I love writing iOS apps — and I do — the Mac is my
natural home. I think of myself as a Mac developer first. The last
Mac app I wrote was NetNewsWire Lite 4.0 in early 2011. It’s been
over three years. Definitely time to come home.
Vesper for Mac is entirely a UI job. The data layer and API and
syncing code already builds for Macintosh. Now, of course, UI is
no small thing, not at all — but the challenge isn’t UI plus
other things. It’s just that.
Google Unveils Self-Driving Vehicles ★
“Really, they’re prototype vehicles,” says Chris Urmson, director of Google’s team.
You don’t say.
Joanna Stern: ‘Surface Pro 3: A Tablet That Desperately Wants to Be a Laptop’ ★
Joanna Stern, reviewing the Surface Pro 3 for the WSJ:
In fact, at its news conference, the head of the Surface team
directly said that this device would meet my expectations of
the laptop of the future. Sometimes real life can be stranger
Yes, Microsoft is confident that — with a larger,
higher-resolution 12-inch HD screen, new keyboard, improved
kickstand and $799 starting price — its new Surface Pro 3 tablet
can replace not my iPad, but my beloved 13-inch MacBook Air.
So I tested that claim. For the last week, my laptop has lived
under my bed as I’ve spent my waking life with the Pro 3. On its
third attempt, Microsoft has leapt forward in bringing the tablet
and laptop together — and bringing the laptop into the future.
But the Pro 3 also suffers from the Surface curse: You still make
considerable compromises for getting everything in one package.
Debug 37: Simmons, Wiskus, Gruber, and Vesper Sync ★
Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and I were guests on the latest episode of Rene Ritchie and Guy English’s Debug podcast, talking about — what else? — Vesper 2.0 and Vesper Sync. If you want the long answer to the question, “Why did you roll your own sync service?”, this is the podcast for you.
Love that photo Rene took to illustrate the post.
Vesper 2.0 and Vesper Sync ★
Yours truly, writing at the Vesper blog:
Today we released Vesper 2.0, which introduces our new sync
system, which we’re calling Vesper Sync.
We’ve tried to make it as easy and simple as possible to use.
Here’s how it works. First, you create a Vesper Sync account using
an email address and a password. Then, your Vesper data — the
text of your notes, your image attachments, your tags, everything
— syncs to our cloud service. Sign in using the same account on
another device, and your Vesper data will appear on that device.
There is no charge. No subscription. You just create an account
using your email address as your identity and it works.
It’s the weirdest thing, to spend eight months of intensive development, design, and testing to build something that (we hope) simply works almost invisibly. I’m really proud of this release.
Apple to Stream Next Week’s WWDC Keynote Live ★
Watch streaming video from this special event and learn more about
our exciting announcements.
I’ve got a good feeling about this one.
Massimo Vignelli Dies at 83 ★
Finally, from Massimo I learned never to give up. He was able to
bring enthusiasm, joy and intensity to the smallest design
challenge. Even after fifty years, he could delight in designing
something like a business card as if he had never done one before.
It was Massimo who taught me one of the simplest things in the
world: that if you do good work, you get more good work to do, and
conversely bad work brings more bad work. It sounds simple, but
it’s remarkable, in a lifetime of pragmatics and compromises, how
easy it is to forget: the only way to do good work is simply to do
good work. Massimo did good work.
Jesper’s WWDC 2014 Predictions ★
OS X 10.10 introduced, and never once referred to as “OS ten ten ten”. Maybe as OS X Napa.
As an aside, please stop arguing that Apple “can’t” use 10.10 as a version number because that’d be the same thing as 10.1. Version numbers are not decimals — the periods simply act as separators between major and minor fields. They’re more like IP addresses, and I don’t see anyone arguing that 10.10.10.10 is “equivalent” to 126.96.36.199. Plus, it’s not like we haven’t been here before.
iOS-to-OS X AirDrop.
Some of the items on Jesper’s list sound more like wishes than predictions, but this one I really hope happens. It’s frustrating when you have something in front of you on your Mac that you want to send to your iPhone (or vice versa) and you have to do something silly like iMessage yourself to transfer it.
Update: A few good predictions from Rich Siegel.
My thanks to Mustbin for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Mustbin is an iPhone app and cloud-based service that allows you to capture, collect, organize, and share your important information and personal moments — privately. Capture anything you want using your phone’s camera. Use “bins” to organize everything you collect. Mustbin uses AES-256 encryption on every file and end-to-end encryption during cloud sync — even Mustbin can’t look at your documents. Your data is your data, except when you decide to share it.
Download Mustbin for free and see for yourself, or check out their website for more information and details.
2010: McGraw-Hill Axed From iPad Launch After CEO Leaks on TV ★
Paul Boutin, writing for VentureBeat back in 2010:
This is one of Steve Jobs’ slides from this morning’s iPad launch
presentation. Can you tell what’s wrong with it?
The awkward array of five logos used to be a tidy lineup of six.
The day before the show, Apple removed McGraw-Hill, the
122-year-old publisher whose 61-year-old leader, Harold McGraw III
— better known as Terry — prattled like a teenage schoolgirl
about the tablet’s iPhone operating system on CNBC:
Yes, they’ll make their announcement tomorrow on this one. We have
worked with Apple for quite a while. And the Tablet is going to be
based on the iPhone operating system and so it will be
transferable. So what you are going to be able to do now is we
have a consortium of e-books. And we have 95% of all our materials
that are in e-book format on that one. So now with the tablet
you’re going to open up the higher education market, the
professional market. The tablet is going to be just really
The first rule of making a deal with Apple is that you do not talk about making a deal with Apple. Take a guess what the second rule is.
On the Future of MetaFilter ★
Since we’ve never seen a return to our pre-Fall 2012 traffic
levels, I have to assume whatever hidden law we broke we’re still
breaking, or that Google sees us as a home for comment spam even
though we boot every single one we can find though a series of
sophisticated methods, and the whole experience has been
frustrating to say the least. At this point, I’m at wits end
trying to figure out why our high-quality site, featuring good
advice from a dedicated community of real people with a
best-in-industry 24-hour moderation staff has seen such big
On the flip side, I’ll accept that MetaFilter is from “two or
three Internets ago”, and perhaps this is Google’s way of
saying they’re changing with the times and we’re not. I’m ok with
that too, but since Google is a giant black box to outsiders,
we’ll never really know.
Update: Says Marco Arment:
Google owns the ad-driven web: their search brings all of your
pageviews, and their ads bring all of your income. You’re just
along for the ride, hoping to stay in Google’s good graces — an
arbitrary, unreliable, undocumented metric that changes
constantly. (Google’s only “open” with the trivial, unprofitable
parts of their business. Search and ads are closed, proprietary,
and opaque in every possible way.)
This is one reason I’ve never tried to monetize pageviews at Daring Fireball. My goal has always been to increase readers — to reach and appeal to people who want to come here to read what I write, on a daily or at least regular basis. I get thousands of referrals every day from Google, but I don’t try to monetize them. My only hope is for a few of them to like what they see and come back.
I think I can keep writing stuff that people want to read. I don’t know how to write stuff that Google’s ever-changing algorithms will return as highly-placed search results, so I’ve never really tried.
Glassholes, Google Web Search, and Google Plus ★
So when the other diner came in wearing Google Glass, management
asked her to take them off before dining. She refused, and left
the restaurant. […] On April 20, the diner wrote a post about
what happened, which apparently angered some of her 3,000-plus
Around this time the spate of reviews arrived on Google. Feast
looked into this, and discovered that all of the one stars are
from people who commented on the diner’s original Google+ post.
The negative reviews include lines such as: “Ignorant bigots and
hateful. Perhaps being illegally discriminate too. The food is
irrelevant as the service is less than poor.” The reviewer lives
in Phoenix. […]
“When the first thing that comes up when you search Feast in
Google is a 3.1, it can really hurt a restaurant like us. Then you
have 13 people, which is about half the total reviews, who have
never been to our restaurant let alone live in NYC, leave you
one-star reviews … it’s malicious and technically a violation of
Google’s own terms for leaving reviews,” the Feast manager said.
“Again I can understand her leaving the one-star based on her
experience, but 12 others with no experience on who we are or what
we do is unfair.”
It’s a perfect storm of Google-ism. Glass users are weirdos. They also tend to be users of Google Plus. They vent/lash out on Google Plus when an establishment — even respectfully — asks them not to wear Glass. Google web search shows the establishment’s Google Plus profile as its top search result.
What’s troublesome here isn’t Glass. It’s Google’s favoritism for Google Plus. If Google Plus were an independent company, there’s no way Google web search would give it such prominent placement.
Regarding Steve Jobs and the Leaking of Deals Before Apple Is Ready to Announce Them ★
AppleInsider, back in July 2000:
On Monday, a message posted from an ati.com company address
appeared on BusinessWire, detailing the company’s plans product
plans for Macworld. Under normal circumstances, this would not
pose as a problem. However, the published blurb provided
advanced information on Apple hardware products to be announced
at the expo.
“ATI plans a surprise announcement on July 19,” the messages
stated, in part. “In a keynote, wait for Apple to announce three
new systems with ATI graphics in them. One will be an iMac with
the RAGE 4XL chip, the remaining two are PowerMacs which will ship
with RAGE 128 PRO standard and RADEON.”
This blurb was apparently enough to send Apple cofounder and CEO,
Steve Jobs, through the roof. As a result, source said, Mr. Jobs
ripped all mention of ATI and their products from his keynote
presentation this morning. Apple’s introduction of new Power Mac
G4 systems went without mention of the graphics chip that would
ship inside, and the same was the case for the company’s new iMacs
and Power Mac G4 Cube.
InsideMacGames, on the same day:
Well, that rumor cost ATI, big time! When the Bizwire report on
Macworld Expo Exhibitors surfaced, dozens of news outlets
(including IMG) reported ATI’s plans for the Expo. However, that
short summary gave away several key secrets from the Keynote -
specifically, it hinted at the two new PowerMacs (the MP models)
and the new iMac DV SE revision, and Steve Jobs was extremely
upset at this. He likes surprises.
According to ATI, Steve ordered all Radeons to be pulled from the
show floor, and wiped all mention of ATI out of his keynote
speech. He also canceled part of the keynote where an ATI exec was
supposed to speak, and demo the Radeon! It seems no one leaks
Steve’s secrets without dire penalty. It wasn’t clear who was at
fault for the leak, but it seems to have come from the ATI side.
(Thanks to DF reader Jeff Clatworthy for the reminder about this incident.)
About That Apple-Beats Deal ★
Yinka Adegoke, writing for Billboard:
When news broke on Thursday May 8 that Apple was in talks to buy
Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre’s Beats Electronics for a shocking $3.2
billion the deal’s closure seemed imminent. In fact Billboard’s
sources repeatedly said late that day, the transaction would be
announced the following Monday… “Tuesday, latest.”
Well, Monday and Tuesday passed and we were assured the deal would
actually be announced early this week. By early this week we were
told it would now be announced next week. We, like other outlets,
have been reassured the deal is happening…or as close to
definitely happening as any source is willing to say given they’re
speaking on background.
That they’ve been so wrong thus far makes me disinclined to believe anything Billboard (or The Financial Times, or The Wall Street Journal, or anyone else who reported the deal as imminent back on May 8) reports about it now.
Among the reasons Adegoke cites for the delay:
Apparently, the Apple family near imploded with outrage when that
video went up on Facebook of an ‘excited’ Dr. Dre with R&B
singer/former Coca Cola pin-up Tyrese. In the video they share, in
language perhaps unsuitable for a family blog, how Dre will be
hip-hop’s first billionaire and other nice things about Compton.
People often forget that despite Apple being this company that
makes sexy products, with sexy profit margins, and sexy retail
outlets… it is not in fact a very sexy company. It is a
conservative company, particularly without the leadership of its
guiding light Steve Jobs who would shake things up massively on a
Steve Jobs did not “shake things up massively on a daily basis”, and my guess is, he would have been more pissed off than anyone at Apple about Beats’ leaking of the deal to the press. And it seems pretty clear that that’s what happened. It wasn’t Apple that leaked, it was Beats, and their leaking it might have scuttled the deal.
One thing’s for sure: Apple is suffering a crisis of confidence
right now and they could do with a pair who help them to “Think
Anyone who thinks “Apple is suffering a crisis of confidence right now” doesn’t understand Apple at all. No wonder Billboard has botched the story on this acquisition.
Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Publishers ★
David Streitfeld and Melissa Eddy, reporting for the NYT:
Amazon, under fire in much of the literary community for
energetically discouraging customers from buying books from the
publisher Hachette, has abruptly escalated the battle.
The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming
Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling’s new novel. The paperback
edition of Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the
Age of Amazon” — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it
— is suddenly listed as “unavailable.”
In some cases, even the pages promoting the books have
John Moltz: “Time for more ebook sanctions against Apple.”
HP Plans 16,000 More Layoffs ★
Rick Merritt, reporting for the EE Times:
On a quarterly earnings call, HP chief executive Meg Whitman
took a hammering from Wall Street analysts, clearly surprised by
the magnitude of the numbers. Whitman announced her turnaround
plan in May 2012 estimating layoffs of 27,000. The numbers were
later boosted to 29,000, then 34,000 and now are estimated at a
Analysts asked if Whitman had lost confidence in HP’s ability to
“This has nothing to do with our confidence in business, it’s
about opportunities to make this company better,” Whitman said.
“I’ve done a number of turnarounds — not at this scale — but you
see more opportunities the deeper you get in,” she said.
She’s right about one thing: she’s in deep.
When is the last time HP had a single interesting product?
‘For Me, the Movies Are Like a Machine That Generates Empathy’ ★
Trailer for director Steve James’s Life Itself, a documentary on the life and work of Roger Ebert. Can’t wait.
Arcade Story ★
Like everyone else, I wasted a lot of my parents’ quarters playing
Dragon’s Lair and lasting for about 2 minutes before losing all
five lives. Fortunately, the local grocery store had a Dragon’s
Lair cabinet, as well as a couple of other games, so I got many
occasions to practice.
One day I was sitting in our apartment reading a video game
magazine (nerd!), and in the back was a little section of
classified ads. My eye was caught immediately by the words “Beat
Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair!” For a few bucks, you could send away
for this random guy’s strategy guide, which listed all the moves
and when to make them.
Please realize there was no residential internet. We had a
computer, but no modem. There was no just going to Google for an
FAQ or walkthrough. If you didn’t know the moves, you just didn’t
know them, unless you knew someone else who knew them, which of
course you didn’t.
What a great story.
Just What Are ‘Tablets’? ★
Timothy B. Lee, writing for Vox, says the Surface Pro 3 shows that Microsoft “doesn’t get the tablet revolution”:
But this makes as much sense as selling a digital camera that also
takes film photographs. Anyone who needs the power of a PC can and
should just buy a PC. The point of buying a tablet is that it’s
cheaper, smaller, lighter, simpler, and more power-efficient than
a traditional PC. Those advantages are only possible because
tablets don’t try to be all things to all people.
I’ll take the devil’s advocate position here. I think Microsoft now fully understands what the iPad is and why it’s popular. What they’re saying with the Surface Pro 3 is that the tablet form factor isn’t necessarily only for iPad-style devices, but that it’s a good form factor for full-featured PCs as well.
This isn’t new to the Surface Pro 3 in particular — it’s been the point behind the Surface Pro all along. As Harry McCracken noted on Twitter, “Surface Pro 3 seems less like an iPad-era tablet, more like the Tablet PC which Microsoft couldn’t design in 2000.”
In other words, Microsoft’s point is less about Windows 8 vs. iOS, and more about the tablet vs. laptop form factor for full-featured PC users.
Dan Frommer on the Surface Pro 3 ★
Dan Frommer, writing for his new gig at Quartz:
The main problem is that this is still a Windows 8 machine,
missing the elegance of Apple’s iOS, its touch-based app
selection, and its accessory and media ecosystem. Really,
Microsoft has just made a good argument for Apple to release a
larger (and even thinner) iPad Pro sometime sooner than later —
that actually sounds great.
Ads Everywhere ★
Rolfe Winkler, reporting for the WSJ:
In a December letter to the Securities and Exchange
Commission, which was disclosed Tuesday, the search giant said
that it could be serving ads and other content on “refrigerators,
car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a
Google made the statement to help justify why it shouldn’t
disclose revenue generated from mobile devices, a figure the SEC
had requested and that companies like Facebook and Twitter both
disclose. Google argued that it doesn’t make sense to break out
mobile revenue since the definition of mobile will “continue to
evolve” as more “smart” devices roll out.
“Our expectation is that users will be using our services and
viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in
the future,” the company said in the filing.
What a depressing, oppressive view of the future.
Disneyland’s Original 1953 Prospectus ★
Nice find from Boing Boing.
eBay Accounts Compromised ★
Later today, eBay Inc. will be asking all eBay users to change
their passwords due to a cyber attack that compromised an eBay
database containing encrypted eBay passwords and other
non-financial information. eBay will notify its user base directly
within the next 24 hours with more details.
Seems like weird phrasing, “later today”. Why wait?
Christina Warren on the Missing Surface Mini ★
Christina Warren, writing for Mashable:
Last week, Mashable Chief Correspondent Lance Ulanoff urged
Microsoft not to release a Surface Mini unless it was every
bit as good as the iPad mini. Go big (or in this case, “small”) or
go home. Good enough doesn’t cut it.
It looks like Microsoft had the same thought process. The Surface
Pro 3 event was clearly targeted at laptop buyers — not at tablet
owners. Most tablet owners, Microsoft noted, also own a laptop.
So rather than trying to go after the consumer tablet market,
where it sits in no man’s land, Microsoft is smartly pivoting and
going after the laptop space.
Federal Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Gay Marriage Ban ★
Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:
The decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III marked the
first and most significant to date in a series of court challenges
to the state’s 1996 ban.
“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is
time to discard them onto the ash heap of history,” Jones wrote in
the 39-page opinion. “By virtue of this, ruling, same-sex couples
who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married
same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.”
Interesting, too, that Jones was a Bush appointee, and cited an argument by Antonin Scalia.
Android Fragmentation, Gyroscope Edition ★
Game Oven, announcing the postponement of the Android version of a new game:
In the Vine above are 7 devices all running the same compass app
(ironically named Steady Compass) on Android. Yet, all compasses
indicate that North is somewhere else. Unfortunately, this has
nothing to do with electromagnetic fields confusing the compass;
it has everything to do with the diversity of hardware inside
We have been developing Bounden for Android alongside its
development on iOS, and have tested the game on a number of
devices. It was only a week ago that we started expanding our list
of test devices, after we quickly discovered that:
(a) some devices had ‘broken’ gyroscopes that didn’t work on all
(b) that some devices were faking gyroscopes by mixing and
matching the accelerometer data with compass data, or
(c) that some devices did not have a gyroscope at all.
Curious, I grabbed a handful of iOS devices laying around my house — iPad Mini and iPad Mini with Retina Display; iPhones 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, and 5S — and tried a similar comparison.
About That Heathrow/Samsung Terminal 5 ‘Rebranding’ ★
Rene Ritchie followed up with Heathrow officials regarding Samsung’s claimed rebranding of Terminal 5:
“Heathrow Terminal 5’s signage and passenger wayfinding has not
changed,” a Heathrow spokesperson told iMore. “Samsung have rented
advertising space in Terminal 5 with a tongue-in-cheek campaign
using the line: ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5’.”
Samsung hasn’t taken over any signage or branding at Terminal 5
but are simply renting existing advertising placements in the
terminal, those that are available to anyone.
Great copywriting too.
Microsoft Announces Surface Pro 3 ★
Lots of comparisons to the MacBook Air during their announcement event. A decade ago, it was Apple that was comparing the Mac to the PC (in the long-running John Hodgman/Justin Long “Get a Mac” campaign) — now the tables are turned.
From everything I’ve read today (including Microsoft’s own blog announcement), they’ve designed the Surface more as a competitor to a Mac or PC laptop than as a competitor to the iPad. (In fact, they didn’t even announce an ARM-based smaller Surface, as was rumored.)
Swallowing the Spider ★
Jon Bell, on the rumor that Apple is adding split-screen multitasking to the iPad in iOS 8:
But while you can debate the worth of the feature, or whether
Apple will implement it, some things are beyond debate. It’s an
immovable law of design physics — adding functionality adds
complexity. You can’t get around it. All you can do is try to add
functionality that people really want, and do it carefully enough
that the increased complexity is worth it. There are no shortcuts
or magic bullets.
Or to put it in Rands-ian terms: When you say “I wish I could run two apps side-by-side on the iPad,” I hear, “I wish the iPad were more complicated.”
Stop Forcing People to Wear Bike Helmets ★
Joseph Stromberg, writing for Vox:
For most bikers, this advice is anathema. The importance of
wearing a helmet has been drilled into everyone since childhood.
And, it’s true that, as study after study has shown, you’re better
off with a helmet if you’re in an accident.
But in the world’s most popular biking cities, particularly in
Europe, very few bikers wear helmets. And there are good reasons
for that: biking, it turns out, isn’t an especially dangerous form
of transportation in terms of head trauma. And the benefits of
helmets may be overstated. While they do protect your head during
accidents, there’s some evidence that helmets make it more likely
you’ll get in an accident in the first place.
‘/Users’ Folder Bug Botches Permissions in Addition to Visibility ★
The permissions on the /Users folder were also changed to be
world-writable, so that anyone could read and write to the
After considerable investigation by the folks in the ##osx-server
IRC room, it looks like the issue has been tied to two causes:
iTunes 11.2 being installed
iCloud’s Find My Mac being enabled.
That’s a pretty bad permissions bug. Trouton has a script that fixes all the damage (restore visibility to /Users and /Users/Shared, then run Repair Permissions), but note that you must turn off Find My Mac, or it will just happen all over again when you restart.
Iconfactory.com Redesign ★
Nice typography and responsive design.
Dan Rubin on iPhone Photography ★
Dan Rubin, editor-at-large of the Photographic Journal and an
early Instagram adopter, takes a tour of London to test some of
the best smartphone photography apps. By shooting a variety of
people and places, Dan shows how using some specially selected
apps throughout your photography workflow can dramatically improve
the shots you capture — and offers some cool tips and tricks of
what you can do with those shots afterwards.
Great advice, including technique and app recommendations.
Breathing City ★
Beautiful animated map by Joey Cherdarchuk showing Manhattan’s work and home population hour-by-hour.
Yesterday, I showed how you could unhide the /Users folder in OS
X 10.9.3, the latest update to OS X that was released
yesterday. Yet many users, in comments, emails and on Twitter,
have pointed out that their /Users folder is not hidden. Here,
it’s hidden on both my Macs: a late 2011 Mac mini, and an early
2013 MacBook Pro.
It really doesn’t make sense for this folder to be hidden; it
contains the /Users/Shared folder, which you may want to use to
provide files to other users, since all users can access it. My
guess, given that not everyone sees the /Users folder as hidden,
is that this is a bug; one way or another. In other words, it
should either not be hidden, or it should be hidden for everyone.
Sounds like a bug to me too. In the meantime, the best workaround I’ve seen is Dave Mark’s idea to make an alias.
Translation From Polite British Spokesperson-ese to Plain English Regarding Samsung’s Rebranding of Heathrow Terminal 5 ★
Vlad Savov, The Verge:
Samsung’s marketing juggernaut is reaching new heights today with
the announcement that Heathrow’s Terminal 5 will be rebranded for
two weeks to promote the company’s flagship Galaxy S5 Android
phone. Starting on Monday, every area of the terminal will feature
the “Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5” moniker, with all the signage and
digital screens promoting the handset and projecting images of it.
Russell Taylor, Samsung’s UK marketing VP describes this as a
“one-off opportunity to push the boundaries like no other brand
has been allowed to do before.” A Heathrow Airport spokesperson
clarifies that Samsung hasn’t bought the actual naming rights to
the terminal, just an expansive ad campaign to be distributed
within it. She says “Samsung want to call it Terminal Samsung
Galaxy S5 and we are relaxed about that.”
Translation: “We’re every bit as appalled as you are by the crass nature of this, but holy shit you should see how much money they’re paying us. Pass the gin.”
Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:
The LLVM-based fourth tier is called FTL, for Fourth Tier LLVM
(and, of course, faster than light). It shares some portions
with the third stage, since the third stage already does important
code generating portion.
The result is a healthy performance boost. FTL produces code that
is more than 40 times faster than the interpreter, with
benchmarks taking about a third less time to run than the old
three tier system.
It’s pretty clever: the new FTL compiler takes longer to compile the code, but the code it generates runs much faster. But while the FTL compiler is working, WebKit will execute code generated by the (faster-to-compile) existing JIT compiler, then switch over to the FTL-generated code when it’s ready.
Lots of details in the official announcement on the Surfin’ Safari blog.
Fun new SVG-powered typographic examples from Hoefler & Co. Be sure to play with the size sliders.
The New York Times’s Innovation Report ★
It has become increasingly clear that we are not moving with
enough urgency. That’s been true for years, and it was exactly my
experience while employed there. To be sure, for a company founded
in 1851, The Times has done a remarkable job navigating the
turbulent digital landscape, but there’s no prize for best 19th
Century enterprise still operating in the 21st Century.
Art of the Title: The Rockford Files ★
Will Perkins on the opening credits of The Rockford Files. Guaranteed to evoke vivid memories for anyone who was around in the 1970s.
Military Infographics ★
Part of what makes military diagrams so fascinating is that they
look a lot like the images civilians use to do their regular
workaday jobs. It’s just software and hardware, after all, and
there are only so many ways to draw a network diagram. Yet the
scale of these systems is immense; the lines being drawn are
between jets and satellites, not between a couple of web servers.
You can smell the money burning.
Good thing Edward Tufte is alive and well; otherwise he’d be rolling over in his grave.
See Also: “Glenn Greenwald Reveals 7 New NSA Crimes Against Graphic Design”.
Mac OS X 10.9.3 ★
Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS:
Apple has released OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 Update, which brings a
pixel-doubled Retina mode to external 4K displays and restores
contact and calendar syncing between Mac and iOS devices in
iTunes. The Retina mode makes content much sharper, rather than
just using all the pixels to create a truly huge desktop.
iMac with Retina Display, please.
Polygon Reviews Mario Kart 8 ★
Speaking of Nintendo, Philip Kollar reviews the new Mario Kart 8 for Wii U:
While the intricacies of drifting and boosting are rote by this
point for long-time Kart players, Mario Kart 8 drives home the
brilliance of this system. It’s simple — you’re just pressing one
button and adjusting your angle to make sure you don’t run off the
track — but it looks cool and made me feel skillful when I pulled
it off. It also forced me to constantly be engaged with a track. I
couldn’t just memorize a layout and be safe; I was constantly
tweaking and improving my approach to each lap.
Can’t wait for this one.
‘Intelligent Details’ Commercial From Bentley, Shot Using iPhone 5S ★
Crazy that something like this could be shot using a phone camera. Stick through to the end to see behind-the-scenes footage. (Via Phil Schiller.)
If Internet Providers Ran Public Services ★
This is the question at the heart of the net neutrality debate: is the Internet a public service? I say yes, very much so.
The Rise of Nintendo: A Story in 8 Bits ★
Fascinating excerpt from Blake J. Harris’s new book, Console Wars:
With so much invested in this game, the last remaining hope was
for a designer in Japan to quickly create a game and send over
processors with that new game to America, where NOA employees
could swap out the motherboard and then repaint the arcade
cabinets. This task was given to Shigeru Miyamoto, a floppy-haired
first-time designer who believed that videogames should be treated
with the same respect given to books, movies, and television
shows. His efforts to elevate the art form were given a boost when
he was informed that Nintendo was close to finalizing a licensing
deal with King Features, enabling him to develop his game around
the popular cartoon series Popeye the Sailor Man. Using those
characters, he began crafting a game where Popeye must rescue his
beloved Olive Oyl by hopping over obstacles tossed in his way by
his obese archenemy, Bluto.
Shipments containing the code for Miyamoto’s new game began to
arrive. Due to last-minute negotiation issues with King Features,
Nintendo had lost the rights to Popeye, which forced Miyamoto to
come up with something else. As a result, Arakawa, Stone, Judy,
and a handful of warehouse employees didn’t know what to expect.
They inserted the new processor into one of the thousands of
unsold Radarscope machines and then watched the lights flicker as
the words “Donkey Kong” came to life on the arcade screen.
The Half-Century Anniversary of ‘Dr. Strangelove’ ★
David Denby, writing for The New Yorker:
Kubrick was thirty-six when “Strangelove” came out. It was
the last movie directed by the young Kubrick — the ace
filmmaker who put emotions right on the surface and moved
quickly through charged narratives. He was superseded by the
“visionary” Kubrick, the artificer of slow-moving
“sublime” movies like “2001,” “The Shining,” and
“Barry Lyndon.” Many of us who loved the drive and the
sardonic wit of such movies as “The Killing” (1956),
“Paths of Glory” (1957), “Lolita” (1962), and
“Strangelove” never loved the late films, with their glacial
pacing and coldly sarcastic tableaux, in the same way.
You’re going to have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company.
Design Is About Intent ★
John R. Moran:
The opposite of design, then, is the failure to develop and employ
intent in making creative decisions. This doesn’t sound hard,
but, astonishingly, no other leading tech company makes
intentional design choices like Apple. Instead, they all commit
at least one of what I term the Three Design Evasions.
Coda 2.5 and the Mac App Store ★
Coda 2.5 is essentially complete. But, we’re still
encountering sandboxing challenges. So, in the interest of finally
getting Coda 2.5 out the door and in the hands of you, our very
eager and patient customers, we’ve decided it’s time to move
on — for now.
In short: Coda 2.5 will not be sandboxed, and therefore will not
be available in the Mac App Store.
Please note that this doesn’t mean Coda 2.5 was rejected by
Apple, rather that we’re going ahead and proactively making this
call since all Mac App Store apps are required to be sandboxed and
Coda 2.5 will not be.
Lots of good news here, too, though. Coda users who bought through the Mac App Store can upgrade to version 2.5 free of charge, and Panic has created their own (free) sync service to stand in for iCloud. But it’s pretty damning for the Mac App Store (and the sandboxing requirement in particular) that a top-tier developer like Panic has to pull an app like Coda.
Update: Daniel Jalkut points out that Apple awarded Coda “Best of Mac App Store” in 2012 and an Apple Design Award (for which only App Store apps are now eligible) last year.
Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines Now on the iBooks Store ★
The 20 MB guide is compatible with iPads as well as Macs running
iBooks on OS X Mavericks, and it takes advantage of the app with
inline video playback, two-page page layouts, and built-in
annotations (plus, of course, font size and color controls for
It looks like Apple did a nice job in converting the guidelines to
iBooks, and annotations appear to be especially useful for
developers and designers learning the principles of the iOS 7
Nice work from Apple.
The iPhone and Japan ★
Takashi Amano, reporting for Bloomberg:
Apple Inc. boosted its share of the Japan mobile-phone market to
more than a third after the country’s largest wireless carrier
started selling the iPhone.
Apple boosted iPhone shipments in Japan to 36.6 percent of the
market in the year ended March, up from 25.5 percent a year
earlier, according to Tokyo-based MM Research Institute Ltd. The
Cupertino, California-based smartphone maker shipped 14.43 million
phones in Japan the past fiscal year, the researcher said.
Worth revisiting this vintage 2009 claim chowder: “Why the Japanese Hate the iPhone”.
Update: Worth noting that this is about total mobile phone market share, not “smartphone” market share. Mobile phone share is a much more meaningful number, because very soon all mobile phones will be smartphones. We’ll just call them “phones”. Apple’s smartphone market share has looked bad, and in many cases declined over the first half of this decade, because the rate at which all phones are becoming smartphones has grown faster than the iPhone’s share of all mobile phones. But that focus on “smartphone market share” has obscured the fact that the iPhone’s share of all mobile phones sold has grown ever since 2007.
iMessage Purgatory ★
I recently switched from an iPhone to Android, and discovered
shortly thereafter that my phone number was still associated with
iMessage, meaning that any time someone with an iPhone tried
texting me, I’d receive nothing, and they’d get a “Delivered”
receipt in their Messages app as though everything were working as
My thanks to Applause for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Applause is an “app quality company” that provides solutions for testing, build distribution, crash reporting, user feedback, and analytics — all of it focused on helping developers listen to users and improve their apps. Applause has tools for web, mobile, and even wearable apps.
Check out their website to learn more about how it works, and the integrated dashboard that brings everything together. Applause gives you insight into how people really use your app, and can help you make better decisions about everything from when to launch to where to steer your product roadmap.
Apple, Beats, and Black America ★
John Herrman, writing for The Awl:
Anyway, has anyone noticed that the loud and visceral reaction to
Apple’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of Beats, the headphone
and music service company, is kind of racist?
Clearly, some of the reactions may be racially-tinged, but the ones cited by Herrman seem dubious to me. Most of the head-scratching I’ve seen — including my own — is no different than if Apple were purportedly buying, say, Bose or Harman Kardon, for $3 billion.
Apple’s previous biggest acquisition was NeXT, all the way back in 1996, for $400 million. (It’s worth noting that $400 million was an enormous sum of money to Apple in 1996, and $3.2 billion represents just 2 percent of the company’s cash today, but still.) Tim Cook has long said Apple isn’t opposed to large acquisitions, but they’ve never made one. And Apple doesn’t have sub-brands. Apple is the opposite of a conglomerate. It’s new territory for Apple, regardless of any racial component.
If anything, as Micah Singleton argues at The Daily Dot, Beats’s brand stature among black Americans might help explain why this deal makes sense for Apple: 73 percent of black smartphone owners in the U.S. are on Android. Beats has brand appeal that Apple does not.
The other thing Beats has that Apple wants: its relationships in the entertainment industry. $3.2 billion? I still don’t know about that. But I’m no longer confused about what Beats has that Apple would want.
Massimo Vignelli Is Ill ★
One of the world’s great designers, Massimo Vignelli, is very ill
and will be spending his last days at home. His son Luca would
like all those for whom Vignelli was either an influence or an
inspiration to write him a letter. […]
According to Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, “Luca said that
Massimo would be thrilled to get notes of good wishes from people
whom he’s touched or influenced - whether personally or remotely -
over the years. Luca has visions of huge mail bags full of
letters. I know that one of Massimo’s biggest fantasies has been
to attend his own funeral. This will be the next best thing. Pass
Just dropped mine in the mailbox.
The Illusion of Life ★
The 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the “old
men” of Walt Disney Studios, amongst them Frank Thomas and Ollie
Johnston, during the 1930s. Of course they weren’t old men at the
time, but young men who were at the forefront of exciting
discoveries that were contributing to the development of a new art
form. These principles came as a result of reflection about their
practice and through Disney’s desire to use animation to express
character and personality.
This movie is my personal take on those principles, applied to
simple shapes. Like a cube.
Wonderfully illustrated. UI designers would do well to study this.
Sure Seems Like Dr. Dre Thinks Apple Is Buying Beats ★
“The first billionaire in hip-hop, right here from the motherfucking West Coast.”
Jon Maples on the Apple/Beats Acquisition ★
While music purchases may be falling, it’s still a big business
for Apple. So instead of creating another option in iTunes that
would potentially cannibalize download sales, why not just buy a
service and keep it separate? Streaming blows up: Apple wins.
Streaming doesn’t pan out, well, they still have the iTunes store
Best take I’ve read so far, and the first to make a case that the separate (and established) Beats brand makes sense as a separate entity from iTunes.
Hachette Says Amazon Is Delaying Delivery of Some Books ★
David Streitfeld, reporting for the NYT:
Amazon has begun discouraging customers from buying books by
Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, J. D. Salinger and other
popular writers, a flexing of its muscle as a battle with a
publisher spills into the open.
The Internet retailer, which controls more than a third of the
book trade in the United States, is marking many books published
by Hachette Book Group as not available for at least two or
A Hachette spokeswoman said on Thursday that the publisher was
striving to keep Amazon supplied but that the Internet giant was
delaying shipments “for reasons of their own.” Hachette is one of
the largest New York houses, publishing under the Little, Brown
and Grand Central imprints, among many others.
Thank goodness the Obama Department of Justice saw fit to go after the book publishers to protect poor little Amazon.
Classic Joe Nocera ★
New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan:
Mr. Nocera made some serious factual errors in those columns,
particularly in the second one, in which he also took Mr. Buffett
to task, calling him “cowardly and hypocritical.”
After a complaint from Mr. Buffett, which I was sent a copy of,
corrections were appended to the columns, and published in print.
[…] But there’s a much bigger problem. The entire premise of the
second column is built on a mistake: that Mr. Buffett had changed
his tone after “licking his wounds” over the reaction to
statements he made on April 23, including Mr. Nocera’s criticism.
As Mr. Nocera told it in the second column, after several days of
this embarrassment passed, Mr. Buffett decided to “bite back” by
going on the offensive in a Fortune interview on April 28.
But that “remarkable interview” with Fortune — the so-called
biting back — actually took place the same day as the initial
statements, not after five days of wound-licking.
Typical Nocera hatchet job.
ZTE Starts Selling $99 Firefox OS Phone in the U.S., via eBay ★
Ina Fried, writing for Recode:
While Firefox OS remains targeted at first-time smartphone buyers
overseas, China’s ZTE said Thursday it will start selling a model
in the U.S. via eBay.
The ZTE Open C is listed for the “Buy It Now” price of
What the hell, I bought one. (22nd one sold so far, according to the eBay page.)
‘Year of Luigi’ Generates $456 Million Loss for Nintendo ★
Among the most notable fuckups that can be attributed to Luigi’s
piss-poor leadership are dwindling sales of the Wii U — Nintendo
sold 2.72 million of them, well behind the PlayStation 4 and the
Xbox One — and a dearth of quality non-Luigi-related Wii U games.
But even Mario’s idiot brother couldn’t run the Nintendo 3DS into
the ground, as Nintendo’s flagship portable continues to sell at a
steady clip — 12.26 million of them were sold in the fiscal year.
Something’s gumming up the plumbing, poor Luigi’s in a bind.
Killer turtles out to get him, creepy crabs are right behind.
Fighter flies, jeepers cripes!
They’re all coming out the pipes!
“Mario, where are you?”
Here’s How Odd This ‘Apple Buys Beats’ Rumor Is ★
So odd that it was an April Fool’s joke just five weeks ago in The Lefsetz Letter, the most popular music industry newsletter.
The Financial Times: ‘Apple in Talks to Buy Beats Electronics for $3.2B’ ★
Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw:
Apple is closing in on its largest ever acquisition with the
planned $3.2 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, the headphone
maker and music streaming operator founded by music producer Jimmy
Iovine and the hip-hop star Dr Dre.
The deal could be announced as early as next week, people familiar
with the negotiations said, but they cautioned that some details
had yet to be agreed and talks could still fall apart.
On the surface, this doesn’t make any sense to me. I can’t see Apple keeping the “Beats” brand around for headphones. If Apple wanted to sell expensive high-end headphones, they don’t need to spend $3 billion. The Beats streaming service is interesting, but can’t Apple do that on its own, as an expansion of the iTunes Music Store and iTunes Radio? And it’s not like Beats Music is even popular (at least yet) — Peter Kafka reports they only have 200,000 subscribers, most of them from a deal with AT&T.
Nothing from Beats looks like Apple. Not the brand, not the hardware. If this report is true, and Apple keeps the brand, how does that work? When is the last time Apple sold anything that wasn’t under its own brand? Filemaker is the only thing that comes to mind, and the origins of that arrangement are downright prehistoric. And if Apple doesn’t keep the Beats brand, what are they paying for?
I don’t get it.
Update: Numerous people are wondering if it’s all about streaming rights from the music labels — i.e. rights that Apple couldn’t get on its own (because the music labels have long resented iTunes’s dominance in digital music downloads), so they’re buying a company that negotiated those rights on their own. The problem with this theory is that those licenses (to my understanding) aren’t transferable in the event of an acquisition. Music label executives may be dumb, but they’re not that dumb.
The Formula 1 Steering Wheel ★
Jordan Golson, writing for Wired:
The modern Formula 1 car is among the most amazing machines ever
made. And when you’re going wheel-to-wheel with someone like
four-time world champ Sebastian Vettel at 180 mph, you can’t take
a hand off the wheel to do, well, anything. Every task a driver
might need to do, every bit of information he might need to know,
is quite literally at his fingertips.
The modern Formula 1 steering wheel is, therefore, the most
amazing ever made. It is, in every way, the nerve center of
Whatever Happened to the Apple HDTV? ★
Analysts, pundits and other assorted Apple watchers have been
talking about such a TV for years. Sometimes, they’ve even said
that factories were in the process of cranking up production so
that TVs could reach Apple Stores in the immediate future, or
issued forecasts of how many units the company would sell.
And yet, the Apple HDTV not only isn’t here yet, but feels like
it’s slipping away. When people bring it up now, they assume it
will debut in 2015, if they specify a date at all.
Apple: Legal Process Guidelines for U.S. Law Enforcement ★
Interesting new document from Apple, outlining in detail how they cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies and what information they’re capable of providing. This part caught my eye:
Upon receipt of a valid search warrant, Apple can extract certain
categories of active data from passcode locked iOS devices.
Specifically, the user generated active files on an iOS device
that are contained in Apple’s native apps and for which the data
is not encrypted using the passcode (“user generated active
files”), can be extracted and provided to law enforcement on
external media. Apple can perform this data extraction process on
iOS devices running iOS 4 or more recent versions of iOS. Please
note the only categories of user generated active files that can
be provided to law enforcement, pursuant to a valid search
warrant, are: SMS, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and
call history. Apple cannot provide: email, calendar entries, or
any third-party App data.
Apple can intercept users’ email communications, upon receipt of a
valid Wiretap Order. Apple cannot intercept users’ iMessage or
FaceTime communications as these communications are end-to-end
‘Threes a Magic Number’ ★
Threes co-developer Greg Wohlwend is Glenn Fleishman’s guest on the latest episode of The New Disruptors.
How Things Change, Digital Camera Edition ★
Back in 2000, I was playing around with a Game Boy Camera, trying
to use it to take color photos. (I finally got that to work.) When
I first got the camera, I took a walk through midtown taking
pictures. I just came across the images and thought I’d share them
here for posterity (scaled up to 200% for visibility on our fancy
I remember using a similar camera on my Handspring Visor around the same time.
Reed Albergotti, reporting for the WSJ:
Moves, the fitness-tracking app recently acquired by Facebook, has
including with Facebook.
not “disclose an individual user’s data to third parties,” without
a user’s consent, unless compelled by law enforcement. The policy
said it would stay in place even if Moves were acquired.
On Monday, the policy permitted a wider range of data sharing. “We
may share information, including personally identifying
information, with our Affiliates (companies that are part of our
corporate groups of companies, including but not limited to
Facebook) to help provide, understand, and improve our Services,”
the policy says.
Whither App.net? ★
The good news is that the renewal rate was high enough for App.net
to be profitable and self-sustaining on a forward basis.
Operational and hosting costs are sufficiently covered by revenue
for us to feel confident in the continued viability of the
service. No one should notice any change in the way the App.net
API/service operates. To repeat, App.net will continue to operate
normally on an indefinite basis.
The bad news is that the renewal rate was not high enough for us
to have sufficient budget for full-time employees. After carefully
considering a few different options, we are making the difficult
decision to no longer employ any salaried employees, including
founders. Dalton and Bryan will continue to be responsible for the
operation of App.net, but no longer as employees. Additionally, as
part of our efforts to ensure App.net is generating positive cash
flow, we are winding down the Developer Incentive Program. We will
be reaching out to developers currently enrolled in the program
with more information.
Count me in with Marco Arment:
I would have loved to be proven wrong on my pessimistic
predictions and criticism of their scattershot product direction.
They’re good people. But I just don’t see a fundamentally social
platform, even with a bunch of other features on top of it,
getting a usefully large audience to succeed “on a forward basis”
rather than “winding down” without being mostly free and having
explosive growth from the start — especially when competing with
similar, massive, free services.
Image-Sharing Site Mlkshk Is Shutting Down ★
Pour one out for a great little service from some good people.
On Apple Getting the Cloud ★
Mark Rogowsky, writing for Forbes:
To look to a more visible Apple cloud success, perhaps we should
consider the absolutely massive iTunes/App Store franchise,
instead. There, a company who Wilson says, “[doesn’t] have
anything in the cloud to speak of” has built a combination of the
world’s largest music retailer and the world’s largest software
store. Apple has sold more than 25 billion songs and there have
been more than 50 billion apps downloaded. (Oh, and the company is
also the leader in digital movie sales/rentals as well, though
that business is far behind Netflix’s subscription-style
Apple’s revenues from all those downloads would total $23.5
billion if it were accounted for as a standalone business,
according to Asymco. That small part of Apple’s overall
business would be #130 on the Fortune 500 if it were a standalone
company. For a sense of just how much that is, Facebook — the
company Wilson says will be the second-most valuable behind Google
in 2020 — took in just under $8 billion last year. For having
“nothing,” Apple’s producing a good deal more than nothing in
Joanna Stern Reviews the Updated MacBook Airs ★
It’s still got the same unmatched trackpad response, comfortable
backlit keyboard and sturdy aluminum build. The 11-inch version
costs $899 and has 9 hours of battery life, but I’d suggest going
for the $999 13-inch version if you need more screen and keyboard
real estate, an SD card slot and 12 hours of battery life. Even if
you double the internal storage to 256GB and double the RAM to
8GB, the total cost is still $1,299.
My verdict: If you need a new laptop, this is the one to buy,
especially with the $100 price cut. In fact, that’s been my
verdict on the Air for several years. I’ve never met a better
laptop. And I’ve met a lot of laptops.
Smart piece by Will Oremus for Slate:
But Wall Street — along with everyone else who’s down on Twitter
because it has “a growth problem” — is making a mistake by
comparing it to Facebook. Twitter is not a social network. Not
primarily, anyway. It’s better described as a social media
platform, with the emphasis on “media platform.” And media
platforms should not be judged by the same metrics as social
Social networks connect people with one another. Those connections
tend to be reciprocal. Facebook even checks in on you now and then
to make sure you’ve actually met the folks who are sending you
friend requests. As a social network, its chief function is to
help friends, family, and acquaintances keep in touch.
Media platforms, by contrast, connect publishers with their
public. Those connections tend not to be reciprocal. One
Twitter user may be followed by millions of strangers whom she
feels no obligation to follow back, any more than an evening
news anchor feels the need to check in with each of her viewers
every night at 6.
See also: Nitasha Tiku writing for Valleywag on Twitter and “monthly active users” as a metric for its growth.
Install Hoefler & Co. Fonts on iOS ★
Hoefler & Co.:
Great mobile apps like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote make it easier
than ever to use your iPad and iPhone not just to consume content,
but to create it. Typography, a long-missing piece of the puzzle,
just got a lot better: starting today, your iOS 7 devices can use
all the Hoefler & Co. fonts you’ve ever purchased, and you can
install them directly from this site. Free.
For those of us who care about typography, this is such a big deal. I still think Apple needs a better way to allow font management though — Font Book for iOS, more or less.
How Things Change ★
Steven Frank, reviewing the then-brand-new Danger Hiptop (from the team that went on to create Android):
The camera application lets you store up to 36 postage-stamp size
color photos with the included camera attachment. The camera is
about the size of a quarter, and maybe half an inch thick. It
attaches to the device via a mini-jack, and thus can be swiveled
in any direction. The camera application shows you a preview of
what the camera is seeing, updated every couple of seconds, and
you can choose to capture at any time. Once stored in the album,
pictures can be emailed straight from the device as .jpg
attachments. The quality is about what you’d expect from a
quarter-sized camera. Not great. But it is a very fun “extra”
which I’m glad they added. Being able to be anywhere, take a
picture of something, and email it to someone, is pretty darn
cool, even if the image quality is not really sufficient to be
useful for any practical purpose.
I re-read this after fixing the link from my post linking to it back when it was new — which was so long ago, it was before Daring Fireball even had linked list entries.
Fred Wilson on Apple’s Prospects ★
Ingrid Lunden, writing for AOL/TechCrunch:
Fred Wilson of New York’s Union Square Ventures, one of the top
tech investors around, believes that by 2020, the biggest tech
company in the world — Apple — will cease to be the most
important, and won’t even be in the top three.
Speaking at today’s TC Disrupt conference in NYC, he predicted
that the top three tech companies, instead, will be Google,
Facebook “and one that we’ve never heard of.”
Why? Apple, he believes, is “too rooted to hardware,” with not
enough tied into the cloud, and that will make it too much of a
challenge for it to evolve going forward. “I think hardware is
increasingly becoming a commodity,” he said. “Their stuff in the
cloud is largely not good. I don’t think they think about data and
Anything could happen, especially if our measuring stick is stock price. Apple certainly won’t be the biggest tech company in the world forever.
But keep in mind, Fred Wilson is the guy who sold his Apple stock in 2009 for $91 per share (it closed at $601 today), and who started pushing for companies he invests in to develop for Android first back in 2010. His track record on Apple is rather spotty. And prognostications that hardware is becoming a commodity have been made for decades, and never seem to come true. There’s a big difference between a market that is largely commoditized and one that is entirely commoditized.
Heidi Roizen: ‘It’s Different for Girls’ ★
Former Apple executive Heidi Roizen:
Early in T/Maker’s life, I was working on a company-defining deal
with a major PC manufacturer. We were on track to do about a
million in revenue that year: This deal had the potential to bring
in another quarter million, plus deliver millions of dollars in
the years to come if it went well. It was huge.
The PC manufacturer’s senior vice president who had been
instrumental in crafting the deal suggested he and I sign over
dinner in San Francisco to celebrate. When I arrived at the
restaurant, I found it a bit awkward to be seated at a table for
four yet to be in two seats right next to each other, but it was a
French restaurant and that seemed to be the style, so down I sat.
Wine was brought and toasts were made to our great future
together. About halfway through the dinner he told me he had also
brought me a present, but it was under the table, and would I
please give him my hand so he could give it to me. I gave him my
hand, and he placed it in his unzipped pants.
Galaxy S5 Explained: UX and Back Panel ★
From a post on Samsung’s official weblog:
Morever [sic], while in previous Galaxy flagships, the features in the
settings were only shown in a list, in the Galaxy S5, they can be
seen in three types of views such as a grid, list, and tab
(category). Thus, with an easy-to-see icons and interface, you can
clearly say that the Galaxy S5 is a trendy smartphone.
However, there is another reason the UI of the Galaxy S5 looks so
clean and simple.
The Galaxy S5 has 40 applications only, which is much reduced
compared to, for example, the Galaxy Note 3 having 51 apps. 40
applications in the 2 pages. That’s it. If wanted, other
relatively less frequently used apps can be easily downloaded
through Galaxy Essential and Galaxy Gift widget.
The Great Smartphone War: Apple vs. Samsung ★
Kurt Eichenwald, in a well-reported feature for Vanity Fair:
One day in March 2011, cars carrying investigators from Korea’s
anti-trust regulator pulled up outside a Samsung facility in
Suwon, about 25 miles south of Seoul. They were there ready to
raid the building, looking for evidence of possible collusion
between the company and wireless operators to fix the prices of
Before the investigators could get inside, security guards
approached and refused to let them through the door. A standoff
ensued, and the investigators called the police, who finally got
them inside after a 30-minute delay. Curious about what had been
happening in the plant as they cooled their heels outside, the
officials seized video from internal security cameras. What they
saw was almost beyond belief.
Upon getting word that investigators were outside, employees at
the plant began destroying documents and switching computers,
replacing the ones that were being used — and might have damaging
material on them — with others.
A year later, Korean newspapers reported that the government had
fined Samsung for obstructing the investigation at the facility.
At the time, a legal team representing Apple was in Seoul to take
depositions in the Samsung case, and they read about the standoff.
From what they heard, one of the Samsung employees there had even
swallowed documents before the investigators were allowed in. That
certainly didn’t bode well for Apple’s case; how, the Apple
lawyers said half-jokingly among themselves, could they possibly
compete in a legal forum with employees who were so loyal to the
company that they were willing to eat incriminating evidence?
Eichenwald’s is the best overview of the Apple-Samsung rivalry I’ve seen; nothing else even comes close.
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Jury Awards Apple a Nice Bag of Peanuts in Samsung Patent Case ★
Ina Fried, Recode:
A federal jury in the Apple-Samsung case delivered a mixed
The panel ruled that various Samsung products infringed on two
patents that Apple had sued over in its latest patent case and
found damages on a third patent, awarding more than $119.6 million
in damages. However, it found Apple did not infringe on two other
patents and also awarded Samsung $158,400, saying Apple infringed
on a Samsung patent.
It was never about the money for Apple. Even if Apple had been awarded the full $2.2 billion it asked for, the truth is that’s just not that much money in the grand scheme of the post-PC market. But $120 million? That’s chump change to either company.
It’s hard to see how anything related to this verdict would give Samsung pause before copying Apple in the future. The financial penalty was a mere pittance, and in terms of public perception, they clearly had no shame to begin with.
That said, I still don’t think Apple has any regrets about pursuing this case. It’s about the message it sends to all competitors, not just Samsung: We are irrationally protective of our work, and if you wrong us, we will go after you.