Monday, September 01, 2014

Three Years Later: Tim Cook’s Apple | Monday Note

Jean-Louis Gassée reflects and projects

"After three years at the helm, we’ll soon know in what sense Tim Cook “owns” Apple. For having broken Steve’s creation, for having created a field of debris littered with occasionally recognizable remains of a glorious, more innovative, more elegant past. Or for having followed the spirit of Steve’s dictum – not to think of what he would have done – and led Apple to new heights."
Three Years Later: Tim Cook’s Apple | Monday Note

Apple Said to Team With Visa, MasterCard on IPhone Wallet - Bloomberg

More speculation about the likely 9/9 Apple event headlines

"The agreement includes Visa Inc. (V), MasterCard Inc. (MA) and American Express Co. (AXP) and will be unveiled on Sept. 9 along with the next iPhone, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

The new iPhone will make mobile payment easier by including a near-field communication chip for the first time, the person said. That advancement along with Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition reader that debuted on the most recent iPhone, will allow consumers to securely pay for items in a store with the touch of a finger."
Apple Said to Team With Visa, MasterCard on IPhone Wallet - Bloomberg

Amazon Bets on Content in Deal for Twitch - NYTimes.com

More Twitch perspectives

"Twitch has built a platform that hosts live events akin to the N.F.L., the United States Open or the X Games — and it has the audience to show for it. Part of the magic is that on Twitch, you are not just watching other gamers, but hyper-talented digital warriors, the Peyton Mannings and Roger Federers of Counter-Strike and Minecraft.

From a standing start in 2011, Twitch garnered 55 million unique users in July who watched 155 billion minutes of gaming and has become the country’s fourth-largest user of Internet bandwidth."
Amazon Bets on Content in Deal for Twitch - NYTimes.com

In E-Sports, Video Gamers Draw Real Crowds and Big Money - NYTimes.com

From a snapshot of the games industry

"Having already upended the entertainment world — global revenue for games is $20 billion higher than the music industry’s and is chasing that of the movie business — the games industry has turned its ambitions toward the lucrative world of professional video game competition, widely known as e-sports.

The signs of success already mirror the achievements of major sports. Game tournaments sell out giant arenas, and some attract at-home audiences larger than those of top traditional sporting events. Madison Avenue’s highest fliers, like Coca-Cola and American Express, have lined up as sponsors. Prize money has soared to the millions of dollars, and top players earn six- or seven-figure incomes and attract big and passionate followings, luring a generation of younger players to seek fame and fortune as gamers."
In E-Sports, Video Gamers Draw Real Crowds and Big Money - NYTimes.com

Friday, August 29, 2014

Apple tells developers they may not sell personal health data to advertisers | Technology | theguardian.com

Leading by example

"Its new rules clarify that developers who build apps that tap into HealthKit, of which Nike is rumoured to be one, can collect the data it holds.

But, they stated, the developers "must not sell an end-user's health information collected through the HealthKit APIs to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers". Although, the rules add that they could share their data with "third parties for medical research purposes" as long as they get users' consent."
Apple tells developers they may not sell personal health data to advertisers | Technology | theguardian.com

Apple Makes September 9 Event Official With New iPhones and Wearables Expected | Re/code

tbd if the press/punditry and Wall Street will have the same wish, on 20140910

"Apple, for its part, is characteristically vague on what to expect on Sept. 9.

“Wish we could say more,” is all the invite says beyond offering logistical details."
Apple Makes September 9 Event Official With New iPhones and Wearables Expected | Re/code

Apple's iBeacon: Retail Stores Make Little Use of It So Far - Businessweek

Final paragraph from an iBeacon market dynamics reality check

"Some barriers to iBeacon adoption are falling away. Google (GOOG) has built more iBeacon functionality into the latest versions of Android. GE Lighting (GE) has formed a partnership with startup ByteLight to develop lightbulbs that can also help track shoppers via iBeacon, which would eliminate the need for retailers to buy separate hardware. More companies are curious. “We have half of Fortune 500 developing with us,” says Steve Cheney, a senior vice president at startup Estimote, which designs hardware and software to work with iBeacon. There is just one major group of holdouts to persuade: shoppers."
Apple's iBeacon: Retail Stores Make Little Use of It So Far - Businessweek

YouTube: Hollywood's Hit Factory for Teen Entertainment - Businessweek

An excerpt from the latest Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover story

"It’s perhaps inevitable that Hollywood eventually turned its tool kit to YouTube. The platform’s net global advertising revenue continues to grow, from $1.2 billion in 2012 to a projected $3.4 billion this year, according to estimates from EMarketer. Every month, 1 billion people around the planet go to YouTube, where they collectively consume some 6 billion hours of video. Every minute, 100 more hours of programming are added to the platform.


With summer TV ratings falling, the domestic movie box office down sharply, and upfront sales of TV advertising surprisingly weak, a slew of mergers, acquisitions, and investment has shaken the YouTube cosmos. Big media companies, which a few years ago were furiously filing copyright lawsuits against YouTube, are jostling for a piece of the action."
YouTube: Hollywood's Hit Factory for Teen Entertainment - Businessweek

Inside Google's Secret Drone-Delivery Program - The Atlantic

From an extensive profile of Google's no-longer-secret drone delivery program

"Though a couple of rumors have escaped the Googleplex—because of course Google must have a drone-delivery program—Project Wing’s official existence and substance were revealed today. I’ve spent the past week talking to Googlers who worked on the project, reviewing video of the flights, and interviewing other people convinced delivery by drone will work. 

Taken with the company’s other robotics investments, Google’s corporate posture has become even more ambitious. Google doesn’t just want to organize all the world’s information. Google wants to organize all the world."
Inside Google's Secret Drone-Delivery Program - The Atlantic

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Dropbox Blog » Blog Archive » Introducing a more powerful Dropbox Pro

Check the full post for other new Dropbox Pro features

"One plan, more room
We don’t want you to worry about choosing the right plan or having enough space. So today, we’re simplifying Dropbox Pro to a single plan that stays at $9.99/month, but now comes with 1 TB (1,000 GB) of space.

Get started
Already a Pro user? Dropbox will update automatically in the next couple days. You don’t have to do a thing."
The Dropbox Blog » Blog Archive » Introducing a more powerful Dropbox Pro

The Future Could Work, if We Let It - NYTimes.com

Check the full review for some caveats. The Kindle edition of the full book is currently $1.99 -- see this McKinsey page for more details

"If you’re feeling down about the world, the book, “Resource Revolution: How to Capture the Biggest Business Opportunity in a Century,” is an antidote. Mr. Rogers and Mr. Heck outline how emerging advances — among them 3-D printing, autonomous vehicles, modular construction systems and home automation — might in time alter some of the world’s largest industries and bring prosperity to billions of people.

They put forward a rigorous argument bolstered by mountains of data and recent case studies. And once you start looking at Silicon Valley their way, your mind reels at the far-reaching potential of the innovations now spreading through society."
The Future Could Work, if We Let It - NYTimes.com

JPMorgan and Other Banks Struck by Cyberattack - NYTimes.com

Cyber-signs of the times

"The intrusions were first reported by Bloomberg, which indicated that they were the work of Russian hackers. But security experts and government officials said they had not yet made that conclusion.

Earlier this year, iSight Partners, a security firm in Dallas that provides intelligence on online threats, warned companies that they should be prepared for cyberattacks from Russia in retaliation for Western economic sanctions.

But Adam Meyers, the head of threat intelligence at CrowdStrike, a security firm that works with banks, said that it would be “premature” to suggest the attacks were motivated by sanctions."
JPMorgan and Other Banks Struck by Cyberattack - NYTimes.com

High prices take the shine off Chromebooks - Business - The Boston Globe

Final paragraphs of a Hiawatha Bray Chromebook market dynamics reality check

"But what’s the point of paying $400 for a Chromebook anyway? Nowadays you can get a decent Windows machine for not much more than that. Matter of fact, Dell’s been running a promotion on a two-in-one laptop that converts into a tablet and runs Windows 8. Just $400. Such machines are underpowered and short on features. But so are Chromebooks. If you’re going to buy a stripped-down computer anyhow, you might as well choose one that can run Microsoft Word.

Unless you can find something else -- a sleek, simple machine that’s good enough for real work and cheap enough to purchase for the kids. I’ve seen a few. They’re called Chromebooks, and they sell for around $250. At least, they ought to."
High prices take the shine off Chromebooks - Business - The Boston Globe

Automation Changes the Work We Do, But it Doesn’t Have to Kill the Joy | MIT Technology Review

Excerpt from a review of The Glass Cage, Nicholas Carr's latest book (which will be released 20140929)

"The centerpiece of his argument is the Yerkes-Dodson curve, which plots the relationship between human performance and the stimulation our tasks provide. Too much stimulation makes us feel panicked and overloaded, but when we have too little stimulation—when our work is too easy—we become lethargic and withdrawn. Activities that provide moderate stimulation yield the highest level of performance and, as Carr argues, turn us into better people in the process."
Automation Changes the Work We Do, But it Doesn’t Have to Kill the Joy | MIT Technology Review

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Defense of Tablets | Re/code

Excerpt from a timely Walt Mossberg tablet market dynamics reality check

"I believe that tablets — and especially the iPad — are extremely versatile and productive tools for consumers, schools and businesses, and are better for many tasks than the PC or the smartphone. I use my iPad many times a day, and it has cut my use of my laptop by more than half.

In a brief interview about tablets I had this week with Apple CEO Tim Cook, he said, “We couldn’t be happier with how we’ve done with the first four years of the iPad,” and added that, “I’d call what’s going on recently a speed bump, and I’ve seen that in every category.”"
In Defense of Tablets | Re/code

Hyperlapse, Instagram’s New App, Is Like a $15,000 Video Setup in Your Hand | Design | WIRED

Steady progress

"Using clever algorithm processing, the app makes it easy to use your phone to create tracking shots and fast, time-lapse videos that look as if they’re shot by Scorsese or Michael Mann. What was once only possible with a Steadicam or a $15,000 tracking rig is now possible on your iPhone, for free. (Instagram hopes to develop an Android version soon, but that will require changes to the camera and gyroscope APIs on Android phones.) And that’s all thanks to some clever engineering and an elegantly pared-down interaction design. The product team shared their story with WIRED."
Hyperlapse, Instagram’s New App, Is Like a $15,000 Video Setup in Your Hand | Design | WIRED

In raising cash, Square heads for $6B valuation: Sources [CNBC]

A new Square round

"Another hurdle for Square is a fierce set of competitors. PayPal, Google and Amazon are all deep-pocketed rivals that are vying for a bigger piece of the payments pie. Meanwhile, popular services like Uber and Airbnb bake the payment process into their apps, eliminating the need for Square in some areas where online and mobile commerce is growing the fastest.

For now, Square is showing it can cash in on its momentum. As long as the funding floodgates are open, there's plenty of investor demand to fund its growth while Square claws toward a profit, which it expects to hit by mid-2015."
In raising cash, Square heads for $6B valuation: Sources

Save the Fav, Twitter's Digital Body Language - NYTimes.com

fav #RIP?

"The new plan won’t change Twitter very much for most users. Yet there is something to celebrate about the fav as it’s used today on Twitter and to mourn its potential transformation into something more Facebook-like. Even if you don’t care about Twitter, the fav is a model for something we need more of in more places online: It is nonspecific, flexible communication — a kind of body language for the web.

One of the problems of communicating online is that words are too precise. It’s especially difficult to express much nuance when you’re trying to be brief."
Save the Fav, Twitter's Digital Body Language - NYTimes.com

Apple Said to Prepare New 12.9-Inch IPad for Early 2015 - Bloomberg

A larger iPad display, along with expected multitasking enhancements in iOS 8, would be an expanding competitive threat to traditional PCs

"Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s suppliers are preparing to manufacture the company’s largest-ever iPad, with production scheduled to commence by the first quarter of next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The new iPad will have a screen measuring 12.9 inches diagonally, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren't public. Apple currently produces iPads with 9.7-inch and 7.9-inch displays. The Cupertino, California-based company has been working with suppliers for at least a year to develop a new range of larger touch-screen devices, said the people."
Apple Said to Prepare New 12.9-Inch IPad for Early 2015 - Bloomberg

Snapchat Is Said to Have More Than 100 Million Monthly Active Users - Digits - WSJ

tbd how ephemeral these attributes of Snapchat will prove to be

"The majority, or roughly two-thirds of those users, log on to the ephemeral-messaging service daily, according to the people.

Snapchat is quickly adding users to help it live up to the lofty expectations of its investors. An investment by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers valued the company close to $10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter."
Snapchat Is Said to Have More Than 100 Million Monthly Active Users - Digits - WSJ

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Social Media Silences Debate - NYTimes.com

Cyberpolarization R Us

"Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, has the effect of tamping down diversity of opinion and stifling debate about public affairs. It makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they think their views differ from those of their friends, according to a report published Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and Rutgers University.

The researchers also found that those who use social media regularly are more reluctant to express dissenting views in the offline world."
How Social Media Silences Debate - NYTimes.com

News Feed FYI: Click-baiting | Facebook Newsroom

Crowdsourced click-bait criteria

"So how do we determine what looks like click-bait?

One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook. If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted. With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.

Another factor we will use to try and show fewer of these types of stories is to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. "
News Feed FYI: Click-baiting | Facebook Newsroom

Amazon Pounces On Twitch After Google Balks Due To Antitrust Concerns [Forbes]

"Sources" on why Google was unable to close a Twitch deal

"Google was unable to close the deal, said sources familiar with the talks, because it was concerned about potential antitrust issues that could have come with the acquisition. The Mountain View, Calif. company already owns YouTube, the world’s most-visited content streaming site, which competes with Twitch to broadcast and stream live or on-demand video game sessions. One source noted that because of the concerns, Google and Twitch could not come to an agreement on the size of a potential breakup fee in case the deal did not go through."
Amazon Pounces On Twitch After Google Balks Due To Antitrust Concerns

Why Amazon Is Paying $1 Billion to Help People Watch Video Games - Businessweek

Check the full article for an overview of Amazon's historical game-related investments

"There are some interesting differences between Twitch and, say, an Amazon-produced show such as Alpha House. The main one: Twitch broadcasts feature a strong level of interaction among viewers via running chats streamed live. Often the broadcaster interacts directly with the audience, too. This experience—watching while chatting—is how many television futurists think we’ll be watching our video in the future. It’s not yet clear that people want to watch everything in this manner. People who watch video games love it."
Why Amazon Is Paying $1 Billion to Help People Watch Video Games - Businessweek

More Game Time Equals Lower Test Scores - Digits - WSJ

In other gaming news...

"Elementary school students who answered that they never played video games on weekdays answered 77% of the questions correctly on a test of basic language skills, compared to a 70.5% score recorded by those who said they played two to three hours. Elementary students who said they spent more than four hours a day playing games scored the lowest, getting only 64% of the answers correct.

Similar patterns were observed on the math tests, according to the ministry."
More Game Time Equals Lower Test Scores - Digits - WSJ

What’s Twitch? Gamers Know, and Amazon Is Spending $1 Billion on It - NYTimes.com

Potential synergies with other Amazon services tbd

"Video games have long been something people played. But in the last few years, thanks in part to fast Internet access and multiplayer games, the games have become something that people sit back and watch, too. On Monday, that new habit enticed the web giant Amazon to reach a $1.1 billion deal to buy Twitch, the most popular website for watching people play games.

The deal for Twitch is the latest sign of the way forms of behavior once seemingly on the fringe can, in the hands of tech entrepreneurs, turn into huge online communities in no time. Twitch did not exist a little over three years ago, and it now has 55 million unique viewers a month globally, helping turn games into a spectator event as much as a participatory activity."
What’s Twitch? Gamers Know, and Amazon Is Spending $1 Billion on It - NYTimes.com