Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rackspace No Longer for Sale, Names New CEO | Re/code

tbd if this is a Rackspace negotiating tactic

"The moves bring an end to what had been a drawn-out process in which numerous companies were suggested as possible suitors. IBM, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and CenturyLink were all rumored to have been in the running at one time or another. All of them save CenturyLink had taken themselves out of contention with public statements or by simply ignoring the deal chatter. And CenturyLink had rather long odds against getting a $7 billion deal for Rackspace done on favorable financing terms."
Rackspace No Longer for Sale, Names New CEO | Re/code

Why Apple Didn’t Use Sapphire iPhone Screens | TIME

A clear choice

"I don’t doubt that over time, there could be some breakthroughs with sapphire and new coating processes that could make it possible to use on a smartphone. However, from the research I did, it does not appear that it could happen anytime soon. Plus, sapphire’s less flexible and more brittle nature suggests, as least to me, that using it in large-screen smartphones would still be difficult — even if it was possible to coat it in a way to keep the screen from splintering. I now at least understand why Apple didn’t use it in the new iPhones — and the more I study this, it seems that it could be problematic for Apple to use sapphire outside of its smartwatch line anytime in the near future."
Why Apple Didn’t Use Sapphire iPhone Screens | TIME

iPhone 6 Review | Re/code

Final paragraph of a Walt Mossberg review

"The iPhone 6 is a great upgrade for current iPhone owners, or for anyone, really. It manages to provide a much larger display in a phone that’s still small enough to handle easily. It’s my recommendation for the best smartphone you can buy."
iPhone 6 Review | Re/code

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Review: Which One Should You Get? - Businessweek

From another detailed iPhone 6 review (the press embargo ended last night)

"With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple has proven that not only can it make a bigger phone, but it can make a bigger phone better than anyone else in the marketplace. Between the slick software, killer hardware, and deep integration into Apple’s amazing ecosystem, the iPhone is back in the spotlight."
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Review: Which One Should You Get? - Businessweek

Apple iOS 8 Review: A New Phone Without Buying One - WSJ

Mixed-blessing praise for Apple in this article and Review and Video: With New iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, It’s What’s Inside That Counts (NYT); iOS 8 is so good that ... perhaps you don't yet need a new iPhone

"It turns out iPhone 4S, 5, 5S and 5C owners will end up with a basically new phone when they upgrade to iOS 8, a free download available on Wednesday. I've been testing the new software on older iPhones and the new handsets and I can say it isn't the size of the screen but what's on it that is pushing the iPhone ahead."
Apple iOS 8 Review: A New Phone Without Buying One - WSJ

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

After Apple Pay cold shoulder, PayPal hits back with 'money should be safer than selfies' ad | ZDNet

Paying hardball

"The ads PayPal paid for this week suggest the company is taking the threat of Apple Pay seriously and not being complacent about its own dominance in online payments.

There may be another reason behind PayPal's ire: Apple has given the cold shoulder to both PayPal and its payments platform subsidiary Braintree. Neither firm appears on Apple's list of "highly recommended" payment gateways for Apple Pay, which include rivals such as Stripe, but also authorize.Net, Chase Paymentech, Cybersource, First Data, and TSYS."
After Apple Pay cold shoulder, PayPal hits back with 'money should be safer than selfies' ad | ZDNet

Microsoft Will Offer Early Look at Next Windows on Sept. 30 | Re/code

I have a hunch Threshold will not follow a business-as-usual Windows dev/test/release cycle; e.g., I wouldn't be surprised to see it released for new PCs within the next month or two

"Microsoft is planning an event in San Francisco later this month to show off its early work on the next version of Windows, code-named Threshold.

The Sept. 30 event, which will be led by Windows executives Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore, will talk about where Microsoft is investing and show off some of the features of the new operating system. The company also has early code it will make available, according to sources, but the test code is intended mainly for developers and businesses to begin their preparations."
Microsoft Will Offer Early Look at Next Windows on Sept. 30 | Re/code

Google's Cheap Phones Mean More India Trouble for Samsung - Businessweek

Not a great month for Samsung, so far... Also see One sixth of the ENTIRE PLANET will buy a new smartphone this year (The Register)

"Looking just at smartphones, Samsung remains the country’s top brand for now. But that lead is already shrinking, and the new Android phones will make Samsung’s position even shakier. Google, working with Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek and Indian mobile brands Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice, will now be pushing smartphones that cost as little as 6,399 rupees (about $105). Google has already been promoting the Android One’s potential to transform lives worldwide: “One will change the way we think. One will start a movement.“

To make matters worse for Samsung, Google isn’t the only company bringing more competition to India. The Android One phones will be going up against even cheaper new phones from Mozilla, which last month unveiled Firefox smartphones costing as little as 1,999 rupees. “Firefox OS smartphones in the ultra-low-cost category will redefine the entry-level smartphone and create strong momentum in Asia,” Mozilla President Li Gong said in a statement last month."
Google's Cheap Phones Mean More India Trouble for Samsung - Businessweek

An Alliance of Major Players to Guide Open-Source Software - NYTimes.com

More interesting times ahead for traditional ISVs; also see Facebook launches an open source organization and releases new routing tech (GigaOM)

"Members of TODO, which stands for “talk openly, develop openly,” include [Facebook and] Google and Walmart’s online operations, along with GitHub, the primary repository for working on open-source projects, and Khan Academy, a nonprofit online educational organization. Other members are Twitter, Box, Dropbox, Stripe and Square.

Since the group was announced, over 30 other companies have added themselves to the TODO list, including The New York Times, according to a company spokesman."
An Alliance of Major Players to Guide Open-Source Software - NYTimes.com

Microsoft Says It Will Pay $2.5 Billion for Company That Created Minecraft - NYTimes.com

Acqhire different

"One person who will not stick around to see what changes lie in store for the game, however, is Minecraft’s creator, Markus Persson. Mr. Persson — better known by his gamer tag Notch — wrote in an unusually candid blog post exactly why he would leave Mojang after the closing of the deal, which is expected late this year.

Rather than engage in fist-bumping or writing a missive to users about how selling his baby will only expand Minecraft’s horizons, Mr. Persson sounded as if he were having a large tumor excised from his body. He described the pressures of being the figurehead of such a big and influential game as too much for him to bear."
Microsoft Says It Will Pay $2.5 Billion for Company That Created Minecraft - NYTimes.com

Google Lends a Helping Hand to Madison Ave. on Digital Proficiency - NYTimes.com

Free training, pre-sales -- sometimes a fine line

"Although “there’s been an incredible amount of progress in terms of the agency ecosystem’s embracing of digital platforms and products, the ask for the industry is, How do we get digital more embedded as a way we think about campaign development?” Mr. Boone said. “Digital acumen still can be thought of, used as, an add-on. We want to make it a starting point.”

The decision by Google to offer the Squared program reflects that while digital advertising may have come a long way, baby, to quote another vintage campaign, digital specialists like Google could certainly benefit further if Madison Avenue became more skilled at — and comfortable with — the likes of social media, search engine optimization and web video series."
Google Lends a Helping Hand to Madison Ave. on Digital Proficiency - NYTimes.com

Monday, September 15, 2014

Android One is Launching in India, But it’s A Big Deal For Everyone | Re/code

Probably not a happy development for Samsung and other current Android hardware ecosystem leaders

"What’s most notable about the Android One program is the degree to which Google is flexing its muscles — retaining control over the exact operating-system image that gets loaded on the device, as well as when that software is updated.

Google is also shifting the balance of power by partnering with smaller chipmakers and lesser-known phone makers. In India, for example, Google is working with regional brands like Micromax and Karbonn, rather than the large global brands."
Android One is Launching in India, But it’s A Big Deal For Everyone | Re/code

The Magic in Apple’s Devices? The Heart - NYTimes.com

Excerpt from a timely Apple reality check

"This is a company that took on a dominant Microsoft, made a huge dent in the computing world, then nearly collapsed. Still, Mr. Jobs stormed back through sheer force of will, revived the company and created new categories of products as well as a business juggernaut. That he was kind of a jerk and his run at Apple ended prematurely in the process only makes it more cinematic. No one wants to think that his version of Yankee innovation died with him.  Apple’s core skill is not innovation but refinement. The company didn’t make the first smartphone, just the best one. Many tablets were tried, but only Apple’s opened up a category. Several smartwatches are on the market, but Apple is the one that people beyond geeks are paying attention to."
The Magic in Apple’s Devices? The Heart - NYTimes.com

Watch Tim Cook Interview With Charlie Rose - Business Insider

Check the full post for highlights and clips

"Cook talks about how he thinks TV is stuck in the 70s, why Apple bought Beats, how its partnership with IBM is going to help the company sell more iPhones and iPads, why having bigger phones doesn't mean Apple's copying Samsung, his thoughts on Amazon's new smartphone, and how Apple's working on products that no one knows about yet. "
Watch Tim Cook Interview With Charlie Rose - Business Insider

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Apple Watch Is And Isn't... | Monday Note

Excerpt from a Jean-Louis Gassée Apple Watch perspective

"Stepping back a little, when I see the team of watch industry execs, design luminaries, and fashion experts Apple has brought on board, I have a hard time believing that Apple is going to stop at watches. At the very least, will Mssrs. Ive and Newson bring livelier, more varied designs to the iPhone? And what does Tim Cook mean when he slyly alludes to products that “haven’t even been rumored yet…”?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — we’re still barely past the demo. We’ll have to wait for the actual product to come to the wrists of real users. Only then will we have the Apple Watch make-or-break moment: Word-of-mouth from non-experts."
Apple Watch Is And Isn't... | Monday Note

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Peter Thiel: Competition Is for Losers - WSJ

Final paragraphs from an excerpt of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters (to be published 9/16)

"Perfect equilibrium may describe the void that is most of the universe. It may even characterize many businesses. But every new creation takes place far from equilibrium. In the real world outside economic theory, every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot. Monopoly is therefore not a pathology or an exception. Monopoly is the condition of every successful business.

Tolstoy famously opens "Anna Karenina" by observing: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Business is the opposite. All happy companies are different: Each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: They failed to escape competition."
Peter Thiel: Competition Is for Losers - WSJ

A Conversation With Peter Thiel - NYTimes.com

From the intro paragraphs of an interesting interview/book summary

"Having founded a conservative/libertarian newspaper while a Stanford undergraduate, he earned a law degree from that school, and then quit his career to co-found PayPal, a payments company that set out to undermine government-issued currency. When that didn’t pan out, he sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.

He also co-founded Palantir, a data analysis company that struggled for years and is now valued at more than $9 billion. He was one of the earliest outside investors in Facebook, and now manages a global hedge fund and a venture capital fund."
A Conversation With Peter Thiel - NYTimes.com

Google to Give Start-Ups $100,000 in Cloud Computing Credits - NYTimes.com

tbd if/when/how Microsoft and IBM will respond

"Google would like to make more money selling data storage on other services on its Google Cloud Platform, and it’s going after it the old-fashioned Internet way: Give stuff away and make it up on volume.

On Friday, Google is set to announce a new program in which it will offer start-up companies a $100,000 credit on its Google Cloud Platform, according to a post on the company’s Google Cloud Platform blog. The effort is the company’s latest effort to take on Amazon Web Services, the leader in so-called cloud services that encompass a range of back-end computing functions."
Google to Give Start-Ups $100,000 in Cloud Computing Credits - NYTimes.com