July 29, 2014

A former IDC researcher:

“So, the mantra became, preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers. Even the growth rates are fiction. The fudge is in the “others” category, which is used as a plug to make the numbers work out. In fairness, we did do survey work, calling around, and attending white box conferences and venues to try to get a feel for that market, but in the end, the process was political. I used to tell customers which parts of the data they could trust, essentially the major vendors by form factor and region. The rest was garbage.”

So they make shit up.

Red Bull TV:

Lollapalooza 2014 is coming! 3 days. 5 stages. 100+ artists. Live from Grant Park in Downtown Chicago. Didn’t score a ticket? Not to worry! Watch the global Lolla Livestream and on demand highlight performances exclusively on Red Bull TV and never miss a beat.

Select from 3 channels: one hosted stream featuring artist interviews and behind-the-scenes access for a more curated experience or from 2 other channels capturing live performances from the main festival stages for an “all live, all the time” experience.

Finally – a use for that Red Bull TV icon on my Apple TV.

Jared Sinclair opens the books on his RSS reading app, Unread. These are some sobering numbers, to be sure. I use Unread and really like the app.

Apple’s acquisition of talk-radio service Swell appears to now be a done deal: the start-up’s App Store app and website shut down this morning.

I’m shocked at the lack of security in this piece of shit operating system. SHOCKED!

Apple TV updated with new channels

Apple on Tuesday updated Apple TV with a number of new channels from around the world.

CNBC offers real-time streaming of its programming on Apple TV, as well as giving users on-demand video from its signature programs. You will need to authenticate with your cable or satellite provider in order to watch any of the CNBC programming.

Fox Now is available to authenticated cable and satellite users, offering full episodes of hit shows. This channel also offers a personalized home screen based on your user preferences.

TV 2 Sumo is available in Norway and gives users premium sports content like the English Premier League. You can also watch programming for kids, live channels and entire seasons of dramas, news and documentaries.

Esporte Interativo is Brazil’s most watched sports channel and Apple’s first channel in Latin America. This channel costs $4.99 for a monthly subscription.

I love my Apple TV and use it all the time. I watch many of the channels on the device itself and AirPlay content to it often. I do wish I didn’t have to authenticate with my cable provider though. I’d gladly pay a subscription for some of these channels if the option was available to me.

This is an innovative form of disruption.

BlaBlaCar was born in 2006, when Stanford student Frederic Mazzella wanted to go from Paris to visit his family in the French countryside and couldn’t find a train—nor an easy way to share a car on Craigslist. (The name comes from rating yourself on your level of in-car chattiness from “Bla” to “BlaBlaBla.”)

Every month, one million people use the service, now operating in 12 countries, to share a car. “What we’re doing is building a massive transport network out of all of these empty seats in cars,” Nicolas Brusson, the COO of BlaBlaCar told Quartz. “There are more seats available between Berlin and Munich in cars, for example, than there are train seats or bus seats.”

Unlike Uber and Lyft, which use disruption sitting on top of a for-profit model, BlaBlaCar doesn’t require a specific revenue model for success. Like Airbnb, they make their money on fees.

BlaBlaCar’s fee model is structured to avoid a plague of the sharing economy—fights with established industries that don’t like being disrupted. Uber is the subject of protests from taxi unions all across Europe and has been banned in Seoul; Lyft struggles to get approved in New York; and Airbnb’s lawyers are fighting for their users who have been prosecuted for illegally running hotels. “We don’t want a driver to make a profit because then you end up in regulatory issues,” Brusson says. “If you don’t make a profit, you don’t have to worry about a special license.”

Google has created a new, invitation-only program that gives selected developers access to:

• Mentorship from our Google Developer Experts and Developer Relations
• Exclusive invitation to networking events
• Access to free training, startup bootcamps and resources
• Featuring in our spotlight section

I think this is an interesting idea. On the plus side, if you are selected by Google, sounds like they will take you inside, help guide you to ensure your success. On the down side, sounds like cherry-picking. Rather than make that technology available to everyone, they only give that true support to the devs doing something that fits their model of innovation.

Not sure if there is a parallel on the Apple side. In my experience, Apple tends toward the egalitarian. Join the developer program, you get access to the same resources as everyone else. Certainly, there are those apps that are highlighted by Apple in commercials or on stage at various events, and I suspect those folks do receive assistance as needed to make sure they are ready for the big stage.

The question is, is does Apple have a developer mentoring component? Should they?

ZDNet:

Prior to this upgrade the base version of the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display featured a 2560-by-1600 resolution at 227 pixels per inch retina display, 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM, and 128GB of PCIe-based flash storage, and it had a price tag of $1,299. For the same price this model now comes with a 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5 chip and 8GB of memory.

The base version of the beefier 15.4-inch with Retina display model came with a 2880-by-1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch display, 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage, all of which would have set you back $1,999. Following the refresh this now comes with a 2.2GHz CPU and 16GB of RAM.

The price of the high-end MBPr has dropped from US$2,599 to US$2,499.

Bluetooth locks have been available for your front door for quite a while. Now they are making the leap to one of the largest hotel chains in the world.

The Hilton app already allows you to check-in electronically, but currently you still need to collect your room key from the front desk – which kind of defeats the object. With the new system, iPhone check-in will send a key code to your phone which can then be used to unlock your door.

Brilliant solution. You are tired, it’s late at night, you just made the slog from the airport. Now you can bypass the front desk, just go right to your room. Well done, Hilton.

July 28, 2014

Kind of scary.

WSBTV:

Atlanta-based Delta airlines is looking into a tense exchange between a pilot and an air traffic controller.

The exchange happened Friday when a controller told a pilot his plane was approaching the wrong runway.

“Hey you know what, we’ll taxi out there any way we want unless you tell us to, I don’t like your attitude,” the pilot said.

The best part of this story is the “Settle down, Captain Happy” dig from another pilot. The worst part is the characterization of the exchange as a “rant” or “extremely heated”. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the media portrays it to be.

In response to the Comcast horror story that’s been making the rounds lately, these stories are spread through a number of other companies. Bottom line, all of these customer service call centers are designed to pressure the sales rep into grinding more revenue out of the customer, with zero emphasis on helping solve their problem.

This is a big chunk of inertia to overcome, but I believe terrible customer service is an opportunity for disruption. Once people have an option that doesn’t suck (like this, which still doesn’t suck, even after all these years), they’ll flock to it.

No Samsung, this isn’t how Apple does it

Wow, I just don’t know what to say about this store opening.

Xiaomi is at it again

First there was Samsung, a meteoric rise with a new phone that bore a remarkable resemblance to the iPhone. Seemed like cheating, no real price was ever paid.

Now those chickens have come home to roost. Samsung is getting pressure on the high end by Apple’s offerings and on the low end by China’s own meteor, Xiaomi. It’s deliciously apropos to watch Samsung’s lunch get eaten by another blatant copycat.

If you haven’t been following Xiami’s antics, start with this post. Then this one. And for dessert, this beauty.

AppleInsider:

The legislative arm of the European Union ruled on Monday that Apple is allowed to acquire Beats, the premium headphone maker it plans to acquire for $3 billion, as the agreement would not be detrimental to consumers in the organization’s eyes.

On the Beats Music part of the deal:

“The Commission concluded that Apple faces several competitors in the (European Economic Area) such as Spotify and Deezer, making it implausible that the acquisition of a smaller streaming service that is not active in the EEA would lead to anticompetitive effects,” it said. “The Commission also concluded that the transaction would not give Apple the ability and incentive to shut out competing streaming services from access to iOS, Apple’s operating system for mobile devices.”

This was expected, but still an important step. Next up, US approval of the acquisition.

Fortune:

Samsung Electronics Co. suffered another blow to its efforts to cut the dependency of its smartphone business on Google Inc.’s Android operating system, postponing the launch of a new model that runs on its own Tizen software.

The news is the latest disappointment for the Korean giant which is trying to defend its position as the world’s largest maker of smartphones from the twin challenges of Apple Inc. and, at the other end of the market range, Chinese companies such as Huawei, ZTE and Xiaomi.

Samsung is getting squeezed.

Businessweek:

Microsoft today began taking orders for its new game console from online retailer JD.com Inc. (JD:US) via Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s (700) mobile-messaging applications. The pair of Chinese Internet companies hold exclusive rights to pre-sell the locally made Xbox One until July 30, JD.com said in a news release. The console is slated to ship nationwide in September.

Important market expansion for Microsoft and the Xbox team.

On the other side of the coin, there’s China’s issues with Windows 8:

Less than two weeks later, the mainland’s state-run broadcaster CCTV aired a strongly critical programme in which experts suggested Windows 8 was being used to grab information on mainland citizens.

July 26, 2014

Brooklyn Botanical Garden:

In the 19th century, apples came in all shapes and guises, some with rough, sandpapery skin, others as misshapen as potatoes, and ranging from the size of a cherry to bigger than a grapefruit. Colors ran the entire spectrum with a wonderful impressionistic array of patterning—flushes, stripes, splashes, and dots. There was an apple for every community, taste, purpose, and season, with winter varieties especially prized. Apples were used for making cider, baking, drying, eating out of hand—even as livestock feed.

Compare all of this to the 90 or so varieties grown commercially in North America today, or to the handful of shiny cultivars on display at the local supermarket, and you are immediately faced with a pomological conundrum: How could Americans grow 14,000 different apples in the 19th century, and a hundred years later be conversant with only a few varieties, most notably, ‘Red Delicious’, ‘Golden Delicious’, and ‘Granny Smith’?

Really interesting article on how we got to where we are, apple-wise.

Slate:

Last year, Eric Chemi of Bloomberg Businessweek pointed out the amazing fact that Apple’s iPhone sales alone were larger than the revenues at 474 of the companies in the S&P 500 stock index. So I thought I’d ask: If Apple’s product lines were their own companies now, which corporations would they stack up against?

No one is suggesting Apple would break their products out into separate companies but it’s fascinating to see how the “APPLE IS DOOMED!” crowd ignores the simple hugeness of Apple’s business.

Jalopnik:

LCDR Joe “Smokin” Ruzicka was the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) to fly the last F-14 Demonstration before the Tomcat’s final demise in 2006. Commander Ruzicka took the time to sit down with Foxtrot Alpha to talk Tomcats and share his amazing experiences and lasting impressions of being part of one of the most competitive, demanding and rewarding cultures in American history- the F-14 Tomcat community.

My bucket list will sadly go unfinished because one of the things on it was to get shot off of a US Navy aircraft carrier in an F-14 Tomcat.

July 25, 2014

And this is why BlackBerry and Dell can’t do anything right.

Bose alleges that Beats has infringed on 50 years’ worth of research, development and engineering of noise cancelling tech, and that its current lineup of these devices incorporates “at least 36 U.S. patents and applications,” broken down into 22 granted patents and 14 applications currently undergoing review. Beats products named as having infringed upon Bose’s IP include the Beats Studio line, which include the new Studio Wireless Bluetooth headphones.

I wonder if Apple and Beats saw this coming?

Things cats do that’d be creepy if you did them

I laughed out loud several times.

Headquartered in San Francisco, which also serves as its debut market, Fixed first launched this January, allowing residents to snap photos of their tickets using an iOS device. Afterwards, Fixed checks for common errors before proceeding to write a customized contest letter on your behalf, which is sent to the city.

Seems the city of San Francisco are being dicks about this.

If you are considering signing up for the Yosemite beta, first make sure you make a complete backup of your hard drive, then take a few minutes and read this excellent walk-through by Macworld’s Dan Frakes that’ll take you through the process of creating a bootable install drive of the Yosemite beta.

You did backup your hard drive first, right?

Noisey:

Marcus Haney has never paid to go to a festival. He makes replica wristbands, sneaks past security guards, and walks with confidence. Sure – he gets chucked out. But often he ends up on the main-stage, hangs out with bands, and captures unique views with his camera.

In the space of four years Marcus has been to almost fifty festivals around the world. Along the way he’s made friends with bands like Mumford & Sons, found himself clinging underneath festival cess-pits, and and hanging out with people called Acid Chris. This is not his day job – he shoots for stations like HBO and creates music videos. But somehow, between hitch-hiking across the United States and being one of the most sought-after photographers in music, he’s found time to compile his four-year festival experience into a documentary.

Marcus Haney is following his passion in a way that few people do. He’s got that rare inner voice, that bright burning vision, that guides him.

Follow the headline link to read the interview. Watch an early, leaked trailer for his documentary, a work in progress, below.

Good on ya, Marcus.

July 24, 2014

Brianna Wu released her game for iPhone and iPad to the App Store this week. I’ve been following her progress for about a year and really like what I’ve seen. You can download the game for free or you can watch a trailer first.

This could be interesting, but I’d still use the Uber app. I don’t use Facebook Messenger, but I can see the benefits for both companies.

You’re a free spirit. You don’t like rules. You expect to be asked about your trophy beard.