It’s a sentiment so lazy and so without thought (and so common) that it’s probably best ignored but, well, low hanging fruit and all that:
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple enjoy such a wide base of popularity?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have as large a share of the market as they currently have in the mobile era?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have a minority share of the market but rake in the vast majority of the industry profits?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era did Apple have over a hundred billion dollars cash on hand?
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era was Apple dominating its competitors on a device for device basis? (In other words, when was any one product in Apple’s Mac lineup consistently outselling every competing PC on the market?)
- At what point in the “Mac vs. PC” era was Apple so successfully entrenched in multiple product categories?
“Mac vs PC” as an argument against Apple in 2013 is intellectually lazy. To make it, you either have to be a troll, an idiot, or both.
Not long ago, Apple was paying Google a license fee to use Google’s mapping data for its iOS mapping solution, even as Google withheld turn-by-turn navigation as a competitive advantage for Android.
If rumors hold true (UPDATE: They’re true) Apple’s decision to cut Google off and release it’s own maps app (which isn’t really bad at all, in my experience) will result in Google releasing a native iOS version of Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation — and Apple won’t have to pay a license fee for the data.
So, 1) those who usually can’t shut up about competition being great for consumers should stop bitching about Apple’s decision, as iOS users will soon have more choices than ever before and 2) in hindsight, at least, this seems to have been a pretty smart move by Apple.
Two months ago, Forbes declared Google the winner in the maps war and predicted Apple would crawl back to Google to re-license the mapping data. Instead, Google rushed to prep a native App (in fairness, they probably had to buy a lot of buckets for all the ad revenue they’re about to rake in) and Apple gets its own solution as well as a new-and-improved solution from Google — free of charge — and consumers get more choice.
Win, win, win.
It’s being reported that over 600,000 Macs are now infected by the Flashback trojan, a “drive by” piece of Malware that doesn’t need administrator privileges or even a password prompt to successfully latch on.
The PC pundits couldn’t be more excited. Finally, they say, the inevitable has happened and smug Mac users are finding out what it’s like to be a PC user.
“It was only a matter of time.”
At the risk of being challenged to yet another fight by the 400-plus-pound hulking behemoth that is Mike Daisey, let’s talk about little lies, and why they matter when taking on big truths, even if you’re “just” a storyteller. In a better world, we’d not need to have this discussion, but we don’t live in a better world, and Mike Daisey has been outed as a liar and a fraud.
What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic - not a theatrical - enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations.
Where’s Karl Pilkington’s alter ego, Bullshit Man, when you need him?
Let’s just get this out of the way: The dramatic license that everyone allowed Mike Daisey was to present an “extemporaneous monologue” that laid the blame for China’s labor issues squarely on Apple’s doorstep, despite the fact that those issues are, quite literally, an industry-wide problem.
It’s not fair, it’s not accurate, and it’s pretty misleading, but it’s well-within the purview of “theater not journalism” to simplify a story in order to make a larger point.
That’s not to say that doing so is without risk:
To this day, Apple is a company that people love to hate. Giving people (yet another) reason to hate Apple, to support boycotts when they were never going to buy Apple products anyway, is to miss the point. Hating Apple isn’t the same as supporting Chinese laborers, and my guess is that Daisey tapped into the former without spurring a lot of serious or lasting interest in the latter.
(How many new iPads did Apple sell last week?)
More importantly, by driving the point home, show after show, that this was an Apple problem, people were left with the idea that the problem could be solved by holding Apple to some “to be determined” ethical standard. And, if Apple refused to live up to that standard, well, we could all just go out and support Android, or Windows Phone 7, right?
The trouble is, Mike Daisey intentionally glossed over the broader issue — there is no ethical alternative, based on Daisey’s standards — in the hopes of raising awareness by piggybacking on Apple’s popularity. He knew that “dramatic focus” would bring about more chatter and, as an entertainer selling tickets, publicity became more important than strict accuracy.
Except, now it turns out that not only did he use dramatic license by focusing his anger on Apple, he also lied about virtually every important first-hand detail in his monologue. If you’ve not yet done so, do yourself a favor and listen to the “Retraction” episode of This American Life.
When you’re talking about workers who are forced to work through fear and intimidation, the story is very different if, in one version, guards have guns while, in another, they don’t. Daisey’s version supplied the guns, reality doesn’t.
That’s not dramatic license, it’s lying.
Daisey’s choice to use Apple as his theatrical whipping boy is about to be trumped by the even more sordid story of a loud, fuming, angry bully who lied and sensationalized a story in order to sell tickets. Everything he allegedly cares about (I’d argue that he cares most about selling tickets, but that’s a personal opinion) is about to come crashing down, fairly or unfairly, because of his lies.
Daisey is smart enough to know that sensationalism sells, so it’s a real shame that he didn’t think that all his little theatrical lies would, once exposed, overshadow the important truths behind the technology industry’s reliance on Chinese labor. Those who want to enact real change shouldn’t do so by taking what Daisey refers to as “shortcuts” but what everyone else refers to as fabrications.
When seeking big changes, there are no shortcuts:
The world has come undone
Like to change it everyday
Change don’t come at once
It’s a wave building… before it breaks
Mike Daisey has posted a new blog entry:
Many consider this week’s THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode one of the most painful they’ve ever listened to. In particular the segment with me is excruciating—four hours of grilling edited down to fifteen minutes. I thought the dead air was a nice touch, and finishing the episode with audio pulled out of context from my performance was masterful.
When Mike Daisey isn’t busy casting doubts about the credibility of his translator (remember, he intentionally hid her name so that no one would be able to track her down) he’s shifting the blame to Ira Glass.
To my audiences: It’s you that I owe the most to. I want you all to know that I will not go silent—I will be making a full accounting of this work, shining a light through this monologue and telling the story of its origins, construction, and details.
(“That’ll be $30, please.”)
Look! Up in the sky! What’s that? It’s a bird? It’s a plane?
Mike Daisey is a liar and a fraud. As detailed in the latest episode of This American Life, virtually every important detail of his “Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” monologue was made up in the name of theater:
I just found out that Apple is rejecting my new manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams and won’t carry it in their store because inside the manifesto are links to buy the books I mention in the bibliography.
Quoting here from their note to me, rejecting the book: “Multiple links to Amazon store. IE page 35, David Weinberger link.”
A bibliography at the end of Godin’s book links directly to several books on Amazon. Amazon, in turn, competes with Apple in the ebook market. Apple takes a look at Godin’s links and says no dice.
John Gruber suggests that Godin’s iBooks version could simply link to Apple’s iBookstore, instead of linking away to Amazon.
I’d second that suggestion, not as a way to appease Apple (assuming, of course, that it would), but because it seems like the common sense, consumer-friendly option. I’ve already made the decision to buy an iBook — don’t be cute and link me away to Amazon for follow-up purchases.
Out of curiosity, I checked the price and availability of the books Godin links to, both on Amazon and on the iBookstore:
- Thinking, Fast and Slow | Amazon: $15.00 | Apple: $12.99
- Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling | Amazon: $11.41 | Apple:$11.99
- Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything | Amazon: $16.30 | Apple: $8.99
- Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track | Amazon: $25.54 | Apple: $23.99
- Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education | Amazon: $9.95 | Apple: $2.99
- Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges | Amazon: $10.88 | Apple: $12.99
- Horace Mann’s Troubling Legacy: The Education of Democratic Citizens | Amazon: $28.59 | Apple: NOT AVAILABLE
- The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It | Amazon: $14.94 | Apple:$12.99
- Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength | Amazon: $16.06 | Apple: $14.99
- DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education | Amazon: $9.90 | Apple: NOT AVAILABLE
- Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? | Amazon: $11.85 | Apple: $9.99
- Civilization: The West and the Rest | Amazon: $21.50 | Apple: $16.99
- Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room | Amazon: $17.15 | Apple: $12.99
- Born to Rise: A Story of Children and Teachers Reaching Their Highest Potential (Preorder) | Amazon: $16.97 | Apple: $12.99
The Amazon links I’ve used come from a freely-available HTML version of Godin’s book. I don’t know if the version Godin submitted to Apple contains different links or different versions of the same links, though I think the answer to that may be an important consideration.
Out of fourteen books, all but two can be purchased through Apple’s iBookstore. Of those twelve, ten are cheaper (in some cases, a lot cheaper) to buy from the iBookstore than they would be by following Godin’s existing Amazon links.
Clearly, a hypothetical customer who purchases Stop Stealing Dreams from the iBookstore 1) prefers (or at least enjoys) ebooks and 2) has chosen Apple’s offering over utilizing the freely available Kindle app. Common sense, then, says you cater to that customer’s established preference, right?
My first thought was to investigate whether or not Godin was using Amazon affiliate links, which would at least provide a monetary explanation for his desire to carry over those links. (Apple would definitely frown on that, though.)
As it turns out, he’s not (or at least he doesn’t appear to be) but that doesn’t mean he’s using standard Amazon links:
Seth Godin’s company, Yoyodyne Entertainment, is all about fun and games. But its mission is serious business. Godin and his colleagues are working to persuade some of the most powerful companies in the world to reinvent how they relate to their customers. His argument is as stark as it is radical: Advertising just doesn’t work as well as it used to - in part because there’s so much of it, in part because people have learned to ignore it, in part because the rise of the Net means that companies can go beyond it. “We are entering an era,” Godin declares, “that’s going to change the way almost everything is marketed to almost everybody.”
The new model, he argues, is built around permission. The challenge for marketers is to persuade consumers to volunteer attention - to “raise their hands” (one of Godin’s favorite phrases) - to agree to learn more about a company and its products. “Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers,” he says. “It’s not just about entertainment - it’s about education.”
I honestly don’t know what it means, if it means anything at all, that “permissionmarket” appears in Godin’s Amazon links and, as I mention above, I don’t know if it appears in the links that were included with the version of Stop Stealing Dreams that Apple ultimately rejected.
I do know that Apple, citing privacy concerns, is notoriously picky about letting 3rd parties use its platforms as a vehicle for collecting customer data. As an example, Apple doesn’t allow magazine publishers access to valuable customer data without explicit consent from the customer.
For what it’s worth, the above link — without the permissionmarket bit — seems to work just fine:
More from Godin:
And there’s the conflict. We’re heading to a world where there are just a handful of influential bookstores (Amazon, Apple, Nook…) and one by one, the principles of open access are disappearing. Apple, apparently, won’t carry an ebook that contains a link to buy a hardcover book from Amazon.
I have a lot of respect for what Seth Godin has to say, and I think the Domino Project remains a laudable and important undertaking.
With that said, Godin’s idealism (as it relates to this rejection) is a bit hard to swallow given his past connection to Amazon and the fact that he seems to exclusively favor Amazon links whenever he links his readers away to purchases. I’d be more inclined to sympathize with his position if he’d taken the time to provide links to a broader content ecosystem, when possible, especially given that it wouldn’t be particularly difficult to do so. (It took me about 20 minutes to compile the above iBookstore and Amazon links.)
From a customer service standpoint, it just doesn’t make much sense to link me away to Amazon when I’ve already opted to patronize Apple’s iBookstore. That is, unless permission marketing plays some role in Godin’s decision to do so?
Given that I’ve confessed a certain level of ignorance on the subject, I’ll update if and when I learn more.
Samsung shifts strategy from copying Apple to copying the chutzpah of a company that Apple put out of business
TVs are ultimately about picture quality. Ultimately. How smart they are…great, but let’s face it that’s a secondary consideration. The ultimate is about picture quality and there is no way that anyone, new or old, can come along this year or next year and beat us on picture quality.
Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector.
“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
It’s kind of remarkable. I’ve set up a couple of PCs and a few TVs over the last couple of years. Buying a new television and setting it up is far more complicated now than buying a computer and setting it up.
Hat tip to Daring Fireball for the link.
The trouble, to me, isn’t that TVs are difficult to set up. The trouble is that they’re difficult to set up right.
For most consumers, good enough is as far as they’ll ever get.
How many times have you been to someone’s house, forced to watch “fat people” because the person who owns the TV hasn’t bothered to fix the aspect ratio?
How many people even know what an aspect ratio is? Which one to choose when watching HDTV versus SDTV? (Don’t even get me started on the cute names TV manufacturers come up with to make aspect ratios seem consumer friendly.) How to handle one movie in one ratio versus another? What’s the difference in quality between an HDMI cable, a VGA cable, and a component cable? Digital audio vs. the “red and white” cable?
“Why the fuck am I getting bars on both the top AND bottom AND sides of the picture!?”
Of course, it’s “easy” to plug in and get everything wrong — “the fat people don’t bother me anyway; I hardly even notice at this point” — or use whatever cables come in the box.
When people ask what Apple could possibly bring to an Apple-branded television, imagine plugging your TV in and getting the best quality you can get, out of the box, every time.
Imagine a TV smart enough that you don’t have to be all that smart to get everything you can out of it.
If you’re thinking about it from the perspective of what Apple can bring to the table, you’re probably on the wrong track: It’s not about adding, it’s about taking away.
Ideally, from Apple’s perspective, you’ll be using your new TV with their rich ecosystem of content. If you’ve got an iPad or an iPhone, all the better. Your new TV will fit your digital lifestyle like a glove.
If not, go ahead and plug that Blu-ray player in using the only option possible: HDMI for video and audio. You can go ahead and ditch any cable that Apple deems unworthy and don’t bother wondering if there’s a better option, because Apple won’t provide options.
Options result in stretched out fat people.
Everything just works.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a watered down, crippled version of the iPad. In almost every way, Apple’s product is better than Amazon’s 1st generation tablet.
I own both, and I’m comfortable with saying that. Of course, I haven’t returned my Kindle Fire, and I don’t plan on giving it away, either.
I do like the weight of the Kindle Fire while reading, but if that’s all I’m going to use it for, I like the weight of every available e-ink Kindle even more. (That’s a savings of at least another $100.)
Lodge any of the above criticisms, though, and you’ll likely hear: “Of course, dumbass! The Kindle Fire isn’t meant to compete with the iPad. It’s well under half the price of the cheapest iPad 2, and it was never meant to be anything more than a consumption device for people on the go!”
Someone should probably clue Amazon in on this line of thinking.
As far as I can tell, Amazon doesn’t even list the iPad at its selling price of $499 — it starts “new” at $518.75, from various retailers who aren’t Apple. A quick check shows the iPad 2 currently in stock on apple.com, though I suppose it’s possible that it’s not available from Apple, on amazon.com. Sure seems fishy, though.
Back to that chart:
Marco Arment has already posted a pretty great rebuttal, so I’m not going to bother questioning or exploring the validity of Amazon’s arguments, except to say that this doesn’t seem to be the chart of a company that thinks its product isn’t directly in competition with the iPad 2, and better.
No matter how I read it, I’m not getting:
“Hey! We know you might want an iPad 2, but why not save $300 and buy a Kindle Fire instead? It even does some of the things an iPad does! If all you’re interested in is browsing the web and reading some books, you’ll love our Kindle Fire, and you probably don’t need the extra power, or the hundreds of thousands of apps, available with an iPad.”
Instead, they’ve produced a feature for feature comparison which seems to argue that much of what the iPad does — both technically and functionally — the Kindle Fire does even better, or at least just as well. For $300 less!
Clearly, Amazon wants potential shoppers to feel like there’s nothing that an iPad 2 can do that the Kindle Fire can’t do just as well, or even better. For a lot less.
Web browsing? Way faster. Cost? Way Cheaper. Screen? Nicer. Apps? No difference! Storage? Less is actually more!
And, just in case you don’t want to take Amazon’s word for it, they’ve helpfully added a smattering of effusive praise from outlets who hadn’t yet spent any meaningful time with the product. Please don’t look at the man behind the curtain!
Amazon’s got every right to promote its product, and even to compare it against a competitor’s product. (Even if it’s arguable that they’re playing a bit loose with context.)
They’d be foolish if they didn’t do so.
With that said, can we at least drop the idea that it’s unfair to point out the Kindle Fire’s flaws, as compared to the iPad 2? If the comparison is good enough for Amazon, it’s good enough for those who disagree with Amazon’s assessment.
It’s been quite an ordeal, but a Kindle Fire finally made its way into my hands.
I’ve been playing with it off and on for a couple days, now, and — it’s pretty much everything you’ve read in any of the reviews you’ve read. No more, no less.
Which is to say, a lot of people have already nailed its strengths (relatively few) and weaknesses (many).
The one caveat I’d add is that many of the weaknesses are rooted in software, and that’s the sort of thing that can be fixed, at least.
So, instead of rehashing what’s been said elsewhere, I’m going to touch on something that hasn’t been beaten to death, and that’s the idea of surprise and delight.
The underlying premise of surprise and delight is that you run up against a problem, and as you’re doing what you think should happen, it actually happens, or it happens in a way you didn’t anticipate, and you think to yourself: “Wow, I can’t believe someone thought of that. Genius!”
iOS is filled with surprise and delight moments. Perhaps the best example is the ability to type a period with one continuous motion — without lifting your thumb — even though the period key isn’t on the “home” keyboard screen. Uninterrupted flow. One click where three might otherwise be necessary.
In my experience, Amazon’s devices don’t seem to contain many surprise and delight moments, if they contain any at all.
As has been discussed, there’s no dedicated hardware home button on the Kindle Fire.
Instead, each app has a touch-based home button. That’s fine, and I think it’s something I’ll eventually get used to and it’s something people who haven’t used an iOS device might not even need to get used to.
With that said, the home button is situated in the bottom-left of every app. This is a real problem when you’re holding the device one-handed with your right hand, because it’s nearly impossible to reach the home button while doing so.
There are any number of reasons why your free hand might not be available for button pressing, but the least tawdry (and most important) reason is that some people don’t have left hands.
The obvious solution, then, is to simply put the home button in the bottom-middle of every app. Boring, but perfectly acceptable.
The surprise and delight solution is that the Kindle Fire somehow knows which hand it’s being held by, and accommodates for that preference (or disability) by moving the home button to an accessible corner.
Suddenly, the user thinks: “Holy shit, that’s genius, I can’t believe Amazon thought of that.”
Except, no one thinks that, because Amazon’s Kindle Fire isn’t filled with surprise and delight moments.
That doesn’t mean Amazon won’t sell millions of Kindle Fires.
What it might mean is that people will buy them, but they may not find much of an urge to actually use them, once the novelty wears off. Or, they may not find much reason to ever buy another tablet device from Amazon. Or, maybe no one ever talks about the Kindle Fire in a way that makes other people excited to own one as well.
Surprise and delight is the stuff of fanboy devotion. It’s the foundation of customer loyalty. It’s why Apple can lag way behind Android in units sold but still dominate mobile browsing statistics.
You can hate me for being an iOS fanboy, or call me a shill, but whether you like it or not, Amazon, at least, wants me to be an Amazon fanboy — Bezos wants to command a loyal army of Amazon fanboys — and he’s not going to get that through sheer volume.
“Meh” doesn’t build loyalty, or sell services.