Apple Pay Reportedly Launching in Canada This Autumn

Rita Trichur and Daisuke Wakabayashi, Wall Street Journal:

[Apple] is in negotiations with Canada’s six biggest banks about a potential November launch of the service which would enable mobile payments for both credit and debit cards using iPhones and the forthcoming Apple Watch, those people said.

Aside from the dumb references to nonexistent Apple Pay security problems, this is great news for your Canadian writer. Now I can justify upgrading to a new phone later this year. I wonder if it will support our national Interac system in addition to credit cards.

Logic

Farhad Manjoo thinks that it’s a waste of time for the EU to charge Google with abusing its monopoly position:

With more than a decade of hindsight, the theories supporting the case against Microsoft have all but fallen apart, and the pursuit of the company that makes Windows may suggest a reason for skepticism about this fight against Google: The tech marketplace is fluid and unpredictable. The giants that look most unbeatable today could falter in ways that may once have seemed unthinkable — and without a lot of help from the government.

Kontra:

Logic: It’s OK to break the law by abusing monopoly; if you wait long enough technology will make it irrelevant. So go ahead, break the law!

If somewhat for symbolic reasons, the EU’s allegations are a valuable demonstration.

John Siracusa Has Earned His Aqua Stripes

John Siracusa:

Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote my first review of Mac OS X for a nascent “PC enthusiast’s” website called Ars Technica. Nearly 15 years later, I wrote my last. Though Apple will presumably announce the next major version of OS X at WWDC this coming June, I won’t be reviewing it for Ars Technica or any other publication, including the website you’re reading now.

Carefully reading and digesting every word of John Siracusa’s review was the first thing I’ve done with every release of OS X since Leopard, or thereabouts. While I’m gutted that I won’t get to do that with the release of OS X 10.11, I’m grateful to John for every single word he’s ever written. John, if you’re reading this (you’re probably not, but hey, a guy can dream): thank you, and have a great summer.

The New WWDC Ticket Policy

Dave Mark:

This year, Apple will charge you for a ticket the second you are eligible to purchase it. And that charge is non-refundable. No more cancellations. Which means a fairer distribution of tickets, as people and companies are only signing up if they have a true intent to go to the conference.

The down side of this policy is that it wrings a little bit more of the social from the conference. Two friends can no longer make tentative plans to go to the conference if they both get in. True, they can go solo, but that’s not the same thing, especially for people who only see each other at dev conferences like WWDC.

Update: I’ve done some research and while I could find plenty of conferences that have a lottery-style ticket system, and plenty of other conferences that don’t offer refunds, I wasn’t able to find a similar conference where tickets are distributed at random and cannot be refunded. I understand Apple’s motivation here, but there’s a social aspect to WWDC that takes place both inside and outside of Moscone West. Non-ticketholders can’t participate in any of the fun stuff within the conference; they must plan to meet up elsewhere. And that’s really tough when people only have five days to meet up.

“Google Doesn’t Have Any Friends”

Charles Arthur, on Google’s oft-cited mantra that “competition is just a click away”:

Google has poured huge amounts of money into making sure that people aren’t presented with any other search engine to begin with. The Mozilla organisation’s biggest source of funds for years has been Google, paying to be its default search (until last autumn, when Yahoo paid for the US default and Google, I understand, didn’t enter a bid – because Google Chrome is now bigger than Firefox). Google pays Apple billions every year to be the default search on Safari on the Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Clearly, Google doesn’t want to be in the position where it’s the one that’s a click away. That’s because it knows that the vast majority of people – usually 95% or so, for any setting – use the defaults.

Statement of Objections

Well, it’s now official:

The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services in the European Economic Area (EEA) by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

I suspect the EU has limited their case to just the comparison shopping tool because it allows them an easier path to demonstrating direct consumer harm, should Google be found to have biased their results.

Amit Singhal, SVP of search at Google, has responded to these allegations.

The EU, continued:

The Commission has also formally opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s conduct as regards the mobile operating system Android. The investigation will focus on whether Google has entered into anti-competitive agreements or abused a possible dominant position in the field of operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices.

Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer has responded to these allegations, too:

The European Commission has asked questions about our partner agreements. It’s important to remember that these are voluntary—again, you can use Android without Google—but provide real benefits to Android users, developers and the broader ecosystem.

This is a little disingenuous. While it’s possible to create and use a version of Android with no strings tied to Google, it will be missing a lot:

If a company does ever manage to fork [the Android Open Source Project], clone the Google apps, and create a viable competitor to Google’s Android, it’s going to have a hard time getting anyone to build a device for it. In an open market, it would be as easy as calling up an Android OEM and convincing them to switch, but Google is out to make life a little more difficult than that. Google’s real power in mobile comes from control of the Google apps—mainly Gmail, Maps, Google Now, Hangouts, YouTube, and the Play Store. These are Android’s killer apps, and the big (and small) manufacturers want these apps on their phones. Since these apps are not open source, they need to be licensed from Google. It is at this point that you start picturing a scene out of The Godfather, because these apps aren’t going to come without some requirements attached.

While it might not be an official requirement, being granted a Google apps license will go a whole lot easier if you join the Open Handset Alliance. The OHA is a group of companies committed to Android — Google’s Android — and members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. That’s right, joining the OHA requires a company to sign its life away and promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork.

WWDC 2015: June 8–12

The “WWDC 2015″ in the invitation is typeset in San Francisco Rounded. The legal text on Apple’s limited edition hardware and its accompanying regulatory filing are also set in San Fransisco. What’s the over/under on iOS 9 and OS X getting San Fransisco as a universal system font?

(The one thorn in this theory is OS X: it just changed to Helvetica Neue. Would Apple do two system font changes in two years? I don’t necessarily think they’d be dissuaded from it; I suspect the main reason OS X doesn’t use San Fransisco today is because it wasn’t finished in time, or they wanted to debut it on the Watch.)

Europe to Accuse Google of Illegally Abusing Its Dominance

Alex Barker and Christian Oliver, Financial Times:

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals to favour its own services, according to two people familiar with the case.

[…]

In a further blow to the US group, Ms Vestager on Wednesday will also launch a separate formal investigation into Google’s Android operating system for smartphones.

The Commission probe will examine whether Google imposes uncompetitive terms on handset makers that ultimately favour its own lucrative apps such as YouTube. Google rejects any allegations of wrongdoing and says Android is an open platform distributed free.

Google has been accused of anticompetitive behaviour in the past, but they’ve always managed to settle. This is the first time charges will be laid against them.

This news breaks in the wake of comments from the EU digital chief, as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

The European Union should regulate Internet platforms in a way that allows a new generation of European operators to overtake the dominant U.S. players, the bloc’s digital czar said, in an unusually blunt assessment of the risks that U.S. Web giants are viewed as posing to the continent’s industrial heartland.

Speaking at a major industrial fair in Hannover, Germany, the EU’s digital commissioner, Günther Oettinger, said Europe’s online businesses were “dependent on a few non-EU players world-wide” because the region had “missed many opportunities” in the development of online platforms.

Regardless of the overlap between Oettinger’s comments and the EU’s forthcoming actions, the EU is not without reasonable grounds to file these charges.

iOS 8.4 Beta Brings a Music App Overhaul

From Apple’s release notes:

The iOS 8.4 Beta includes an early preview of the the all-new Music app. With powerful features and an elegant new look, enjoying your music is easier than ever. This preview provides a sneak peek into what we’ve been working on, and what’s to come — the music is just getting started.

I don’t remember seeing redesigned or new features described by Apple in a beta as an “early preview”. The “beta” label implies that it’s an early look at a forthcoming feature anyway, and it’s missing the most-rumoured part: Apple’s new streaming service. This seems peculiar, as if it’s a hint at a different strategy.

Google Fiber Plans Expansion, Then TWC Makes Speeds Six Times Faster

Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica:

With Google Fiber preparing an expansion into Charlotte, North Carolina, incumbent cable operator Time Warner Cable is trying to hold onto customers by dramatically increasing Internet speeds at no extra charge.

“The Internet transformation will begin this summer and will include speed increases on TWC residential Internet plans at no additional cost, with customers experiencing increases up to six times faster, depending on their current level of Internet service,” Time Warner Cable announced last week. “For example, customers who subscribe to Standard, formerly up to 15Mbps, will now receive up to 50Mbps, customers who subscribe to Extreme, formerly up to 30Mbps, will now receive up to 200Mbps; and customers who subscribe to Ultimate, formerly up to 50Mbps, will receive up to 300Mbps, at no extra charge.”

That is truly an odd and miraculous coincidence. It’s almost as if an oligopoly operating in siloed environments nationwide with clearly defined boundaries is not typically conducive to consumer-friendly pricing. But yeah, sure, we should nuke net neutrality and let these few and powerful players define the marketplace with little to no oversight, because that’s worked out really well so far.

Apple Says “Don’t Use Palmrest or Keycap Covers” on the Retina MacBook Pro

Last week, I was one of several people to write about an issue that surfaced on Retina MacBook Pros. Apparently, the anti-reflective coating on the display has been peeling off for a lot of people, giving the appearance of a “stained” display.

Katie Floyd (via Stephen Hackett):

I received an email from Mac Power Users listener Mark pointing me to this Apple Knowledge Base article warning MacBook Pro with Retina Display users not to use palm rest or keycap covers. The concern is that because Retina MacBook Pro is so thin and the tolerances are so tight, anything between the body and the top of the computer could cause it to rub against the screen.

This doesn’t surprise me. Every laptop I’ve ever seen with a keyboard or palm rest cover has had an outline of the keys or the palm rest caked onto the display. If the display has a coating of some kind, it’s not a big stretch to think that it will rub off if a rubbery keyboard cover is pushing against it whenever it’s closed.

But none of the Retina MacBook Pros on the Staingate site’s gallery show either of these accessories.They could have simply been removed before the owners took the photos, or the tolerances could be so tight that the keyboard on some models rests against the display and, over time, slowly erodes the display coating.

Cloud-Based OS X Accounts

At WWDC in 1997, Steve Jobs described his vision of the future:

I have computers at Apple, at Pixar, at NeXT and at home. I walk over to any of them and log in as myself. It goes over the network, finds my home directory on the server and I’ve got my stuff, where ever I am. And none of that is on a local disc. The server…is my local disc.

A lot of people saw iCloud, remembered this bit of history and, naturally, drew connections between them. But, while iCloud has gotten really good, it’s not exactly the “login from anywhere” experience that Jobs describes here. For that, we need something a little closer to what Dan Moren is proposing:

As wary as I am about Apple’s integration with cloud services—and I am, well, rather wary—I sometimes feel like the company doesn’t take things far enough. So while you can, these days, get pretty far using the web-based iCloud interface to access a lot of your data no matter where you are, I’d love to see Apple take things a step further and offer cloud-based user accounts for OS X.

I’m not quite prepared for a future where my entire home directory is stored on Apple’s servers, for lots of reasons: Apple doesn’t have the best track record with cloud services, the NSA still exists, and so on. But it would be so freaking cool to be able to sit down at any computer and log in as myself, and it would make it that much more manageable to own a very powerful desktop computer and a lightweight, stripped-down notebook. Like, say, the 5K iMac and the new MacBook. And I’d like to point out that a fresh Yosemite setup uses your Apple ID and password for your local user credentials.

Just saying.

Google’s Snapseed Photo App Gets Its First Major Update in Two Years

Did not see this one coming.

This is a pretty big update to an app I noted as one of my favourite photo editors on iOS. For version 2.0, Google has updated Snapseed with a totally Material-ed up UI. It’s an app that looks like it walked directly off Android, complete with Roboto and all the non-native UI conventions that come with that. It really doesn’t fit in on iOS.

But I’ve always liked Snapseed’s selective editing tool; though I use VSCOcam for nearly everything, selective editing is important enough for my workflow that it’s the primary reason I keep Snapseed on my device. The other reason I liked Snapseed was for the totally wild and weird “Grunge” filter. Unfortunately, this filter has been removed with the 2.0 update, but the all-important selective editing tool remains. I guess I’ll be keeping the app on my iPhone.

Apple Fixes Its Felony Hiring Policy

Apple PR, via Julia Love at the San Jose Mercury:

It recently came to our attention that, as part of a background check process unique to the Apple Campus 2 construction project, a few applicants were turned away because they had been convicted of a felony within the past seven years. We recognize that this may have excluded some people who deserve a second chance. We have now removed that restriction and instructed our contractors on the project to evaluate all applicants equally, on a case-by-case basis, as we would for any role at Apple.

Good.

Future Present

The past two days have seen the embargoes lift on the first reviews of the Apple Watch and new MacBook. If anything has emerged from the narrative so far, it’s that both products appear cut from the same cloth. Yes, the Watch appears the most high-tech of the two, effectively establishing the precedent for its market, while the MacBook is a take on the decades-old concept of a laptop, albeit an innovative interpretation. But they’re extraordinarily similar in a conceptual sense.

Joshua Topolsky:

So Apple has succeeded in its first big task with its watch. It made something that lives up to the company’s reputation as an innovator and raised the bar for a whole new class of devices. Its second task—making me feel that I need this thing on my wrist every day—well, I’m not quite sure it’s there yet. It’s still another screen, another distraction, another way to disconnect, as much as it is the opposite. The Apple Watch is cool, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful, and it’s easy to use. But it’s not essential. Not yet.

Nicole Phelps:

In the nine days I’ve worn it, the Apple Watch didn’t replace my iPhone, but I don’t think that’s the intention. Our wrists simply can’t support a device big enough for everything we do on screens these days. I came to think of it as a filter instead, bringing what’s essential or pleasurable to me closer to me and editing out the rest.

Geoffrey Fowler:

Still, in these early sketches of an experience, I can already imagine so much more. I’d like for the Apple Watch to be my train ticket and my office key, for starters.

For now, the Apple Watch is for pioneers. I won’t pay the $1,000 it would cost for the model I tested, only to see a significant improvement roll in before too long.

Farhad Manjoo:

The New York Times announced last week that it had created “one-sentence stories” for the Apple Watch, so let me end this review with a note that could fit on the watch’s screen: The first Apple Watch may not be for you — but someday soon, it will change your world.

The reviews of the new MacBook follow a similar pattern. Joshua Topolsky and Stephen Pulvirent:

The MacBook isn’t for everyone. The Retina display is beautiful but hogs processing power that might be better used elsewhere. And if you do a lot of photo editing or like to multitask, you’ll notice some lag and jitters. Even scrolling quickly through typical Web pages produced a noticeable lag and stutter compared with my standard MacBook Air.

Joanna Stern:

But as ahead of its time as the MacBook is, there’s a slight problem: You have to use it right now. Here in 2015, the majority of us still require two or three ports for connecting our hard drives, displays, phones and other devices to our computer—not to mention a dedicated power plug.

[…]

The new MacBook represents an exciting evolution in portable computing, but at this point it is more a proof of concept than your next computer.

Tech reporter biases of power, expandability, and all that aside, both the Watch and MacBook are seen as visions of the future. They’re not perfect or even truly great yet, but they represent what will be great.

This isn’t new for Apple. Here’s Walt Mossberg in 2007:

The iPhone is missing some features common on some competitors. There’s no instant messaging, only standard text messaging. While its two-megapixel camera took excellent pictures in our tests, it can’t record video. Its otherwise excellent Web browser can’t fully utilize some Web sites, because it doesn’t yet support Adobe’s Flash technology. Although the phone contains a complete iPod, you can’t use your songs as ringtones. There aren’t any games, nor is there any way to directly access Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Apple says it plans to add features to the phone over time, via free downloads, and hints that some of these holes may be filled.

Here’s Ryan Block in 2008:

The [MacBook] Air is a tough call. On the one hand it proposes to be a no-compromises ultraportable, but on the other hand it compromises many (but not all) the things road warriors want. We’re all about removing unnecessary frills and drives (we rejoiced the day the original iMac bucked the floppy), but laptops are increasingly becoming many users’ primary — often only — machines, which is why the Air’s price doesn’t do it any favors, either. It’s hard to justify almost two grand for a second laptop (or a third machine) just for travel needs — and even then, that’s only easily done if all your data lives in the cloud. Given those sacrifices and that higher-end sticker, it’s more than likely not going to replace most peoples’ current workhorse laptop.

In summary: “It’s a glimpse of the future, but it’s not quite enough yet.” That’s par for the course for first generation Apple products. And that’s okay.

Apple tries to strike a balance between two extremes. The first-to-market companies don’t ever do it right — take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Gear or the scores of thin notebooks released before the MacBook Air. Apple is never the first to market, but neither are they waiting it out until they have a product that’s ideal, like the MacBook Air of 2010 or the iPhone 4.

Apple seems more interested in bringing a product to market that they’re very proud of in a way that defines both the future of the market, and establishes the roadmap for how people will use their devices in two- or three-years’ time. Apple couldn’t do the 2010 Air in 2008 or the iPhone 4 in 2007 for myriad technical and engineering reasons, but also because they didn’t know how customers would actually use these devices. The 2008 Air laid the blueprint for future thin notebooks, but the 2010 Air required everything they learned from the prior two years of customer use. It’s the same for the iPad in 2010, the iPhone in 2007, and will be for the Apple Watch of 2015.

Apple’s unique skill is in understanding the roadmap for several years into the future, and building according to that. If you use a post-2010 MacBook Air today and you enjoy type-A USB ports, it’s easy to see how the MacBook could fit into your life in a couple of years, but perhaps not now.

Today, the MacBook and the Watch are exciting glimpses as to what the future will hold. They’re ready for primetime for the early adopter set — which, by the way, seems to grow with each major new product — and those users will help Apple better understand how these products are used in the real world. And they’ll help define the future.

Point Three

iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 have both been released today.

Surprisingly and happily, the iOS update includes a gigantic list of bugs patched in the release in place of the anemic “bug fixes and performance improvements” notice affixed to pretty much all updates these days.

Not included in this list is a comprehensive fix for that annoying as shit bug where tapping in the space between the keyboard and the Quick Reply box would vaporize anything typed in the box. Now, unless the box is empty, tapping in that empty space will have no effect. If you press the home button or something, the text entered into the Quick Reply box will be there if you enter the appropriate conversation.

On the OS X side of things, I’ve seen significant improvements to the reliability of discoveryd. Both updates include a great new constantly-scrolling interface for inserting emoji, because nobody in the world knows that the “bell” section includes the saxophone, pushpin, and tofu on fire characters.

The biggest across-the-board news is the final release of iCloud Photo Library alongside the new Photos app for OS X. I had a rough start with iCloud Photo Library, but a nice person in iCloud engineering has worked with me over the past month to fix it, and I couldn’t be more delighted with it. The seamless syncing is exactly what Apple promises, and makes the 200GB iCloud plan an easy purchase. I feel vastly more confident that my entire library is backed up without intervention.

The Photos app itself is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s way faster and way better than iPhoto ever was, but if you’re like me and you’re used to Aperture, it’s a bit of a letdown right now. I think it deserves its own article, because there’s a lot to dive into.

Critically, though, both of these releases are far more stable and far better than iOS and OS X have been for months now. In an ideal world, these are the releases that the point-zero versions should have been. Assuming Apple keeps reliability at the top of their priorities for future releases, we’ll look back at the last few months as a turbulent but necessary blip in Apple’s record. They’re presenting a very ambitious view of the future, and now their delivery is catching up to their rhetoric.

Update: 10.10.3 also includes more exciting Notification Centre spam, courtesy of Apple. Awful.

Update 2: Apparently, the spammy Apple notifications are also in iOS 8.3.

Felony Convictions and Construction of Apple HQ

Wendy Lee, San Francisco Chronicle:

Several construction workers who were hired to build the exterior of Apple’s new campus in Cupertino were ordered to leave the site in January due to prior felony convictions, several union officials and workers told The Chronicle. The ban is unusual for construction work, a field in which employers typically do not perform criminal background checks.

[…]

For work on the Apple site, anyone with a felony conviction or facing felony charges “does not meet owner standards,” according to documents from construction companies acquired by The Chronicle.

Lee, again, in a follow-up piece:

Apple’s policy of not hiring construction workers with past felony convictions to help build the tech giant’s new campus has drawn the attention of a state senator.

“There are certain positions where there is some nexus between the crime committed and the position offered. Construction does not appear to be one of those,” said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. “In this situation, I would strongly suggest that this policy be changed.”

And:

A person familiar with the policy said construction workers with felony convictions within the past seven years are not permitted on the site, while those with earlier felony convictions could find work building the campus. People with “felony charges pending court disposition” are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, said the source.

John Gruber thought the “facing felony charges” portion of the articles was unfair, but he also questioned the uniqueness of this policy:

The “facing felony charges” prohibition is worth noting. Whatever your stance on the prohibition against those convicted of a felony within the last seven years, not hiring those merely facing charges seems blatantly contrary to our tradition of “innocent until proven guilty”.

I’m also curious whether these policies actually are “unusual for construction work” — especially for large companies. On Twitter, Greg Koenig says Intel has the same policy for its D1X chip fab in Oregon.

Regardless of what other companies are doing, this policy is discriminatory to a substantial degree, and does not represent what Apple is typically known for. Felons are people too — if they’ve served their time and are attempting to get back on their feet, any construction company and their clients, by extension, should welcome that. I’m not saying that they’ll be greeted with open arms, as it’s understandably a little foreboding to hire a felon, but they’re probably trying to put that life behind them.

Apple Watch Packaging

Looks like someone at IBM got an Apple Watch a little early. Jeremy Gan took some pictures of the packaging for the stainless steel model and the leather band. The Watch box is definitely top-notch, even for the midrange product. I’m curious to see if each model gets a different kind of packaging, though. The Sport might also be sold in this one, but it’s hard to imagine the Edition in a cardboard box. Hat tip to Abdel Ibrahim.

Update: This is more likely the Daily Mail’s review unit.

Update 2: The images have been removed. MacRumors has cached versions.

A Close Watch

Tim Bradshaw, Financial Times:

Apple has invited small groups of developers to its Silicon Valley offices to help them prepare their apps for its Watch, as it gears up for the launch at the end of this month.

Observed by security guards and instructed to cover up the cameras on their iPhones, a few dozen handpicked designers and engineers have each spent a day at Apple’s labs in Sunnyvale, California to test their apps on the device.

The Tech Block’s Abdel Ibrahim:

I see the future of Apple Watch as a product that demonstrates a masterful, seamless aptitude for authenticating our existence to corresponding terminals and locks. Sure, you may need an “app” with your login info to have some of that happen, but actually needing to expend any energy or attention interacting with it seems backwards. If the idea is to remove friction, then part of that mandates at least some removal of the need to touch the display. In fact, the way Apple Pay works on iPhone now is exactly how I’d want all my authentication to work: On iPhone 6, you don’t need to wake up your phone or open any apps. You just raise your phone to the terminal and your card shows up. Then you touch your finger to TouchID, it reads your print, and you’re done. That’s the equivalent of one tap. Much more than that, and you’re looking at more hassle than convenience.

The iPhone ushered in the age of apps; the Apple Watch looks set to usher in the age of completely seamless interaction.

Samsung Hoping to Bounce Back

Jonathan Cheng and Min-Jeong Lee, Wall Street Journal:

With the release on Friday of the Galaxy S6 and its curved-edge variant, the Galaxy S6 Edge, investors will be looking for a pickup in profit margins, which crashed late last year. After 10 straight quarters with margins of 15% or more, the figure halved to 7.1% in the third quarter of 2014 before inching up in the fourth quarter.

On a conference call with investors last year, Kim Hyun-joon, a Samsung mobile senior vice president, said that the company was aiming to push mobile margins back into the “low double-digit” percentage range.

I’m interested to see how the S6 series fares over the year or so. From the reviews I’ve read — and I’ve read a lot — it seems that Samsung took a much more careful look at what they were making.

But I’ve seen a fair shake of commentary that paints Samsung’s troubles similarly to Apple’s stock price drop through 2012 and the first half of 2013. The difference is that Apple continues to deliver viable, unique products, time and time again. “Galaxy” has been the strongest brand Samsung has been able to deliver, but it’s no “Apple”, and the products are nowhere near as special. I think this is an entirely different situation, with a far less predictable outcome.1

Cheng and Lee, continued:

Many analysts think that the S6 Edge could outsell the regular S6, assuming production isn’t interrupted by any supply-chain issues. The S6 Edge uses a highly sophisticated manufacturing process to get its curved screen effect.

What analysts, where?


  1. If you didn’t think Apple would bounce back after bottoming out at sub-$400 prices, pre-split, sub-$60 prices, you were betting with trends, not your head. 

Artist Exclusivity Means That Tidal Might Have a Chance

Walt Hickey, FiveThirtyEight:

There is an argument in Tidal’s favor. We’ve seen with Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO and other video streaming services that exclusivity is a very good way to gain and keep subscribers. Just like there are people who subscribe to HBO just for “Game of Thrones,” there’s an argument to be made that people could subscribe to Tidal just for, say, new Rihanna releases.

Look at the people who were on stage with Jay Z on Monday: Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire, Beyonce, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher, according to Music Business Worldwide. Do you like any one of those artists?

A major difference between Netflix, et. al. and Tidal is that the video streaming services first built up a core audience in markets nobody else had a stake in. HBO was the first premium home cable channel, while Netflix wrote the book on effortless television and movie streaming.1 It was only after building a substantial subscriber base that these companies created original, exclusive programming.

Tidal isn’t really breaking any new ground with their streaming music service, and plenty of music stores had exclusive content during the iTunes Store’s heyday. None of these alternative stores did very well; most didn’t even survive.

Besides, the music industry seems to have largely given up the fight against file sharing. Record labels will still send automated takedown requests to the bigger sites and distributors, but if you can’t still find free music on the web, I don’t know what to tell you. For how long will a track “exclusive” to Tidal remain that way? My bet is somewhere between one week before the track even debuts, to ten minutes after it’s live.

I’m not writing it off entirely, but I haven’t heard a convincing argument as to why Tidal will garner a respectable market share alongside the already-dominating Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Beats, Xbox Music, and iTunes Radio services, let alone Apple’s upcoming streaming service.


  1. After they re-wrote the book on DVD distribution, that is.