Written by Nick Heer.

Archive for April, 2013

Google’s Schmidt Says Talking to Glasses Can Be Weird

Aaron Pressman, Reuters:

Google Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has been playing with his company’s new combination glasses and mobile computer and said he finds the experience a little weird.

Talking out loud to control the Google Glasses via voice recognition is “the weirdest thing,” Schmidt said in a talk on Thursday at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

I’m sure Google PR is so glad that Eric Schmidt opens his mouth so frequently in the vicinity of a microphone.

Wait, I don’t mean “glad”, do I?

Instapaper Sold to Betaworks

Marco Arment:

I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold a majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks. We’ve structured the deal with Instapaper’s health and longevity as the top priority, with incentives to keep it going well into the future. I will continue advising the project indefinitely, while Betaworks will take over its operations, expand its staff, and develop it further.

Big, surprising news today. As Matt Bonney quips:

  1. WWDC sells out in 2 minutes.
  2. Twitter for Mac is updated.
  3. @marcoarment sells majority of Instapaper to Betaworks.

WTF is happening.

In the Land of the Coffee Nerds

Matt Buchanan, The New Yorker:

I was finally tasting Esmeralda Especial, a highly renowned coffee from Panama’s Hacienda la Esmeralda, which holds the distinction of the highest price ever paid for coffee at auction — in 2010, the auction price of the highest-grade lot reached a hundred seventy dollars per pound. It is both the pinnacle and logical conclusion of how the specialty-coffee industry wants to transform coffee itself.

I’ve been lucky enough to drink some Esmeralda Especial. Its price is steep, but it is — without question — one of the most delightful cups of coffee I’ve ever had to drink. It’s complex and requires far more attention to detail, but the results are worth it.

Q1 2013 US Smartphone Share

Spoiler alert: Android is still winning, if you ignore pesky things like “numbers”. The subplot here is that Android — being a free operating system — can be installed on substantially cheaper products which are closer to feature phones than smartphones, and which are sold for lower prices in countries with lower median incomes. That’s unsurprising, but the US activation numbers are a reminder.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach, of course. It’s a good way to get a broad installation base and produce activation numbers which look good. But they’re not as impressive nor as relevant as revenue share to both investors and developers. Just because a new Android app can be installed on more phones than developing the same app for iOS, that doesn’t mean that the developer stands to increase revenue.

The Big Gap Between Big Apple Events in Context

I hate linking to Business Insider, but Jay Yarow has an interesting point:

The last time Apple executives were on stage talking about new products was October 23, 2012. This means Apple is going to spend eight months, or 230 days, between on stage product announcements.

That is a long-ass time. I think I’d better eat some of my own claim chowder:

There’s no way Apple is going to go for nearly two full quarters without releasing a single new product.

And yet.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Michael Calore, Wired:

But all that business of waving your hand or moving your eyes to scroll while reading — it only works in the crummy Android browser. It does not work in Chrome, where I do all of my browsing. It doesn’t work in Google Reader or Flipboard or Instapaper or the Kindle app, where so much reading happens. Looking away from the screen doesn’t pause a video in YouTube, only in the Samsung video player. The trick where you wave your hand to advance songs only works in the default music player, not in Rdio or Sonos, where I do most of my listening. The camera extras — the HDR feature, the photo filters, and the tool for making animated GIFs — all yield results that look cartoonish. I just took regular photos.

If the only apps that make available the most-touted features of the phone are the apps that you don’t use, then what’s the point of them?

Guess We Found Out Which Story Was True

Hey, remember Monday? Remember how Bloomberg said that LG Display’s profits were a miss among analysts because of poor Apple sales? Well, I think we found out where those sales went:

LG’s profit fell 22 percent year-on-year as a stagnant TV market offset the company’s resurgent mobile business. Despite shipping 10.3 million smartphones in Q1 2013 in what the company describes as its best performance since entering the market, low sales of plasma TVs meant that operating profit fell to 350 billion won ($322.88 million) from 448 billion won ($400 million) a year ago.

What’s to bet LG’s television business uses LG Display panels? That’s a stupid question, obviously. Of course they do, and of course Apple didn’t cause LG Display to falter.

Innovating a Social Failure

Tom Foremski, for the spookily-named and -typeset Silicon Valley Watcher:

Google Glass a product designed by engineers that clearly don’t understand interpersonal interactions.

This is perhaps the most laser-guided totally-nailed-it analysis of Google Glass. Make no mistake — I don’t think we’ll be looking at glowing glass slabs for the next fifty years. Glass is simply a poor interpretation of what the future should be like.

Just How Did Apple “Journalism” Get This Bad?

Ian Betteridge, for Macgasm:1

By those standards, David Gewirtz’s piece over at ZDNet entitled “iOS developers abandoning sinking Apple mothership: biggest drop ever” isn’t just bad journalism. It’s beyond that. It’s anti-journalism. Where journalism is about fact, Gewirtz brings us speculation. Where journalism adds context to make things clearer, Gewirtz removes it in order to make things more difficult to understand.


  1. This is a terrible name for a website. Never include the suffix “-gasm” where it doesn’t belong, like on a tech site. ↩︎

Apple Q2 2013 Results

Speaking of MacStories, the team there has published a great summary and analysis of the third-biggest quarter in Apple’s history. Of note, the sales of iPhones and iPads enjoyed their second-highest quarter ever, and Apple has sold 140 million iPads to date, in just three years.

I also read Tim Cook’s response here as baby talk, which makes Gene Munster all the more tolerable:

Gene: Did you mention new product categories?

Tim: I did, Gene!

Who’s a good analyst?”

Tweetbot 2.8 Adds Media Timeline

Federico Viticci, MacStories:

To access the new media timeline, you can scroll at the top of the regular timeline and – both on the iPhone and iPad – hit the media button next to the search bar. In the media timeline, status updates containing pictures or videos will show their respective media fully expanded inline, ready to be tapped to be viewed in full-screen. Imagine a mix of Tweetbot’s existing style and Instagram’s photo feed and you get the idea.

This is a really clever way to view all the visual content of those you’re following. Absolutely sublime.

Google Fined $189K by German Privacy Authority

David Meyer, Gigaom:

Google has been hit with a €145,000 ($189,000) fine in Germany over the “negligent” collection of people’s personal data by Google’s Street View cars. The fine was levied by Hamburg’s data protection chief, Johannes Caspar, who made it very clear that he wished he could fine the company more.

Driving around in a car with a 360° camera, and slurping and storing data from unprotected WiFi networks? Now that’s creepy.

New Google Glass Gestures

Emil Protalinski, The Next Web:

Google appears to be planning an interesting set of gestures for its Glass project, letting you use your fingers, head, and eyes to perform certain functions. Two examples include being able to use two fingers to zoom in and out of the browser, apparently just like on a touch device, as well as winking to take a photo.

Winking to take a photo with a device that’s so subtle as to not be noticed, and have that photo automatically upload? Now that’s creepy.

More Noise, Less Signal

Matt Alexander:

And yet, for all of the potential and the obvious spiritual succession over Ping, Twitter Music strikes me as little more than the embodiment of a misguided, extravagant startup.

Not only is it bad at recommendations, it’s unnecessary and noisy. Twitter Music1 represents what Twitter is trying to be, but isn’t. It’s forced and clumsy, and you’d expect better from a company ostensibly defined by short communication.

  1. The hash sign can bite me. ↩︎

Who’s Behind the “Tim Cook Must Go” Whisper Campaign?

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, CNN Money:

For the record, Apple is still trading higher today that it was when Cook replaced Steve Jobs. The forces that drove the stock up to over $700 and then down to below $390 seem to me to have more to do with a dysfunctional securities market than anything Cook has done as CEO.

This narrative must be distracting for everyone at Apple, especially given how high Apple rose under Tim Cook’s tenure. This is all a reaction to overoptimistic analysts.