Ben Fritz:

The actual revenue value for Hollywood studios of a box office dollar—the only financial data point typically reported publicly—varies widely. In China, where practically no one buys DVDs—at least not legitimately—and digital and TV distribution businesses are minimal, studios receive only about 27 cents on the box office dollar, according to internal studio analyses viewed by The Wall Street Journal. In the U.S., with its comparatively robust post-theatrical businesses, $1 of box office translates into about $1.75 of total revenue over a decade.

The recent rhetoric out of Hollywood seems to center around how well films are doing overseas. Forget what you see in the domestic box office, they say. Which is misdirection, at best. Bullshit, at worst.

Just in time for the Labor Day holiday in the United States, Clive Thompson dives into the thing that will ruin the holiday for so many:

Why would less email mean better productivity? Because, as Ms. Deal found in her research, endless email is an enabler. It often masks terrible management practices.

When employees shoot out a fusillade of miniature questions via email, or “cc” every team member about each niggling little decision, it’s because they don’t feel confident to make a decision on their own. Often, Ms. Deal found, they’re worried about getting in trouble or downsized if they mess up.

This seems exactly right. I’d venture to guess that most email that is sent in the work environment doesn’t need to be sent. But it is as a way to cover one’s own ass.

As Thompson continues:

In contrast, when employees are actually empowered, they make more judgment calls on their own. They also start using phone calls and face-to-face chats to resolve issues quickly, so they don’t metastasize into email threads the length of “War and Peace.”

This is basic behavioral economics. When email is seen as an infinite resource, people abuse it. If a corporation constrains its use, each message becomes more valuable — and employees become more mindful of how and when they write.

So maybe the idea isn’t to limit the characters one can write in an email, maybe it’s to give people a quota of total emails sent each month. If they hit it, better find another way to message your colleagues. Or better yet, work harder not to hit the limit!

Joe Pinsker on a unique strategy employed by Herb Hyman, the owner of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf:

He determined his shops’ proximity to Starbucks to be such a boon that he began opening locations close to established Starbucks—a sly reversal of the national chain’s strategy. “We bought a Chinese restaurant right next to one of their stores and converted it, and by God, it was doing $1 million a year right away,” Hyman is quoted as saying in Starbucked.

Rather than run and hide from the big guy, or be terrified of his arrival into town, Coffee Bean started doing the opposite. And they thrived — undoubtedly because it helps to be next to Goliath when you’re trying to get people to pull for David.

(Also interesting data on small boards versus big boards — which makes total sense.)

The Stand-Along App

The most interesting thing about Instagram’s new app, Hyperlapse, isn’t that it’s a stand-alone app, it’s that it’s only a lens.

A lot has been made in recent months of companies “unbundling” their apps to create simpler, more streamlined experiences for users. The jury is still very much out on this strategy actually working. But again, I don’t view the Instagram move with Hyperlapse as the same thing exactly.

The thing is, on the surface, there isn’t much to Hyperlapse itself. It’s a video camera which allows you to speed up the playback after shooting (there’s obviously a lot more going on behind the scenes to make this work and seem as simple as it does). You can then share those videos to either Facebook or Instagram (not Twitter, naturally and stupidly), but there is no Hyperlapse social element beyond this share functionality. The real social component of Hyperlapse stays on the existing Facebook social backbone (since Facebook also owns Instagram, of course). And even the editing beyond the playback speed occurs on Instagram still.

So in this regard, Hyperlapse is “only” a layer on top of those existing services. It’s sort of like a new lens you might attach to your camera – albeit a tricked-out lens that can speed up time!

I think this secondary app strategy is a much more clever one than the typical “unbundling” one. Just look at the App Store top lists now; there are dozens of apps for altering the output of existing popular apps – Vine, Snapchat, and yes, Instagram, amongst others. Why wouldn’t the app-maker want to play in this space as well? The end result is just making their core app more popular. And they get to remain in control of the user experience.

Not a stand-alone app, a stand-along app.

As an aside, in my mind, the oddest thing about Hyperlapse is that it does something that not even its parent does: work natively on the iPad.

(Written on my iPhone)

Christina Bonnington:

The company’s next iPhone will feature its own payment platform, sources familiar with the matter told WIRED. In fact, that platform will be one of the hallmark features of the device when it’s unveiled on September 9. We’re told the solution will involve NFC.

After 6 years of false positives, it appears that NFC may actually stand for more than “No Fucking Chance” with the iPhone 6. We’ll know soon enough!

On The Go

I find myself on vacation. For me, that means getting away to a nice (usually new) place where I can read in peace. (And completely fail on my stated pledge not to check email – but that’s another story.) It also gives me time to think, which I find I rarely have these days. Naturally, my mind drifts to writing.

I started the year hoping to write more – 500 words a day, in fact. That lasted barely a month. It simply was becoming too much of a chore at the end of each day. I soon switched to writing thoughts on Medium, hoping its beautiful writing interface would spur me on. It has, a bit. But still not as much as I would like.

Thinking about this today, I realize that I have a pretty strong aversion to using my computer these days. It’s a cumbersome device I only associate with work. More importantly, I increasingly find myself only carrying around my iPhone and perhaps my iPad. And I’ve been writing a lot on my iPad (with the Logitech keyboard attached), but I still usually publish when I get back to a computer (on Medium, for example, you can still only publish from a desktop browser). There are too many steps involved.

So I’m going to try to force myself to write more on the go, when I’m nowhere near my MacBook. Like this post, which I’m typing on my iPhone (using Byword). With years of practice now, I’m actually quite good at typing on my phone (and even my iPad without the Logitech keyboard). So I’m not sure why I haven’t been doing it more. Other than the fact that old habits die hard.

This may also force me to keep things shorter than usual. Which I view as a good thing.

(Written on my iPhone)

Charles Arthur on the likely initial usage of Amazon’s Fire:

Therefore even allowing for margins of error, it seems unlikely - based on Chitika’s data and the ComScore data - that there were more than about 35,000 Fire Phones in use after those 20 days.

If that’s even remotely the case, the Fire Phone is a disaster right now for Amazon. This is a product they’re promoting on their homepage. You should be able to sell at least hundreds of thousands of anything on that page.

I’ll go ahead and renew my call for a VP of Devil’s Advocacy.

[via @counternotions]