Love him or hate him, one thing is clear: when it comes to Apple, Carl Icahn — or whomever wrote this for him — knows their shit when it comes to Apple.
Half of the stuff you read about Apple on the internet from banker-types makes it clear that they’re not really paying attention. Again, agree or disagree with Icahn’s stance on Apple, you cannot deny that this is well-researched.
I’ve linked to this article a few times already. But I’m going to again because there’s so much good stuff in here, particularly about Steve Ballmer.
But Ballmer is willing to acknowledge his mistakes. “I probably under-shifted to one or two things, and I feel bad about that. I don’t feel bad about social networking. Good for Facebook, great, but I don’t feel bad [that we missed it]. I feel a little differently about search, and a little differently about phones. We should have done better. I feel worse about phones than I do about search.”
Such a fascinating statement for a few reasons.
First, while Microsoft did miss social, they did invest $240 million in Facebook in 2007 — a move which many thought was insane at the time, but ended up being one of the more brilliant moves of Ballmer’s tenure. That investment valued Facebook at $15 billion. Facebook is currently a public company valued at $200 billion.
Second, while they may have failed in search and phones, it sure wasn’t for a lack of trying. They spent tens of billions of dollars on these things and still whiffed. Why? They were simply too late to both. Neither Bing nor Windows Phone are inherently bad products, they’re just late products.
So when Ballmer says Microsoft “under-shifted,” it sounds like he’s saying they didn’t put enough effort into these things. Really, they just picked the wrong gear.
Tom Simonite on recent moves in the race to quantum computing:
It’s as if qubit technology is in a superposition between changing the world and decohering into nothing more than a series of obscure research papers. That’s the kind of imponderable that people working on quantum technology have to handle every day. But with a payoff so big, who can blame them for taking a whack at it?
So who is taking the latest whack?:
It would be more than just awkward if Willett beat Microsoft to proving that the idea it has championed can work. For Microsoft to open up a practical route to quantum computing would be surprising. For the withered Bell Labs, owned by a company not even in the computing business, it would be astounding.
It’s 2014 and it’s Microsoft and Bell Labs leading the way towards quantum computing. Crazy.
Bill Gates on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century:
I agree that taxation should shift away from taxing labor. It doesn’t make any sense that labor in the United States is taxed so heavily relative to capital. It will make even less sense in the coming years, as robots and other forms of automation come to perform more and more of the skills that human laborers do today.
Your enemy is obscurity. Any way to reach people is to be applauded. Nowhere is it written that recorded music should generate as much revenue as it did in the past, nowhere is it written that you should be able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making an album, nowhere is it written that you’re entitled to make music at all!
It’s an interesting perspective you don’t hear mentioned a lot. Artists feel entitled to be paid well because they have been (relatively speaking) for the past 50 years or so. But what if that was just a brief bump in the grand scheme of things? An anomaly of new technology and business models which have now been made obsolete?
It’s always a mistake to believe you’re entitled to something just because you’ve gotten it before. That’s the true core of what leads to disruption. And lo! That’s what has happened here yet again.
Not a popular argument, for sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
“It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO. So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States. We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.”—
Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO, in a press release today released during the Time Warner investor meeting.
Jonathan Mahler and Richard Sandomir on the return of Bill Simmons from his (ridiculous) suspension this week:
Simmons declined to comment. Since his suspension, he has surfaced only in snapshots on his Instagram account — Simmons at the beach, Simmons on the golf course — seemingly designed to let ESPN know that he’s enjoying his time off. But people close to Simmons say he is furious and has been talking a lot about whether ESPN is still the right place for him. He has threatened to leave ESPN before, but this is the most pitched moment yet in their fraught relationship.
Kenneth Lerer, the co-founder of the Huffington Post and chairman of BuzzFeed, said he has never met Simmons, but thought it would be relatively easy for him to move to another large company, but infinitely more difficult to start something of his own. “Knowing what I know now,” Lerer said, “I think he should say: ‘I had a breakdown, I didn’t mean what I said. I’m back at ESPN and I love it.’ ”
Simmons may indeed come back to ESPN — he’s certainly incentivized to between salary, Grantland, 30 for 30, and soon his new NBA show. But I’d say there’s no way he comes back fully hat-in-hand. Nor should he.
“The worst work I did was from 2001 to 2004. And the company paid a price for bad work. I put the A-team resources on Longhorn, not on phones or browsers. All our resources were tied up on the wrong thing.”—
It’s a telling quote. A big part of Microsoft’s current predicament isn’t that they lacked the talent to do what their rivals did — it’s that the talent was directed to focus on the wrong things (or just as bad: the right things at the wrong time).
Bourbon producers typically don’t want to age their product any longer than they have to, since a percentage of the whiskey evaporates each year it’s in the barrels. The money literally disappears into thin air. So, taking a cue from the Scotch industry, which had long been releasing bottles of well-aged whiskey, Julian released a 10-year bottling of Rip Van Winkle and then, in the mid-nineties, a line of 20-year-old bourbon he called Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, charging about $50 per bottle when most bourbons sold for $20 or less. It wasn’t exactly an instant success. Dan Gardner, a longtime bourbon salesman, says of the initial release, “I sold Julian’s products for 20 years, and in the beginning you couldn’t put a gun to people’s heads and make them buy it.” Now, of course, you’re lucky you can find a bottle for less than $500.
Some simple, seemingly counterintuitive tweaks and demand soared. Always fascinated to read stories like this in any industry.
“I’ll stand a little bit harsh, I don’t see it as flattery. When you’re doing something for the first time, you don’t know it’s gonna work, you spend 7 or 8 years working on something, and then it’s copied. I think it is really straightforward. It is theft and it is lazy. I don’t think it is ok at all.”—Jony Ive, when asked for his thoughts on Xiaomi, the phone-maker known as the “Apple of China,” at the Vanity Fair Summit.
Eric Kester has a good yet balanced take on the current state of the NFL (not only was Kester a ball boy in the NFL, he played college football) in an op-ed today. His best bit:
A sniff of my salts would revive the player in alertness only, and he would run back onto the field to once again collide with opponents with the force of a high-speed car crash. As fans high-fived and hell-yeahed and checked the progress of their fantasy teams, and as I eagerly scrambled onto the field to pick up shattered fragments from exploded helmets, researchers were discovering the rotting black splotches of brain tissue that indicate chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Known as C.T.E., this degenerative disease is the result of players’ enduring head trauma again and again. Symptoms include dementia and extreme aggression, and C.T.E. is considered at least partly responsible for the string of recent suicides of former and current N.F.L. players, whose anger, sadness and violence eventually collapsed inward.
As with everything, this isn’t as black and white as it may appear to some. But it’s just really hard for me to see how this game exists in its current form in 20 years. We’re basically cheering as giant men destroy themselves before our very eyes — both physically and as a result, mentally.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of internet software and services, tells Billboard that U2’s Songs of Innocence has racked up a staggering 26 million complete downloads since its Sept. 9 release as a free download exclusively to Apple’s 500 million global iTunes customers. In total, Cue adds, over 81 million Apple customers experienced songs from Innocence, a global figure that includes plays and streams through iTunes, iTunes Radio and Beats Music. “To help put this into perspective,” he says, “prior to this, 14 million customers had purchased music from U2 since the opening of the iTunes Store in 2003.”
26 million album downloads in a month. Even if a large percentage were unwanted, that’s insane.
One of those clever, potentially profound system-level apps that can unfortunately only work on Android for the time being. I personally use at least six different messaging clients (including unconventional ones like Twitter DM) throughout the day. It’s a chore to figure out who I’m talking to where. And it gets worse seemingly everyday with new apps constantly popping up.
That’s the first battle Snowball is choosing to fight. And why I’m pleased Google Ventures has invested in the team. Now to figure this out on iOS…
“You just press this button and it slides off, and that is just gorgeous. But listen as it closes. It makes this fantastic ‘k-chit’.”—Jony Ive, describing the Apple Watch bands to Vogue. It’s the little things.
Besides, the Grill Sergeant told me, that incident — the one in which she referred to the man who allegedly robbed the bank where she worked as an N-word — was 25 years ago, in the 1960s. People used different words then. This is a thing I’d hear very often: that 25 years ago was in the 1960s, that it was a different time. Over and over, people on the boat — in the Deen group but also at large, who saw my lanyard identifying me as part of the Deen group — would bring up race and say what a different time it was 25 years ago in the 1960s. It was just at the dawn of the civil rights movement, after all. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., all that. Actually, I’d point out, 25 years ago was just about 1990. For perspective, here’s what was going on in 1990: pregnant women knew not to smoke; Beverly Hills, 90210, was on; the Internet existed. 1990 was pretty recent, in fact.
The entire piece is equal parts hilarious and terrifying.
“If you start painting yourself into a corner, life starts shutting down. There is always hopefully a next.”—Les Wexner, CEO of L Brands (owner of Victoria’s Secret amongst other brands throughout the years). Fascinating guy.
Bose secured a league sponsorship deal that effectively allows it to elbow Beats — and any other rival headphone manufacturer — off the playing field.
Under terms of its agreement with the league, the NFL confirmed, Bose received a broad set of rights that entitle it to prevent players (or coaches) from wearing any other manufacturer’s headphones during televised interviews.
There should be a term for this nonsense. An “on-the-clock-block”? Just thinking out loud here.
This is a classic example of a company paying up so they can appear to be “winning” (or maybe more apt: “not losing”) rather than actually innovating and winning legitimate market share. See also: the NFL’s deal with Microsoft to use Surface tablets to block the actual and natural use of iPads.
With most or all of those ideas undone or at least de-emphasized — when you use the touch screen you get Continuum, which adds some of the Metro shell on top of the desktop and turns on a back button – Windows 10 feels like a platform that hasn’t seen serious or meaningful change in eight years. Apps have gotten much more powerful and there’s a handy way to search everything, but when you pick up a Windows PC it may not be immediately clear which decade it comes from. It’s the best Windows 7 ever, but it’s still Windows 7.
Such a strange, yet predictable response to Windows 8 by Microsoft. Windows 7 was the de-Vista-ing of Windows. A return to Windows XP. Windows 10 is the de-8-ing of Windows. A return to WIndows 7.
How many development years has Microsoft collectively wasted on these OS boondoggles? It’s the epitome of a company that wants to change, but can’t.
With Windows 10, Microsoft wants to give business customers the opportunity to provide input on the software before it is finished, said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s operating system group. The product will not be released in final form until the latter half of next year.