When the Tribune Company recently got rid of their newspapers, the New York Times ran the story under a headline “The Tribune Company’s publishing unit is being spun off, as the future of print remains unclear.”
The future of print remains what? Try to imagine a world where the future of print is unclear: Maybe 25 year olds will start demanding news from yesterday, delivered in an unshareable format once a day. Perhaps advertisers will decide “Click to buy” is for wimps. Mobile phones: could be a fad. After all, anything could happen with print. Hard to tell, really.
It is sort of humorous/sad how reluctant most publications are to call the most obvious of spades a spade. You’d think there was bias or something.
Amy Qin on the latest cinema trend emerging in China:
The new “bullet screen,” or danmu, model of movie-watching that has recently been introduced in select theaters in China can perhaps be most pithily summed up with the title of the 2010 Chinese action comedy “Let the Bullets Fly.”
In this case, the bullets don’t refer to actual bullets, but to text messages that audience members send via their mobile phones while watching the film. The messages are then projected onto the screen, so that at any given time the scene may be overlaid with multiple “bullets,” or comments, scrolling across the screen.
Pop-Up Video. But in a theater. With content populated by the crowd. Of teens. What could go wrong?
“You pay $150 billion for that, and it’s a lot of risk. You might never make any money. The Clippers make money, and they’re going to make more money. As a multiple of earnings, you’re paying less than you are for almost every tech stock. You have very limited downside because there will never be more than two teams in Los Angeles.”—Steve Ballmer, comparing investing his money in the Los Angeles Clippers versus tech stocks.
“It’s kind of like software. Version 1 was the failed attempt at keeping the Sonics, version 2 was the Kings, version 3 was the Bucks.”—Steve Ballmer, describing his attempts to buy an NBA franchise. Version 4, of course, was his successful bid to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.
While it’s nice to see a Nintendo release a faster version of its popular console with better controls, I can’t help be confused by how Nintendo chose to announce it. The New Nintendo 3DS is backwards compatible with older 3DS games, but it will also have its own exclusive titles. Is it supposed to be its own, new device, or not? If it is, I worry that Nintendo is shooting itself in the foot by not coming out with a bigger bang and a new name. This new device is an even smaller incremental jump than from the Wii to the Wii U, and anecdotally, most people I’ve asked over the last few years didn’t realize that those are two different systems.
Still, people continue to read more email on Apple-manufactured devices than any other device or platform. According to the study, Mac computers, iPhones and iPads were used to open 358 million SendGrid-delivered emails in the last year, compared to 320 million emails on Windows.
While the data is Europe-specific in this case, it’s interesting to think/see how many people primarily interact with email on their phones and/or tablets now. Certainly, it’s the main way I do. Since I always have one of those devices on me.
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 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.
“The only way to break out is to gamble — take a chance with that first pick, if you wanna dramatically improve your team. That’s why I wanted Manziel but I was the only guy who wanted him. I listened to everybody. And I’m… not… happy…”—Dallas Cowboys owner (and GM) Jerry Jones, talking to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, about his grief over not drafting Johnny Manziel.
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!
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.
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.
For while other countries have struck oil and then binged on the revenues, by contrast Norway is continuing to invest its oil and gas money in a giant sovereign wealth fund.
The fund, worth about $800bn (£483bn), owns 1% of the entire world’s stocks, and is big enough to make every citizen a millionaire in the country’s currency, the kroner. In effect, it is a giant savings account.
1% of all the stocks in the world. Crazy (smart).
We’ll see how this plays out in the long run, but it strikes me as smart for any “boom” town to diversify as much as possible when they can — before they can’t, and they’re screwed.
“The sick thing is that these companies are selling to those who are less fortunate. I really think that manufacturing a product that you know is killing people should be against the law and that you should prosecute those who do it. It’s murder like anything else.”—Michael Bloomberg, talking to The New York Times about his crusade against the cigarette industry.
“We have tried using the Windows Phone OS. But it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone. It wasn’t profitable for us. We were losing money for two years on those phones. So for now we’ve decided to put any releases of new Windows phones on hold.”—Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group, in an interview with WSJ. Worth noting that his comments on Windows Phone are still slightly better than those about Tizen, which has says has “no chance to be successful.”
Mr. Bloomberg, 72, has vowed to give away his $32.8 billion fortune before he dies. In doing so, he hopes to sharply reduce high smoking rates in Turkey, Indonesia and other countries; bring down obesity levels in Mexico; reduce traffic in Rio de Janeiro (and Istanbul); improve road safety in India and Kenya; prevent deaths at childbirth to mothers in Tanzania; and organize cities worldwide to become more environmentally friendly and efficient in delivering services.
“He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic Gandhi and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park.”—Steven Spielberg, paying tribute to Richard Attenborough, who died yesterday at age 90.
“No, no, no, no, I’m good. If you booed me for 18, 19 years, boo me for the 20th. That’s the game, man.”—Kobe Bryant, in a long, excellent profile by Chris Ballard. Also noted: Kobe’s love of reading TechCrunch. Yes, really.
Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.
“I like to think of it like you’re at a party drinking champagne, and the host is refilling your glass, and at the end of the party it’s like, ‘How many glasses of champagne did you have?’ Just one!”—James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, talking to Fast Company about how much coffee he drinks each day.
The writing is very clearly on the wall here: Radio Shack seems screwed. And that’s too bad, because it was once such a great retail chain.
No one is asking, but my plan would be to create an “Apple Store for everything and everyone.” That is, use their current weakness, their insanely large store footprint, as an advantage. Create an Apple Store-like experience for more than just Apple products, all over.
Apple can’t do this for obvious reasons (they’re not going to sell Android devices). Neither can Microsoft (they’re not going to sell iPhones). Neither can the carriers (well they potentially could but they’re far too greedy). And Best Buy is just a bloated mess at this point.
It sounds like RadioShack is starting to do some of this. But I’ve seen the new stores. They’re not going far enough.
By some alchemical mix of the movie itself and the combined excellence of the Jackson 5, David Bowie, Redbone, and the Raspberries, this collection of music from the ’70s has now spent two consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200. It’s estimated to have sold 93,000 copies in the previous week (down from 109,000 the week previous), putting it firmly above the “Now 51” collection and the never-dying Frozen soundtrack. Take that, pop music.
The film itself is good, but the music is both integral and elevates it, so no surprise here.
Tallinn on the decrease in crime around the developed world in recent years:
But the sheer scale of the drop—and its broad persistence in the face of the deepest economic depression in a century—make a new crime wave seem unlikely. Policing is still improving; heroin and crack-cocaine consumption continue to fall; and no one is likely to reintroduce lead into petrol. The period of rising crime from the 1950s through to the 1980s looks increasingly like an historical anomaly.
A portion of the theory reminds me a bit of Minority Report’s “pre-crime”. No, not the knowing the future part, but the fact that would-be criminals realize their actions are more likely to be caught in some way, so they are simply thinking twice about doing anything in the first place.