This is interesting because maps are obviously a vital part of location-based services. And while a few have picked Bing Maps over Google Maps, I can’t recall any service as big as Foursquare, which was using Google for so long, ditching them in favor of the open alternative (as they note, several smaller startups have, often due to cost — which was also why Foursquare started looking for other alternatives).
Worth noting that this only impacts the Foursquare website right now — the iPhone and Android apps will continue to use Google Maps since both of those OSes offer Google Maps in their SDKs.
But that brings up something else: how long is Apple going to stick with Google Maps? At the time of the iPhone launch, it was really the only good solution (and they had a great relationship with Google). Now there are several options (and the Google relationship has gone to shit).
I think it’s quite possible that the only reason Apple hasn’t switched to another alternative at this point is because they continue to work on their own solution.
Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac cites “reliable sources” and has some part numbers to back it up.
I don’t have any information about this, but it sounds right because I’d imagine Apple will want higher quality video content to show off on the new iPad’s Retina screen. That likely means upgrading current HD iTunes content from 720p to 1080p (which is still less than the new iPad’s supposed resolution of 2048x1536).
And if Apple is going to upgrade iTunes video content to 1080p, they’ll want to have an Apple TV to also take advantage of that content. The current Apple TVs are limited to 720p.
But most interesting may be this “B82” item. Gurman believes it will be an accessory. Perhaps a new remote for the Apple TV? Touch? Voice? We’ll see soon enough.
Promoted Tweets — read: ads — are coming to the Twitter mobile client streams. I suspect the initial reaction will be: “Great! Another reason to use TweetBot!”
But I actually don’t view this as a negative thing. Twitter is a service that many of us use and love for hours on end every single day. It’s a great service. But like any great service, if it’s to stick around, it needs to make money. I don’t begrudge them trying to do that.
They’ve been experimenting with various ways to do this, and apparently the Promoted Suite of products is working well enough that they’re now expanding it to the mobile experiences. In fact, a Promoted Tweet was the most retweeted Tweet last year.
It’s interesting that Twitter only gets paid when a user takes an action (retweet, reply, etc) on these Tweets. In other words, they’re cost-per-action not cost-per-impression. Again, a good choice because it will naturally lead to higher quality Tweet Ads (or retweet-bait, I suppose).
Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between last September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.
3 minutes versus seven hours. I mean, 3 minutes!
The sad thing is: I bet when mobile usage is counted, the gap is actually worse.
We keep hearing over and over how Google+ is on the up-and-up — from Google. 10 million sign-ups here. A billion more there. So many fucking sign-ups.
The reality of the situation sure seems to be the opposite. The only people I know that use Google+ regularly are people who work at Google (and Robert Scoble).
As relayed by Michael J. De La Merced of The New York Times:
“Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property,” a Yahoo spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. “We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights.”
"We must insist". It sounds a lot like one of those foreign leaders in the video game Civilization that is clearly losing and starts to make empty threats.
You often hear the argument that Apple will eventually be squeezed in their high-margin hardware businesses. That cheaper components will drive costs down and cheap products will win. But that “win” comes with an asterisk. It’s a short-lived win. Eventually, it will turn to a loss both figuratively and literally.
One of Apple’s strengths is the quality of their products, which allows for better margins. But their real strength is staying ahead of trends. By the time Apple dropped “Computer” from their name in 2007, they were already a different company.
They still make computers, but they have long since become a secondary business massively trumped by other businesses (first the iPod, then the iPhone, now the iPad).
Update: As Jack Schofield points out, Dell also dropped “Computer” from their name in 2003. The difference is that when Apple did it, they were actually becoming a different company. Dell was doing the same old — which is why they had to make that statement today, nearly a decade later — though they were thinking about getting into printers. Which is funny for an entirely different reason.
"2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we’re winning in that space."
That was Andy Rubin talking about Android’s tablet strategy at Mobile World Congress, as relayed by The Verge.
Across all the various OEMs that make Android tablets, 12 million have been sold in total. Ever. For context, Apple sold 15 million iPads last quarter.
Obviously, Google needs to do better in the space. And they should be able to. Quite honestly, it would be hard to do much worse given the interest in the space (thanks mainly to the aforementioned iPad) on both a consumer and OEM level. But Rubin’s excuse as to why the Android tablets are selling so poorly is suspect at best.
I'm still an AT&T customer, but it pains me to be. I'm holding onto my unlimited data and I'm still getting a discount on my bill from a former employer. But every single thing AT&T does these days makes me want to throw those benefits away. But then I look at Verizon and their country-wide data outages and attempts at price hikes in the form of online debit charges. Do you still think the switch is worth it? Is Verizon the lesser of two evils?
Let’s be honest, all the carriers in this country are pretty bad. And they’re scared. They’re facing a future where they lost the SMS cash cow and potentially just become dumb pipes.
The problem is that they’re fighting this future with a breed of “innovation” that looks suspiciously like greed.
I go with Verizon over AT&T simply because their network is so much better in places like San Francisco, where I live. Obviously, a working network should be the most important purchasing decision.
“Eventually you start to think that AT&T executives should just stop thinking before they hurt someone or themselves. If AT&T put half as much energy into running a top-flight network with quality support as they did cooking up hare-brained troll toll schemes — they might just stop coming in last place in all major customer satisfaction studies.”—Karl Bode from the previously-linked piece about AT&T’s latest idiotic money-making scheme.
AT&T now wants to charge app developers data fees to ease customers running into their imaginary data caps. It’s an idea so bad it’s almost comical. Writes Karl Bode:
It’s an idea we’re sure AT&T will pitch as a cost-saving endeavor for consumers, but given this is AT&T, you’d be naive to think cost savings will be in the equation. You’ll still pay the same data rates, content companies will now just pay a fee to obtain preferred “reduced cap impact” status, then pass the higher development costs on to you. It’s a ridiculous and dangerous idea, and the fallout will likely be similar to AT&T’s “free ride” comments. AT&T executives either don’t care how bad these ideas make them look, or don’t realize it thanks to too many isolated meetings at headquarters packed with telco-think yes men.
Have I mentioned how happy I am that I’m no longer an AT&T customer?
A couple weeks ago, a rant of mine on technology journalism kicked off a firestorm that has yet to fully subside. The talking points have evolved beyond my initial ones and yes, I too have re-fueled the flames a few times.
I knew the reaction would be strong (for obvious reasons), but I didn’t expect the tech press to get as riled up as they have for this extended period of time. In my 5+ years covering a whole range of topics in technology professionally, I have never gotten as many requests for comments, interviews, etc, as I have about all of this. Which is pretty silly when you think about it.
The tech press, like most everyone else, clearly loves to talk about itself. The difference is that we have a bigger soapbox from which to do so. And the past few weeks have resulted in more mastubatory self-reflection than usual.
The other day, I got an email from a gentleman named Seth. As a regular reader, he wanted to give me some honest feedback on my writing as of late. I wanted to share a portion of what he wrote:
The second major category of investments involves assets that will never produce anything, but that are purchased in the buyer’s hope that someone else – who also knows that the assets will be forever unproductive – will pay more for them in the future. Tulips, of all things, briefly became a…
Fucking brilliant. In the Berkshire Hathaway 2011 annual report, Warren Buffet breaks down everlasting gold bubble.
Ask anyone why gold is so valuable and they’ll immediately tell you that it’s a rare commodity. And that’s true. But beyond its decorative value, which is minimal at best, what value does it actually produce? Very little.
Well, very little beyond selling it to the next fool who will pay more for it.
It isn’t easy to feel sad when you’re standing in front of a 14-foot ape who’s wearing a polo shirt, a backwards baseball cap, and, for reasons only its designer could explain — no pants. And yet, there I was.
Actually, “sad” would be an understatement. I was downright gloomy. Even the…
Classy farewell by Jason Kincaid on his way out the TechCrunch door. I worked with Jason for three years and I honestly can’t wait to see what he chooses to do next. Besides our OMG/JK reunion show, obviously.
I don’t typically do this anymore given my new job. But from time to time this will happen. But if you read The Wall Street Journal, you’d never know. Why’s that? Because they’re fuckheads who don’t credit actual sources of information.
I know, I know. I’m ranting again. But indulge me for a few minutes.
I broke the news that Apple acquired the app search/discovery platform Chomp at 4:01 PM today. At 6:06 PM — over two hours later — WSJ reported the story as well. But oddly, with no mention of my original story.
This was odd both because, again, I reported the same information two hours earlier. And because it was at the top of Techmeme, which everyone in the industry reads. And every single other publication linked to my story.
“You can be assured we are working as hard as ever this year to deliver an incredible year and some products that will blow your mind.”—
Tim Cook talking today at Apple’s shareholders meeting.
"We’re working on things that will blow your mind" is a pretty constant theme amongst those I talk to from time to time at Apple. While the competition is all aimed squarely at them, they’re not worried in the least bit because they’re aimed squarely at the future.
I’m shocked that Google is replacing a guy who managed to lose $80 million last quarter. Almost as shocked as I am that Google is buying this company losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year for $12.5 billion.
I had been sitting on this for a couple of days trying to collect my thoughts on Google’s real-life goggles, as reported by Nick Bilton. Unsurprisingly, my thoughts are mainly in line with John Gruber’s here:
My first thought was to laugh, but, hey, at this point, let’s give Google the benefit of the doubt and hope these things are actually useful and cool. We’re not going to be tapping on 3 to 5 inch pieces of glass for the entire future of mobile computing. Something’s got to come next. Maybe heads-up displays are next.
Maybe. Or maybe they’re a huge failure/joke, as Ryan Block predicted a few days ago.
My initial instinct is that they’ll fail because, well, they’re huge fucking dork glasses. And Google is not (yet) a hardware company. And it’s not 2025. But maybe that is too cynical. Maybe this is really cool.
Michael’s take on blogging/writing and “objectivity” is a good one. It’s almost as if what he says makes too much sense so the debate must go on! Which of course makes no sense.
At some point I’ll get to stop writing about this topic. I’ve been trying to move on, because quite frankly, it’s gotten boring. I’ve ignored requests to comment or to go on shows to talk about it, but the stories keep getting written anyway.
You’d think these guys have something to lose or something…
Anyway, what it all boils down to — what it has always boiled down to — is that a few folks in the press think we should stop writing since we’re also investing.
Okay. We’ll get right on that.
Oh wait, you mean we don’t actually have to? There’s nothing that’s actually going to stop us? Odd. All these stories are written like there is. I swore I read that the God of Journalism was going to descend from the Pillars of Objectivity to break our fingers with his pearly white cane of truth.
I’m all for anything that disrupts the region-based cable monopolies.
But remember that Google had a hell of a time trying to reach agreements with content providers for Google TV. And recall that it’s coming up on two years (!) since Google first showed off their music product — and they still don’t have a deal with all the labels. The types of deals needed for content plays don’t seem to exactly be Google’s strong suit.
But what if we all missed something obvious going on here? What if Microsoft was being so cagey — and maybe even disingenuous — for a very real reason? What if they don’t want to spoil a very big surprise set for a certain Apple event taking place in a couple weeks?
Now, to be clear, I have no actual information on this one way or another. But this tweet by Matthew Maurice makes some sense:
@parislemon Is it just me or would MS announcing Office for iPad on stage with Apple at March iPad3 event essentially kill Android tablets?
It’s very clear at this point that Apple and Microsoft both hate Google far more than they hate one another. And both sides seem willing to do whatever it takes to destroy Android. What if Microsoft is planning to do Office for tablets as an exclusive for the iPad (until the Windows 8 tablets come out, of course), while totally shafting Android?
Wouldn’t such a move be worthy of an announcement on stage at an Apple event which also happens to be all about tablets? I think so.
Doesn’t mean it will happen. That’s just a random, wild guess. But when Microsoft implies that all will be revealed in the “coming weeks”, you can helped but be tickled by the thought…
Newsflash for Goldman: my personal blog is not The New York Times. I post links to things I find interesting throughout the day with a short blurb about them. Occasionally I write longer posts where I dive deeper, but that’s no longer my primary job.
Yes, it sucks that I wrote the post burning down your industry after I left, but that was also the point. A (now) outsider’s perspective on the state of the industry.
Betabeat’s Adrianne Jeffries is optimistic after sitting down with Flickr product head Markus Spiering and seeing a glimpse of what they’re working on. It sounds like it will be more of a gradual change over the year though, rather than one major revamp.
Three words not nearly mentioned enough: mobile, mobile, mobile. The only part of the story that mentions this says:
But Flickr is reorienting according to Yahoo’s “mobile first” strategy and the design is thoughtful and forward-looking.
That’s far too vague to be promising in any way. But Spiering was a mobile guy in his previous life within Yahoo, so maybe there’s some hope.
But wait — isn’t Comcast already a Netflix competitor with their On Demand service, their Xfinity service, and their stake in Hulu? Well yes, but this will have a new name and new fees! Joy!
Reports Andrew Wallenstein for Variety:
With a business model and catalog-oriented content mix similar to Netflix and other competing services like Amazon and a coming joint venture from Verizon and Redbox, Comcast is clearly attempting to supplement its existing digital presence, Xfinity, with a long-tail-oriented offering. But Streampix is not available to those who don’t already get Comcast cable.
Streampix will either be free to those who get Comcast’s triple-play package of video, broadband and phone or for an additional $4.99 fee on top of other varieties of Comcast offerings.
So, it will only be available to those people who already have Comcast cable. AND it will likely cost you an additional fee even if you’re already spending upwards of $100 a month on cable. What a fucking fantastic sounding service.
Huge win for Netflix. The Weinstein Company is one of the few production houses where quality absolutely trumps quantity. If I wasn’t already a member, I’d consider signing up for Netflix just for this alone.
This will get overshadowed by the new iPad unveiled a couple days before, but this is big news. China Telecom has 130 million customers. And, get this, one model of the 4S will be given away for free with a contract.
Earlier today, I posted a link to a Microsoft blog post calling out Google for bypassing IE security measures. Google saw the post and sent me the following on-the-record statement (below).
It’s a bit verbose, so I’ll summarize: “Microsoft is full of shit.”
Statement: Attributable to Rachel Whetstone, Senior Vice President of Communications and Policy, Google
Microsoft omitted important information from its blog post today.
Microsoft uses a “self-declaration” protocol (known as “P3P”) dating from 2002 under which Microsoft asks websites to represent their privacy practices in machine-readable form. It is well known - including by Microsoft - that it is impractical to comply with Microsoft’s request while providing modern web functionality. We have been open about our approach, as have many other websites.
Today the Microsoft policy is widely non-operational. A 2010 research report indicated that over 11,000 websites were not issuing valid P3P policies as requested by Microsoft.
Here is some more information.
Issue has been around since 2002
For many years, Microsoft’s browser has requested every website to “self-declare” its cookies and privacy policies in machine readable form, using particular “P3P” three-letter policies.
Essentially, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser requests of websites, “Tell us what sort of functionality your cookies provide, and we’ll decide whether to allow them.” This didn’t have a huge impact in 2002 when P3P was introduced (in fact the Wall Street Journal today states that our DoubleClick ad cookies comply with Microsoft’s request), but newer cookie-based features are broken by the Microsoft implementation in IE. These include things like Facebook “Like” buttons, the ability to sign-in to websites using your Google account, and hundreds more modern web services. It is well known that it is impractical to comply with Microsoft’s request while providing this web functionality.
Today the Microsoft policy is widely non-operational.
Browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari have simpler security settings. Instead of checking a site’s compact policy, these browsers simply let people choose to block all cookies, block only third-party cookies or allow all cookies…..
Thousands of sites don’t use valid P3P policies….
A firm that helps companies implement privacy standards, TRUSTe, confirmed in 2010 that most of the websites it certifies were not using valid P3P policies as requested by Microsoft:
Despite having been around for over a decade, P3P adoption has not taken off. It’s worth noting again that less than 12 percent of the more than 3,000 websites TRUSTe certifies have a P3P compact policy. The reality is that consumers don’t, by and large, use the P3P framework to make decisions about personal information disclosure.
A 2010 research paper by Carnegie Mellon found that 11,176 of 33,139 websites were not issuing valid P3P policies as requested by Microsoft.
In the research paper, among the websites that were most frequently providing different code to that requested by Microsoft: Microsoft’s own live.com and msn.com websites.
Microsoft support website
The 2010 research paper “discovered that Microsoft’s support website recommends the use of invalid CPs (codes) as a work-around for a problem in IE.” This recommendation was a major reason that many of the 11,176 websites provided different code to the one requested by Microsoft.
Google’s provided a link that explained our practice.
Microsoft could change this today
As others are noting today, this has been well known for years.
Privacy researcher Lauren Weinstein states: “In any case, Microsoft’s posting today, given what was already long known about IE and P3P deficiences in these regards, seems disingenuous at best, and certainly is not helping to move the ball usefully forward regarding these complex issues.”
Chris Soghoian, a privacy researcher, points out: “Instead of fixing P3P loophole in IE that FB & Amazon exploited ……MS did nothing. Now they complain after Google uses it.”
Even the Wall Street Journal says: “It involves a problem that has been known about for some time by Microsoft and privacy researchers….”
If you actually took the time to read half of that statement, you’d realize just how ridiculous this war of words is getting. And it’s going to get worse.
I’m not saying either side is right or wrong here. All I’m saying is that if Google has a problem with what Microsoft is saying, they should come out and say so in plain English. Instead, this is like ubernerd passive-agressiveness.
"Microsoft omitted important information" — that’s such a cop-out. Just say: "Microsoft is trying to deceive the public." Or: "they’re total dicks". You know, things a human being can understand.
My summary is crude, but in many ways much more accurate and insightful.
We simply don’t need another social network, no matter how great your circles are or how badly Larry Page wants to have one.
Agreed. The problem, which Google really, truly does not seem to understand is that at the end of the day, they’re solving a problem which has already been solved. They may think it hasn’t, but it has.
It’s the same problem Bing faces in search against Google. It’s a fine product, but in order to get people to use it, it has to be far better than the incumbent. Bing isn’t, so it will never beat Google (despite Google’s best efforts to back that thang up). Google+ isn’t, so it will never beat Facebook (or Twitter, for that matter).
But Google is trying to cheat this system. By shoving Google+ in our faces, they think that they can make their product catch on without the need to be above and beyond better than the incumbent.
I think we’ll see that this approach still won’t work. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter work because they evolved based on how users were naturally using them. Google+ is trying to make the users evolve to fit into the network they created. It’s unnatural.
Hollywood’s core piracy “problem" is perfectly captured in this one cartoon by The Oatmeal.
In fact, I’ve had this exact debate with myself. I really want to watch Game of Thrones. But I’m not an HBO subscriber because I’m not a cable subscriber and unfortunately, the two go hand-in-hand, no matter what I’m willing to pay.
Speaking of “willing to pay”, okay fine, I can’t get Game of Thrones on HBO, but I’m willing to pay a quite a bit of money to get it via iTunes. Wait. Nope. Can’t do that either. At least not for a few more months — well over a year after the first season wrapped.
Netflix? Nope. Not streaming or DVD/Blu-ray. Amazon? Nope. HBO.com? Not unless I’m a cable subscriber.
A few years ago, this would have been interesting. But now it just looks foolish. It looks like a company that’s so embarrassed about how late they are to the dance that they snuck in the backdoor and refuse to talk to anyone let alone dance with anyone.
Google made a big bet on background location with Latitude, but they were far too early. By the time they realized this and pivoted towards the check-in, it was too late. Now things are finally starting to shift towards background location and Google is going the wrong way.
Update: While McDermott accurately quoted the Netflix rep (who herself apparently checked with two supervisors), Netflix is now saying the information is inaccurate. Actually, The Bodyguard vanished as a streaming option before Houston’s passing.
Earlier: When asked why The Bodyguard was pulled from Netflix streaming following Whitney Houston’s death, Dan McDermott got the following response from a Netflix rep:
I just went and talked to my main supervisor as to why the movie had been pulled and the reason it was pulled was the production company pulled the streaming rights from us because all the publicity after Whitney Houston’s passing there was an opportunity to make really a very large amount of money on the DVD sales of her movies. So they’re going to pull all the streaming titles we have of Whitney Houston so they can make more money off the DVD sales of her movies.
What fucking scumbags. Not Netflix, which sadly has no control over situations like this, but the movie studio.
It seems like Hollywood is eyeing two business models in order to preserve their precious DVD sales (which are tanking more each day):
1) Make it basically impossible to rent a film. It used to be that you could rent a movie the day it came out for sale on DVD. Then it was 30 days later. Now it’s 56 days later. And you can’t even think about renting the films for 28 days.
As a reminder, torrents currently have no such window.
2) Hope and pray that big time stars die to temporarily boost sales. And instead of doing everything in you power to ensure that fans have easy access to remember the stars they cherished, pull all access except for the most expensive and limited variety in order to maximize profits.