Scoffing

I’ve always been fascinated by scoffing. It’s such a weird human reaction. It’s wanting to say something is stupid without directly saying it. Or sometimes without saying anything at all. The key is contempt. You simply cannot be bothered to even find the fucks to give.

We see this a lot in the tech world. There’s a lot of “that’ll never work” scoffs simply because something has been tried and failed in the past. Never mind the fact that nearly everything in the history of humanity was tried and failed before it eventually worked.

And then there’s competitor scoffing. Everyone knows the infamous Ballmer iPhone scoff. What makes it so bad isn’t just the derision, it’s what we can see with the benefit of hindsight. Ballmer is staring point blank at the device that will eventually eat his lunch and is faced with a choice:

  • He could say, “wow, we have to work harder.”
  • He could scoff.

He chose… poorly.

I find myself thinking of this type of scoffing on the eve of the “iWatch.” I’ve had a lot of conversations about the mythical device over the past several months and the unifying thread across most of the conversations has been scoffing.

It’s not necessarily that people don’t think Apple will make a nice wearable, it’s more that they’re sure it will be a meager, maybe even gimmicky product. In other words, like most of the wearables we’ve seen thus far. Not a game changer.

And yet, over the past several days, news has been trickling out that this device may be much more ambitious than just a thing on your wrist that tells time and maybe allows you to see an SMS or two. What if this device is not only the future of fitness, but the future of health monitoring, the future of payments, and maybe even the future of your living room to boot?

Maybe it won’t reach that potential. Maybe it won’t reach even half or a quarter of that potential. But it still seems silly to scoff at the device.

Nothing works until it does.

(Written on my iPhone)

Lots of good thoughts by James Gill. I like this one in particular:

In Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the man himself proclaimed “I’ve finally cracked it” on referring to interacting with an Apple designed TV. We’re several years on and there’s still no sign of an Apple TV set, or a change in the way we all interact with our media on a big screen. When thinking about the possible uses of an iWatch, and the number of sensors and trackers it would contain, it made me realise — what if the iWatch could effectively be a Wii style controller that’s always strapped to your wrist, without the need for the controller part itself? Could you feasibly control a TV interface with your iWatch, simply waving at the screen with gestures to control your movement through the UI? What’s more, could the idea of everyone having their own iWatch enable seamless interaction and on screen personalisation without any confusion over who has which remote control?

I recently happened to buy a new LG television which comes with both a regular remote but also a Wiimote-like remote. The latter is amazing. Old school remotes are garbage. This new remote is a joy to use.

It feels like the right way to manipulate television. So much so that I don’t think this suggestion is crazy at all. We may not hear anything about it tomorrow, but perhaps Apple will have a “one more thing” up its sleeve in a few months — quite literally.

Todd Bishop:

Following a lackluster debut for its new flagship smartphone, Amazon this morning announced that it is dropping the price of the Fire Phone to 99 cents with a two year wireless contract on AT&T.

Amazon has also dropped the price of the Fire Phone by $200 without a contract, from $649 to $449.

I’m shocked, shocked that the phone wasn’t selling at the regular $199 price. Actually, I’m not at all. We’ll see if a 99% price cut works. You’d think that plus more front-page love on a little site called Amazon.com would equal a winner. But if the device itself isn’t a winner

Oh, and a couple devices may be announced tomorrow that put a damper on things as well…

Ben Basche:

It also dawned on me what the point of the iWatch might actually be. If the iPhone 6 is technically the “first” iDevice with NFC, might iWatch be the cheaper NFC wallet option during the transition to NFC in the iPhone install base? Apple’s crude attempt at backwards compatibility? Perhaps with an old iPhone paired to an iWatch, you too can lose the plastic for iWallet.

Perhaps the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that the “iWatch” was just some digital watch…

Meg James:

Overall, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and DirecTV are paying the NFL more than $5.5 billion for TV rights deals this year. That’s a 22% increase over last year, media analyst Michael Nathanson of the MoffettNathanson research firm wrote in a report Friday.

Still plenty of money (and life) left in television, apparently. I just wonder how long this lasts? I imagine live sports (and the NFL in particular) will end up as the last stronghold for traditional television. This may not happen anytime soon, but nothing lasts forever.

If television advertising ever starts to dwindle, even slightly, how fast does the NFL shift the focus to other means? Fast, I imagine.

And how long until we see one of the online players (Netflix, etc) strike one of these deals as well? I’d bet on sooner rather than later.

Eric Mack on Dreadnoughtus (great name), the largest dinosaur found yet:

To reach its gargantuan size, Dreadnoughtus would have had to have spent most of its time eating large amounts of plants. The dinosaur’s body was comparable to the size of a house, with a 37-foot-long neck balanced by a 30-foot-long tail. Lacovara says it likely would have spent hours just standing in one place and eating everything it could reach.

The one found in Argentina was 85 feet long and 65 tons — and not yet fully grown.

Mark Harris on the summer box office this year:

Should studios be worried? I think they should be, a little. It’s probably not a complete coincidence that the year’s biggest surprise hit, The Lego Movie, is a self-aware fable predicting an eventual revolt by a captive audience that’s tired of being told that everything is awesome when everything isn’t.

Ian Kar:

According to Noyes, while banks control the card-present/not-present rates,  the networks negotiate the rates with payments processors. The differences can be dramatic. Apple was apparently adamant about getting the card-present rates and told issuers that it would assume some of the fraud risk inherent in every transaction by providing a secure element via biometric authentication (its TouchID feature) and location data provided through an NFC chip. The Apple payments platform will work with all of their cards.

Banks offered the discounted fee for two reasons: for the Apple payments platform to accept all of the cards from the issuers, and for Apple to assume some of the liability by including two secure elements that will authenticate transactions — location data via the NFC chip, and biometric security. This is essentially a wash for the financial services industry: they lowered fees for Apple for the privilege of being included in Apple’s payments initiative, but managed to put some of the transaction risk to Apple.

If all of this is true, it’s potentially massive. And it may speak to why Apple may have finally greenlit the use of NFC technology in their products, even though they could have presumably done everything they wanted with the already-implemented Bluetooth LE tech.