Good, Better, Best, Best Plus

As I noted on Twitter a few days ago, one of the weirdest things about this iPhone upgrade cycle is how hard it is to choose which device to get. I feel like I know exactly which of the “millions” of permutations of the Apple Watch I want (this one). But deciding between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus has been an exercise in agony.

The thing is, this is really the first iPhone cycle that doesn’t have an obvious “winner.” Apple has long taken the “good -> better -> best” approach with the distinctions demarcated by price. But this year is less straightforward.

Yes, the iPhone 6 Plus is the more expensive model. And yes, it bears the “Plus” moniker. But there are trade-offs.

“Plus” doesn’t necessarily mean better here. It means bigger. With its 5.5” screen, by almost all accounts, it’s massive. So large that it will turn away many buyers.

And that includes those of us who would normally default to the more expensive variety of iPhone, assuming it’s the best one money can buy. This is now more subjective than ever before.

Yes, the iPhone 6 Plus has slightly better battery life (thanks to the additional volume) and a slightly better camera (thanks to room for optical image stabilization). But beyond those two features, the device is identical to the iPhone 6. And to many people, that device’s 4.7” screen is actually the plus.

Last year, there was also a choice between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. But Apple made it pretty easy since the 5s had a not insignificant performance edge thanks to its faster chip. Even though I liked the design of the iPhone 5c a bit more, it was still ultimately a no-brainer to go with the iPhone 5s.

Again, this year not so much.

I have ultimately decided to go with the iPhone 6 Plus. My rationale is simply that the two factors I care most about: camera and battery life, are slightly better on the bigger device. But I’m not entirely sold. I have a sneaking suspicion that I may change my mind when I start to use the thing day-to-day.

As for color, I went with Silver. Gold is so 2013.

Update: Yes, because of the different screen sizes, the devices also have different resolutions. And yes, the iPhone 6 Plus screen also has a better PPI — but, oddly, a slightly worse contrast ratio.

(Written on my iPhone)

seth-ze asked:

Hi MG. What's your take on the long lead time for Apple Watch availability? Can't understand Cook's logic here.

I think there are a few factors that could be at play here. Perhaps most likely is that Apple simply did not want the device to leak ahead of time. Had they waited until it was closer to launch, there would have undoubtedly been supply chain leaks out of Asia (and possibly even regulatory filing leaks).

These leaks are obviously now beyond rampant with regard to the iPhone, as we seem to know everything about these devices before Apple announces them. I imagine they care less about leaks in this case simply because the product line isn’t new and they care most about launching the iPhones in a quick and orderly fashion after the announcement. 

Remember that when Apple first unveiled the iPhone in 2007, they did so six months before it was actually available — even more lead time than we’re likely to get here with the Apple Watch. That also ensured the device was at least somewhat of a surprise.

Unlike with the iPhone, Apple will be allowing for third-party applications from day one with the Apple Watch. So this lead time also gives developers some time to think, plan, and build some apps for when the device does launch.

Another idea being thrown around is that Apple had already promised to announce a new product line this year, so while the Apple Watch may not ship until next year, they wanted to get it out there now to keep their word. I’d put a lot less stock in this notion. Would Wall Street be disappointed if Apple didn’t announce a new product this year? Undoubtedly. But if Apple is really in the business of pleasing Wall Street and not their customers, I’d actually believe they’re in trouble.

Also, in the long run, who really cares when Apple announces the new product? The key is that it’s coming, whether the pay off is now or in six months or in a year. The only thing that will ultimately matter is if the thing is any good. And I suspect Apple took their time making sure it was good.

I think the first two ideas are far more likely.

I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.
Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, explaining why he sold his company and why he won’t be involved going forward — which, perhaps, shouldn’t be surprising at all.

As expected, Microsoft has announced the massive $2.5B acquisition. And good for them for saying they’ll continue to support all the platforms the game currently supports, including PlayStation, Android, and iOS (though, notably, Mojang itself seems to do quite a bit more hedging in their statement — saying, basically, everything is always subject to change). 

What I don’t understand is why people think this deal doesn’t make sense. It makes a ton of sense. Microsoft already has a history of doing this type of deal with Bungie amongst others. That deal made the Xbox. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that without Halo, the Xbox would have failed. 

But more importantly, I fully agree with John Lily’s take the other day: this is about access to the next generation of makers (developers, tinkerers, etc). More than once, I’ve been in a random place in a random part of the world and seen a kid glued to their phone playing Minecraft. 

That phone, of course, was not a Windows Phone. And it’s probably too much to hope that now it will be — that battle has long been fought and lost, even if Microsoft won’t admit it yet. But if Microsoft is thinking about this the right way, this should be about more than phones.

I’m just shocked they beat Lego, now the largest toy maker in the world, to this deal.

Nathaniel Popper:

JPMorgan Chase’s chief financial officer, Marianne Lake, took the stage at a financial conference on Tuesday under strict orders not to mention her company’s involvement in Apple’s new payment system.

But when Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, at a news conference in California at the same time, finally brought up Apple Pay, one of Ms. Lake’s deputies in New York took a green apple out of her bag and put it on a table on the stage, signaling that Ms. Lake was free to discuss the service.

Subtle. In other tradecraft:

From the beginning, the project was top secret, with what one person involved called a “code name frenzy.” The card companies had code names for Apple and Apple for the card companies. At Visa, the code name was another consumer electronics company, chosen to avert attention from employees who were not involved. Visa soon had about a thousand people on the team.

Would love to know which other consumer electronics company was served up as the red herring.

All in all, pretty amazing how much pull Apple proved to have over another massive industry. That’s was being the most valuable company in world gets you, I suppose.

Ian Kar:

During in-store transactions, Apple will be passing the cryptogram and token to merchants via NFC, and Apple will be paying a “card present” rate in NFC purchases, Lambert confirmed to Bank Innovation. However, when using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), presumably how the iPhone 5 and 5S will do payments, or when making an in-app purchase using Apple Pay, the transaction fee will be the equivalent to a “card-not-present” rate.

Interesting tidbit. And it again points to why Apple is using NFC here instead of just doing it over Bluetooth LE, which they had already been using for a while.

Mat Honan on the birth (and death) of the iPod:

But that iPod event—the Apple “music” event—changed everything else that would come after, for Apple and the rest of us, too. Because like Steve Jobs said that day, with his dad jeans on, “you can fit your whole music library in your pocket. Never before possible.”

Holy. Shit.

The iPod (the click wheel one) was the first Apple product I ever owned. Before that, I was a PC guy all the way. One may even have called me a Microsoft fanboy — true story.

I bought the iPod solely because I was about to drive by myself across the country to move to California. And I needed a way to play back every single song I um, borrowed via Napster in college. That iPod was a gateway drug for me. RIP.