#tech

Clay Shirky on the death of newspapers:

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.

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.

Kyle Russell:

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.

Everything is just fine at Nintendo. Pay no attention to the weird repackaged half-product releases.

Robin Wauters:

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.

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!

The Stand-Along App

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.

Not a stand-alone app, a stand-along app.

As an aside, in my mind, the oddest thing about Hyperlapse is that it does something that not even its parent does: work natively on the iPad.

(Written on my iPhone)

Christina Bonnington:

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!

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.

I’ll go ahead and renew my call for a VP of Devil’s Advocacy.

[via @counternotions]

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.”