#tech

Love him or hate him, one thing is clear: when it comes to Apple, Carl Icahn — or whomever wrote this for him — knows their shit when it comes to Apple.

Half of the stuff you read about Apple on the internet from banker-types makes it clear that they’re not really paying attention. Again, agree or disagree with Icahn’s stance on Apple, you cannot deny that this is well-researched. 

I’ve linked to this article a few times already. But I’m going to again because there’s so much good stuff in here, particularly about Steve Ballmer.

Bethany McLean:

But Ballmer is willing to acknowledge his mistakes. “I probably under-shifted to one or two things, and I feel bad about that. I don’t feel bad about social networking. Good for Facebook, great, but I don’t feel bad [that we missed it]. I feel a little differently about search, and a little differently about phones. We should have done better. I feel worse about phones than I do about search.”

Such a fascinating statement for a few reasons.

First, while Microsoft did miss social, they did invest $240 million in Facebook in 2007 — a move which many thought was insane at the time, but ended up being one of the more brilliant moves of Ballmer’s tenure. That investment valued Facebook at $15 billion. Facebook is currently a public company valued at $200 billion. 

Second, while they may have failed in search and phones, it sure wasn’t for a lack of trying. They spent tens of billions of dollars on these things and still whiffed. Why? They were simply too late to both. Neither Bing nor Windows Phone are inherently bad products, they’re just late products.

So when Ballmer says Microsoft “under-shifted,” it sounds like he’s saying they didn’t put enough effort into these things. Really, they just picked the wrong gear

Tom Simonite on recent moves in the race to quantum computing:

It’s as if qubit technology is in a superposition between changing the world and decohering into nothing more than a series of obscure research papers. That’s the kind of imponderable that people working on quantum technology have to handle every day. But with a payoff so big, who can blame them for taking a whack at it?

So who is taking the latest whack?:

It would be more than just awkward if Willett beat Microsoft to proving that the idea it has championed can work. For Microsoft to open up a practical route to quantum computing would be surprising. For the withered Bell Labs, owned by a company not even in the computing business, it would be astounding.

It’s 2014 and it’s Microsoft and Bell Labs leading the way towards quantum computing. Crazy.

Bill Gates on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

I agree that taxation should shift away from taxing labor. It doesn’t make any sense that labor in the United States is taxed so heavily relative to capital. It will make even less sense in the coming years, as robots and other forms of automation come to perform more and more of the skills that human laborers do today.

Interesting point.

Bob Lefsetz on the latest artist payments debate:

Your enemy is obscurity. Any way to reach people is to be applauded. Nowhere is it written that recorded music should generate as much revenue as it did in the past, nowhere is it written that you should be able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making an album, nowhere is it written that you’re entitled to make music at all!

It’s an interesting perspective you don’t hear mentioned a lot. Artists feel entitled to be paid well because they have been (relatively speaking) for the past 50 years or so. But what if that was just a brief bump in the grand scheme of things? An anomaly of new technology and business models which have now been made obsolete? 

It’s always a mistake to believe you’re entitled to something just because you’ve gotten it before. That’s the true core of what leads to disruption. And lo! That’s what has happened here yet again.

Not a popular argument, for sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO. So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States. We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.

Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO, in a press release today released during the Time Warner investor meeting.

Yesssssssssssssss. Finally.