“Web” Category

Monster Adoption Agency

Little monsters up for adoption.

Great drawings and a neat idea.

August 11th, 2011

No. They Won’t

Richard MacManus thinks Amazon will pull their Kindle app from the App Store within months in favor of their web-based Kindle app:

The bottom line is that while the Kindle Cloud Reader isn’t quite as good as the iPad Kindle app yet, it soon will be. The addition of notes and highlights can’t be that difficult. When Kindle Cloud Reader gets on a par with the iPad app, I’m willing to bet that Amazon will pull the iOS app from the App Store.

This kind of foggy reasoning is what happens when you don’t think things through.

There is no chance—no chance at all—Amazon will pull the Kindle app from the App Store within a year, whether the web app version gains parity or not. What MacManus overlooks is that most users will have no idea they can read their Kindle books in a web app, let alone what a “web app” is or how to get it on their iOS device. For them, “apps” are in the App Store, and that’s it. Safari is for browsing the web, and the App Store is for finding apps.

August 10th, 2011

What Comes After Reading on iPad

Khoi Vinh:

In actuality, the iPad upends our understanding of productivity. It’ll probably always be easier to do ‘professional’ work on a laptop, but professional work is not the only kind of creation that’s possible. You can be highly productive on the iPad if you’re creating something different from spreadsheets and slide decks — the problem is, that something hasn’t been invented yet.

And he’s started a new venture to solve that last part. I can’t wait to see what he’s come up with.

August 10th, 2011

Fast Company Profiles Adam Lisagor

Fast company published a profile of Adam Lisagor:

But his tone is his real strength. “I try to identify that thing in a product that matters most to me,” Lisagor says. “I’ll glom onto that element and try to recreate it in this linear story I’m telling.”

Great little piece.

August 10th, 2011

Facebook Acquires Push Pop Press

Facebook purchased Push Pop Press.

Push Pop Press is Mike Matas’s company, which created Al Gore’s Our Choice ebook. Our Choice is the best digital book I’ve used.

Congratulations to the team—they’ve done great work and deserve it. Nonetheless, though, I’m disappointed. They were doing fantastic work for digital publishing, and while I don’t blame them for accepting the offer, I’m sad that we won’t see what else they could do for reading on digital devices.

August 2nd, 2011


Sean Sperte:

There are some lessons I don’t want to learn the hard way, and the danger of operating a mobile phone while driving is one. That’s the truth I remind myself of every time I’m tempted to send a text message or check my email when I’m in the driver’s seat.

July 25th, 2011

Larry Summers, Truth Teller

Larry Summers, on the Winklevoss twins:

“One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o’clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they’re looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an a**hole. This was the latter case.”


July 21st, 2011

Your Playlists Define You

Spotify’s founder believes we don’t need to own our music:

If Spotify gets what it wants, your records will no longer define you. Your playlists will. To know whether Spotify will make it in America, you need only ask yourself: Do you still need your collection?

Ek, naturally, believes you do not. “Spotify has 13 million songs,” he says. Nod. “By any measurement, that’s huge.” Nod. “The problem is that this doesn’t mean anything to you. You were saying, mmm hmm, like there’s nothing amazing about it, and I agree. … But if I told you that we have your library, with all the songs you love, that you put effort into, your playlists, your honeymoon playlists, your friend’s wedding playlist, or 20, 30 years from now, this is my Sweden playlist from when I visited this wacky Daniel character.

“The promise is this,” he continues. “Once you’ve invested in building that library, that’s value.” It’s also, he believes, what people ultimately are prepared to pay for.

I’ve been using Spotify since yesterday, and my initial impression is that it’s good—songs plays instantly, sound good, and the selection is decently wide-ranging.

But I can’t accept subscribing to my music, rather than owning it. $10 a month (how much it costs to listen to ad-free music from Spotify on your desktop and iPhone) is a significant sum. Sure, you get access to a very complete library of music, but that only lasts as long as you keep paying your monthly fee.

That’s disquieting. What if Spotify folds, loses their licensing deal with a label that owns the rights to my favorite band, or I just decide that I don’t want to shell out another $120 a year for the right to listen to music? Those are all possibilities, and if any of those things occur, the money I’ve already spent is gone and I have nothing to show for it except for the time spent listening to music in the past.

I’m generally okay with that for movies or TV shows, because with few exceptions, once I’ve watched them, I don’t want to watch them a second time. Music, though, is different. I wrote in 2008:

Most things follow the rule that the more consumed of it, the less value it gives—but there is something magical about good music. It is incredible and relevant every time it is listened to, no matter how much it is played. Good music is timeless.

That’s why I don’t buy that collections don’t matter anymore. Perhaps they aren’t what “define” us, but music isn’t as timeless when you don’t own it, when you cease to be able to listen to it the second your subscription ends.

I love Spotify’s convenience. I love that I can check out a new band and listen to their full album. But I can’t give up owning my music for that convenience.

July 18th, 2011

“Netflix Dumps the Floppy Drive”

Matt Drance comments on Netflix separating streaming and DVD renting plans:

The overwhelming majority says Netflix is squeezing customers for money. I say Netflix is dumping the floppy drive.

Dead on.

It isn’t like Netflix has been unfair about this. They offered a plan that gave us access to a huge library of movies and TV shows, and DVD rentals, for $10 a month. Think about the costs involved in building the infrastructure to stream that much video, the licensing fees, and the costs of sending, receiving and processing DVDs. They’re huge. That plan was a bargain.

And now that Netflix’s licensing costs are about to increase dramatically, there’s no way they can afford to offer plans that cheap. They could while studios thought Netflix was a sort of amusing business they could use to make a quick $15 million by giving them temporary rights to their libraries, but now that studios realize Netflix is a new distribution channel that scares cable operators, they’re charging commensurate amounts for their libraries.

Sending discs through the mail isn’t the business Netflix wants to be in. They only continue offering it because their streaming library isn’t good enough yet and a lot of their customers still depend on it. This isn’t about trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of their customers every month. This is about affording their very-real licensing costs and moving their users toward the business Netflix wants to be.

July 14th, 2011

The iPad and Google+

There’s a lot to learn from the iPad and Google+.

Google built and released Google+ because they felt that Facebook, and the social-ification of the web it represents, is a mortal threat to the company’s future. Google+ is a defensive move to try to re-adjust the company to new realities, realities that exist now. They did not decide to make Google a “social” company to strategically position Google and provide it a competitive advantage its competitors cannot match. They built it so they can survive.

Apple built the iPad because they believe we are at a junction between PCs and “post-PCs,” and that they can make their vision for post-PCs reality. The iPad gives Apple a huge strategic advantage over their competitors, because not only is the hardware and software still much better than competing devices, but it means that Apple is defining the new post-PC market. This is offensive; Apple is defining the new market and setting the rules in its favor.

Releasing Google+ is inherently a defensive move. Whereas Apple has completely changed the nature of their business in just five years1—they re-positioned themselves for the next decade—Google is re-thinking their entire business just to survive.

That doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision for Google; it was the right move. But it is instructive for us because it’s precisely the kind of decision you never want to make if you’re running a business. If you need to completely re-think your business just to survive, it means you missed a major shift in the market. It means your perception of your business and its realities are wrong, and you need to fix that as soon as possible.

You should recognize these trends and shifts in the market before they happen, because if you do, you can shift your business to take advantage of them.

You can release an iPad.

And if you can do that, you’re positioning yourself for the future, rather than the past.

  1. Let that sink in for a second: in December 2006, Apple’s primary business was personal computers and portable media players. Five years later, their primary business is mobile computers. That’s a dramatic shift for a company Apple’s size and reflects just how big of a bet they made on post-PCs. []
July 14th, 2011

Mind Your MeTweets

Mike Davidson:

You know how when someone compliments you, the first thing you do is e-mail everyone you know to tell them about the compliment?

No, you probably don’t, because you have the good sense not to do something like that.

Why then do so many people feel no shame in rampantly retweeting compliments they receive on Twitter?

July 14th, 2011

A RIM Employee’s Letter to Management

A high-level employee at RIM apparently wrote an open letter to RIM’s management team where he argues for significant changes. I suggest you read the entire thing, as it’s incredibly astute and insightful, but here’s one excerpt that’s particularly good:

There is a serious need to consolidate our focus to just a handful of projects. Period.

We need to be disciplined here. We can’t afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users. They are the ones making both consumer & enterprise purchase decisions.

Strategy is often in the things you decide not to do.

That’s precisely right. RIM’s problem is they have no strategy. The PlayBook is symptomatic of this—rather than release a complete product, they released a tablet that needed to tether to a Blackberry phone to view email, contacts or calendar, and they had no concerted message for developers. They didn’t have a primary development environment for developers; instead, they opened it to Android applications.

This isn’t what a company that has a plan does. This is what a company that believes it’s on the brink of death does: it flails around in one last convulsion.

RIM needs to concede that it failed to recognize the strategic threat from iOS and Android, and instead of attempting to quickly adopt their current products to the new market realities, they should effectively do what Apple did when Steve Jobs returned. They should think through their new strategy, something aggressive that will set the company up for the next decade, and then bet the entire company on it. Slash the company’s current projects to just a few gems based on the new strategy, take the time to make them great, and then execute on it.

They may still fail following this path. In fact, they probably will, because things have gotten so bad. But here’s what’s absolute: if they continue doing what they are doing, it is almost certain they will fail. So they need to take the chance.

July 1st, 2011

Apture Hotspots

Apture just released Hotspots to connect the web’s information together.

Basically, what it does is make talked about topics clickable on web pages, so you can pull up more information about it without leaving the page. Say, for example, you’re reading about Syria, and the article mentions Hezbollah—but you don’t know much about them. If enough people are highlighting it, or if it’s being discussed across the web, “Hezbollah” would automatically be turned into a link. If you click on it, a little window will pop up that aggregates information from across the web, so you can learn about it without leaving the page.

This has been done before, and it’s often annoying, but what’s really unique about their approach is (1) it dynamically links certain words or phrases depending on what’s relevant at the time, and (2) the pop-up window isn’t annoying. Go and play with it on their blog post. It doesn’t get in your way, it provides actually useful information, and it’s easy to dismiss when you’re done.

The big-picture idea here is to connect the web’s information together into a cohesive whole. Where we should be going is a future where data and information are not just available for us to find on the web, but can instantly be pulled from their sources so we can use them. That way, we won’t have to search for the right information—it will just appear when we need it.

While Hotspots is a relatively small step toward doing that, I’m excited there’s people working on doing it.

June 29th, 2011

MG Siegler’s Overview of Google+

Google just announced their new social service, Google+. Here’s MG Siegler’s overview of the service.

It looks quite nice—I especially love that grouping your contacts is built into it from the very beginning. Whereas Facebook has felt heavy, convoluted and messy for years to me, this looks clean and well-designed. I’d much rather use this than Facebook, my misgivings about social networks aside.

I’m pulling for Google on this one, if only to be a counterweight to Facebook.

June 29th, 2011

Nokia N9

Nokia just announced the Meego-powered N9, and it looks quite nice.

Nonetheless, I don’t understand releasing a phone running Meego when they’re planning on releasing Windows Phone 7 devices. Sounds like they needed a phone out to sell in the interim, but that’s going to hurt in the long-term. Selling two different platforms makes no sense at all.

June 21st, 2011