Planet of the Apps

Apple has a new reality TV series called Planet of the Apps launching this year (no release date yet).

This show looks super cheesy and it seems like they’re trying way too hard to be cool having celebrity judges like Gwyneth Paltrow and Will.i.am (let us not forget the crappy smartwatch Will.i.am announced in 2014). It feels like they smashed Shark Tank together with The Voice and tweaked to make it more Silicon Valley-ish. And the name: Planet of the Apps? Oof.

As designer who has designed mobile apps, this show does not appeal to me at all. My opinion might be in the minority, but I’d much rather see designers and developers pitching and collaborating with venture capitalists and mentors on mobile app ideas without all the glitz and glamour.

Apple’s products are all about paring something down to it’s essence. Why couldn’t this philosophy be applied to their original content?

The whole thing feels very un-Apple.

via 9to5Mac

Figure Out the Money, Twitter

Twitter Struggles to Capitalize on Influence and Posts Lackluster Earnings:

Sports fans were glued to it during the Super Bowl. Millions used it to track American election night results. In the morning, the president of the United States sends a daily missive in the form of a tweetstorm.

“You don’t go a day without hearing about Twitter,” Jack Dorsey, the company’s chief executive, said on a conference call with investors Thursday morning.

There is just one problem: For all of its influence, Twitter cannot seem to capitalize on its wide reach.

The company reported disappointing earnings on Thursday, with sales totaling $717 million in the fourth quarter, up only about 1 percent compared with a year ago. That fell far short of analysts’ expectations of $740 million. Twitter lost roughly $167 million over that period, or 23 cents per share, from a loss of about $90 million in the quarter last year.

I don’t understand this.

I value Twitter as communications tool. Twitter has been my go-to app to check on breaking news for years now. In the rare times I turn on network news, I’m guaranteed to see them quoting something someone said on Twitter (these days it’s usually something our Shithead in Chief is whining about).

Jimmy Fallon uses it all time in bits on his show and I think he’s the only person still using hashtags. Jimmy Kimmel has also been using it for years in his hilarious Mean Tweets segment.

Twitter is firmly planted in popular culture.

Figure it out, Twitter. Businesses in much worse positions than you have.

Everything That Is Wrong With Brooklyn

Where To Get The Finest $18 Cup Of Coffee In Brooklyn:

Lest you thought a $10 licorice latte was Peak Brooklyn, the world’s most influential borough will soon boast an $18 cup of coffee.

This costly caffeinated drink comes courtesy of Alpha Dominche, a Utah-based manufacturer of high-end coffee and tea brewing machines. Last Friday, the company opened an Extraction Lab at Industry City in Sunset Park, where on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can watch baristas operate the extra-fancy machines—which cost $13,900 for two—and sample coffees from across the world.

I understand being into your craft and taking it seriously, but there’s a big difference between artistic craft and just being straight up pretentious.

The ‘Extraction Lab’? Please.

via The Weekend Update on SNL

“expanding” as a euphemism for “outsourcing”

Zenefits Is Laying Off Almost Half Its Employees:

Zenefits will lay off 45% of its employees in an effort to slash costs, according to an internal memo this morning that was obtained by BuzzFeed News, a stark acknowledgment by the embattled human resources startup that its onetime expectations for growth were vastly inflated.

Roughly 430 workers will be cut, including 250 in Zenefits’ San Francisco headquarters and 150 in its office in Tempe, Arizona, leaving the company with about 500 employees, according to the memo and a person briefed on the matter. That’s about a third of the size it was a year ago, when it ousted its founding CEO, Parker Conrad, over revelations that it flouted state regulations for selling health insurance.

Ouch.

Towards the end we get more specifics:

Fulcher said in the memo that Zenefits would consolidate its operations group in its Arizona office, while expanding its product and engineering groups in Vancouver and Bangalore to supplement its San Francisco team.

Outsourcing has become commonplace in many U.S. industries, particularly in technology where countries like India have a much larger, better trained, and most importantly, cheaper workforce.

It will be interesting to see how Trump responds after he praised Intel for their plans to build factory in Arizona. He convinced the company Carrier to keep 1,000 jobs in the U.S. by giving them $7 million in tax breaks, but this sort of approach addresses the symptoms of the outsourcing problem, not the causes.

A few of the causes include valuing profit over people, and having an education system that doesn’t always properly equip kids with the skills they’ll need to be relevant in the workforce.

I’m sure Betsy DeVos has insightful solutions to these problems.

The year backbones vanished

Kellyanne Conway Promotes Ivanka Trump Brand, Raising Ethics Concerns:

Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump’s top advisers, may have violated federal ethics rules on Thursday by urging people to buy fashion products marketed by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, legal experts said.

“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,” Ms. Conway, whose title is counselor to the president, said in an interview with Fox News. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today everybody, you can find it online.”

‘May have’ violated federal ethics rules?

No, she did violate federal ethics rules.

Backbones are vanishing in 2017.

“I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.”

Leaks Suggest Trump’s Own Team Is Alarmed By His Conduct:

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s volatile behavior has created an environment ripe for leaks from his executive agencies and even within his White House. And while leaks typically involve staffers sabotaging each other to improve their own standing or trying to scuttle policy ideas they find genuinely problematic, Trump’s 2-week-old administration has a third category: leaks from White House and agency officials alarmed by the president’s conduct.

“I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council. “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.”

America: a country where truly anyone — even someone mentally unstable — can become president.

“I have a girlfriend, but she lives on the other side of the country.”

Francisco G Delgadillo, Executive Creative Director of Brand at Oracle, on the people who do work for Apple, but can’t share it:

“How dare I suggest he remove from his pitch one of the most valued brands in the world, one of the most beloved brands by the creative community?”, I thought to myself. But I went on to tell the creative director that without any meaningful details, his “we do work for Apple, but we can’t show you”—and customary companion Apple-logo slide—was an irrelevant reference and could potentially have a negative impact on my assessment of his presentation.

I’ve talked to designers over the years who’ve done work for Apple, so I’m very familiar with their strict confidentiality agreements. Hell, what doesn’t Apple try maintain secrecy about?

I think it sucks people can’t share the work they did for Apple, but I guarantee every one of them knew exactly what they were getting into before they agreed to work with Apple.

If you or your agency was great enough for Apple to pick, then your portfolio is already rock-solid. Stop crying you can’t add the the Apple logo to your client logo page on your website. You come across like the kid in school who brags about having a girlfriend he met over the summer, but she lives far away, but trust him, she exists.

Vizio is shady.

Vizio settles FTC lawsuit and agrees to get viewer consent before tracking TV habits:

Vizio will pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it collected customers’ TV-watching habits without their permission.

The lawsuit was filed by the Federal Trade Commission and the state of New Jersey. It alleged that, in 2014, Vizio began using software built into over 11 million smart TVs to capture “highly-specific, second-by-second information about television viewing.” Vizio was then said to have worked with another company to associate demographic information with each household, so that viewing habits could be paired with information like a viewer’s “sex, age, income, marital status,” and more.

I’m happy I’ve never purchased a Vizio product.

I like this detail:

In addition to the $2.2 million in payments, Vizio will now have to obtain clear consent from viewers before collecting and sharing data on their viewing habits. It’ll also have to delete all data gathered by these methods before March 1st, 2016.

Imagine that! Getting consent before collecting and selling peoples’ information.

What a novel idea.