This Is the End

Over at the New York Times, Logan Hill on last Sunday’s episode of Mad Men:

“That’s what the money is for” has got to be the “Mad Men” line I think of most often (especially on bad work days as a freelancer). And it’s the line I thought about at the end of the episode, as Don tried to rally the troops and everyone ignored his half-hearted speech about how this is “the beginning of something” and “not the end.” That beautifully shot scene, with the roar of the office drowning out the now-irrelevant executives — the five of them lined up, off-center, with Roger in a royal-blue double-breasted jacket, looking like an extra in basically any Wes Anderson movie — was a reminder that their employees’ fear and devotion didn’t derive from their genius. It came from the fact that they were signing their employees’ checks. That authority? That was what the money was for. They sold it.

This isn’t a beginning. This is the end.

We’ve known this for a while. The show is not going to end on a high note. The ‘good old days’ are over. I just wish the show would stop meandering into dozens of subplots. Add to that the fact that the action-packed episodes of Mad Men have been getting fewer and farther between. I’m tired of watching Don nap on his office couch.

Desire, Not Necessity

It needs to justify its existence no more than any other watch — mechanical or electronic — ever made. Of course you don’t need it. No one, not one person on the face of the earth, needs any $400 watch, Apple Watch or otherwise.

The right question is simply “Do you want one?”

It’s about desire, not necessity. Convenience, fun, and style are not needs. They’re wants. And people will gladly pay for what they want. The iPad faced similar misguided criticism. How many times did you hear or read someone say of the iPad, “Why would anyone who already has a phone and a laptop need an iPad?” That was the wrong question, because almost no one needed an iPad. The right question was “Why would someone who has a phone and laptop also want an iPad?”

John Gruber

The emotional and style aspects of the Apple Watch are the things many tech nerds and engineers just don’t get.

Product Adoption

Note that few say, “The device I have doesn’t have the right features.” That’s because features don’t create problems that we can solve by embracing a new idea or technology. Our stories do. A missing feature might provide some of the narrative of our internal story, but most of all, the story is built around the behavior of those around us.

If you want a population to adopt your innovation, you have to create a problem that is solved by adoption. And that problem is almost always related to, “what about the others?”

Seth Godin, making sense as usual

This Should Go Fine

At, Brad Reed on Microsoft’s plans to let you port iOS and Android apps to Windows:

Microsoft is raising the white flag when it comes to developing its own mobile app ecosystem — instead, it’s going to let developers easily bring their iOS and Android apps over to Windows 10 without having to completely rebuild them from the ground up as they’ve had to do in the past. Essentially, Microsoft is letting developers reuse most of the same code that they used to write their apps for rival platforms and is giving them tools to help them optimize these apps for Windows.

Wow! Sounds tremendous. I’m sure there won’t be any redesigning needed. I mean, it’s not like Apple or Google have their own design guidelines, like this and this.

I’m also sure performance will be lickity-split. No lag or recoding needed.

Microsoft: Still In a Red Ocean

At Re/code, Ina Fried on Microsoft’s Build Conference this week:

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella takes the stage on Wednesday at Microsoft Build, the most important event of the year for the once mighty software maker, it represents something of a last best chance to win over mobile developers.

For all its power in the PC era, Microsoft has struggled to convince developers to create apps for its Windows Phone system, which has badly lagged rivals Google and Apple. Failing to win support at its annual developers conference this week could be fatal to its phone business.

I don’t see this week’s Build Conference shifting the tide for Microsoft.

They’re hovering at under 4% marketshare in the mobile OS space.

As I wrote back in 2011, a big part of Microsoft’s problem is that they’re in a red ocean, from Wikipedia:

Red Oceans are all the industries in existence today–the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced.

My wife just picked up a cheap Windows Phone as her secondary phone for her jewelry business (it was only $29!) and I have to say, Windows Phone is a great feeling operating system, but it’s just not enough.

Tripping a Debt Convenant

Wait, I’m not done with financial euphamisms, this one is regarding Ouya:

Gaming company OUYA is on the auction block after tripping a debt covenant, according to a confidential email sent out earlier this month from CEO Julie Uhrman to company investors and advisors.

Investment bank Mesa Global — which recently managed the sale of music service Songza to Google — has been hired to manage the process. No word yet on asking price.

“Tripped a debt convanent”? What the fuck?

So Ouya raised money, pissed it away and now the company that originally raised $8 million on Kickstarter and was heralded by some as an open source savior of the gaming world is done-zo.

Nice work, guys.

Financial Euphamisms

At TechCrunch, Alex Wilhelm on Microsoft’s quarterly 10-Q document:

Microsoft made waves recently by disclosing in its quarterly 10-Q document that its Phone business, which generates billions in yearly revenue, isn’t performing as well as it expected. As Microsoft is carrying billions of dollars of goodwill related to the Nokia purchase on its books, the warning landed like a brick in a puddle of lukewarm slop.

What the hell is goodwill?

Good question. According to Investopedia, goodwill is “[a]n intangible asset that arises as a result of the acquisition of one company by another for a premium value.” Or, put more simply, it’s the value you doodle onto your balance sheet after you buy something and can’t count every dollar you paid for as resulting in material assets.

I guess when you reach the point when you’re working with billions of dollars (be it real or made up) you view as Monopoly money.

There are some real cocksuckers in the financial world.

Things Connect Things

We don’t have to pour molten hot lead into copper matrices to make letters. We don’t have to typeset one page at a time, and we don’t have to make paper to print it all on. When an idea is ready to be published, we don’t even have to ship physical copies of that idea.

Once our brains put an idea into a computer, that idea can be on another computer in an instant. The bottleneck in this network of brains, then, is between the brain and the computer.

This is where design comes in. The clear presentation of the subtext of information (this is more important than that; that is related to this) through shapes, lines, colors, and spaces between pieces of information, strengthens the connection between brain and computer where language isn’t enough.

—David Kadavy, Design Connects Brains