Apple Watch 1.0

Ever since Slice Intelligence posted their report claiming Apple Watch sales plunged 90% since launch week, doubters in the tech news have been on a feeding frenzy. They’re giddy over the possibility of the Apple Watch being a flop.

Apple isn’t immune to having products that flop, but it’s important to look at the Apple Watch launch in the context of the iPod and iPhone launches. Even conservative estimates put Apple Watch sales at around 2 million units. The original iPhone’s sold 1 million units opening weekend.

One of my favorite blog posts on the topic of Apple products is from Matt Mullenweg (creator of WordPress).

It’s titled, 1.0 is the Loneliest Number:

Many entrepreneurs idolize Steve Jobs. He’s such a perfectionist, they say. Nothing leaves the doors of 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino without a polish and finish that makes geeks everywhere drool. No compromise!

I like Apple for the opposite reason: they’re not afraid of getting a rudimentary 1.0 out into the world.

I remember my first 1G iPhone. Like a meal you have to wait for, or a line outside a club, the fact that I stood in line for hours made the first time I swiped to unlock the phone that much sweeter. It felt like I was on Star Trek and this was my magical tricorder… a tricorder that constantly dropped calls on AT&T’s network, had a headphone adapter that didn’t fit any of the hundreds of dollars of headphones I owned, ran no applications, had no copy and paste, and was as slow as molasses.

This is where we’re at with Apple Watch. It has a long way to go before it matures into a strong product, but as John Gruber pointed our back in 2010, this is how Apple rolls:

This is how the designers and engineers at Apple roll: They roll. They take something small, simple, and painstakingly well considered. They ruthlessly cut features to derive the absolute minimum core product they can start with. They polish those features to a shiny intensity. At an anticipated media event, Apple reveals this core product as its Next Big Thing, and explains—no, wait, it simply shows—how painstakingly thoughtful and well designed this core product is. The company releases the product for sale.

Then everyone goes back to Cupertino and rolls. As in, they start with a few tightly packed snowballs and then roll them in more snow to pick up mass until they’ve got a snowman. That’s how Apple builds its platforms. It’s a slow and steady process of continuous iterative improvement—so slow, in fact, that the process is easy to overlook if you’re observing it in real time. Only in hindsight is it obvious just how remarkable Apple’s platform development process is.

It the Apple Watch cool? Hell yeah. Does it feel underpowered? Hell yeah. Does it have a lot of potential? Hell yeah.

Think before you speak. Don’t be short-sighted and reactionary.

Give the Apple Watch some time and let’s see where it goes.



Affordability in San Francisco

Gabriel Metcalf on San Francisco’s serious lack of affordability:

But for cities like San Francisco that now have 35 years of growth behind them, the urban problems of today are utterly different from what they were a generation or two ago. Instead of disinvestment, blight and stagnation, we are dealing with the problems of rapid change and the stresses of growth: congestion and, most especially, high housing costs.

When more people want to live in a city, it drives up the cost of housing—unless a commensurate amount of places to live are added. By the early 1990s it was clear that San Francisco had a fateful choice to make: Reverse course on its development attitudes, or watch America’s rekindled desire for city life overwhelm the openness and diversity that had made the city so special.

When San Francisco should have been building at least 5,000 new housing units a year to deal with the growing demand to live here, it instead averaged only about 1,500 a year over the course of several decades. In a world where we have the ability to control the supply of housing locally, but people still have the freedom to move where they want, all of this has played out in predictable ways.

Things have to change. San Francisco is a port city. Prime real estate. Barring an earthquake that swallows the city (actually likely) people are not moving out.

Those 140 Characters Are Mine

Tweets are copyrightable:

Let’s face it: coming up with a grade-A tweet isn’t easy. That’s why some people just copy good tweets from other people and act like they came up with the 140-character witticism on their own. This has been going on since the beginning of Twitter.

It now appears Twitter is using its legal authority to crack down on these tweet-stealers. A number of tweets have been deleted on copyright grounds for apparently stealing a bad joke.

Don’t steal. Remix.



The End of Capitalism

Over at The Guardian, Paul Mason talks about the end of capitalism and what comes after it:

Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all.

Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant. The system’s defence mechanism is to form monopolies – the giant tech companies – on a scale not seen in the past 200 years, yet they cannot last. By building business models and share valuations based on the capture and privatisation of all socially produced information, such firms are constructing a fragile corporate edifice at odds with the most basic need of humanity, which is to use ideas freely.

Third, we’re seeing the spontaneous rise of collaborative production: goods, services and organisations are appearing that no longer respond to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy. The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free, abolishing the encyclopedia business and depriving the advertising industry of an estimated $3bn a year in revenue.

Quite a long, but interesting read.




Elias IsQuith on the whole Uber-vs-DeBlasio thing:

When it comes to American politics, “progress” has no set definition. But it is usually associated with figures who in another era would’ve been called “liberal.” Progressives are almost always supportive of LGBT rights, feminism and the sexual revolution; and that’s forward-thinking in its way. But when de Blasio (or most anyone else) calls himself a progressive, he isn’t claiming to be a man of the future. He’s merely signaling to voters that his ideal government is hands-off on sexuality but supportive of the welfare state.

It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out, but there’s nothing about that version of progress that requires de Blasio be nice to Uber. The kind of progress that Uber represents (which is technological, not social or political) has nothing to say about civil rights or redistribution. It doesn’t have a point of view; it just is. But because we use the same word for two different concepts, many of us assume — often unconsciously — that political and technological progress always walk hand-in-hand.

As IsQuith says, being technically progressive and politically progressive are not the same thing.




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Always Backup Your Files

Things didn’t go well for Jim Dalrymple with Apple Music:

I love Apple. I love them because they take difficult problems and come up with innovative, simple solutions. The things they make just work and we trust them. Unfortunately, my experience with Apple Music has been exactly the opposite. As of today, I’m missing about 4,700 songs from my library with little hope of getting them back.

I had high hopes for Apple Music. I really wanted it to work and become my default music streaming service, but after the problems I’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks, I’m disabling it altogether.

This sucks.

When I first started using Apple Music a few weeks ago I enabled “iCloud Music Library” when iTunes first asked me. Then I noticed duplicate tracks for some of my albums. Then I started reading horror stories of other people experiencing the same thing. THEN I turned iCloud Music Library the fuck OFF.

Luckily for me it had only messed up around 100 tracks and I was able to fixed most of the errors by restoring my previous iTunes Library file (iTunes Library.itl).

I also have backups of my music.

I feel bad for Jim, but he should have had backups of his music too.


Human Experience

Every Child is a Designer

Dean Vipond had to explain what graphic design is to a bunch of 4-year-olds:

I was surprised by two things: how readily most of the kids understood what design was for, and how they can express things through it; and also, for someone who specialises in explaining things to a target audience, how it took me doing a talk to children, to force me to confront my own profession, and explain its value in clear terms.

A week later, I was delighted to be sent a pile of work from a lesson the teacher had set, around the themes we touched on. Many of the kids really got it.

This brings to mind a quote from Picasso:

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.



The Awl

At the Verge, Josh Dzieza reports on an interesting little media site, The Awl:

Soon cities will be stratified into classes of on-demand laborers, Herrman says, “app playgrounds” zoned by service radii. It’s going to get more interesting when you replace those people with robots, Buchanan says, adding that everyone will be eating soylent while the rich eat solid foods in surge-priced restaurants. “I can’t wait for the progressively priced food market,” Herrman says, with genuine enthusiasm, “that’s going to be great.” Struggling to keep a straight face, Buchanan describes college lectures with professors delivering sponsored native ads indistinguishable from the course — environmental science brought to you by Exxon. “In-app purchases for college! College premium! I can’t wait!” Herrman says. “The future is going to be amazing,” Buchanan says, dryly. “I’m so glad I’ll be dead.”

I’ve known about The Awl for a while now, but I can’t say I’ve read it lately. I might have to change that.



Adobe Flash = Bad Grandpa

Facebook’s new chief security officer wants to set a date to kill Flash:

Alex Stamos, the recently appointed chief security officer at Facebook, has called on software company Adobe to announce an “end-of-life date for Flash.” In a pair of tweets sent over the weekend, Stamos echoed a number of recent complaints from the security community that the software has become the vector for just too many hacking vulnerabilities.

Adobe Flash has become the grandpa you cant leave home alone. It’s best days are behind it (as far as the Web is concerned) and it’s just too much of a liability.

“Holy shit, Grandpa tried to make tea, but he burnt down the house!!!”

I’ll remember the good days, though, Flash. Flash was one of the primary applications I had open every day from 2000 until around 2008. It gave us designers the ability to use any typeface we wanted on websites, create video backgrounds, and make truly immersive experiences—like the ones you can do today in HTML/CSS/JS.

Once the iPhone came out, though, its days were numbered. Flash was never designed to run (efficiently) on a mobile phone.

It’s time to retire, Flash. You’re done.


Web Design


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Samsung brings forward its Galaxy Note release to August to gain some ground against rival Apple:

In a break with recent tradition, Samsung Electronics Co. will move up the autumn launch of its oversize smartphone lineup by several weeks to mid-August, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The South Korean company’s move is part of a bid to give its Galaxy Note smartphone-tablet hybrids some breathing room before mid-September, when Apple Inc. typically unveils its refreshed iPhone—a product whose popularity has the potential to monopolize media and consumer attention for weeks.