When you strike at a king, you must kill him

October 23, 2013

...The Game...

Yesterday, October 22, Apple held a special event to announce significant updates in their lineup of software, hardware and services, and unveil what they have lined up for the holiday season.

They have been busy.

Practically everything was upgraded, and some new products were introduced as well. Each announcement deserves praise in its own right, but it’s only by looking at the whole picture that the tremendous scope of yesterday’s event becomes obvious.

I’m sure the new MacBook Pros, the completely redesigned Mac Pro, the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with a Retina Display will all be incredibly popular. This coming holiday quarter is probably going to be the best ever for the company, and that’s saying a lot. But I think these new products distract attention from something else that happened yesterday with the potential to be huge for the company.

Yesterday, Apple decided to kill Microsoft.

I know, it seems strange to think of Microsoft in this context. When Apple ended the famous “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ad campaign, they shifted their focus and moved on, and they practically stopped referencing Microsoft altogether. Instead of promoting Apple products as being better than Microsoft’s, they decided to simply promote them as something else entirely. The original iPad perfectly embodied this change of attitude. It was the beginning of the “Post-PC era” and Microsoft was no longer relevant.

What was different then, during yesterday’s keynote? Well, for all their talk, for the past few years Apple has avoided a direct confrontation with Microsoft. The thing about Microsoft is, they may not be a credible threat in the Post-PC era, but they remain the dominant player in the traditional PC industry. Until now, Apple’s strategy was to end this dominance with their Post-PC devices: the iPhone, and specially the iPad, have become mature enough to serve as a primary computer for many, many people. Apple has been playing to their strengths, trying to cannibalize the PC industry, and the results have been remarkable.

On the other hand, Microsoft is struggling to gain momentum in the Post-PC world. They are still holding on to their two main businesses to maintain profitability: Windows and Office. Even though they’re not growing anymore, the enterprise market and the traditional consumer PC market are still huge. This is where Microsoft rules as undisputed king (at least in terms of market share). Yesterday, Apple decided to attack them on their home turf.

Think about it for a moment: iLife and iWork are now free with every new Mac and iOS device. OS X is now free, not only for every new Mac, but also retroactively for every Mac that supports it, going back as far as 2007. Apple just commoditized Microsoft’s two main businesses, and they’re not even breaking a sweat.

At a consumer level, this move gives people another great reason to buy a Mac instead of a PC. If you factor in the cost of the Windows and Office licenses (including future versions), the price difference between similarly specced Macs and PCs is going to be significantly reduced. Not to mention all of the great features that are Mac-only, like the Retina Display or the great battery life under OS X. The Mac has been a better computer for years, but now, it may even be cheaper in some cases.

For the enterprise and for small businesses, the implications are equally huge. Free OS updates across the board means everyone gets to be on the latest version, which should make life a lot easier for IT departments, and the ease of use and installation should greatly reduce support needs. This is going to be a big factor whenever a company plans to invest in new computers for its employees, because the potential for saving money down the road is huge. Free productivity software that works across all devices (desktop, laptop and mobile) with 100% compatibility is the holy grail in the enterprise world. Soon, people could be sending Pages documents instead of Word files, simply because it will be the file format that you are 100% sure you can read and edit on all your devices.

Of course, this has been years in the making for Apple. Like a great chess player, they have been laying the groundwork for a long time, they’re now simply revealing their big move to the enemy. By building an impressive ecosystem and tying everything together in a way that only Apple can, they have put themselves in a great position to take down the Windows empire once and for all. The fact that they make their profit from selling hardware means they can afford to give the software away for free, which leaves Microsoft with no possible answer. Well, other than to start making their own PC hardware on a massive scale, of course. Good luck with that.

It’s obviously too soon to tell if this means checkmate in the long run, but Apple certainly shot to kill yesterday: If I were working at Microsoft, I would be scared shitless right now.

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1st Fully Bionic Man Walks, Talks and Breathes. Or, Skynet is here and we're all pretty much fucked | LiveScience →

October 22, 2013 |

1st fully bionic man

He walks, he talks and he has a beating heart, but hes not human — he’s the worlds first fully bionic man. Like Frankenstein’s monster, cobbled together from a hodgepodge of body parts, the bionic man is an amalgam of the most advanced human prostheses — from robotic limbs to artificial organs to a blood-pumping circulatory system.

See? I told you. I fucking told you. Skynet is here. Now what do we do?

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GoDaddy acquires (mt) Media Temple →

October 15, 2013 |

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — October 15, 2013 — GoDaddy, the Web’s largest platform for small businesses, has acquired mt Media Temple, a Los Angeles-based Web hosting and cloud services company focused on the creative class of digital designers, developers, entrepreneurs and innovators. The two companies will continue to operate independently. The strategic acquisition provides GoDaddy with direct access to Media Temple’s hosting gurus, who will share knowledge and insight on how GoDaddy can better serve Web professionals and developers. GoDaddy provides scale and investment for mt to accelerate its growth and further expand internationally.

That’s unexpected. I don’t know why, but I have a weird feeling about this. Whenever a big acquisition like this happens, the buying company always has nothing but the best intentions for the other one, but things can change very quickly once a few months go by.

Maybe I’m being over critical of this whole thing. Perhaps the most appropriate reaction would be to congratulate the folks at Media Temple for a job well done. This could certainly end up being amazing for them in the long run. However, to be honest, as a customer I don’t like the fact that Media Temple is no longer an independent company.

Analog Senses is hosted by Media Temple. My personal site (in Spanish) is, too. I hope things don’t change much, but I’ll have to think about a backup strategy, just in case things don’t go entirely according to plan.

We’ll see.

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Dear Mr. Watterson: an exploration of Calvin and Hobbes →

October 15, 2013 |

Amazing new documentary about one of the greatest comic strips ever made: Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. Available in theaters and as a digital download on iTunes on November 15. Here’s the trailer:

Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite comic strip of all times. Hands down. No other strip comes even close, and there are a few great ones. But Calvin is special. Like they say in the trailer:

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like Calvin and Hobbes. I can’t say that about any other strip.

Exactly. Calvin and Hobbes is pure genius, art and craftsmanship at their very best. Bill Watterson is one of my heroes, and I can’t wait to see this film. As an added bonus, he was born on July 5, just like me. To be honest, I can’t think of better company to share a birthday with.

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Quote of the Day →

October 11, 2013 |

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body

Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD), Roman dramatist, philosopher and politician.

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Scams Against Publishers →

October 11, 2013 |

Marco Arment:

Josh’s position seems to be that for most publishers, permitting a news aggregator to reproduce their full-text feed is like a large-scale version of those “offers”. I’m inclined to believe him: navigationally and conceptually, people who browse in Flipboard are browsing Flipboard, not browsing the individual target sites within it. If you aren’t profiting directly from that browsing such as with sponsored links right in the feed or articles, I don’t see how you’ll ever see much of an upside.

Most news aggregators are explicitly designed to take advantage of other people’s work. Moreover, they even have the nerve to spin it as if they’re doing the authors a favor. I, for one, would rather keep my tiny audience and work it up on my own merits, instead of being routinely exploited by one of those services.

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Sherlocking Myself Just Fine Over Here →

October 10, 2013 |

Marco Arment shares his thoughts on whether it makes sense for iOS developers to target well-established, popular markets in the App Store:

Whether you should enter a crowded market is complex, and it deserves a much more nuanced answer than simply, “No.” Yes, there are a lot of to-do apps. But Justin’s representative for this category, Clear, was released just a year and a half ago, and there were a lot of to-do apps then, too.
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Design Quality and Customer Delight as Sustainable Advantages →

October 10, 2013 |

John Gruber takes on the 3 most popular arguments of the “Apple-Is-Doomed” discussion. A great read:

I agree with Blodget in one regard: the Mac, and its decades-long competition against Windows and the commodity PC industry, serves as a useful example. But I disagree what the Mac proves.

John is killing it lately.

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Understanding Apple: John Gruber's review of the iPhone 3G revisited 5 years later

October 07, 2013

As a company, Apple gets more attention from the press that any other tech company in the planet. And as a very polarizing company, much of this attention translates into extremely harsh criticism, but also into unconditional, unreserved praise. This has been true for almost the entirety of Apple’s history, but with its meteoric rise in the past decade, the effect has magnified tremendously.

The thing is, it’s pretty easy to write a sensational piece about Apple. Virtually any event even remotely linked to the company can be grounds for an article, no matter whether it’s actually true or not. We’ve seen it time and time again and frankly, it’s tiresome. However, not all pundits are created equal, and time puts each and every one of them it their place. Like they say, the Internet never forgets. A couple of quick searches and you can find out just how full of bullshit our beloved “industry analysts” really are.

Fortunately, among the boatloads of stupidity and nonsense that get written about Apple every day, some professionals manage to stay true and keep their focus sharp. People like John Gruber, who is routinely disqualified as a “fanboy”, but who has a nearly spotless track-record when it comes to Apple. Of course, that is not to say he’s always right (“there’s no such thing as psychics”), but rather that he seems to understand Apple’s intentions and strategy at any given time better than anyone.

Case in point: I was recently browsing through the archives of Daring Fireball (which is a great way to kill off a couple hours of your time, by the way), when I ran into John’s review of the 2008 iPhone 3G.

This is a remarkable article, not for what it says about the iPhone 3G itself (there’s nothing particularly surprising there), but because it shows just how well John understands Apple as a company. 5 years after he wrote it (an eternity in this industry), many of his thoughts remain not only valid, but impressively spot-on. The article opens like this:

Let’s just say it up front: the iPhone is the greatest piece of consumer electronics that has ever been made.

Now, that’s how you start a review: no-bullshit, clear and to the point. John has never been one to sugar-coat his opinion, and I think we could all use a bit more of this attitude today. Besides, I have to agree, the iPhone is clearly the rock star of consumer electronics’ history. Not even the iPad has been this revolutionary, though it’s a close call between the two.

John goes on to describe the impact that the iPhone has had in the world. Even though this is well known and almost universally accepted today, back in 2008 it was still a very controversial topic of discussion. During his exposition, John comes up with a very interesting thought:

Everything Apple as a company has ever stood for, good and bad, was to get to the point where they could make this. It’s a computer you can take with you everywhere, so small you wouldn’t really even want it much smaller, even if it were possible.

This is absolutely true. The iPhone is a device that embodies all of Apple’s core values like no other device has ever done, not even the original Macintosh. Regarding size, John’s comment is also accurate, as we’re clearly seeing now with the recent trend towards bigger screens. Even Apple eventually had to adjust its strategy and offer a bigger screen iPhone. But there’s more:

In another five years, one of today’s iPhones will be no more than a sentimental curiosity, painfully slow both in terms of networking and computation. The iPhone has significant and obvious shortcomings. But it is an order of magnitude better than anything that came before it.

Right again. And if you don’t believe me, try using an iPhone 3G today, in 2013. To me, this shows that John clearly gets Apple’s vision. He sees right through the marketing parlance and into the reality of a company we all feel very passionate about. His great gift is that he’s able to articulate that remarkable insight of his into clear and precise words for our benefit.

Perhaps the greatest example of this can be found at the end of the article. Here John perfectly captures the essence of Apple in just a few words:

_“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”_ — ANDY WARHOL So too with the iPhone. A billionaire can buy homes, cars, clothes that the rest of us cannot afford. But he cannot buy a better phone, at any price, than the iPhone that you can have in your pocket today.

That right there is what so many people don’t seem to understand about Apple. They’re not about creating luxury devices that only rich people can afford. Any such criticism of Apple misses the point completely.

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Jack Ryan author Tom Clancy dies →

October 02, 2013 |

BBC News:

Best-selling US author Tom Clancy known for Jack Ryan novels has died aged 66, his publishers say.

One of the great writers of our generation. He will be missed.

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