logo

Apple, iTunes Match, and Piracy

standard post
Shlok Vaidya  -  
0 Comments   

System-wide versioning in Lion was announced today. That’s awesome. I’ve been wanting that in every application I’ve used (in particular working on my book). To have it across all of them is just flat out cool. And the resume feature really reinforces the truth that Macs just get the hell out of the way and let you get stuff done.

iCloud is kinda interesting for an individual. It’s amazing across a group though – small enterprise, but more practically, a geographically distributed family. Photostream would be great for grandparents who just want a steady, well, stream of their growing grandkids. Shared documents, calendars, etc.

Sidenote: It was a very lame move on Jobs’ part to embed Twitter (who the hell needs that?) but steamroll over a small business like Instapaper with its ‘read it later’ feature.

Anyway, today was as much about anti-piracy measures as anything else.

  • Lion is only available via the Mac App store. No more serial-number-less CDs.
  • iTunes Match. Apple will scan your hard drive (charging you $25 to do so), and match any songs (unlimited) it sells in iTunes across all your Apple devices. (256 kbps is lame though.)

Not altogether different from when a government asks insurgents to give up their arms in an amnesty agreement. ’Certifiying’ a black market activity is a classic approach to countering its harms. This is pretty cool to see couched in ‘for your convenience’ language, and also positioned as a benefit that you pay for.



-Shlok
Sign up for my newsletter.


On Groupon

standard post
Shlok Vaidya  -  
0 Comments   

Good analysis of what’s going wrong over there. Fits nicely with what I wrote in October of last year.



-Shlok
Sign up for my newsletter.


Review: The New Capitalist Manifesto by Umair Haque

standard post
Shlok Vaidya  -  
2 Comments   

Fundamentally redefining capitalism in non-narrow terms. A full spectrum understanding of cost, debt, capital.

The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business

“Constructive capitalists aren’t merely seeking to be better than rivals in yesterday’s terms. They are fundamentally redefining what success means, to encompass the well-being of people, communities, society, and future generations; to return what you might call profit ‘plus’; profit plus social, environmental, human, and as yet unknown -unexplored kinds of – returns.”

Skip the preface. Way too fuzzy for me. Once Haque gets going in Chapter 1 though, it’s a fun ride. He does a masterful job of decimating every construct that underpins the economy as it is and points out early indicators of what it will be (assuming we can build it).

The typology of thin and thick value is great – thin is generated by a business that very narrowly defines profit, debt, success, capital. Think Gillette’s fetish for product differentiation. Thick, on the other hand depends on a deeper understanding of how business works, who it impacts, and how; and acts accordingly. Think microfinance – it builds human capital, generates financial capital, and doesn’t cost the future.

This is a key part of Haque’s thesis. By failing to account for the full costs of the Industrial economy machine, we have taken on an unsustainable debt load (environmental, human, fiscal) that eventually blows up. Rethinking what comprises capitalism enables us to transition away from this rudimentary understanding of accounting.

Anyway, the book is a must read. Especially if the following resonates with you:

“What we need, then, is a new generation of renegades, laying deeper, stronger institutional cornerstones.”

That’s precisely who this book is for. This is the kind of person who has a copy of ReWork, Brave New War, and Reinventing Collapse to put Umair’s book next to. Short, utilitarian texts, for leaders who are secure enough in their ability to innovate and execute that they are more focused on how to think, rather than what.

So then the question becomes. If this is the argument for a better, constructive form of capitalism, what does a business that runs on all of its principles look like? As it turns out, I’m working on that right now with a very smart group of people in the form of Picture This.



-Shlok
Sign up for my newsletter.


Luis von Ahn’s Trajectory

standard post
Shlok Vaidya  -  
0 Comments   

von Ahn is the guy behind reCAPTCHA (digitizes books through those captcha gateways), and before that the Google Image Labeler (which turns labeling Google’s image index into a game). Now he’s building Duolingo, where users translate content online while learning languages.

Essentially, von Ahn has mastered the art of building interfaces to large databases that incentivize (loosely at best) users to unknowingly manipulate the contents in order to generate value for the owner of the database.

It’s interesting to see his trajectory slowly trend towards the participants rather than the database proprietor.

  1. Labeler. Purely for Google’s benefit (users get stupid points).
  2. reCAPTCHA. Served the public while providing service to webmasters.
  3. Duolingo. Users learn a valuable skill while translating the web.

Next step? Picture This.

 



-Shlok
Sign up for my newsletter.


The Moment Jobs Turned Apple Around

standard post
Shlok Vaidya  -  
0 Comments   

For the first three years Jony was having a pretty miserable time designing Newton PDAs and printer trays,’ says Clive Grinyer. ‘It was a bad existence.’

The design team was eventually forced to surrender the Cray supercomputer it used for simulating new gadgets. Even the designs that did get built were met with a lukewarm reception. Ive’s Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh was one of the first computers to have a flat LCD screen but it was saddled with a strangely squashed appearance and a massive price tag. Originally priced at $9,000, it was selling for under $2,000 by the time it was pulled from shelves less than a year later.

But just as Ive was considering a return to England, his luck changed. In 1997, Steve Jobs returned to Apple after an absence of 12 years. He purged the company, dropping most of its products and dispensing with staff. Eventually, Jobs took a tour of the design department, then based across the street from Apple’s main campus.

‘Jobs comes in, looks at all Ive’s amazing prototypes and says, “My God, what have we got here?”’ says Kahney.

Jobs swiftly brought Ive in from the cold, moving the designers into a building on campus and investing in the latest rapid-prototyping equipment. He also beefed up Apple’s security, locking down the design studio to prevent leaks and installing a private kitchen so designers wouldn’t talk shop in public.

 



-Shlok
Sign up for my newsletter.