Why the Instagram debacle just taught every tech company to be shadier than ever

If you’re a lawyer today, you just learned that bad things happen when a hint of clear language invites non-lawyers to read your work. And you’ll react in one of two ways: you’ll either make your contracts so confusing and impenetrable that no one will read them, or you’ll make them so “friendly” and “fun” that no one will read them correctly. Come give me a hug, your contracts with the public will say. Do not mind that I am ruthlessly picking your pockets to sell targeting data to advertisers.

Nilay nails it.

Worst QR code ever

Worst QR code ever

“Hints of angel food cake”

“Hints of angel food cake”

Why Are We Debating “Tablet-Native Journalism”?

My last post got Felix’s attention and he updated his article with a link to my thoughts, as well as Gruber’s take:

The second part I agree with. The Daily’s failure had nothing to do with it being iPad-only and everything to do with the fact that it just plain stunk.

But what’s foolish about publishing on a single platform? I publish only on the web, and Daring Fireball seems to be doing OK. Marco Arment’s The Magazine publishes only for iOS and is doing well enough that he’s already expanded to hire an editor. In fact, I’d go so far as to say The Daily’s success proves the opposite of Salmon’s conclusion: that an iPad-only daily news app could be a success.

First things first: The Daily proves nothing, because it is a single data point, not a representative sample. That said, Gruber and I are likely splitting hairs. But since we just watched News Corp. flush $30M in development costs plus $500,000 a week in operating expenses down the drain, I believe these are hairs worth splitting.

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The impossibility of tablet-native journalism

Felix Salmon, Reuters:

I think that The Daily has taught us all an important lesson — which is that tablets in general, and the iPad in particular, are actually much less powerful and revolutionary than many of us had hoped. Specifically, far from being able to offer richer content than can be found on the web, they actually find themselves crippled in unexpected ways.

Felix asked me for counter-examples to prove that iPad news apps aren’t all “glorified PDF readers”, but I couldn’t fit my thoughts in a tweet, so here they are:

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The Founders Lie About Comfort Zones

In general whenever a X-guy enforces solving a problem with X everyone should step back and try to analyse it objectively.

Founders, read this immediately.

Old couple buying iPad Mini at Apple retail store, 11:39 AM.

Old couple buying iPad Mini at Apple retail store, 11:39 AM.

Friendly neighborhood poll inspector

Friendly neighborhood poll inspector

Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Android Director John Lagerling’s Nexus Interview with Brian X. Chen

Source: One on One: Google Android Director on Nexus Strategy

My personal favorites are the 360-degree panoramic photo, Photo Sphere, and the fact that you can do inductive charging so you don’t need to fiddle with a plug — you can just put it on a surface to charge. On a Nexus 10 it’s the fact that it’s so thin and light, and the resolution is 2.5 K, so it has very crisp text and pictures.

And the price. I negotiated the prices and I’m very pleased with being able to deliver these things at these prices; $299 for an unlocked Nexus 4 — I think that’s pretty revolutionary.

Please, please, for the love of god, do not ask me about LTE.

Basically we felt that we wanted to prove you don’t have to charge $600 to deliver a phone that has the latest-generation technologies. Simply that level of margin is sometimes even unreasonable, and we believed that we could do this.

We do not sell enough Nexus devices for the products’ abysmal margins to make any noticeable dent in our quarterly earnings reports.

For Nexus 7, we were able to ramp those new memory SKUs at the same price. These move so fast that we knew after a few months, from an economical perspective, it was doable. Between us and our partners we have a very good understanding of supply chains. We’ve all done the best we can to really reach these prices — $399, $299 is pretty amazing, if I may say so.

Even though we chose not to make an affordable 64GB unlocked phone in order to keep prices under $400, we discontinued the 16GB model, because the price consumers will pay for it leaves us with practically no margin.

It’s not so much fairness as it is to sort of work with partners who happen to be in good “phase match” with us in what we’re trying to do. So Samsung just happens to be in a good phase match on a high-end display, which is exactly what we wanted to do at a low cost. LG had a good phase match with the hardware they were working on. Asus as well. It’s just more about the timing being right.

None of our hardware partners has the ability to produce three size variations on a touchscreen device which meet our hardware standards at this time.

[Motorola stands] where Sharp would stand, or Sony would stand or Huawei would stand. From my perspective as a partnership director, they are another partner. We are really walled between the Motorola team and the Android team. They would bid on doing a Nexus device just like any other company.

Please don’t ask me about Motorola again.

The way I understand it is, it’s mostly about the patents, the way you can sort of disarm this huge attack against Android. We talked about prices. There are players in the industry who were unhappy about more competitive pricing for the consumers. They want to keep the prices high, they want to force the price to be so high that operators have to subsidize the devices very highly. That’s not only the Cupertino guys but also for the guys up in Seattle. They want higher margins, they want to charge more for software.

I feel uncomfortable referring to our competitors by name, but they are misers who are literally forcing consumers to buy their products at an unreasonable premium.

We simply believe there’s a better way of doing it without extracting that much payment from end users, because there are other ways to drive revenues.

We like ads.

Patents were used as a weapon to try to stop that evolution and scare people away from lower-cost alternatives. And I think with the Motorola acquisition we’ve shown we’re able to put skin in the game and push back.

Patents are evil, except when they’re not.

We haven’t announced numbers. We typically don’t allow our partners to announce numbers. All I can say is it has sold way above expectations. That could mean one of two things: Either we have very low expectations or we’ve done amazing [sic] well. But we’re very pleased with how we’ve done with the Nexus 7.

We have very low expectations.

I don’t have a number for how many apps are properly adding those APIs that you need to put fully to use the extra screen real estate. What I can say is that the Nexus 7 has been a superstrong catalyst to kick off developers’ attention to making those expansions, so we’ve seen tremendous growth in apps for the larger screen size. The trending is very positive because of the Nexus 7.

We really, really hope we can convince developers to build a lot more tablet-optimized apps.

But before, I’ll be honest and say, yes, there was a lack of tablet apps that supported bigger screen real estate. But I’ll add that, I know we talked about the Cupertino guys, but obviously people who have smartphones are a huge target for us.

While our main competitor in the mobile space — which I do not feel comfortable referring to by name — has had unprecedented growth with its competing line of tablets, we believe mobile phones are the future.

If you look globally that’s something we worry more about, not so much about competing with other smartphones, but more about, how can we get more people onto the Internet on mobile phones? And that’s a big deal. That’s why low cost is so important.

We will never compete with Apple on quality.

We had such a long laundry list of things we wanted to do, and the fact we had to roll it out so it would work on a multitude of devices, it simply took a bit more time for us to get here.

We did not prioritize the quality of the overall user experience above other concerns, like breadth of available devices and carriers, or “openness”. Fragmentation bit us in the ass.

But the structure we’ve had for an operating system from day one including widgets, actual multitasking, notifications, it’s finally coming to its true form right as the software has come into final polish. Project Butter for Jelly Bean, to get every pixel to move really beautifully, it’s finally showing off those capabilities we’ve always planned to have.

Now, you can finally purchase a Nexus device that’s worth buying (unless you need LTE).

We have the right teams and maturity to deliver what we’ve always wanted to do. I’ll admit we’re finally much more closer to our actual vision in the past year than we have ever been.

Thank you for not asking me about LTE.

The office is packed today.

The office is packed today.