Jun 282011

The latest amalgamation of disperate Google projects semi-designed-to-but-not-officially compete against something successful (Facebook) has started its soft launch: Google + (Google Plus). This excellent summary from Search Engine Land runs through the service’s offerings point by point, and one of the things that struck me was the passage that described the integration of another Googleganger, +1:

“Yes, anything you like within Google+ can be +1′d, in the way that anything you like on Facebook can be liked with Facebook Like buttons.

If you do that, do your friends on Google+ see that action, in the way that friends on Facebook may see what you like? Nope. Not to my understanding.

It’s crazy. It makes no sense. It’s as if Facebook launched its Like buttons but forgot to hook them up to flow information back into Facebook.”

It makes perfect sense if your business model involves placing bought-and-paid-for search results next to ones based on Google’s “secret sauce” algorithms, which obviously have only your interests at heart. What do you do when you have a third set of unpaid search results potentially diverting a major stream of your revenue?


Thank goodness someone was there to pull the plug. As far as the value of not being able to use +1’s as a factor in search, it’s not like anyone expects anything from Google’s beta services anyway. It’ll probably be “Waved” before it goes mainstream.

 Posted by at 3:11 pm
Jun 232011

The customer satisfaction mavens over at J.D. Power clobbered Ford’s vehicles in their annual Initial Quality survey, moving them from 5th place last year to 23rd. A major reason? Microsoft’s Sync entertainment and phone interface. According to David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power:

“People were finding several problems with the system in that it would crash, freeze, black out,” said Sargent. “Beyond that, people complained that it was more complex to use than they would like.”

An overly-complicated computing interface that periodically crashes? You can’t make this stuff up people.

 Posted by at 3:51 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 232011

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission is preparing to serve subpoenas as the first step in a formal investigation designed to reveal the extent to which Google’s use of its market power in the search business constitutes anticompetitive behavior. The probe joins the European Commission’s investigation launched in November that is looking into how the search giant may have violated European competition laws. Many pundits speculate that the results of the investigation may constitute a “Microsoft moment” for the Mountain View company the same way the Department of Justice actions against Microsoft in the 90’s forced changes in the ways the company was able to leverage its competitive advantages. Unfortunately for Microsoft, “bullying competitors with monopoly power” was a far more core competency than “creating things people want to use in a free market”, so the company has been stagnating ever since.

I have to wonder how spectacularly Eric Schmidt’s political career is going to flame out once he’s deposed. Man, that’s going to be great.

Jun 222011

As you can see, I’m in the process of changing WordPress themes (again). I really like the flexibility that Suffusion gives you, but it remains to be seen whether I can get my head around its one billion options. In the meantime, please chalk up the wonky formatting you may be faced with over the next 24 hours or so to my inability to make decisions without seeing them live first.

 Posted by at 1:55 pm
Jun 222011

I’ve probably covered the formula for hit maximization here before, but to restate the model:

1. Employ outrageous headline which, if true, would totally change the way the reader thought about entity x

2. Write topic sentence to echo the scandalous sentiment of the headline and alert the reader that he needs to buckle up for a damning piece of Pultizer-grade shit.

3. Use the body of the article to explain why the outrageous claim may or may not be true.

4. Close with “guess we’ll have to wait and see”.

5. Profit

This week’s asshat puts a spin on the tried and true TechCrunch/Gizmodo/Engadget monetization model. In “Is Apple’s iCloud Music Match a Possible Honeypot?”, which is also a nominee for the Titular Irony Award, Daniel Nolte not only hits the gas after stating the premise obviated in the title, he dismisses the logical counterargument. The premise: that Apple’s iTunes Match service is the perfect way for the RIAA to know you’re pirating music. What everyone thought for a millisecond when Jobs announced iTunes Match is now a feature-length article picked up by Slashdot and dumped into my inbox. Here’s Nolte’s logic, for the two people reading this who don’t know how song metadata works:

-music has a digital fingerprint which, if not outright damning, can circumstantially prove whether or not you were the person who purchased that music

-Apple’s iTunes Match uses some of this information to determine which of the songs in your possession it needs to provide to you on other Apple devices you own

-Apple could hand this information over to the RIAA

So why was it left to the dude from “48 Hours” to articulate what the rest of us knew was a possibility? I’d like to think that it’s because people in general aren’t retarded. Nolte acknowledges this:

“Some people I have mentioned this concern to have essentially accused me of heresy and paranoia because “there is no way Apple would do that to their users”.  Apple would not have to.  They would simply have to comply with an information demand from the RIAA, who has had no problem with being seen as the bad guy in hardball enforcement against file sharing.”

Leave aside the gratuitous heresy jab (it’s a requirement of shitty Apple-trolling blogs to make one religious reference when mentioning people who enjoy using Apple products) because the answer to the question of “why wouldn’t Apple do – or be a party to doing – this?” is right there in quotes. There is no way Apple would do that to their users. To other companies, this sentence is invoked only by people naive about profit margins and quarterly earnings. Everyone knows companies will throw their customers under the bus to further themselves, right? Not if the business model of the company is based in large part on the trust the users feel in the brand. If you think Apple’s history of negotiating deals with music labels to help them monetize music and providing the best-in-class portable media experience was constructed just so they could hand users who pirated music over to the RIAA, you’re trolling or stupid.

I’m assuming by the mostly-proper spelling and grammar (also known as the “Thurrott Test”) that this isn’t the case with Nolte.

“Moreover consider this:

  1. Apple is the largest music retailer on the planet.
  2. Apple believes, possibly justifiably, that it loses billions of dollars annually to illegal music file sharing.
  3. The easiest way out of the legal jam over challenged content in your iCloud storage would be to convert the suspected iCloud music by buying it from Apple.  Apple becomes almost like a white knight in the process.”

OK: I take it back. He’s both.

 Posted by at 8:45 am
Jun 212011

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that the market share bottlerocket jammed up Android’s ass would cool down once Apple made its iPhone 4 available on Verizon’s network, despite the fact that a new Android phone is released every other day. It may have taken a bit longer than I predicted, but Android’s growth has finally capped: it recorded its first market share fall-off this past quarter. The iPhone was up 12 and a half percentage points while sad sacks Nokia, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile OS’s continued to hemorrhage share.

People will no doubt be jumping on the “fluke” bandwagon, stating that iPhone 4 could never sustain this kind of growth. The fact that a year-old smartphone is handing Android its ass alone is worth a chuckle. Even if there is the customary fall-off in adopters prior to the release of the iPhone 5 does happen, Google may want to take a look at the slope of the BlackBerry downswing to get a sense of what iPhone 5 + iOS 5 + both major carriers is going to do to its share.

I’m sure it was nice while it lasted.

Jun 172011

I just made up a maxim about online security firms. How do you know a computer security expert that is offering advice is pimping his own products? His lips are moving. While the majority of PC security alarmists are correct that people need to lock up the silverware when they announce the latest catastrophic Windows or Flash vulnerability, they’ve been a little more “cry” than “wolf” when it comes to pronouncements about the insecurity of Apple’s platforms. Case in point: Kaspersky’s CTO Nikolay Grebennikov, who thinks Apple needs to open up iOS to allow the “security pros” to handle locking down threats that are coming any day now.

“The Android platform, which is growing its market share, is much more open than the Apple iOS and it’s easier to create new applications for Android, including security software”. Ah yes. The beauty of “open”. Want to know why security software is required for Android? It’s a platform that allows average users to approve an app’s access to processes on their shartphone about which they don’t have a clue. It’s a platform that doesn’t vet apps submitted to its market, allows apps downloaded from shadow markets to be sideloaded onto its devices, and relies on the hobbyist community to report malware to Google for apps in their own Market. But please, Nikolay, continue…

“Apple is the only protector of its iPhone and iPad users but they don’t know the real situation with threats. It’s not possible to create the products they create, and be a world leader in security too; that expertise is elsewhere.” That’s why Apple has an actual approval process to get an app in their App Store, doesn’t allow apps to be sideloaded onto their devices and sandboxes its apps’ access to system resources. You say “closed”; I say “secure”.

I know it sucks to be relegated to the business equivalent of fogging up the glass of the App Store from the outside, licking your chops at the billions in potential revenue you’re missing out on because iOS doesn’t need your voodoo. But if you check down a couple of doors and go to the Android storefront, you’ll find they’ve had 3 instances of malware in their Market in the last month alone. I’m sure you two have plenty to talk about.

Jun 152011

Google tracks wireless devices using MACs, and this information is freely available on the Internet. Shocking. The best part, from cnet News:

“Google did not respond to a series of questions posed last week, including what measures it takes to filter out mobile devices and laptops from its database, what privacy policy governs this data collection, and whether law enforcement or civil litigants submitted requests for records from its database. The company also declined to specify how someone can remove their device’s MAC address from the database, and a question asking that in a support forum last September was never answered.”

If you don’t want Google – or anyone else – to know the location of where you’re doing something unsavory, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it.

Jun 142011

When I think of prestige retail presences, J.C. Penney doesn’t exactly spring to mind, but they’re a brand that’s been slowly re-crafting their image. After shuttering a number of locations, it looks like they’re picking up momentum. They’re taking their advertising more seriously, as evidenced by their hiring of Saatchi & Saatchi and their viral “Doghouse” campaign.

And now it looks like they snagged Rob Johnson to be their next CEO.

Yes, that one.

I don’t know if it was a board member or a headhunter that connected Johnson and J.C. Penney, but whoever made this match is worth their weight in platinum. After 11 years heading Apple’s retail success story, Johnson is moving on to what is no doubt another formidable challenge.

Thanks for the great years at Apple and all the best in your new role. Don’t pull a Rubinstein.

Jun 102011

In an encouraging move for the small-shop developers being targeted by scumbag patent troll Lodsys, Apple has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of its developers. Apple is claiming that the license it currently holds should extend to the developers on its platform and it looks like they’re putting their legal muscle where their mouth is.

Developers for the Android platform, some of whom were also the target of scumbag patent troll Lodsys, have yet to hear from Google.

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