The Week In Review is a weekly digest of what I found interesting in tech over the last week. It consists of the story of the week, a summary of stratechery articles and links, a huge collection of links that I found noteworthy (plus commentary), and my favorite tweets of the week. I post this weekly at stratechery and email it to the stratechery mailing list (sign up here).
Acquisitions, acquisitions, here, there, and everywhere. Eleven by my count, in chronological order:
- Intel’s McAffee acquired network firewall specialist Stonesoft link
- Dell acquired cloud-management software maker Enstratius link
- Samsung acquire TV-app maker MOVL link
- Baidu acquired video-streaming site PPS link
- Facebook was rumored to buy social mapping app Waze link
- Yahoo acquired frequent flier search service MileWise link
- Yahoo acquired mobile polling service GoPollGo link
- Box acquired document viewer Crocodoc link
- Twitter acquired scalable-computing startup Ubalo link
- Salesforce acquired web clipping service Clipboard link
- Yahoo acquired mobile-gaming studio Loki Stuidios link
Half of these are strategic or product fits: Stonesoft, Enstratius, PPS, Waze and Crocodoc.
The other half are clear acqui-hires, particularly the Yahoo ones. Josh Constine at TechCrunch had a good summary of how mobile and the importance of great native experiences are driving this:
You need not just mobile designers, or even mobile-first designers. You need mobile-best designers…You either “get” mobile, or you’re doomed. If you can’t build it, and you can’t hire it, you’re pretty much forced to buy it. Yahoo didn’t buy GoPollGo to concentrate on polling. It did it because the startup was mobile in its heart.
Of course, many of the startups have no choice but to sell. This Pandodaily headline says it all: Can’t raise a Series A? Just sell yourself to Yahoo.
It’s funny; in a week that saw serious kvetching about LinkedIn (see below), it’s angels who are proving to be the most effective – and well-compensated – recruiters around. One wonders if the entire model wasn’t built around such failures.
Meanwhile, it looks like Facebook Home is a disaster. I’m not above an I-told-you-so. I argued Zuckerberg’s vision of people as the center of our smartphone experience is fundamentally wrong in Apps, People & Jobs to be Done and noted there was no natural audience for the HTC first in The Vanishing Uninformed. Facebook is already retrenching.
It was a great week on stratechery. I greatly appreciate your spreading the word about stratechery and following @stratechery.
Over the last week the Internet has been aflutter with rumors about an Ive-driven iOS design overhaul. Nearly all of the conversation has been focused on the visual aesthetic, and that’s not surprising. To use Ive’s words, that is “easy to talk about.” But the overhaul of iOS is certainly more than skin deep.
This post features a new-to-the-Internet quote of Jony’s from a talk I was fortunate enough to attend a few years ago.
There’s a great image floating around the depicting how the iPhone has subsumed multiple categories of consumer electronics. However, if you were to make a similar image about the PC, it would be the opposite. Multiple appliance-like devices do the PC’s job.
Subscription makes a lot of sense for productivity software; it more closely matches revenue for the developer to the value derived from the software. In this article I go a bit into the economics behind subscriptions, and suggest that app platform owners may want to consider supporting subscription pricing for apps.
I don’t have any insight into iOS 7, and I’m not arrogant enough to tell Apple what they should do. But I can see three significant contextual differences between 2013 and 2007, and I think it’s those differences that likely provide the best hint as to what to expect in upcoming versions of iOS.
So what has changed since 2007?
- What LinkedIn is Good For — link — This was the week for LinkedIn kvetching; I recounted two of the highlights, and argued that LinkedIn is the least useful way to advertise what you can do.
- Facebook in Talks to Buy Waze — link — It was a super-busy week for me, so this was the only acquisition I weighed in on. In short, Facebook’s model depends on eyeballs, so they’ll buy their way in on mobile if they have to.
News & Analysis:
- Baidu acquires PPS — link — This is a big deal, and I hope to write about it more. PPS features television shows from all over Asia. I don’t have a friend from Asia that doesn’t use PPS on an almost daily basis. Great fit for Baidu.
- Amazon beats Google in China with paid Android apps — link — This isn’t nearly as big a deal as it appears; few Chinese consumers have or use credit cards. The vast majority of app monetization comes through carrier billing or Alipay.
- Rare move: telecom rivals team up on app payments — link — This, on the other hand, is much more important.
- China’s changing Internet landscape — link — An interesting overview of recent happenings in China, including Alipay’s recent investment into Sina Weibo.
- Bill Gates predicts iPad and Android users will switch to PC tablets — link — An excellent companion piece for The Humpty Dumpty PC. I’ll leave it at that.
- How the iPhone conquered Japan — link — Software and women.
- Viber hits 200m users, rivals Skype with video calling in new Mac and Windows desktop apps — link — One of those overly long headlines that says it all. More social fragmentation.
- Rovio Introduces ‘Accounts’ for Cross-Device Syncing — link — This is very interesting, and more evidence for the idea that “the cloud” will be super fragmented and not a source of lock-in.
- How Kakao grew from a startup to a giant mobile platform — link — An interesting interview with Kakao’s founder about the company’s seminal decision to be mobile first.
- Fusion-io founders quit to start new venture, shares slump — link — Kind of a bizarre story, but ultimately unsurprising; a company facing massive buyer power in a commoditized industry simply isn’t worth very much.
- WeChat now has 190 million active users, close to passing WhatsApp — link — More social fragmentation.
- Hearst hires digital chief to oversee web brands — link — Magazine companies are so lost right now; dividing the web and print was their original strategy, then they unified them, now Hearst is splitting them again.
- Google unveils 5-year roadmap for strong authentication — link — Lots of win here for Google. They can sell the security and reap the data.
- ESPN eyes subsidizing wireless-data plans — link — I feel an entire series of posts on ESPN and their importance to the tech industry coming on; also, so much for net neutrality.
- Report: More Layoffs at Renren, Signs of a Strategic Shift? — link — Renren, as a PC-first company, is facing a lot of the same problems as Facebook
- LINE’s Revenue for Q4 2012 Was $58 Million — link — Most of the reveune is in Japan, but I think that’s just an artifact of where LINE is in its evolution. I think it’s the most-likely of all the mobile chat clients to make it big.
- Apple forces LINE to remove the ability to send virtual items as gifts from its iOS app — link — This surprises me; the in-app gifting was paid for with in-app purchase.
Charts of the Week:
- Is LINE or KakaoTalk growing faster? — link — I’ll let you find out for yourself, but I think the rest of this note gives away the answer.
- Addressable markets for high-end phones — link — Great overview by Benedict Evans of the post-pay market worldwide.
- The last five years of revenue for Google, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and Amazon — link — Asymco of course.
- RIP Photoshop Pirating — link — The author – reasonably, in my mind – argues that the Photoshop pirates of today are the customers of tomorrow.
- Shame on France: The Yahoo-Dailymotion Debacle — link — Last line is perfect.
- Adobe Love — link — Jeffrey Zeldman loves what he’s seeing from Adobe. I agree. They had a brutal few years where they fashioned themselves a platform provider; they seem to be back in the tools business, and that’s a win for everyone, including Adobe.
- Dear Apple, Let’s Talk About Photos — link — I hate the open letter format, but this is a good overview of the problems with photo management on iDevices.
- Godzilla vs. Mothra, the sequel — link — Amazon and Google are on a collision course.
- What if Facebook buys Waze? — link — Andy Ihnatko loves Waze, but doesn’t trust Facebook with his data.
- The Rise of “Magging” — link — Interesting analogy between Apple’s dominance of desktop publishing and the rise of niche magazine’s on iOS’s Newsstand.
- Free Trial and Tire Kickers — link — I love Marco on App Store economics. This is a great read on some of the unintended consequences of trials, and why developers should be careful what they wish for.
- The Money Shot — link — Kara Swisher with a great overview of how Facebook came to acquire Instagram. This remains a huge coup for Facebook in my opinion.
- Study: Higher levels of homeownership can kill jobs — link — My wishlist for the U.S. economy: 1) A carbon tax, 2) Universal health insurance, 3) End of the mortgage deduction
- Privacy Breach on Bloomberg’s Data Terminals — link — This story blows my mind: Bloomberg’s terminals are a goldmine; the news side is a vanity play. There’s some sort of Grecian myth analogy to be made here, I’m sure. This article from the Atlantic is a good overview of what Bloomberg reporters could see.
- How to (actually) eat healthily on £1 per day — link — Avoiding starvation is easy, avoiding malnutrition is hard.
- “Observation: Those that are genuinely not in it for the money often end up making a lot of it.” @dharmesh
- “Oh, I see. Apple’s downfall will be the Bluetooth standard.” @JohnPaczkowski
- “Eating some taco flavored Cool Ranch Doritos along with some Cool Ranch flavored Taco Bell tacos, aka ‘living the dream’” @codinghorrow
- “According to InMobi, 30% of smartphone users admit using their phone while ‘in the bathroom’. I guess 70% are lying.” @mark_e_evans
- “Luckily for Heat fans they grew up loving the Bulls” @FakeSportsCentr
- “So bored of ‘apps v HTML5′. 1/5 of the earth’s adult population has a unix box in their pocket and all you want to use is the browser?” @BenedictEvans
- “Motorola looks more and more like a $7.15bn fine that Google paid for creating Android.” @BenedictEvans
- “All startup seek product-market fit. All corporations fear product-market drift.” @Enderdoon
- “It’s great that Nokia is trying to push cameraphone technology forward, but will people honestly switch platforms for better photos?” @WhatTheBit
- “The As are afraid they’ll be considered Bs, the Bs are scared they’ll be seen as Cs, and all the Cs are convinced that they’re A players.” @busicow
- “In future I won’t be asking how many apps a mobile ecosystem has but I will be checking the quality of the 3 or 4 I actually use.” @bensmithuk
- “If you operate in a vacuum you can be fairly certain that the output is going to suck.” @gattaca
- “People who don’t have iTunes want it. People who have iTunes don’t want it.” @mrcfield
- Facebook Home – “What happens when you give smart UX designers a mandate around the company’s goals, not the users’ goals” @miniver
- “When placed on your chest, an iPad 2 can stop your pacemaker. When shoved up your ass, it can make you a Bloomberg reporter.” @treestman
- “The thing that Jony Ive takes most pride in: how it works. The thing that everyone focuses on in his designs: how it looks” @chockenberry
- “Your operating system should be a chameleon, not a peacock.” @dlanham
- “If there’s a job you want, just start doing it (w/o pay). Key: Do it better than anyone else. Soon, you’ll get hired for that job.” @bjfogg
- “Apple will eventually need to kill the iPhone before the iPhone kills Apple.” @SammyWalrusIV