The Week in Review — March 25-29, 2013

This week was a relatively slow one in tech, but a big one for this blog. On Monday, March 25, 2013, officially launched. And what a week it was! Four full articles, 12 linked list items, and this summary. I’m still working to find the right voice and post frequency — I don’t think four articles a week is sustainable — but there is no shortage of interesting things to talk about. I’m incredibly grateful to the folks that have already subscribed, whether via Twitter, RSS, or weekly email, and would gently ask that you share with others whatever you find interesting.

Articles | Linked List Items | Other Links Worth Reading


  • Welcome to Stratechery

    I don’t know much about sailing. So perhaps it’s not the best analogy with which to launch this blog. But here goes…

    A simple image. Two boats, and a big ocean. Perhaps it’s a race, and one boat is winning — until it isn’t, of course. Rest assured there is breathless coverage of every twist and turn, and skippers are alternately held as heroes and villains, and nothing in between.

    Yet there is so much more happening. What are the winds like? What have they been like historically, and can we use that to better understand what will happen next? Is there a major wave just off the horizon that will reshape the race? Are there fundamental qualities in the ships themselves that matter far more than whatever skipper is at hand? Perhaps this image is from the America’s Cup, and the trailing boat is quite content to mirror the leading boat all the way to victory; after all, this is but one leg in a far larger race.

    It’s these sort of questions that I’m particularly keen to answer about technology.

    Read the rest

  • Value Chains

    The Samsung Galaxy 4 reviews should be rolling in shortly. They will recount the screen, processor, camera, face detection tech — every speed and feed there is will be dissected, discussed, and scored. Said features will be compared, first to the recently released HTC One, and most certainly to the iPhone 5. And most of it will have little to no use in explaining Samsung’s success. Speeds and feeds don’t matter in the mobile value chain.

    But first a step back.

    Value chains track the flow of money in an industry. Basically, who pays who. If there is a choice in whom to pay, you usually pay less. If you only have one choice, or if switching costs are high, you pay a lot more.

    Read the rest

    Note: This post is one of the foundational posts for stratechery. I expect to refer to it often.

  • T-Mobile’s New Value Chain

    T-Mobile’s relaunch as an “uncarrier” has drawn it’s fair share of critics. After all, what is the difference between buying a phone with a contract versus buying a phone with a financing plan?

    In practical terms, not much. I don’t think this will really move the needle.

    But as an observer of the industry, I think it’s really quite interesting: T-Mobile is proposing a fundamentally different value chain that separates device makers and carriers, and potentially gives some interesting insights into handset selling prices and carrier subsidies.

    Read the rest

  • Facebook’s Mobile Failure: A Compare/Contrast With LINE

    Facebook is in the news for an imminent Android-related announcement; speculation is heavy that this is fabled Facebook phone…

    Coincidentally, the Wall Street Journal had another, seemingly unrelated article on Wednesday about the rise of Mobile messaging apps

    It’s difficult to overstate how massively popular these messaging apps are. Most folks have heard of WhatsApp (not coincidentally, it’s based in Silicon Valley), but the really interesting developments are happening with Asian apps – LINE and Kakao Talk in particular. They are social networks that are built for mobile in everything from business model to use case, and they are absolutely eating Facebook’s lunch.

    I’m most familiar with LINE, so I’ll use that to illustrate what I mean. Here are five ways in which LINE is a superior experience to Facebook on mobile.

    Read the rest

Linked List Items

ē = significant additional commentary

  • The Marissa Mayer Turnaround link
  • How Twitter Changes Wall Street Research link
  • Did China Just Declare War on Apple? link
  • First Targeted Attack to Use Android Malware Discovered link
  • Microsoft Accused of Locking Out Linux In EU Antitrust Complaint link ē
  • Apple Plans to Scale Up Retail Presence in India link ē
  • What’s Actually Wrong With Yahoo’s Purchase of Summly link
  • Where in the World are Windows Phones Outselling iPhones? link
  • Samsung’s Galaxy S4 to Cost $249.99 on AT&T link ē
  • EA and the Future link
  • How Samsung Became the World’s No. 1 Smartphone Maker link

Other Links Worth Reading

I didn’t link to these on stratechery, either because I didn’t have time or because they didn’t quite fit some of the themes I’m driving. However, I trust you will find them interesting


  • Beijing Takes Another Bite at Apple link
  • China Criticism of Apple Yet to Sway Shoppers, Researcher Says link
  • Apple Ire Spreads to China’s SOEs link
  • Jailbreaking Declining in China, Now Down to 32.3% of iOS Devices link
  • Apple Aims to Win Over Video Editors link
  • Among Big Properties, Apple and Amazon Have Greatest Portions of Mobile-Only Users link
  • What You Didn’t Post, Facebook May Still Know link


  • Bitcoin May Be the Global Economy’s Last Safe Haven link
  • Does Windows RT Have a Place in the Sun? link
  • Windows Blue Buzz link
  • The Management-free Organization link
  • Why Developers Shouldn’t Use iCloud Syncing, Even if it Worked link
  • Tim Bray’s Googleversary link
  • Does Anyone Actually Want a Facebook Phone? link


  • The Touch-Screen Generation link


  • The Stories That Bind Us link
  • What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success link
  • Not Just Another Game link


  • “Yesterday I heard someone at PAX ask about a laptop, ‘Is it Windows or iOS?’ Mindshare dominance.” @siracusa
  • “Everything you need to know about the mobile market, via Nationwide home insurance” @seuj
  • “iPhone subsidies are (VERY roughly) in the region of 5% of global mobile operator revenue” @benedictevans
  • “Mobile networks cost money: an important point that people in tech tend to ignore” @benedictevans
  • “Not only is Windows Phone beating iPhone in several markets but BlackBerry is beating iPhone in several markets. Both have more distribution” @asymco
  • “Then: Microsoft seeing enemies everywhere, investing in everything. Now: Google seeing enemies everywhere, investing in everything.” @counternotions
  • “‘We have our own Android OS’ is the new ‘we have a mobile app.'” @levie