The Week in Review — March 30-April 5, 2013

Facebook Home launched this week, both as an app for top-of-the-line Android devices, and preinstalled on a mid-range HTC phone called the First. It’s an interesting move on multiple levels, particularly the fact that it is not a fork but more of a services layer. Moreover, it’s a services layer that still has access to the Play store. It’s very smart of Facebook to compete on a level where they have expertise, as opposed to building out an entirely new version of Android.

Broadly speaking, it’s symbolic of a larger move up the stack: hardware is good enough, OS’s are good enough, apps are good enough, so who has the best services? It’s a trend that should worry not just Google, but also Apple. Services aren’t exactly their strong suit. That said, I’m skeptical about Facebook’s prospects in mobile generally, and Home doesn’t really change that calculus.

Arguably more important, at least in the long-term, was Google’s announcement that they are forking Webkit and building their own rendering engine called Blink. This makes a ton of sense strategically; I believe Chrome and it’s derivatives, including Chrome OS, are Google’s central strategic priority going forward. Giving Apple veto power over a central component was untenable. Still, it’s more bad will for Google, and a headache for Apple specifically and web developers generally.

It was a crazy week for me personally; I had a an emergency appendectomy on Tuesday that kept me home for the week. Of course that was to stratechery’s benefit: five full articles, 22 linked list items, and this summary. So much for last week’s pace being unsustainable! We’ll see how a normal week goes, but in the mean time, I greatly appreciate your spreading the word about stratechery and following @stratechery.

Articles | Linked List Items | Other Links Worth Reading


  • Like Once, Friend Anywhere

    In which I summarize five major problems facing Facebook in mobile. Touch to excerpt, so read the whole thing.

  • The Real Reason Andy Rubin Left Android

    One of the reasons I started this blog was to write this exact theory, almost word for word. Guess I’ll have to link to it instead — I think it’s spot-on.

    For all of Google’s obfuscations, at the end of the day they are a very simple company with a very simple maxim:

    The more people use the web, the more money Google makes. And if they’re logged in, all the better.

    If one keeps this in mind, and doesn’t view them through an Apple lens, then everything about Android makes perfect sense

    Read the whole post

  • Strategy 101 and the Wall Street Journal

    The Wall Street Journal has 531 words in a news item about Apple’s plans to start production on a new iPhone in the second quarter. 155 of the words are useful:

    The other 376 are absolute garbage and actively make the reader dumber.

    Read the whole post

    Note: This is another foundational-type post for stratechery; it covers strategic positioning in industries

  • The iPad and the Disaggregation of Computing

    In the 10 days this blog has been online I’ve spent a lot of time on mobile, and understandably so! It’s the biggest business in tech, and the entry point to computing for much of the world. But, like many geeks, it is traditional computers that have always been closest to my heart, and what is happening to computers by way of the iPad – launched three years ago today – is in many ways the opposite of what happened in mobile.

    Read the whole post

  • The Vanishing Uninformed and the Facebook Phone

    Dan Frommer has a suggestion as to who is going to buy the Facebook phone:

    Facebook unveiled its long-awaited mobile phone platform today. It is, as assumed, a Facebook “layer” on top of Google Android. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, or even take a detailed look at the presentation. But I can already see where it might be useful and popular.

    He (rightfully) tabs uninformed buyers, the folks who buy a phone because they need one, not because they have a specific model in mind.

    That’s fine as far as it goes; I’m just not sure it goes that far: it’s based on an outdated view of the US market, and ignores the rest of the world.

    Read the whole post

Linked List Items

ē = significant additional commentary

  • Price link
  • Blackstone to Lead Dell LBO? link
  • Apple Apologizes in China link
  • ē The Building is the New Server link
  • ē China’s Telecoms to Charge for WeChat? link
  • ē Benchmarking Apple, Android, and Windows Tablets link
  • Two Seemingly Unrelated Links, Posted Without Commentary link
  • Servo link
  • ē Blink link
  • The Facebook Home Hands-On link
  • A Short Translation From Bullshit to English of Selected Portions of the Google Chrome Blink Developer FAQ link
  • ē Is Blink Bad News for Apple? link
  • Comparing Smartphone, Tablet and PC Graphics link
  • Battery Life is the Only Spec That Matters link
  • ē The Vanishing Uninformed, Charted link
  • ē Anand Lal Shimpi Loves the HTC One link
  • ē A Facebook of the Future link
  • China Losing the Global Propaganda War to Apple link
  • Facebook’s ‘Phone’ Is Another Triumph of Mediocrity link
  • Home Turf link

Other Links Worth Reading

*I didn’t link to these on stratēchery, 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”


  • Foxconn Plant in Peanut Field Shows Labor Eroding China Edge link
  • HTC One Lands in Taiwan, Unboxing and Hands-on, Flaws Spotted link
  • Michael Dell Lays Out His Plan link
  • E-Commerce Companies Bypass the Middleman link
  • Sorry Apple Gets Respect in China After Tabloid Trial link
  • The Financial Times Has a Secret Weapon: Data link
  • Twitter Working to Extend its Cards Feature to Support Three New Varieties, Including Mobile App Links and Photo Galleries link
  • What Happened to Japan’s Electronic Giants? link
  • Chinese Deluge U.S. Master’s Programs link
  • As Web Search Goes Mobile, Competitor’s Chip at Google’s Lead link
  • Samsung Decides to Build Its Own Stores — Inside Best Buy link
  • What’s Happening With Outlook RT? link
  • Belt-tightening in Europe Bolsters Case for Cheaper iPhone link
  • For Labels, Apple’s iRadio Deal Could be Sweeter Than Pandora link
  • Webkit Devs on Blink Fork: “Two Can Play That Game” link


  • Your Phone Versus Your Heart link
  • Coffee & Empathy: Why Data Without a Soul is Meaningless link
  • Why Aren’t You on TV? link
  • Our Regressive Web link
  • Twitter Just Became Every Mobile App’s Best Friend link
  • Twitter is My Co-Pilot link
  • Why Facebook Home Bothers Me: It Destroys Any Notion of Privacy link
  • Facebook Isn’t Forking Android, They’re Spooning With It link
  • Vision link
  • Inspire Talk link


  • The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency link
  • Inside Apple’s Plans for its Futuristic, $5 Billion Headquarters link
  • The Silent Partner link


  • The Jellyfish Entrepreneur link
  • Appendix Isn’t Useless At All: It’s A Safe House For Good Bacteria link Editor’s Note: Sob
  • Get Out of Jail Free: Monopoly’s Hidden Maps link
  • Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? link
  • To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me link


  • “Emoji support is the new Unicode support.” @anildash
  • “Made-in-Japan chat app LINE hits 1mn users in Spain. RT @jic_news: 「LINE」、スペインの登録ユーザー数が欧州圏で初めて1,000万人突破” @serkantoto
  • “I predict the mother of all astroturf campaigns in about 18 months to browbeat Apple to let Blink run on iOS devices with a little FCC help.” @counternotions
  • “Facebook: A better way to see what’s going on with the people around you is to look up from your phone. Just saying.” @thurrott
  • “The way Facebook’s Home sits on top of OEM’s Android efforts, it seems Facebook sees themselves as the Microsoft Office of the mobile era.” @anildash
  • “Facebook is stabbing Google in the back just about as gently as possible.” @reckless
  • “facebook home is a beautiful way to display stuff and talk to people I don’t care about” @mattbuchanan
  • “Not sure how, or why, TSA distinguishes between “laptop” and “tablet”. They were confused by my Surface Pro.” @fivethirtyeight
  • “Ahh, iPhone users won’t get hit with FB pics & ads on our home screen.. Please tell me why your phone is better than my iPhone again?” @laire