The Week in Review – May 19-25, 2013

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).

Microsoft announced the Xbox One in what was, otherwise, a pretty slow week. I found it telling that the entire first 30 minutes of an hour-long presentation did not include a single game. In fact, while I’m sure the Xbox will be a great gaming device (Anand Lal Shimpi says the PS4 will be more powerful, but I’m very intrigued by the cloud component), I do wonder if the Xbox is brand constrained; the fact it’s associated with high end gaming may make it less likely folks buy it for the entertainment options alone. Time will tell, and I think the NFL partnership is really smart, albeit really expensive.

It was an ugly week for HTC: it’s never good when three separate news sites – The Verge, CNET, and Techcrunch – write exclusives about a senior executive leaving, and aren’t lying, because they’re all about a different executive. None of this is a surprise, unfortunately. I’ve written about HTC several times, including:

I strive to be pretty impartial on this blog, but I’m absolutely rooting for HTC; Taiwan, my adopted home country, really needs strong brands, and HTC was one of the best. But it really doesn’t look good, even if the HTC One has sold “around 5 million“.

It was a great week on stratechery. I greatly appreciate your spreading the word about stratechery and following @stratechery.

Articles | Linked List Items | Other Links Worth Reading | Tweets of the Week


  • Yahoo, Tumblr, and the Signal-to-ads Cycle

    Yahoo claims they need to grow, and Tumblr helps them grow in every aspect of online advertising: more ads, new kinds of ads, and better targeted ads.

    I also think about how the online advertising industry is evolving, and offer up a framework called the “Signal-to-ads Cycle.”

    Read the whole thing

  • The Google We Always Wanted

    Steve Jobs said Google needed to focus; countless folks in the blogosphere and Twitter have said the same.

    Well, guess what: Google is focused. Google IO showed that they are dominating the Signal-to-ads cycle. So why are so many folks unhappy?

    Read the whole thing

Linked List Items

  • How to know when Apple finally gets iCloud right — link — iCloud is to Apple as Android is to Google; both are a means to an end, and that’s why neither are great.
  • A Better, Brighter Flickr — link — I was super impressed with Yahoo’s Flickr relaunch, particularly the fact they timed it with the Tumblr acquisition.
  • Intel CEO shakes up units, creates ‘New Devices’ group — link — It’s not often you offer advice to a company, only to see them take it immediately…I’m obviously joking, but this is a good sign.
  • Hangouts requires a Google+ account — link — The definition of a strategy tax; messenger apps of the future are built on phone numbers, not proprietary identity systems.

Around the Web


  • On Yahoo & Tumblr: We have vision, delusion and hallucination and I want to know which one this is. — link — My favorite piece on the acquisition. I actually disagree with Saroff’s conclusion – he thinks it’s a bad idea – but I love his process. Must-read.
  • The $3B+ exit Tumblr could have had — link — Danielle Morrill argues that Tumblr had a viable business model, but just ran out of runway.
  • Tumblr brand will remain — with mostly “hands-off” product approach by Yahoo’s Mayer — link — Makes sense on the customer-facing side; on the data collection side, not-so-much.
  • Yahoo and Tumblr: It’s about display, streams & native at scale — link — The argument for native.
  • Yahoo, Tumblr and the race for identity — link — The argument for identity.
  • Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on Tumblr: We bought growth — link — It’s the type of growth that will be critical.

News & Analysis:

  • Pinterest takes a “first step” toward working with big brands — link — An obvious move. One wonders if it shouldn’t have happened a year ago, per “Charts of the Week”.
  • Apple offering new incentives to make the iPhone more affordable in India — link — I’ve talked about Apple in India previously; it’s ground zero for the low-cost iPhone.
  • Samsung takes 95% of total industry profits earned from Android phones — link — Pretty amazing, and strong evidence that there is a network-type effect in channel and supply chain domination.
  • Wanted: apps for Galaxy smartphones — link — It’s rather striking that the article only mentions Andoird once, and it’s to say “Android developers.”
  • Pew: 94% of teenagers use Facebook, have 425 Facebook friends, but Twitter & Instagram adoption way up — link — AllThingsD interprets this as The Kids Love Twitter; Facebook, Not So Much. Annoying.
  • Japan mobile messaging LINE ready to cooperate with China censors — link — A necessary move; LINE is a superior product to WeChat, which dominates this space. It will be interesting to see how it fares.
  • Phone firms sell data on customers — link — No one has better data on consumer behavior than the mobile carriers, and they are leveraging it. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?
  • Capture user interest with the Lead Generation Card — link — This is a smart addition to the Twitter offering for marketers. Twitter is so tantalizing for so many reasons. I really need to write about them soon.
  • Online video-ad network Tremor Video files for its IPO — link — There’s one online ad category that seems to be working out.
  • Yahoo submits bid for Hulu — link — In fact, I should have included video ads as its own category in the signal-to-ads cycle.
  • Google to fund, develop wireless networks in emerging markets — link — More signal.

Charts of the Week:

  • Via @benedictevans, the Google trends data for Tumblr, Daily Motion, and Pinterest — link — I didn’t realize Pinterest had so clearly peaked.


  • Contrasts: Apple’s Tim Cook and Samsung’s Lee Kun-hee — link — A comparison of how the U.S. treats Apple versus how South Korea treats Samsung. It’s difficult to overstate how embedded Samsung is into South Korean society.
  • On market share — link — A smart, balanced take on what matters when it comes to winning and losing in smart phones.
  • Android’s market share is literally a joke — link — John Kirk takes apart the market share absolutists; it’s satisfying in its devastation, but ultimately uninteresting because it tells us nothing about the future.
  • The Android Detour — link — I’m actually linking myself here, to make a broader point; what is so silly about the market or profit share argument is that Apple and Google are playing completely different games.
  • E-commerce is a bear — link — One of the best things I’ve read this week. Basically, bow before the god that is Amazon.
  • What really happens on a teen girl’s iPhone — link — A great expose on the viscosity of social networks and messaging.
  • My questions for Tim Cook — link — Great stuff from Asymco.


  • A tale of two Apple stores (the first two) — link — A great retrospective on occasion of the 10th year anniversary of the first Apple stores. Said stores are racking up record revenue.
  • The one-person product — link — A pitch-perfect reflection on the founding of Tumblr from employee number one.


  • Dear American consumers: please don’t start eating healthfully. Sincerely, the food industry — link
  • Cars, people sent tumbling into Skagit River as I-5 bridge collapses — link — We have had a perfect storm these last five years of high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and historically low interest rates. We could have rebuilt our country’s entire infrastructure, put millions to work, and been effectively paid to do it. One day, we will look back at this missed opportunity that cost not just a literal bridge, but a metaphorical one to the next century of growth.

Tweets of the Week

  • “Yahoo bought Tumblr. Somewhere, Flickr is crying in a cornr.” @gavinpurcell
  • “When is Mayer launching Yahoo+?” @theromit
  • “You know how Silicon Valley’s trapped in weird sci-fun navel gazing bro-topic? That’s what happens when no one gets a great education.” @umairh
  • “Why I Am Taking A Principled Moral Stand About Which Ad-Supported Social Networking Products I Will Use” @NextTechBlog
  • “A big marketing mistake startups make is they look like a startup & think startups are their target customers which isn’t the case usually.” @thesmitpatel
  • “Yahoo users are like people who click on banner ads. We know they must exist, but we’ve never met one.” @BenedictEvans
  • “4.6 million wildly unsuccessful people that dropped out of high school VS. 10 wildly successful people who dropped out of high school.” @SammyWalrusIV
  • “To everyone that thinks Tumblr is going to be overrun with ads: you know how simple the Google homepage is? That was Marissa.” @levie
  • “What happened to Nokia is that people stopped buying phones and started buying computers that fit in a pocket.” @monkbent
  • “For the first time, you and your TV are going to have a relationship.’ I believe that’s only legal in 3 states.” @getwired
  • “Hm. Did I miss the standing ovation the entire US Senate gave Apple for inventing products desired by nearly everyone on earth?” @OpenJonathan
  • “Little Timmy wants the iPad, Dad wants the Xbox One. Mom wants lots of alcohol.” @ben_kersey
  • “I’ve been so very, very wrong. The creator of the GIF has spoken: ‘It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.'” @tim
  • “What if we’ve been pronouncing Google wrong all these years?” @rklau
  • “So I’m sipping Gin with my friend George whilst watching a show on German Geography when I hear GIF is being pronounced wrong?” @jordanmerrick
  • “I want to think making great products is good enough. I want to live in that world.” @saschasegan
  • “It’s only called Google’s #BigTent because a more permanent structure might suggest UK residency.” @SirMervynKing
  • “Not enough has been made of Flickr’s 1TB free space. We’re now in an an era where you can get more free storage on the cloud than on devices” @fmanjoo
  • “Terrorists post justification, standing over corpse, on London street, to youtube from mobile. The world we live in.” @benedictevans
  • “NTT DoCoMo’s Sugimura says they will sell a Tizen product 2nd half of this year.” @WaltBTIG
  • “A fine internet tradition. the guys who came in after me really screwed things up.” @davewiner
  • “Fact: You can’t spell “Yahoo and Hulu” without #YOLO” @b_fung