2007: "The iPod Killer" →

Jason Kottke, just after the original iPhone was announced in January 2007:

I guess we know why iPod development has seemed a little sluggish lately. When the Zune came out two months ago, it was thought that maybe Apple was falling behind, coasting on the fumes of an aging product line, and not innovating in the portable music player space anymore. I think the iPhone puts this discussion on the back burner for now. And the Zune? The supposed iPod-killer’s bullet ricocheted off of the iPhone’s smooth buttonless interface and is heading back in the wrong direction.

Sounds just like today, critics preaching a similar narrative: "The iPhone is boring, Apple can't innovate anymore."

Instagram's Advantage →

Ben Thompson:

So good for Instagram: Snapchat’s Stories is a great product that has already gone through years of iterations; why, but for pride, would you build something different?

Still, cloning isn’t enough. The fact features don’t offer useful differentiation does not remove the need for differentiation: the key is figuring out what else can be leveraged. Google, for example, may have largely copied the iPhone’s UI, but the key to Android’s success was the search company’s ability to leverage their advertising-based business model to offer it for free. On the hardware side Samsung leveraged their manufacturing might and long-established distribution channels to dominate the otherwise undifferentiated Android market, at least for a time. And, in perhaps the most famous example of this strategy, Microsoft embraced web standards with Internet Explorer, extended their browser’s capabilities with features like ActiveX, eventually extinguishing the threat when Netscape couldn’t keep up.

This is why it is so fascinating that Facebook is leveraging Instagram in this way. For all of Snapchat’s explosive growth, Instagram is still more than double the size, with far more penetration across multiple demographics and international users. Rather than launch a “Stories” app without the network that is the most fundamental feature of any app built on sharing, Facebook is leveraging one of their most valuable assets: Instagram’s 500 million users. [Emphasis mine]

Nailed it.

So now the question is: what are content creators and social media influencers going to do? How many will make the effort to cross-post on both networks? If they don't, are they going to stick with Snapchat because it has better filters and lenses? Or are they going to migrate to Instagram which has more than double the viewers?

Instagram can copy Snapchat's filters and lens easily with enough time…but Snapchat acquiring new users from Instagram just got a lot harder.

Ultimately, I believe, viewers are going to follow wherever their favorite celebs go. We'll have to wait and see.

Apple's New Subscription-Based Pricing for Apps →

John Gruber:

This dramatically changes the economics of the App Store. Until now, productivity apps could charge up front as paid downloads and that was it. Updates had to be free, or, to charge for major new versions, developers would have to play confusing games by making the new version an entirely new app. Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific, for example, did this, to justify years of ongoing development. Now, apps like this can instead charge an annual/monthly/etc. subscription fee.

This could be the change that makes the market for professional-caliber iPad apps possible. On the Mac, there has long been a tradition of paying a large amount of money for a pro app, then paying a smaller amount of money for major updates. The App Store has never allowed for that sort of upgrade pricing — but upgrade pricing is what enabled ongoing continuous development of pro software. Paying for each major new version, however, is arguably a relic of the age when software came in physical boxes. Subscription-based pricing — “software as a service (SaaS)” — the modern equivalent. That’s the route both Microsoft and Adobe have taken.

I don't see this affecting most mainstream consumers very much; most people really only use five apps, and those apps are usually the free, popular and cross-platform ones.

But what I am excited about is how this helps power users and productivity apps. Currently, most people would never take a chance on a $20 app. But with the new subscription-based pricing and free trials, that barrier is greatly lowered. Less commitment for consumers and more sustainability for developers.

I'm optimistic about real desktop-class apps coming to iPads and iPhone.

The Best is The Last →

Benedict Evans:

The development of technologies tends to follow an S-Curve: they improve slowly, then quickly, and then slowly again. And at that last stage, they're really, really good. Everything has been optimised and worked out and understood, and they're fast, cheap and reliable. That's also often the point that a new architecture comes to replace them. You can see this very clearly today in devices such as Apple's new Macbook or Windows 'ultrabooks' - they've taken Intel's x86 and the mouse and window-based GUI model as far as they can go, and reached the point that everything possible has been optimised. Smartphones are probably at the point that the curve is starting to flatten - a lot has been optimised but there's still work to do, especially around cameras and battery life, and of course GPUs for VR. That curve will probably flatten out just at the point that AR starts to start shipping.

Kids React to Windows 95 →

Tomorrow's workforce is today's kids who grew up on smartphones and tablets as their primary computers.

When these kids grow up, a "real computer" to them will not be a traditional laptop with disc drives, removable batteries, or user-upgradeable RAM/storage. Tomorrow's "real computer" will be more like today's Microsoft Surface, iPad Pro, or controversial MacBook.

Today's smartphones still have headphone jacks. The next iPhone reportedly will not.

Some will look at it as a step backwards. Apple sees it as a step forward.

Step One for Cable TV 2.0 →

The Verge:

In a three-to-two vote, the FCC has decided to move ahead with a proposal that could drastically change the cable set-top box industry. The decision may have far-reaching consequences for how cable customers watch TV — ultimately allowing them to go through third parties for their set-top systems, rather than being tied to the same company they use for cable service. […]

Wheeler argues that if any company can build a box that can communicate with any TV service, those companies will be able to get started building cable boxes rather than having to work out other deals first. The competition, the Chairman argues, will drive down costs and improve device options for consumers. He said at the assembled meeting that "consumers have no choice today," and that the proposed rules did not make major changes for consumers. "It only creates the opportunity for them to have choice."

HUGE first step for consumers and MASSIVE potential for Xbox, Apple TV, Playstation, and others to innovate.

Coming Soon: The Television Revolution →

Benjamin Smith:

What is the second wave? The second wave is the idea that the internet goliaths of the world are now playing for the $150 or so we spend with the cable companies each month. In an effort to justify and grow the monthly price of their particular content bundle, these Goliaths will acquire, roll up, and merge anything and everything into the offering.

This is an all-out war, and it’s all about who you pay each month for all of your entertainment. […]

More than anything, content on the web will grow up, and be forced to be much better than before. Look at our television choices now. Thanks to the second wave, we’re seeing the beginning of a tel evision revolution. Look for this revolution to spread to other forms of content. We’ll also ask more from our news providers. One of the major benefits of a subscription business model is that it allows businesses to better plan and forecast. In a social media world, better planning simply means better content.

It really boils down to one simple idea. Somebody has to pay for content. In the very early days of the web, the cost of content was forced on the platform or creator themselves. That sure didn’t last for long. We then tried advertisers. Even worse results. And now, in the second wave of the web, it’s us. The consumer will pay for content. Expect life on the web to get a whole lot better, even if you are part of the Google plan, and your in-laws are part of the rival Amazon plan.

The Mobile Generation →

Ben Bajarin:

There is truly something happening with this generation growing up spending the bulk, if not all, of their computing time using mobile operating systems and doing new things with new tools. Being the techie that I am, I was a bit disheartened that my twelve-year-old was getting more out of the iPad Pro and pushing it further limits than I was. But she is a part of the mobile generation after all. For them, the future will look quite different and the tools they use to make that future might look quite similar to the iPad Pro.

It's easy for us older guys to dismiss the iPad Pro as "a large iPad that'll never replace my laptop". But for the mobile generation — the generation of kids who grew up with touchscreens and don't know the Save icon is a floppy disk — this is an evolution of technology they are most familiar with.

iOS: The Enterprise OS of the Millennial Generation →

Tim Bajarin:

This younger generation does use PCs. However, they actually spend the most time on their iPhones and iPads and Macs are mostly relegated to serious productivity projects. More importantly, they know iOS inside and out as they spend much more of their day in this operating system then they do on any computer they have. I believe Apple understands this better than anyone and their most recent iPad Pro is a nod to this trend. More importantly, I see Apple using this to drive millennials towards making iOS their OS of choice as they move into their careers and new jobs. In fact, within 5-7 years, I suspect Windows will not even be of interest to this younger set, as iOS will be the device operating system that dominates their work and personal lifestyles.

Apple playing the long game.