“This is the angst that fills those in the news business, and society broadly. The reality of the Internet is that there is no more bell curve; power laws dominate, and the challenge of our time is figuring out what to do with a population distribution that is fundamentally misaligned with Internet economics.”—Ben Thompson
Google in the fall launched an initiative to better see—and direct—what smartphone and tablet users do on their devices. The effort seeks to mimic what Google built on the Web, with an index of the content inside mobile apps and links pointing to that content featured in Google’s search results on smartphones.
This is smart and useful of course, because there very well may be content / functionality that’s locked up inside an app on your phone that would be the perfect result for your search query. But the comparison to what Google built on the web is missing the point: the wondrous thing about the GoogleBot was that it didn’t index what was on your desktop PC, it indexed what was out there on the web and brought it directly to you.
Imagine the equivalent for apps: queries (intent-based or context-based) that return results full of rich content and services from apps, even if they aren’t installed on your phone. To do this, Google / Apple would at least need…
A mechanism for developers to expose those types of app experiences. Think widgets; they’d be the investment equivalent of SEO on the web.
The equivalent of the GoogleBot and PageRank for apps. The index space is finite and known (Google and Apple own the app stores, remember); but they would probably need to be running those apps (interesting virtualization problem at scale) to know what results would be most appropriate to deliver.
Knowledge of the searching user to personalize results. The best result for a query about the SF Giants may be different for me (more serious baseball fan) than someone in the UK; thus, deliver the MLB app snippet over the ESPN app snippet. There’s plenty of context about the user available from the phone…
A UX framework for delivering these to users at the right time (i.e. intent- or context-based queries). Google Now or Siri, anyone?
The Google Play and iOS App Stores are today’s equivalent of the Yahoo directory circa 1997. We’re blessed with 21st century device capabilities (audio, video, sound, location, motion, identity, etc.), but stuck with 20th century application distribution. In other words, how long until Google Now and Siri get opened up to every developer in the app stores?
If you go back and apply the formula [yield = earnings/purchase price] and use zero for yield/interest rate, then one would pay an infinite amount for an earning stream. Of course that doesn’t make sense and it has not happened. But valuations are at extreme levels because you cannot get a decent return on your money doing anything else.
Rational financial argument about why money is flowing into venture funds; there’s a lot of money out there that needs to get to work. Layer this on top of the rush to eat the world with software, the massive shift to mobile, and the media’s hero worship of tech — then that’s the start of a more complete picture of what’s happening.
New laptop: MacBook Air 11”, base model stock configuration. Blown away that for $999+tax you get what I think is the best laptop form factor, with enough power and storage for probably 90% of what consumers need (reading, writing, streaming, clicking)…especially if you’ve embraced cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Netflix, Rdio, etc., and can offload storage & media to the paid professionals. It took me about 20 minutes to get this configured the way I want, and most of that was spent installing Dropbox and getting One Password configured.
I thought for a little bit about trying to go all iPad all the time, since most of the interesting consumer software is being developed for iOS. But I couldn’t bear to give up the keyboard and command-tab: I can’t type very fast on glass, and no keyboard-based app switching (even with an external keyboard!) is a killer.
Only downside so far? The machine came preinstalled with the new version of Keynote. Bleh.
“Backrub was possible because links were open & inspectable, and the web was crawlable by anyone. That isn’t really the case for mobile yet. Much of the content & services & connections is all locked up by the big, sophisticated players. So data is more fragmented, more separate. And less mash-uppable. So we got apps, and daily/hourly engagement with billions of people. But we haven’t figured out how to sort it yet. Haven’t figured out how to find & share.”—John Lilly, Mobile in the ‘pre-pagerank’ phase
“Without mobile, it doesn’t matter how much money Facebook has. If you’re asking whether Zuckerberg paid too much for WhatsApp, you’re asking the wrong question. Zuckerberg is sending a message, here, that Facebook will never stop in its attempt to dominate mobile — that no amount of money is too much.”—Felix Salmon
In addition to being good at other things, Stewart Butterfield writes good memo. His email to the @slackhq team is an instant add to the product management canon. Here’s the bit that stuck out for me:
A central thesis is that all products are asking things of their customers: to do things in a certain way, to think of themselves in a certain way — and usually that means changing what one does or how one does it; it often means changing how one thinks of oneself.
When you’re in the thick of validating your market and writing briefs and and working with engineers and designers and hitting your sprints, it’s hard to remember to be asking this question: Who do you want your customers to become? Can you imagine your customers as better people, thanks to your product? Is the work you’re doing right now helping those customers become better versions of themselves?
“Once a programming team has adopted a methodology it’s almost inevitable that a few members of the team, or maybe just one bully, will demand strict adherence and turn it into a religion. The resulting passive-aggression kills productivity faster than any methodology or technology decision.”—Typical Programmer - Why don’t software development methodologies work? via buzz.
January 22nd Dong Nguyen was probably extremely excited about the couple months worth of revenue his marketing experiment had pulled off. … February 1st Dong Nguyen, on the other hand, must have questioned if the world had lost its mind.
“I had forgotten over the course of five years that I didn’t know in 2009 that Jimmy Fallon even had an animating principle, let alone know that it would turn out to be joy, which is the animating principle of entirely too little of popular culture.”—Linda Holmes on Fallon’s last show.
“Mr. Hoffman had three young children, a son and two daughters, with his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, a costume designer. The family lived in an apartment on Jane Street, neighbors said, not far from the building on Bethune Street where, according to the police, Mr. Hoffman was found dead in a fourth-floor apartment around 11:30 a.m. He appeared to have been living in the apartment for a short time, they said. The downstairs buzzer listed a different name.”—This is fucking heartbreaking.
2013 was a fantastic year for Twitter. You all should be very proud of the great work we did.
As we head into 2014, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what’s important to me and what I love to do. I’ve spent most of my career working at startups, helping them scale and having a direct hand on the product. Over the past few weeks I’ve talked with Dick and Ali about what I want next in my career, and what Twitter needs at this stage of its life. And I’ve decided that it’s time for me to move on.
Starting today I’m transitioning to an advisory role. I’ll be helping with product strategy, providing input on the great work the team has lined up for 2014, and helping Ali find a new head of product. After that, I’m excited to go figure out what’s next. I hear this Internet thing has legs.
I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to work with an amazing team on one of the most important products on the planet. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“We’ve noticed that you have received this survey invitation in the past, but we have not heard from you. We hope you’ll consider giving us input. Feedback from our customers is critical in helping us improve our service and we act on it. We really are listening!”—This is from an email from our insurance company, but could have been pulled right out of The Circle.
“It may be that another telling of the Amazon story—for example, that people at Amazon have no secret agenda they’ve been able to keep hidden for 19 years, really do believe in the mission they keep repeating, and are working hard and of their own free will to realize it —would strike readers as less exciting than the version offered here.”—Amazon.com: MacKenzie Bezos’ review of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the A… (via heif)
“For me the starting point for everything, before strategy, tactics, theories, managing, organizing, philosophy, methodology, talent, or experience, is work ethic. Without one of significant magnitude you’re dead in the water, finished.”—Bill Walsh