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iStick: A USB Drive For The LIghtning Connector

Walt Mossberg, iStick Is a USB Thumb Drive for the Latest iPhones and iPads

I’ve been testing an early, pre-production version of iStick and its companion app of the same name, and found that it does indeed work as advertised for file transfers. It still has a few bugs to work out before shipping, and the process isn’t quite as simple as it is between two computers, due to the unusual file system used by iOS. But the product works, and I suspect it will be welcomed by many iPhone and iPad users.

The iStick is a small, rectangular plastic device with a light-up slider button in the middle. You slide the button one way to expose a standard USB jack you can use in a Mac or PC, and slide it the other way to expose a Lightning connector you can plug into a late-model iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

It’s made by a company called Sanho, based in Fremont, Calif., whose mostly Apple-oriented hardware accessories go by the brand Hyper. And it’s much pricier than a simple, commodity USB thumb drive. It starts at $80 for an eight gigabyte model, and ranges up to $250 for 128GB of storage. The company says the higher prices are required to license the Lightning connector and to meet stringent Apple requirements.

Why do I need this, if I have Dropbox or iCloud Drive? The only use case that makes sense is wanting to carry around a bunch of videos or documents, and not wanting to use up a lot of storage on the devices.

Curiosity ends up being the driving force behind the most interesting people.

Nick Crocker, Thirty Things I’ve Learned   

To do great things, you have to go unrecognized, be under-appreciated and push to unreasonable lengths.

Nick Crocker, Thirty Things I’ve Learned   

The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.

Warren Buffett

First sighting of a buy now button on Twitter.

First sighting of a buy now button on Twitter.

Nichole Kelly on Replenishment, not Vacation

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There is no way you can use the word “reality” without quotation marks around it.

Joseph Campbell

(Source: inthenoosphere, via gravity-rainbow)

Jean-Louis Gassée Decodes Satya Nadella’s Email

The other day, Satya Nadella releases a sprawling memo, ostensibly to clarify Microsoft’s strategy under his leadership, and it positions the company as a ‘productivity and platform’ company, not the ‘devices and services’ orientation that Ballmer introduced in 2012, and reorganized the company around.

As a result, we should expect another top-to-bottom reorganization of the company, but Nadella only hinted at that, not really revealing any specific plans. And not announcing a departure from any line of business, either (see Satya Nadella wants to focus on the core of Microsoft’s business, which is… everything).

Jean-Louis Gassée took a look at the memo, and tried to break it down, and he found a lot of smoke but little fire. But then he tried to decode it:

Tortured statements from CEOs, politicians, coworkers, spouses, or suppliers, in no hierarchical order, mean one thing: I have something to hide, but I want to be able to say I told you the facts.

With all this in mind, let’s see if we can restate Nadella’s message to the troops:

This is the beginning of our new FY 2015 – and of a new era at Microsoft.

I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is the old Devices and Services mantra won’t work.

For example: I’ve determined we’ll never make money in tablets or smartphones.

So, do we continue to pretend we’re “all in” or do we face reality and make the painful decision to pull out so we can use our resources – including our integrity – to fight winnable battles? With the support of the Microsoft Board, I’ve chosen the latter. We’ll do our utmost to minimize the pain that will naturally arise from this change. Specifically, we’ll offer generous transitions arrangements in and out of the company to concerned Microsoftians and former Nokians.

The good news is we have immense resources to be a major player in the new world of Cloud services and Native Apps for mobile devices. We let the first innings of that game go by, but the sting energizes us. An example of such commitment is the rapid spread of Office applications – and related Cloud services – on any and all mobile devices. All Microsoft Enterprise and Consumer products/services will follow, including Xbox properties.

I realize this will disrupt the status quo and apologize for the pain to come. We have a choice: change or be changed.

Stay tuned.

With or without the clarity that Gassée would have him use, Nadella definitely has something up his sleeve, and  he only hinted at it so far. But this is going to be a rough time to be a Microsoftie, I bet.

Benedict Evans On The Unbundling Of Samsung

Benedict Evans digs into the bind that Samsung is in, maybe a response to Ben Thompson’s Why Samsung Will Fall  posted on July 8.

But Evans goes a step beyond Thompson’s analysis, suggesting that Samsung is being unbundled by the entire Shenzhen ecosystem, not just being trapped in the middle between Google and Apple on one side, and low-cost manufacturers on the other.

Benedict Evans, Unbundling innovation: Samsung, PCs and China

When you unbundle an industry, you get new and different types of innovation in different layers of the stack. The skills you had in the bundled world may well still apply in the layer you find yourself in. Hence Samsung carries on doing interesting and impressive things in components, and can innovate up to a point in handsets, with things like phablets, so long as they do not depend on concessions from other parts of the stack. Equally, for example, Dell created an entirely new type of PC company - the PC company as a highly specialised logistics business - without differentiating at the operating system layer at all. 

But what’s happened for PCs and smartphones and, to a large extent, mobile networks is that it’s that top layer of the stack, that the PC and Android OEMs  and operators struggle to play in, that’s where most of the differentiation happens…ged these adjacent strengths to create better products and a stronger market position. Samsung has used the scale of the component business and access to those components to drive the devices business and vice versa, despite failing, mostly, to create compelling software differentiation. This leveraging of scale, combined with some great execution, has taken it to at least half of the total Android market. 

The problem is that Samsung is increasingly competing with another sort of scale effect - it is competing with the entire Shenzhen ecosystem. Before, it was competing with individual companies (many of which happened to use that ecosystem), and like Nokia before it was fortunate in the relative weakness of most of its competitors. As for Nokia, that luck was bound to run out. Now Samsung is starting to face competition with new companies who are finding ways to build new types of handset businesses on top of that ecosystem - taking that ecosystem and using it to unbundle Samsung.

So Samsung is hosed because they can’t dominate any specific part of the stack. Again, their only avenue is Tizen, but they keep fudging the launch.