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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.

Law is the framework that produces the world we live in. Invisibly, it surrounds and shapes our daily lives. Like software, laws quickly become opaque once they are enacted, but they don’t stop running. There are brief periods when we are able to intervene, to prevent future injustice, and to call not only for the kind of law we would like to see made but also the kind of world we would like to live in, which will be inevitably produced by those laws. Making the case for terrorism suspects, for asylum seekers, for stateless refugees, is one of the hardest cases to make. But in these situations we see tested the most extreme cases of our law and our humanity.

James Bridle, <The Siege on Citizenship

If you’re born in the United States, no matter where your parents are from or what nationality they possess, you have the right to US citizenship. This principle is called jus soli, literally the “right of the soil,” and it’s actually quite rare in the world: only the Americas implement it, mostly, without restrictions. In the rest of the world, the principle of jus sanguinis, the “right of blood,” holds sway. What matters is where your parents are from and what rights they hold.

Writing in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, exposed to the flood of stateless people unleashed by that conflict, Hannah Arendt memorably identified the possession of a defined citizenship as “the right to have rights.” As the state is the ultimate arbiter of all rights, your recognition by any state is the first condition of the protection of your rights. In law, under jus sanguinis, you are who you are because of whom your parents are, and “who you are” determines whether you have any rights at all.

My handle is @curiousoctopus on Twitter, and the reason is that I reach out in many directions and grasp everything, bring it back and digest everything. That is what my office says about me. It says there is enthusiasm and apparent chaos, but in truth an inner order.

Paola Antonelli, interviewed by Edward Lewine in Surrounded by Great Design at MoMA, and Not Afraid to Use It

I think she’s paraphrasing Henry Mintzberg, who said of emergent strategy, 

Emergent strategy means, not chaos, but in essence unintended order.

A nation is a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbors.

Ernest Renan, What is a Nation? (Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?)

Innovation is never a neutral quantity. Technologies and artifacts are shaped by the values, priorities, and assumptions of their developers, and often their users as well. Of course, many technologies are designed or refined with particular goals in mind, but here I am referring to a different and less deliberate shaping process, through which artifacts come to reflect and reproduce beliefs about the types of functions and ways of living and working that are important.

Julie Cohen, What is privacy for