The Talk Show

328: ‘The Warden’s Dilemma’, With Ben Thompson


00:00:00   we have a theme. Here's the thing. Oftentimes, the way I run this show, we don't necessarily have a

00:00:04   theme. We might have a list of talking points, but we have a theme. I'll just spoil it. It's

00:00:08   the metaverse. I think we can fill a whole talk show with it. Yeah, but we have to establish,

00:00:14   I mean, we have this luxurious amount of time because we usually record in 15-minute segments,

00:00:20   and we already devoted two episodes of Dithering to the metaverse, but I think we just have to

00:00:25   establish as a rule that we're going to pretend those two episodes don't exist. Okay, that makes

00:00:29   sense. One, obviously, a lot of your listeners aren't subscribers. I mean, shame on them,

00:00:34   but we have to accept the unfortunate reality. But two, it's just going to be impossible to

00:00:40   keep it straight otherwise. So, I think we pretend like we've never talked about it before and go

00:00:44   from there. Well, the good news is my podcast amnesia does not just apply to my own show. It

00:00:49   applies to Dithering as well, so I actually don't really remember the specifics of what that was.

00:00:56   Speaking of podcast amnesia, I have a bit of follow-up, but I actually don't remember which

00:01:01   episode of my show I spoke about it. I believe it was the recent one with Moltz, but it could have

00:01:08   been with Nilay. I'm not quite sure, but one of the recent episodes, we were talking about turning

00:01:13   TVs on and off, and I have this LG OLED we bought. It feels like we've had it forever, but in fact,

00:01:20   it was installed like a week before COVID hit, which is why it feels like we've had it forever.

00:01:26   Yeah, that was another era.

00:01:28   I was telling somebody today, somebody was asking about my eyes, and my most recent cataract surgery

00:01:36   was in June of 2020, and in fact, was supposed to happen in March of 2020 and couldn't because the

00:01:44   place where they were going to do it shut down. So, I very, very, very vividly remember that it,

00:01:49   yeah, I was supposed to have it, then I had to wait, which was annoying because I couldn't see

00:01:53   very well, and then my eye doctor contacted me as soon as they were doing procedures again,

00:01:58   like did not forget me, and it was much appreciated. But I was talking about it like

00:02:03   it was like three or four years ago. It was like a year and a couple months. It is amazing how this

00:02:10   time has gone. Anyway, I was complaining about the fact that with HDMI power, and you know,

00:02:16   there's a couple of stupid names for it, but the basic idea is that you connect your TV to like an

00:02:21   Apple TV or some other box, and the box should be able to turn the TV on and off with just the one

00:02:27   remote. And with my LG, we have a TiVo hooked up, and we have an Apple TV hooked up, and the TiVo

00:02:34   can turn the TV on and off, but the Apple TV can only turn it off, which if it could only do one,

00:02:42   is better because it's like, "I just want to go to bed, hit one button, everything goes off,

00:02:46   I go to bed." But if I want to just turn it on, the Apple TV power wouldn't turn it on.

00:02:51   And I just figured it was because I had the wrong type of HDMI cable, like almost good enough,

00:02:58   but not quite good enough, and it goes through the back of the wall. It would be like a nightmare to

00:03:03   put a new cable back there. I mean, in theory, I could switch the cable with the TiVo, but then

00:03:08   maybe the TiVo wouldn't work as well, and I could just live with it, whatever. Turns out, from a

00:03:14   listener of the show, I thanked him personally, but he goes by a seemingly anonymous name on

00:03:21   Twitter, so I don't want to mention it. He thinks he has either the same TV as me or a similar one,

00:03:26   and if you go into settings, this is on the LG TV, you go to settings, and then within settings,

00:03:33   you go to all settings, then you go to connection, then you go to HDMI device settings,

00:03:41   not device connector. Don't go there, because that'll mess it up. And you turn on simp, link,

00:03:47   HDMI, CEC, and auto power sync, and it might all work. And not only does this now all work,

00:03:56   but now the Apple TV remote, if the TV's off and it's set to the TiVo, it will not only turn the

00:04:03   TV on, but it will change the HDMI input to the Apple TV. Gripping, gripping radio.

00:04:10   But for the record, I had to mention this, because this has been bedeviling me.

00:04:16   I have a magical system that everything just works, and whatever you turn on, it switches

00:04:22   the right input, etc., etc. And then one day I updated my TV software, I have no idea why I did

00:04:28   that. And then it stopped working, and I'm just like, I'm just killing myself. I'm so mad, I'm

00:04:34   so frustrated, I have to use two remotes all the time. I'm not sure what happened, it just started

00:04:39   working again. So I backed my magical TV setup, but I will never update another thing in my

00:04:43   entertainment center again. Did you turn your TV off the internet? To me, that's key. And number

00:04:50   one, it's sort of like a spyware type thing. But number two, I've got this TV setup perfect.

00:04:54   But there's nothing I want to do on the actual TV. I don't want to use their smart apps. So I've

00:05:01   banned the TV from the internet. Yeah, I have it on the internet. Because I like the—it

00:05:09   has a Chromecast built in. And I don't know, Chromecast can be a little fidgety,

00:05:12   I also have a Chromecast connected. And I like having a backup, because that's the way I watch

00:05:17   NBA games. So I use Chromecast all the time. And it's really frustrating when it doesn't work,

00:05:22   so I like having it as a backup and whatever. They can observe that I'm watching NBA games.

00:05:27   Then I'll bet though that's what happened to you. I'll bet you got a software update that put the

00:05:32   kibosh— No, no, no, but I approved the software update. That's why I was mad at myself. Because

00:05:37   at least they asked you if you want to update. But it wasn't, and then you didn't approve a

00:05:41   next update, and that's when it fixed itself. It just fixed itself without even approving a software.

00:05:46   There might have been another update. I'm not sure. I can't remember. I just remember

00:05:49   how devastated I was when it stopped working with just one remote. It's so annoying, because when it

00:05:59   works, it's like magic. You can turn on the PlayStation or turn on the AppTV or start

00:06:05   streaming over Chromecast or AppleTV, whatever it might be, and it just goes to the right thing,

00:06:10   and it all works, and the speakers turn on, and it's amazing. Which is how we grew up with old

00:06:17   analog stuff. When everything was completely analog, it was always one button. No, no, no.

00:06:22   Do you remember the old Nintendo RF adapter? Oh yeah. Where you connected your TV, and you had to

00:06:31   literally turn dials on your TV. Not to date ourselves. Well, I'll go back to the Atari 2600,

00:06:40   where it hooked up by screws to the antenna input on the back of the TV.

00:06:45   That's right. That's right. Yup. And it was a little box that you would—the

00:06:50   Atari little dingus in the back of the TV had a switch that was from two to three,

00:06:57   so you could pick whether you set your TV. But you had to have the little box on two,

00:07:02   and the TV on two, or the box on three, and the TV on three.

00:07:06   Right, because they didn't want to confuse—in case your local station was on either two or three.

00:07:10   Yeah, but we had stations on both two and three, so it was never very clear to me

00:07:16   why they—what this option was for. Oh, interesting. So, we only had a channel three.

00:07:20   So, the next channel up was like channel 15 or something. So, I thought that's why that existed.

00:07:26   But maybe, obviously, I'm overgeneralizing from—

00:07:28   Well, let me get greedy here now that I've had a listener of the show fix my Apple TV turning on

00:07:36   the TV problem. And if anybody remembers or knows why the Atari 2600 offered you both two and three

00:07:43   as options, send me an email or a direct message or something like that, and let me know. I'll

00:07:50   update it on a future episode of gripping AV Club introductions to the talk show. My best guess

00:07:58   as a little kid was always that maybe if you lived really close to one of the stations,

00:08:03   the signal was so strong that it would screw up the Atari.

00:08:05   Yeah, that could be the case.

00:08:07   But yeah, that was—

00:08:09   We're clearly talking completely hard about your headset this way.

00:08:12   I guess you're right. See, I guess things started going awry when we started hooking up

00:08:16   TVs to actual stereos. When I was a kid, nobody, even the friend who had the biggest TV that I was

00:08:22   the most jealous of because it seemed the nicest, it wasn't hooked up to a stereo. The TV still

00:08:27   played the audio through the TV speakers. And once we started hooking stuff up to the receivers,

00:08:32   then you had to separate remote for this, separate remote for that. I also remember then getting

00:08:38   a separate remote for the cable box that you had to use, but I guess we used that for everything

00:08:44   at that point. I'm not sure. But anyway, I'm back to the simplicity of 1978 where I hit one button

00:08:51   and it turns my Apple TV on. I almost want to rush through the show just so that I can go upstairs

00:08:56   and turn my TV on. Let me take a break here and thank our first sponsor. It's a new sponsor. I'm

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00:10:45   where somebody can be the editor of a spreadsheet and they can share it with teammates and limit the

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00:11:25   Before we get to the metaverse, there's a bit of breaking news. There was an

00:11:30   updated trial with Epic and Apple. I actually watched a little bit of it for the first time,

00:11:35   so I had not seen Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Roger before. She takes no bullshit. Man, she cut

00:11:44   Apple's lawyer down to size quickly. Apple's been asking for a delay of her order that they

00:11:51   change the rules for the App Store until all the appeals are over. And she seemed not just

00:11:58   inclined to say no, but inclined to be annoyed that they were asking for that.

00:12:04   Well, so we have even further breaking news because the decision has actually been released.

00:12:08   Oh, and what does it say?

00:12:09   It is denied. This literally just happened like 10 minutes ago. It is denied. And yeah, she

00:12:16   is basically like, "Apple's didn't make any new arguments. All these arguments were at trial.

00:12:22   The only reasons Apple states are just to benefit Apple." And she's like, "I don't think it's very

00:12:28   complicated to let developers have links in their apps." It's pretty interesting.

00:12:32   Fair point. Links are a well-known technology or something along those lines.

00:12:37   She clearly, throughout the whole trial, has shown that she gets it at a high level, at least. And

00:12:44   it's hard to argue with any of it. She totally gets it. I'm not surprised that her argument

00:12:48   was something as simple as, "Links are a well-known technology." So did they get any kind of delay at

00:12:54   all, or is it still December 9th?

00:12:56   No, it's denied, December 9th. She's like, "Apple didn't ask for a delay, so I'm not granting one."

00:13:03   Because what Apple asked for was a stay, which is, you know, so basically the order's not enforced

00:13:08   until all appeals are exhausted. And that was denied. And the thing about this is, this applies

00:13:15   to all apps. It's not, you know, we've talked a lot about Apple should allow these links on

00:13:21   non-gaming apps. But this is going to apply to gaming apps as well, where you can have a link

00:13:26   going outside. So this is a pretty big deal. I think it actually really supports and backs up

00:13:32   our breakdown of it, in that it is clearly about links from other apps. It's not about building a

00:13:38   pseudo in-app purchase experience. That's Apple's purview. And I think she sort of confirms that.

00:13:45   But Apple should have loosened these rules years ago. And then they wouldn't be in this position

00:13:50   where it's coming down to a single judge. And now it's going to cost them significantly more

00:13:57   than just giving up on non-gaming apps would have cost them previously.

00:14:01   Tom: I think that's what they care about the most. But it also makes them

00:14:05   look like their hand was forced, because their hand was forced. Right? You know what I mean?

00:14:12   It's like somebody asks you to come into the courtroom, and maybe you should come into the

00:14:16   courtroom. But it's like if you come in with handcuffs and law enforcement leading you the way,

00:14:23   it doesn't look as voluntary as if you had just decided to show up.

00:14:27   Matt: December 9th is 30 days away.

00:14:30   Tom; Huh. Well, let's see what they come up with. It seemed to me like they were not expecting it.

00:14:35   There was a real change in demeanor with Apple's lawyer, Mark Perry, whose name I'm familiar with

00:14:40   from reading about, but I hadn't seen him before. But he seemed taken aback by her attitude. That

00:14:45   was my reason. And that's all, you know, it was just a three-panel Zoom with her and Epic's lawyer

00:14:50   and him. And he emphasized, his argument emphasizing why Apple was asking for this

00:14:56   was that Apple would like to have one set of rules worldwide and have,

00:15:02   despite the many complexities and differences in law worldwide, has largely achieved that,

00:15:10   which I think is actually honest. I think that is true that for the most part, the App Store works

00:15:15   the same around the world, and the only differences are in like there are certain countries where

00:15:21   certain types of apps are not allowed and they abide by those local laws, but the actual App

00:15:27   Store policies themselves are pretty consistent. And it's clear that this might be the beginning

00:15:33   of the end of that unless they wanted to apply her ruling worldwide.

00:15:38   The one thing to keep in mind is I believe, again, this just dropped, so I haven't read up on it,

00:15:44   but I believe that Apple can appeal the denial of the stay. And so it is possible that an appeals

00:15:51   court will grant the stay, which is an independent sort of thing that then actually winning the

00:15:57   appeal or denying the appeal or whatever it might be. So I think this is probably not over yet.

00:16:02   But again, that's me talking out of my room without having actually with this news that literally

00:16:08   just dropped.

00:16:12   [Music]

00:16:36   Of course, the judge that issued the ruling thinks the likelihood of success is low because

00:16:40   she wrote the opinion. So that's why I'm thinking about the appeal. There might be an appeals court

00:16:45   that does give Apple stay because they're maybe initially more skeptical of the ruling.

00:16:50   Brian "Brent" Miller Yeah, what's the betting line?

00:16:52   It seems like a 50/50 call to me, right? It's... I feel like the appeals courts, if it's going to

00:16:59   shake things up, they're willing to grant the petitioner at least some time. So I wouldn't be

00:17:05   surprised if this doesn't kick in December 9th.

00:17:09   Brian Well, it goes two ways. Because on one...

00:17:10   Because on the other hand, it's just letting apps have links in their apps, right? And that was part

00:17:15   of the judge's point. It's like, yeah, Apple feels like it's shaking things up because they don't

00:17:19   like the policy. But it's not like there's some deep technical change that is needed to be

00:17:25   happened here. It's just literally allowing apps to have links. So it's pretty easy to roll back.

00:17:30   Brian And it's like, I could see from Apple's

00:17:33   perspective that even if that's it, they want to get the language of the updated App Store guidelines

00:17:41   right. I mean, one way to look at what I was saying before about their argument about one set of rules

00:17:47   worldwide, I don't think the guidelines go country by country. I mean, I guess presumably, I don't

00:17:53   even know. I've actually never even thought about this before, whether there are versions of the

00:17:58   Apple App Store guidelines in other languages other than the ones I've always read in English.

00:18:03   Brian I could see that, but it's like, however

00:18:06   much finesse they would like to put into the updated guidelines that they feel would comply

00:18:12   with her injunction, number one, they should have been started on it already. And number two,

00:18:18   even if they literally only get started on it now, they should be able to have very good guidelines

00:18:24   in a month. I mean, if it's just guidelines, right? It's not...

00:18:27   Brian I think the reality is they had no intention

00:18:29   of actually abiding by this. I think that they were planning on putting in their own

00:18:34   relaxed things that sort of they announced following the Japan Antitrust Commission ruling,

00:18:41   and they assumed that that would be sufficient. But again, the reason why this is broader than...

00:18:47   Because the Japan ruling is similar in that Apple has to allow steering provisions,

00:18:52   but it's only for reader apps. And I think that's where Apple wanted to take it and wanted to be

00:18:57   like, "Hey, we allowed it for reader apps. We're not going to allow for games." And they would give

00:19:01   various reasons, justifications. I think what they didn't anticipate or weren't expecting was

00:19:06   having to do it for everything. But again, that's Apple's fault. They could have been writing new app

00:19:12   store regulations for the last 10 years. And the fact that they chose not to and insisted on

00:19:21   garnishing every single cent that they could, that's the core problem here and the core issue

00:19:26   that they're running up against. And it's exactly what we... We've been talking about this for years.

00:19:30   By being so intransigent, it's going to cost them more. They're going to lose more than if they

00:19:36   would have just given up a reasonable amount in the past. Yeah, and it's funny too, because even

00:19:42   on the shift towards moving more and more developers to just an 85/15 split from the start,

00:19:49   whether it's subscription or whatever it is, and just leaving the 70/30 for the big revenue games,

00:19:56   Google's solution is very simple. Google more or less moved all Android developers into Play Store

00:20:04   to 85/15. That's so much simpler than Apple's shift towards 15, which was to create the small

00:20:12   business program, which you have $1 million in revenue. And if you go over it... And there's a

00:20:18   huge cliff. Yeah, if you go over it, you're actually losing money. Because then the next

00:20:23   year you don't get into the small business, you don't start over again. It's like you're already

00:20:27   out of the small business program because you made $1.1 million the year before in revenue.

00:20:32   You have to apply for it. And I've spoken to developers who have applied for it. It's not

00:20:38   like three check boxes and sign your name and you're done. It's more complicated than that.

00:20:44   And the Apple-like solution should be the simpler one, but it's the opposite.

00:20:49   And there's also the public relations game of these two duopolists dancing around each other.

00:20:57   It's like a prisoner's dilemma situation, right? Where maybe they're best off. Obviously,

00:21:03   they don't want to collude because that would be illegal, and that's sort of what got Apple

00:21:08   into trouble with the ebooks thing a while back. Maybe it's in their best interest to just both

00:21:14   stick to 70/30 for as much as they could, as long as they could. And maybe that's sort of what

00:21:19   actually happened over the last 10 years. But eventually, somebody's going to break. And I mean,

00:21:24   I think developers would say, though, it's not a prisoner's dilemma. It's more of a warden's dilemma.

00:21:28   The warden's dilemma. I like that. Yeah, hard to see where this is going, but it's still,

00:21:36   it's yet another instance where Apple does not come off looking well in the publicity

00:21:42   that's going to surround it. Yeah, the small business program is just a great example of,

00:21:46   there's no way to interpret that other than just looking like they're being money-rubbing.

00:21:51   No, we're not going to let you big guys get a sliver of this. It's not a great look. Nothing

00:22:01   about it is a great look. I think pretty much everyone can agree on that one.

00:22:06   Yeah, and there was some kind of argument that they wanted to prevent scams.

00:22:12   Like if I own a company and I've got three games and combined they make more than a million dollars,

00:22:19   but I could split them up into three developer accounts and all three stay under a million.

00:22:25   And then all of a sudden I'm getting this. It's like, if all of the games are at that level,

00:22:32   is it really, what does it matter to Apple, right? The developers who matter, like the

00:22:38   Fortnite's of the world, we're talking tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more.

00:22:46   This is the most sort of disturbing thing about all this App Store stuff.

00:22:53   You see Apple talking about it and on the stand, like, "Oh, we created this," this sense of

00:23:00   entitlement. And you want to sit back and say, "Oh, they're just doing that for legal reasons."

00:23:07   But then you look at their actual actions and they all suggest a company that feels completely

00:23:13   entitled to all this and feels that developers owe them and they're doing developers a favor and

00:23:19   completely ignores the fact that developers are just as a collective, are very much responsible

00:23:26   for the iPhone success. And that sort of entitlement and complete, like just refusing

00:23:36   to even acknowledge fault or that someone else might have a point, I think that speaks to the

00:23:41   cognitive dissonance that is inherent in this App Store model. Like, Apple, it's very hard to sit

00:23:48   around and think that, you know, like we sit on the outside like, "Apple, why are you doing this?

00:23:53   This is sort of antithetical to what we thought you stood for." And anyone internal to Apple can

00:24:00   feel that same way too, but the way people deal with that conflict is they convince themselves

00:24:06   that the opposite is true because no one likes feeling that kind of dissonance. They don't like

00:24:10   feeling conflicted about, "Why are we doing the right thing?" And so they actually end up becoming

00:24:15   extremists in the opposite direction. And everything that Apple does around the App Store,

00:24:20   it feels like that is what happened. Like, they've convinced themselves that whatever they do is

00:24:26   right and righteous, and they're just going to double down, and it's on the verge of costing

00:24:34   them significantly. I forget what the story was, but a week ago I wrote something about the

00:24:40   App Store advertising. And I just wrote that Apple should just get rid of it. They don't need it.

00:24:48   It's a bad look. It puts them in a conflict of interest with their developers. And a friend of

00:24:53   mine who until recently worked at Apple for a long time, it just texted me in agreement and said,

00:25:01   "Apple does one thing great. They make creative tools for people and sell them at a fair price

00:25:11   that people will pay for. And everything else they do, it ruins the good part of Apple.

00:25:20   Everything else, it's corrupting." And I've said that too. I've said this too before.

00:25:26   It's baffling to me because to me they are the only company I can ever remember,

00:25:32   ever, that has gotten into both legal trouble and public relations trouble over

00:25:39   antitrust. And if you want to just take the legal aspect of it, just call it bullying,

00:25:46   whatever you want to call it. But from a public relations standpoint, it's bullying or greed,

00:25:52   right? You don't have to put a legal definition on it, but it's not a good look. It is absolutely—

00:25:58   Apple's public image in that regard has taken a serious hit in the last year because

00:26:03   I remember last summer when there was the congressional hearing with the CEOs,

00:26:10   and it was Tim Cook and Bezos and Sundar Pichai and I guess Zuckerberg, right? That was the four.

00:26:18   And there was sort of a—there was a story before it came out that Tim Cook was apparently somewhat

00:26:26   —Apple was resistant to having Tim Cook testify voluntarily and, you know, sort of—and he sort

00:26:32   of had a "why am I here" attitude the whole time, and in that congressional hearing did—actually did

00:26:42   not get a lot of hard questions. And there was, even when it was wrapped up, a sort of—as an

00:26:48   observer you could say, "Why was Tim Cook there? Seems like these other companies are the ones that

00:26:53   the House has a beef with." Yeah, no, that was my takeaway. I wrote, like, Apple seems like they're

00:27:00   in good shape because no one's paying attention to them. That was one summer—it was July of 2020.

00:27:05   It's unfathomable that there would be a hearing like that over these issues today where Apple

00:27:14   would not be—Tim Cook specifically, you know, there testifying. Like, and we sort of saw that

00:27:23   right before the Epic trial where Apple was trying to get out of, like, a Senate hearing and they sort

00:27:32   of, I guess, were alluding to the upcoming Epic trial and saying that we actually don't have time

00:27:37   for this. And they sent—I forget the guy's name—they sent, but it was somebody, you know,

00:27:40   lower level. And he did terribly, but he got really hard questions and it just gave answers

00:27:50   that just did not play well. And it's like, they had their chance and, like, the clock was running

00:27:56   out last year to sort of make some moves on their own while they still were in the good graces of

00:28:03   public opinion and just seemingly missed it. It's very strange.

00:28:10   Well, again though, it is strange sort of from an objective sort of point of view. But you go back to

00:28:19   last—I mean, 2020, that was the year where we got—I think both of us got inundated with reports

00:28:25   about Apple just really scrounging for pennies from the App Store. And, like, going after developers

00:28:31   had been in the store for years because they had signups on their web, for example, and they didn't

00:28:36   have an app purchase. You know, like, I heard this story of, like, this company that builds an app

00:28:42   for, like, Stables or something like that. Like, it was a—someone did it as, like, a passion project.

00:28:47   They hired a developer who worked basically at half price because, you know, they liked the person.

00:28:52   It was just her passion to, like, have this sort of app to manage, like,

00:28:56   the horses, like, horse stable or something like that. And she basically had to, like,

00:29:01   Apple shows up and is, like, putting an app purchase in the app or you're out of the store.

00:29:05   And it was a web app that basically just had, you know, an app front end, which is what Apple,

00:29:12   I thought, wanted people to, you know, "Oh, an app is a better experience than going to the web,

00:29:16   et cetera, et cetera." And that was one of a whole host of stories that we heard about last year.

00:29:22   And something, like, where there was this big crackdown, then the hay thing happened,

00:29:25   and, you know, which was part of the same sort of move going on. And the reality is that you're

00:29:31   right, 2020 was the time to shift, but 2020 is when their sort of attitude and arrogance and,

00:29:39   you know, "We must have every penny," attitude about the App Store reached its peak. And that

00:29:46   was the worst time for it to reach its peak, for sure.

00:29:48   Tom: There were also those stories, too, COVID-specific, where there would be, like,

00:29:54   let's say, a personal trainer whose livelihood pre-COVID was entirely in-person personal training,

00:30:00   you know, exercise and maybe teaching spin classes or whatever. COVID hits, everything's closed down,

00:30:07   they want to stay in business, and they'd start offering stuff remote, where you could set your

00:30:14   iPad or your Apple TV or whatever and get a personal training session with your trainer

00:30:19   over the internet. But now, all of a sudden, Apple considered that digital content. I think,

00:30:24   technically, by the books, they were right, that by Apple's sort of strange...

00:30:30   Dave: Yeah, by Apple's books, to be clear.

00:30:32   Tom; Well, but it's... Their rules over what counts for something they're entitled to their cut of

00:30:39   and what isn't are actually clearer than a lot of people have given them credit for when you really,

00:30:46   really study them. Like, people often bring up Uber. They're like, "Well, why the hell have I

00:30:49   been buying all this stuff by Uber on a credit card all this time?" And that's because it's not

00:30:54   digital content that you enjoy on your Apple device. There was a thing—I forget the specifics

00:31:03   of it—but there was a thing where you could go to, like, the Tesla app and buy one of those

00:31:09   upgrades that gives you better autopilot because Tesla ups... Even though your car has the feature,

00:31:14   you have to pay them for it. And you could do it through their app. And it wasn't an Apple

00:31:19   in-app purchase. It was, like, direct payment to Tesla. Even though it was digital content,

00:31:24   you're just unlocking a software feature in the car that you already own. And people are like,

00:31:28   "Well, you know, that just shows you that if it's a big enough company like Tesla,

00:31:31   Apple just looks the other way." But the exception from Apple's perspective is you weren't buying

00:31:36   digital content for your Apple device. You were buying it for your car, which is none of their

00:31:41   business. They've been fairly consistent about it. And so by that standard, the sort of COVID era,

00:31:48   "Okay, I'm going to buy personal services from, you know, like, my trainer or whoever it was or my

00:31:54   therapist or whoever it might be," it seemingly would qualify. But it's such a bad look,

00:32:02   and it makes no sense. How much money are these personal trainers making by selling

00:32:08   workouts and stuff like that? It was madness that they were going after these services.

00:32:16   Yeah, I mean, that's what happens when you feel entitled and you've conditioned yourself to

00:32:22   believe that you deserve it all. I mean, I feel like there's really... Honestly, it's hard to

00:32:31   come up with deeper analysis than that because the personal trainer thing is a great example.

00:32:37   It's so obviously a stupid thing to do, and not just because it's a small amount of money,

00:32:44   but because it's a public relations disaster waiting to happen. And you have to, like,

00:32:49   your blind spot has to be the size of a semi-truck to allow that to happen. And you think through,

00:32:54   like, how do you end up with a blind spot the size of a semi-truck? I mean, because you've conditioned

00:33:00   yourself to just accept and assume that everything you do at the App Store is ipso facto correct and

00:33:07   right and righteous. I remember, like, 20-some years ago in the midst of the Microsoft

00:33:11   antitrust trial, Tim O'Reilly wrote a column on the O'Reilly site where he tried to... His mother

00:33:19   asked him, his mother, you know, said, "What's this Microsoft thing in the government? Can you

00:33:23   explain this to me?" And he tried his best to explain Microsoft's business model and practices

00:33:28   to his mother. And his mother looked at him and said, "I get it. This Bill Gates fellow,

00:33:32   he sounds like the sort of fellow who would show up to Thanksgiving and he'd say grace,

00:33:37   and everybody gets ready to start eating, and he says, 'I'll have all the mashed potatoes.'"

00:33:41   Yep. And I just remember thinking, like, "Huh, that's not that bad. That's actually pretty good."

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00:35:53   All right, tell me about the metaverse. Is it bullshit?

00:35:59   You had me on Dithering Light. I know we're not—we're going to pretend like we didn't talk

00:36:05   about it, but I—not that you fooled me, but I—with the Facebook announcement, I was more on

00:36:12   board than I thought I would be, and I was more on board post-Facebook keynote than I am now,

00:36:20   a week later. So I think the—one thing I do reject, and then different people will argue about

00:36:28   this, yes or no, is I don't think the metaverse is going to be some sort of new, distinct sort of

00:36:36   thing. I think that it's—the metaverse is and will be the internet. The internet—all the things

00:36:43   are being connected, and they're being sort of persistent presence, and this stuff—you can own

00:36:49   stuff online. That's some of the things that crypto is actually addressing right now. I think

00:36:54   the—so I think the metaverse is the internet. I think the analogy that I come to is the mobile

00:37:01   internet. Remember when the mobile internet was a thing? It was the internet that you experienced

00:37:06   on mobile devices, and we don't say the mobile anymore because it's all just the internet?

00:37:10   My definition of the metaverse is the metaverse is an internet that you primarily or often experience

00:37:19   via virtual reality, and that doesn't mean it's a distinct thing from the internet because you

00:37:25   could also access it from your phone or from your computer or from augmented reality glasses or

00:37:30   whatever sort of devices we may have in the long run. And so that's the way I define it. Now,

00:37:36   that's not a universal definition, but that's the way I think about it. It's the internet

00:37:40   where the best and often primary experience is through virtual reality, but you can—but

00:37:47   it's still just the internet. That's—

00:37:50   So you have a Stratechery weekly article that came out, I guess, today? Was it yesterday? I forget.

00:37:56   It was today. Today's your time.

00:37:58   Yeah, you and I never know. I agree on what day it is. I started reading it, and I was excited

00:38:06   because we had already been talking about you coming on this show to talk about the metaverse,

00:38:10   and you said, "Well, I'm going to write my weekly article about it anyway," and I thought, "Well,

00:38:14   this is going to be great. This timing will be perfect. You can write your article. I can read

00:38:18   it, and then we can argue about it because I think we're going to disagree." And I started

00:38:22   reading your weekly article, and you made that—you're kind of open with that same point

00:38:26   that isn't the internet the metaverse, and I thought, "Oh, goddamn it, this is going to suck.

00:38:31   There's not going to be any argument here. That's my point." I kind of was going that way,

00:38:37   and then thankfully, later in your article, you go places where I do disagree.

00:38:42   But I do kind of think that, and I do think that Zuckerberg's vision outlayed in the renaming of

00:38:54   the company to meta and this sort of—how long was the keynote? Was it an hour? Maybe it was 90 minutes.

00:39:02   Outlying his vision, he really, I think, went hard on the metaverse being a new thing,

00:39:14   and maybe he didn't quite say that, but it's sort of like what the internet was to what the world

00:39:20   was before the internet, the metaverse would be to the internet. Yeah, basically. And you can kind of

00:39:29   see how Mark Zuckerberg might actually believe that, because in some sense, Facebook has come

00:39:35   as close as anybody to doing that themselves, you know, that in some sense of the word, Facebook

00:39:43   could be your whole internet in a way that no other company has ever achieved.

00:39:49   Right? And they've had goals like that, right? And programs that have been controversial,

00:39:54   where they have proposed going into countries around the world, low-income countries,

00:40:00   and building out internet infrastructure and giving it away for free, but it wouldn't give

00:40:06   you access to the actual internet. It would just give you access to Facebook and Facebook services.

00:40:11   I believe in India, it was a big country where they proposed doing that, and it,

00:40:19   I think, thankfully, I would say, sort of largely fell on its face. It didn't really take off,

00:40:24   but it was such a bizarre proposal, in my opinion. Yeah, because like the free basics, I think,

00:40:31   is what it was called, where you could, if you wanted to, yeah, you would get Facebook in some

00:40:35   other sites, like, oh, Wikipedia, but then if you wanted the full internet, then you had to pay,

00:40:40   you'll get a higher-priced cell phone plan or whatever it might be.

00:40:45   Wikipedia is a fantastic resource and has made the world a remarkably better place and has worked far

00:40:51   better than I think most of us, at least I ever thought that it would, and seemingly is working

00:40:57   for the long term, but it is also the best friend of, like, a company like Facebook building something

00:41:04   like this out, where they could say, look, we'll give you access to Wikipedia, the number one

00:41:07   website in the entire world, and it doesn't really affect them. All of the world's knowledge. Yeah,

00:41:12   but it doesn't really affect them competitively in any way whatsoever. It actually just absolves them

00:41:17   of needing to offer the equivalent, you know, in encyclopedia.

00:41:22   I think, this point about them creating their own, like, their own metaverse,

00:41:29   I think you're putting your finger on one of the things that makes this confusing, because there is

00:41:34   a point to be made that if you want the true, a true sort of metaverse experience, that,

00:41:42   and I could definitely see this being the case, where to have a full sense of presence and

00:41:48   everything is sort of a, and I think this is what I try to get, I don't, I wasn't super

00:41:52   happy with the article, I should be honest. I think what I was trying to sort of get to is,

00:41:57   you can have this sort of fully contained experience where everything is 3D, and everything

00:42:03   is sort of in this environment, and it's super immersive, but I don't think that will ever be

00:42:09   the totality of the internet. Like, it's going to be, and so, I actually wrote this, I think,

00:42:15   back in August, I think it's better to think of it there being metaverses, where there's, oh,

00:42:19   there can be lots of these different experiences. There could be the Facebook metaverse,

00:42:24   and there could be, you know, other companies' metaverses, and we can get to Microsoft maybe

00:42:28   in a little bit, and within that particular experience, it's super full-featured, and if

00:42:34   it's really awesome, you may want to spend a lot of your time there because it's so great,

00:42:39   but I don't think there will ever be one company that sort of owns it all, as it were. I mean,

00:42:45   maybe the iPhone is an interesting example where you could say that all the apps, and if you just

00:42:51   only use apps, you're sort of living in the iOS metaverse, to borrow the term, but Safari is there

00:42:57   as a window to the broader internet, if that's what you want to do, and maybe that's sort of a

00:43:03   way to think about their vision and what they're going for. That definitely captures the idea

00:43:09   of being a platform where people spend most of their time. I should have used that as an example,

00:43:14   not sort of talking myself into that analogy, but I think that's the way to think about it.

00:43:20   So, the metaverse, broadly, the universal idea is the internet, but there's also sort of a

00:43:26   superior experience, which I think can only be delivered by a single company because you need

00:43:32   some company to enforce the rules. We just talked about the App Store, where you can have this

00:43:39   experience that is sort of consistent and things are interoperable and all those sorts of things,

00:43:45   but I think it's going to be a self-contained sort of thing.

00:43:47   Tom: Yeah, because otherwise you devolve into, as I like to use the analogy, Calvin Ball,

00:43:54   which was the sport that Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes used to play, where the only rule is that

00:44:00   you can change the rules at any time. And so, all of a sudden you go from scoring goals to

00:44:06   scoring runs to playing tag, and it's all just made up on the fly and nothing is really cohesive.

00:44:14   It doesn't get you to the world where you can actually take your avatar self from one product

00:44:21   to another. Somebody has to be the referees or the league if you want to compare it to sports.

00:44:29   Only the league can sort of set the new rules for pass interference.

00:44:33   Brian: Right, because of the way the internet came along, we got these sort of shared protocols and

00:44:41   standards. And I just think that it's naive to think that we're going to get this sort of

00:44:48   advanced protocols and standards that are going to be universally accepted ever again. Just because

00:44:56   there's too much money to be made, there's too much control to be sought. And so, if you want

00:45:01   to deliver an experience that exceeds the capabilities of the protocols that we have today,

00:45:07   it's going to have to be a bit of a walled garden experience just to make it work.

00:45:12   We almost need two words for it, right? You can have a metaverse-type experience of the internet,

00:45:22   but yeah, I just think there's going to be multiple metaverses that you can sort of

00:45:26   pick and choose from.

00:45:27   Tom: It is interesting in hindsight if we want to don our old man hats. But I do think,

00:45:35   and I try not to make proclamations too far in the future. I almost never make any predictions more

00:45:41   than a few years in the future because I think it's too hard in tech and I don't want to be wrong.

00:45:47   But I think it's safe to say that for the rest of my career, decades to come, hopefully,

00:45:53   I don't think we'll see a moment where something like the internet could rise again.

00:46:00   Because I do think that part of the sweet spot was that it sort of hit at like peak World War II,

00:46:09   U.S. It is. But also like a political sense of, hey, there is no political left-right divide over

00:46:21   the argument that the U.S. federal government should do big things, you know?

00:46:26   Chris (00;

00:46:26   1;

00:46:26   2;

00:46:26   1):

00:46:26   And also there was like, it was anti-communist and we want to be free and open. And also the fear

00:46:31   of like nuclear bombs. So it needs to be a network and failsafe and all those sorts of things.

00:46:36   Tom: I mean, the Eisenhower highway system is another example of it, right? I mean,

00:46:40   it's, you know, Eisenhower is the president and it was very, very hard to drive, especially across

00:46:47   state lines. And each state had their own roads, but none of it. And it was just like, well,

00:46:51   the federal government will just come in and make these big highways on sensible routes and will

00:46:57   just go right through states. And I don't know, maybe at the time there, I guess everything is

00:47:02   controversial in some degree and some people argued about it, but it doesn't seem historically

00:47:07   that it was all that contentious. There was a lot more going on in the '50s that was contentious

00:47:13   than that. And, you know, like this '60s equivalent, you know, like the space race wasn't

00:47:18   seen as like a democratic initiative. It was like, the U.S. needs to put a man on the moon,

00:47:23   you know? We've got to do it. And everybody just got behind it. And building out the internet seemed

00:47:28   like a sensible thing too. And we're just no longer there. I mean, we're talking about like

00:47:33   fixing bridges and stuff. And it took eight months and a bunch of political pulled teeth.

00:47:38   Brian Feroldi Yeah, well, again, I think the existence

00:47:43   of the USSR can't be overestimated in this regard, right? Like, you go back to the moon landing, I

00:47:50   mean, that was 100% explicitly framed as we're competing with the Soviets, right? Especially,

00:47:56   you know, the Sputnik moment, where they watched a rocket to space before we did. And, you know,

00:48:03   and so that, once the Soviet Union went away, you know, I mean, Americans are a militant culture,

00:48:10   we love to fight. So we decided to fight each other.

00:48:13   Justin Furstenfeld Right. And those sort of things take decades to

00:48:16   work their way out of. So, yeah. Brian Feroldi

00:48:18   Well, it's not just that, though. But like, if you think about the effects of, I mean,

00:48:21   there's two big things about the internet. Number one, no one at the time ever anticipated you would

00:48:26   make money on the internet. It was like a research project or like a, you know, fallback for nuclear

00:48:31   war, whatever it might be. And number two, definitely no one saw that the internet would

00:48:36   have these sort of massive destabilizing effects on the media ecosystem, and by extension, the

00:48:41   political ecosystem, and all these sorts of things. And so, if it were to come along today, again,

00:48:49   companies would be whatever comes along in the future. One, you'd have companies that were

00:48:54   immediately saying, "How can we make a profit off of this?" And two, governments would be

00:48:58   immediately trying to control it and make sure that it doesn't sort of disrupt things too much.

00:49:02   And it was really sort of a perfect circumstance. I think you're exactly right about general sort of

00:49:08   national unification and anti-communist, and also no one really thinking about the profit potential

00:49:16   or the destabilization potential. Like, that's not going to happen again. And that was the

00:49:21   environment that was necessary for this to sort of come along. And it was in that environment that

00:49:26   literally the protocols and interoperability that we rely on today were by and large established in

00:49:33   the '60s and '70s. And it just, none of those conditions are ever going to exist again.

00:49:39   Brian Kardell: But the funny thing too is looking back at like the '80s and '90s, so like the

00:49:45   groundwork of the internet was laid in the '60s and '70s, and it continued to subtly thump

00:49:50   towards becoming what it exploded as, you know, like with Netscape in the mid-'90s.

00:49:58   But in the meantime, all of the computer companies were building out all of their networking stuff as

00:50:05   proprietarily as possible, right? Nothing worked with each other. Apple had Apple Talk, and there

00:50:12   was, even Ethernet was proprietary, and there was a token ring. And what was that company that used

00:50:19   to have to be certified as on the PC side? It was like a company out of Utah. Do you remember this?

00:50:25   Brian Kardell Novel?

00:50:25   Brian Kardell Yeah, Novel. Yeah, and that was like a big deal. Like in my time in college in the

00:50:30   early '90s, it was certainly nothing I wanted to be involved with, but it was absolutely like when

00:50:37   you—and again, this is how you'd find a job back then because there was no—well, there was an

00:50:43   internet, but everybody wasn't on the internet. And so if you wanted to find a job, you'd go buy

00:50:47   the Sunday newspaper, and there was this phonebook-sized classified section, and you'd go

00:50:53   to the computer jobs, and it was all Novel certified engineer, three years experience,

00:50:57   Novel certified engineer, two years experience. All of it was completely proprietary, and we're

00:51:03   talking like two or three years before everything went to IP. It's kind of bananas that the industry

00:51:11   didn't see it coming because they sort of—even with that imminent wave coming, the mindset

00:51:19   of the for-profit companies to build proprietary for-profit, even networking things was—I don't

00:51:28   even think that they second-guessed themselves. And I think that they saw the internet as just

00:51:33   right up until the very end as this obscure thing that's just for universities and, you know,

00:51:40   computer science students at Stanford and MIT.

00:51:44   Brian Feroldi Yeah, I think this point is pretty underrated, too, because it matters when it comes

00:51:48   to the devices themselves. Like, PCs were not about accessing the internet. Like, they,

00:51:54   you know, famously, Windows 95 didn't even have a TCP/IP stack. You had to install it—you could

00:51:59   do like five TCP/IP—

00:52:01   Dave Asprey It was the same on the Mac side at the same time in the mid-'90s.

00:52:05   Brian Feroldi And so all these computers in the '80s that were running DOS and then early Windows

00:52:10   and all that sort of stuff, they were all for doing things on that computer, like having a

00:52:16   spreadsheet on that computer. And the big sort of—and so all the networking around that time was

00:52:23   about connecting PCs in the same place, and a huge thing was just connecting them to the printer,

00:52:28   right? Like, because that was how you mostly consumed and got information off of the

00:52:33   spreadsheet is you had to print it, and you didn't want to have a printer connected to every computer,

00:52:36   so you wanted to have one printer for the whole floor, and you needed to somehow tie all that

00:52:42   together. And like, that was the mindset, and that was where—and critically, that was where the

00:52:46   money was to be made, because enterprises were the ones paying for computers. They were paying for

00:52:51   them because the spreadsheet made, you know, knowledge workers so much more productive.

00:52:55   A word processor was so superior to a typewriter that, like, it was worth paying for it, but

00:53:02   that meant that the companies that wanted to make a profit were flowing in this direction.

00:53:07   And yeah, meanwhile, the internet sort of evolving at the same time on the side,

00:53:12   but it's like, what, like, how—the universal thing that anyone can access, like,

00:53:17   who can make money there? And that allowed the internet to sort of, like, go in that direction.

00:53:23   And what's interesting is because then that—the TCP/IP protocol sort of existed,

00:53:28   and if you were a new company, a new entrant coming in, you could leverage the sort of open

00:53:34   sort of protocol and get a head start and offer something that the legacy guys couldn't and

00:53:41   wouldn't because they wanted to preserve their lock-in. And, you know, and so—and then it

00:53:46   eventually just became overwhelming, and then the internet actually started to have useful

00:53:51   applications. But again, today, the internet does exist. Like, this idea of connected to anything

00:53:59   everywhere already does exist. It is an open protocol. And again, so that just be like,

00:54:04   how are you going to get something superior to that? It's just—again, it's hard to imagine.

00:54:10   Pete: You can literally put your light bulbs on the internet. I mean, that's actually a thing

00:54:14   that you can do. I mean, it—

00:54:16   Brian: It may not be a great idea, but yes, you can.

00:54:21   Pete; It just was—there's all sorts of science fiction ideas, and the metaverse stuff,

00:54:25   obviously—the whole name metaverse comes from science fiction and Neil Stevenson—and

00:54:30   the whole idea of virtual reality is easily imagined by science fiction authors

00:54:41   long, long time ago because, you know, it's not that unlike dreaming or just, you know,

00:54:47   it's a long time—it's almost innate to human nature to have a fantasy of being able to,

00:54:54   like, close your eyes and go to another place. But the—some of the details of the way the

00:55:03   internet's played out, you never would have imagined being able to turn your lights out

00:55:09   from a thousand miles away. It's kind of, you know, it's just funny how it shakes out the

00:55:14   details, and I feel like that's also what's coming with this VR/AR stuff, is it's going to play out

00:55:20   in ways that we don't imagine. It's very, very, you know, just a thousand little ways it'll be

00:55:27   like, "Oh, never would have thought about that."

00:55:28   Brian So, one of the things that's interesting is the distinction between VR and AR,

00:55:33   and I've always assumed that AR is going to be bigger just for the same reason the phone

00:55:37   is bigger, right? You can use it anywhere. You know, like, there's more—like, filling in,

00:55:42   being around you and with you is a much larger and compelling market than something that you sort of

00:55:47   go to as sort of a destination device. And one of the reasons why I've become more bullish on VR is,

00:55:53   in part, this sort of working remotely. Like, I think I've said—oh, I'll do it again. We're

00:55:59   pretending like we haven't said anything previously. But I think work from home is a

00:56:02   misnomer. You don't work from home, you work online. You might happen to be at home,

00:56:08   but the fact you're at home has absolutely nothing to do with your job. Like, it's a completely

00:56:12   immaterial sort of fact. And in that case, like, going to work by means of putting on a headset

00:56:20   that gives you a potentially superior computing experience—again, not today, but where you have

00:56:24   as many monitors as you want, all the screen space you want. You know, you could go into a meeting,

00:56:28   you're just clicking a button, and you have the presence with other people—I think is pretty

00:56:32   compelling, the reason I've become more bullish on VR. But the reason I sort of bring this up in this

00:56:40   context is, one of the common pushbacks is people are like, "Oh," you know, "People just sitting—"

00:56:48   you know, it's like the movie Up, right? People just sitting around and getting fat and with their

00:56:51   headsets on all day, et cetera, et cetera. And I think one of the things you talked about,

00:56:57   about unintended consequences and the way this sort of plays out, is there is an aspect of

00:57:05   technology where there is sort of the aspirational and what we want to tell ourselves about

00:57:10   technology, and then there's sort of like the reality of what people actually do and are

00:57:15   actually looking for. And I think an example is to go back to the App Store, right? Apple likes to

00:57:21   talk about the App Store as being this great opportunity for developers and people getting

00:57:25   the apps they need, and there's an app for that, et cetera, et cetera, when the sort of ugly reality

00:57:31   is that the vast majority of money in the App Store is made from people who are playing these

00:57:36   pay-to-play games, and you have a very small percentage of the population that is spending

00:57:42   thousands of dollars on buying gems or whatever it might be, and they play it for hours. And that's

00:57:49   kind of, it's like, in a lot of areas, there's a real conflict between the story we want to tell

00:57:57   ourselves about it and the way it's actually experienced. And I think there's going to be some

00:58:02   of this with how the metaverse plays out. We want to say, "Oh, who wants to go sit with a headset on

00:58:08   and escape from the real world?" Well, a lot of people sit around and watch TV for hours a day.

00:58:16   There's some aspect of companies that actually meet people where they are and give them what

00:58:21   they actually want tend to win over companies that want to serve an idealized customer because

00:58:27   it makes them sort of feel better. All right, there's a lot to unpack there,

00:58:31   but I have to start by telling you that the movie you're talking about is Wall-E, not Up.

00:58:36   Oh, yeah, sorry. Up's the old guy with the balloons. My bad.

00:58:40   It's all right. When I was thinking, I was, you know,

00:58:42   it was one of those things, there was some little voice in the back of my head that was saying,

00:58:46   like, "Something's wrong here," but I just plowed forward.

00:58:48   They did have some technology, though. The bad guy who had those dogs, they had some

00:58:53   crazy technology that would let the dogs, you know, talk or something like that. But Wall-E

00:58:57   was the one where people sort of, they trashed the planet and then go into outer space and just sort

00:59:02   of sit around in a barcalounger with a VR headset all day. Big and large or whatever it was.

00:59:10   Yeah, yeah. By and large, big and large, by and large. Anyway,

00:59:15   I do think we're—it does seem, it seems like an unusual moment in tech where there's—nobody

00:59:31   knows how it's going to play out, but there is very—as widespread as it ever gets, because AR,

00:59:38   neither AR nor VR are a big deal yet, right? I mean, I know that sounds ridiculous for our

00:59:46   audience because I'm sure, you know, many of the people who listen have VR headsets and stuff,

00:59:51   but it's not— They're probably sick of us talking about it.

00:59:53   Right, but it's not mainstream technology, you know? It's like smartphones before the iPhone,

00:59:58   you know? Sure, there were smartphones before the iPhone, but in hindsight, they were no big deal

01:00:02   at all. And if anything, I would say both AR and VR are behind where, like, early 2000s smartphones

01:00:15   were, right? Because, like, Blackberries really served their purpose well just for messaging.

01:00:21   Like, if you really— Yeah, I was going to say, it's like pre-Blackberry.

01:00:24   It's almost like pre—yeah, that's exactly how I would put it. Like, I didn't have a Blackberry,

01:00:29   and I didn't want one, but I also instantly got why the people who were addicted to them

01:00:35   were addicted to them. Like, it's like I just did not live a messaging-type world and wouldn't have

01:00:41   had anybody to send them to, but I could totally get why, like, attorneys, you know, texting each

01:00:50   other all day was a huge deal. Totally got it. I feel like that's—we're still, like, pre-Blackberry.

01:00:58   But it seems like everybody—I don't think, though, that everybody agreed at that time

01:01:03   that mobile was going to be that big a deal, because we were too close that same era.

01:01:09   Like, it's kind of—one of the things that's funny in hindsight is how close the iPhone was

01:01:16   to when the internet became a big thing, right? Like, the time from Netscape's IPO to the iPhone is

01:01:22   like 11 years, something like that?

01:01:25   Yeah, it's not long. I think the browser was '92 or '93, so 14 years. And yeah, and we are 14 years

01:01:32   on from the iPhone.

01:01:32   Right, so it's—and the browser didn't really explode right away, even in the way the iPhone did,

01:01:40   right? It wasn't a sensation. Like, I still remember, and I know that they only had, like,

01:01:46   10 million sales in the first year or something like that, some blip compared to the modern

01:01:51   iPhone sales. But I remember picking up my iPhone on day one and then, like, walking around

01:01:58   Philadelphia and for a while actually feeling conspicuous because so many people would say,

01:02:04   "Oh my God, is that an iPhone?" Like, go to the grocery store, and I'd have, like, a—I think I

01:02:08   was so smart because now I have a grocery list on my beautiful little iPhone. And people would—just

01:02:13   random strangers would come up to me and say, "Hey, is that an iPhone?" And I started to feel

01:02:17   like, "Ah, maybe I should keep it in my pocket because I don't want to talk to these people."

01:02:21   Like, I don't think the web browser was like that in 1993 or, you know,

01:02:26   whenever it was before it was called Netscape when it was Mosaic.

01:02:29   Well, I think that's a really important point, though, which is that this is one of the reasons

01:02:35   why it's going to be challenging to bring to market because, like, something you go to home

01:02:39   and it's—or you do at home and it's hard to sort of demonstrate, right? Like, the thing about the

01:02:44   phone and why Apple—it was such a great market for Apple—is, number one, to your point, like,

01:02:51   it was visible and, like, the whole Apple status symbol being a nice device very much worked in

01:02:57   their favor. But two, you were already going to buy a mobile phone no matter what. And, like,

01:03:02   for a few hundred dollars more, you could get this incredible device that does so much more,

01:03:07   why wouldn't you buy it? And then once you buy it, you're hooked. Whereas, you know, like,

01:03:13   why should I buy a PC? Why should I try a browser? Why should I try a VR headset? They're much,

01:03:18   much more challenging problems.

01:03:20   I just don't think—basically, I don't think in hindsight that circa, like, the rise—circa

01:03:26   the rise of BlackBerry, there wasn't a consensus that the whole internet is moving towards this new

01:03:32   device class. It felt like we already had the device class. It was PCs. Because—

01:03:36   Right, right. And it'll just be sort of a side—an addition to PCs.

01:03:41   Right. It would be the great little addition. It just did—it boggled the mind that these little

01:03:48   things we keep in our pocket would actually be bigger than the PC as the primary consumption

01:03:54   devices for the entire internet. And I sort of feel like, as opposed to that, we've definitely

01:04:03   got—we've got a shared consensus that something—we're moving towards something to make AR and VR

01:04:13   that big of a deal. And both of them—there's not many options for that at a certain level. Like,

01:04:22   optically, you've, you know, we've only got two eyes, and they're on our face, and so we're

01:04:28   talking about glasses or goggles. And sure, eventually, again, projecting way past our decade

01:04:37   event horizon, we can imagine some kind of implants or something, but, you know, that's

01:04:45   still science fiction stuff, you know, that you'd actually have, like, something in your eye.

01:04:50   But you need something, right? There's not many ways to go.

01:04:56   See, I don't know, it's interesting. I think I might be the opposite of you.

01:04:59   Whereas I was pretty bullish on mobile, and I think that maybe that was because I was in Asia,

01:05:07   and the idea, like, just mobile was—it felt like it was a more necessary thing than even in the US.

01:05:15   And also, I mean, even when I was in the US, I remember I was—I was with those people that

01:05:19   actually used, like, WAP websites, and there was a site that was a WAP RSS reader. And so I was,

01:05:27   you know, glued to my phone at a very early age. And so I was always pretty bullish on mobile.

01:05:34   And in contrast, I've been pretty skeptical that there's anything past mobile that's going to be

01:05:40   as meaningful. And—excuse me. So this is a bit of a shift. I still think mobile is going to continue

01:05:49   to be the most important for years and years and years to come. But I think part of the reason I

01:05:53   was skeptical is like, well, AR is just—AR is kind of like your phone, but it's better in some ways,

01:05:58   but it's worse in other ways, right? Like, the idea of being able to put a phone away,

01:06:03   it's going to have more power, it's going to have better battery. And, you know, it's still, like,

01:06:07   it's pretty darn portable, right? Like, you know, if I'm going to watch something on my face all

01:06:11   the time, etc., etc., it's like, well, AR will be like the watch. It's going to be something sort of

01:06:16   in addition to your phone. And then I'm like, well—and I'd already sort of decided, I mentioned

01:06:22   this earlier, that AR is going to be more important than VR. VR is just going to be like video games

01:06:26   and movies and sort of a different channel technology. And I think the big shift, again,

01:06:33   is really this idea of work. Like, work is the thing that makes me think that VR is going to be

01:06:39   bigger than it might be otherwise. And VR is not a successor to the phone. It's a successor to the

01:06:46   computer on your desk. And that's what's actually happening, and it's going to be alongside your

01:06:53   phone, which you'll use when you're out and about. But when you're in one spot and not going anywhere

01:06:57   and you want to work, VR is going to be better than the computer on your desk.

01:07:13   the next

01:07:18   video.

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01:08:44   All right, I've been thinking about this. I think this shit about working with a VR headset on,

01:08:49   it sounds like madness to me. I don't see—I think it's—the more I think about it, I think you were

01:08:58   right originally. I think VR is for games and for like the equivalent of watching a movie. And

01:09:06   after an hour or two, it's too much. It's overwhelming. I don't think people want to be

01:09:13   immersed in their work that way. I think that the amount of your visual field that a Pro Display

01:09:23   XDR—two Pro Display XDRs in front of your desk is about the most that anybody would want.

01:09:29   I don't—I just don't—like, what happens if somebody, you know, like you are working from

01:09:36   home. It is your work. I'm not going to say work from home is a thing. But what happens when

01:09:41   somebody else in your family walks into the room and wants to talk? I guess with a high enough

01:09:54   resolution, I don't want to say that we're never going to have a virtual display in front of you

01:10:00   in a VR headset that is as good a resolution as an actual real display in the real world in front

01:10:07   of you. But we're so far away from that. I don't see how—it seems like a fantasy at this point. And

01:10:14   it does not, to me, seem like an appealing fantasy at all. It seems closer to the matrix, where it's

01:10:21   like a dystopia. I know that that word gets thrown about with this very much when we're talking about

01:10:26   science fiction ideas. But that really, you know, if the idea is that you're going to put this

01:10:31   helmet on or goggles and not even see your real world for six hours a day, that does not seem

01:10:39   desirable to me at all. Or what about like every time you want to go to the bathroom or refill your

01:10:43   coffee, all of a sudden you've got to take this headset off, take the headphones off?

01:10:47   It doesn't seem like an improvement over just having a display or a laptop in front of you

01:10:57   at a desk that you can just stand up and walk away from at all. Sounds worse.

01:11:00   It's interesting because when it comes to anything about working from home, I'm always super hesitant

01:11:10   to—on one hand, I feel like you and I have too much experience with this, right? So on one hand,

01:11:18   we're very good people to talk to because we've been working from home for ages. On the other

01:11:21   hand, we're terrible people to talk to because we were doing this before it was cool. We have

01:11:29   setups that we've figured out. We have a whole routine with home, et cetera, et cetera. But alas,

01:11:36   we only have our own experiences. But I think the—so first off,

01:11:43   the big question, there's one—I think there's a balance of benefits versus costs.

01:11:52   So I do think there's a real benefit in terms of things like meetings and things—and the sort of

01:11:59   like interacting with people and all the reasons that people want to be in the office. The

01:12:04   experience of having a meeting VR is pretty compelling, and that's with technology right

01:12:09   now that is still really crappy. And of course, a caveat—and you sort of mentioned this—is

01:12:14   the technology today is nowhere near ready for this to sort of happen. There are high-end

01:12:20   headsets that have like 2,000 by 2,000 pixel screens for each eye, whereas the Oculus is

01:12:27   not nearly—or the Quest 2 is not nearly that high. But there is a real benefit in my estimation.

01:12:35   But the cost right now is I have to go get the headset, put it on, log in the meeting,

01:12:40   make sure my computer's connected so I can put it in the meeting. There's just a lot of friction

01:12:46   involved. And it's just that much easier to just click a Zoom link. And yeah, Zoom's not the best

01:12:51   experience. You know, it's good. It works great. It's a well-written app. But the actual meeting

01:12:58   experience is easy to sort of like zone off and look at Twitter and, "Oh, wait, sorry, what did

01:13:03   you say? You can say that again?" Like all those sorts of things. So that's the real clear, "I can

01:13:08   see it today" benefit of VR.

01:13:09   Dave: Zoom—not to go on too much of a tangent, but Zoom is something I would pull apart to teach,

01:13:17   like if I were teaching a human interaction, like a UI design class, in terms of taking the removal

01:13:25   of friction to its extreme, like as your number one priority. And they've said this—you know,

01:13:31   I forget the founder's name, but I mean, he said this very clearly, that the whole reason they

01:13:35   founded the company is that they were—I think they were at like Cisco or something like that.

01:13:39   And they were like, "Look at how many clicks you have to make to get into one of these meetings,

01:13:43   and you have to wait for everybody else. Like what if it was just like one URL and you just click the

01:13:47   URL and you're in?" And one person would be the meeting organizer and set up the URL and then let

01:13:53   people in a room and then you're all in a room. And it's like, "Huh, that actually—" And for all

01:13:58   of their problems, software-wise, you know, that's why they won. It didn't really matter if, you know,

01:14:06   you can argue this, that, the other thing that they did that wasn't technically great.

01:14:09   They had scandals where there was, you know, little micro-scandals where some of their traffic was

01:14:15   seemingly being routed to servers in China, and they weathered all of it because it's just the URL

01:14:22   that you click and all of a sudden you're in the meeting. Yep. And some of the scandals, particularly

01:14:28   around things with the Mac, were related to them going to the extreme to make it as

01:14:34   seamless as possible. Yep. You know, it's true, but it's fundamentally limited by the fact that

01:14:41   it's still just a video call, right? Right. And so, again, this is one where, again, probably a

01:14:48   lot of listeners might have to take me on faith. Like, it is a really compelling experience. And

01:14:52   it's one of those things that's hard to talk about because you're just viewing disembodied avatars.

01:14:59   It's like, why? That doesn't look compelling at all. But it is. It is. Well, think about it just

01:15:04   from a practical standpoint of the actual experience. If you're talking to one person

01:15:09   on a video call, you've got the whole screen. So, let's say you're on a laptop, which is, you know,

01:15:15   what the machine most people use is something laptop-sized. That's still plenty of attention

01:15:20   that you could give one person. And if you have two, three people on the call, you're one of them

01:15:25   in real life, and you have two people on your screen, they each get half the screen. And that's

01:15:30   pretty good. And as soon as you add one more person, which would be a four-person meeting,

01:15:34   which, you know, I think by most people's business experiences is not a lot of people in a meeting,

01:15:39   all of a sudden there's not a good way, you know, there's no good way to go three ways on screen.

01:15:44   You know, it's all of a sudden people are getting tiny. And if you have like six or seven people,

01:15:50   which again, I don't think is an abnormal number of people for a typical business meeting,

01:15:55   all of a sudden it's the Brady Bunch and everybody's just got a tiny little square

01:16:02   and it's all— Hollywood squares.

01:16:04   Yeah, Hollywood squares. And, you know, you get past that. You know, we've had school meetings,

01:16:12   you know, Jonas's school has been, you know, he's back in school, but all of the parental stuff is

01:16:18   still virtual, you know, for COVID-related reasons. And so like, you know, there'd be like meetings

01:16:26   like, "Oh, all the senior class parents can, you know, we're going to have a meeting for something

01:16:30   back to school, blah, blah, blah." So dozens and dozens of parents. So at that point,

01:16:35   it's just a list of the school people on screen. And all the parents are just sort of off in the

01:16:44   list, you know, you can chat and raise your hand, right? They added Zoom. Did you know this? Do you

01:16:50   use Zoom? They added this horrible feature that I didn't know about, and they turned it on by

01:16:57   default, where if you actually raise your hand in real life, it raises your hand in the Zoom meeting.

01:17:03   Oh no, that's a tough— that's awful.

01:17:05   I could not make this up. And it's me and Amy sharing an iPad to do the Zoom meeting

01:17:11   for the parents thing. And they're like, "Oh, I see Jonas's dad has his hand up." And I was like,

01:17:15   "No, I don't! What? What are you talking about? I didn't touch anything." And it was horrifying.

01:17:21   But again, that's the sort of thing, it does not happen in real life, right? Like, I'm not

01:17:28   accidentally going to be, you know, the principal of the school isn't going to accidentally think

01:17:33   that I have an important point to interrupt and make in like an auditorium, right? Even with

01:17:39   dozens and dozens of people. VR can definitely solve that. Maybe not as well as the real world,

01:17:47   but it, you know, like the seven, eight person meeting, that's like the screenshot you included

01:17:51   in your Sirtechery article. It's like the perfect number of people where it's not unwieldy—here,

01:17:57   I'll count them, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13—

01:18:00   Well, that's the thing, though. Like, real meetings, like, for a lot of companies,

01:18:04   real meetings aren't coming back, right? Like, they've committed to doing this, to being sort

01:18:11   of online only. And so the comparison is not in-person meeting versus VR meeting. The comparison

01:18:18   is VR meeting versus Zoom meeting. And again, leaving aside all the issues of the technology

01:18:25   today and putting it on, when you're actually in the meeting, it is a big difference. And I think

01:18:30   there's two important points to make. Number one is, again, the part with Horizon Workrooms,

01:18:36   you can bring your computer into the meeting, just brings it to a completely different level,

01:18:40   because it's like a real meeting where you have your computer there. And you could be doing a

01:18:44   PowerPoint presentation, you could be checking your email, and that makes it like, it's that

01:18:50   mixed part is super important, number one. But number two, when you're in a VR meeting and you're

01:18:56   having a discussion, and you do have better discussions because everyone, you feel presence,

01:19:01   and the person, you're right, you hear it in your right ear, and the person across from you,

01:19:04   you hear it there. And like, the 3D audio is super important for this sort of experience.

01:19:08   You don't, you forget you're wearing a headset. I swear to God, you really do. You're just there.

01:19:14   You're in the meeting. And so you're not, like, cognizant that I have this thing in my head.

01:19:18   It's genuinely immersive. And this is with crappy technology. And you fast forward the technology

01:19:25   five years, and it's going to be like, you're not going to notice you're wearing anything. You're

01:19:31   going to be in the virtual world. And it's not going to be a cognizant, I'm sitting in my chair,

01:19:39   and I have this thing in my head. That is, that's your physical sense speaking. But like, we are,

01:19:45   like, the humans are, like, our minds are what distinguishes, like, we can be somewhere else. And

01:19:52   it delivers. It delivers today with crappy technology. And when the technology is 100

01:19:57   times better, I'm pretty optimistic it's going to be pretty compelling.

01:19:59   Tom: I am moved by the argument about meetings. But to me, and again, I haven't experienced one.

01:20:08   I probably should figure out how to. But what are you guys using? Your team with Passport is using

01:20:13   Chris: The Quest 2 with the Horizon Workgroups.

01:20:16   Chris I don't have a Quest 2. I've got a Vibe thing here from Jonas. But yeah, I should try it.

01:20:23   I mean, but I've used enough VR where I believe that. I believe it in my imagination, even though

01:20:28   I'm deeply skeptical about the magnitude of VR changing this. But to me, what you're describing

01:20:37   is like a modern day telephone, where, like, let's say 100 years ago, whenever it was where the

01:20:44   telephone really became like a, "Hey, everybody's got one in their house, and every business has one."

01:20:49   And I could see somebody arguing, "Well, who the hell wants to stand there holding this thing

01:20:54   against their ear and talking into a microphone, and you only hear out of one ear? Who the hell

01:20:59   wants to talk to somebody like that?" And of course, you know, in the 20th century,

01:21:05   and by the time you and I were born, the telephone was ubiquitous, and everybody was completely

01:21:09   normal, and nobody gave it any thought, and people talked on the phone all the time. And when I was a

01:21:14   teenager, that was, you know, pre-internet, but post-telephone, that was how we stayed in touch

01:21:20   with friends when we weren't actually in contact. It was, you know, completely normal, and you got

01:21:24   used to it. But it was still small doses, right? It wasn't like all day. Like, I would never in a

01:21:31   million years want to be on the telephone as long as I am on my Mac in a typical workday. That would,

01:21:36   it would drive, I would, I would actually go mad. I—

01:21:40   Well, I think this is, this is, this is the point that I was doing a very roundabout way to get to.

01:21:47   So, let's grant me that meetings are great, right? But there is a huge cost in working at your

01:21:54   computer and then putting on a headset just for a meeting. And so, this is really the critical point

01:21:59   is, will just regular work, writing or coding or whatever it might be, will that be something that

01:22:07   is better in VR as opposed to a monitor on your desk? And it's an open question without question,

01:22:16   for sure. But I can definitely, again, so if you grant me the point that you can achieve a VR

01:22:25   experience such that you forget you're wearing a VR headset and you feel completely sort of

01:22:30   in the moment and presence and all those sorts of buzzwords. And that does happen today with

01:22:38   meetings. I do think it's viable, and I think your pushback's fair and you very well may be right,

01:22:42   but I do think it's viable to imagine that you can have the desk set up of your dreams and you

01:22:50   have eight monitors or you can have your data or whatever like right there in front of you in VR

01:22:55   for just your regular work and your regular writing. And it actually ends up being not just a

01:23:01   similar experience, but a better experience, not just because of the additional view space,

01:23:06   but also because when you're working and I think we've talked about this, when you're writing,

01:23:13   you want to get in that state and you want to get in flow and you shut the door and tell the kids,

01:23:18   "Leave you alone." And once you're locked in, you don't want to get knocked out of that.

01:23:23   And where the sense that you get to actually go to another place, just like you used to go to

01:23:29   an office, but now you're just going to a virtual place is something that's also going to be very

01:23:36   attractive to people. And then if you're already in that space, then there is no cost in having

01:23:42   a VR meeting because it's just literally clicking a button or going through a virtual door because

01:23:47   you're already there. And so I'm skeptical that we have this half and half world. I think it's

01:23:54   probably going to be all one or all the other. And I think your argument's a fair one, but I'm not

01:24:00   sure, but we can agree to disagree. And this is definitely an argument. This is one of my loosely

01:24:06   held arguments, right? Sorry, it's loosely held is what it is. I'm not sure. You might be right.

01:24:12   But I think, again, not technology today, but technology in five years or 10 years.

01:24:19   - Let me ask you this. What are your thoughts on the touch bar?

01:24:23   - It's terrible.

01:24:25   - Why?

01:24:26   - Because, oh, where to start? Well, one, you have to look at it, which I'm sure is the point

01:24:33   that you're seeking from me. It changes all the time. It's not consistent. You hit it by accident.

01:24:42   - You get no tactile feedback.

01:24:43   - You get no tactile feedback, yep.

01:24:45   - Right. So how is using an entire computer in VR not just the touch bar of vacation of everything,

01:24:53   of your entire human interaction model with everything you see? I believe the seeing part.

01:24:59   And again, if we just project forward to a high enough resolution headset, I totally believe that

01:25:07   we will have virtual displays in VR through a headset that are as good as or close to as good

01:25:15   enough to satisfy even a relatively picky person with pretty good eyes. But in terms of every other

01:25:20   aspect of computing, without being able to actually touch any of it or see it, I mean,

01:25:27   I theory you could have a physical keyboard in front of you that what, you orient your hands by

01:25:31   like a blind...

01:25:35   - Well, let me jump in. Again, this is where the workroom thing's really interesting. Your computer

01:25:42   is in the VR space. And they always...

01:25:43   - Yeah, but how do you see the keyboard? How do you see the trackpad?

01:25:46   - They show it. They project it into the space. And then there's cameras on the outside of the

01:25:51   Quest 2 that are tracking your hands. And so you can see your hands on the keyboard.

01:25:55   And I think a recent update, I haven't tried this out yet, but where they're actually showing the

01:26:00   actual letters on the keys, because that was in the real floor, it just had the keyboard.

01:26:03   But they only support like three keyboards now. It's like they support the Mac, the MacBooks,

01:26:08   and then like one version of an external keyboard. So they have to actually

01:26:11   work to support this sort of thing. But your computer is there in the environment with you.

01:26:18   Again, it's pretty crappy technology now, but it's there and it's working.

01:26:23   - I just don't see how that's better than having an actual display. And it certainly

01:26:27   seems more expensive. And a lot of other stuff. And again, if you can actually get the tracking

01:26:33   and so it looks like your keyboard's right there and it looks like your actual fingers

01:26:37   are right there and not these disembodied hands that are sort of there. But so many of the

01:26:43   interaction things that Facebook showed and everybody has fantasized about in fictional

01:26:52   ideas of the same thing over the years of having like an avatar touching things and you can pull

01:27:01   windows apart. Like you start getting more aggressive and imaginative with your future

01:27:07   interface. Why hold ourselves to the idea of a rectangular display that's in front of you showing

01:27:14   the Mac desktop or Windows desktop? Why don't we have all these virtual items that you can

01:27:20   just move your hands and do? And all of these things to me, I keep thinking about the Touch

01:27:25   Bar and how happy everybody is that it's gone. People are happier that it's gone than I expected

01:27:31   them to be like now that it's gone. It's like Saddam Hussein falling. Like people are out

01:27:38   dancing in the street. And the Touch Bar is just this tiny little strip that replaced the least

01:27:44   used keys on your keyboard. And that's the whole model of VR. There's a total lack of tactile

01:27:55   feedback that I feel is for some tasks, right? And I could imagine for like showing off a 3D model

01:28:04   in a shared meeting where you could just put your hand in front of it and spin it a little bit. You

01:28:09   don't need the tactile feedback because you're sharing it around a virtual round table meeting

01:28:16   and you're just looking at this model of a device or something like that. There are certain

01:28:20   interactions that I think already probably work well and could work better. But to replace most

01:28:26   day-to-day work, I feel like the one thing we've reiterated over the last five years is people like

01:28:32   things that actually click and they appreciate it. It's hard to...

01:28:38   I mean, again, this is why the workroom's things helped change my mind about this. Having your

01:28:48   actual computer in a virtual reality space makes all the difference in the world because I

01:28:54   completely agree. This idea you go somewhere and you're totally virtual and it's just like such a...

01:28:59   it's too stark a contrast from your actual word existence. But the first time when like...

01:29:08   I think I... oh, I can't say I've told this story because we're pretending like we've never told

01:29:12   any stories previously. But when I got demoed it by Facebook and there was two people demoing it to

01:29:18   me and the one person was walking through the features and the person next to him, she was

01:29:24   clearly doing email and not paying attention to our conversation. And she was doing it because

01:29:29   her computer was projected in the space, her keyboard was there in the space, and her fingers

01:29:34   were actually touching her keyboard, which is on the desk in front of her. And one, that's cool

01:29:40   for her. And two, for me, it made the meeting feel even more real because that's what people do in

01:29:46   meetings, right? It's not this like, oh, we're like... the Microsoft Teams, I thought, video was

01:29:51   not actually... was less impressive in this regard because it was too ethereal. It was too, well,

01:29:56   we're in a virtual space like walking around doing high fives. No, like actually imitating

01:30:02   all what we think about the crappiest idea of meetings actually makes it that much more

01:30:07   realistic and compelling. Do you mean Microsoft? I don't know if I saw the Microsoft version,

01:30:12   but... or you mean the Facebook one where... No, so Microsoft, Microsoft last week had a keynote

01:30:16   where they did some metaverse stuff too. And so they're going to have basically a competitive

01:30:20   product to Horizon Workrooms that's built around Teams. And I think it's very compelling from a

01:30:25   business perspective because Teams is the sort of self-contained environment where, if I mentioned

01:30:30   before, there's going to be lots of individual metaverses. Your Teams instance and all the things

01:30:36   that are attached to it... and people who haven't used Teams, it's a much bigger thing than Slack.

01:30:42   You can spend your whole day in Teams, your documents open in Teams and all your connections

01:30:47   are in Teams, you have your video calls in Teams. It's like an all-encompass... it's like

01:30:50   Microsoft's operating... it's like Windows for the cloud, basically, is what it is. And that

01:30:55   lends itself to, "Oh, this is actually a virtual environment that you can be in and all your stuff

01:31:00   is here." And they're sort of already set up for it. But one, I don't think it has a shift yet,

01:31:05   and I haven't used it. And the promo video was too much people floating around in this idealized

01:31:12   space. When the real... what is compelling about Horizon Workrooms is the more that it feels real,

01:31:18   including all the crappy parts of a meeting, the better it is and the more interesting it is.

01:31:23   Yeah, everybody knows the person who's not paying attention but sort of has to be there.

01:31:26   Right.

01:31:28   You know? But they wear it on their shirt sleeve, you know? I mean, if they're, like,

01:31:31   pecking away at a computer or...

01:31:33   Well, this is one of the things where I... I think this is one of Facebook's hidden powers,

01:31:39   secret powers, is Facebook... and maybe because they're so data-driven, they have such a large

01:31:46   audience, you know, they're... whatever you want to use, if you want to have a less charitable

01:31:51   interpretation, they give people what they want. And they're, like, not... they're not stuck on,

01:31:58   "Oh, let's show this idealized meeting environment," you know, where people are having

01:32:03   these fun conversations and writing on the whiteboard and high-fiving and stuff. Like, no,

01:32:09   you bring your computer in the space, you sit around a table, people who call in show up on

01:32:13   a video screen there. It's like, this is the way people actually behave, and we're gonna sort of

01:32:18   deliver on that. And it makes it way more compelling.

01:32:21   I just... and I don't think that's ever gonna change, but we shall see.

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01:34:35   Do you want to wrap up with this AR/VR thing? I still think—I don't think they're mutually

01:34:43   exclusive, right? I think it's— I don't either. At some point, it's like talking about audio versus

01:34:50   visual, and it's like, well, they kind of go together. And I'm going to keep calling Facebook.

01:34:57   I can't call them meta, but Facebook emphasized it. They were very VR-heavy in their presentation.

01:35:04   Or let me go back one segment here and just say the most disappointing thing to me about the

01:35:09   Facebook keynote was that they emphasized—you keep telling me that they've got cool shit right now,

01:35:17   that you can get the Quest 2 and have a really compelling experience, and they didn't even show

01:35:24   it. All they did was show fantasy stuff that they say they're building towards. It was all just sort

01:35:31   of the worst of those concept videos that I love to complain about. Why not show me the real

01:35:40   meetings first and say, "This is great right now. You could do it today, and this is something—you

01:35:46   can actually buy this. Do it right now. And then here's the idea of what we're building towards,"

01:35:51   if you really wanted to stick in the concept video that I don't think you should have anyway.

01:35:56   By the way, one point about the concept video—it's interesting that COVID worked in Facebook's favor.

01:36:02   Of all the times to get away with doing a concept video, it's like everything is a commercial,

01:36:09   so they might as well go all the way with it, right? They couldn't do this on stage. It was

01:36:15   just sort of a side note that's sort of an interesting meta point about that presentation.

01:36:20   No, that is true. Again, I'm not going to say that we talked about it, but—

01:36:26   I don't think we talked about this idea. I think we talked about it offline, though.

01:36:29   Yeah, maybe. But it is interesting where I would argue that it was second only to Apple

01:36:34   in production values. Although I watched a bit of the Microsoft one, and it seems like they've

01:36:39   upped their production values, too. It seems like maybe that's sort of a thing that people are

01:36:44   starting to—like in the same way that you're talking about, hey, in-person meetings as the

01:36:49   default meeting might be a thing of the past, in-person keynotes maybe, or at least for a while.

01:36:54   It seems like everybody's upping their production values on these things. The Facebook one was

01:36:59   second to Apple, in my opinion. But it was different from Apple, where you can imagine

01:37:05   how Apple would translate to being on stage, segment for segment, right? It'd just be on

01:37:12   stage instead of in whatever settings they are. But when they drop through the floor,

01:37:20   through the secret door to the secret lab where they pretend Johnny Sirugi works,

01:37:24   you could just imagine Johnny Sirugi coming out on stage and delivering, saying the same things.

01:37:31   Instead of being in a secret lab, he'd just be on stage saying those things, whereas the Facebook

01:37:36   keynote wouldn't make sense on stage at all. It really wouldn't. That is interesting.

01:37:45   But at Zuckerberg, they definitely made much mention throughout of, hey, you don't have to

01:37:52   have one of these VR headsets on to participate in all of this. AR is going to be part of it.

01:37:59   We, meaning we, Facebook, are already working with Ray-Ban on these sunglasses. They aren't really AR.

01:38:08   I think they just do the camera. There's nothing special with the lenses. They don't project

01:38:12   anything, I don't think. But it's a clear sign that they're thinking about it, right?

01:38:18   Obviously, if there's any sort of commercial success with the Ray-Ban thing, they're going

01:38:24   to be working on a way to get some sort of Google Glass-style in-place heads-up display

01:38:31   in front of your glasses. Widely rumored that Apple is working on something like that,

01:38:39   that Apple has at least two projects, one for VR goggles that completely block your view, but

01:38:45   that they're prioritizing eyeglasses that would obviously project some sort of heads-up display

01:38:53   interface on your glasses. And to your point earlier, that the phone isn't going away,

01:39:01   that if all you've got with you is the phone and somebody starts in a meeting, you could just join

01:39:08   in on the phone the way you can today. Yep. But I think AR is one of those things that is going to

01:39:20   become ubiquitous. It'll be with us in dozens of different ways, but every time every piece of it

01:39:28   becomes an actual viable, successful commercial project, we'll stop thinking of it as AR,

01:39:34   and it's just a thing. Like AirPods? Yeah, exactly. AirPods, I guess the watch is not AR.

01:39:44   I mean, the AirPods can be, but in the same way that the watch has sort of disappeared as a

01:39:50   computer on your wrist, and now most of us just think of it as one way of doing a digital watch,

01:39:55   I think that's going to start happening with things like the goggles.

01:40:01   And you know, in some degree— I want to double down on this. I think the watch is AR,

01:40:06   and I think AirPods are AR, and I think your phone is AR. Like, it is augmenting the reality

01:40:11   that you're around, and I think the glasses will very much fit in this. But this is also the same

01:40:18   reason why I think all of those will always be, at least for a very long time, subservient to the

01:40:24   phone. Right? Like, that screen size is small enough for your pocket, but big enough to actually

01:40:30   get stuff done in a way that is going to be hard, if not impossible, on AR for years. The watch is

01:40:35   too small. And all of these devices, because you're wearing them and they're on your body,

01:40:41   to the extent they can offload processing and offload work to the phone, which has a beefy

01:40:48   processor and has a big battery, they're going to be so much thinner and so much lighter. And so,

01:40:53   one, I think Apple has huge opportunities in this space, and the Apple Watch is a huge success,

01:40:59   and I think their AR glasses are probably going to follow a similar path. But I think it's not

01:41:06   any sort of new platform or new paradigm. It's extensions of the phone. And that's what I've

01:41:12   always thought about AR, and I still think that about AR. So, my bullishness about VR is not

01:41:17   because I've become more bearish on AR. I think AR is what I thought it was going to be before.

01:41:23   I just happen to think the VR opportunity is bigger than I realized previously, but to me,

01:41:26   it's always going to be phone-centric. And maybe you disagree with that, but I have a hard time

01:41:31   seeing, at least in the near term, a world where we're just wearing glasses and nothing else.

01:41:34   >> The phone has become the big computer.

01:41:36   >> Right, exactly. Exactly. Well, I mean, I wrote this ages ago about Apple. Apple's,

01:41:42   their monetization strategy is to sell iPhone accessories. So, they increase the price of the

01:41:47   iPhone and you buy more iPhone stuff. And you think about it, what do you have today? If you're

01:41:53   an Apple user, you have the iPhone, which is now $1,000 or whatever it might be, you probably,

01:41:57   you might have an Apple case, you have AirPods, you have an Apple watch, and now you're going to

01:42:03   have Apple glasses. And it's all going to work together in the integrated way that Apple excels

01:42:08   at. It's going to be slight and sleek and design like Apple's Note 4. And it's going to be powerful

01:42:15   and have these chips that make it possible because Apple's invested in that space.

01:42:18   Like, I think that opportunity, nothing has changed my mind about that. I'm skeptical as

01:42:26   ever about anyone else beating Apple here, to be honest.

01:42:29   >> Did you see Steven Levy at Wired had an interview with John Hanke from, I think his--

01:42:36   >> Niantic.

01:42:37   >> Yeah, Niantic. That's the Pokemon Go company. And he's, even more so than me, staunchly pro AR

01:42:45   and staunchly anti-VR. And I won't rehash his arguments to Steven Levy, but it's a lot of what

01:42:53   I said where it's sort of dystopic to think about sitting there completely blocking out the real

01:42:58   world sitting still, and that human beings are meant to be out in the world and to feel things.

01:43:04   A huge problem with VR, in my opinion, for anything other than gaming,

01:43:11   where people are used to playing with a controller to move around. Like if you play video games on a

01:43:16   real display, you're used to-- or like PC gamers use a mouse and a keyboard. But that's just

01:43:24   turning your mouse and keyboard into a very fancy many button controller. Your fingers get dextrous

01:43:33   and your hand-finger coordination gets better as you get better at the game.

01:43:40   And in VR, you do the same thing, right? You sit still and you put the helmet on. But I've had VR

01:43:47   experiences several times, demos. And it's like when they try to do things that aren't games,

01:43:52   as soon as you become immersed, you start doing stupid things like taking steps in real-- you move

01:44:00   your real legs if you're standing up. And of course, you're going to walk into the wall or

01:44:05   a desk or something like that. And the commercial demos I've had with companies back when we go and

01:44:13   have actual meetings, they're ready for it. They're ready for somebody, a doofus like me,

01:44:20   to start trying to walk because I've suddenly become immersed. And they have somebody there

01:44:24   to hold me by the shoulders and be like, no, no, don't move. You're at the wall.

01:44:29   But it's a serious problem for anything other than video games where you're used to playing

01:44:33   with a controller or a meeting where you're expected to be static. The difference between

01:44:38   actually walking and moving around is it's not just like a different ballpark. It's like a

01:44:46   different universe. This is a great point, actually. I should have added this. Everyone

01:44:51   thought VR would be for games. I'm pretty skeptical of VR and games. And this is actually,

01:44:55   I think, a better reason than some of the ones I came up with, which is there's an uncanny valley

01:45:03   sort of effect, right? Whereas I think the VR experiences that replicate sitting in a chair

01:45:10   are much more compelling, right? Whereas a game, you're running around and now you're not running

01:45:13   around. It's kind of a weird experience. I think that's spot on. It's a great observation.

01:45:18   Dave: And so driving games, great. Spaceship, you're the pilot of a spaceship game. That's great.

01:45:25   I'd still like to see Phil Schiller's, it came out, I think it was at the Epic trial,

01:45:31   where they were asking him about his experience with gaming. And apparently he has some kind of

01:45:36   racing VR demo rig at his house or something like that. Probably pretty awesome. That sort of thing.

01:45:43   Michael: There's some crazy VR sensors out there that are like $10,000.

01:45:48   Dave; And if that's your idea that you're supposed to sit there in a race car and you get this

01:45:54   immersive 360-degree viewing angle, and as you move your head as the driver, you get this real-time

01:46:01   feedback, that's way better than playing a driving game on a flat display in front of you. So I'm

01:46:10   with it. I don't know. I'm kind of overall though. I feel like that's almost like a dedicated use

01:46:16   though, right? It's like, it's not for gaming in general. I don't know. My son is sort of,

01:46:21   and he's not ambivalent about it. Well, I know ambivalent is actually the exact word. He's sort

01:46:27   of like, he's glad he has it, but he doesn't play it as anywhere near as much as it costs.

01:46:35   Whereas his actual gaming PC, we got him a nice one. He's played it way more,

01:46:41   however much we thought he'd use it. He's probably used it too much. You know what I mean?

01:46:47   But I thought the thing with... No, you go ahead first because I won't forget my point.

01:46:55   Well, I think the thing with the Niantic... Oh, that's where I was going.

01:47:02   Well, you go first then. I was just going to say, I think I've never played Pokemon Go. I have no

01:47:07   interest in it whatsoever, but I get it. And I think it's absolutely fascinating that it is so

01:47:14   engaging to so many people for so long. I mean, not like long, like they play 12 hours in a day,

01:47:21   but I mean, like, the game's been out for years now and people are still into it.

01:47:27   Collection games have a long history. It actually is an interesting question. Are they

01:47:33   sticking with it because it's AR or because it's just a really good collection game? I guess

01:47:39   probably more the latter than the former, but I'm skeptical of anyone in AR other than Apple,

01:47:43   to be honest. Snap is building their own glasses. They have a developer version that costs thousands

01:47:49   of dollars, but it does, they are AR glasses. Niantic is going to have an SDK. They want other

01:47:55   people to ideally build to their specification, et cetera, et cetera. The big problem I see

01:48:01   is Apple's glasses are going to be privileged in the way they can access the phone,

01:48:08   whereas like all these other companies, your app's going to need to be open.

01:48:12   And that's just, you know, you can say it's anti-competitive, you can say whatever you want,

01:48:17   you can say it's the advantage of being the integrated player. The fact of the matter is that

01:48:21   no one else could build a watch like the Apple Watch, and I don't think anyone's

01:48:26   available to build glasses like Apple's glasses. And I just think it's a foregone conclusion that

01:48:33   Apple's going to win that space. If anyone brings compelling AR glasses to market, it's going to be

01:48:37   Apple. And again, we'll see what happens on the Android side, but I just think it's going to be

01:48:42   just like the watch. One of the interesting things with the watch, and I think we could see it follow

01:48:46   with the glasses, is that Apple has two advantages. There's one, there's the home team integration

01:48:54   with the phone, which you just alluded to, right? And that nobody else gets system-level

01:49:00   access to the integration between the iPhone and the watch. And obviously, Android could do that,

01:49:09   right? Like Samsung could achieve the same level of home team integration with a Samsung Watch and

01:49:16   a Samsung phone, and they've tried it. So the more compelling, the more interesting lead is that

01:49:24   nobody seems to be able to match Apple at making a tiny little computer that sits on your wrist.

01:49:30   That nobody is better, not Samsung, and I don't even know who second place or third place would be,

01:49:38   can make a compelling computing device that comfortably sits on your wrist in a form

01:49:46   factor that people would actually want to wear. And now we're five or six years in,

01:49:51   you know, we're up to Series 7, you know? And nobody, it's obviously a good business,

01:49:56   you know? Any of the questions like, "Oh, I think Apple watches, Duds, you know, they can't launch

01:50:00   a product without..." Nobody talks like that anymore because everybody knows Apple's making a

01:50:04   ton selling Apple watches to people, but nobody else seems to be able to make anything compelling.

01:50:11   Kevin Anthony 1 Yeah, I completely agree. And I think that, you know,

01:50:16   I will see what happens to that advantage in the long run. I think there's interesting indications

01:50:21   that I think Google and Samsung are going to start partnering much more closely. There's the new

01:50:26   Google chip in the new Pixel, which is basically mostly a Samsung chip with a little bit of Google

01:50:32   stuff on it. It's made by Samsung. Something to keep an eye on, I think, is very interesting.

01:50:37   But I agree. So, yeah, I think the AR, I think it's going to be a good business, but I think

01:50:44   it's going to be like the Apple Watch, right? The Apple Watch isn't a transformative platform that

01:50:47   is changing how we live and work and experience the internet, right? And so if there is going to

01:50:52   be one, I think it's going to be VR rather than AR. It might not, VR might always only ever be a

01:50:58   niche. But if I think one of the two change the way we experience the world, I think it's going

01:51:05   to be VR more than AR. And that's a complete reversal from the way, actually, but it's not

01:51:10   a reversal. My position before is that AR and VR are never going to be that big of a deal relative

01:51:14   to the phone. The phone is the king of all be all. My reversal is VR might actually be more important

01:51:20   than I thought before. And you raised lots of good objections, so I might not be, but, you know,

01:51:25   we'll have to wait and see. My, I guess if I wanted to conclude, and this is not a bad

01:51:29   concluding thought, is that I think that the proponents of VR see a path technology-wise

01:51:37   forward where it's just headsets in front of you, things in front of your eyes,

01:51:42   and headphones in your ears to create an immersive experience, visual and audio experience,

01:51:50   that's so immersive that you think you're really there. And like I said, I've been immersed enough

01:51:56   where I've accidentally tried to take a step, like you get disoriented and then you get ahead,

01:52:00   but you'd never fool yourself into thinking you're really there. But I feel like there's

01:52:05   an idea, and Zuckerberg seemed to really be trying to sell it in the keynote,

01:52:12   that there's a path forward along that route to get to the matrix where you actually,

01:52:19   you're 100% convinced you're there, and it's just like real life. And I don't think that's going to

01:52:24   happen. I think that sort of thing literally would take, it has nothing to do with putting goggles or

01:52:29   headphones on, but would require some sort of actual neural connection, whether it's actually

01:52:36   physical, like in the matrix where they put some kind of socket in the back of your head, or—

01:52:42   Yeah, where you have special gloves or something that gives tactile feedback.

01:52:46   Right, or some sort of technology that lets the computer communicate with your brain

01:52:53   over rays, you know what I mean?

01:52:56   Yeah, like—

01:52:56   Brain—

01:52:57   Well, they have that crazy, have you seen that crazy watch technology or wrist technology they have?

01:53:02   Yes, yes.

01:53:04   Where they—so there's some crazy stuff out there, but I, yeah, this is why, and this is the,

01:53:10   like this is why I think it's work. Like I think work is the, it's the one environment,

01:53:17   like you're sitting at your desk, you actually, you want to be somewhere else other than where

01:53:22   you are. I mean, just in the moment, like mentally speaking, you want to be focused on work, you don't

01:53:28   want to be focused on things around you. And there's a go-to market where if it's actually

01:53:34   that useful and that much better, you could see employers paying for it, just like they paid for

01:53:39   PCs in the 80s. Like all the other use cases for VR stumble, I feel, on some of those, like the

01:53:45   gaming one, I thought we broke it down pretty well. Like there's just some real limitations

01:53:49   there. There's like social networking, play with friends, well then all your friends have to get a

01:53:53   VR headset. Like, oh, are you going to actually accomplish that? You're always going to go down

01:53:57   to the lowest common denominator. And the, and you know what, how do you convince people that

01:54:03   there's something they want to pay for it? That's why I just come back to the enterprise angle.

01:54:07   And one, I think that's the, if it works, that's where it's going to work. And then the question

01:54:12   is, will it work there? And I feel pretty strong about the first one, that the inter, that work is

01:54:19   the best manifestation in a place where VR could genuinely be better. And the second one, I, I

01:54:25   weakly think that it's the case, but I think your objections are, are very reasonable and, and we'll

01:54:30   we'll see what happens. Well, this was as good a discussion as I think we could have hoped to have.

01:54:36   I'm glad you joined me. I hardly ever talk to you anymore. Yeah, well, it's actually good. We,

01:54:42   we actually talked about a fair bit of things that were different than what we've talked about

01:54:45   in dithering, because we talked a lot about like Zuckerberg being a founder and that sort of bit.

01:54:52   And whereas this was, I think much more about the beaten potatoes. So I think that people that

01:54:57   listen to both won't feel bad. For people who do enjoy listening to us talk together,

01:55:02   and you haven't tried it, you can find Ben and my, our, our joint show, which is now what,

01:55:09   where are we in about 18 months? Yeah, we're like well over 200 episodes. Yeah. dithering.fm

01:55:17   and it is $5 a month, which is an insane bargain or 50 bucks a year. Is that right? You could,

01:55:26   that's right. 50 bucks a year. And then what's, what's our pitch? It is a complete opposite of

01:55:31   this show for my eyes. 15 minutes, an episode, not a, I think it, this is where you get confused

01:55:38   because we actually do not a second less, not a second more, but I think the pitch is not a

01:55:42   minute more, not a minute less. This is the worst, this is the worst butchering in the history.

01:55:47   Get some sort of reward for this. Yeah, that's right. It's two episodes per week,

01:55:53   15 minutes per episode, not a minute less, not a minute more, but we were that, that is

01:55:58   under promising. And we over deliver because we, we don't do a second less or a second more.

01:56:05   Each episode is 15 colon. Most of the time, because we,

01:56:09   Marco, bless his heart, makes this, this product called Forecast that lets you sort of like add,

01:56:16   add show art and, and you know, just do things to your MP3 pile. Yeah. It, because why would he

01:56:23   care about making sure it's super precise to the, to the second, the latest version

01:56:28   will occasionally knock a second off. I'm not sure why. And so I'm actually using an old version of

01:56:34   it because that doesn't knock the second off. But when you get an episode that is 1459 tweet up,

01:56:40   Marco, don't tweet at us. Have you ever reported this to Marco? We need to, we need to get her.

01:56:45   I think we paid a fortune. We paid an absolute fortune for a forecast license.

01:56:50   That's right. I mean, the $0 for the download the new one and then the time spent to dig up the old

01:56:56   one. Anyway, it's a great tool. Actually we use it because for the Shchakary, because I record

01:57:03   a Pies versus Shchakary and we blow it out. Like there's show notes and like, like every time I

01:57:08   reference an image, that's the show image. When I do an article, it shows like a screenshot of the

01:57:12   article. Like, so that's all forecast. Forecast makes it super easy. So I'm actually a huge fan

01:57:18   and a huge user. So this was meant to, it meant good fun. I did the same thing with it and with

01:57:24   the chapters, right? And the chapters are huge. And I, it's so great for going back to older shows.

01:57:30   I wanted to refer back to an episode of the show from earlier this year, my show. And I knew it was

01:57:37   with Christina Warren, but I could actually, all I had to do is just go into it and forecast, or I

01:57:43   could have gone to a podcast player too, find the episode because the chapters are the same. And then

01:57:47   just tell people it's, oh, it's at the one minute 32 mark. And never would have, never, wasn't

01:57:51   possible with all the pre-forecast episodes of the show. So now you have me feeling bad for Gripen.

01:57:58   Anyway, thank you, Ben.