The Talk Show

50: Gold-Plated USB Cables


00:00:00   We got big news this week, right?

00:00:03   We did?

00:00:04   You sold the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos.

00:00:06   Yeah, apparently.

00:00:09   Why would you do that?

00:00:11   Well, you know, I was tired of running it.

00:00:14   I created a job for myself I didn't like, and I just decided, "You know what?

00:00:19   I don't want to own this giant national newspaper anymore.

00:00:22   It's too much work and too much pressure."

00:00:23   All right, I hear you.

00:00:28   Was it more work than the magazine?

00:00:30   It was about the same.

00:00:36   I did read.

00:00:37   And it is – I used to work at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

00:00:40   I was never on the editorial staff.

00:00:41   I always say that to people and then I immediately have to say I wasn't on the editorial staff

00:00:44   because they know – now I'm a writer.

00:00:46   I guess in theory, I certainly could have been but I wasn't.

00:00:48   I worked in the promotions department.

00:00:50   It was like an in-house graphic design department.

00:00:55   So we'd make all the ads for the Enquirer itself.

00:01:01   Some of them ran as just filler ads when there was a space that was unsold.

00:01:05   Some of them ran for things that they really just wanted to promote, like a new upcoming

00:01:10   special series on blah, blah, blah, that sort of thing.

00:01:13   But anyway, I worked in the building and knew people in the newsroom.

00:01:17   I know just how big an operation a major metro daily is.

00:01:25   And it's impressive.

00:01:26   But then you hear some of the numbers,

00:01:27   and it's impressive too.

00:01:28   Like I saw a piece in The New Yorker

00:01:30   on this sale of The Washington Post

00:01:32   to Bezos talking about the decline of The Washington

00:01:36   Post over the last two decades and how at its peak

00:01:38   they had 1,000 staffers in the newsroom.

00:01:40   And now they're down to a--

00:01:42   and it was passed off as sort of like, man, can you believe it,

00:01:44   that they only have 650 people in the newsroom.

00:01:48   But that's an incredible number of people for a publication.

00:01:52   - That's an incredible number of people

00:01:53   for any business to support.

00:01:54   I mean, that's, you know,

00:01:56   I think now with all these internet businesses

00:01:58   that we're all running these days,

00:02:00   it's easy to forget how many people are involved

00:02:03   in almost every other kind of business,

00:02:05   especially one that has the amount of work to do

00:02:10   and the amount of physical things to deal with

00:02:12   as a daily newspaper would.

00:02:14   Yeah, exactly. It's just stunning. I mean, I'm not even saying that after all the cuts

00:02:21   that these newspapers have gone through in the last decade or two, you know, in the decline

00:02:26   of major newspapers, that there's a lot of fat left to be cut. But boy, you know, you

00:02:34   can just see though how easy it could be for these papers not to be making money.

00:02:41   Oh yeah.

00:02:43   I mean, just the amount of worth that goes into it.

00:02:47   I mean, when I was running the magazine,

00:02:50   responsible for cutting about five checks

00:02:54   and picking one photo every two weeks.

00:02:58   And that was overwhelming.

00:02:59   I can't do this anymore.

00:03:01   I got to get out of this business.

00:03:04   And the idea of something like the scale

00:03:07   that they have to be operating on to do daily content,

00:03:10   and quite a lot of it in addition to all the other additional stuff that newspapers have

00:03:14   to do that a lot of magazines and certainly a lot of online publications don't do with

00:03:19   things like fact checking and levels of editing and stuff like that. It's just remarkable.

00:03:25   Eric Bischoff Yeah, I mean like an issue of the New Yorker

00:03:27   every week is a lot. Like I am a subscriber and I have a giant unending, always growing

00:03:34   stack of unread issues. And whenever I feel overwhelmed by the, "Oh my god, another

00:03:39   one came," I often just sit back and just flip through it and just think, "My god,

00:03:44   though," but think about how much work goes into putting this thing out that I can't

00:03:48   keep up with every—all I have to do is read the damn thing.

00:03:50   Right. It's hard enough to read it in time.

00:03:53   Right. I've told this story. I'm pretty sure I've told it on this show before, but

00:03:57   it might have been a long time ago. So I'll retell it. And it was—now it's probably

00:04:00   probably two, three years ago. But I was in your favorite establishment. I was in a Starbucks

00:04:07   waiting for some sort of summary type drink at the counter. There were two young women,

00:04:16   I don't know, I'm going to say 20-ish. I'm at the point now where I can't tell what's

00:04:21   teenage and what's mid-20s. But I'm just going to say they were 20-ish. It was the Sunday

00:04:27   paper but it would they had a New York Times on the counter in front of him and

00:04:33   the one young woman was explaining to the other and it really and I know it

00:04:38   sounds comical and I don't think she was stupid but I just don't I just think she

00:04:41   grew up on the internet she certainly wasn't like it you know I wouldn't be

00:04:45   surprised if she was in fact a college student I don't think she was in any way

00:04:48   you know living in a cave or something but the one had really had no idea what

00:04:53   what a newspaper was.

00:04:55   And she said to the other one,

00:04:56   wait, you mean they print this every day?

00:05:00   And the other one said, yes, exactly.

00:05:03   And the other one goes, why would they do that?

00:05:06   And she was clearly impressed.

00:05:10   She was like staggered.

00:05:11   Like she had been flipping through this

00:05:13   and like it suddenly like had occurred to her

00:05:15   just how much was in a single day's issue of the newspaper.

00:05:18   And again, it was the Sunday issue.

00:05:20   But even if you look at the dailies,

00:05:22   You know, it's just, if you just think about the fact that that comes out every single

00:05:26   day, 365 days.

00:05:28   They've never, like New York Times says, you know, never missed a day.

00:05:32   9/11 happens.

00:05:34   Next day there's the New York Times.

00:05:37   I think it's also a little remarkable to think about how with newspapers, and with magazines

00:05:43   these days too, but with newspapers especially, people pay for that.

00:05:48   And they pay for every issue in some way.

00:05:50   You know, some people pick it up every day manually and pay like the list price every

00:05:54   day.

00:05:55   Some people get it, I would assume most people probably get it delivered and subscribe.

00:05:59   But either way, you're paying for every issue of that.

00:06:01   And there are very few free newspapers and most of them really suck.

00:06:06   And so there's this whole population of people who are accustomed to paying for pretty

00:06:12   much all of their content that they read, all their news and editorial that they read.

00:06:17   And then there's the next generation, which I think kind of started with people roughly

00:06:21   my age and maybe a little bit younger, who the idea of paying every single day for the

00:06:28   news that you're reading is crazy.

00:06:30   Dave: Exactly.

00:06:32   I totally understand that.

00:06:35   And it is, I think you and I are exactly in between that era.

00:06:40   Like I was, as a 40-year-old, I'm at the very tail end of the newspaper generation.

00:06:46   I don't read it. I haven't read a paper newspaper in years now, but I mean I certainly remember it

00:06:51   I remember subscribing to the Inquirer

00:06:53   And just having worked there I remembered thinking what a great perk it was that every day

00:06:59   There was just a free stack of both paper

00:07:01   It was a one Philadelphia's one of those towns where the same company publishes two newspapers

00:07:05   So every day you could just if you work there

00:07:07   you just walk in pick up an Inquirer and a daily news and it was the type of place where

00:07:13   It was perfectly acceptable to just sit there at your desk and read the paper

00:07:16   Which is so great like it was such a great thing because it was a hard thing at any other job

00:07:23   You could not you know the web has sort of made that as long as nobody's looking at your screen

00:07:27   You can actually be like reading you know the news or whatever while it looks like you look exactly like you look like when you

00:07:33   were writing code

00:07:35   Whereas pre

00:07:37   web

00:07:38   reading the newspaper looking nothing like working. It was the epitome of slacking off.

00:07:45   Well, you could say you were testing the paper. It's part of your job. I'm testing. That's

00:07:50   how I would always browse Tumblr when I was working at Tumblr.

00:07:52   No, but I'm just telling you that when you worked in the Inquirer, it was perfectly acceptable

00:07:56   to read the paper. I mean, it was assumed that you were still going to get your work

00:07:59   done during the day, but it was also assumed that you were going to read the paper.

00:08:02   I guess you could justify that by saying, "Well, you have to keep up with what's going

00:08:05   on in your job. You know, like you have to know what you're putting out there.

00:08:10   Right. Well, and it was assumed and hoped for that people all over the city were

00:08:14   reading the paper on the job. Yeah, fair point, yeah. I think, you know, maybe in the

00:08:21   same way where if you work at like a distillery it's okay to take a little

00:08:24   nip at lunch. Testing, once again. Exactly. Why don't people drink at work anymore?

00:08:32   I think they do. I think we just don't really hear about it as much.

00:08:36   It's just not acceptable. They try to hide it. Or it's like that crazy

00:08:40   "startup culture" where they have the fridge full of beer and the ping pong table. Which, by the way,

00:08:44   I've now worked at multiple places that call themselves startups, had a fridge

00:08:48   with beer in it, and had a ping pong table. And that whole thing

00:08:52   with people actually using those things, I've never seen that happen.

00:08:56   The ping pong table, it got used a couple times, and then

00:09:00   no one ever looked at it again because it was really distracting to everybody else and

00:09:04   you would seem like a dick if you were sitting there playing ping pong at like three o'clock

00:09:07   and everyone else was working. And you didn't want to like stay later at work after you

00:09:11   were done. You wanted to go home. So, like there was never a good time to play ping pong

00:09:14   and drink beer at work.

00:09:15   Right. And the modern startup office is not a traditional, you know, bunch of hallways

00:09:21   with offices with doors. It's a big open air, high ceiling, former warehouse type thing

00:09:28   and everybody has at best a cubicle or maybe even less.

00:09:33   - Yeah, I think most people who work in that environment

00:09:35   would love a cubicle compared to what they have.

00:09:37   - Right. (laughs)

00:09:38   - Which is like a few square feet in the middle of the room

00:09:40   with everybody else and wires everywhere.

00:09:42   - Ping-pong is actually one of those things

00:09:43   that could, that might, if used,

00:09:46   might actually drive people insane.

00:09:48   - Well, I don't even know how that became

00:09:52   the iconic thing that Startup Office would have

00:09:54   because if you think about it, you're right.

00:09:56   if you think about the reality of playing ping pong,

00:09:58   first of all, the ball is always flying off

00:10:00   in some direction.

00:10:01   So not only is it loud, and every single action in ping pong

00:10:04   makes an audible click noise,

00:10:06   everything you possibly do, so it's loud,

00:10:08   and there's a lot of motion, so it's visually distracting,

00:10:11   and then every eight seconds of play,

00:10:15   the ball goes rolling off somewhere,

00:10:16   and one of the players has to walk across the room somewhere

00:10:19   and get it, or like, oh, sorry,

00:10:20   can I go to your desk for a second and get the ball?

00:10:22   - Right, and just irregular enough

00:10:24   that you couldn't really get into it.

00:10:26   Like, I could see how some people, you know, how some people like to work to white noise.

00:10:30   I could see how an endless loop of, like, two perfect ping pong players, you know, like

00:10:36   an artificial loop of an endless ping pong volley might be something some people would

00:10:40   get into, you know?

00:10:41   Yeah, maybe, because it's so constant.

00:10:43   Right, but real ping pong is nothing like that.

00:10:45   Real ping pong is really a lot of chasing the ball.

00:10:48   Especially people who would be playing at an office who probably aren't professional

00:10:51   players.

00:10:52   Wouldn't that be great?

00:10:54   Wouldn't that be great? It would be great if you and I worked at a place like that and

00:10:59   we could just goof off and annoy people because we don't care.

00:11:01   --

00:11:06   That's maximum awkwardness and annoyance if you have two people playing ping pong and

00:11:11   one working.

00:11:13   Dave: What else could we get?

00:11:15   We'd also get a pinball machine.

00:11:19   Michael, I hear people…

00:11:21   I think foosball tables are also part of this culture of things you'd expect in a young,

00:11:26   cool, hip startup.

00:11:28   And foosball also doesn't make sense to me because it's so loud.

00:11:32   And even if the activity itself, you find a way to make it make less noise, the people

00:11:38   playing it are loud.

00:11:39   Like I've never heard two quiet people playing foosball.

00:11:42   Like, because you react.

00:11:44   It's such like an intense game.

00:11:46   You have to constantly react.

00:11:48   And so you're trying to work over there, and one side of the office you hear the little

00:11:51   click, click, click of ping pong.

00:11:53   And the other side you hear people going, "Oh!

00:11:55   Oh!

00:11:56   Oh!"

00:11:57   You end up playing foosball.

00:11:58   Yeah, it doesn't take long with foosball to figure out that the only way to really score

00:12:01   is to hit the ball extremely hard.

00:12:04   - Yeah, pretty much.

00:12:05   - And therefore very loud.

00:12:07   - I don't know, it's one of those things,

00:12:10   like I mean, in both places that I worked at

00:12:14   that had things like this,

00:12:16   my bosses at both of those places have been

00:12:18   not that keen on the idea of you not working

00:12:21   while you're at work.

00:12:22   And so it's so ridiculously awkward

00:12:24   to even have the possibility.

00:12:25   I mean, we would have beers in our fridges

00:12:28   for like a year that just nobody drank

00:12:31   drink because there was just no comfortable time where it would be a good idea for you

00:12:36   to get up and get that beer out of the fridge and drink it.

00:12:38   Dave: Yeah, I can totally see that. The way I've heard it described is that it's because

00:12:44   the startups, that type of startup at least, is attempting to attract 22, 23, 24-year-olds,

00:12:53   if not younger who've dropped out or entirely skipped college because those are the people

00:12:59   who are most willing to put in insane hours and don't have family and maybe don't have

00:13:03   perspective and maybe are most thinking.

00:13:06   Well, just have that mindset when you're younger.

00:13:09   And truth be told, you also have more energy.

00:13:11   And they're relatively cheap.

00:13:13   And they're relatively cheap.

00:13:16   All of that is designed to sort of extend adolescence further in the same way that,

00:13:22   you know, no surprise, all those accoutrements are the same that typically decorate college

00:13:27   frat houses or apartments.

00:13:30   Exactly. And Google, for instance, is famous for this kind of coaxing people out of college

00:13:37   into Google and making it very nice and cushy for them to continue the exact same lifestyle

00:13:42   and mental state that they had while they were in college because that will attract

00:13:45   so many people from that era.

00:13:50   I think I probably told this story in a podcast before too, but years ago, I once had a meeting

00:13:56   at a Google office in New York.

00:13:58   And we went in and there was, you know,

00:14:03   the waiting area was just full of like smart people toys.

00:14:08   You know, like weird like colorful thing,

00:14:10   like those balls that you pull apart

00:14:12   and they like expand, made of K'nex

00:14:14   and they like contract back again.

00:14:15   And like all that like weird stuff like that.

00:14:17   And all of them were just covered in dust.

00:14:22   Like clearly nobody was playing with these things.

00:14:25   it was meant to look like this was a fun place to be,

00:14:29   but everything was just covered in a layer of dust.

00:14:32   You could obviously tell they hadn't been touched

00:14:34   possibly ever, possibly since the office was opened.

00:14:37   It was just a very strange thing.

00:14:38   And the walls were all colorful and everything,

00:14:42   but the halls were just dead.

00:14:44   Nobody was around.

00:14:46   Well, I think there were people,

00:14:48   but they were in their offices working.

00:14:50   Nobody was riding by in scooters or anything.

00:14:52   It was really a very boring, bland, cold-feeling office.

00:14:55   made to look like some kind of fun playground,

00:14:58   but it just, the reality was very different.

00:15:01   - Yeah, I've always liked, and I'm sure you probably,

00:15:05   well, I don't know if I'm sure, but you know,

00:15:07   I'm guessing you probably agree,

00:15:08   like with Joel Spolsky's thoughts and theories

00:15:12   on how to have like, you know, how to run a company

00:15:14   full of people who work in the office together

00:15:16   where they have to program and be quiet.

00:15:18   And pretty much it's build, make a nice place

00:15:20   and give everybody a room at the door.

00:15:23   - Oh yeah, and they have--

00:15:24   - And a nice desk and a nice chair.

00:15:26   - Exactly.

00:15:27   They actually, I've been to their office a few times

00:15:29   and they really, I mean, he nailed it.

00:15:32   They, and they don't have enough space

00:15:34   to give everybody a private office anymore

00:15:36   'cause they're a pretty big company now

00:15:38   and they're dealing with like New York buildings.

00:15:40   So there's not a lot of like window area

00:15:42   where you could put cubes

00:15:43   and nobody really wants an interior office.

00:15:46   - Where have they gotten bigger?

00:15:47   Have they gotten bigger just on the bug tracker

00:15:51   or are they doing the Stack Overflow stuff too?

00:15:53   I've never been clear on.

00:15:55   - Stack Overflow expanded out from their office.

00:15:58   It used to be in their office,

00:15:59   and then I think pretty quickly they took over the floor

00:16:02   like above or below the regular Fog Creek office,

00:16:05   'cause it is a separate company,

00:16:07   so they invaded the next floor up or down, I forget which.

00:16:10   - Fog Bunk, that's the thing I was forgetting.

00:16:11   - Yeah, and since then, Fog Creek also launched Trello,

00:16:16   which is very popular, and so I would imagine

00:16:20   there's probably a good number of people going to that,

00:16:22   But before Stack Overflow and before Trello,

00:16:25   I think FogBugs was really the vast majority.

00:16:27   I mean, they had a couple of other products over time,

00:16:29   but most of them I don't think got a lot of traction.

00:16:32   FogBugs was the big one, and they also,

00:16:34   a couple years ago launched something called Kiln,

00:16:36   which is a hosted Mercurial repository,

00:16:40   and actually now it speaks Git,

00:16:41   which is a whole other topic.

00:16:42   It's pretty cool, actually.

00:16:44   So yeah, it's all developer stuff for the most part.

00:16:48   Their office is just incredible.

00:16:50   I should mention, I've been there a few times,

00:16:51   and I'm kind of friends with the guys,

00:16:52   so I shouldn't, obviously I'm a little bit biased,

00:16:54   but it's really nice. - I've never been there.

00:16:56   But from what I've read though,

00:16:57   it seems designed not to attract people on an interview,

00:17:02   like wow, this place looks like

00:17:04   it's almost an amusement park.

00:17:05   It's really designed to be like,

00:17:07   hey, we'd like to make a place where

00:17:09   if you wanna make a career and be here

00:17:11   for the next 10, 15 years coming in,

00:17:14   40 some weeks a year, five days a week,

00:17:18   that you're gonna be really comfortable and enjoy it.

00:17:21   - Right, you know. - And be productive.

00:17:23   - Like Google was, and a lot of these companies

00:17:25   that are in our business are very much like

00:17:28   the West Coast, Silicon Valley, college graduate,

00:17:33   like recent college graduate mentality.

00:17:35   And the leaders came from that culture,

00:17:38   they created the company in that culture,

00:17:40   and they try to keep people in that culture.

00:17:42   Facebook, from what I've heard, is similar,

00:17:43   though I don't know exactly, but I've heard similar.

00:17:47   You know, we see that a lot.

00:17:47   And Fog Creek was founded by a couple of guys from New York, or at least in New York.

00:17:54   And you can really tell, and I'm pretty sure they had both worked enough jobs between

00:17:59   college and Fog Creek that it wasn't just like, "We just got out of college, let's

00:18:05   keep the party going."

00:18:07   So the culture couldn't be more different.

00:18:11   of Google and Facebook and everything,

00:18:14   they try to give their employees the best

00:18:17   post-college party experience.

00:18:20   And Fog Creek tries to give people

00:18:24   a kind of a more conservative, grown-up,

00:18:28   but still geeky and still professional version of that.

00:18:32   And really, the difference is night and day.

00:18:34   And chances are, if you like one of those environments,

00:18:38   you probably won't like the other one, and vice versa.

00:18:41   Yeah, I think so. How would you describe your home working environment? Sort of probably

00:18:45   like a frat house, right?

00:18:47   Oh, constantly, yeah. There's… I mean, yeah, it's pretty much the opposite of both

00:18:54   of those. If you can figure that out. Yeah, there's one of me. I'm in a room. Although,

00:19:01   I do have the exact same desk as the Fog Creek people that electrically raises and lowers

00:19:07   because I stole it from Joel's post about them years ago.

00:19:11   - It's pretty slick.

00:19:12   Wasn't that like what you negotiated

00:19:14   when you left Tumblr?

00:19:15   Didn't you take it exactly? - Exactly, exactly.

00:19:17   Yeah, like in like 2008 or something,

00:19:21   it was like a year after Joel posted about Fog Creek

00:19:25   getting these awesome electric standing desks,

00:19:28   Tumblr was looking for a couple of desks.

00:19:30   So I'm like, "Hey, why don't we try these out?"

00:19:31   I actually convinced them to get four of these.

00:19:34   and most of the other people didn't like them that much.

00:19:38   But I love mine, and as part of my leaving,

00:19:42   I negotiated taking the desk with me,

00:19:44   which involved driving my car into Manhattan,

00:19:46   taking apart the desk on a weekend, loading it up.

00:19:49   It was quite an ordeal, but totally worth it.

00:19:52   I'm very happy I have this desk.

00:19:53   - I would do it for a desk that I liked.

00:19:56   I have a IKEA jerker.

00:19:59   - Nice, yeah, people love that thing.

00:20:01   - I do.

00:20:02   - I was always more of a Galant fan myself,

00:20:04   Because before this desk I used all IKEA galants,

00:20:07   but yeah, the Jerker is extremely popular.

00:20:10   - It's got a name that cannot be beat.

00:20:12   - Oh yeah.

00:20:13   - But it's, you know, it would be a pain in,

00:20:16   if I worked at an office instead of here

00:20:18   and had this desk but I got to take it with me,

00:20:20   it would be a pain in the ass to get home,

00:20:21   but I would totally do it.

00:20:25   - See, I've often thought recently,

00:20:27   you know, I work at home and I have a family now,

00:20:30   so we have like a kid running around

00:20:32   a dog running around. I want to hang out with them. I want to spend time with them. There's

00:20:36   always something going on that I want to do while I'm in here working.

00:20:40   And so it's distracting a little bit, to say the least. So I've thought about, do I go

00:20:44   out somewhere? Because I have some friends who run some offices nearby who I could get

00:20:50   a desk from them pretty easily and just share a desk in their office. And I thought, should

00:20:54   I go out and do that? Should I get more productive and do that and get out of the house a little

00:20:59   bit. But one of the biggest things that has kept me from doing that so far is I would

00:21:05   hate to have to make two awesome desk setups, like one at home and one at the office. And

00:21:11   I couldn't just have one. Like, if my office desk sucked, then I would not want to go in

00:21:15   there and I wouldn't be able to get as much work done. But I also don't want to lose my

00:21:19   home desk or move it there, because then my home starts to suck. So, like, when I was

00:21:25   at tumblr, with the exception of the standing desk, which I couldn't really practically

00:21:30   get or afford at home, I tried to duplicate the setup as much as possible. There were

00:21:35   Mac Pros in both places with two 24-inch monitors in both places, same keyboard, same mouse,

00:21:42   same mouse pad, same headphones, tried to duplicate everything exactly the same, which

00:21:46   is really nice actually because then, like, you're never, like, if you work somewhere

00:21:51   where we're either at home or work,

00:21:54   you have a really big monitor, and the other place you don't.

00:21:57   That sucks having to make that transition every day.

00:22:00   So I always try to keep everything

00:22:02   the same in both places to make it just-- I'm a picky nerd,

00:22:06   and that's the kind of thing that I can do.

00:22:07   And the idea now of trying to clone the setup I have now

00:22:12   at an office at my own expense, having to buy another desktop

00:22:18   or bring a laptop both places, buy another monitor

00:22:20   and keyboard and stuff and just like, "Eh, it's so wasteful. I don't want to do that."

00:22:24   Dave: Yeah, same here.

00:22:25   Michael: Another nice chair. It's just I'm very comfortable in my home environment and

00:22:31   I think the distractions are just going to be a cost of doing business at home. But overall,

00:22:37   I think I like that better.

00:22:38   Dave Yeah. I was trying to Google. I remember this from – it must have been 10 – seriously,

00:22:44   years ago. But I had a friend who had a website, Jason Perkins had a website, Show Us Your

00:22:51   Workspace, and it's a 404 now. It was like, "What does your desk look like?" And so

00:22:58   I spent like three hours cleaning mine up from all the crap I had on it.

00:23:03   **Ezra Klein:** Everyone just...

00:23:04   **Ezra Klein** Took a picture of mine that looked like it

00:23:06   was nice and sent it in and described it all, including the fact that the desk was a jerk

00:23:14   And then a year or two later there was a guy who put together a site

00:23:18   I think I swear it had some kind of punny name that played it would totally wink wink nudge nudge on the name

00:23:23   I think it was called show us your jerker

00:23:25   And wanted permission didn't want me to do it all over again

00:23:29   Just say can I use the same picture and say that you you know, this is your jerker

00:23:32   I was like, of course you can't

00:23:34   Well, that's one of those things like there were there was a I mean, I don't know if they still make it

00:23:39   They probably do but there was a period

00:23:41   Back like when everyone was buying like Athlons

00:23:45   and building computers with GeForce 3s, like 2001-ish,

00:23:49   back then there was this period where like everybody,

00:23:54   like every geek on the internet

00:23:56   was telling every other geek on the internet

00:23:58   to buy this desk, whenever the topic would come up.

00:24:01   And they just accumulated,

00:24:03   it's not like the world is full of jerkers

00:24:05   and they're all like full of like giant tower computers

00:24:08   of people running Linux and everything.

00:24:10   but there's a lot of those floating around.

00:24:13   - I just like being able to tell people

00:24:16   that I've had photos of my jerker published.

00:24:18   - Yeah, and republished.

00:24:20   People liked it so much, they wanted to republish it.

00:24:23   - With that, let's take a break for our first sponsor.

00:24:28   Our first sponsor is Ting.

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00:24:33   What is Ting?

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00:24:57   So the one thing you don't get, you don't get subsidized phone pricing or something

00:25:00   like that.

00:25:01   This is the type of thing where you buy a phone at whole price or bring an existing

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00:25:10   That's why your phone bill is $120 a month.

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00:28:17   Man, I wish I had Merlin's bell right now.

00:28:25   What would you do with it?

00:28:26   Well, come on, Ting.

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00:28:30   Ting.

00:28:31   I can't believe we've done a podcast so far about desks and newspapers.

00:28:40   That seems typical.

00:28:41   Well, you know, it's the summertime.

00:28:42   There's not a lot of news happening, really.

00:28:44   Right.

00:28:45   What do you think Bezos is going to do with The Washington Post?

00:28:49   I have no idea. I mean, you know, it's worth clarifying, because so many people are going

00:28:56   to make a weird assumption here, but it's worth clarifying that Amazon didn't buy

00:29:02   The Washington Post. Jeff Bezos personally did. Like, he set up a little LLC, I think,

00:29:07   for just himself to buy it with his money. So, it's not like Amazon acquired it. And

00:29:14   And I don't really know, I mean,

00:29:17   I don't know much about Jeff Bezos personally,

00:29:19   like what his personal interests and stuff are.

00:29:22   I do know that he's really, really smart.

00:29:25   - Yep.

00:29:26   - He is one of the smartest people in business today.

00:29:29   And he's ridiculously smart

00:29:32   and an extremely good business person.

00:29:36   So I have to imagine that, you know, maybe for him,

00:29:39   you know, this really isn't a whole lot of money for him,

00:29:42   I don't think.

00:29:44   know, relatively speaking.

00:29:45   Maybe.

00:29:46   No.

00:29:47   You know what?

00:29:48   It actually works out almost shockingly to almost exactly 1% of his net worth.

00:29:54   His net worth is estimated at $25 billion.

00:29:58   So a $250 million purchase is about 1% of his net worth.

00:30:02   That's one of those things where I guess I'm assuming that his net worth is largely

00:30:06   tied up in Amazon stock.

00:30:09   So it's not like he has $25 billion in cash.

00:30:13   still, I mean let's face it, I mean it's not like, I mean Amazon could suffer some

00:30:16   kind of serious stock slide but they're not going to, you know, if they lose 50%

00:30:20   of their value he's still got 12 and a half billion dollars. Right, yeah he's still

00:30:24   fine. Right. Yeah, so I don't, I don't really know like what, why he bought this.

00:30:29   It really, it could be way less interesting than we all think. It could

00:30:34   just be that he just kind of wanted to, he wanted to support it, you know, there

00:30:38   were, the press has a long history of being supported by very wealthy

00:30:41   individuals or foundations or families. So there's definitely precedent for that, for

00:30:47   this to be very uninteresting.

00:30:48   Yeah. Well, and maybe, and maybe, I would say, and this is one of those things that's

00:30:54   clearly super subjective, but, and, you know, most people consider that there's really only

00:31:01   two top-tier newspapers in the United States right now, the New York Times and the Wall

00:31:05   Street Journal. And the Wall Street Journal doesn't really cover everything. I mean,

00:31:12   you know, it's right there in their name, but they do have more of a specific focus

00:31:17   on business. I mean, you don't really see many things like, you know, like the way the

00:31:24   Washington Post broke the Snowden NSA thing. The Wall Street Journal couldn't do that,

00:31:32   but they probably wouldn't. It's the type of thing that's more likely to break into

00:31:36   New York Times. But not…

00:31:38   Most of the journals really focus more on iPhone rumors.

00:31:41   Right. Exactly. That's what they're specialized in. But not too long ago, and I remember it,

00:31:46   I mean, especially the claim to – the Watergate thing. It wasn't what made the Washington

00:31:52   Post. The Watergate thing was sort of a sign of how good the Post was. That in the '70s,

00:31:58   70s, 80s, the Washington Post was a third top-tier newspaper. The other thing, I mean

00:32:05   and this is a complete side note, but I mean people where I used to work, the Inquirer,

00:32:09   knew it, was that in the 80s, the Inquirer, Philadelphia Inquirer was maybe the next cut

00:32:14   below those guys. And in fact, I believe this is true. I know people who worked there thought

00:32:19   of it. I think that's where I heard it when I worked there. But over the course of the

00:32:24   1980s, the Philadelphia Inquirer won more Pulitzer Prizes than any other newspaper in

00:32:29   the United States. Anyway, long story short though, maybe Bezos' plan is to help the

00:32:35   Washington Post sort of get back to that level.

00:32:38   Yeah, it very well could be.

00:32:41   Just that the country would be better with a better arch rival to the New York Times,

00:32:47   just to keep everything competitive.

00:32:49   Oh yeah, I mean, I think we're better off with just generally more really great, highly

00:32:55   respected newspapers, you know, not fewer. And over time it seems like the number just

00:32:59   keeps going down. So hopefully this, yeah, if you can turn it around and, you know, boost

00:33:05   it and keep it up there and keep the standards up and, you know, get the reputation building

00:33:09   higher and higher, that'd be great. Because, you know, the New York Times has had its own

00:33:14   share problems recently too. It kind of sucks to be the number one paper out there because

00:33:22   you're expected to be really perfect, but they've had a lot of problems in the last

00:33:26   few years and a lot of really questionable things they've published or questionable

00:33:29   positions they've taken.

00:33:30   Dave Asprey Jason Blair thing where they had the fabulous

00:33:35   writing, working as a reporter and what was her name? The security reporter who published

00:33:43   all the nonsense about weapons and mass destruction.

00:33:45   - Right, right.

00:33:46   - I can't remember.

00:33:47   - And even just in our business,

00:33:48   like some of their coverage on tech stuff

00:33:50   is really abysmal.

00:33:52   They had that whole, the whole like Apple witch hunt thing

00:33:54   last year that, well, a lot of it was pretty weak.

00:33:57   And yeah, like a lot of their stuff is like,

00:34:01   overall, I think they still are the best,

00:34:04   if you had to pick one, but they've had,

00:34:07   they can certainly use some competition, I think.

00:34:08   - Yeah.

00:34:12   So, yeah, I don't know. I think you're probably right that there is no secret super plan.

00:34:18   I think the fact is that normal people think, "Holy shit, the guy paid $250 million for

00:34:23   the thing. He must want to do something huge with it." And if you think of it as, "Oh,

00:34:28   boy, the guy spent 1% of his net worth on the newspaper. Maybe he just wants to let

00:34:32   them be and let them stop sweating the profitability angle for now."

00:34:39   Oh yeah.

00:34:40   Especially, you know, maybe he wants something that's a little bit more of like a premium

00:34:45   product.

00:34:46   Because Amazon is in many ways really a lot like Walmart.

00:34:51   It's just like it's a cheap retailer in every possible sense.

00:34:56   It operates on no margin, as you pointed out many times.

00:34:59   It operates on no margin and generates no money and is all about undercutting everything

00:35:05   possible and sucking the profit out of things and you know maybe he just wanted

00:35:12   something else to be part of his life. Yeah I do think though to his credit

00:35:16   though and to Amazon's credit I think there's a different angle though in some

00:35:20   ways there are Walmart like I mean the focus on low prices the fact that it and

00:35:27   that a lot of the people most of the people maybe who work for them do not

00:35:31   have a really great job. Working in a Walmart is certainly not a great job, doesn't pay

00:35:36   that well. Working in an Amazon fulfillment center, not a great job as documented so wonderfully

00:35:45   by Mack McClellan. What was that for? Was it for the Atlantic? I forget.

00:35:50   I think so.

00:35:51   Yeah, I think so.

00:35:52   But I linked to it last year. I don't know if it was like a lawyer's told us we can't

00:35:55   say it type thing, but that they didn't say that it was a Walmart. I mean, not a Walmart,

00:36:00   Amazon fulfillment center. Just said it was a fulfillment center for a very large internet

00:36:04   retailer. Well, cough, cough, it was—

00:36:06   Right. Everyone knew it was Amazon.

00:36:08   Right. It's relentless. It was absolutely—it was almost like an eight-hour workout trying

00:36:14   to keep up. But from a consumer standpoint, I think there's a huge difference, which

00:36:21   is that, to me, shopping in a Walmart is a horrible, horrifying experience. Whereas Amazon

00:36:29   Amazon has always had to me a pretty good focus on customer experience, that they want

00:36:34   people to be happy.

00:36:36   Jordan: Yeah.

00:36:38   With Walmart, it's easy to see the good and bad from it.

00:36:43   With Amazon, it's a lot easier to just see the good.

00:36:48   The bad is more hidden away.

00:36:52   I'm personally no better than anyone else who shops there.

00:36:54   I shop there all the time.

00:36:55   I buy tons of stuff from Amazon.

00:36:57   Pretty much anything that I can get that Amazon sells,

00:37:00   I will generally buy it from them.

00:37:01   And almost every week, there's something

00:37:04   from Amazon showing up at my house.

00:37:06   And so I really, I can't say that like, you know,

00:37:09   I'm doing anything about this,

00:37:10   but they certainly have a lot of the power of monopsonies.

00:37:14   You know, that term I think was invented fairly recently

00:37:16   about basically to describe Walmart at first.

00:37:19   And you know, they certainly have that problem

00:37:23   and they exhibit a lot of the predatory behavior

00:37:25   that bad monopsonies do.

00:37:28   Certainly with the ebook publisher lawsuit thing,

00:37:31   they've, a lot of this has become more relevant now

00:37:36   and talked about more now.

00:37:37   That the way Amazon deals with their own suppliers

00:37:41   and publishers is generally not good

00:37:44   and can be very destructive if you're one of those suppliers

00:37:48   or if you're in that market or if you're a publisher.

00:37:51   - Right, monopsony, here's the definition.

00:37:55   market situation in which there is only one buyer?

00:37:57   Right. Like a monopoly is there's only one seller of something. And a monopsony is that

00:38:03   there's only one buyer. And so it's a great example. For instance, if you look at the

00:38:07   e-book situation, if the Kindle remains the dominant e-book platform and if, and let's

00:38:13   say, let's say iBooks got nowhere or didn't exist and let's say like all the little, all

00:38:19   the little guys like Kobo and Sony remained little, then pretty much if you were a publisher

00:38:24   and wanted to sell e-books at all,

00:38:25   you'd pretty much have to sell to Amazon

00:38:27   because they're the biggest buyer around

00:38:29   or the only buyer around.

00:38:31   And so Amazon can then dictate the terms

00:38:35   back to their suppliers,

00:38:37   "Well, if you wanna sell to us,

00:38:38   "you have to sell at this price, period.

00:38:41   "Doesn't matter, we don't care if you can't support that.

00:38:43   "We don't care if you'll go out of business.

00:38:45   "You have to sell at this price

00:38:46   "or you have to give us these terms

00:38:47   "or you have to give up this control to us."

00:38:50   And the suppliers, in this case the publishers,

00:38:53   They really can't say much in response,

00:38:55   'cause what are they gonna do?

00:38:56   If they pull out of Amazon store,

00:38:58   no one can buy their stuff.

00:39:00   So it's one of the various market dysfunctions

00:39:04   like monopolies that generally should be avoided,

00:39:07   'cause they generally can cause more harm than good.

00:39:09   - Right. - And--

00:39:10   - I remember-- - But there's not

00:39:11   a lot of law around this yet, I don't think.

00:39:13   - I don't know if I'll be able to find it,

00:39:14   but I remember reading a piece just a few years ago

00:39:17   about how Walmart had changed the lawnmower industry.

00:39:22   Yes.

00:39:24   I read the same one.

00:39:25   It was awesome.

00:39:27   What was the lawnmower company that

00:39:28   was the one that bucked the trend?

00:39:30   I forget.

00:39:32   I forget.

00:39:33   The gist of it, though, is that there was one company that--

00:39:37   I'll find the link.

00:39:38   I'm sure I will.

00:39:38   I'll put it in the show notes.

00:39:39   I don't want to interrupt the show just to find it.

00:39:41   But the gist of it was there was a company

00:39:43   that refused to bow to their demands, which

00:39:45   was for cheaper, cheaper lawnmowers,

00:39:48   no matter what it meant to quality.

00:39:49   And so they said, you know what?

00:39:51   And Walmart said, "If you don't do this, we're not going to sell your lawn mowers."

00:39:54   And they said, "All right.

00:39:55   Don't sell our lawn mowers."

00:39:56   And so they stuck to – yeah, there you go.

00:39:59   You can send me the link.

00:40:00   Perfect.

00:40:01   I see my keyboard is too loud.

00:40:07   And so they stuck to selling them to other resellers.

00:40:09   Yeah, Snapper was the company.

00:40:11   Snapper, with higher quality, obviously higher price, but with much higher quality and thrived.

00:40:18   But that more or less that the Walmart way of selling had driven all the other makers

00:40:21   of lawnmowers to make crappier lawnmowers that had lower prices because they effectively

00:40:28   had – they didn't have a monopoly on lawnmowers because Walmart didn't make one of them.

00:40:34   But because so many places around the country, the only place where people went to buy lawnmowers

00:40:39   was Walmart, they had a monopsony on them.

00:40:42   Exactly. And Walmart has quite a lot of this in a lot of industries in person. But it's

00:40:49   especially, I think, you know, Walmart has, it doesn't really matter as much for brick

00:40:55   and mortar retail because even though there are way more people who buy things at brick

00:40:58   and mortar stores than online still, I think, there's still, it's a lot harder to really

00:41:04   build up a true monopsony in brick and mortar. Whereas online, or in digital technology,

00:41:10   especially if you look at the ebook example,

00:41:12   you have DRM and you have closed devices.

00:41:16   So it'd be really easy, it was really easy for Amazon

00:41:20   to build up this monopoly by having that DRM in place

00:41:24   because you can't read those books on anything else

00:41:27   that you buy, so you're gonna keep buying Kindles

00:41:29   and therefore you're gonna keep buying Kindle books

00:41:30   'cause you can't really put books easily onto a Kindle

00:41:34   from anything else.

00:41:35   Same thing, imagine if Apple never removed the DRM

00:41:40   from the iTunes music store music MP3s, or excuse me,

00:41:45   M4As, if they never removed the DRM from that

00:41:48   and never convinced labels to let them do that

00:41:49   for other good reasons,

00:41:51   if you were, if people were,

00:41:55   'cause iTunes is the number one music reseller,

00:41:57   or the number one music seller, I think, in the world,

00:41:59   certainly in the country.

00:42:01   So imagine if tons of people's music

00:42:03   still only worked on Apple devices,

00:42:07   on iPhones and iPods and Macs,

00:42:10   or iTunes on Windows, but still,

00:42:12   if you got an Android phone and you couldn't sync

00:42:15   half of your music to it,

00:42:17   that would be a pretty big problem for Android

00:42:19   and for the sales of their devices.

00:42:21   So the reduction of DRM in that,

00:42:24   in this area of the industry,

00:42:27   dramatically increased the possibility for competition

00:42:29   and is better for everybody.

00:42:30   In eBooks, you don't have that.

00:42:33   And so there's more of an ability

00:42:37   for one company to continue dominating there

00:42:40   because they already have a big advantage

00:42:42   from making decent devices for a few years.

00:42:44   But now, you look at the Barnes and Noble

00:42:48   Nook division has shut down,

00:42:49   but you look at other people like Kobo and Sony,

00:42:52   they're still making decent readers.

00:42:54   And they have somewhat of a chance

00:42:56   because people will sell to them under the agency model,

00:42:59   so their prices are the same as Amazon now.

00:43:01   They weren't for a long time

00:43:02   because they couldn't lose money in every book sold.

00:43:03   But now their prices are the same, at least temporarily.

00:43:07   and

00:43:10   if you already if you've ever owned a kindle

00:43:12   you probably have

00:43:14   some kind of selection of kindle books

00:43:16   that are all the r_m_ because every kindle book sold in the bookstores is

00:43:19   DRM'd as far as i know

00:43:20   uh... so those are all DRM'd so you can't switch devices without losing the

00:43:23   books you've already bought

00:43:25   and so the the chances of a competitor coming in and ever making a dent

00:43:29   in that market share are extremely low right the longer it goes and it doesn't

00:43:33   take too long it just builds

00:43:35   doesn't take more than a couple of years of e-reading before you feel like you've

00:43:38   got too many books to switch

00:43:40   exactly

00:43:43   which is you know that would be a high pad shakes that up in an interesting way

00:43:48   in that

00:43:50   let's say you were a devoted kindle reader

00:43:55   and you had a decent size collection of you have an i pad now

00:43:58   and it's your main reading device you can feel like well i can if i prefer the

00:44:03   i book

00:44:04   sap

00:44:04   or the interface or just the way the books look,

00:44:08   I can just start buying iBooks

00:44:10   and I can still access my Kindle books

00:44:12   because they're there in my Kindle app on the same device.

00:44:15   - But that's dependent on both Apple continuing

00:44:20   to allow that Kindle app to be there

00:44:22   and Amazon continuing to publish that app.

00:44:25   Either one of those companies could decide

00:44:26   at any time in the future that it's now worth the risk

00:44:31   of losing those customers to protect

00:44:34   the rest of the customer base and to protect the rest of the monopoly.

00:44:38   Yeah.

00:44:39   Did you see the DOJ's proposed settlement for Apple, the punishment, whatever you want

00:44:44   to call it?

00:44:45   Yeah, I didn't read the whole thing because nobody does except Neil Patel, but I read

00:44:50   like the reporting of it and it does seem a little extreme.

00:44:54   Yeah.

00:44:55   Well, the one part I don't get is I didn't get the part about having to avoid the deals

00:45:02   they've already made with the big six publishers. I guess it's big five now because two of them

00:45:09   merged. And not – they have five years where they can't negotiate new ones. Except it

00:45:16   didn't say you can't negotiate new ones. It was like you can't negotiate new ones

00:45:20   that something something raise prices. And I'm not sure what that means. Like does

00:45:26   it mean that they're not allowed to sell iBooks for five years? I mean this was very

00:45:30   confusing to me what it meant that they couldn't renegotiate new terms. It seemed very draconian.

00:45:37   I mean, the part I thought was weird was the part that said that they basically have to

00:45:42   let Amazon sell everything through their app now and let all competing bookstores sell

00:45:45   things without bypassing the in-app purchase commission and rules and just sell things

00:45:50   directly in their app. That seems pretty overreaching to me because that impacts way more than just

00:45:58   ebooks and way more than just Amazon. Well, what do you think Apple would do with that?

00:46:04   Would they do it but only with e-book sellers? And if so, almost certainly they would only

00:46:10   do it in the United States. Yeah, that's a good point. Although Amazon has been pretty

00:46:17   poor so far at expanding their marketplace for digital stuff outside of the US. They

00:46:22   have started doing it in recent years, but I think they're way behind. So I think most

00:46:28   of Apple's competition with Amazon is in the US, probably by a pretty big margin.

00:46:33   But yeah, I think you're right that if Apple had to do this, it would be the narrowest

00:46:38   possible implementation of this rule. But I don't know. I just don't see that happening.

00:46:49   It would be so dramatic. I have to imagine that Apple will fight that so hard that they

00:46:56   will manage not to have to do that.

00:46:58   Here's the actual ruling.

00:47:00   Let me read it to you.

00:47:01   'Cause I really, this is one of those things

00:47:03   where I don't know how to interpret it.

00:47:05   It will require Apple to terminate its existing agreements

00:47:10   with the five major publishers with which it conspired,

00:47:13   and then it lists them all,

00:47:14   and to refrain for five years

00:47:20   from entering new ebook distribution contracts

00:47:23   which would restrain Apple from competing on price.

00:47:28   Like, I think that the "which would restrain Apple from competing on price" clause is the

00:47:34   key one, but I don't know what that means.

00:47:38   It sounds like you can't make a most favored nation clause for five years.

00:47:41   I guess so.

00:47:43   Right.

00:47:44   I guess that's what it means.

00:47:46   But to me, it's a bizarre...

00:47:50   I guess it's not bizarre, but it's a one-sided focus on competition where it's focused solely

00:47:56   on competition of consumer pricing. It's the consumer's perspective on what do I have

00:48:03   to pay to get the new Stephen King novel. And it has nothing to do with the competition

00:48:09   from stores to publishers.

00:48:13   Right, the wholesale competition.

00:48:15   Which was zero competition before Apple entered the market with iBooks. It was, "We're

00:48:21   going to sell your books for $9.99."

00:48:23   - Yeah, this is a weird case because, you know, they,

00:48:28   in the penalty, they want to be somewhat punitive

00:48:32   because, you know, they want to discourage us

00:48:33   and, you know, give Apple some kind of slap

00:48:35   on the wrist here.

00:48:36   But almost every punitive action that they can take

00:48:40   in this situation is either going to not matter at all

00:48:43   to anybody 'cause it's too small, in which case,

00:48:46   it kind of defeats the purpose of being a punitive action,

00:48:49   or it's going to potentially really harden Amazon's

00:48:54   monopsony in the future or be very bad for consumers

00:48:57   in some other way.

00:48:58   So it's like they have to somehow give Apple

00:49:02   a smack on the wrist in a way that doesn't hurt consumers

00:49:07   or doesn't hand Amazon a giant monopoly.

00:49:10   And I don't know if that's really possible.

00:49:12   Certainly the things they've discussed so far,

00:49:14   the proposals they've made so far don't satisfy that.

00:49:18   They generally give way too much to Amazon

00:49:21   and hurt consumers too much.

00:49:23   And so I don't, I think this is gonna be

00:49:26   a very tricky thing to watch and a very tricky thing

00:49:28   for the DOJ and Apple to work out because

00:49:31   it's a weird thing that almost anything they do here

00:49:35   is going to be, is going to have some kind of

00:49:37   giant negative consequence to it.

00:49:40   - Yeah, I just don't think the antitrust laws,

00:49:42   and I'm not even saying that Amazon should be,

00:49:45   you know, condemned for its behavior.

00:49:48   I really don't.

00:49:49   I mean, it's – I think they should be seen as predatory but maybe predatory in a natural

00:49:53   way but – or in a healthy market competition way.

00:49:57   But I just don't think that when it comes to antitrust stuff that anything on the books

00:50:03   is set up for a company like Amazon which isn't focused on profits.

00:50:08   Right?

00:50:09   Exactly.

00:50:10   That everything else on the books was all based on the idea of jacking up prices unfairly.

00:50:16   You know, like I think it was Rockefeller who bought up all the railways, not because

00:50:21   he wanted to make money on the railways per se, but so that he could charge all of the

00:50:26   other competition in the steel industry exorbitant amounts of money to ship steel around the

00:50:31   country when you – and then let US Steel ship it cheaper because he owned the railroad.

00:50:39   You know, illegally.

00:50:40   that different from Apple's 30% thing.

00:50:44   Well, build your own railroad, I guess. I don't know. I guess that's what Hidden

00:50:51   Rockefeller's take was. But anyway, it was all about jacking up profits. Now, his steel

00:50:56   was more profitable because he controlled the railroad. None of the laws are set up

00:51:01   for a company like Amazon that doesn't want to jack up the prices after they control the

00:51:09   the market?

00:51:10   Well, it's tricky also. You have the issue of predatory pricing, which Amazon, by willingly

00:51:17   losing money on every e-book sold for years, just to get a giant foothold in the market

00:51:23   and then later presumably raise prices to a profitable level or at least a break-even

00:51:27   level and certainly to crush competitors. Selling something substantially below your

00:51:33   own cost for a long time and losing tons and tons of money is a clear case of predatory

00:51:39   pricing. But first of all, this is a very common thing in the tech business in general.

00:51:47   When a startup does it, it's called disruption. It's a good thing when a startup does it.

00:51:52   Nobody complains when Google comes in and wipes out some small industry of software

00:51:57   that was previously paid or at least full of ads or something.

00:52:02   - Well, some of us do. - Google comes in and,

00:52:03   well, yeah, we do, but nobody else cares.

00:52:06   You know, Google comes in and undercuts everybody

00:52:07   by making something free that previously wasn't free,

00:52:10   and people call that disruption, or they call it,

00:52:13   that's great, they're saving us from this evil person

00:52:15   trying to make money, but really, that's predatory pricing.

00:52:20   And in the rest of the, in other industries,

00:52:24   that's generally either completely infeasible

00:52:27   or potentially illegal or other problems,

00:52:29   But I think that what makes it hard

00:52:32   to get any real policy against,

00:52:35   and what makes it hard for the DOJ

00:52:37   to take action against stuff like this,

00:52:38   or for people to make more laws about predatory pricing,

00:52:42   is that I don't think the public really agrees

00:52:45   whether that's a bad thing or not.

00:52:47   I think a lot of people have--

00:52:47   - People don't see the trade-off.

00:52:48   There's a trade-off there,

00:52:49   but they don't see that trade-off

00:52:51   because the bright and shiny of free, it blinds them.

00:52:55   It's like a flashlight in our eyes,

00:52:56   and they don't see the downside to it.

00:52:58   - Right, I mean, I've seen, and I'm sure you have too,

00:53:00   like responses to anything I've said or written

00:53:02   about the Amazon and Apple ebook case.

00:53:05   There's extreme division between the sides of people

00:53:10   who agree that it's kind of crappy

00:53:13   that Amazon can willingly lose money for years

00:53:16   on everything for a long time

00:53:18   and drive competitors out of the business.

00:53:20   And then the other half of the respondents are like,

00:53:23   well, this is great for consumers.

00:53:25   The prices are lower, what's the problem?

00:53:27   Exactly. No, and those people are more vociferous, right?

00:53:31   Right.

00:53:32   And a lot of them have long memories and say, "I used to buy, I read all the time. I used

00:53:36   to buy bestsellers for $9.99 and now they cost $13.99 all because of Apple."

00:53:40   Right. And therefore this is bad for everybody.

00:53:42   Right. And so, good for them. How can you know, you're an Apple shill that you don't

00:53:45   see that Apple fixed the market on this. Thing people don't realize, if you read the actual

00:53:50   case in Apple, Apple, all they did, Apple didn't really, I don't want to say they didn't

00:53:56   prices. I don't know if that's fair to say. I don't know if I'm in a position to judge

00:53:59   it. But they didn't set prices. They set a range of prices. But all they really did was

00:54:04   convinced the resellers that – or the publishers that their way out of the Amazon problem was

00:54:11   to switch to the agency model, which specifies right in the contract that Amazon can't

00:54:18   lower the price, that they have to sell for this price, the price you, the publisher,

00:54:23   picks and then send them 30 percent.

00:54:25   And I've seen people say that the publishers were stupid because the 30% they were getting

00:54:32   out of 1499 agency model was less than the five or six bucks that they were getting when

00:54:41   they were selling them wholesale to Amazon for $15, $16 and Amazon was selling them for

00:54:46   $10.

00:54:47   Once they sell them to Amazon wholesale, it doesn't matter what they sell for retail.

00:54:51   But I don't think it was stupid because what they were doing and what their concern was,

00:54:56   was that Amazon was changing the long-term perspective of people on what you should pay

00:55:01   for a new book.

00:55:02   Jared Polin, J.D. Exactly.

00:55:04   And so, so, if Amazon could, at any point in the future, being the e-book monopsony,

00:55:09   they could at any point in the future say, "All right, publishers, before, we'd buy

00:55:13   your books for whatever it was, 12 bucks or, you know, whatever the wholesale price was.

00:55:17   Now we're only going to pay seven.

00:55:19   So we can start making some money by selling them at ten."

00:55:21   So if you don't like it, you can take your e-book somewhere else and not have anybody

00:55:24   with a Kindle be able to read them.

00:55:26   And there are a lot of companies that have wisely considered the price of the product

00:55:31   part of the brand.

00:55:33   Oh, definitely.

00:55:34   And it doesn't have to be a luxury item.

00:55:37   But it is true that for luxury items, part of it is the brand.

00:55:41   The fact that a nice car costs more is part of the brand or prestige.

00:55:45   The fact that a Rolex is an expensive watch is part of their brand.

00:55:50   a reason you can't buy a new Rolex on Amazon. They just won't allow them to be resellers.

00:55:55   And they certainly wouldn't allow …

00:55:56   Jared Polin, Jr. Right. And yeah, there's tons of products like that out there.

00:55:58   Dave Asprey And they wouldn't allow a reseller to sell

00:55:59   it below the retail price.

00:56:01   Jared Polin, Jr. Exactly. I mean, and this is exactly how the App Store works in Apple

00:56:06   land. Like the Apple App Store works on the agency model. And we're all fine for it.

00:56:11   It's great. You know, Apple does not adjust the prices. We do. And Apple takes a fixed

00:56:16   percentage of the price as their commission,

00:56:19   and we get a fixed percentage of whatever we said.

00:56:21   Back when I was the owner of an Android app, briefly,

00:56:26   one of the big problems with putting it

00:56:29   on the Amazon Android app store, and that's with no space,

00:56:34   is that Amazon takes all of the control from that.

00:56:39   Amazon gets the ability to set the price

00:56:41   to whatever they want.

00:56:42   you set the price, but then Amazon can change it

00:56:46   without your permission, whenever they want to,

00:56:47   for whatever reason.

00:56:48   - And do they pay you the price you set,

00:56:50   or do they just pay you-- - No!

00:56:51   - They just pay you a price of whatever they set?

00:56:53   - Yeah, exactly.

00:56:54   - So if we did Vesper for Android

00:56:56   and put it on the Amazon App Store,

00:56:58   and we said it's $4.99, same as iPhone,

00:57:00   and then it shows up on the store, and it's $1.99.

00:57:02   - Yeah, or 99 cents, yeah.

00:57:04   I don't know-- - And here's your 30 cents.

00:57:07   - In their defense, I don't know if that's still the case,

00:57:09   but when they launched it, that was the case.

00:57:11   And it certainly stayed that way for at least a year.

00:57:13   So I'm hoping it's no longer the case,

00:57:15   but it wouldn't surprise me if it is,

00:57:17   because that's a very similar deal they

00:57:18   make with all Kindle content.

00:57:21   And so it's really-- I had the same problem with when

00:57:26   I put the magazine on the Kindle store, which I also

00:57:30   have since-- right before I sold it, Glenn and I agreed,

00:57:33   let's take it off the Kindle store,

00:57:35   because it was a royal pain, and it was not worth it.

00:57:39   And the output was terrible, and the tools were awful,

00:57:41   and et cetera, but Amazon's all about taking that control

00:57:45   away from people because they think they know best.

00:57:49   And you can't really fault them for that.

00:57:51   Apple thinks they know best for lots of areas too,

00:57:53   but Amazon thinks they know best for pricing

00:57:55   'cause they're the retailer.

00:57:57   And you're right, when pricing is a part of your brand

00:58:02   or if change, let's say you sold your app

00:58:07   on the Google Play Store for five bucks, yeah right, right.

00:58:11   But let's say supposing somebody can sell an app on the Google Play Store for $5.

00:58:17   Maybe one person can.

00:58:18   I don't know.

00:58:19   And if they put it on the Amazon App Store so they can get it on Kindle Fires and stuff,

00:58:24   which is pretty important, if they put it on the Amazon App Store and Amazon is then

00:58:27   selling it for like $3, well, why would anybody then buy it from the Play Store for $5 when

00:58:34   they can buy it from Amazon Store for $3?

00:58:36   Yeah, I don't think a lot of people get that.

00:58:39   I think people who don't have a product that they have to set the price for and who are

00:58:43   hoping to make it successful in the long run, it just never occurs to them.

00:58:50   And the funny thing is, is that people who really care about e-book prices, really upset

00:58:55   that prices went from $9.99 to $12.99, $13.99, they love books.

00:58:59   I mean, that's the whole reason they're upset is that they read a lot of books.

00:59:02   But I don't think they're thinking about the fact that Amazon's strategy could seriously

00:59:07   decreased the quality of books over time because it would dry up all the meager profits that

00:59:14   are involved. And it's certainly nobody, for every Stephen King, there's most people

00:59:20   who write novels, it's not something people get into to make a lot of money. It's famously

00:59:25   a pretty poor paying endeavor.

00:59:28   Jared: Now I'm curious, in case you haven't lost your entire audience yet by us not talking

00:59:34   about tech for most of this episode. Do you think Apple's doing that to software pricing

00:59:40   inadvertently or indirectly by the structure of the App Store?

00:59:44   Good question. Let's come back to it after a break. Do you agree?

00:59:51   Yeah. I was taking a break.

00:59:55   I want to tell you about our second sponsor. It's Pixate. They've sponsored the show

01:00:01   before you might remember them or maybe they sponsored Darrin Firewall. Either way though,

01:00:06   I bet if you're hearing this you've heard of them.

01:00:09   Pixate has a system, a framework that lets you use CSS to style your native iOS apps.

01:00:19   Sort of like a much fancier, much, much more robust version of the P-list system that Brent

01:00:26   invented for Vesper. But it's real CSS. And you can change the entire look of your app.

01:00:32   You can design the look of your app without changing the source code. You can even load

01:00:37   your CSS remotely. So you could change the look of your app or fix a layout bug without

01:00:44   submitting a new version of the app through the store. It's just changed the CSS. The

01:00:48   Pixate framework is completely free. Right now it's iOS only, but Mac and Android versions

01:00:55   are coming too very soon. You can dynamically style native mobile apps. These aren't just

01:01:02   web views. These are native apps that use CSS to style the native controls. Where do

01:01:09   you go to find out more if you're a developer who wants to see this? Easy. Just go to Pixate,

01:01:14   p-i-x-a-t-e dot com. Pixate dot com. My thanks to them.

01:01:19   That's pretty cool. It's very cool. Sounds too good to be true, but it's not. And I know

01:01:26   everybody out there, my first thought when I wanted sponsor was it was a thing to do

01:01:30   your whole app in a web view. And I thought that I don't even know if I can accept that,

01:01:33   but... Right, nobody wants that.

01:01:34   No, then I found out it was actually a way to use real CSS. And you know, how do you

01:01:39   find a designer who knows CSS? Well, guess what? All designers know CSS. And it styles

01:01:43   your native app. Big difference. Huge difference. So my thanks to them.

01:01:48   All right, so is Apple doing that to software with the App Store? Maybe, but maybe not,

01:01:57   because I don't know that selling apps, like the kind of apps that we make, was all that

01:02:07   thriving of a business before the App Store.

01:02:11   Well, I think if you were one of the people selling apps before the App Store, if you

01:02:17   were doing any business at all, you were probably doing a decent amount of business. I think

01:02:22   the middle class of app sellers before the App Store was very, very small by comparison,

01:02:30   but the average income was probably significantly higher. Whereas now, that middle class of

01:02:35   app sellers in the App Store is way larger, probably orders of magnitude larger. But I

01:02:41   think the median income is probably way lower, and well below the point where most people

01:02:46   could make it their full-time job.

01:02:49   Yeah, so there might be a lot more people who wish that their app development efforts

01:02:57   were supporting them full-time in the app. Let's say, not just doing consulting work,

01:03:03   but actually you designing, making, choosing the app, selling them under your own name,

01:03:10   having it be your income or you and your partner or your little three, four person team's

01:03:16   time job. Might be an awful lot of them who wish it were so but aren't making it, but

01:03:20   I'll bet that there's more developers doing that now than ever.

01:03:25   Maybe. And it is, you know, I think it's important to point out the consulting angle here. I

01:03:31   mean, I don't have any numbers to indicate how big this is, but the impression I get,

01:03:36   especially when I go to WWDC every year, and because every year at WWDC, you're hanging

01:03:43   out with people online somewhere or something,

01:03:45   you ask anyone what they do,

01:03:47   and the vast majority of people who I meet there

01:03:51   are consultants, and they might have like one or two

01:03:54   apps they do on their own, but the vast majority

01:03:57   of their income comes from consulting work.

01:03:59   And so I think there's obviously, there's like,

01:04:03   there's these two major types of app developers,

01:04:06   and a lot of people make income just fine from consulting.

01:04:12   And that business, I think, is fine,

01:04:14   because there's always going to be money in making apps

01:04:18   for companies for whom the sale of the paid app,

01:04:21   if it is even a paid app, is not their primary business.

01:04:25   The app is there to support something else.

01:04:27   Maybe it's a web service, maybe it's some other business,

01:04:30   but the app is there to support something else.

01:04:31   That's why most of these apps are free.

01:04:33   So you can always get paid making that.

01:04:35   - Or a device, right?

01:04:36   Like I just picked up the, it wasn't a Kickstarter,

01:04:40   it was the other one, IndieGoGo,

01:04:42   a thing called the Misfit Shine.

01:04:44   I can't get into it 'cause it would take a whole show,

01:04:48   but it's a fitness tracker.

01:04:49   It's like a Fitbit type thing.

01:04:50   Just came the other day.

01:04:54   But they have an app that you use to sync it with.

01:04:56   So the app isn't the business.

01:04:57   The business is selling these fitness trackers,

01:04:59   but there's an app for the iPhone

01:05:01   that you can use to sync the device to,

01:05:04   and that's your interface to offload your data

01:05:08   as you walk around and count your steps

01:05:11   or whatever the hell the thing does.

01:05:12   - Exactly, and they can pay for that

01:05:13   by the profit on those.

01:05:14   You know, like I have Nest Thermosats in my house,

01:05:16   and Nest has a horrible app that somebody was paid to make.

01:05:20   And you know, so there's money in that.

01:05:22   - Yeah, I have no idea if Misfit Shine

01:05:24   wrote their own app or not, but I'm just saying,

01:05:25   no, I wouldn't be surprised if they hired consultants

01:05:27   to do it because they don't need a full-time,

01:05:30   they're not gonna keep making apps,

01:05:31   they're not selling a stable of apps,

01:05:33   they just need an app that can sync with this

01:05:36   and periodically update for new OS versions

01:05:39   and stuff like that.

01:05:40   I'm sure that a lot of consulting is for stuff like that.

01:05:43   - Oh yeah, or for big companies that need an app,

01:05:45   or that think they need an app for marketing purposes.

01:05:47   Somebody's making the Bank of America app, stuff like that.

01:05:50   And when I talk to consultants,

01:05:53   I've never heard of anybody saying,

01:05:55   oh yeah, most of our business comes from other individuals

01:05:58   who are selling a paid app on the app store.

01:06:00   They're not the ones hiring the consultants.

01:06:02   So obviously there's this giant section

01:06:05   of the app ecosystem, the financial ecosystem especially,

01:06:09   that people are getting paid to build iPhone apps

01:06:12   that are making money through other means

01:06:13   besides just charging money for the apps.

01:06:15   And that's fine, that's always gonna be fine.

01:06:17   But then there's the other part of it.

01:06:20   There's people like us and all the people

01:06:22   who are trying to make money directly

01:06:25   by selling their app or selling an app

01:06:27   with a web service attached to it or something like that.

01:06:29   And that I think is what's not,

01:06:34   maybe potentially threatened

01:06:36   by the app store pricing trends.

01:06:39   I don't know, it's hard to say.

01:06:41   I think, I've ranted about the top lists in the past.

01:06:45   I would say the top list is probably the biggest contributor

01:06:50   to the race to the bottom in pricing

01:06:53   and to the rise of in-app purchase.

01:06:54   But I don't, a lot of these things are like,

01:06:59   like a lot of these people show me their apps

01:07:01   that they work on and they're terrible.

01:07:03   And they complain that no one's buying it,

01:07:05   but I look at it and I'm like, "Well, I don't tell them."

01:07:08   I say, "Oh, that's nice."

01:07:09   But I look at it and think, "Well, I wouldn't buy that."

01:07:12   And a lot of it's just like,

01:07:14   when you have hundreds of thousands of developers,

01:07:16   many of whom are trying to make their own apps,

01:07:19   there's gonna be a pretty big problem of competition

01:07:22   and of flooding the market.

01:07:25   And so a lot of times, if you make a really great app

01:07:28   in a category that's very, very crowded,

01:07:30   it might not matter because that,

01:07:33   there are so many other great apps in that category,

01:07:34   you're gonna have a hard time getting traction.

01:07:36   - Right, and there's a weird,

01:07:38   I guess it's not quite a catch-22,

01:07:40   but it's a vicious circle where if you price it low enough

01:07:45   that people are like, "Oh, I'll buy that 99 cents."

01:07:48   Even if a lot of them do it,

01:07:49   you can't make enough to make it sustainable.

01:07:51   And if you price the app at a sustainable price,

01:07:55   you don't get enough people to buy it

01:07:56   because they say, "I'm not gonna buy a $4.99 app

01:08:00   "or a $7.99 app when I can get this other one

01:08:02   for free or for 99 cents.

01:08:04   - Exactly.

01:08:05   - And they start going through these 99 cent ones

01:08:08   or the free ones until they find one

01:08:09   that's eh, good enough I guess.

01:08:11   - I do wonder, I went to this briefly on my own podcast

01:08:16   a few weeks ago, but I do wonder,

01:08:18   is the problem that Apple isn't doing this right

01:08:24   in the market and it's hurting us,

01:08:25   or is the problem that the market is really moving on

01:08:28   and that we don't accept it?

01:08:30   are we like the record companies in the early 2000s,

01:08:34   where the market's moving on to a totally different model

01:08:37   of distribution and profitability,

01:08:39   and we're sitting here saying,

01:08:40   why can't we sell an album for $18 anymore?

01:08:43   Something is wrong.

01:08:44   - Right.

01:08:45   - Are we the ones with our heads in the sand

01:08:49   missing that the whole market is moving towards

01:08:52   this other way of doing things,

01:08:54   and we are yelling about the old way of doing things

01:08:56   not being as profitable anymore?

01:08:59   Whose problem is it really?

01:09:00   - Well, I've certainly given a lot of thought of that

01:09:05   with Vesper.

01:09:06   And I would like to think that what we've done

01:09:11   is try to meet them in the middle

01:09:13   and maybe even bend over further.

01:09:15   I mean, even just a few years ago,

01:09:17   if the same idea had been proposed to me,

01:09:20   me and Dave Whiskus and Brent Simmons making an app together,

01:09:24   I don't think I ever would have thought

01:09:26   we'd sell it for only $4.99.

01:09:29   'cause I just couldn't see making something of the quality

01:09:32   that we would be striving for

01:09:34   and selling it for that low of a price.

01:09:36   And certainly if you go back far enough pre-iPhone,

01:09:41   it would have been a Mac app, never.

01:09:44   I mean, I can't remember.

01:09:46   I can only remember maybe like three, four, five times

01:09:49   buying a Mac app for five bucks.

01:09:51   I mean, it just didn't make any,

01:09:53   never made any sense that if you'd make so little

01:09:57   from a $5 Mac app that had never made,

01:10:00   you might as well, really might as well make it free.

01:10:03   - Right, I mean, if you sold this as a Mac app in 2006,

01:10:07   it would probably be 30 bucks.

01:10:08   - Right, yeah, probably, probably like $29.99.

01:10:11   Probably exactly, or maybe at the lowest, $24.99.

01:10:15   And I even remember over the years at Daring Fireball,

01:10:21   especially pre-app store,

01:10:23   where sometimes a new app would come out

01:10:27   And it was kind of clear that it was from a really young kid,

01:10:31   like a really talented maybe 18, 19, 20-year-old,

01:10:36   somewhere around there, who's coming from the teenage perspective of not

01:10:41   having money, probably not even having a credit card,

01:10:43   and being really smart, like smart enough to make a cool app,

01:10:48   and therefore easily being smart enough to pirate all of the software

01:10:52   that they wanted to.

01:10:53   and thinking that you're competing with piracy on pricing,

01:10:57   which is the mentality you come out of naturally

01:11:00   at that point.

01:11:00   I certainly did, when I was in college in that age.

01:11:05   And then coming out with a really cool app

01:11:08   and selling it for, a Mac app for $6.99.

01:11:11   And I remember writing privately to some of them,

01:11:14   not publicly on Daring Firewall,

01:11:15   but just saying, hey, this is a really good app.

01:11:17   You should charge more.

01:11:18   You should charge at least 15 bucks.

01:11:20   You should think about charging 20 bucks.

01:11:23   And here's the reasons why.

01:11:28   And you should change the price sooner than later

01:11:30   because the longer you go at this,

01:11:32   the more you're going to establish

01:11:34   that that's the price it should be at.

01:11:37   And I can't remember offhand,

01:11:40   but I remember a few cases, they did it,

01:11:41   and they'd write back and say, "Wow, my sales stayed the same

01:11:43   or my sales even went up."

01:11:46   Because all of a sudden people think,

01:11:50   "Well, heck, this app must be good.

01:11:51   It cost 20 bucks."

01:11:49   - Oh yeah, you know, 'cause the pricing,

01:11:51   as we were saying earlier,

01:11:51   the pricing really sends a message.

01:11:53   And if you're making an iPhone app for $5,

01:11:57   somebody gets to that page and they say,

01:11:59   first of all, oh my God, $5 is so much money.

01:12:02   But then they look at the reviews and they say,

01:12:03   well, a lot of people have bought this app at $5.

01:12:06   So there's, you know, even though they want to believe

01:12:10   that they don't need to spend this money,

01:12:11   there's all these people on the other side of the gate

01:12:14   who paid their money to get in,

01:12:15   and they're looking at that saying,

01:12:16   well, maybe there's something to this.

01:12:18   I can't help but think too if games might be the most affected by this and I know games

01:12:24   dominate the iPhone app store overall. But my gosh, has the game industry been inverted

01:12:31   by this because if anything, the average game used to cost more than, you know, like Mac

01:12:39   utility software, you know, Xbox and PlayStation games still cost 5060 bucks when they're new.

01:12:47   And even when they're years old, you know, like to buy like a four or five year old PlayStation

01:12:50   hit, it still costs like 20, 25 bucks.

01:12:55   And now there's, you know, the mindset of game buyers is, you know, 99 cents is expensive.

01:13:02   Oh, yeah.

01:13:03   And I think there's, you know, there's a number of factors at work there.

01:13:06   One of them is like, you know, like the big AAA, Xbox and PS3 games.

01:13:12   Those have ridiculous budgets.

01:13:14   those have like movie budgets to make those games

01:13:16   because they're just, it's so expensive to make games

01:13:19   with that kind of production value.

01:13:21   And so those still exist and they're still a big business,

01:13:25   but I think what happened with iPhone gaming in particular

01:13:29   and iPad gaming later, and now iPod Touch of course,

01:13:32   is casual gaming, which previously was dominated

01:13:37   mostly by like flash games and like those $5 CD-ROMs

01:13:40   in the discount bin at Walmart.

01:13:42   - Right.

01:13:43   Casual gaming has exploded onto these devices that are now always in everyone's pockets.

01:13:49   And now there's easier ways to monetize it.

01:13:52   You don't have to just put ads in a Flash game or like sell your crappy CDs to Walmart.

01:13:57   You can monetize games more easily now, these casual games.

01:14:01   They're still relatively cheap to make the way casual games always have been relative

01:14:05   to the big AAA games.

01:14:08   And I think what the big shift that's happened is that so many people now are realizing,

01:14:14   you know, even though those big triple-A games are like really cool, like big cinematic movies,

01:14:20   I don't really need that all the time.

01:14:22   And I'm like, I can have just as much fun playing Candy Crush on my iPhone.

01:14:27   And it's so much easier, and I can just take it at any time wherever I am and, you

01:14:31   know, play a game there.

01:14:33   And so I don't think necessarily that Apple has inadvertently crushed the economics of

01:14:41   triple-A games.

01:14:42   I think what they've really done is shift a whole lot of the attention and the demand

01:14:47   and people's time away from triple-A games into casual games by making casual games so

01:14:52   much better.

01:14:53   That's a good point, and I totally agree.

01:14:55   I'm going to take a time out here.

01:14:57   I'm going to come back to that, though.

01:14:58   Remind me of that if we were talking about casual games.

01:15:00   You got it.

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01:16:35   So we were talking about games.

01:16:38   Here's the thing.

01:16:39   I've been really enjoying the Accidental Tech podcast.

01:16:43   - Thank you.

01:16:44   - Great show with you, Casey, Liss, and what's his name?

01:16:49   - Sir, another guy.

01:16:51   - Sir, Cusa.

01:16:52   The guy without an iPhone.

01:16:54   - The only one.

01:16:57   And there was a part of an episode or two ago, I think I'm sadly like one or two behind,

01:17:03   you guys are too productive. But there was one where you guys were talking about the

01:17:10   way that with casual games on iOS, it's all gone to freemium where you get these free

01:17:15   games and you have to play.

01:17:16   Oh yeah, free to play.

01:17:17   Free to play.

01:17:18   Oh, it's such a terrible phrase.

01:17:20   And I hate it. And you guys had a sponsor. I can't remember the name of the game. What

01:17:24   was the game?

01:17:25   Optia.

01:17:26   Yeah. How do you spell that?

01:17:27   I think it's OPTIA.

01:17:29   This is all from that.

01:17:30   I'm pretty sure.

01:17:31   This was great.

01:17:32   This was one of the best things you guys...

01:17:33   It was...

01:17:34   That's your sponsor.

01:17:35   And you guys praised it.

01:17:37   And I say deservedly so because it's not freemium.

01:17:40   You pay.

01:17:41   It does not have any in-app purchases.

01:17:42   No.

01:17:43   No.

01:17:44   It's a puzzle game, which is the worst for these in-app purchases.

01:17:47   It's like these puzzles that you can't even friggin' solve if you don't pump some money

01:17:50   into the system.

01:17:51   Right?

01:17:52   There's this whole psychology of like...

01:17:54   Oh, it's awful.

01:17:55   like having like the first 15 levels be what you expect incrementally ratcheting up the

01:18:01   difficulty of the puzzles and then you get to level 15 and you're feeling pretty clever

01:18:05   because you've gotten there and you know level 14 was pretty tough and level 15 there's just no way

01:18:10   to beat it if you don't pump a dollar into the system Optium was this game it was really cool

01:18:16   and and it doesn't have it but i remember nodding my head and and thinking like hell yeah this whole

01:18:23   freemium thing. I hate it. I'm just philosophically opposed to it. I refuse to let my son make

01:18:30   any in-app purchases like that. He gets a game like that. I want him to delete it. I

01:18:37   let him spend a couple bucks a week on games, but I want him to spend it like 99 cents here,

01:18:42   99 cents there on a game and then you have to pay anymore.

01:18:45   But then it hit me all of a sudden that when I was 9, 10, 11, 12 years old all the way

01:18:51   through high school, I blew hundreds of dollars pumping quarters into arcade machines. And

01:19:00   I suddenly felt like a total hypocrite for being opposed carte blanche to that on the

01:19:11   handheld games, like iPhone games. Some of those games still are scams. But on the other

01:19:17   hand, maybe it's no worse than my addiction to coin-op arcade games when I was that age.

01:19:23   Oh, yeah. And I mentioned that on the show later on. And I said, "It's like having an

01:19:29   arcade in your pocket all the time that's paid for by credit card." And so it's like,

01:19:35   yeah, it's a kind of similar idea as arcades were, but to a very different degree. Like

01:19:42   arcade, generally a kid going to an arcade, as far as I know, at least when I was a kid,

01:19:49   we didn't have credit cards at the time, and you generally go with a limited amount of

01:19:54   money in your pocket. You were a kid, so it probably wasn't a whole lot of money at a

01:19:59   time, and you could only spend that money when you were at the arcade. And you weren't

01:20:04   always at the arcade. You would have the rest of your life to deal with. You'd have school

01:20:07   to go to. You know, you couldn't stay there very long because, you know, eventually your

01:20:12   parents would be like, "Come on, we got to go home." So it was limited in all these

01:20:16   different ways where an app purchase is not.

01:20:18   Right. I can sincerely say up until, boy, I don't know, I was probably pretty old.

01:20:27   I might have even been 13, 14 years old. I don't think I ever once left an arcade with

01:20:31   a single coin in my pocket. I was, you know, like whatever the equivalent level of alcoholic

01:20:38   that is that you spend every everything you have you don't stop drinking until you're

01:20:43   out of money.

01:20:44   Oh yeah and were you were you still going to arcades when they started charging a dollar

01:20:47   for the high-end games?

01:20:48   Yeah that was probably the end of it I remember being shot you know I'm old enough that I

01:20:52   was shocked and appalled when they switched to 50 cents for the good games.

01:20:55   Right used to just be a quarter.

01:20:57   Right.

01:20:58   Yeah like in my arcade heyday I was playing Daytona USA which was a dollar a ride.

01:21:02   Yeah.

01:21:03   Yeah, I mean, it chewed through money like crazy.

01:21:07   But I would only be at an arcade every few weeks, maybe,

01:21:10   for like an hour or two, and that was it.

01:21:12   So it really is a very different scale.

01:21:14   And something about the way they do it these days

01:21:16   also just feels dirty.

01:21:18   Like, in an arcade, there's a structure

01:21:21   that everything follows, it's assumed.

01:21:24   It's like you pay this amount of money

01:21:26   for X number of trips in the levels

01:21:32   or X number of lives as long as you survive, you know?

01:21:35   - Right.

01:21:36   - And with these new iOS games,

01:21:38   there isn't really that standard set.

01:21:40   You know, there's some common things that, you know,

01:21:42   you could charge maybe for like extra power-ups

01:21:44   or things like that, but it's now so much more

01:21:49   about psychology and playing tricks on people

01:21:53   and manipulating people.

01:21:55   And certainly arcade games did some of that,

01:21:57   but I think, again, that's a situation

01:21:59   where the scale was very different back then.

01:22:01   and you weren't seeing the kind of psychological analysis

01:22:05   and manipulation that you see now.

01:22:06   Where you do see that is in casino games and gambling,

01:22:10   video poker, stuff like that, like slot machines.

01:22:13   That's where you see all this stuff.

01:22:15   And the difference here, though,

01:22:16   is that nobody can win anything no matter what.

01:22:20   Here, you're never coming out ahead compared to gambling,

01:22:23   and this is totally unregulated.

01:22:25   - Yeah, and well, and the other factor, too,

01:22:27   I feel like the sense of righteousness,

01:22:31   old way of coin-op arcade games is better because if you were better, the better you

01:22:36   were, the longer you played. Whereas now, like a modern racing game, it's a four-minute

01:22:43   race and that's it. I guess sometimes with the multiplayer ones, it's like maybe if you

01:22:48   win if you come in first, you get to play again free. I don't even know if you do.

01:22:51   I don't know. Yeah, you just get bragging rights over the

01:22:54   buddies you raced against. There's no-- but you're being better, all you get out of it

01:22:59   is that you won. There's no way to keep going. Whereas I remember getting good at a certain

01:23:04   game and that was something you could be proud of because you could put a quarter in and

01:23:09   play longer than your friends. And I remember being jealous of friends who were better than

01:23:13   me at other games because they could play longer than me.

01:23:17   One thing, I keep meaning to write a blog post about this, maybe someday I'll get to

01:23:20   it, is that Apple has a rule in the App Store review guidelines against time-limited demos.

01:23:31   You are forbidden from publishing an app in the App Store that has time-limited demo features

01:23:35   that then disable themselves or the whole app gets disabled. The idea is, you know,

01:23:40   whatever capability that you start with when you have an app, you should always have that

01:23:45   capability. And you can add more stuff upon purchase, but you can't offer something for

01:23:51   the first 30 days and then turn it off.

01:23:53   Right. So you couldn't have an app that does sync for free, but 30 days in would say you

01:23:59   have to pay for sync now.

01:24:01   Correct.

01:24:02   Otherwise, the app will still work but just won't sync.

01:24:05   Correct. There's not only a rule against that, but there's also a lot of precedent in specific

01:24:10   app rejections that I've seen or heard about. Apple enforces that pretty strictly. But there's

01:24:17   a very common practice in games now on iOS where you run out of lives at a certain point

01:24:26   and then you have to wait 20 minutes before you can play it again. Or in real racing you

01:24:32   have these artificial delays in getting your car repaired. You can pay now. You can pay

01:24:37   pay a dollar to replay it right now,

01:24:39   or you can wait a half hour and replay it for free then,

01:24:43   or spam your friends on Facebook and replay it again now.

01:24:46   - I saw that with the real racing.

01:24:49   - Right, I don't know how that's permissible.

01:24:51   And it seems like obviously a glaring inconsistency

01:24:57   in the App Store rules.

01:24:59   And I think either both of those things should be allowed,

01:25:02   or they should both be prohibited.

01:25:04   - Yeah, I agree. - 'Cause it seems like

01:25:04   the same kind of thing.

01:25:05   like you have a game that you can play and then time runs out unless you pay.

01:25:09   Isn't that the same thing as a time-limited demo? Yeah, I agree and I

01:25:14   kind of think that, and I can almost see how you, they, they, you should have, if you

01:25:19   have a time-limited demo, I think it should still maintain some modicum of

01:25:23   of usability after the time limit is up. Although not necessarily if it was a free

01:25:31   I don't know that it would be a bad thing at all if Apple were to allow free apps that

01:25:39   were time limited and when their time was up, your only option was an in-app purchase.

01:25:45   Well, the fact is right now--

01:25:46   If it was clear up front.

01:25:47   If it was clear up front.

01:25:48   I think if you look at what actually gets downloaded, I think it's something like 90%

01:25:51   free. So you can-- I think it's safe to assume now that almost all apps are free in the grand

01:25:56   scheme of things.

01:25:57   Right.

01:25:58   But I would--

01:25:59   Yeah.

01:26:00   would at least think about a free version of Vesper

01:26:03   if we could do it for 30 days and at the end of the 30 days

01:26:06   say now you have to, if you like it, pay 4.99, if not,

01:26:09   here's your data to export.

01:26:13   - Right.

01:26:14   Oh, you'd be way too nice about that.

01:26:16   If that was a game, you'd be like, sorry,

01:26:18   all your notes are deleted unless you pay $5 right now.

01:26:21   Don't hit cancel.

01:26:22   - In the next four minutes, like some period

01:26:25   where it would be challenging to make sure

01:26:27   you got your password right the first time.

01:26:29   - Exactly, or you can spam Facebook

01:26:31   and get your data back a little bit at a time.

01:26:33   (laughs)

01:26:34   - And with one of those countdowns

01:26:35   that's like inspired by the video game industry,

01:26:38   you know, with red numbers that start getting bigger

01:26:41   as it gets closer to zero as it counts down.

01:26:43   (laughs)

01:26:45   - Oh yeah, totally.

01:26:46   It's such a weird thing.

01:26:48   Trying to apply the same rules between apps and games,

01:26:52   it exposes a lot of weird little flaws in the rules.

01:26:55   - Yeah, it's sort of like being responsible for that,

01:26:58   like coming up with those schemes and implementing them

01:27:02   would make me feel terrible about myself.

01:27:04   It would.

01:27:05   In the same way that like a decade or two ago

01:27:08   when they started cracking down on cigarette advertising

01:27:11   and cracking open the internal communication

01:27:16   of the cigarette companies

01:27:17   and seeing just how many tricks they'd figured out.

01:27:20   I think I guess most famously,

01:27:25   the brand recognition of Joe Camel among kindergartners.

01:27:29   You know, he was second only to Mickey Mouse.

01:27:33   Of all cartoon characters in Western civilization,

01:27:37   a guy, a smoking camel was second only to Mickey Mouse.

01:27:42   - Yeah, I think that rightfully scared the crap

01:27:45   out of society at that point.

01:27:46   - Right.

01:27:47   But I just always imagine, you know,

01:27:50   just how bad I would feel if I was working

01:27:54   at the ad agency that had the Camel account.

01:27:57   I'm guessing that the people who did it

01:28:00   were talented people who had no scruples

01:28:04   and no moral compass and slept like a baby at night.

01:28:07   But I know that if it were me,

01:28:08   I would've felt terrible.

01:28:11   - Yeah, there's always gonna be that disconnect.

01:28:14   There's always gonna be people who will do a job

01:28:17   that you or I think has moral issues

01:28:21   with having that job done.

01:28:24   it's whether you're nice to telemarketers.

01:28:27   There's a lot of this morality tied up in that.

01:28:30   I don't have a problem being rude to telemarketers.

01:28:33   In every other case where it's not,

01:28:37   I'm not rude to a waiter for bringing me weird tasting food

01:28:40   because that's not really their problem

01:28:43   and they're just doing their job.

01:28:45   But a telemarketer, I feel like if you took that job at all,

01:28:48   you have a different moral compass than I do.

01:28:51   - Yeah.

01:28:52   And even when I was in high school,

01:28:55   having to work crappy jobs in grocery stores

01:28:58   and restaurants and stuff, I would never

01:29:00   even consider for a second taking a telemarketing job.

01:29:03   Not once.

01:29:04   And so I know there are options out there.

01:29:08   There's alternatives.

01:29:09   You can't say, oh, I have to work a telemarketing job.

01:29:13   It's the only job available.

01:29:14   I mean, maybe there's one place in the world that's the case,

01:29:17   and they're all going to email you

01:29:18   because they don't know my email address.

01:29:20   But, you know, for most places that's not the case, right?

01:29:23   For most people, most places that isn't the case,

01:29:25   you have alternatives.

01:29:26   Similar thing here, like, yeah, you can make a game

01:29:30   that uses all these tricks and uses weird,

01:29:34   manipulative psychology to kind of extract money

01:29:39   out of people with like less consent or thought

01:29:44   than they would have otherwise put into it.

01:29:46   And, you know, some people think that's fine.

01:29:49   Some people are like, "Well, it's the market. It's capitalism." But there's always going

01:29:52   to be a lot of people, hopefully like us, who are like, "I don't want to take that

01:29:56   path. I'd rather do things in a way that I think is more honest."

01:30:00   Dave: Yeah. I just couldn't stand—I don't know. I couldn't take long having any job

01:30:04   where I wasn't proud of what I was doing.

01:30:06   Michael; Right. But a lot of people can't say that.

01:30:08   Dave; Right. And even when I had terrible jobs, I mean, when I was in high school and

01:30:13   worked as a guy who stocked the shelves in a big superstore pharmacy, I mean, it was

01:30:18   horrible, dreadful menial work and I was bad at it

01:30:21   because I'm so bad at doing things that I'm bored at.

01:30:24   But I mean, I could at least, I can at least say I was,

01:30:27   well, I don't know, I wasn't maybe necessarily proud

01:30:29   of my efficiency, but I could say, you know,

01:30:33   I did something that made the world a better place.

01:30:35   I put shampoo bottles from a cardboard box on the shelves

01:30:38   so people could buy them.

01:30:40   - Yeah, I mean--

01:30:41   - When my eight hours were done,

01:30:42   the store was in better shape than when I left, you know,

01:30:45   and people got what they came into the store for.

01:30:48   - Right, you were a net gain for society.

01:30:50   You weren't taking from society,

01:30:52   you were giving to society in some way.

01:30:54   - Right, if you sign up to be a telemarketer,

01:30:56   you're admitting that all day, every day,

01:30:58   you're just ruining somebody's minute.

01:31:00   - Right, your job is to make people's lives

01:31:02   a little bit worse all the time.

01:31:04   (laughing)

01:31:06   It's like, and you know, and I mean,

01:31:08   like when I was in college, I briefly worked at,

01:31:11   well not, but I feel like a year, I worked at Staples.

01:31:14   And one of the reasons that I quit

01:31:16   was 'cause I was about to be fired.

01:31:18   And one of the reasons I was about to be fired

01:31:20   was because I refused to read from the script

01:31:24   that we were given to convince people

01:31:27   to buy gold-plated USB cables.

01:31:30   Because the gold-plated cables were like 30 bucks,

01:31:33   and the non-gold-plated cables were 20 bucks,

01:31:36   and those were both insane rip-offs,

01:31:38   but they gave us these little cards,

01:31:40   which I scanned and kept, they're hilarious,

01:31:43   these little cards with like,

01:31:44   here's how I'm supposed to present

01:31:46   the advantages of the gold-plated cable,

01:31:47   which there are none, it's a total scam,

01:31:49   but here's the things I'm supposed to say.

01:31:52   And me being a nerd, I was like,

01:31:54   well, these three aren't even true.

01:31:56   That's totally, I'm not gonna, so I basically refused--

01:32:00   - These three all contradict the laws of physics.

01:32:03   - Yeah, exactly, so I'm like, I'm not gonna say that.

01:32:06   And I would even tell people, like,

01:32:07   oh, you can go on Newegg and get this for like five bucks.

01:32:11   Yeah, the manager did not appreciate my unwillingness--

01:32:15   my own willingness to...

01:32:16   You were just born Marco.

01:32:18   Yeah. I always... Yeah. I mean, I haven't changed much. I'm pretty much the same guy.

01:32:22   So yeah, like, I was unwilling even though it was my job, even though I had no money

01:32:29   and it was a crappy job...

01:32:30   And no one would ever remember who the hell sold it to him.

01:32:32   Yeah. Nobody cared except me and the manager. But it's important... You know, the important

01:32:38   thing there is that I cared. Like, I had to thrive.

01:32:39   And it's not like you were selling a lemon. Like, you were selling USB cables that didn't

01:32:43   even work. The gold-plated ones do in fact work as well as the normal ones.

01:32:49   But you're just overpaying for them. And you figure anybody who's buying a cable in a retail

01:32:54   store is already screwed. The last thing you need to do is add to that by jacking up the

01:33:00   price even further. But the important thing is I had my own personal standards to say,

01:33:05   you know what, it isn't about the job, it isn't about money, it isn't about what I'm

01:33:12   and told, I would feel terrible going home,

01:33:16   back to my crappy college dorm,

01:33:18   knowing that I had told people that information.

01:33:21   - Right, and it's in a grand scheme

01:33:24   of unsavory sales techniques, it's at the low end of it.

01:33:29   The high end is selling somebody a used car

01:33:31   that you know is a lemon, and that you know

01:33:33   within the next 500 miles, the transmission's

01:33:37   gonna fall apart, and selling it to 'em anyway.

01:33:40   or selling them a used car that you know,

01:33:43   you know the Blue Book value is four grand

01:33:46   and this person clearly has no idea

01:33:47   what the Blue Book value is and you somehow convince them

01:33:50   and sell them the car for $8,000, right?

01:33:52   You've just taken $4,000 from somebody.

01:33:55   - Well, that is pretty much the USB cable thing.

01:33:56   - Right, well, here though, you're talking about

01:33:59   turning a $199 printer purchase into a $230 printer purchase

01:34:04   because you've tacked on a $30 gold plated cable

01:34:08   that the printer will get exactly, you know,

01:34:13   you'll get a faster printer. - I swear, they said,

01:34:15   they actually said that it would print faster.

01:34:17   - Right. (laughs)

01:34:18   - And with fewer errors.

01:34:19   - Fewer errors, because the ones and zeros will be sharper.

01:34:23   - Oh, it's such a disaster.

01:34:26   And the funny thing is, they still do all that stuff.

01:34:28   Like every retail store, it's not just Staples,

01:34:29   they all do this, like retail's such a disaster.

01:34:31   - Right, well, and like Best Buy doesn't have,

01:34:35   or at least last I checked, again, I'm with you,

01:34:37   I don't, you know, when the hell's the last time I even looked for a cable at Best Buy?

01:34:40   But last I did, they don't even have a reasonably priced, like, HDMI cable.

01:34:46   Oh, no, I think it starts at, like, 30 or 40 bucks.

01:34:50   Right.

01:34:51   Like, it's not like there's a $4 HDMI cable there, and then the sales guy says, "Look,

01:34:55   you don't really want--if you want the $499 one, you can have it, but look, if I was getting

01:34:59   the really sweet Blu-ray player that you're about to buy, I'd want the movies to look

01:35:04   really sharp, and I'd buy this one."

01:35:06   But that cable isn't even there.

01:35:09   And the way that plays into it is if you're – even if you know the damn thing's a

01:35:13   ripoff, if you really want to set up your Blu-ray player as soon as you get home and

01:35:20   not wait for the cable from Amazon or – what's the place where you go to buy a case?

01:35:26   Monoprice.

01:35:27   Monoprice.

01:35:28   The Monoprice one just show up in two days, you're like, "Ah, screw it.

01:35:32   I'll buy it.

01:35:33   I'll buy the $30 one."

01:35:34   That's why they do it.

01:35:35   And that's horrible. That's just horrendous.

01:35:38   When was the last time you were in a Best Buy out of curiosity?

01:35:41   Ooh, ooh. Good question. I'm gonna say two years ago.

01:35:46   That's actually pretty recent. I'm surprised.

01:35:49   That's just a vague recollection. What were we looking at? Geez, I don't even remember

01:35:53   what the hell we went in for. But I'm gonna say two years.

01:35:57   So I went into one very recently, like I think two months ago. And it was the first time

01:36:03   I'd been in one in, I don't know,

01:36:04   probably six or seven years, something like that.

01:36:07   And it was really sad.

01:36:11   Like, first of all, I mean, yeah,

01:36:12   I was going on a weekday 'cause I don't have a real job,

01:36:14   but it was empty.

01:36:17   Like, the whole store was empty.

01:36:19   The only people there were employees

01:36:21   and like two customers in the entire store,

01:36:22   and these are big stores.

01:36:24   And the reason I was going there

01:36:27   was because I was literally about to leave on a road trip

01:36:30   and I wanted to get a USB car charger for my phone.

01:36:35   'Cause I had just installed the iOS 7 beta

01:36:36   and it was killing the batteries.

01:36:37   I'm like, let me get a car charger for this

01:36:39   we have never needed before.

01:36:41   Okay.

01:36:42   And I knew I would pay a lot.

01:36:43   On Amazon they had them for like $7,

01:36:45   literally $7 on Amazon for the same thing.

01:36:50   And I'm like, what could they possibly charge at Best Buy?

01:36:53   Like $15 maybe, $20?

01:36:55   Let's give it a shot.

01:36:56   It's the only place around here.

01:36:58   I don't have time to look anywhere else.

01:36:59   Okay.

01:37:00   So I get there, you know, the store is empty,

01:37:02   and the shelves, like everything's in terrible shape.

01:37:05   Like nothing is where its tags go.

01:37:08   Half of the hooks on the shelf walls are just empty.

01:37:11   Like the boxes are like half torn open.

01:37:14   You can tell they've been like bought and returned

01:37:17   and taped back together.

01:37:17   Like every single item had been bought, returned,

01:37:20   and taped back together at some point.

01:37:21   It was a train wreck.

01:37:23   And I eventually find, which is not easy

01:37:26   because all the tags were wrong,

01:37:28   'cause all the items were on the wrong hooks

01:37:29   in this sparse environment full of tape.

01:37:32   I eventually find they have two of these things.

01:37:35   And one of them is $30,

01:37:38   and one of them is $50, and it includes a dock cable.

01:37:43   Okay, well, I don't need a dock cable anymore,

01:37:45   so let me try this $30 one.

01:37:47   Okay, it's ridiculous,

01:37:49   and I'm definitely gonna return this next week.

01:37:52   (laughing)

01:37:53   But let me try it anyway.

01:37:55   - See, I would never do that, even if I knew that I should.

01:37:58   I just wouldn't return, not out of any moral guidance.

01:38:02   It would have been just because I couldn't be bothered

01:38:05   to go all the way to Best Buy for $30.

01:38:07   - Well, it helped that it's in an area

01:38:09   that I drive by frequently, so it wasn't that bad.

01:38:11   So anyway, so I go to checkout, and they had,

01:38:16   and I think this is just for this store.

01:38:17   I don't think this is for all Best Buys.

01:38:19   They had rearranged the shelves around the checkouts,

01:38:25   such that in order to get to the checkouts,

01:38:28   you had to weave through the washing machine area,

01:38:31   like off to the side.

01:38:32   - Yeah.

01:38:33   - You had to weave through there and go around

01:38:36   an extra 75 feet of walking around

01:38:39   what the cashier told me, they named Temptation Island.

01:38:42   And it was just like candy,

01:38:45   like bags of chocolate covered pretzels

01:38:47   and all that crap candy and crappy cables and stuff

01:38:51   hanging up, you had to weave through this thing

01:38:54   they had set up like you you physically could not walk around it it was like

01:38:56   they had tied these shelves together yeah it's almost like it's fire code

01:39:00   like it like an entire 7-eleven yeah in in a yeah I if the last time I went

01:39:06   through it was it's like that yeah it's like it's like a gauntlet you have to

01:39:09   run exactly it's amazing there's a lot of like crappy add-on purchases right

01:39:14   and it looks like it's designed for like a store where there's typically 75

01:39:20   people in line ahead of you right and there were three and it's not 20 minutes

01:39:24   Okay, I maybe was within the last year that I was there

01:39:27   I recall the scenario and I don't remember the movie but it was a movie that

01:39:31   Me and Jonas and Amy wanted to watch some you know sort of family fair that wasn't on

01:39:37   iTunes or Netflix or anything that we had access to and we thought well we really wanted to watch it that night

01:39:44   So we thought let's pop in the Best Buy and buy it and that's why we went in and I I think they didn't have it

01:39:50   I

01:39:51   Don't go maybe they why would they have something well the thing I remember was that the last time I'd been in prior

01:39:57   It seemed like they had an awful lot more movies

01:39:59   It just seems like among the ways they've gotten worse is they have far fewer movies than they used to I remember a long time

01:40:07   ago, they used to have thousands and thousands of compact discs and it just seems like yeah like

01:40:15   Blu-ray and DVD movies are falling in the way of the compact discs where they're not worth stalking a library of them in the store anymore

01:40:22   Oh, yeah, also Walmart wiped that out completely Walmart took over the the CD and movie business so strongly

01:40:28   Yeah, but I mean, I don't know I didn't go into Walmart, but I don't think Walmart has like a good library

01:40:33   We're like you can assume that you know, this wasn't the movie but let's just say because it's a classic but it's kind of obscure

01:40:39   let's say something like Brewster's millions the 1983 classic with

01:40:44   with Richard Pryor. That's a movie.

01:40:49   Yeah, they wouldn't have that. They would, however, have Rush Hour 2 on sale for $7.

01:40:54   Right. That was the advantage of Best Buy before was that Best Buy would have Brewster's

01:41:00   Millions. They might have two copies of it. That was great, but it's not like that anymore.

01:41:06   I don't even know what the hell I would go into a Best Buy for now.

01:41:09   It's not worth it.

01:41:10   Yeah.

01:41:11   I almost didn't return it just because I didn't want to go back into that store even though like

01:41:14   Like the the the dog food store that I go to is right next to it. It's touching the Best Buy

01:41:19   so I'm there like every week almost and

01:41:22   Yet it's like do I really need to return this like I guess I could theoretically keep it. Yeah

01:41:29   So did you take it back? Oh, yeah

01:41:32   Yeah, if it was if it was $20 and Amazon's were seven is if it was like that kind of different like, okay

01:41:38   I I'm paying for the convenience of getting this right now

01:41:40   I guess I keep it from if it was only 20 bucks, but it was oh, no, I'm sorry. It was 40

01:41:45   The tag said 30 but it rang up as 40. Oh

01:41:49   Even better soon as it rang. I'm like, I'm like the tax 30s like well, this is what's ringing up as I'm like

01:41:54   All right. What's your return policy?

01:41:56   Immediately, that's because I'm sure I'm sure everybody return. I mean obviously everything like hey ring it up as 80, right?

01:42:04   Yeah, it doesn't matter. You can charge whatever you want right now. It's coming back in five days

01:42:07   Oh, that's class. Yeah, and then I got one on Amazon for seven

01:42:12   Well, anyway, thank you for being here let's wrap it up I'm

01:42:16   It's been a good show

01:42:19   So you said people don't know your email. Let's make sure they know your email. It's Marco at Washington Post calm

01:42:25   Does that still work for you? Oh, I believe it's JB's

01:42:28   It was at Washington Post calm J Bezos at Washington Post calm send your complaints to Marco there

01:42:33   Especially if you're a best boy Best Buy clerk

01:42:37   God, imagine how sad somebody would be if they're like a big fan of the talk show and

01:42:41   the Marco Arment and they're like, "Wow, two of my favorite guys are on in there enjoying

01:42:46   like the first 80 minutes of the show and we just shit all over their job."

01:42:51   Tim Cynova Especially if they work at this Best Buy. You

01:42:54   know, like if you work at another one, you can say, "Oh, well, that must be a bad store."

01:42:58   But if they work at this one, that's going to be awkward.

01:43:03   [laughs]

01:43:06   You can always find out more about Marco at Marco.org and your podcast. I'm going to

01:43:14   guess. I don't know it. I don't have it open in front of me. Pretty sure, though,

01:43:18   the URL is ATP.fm.

01:43:22   That is correct.

01:43:23   All right. That's the accidental.

01:43:24   Turns out the FM domain name is so expensive to register every year that nobody buys those

01:43:29   names. So it's easy to get what you want.

01:43:31   It's interesting. I like the idea. I like the .fm for a podcast URL.

01:43:36   Yeah, it's nice.

01:43:38   And the Federated Islands of Micronesia get a little bit of kickback out of it.

01:43:41   Exactly.