5: Negativity, Skepticism, and Doubt


00:00:00   People were tweeting me thinking I was drunk on the last show.

00:00:03   Oh, because you didn't get a chance to explain in your voice?

00:00:06   Because my voice sounded terrible.

00:00:08   That's not what you sound like when you're drunk. That's what you sound like when you're sick.

00:00:11   Ah, people.

00:00:13   People are crazy.

00:00:15   Alright, so what are we talking about tonight? I think I know.

00:00:17   I mean, I think we have to talk about the Google Reader thing.

00:00:20   I think we do. So, let me start by asking, do either of you guys believe in RSS?

00:00:25   I presume the answer is a resounding yes.

00:00:27   exists whether you believe in it or not, Casey.

00:00:30   Wow.

00:00:31   Oh, goodness.

00:00:32   It's all around us all the time.

00:00:35   Just like love.

00:00:36   No, I use RSS constantly.

00:00:38   A lot of people have always said, "Oh, RSS is dead."

00:00:41   I don't use RSS.

00:00:42   I guess you could place it with Twitter or whatever.

00:00:45   And I think that's true for a lot of people, certainly.

00:00:47   But RSS as a technology is fine.

00:00:51   It's behind the scenes of quite a lot of things.

00:00:54   And a lot of people do use it the way you think of when you say, "Do you use RSS?"

00:00:59   A lot of people still do that.

00:01:00   And I don't really think that's ever going away because it serves a lot of really good

00:01:06   functions.

00:01:07   Now the problem with RSS, well, one of the problems with RSS, is that it gives you a

00:01:12   really, really easy way to shoot yourself in the foot, which is you subscribe to all

00:01:16   the sites that everyone's heard of, all the big, like, 30 posts a day blogs and news sites

00:01:21   and everything.

00:01:22   So it's very, very easy to reach a point where you're getting like 500 new RSS items per

00:01:28   day and you just don't, you can't get to all that.

00:01:32   And so it piles up and then it becomes this guilt inbox that you never want to clear.

00:01:37   And so I, and then usually that results in you abandoning RSS and just, "Oh, I can't,

00:01:42   I can never go back to RSS.

00:01:43   Too many unread items."

00:01:44   You know, that happens a lot, especially with geeks.

00:01:46   And so I can totally see why people move off of RSS when they get to that point.

00:01:53   But that doesn't mean that you have to, it doesn't mean it's the only option, and it

00:01:56   doesn't mean RSS is dead or dying, it just means you're using it badly.

00:02:00   And sure, you know, it's partially the technology's fault for being so easy to misuse, or to use

00:02:08   in an unsustainable way for yourself, but that's not to say the entire technology is

00:02:13   dead.

00:02:14   have the same problem with Twitter, where they follow too many people and they can't

00:02:17   keep up with their feed, and so they find ways around it. They skip everything, they

00:02:22   scroll to the top, they only look at new stuff, or whatever. You find ways around it.

00:02:26   JE: Or they trim their follower counts. Lots of people are saying, "Nobody uses RSS,

00:02:31   blah, blah, blah." But obviously in our circles, in the circles we travel in on the

00:02:35   net, I think the usage is still pretty widespread. I was looking at—Gruber just tweeted a little

00:02:41   before he tweeted his stats on—I mean, he's got this on his own website—but he tweeted

00:02:44   the actual log line that you get from the things that—

00:02:46   Yeah, and he has like 400,000—

00:02:47   —400,000 RSS subscribers. It's like, "Oh, nobody uses RSS." Well, apparently 400,000

00:02:51   people at least are using it, because that's just from one site's stats, right? So that's—yeah,

00:02:56   we're a tiny group of people, right? But, you know, the circle that we travel in of

00:03:04   computer nerds is big enough to sustain a technology, because there's plenty of technologies

00:03:10   to be used that nobody else is interested in.

00:03:12   I mean, how many people use Xcode?

00:03:14   And that's still a viable product,

00:03:15   because it has a purpose, right?

00:03:17   App.net.

00:03:18   Right, well, the app.net remains to be seen.

00:03:20   But I mean, we sustained Twitter for a long time,

00:03:23   just ourselves before everyone else discovered it.

00:03:25   IRC.

00:03:26   I don't think the popularity of the technology--

00:03:31   it's way past the threshold.

00:03:32   It's viable, right?

00:03:33   So the only question is, the technology is viable.

00:03:36   There's more than enough people who want to use it,

00:03:38   more than enough people to sustain

00:03:39   market for the usage of that, it's just a question of where do we go from here now

00:03:44   that Google came along and pushed everybody out and then took its ball on home.

00:03:49   Right. And a lot of people are saying too, "Oh, well, Google said that usage has been

00:03:54   declining so it's not worth keeping up." Well, there's a whole lot of businesses that

00:03:59   are not worth Google paying attention to at their size, but that a lot of smaller companies

00:04:05   can make very good businesses addressing those needs. There's a lot of things Google doesn't

00:04:08   do. I mean, certainly you can look at some of their projects and think they do everything,

00:04:13   because a lot of this stuff is a major flop. They do a lot of experimentation. But if RSS

00:04:19   is now too small for Google to care about, that doesn't mean that it's too small for

00:04:23   anyone to care about.

00:04:24   It's not so much that I don't think that it's too small for Google to care about now. I

00:04:30   don't know how much I buy the thing, "Oh, declining readership." It's almost as if they

00:04:34   never have a reason to get into it at all anyway, really. I think by the time they got

00:04:40   into it, it was clear that it wasn't going to be the next Twitter. RSS was what it was.

00:04:47   It was never going to suddenly bust out and be this... It's kind of like Usenet, where

00:04:51   they bought Deja News and stuff. They didn't think Usenet was going to sweep the nation

00:04:54   and the world and just become... Usenet was already the thing that it was, but figured,

00:05:00   figured, "Oh, I guess we might as well have that."

00:05:03   Them having a reasonable free product for such a long period of time, they weren't doing

00:05:11   intentionally to crush everybody else, but the net effect was that Google was really

00:05:14   good at keeping their servers up.

00:05:15   Google was really good at making their servers fast, and doing the things that they were

00:05:20   doing is actually kind of difficult, and they're giving away for free.

00:05:23   So companies like NewsGator and stuff that were trying to make a business out of it couldn't

00:05:26   do it.

00:05:27   were better than Google Reader, but just barely, and they're free.

00:05:31   And so they just sat there until everyone else was gone or out of business, and they

00:05:35   said to me, "Why are we even doing Google Reader?

00:05:37   I don't know.

00:05:38   Let's stop doing that."

00:05:39   I mean, I think they kept going longer than they had to, kind of like a relationship where

00:05:42   you don't want to break up with somebody because you know it's going to be bad, right?

00:05:45   You're just like, "Oh, it seems like I'll just keep…"

00:05:48   For years, I think, anyone who was surprised by this, I would be shocked because I've

00:05:54   I've been looking at Google Reader for years and thinking, "Why are they still going to

00:05:57   read it?"

00:05:58   We all knew the hammer was going to fall for years and years.

00:06:01   Brent Simmons had a blog post about it, and I remember reading his blog post and saying,

00:06:04   "Well, yeah, duh, Google Reader is not long for this world, and yet here we are two years

00:06:07   later and I'm just finally getting around to axing it."

00:06:12   Anyone who's mad at Google for axing it, I don't understand where that comes from other

00:06:15   than just frustration.

00:06:17   I totally see why they're getting rid of it.

00:06:21   Another post that you put on—Marco that you put on your website is like, "This finally

00:06:24   frees us all up to maybe do something interesting in this area."

00:06:27   That's also true, but I think people are still bummed, and I was bummed, because we know

00:06:30   like, "All right, the other shoe finally dropped.

00:06:33   Now we have to have this period of time where there's nothing, while we wait for something."

00:06:37   Well, and there's already—there was Feedly—I'm not that familiar with what they do.

00:06:42   I gather they make some clients, some RSS clients.

00:06:45   Feedly posted on their blog, like very fast after, very quickly after Google posted their

00:06:50   that they were kind of preparing for this for a while

00:06:54   and they built an API compatible clone of Google Reader

00:06:58   for themselves that their clients will just automatically start

00:07:02   thinking with once Google Reader shuts down. And there's already

00:07:06   like a number, I mean just tonight on Twitter, I even thought about building one, there's already tons of

00:07:10   people saying, "Okay, now I'm starting this new project, it's just going to

00:07:14   mirror the Google API and you can self-host it, it's open source

00:07:18   or whatever, or somebody else can build a big platform on it.

00:07:23   I do think, though, it was really funny

00:07:25   that Feedly in their post, they said, OK,

00:07:27   so we thought Google was going to shut this down for a while,

00:07:30   so we built this thing.

00:07:32   We built it on Google App Engine.

00:07:35   Yeah.

00:07:37   But that's the thing about it.

00:07:39   It's not that what Google Reader did is so groundbreaking.

00:07:42   It's the fact that it was run by Google, which meant that it

00:07:45   was up and available and there.

00:07:46   And I'm sure people are going to say, oh, well,

00:07:48   slows down a lot of times. Well, until recently.

00:07:51   The reason having someone else do this annoying stuff, like the operations stuff, running

00:07:56   a server, keeping it up, keeping it efficient, having it work at scale for how many bazillions

00:08:00   of, like even the RSS, like oh, the declining usership, the number of people who are hitting

00:08:04   Google Reader is huge compared to like, you know, if you're some little company, you say,

00:08:07   "Okay, well, we're going to have seven million people hit your server tomorrow and pull stuff

00:08:11   from it." Are you okay with that? Can you scale?

00:08:13   Oh, sure. Well, and also...

00:08:15   It's not easy.

00:08:16   One of the biggest challenges of designing a service like that is that Google crawled

00:08:21   the feeds, and then the client just logged into Google and said, "Hey, what's new?"

00:08:26   Google had to maintain this crawling infrastructure, which they do anyway.

00:08:31   They kind of crawl the entire internet.

00:08:36   They're kind of uniquely positioned to do that better than you.

00:08:38   Right.

00:08:40   But for anyone else to do it, you have to build a crawling infrastructure that has to crawl millions and millions of feeds quickly and repeatedly until there's new updates.

00:08:45   Do you think that's an important part of the service, though?

00:08:50   Oh, yeah.

00:08:53   For all the apps integrated?

00:08:54   Yeah.

00:08:55   Because that's a major thing that your app doesn't have to do.

00:08:56   If you're writing an RSS client, that's a big deal.

00:08:59   And also, they normalize all the feeds

00:09:02   into one particular Atom format,

00:09:04   so you only have to build one parser.

00:09:07   I mean, there's lots of reasons for clients

00:09:09   to want to do it that way,

00:09:10   that way, to want to build those services against that.

00:09:14   So yeah, I think any service that replaces Google Reader

00:09:17   is going to have to provide at least the automatic content

00:09:21   crawling and normalization of the feed format.

00:09:24   Now, that's not to say that they--

00:09:26   I mean, they can leave out all the social stuff.

00:09:28   They can leave out flagging, tagging, starring.

00:09:31   They can leave all that stuff out as far as I'm concerned.

00:09:34   But the basics of syncing a list of feed you're subscribed to,

00:09:39   syncing what you have read and unread, and providing that whole crawling backend so that

00:09:43   the client doesn't have to do it. I think any replacement has to do those things.

00:09:47   And why—I'm still stuck on the crawling part—that's just basically so the client

00:09:51   doesn't have to open up 10 million TCP connections to 10 million different servers and pull stuff

00:09:56   from it? Exactly. I mean, we see this with podcast

00:09:59   clients on iOS. There's, I think, only one. I think only PocketCasts by ShiftyJelly, they

00:10:07   do server-side crawling of all the feeds, similar to what Google Reader does with RSS.

00:10:12   I don't think any other major client does that. Please email Jon if I'm wrong. I would

00:10:16   like to know that, actually. But I use downcast from my podcast client, and every time you

00:10:21   launch the app or every time it has to update, it has to crawl whatever, all 25 or whatever

00:10:27   number of feeds I'm subscribed to individually. And that sucks, and it's a big waste of bandwidth

00:10:32   for things that don't implement, not modified, stuff like that. It's very inefficient.

00:10:37   like a thin client, like a phone, where you don't really want to have some massive thing.

00:10:41   On a desktop where you're just pulling things in the background, who cares?

00:10:45   If you have some app hidden in the background, that's fine. But on iOS, that matters a lot. When you launch the app,

00:10:49   you don't want to have to sit there for a minute and a half while it crawls all these feeds.

00:10:53   Google Reader clients are awesome because they only have to sync to one

00:10:57   thing. They only have to hit Google and then Google comes back saying

00:11:01   here's a list of the new things. And with RSS you might have way more

00:11:05   them with a podcast client. So with RSS, if you subscribe to 150 feeds, and most of them

00:11:12   aren't updated most of the time, but there's a few that are, that's way more efficient

00:11:15   to do the Google Reader way, where the server side crawls everything, than requiring the

00:11:20   clients to crawl 150 feeds every 15 minutes that you launch them.

00:11:24   I wonder if that's a transitional thing, though. Fast forward 20 years, is that still

00:11:28   a factor? Do we still…

00:11:29   Well, yes and no.

00:11:31   We would just have Umpteen Core processors in our wristwatch communicator of things,

00:11:37   and bandwidth is really high. It's actually faster to crawl 150 different URLs in parallel

00:11:45   than to ask one server for the other.

00:11:47   Oh, no. Because think about what you have to do. You have to use so much more data.

00:11:50   You have to keep the radios on longer. That's never going to be more efficient. It's always

00:11:55   going to be better to go through the intermediary.

00:11:56   I know it won't be more efficient, but like you said on the desktop, on the desktop it's

00:12:00   not as much of a factor because we're not worried about, like, you know, opening up

00:12:04   a TCP connection takes a long time. So if you only have to open up one of them, that's

00:12:08   better than having to open up 150 of them. But the bandwidth concerns, like assuming

00:12:13   mobile bandwidth, you know, goes away, and the CPU concerns of having all these threads

00:12:17   going at once, which is untenable on an iOS device today, maybe that isn't in the future.

00:12:22   I'm just wondering if it's one of those things where I remember back when to do any sort

00:12:26   of RSS syncing the server.

00:12:28   We don't do that for the web.

00:12:29   We don't do all the mobile web serving through a proxy, unless, I guess, Amazon Silk does

00:12:33   that or whatever.

00:12:34   But it used to be in the bad old days that mobile web serving had to go through a proxy

00:12:38   because it had to tear down the pages for you and do all sorts of awful things.

00:12:41   And Amazon's still doing it.

00:12:42   But we accept now that the trade-off is like, "Look, I'd rather have mobile Safari just

00:12:45   go right to the website.

00:12:47   Don't compress my images.

00:12:49   Don't modify the markup.

00:12:50   like a real web browser, it connects the real way, and we're just going to bite the bullet

00:12:55   and go with that. It seems to me that that's got to be eventually the future, assuming

00:12:59   RSS is still around. That's got to be the future of this type of service long term.

00:13:03   Not presently, but long term.

00:13:04   But also, RSS, the access pattern is different. With RSS, almost all of those requests that

00:13:11   the polling client makes are going to be returned back with nothing new. A three or four or

00:13:17   nothing new. So for the client to have to check that over and over again is extremely

00:13:23   wasteful. And one way you can solve this is with push. There's PubSubHubbub and RSS cloud

00:13:31   to address this push issue, but push is really complicated to implement on all various ends

00:13:36   of it. The polling is just way simpler, so that's why we still have it. But with RSS,

00:13:41   I think it makes a lot of sense because almost all of the polls that happen will result in

00:13:46   in nothing new, this 15-minute interval,

00:13:51   then it makes sense to have all that inefficient polling

00:13:55   happening somewhere else that can tolerate inefficiencies,

00:13:58   like a data center that's powered by AC power,

00:14:00   not on a battery, that has a big, fat connection

00:14:03   to the internet and is always running this app,

00:14:05   as opposed to an iOS app that you have to launch

00:14:07   and you have to, like iOS apps,

00:14:09   who knows how this will change in the future,

00:14:12   but at the moment, iOS apps like RSS readers

00:14:11   can't automatically check things in the background

00:14:13   every 15 minutes.

00:14:15   They have to be running.

00:14:16   And so when you launch it, it has

00:14:18   to load all of its state from something right then.

00:14:20   And so there's so many reasons to have that be remote-based

00:14:24   and have a Google Reader-like setup where the server's doing

00:14:27   all the crawling, and then the client just sends one very

00:14:29   lightweight request to the server, which has already

00:14:31   done most of the work.

00:14:33   And I think the thing that maybe we're not considering

00:14:36   is the difference it is at creation time.

00:14:39   And one of you guys kind of lightly touched on this

00:14:41   go, but if I was about to write a podcast client, an RSS client, tomorrow I wouldn't

00:14:48   want to have to fiddle around with trying to figure out all the different and varied

00:14:54   responses I'm going to get from all these different and varied web servers.

00:14:56   I'm going to want something that's going to be a facade in front of that, that's

00:14:59   going to make that nice and clean, and so I can get the part of the app that I don't

00:15:04   want to do, which is the behind the scenes, boring, getting the RSS updates, and I can

00:15:10   get that out of the way as quickly as possible so I can do the cool stuff on the UI side.

00:15:15   Now, as it turns out, I actually am a terrible UI developer, but in principle, if you're

00:15:19   going to write an RSS client, you're going to do it because you have something new and

00:15:21   exciting to do, and you're not going to want to bother with doing all the backend stuff,

00:15:26   you're going to want to do all the UI stuff.

00:15:28   And like you were saying, Marco, having one place to get all that normalized and in a

00:15:33   clean state is much better, and that saves you so much time before you compile, when

00:15:40   when you're just writing the code, it saves you so much time.

00:15:42   And I don't think many people have very much interest

00:15:45   in doing that boring stuff.

00:15:46   They just want to do the fun UI stuff.

00:15:47   - Oh yeah, also there's a practical aspect of,

00:15:50   like with iOS apps in the App Store,

00:15:53   if there's some new weirdo feed that you find

00:15:55   that's some weird format,

00:15:57   if it's a server-side configuration of the parser,

00:15:59   you can just update that immediately.

00:16:00   And then all your clients have that fixed immediately.

00:16:03   You don't have to recode the app and go through app review.

00:16:07   Yeah, like maybe it's the—I'm channeling Dave Weiner too much—but like the idea that—the

00:16:14   idea of all RSS feeds funneling into a service which then feeds an app, I see all the reasons

00:16:23   for it, but it just seems like Amazon Silk to me.

00:16:26   It seems like WAP.

00:16:27   Remember that?

00:16:28   What was it?

00:16:29   Yep.

00:16:30   Like, it just smells like that to me, and it seems like it's just a bump in the road

00:16:33   along our way to a completely decentralized thing.

00:16:37   Maybe we need a new protocol for that.

00:16:38   Maybe pulling down an entire RSS feed or expecting a 304 based on some timestamp, hopefully

00:16:43   getting your time zones right and everything is not like—maybe there's a better protocol.

00:16:47   Maybe it's app.net or something that looks similar to that where if you made a more efficient

00:16:52   protocol and really decentralized it in some way, maybe it makes up for it.

00:16:57   The other aspect I'm thinking of, not just the content crawling, but the main reason,

00:17:03   the main way that I use Google Reader, I think at least a quarter of the people who are habitual

00:17:07   Google Readers use it in this way, is as a syncing service, as in I read news, that's

00:17:14   an activity I do in some place, and when I go someplace else, a different computer, a

00:17:18   different device or whatever, I wanted to know that I read that thing on that other

00:17:22   thing. And that is really an entirely separate thing from aggregate my feeds, normalize them,

00:17:28   tell me if there's updates and stuff like that, because now you're into like a state

00:17:33   synchronization that has nothing to do with the feeds, that has everything to do with

00:17:35   you. What did you read so far? What did you subscribe to? What did you want to subscribe

00:17:39   to? And that state synchronization is probably a harder problem, I guess algorithmically

00:17:48   at least, to figure out what the hell the right thing is to do, then the mere operational

00:17:54   problem of crawling the entire web of RSS feeds and normalizing them and providing a

00:17:58   service for it and stuff like that.

00:18:00   And so those two things, that's quite a bit for any one party or multiple parties to bite

00:18:06   off because that's what people are looking for.

00:18:09   I never see the Google Reader web UI.

00:18:11   Some people live in it, but I never even look at it.

00:18:12   I use Net News Wire on various devices, on various machines, and I want it to all be

00:18:17   in sync.

00:18:18   So I want something to do that as well as like the normalization, I don't see that that's

00:18:22   going on.

00:18:23   That's more of a development concern.

00:18:25   So if something doesn't normalize and doesn't aggregate and, for example, doesn't cache,

00:18:29   which, you know, is the thing that drives everyone who authors an RSS feed crazy about

00:18:32   Google Reader because if you get a bum item in there, Google Reader never forgets it,

00:18:35   right?

00:18:36   It's another opportunity for someone coming into this field to do it better.

00:18:39   Hey, give us a way to delete that crap out or maybe we have smart caching that forgets

00:18:42   it when it disappears.

00:18:44   The syncing aspect of it is what I'm really looking for in some third-party vendor to

00:18:50   hop up and say, "Hey, we're going to provide a service for all your news reading applications

00:18:55   to keep them all in sync, and we'll charge some small amount of money, and you'll subscribe

00:18:58   to it, or you'll subscribe to the app," or something like that.

00:19:02   Isn't that what Fever, is that right?

00:19:04   Fever was supposed to do that?

00:19:05   It was supposed to be self-hosted and with a really slick web front-end?

00:19:07   Yeah, Fever does that.

00:19:09   But the problem is, when you ask people to self-host, that's—

00:19:11   Self-hosting, I mean, I know there's no technical and knowledge barrier for me doing that, but

00:19:17   I don't want to self-host anything.

00:19:18   Oh, I agree.

00:19:19   Completely.

00:19:20   Self-hosting is, that will always extremely limit your audience, requiring that.

00:19:25   I mean, it's a good way to learn something if you don't know about all the technologies

00:19:29   involved.

00:19:30   Self-hosting is a good learning experience with an audience of one, so you're not destroying

00:19:34   someone's business, learning about server-side development.

00:19:38   But self-hosting is not going to explode now that Google Reader is gone.

00:19:43   What we all want is something to do what Google Reader did for us, which is when I read something,

00:19:47   it knows that it's read and everything is fast and all my clients work with it.

00:19:51   And some people use the web interface, and for them they're looking for an equivalent

00:19:55   or better web interface.

00:20:00   I think the web interface hopefully is on its way out for RSS.

00:20:05   I mean certainly RSS is being pushed pretty heavily, it always was a very geek-centric

00:20:09   technology, and while there are non-geeks who use it,

00:20:13   I'm sure there are a heck of a lot more geeks who do.

00:20:17   And so if RSS, like if the web

00:20:21   reader experience never fully gets replaced, I think that's fine.

00:20:25   Where I think we're going to see, you know,

00:20:29   I think we're going to see two things come out of this. First we're going to see

00:20:33   Obviously, we're going to see that the back-end syncing platform will be replaced by a million

00:20:39   different people doing basically all the same thing, which is just marrying the Google Reader

00:20:43   API with some kind of hosted or open source thing that anybody can get or use.

00:20:49   And that's cool, and we need that.

00:20:50   Well, didn't you think that would be kind of a shame?

00:20:53   Because everything I've heard from people who develop against the Google Reader API

00:20:55   basically doesn't help that it was undocumented and unsupported.

00:20:58   Like if you had to pick an API to make it easy for app developers to implement syncing,

00:21:03   Maybe the Google Reader API is not ideal.

00:21:05   I understand you've got to do it for easy compatibility with all the people who were

00:21:08   talking to Google Reader, but if I was doing one of those projects, I would be like, "Okay,

00:21:12   do the Google Reader API mirroring to get us off the ground, but let's plan a much better

00:21:18   API that makes it even easier for developers to have that be versioned off in a different

00:21:23   place and like, 'Oh, now...'"

00:21:25   Oh, sure.

00:21:26   Yeah, I'm sure that will happen with almost all of these, where they will start out with

00:21:31   the Google Reader API to bootstrap it, and then they'll have their own clean, nice new

00:21:35   API. But the Google Reader API is probably going to be the standard if there is one.

00:21:42   Right now, it was really easy to make an RSS app in the last few years because all you

00:21:46   had to do was give people Google Reader username and password fields on login, and that was

00:21:51   it. Now I think we're going to basically see a third field being added to that, which is

00:21:57   hostname. Whatever service you're using that merges the API, type in the hostname here,

00:22:03   and then type in your username and password for it in those two boxes. I think that's

00:22:09   the easiest way forward for the clients. And so, if that is the outcome, assume we have

00:22:16   multiple services that spring up that are going to be like this, that are going to replace

00:22:21   Google Reader and get some popularity. If that's the case, none of them will have the

00:22:26   the leverage to make a new API. You need one--

00:22:30   That's why you're afraid the Google Reader will be stuck with it.

00:22:33   Right.

00:22:34   It's just--

00:22:35   Because, look, the clients have already written all the code for it.

00:22:38   Right. And you're like, "Why would I rewrite my client code just to support your new fancy

00:22:42   API?" I've already got my client working with the Google Reader API. It's been working with

00:22:45   it for five years now or whatever. It's like, "Why would I change it?" "Well, our new API

00:22:49   is cleaner." Well, for new development, maybe you get those guys on board. But I think that

00:22:53   would be a shame because, like I said, it's not like people are saying, "Google Reader

00:22:56   is the most awesome API for syncing and keeping track of stuff." It's maybe not so awesome.

00:23:02   As a funny sidebar, one of the weird little projects I did at Tumblr was back before Twitter

00:23:09   bought Tweety from Lauren Brikter when Tweety was its own app and everyone loved it, one

00:23:15   of the very advanced settings fields was API hostname. And you could type in any hostname

00:23:21   there and it would use that as the basis of all the Twitter API URLs.

00:23:26   So I wrote the Twitter API for Tumblr, enough of it so that you could browse Tumblr in Tweedy,

00:23:31   just using this field to say Tumblr.com/whatever.

00:23:41   And it was interesting because again, you got this whole app for free by just mirroring enough of Twitter's API to make this work.

00:23:50   And that's why I'm saying the RSS, not that it's inadequate,

00:23:55   but that it's just a piece of the puzzle.

00:23:58   Because RSS and Atom are standards

00:24:02   for data representation, but they don't help you with the,

00:24:05   all right, so what about you want to have an API that

00:24:08   is efficient and can give you synchronization information?

00:24:11   That would have to be a layer on top of it.

00:24:12   And then that layer was saying, OK, well, de facto,

00:24:16   that is the Google Reader API, because it

00:24:17   has the most client apps written against it,

00:24:19   It was the only player in town, and it was free.

00:24:23   And now that's our middle layer.

00:24:25   It would be nicer if there was a similarly open standard like RSS or Adam to fill that

00:24:31   role that wasn't just like the leftover droppings of a company that was once vaguely

00:24:36   interested in the business but lost interest.

00:24:40   And it's also worth speculating on why they did this a little bit more.

00:24:44   I just thought of a new theory.

00:24:46   Now, I think the real reason they shut it down is because I've heard from various

00:24:53   people over the last couple of months as we started to see problems, I've heard that

00:24:58   the staff assigned to work on Google Reader was basically between zero and three people,

00:25:04   depending on who you believe and how you measure that.

00:25:07   So I've heard it had basically nobody working on it.

00:25:11   And so, remember, it had a pretty bad outage, like a week or two ago, something like that.

00:25:18   I'm guessing what happened was it was working fine for a long time, and then things started

00:25:24   to break.

00:25:25   And when things started to break, you know, weeks ago, whenever that was, nobody knew

00:25:30   how to fix it, because nobody had looked at this code for years.

00:25:33   And so that's probably what made Google decide, you know what, this is just easier to kill

00:25:38   than to fix, because it's not giving us enough value.

00:25:40   might as well just kill it rather than maintain it. I think that's the real reason.

00:25:44   But it's worth considering one conspiracy, I think,

00:25:48   like crazy reason, is when you're reading RSS, you're not

00:25:52   going to people's websites and seeing ads.

00:25:56   They put ads, I mean, the thing they don't like about, from a business perspective,

00:26:00   the only business reason that you can think to get rid of this thing is, look,

00:26:04   only they know these numbers, but how many people are using it as

00:26:08   API that they never see. Like, how many people are using apps like Reader, NetNews, Viber,

00:26:12   whatever, and never see a single one of our ads because all they—like, it's just an

00:26:15   API back end. All we're doing is providing computing horsepower and uptime for them for

00:26:19   free for zero benefit. They never see our ads. The people in the web interface, they

00:26:23   can show them ads, they can harvest their interests, and it's just like Gmail. If everybody

00:26:29   used the web interface, and if that everybody was a much larger number than it currently

00:26:34   it would still be around. But from a business perspective, I think a very large number of

00:26:41   people don't use the web interface, and the total sum of all Google Reader users is so

00:26:45   much smaller than the Gmail user base or whatever that it just doesn't make any sense for them

00:26:49   to keep it.

00:26:50   Right. And to that end, if you're going to replace Google Reader, why would you get into

00:26:55   that business if the whole point of the business is to use third-party clients? And I guess

00:27:01   this comes back to app.net and the idea is, well, you have super nerds that are affluent

00:27:05   enough that they'll be able to spare a few bucks a month to pay for it or, you know,

00:27:09   50 bucks a year, whatever the number may be, but I wouldn't want to get into that business.

00:27:13   That seems silly.

00:27:14   Well, I mean, this business, this business miles forward. I'm going to get back to Gruber

00:27:16   with his 400,000 RSS subscribers. That's how he makes money from his site, you know.

00:27:21   But he has, well, one of the ways, he sells RSS sponsorships and you get to, you're sponsoring

00:27:26   the RSS feed, which is the thing that the customers want. And I'm pretty sure the ads

00:27:30   puts on the site, those are in the RSS feed as well, right? So if you control the RSS feeds,

00:27:34   you can insert an ad into RSS feeds, other people's RSS feeds. Maybe that model does not

00:27:39   work and people will hate it, but the app.net model is certainly more direct, pay us a little

00:27:44   bit, and you get to use our synchronization service. And now wherever you read, like,

00:27:49   I mean, app.net could be that service. I don't think it's quite designed for this thing exactly,

00:27:54   but that's the question of like, okay, so Google was subsidizing a results profitable business.

00:27:59   business, like their search revenue. They were doing this more or less out of the goodness

00:28:03   of their own heart. I mean, not entirely.

00:28:05   Well, not quite. I mean, they want to have access to all the world's information, and

00:28:11   a lot of information flows through RSS. I mean, they bought FeedBurner for, I mean,

00:28:15   FeedBurner was more of an ad buy, but I think it made sense why they started this in the

00:28:20   first place.

00:28:21   Well, even when they bought FeedBurner, though, it's like, I don't think anyone at Google

00:28:25   Google had any notion that RSS was going to grow tremendously from the point where they

00:28:32   bought it.

00:28:34   And it hasn't, and the point where they bought it already wasn't like, I mean, it was big

00:28:38   among nerds, but it was never, like, the growth curve was never, there were never any illusions

00:28:43   that it was going to take off like Facebook or Twitter.

00:28:45   Like, there was no hockey stick curve at the time that they bought into it.

00:28:48   Maybe they wanted to have it just because, like, there's no sense in other people having

00:28:53   this thing and people spending their time elsewhere, and maybe the long-term evil plan

00:28:57   is, "All right, we've got to get this because it is a thing, it's not a big thing, it's

00:29:01   not going to grow, but we've got to get it so we can just kind of quietly put it to sleep,"

00:29:05   which is the rap on Google when they buy companies, you know, Jiku or, I don't know, a million

00:29:12   other companies that Google has bought that have kind of faded away and you never really

00:29:17   hear about them again, or they don't improve rapidly.

00:29:23   It's all under Google's umbrella. They have the option to let it go live up on a farm

00:29:28   upstate whenever they feel like it, right?

00:29:31   I think, first of all, there's a big problem here. This has a lot of parallels to way more

00:29:39   controversial things. What they did really, and I don't think they planned this, but what

00:29:47   What happened was Google Reader came out and destroyed a very big market of desktop RSS

00:29:53   readers and web RSS readers. Google just came in and destroyed it because it was free and

00:29:57   it synced. None of the things did that at the time. They destroyed it and they held

00:30:02   onto that market for eight years and now they're killing it.

00:30:07   Now Gruber—

00:30:08   Well, wait a second. I think Weiner asked you on Twitter about this. How did they destroy

00:30:12   the market for the desktop apps? How did they make it so it's no longer viable to sell

00:30:16   the apps. They definitely destroyed the services like NewsGator. NewsGator was trying to sell

00:30:21   you synchronization services. But the desktop app, I mean, what they did to the desktop

00:30:25   apps and the iOS apps was even more insidious. They didn't destroy them. They just made it

00:30:28   so that they were the only game in town for a thing that those people needed but didn't

00:30:33   want to write.

00:30:34   Well, at first.

00:30:35   If you're writing, you know, and so now all the clients, now Reader uses Google Reader,

00:30:38   NetNewsWire uses Google Reader, and all these things use Google Reader because it's the

00:30:42   only game in town. And now they're hooked onto this train that Google was always kind

00:30:46   of meh about anybody. Well, it wasn't the sync engine that killed desktop clients, it

00:30:51   was the web interface. It was making RSS reading free.

00:30:56   So you think that took people away, people stopped buying that newswire because they

00:30:59   could just go to the Google Reader website and use it?

00:31:02   Absolutely, definitely. Oh, I disagree. I completely disagree.

00:31:04   Not all people, but I, hell, ask Brent, I bet he'll tell you. I guarantee you it was

00:31:09   in there. I was going to guess, like, who would we go

00:31:11   to to get that information? Like, we could, Google presumably knows how many people used

00:31:15   reader over the lifetime, they could show us that growth curve. And I guess Brent could show us the growth curve of sales of NetNewswire.

00:31:21   It's not to pin down a lot.

00:31:27   Just having lived through that, anecdotally, I saw that happen. I saw many

00:31:32   clients just give up and die, and the few that were left were the ones that

00:31:37   integrated Google Reader. Like you had to.

00:31:42   But iOS gave a resurgence to readers. All of a sudden, and it wasn't like Google Reader's website

00:31:44   website went away, and in fact I believe it worked reasonably well on mobile from as early

00:31:49   as anything worked reasonably well on mobile on iOS.

00:31:51   But that kind of gave a resurgence in suddenly things like Reader are a creature of iOS.

00:31:59   Net News Wire was sitting there as the once and possibly not future king of desktop reader

00:32:05   market, and people were not clamoring to write reader applications, but as soon as the iPhone

00:32:08   launched, now everyone wants to write a news reader application, which of course we're

00:32:11   all talking to Google Reader.

00:32:14   To give you some idea of Google Reader's dominance right now,

00:32:17   I pulled up my feed stats, and 90% of subscribers to my feed

00:32:26   are subscribed via Google Reader Sync.

00:32:28   That's how big this is, 90% of my subscribers.

00:32:31   And then there's like--

00:32:32   But you can't tell if those are using web interface, right?

00:32:35   No, because they don't distinguish.

00:32:37   But that gives you some idea.

00:32:38   Like if this service shuts down, not only

00:32:43   is it's leaving a gaping hole in the RSS sync business.

00:32:48   But this could have a massive impact

00:32:52   on the readership of websites.

00:32:55   I could also boost their ad impressions,

00:32:57   because now people actually have to go to the website.

00:32:59   Maybe.

00:32:59   But one of the reasons RSS is so great

00:33:03   is because it allows you to very easily follow

00:33:07   sites that don't update frequently enough for you

00:33:10   to check every day.

00:33:11   So before RSS came out, if you had a blog that

00:33:14   posted once a month, nobody would read it.

00:33:18   And you'd have to post every day so that people

00:33:21   would go to your site every day and check for new stuff.

00:33:24   And a lot of people still work that way.

00:33:25   As someone who has a website that posts not once a month,

00:33:28   but very infrequently, I can tell you people still won't

00:33:30   read it.

00:33:31   Generally, yes.

00:33:32   But the great power of RSS is allowing you or enabling

00:33:39   you to follow a whole bunch of sites that update infrequently and doing that in a manageable

00:33:46   way.

00:33:49   Because it's so easy to read them, then those sites that do update infrequently, they have

00:33:53   better audiences, they have more reeks, they're more influential, even if they don't write

00:33:57   every day.

00:33:58   You can get some of that value now from Twitter or Facebook or all these other crappy services

00:34:02   please email Casey. But there's still so much of that happening on RSS. As you can tell by stats from me and Gruber or anybody else, a ton of that activity is on RSS.

00:34:15   So I think it could be really disruptive come July when this shuts down and sites like mine and Gruber's and other people who have heavy RSS readership, especially in the geeky spaces,

00:34:31   sites like this, we could see major shifts in either direction. I'm not really sure.

00:34:38   We could see major shifts in how people read our sites.

00:34:41   You'll be able to tell in the months leading up, I guess. The nice thing about Google Reader

00:34:44   is it puts in the little subscriber numbers and log lines and everything. But if those

00:34:48   people disperse, I don't know if all the other things they disperse too will identify

00:34:52   themselves in such a nice, convenient way. So it may be difficult to like—I mean, counting

00:34:58   I think RSS subscribers is different than counting.

00:35:01   All you're counting there is someone decided this was worthy enough to put in their feed,

00:35:06   and when I make something new on the site, their little feed thing becomes bold, presuming

00:35:10   they even look at their little feed thing, which is not...

00:35:15   Those 400,000 Google Reader subscribers, you don't know how many of them are actually going

00:35:19   to look at that feed.

00:35:21   Maybe people have stopped using Google Reader at all, but Google Reader will keep hitting

00:35:24   their site and counting them as part of their subscription.

00:35:28   I'm not sure how long they will do that for.

00:35:31   Whether they'll just do it indefinitely so many of these numbers aren't even reading

00:35:35   your site anymore, or whether they have some kind of timeout period where they stop counting

00:35:39   you after a while of not looking at Reader.

00:35:41   I'm not really sure.

00:35:42   Well, it's like Twitter followers.

00:35:43   I mean, how many of those are human beings who have used Twitter in the last year, and

00:35:46   how many people are just people who followed you when they joined Twitter for three days

00:35:50   two years ago and are not there anymore?

00:35:54   Web stats and viewership things are always kind of voodoo, but Google Reader at least

00:35:58   gave some sort of unification to the voodoo.

00:36:02   It summarizes it for you.

00:36:04   It's measured the same way because everybody's using it.

00:36:06   It's 90% of your subscribers anyway, so now that's going to become much fuzzier.

00:36:11   Even if every single one of those people who was actually reading your site continues to,

00:36:16   to be able to detect them and track them and confirm to yourself that's the case is probably

00:36:20   going to be difficult.

00:36:22   So you're begrudging the disappearance of Google, the all-seeing eye, because it doesn't

00:36:27   let you see everything.

00:36:28   I'm not begrudging.

00:36:29   I'm just saying it's a strange scenario.

00:36:33   Strange situation we found ourselves in.

00:36:34   I mean, this is what happens when a company—you know, I mean, Microsoft has done it before,

00:36:38   too—the company with some profitable business can use that profit to subsidize other businesses

00:36:43   that it's speculating in.

00:36:45   These may or may not be things that we want to get into.

00:36:48   And like I said, I think Google never had any illusions that RSS was going to do a hockey

00:36:52   sticky stick. But it's like, well, it's worth keeping our eye on, and we should buy everything

00:36:58   up that has anything to do with it so that we can sunset it, to use Marco's favorite

00:37:03   term, when we feel like it. And so they're like, yeah, now is the time. Like I said,

00:37:06   I think they stayed in it longer than they even had to.

00:37:08   And it was easy for them. It was easy because they already had all that web crawling infrastructure

00:37:11   in place that they could use, so it was easier for them to do it than it would be for anyone

00:37:15   else to do it.

00:37:16   Yeah, I mean, not so much, like, because that's their muscle. Their company is built on weird

00:37:22   can put up services on the internet that scale to any number of people, including the entire

00:37:27   internet like our search does, and our whole business is built around like we have...we

00:37:31   have...the section of the company that just works on an infrastructure, constantly improving

00:37:35   it, and sort of it helps every service that we do.

00:37:37   That's why whenever they buy our startup, they're like, "Okay, I don't care what crazy

00:37:41   crap you were doing before.

00:37:42   It's time to get on board the Google train because we know what the heck we're doing.

00:37:45   And even though our way seems crazy to you, let me tell you that you should rewrite your

00:37:49   application from scratch on top of our infrastructure, which will delay your business for years,

00:37:53   and by the time you're done, maybe no one wants your product anymore.

00:37:55   But we're not going to let you keep running your crazy PHP Ruby thing here if we can help

00:37:59   it because you really need to get with the program because our program is pretty damn

00:38:03   good.

00:38:05   Whereas other random companies, if you're starting from scratch or even if you're some

00:38:09   other big company like Microsoft is trying to get some data center expertise and Apple

00:38:13   and like they just—none of those companies dedicate—maybe Amazon is the only other

00:38:18   one that dedicates proportionally the same amount of resources about we need to get our

00:38:22   crap together server-side because it's an essential part of our business.

00:38:25   Yeah, I know we sell things, but where does EC2 come from? Well, because we want to sell

00:38:29   things better. And hey, that's a marketable service in S3 and all those things. Amazon,

00:38:35   I think, is the only competitor who has the kind of expertise in scale, and I think there's

00:38:41   still much more sort of slapped together, evolved over a long period of time under tremendous

00:38:47   pressure with a crazy man with a whip at their back versus Google's philosophical PhDs

00:38:54   algorithmic strategy for indexing the entire web.

00:38:58   Anyway.

00:38:59   What else can we do?

00:39:03   I don't know.

00:39:04   That kind of blew away a lot of other stuff that was being talked about.

00:39:08   I guess we have a new pope, and we now have one less podcast network, but otherwise, I

00:39:12   don't know.

00:39:13   What else is happening in the world of technology?

00:39:18   Marco, you don't want to talk about South by Southwest?

00:39:20   Come on.

00:39:20   Oh my god.

00:39:21   You're a veteran.

00:39:22   You're a veteran.

00:39:23   I'm sure you have tons of useful and insightful things to say.

00:39:26   I'm so happy I didn't go this year or the year before this

00:39:29   or I think the year before that.

00:39:31   That's a bold-faced lie because you're missing out on Salt Lick.

00:39:36   Man, South by Southwest.

00:39:37   I mean, the whole conference thing, oh god,

00:39:40   what a mess that is.

00:39:43   First of all, one thing that's worth talking about briefly, I think, is

00:39:47   Google I/O tickets went on sale, I think, this morning.

00:39:51   And as usual, it sold out very, very quickly. And there were lots--like I saw

00:39:56   our friend Japon complaining about duplicate transaction logs, stuff like that.

00:40:00   It did not sell out gracefully, but it did sell out quickly.

00:40:04   And

00:40:06   we see with that, we see with WWDC

00:40:09   selling out, not that quickly, but at least still very quickly every year.

00:40:13   And there's an interesting question, like, what do you really do about that?

00:40:18   Like, what can you do about that problem?

00:40:21   Because, you know, WWDC tickets are going to come on sale any minute now.

00:40:25   We don't know.

00:40:26   You know, it could be any time between now and late May

00:40:29   that they will probably make tickets available for WWDC of this year.

00:40:33   And we don't know. And they're probably going to sell out within, you know, a half hour or 45 minutes.

00:40:37   uh...

00:40:39   uh... and you

00:40:40   apple is tried different things you know

00:40:43   different presentations of like

00:40:45   they'll have these tech talks around around the country

00:40:47   well they'll have a kind of many w_b_c_'s around the country and you can

00:40:51   only get a ticket to those

00:40:52   if you haven't gone to w_b_c_ recently so there's kind of this priority thing

00:40:56   where if you get blocked out of one you can go to the other

00:40:59   uh... but

00:41:01   you know they they still have this problem of there's just way more demand

00:41:04   than there is supply

00:41:06   of tickets and

00:41:07   they can't just do the typical economic thing of

00:41:10   just raise the price really high

00:41:12   because that would kind of make them look like dicks

00:41:14   and they would get a lot of flack for that, it probably wouldn't be worth it.

00:41:18   And

00:41:19   like Google is actually making the problem worse because

00:41:22   Google I/O tickets, it's become a pattern that Google gives everyone

00:41:28   free hardware

00:41:29   at their devices.

00:41:30   That's usually worth about as much as the ticket price,

00:41:33   which is like nine hundred bucks.

00:41:35   So

00:41:36   like a lot of the people buying those Google tickets are probably just wanting the free

00:41:40   hardware and not really giving a crap about the conference.

00:41:44   And so that's kind of, like that I think is a really bad thing for Google to be doing.

00:41:48   Like they should probably stop doing that.

00:41:51   Like what do you think Apple could do to reduce demand for WWDC or to make it sell out less

00:41:59   quickly or do you think they even need to solve this problem?

00:42:02   Here's one thing they could do that's like you talked about raising the prices being

00:42:06   seen as a dick move. Well, this is also kind of a dick move, but it's one with economic

00:42:11   precedent and it's slightly less, is they could just do what airlines do and overbook.

00:42:15   And the reason I think this will actually work out with them is that except for the

00:42:20   keynote, which maybe even including the keynote, you see how the herd thins out as hangovers

00:42:27   start to come into effect. Or even just late in the day when people are just going, "Oh,

00:42:32   on fumes and they just can't go anymore. I think you could probably over... I mean,

00:42:39   maybe there's fire codes and stuff like that or whatever, but they're limiting them. But

00:42:42   I think you could overbook it and with the exception of a few choke points,

00:42:45   continue to be okay. Because really, with the exception of like... I know this because I'm

00:42:52   there in every session like a crazy person. Most people are not. It really thins out during

00:43:00   certain points. And so I feel like that's one way to get around this is just sell more

00:43:03   tickets. You know, sell as many tickets as, even if you think it's going to be like, "Oh,

00:43:08   it's crazy that I don't want to be like, the classroom sizes are going to be too giant

00:43:12   or whatever," I think it will still work out because those rooms are not at capacity in

00:43:15   the middle of the week in some boring session. It's just me and--

00:43:18   Well, you know, I don't know. I think you could probably get maybe 20% more tickets

00:43:23   sold that way. Not even more than that.

00:43:25   Oh, that's something. I know. I'm not saying this is going to be a doubling in size. You

00:43:28   just overbook a little bit.

00:43:29   - Yeah, 'cause the problem is that the popular

00:43:34   or mainstream sessions really are filled up to capacity.

00:43:38   And a lot of times-- - Yeah, and they duplicate.

00:43:39   - You'll have to wait online for 20 minutes

00:43:43   or a half hour before the session starts,

00:43:45   and then you get in there and you can't even sit down.

00:43:47   There's only standing room,

00:43:48   there's people backing up in the back.

00:43:50   - Yeah, there's only 10 sessions like that,

00:43:52   and they duplicate them.

00:43:53   They're addressing that with, they do them twice.

00:43:55   They do them once on one day

00:43:57   and then once on two days later or whatever.

00:43:59   This is all in service of not doing the thing at South by Southwest, which is, "Oh, let's

00:44:03   just keep going to bigger and bigger venues."

00:44:05   Because that way, you will just run a conference.

00:44:06   Right.

00:44:07   Let's stretch across the entire city.

00:44:08   Right.

00:44:09   So, you know, you can't just go into an even bigger convention center in a different city

00:44:13   and just get bigger and bigger.

00:44:14   But like someone was saying, can you do something to improve things, keeping the same conference

00:44:20   center and everything?

00:44:21   I think you can get a little bit more out by overbooking.

00:44:23   I wonder, this year, maybe it's just because I'm paying attention, but I don't think so.

00:44:28   I think this is actually happening. This year it seems like Apple pessimism is at an all-time

00:44:34   high of just the company's prospects, the effect of competition, the products.

00:44:40   Yeah, but we're not among the people who go to WWDC.

00:44:42   Right.

00:44:43   Or for that matter, people who are selling popular apps in the App Store. I mean, EA

00:44:47   is probably still pretty darn bullish about iOS in terms of where you can make money.

00:44:52   How much money did we put into this game and how much did we get out? Keep making those

00:44:55   iOS games.

00:44:56   say that but it's funny I would agree with you Marco that I've had regular

00:45:00   people who are not total dweebs like us come to me and say yeah you know I don't

00:45:05   know if I'm gonna get an iPhone again when I'm up for a new phone because I

00:45:07   haven't done anything new in a while oh yeah me too you know if you're a nerd

00:45:11   you can say whoa whoa whoa what do you mean they haven't done anything new but

00:45:14   to a regular person I mean springboard looks the same as it's always looked

00:45:17   most of these apps mostly oh you are UI button is a UI button UI labels UI label

00:45:22   all these things look the same a table views a table view granted you have

00:45:25   collection views now and actually I haven't seen them used that much come to think of

00:45:29   it, but it doesn't look flashy anymore.

00:45:33   Maybe iOS 7 will bring it flashy.

00:45:34   Well, what could they do to change that?

00:45:35   Oh, I agree.

00:45:36   I don't know.

00:45:37   I completely agree.

00:45:38   I'm not saying that...

00:45:39   Because I think a UI overhaul wouldn't do it.

00:45:41   Those same people would be like, "Oh, it's still a rectangle with a screen on it."

00:45:45   Unless it starts hovering above their desk by two inches.

00:45:48   Well, there's different levels.

00:45:51   like the people who write for The Verge, who they're never going to be happy with whatever

00:45:56   Apple does, or actually the writers are good, the commenters on The Verge are never going

00:46:02   to be happy with whatever Apple does that's new because they're going to complain, "Oh,

00:46:06   it's not like Android and it's not doing enough and blah, blah, blah." Okay. That segment,

00:46:10   they can't satisfy. But like Casey, I have regular people asking me all the time, or

00:46:16   talking to me all the time about comments that make it sound like all this Apple skepticism

00:46:23   in the media actually reflects what they are thinking.

00:46:27   There is no question that Apple is being significantly and severely affected by the attention in

00:46:35   the media that it gets, negatively.

00:46:38   Really, I have regular people say...

00:46:41   Even a week ago, I had somebody ask me, "Oh, I was thinking about getting an iPhone, but

00:46:46   but I heard the iPhone 5S is coming out next month,

00:46:49   so I'm gonna wait.

00:46:49   Like I hear, and every, of course, every iPhone,

00:46:51   you hear that. - That happens all the time.

00:46:52   - But like, but you hear like, oh, you know,

00:46:55   they didn't really change that much.

00:46:56   I'm like, well, have you seen the iPhone 5?

00:46:58   Like, believe me, it's a big difference.

00:47:01   But people aren't even giving it a shot

00:47:02   because they're hearing in the media

00:47:04   and on the news and the websites and everything,

00:47:06   they're hearing all this stuff about Apple

00:47:08   being doomed and not innovating enough.

00:47:10   I hear regular people have asked me about Samsung

00:47:12   for the first time ever in the last six months.

00:47:14   I've never heard anybody ask me about Samsung.

00:47:16   In the last six months, I'm now hearing it.

00:47:19   And I think Apple's doing great, but the mainstream culture, the mainstream rhetoric

00:47:26   around Apple is now that they're suffering, and that's really damaging them.

00:47:31   No question.

00:47:32   So I think there's only probably two things they could do to get the regular people, I

00:47:38   mean, ignoring the echo chamber of people who don't even know what the verge is, to

00:47:41   get those people who still might come up to you and say, "Ah, they haven't changed that

00:47:45   much."

00:47:46   What can you do to bring them around?

00:47:47   Because I think outside of the tech nerd circles, there definitely is the media and their perception

00:47:54   and everything in there.

00:47:55   But it's when someone who doesn't even remember that Apple makes the iPhone or just kind of

00:47:59   vaguely knows what the iPhone does, when they get the news story on their local news or

00:48:02   whatever that there are some problems, that's when they start to get those bad feelings.

00:48:05   What can you do to bring those people around?

00:48:07   You can't do it with new OS overhaul because no matter how crazy you change springboard,

00:48:11   no matter how weird you make things look, those people are never going to know that's

00:48:16   not how the phone always looked.

00:48:18   They don't have nothing to compare it to that does not impress them.

00:48:20   That's nothing.

00:48:21   You can get them either by making a new product that gets people excited about Apple again,

00:48:28   insert whatever product you want here, television, watch, hoverboard, self-driving car, spaceship,

00:48:35   Anything like that, automatically those people are like, "Oh, Apple's back.

00:48:39   It's some crazy new thing, blah, blah, blah."

00:48:41   Suddenly, the iPhone seems viable again.

00:48:44   I wouldn't bank on that happening.

00:48:45   I don't think Apple's banking on that happening to get their phone sales.

00:48:49   The second thing I think would actually work, and they probably are going to end up doing,

00:48:53   is just make it have a bigger screen.

00:48:56   As dumb as that sounds, not dumb that it has a big screen, but dumb that before you weren't

00:49:02   excited about it, but now you are. That is enough of a change that a regular person,

00:49:07   it's bigger, a regular person will notice that change. And again, not that I'm saying

00:49:11   a big screen is not a good idea, because I think it is a good idea, but I'm saying that

00:49:14   is the type of change far beyond like a radical new UI or something like that, that you put

00:49:20   on the phone, which is much harder to do. Bigger screen, I think can revitalize interest

00:49:27   in the iPhone. Bigger screen, I guess, lower cost, but a combination of the two.

00:49:31   Because Apple is behind in the screen size war, as we talked about this last time, with

00:49:37   the resolution and all that stuff and what they're going to do in that area, but those

00:49:40   are all technical details.

00:49:41   So just bottom line is, when the Samsung S4 comes out tomorrow, whatever day it is it's

00:49:46   going to be, the new Galaxy phone, it's going to have a big, amazing screen on it that's

00:49:52   going to be bigger and more amazing-er than the iPhone 5 screen, even.

00:49:57   You know what I mean?

00:49:58   And regular people can see that.

00:49:59   They look at the iPhone 5, they look at that other phone, and they say, "Well, that's more of what I want."

00:50:05   "It looks better, it looks nicer."

00:50:06   I mean, the Android phones that, you know, the big thing now is that, you know, native 1080p on Android phones at like 460 dpi or something.

00:50:12   These are fairly amazing screens, and they're still pretty darn thin, and yes, they're much bigger and heavier, but...

00:50:17   like, that's what Apple's up against here, and I think to revitalize interest in its phone line in particular,

00:50:23   it's going to have to answer to that.

00:50:26   And I think that's pretty much all it will take to get people the ball back rolling on

00:50:29   that and then their longer term problem is, you know, "Oh, what's the next big thing?"

00:50:33   And then they've got to figure out what the hell they're going to do with TVs or watches

00:50:36   or hover cars or whatever.

00:50:38   That's a mess.

00:50:40   I wonder a little bit if some of this problem is self-created in the sense that, you know,

00:50:46   Jon, you've been talking for a long time about how poor Apple is at services.

00:50:53   And if you think about it, well, Siri was a brand new thing, and it was supposed to

00:50:58   be amazing, and it was supposed to cure all of our problems, and it ended up being fraught

00:51:02   with problems, and it was kind of a disaster.

00:51:06   Then Apple Maps...

00:51:07   Well, I think it was successful in terms of getting people interested.

00:51:11   It's that phone that you can talk to.

00:51:12   Even if people bought it, talked to it on the first day, played with it, and then stopped

00:51:16   using it because it didn't quite work right, it served its purpose at that point.

00:51:20   And I think people come out of it with a generally positive, like it's a positive experience.

00:51:25   I heard there's this phone that you can talk to. I bought this phone that you can talk

00:51:28   to. Me and my friends had an hilarious two days talking to it. Now I don't use it anymore,

00:51:32   but I'm not sore about it. Like, I think, basically, I think Siri was a net positive

00:51:36   for the iOS platform and the iPhone in general.

00:51:39   Oh, sure.

00:51:40   It may be. But it started positive. It may or may not have ended positive. Then you have

00:51:44   Apple Maps, which nobody wanted.

00:51:46   It did not start positive.

00:51:47   Right.

00:51:48   And obviously, as nerds, we understand

00:51:51   kind of the political motivations behind all this.

00:51:53   But for a regular human, you didn't

00:51:55   want it in the first place.

00:51:56   Suddenly, your phone, which you previously loved,

00:51:59   one of the critical aspects of this phone now sucks.

00:52:03   And you didn't even ask for it.

00:52:04   And that's why IOS 6 adoption from most reports--

00:52:08   I haven't looked at David Smith's in a while--

00:52:10   IOS 6 adoption was terrible until the Google Maps

00:52:13   app came out.

00:52:13   That's actually not true.

00:52:15   Well, that's what I was saying.

00:52:16   There was a lot of negative perception, certainly, and a lot of people were holding back, but

00:52:19   in the grand scheme of things, it was minimal.

00:52:24   It hurt them PR-wise way more than it hurt iOS 6 adoption rates.

00:52:27   I think this is another example of the positive of Siri, and then eventually it's like, "Man,

00:52:32   you leave it around."

00:52:33   This was an initial negative, but I think the same phenomenon happened.

00:52:36   Initial negative instead of initial positive.

00:52:38   But eventually it's just like, "Meh."

00:52:41   Now I think people buying phones, it's a transition that hurts you.

00:52:44   transition, you know, like, you know, or helps you in the case of transition to

00:52:48   Siri was like, "Wow, this is an amazing new thing. This helps Apple get people into

00:52:51   stores, gets people to buy it." And then it just fizzles and it's like, "Meh, fine." The

00:52:55   transition from, you know, to a bad thing, suddenly there's this new bad thing and

00:53:00   maps are bad and they're going from the maps that were better to the bad ones

00:53:03   or just, "I'm getting bad ones," but that trickles off too. And now anyone buying a

00:53:06   phone now, you know, even though the Apple Maps are still not as good as Google

00:53:11   maps, it's kind of like, "Oh, these are just the maps my phone came with, and if I don't

00:53:16   like them, I can try that Google one, and what's the big deal?"

00:53:19   So I think maybe those two things cancel each other out, but I think going forward, neither

00:53:24   one of them are a factor, except for maybe reputation-wise among nerds.

00:53:28   I think they've cleared the PR disaster of maps and are onto, "Now we've got to see what

00:53:35   the next thing is.

00:53:36   Are we going to have something that's going to be a big negative or a big positive?

00:53:39   They need something for the next phone other than just like it's faster, slightly.

00:53:44   But I'm not really sure that anything they do with the next iPhone, although I do agree

00:53:49   that they need to make the screen bigger for at least one of the models that they sell.

00:53:54   Just for all the reasons.

00:53:55   And it's cheaper to get people excited too.

00:53:56   You know, I'm not entirely sold on the cheaper one idea.

00:53:59   Although we should talk about it too.

00:54:02   I don't know if you saw.

00:54:03   So I've been talking about the weird new CPU in the Apple TV that was just released.

00:54:09   that was just updated quietly.

00:54:11   And Chipworks has this post here.

00:54:13   I'll paste it into our chat thing

00:54:15   so that you guys can see it.

00:54:18   They had this post up that they've been taking apart

00:54:21   the CPU in it.

00:54:22   And they found-- so my original theory,

00:54:24   which we actually talked about, I believe, on episode one

00:54:26   of this show, my original theory was that-- because originally

00:54:31   we had thought that they were dye shrinking the A5X.

00:54:35   And there's really no good reason for the Apple TV

00:54:37   to need an A5X yet.

00:54:39   Maybe if they have a future model that can do high-end games, maybe then, okay.

00:54:43   But there was really no good reason for it to have an A5X.

00:54:46   We later found out, just a couple days ago,

00:54:49   we found out that it is indeed not an A5X, but it's an A5

00:54:53   that is somehow a lot smaller than the normal A5 package.

00:54:57   So again, we speculated, okay, it's a die shrink, so what are we going to do with the new A5?

00:55:01   Because the Apple TV doesn't have an--they don't sell enough Apple TVs

00:55:05   to justify making a whole separate processor for it.

00:55:09   So now, the most recent news that we have

00:55:13   is that the processor on the new Apple TV

00:55:16   is indeed still an A5, is substantially smaller

00:55:21   than the regular A5.

00:55:22   But the reason why is because it only has one CPU core instead

00:55:26   of two.

00:55:27   It's still the same process.

00:55:30   I believe it's the 32 nanometer process from Samsung.

00:55:34   So it's still the same manufacturing process.

00:55:37   Just now there's only one core on the chip.

00:55:38   Now before, with the Apple TV, I believe, didn't we say they were like burning out one

00:55:42   core because whether it failed the yield test or whether they were just artificially…

00:55:46   This makes perfect sense because by the time they've been manufacturing two cores for

00:55:50   A5 such a long time, the number of ones that are bum and have one bad core on them now

00:55:56   has got to be pretty darn low.

00:55:58   I mean, that's the question of like, were they just, you know, it's an efficient use

00:56:01   of the ones where one core doesn't work, or are they literally taking them and burning

00:56:06   the fuses out on one of the cores? If it was the case that they were trying to get things

00:56:11   that one core didn't work, presumably the number of those has dwindled now, because

00:56:17   they've been making this chip forever. So there's no more leftovers for it.

00:56:21   But given how few Apple TVs they sell, it would probably still be cheaper to just give

00:56:26   them dual-core working chips than it would be to make a separate...

00:56:31   I'm looking at this because the whole reason why the Apple TV CPU change was interesting

00:56:36   is the theory that they make so few of these, it doesn't justify a custom CPU.

00:56:41   Therefore, whatever CPU they're using in this is probably going to be put into a future

00:56:46   more popular product. That's, I think, worth considering.

00:56:51   what could they make with a small single core A5?

00:56:56   And that, to me, screams low-end iPhone or low-end iPad mini.

00:57:01   Yeah, I suppose it's possible. I mean, it's really tough to tell.

00:57:06   Because it's not a Herculean effort, and they have been selling more Apple TV.

00:57:11   So making a single core A5 just for the Apple TV is not crazy crazy.

00:57:16   crazy crazy. I mean they really have been increasing the number of these things that

00:57:19   they sell and especially if they're whatever their crazy grand TV plan keeps being pushed

00:57:26   off into the future for you know presumably content related reasons. They're maybe just

00:57:32   playing for the future of the Apple TV and unlike the other things that run apps and

00:57:35   stuff there's no real reason that year after year the Apple TV has to get tremendously

00:57:39   faster or they finally got up to 1080p. So like what more does it need to do? Like it

00:57:44   It shows video in 1080p, you can't run apps on it.

00:57:48   It could be they're settling in for the long winter, waiting for whatever the heck,

00:57:52   and they want to continue to have 60% year-to-year growth on the Apple TV or whatever they were at before.

00:57:56   They're selling a not insignificant number of these things,

00:58:00   maybe now it deserves its own chip. Not a big deal chip, just a single-core A5.

00:58:04   Single-core A5 for a cheaper phone?

00:58:08   I'm wondering how much cheaper does that make it?

00:58:12   of the single core A5 versus dual, you know, it basically comes down to the area of the chip.

00:58:16   And like, the big cost components in that thing is like, I have to imagine

00:58:20   like the screen, the battery, the CPU, the GPU, and

00:58:24   the case are your big cost components there. I'm not sure how much shaving

00:58:28   a tiny little bit of cost on the CPU is gonna, like is that gonna get you

00:58:32   over the line in terms of low cost? I'm not sure.

00:58:36   Well, not alone, but you know, if you can shave x percent

00:58:40   off of a lot of the key components, then that matters.

00:58:44   - Right, that's what I was gonna say.

00:58:45   In aggregate, it might be enough.

00:58:46   - It's conceivable.

00:58:47   I mean, like, do we think that the single core A5

00:58:50   is useful in any case? - Oh, sure.

00:58:53   - Other than a low-cost phone?

00:58:56   - I mean, most of what iOS apps do is not multithreaded.

00:59:00   So we can kind of look and see, or at least--

00:59:03   - I don't know, core animation is multithreaded.

00:59:04   - Okay, but most of the things that are really CPU-intensive

00:59:08   that apps are doing, for the most part,

00:59:11   I think we'd be fine with single core for a low end product.

00:59:15   I think if you look at-- if they're trying to shave off

00:59:19   dollars and cents here to try to get down to lower price points,

00:59:23   first of all, I think the iPad Mini is probably the more

00:59:26   obvious choice here than an iPhone,

00:59:28   just because the iPhones are still

00:59:29   subsidized in most markets.

00:59:31   So they have more room to play with there.

00:59:33   Whereas the iPad Mini, they want to get that down cheap.

00:59:37   And the A5 is probably, even with this smaller version,

00:59:42   I would imagine the A5 is probably still too much power

00:59:46   to be used in something like a watch.

00:59:47   I don't think that would work.

00:59:49   But I think it would be fine as a low-end model

00:59:54   for either the iPhone or the iPad.

00:59:57   - Well, see, you think, like,

00:59:59   the iPad mini, I have problems here too,

01:00:01   because, like, again, I have to think of, you know,

01:00:05   If they want to push the iPad mini price down to give an even lower price one, where else

01:00:12   are they going to pull value out of that?

01:00:15   Cheaper cameras, slightly cheaper CPU, they can't really give it less battery, they can't

01:00:20   really make the screen worse.

01:00:21   Oh, on the contrary.

01:00:22   If they only have one CPU core, they can give it a little bit less battery.

01:00:26   Not that much.

01:00:27   I have an easier time thinking that you could shave down a phone because it's subsidized.

01:00:36   You could work it out so that it ends up looking way cheaper to the customer where you just

01:00:39   saved a little bit of cost and maybe your margins are lower.

01:00:41   I'm not sure how much you can squeeze the mini with a single Core A5 in it.

01:00:46   And I'm also not sure that Apple ever wants to take any of its products and go backwards

01:00:52   in terms of performance.

01:00:55   So can I propose two alternate theories, one of which I think is ridiculous and the other

01:01:02   I think is marginally ridiculous?

01:01:04   You can probably propose one and a half before we interrupt you.

01:01:06   That's probably true.

01:01:08   So one of them is, what if the whole point of this—and one of you guys just inferred

01:01:13   it a second ago—what if the whole point of this—this chip is physically smaller,

01:01:18   is it not?

01:01:19   Yeah.

01:01:20   A lot.

01:01:21   So what if the whole point was either to increase battery volume in the same size case or, or

01:01:25   alternatively, what if we are finally getting our iPhone Nano that we used to talk about

01:01:31   constantly and then gave up on?

01:01:33   If you really want the space back, you've got to shrink, you know, 28 nanometers or

01:01:38   get Intel to FABM at 22.

01:01:39   Sure.

01:01:40   If you really want space back, that's the way to do it.

01:01:41   You don't ditch a core and stick to 32.

01:01:44   Like if space was, you know, I'm more inclined to believe that cost is the reason because

01:01:49   you take a 32 nanometer process that you already have, that your manufacturers already have

01:01:52   have a lot of experience with, really good yields, not pushing the limits of technology,

01:01:58   give me one that's a little bit cheaper.

01:02:01   But if you wanted to space back, if you wanted an iPhone Nano or something, it's much easier

01:02:06   to get that space going through a new process.

01:02:08   I mean, 20 nanometers seems like it's in the cards for 2013 for Apple products from Taiwan

01:02:16   semiconductor or whoever they're going to do that.

01:02:18   And if the Intel things come through, maybe that's not going to happen this year, maybe

01:02:21   next year, but if that isn't just a pipe dream. But I think that's the way you get space back.

01:02:27   Well, you say that that's the easiest way to get space back, but it's also a more expensive

01:02:31   way to get space back, is it not? Well, I mean, but it's an expense you have to incur anyway.

01:02:35   It's not like you're going to stick at 32 nanometers forever. The train is going along,

01:02:39   and this is the year where Apple—all the other phone manufacturers are already at 28 or lower,

01:02:44   right? The Android—the big Android guys already have phones that have 28-nanometer quad-core

01:02:49   things with 1080p screens and they're outclassing Apple's hardware in all respects, with the

01:02:55   exception of power consumption, but they make up for it by having a bigger battery because

01:02:58   they have bigger screens, right?

01:03:00   So Apple, you know, it's going to happen anyway.

01:03:02   Apple's going to have to make that transition.

01:03:04   If you're going to do that, you wait to put out your iPhone Nano until all your components

01:03:08   shrink down.

01:03:09   And I believe also, like, shrinking...

01:03:11   We always talk about the CPUs and I guess the GPUs as well, you know, the system on

01:03:14   a chip, whatever.

01:03:16   But there's other components inside there, not many, but there are other ones, and some

01:03:18   Some of them—I think Anand Tech had a good article about the process used for the cell

01:03:23   radios, which are limited by the various analog things that go into them.

01:03:29   Those could stand to be—I mean, the first LTE chipsets were not great and sucked up

01:03:33   a lot of battery.

01:03:34   There are other places where you can get some savings by shrink, so even if you had a 20

01:03:39   nanometer CPU, if all the rest of your chips are fabbed at like 45 or 65 or some crazy

01:03:44   size, that can make you sad as well.

01:03:46   So bringing all the internal components of your mobile thing along on a train of continual

01:03:54   process shrinks, I think you can get to your iPhone Nano with that technique, and that's

01:04:01   maybe the only way you can get there.

01:04:02   Because otherwise, if you just take the internal...

01:04:04   It's not like there's a lot of room left over in the iPhone 5 as it is, and just shrinking

01:04:08   the screen is not going to...

01:04:10   If anything, that's going to hurt you, because then you have less room for a battery in there.

01:04:13   So I'm not sure the iPhone Nano is a concept,

01:04:16   really makes much sense, and if it does,

01:04:18   I think they'll get there by shrink

01:04:21   and not by chopping out cores.

01:04:23   - I also think too, just demand might not really

01:04:25   be there for that.

01:04:26   People want their smartphone screens to be big.

01:04:28   And I think Apple will very well address

01:04:33   the market of people who wanna keep their smartphone small

01:04:37   with the regular sized iPhone.

01:04:39   And I really don't think they're going to go big only in their product line, but I don't

01:04:45   think they have to go smaller than the iPhone 5 size, really.

01:04:50   I think they might go big only.

01:04:53   I see the iPhone 6 having a larger screen than the 5 and them not offering a smaller

01:04:58   one except for by still selling the iPhone 5, basically.

01:05:00   Well, the only way they could do that, I think, would be if the screen was bigger but not

01:05:06   like a ton bigger.

01:05:08   Yeah, I mean, I'm not expecting them to make a phablet, but…

01:05:12   But the problem is, if they don't really make a substantial jump, then it's not going

01:05:16   to really serve them very well in the reasons why they should need a big screen in the first

01:05:20   place.

01:05:21   It's not going to really stand up well in a store next to these giant Android phones.

01:05:25   It's not going to potentially replace the need for an iPad for some people, or at least

01:05:29   they would think that they would buy that phone.

01:05:31   I think it would stand up better in the store just a little bit bigger.

01:05:34   I mean, it's the question we talked about, I think it was last week.

01:05:37   It's like, do you just make it bigger at the same res, which is what we all assume, and

01:05:41   I believe that would be completely adequate to give them the boost they need of having

01:05:45   something bigger.

01:05:46   Or do you bite the bullet and actually, you know, whether it's 1080p or pick a new canonical

01:05:51   res, because, you know, Apple's not above picking a new canonical res.

01:05:53   They did it once with the iPad.

01:05:54   I guarantee you they'll do it again sometime in the history of iOS, you know, before the

01:05:58   company goes out of business and the heat death of the universe, there will be a new

01:06:01   resolution besides 1024 by 768 points and whatever the heck the iPhone is.

01:06:06   They did it with the iPhone 5 as well. That will happen. It's just a question of when

01:06:11   and a question of now, is it too soon? They just went tall phone. Is it too soon? Do they

01:06:15   have to wait a generation to bump it out again? But that's going to happen. I could see them

01:06:20   doing that sooner rather than later if they start feeling the pinch.

01:06:24   Yeah, but if they only make one size iPhone, then like, you know, like imagine if they only made one size laptop.

01:06:30   Like what size would that be? Probably the 13-inch, right?

01:06:34   And then you miss out on the great value of the 15 and the 11.

01:06:38   You know, if you look at the phones, like if they're gonna keep having just one model for the foreseeable future,

01:06:44   and if they make the next one bigger, say, then they're missing out on all the greatness in product design, all the sales, all the

01:06:52   the goodwill that would come from the people who would want the smaller phones, like the

01:06:57   five that we have now, compared to other big phones at least, and people who would want

01:07:01   even bigger phones, like the weirdo phablets.

01:07:04   I think ultimately as this market matures, which I think it's pretty safe to say the

01:07:09   smartphone market is fairly mature at this point, I think they have to go to multiple

01:07:14   sizes.

01:07:15   It was on my 2013 to-do list.

01:07:17   What do you call it?

01:07:19   diversify the iPhone line, and that means not just keep selling the old one as your

01:07:23   different size.

01:07:26   The reason I say that it's not inconceivable that it won't is because that's been Apple's

01:07:28   MO for so long.

01:07:29   There is one iPhone, and then there's the older iPhones.

01:07:31   The older iPhones fill our needs, and what I've been saying they need to do is diversify

01:07:34   the line by not doing that, by having—there's actually not one iPhone.

01:07:38   There's actually two iPhones and possibly some older ones.

01:07:42   And what if just single core A5 is how they do that?

01:07:46   You can combine them both and say, "We're diversifying the line, we're getting a bigger

01:07:50   screen, and the way we're diversifying is that the one with the smallest screen is the

01:07:52   cheap one."

01:07:53   Exactly.

01:07:55   Which would disappoint the people who want a smaller phone that's full performance, but

01:07:57   they should feel the same pain that iPod touch users have had to feel where, "We want all

01:08:02   the good things!"

01:08:03   But, no, you can never get all the good things.

01:08:06   They have so many options for how they can diversify their line, whether they just want

01:08:09   to do it on size, they also want to try to do it on cost.

01:08:12   I mean, hell, they could come out with three of them.

01:08:13   Like they go right from having one phone to having three phones.

01:08:17   It's conceivable that all these things are possible.

01:08:19   I don't know which one of them.

01:08:21   It's hard to read what they think the issue is.

01:08:24   We all think they need a bigger screen.

01:08:26   Does Apple believe that?

01:08:27   I think at this point they probably do.

01:08:29   Some of us think they could benefit from a lower-cross one, but I can imagine the bean

01:08:33   counters at Apple going, "You know what?

01:08:35   Actually, that's something that you as a customer may want, but actually it would be worse for

01:08:38   Apple as a business, so we're not going to do that."

01:08:41   I have a hard time seeing into that calculus.

01:08:46   To take this full circle, does that mean that in order to continue to…

01:08:54   What was the Steve Jobsism like?

01:08:57   Delight and amaze our customers or whatever it was?

01:08:59   In order to keep people talking about the iPhone is what I really mean.

01:09:03   Do they not do a 5S this year?

01:09:06   Do they instead do either a 6 or do they do a 5s and a iPhone Plus or whatever you guys

01:09:13   called it?

01:09:14   Is that enough to… is something unexpected enough to get people talking positively about

01:09:21   the iPhone again?

01:09:22   That's a timing issue.

01:09:23   I think like if they could, they definitely would.

01:09:26   I can say that right now.

01:09:27   Like if they had planned enough in advance and foreseen this, like they would definitely

01:09:34   do that.

01:09:35   maybe that, you know, I just don't think that the current situation they find themselves

01:09:40   in, they planned on two, three years out. And that's the kind of planning you would

01:09:44   have to have to say, "We're going to go from this 4.4.S. 5.5.S cadence. Actually, we're

01:09:49   not going to do that with the 5. We're going to do 4.4.S. and then we're going to do 5,

01:09:52   then 6. Start planning now." Because they would have to start planning that a very long

01:09:56   time ago. I think they would really benefit from that, but if they didn't start playing

01:10:00   it two, three years ago, I don't think they're capable. I think they just got to ship what

01:10:04   they have, which is going to be a 5S, and keep going. The problem is we're having complete

01:10:12   information, so we don't know all this wildcard stuff. Whatever the heck else they're doing that's

01:10:17   not a phone, that's not an iPad, presumably there's something or several things on various

01:10:21   burners in various states of whatever, any of those things, if they come to a boil,

01:10:25   make this much less of an issue. "Oh, we've got the 5S, but we've also got the Apple hover car."

01:10:32   No one cares that it's friggin' 5S.

01:10:34   You know what I mean?

01:10:35   Whatever crazy other things, whether it's

01:10:37   watches or TV stuff or new services

01:10:41   or they buy some other company-- so many other things

01:10:44   can not make this an issue.

01:10:47   But if there's nothing new for this entire year

01:10:48   and they just have the 5S and they make all their products

01:10:52   better in the ways that we always expect them to make

01:10:54   things better, I think that will not

01:10:56   be a great year for Apple in terms of their perception

01:11:01   in the industry.

01:11:02   Yeah, although I would argue that they have, you know, Gruber talks a lot about the concept

01:11:10   of momentum, and I would argue right now that—

01:11:13   Traction.

01:11:14   Traction, yeah.

01:11:15   —that Apple has so much negative momentum or traction in the press or in people's

01:11:21   perceptions of how they're doing.

01:11:24   They have so much negativity around them right now and skepticism and doubt that I don't

01:11:31   anything they release this year is going to fix that. I don't think it can be fixed. They

01:11:34   could release a flying unicorn watch toaster tomorrow and it wouldn't change anybody's

01:11:39   mind. Everyone would just find some reason to complain about it.

01:11:42   If they released some new product that was actually good, it has to actually be good,

01:11:48   that would turn it around.

01:11:49   Well, but the only product...

01:11:50   They would come out of the year and it would just be like a bump.

01:11:52   But the only product that they've released in recent memory that everyone thought was

01:11:56   good from the start was the iPhone.

01:11:59   Not everyone's going to think it's good from the start, but I'm like net-net coming out

01:12:01   of it.

01:12:02   It's kind of the same naysayers that everybody had, I mean that iPad had them.

01:12:05   The iPhone probably had the most positive reception, but even that had like, "Well,

01:12:09   it's a nice product, but you're not going to be a phone maker.

01:12:11   You're not going to just walk in."

01:12:14   Everything's got the negative, but it doesn't matter.

01:12:16   The net out of that was, "Exciting new thing.

01:12:18   Apple's doing exciting new thing that's risky and interesting, and I want to know what's

01:12:24   going on with it."

01:12:25   as just keeping making better Macs and better iPads and iPhones year after year, some of

01:12:32   which, you know, are not as interesting as like the best phones from best Android phones.

01:12:38   That's boring. And the worst thing you want to be is boring. I mean, you know, even if

01:12:43   they come up with a watch and everyone says it's a piece of crap, that's more exciting

01:12:46   than not coming out with a watch, right? And the net at the end of the year, I think, would

01:12:51   be positive from that because everyone hates it, but who knows? It's kind of crazy and

01:12:54   it's got this one interesting thing that we didn't think of. And, you know, uncertainty

01:12:58   and excitement is more interesting than just boring iteration on the same things. Although,

01:13:03   yeah, I don't understand the finance industry. Like, wouldn't they want boring iteration?

01:13:06   Wouldn't they want a gigantic machine that churns out money? But I guess they want explosive

01:13:09   growth. So they were looking for the next hockey stick graph and the graphs for the

01:13:14   phones and iPad are not hockey sticky enough for them.

01:13:17   Wow. Is that a technical term? Yeah. I mean, they are. Every time we see

01:13:22   Horace's graphs on Asympto, like, they're still hockey sticks. Look at the friggin'

01:13:25   iPad graph. That should be like, wow, all smiles, look at that growth curve. It's great.

01:13:30   And Apple's dominating the tablet industry and all these great things, and the story

01:13:34   is still Android tablets surpass iPads next year. Which may actually be true, but it's

01:13:40   like, you know, they have two great products on hockey stick trajectories, the phone and

01:13:44   the iPad, and that's not enough. That's not enough, because those things used to look

01:13:50   more attractive when they had no competitors.

01:13:52   And going back to what Casey said earlier, as we discussed last episode, this has been

01:13:57   a draft blog post in my head for weeks and I just haven't written it out, but I'll

01:14:02   ruin it for you guys here. I feel like Apple's next big product, all the press and maybe

01:14:09   the public, they want it to be some gadget. They say, "Oh, I want it to be a watch,"

01:14:14   or "I want a toaster," or "I want a hovercar."

01:14:17   I said hovercar. That's not a gadget.

01:14:19   - It's gadgety, it's people who want hover cars

01:14:21   are probably people who want smartwatches also.

01:14:24   So everyone wants it to be some kind of hardware gadget,

01:14:27   a TV set, which I think would be probably

01:14:29   the most boring product ever.

01:14:31   All these things, and there was also,

01:14:35   speaking of Gruber, a good discussion of this on Talk Show

01:14:37   with Guy English and Gruber last week.

01:14:40   But I think Apple's next big product shouldn't be

01:14:44   any of those things.

01:14:46   it should be dramatically improving their services

01:14:50   and their software in that order.

01:14:52   - Yeah, good luck with that.

01:14:53   - And I know, I mean, I know it's not gonna,

01:14:55   it's probably not gonna happen,

01:14:57   and it wouldn't make anybody except users and nerds happy.

01:15:01   You know, it's not flashy,

01:15:04   it's not very newsworthy most of the time.

01:15:07   Like, it's not gonna fix their perception,

01:15:10   but what their products need the most

01:15:13   is significant substantial progress

01:15:16   in services and quality of software.

01:15:20   And that, I would much rather they take

01:15:24   what they already have, what they've already started,

01:15:27   all these different things they have

01:15:29   going on these platforms, just make them really great,

01:15:32   make the services better,

01:15:34   and improve the quality of the software.

01:15:37   I would so much rather have that than a smartwatch.

01:15:42   But you're right. The market does not demand that, even though the market's better off with that.

01:15:47   But the market demands a gadget. They would see that it's like a shark that stopped moving.

01:15:52   They'd be like, "Oh, they're retrenching." And in some respects, Apple has like,

01:15:58   a little tiny bit, I mean, they don't think they recognize this from a technical perspective,

01:16:03   but at least from a strategic perspective, that's what the maps thing was about. It's like,

01:16:08   The future is more of this network connected service things, not less.

01:16:12   We need to take control of this, we need to take the reins, and they screwed it up with maps.

01:16:16   But at least they recognize that it's not a tenable long-term strategy

01:16:20   to rely on your most bitter rival for an essential service that your phone provides.

01:16:26   So we all understand why they had to do maps. At least there's some recognition that they realized that.

01:16:31   Speech recognition could be another similar issue with them not really owning that technology.

01:16:36   If they woke up one day and fully realized how screwed they are on their inability to

01:16:44   do network services and how important they're going to be in the future, they would have

01:16:49   to sign themselves up for a multi-year dark period of figuring that stuff out.

01:16:57   Kind of like the multi-year dark period coming out of the '90s where they had their whole

01:17:00   crappy OS that they had to rev, and they had to keep the company in business and then start

01:17:05   working on the next big thing, and they did, and they came out of it, and went gangbusters,

01:17:09   right?

01:17:10   They probably need another period like that to get their house in order on the server-side

01:17:16   stuff, because it's not like we're in a future where that server-side stuff is going to be

01:17:20   less important.

01:17:22   There's no going back.

01:17:24   And so they either need to get really good at it, or get really chummy with someone who's

01:17:27   interested or aligned with theirs who is good at it.

01:17:29   And that used to be Google, but it's not anymore.

01:17:33   All these reasons are like, people keep saying that Apple's getting slammed for illogical

01:17:37   reasons or like, "Oh, they're making all this money hand over fist, Wall Street is crazy."

01:17:41   In some respects, the negativity that is reflected in the press about them is like accumulation

01:17:52   of all the negative things that I'd been thinking about Apple for the past 10 years, but at

01:17:56   the time I was thinking them, no one else agreed with them.

01:18:00   Apple's going gangbusters, everybody loves it, all their products are great, and you'd

01:18:02   you'd be like, "Butt, butt, server-side this," and they'd be like, "What are you talking

01:18:05   about? Their stuff is awesome. They have no comp—" Right? You know? And now it's kind

01:18:08   of all coming home to roost. And maybe that's just projection. Maybe they're being negative

01:18:12   for another reason. But I don't think the current negative view of Apple is that crazy.

01:18:16   I mean, it's kind of crazy in terms—I don't know the details of the finances or whatever,

01:18:20   but it's like, you see they're making tons of money. They're not going out of business.

01:18:24   They're a successful company. They're well-run. They have products that people like all the

01:18:27   things that Google posts again and again. But at the same time, I see where all their

01:18:30   strategic weaknesses are, and I see that it's not like you can snap your fingers and make

01:18:34   those strategic weaknesses go away.

01:18:36   And even making a new Apple TV or a watch does not make all those weaknesses go away.

01:18:41   It just staves off the inevitable for a little bit longer.

01:18:44   In fact, a new gadget or a new platform would probably make a lot of these problems worse.

01:18:51   Marginally worse.

01:18:52   I mean, I get an urge to.

01:18:53   Here's more things that require software and services that they're having trouble keeping

01:18:57   up with.

01:18:58   I mean, they are presumably reaping the benefits to Google Reaps.

01:19:02   It's like, okay, well, if we do have a new TV thing, presumably it's based on iOS, and

01:19:08   we can leverage the App Store, and we can leverage iCloud.

01:19:11   They are getting a common core of stuff that they work on that makes all their products

01:19:15   better.

01:19:16   It's not like they're going to go out and make something totally unrelated where they

01:19:18   can't reuse any of their tech or platform.

01:19:21   It's a marginal increase, but the thing that makes us feel bad about it is a distraction.

01:19:27   Could you just get the crap that you have now to work right?

01:19:29   Like stop with the watch stuff.

01:19:30   Like you just, you take it, you don't,

01:19:32   we have this crazy perception

01:19:33   that probably isn't rooted in reality

01:19:35   of them taking off their AAA players

01:19:38   and putting them on whatever the big new project is.

01:19:40   So like, oh, pull off all the best,

01:19:41   most awesome iPhone people

01:19:42   and put them on the hover watch, right?

01:19:44   And like, no, like you don't pull those guys off.

01:19:47   We need the good people.

01:19:48   Like we felt like, we felt like that when they, you know,

01:19:51   seemingly pulled like the big, good, awesome,

01:19:53   important people off Mac OS X for a while

01:19:55   be all hands on deck with the iOS and the App Store, which was the right business decision,

01:19:59   but they have finite resources and we don't want them to be—that was another thing on

01:20:03   the talk show episode—we don't want them to be spread too thin.

01:20:07   They don't have an infinite number of awesome, talented people.

01:20:11   And with the financials and the share price and everything going down, it may be harder

01:20:15   to acquire and retain those amazing people, so maybe you don't have so many to spread

01:20:19   around as you used to.

01:20:23   a major problem for them. The size of the company is, talent wise, it's smaller than it needs to be.

01:20:30   They have very limited resources that they can allocate to these things. And you're right,

01:20:35   the business case for pulling a Snow Leopard. With Snow Leopard, they basically spent, what was it, 18 months

01:20:42   development of it, not adding a lot of user-facing features. The whole message of Snow Leopard was,

01:20:50   We're going to rebuild a lot of the foundation of this and add things, you know, really important

01:20:54   foundational APIs like Grand Central Dispatch. We're going to really make

01:20:58   the foundation better and awesome and fix a lot of bugs, rather than

01:21:02   adding a whole bunch of new user-facing features. And Mountain Lion was kind

01:21:06   of like that, you know, compared to Lion. But I

01:21:10   feel like they need to have a period like that

01:21:14   for services and for all their software. They need like a company

01:21:18   wide period of like two years of just improving the stuff we have.

01:21:23   But you're right that business-wise and market-wise, that will never be a smart idea to do.

01:21:28   Well, they could afford to do it on the Mac because all eyes were on iOS.

01:21:32   That's true.

01:21:33   So that's one reprieve.

01:21:34   I mean, there's no excuse for the services because like I guess all eyes are never going

01:21:42   to be off iCloud because that's the nature of services is like an underpinning infrastructure.

01:21:45   But if they—not that they're going to introduce a third platform, but if they did,

01:21:50   eyes would be off iOS briefly, and then those guys could do iOS 8, which would be their

01:21:55   snow leopard or whatever.

01:21:57   But I don't think that's going to happen.

01:22:00   Two platforms is plenty for them.

01:22:03   They're much more likely to—maybe they get away with it iterating on the watch your

01:22:08   TV or some other thing, where it gets its own fork of the OS, it's still iOS-based

01:22:13   or whatever, and then you have time to sort of pin down the phone OS. But I think services

01:22:20   are much more dire than the OS stuff, because I think they're on a pretty good track with the OS

01:22:25   revisions. I think they're already in refinement mode on iOS. There's a couple of major things

01:22:31   they need to add here and there, but the services are really the big deal, because it's not something

01:22:37   you do by snapping your fingers. They can't have a snow leopard release of services that cures their

01:22:42   their problems. It's problems that can't be fixed in 12 to 18 months.

01:22:45   Exactly. And it requires a lot of substantial changes, substantial investments in infrastructure

01:22:51   and talent that does that, and really big shifts and big investments that just take

01:22:57   a long time. Even if they were 100 percent prioritized on that right this second, that

01:23:02   just takes a long time to build that up.

01:23:04   So if they want to do that fast, here's my advice to them. Buy Facebook, shut it down,

01:23:08   the talent to do your server-side stuff.

01:23:10   Because do you think they have enough money to buy Facebook?

01:23:12   Probably.

01:23:13   I don't know.

01:23:14   It might be close.

01:23:15   You're looking for a big investment.

01:23:17   Remove Facebook from the earth, which is a general good for humanity.

01:23:22   Take all those people.

01:23:23   Most of them are probably going to leave and go off and do other things, but enough of

01:23:26   them will stay.

01:23:29   They're not Google-caliber people, but they know how to run a service that a hoejillion

01:23:33   people use that has better reliability than iCloud.

01:23:37   So, yeah, that's my plan.

01:23:39   - I would even think, like,

01:23:40   that if they would have bought Twitter,

01:23:43   I mean, now I don't think Twitter would sell

01:23:44   at a price Apple wanna pay. - I think they tried.

01:23:46   - Right, but like, if they would have bought Twitter,

01:23:47   they would have had a lot of that type of talent

01:23:50   and a lot of that type of experience and infrastructure.

01:23:52   - Well, I think Twitter is not--

01:23:53   - Not at Facebook level, but not, you know,

01:23:56   certainly probably better than whatever Apple's doing now.

01:23:59   I mean, isn't a lot of iCloud still outsourced

01:24:01   to Microsoft Azure or Azure, however you say that?

01:24:03   - Azure, and I was gonna say exactly that.

01:24:06   I don't think Microsoft is terribly capable as a host, unlike Amazon, whom has become

01:24:12   very capable as a host.

01:24:14   But I wonder, and I was going to ask you guys until you brought it up, I wonder if Apple

01:24:19   and Microsoft could find a common enemy in Google and perhaps the two of them could fumble

01:24:23   along together in order to improve their services to the point that they're actually, I don't

01:24:28   know, functional.

01:24:29   Well, that's kind of what they're doing, isn't it?

01:24:31   Sort of.

01:24:32   You'd have to wait for Microsoft to have fallen much even lower than it has now for them to

01:24:38   ever--because Microsoft is in the same situation as Apple, kind of, where they both recognize

01:24:42   that Google does that server-side stuff better, just that Microsoft has been, in typical Microsoft

01:24:48   fashion, much more sort of head down, "OK, this is an area where we are not strong and

01:24:53   we're going to improve, and we're going to hire the guy who did Lotus Notes, and we're

01:24:56   going to revamp our entire server-side architecture, and we're going to be serious about this."

01:25:01   And Apple hasn't done all that, or at least not as publicly.

01:25:03   Who knows what they're doing internally.

01:25:05   But it's clearly not a top line item.

01:25:09   So I don't see Microsoft as a big win for Apple

01:25:14   to cooperate in this regard.

01:25:16   And I also don't see Microsoft ever stooping to that level

01:25:18   and say, we're just going to be your helper in the battle

01:25:22   against Google.

01:25:23   Microsoft still wants to be a big player,

01:25:25   even though we all kind of recognize

01:25:27   that it's not going to be.

01:25:28   Well, everyone except Microsoft.