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This Week in Tech 461
Leo Laporte: It’s time for This Week in Tech, and it’s a small panel but a great show. Ed Bott is here from ZDNet, Christina Warren from Mashable. We're going to talk about Halt and Catch Fire, WWDC, Apple’s big announcements, fighting Google and more. A great TWIT awaits, next.
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Leo: This is TWIT, This Week in Tech, episode 461. Recorded June 8th, 2014
Leave Eugene Alone
This Week In Tech is brought to you by Squarespace, the all in one platform that makes it fast and easy to create your own professional website or online portfolio. For a free two week trial and 10% off, go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code TWIT. And by Citrix GoToMeeting, the powerfully simple way to meet with co-workers and clients from anywhere. Share the same screen and see each other face to face with HD video conferencing, even present from an iPad. Start your 30 day free trial of GoToMeeting today, visit gotomeeting.com, click the try it free button and use the promo code TWIT. And by Gazelle, the fast and simple way to sell your used gadgets. Find out what your used Apple or Android device is worth at Gazelle.com. And by Stamps.com, use Stamps.com to buy and print real US postage the instant you need it right from your desk. For my special offer, go to Stamps.com, click the microphone and enter TWIT. That's Stamps.com, enter the offer code TWIT. It’s time for TWIT, This Week in Tech the show that covers your tech news each and every week. Boy, what a big week this was. Bringing together some of the best tech journalists in the biz to talk about the stories of the day. Starting with Christina Warren, welcome back Christina. The last time you were on we actually had to punch you because you just – not punch you, punt you.
Christina Warren: Yes I punted myself because my connection was so bad but this time I'm wired in and bad lighting aside, I'm happy to be here. I'm also very tired.
Leo: You sound good, you look good, you tired because you were out here and just flew back right?
Leo: Senior Tech Analyst from Mashable, you were covering WWDC. We’re going to talk about that in a second, looking forward to that. Also here, my old friend, good friend for many, many years. Ed and I were just comparing notes, I think I've known him for more than 20 years. Ed Bott from ZDNet is here, author of the Ed Bott Report at Ziff Davis. And I've known him since he was Editor-In-Chief at, what was it? PC World? Windows Weekly?
Ed Bott: PC Computing.
Leo: PC Computing, that's it.
Ed: Editor at PC Computing and before that, Managing Editor of PC World. And I think we were doing, you know whatever John was not able to do. Saturday morning show I stepped in often.
Leo: That's right, Dvorak And Computer in the early 90s. Back when it was—
Ed: We would take questions from people “Should we upgrade to Windows 3.1?”
Leo: “This Windows for workgroups, what does it do?”
Christina: …really better than 3.1 for my business.
Leo: Exactly, actually I remember from that year looking at 3 1 which and thinking you know what, because I was a Mac fan I bought a Mac in 1984, and 3 0 was no quite it but when I saw 3 1 I said “This is bad for Apple. Microsoft’s caught up.” And it’s been a tough battle ever since. We are going to talk a little bit about WWDC of course. But before we get there, I think more importantly, did you see Halt and Catch Fire this week?
Ed: I did.
Leo: Did you? Oh good.
Christina: I love that show. I like that show.
Leo: See, in the first five minutes I was telling myself “This is horrible” because they had a sex scene right away with the woman who you know is going to be the smartest person on the show.
Christina: Yeah before the – yeah.
Ed: And you know she going to do whatever – she’s going to be the one who says “I'm in.”
Ed: In some future episode and I had, Leo it’s funny because I had the exact same reaction after five minutes. I looked over at Judy and I said “This is not grabbing me”.
Leo: Well I was pissed. I felt like, god, to me this is exactly what happens when networks get a hold of technology, technical material. They don't trust that the audience will be interested so they sex it up. Fortunately and it’s obvious AMC said “You know, can you just start with a sex scene?”
Leo: They got it out of the way and then the rest of it was great. I was really surprised, I enjoyed it.
Christina: And they thought – correct.
Leo: What did they get correct?
Ed: I want to see next week’s? This coming – tonight—
Leo: I'm not going to say it’s great yet.
Christina: I've seen a few episodes. I got some screeners and the thing that frustrated me the most, and this was even from the previews they sent out and some of the trailers I guess. They got the font correct on the terminal and that was for me – no because here's the thing, most people when they do, especially recreating like 80 Tech, they don't get that stuff correct. And I talked to Christopher Cantwell who’s one of the creators of the show and he actually has a history making 80s looking stuff and his father actually worked in Texas in the 80s as a computer engineer. So he actually grew up in Texas where his dad did some of the stuff similar to Halt and Catch Fire. And he said that the researchers were very dedicated and that they made sure that they got the correct font for all the terminal scenes. For me that was correct.
Leo: It’s funny you should say that. I forgot but the IBM PC had a unique font. It was designed for IBM and it was a serifed font. And you're right, it was very distinctive. And to get that right is critical. So I didn't even notice but they did get that right, huh.
Christina: No, I showed this to my husband who is like an old school computer nerd and his first computer was an Atari 400.
Leo: Me too, yes.
Christina: And he, you know learned how to program that way and whatnot. And he’s very, very particular about making sure that the stuff is correct and like he won’t even watch a show if it’s off. And so he was even more critical than I was and he saw it up and was like “Okay cool, we can watch this”.
Leo: So I don't think it’s spoiling and we will be careful not to spoil anything. I don't think there's that much you could spoil frankly. It’s not that kind of show.
Leo: I don't think it spoils anything to say that the plot, it’s a fictionalized story of how the original IBM PC, which came out in 1981 was cloned—
Christina: By Compaq, yeah.
Leo: Well, I don't think it was Compaq. You know I did some research because the company on the TV show was Cardiff Computer right?
Christina: Right, right I mean they apparently lived in a world—
Ed: Cartiff Electric.
Leo: Cartiff Electric.
Christina: Cardiff Electric. They apparently lived in a world where Compaq still exists but a lot of the stuff – I've recently read some book from one of the Compaq co-founders and he actually did an interview with a guy who does the retro internet cast. Internet podcast or something and he talked about what the guys at Commodore or Compaq rather, did to reverse engineer to make sure that—
Leo: They came out later than, and I remember this because I had an Eagle computer.
Christina: Yes, right.
Leo: And the first clone was something from, do you remember this? You might remember this Ed. Columbia Data Products.
Ed: Oh absolutely, yes.
Leo: And it was I believe Columbia that was the first to do this clean room reverse engineering of the BIOS.
Christina: Yeah they were definitely earlier then Compaq but Compaq was the first one, you could get it to work with DOS or with some of this stuff but wasn't completely compatible.
Leo: I see, so the Columbia – so they did say that Columbia reverse engineered it but maybe it didn't do, it wasn't a very, I don't know if it was a perfect, I don't remember that.
Ed: Are we watching the under 35 readers, viewers just like—
Leo: What are they talking about? Is it before—
Christina: I'm under 35, it think it’s fascinating but then I'm a weird person so.
Leo: Christina Warren is very weird. Remember the Apple came out in 76. The first, and the Apple 2 had come out in 77, the Apple Macintosh came out in 84. The first personal computer from IBM, non-Apple this was a big deal, came out in 81.
Leo: And the thing that IBM did that was unheard of, they off the shelf parts. There were no proprietary parts in it. And I think they did this on purpose. You were around Ed in this time period.
Ed: I was around, yes. And the reason – oh I knew all of the – in fact one of the original members of the IBM PC team used to live across the street where I live right now. I moved here nine years ago. And for the first five years that I lived here, he was a neighbor of mine. So we used to have dinner regularly and we would talk about those early IBM PC days. And one reason they used off the shelf parts was because they were staying under the radar at IBM.
Leo: It was at Skunk Works at Boca Raton. They went down to Florida, IBM’s up in New York.
Ed: Yeah they were in Armonk New York. And if anybody had known what they were doing down there, they probably would've shut down. So it was in a way it parallels that first episode of Halt and Catch Fire where they were trying to do this in secret and literally in a garage. And the IBM guy is “We’re trying to get this shipped without too many red flags showing up in Armonk”. And it did.
Leo: It makes sense because they would undermine IBM’s business which was Mainframe computing. And if you put a real computer on somebody’s desk, that's bad for business.
Christina: Right and from what I understand, and you guys would know better, but from what I understand in addition to trying to do it under the radar and prevent IBM from knowing, it was kind of done – they were trying to do it as cheaply as possible. So that's why it made sense to use off the shelf parts rather than building your own custom chip. And then IBM was, it did release it, IBM really didn't expect it to be successful or even want it to be successful. And that success was kind of just like “Well, ooh what do we do now?” you know and then you know—
Ed: Oh crap we have to manufacture it.
Christina: Right, right and then all the mini-computer guys, all the you know all the digital equipment core guys, everybody else is just like “Oh this is no big deal”, and then you know a decade later none of them including IBM are making computers.
Leo: Did you know Don Estridge by any chance Ed?
Ed: I have met him.
Leo: Yeah, he passed away just a few years later in a plane crash. But he lead the Boca Raton team that built this. And they not only used off the shelf parts but they documented the one proprietary part. In fact it’s so funny because their scanning the board looking for the proprietary part that, they buy an IBM PC in the show and their scanning – somewhere in here these a proprietary “Yeah it’s the one with the big copyright IBM written”, you could see I even you know. So yeah, that's the part. It was an 8k rom chip. The basic input output system that IBM wrote but they even in their manuals documented all the calls. So IBM was really open about this in a way that you wouldn't expect IBM to be even in those days.
Ed: Yeah, shockingly.
Christina: I mean thank god they were but they regretted it afterwards.
Leo: Maybe because the client loans came, I had the Eagle which was never reliable, it was one of the early predated Compaqs. One of the early ones.
Ed: I had a Leading Edge.
Leo: Leading Edge, remember that yup, yup, yup.
Ed: Hyundai, I think it was Hyundai who made those.
Leo: The reason the Eagle was cool, the IBM 8088 went at 4.77 megahertz.
Leo: The Eagle I think was at 9.
Christina: Dude that's faster than time.
Leo: [Laughter], it was like 8 or 9. Ooh it’s twice as fast but it never was reliable so it’s a trade-off a little bit. But Ed do you remember, and this is one thing I wasn't sure about but maybe Christina you know, the way they do it in the TV show is looks kind of a little bogus, they have a oscilloscope and a you know, they test the leads. And they've set up some kind of goofy LED readout and they're writing down Hex Code. I gather, I guess what they were doing is looking at each memory location on the ROM chip and writing down it’s Hex Code. Is that how you would do this?
Ed: That's how you would—
Leo: Seems like you could dump the chip.
Ed: They were basically disassembling it, well what would we dump it into.
Leo: I guess, I mean all you need is a chip reader that would just do this. I think you could've, even in those days, just read the chip. It’s ROM Code, unless it was somehow encrypted.
Ed: But that was, you know we were talking about this, my wife and I as we were watching it. As he’s writing this down in this notebook, “how many of these are there? 65,536” and he goes “Okay” and he’s writing them down in this notebook and we’re saying if only he had a personal computer.
Leo: Be so easy. I think even in those day you could've get a ROM reader that would give you – so then you get the Hex Code and now you disassemble it, but now you've got a problem because the engineers who do that now know the code.
Ed: They are contaminated.
Leo: They're contaminated. You go back to a decision just the year before, actually it may have come down that year between Apple and a company called Franklin computer. Remember that, the Franklin Ace was a clone of the Apple 2. And Apple sued them saying “Well wait a minute, your ROM code is stolen. It’s exactly the same as our proprietary code”. The first court that heard it, the argument Franklin made was “Well, it’s not human readable so you can't copyright it. You can only copyright something a human can read.” The first court said “Yeah you're right Franklin”, but they went on to circuit court, the circuit court reviewed it and said “No, no you could still copyright machine readable code”. That decision held and Apple was able to put Franklin out of business. So the folks, whoever it was, Cartiff, Columbia, Eagle, Compaq that were reverse engineering the code knew already what the law held. You cannot copy the code, it’s copyrighted.
Leo: So what do you do?
Ed: So you take the APIs or the – you take the functional description of the output of the machine and you literally reverse engineer it. You say “What does it take to take input and turn it into this output?” and if the output is documented well enough, you can engineer the part in the middle. And where the show I think is going to go is about how you can get it 90, 95% right but then you discover the places where you reverse engineer the right result for the one thing that you knew but then something else happen and it behaves differently… something else.
Leo: Undocumented APIs and odd behavior, maybe bug even behavior.
Ed: Maybe bugs yeah, maybe bugs in the code.
Leo: Why have to duplicate the bugs.
Leo: You don't just duplicate the accurate code, you have to duplicate the bugs as well.
Ed: And I mean this is in Silicon.
Christina: Yeah. There's a book by Rod Canion who was one of the founders of Compaq called “Open: How Compaq ended IBM’s PC domination and helped reinvent the modern computer” and I read that on the plane actually on the way to WWDC. It’s a really good read. And he goes into the whole story about what they did to reverse engineer and [?] reverse engineer the BIOS and the whole configuration. And what made Compaq unique as you said, you know Leo, they weren't the first clone but they were the first one who made it fully compatible with the software and beyond that they were more compatible than future IBMs with older software.
Leo: Isn't that funny?
Christina: Right, and so that was actually how they were able to outsell IBM, that and the fact that they went to the 386 first. Now IBM kept wanting to do the second one, you know was 286 and then they didn't want to move to 386 and Compaq saw as Microsoft did “Hey, this is going to be like the chip”, and so they had the 386 first. And so that was basically how they became like the number one PC maker.
Leo: You've seen more then we have. You actually got some screeners.
Leo: How many episodes have you seen?
Leo: Does it get good? I mean, do you recommend it?
Christina: Yeah, I mean I really like the show I mean, you know but I'm somebody who’s a total nerd about [?] computer history. But I also feel like they're doing a good job with the characters and things like that but I like the show.
Leo: It feels like AMC said “All right, Mad Men’s over. What are we going to do?”
Christina: Totally, totally they're like “It’s like okay Mad Men with computers” but what's—
Leo: Even the sky is like Don Draper.
Christina: Totally, oh completely, completely. It’s funny because, you know the more difficult thing, and I was talking to one of the co-creators about this, was that like how do you show how people program or how they reverse engineer things or whatever?
Leo: Right, it’s so boring.
Christina: It is, and so that becomes a really interesting creative challenge and like, you know the social network did really, really well.
Leo: I thought so, I thought so.
Christina: They did probably the best of any—
Leo: Writing the code on the window, I love that.
Christina: Yeah, exactly and like you know that's not exactly how it works but that can really visualize the experience rather than just somebody who is in front of typing because you don't want to see that. And I would say that probably that's the best representation. And actually war games which also just celebrate its 30th anniversary or 31st anniversary I guess it was.
Leo: Shall we play a game.
Christina: Exactly, that just turned 31. You know they did a really good job of showing that sort of you know, how computer works sort of thing.
Leo: I interviewed John Badham the director on the Screensaver some years ago and he had brought, he brought a photo album of War Games. It was so fun to see. What's interesting about Badham and the director is it was – did Fincher direct The Social Network? Is that they both cared a lot about the technology and even though it was kind of behind the scenes, they wanted to get it right. There is a scene in The Social Network you may remember in class at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg walks in and Professor poses a very challenging question, nobody can get it. Zuckerberg in the back of the class stands up and well da-da-da-da. They shot the whole scene and the technical expert who was on set to advise him said “You know that's wrong” and Fincher said “Well, what's wrong?” and he said it should say this and they reshot it. They wanted it to be right.
Christina: Yeah, I knew talking to the Halt and Catch Fire creator, he said that when they were working with the technology, A: they had to make sure that they sourced all the stuff that was of that era but B: they worked with experts to make sure that the actors were holding them correctly and were using them correctly because it was really important to them to make sure like for instance, and again this isn't ruining anything but like in the opening, in the first episode the wife is taking apart a Speak And Spell and they wanted to make sure that you know she was holding the tools the right way and then they did that you know across the work of the series because they really wanted to make sure that they got those detail correct.
Leo: Ed does it feel a little weird? This is not for you Christina. But it feels a little weird as somebody both of us are old enough actually live that era and were covering technology in that era and we’re writing about this stuff. It feels a little weird that that's now ancient history for people. Did it feel that way to you?
Ed: No, no.
Leo: I mean I dressed like that. I had the sideburns, I had the clothes. I mean the music, that was to me I was telling them Lisa “Well that was just the other day. I remember that quite well”.
Ed: That's was right before I went into tech. So I was in the publishing industry then and I was working with consumer electronics and social, you know it was a men’s magazine that I was working for.
Leo: What men’s magazine were you working for?
Ed: I was working for Playboy.
Leo: You're kidding.
Ed: I did, yes so—
Leo: Did you do technology? What did you do? Consumer Electronics for Playboy? Like were you the stereo guy?
Ed: For the young men’s version. I was only 22 or 23 at the time. I did stereos, desktop and car stereos. And I think the first Walkman came a couple of years later than that and I covered some of those. And all sorts of little gadgetry and the first Atari computers came out then as well and I remember doing an article about how to – for a young man’s audience and this is relevant, having just completed the triple crown. The handicapping horse racers on a computer.
Leo: And you type it in and Q basic.
Ed: …but you know, I can look back and I think I still have some actual type, and I typed them on a damn Selectric and you send them someone who then types them into a Linotype machine.
Leo: You didn't get one character wrong.
Christina: Right, right though I have some old, I collect retro computer magazines and I have some old ones that you know have like pages and pages of you know code that you were supposed to type in – programs.
Leo: Christina I love you, you are in the club. You join the club. Here you are with two old men who actually were there and you collect this stuff. I wrote for Bite and Infoworld in the mid-80s. I mean I wrote about Atari for Bite and Inforworld. I wrote about the first Macintosh for Bite. But see it didn't seem, it’s 30 years ago now.
Christina: It doesn't feel like 30 years.
Leo: It doesn't feel that long. Anyway, you'll see Christina in about thirty years, Christina you'll look back at this and you’ll go “God that doesn't seem so long ago I was on TWIT”.
Ed: I would be staggered to imagine what things are going to be like in 30 years.
Leo: Can you imagine.
Ed: Because the curve, the acceleration of change in that 30 years is you know hockey stick and so you know I think it’s possible that in 5 years, our world will be as different as is it compared to 30 years ago, today. You know that’s how fast things are changing and that's how fast we have to be willing to adapt to change. Adapt or just – get run over.
Leo: I'm waiting for that day to come but so far I've going able to keep up. And I love it.
Christina: Well, I was going to say that's why you guys are so great because so many people and it’s not just in tech but in other industries, you know as things progress they don't keep up to date with what's happening. And so I mean I personally think it’s awesome that you guys were around at the beginning and are still on top of it and like are covering things now because that gives you like context that people like me. I mean in only have it from reading stuff and being a fan as a kid. But you have the real context and the real you know knowledge of “Hey, this is how far we've progressed” and that's so useful I think.
Leo: [laughter], I am really feeling it. We’ll get Jerry Pournelle on—
Christina: I'm not trying to make you cool I'm just saying that—
Leo: You know what the next time Jerry Pournelle will join us and we’ll really have an old timer here.
Christina: Awesome, well because then, he was like missed our bike right?
Leo: Right, Chaos Manor, yeah.
Ed: Oh my god, every one’s—
Leo: Love that, love that.
Ed: …holy crap how many word did Jerry type this month. He just, he was the Stephen King of tech.
Leo: He really is something else. Just loved him, love him still and he’s been TWIT many times.
Ed: And he’s still around.
Leo: In fact, Chad that reminds me, we’re due to have Jerry back on TWIT soon. Let’s get him back on. Let’s take a break, we’ll come back. We have lots of news to talk about, WWDC. I think the love fest may end in a moment. We’ll also—
Christina: I sure did, I sure did and I was very fortunate it got to attend the sessions so I won the lottery. So I got to – the lottery they had for attendees, so I was able to attend sessions and really get more of an idea of what some of the new stuff they announced.
Leo: That's something new because in the past journalist were able go to the Keynote but then kicked us all out.
Christina: Right, right and they did actually let some journalists get developer badges. In this case, I'm a registered Apple developer. So I won the Keynote in that respect and I paid for my badge but what was different was that they lifted the NDA on discussing what was in the sessions.
Leo: Ahh, see that's where you would be at a disadvantage because you don't want to be a developer because you go in there and you maybe know everything but you can’t say a word.
Christina: Right so you can't still put up screenshots and still they don't want like full reviews of stuff but we could talk about everything that they announced, you know the APIs and whatnot, which is frankly it’s about time because so many developers have felt I think, encumbered and afraid to “Okay how do we talk about this stuff now”, you know because they announce so much stuff that I think that they try to keep it all under wraps until the fall would be A: it would be untenable, everybody breaks NDA anyway, B: It really wouldn't be good for the developer ecosystem as a whole.
Leo: Did you – you didn't go Ed?
Ed: You know, my ticket never arrived.
Leo: It’s a little known as a Windows guy I'm afraid.
Christina: No, you were at Build though right so you know.
Ed: I was at Build and in fact John Gruber did an episode of the talk show with me. At Build, we did a live one on one discussion.
Leo: Wow, good for John.
Ed: It was so much fun and it was so interesting and it really, I think you know a few heads exploded over that. But the reality is that Mr. Gruber and I have a tremendous amount in common. We both love technology, we both happen to be experts on the platforms that we've spent time serving the users and developers of but that doesn't mean that we’re somehow agents of those platforms. We just happen to be experts in them and advocates for the people who use them. And so we had a lot in common and it was a tremendous conversation we had there. And he made a joke at the end, you know I've got to get you to WWDC and maybe next year because you know I did watch, I watched the entire Keynote. You know, made a few snarky comments on Twitter but overall was quite impressed with a lot of what I saw. Not all the jokes—
Leo: Some of which were at Windows’ expense so I wouldn't understand why you would want that.
Ed: And it wasn't even that you know, there was only I think one joke about Windows. There was a lot of Anti-Google stuff there.
Leo: Anti-Google, yeah.
Christina: Oh yeah.
Ed: It was very – in fact, that was I think one of the big themes among the big takeaways of everything from WWDC for me was that Apple has said quite clearly what the things that it’s doing here. First of all, we want to make it if you are fully invested in the Apple platform, Mac, iPad, iPhone and all the apps and services that pertain thereto, we’re going to make your experience as good as possible. The more stuff you buy, the better your experience is going to be. But the other thing that they've done is to open things up. Both in terms of apps and in terms of services. So there's a lot of synergy now between Microsoft and Apple. And it’s almost like despite the one pie chart up there, there was a great deal of respect and synergy between Apple and Microsoft products and there was literally no respect or synergy between OS 10 and IOS and their counterparts Android and Chrome. Christina did you get that takeaway.
Christina: Yeah, completely I mean it was very clear, I mean and it makes sense too right because John Gruber as you mentioned earlier, you know his app that he does with Brent Simmons and Dave Wiskus, the new sync that was just released is built on Azure. And I mean iCloud itself is in Azure.
Leo: Can you confirm that because that's been said for a long time but we've never confirmed it?
Christina: I can confirm that. I can confirm that. I’ll just say sources close to Apple.
Leo: Very interesting because neither side, neither Microsoft of Apple has ever said officially but Azure which is Microsoft’s cloud platform powers Apple’s cloud platform iCloud.
Christina: Right and so but it was also interesting that they were almost going out of their way to, as Ed said very much make it so that if you're a full Apple person like I am for my personal use, everything works better together. But also, the underlying thing was almost to say we can take Google out of the equation as much as possible. So you know that comes with some of their search stuff with Spotlight and how it’ll search other parts of the web too. You know that comes with, you know adding these extensions and adding these additional features that it’s not so much because users and developers want and need them because they do but it’s about okay well this might convince you to no longer use Chrome or this might convince you to not switch to Android. And I think that was really interesting, even stuff like iCloud Drive you know, that people have been wanting for ages. It almost seems more of a response not to Dropbox so much but Google Drive and wanted to keep people from migrating to the new enemy which you know is Google.
Leo: Yeah it’s interesting how both Apple and Microsoft are now aligned in a new access, a new alliance against Google. But what I do like is it seems as if both companies are saying we will provide an alternative for people who want Google-like services but don't want to give Google all that information.
Leo: At least from a marketing point of view, I'm not going to speak technically but from a marketing point of view that's a good position to take.
Christina: No, I mean it comes at a very advantageous time you know, because people care about that more than they did a year ago. You know it was just a year ago at this time that this Snowden stuff started leaked. And I think that in a different universe where we didn't have all this news stuff and the paranoia around privacy and security was so high that the facts that you know you have to give certain things up. Namely you know, aggregation of your data to get access to these services. Most people were more than willing to make the trade-off. And I think that still, most people are willing to make the trade-off but in that climate and in this kind of increase conversation, there is a real opportunity from a marketing standpoint whether or not it’s true technically or not to say we could be an alternative.
Leo: Well that's my question. Can you say that is more private, safer to use Microsoft or Apple then it is to use Google?
Christina: I don't know if you can say it’s safer. I think that you can say it’s more private only in so far as they are not selling services and paying for things based on what your data says.
Leo: Well they make their money in hardware in the case of Apple. And hardware and software in terms of Microsoft.
Christina: Exactly, so right, I mean—
Leo: But they do, Apple has iAds, Microsoft sells ads.
Christina: Of course, of course you know and that becomes the question as to say okay, they are taking this data, are they storing it and are they manipulating it other ways because I think that would be the big question. From what I understand and what I've seen I don't think that they are but it doesn't negate the possibility that they could at some point switch things around and say now we want to do more of what Google’s doing which is offering you a more custom experience based on the data we have on you. I mean but that's the thing would—
Leo: But that's one advantage to giving Google that information, is they could do things like Google now and say “Hey I know you're looking for pants, you're passing a pants store with a sale right now”. Apple would never do that, Microsoft would never do that.
Christina: No, and I think that you know Google is a little bit ahead on that. I think that that is a very great, that's an awesome feature of Google now. But what's really, really – it’s creepy though because right now anyways, I mean Google now was creepy because I don't enable it. If I enabled it and said specifically I want this to work, then I would feel better about it but the fact that it’s just on, that serendipity thing that might be awesome and is quite frankly probably the direction we’re all moving in in terms of privacy and how things work, because we're not at that place—
Leo: Don't you think Apple will get to a point where, and maybe Microsoft too, where it wishes it did have that data?
Christina: Yeah and at that point—
Leo: Okay good.
Leo: So you say – Christina says no and Ed says yes so go ahead Christina what do you – or do you want to let Ed, you want to think about that?
Christina: Go on Ed, go on Ed yeah.
Ed: So Google’s revenue now that – once the Motorola deal closes to Lenovo, Google will be back to making 90% of their revenue from information that they gather from their customers and sell it to other people. It is literally their revenue stream, is information. Apple’s revenue stream is hardware, software and services. They have displayed consistency through the years about taking information that they gather about their customers, credit card numbers and so forth and using those to make those experiences better. Microsoft tried to compete with Google in the advertising realm with the acquisition of Aquantive back in 2007 maybe.
Leo: That acquisition they ended up writing off for billions of dollars.
Christina: I was going to say.
Ed: They wrote off six billion, they wrote off 1/3 of a what’s app on that.
Ed: And I know from doing the reporting during that time that there was a great deal of fighting within Microsoft over this is not us, we should not be doing this. And it was you know, well let’s see, if this is the future of the internet then we need to be here. They tried to do it and they couldn't succeed and so they said “You know what, let exit the dark side”. They still sell ads because advertising drives the modern internet. You can't be a player in the modern internet, even Apple, even Microsoft.
Leo: What if they still sell ads, then it’s just a matter of degree. It’s not that they're not collecting information, it’s just—
Christina: Well, no you – go on Ed.
Ed: If your is to gather as much information about your customer as possible and put it into databases and allow those databases to become as large as possible because that is your product, then that's different from let’s collect information to help us serve more effective ads and throw it away and not exploit it in the future. Those really are pretty bright lines that are pretty far apart.
Leo: So you say Google is not merely collecting to show ads but they're saving it for some future use?
Christina: Absolutely, I think that's without question right. I mean, that's one of the reasons why they are so successful right now, is that they've been taking our information, our searches, our destinations, our activities. And that's why Google now works right?
Leo: They claim that's to improve search results because they're tailored.
Christina: And it does, and it certainly does but at the same time something like Google now would not work if you didn't have this backlog going back a decade of information. And the more it has—
Leo: Well that's my question. Are consumers going to want Google now like features and won’t Microsoft and Apple be hobbled by the fact that they haven't been saving this information?
Christina: Yes and that's what I agree with, I think that now question at some point that will probably become the expectation. But I think the big key difference, and this is what Ed is saying, is that Google also, it’s not just Google uses that information it’s that they also sell that information however it’s anonymized you know but you're still – information about you is then sold to other people. And I think that's the disconnect where ads that – you know AIAD is not a very successful product first of all.
Leo: But it doesn't mean they didn't try, it just means that they didn't succeed.
Christina: No, no of course they did but they didn't try very hard. I mean if they did try hard then wow, because that was an inefficient product.
Leo: Again it seems a matter of degree rather than intent.
Christina: Yes, right, sure but I think that's it’s one of those things where you can sell ad without making the user database information available. And whether you seen be successful obviously you can't but they have a—
Leo: Well Google would say “We don't give personal information about Christina Warren and Ed Bott to anybody. We sell it aggregate as does Facebook”.
Christina: Right I mean except for the things that plus ones and some of the other information. I mean, you might not be able to identify it directly with a person but all of your information for your profile is linked together and then sold to an advertiser, which to some people is so creepy. So I think that Google’s core business is all about you know, advertising and targeted advertising and there's nothing wrong with that but that's their core model. So, as much data as possible and making that available to as many people as possible and getting as many people as possible to using their products is their business line. Whereas Microsoft and Apple, obviously they might be able to use that stuff internally but they don't make it accessible externally to other companies and that's because they have other legs so to speak you know on their chair of revenue.
Christina: They could sell either software, they can sell services. In the case of Apple hardware and that's I think the big difference. The one is primarily an ad information company and the other’s, it’s an ad hoc thing and if they are going to use that customized information, it’s what their using, it’s not something that they could make available to a third party so a third party could use it.
Leo: I'm a Google fan and I like Google now and I don't care what Google knows about me. But I do think that this is a very great position to be in in one respect for both Apple and Microsoft because you now provide an alternative to people who are discomforted by what Google does.
Christina: No I think absolutely.
Ed: Google is essentially to the private sector. And I am not trolling here, I promise. Google is to the private sector, what the NSA is to government information.
Leo: Yeah they're the NSA without jails and tanks.
Ed: Well the NSA doesn't jails and tanks either. The NSA is signals collection—
Leo: I understand but they act as an agency of information for people who do have jails and tanks.
Ed: And Google owns Doubleclick.
Leo: The worst Google can do is advertise to you. They're not going to arrest you.
Christina: Well no, but—
Ed: Okay so—
Christina: Well except they have information that they turn over to the police as well, which—
Leo: But so does Apple and Microsoft.
Christina: Absolutely they do, absolutely they do.
Leo: None of these companies are successful as much as they might try in keeping the government’s hands off of this information.
Christina: I completely agree. I think the difference is just the level—
Ed: That train left the station long ago.
Leo: Right yeah.
Christina: Absolutely they did, you know—
Leo: So I would argue that that's – I would agree that that's a big issue of privacy issue. I would argue that's one we should be concerned about but no company gets away with that. Nobody’s saying no to the NSA.
Christina: Oh you're dead on.
Ed: No there's a different—
Christina: But there's no question, everybody’s complicit but when you have so much information, I think that's where it changes so much. You know whereas, you know Google knows more about me than anybody.
Leo: You know who knows more about you? Your internet service provider, should they choose to collect that information and most do on behalf of the government. They know a lot more about you because everything as opposed to Google, which only know what Google thinks you do.
Ed: Well, what interesting and we have this everytime I'm on, eventually we get around to this portion.
Leo: Well I just want to defend this side of it because I agree, all of these positions are completely legitimate. I don't mean to dismiss your position at all.
Ed: So here’s the thing, Google is actually a small part of an industry that’s even larger which is the data aggregation industry which is dominated, there's companies out there whose names you have never heard before. And their gathering information from Google and Doubleclick and advertising providers but also offline sources.
Ed: Government agencies, public records, private surveying companies and all of this information gathered together. And if you talk to people who know intelligence gathering, you know people in the government on the other side the government who know intelligence gathering, they'll say you our ISP actually knows a relatively small amount about you but when you aggregate all of this information and the offline and online stuff together, the inaccurate picture that you can build of someone is much more frightening then the accurate picture. And that's the fear.
Leo: So give them more information Ed?
Leo: Let’s make sure it’s an accurate picture.
Ed: Yeah, you know the trouble is that you don't know what information they own.
Leo: You don't control it, right.
Ed: You're not in control of it, you don't know. And so, either if something erroneous gets in there or something that could be misinterpreted—
Leo: Just look at your credit report if want an understanding of how this can happen and what it could do.
Ed: Or that guy who after the Boston Marathon bombings a year ago who was at his office, he was married to somebody else and that's how it became a story because she was wrote something up on medium but he just curious about whether this was possible.
Leo: So he was turned in by his employer by the way.
Ed: Understood, but there is the point. So imagine he hadn't been turned in by his employer but that had simply gone into a database of search behavior that then got linked with something else and linked with something else and all of a sudden that's you know—
Leo: I feel like that there's not much recourse to that. The only recourse is to get off the internet.
Christina: No, you're dead on and what I always say about this is that I acknowledge that any guy that has security and privacy in any of these companies is a façade. And I acknowledge that no matter what I do, whether I avoid Google or use other thing that is a façade.
Leo: You could be all Apple and only Siri for your searches so that Google doesn't see those searches and…
Christina: Of course, it’s a complete – but even though I intellectually know what's a façade, there's something I think that – this is why I have a problem right now with Google now. Even though I intellectually understand that the information is available as being aggregated by someone not Google anyway, there something about seeing it presented without me giving my implicit or explicit rather permission.
Leo: It’s the creepy factor that you don't like.
Christina: Right, and no in ten years, it probably want be creepy. In ten years it’ll be the expectation. But the problem is, I mean it’s kind of the same thing—
Leo: I'm living in the future because I love it. I want to bathe in Google data.
Christina: Totally but it’s kind of like I think the expectation sort of like Google Glass. It’s like, this might be where things are going but if you're too early, you can creep people out too much and I think that—
Leo: Did Violet Blue go too far in her rant against Google. Thank? What was it, Thank You Jerk Face. Did you read that?
Ed: Oh yes I did. Well, you know it’s on the same network.
Leo: At CDNet, yeah.
Ed: At CDNet—
Leo: Thanks for nothing Jerk Face she writes.
Ed: Thanks for nothing Jerkface and you know I know where she’s coming from. It was very heartfelt, there was a great deal of factual accuracy in it. My colleague Jason Perlow has written a follow-up piece to that for ZDNet. Considered an Op-Ed that's – he might be able to find that there and post the link.
Leo: What is his response?
Ed: You know basically, it’s Violet you knew what you were getting into when you signed up for this thing.
Leo: One of the reasons why Violet Blue has a particular axe to grind here is she was a victim of what she calls the Nim Wars. Early on in Google Plus she wanted to use her name which was obviously a pseudonym and Google said “No, No you have to use your real name”, and this was a big problem. Her point though, and I think it’s an interesting point, is that Sergey Brin, who was a big proponent of Google Plus admitted last week that Google Plus was a mistake. He said “It was a mistake for me to be working on anything tangentially related to social to begin with. I'm kind of a weirdo”. In other words, he didn't get it as I think Mark Zuckerberg doesn't. The idea of privacy and he designed Google Plus in a way that made sense to him. One of the policies of course the real name policy. Now you could say “Well of course Google wanted real names. It’s the best way to collect data, is to have a single definitive name we can stack all data underneath”. She calls it their velvet glove cast in iron policy. She of course was a victim of it but at the end she you know – I think it’s very emotionally charged what she’s talking about.
Ed: There's one fact in there that I think goes back to what we were just talking about, about what's the problem with them collecting all this information from you. There were a bunch of people who had either Youtube accounts or some other sort of Google account.
Leo: Whistleblowers, people who are – or transgender who hadn't revealed that.
Ed: They were people who were not out at work as being transgendered and then all of a sudden Google flipped the switch and said “Guess what, now you're name is going to be attached to everything that you've ever done in any Google service”, and so people said in graphic four letter words “Oh my goodness”.
Leo: She refers specifically to a person who says “I'm really pissed right now, I was not ready to tell any of my co-workers”, but she was outed in effect because her real name was associated with her handle.
Ed: And the whole was this wasn't like – it wasn't like someone said at Google “Oh by the way, we're going to do this”, you've been using this service all along, they've allowed you to have a name that allows you to remain relatively anonymous. If someone knows who you are they seen come and find you there and track you down and play private detective, but all of a sudden Google flipped the switch and told everyone in these people’s offices that their you know, in their early processes of doing transgender assignment surgery and that's – there's the nightmare scenario is something you thought was, you've been discreet about that you certainly don't want you neighbors, your friends, your family to know about. It’s not because it’s illegal or immoral, it’s because you have the damn right to privacy.
Leo: It’s your personal stuff.
Christina: Because it’s personal.
Christina: Absolutely, absolutely it’s a real problem. I mean, you know Netflix was sued and this was a case I actually don't think Netflix should've been sued but it ended up killing off that whole one percent project that they were working on you know to increase the accuracy of Netflix productions, which was a great program because a woman said that her Netflix history, Netflix recommendations for her outed her to her employer. I think that that is a little bit different then because nobody can see your Netflix recommendations. You know I'm not sure how the employer saw them, but I think that that is a little bit different then what Google’s done with some of the real name stuff. But it’s a real problem because yeah, we all have a right to privacy and it becomes a yin and yang between you know how much – I think the most of will be okay if a service knew our name but aren't okay with them revealing it to the broader internet. And that's where the disconnect happens.
Leo: Yeah I think that Violet Blue really describes this in a strong emotional way but I think also her feelings are probably and will increasingly be echoed by others. Google search is no longer the clean, she writes, the clean high performance tool we once relied on and admired. Now it’s a fetted stew of Google Plus littered, screwed up, mystery mechanics running under the misguided assumption that anyone and everyone only wants more of their location, they're connections. Google’s clumsily guessed interests and Google Plus favoritism and the result served back to them. She says “Google Plus tells us we are – Google thinks of us as little more than webs of flesh spun over packages of saleable data”. Whether that's accurate or not, and I think you probably can't say it’s inaccurate, I think this is a sentiment that going to be increasingly popular. And I think this is an opportunity for Microsoft and Apple.
Christina: It is, it is. I was having this conversation with somebody last week at WWDC and we were talking about DuckDuckGo, you know the alternative kind of search engine. And even though they are you know a very small team and it’s basically one guy trying to compete against the likes of Google, and they're doing a good job at it, the scariest part and I mean this not in like “Oh my privacy or whatever”, but one of the reasons Google has such a huge advantage is because they totally changed the way that search engines and recommendations and those things happened. You know back when Google kind of debuted in 99, when they were powering Yahoo Search, the aggregators and the search systems then worked in a completely different way than they do now where you crawl everything. And for me, I understand promotional argument but I think maybe the better unemotional argument is that for me anyway Google searches have not become as good because they are so tailored. I want to see the best result, I don't necessarily need it—
Leo: You believe in Eli Pariser’s filter bubble. The notion that you're now kind of living in a bubble of your own creation and Google’s creation.
Christina: Oh without a doubt, without a doubt I mean bias confirmation’s a real thing and if I'm trying to find info about something that I don't really want to see my own results first, I want to see what's best from the internet as a whole. And you do get that from data aggregation. I think that's really good but I think that if you just personalize – you can too deeply personalize things where it no longer is serving the best info but at the same time how do you really compete with Google because even Microsoft who is been trying to do search for a long time, they've had such a huge head start and they've had so much data that for anybody else to compete, I don't know if it’s possible without many, many years of doing things and also frankly probably collecting as much as information. I don't know if it’s even possible to come up with an alternative that is as accurate, whether is personalized or not. We all do what they do.
Leo: Well I think Apple’s has sensed this change in the zeitgeist because it seems very clear they're taking air aims straight at Google. It’s toxic hell stew and Android and removing—
Ed: There was another ZDNet quote that was actually on stage at WWDC.
Leo: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, yeah.
Ed: That was Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, yeah ZDNet’s getting a reputation this week. I guess I better say something really—
Leo: Start writing some inflammatory prose here, you know. You're not using enough, you know—
Ed: You know when I'm the calm, measured guy—
Leo: You know you got a problem. Well, I think Apple – we're going to take a break, but come back, we will talk about actually some of the things Apple was asked at WWDC. But I think this is a real opportunity for Apple and it’s very clear they see this as an opportunity. And one of the main points of WWDC, both with Yosemite, the next version of OS 10 and with IOS 8 is we're going to get the Google out. Even if you do a search in Spotlight now, you might have some Google search results in there but they will be disintermediated, Apple will show up in the Google search result not you. Run this Google search information, not you. They do offer DuckDuckGo and some of the – let me, can I get some clarification? Isn't DuckDuckGo using Google ? Are they just sanitizing the results?
Christina: Both, yeah. For right now they're basically using Google but they are also working on their own.
Leo: It’s kind of cheating, it’s kind of cheating. If you want to use a Google service, the deal is you give them information. And it’s kind of cheating to say “Well I'm going to keep the information myself and I want to use the service”. Don't use Google, use Bing.
Ed: Well we could get sidetracked on this for an entire segment but there's companies like Ask.com which have built an entire business around taking Google Search results—
Leo: And repackaging it.
Ed: …putting their own crappy ads on top of it, which are served by Google and so delivering an ad heavy horrible—
Leo: Okay that's crappy.
Leo: But DuckDuckGo’s results are just repackaged Google results.
Christina: For the most part, for the most part I mean, there's no – Google most people don't realize this, as many APIs that they have, there's no actual search API. And that's probably to prevent more of exactly what you know Ask does and even DuckDuckGo. So you have to kind of creatively kind of reverse engineer or scrape different results. From what I understand and I might be wrong and so if I'm wrong I'm sure people on the chat or on Twitter will tell me, but I think that DuckDuckGo was also looking to increase its scraping capabilities to offer their own results too. They would have to because if all you're doing is having anonymized Google results then for a lot of people that's not going to be enough of a good experience.
Leo: This is one advantage Google has is a huge barrier to entry—
Leo: …for creating an equivalent to Google and it gets bigger every year, essentially as Google aggregate personal information and other things.
Christina: Right I mean that's my point. I don't think that the next Google, at least in the model of the works now, I don't think it’s possible that anybody could really build or truly compete with it building it from the ground up unless I actually don't even think – because there's just not enough time. You know so much of – maps is the same way, you know Apple maps was a problematic product for lots of reasons but one of the main reasons is that Google maps had you know, a decade almost of built-up information and also for many years user themselves sourced a lot of the location and destination information. And that made the product so much better over time. So trying to build your own with buying companies and saying “Oh we can just put this together it’ll be an equivalent”, well no actually it won’t.
Leo: So this is what DuckDuckGo says, they get their results from over a hundred sources including DuckDuckBot, our own crawler, crowdsource sites like Wikipedia, Yahoo through bots—
Ed: Distant cousin of mine.
Leo: …Yandex, which is another search, Wolfram Aplha and Yelp and Bing. But they do also say, while our indexes are getting bigger, we do not expect to be wholly independent from third parties. Bing, Google each spend hundreds and millions of dollars a year, I think it’s more than that, crawling and indexing the deep web but cost so much that even big companies like Yahoo and Ask are giving up general crawling and indexing, therefore it seems silly to compete on crawling. Besides, we don't have the money to do so. So don't expect an independent search engine from DuckDuckGo, Yahoo or anybody else frankly. Although I have to think, somewhere in a laboratory in the basement at one infinite loop, there is a team trying to create Apple Search. It really feels like that.
Ed: I don't think so.
Leo: You don't think so?
Ed: No, no I don't think so. That's a—
Leo: But then it feels like they're stealing Google’s results.
Ed: Christina’s absolutely right, it's an entire business to build there.
Leo: Yeah, very expensive.
Ed: You can do mapping, you can do a lot of specialized types of information, but to do a general purpose provider of information at your fingertips, is a massive business all of itself. It's a tar baby too, because once you get involved in it, you can't let go. You have to just keep throwing money at it and if you're competing with Google, for whom its the primary source of business, they're going to break you. It's going to be like the Cold War. You finally put the Russians out of business because they couldn't keep up with the Cold War.
Leo: We'll take a break. I do want to talk about some specifics from Apple. There's a lot more to talk about; the Truing test. This show should be eight hours long and even then I don't know if we'd get to everything. The Turing test, is Uber worth 18.2 billion dollars? We talk about barriers to entry; there are none. There's a whole lot more to talk about. We've got a great team though to do it. Ed Bott is here from zdnet. Christina Warren from Mashable. Great to have you guys on. This is fun. Our show today brought to you by Go To Meeting. Folk, you've got to meet. You may not like it, but if you're in business, getting the heads together all in the same room around the table is probably the only way to cut through the Gordian knot of confusion and disagreement. We have a 3 email policy. If you can't solve it in the email, you're going to get in the same room and hammer it out. It's where creativity happens. But nowadays, everybody is on the road, there's offices all over the world. How do you get people in the same room when they're not in the same office? You do it with technology. Millions of small business professionals, big businesses too, rely on Citrix Go To Meeting. The solution. The one we use and recommend for meeting and collaborating online. With Go To Meeting you share the same screen so you're on the same page; with documents, presentations, with built in HD video conferencing, you can see each other face to face just like you're in person. And because you pay one low flat monthly rate, you get to have as meetings as you want, as ling as you want. And I know many teams keep Go To Meeting running all day long. You can present, demonstrate and just simply meet anywhere with any Mac, PC, tablet or smart phone. You can present from an iPad. See why millions use choose Go To Meeting. You can start hosting your own meetings within seconds right now. It's very quick to sign up. You've got it free for 30 days. Just visit Go to gotomeeting.com, click the try it free button, and just do me a favor, where it says "what's the promo code," use the promo code TWIT, and they'll know where you heard it. Gotomeeting.com. 30 days free when you use the offer code TWIT. So, let's see iOS 8, no hardware was announced, contrary to some rumors. Mark Gurman at 9to5mac said there's going to be hardware. Nope. And Apple's done it before. It wouldn't be unreasonable.
Ed: And Mark Gurman is usually very good about those things. He's not Gene Munster.
Leo: Notoriously bad. In fact, I was surprise. We had Mark on Tech News Tonight that afternoon. He said Apple changed the name of Health Kit to Health because of him, which I think is going a little far. It wasn't called Health Book it was called Health Kit and Health. They did not announce any new hardware but they announced so much in software that I think that that's probably fine. A 2 hour, jam packed keynote that went off without a hitch; I thought was very well done. I think Apple was very on point in the presentation. I have to point out though, that it's all air until Apple does it. They can say we're going to do iCloud drive and we finally get the cloud, but their history shows they don't. The home automation is great, but you've got to get everybody to sign up. Health Kit is great, but if you have no health devices of your own; it relies entirely on third parties and they didn't make mention of any iWatches. They say you're going to be able to work in the iCloud drive just as you do with the Google drive or DropBox. Not available yet. They say you can say, hey Siri, and Siri will respond. You'll be able to take a picture of your credit card with your iPhone and pay that way. So, do you guys believe this is all going to happen?
Christina: Execution is always the problem with Apple especially when it comes to the cloud stuff. That's the problem for everybody. You don't know until you execute. I think that for instance iCloud drive, there's absolutely no reason to believe that it won't work as well or better than DropBox does.
Leo: Why do you say that? They have never been able to do this.
Christina: No, what I mean is in integration with Finder. I don't mean with the cloud services itself.
Leo: I'll give you an example. iCloud was supposed to have document sync for the last 3 years...
Christina: No, I'm not talking about the sync and the services.
Leo: I'm just saying that they have no track record to say that we should have confidence.
Christina: No, in cloud, absolutely not. What I mean more is how it natively integrates to Finder.
Leo: You know why it's going to work, because it’s based on Azure.
Christina: But all of it has been based on Azure. Execution is the big key and that's where I'm the most skeptical, is with any of the cloud stuff. Whether it's cloud kit, or iCloud drive or anything else. The taking a picture of your credit card thing, yeah that's going to work. They've had the ability to do that with their gift cards for several years.
Leo: That's true. You just hold up your bar code to the camera and it registers it.
Ed: Every bank can do that with checks today.
Christina: Uber does it too, so I think that will work. Cloud is where I'm worried about the execution. I don't think they're going to have any problem signing up all of the big players for either Health Kit or Home Kit. I think they'll all sign up. But again it comes down to execution and is this going to be the best way we do things.
Leo: I'm excited. They said everything right.
Christina: You're right, but the proof is, once we launch this, will it work the way we say it will. I'm most excited about things like handoff and continuity, but I'm also...
Leo: That's cool too. Now, of course this promotes the idea that you have only Apple hardware. But if you have an iPad and an iPhone you can hand off documents as you go to various devices. We can do that on Office 365 can't we Ed?
Ed: Well, there's 2 different approaches to things here and it's solving the problem from 2 different ways. Microsoft's approach to continuity is to say everything is in one drive, and it saves automatically as you go, so if you are working on something on your phone, and then you walk into your office and set your phone down and sit down at your computer, you can open up Word or Excel, or whatever you're creating that document in, and there it is. You just click the file and you're right exactly where you left off. There's a slight amount of friction in there, but I'm not sure that the absence of friction that comes with walking in and having my document magically show up on my Mac when it was on my iPhone is anything more than demo-ware.
Leo: It does feel like demo-ware doesn't it.
Christina: I don't know. I'm frequently in a position where I'm working on something, either a document or an email or something else, and I get called into a meeting and I have to make a split second decision; do I take my iPad or do I take my Mac Book Air with me. And the ability to pull it up instantly where I am without having to go through that friction, and I agree it's definitely minimal, but I think having a lack of that is a good thing. But I think the bigger thing is that if you can do it, it will work with iOS and Mac apps obviously, but it will also work with a web page. So that means you can send off where you are and know what page or what app to, and that is really useful, especially if the web page has an iOS counterpart. So I think there is a lot of potential there for the handoff stuff. But I also really like the fact that for instance I can answer my iPhone from my Mac now. And I can make an outgoing call from my Mac without having to use a third party tool or go through other gyrations. Those might be edge use cases, but Ed is right. The way that Apple and Microsoft are approaching the continuity thing, and Google for that matter too, are all taking different approaches. Google, it's always about the cloud being first and foremost. The web browser is the destination. Microsoft it's all about one drive. And with Apple, whether they'll succeed with the execution or not, and again the execution here more important than anything else, is absolutely key, if you can't rely on it you won't use it, is to make the service aspect, the cloud part disappear, and just make it app based, so that it will be able to work seamlessly. But I think that part of it is probably demo-ware, but I can see real use cases especially when I'm working on something and then have to immediately switch locations and I might not want to take the same machine with me.
Leo: And even if it is demo-ware, it certainly sells Macintosh, iPad and iPhone. Even if you never use this, you do want everything to work together smoothly, don't you.
Ed: Yes, in a way. I wrote a column about that this week and should have put it in the show notes.
Leo: That's alright, I think we can find your column.
Ed: What is interesting to me is that there's some neat new stuff and some interesting borrowed stuff in oS10 Yosemite. But a lot of it is just basically refining what we all know is a desktop operating system. There is very little that is new in there. The desktop operating system Yosemite has become in many extents an extension of the primary device which is the mobile device.
Leo: Isn't that interesting. What a switch that is.
Ed: Yeah. One of the big slides, I think I put it at the top of the column that I wrote, it should be the most recent one on my page, Tim Cook standing there, 80 Mac installed base. 80 million is the same number of Windows 8 phones.
Leo: Isn't that funny, it has the same penetration as Windows 8 phones. That's wild.
Ed: 200 million iPads and 500 million iPhones sold, now that's not the installed base but actually it's pretty close because they're both new categories and so very few of those devices have been retired or destroyed. So you've got probably close to 600 million Apple mobile devices, and only 80 million Mac devices. The continuity thing, although it's interesting, it really seems to me to be more of a way to appeal to us journalists who still carry around the big all-purpose devices.
Leo: Is it that a lot of Mac, iPhone and iPad users don't use Macs they use Windows machines.
Ed: And there’s no continuity for that. The thing there was I like the way this is working together. If you happen to be all in…
Leo: It’s your reward for being all in.
Ed: Your Apple platinum.
Leo: You’ve got an Apple platinum account baby. You do have to wonder if Apple will respond to this by putting more of their services on Windows. My guess is they will not.
Christina. I agree.
Ed: iCloud drive is there.
Leo: But it’s barely there.
Ed: It will be.
Leo: Really, you think so?
Ed: Scroll down that same article and you’ll see the screenshot and what’s interesting about that screenshot…
Leo: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC?
Christina: Yeah, and they even showed a demo or very brief Windows screenshot during the keynote. To be totally fair before iCloud drive, managing your iPhoto stuff like photo stream is actually easier on Windows than it was on the Mac because you had a visible place where you could see all the photos, and on the Mac they’ve had a kind of hidden directory, where you’ve got to go through a bunch of gyrations to try to find, if you want to just see your photo stream and pipe it in from the web. Make no mistake, and I wrote about this, pertaining to the Apple buying beats thing, the iPod, the success, primarily for one reason and one reason only, it had Windows support.
Leo: As much as Steve Jobs didn’t want it.
Christina: No, but he realized that’s the only way it could work. But clearly, just looking at the end number of installs, clearly more people have a computer running Windows than who are iPhone owners.
Leo: But that’s my question. Aren’t we in that post PC world where maybe they don’t have Windows or Macintosh?
Christina: Yeah, I think that what Apple’s take is, and it’s decidedly different from Microsoft’s, is that we are in a post PC world, but we aren’t in the world where it’s are one system yet. Whereas Microsoft seems to be wanting to say that we are all on the same system where we can have the same interface, the same basic code base, the same everything, and you can access all of your devices, virtually look the same and have some of the same features. Apple is taking a very different approach in that we can make these things work better together but a laptop still has a different use case than an iPad or a phone. And I personally, and how I use things, that’s true. I think it’s very fair to say that more people might be using their primary device as a phone or tablet, that’s totally fair. But I think that when you are using a laptop, most people don’t use it when they’re doing things on it other than web browsing. Most people use it considerably differently than they do when they’re on a tablet or phone. So rather than having the artist formally known as Medpro interface kind of dominate the entire thing, it’s about rather than everything having the same interface and feel like it’s part of the same platform, this is all about you use these devices for different things but we’re going to make it easier for you to use those devices together. And then at some point down the line it makes more sense to unify everything under one name and one core interface.
Leo: Let’s see; Home, this is something that Google is trying to do, Microsoft has been trying to do for more than a decade. The idea of unifying home automation systems, nobody has succeeded. It’s a tower of Babel of different protocols. Nothing talks to anything else. Going back to the days of the X10, can Apple unify this system and make it work?
Christina: I think they will do a better job than anyone else has. In terms of getting people to sign up, getting manufacturers to get MFI, made for iPhone, made for iPad, made for home certification, which is one big part of the challenge. It’s interesting because Home Kit has 2 parts. One part is that you can use your i device to be your interface controller and you can use that to control everything. The other thing is you can still have your individual apps. And there are a lot of people who are trying to aggregate and kind of create a central dashboard for home automation. There’s ZoneOp, there’s Revolve, there’s Smart Things; I think that Apple will probably have more success just because they’re Apple and the people who are buying home automation things still tend to skew more Apple than other types of devices. That doesn’t mean that won’t change over time. But as were finally entering a place where the idea of home automation is no longer (unknown) and super expensive and super difficult situations but Phillips Hue bulbs and the Nest thermostat, Dropcam and things like that, they will have a better chance of getting everybody under one roof. I don’t think that ultimately they may be the name in home automation so to speak, but I think they can definitely push things towards a certain standard. And that’s desperately needed. I think that I’ve always argued that being early is just as bad as being late. As much as Microsoft has put into a lot of the home automation stuff, they were just too early.
Leo: As they did with tablet, computing…
Christina: Completely and timing is everything. Right now, the reason that I think Apple could succeed has less to do with the fact that their technology or even their approach is any different, but it’s because it’s the right time. The stuff has gotten easy enough to use and it’s affordable enough that it’s the right time. I also think that Apple, but making it clear that all the devices that are Home Kit enabled can talk to one another and can see one another is something that the other platforms that are trying to bring everything under one roof have not done. For instance, if you change the name of a device and it’s connected to Home Kit, every other device in your system will see that the name is changed so that it’s not going to display, let’s say you have living room 1 and you change it to basement, that basement will show up across things, anything having to update. And those are the sorts of details, especially when it comes to trying to do more complex setups, that I think are really important. Apple brings to it a kind of more humanized approach to making things work together so that your mom can use it. But I think the timing is probably the biggest reason they will probably be successful, at least at getting people to sign up. Again execution is everything. If it doesn’t work correctly, then who cares? But I think that the timing right now, and the fact that they have such a good name when it comes to adopt things, especially early adopters, will probably bode well for them, at least in getting all the major players to sign up and agree to (maybe not at the expense of others) add Home Kit support into their devices and software.
Leo: I would buy an iPhone 6 if they would make it a bigger screen and talk to all my devices.
Ed: And it ran Android.
Leo: And it ran Android. You took the words right out of my mouth Ed Bott. We’re going to take a break. We’ve got a lot more to talk about. Are there any other announcements that Apple made this week that I have overlooked?
Leo: New programming language. Oh, everybody’s got a new programming languages, big deal.
Ed: This one just cracks me up. I think it’s great that they’re doing it, and I am completely understanding of and supportive of the reasons for doing it, but I will tell you what; if Redmond had done the same thing, the machine gun fire would have been relentless.
Leo: But didn’t Redmond do the same thing with C#. Isn’t that essentially the same thing C# did was take the old C (unknown) out of the language and make it more modern and more secure? Isn’t that what C# was doing?
Ed: Yeah, basically, and took fire for it. But this is what you have to do. And what Apple has done is to say we’re introducing this new language and you should lean it now and start writing new programs in it now, but a year from now, a lot of the stuff that you’ve written will probably be deprecated because we’re still learning.
Leo: Did they say that?
Leo: That’s not good. Who would write a language that’s going to be deprecated?
Ed: No it’s not the language that’s going to be deprecated, it’s the calls. But that’s how languages have to evolve. You have to try them, and then when things don’t you fix them. I completely support Apple’s approach on this, but it is remarkably Microsoft like. In fact, one of the themes of WWDC that I saw was, Microsoft this year with Satya Nadella coming on board, it picked up the one Microsoft thing where the different divisions are not responsible for different products. They’re responsible for making sure all the technologies work together on all the products. And I thought, you could have just as easily put 1 Apple slide, with people saying this is no longer just for iOS, this is no longer just for OS10 and this is no longer just for this piece of hardware. And everything has to work together and everything in our frameworks and languages and even down to the chip level support is going to work together that way. And I think it’s funny how although the companies are as different as they could possibly be in a lot of ways, they’re converging on a lot of same ideas. Non Apple.
Leo: It’s the same business. And to be fair, Apple never had the inter (unknown) warfare that really hobbled Microsoft for quite a long time.
Christina: If you hadn’t had the DOJ thing, Microsoft would be in a different position than it is now. That made a lot of challenges. Correct if I’m wrong on this one Ed, one of the things I really like about Swift, and this is something that even though will aid, there are 2 reasons why they’re getting the response they’re getting and Microsoft is not. One, the number of developers who in enterprise who work with Apple stuff is almost non-existent. Whereas when Microsoft introduced C#, you have a much bigger contingent of active working developers who go, oh my God, you’ve just screwed up everything I’m going to do. But the second thing is, and this is what I think Apple has always been great about, and this goes back to when they switched from power PC to Intel, and it even goes into the carbon to cocoa transfers, is they make the things work together. So your Swift code will compile with and sit and work directly with objective C code. And they will be supporting objective C. It comes to a point where it’s so used minimally, if it ever comes to that point, that it won’t be used. So there’s not as much of a risk if you’re building a new app to say I want to go ahead and learn Swift because Swift can’t do everything objective C can do, but you can use the parts together. When C# came out, and again, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it could sit side by side in the editor and in the IDE and work alongside the C and even the VB stuff. It seemed like it was a completely new thing.
Ed: Right. Well different era, different customer base, and different even size of applications. The simplicity of the app model in the modern era is in favor of making a change like this.
Leo: I think Swift is interesting for other reasons too; it’s an attempt to make a language that…
Ed: That developers don’t hate.
Leo: But also it promotes secure programming, eliminates a lot of the constructs and the things that programmers do that get them in trouble. I love the playground. I think this is a smart move because it encourages young people who are learning to program to do it with Swift, so that can be a great way to grow a body of Swift developers. I downloaded over the weekend, somebody wrote Flappy Bird in Swift.
Christina: I love that. I personally learn languages by taking stuff apart and I was looking at it and was so impressed that they were able to do it so quickly, in less than a day. Swift had only been out for less than a day and there was already a Flappy Bird app.
Leo: It may say more about how simple Flappy Bird is than how good Swift is.
Christina: Isn’t that why it’s the perfect hello world app. It used to be tip calculators, and now it’s Flappy Bird. And I think that Flappy Bird works even better because you have this kind of visualness. But I think the guy who was responsible for Swift and Apple on his own blog, he said that one of the thing for playgrounds inspiration is an IDE, and it was originally kickstarter backed, called lighttable. Lighttable does the same sort of the instant preview thing. And it’s a great way to work with a language especially if you’re new to it, whether you’re a kid or an adult. Having that live preview thing is so good, and I think having it built in at the IDE level is just awesome. That’s something that really put them, Microsoft has always had good tools, Google not so much. But Apple has really stepped up the tool game to a tremendous degree. They’ve always had good interface tools, but some of their code stuff hasn’t been as good. And that was one of the things looking at Xcode6, they really, really stepped their game.
Leo: The company that did the Flappy Bird for Swift is called FullStack, they’re at fullstackedu.com. They’re going to do a Swift course. The reason they did that game of course, is the cornerstone of their…it’s using Sprite Kit. It actually shows how well the Apple technology works to do something stupid like Flappy Bird.
Ed: They’ve certainly got to the point where there are enough iOS developers, mostly iOS developers, so most of them are going to say we don’t have to use subjective C, that’s a win.
Leo: It’s a nice looking language, I liked it. I was impressed by it.
Christina: I was talking to a couple of current and former Microsoft people about Swift, and one guy worked in their mobile division for a long time, on iOS stuff, and he was really impressed. And one guy I talked to is basically a C# developer by day, used to actually work at Microsoft. And he said he’s willing to learn iOS for a long time but the barrier of entry of learning subjective C has kept him out. And looking at this, especially since the syntax, it’s most similar to Ruby and Rust, but it’s also similar to the way that C# works. And C# is a great language. He feels much better about going into iOS development. And that’s something he feels he can even take back to the decision makers and stakeholders at his company if they want to say hey, we need to build this. We need to work on iOS. He’s not going to get as much blowback because of Swift. So I think that there are a lot of reasons why it’s a good move. But I think one of the big ones, as Ed points out, there are a lot more iOS developers. But I also think that if you’re looking how do you get the next generation of developers or how do you convert core developers into coming to your platform, having a better language that is more approachable is certainly a great way of doing it.
Ed: Christina did you talk to anybody who had considered the future integration prospects of Xamarin and Swift?
Leo: Xamarin, we should explain, is the dot net clone, originally mono by Miguel Miguel de Icaza. A lot have speculated that Microsoft may by them, but that did not happen and I think that may not happen at this point. It has allowed cross platform dot net development.
Christina: You know I hadn’t, but I really don’t know a lot of people who work in Xamarin or mono, but I’ll actually reach back out and see if that changes anything.
Leo: That would be amazing.
Christina: That would be real interesting to see how that all worked because I’m sure that Xamarin will start incorporating Swift stuff.
Ed: Oh, they have to. That’s their whole reason for being, is to integrate different languages, so no matter which language you use, you can use the same frameworks and you wind up with code that is portable.
Leo: Currently the tagline on their site is create native iOS, Android, Mac and Windows apps in C#. Interesting to add Swift to that. Let’s take a break. There’s so much to talk about.
Ed: We got really geeky there.
Leo: Geeky is good. There’s nothing wrong with geeky. And we should say Visual Studio 14 is almost ready. The first test build just came out. I’ve got in a little argument because I like Xcode, and somebody said xCode is a horrible IDE. I said, well it sure beats Eclipse, which of course is what you use on Android. But I guess Visual Studio is probably the king of the hill on that. No argument there. Alright. Our show today brought to you by Gazelle. If you’ve got a new, or maybe a not so new iPhone or iPad or gadget that you want to get rid of, maybe you’re thinking of getting that new HTC One, oh is that a sweet new phone. Maybe you got a MotoX and you’re going to look for MotoX plus 1, go to gazelle.com now. You can get a quote for your old gadget, even before you stop using it. Those quotes are good for 30 days. It give you plenty of time to wait for the announcement, wait for the new Amazon phone, if that should come out. And you’ll get top dollar because I can tell you one thing, nothing in your closet, nothing in your pocket, nothing on your desk is gaining in value. All of this stuff depreciates rapidly. So get a quote on your old iPhone, get a quote on your old iPad or Moto phone, or maybe you’ve got a surface and you’d like to get the new one. At gazelle.com we’ll even buy broken iPhone and broken phones of all kinds and tablets. We’ll give you top dollar for it. Give you 30 days to take advantage of it. Once you’ve got all of your gadgets in there, you’ve got cash sitting in those drawers. Then you pull the pull the trigger, you check out and they will send you a box with prepaid postage, so you don’t have to pay the postage. They’ll turn it around fast and you’ll get a check, Paypal, or if you get an Amazon gift card you’ll get an extra 5%. Great for you to spend on Amazon. I always get the Amazon gift card. It’s totally risk free. Gazelle has paid now more than a hundred million dollars to over 700,000 customers. They really are great. They’ll wipe your data if you can’t wipe it yourself or if you forget to. They take care of that. Really they’re fine about that. I like Gazelle. I want you to try it. Those gadgets are not getting any more valuable and they’re definitely like cash just sitting in your drawers. That is not the way to do it. Get your Nexus 7 out, $67 That’s not bad considering the Nexus 7 was only $200 to begin with. Gazelle.com, the best way to sell your gadgets. Simple, fast and easy. Well if you were a 13 year old Ukrainian boy named Eugene Goostman, you might have taken this little thing called the Turing test. I love it that Bobby Llewellyn, who is a friend of this network, he plays Kryten the robot in Red Dwarf and does some great podcasts, was one of the judges in this. The 60th anniversary yesterday of Alan Turing’s death, was commemorated by the Royal Society in London with a Turing test. Now you all know the Turing test. The idea is if a computer can convince a human judge that it is a human itself, then it passes the Turing test. Alan Turing conceived of this in the 50s. I don’t think any computer has ever passed the Turing test, but maybe it was fitting that on the 60th anniversary of Turing’s death that Eugene Goostman fooled Robert Llewellyn and Lord Sharkey. Llewellyn tweeted, Turing test was amazing. Did 10 sessions of five minutes, two screens, one human one machine. I guessed correctly only four out of those 10 sessions. Clever little robot fellow.
Ed: it was a 33% success ratio for the robot.
Leo: Yeah but that's enough to technically pass the test. I don't know what it means in fact the AI researchers I talked to said it's a terrible test.
Ed: Eliza was able to fool some researchers
Leo: Yeah but not for very long.
Ed: Yeah not very many and not for very long but still the point is it's a question of degree.
Leo: Right, and this is I'm sure this chat bot is something like Eliza right? Unfortunately Princeton has got it running, but I guess so many people are pounding on Eugene that I haven't been able to get in, I was really trying to ask questions.
Ed: Leave Eugene alone.
Leo: The fictional Eugene has a father who is a gynecologist, he has a pet guinea pig. If you ask him about it he'll say things like, my mom is always shouting that this dirty pig is a pig any way in spite, it is a guinea pig and wants me to give it as a gift to anyone of my friends for their birthday. Now that sounds like a bot to me but remember he is supposed to be Ukrainian. He doesn't speak English very well. He was created in 2001 and he's been getting smarter since. In 2012 he fooled 29% of the judges, but I guess we can now say we have Eugene, the weirdest creature in the world and as soon as the Princeton site is back up you can bet I'm going to be there chatting with them.
Christina: So he's like a real world version of the robot in AI, Haley Joel Osment’s character in Steven Spielberg's…
Leo: Oh, wasn’t that sad. You know better than that though was Her. That was, I tell you it sounded just like Scarlett Johansson.
Ed: No spoilers yet.
Leo: Oh you haven't seen it?
Ed: No I haven't seen it.
Christina: It's so good.
Leo: It's so good.
Christina: It's so great. Get it on Xbox.
Leo: Yeah you can rent it now.
Christina: It's on Xbox as well or Microsoft’s movie store.
Leo: It's not free on Netflix yet. It won't be for years.
Ed: I'm willing to pay for it. I still pay for content.
Leo: The only thing depressing to me is that we'll all be wearing high water pants in the future.
Christina: Yeah the fashion is a little bit off but I love Spike Jones and I loved it. I thought that was one of the best representations of AI.
Leo: Yeah I'm a huge fan of Spike Jones. He hasn't made a bad movie and apparently Saturday Night Live did a parody of Her with the character they called Him. Let me see if I can find this because this sounds good.
Ed: So this will be good if actually a Saturday Night Live skit was funny.
Leo: Has it been a bad year? Here's the parody and if you watched the movie… you’ve got a got a guy that looks a little bit like Joaquin Phoenix. (Playing skit clip) This is very much like the movie. It's Jonah Hill. Pretty much this is Her. Maybe we should pause here and let the rest of you watch this at home in private. I like Jonah Hill.
Ed: The narcissism factor is spot on.
Leo: We have to leave Ed out of this, this this is just between me and film girl, do you think we will live in a world like that? I feel like that's just around the corner where an operating system actually sounds like a human.
Christina: Oh totally it's like every year we get closer and closer to Minority Report.
Leo: I don't care about waving around screens, I want Scarlett Johansson to talk to me on my computer.
Christina: Right which would be great yeah I would listen to Scarlett Johansson. I wouldn't listen to Sean Penn but I would like to have Scarlett Johansson.
Leo: But who would you…
Christina: Clooney because his voice, he's got a great voice and you could just tell that he's… maybe he'll settle down with the right girl. Maybe if she's French and something special, maybe he'll settle down. I would totally pick Clooney.
Leo: I suppose it’s supposed to be a cautionary tale because really these people get sucked in by their devices and spend a lot of time looking at their screens.
Christina: I was like are we not already there yet?
Ed: Yeah nobody in the viewership of this program…
Leo: No…hey if you missed anything on TWIT this week you missed some really good stuff but fortunately we've cut it all into a small bundle and you can digest easily right now. (Previous on TWIT clip played). That was a lot of fun having all of the Mac Break weekly hosts in studio on Monday for the WWDC announcement. But we’ve got a big week coming up. Mike Elgan of TNT has the story.
Mike Elgan: Coming up this week Bloomberg’ Next Big Thing Summit begins Monday June 9th in Sausalito, CA. E3 Expo starts Tuesday June 10th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. And Samsung is holding an event in New York City on Thursday June 12th called Galaxy Premiere 2014. We’re expecting some new Galaxy tablets. Back to you Leo.
Leo: Thank you Mike Elgan. This has been a crazy month. Starts with WWDC, Samsung, there’s some Amazon thing coming up on the 18th, and of course there’s Google IO. Google will get to put the period on this. I imagine Google will respond in some way, not directly to what Apple announced. Any thoughts on Google IO coming up?
Christina: I want to see more wearables. I’m expecting to see the official unveiling of the first 2 Android wear…
Leo: Do you think we’ll see Moto360?
Christina: I think we’ll see that in the G Watch.
Leo: That would be cool. So what is this thing Amazon is announcing on June 18th? I think it’s their 3D phone that was rumored earlier this year.
Ed: Sounds about right.
Leo: But why?
Christina: It’s weird and I don’t even think press invites have gone out. It’s one of those weird things where they have a signup or something.
Leo: They do. Anybody can get an invitation.
Ed: You’re right. If you want to go, sign up.
Leo: Look, it’s on the front page of Amazon.com. Want an invite to our new unveiling? Everyone is the press now. Do you think they’ll just eschew press invitations? They do give you the chance to create your own video saying why you should go. Let me show you the video though that they attached.
Ed: Will you freeze frame it at the spot where they accidentally show the thing?
Leo: Yes, I will. (Showing Amazon clip).
Christina: Glasses free 3D?
Leo: You think that’s what it is? Here come the glasses. If you zoom in, center, enhance, zoom, you can see something that definitely looks like a phone. It’s too small to be a tablet. That probably a phone.
Christina: You can see the back plate of it on the signup sheet.
Ed: Business Insider did a freeze frame of that same video where they had cut down to that woman and you could see the top of the thing she was holding in her hand which was clearly a smartphone.
Leo: Yeah: Why would I want a glasses free 3D smartphone?
Christina: I don’t know? It’s better than having to have glasses.
Leo: We’ve seen 3D phones before.
Christina: Right, but you had to use glasses with the LG one. Still, 3D is weird. I don’t get it. It makes it easier to touch things…I don’t get it.
Ed: Christina, that’s because you’re old.
Christina: Absolutely. I’m feeling my age now because I don’t get it. But I don’t really get 3D. In the movie theater I do, but…
Leo: You kids, you watch everything in 3D. I don’t understand it...2D was good enough for me and my kids. (Mocking)
Christina: If it had holograms…
Leo: Aren’t we going for more immersive. If we could get more immersive, look at the Occulus Rift. If we could get more immersive like you’re really there, ok. But this is a phone. To me I’m surprised Amazon is not pushing other things like they could make this very low cost or even free.
Ed: Well they’re not pushing anything yet Leo, this is a teaser video. There’s no content in it. You won’t know until you get there on the 18th what it is. All you’re doing is going on rumor sites.
Leo: I’m not even going on rumor sites. All I see is people going like this (tilts head) with their heads.
Ed: Now the funny thing is, watch that video with the sound off.
Leo: Then they really look dorky right. (Replays video with no sound).
Ed: They’re all looking down at something.
All mocking together.
Ed: Now I have to confess, it’s Joanna Stern who was the one who suggested that and Joanna deserves all the props for that.
Leo: What could Amazon do in the phone business that could make it compelling. Look, there’s a lot of competition.
Ed: They’ve got tablets, they have an amazing ecosystem and phones are the essential part of a mobile experience so they need to be there with a Kindle Fire phone. So their thing has also been, we’ll do Android without Google.
Leo: Right. It is Android with no Google.
Ed: And our store is big enough for people to put apps there.
Christina: I understand why the Kindle Fire tablets make sense and why Kindle Fire TV makes sense, at least in the US. Amazon’s content ecosystem is arguably more powerful and easier to use than Google’s when it comes to things like music and movies and books. And that works great on a tablet or on Fire TV, but on a phone you need email, you need a web browser, you need search, and they don’t really do those things and they don’t do them that well on the Kindle Fire.
Leo: Well they have the Silk browser.
Christina: Yeah, but it’s terrible. They can’t put the Gmail app in there and that’s what a lot of people want for their phone, so what’s the benefit of getting a Fire Phone?
Leo: Is Android without Google’s services as compelling?
Christina: I would say on a tablet it’s fine, but on a phone I need my Gmail.
Leo: I like my Kindle Fire.
Christina: I love my Kindle Fire, but I don’t know if I want to use a phone where I don’t have the Chrome browser, especially if it’s Android based, and if I don’t have the Gmail app. That’s sort of the whole reason you put up with the overall crummy Android experience because of the Google services are so good.
Leo: I am glad that there’s somebody like Amazon out there that can challenge the incumbents and create. We’ll cover it June 18th. They haven’t announced the time, so I don’t know how we’ll cover it. It may overlap with some of our other shows. We do a lot of shows on Wednesday. Assuming it is in the morning we’ll be able to cover it on Tech News Tonight.
Ed: It will be 5 am so they’ll be able to get it to you with a drone the same day.
Christina: I was going to say the drone has to be part of this. Maybe it’s like remote control if you’re a drone that’s in 3D with Cheshire based stuff.
Leo: Speculate on, will it be carrier independent? Will it be unlocked? Will they have carrier deals? When will it be available? How much will it cost?
Christina: If they don’t have carrier deals they’re in trouble.
Leo: Ok. Because you have to sell it subsidized. People don’t put in SIM chips.
Christina: No they don’t. The lack of success of the Nexus smartphones proves you need to have carrier support. You need to have them in the stores. And they have a really good retail presence already with the Kindle stuff so I don’t think that would be hard. Price…they’re willing to subsidize stuff pretty low.
Leo: Jeff has always said we make money when you use it, not when you buy it.
Ed: If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you’ll get an amazing price I would expect. And one piece of speculation that I heard, I wish I knew who to credit on this, but I can’t so remind me someone, someone speculated that perhaps they’ll figure out a way to deliver free 4G or LTE data to it, an amount that’s big enough. That’s not unheard of.
Leo: You can get 200MB now on many of devices.
Ed: Yeah, the original Kindle had whispernet, and I think the original deal was with Sprint or T-Mobile.
Christina: Sprint and now it’s AT&T I think.
Ed: So it’s entirely possible they could be bulk buying some data packages from a provider and make that part of the thing so that you have an entertainment device that’s also capable of doing communication of sorts, but I don’t know. I’m as curious and skeptical as anybody on what this is going to be.
Leo: With Fire TV they didn’t really put any differentiators in it. It plays games which is one differentiator, but it’s basically like a Roku or anything else, right?
Christina: Yeah, but it plays games. That’s the big differentiator and it has the voice search. That’s the other thing. The voice search is really good. Those are the 2 things. I’m with Ed, I’m very curious, but I don’t quite understand. But I’m a huge Amazon fan so I don’t want to write off the idea that an Amazon phone couldn’t be compelling, I just don’t see the use case right now, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t because they have surprised me in the past.
Leo: If they’re selling a phone, there may be one fewer carrier to subsidize it. Bloomberg is reporting that the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile is imminent. The company will be renamed Softbank USA. Softback owns Sprint and that T-Mobile CEO John Legere will run the newly merged company.
Christina: Good. He’s amazing.
Leo: He’s the bright spot at T-Mobile. He’s turned that company around and you could argue that Dan Hesse at Sprint has done the opposite.
Christina: Dan Hesse is awful.
Leo: Don’t mince words there Christina.
Christina: Well, I’m sorry, his commercials alone…what’s interesting I think is that Softbank will be buying T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom and then keeping the 2 divisions run separately to prevent antitrust things, which makes sense, then maybe at one point merge them. But John Legere, the T-Mobile CEO, he is my favorite CEO right now. I love him so much. He doesn’t mince words. His public appearances are always fantastic. He’s always witty. And they’ve made some really, really good moves that have brought the company back. The only thing they are missing is a really compelling network. They are still just in little pockets which hurts them.
Leo: Would they have to unify networks for this to make sense?
Christina: Yeah, but they could maybe do that by doing share. Sprint used to do a lot of MVNOs with Metro PCS used the Sprint network and T-Mobile bought them. It’s possible that they could maybe expand into spectrum sharing deals, even though they’re 2 separate companies with 2 separate books. Maybe they could use the same space.
Ed: That’s so (unknown).
Leo: But you’ve got to get it past regulatory approval.
Christina: If the FTC is not going to approve it, and the FTC and the FCC for that matter, would face challenges, is because Sprint wanted to buy T-Mobile when AT&T bid, and so they got (unknown) that they got outbid, and so they used the fact that we need 4 carries, 3 carries is not enough. That was the cornerstone of their argument to prevent that deal from going through. So how do you then argue a few years later that, no really 3 carries is fine it just wasn’t ok when it was the other guy who outbid us.
Ed: I think that argument is pretty easy actually, because in every other aspect of our modern tech life we’re down to 1 or 2 choices for everything, so 3 is like….three??!! Ok, we’re happy to have 3. And actually when AT&T, when you’re dealing with a duopoly of AT&T and Verizon who basically are carving up the market as they wish…
Leo: Like Time Warner and Comcast.
Christina: Both of them are former AT&T subsidiaries which is the funny thing. They were both Baby Bells. Bell Atlantic and Bell South which then became Cingular.
Ed: So, I’m trying to remember my high school biology, does this make meiosis? Are all of the cells all coming back together?
Christina: Exactly. I really think that’s what AT&T, through whatever name you can mention you want to use, has been trying to do since deregulation hit, they’ve been trying to do everything they can to come back together, and they’re almost there. So I’m with you. I see the argument for 3, I’m just saying I think it presents political challenges when you’ve spent so much time and effort lobbying for 4. Especially if you’re a foreign company like Softbank, but at least they’re Japanese and not Chinese, right?
Leo: It’s a little different though than AT&T trying to buy T-Mobile which regulators put the Kibosh on in 2011 because you’ve got the 2 weak parties and they can make the argument, both Sprint and T-Mobile, you need to let us merge because we both can’t succeed.
Christina: I think that’s very fair, and Deutsche Telekom has been trying to get rid of T-Mobile basically for almost, I don’t even know how long, they actively were trying to unload them.
Leo: They have another problem. One was CDMA one is GSM.
Christina: But that’s not as big of problem as you would think. It’s really about the spectrum buys because Sprint after WiMax crashed and burned, thank you Dan Hesse, and was a colossal failure, they shifted to LTE.
Leo: If everything is LTE then it doesn’t matter.
Christina: More than that, T-Mobile got a lot of AT&Ts spectrum.
Leo: 6 billion dollars in cancellation fees from AT&T including spectrum.
Christina: Right. They got that plus they got access to some of AT&Ts LTE spectrum blocks so they’re actually running close to the same frequencies. So if you look at that as everything goes LTE, that’s not going to be as big of a problem. The problem of course is actually Sprint has the smallest LTE blanket of anybody so they still have to rely on CDMA. That wouldn’t mean you couldn’t sell new phones that only worked in LTE, maybe in specific markets. Maybe you don’t sell it everywhere but if it’s a market that has LTE access you can do it and then it would backbone to whatever T-Mobile’s GSM offering is, which is pretty robust. It’s slow, but it’s robust.
Ed: This is Masayoshi Son.
Leo: We knew him well at Zdnet.
Ed: All of us old guys, we’ve all worked for Son San. He has 500 year plans.
Leo: Let me also point out that he announced just last week that they are making emotional robots and Softbank said they will go on sale in February for under $2000. Pepper is its name and the robots will be staffing stores, as well as watching your baby. Son San is a piece of work.
Christina: It’s amazing. I want Pepper. I still have an Aibo.
Ed: I need a Turing test for that.
Leo: You want to meet Pepper? Here you go. Here’s Pepper (Pepper video clip). Humorous, nonsensical comments. Pepper is 4 feet tall, 62 pounds. Tablet style display on its chest and apparently he speaks Japanese. 12 hours batter life.
Christina: I wonder if they named it after Pepper on the Iron Man movies. That would be funny. Tony Stark’s assistant. But I want one. If it’s under $2000, I’m totally getting one.
Leo: I bought that stupid Segway that rolls your iPad around for $2500.
Christina: I was in college when I bought an Aibo.
Ed: Does it include the iPad? If it includes the iPad you could actually make a case for it.
Leo: It’s not an iPad, it’s 16:9. I think it’s something else. A tablet like display.
Ed: It’s obviously not a Surface Pro 3 either.
Christina: It’s a Surface RT; I’m joking, I’m saying they couldn’t get rid of all those.
Ed: They were able to get an incredible deal on them…right next to the Atari dig…the Surface RT dig.
Leo: You get a free E.T. cartridge with every robot, it’s a great thing. Our show brought to you buy Stamps.com. I drove by the post office the other day and I waved as I drove by. In Petaluma it’s a beautiful, old edifice and I have a really strong feeling of affection for the mail carrier, for the post office. When I was a kid it always meant something good was coming in the mail. But as you get a business and you start doing mailing in your business, whether it’s bills or flyers or fulfillment, maybe you sell on Etsy or Amazon, the post office kind of becomes this nightmare in your eyes. Somewhere you’ve got to go, you’ve got to buy stamps, you’ve got to stand behind the little old lady who is mailing 18 packages to her grandchildren. It’s just not fun anymore. Fortunately stamps.com lets you do anything you would do at the post office right from your desk, right at work, 24/7. Full time on demand access. Not just postage. And yes you can print your own official U.S. postage from your own printer, your computer. You don’t need anything special. No postage meter, no special inks. But it’s a whole lot more. Stamps.com will take addresses from your address book, from your QuickBooks, from your Etsy site or your Amazon or ebay site, automatically fill them in. It will fill in the international mailing forms. It gets you discounts on all kinds of mail that you just can’t even get at the post office. It’s really all about doing the fulfillment. They even have a USB scale and I’m going to show you how you can get that for free, that will allow you to fully automate it so you’re always paying exactly the right amount. Even when the postage changes, it just happens on stamps.com. And then then the mail carrier comes. In fact there’s even a button on stamp.com’s interface that says get the mail carrier out here. So even if you miss the first pick up, you can schedule another one free. Stamps.com, you even get discounted package insurance, all with one click. I want you to try it. Go to stamps.com. If you do mailing in your business, just go to stamps.com. There’s a little special thing I want you to do. You might go to the front page and see a good deal, but I want you to click the radio microphone in the upper right hand corner because we’ve got an even better deal. Use the offer code TWIT, and you get a $110 bonus value. You get $55 in postage coupons. Free postage over the first few months of your account. You get the digital scale for free, you just pay shipping and handling on that, it’s $5. They’ll make it up to you with a $5 supply kit. And of course you get a 4 week free trial of stamps.com. A $110 value. Visit stamps.com. Click the radio microphone. Use the offer code TWIT. If you are still going to the post office, stop. The anniversary of Tetris. 30 years ago today. Surely Christina, you did not play Tetris when you were 5 years old.
Christina: No, I got a Gameboy. So I was only like 1 when the game was released, but I got a Gameboy when I was 7, and I used to play Tetris on it so much that I would dream in Tetri.
Leo: That’s it. You won.
Christina: Apparently though that’s actually not uncommon. There’s a phenomenon that they named after Tetris, where people plays these types of games that they see the pieces in their thought.
Leo: You see blocks, yeah.
Christina: And you dream about it, and that would happen. I loved Tetris so much. If I have to think about 1 game or 1 puzzle game that I could play for the rest of my life, it would be that or Bejeweled, and I think Tetris would probably win.
Leo: Oh, I love Bejeweled too. It’s all patter matching right?
Leo: Tetris is available on every platform. Originally written by a guy from Russia; Alexey Pajitnov. I interviewed him when he first come to the United States. His English was very poor, he had a very thick Russian accent. I said, Alexey, what did you get paid for the rights to distribute Tetris in the United States? And he said they gave me an IBM PC. And I said that’s it? Yes, and I was very happy. In Moscow, in the Soviet Union in 1984, an IBM PC was like solid gold. By 1988, Tetris was everywhere. I really like Alexey. He really was an interesting guy, a really sweet guy. And he never did really make a huge amount of money off of Tetris, but he did create an amazing thing. In fact, eventually the Soviet Union took over Tetris. Seriously. They’re the ones Atari paid for the rights.
Christina: Right. Atari paid and then it had to bury those cartridges in the desert. The Tengen version of Tetris for NES was ruled illegal, wasn’t officially licensed. The Soviet Union licensed it to someone from Tandy, then the Tandy developer sublicensed to someone from Atari. They made the console version, but Nintendo had licensed it directly from whoever was running the licensing stuff. So Nintendo won. It was this huge court battle. It went on for a couple of years. Atari had to scrap the whole thing. Those cartridges, if you can find one, there are very few that are out in the wild, are worth a tremendous amount of money. I spoke with a guy who runs Tetris Holdings, which is the company that does all the licensing, and the different gyrations, both because of the Soviet Union at the time, and also the fact that it was a burgeoning home computer and console market at the time, there should be, and there isn’t, there should be a book just on all the weird licensing stuff that’s happened with Tetris. It’s fascinating. EA owns the game and publishes it.
Leo: And by the way does a crap job of it.
Christina: They do, but tetris.com and tetrisfriends.com are the ones that Alexey and this other guy still maintain control over. And you can actually play the Gameboy version of Tetris complete with the music and in black and white in like a little flash thing at tetrisfriends.com which is always fun.
Leo: That’s awesome. There’s a lot of ads and stuff, but you can play it and that’s the key. I love it. In fact, there’s a Gazelle ad and an Xfinity ad. They knew it was me, they’ve been following me.
Ed: Those are personalized ads.
Christina: Thanks Google.
Leo: What’s your highest score, do you remember?
Christina: I’ve scored over a million several times. Over 10 million because you get like a really huge rocket after you get to a certain level, but I’ve wasted so many hours of my youth and not so much youth playing this game.
Leo: I’ve played the Spectrum HoloByte version a lot. It had great music and backgrounds.
Christina: That was the definitive PC version I think. I must have played it on the Gameboy. And in fact until they stopped making versions of the Gameboy that would accept the original 8 bit cartridges, I think it was the Gameboy advance SP was the last one, I still have that in the original Tetris cartridge somewhere in my apartment that 20 something years after I first got that game for Christmas, I still play it sometimes.
Leo: I’m actually glad you’re here because maybe you can identify this picture; Steve Wozniak and his wife Janet, playing Tetris head to head. What are those devices? Are those Gameboy colors?
Christina: Those are the original Gameboy that they released, some that were in colors, so you could get it in green or clear. And that cable is the Gameboy link cable which wasn’t used for many games until Pokemon. Pokemon made it very popular. It would plug into the side of the Gameboy. Those are 2 full size Gameboys that are in see through. They might be the Gameboy colors. I can’t tell from the size of the device, but I know exactly what that is.
Leo: It was Woz and his wife Janet, who I love dearly, were waiting for the bus; this was a couple of years ago, we were on a cruise in South America and they whipped out their Gameboys and they played head to head Tetris.
Christina: The fact that they go around with 2 of those and the link cable, that’s so cool. Honestly, this is why we love you Woz. That’s why Woz is like the ultimate nerd and we all love him so much. We shouldn’t listen to any of his predictions about Apple ever because…no. But he’s the every geek. He’s one of us.
Ed: He and his wife were both wearing iWatches.
Leo: They’re wearing iPod Nano watches.
Christina: Those are probably the Tech Talks or the Lunatic I guess.
Leo: And on his left hand he’s wearing his Nixie watch that has Nixie tubes that show the time. Nerd, geek heaven.
Ed: It makes me feel so normal.
Leo: Can I say, Christina Warren, you’ve earned incredible geek cred that you were able to immediately identify the hardware that they were using and we are just so thrilled, we love having you on the show. Thank you for being here. Christina writes for Mashable, @film_girl on Twitter, and always a pleasure to have you on the show, thank you for being here. I’m so glad the internet worked today.
Christina: Yes, I’m so glad it didn’t fail and I’m so glad to be on with my Twitter pal Ed.
Leo: You know what, this was fun. We should do this more often. This was a lot of fun. Maybe every Sunday, I don’t know. Ed Bott writes for Zdnet. You can find his great columns there. Occasionally he’’’ appear on our Windows Weekly show, or around here and there. An old friend and a new friend, but I think you guys are the greatest. Thank you so much for being here.
Ed: Thank you Leo. And thank you Christina, it was fun.
Leo: It was really fun. She’s such a geek.
Christina: I am.
Leo: You’re just a fountain of knowledge. We do TWIT every Sunday afternoon, 3 pm Pacific, 6 pm Eastern time, 2200UTC if you want to join us live. The chat room and your live participation always makes it a lot more fun for me so I love it if you can, but if not, don’t worry. We’ve got On Demand audio and video available at TWIT.tv and wherever you get your net casts; iTunes, Xbox music, the podcast apps on your phone or your desktop. And of course if you have the TWIT apps; we don’t write any of them but our third party developers do a great job on iOS, on Android, on Windows phone, that’s another great way to get every episode. Don’t miss an episode each and every week of This Week in Tech. Thanks to our producer Chad Johnson who put together a fabulous lineup of stories that we didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of. There’s so much more we could talk about. Thank you Chad. But we’ll just have to do that another day. Thanks for joining us, we’ll see you next time! Another TWIT is in the can. Thank you everybody.