This Week in Tech 474 (Transcripts)
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech. Om Malik joins, Dan Patterson, Jilly Duffy from PC Magazine; obviously we are going talk a little bit about what happened this week at IFA, the new Samsung devices, the new Sony devices, and the new Motorola devices. But really all anybody really cares about is what is Apple going to do on Tuesday? We will talk about that, too. It's all next on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 474, recorded September 7, 2014
I'm Too Sexy for My iWatch
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news. Really we are going to be covering the week ahead's tech news somewhat today. This had been a big week in Berlin with the IFA Conference, and some big announcements, and of course Apple gets to steal the limelight on Tuesday. Let's introduce our panelists starting to my left; Jill Duffy is here. Great to have you back once again Jill. It's been a while.
Jill Duffy: It has. I'm glad to be back.
Leo: Where are you? You are in a beautiful spot here. Is this your office?
Jill: This is PC Mag's office in New York. We are over between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue over in the Flat Iron area.
Leo: Love it, gorgeous. Just down the hall from you actually is Dan Patterson. Hi Dan.
Dan Patterson: Hey, what's going on? Hi Jill.
Leo: Good to see you. We actually had to break them up. They were in the same building and we had to separate them. By the way Jill, I'm sorry about the pictures I have been seeing on the internet of you. I don't know how this happened. I'm sure that you are chagrined. Can you show this Chad? This is a shocking dereliction of duty from iCloud, and I think you should sue Apple. I love that picture.
Jill: That's an old one. My sister took that.
Leo: That's fun. I wasn't searching for pictures of you, honest. Here he is, Om Malik ladies and gentlemen; the guy in charge of Gigaom, one of the world’s best bloggers, and always a great guy to have on the TWiT. It's good to see you Om.
Om Malik: It's good to see you.
Leo: You are hard to get in the summer because you travel a lot in the summer, which is great.
Om: I travel all the time. I love traveling.
Leo: Well, we are thrilled that we can get you on. Intentionally last week I did not talk about the Fappening, the release of scandalous pictures of well-known celebrities. It was breaking news last Sunday, and frankly I didn't want to publicize it in any way. At this point I don't think there is any way that anyone doesn't know about it. I think there is a tech angle, believe it or not, to this. That is the security of the Cloud. Apple especially has to be thinking very hard about this because Tuesday Tim Cook is going to take the stage and it going to tell everybody you should let Apple store all of your photos. That is one of the new features of OIS 8. And we think that you should let Apple contain all of your credit cards and use your phone to make your payments. Apples' stock tanked a little bit on Friday. I'm wondering if Apple has a PR problem and how they are going to deal with it. Jill, what do you think?
Jill: Well, first of all, I think that the very targeted hacking of celebrity photos should be treated as the criminal activity that is.
Leo: Absolutely. Nobody denies that.
Jill: Just horrendous stuff. I think that the average user needs to keep in mind that their own personal, private photos are probably safe. They might have some embarrassing photos but they are not going to lead to a hacker making money off of them or any kind of big headlines. Somebody who is not a big celebrity is probably not going to be a target. I think that is something that needs to be said just as people freak out about this. The other thing is that, you know, digital content is easy to collect, it's easy to find, and it's easy to repurpose and reprint. So anytime you have a digital asset you always have to remember that it can be republished, reprinted, reproduced. That said, I think that in terms of our credit cards and our payment systems we do have fairly secure ways of handling that. I think that there are lots of other bodies that provide checks and balances and make sure that we are handling it in a secure and appropriate way. I don't know if Apple is really going to have a PR problem. The reason is that anytime there's a big leak, or hack, or big breach, people worry about it and then they don't change their behavior. If people were genuinely worried they would have changed their behavior by now. But they don't, and they haven't, right? So I think this is all going to kind of blow over. I don't think that it necessarily should. But I think that it is going to blow over and that people are going to look the other way.
Leo: Well, it's interesting, because the same week Home Depot had a big data breach. About 64% of Home Depots' transactions are through credit cards. I think it's the same flaw that we have seen in other point of sale systems. People aren't really talking about that because there are no nude photos involved. So I do think that yes, you are right, these data breaches happen all the time, but this, for pretty obvious reasons, has captured peoples' attention. I think it is a little bit of a PR danger for Apple. Om, do you agree?
Om: I think there is an element of the PR danger, but the reality is that we live in a world where all of these companies, whether it's Apple, Target, Home Depot; every time a breach like this happens it is a breach of trust on their part. We give them our information because as average human beings you think that they are going to take care of it and they don't, right? Even though they say they are taking good care of security they don't. The reality is that I am more worried about what is happening with Target, and Home Depot, and all of these organizations which are leaking our personal information pretty much every day. It's not just the credit cards. They have a lot more other personal information. Target wants people to give them their driver’s licenses so that they can make sure that their identity is right when somebody uses a credit card. I mean they want a copy of your driver’s license and I was like, you couldn't protect my credit card information, you want this?
Dan: To that end Apple can also use that as a selling point and say, look, you don't have to trust Target and Home Depot, these amateurs. Trust us. I mean this iCloud hack, we should also say this alleged hack, was not so much a hack as it was a fishing expedition. So if anyone is venerable, then every Cloud vendor is vulnerable on their brand equity. I think that Apple can really turn this around, and use it as a selling point, and say, look, we understand security, we understand NFC, and we understand payments and processing. Trust us, don't trust Target.
Om: I would have liked to see Apple to be more sincere in its apology in the whole episode. I think what you are seeing right now is that in the past we used to have break ins and robberies. People would break into your house and take your things. Now we see the same thing happening at the network scale on our digital lives. I think we have these break ins, and I think there is no protection. The people who are actually supposed to protect us have no idea what they are doing. I definitely believe that they should be talking about two-factor security. They should be talking about brute force security. But they don't. They wait for something crazy to happen, and then they try to force people into action. I think that is where there is room for improvement. I'm not just saying Apple; it goes across every single company whether it's a tech company or a non tech company.
Leo: I think Apple has an opportunity here but it's going to take some very careful parceling of language. Tim Cook already took to the Wall Street Journal. This is Apples' kind of "house organ". When they want to tell people something they call, hey, ah, can we give you an interview? He said, in effect, he didn't quite apologize, but he came as close as you can. He says, "When I step back from this terrible scenario that happened and say what more could we have done I think about the awareness piece. I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up." That's not really an engineering thing. There's definitely some culpability on Apples' part. Christina Warren was on last week, who's wonderful on Mashable, did the obvious thing. She bought the Elcomsoft Password Cracker, cracked her own iCloud account, and even though she had the two-factor turned on was able to download her iCloud backup without a warning from Apple. This was after this all happened; that's still the case. Even though Apple has two-factor you don't need it to restore a backup. By the way, Johnathan Shadarski, one of the security guys who has been critical of Apple in the past, looked at the data that had been downloaded and felt pretty conclusively that it was in most cases iCloud backups that the hackers got. That's why there was video as well as the photos. Some of the file names and folder names were typical of an iCloud backup restore. That would make a lot of sense. It also raises the issue of even though all you see is pictures, if someone got my iCloud backup or your iCloud backup they have got a lot more than pictures, they've got everything. So that could actually be even more severe than just the privacy invasion. I feel like, though, that Apple does have an opportunity. They could step forward and say, okay, we, more than any company around cares. I can tell you all of the things that we have done, but they still got in so we are going to do more. It's a real opportunity for Apple to step it up and make it a win. But I think that he can't ignore it. We shall see. This is very poor timing for Apple. They had planned a very big coming out party on Tuesday.
Dan: I think that one of the points that Jill was driving towards is very correct. Although this has happened we are also moving into an area where this is part of consumer expectation and understanding that you or someone you know will be hacked. Things will happen to you. The degree to which you have protected your information and what type of information it is will determine how many people, if anyone, cares. This is just going to happen.
Leo: Yeah, but that doesn't reassure anybody. Oh, don't worry; this is just business as usual on the internet.
Dan: This isn't my job.
Leo: But it is Apples' job. I feel like they've really got a challenge here. This is pretty poor timing for Apple I think. We are going to take a break. When we come back I want to talk about what happened this week because that's normally what we talk about. We will also talk about what's going on. There are some rumors leaking out that that big white structure being built next to Flint Center for Tuesday's Apple announcement is actually a fashion runway. I know that all week long Jill and Dan you are going to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City. You are very excited about the runway. Well we are going to have a runway at Cupertino. Yes for the new fashion statements from Apple. We will talk about that in a second. Our show today, brought to you by our friends at Citrix. Citrix GoToMeeting is the way we meet. We had a GoToMeeting the other day. In fact, anytime I have a conference call I just set up a GoToMeeting because it's really easy to create a meeting with GoToMeeting. I can do it right from my email. You automatically get an email inviting you to the meeting. The best thing about GoToMeeting is yes, it's a conference call. In fact, you don't even have to use a phone bridge even though they offer it; you could just use your iPad's microphone and speakers, or your phone's microphone and speakers, or your computer's microphone and speakers. But you can also turn that phone conference into an HD video conference using the camera on your devices. They look great, crystal clear HD video. At the same time you are sharing your screen so everybody is on the same page. It really is a multimedia extravaganza. It's the best way to meet. Use whatever part of it at any time you need it. That's why we always start a conference call with GoToMeeting. I've got every tool I need. You can even say to the person that you are presenting, okay, I'm going to let you take control. You show us your screen. So you can collaborate, you can present together in real time, you can present documents. See each other face to face. No more travel. I know Om that you are always on a plane. You could save some time, you just have a GoToMeeting. It's like being in person but you don't have to be. I want you to try it free right now for 30 days when you visit gotomeeting.com. Click that big orange "Try it Free" button. I guess it's kind of a red orange now. Start my 30 day free trial, but do use the offer code t-w-i-t so they know you saw it on TWiT and you will get that 30 days absolutely free. GoToMeeting the next time you have a meeting. I would like you to GoToMeeting, Citrix GoToMeeting. The offer code is TWIT. No trip to Berlin for you Mr. Malik? You like to travel, but you didn't want to go to IFA, huh?
Om: No. We have people there.
Leo: I know Gigaom does. I didn't hear much about IFA 10 years ago. It's been going on since 1924. Suddenly it's a huge event.
Om: I think more people are aware of more things because of the network, right?
Om: All of these things were not known a few years ago, and now they are. I think we have a society which is in transition. All of these things that we have previously ignored such as legislation, and jurisdiction, and all of those things are suddenly becoming part of conversation, and rightfully so, because internet always mimics our real lives. Why should we not be talking about all of these issues? I think that's why it has become a big issue.
Leo: It also is better timing from the point of view of manufacturers than the January CES because this 4th quarter is a big quarter if you are going to announce a new phone if you are Samsung or HTC. You don't think so? Everybody buys all year round now?
Om: They are all riding the coattails of Apple I think.
Leo: It's the week before the Apple announcement. That's what really matters.
Dan: That is what Apple does, right? They set an agenda.
Leo: Yeah, I think it is hysterical that Apple has never said they are doing a watch or a wearable of any kind but everybody is so sure that they are that every company now has a watch. I don't think it came out of nowhere, I think it came out of oh, Apple is doing one, and we’ve got to do one, right?
Dan: Pretty much.
Jill: Oh, I think it's the other way around.
Leo: You think they were going to do it anyway, Jill?
Jill: No, I think that a lot of other companies were doing it anyway, and Apple said let's see if it's going to be a trend that's taking any kind of hold. Then let's do one after we learn from other people's mistakes.
Leo: So you think that Apple has been wise in waiting?
Jill: I do, yeah. I think that they have been very wise. I was thinking about the announcements that came out at CES last year and the timing of product releases and launches. It's funny because so many of the new products that I saw at CES still aren't on the market. A lot of them are trying to come out in that November and December window so that they can have that big holiday push, but I think that a lot of them still aren't going to be ready for that. So it's funny especially with the onset of Kickstarter, and Indiegogo, and all of these crowdsourcing campaigns. You have a lot of companies that have an idea, they come up with a prototype, and release images of the product that they want to develop. Then you can have 2 or 3 years where no progress is made. So if that's what the small guys are doing, right? They are getting people excited; they are trying to get a little money and a little attention. Apple is just kind of quietly behind its closed curtains working on its stuff, and then when it reveals it says we are going to have a product ready, it's going to be ready in two weeks, here are all of the details of it, go. That's a very, very different, and I think more powerful, position to be in.
Leo: I think that if you wanted to look and see what people could do wrong we have many, many examples in the wearables space of things that just were bad ideas. So maybe Apple has saved a lot of money that way. We can eliminate glasses. Om, you wore Google Glass for a while didn't you?
Om: Yeah, for 20 minutes.
Leo: Yeah, that's about how long I wore it for.
Om: Then I got hit by a friend on my face and said that's not a good idea so I stopped. As somebody said, Google Glass is hazardous to your love life.
Leo: Well, if you are wearing them you are not going to have a love life.
Om: That's what I meant. Even the watches are like somewhat...
Leo: I think so too. Samsung announced a watch that is the most god awful; it looks like you are under home arrest. It is huge.
Om: Or the joint venture between Opening Ceremony and Intel? Did you see that example?
Leo: That's weird too. That's like jewelry, right?
Om: Yep. I would love a watch from a company that makes microprocessors. That is what I'm really looking for.
Leo: They call it a smart bracelet. It's like so silly that I can't even pay too much attention to it. So I don't know what kind of functionality it had. Was it like a smart watch? Did it even tell the time? It looked like it had stones on it. Things like that.
Om: I don't know. I look at all of these watches. I actually love watches. I wear watches all of the time.
Leo: That's why I'm asking you. You do, yes.
Om: I think, you know, that most of these are quite ugly, and they are pretty thick, you know. They are not elegant. They are trying to do too many things. Basically there are 3 issues with all of these smart watches. One is you have got to have a brick hardware which has to be thin and meet the expectations of the analog watches we have, number one. Number two, it's a UI expectation that we don't quite know what we need from a smart watch. At least in electronic devices we have known what we wanted from them. For instance, when iPod came out we knew exactly what we were looking for from the iPod so when we saw the device, the hardware and the software, which was the Apple software and the UI, it made perfect sense, and we wanted to own one of those. I think right now it's not very clear what these things are trying to do, what problem they are trying to solve. Hopefully we will have a better answer on Tuesday. Maybe Apple has a better answer for that. So far, what I have seen, I have not wanted to own a single one of them.
Dan: This is what I mean by agenda setting. As consumers we have an understanding of Apple as a company that has precisely targeted certain audiences with their audiences. Sometimes they flop like the big red stereo, the big boom box they had, but for the most part Apples' brand reputation is one of understanding what consumers want and how they want it. Everyone else can flood the market with a device that is kind of flailing and the cliché of a solution looking for a problem, but Apple, we trust, or at least we think, we have a guess that Apple really understands the problems that consumers have. Once they establish a product in that marketplace the rest of the companies will play me too, me too, me too with products that emulate that marketplace desire.
Leo: I kind of like Jill's notion that Apple, in this case, is sitting back, and waiting, and watching as everybody kind of throws themselves against the spheres trying ideas. I guess this Galaxy Gear S watch, which looks like an iPhone bent around your wrist is one of those things. Although I shouldn't poo poo it because this is one of the first watches that has its own phone built in. You don't need a phone with this watch except to update it. You can just use this to make phone calls. It's got 3g, so it has its own interface. It's a big watch, but on the other hand it does a lot of things. What lessons is Apple taking from these other failures? The Pebble is not a failure. I would say the Pebble has been very successful. I don't know why, but people seem to like the Pebble.
Jill: I think Pebble is probably the best known watch at this point, and has done a good job of creating an app market for itself. It's what, about 2 years old at this point?
Leo: Is it that old? Yeah, it was a Kickstarter Project. They raised at the time the most anybody had ever raised, millions of dollars to make it. It actually came out, which is kind of nice for a Kickstarter Project. At least 2 people I'm looking at are wearing them right in front of me right now. They are proudly raising their fist at everybody else. Is anybody wearing a smart watch? We have a pretty big audience here. Besides you, Chad, nobody. Nobody in the audience is wearing a smart watch. Wait a minute, you are in the back? Which one are you wearing? No, he says no I'm not. He's embarrassed.
Chad: No, he's just waving.
Leo: He's just waving. He says, "Hi, I'm back here”, nice to see you. I just feel like normal humans are not going to wear these silly things.
Om: That reminds me of the Rio, the MP3 player before iPod. You know, people loved them until the iPod.
Leo: Apple said here's what you do. And that's what Apple has done traditionally, you are right. I guess that's what your point was Jill, was that they waited and watched other crappy MP3 players. Then they said, no, this is how you do it. It's called an iPod. They watched other crappy smartphones. They said, no, this is how you do it. It's called an iPhone.
Dan: Let's not forget that Apple did dump a bunch of money into a company that makes other wearables, right? We will see the technology, which is really what will be interesting, right? Whether they do a watch or not or when they do a watch; that's less interesting than the technology that could potentially be going into this including a ton of wireless stuff, transfer stuff, and NFC. What's the one wearable that people do wear and give a damn about across demographics? Its headphones, its cans, and I can absolutely see something positioned the same type of technology that would be in a watch in a number of small wearable products. Not just one.
Leo: New York Times did a profile on Johnny Ive. I guess you could argue that this is the first admission by anybody that Apple is looking at watches. Johnny Ive said that "Switzerland should be worried". I don't know if Johnny really thinks that Switzerland makes most watches, but apparently. He says that Switzerland is in trouble.
Om: That's kind of a fodder reaching and over reaching statement.
Leo: I think so too.
Om: I'm sorry. It's like let's see what you got first before you start talking like that. I don't think that you can make a bold statement like that.
Leo: That's how Apple has been lately. They've been big talkers. Eddie Cue said earlier this year at the ReCode Conference, the Code Conference, "We've got the best product lifeline I've seen in 25 years." Apple has been trash talking of late, and I'm waiting for them to deliver.
Om: I don't think that its trash talking. It's like we've been saying, they have new products coming. But I do think that saying, you know, what he might have meant was that the Switzerland industry relies on the fact that people want to put a watch on the wrist and Apple will have a product that will take that up realistically. It may not be a watch. It may be something else. But they are going to occupy the real estate on your wrist which is where the watch industry gets challenges. I think that people buy watches for a whole different reason. They are not buying it to see time. That is pretty clear. So it will be interesting to see what will happen. I'm actually pretty excited about Tuesday because that will define in many ways the future of Apple whether they've got it or they are just full of empty words.
Leo: The latest thing is to fly a drone over things. This is the drone's eye view of the big white box that is being built right next to the Flint Center in Cupertino. The Flint Center is where Apple will make this announcement on Tuesday, and they have been constructing for some time this building, a fairly big building, it's almost as big as the center itself. The latest rumor is that there is a fashion runway, a fashion style catwalk. I am too sexy for my watch, too sexy for my watch. They will invite the journalists. Ill, Dan, Om; Om you have got to be going to the Apple event, right?
Om: I am going to the Apple event. By the way, you should stick to your day job. No singing for you.
Leo: But I am too sexy for my watch. I think it is exciting. I think you are going to see something pretty big. We are sending Renee Ritchie and Andy Ihnatko down there. We are sending a camera crew down there. We are hoping we can get some video with them after the announcement. We will be covering the announcement live starting at 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern on Tuesday. iJustine will be joining us; Sarah Lane, Mike Elgan, Alex Lindsey. We are putting a lot. Apples' events are always a big event for us, but I think this is the biggest event since the iPod announcement. It certainly has been a long time since Apple has entered a new category. The iPad in 2010 was the last time. We all agree that they are going to announce a wearable?
Leo: I think so. You won't be able to buy it probably not until next year. But they are going to announce it.
Om: I would settle for a big iPhone.
Leo: I would too, a 5.5 inch iPhone, we are expecting to see that, and a 4.7 inch iPhone, which doesn't sound big anymore, but is big for Apple. Jill, do you use an iPhone or are you an Android person?
Jill: I have both. I have both. It's funny, you know, you just said that Apple hasn't really come into a new category since 2010. I feel like that's really not that long ago.
Leo: Well, it's 4 years.
Jill: There is so much pressure on companies to come up with something new, new, new. People are so hungry for new stuff. Part of that makes me sad, because I want to get a little bit more life out of the existing technology that I have. I wish that were more of the trend that we would see devices that were made to last 10 years, or even 8 years. But they don't. How often do you replace a laptop? I ask people that all the time, and they tell me 2-3 years or as soon as they can write it off on their taxes. I think that there is a lot of pressure for Apple to come into a new category, to create new things, to create an iPhone that is simply a difference size with a smaller this and a faster that. But there is part of me that doesn't want to buy into all of that consumerism, and just wants a product that works for a long time, and looks good, and I'd be happy owning it for 5-6 years.
Leo: The chat room is saying, "Amen Jill! You sing it!" I think that a lot of consumers, a lot of real world people, do think that they stuff is moving too fast. It's Wall Street and investors who want new products all of the time, new categories because if you enter a new category and dominate it, you can really make new money. It's pretty clear, for instance, that iPad sales and tablet sales in general are tailing off because they have saturated the market.
Om: There is no reason to upgrade.
Leo: There isn't.
Om: Aman uses her iPad one, she is perfectly happy with it, and everything is great. Maybe the next time I go see her I will take a new one, but she doesn't need it. It just works. I have an iPad Air and I have an iPad Mini, which is the old iPad, not the new one.
Leo: However do you survive?
Om: I don't really need the new one. The iPad Air was just a gift.
Leo: I'm teasing. I'm teasing. By the way, that's killed the television industry. The Japanese television manufacturers are suffering, bleeding, and hemorrhaging money because everybody has a TV. They tried 3D hoping that you would say, oh I have got to have a new 3D TV, and nobody bought it. Now they are trying 4K. So you can see the pressure on the industry to come up with new stuff and you can also see the natural conservatism. I guess we have learned. We've gone through that gadget phase where we just got everything the minute it came out. Who can afford that?
Om: I do love one thing which Apple does. That is that they actually try to move the technology that we don't see, all of the underlying technology of phones, the cameras and the processors, they've pushed that forward. I think that is one aspect of tech that we don't quite appreciate as much because it is hidden from the naked eye. I think that is the kind of progress that we need more and more so that products become more useful and they last longer. If you look at some of the newer iPads they as a perfect replacement for your laptop the software hasn't quite caught up to that. But the power is there. That's the thing that they have done a really good job of. Now the software and the app people are thinking about how they can take advantage of that.
Leo: I want to see improved battery life. I'm dying there. Motorola also announced new phones this week, the successor to their successful Motorola G which was a very affordable and yet decent phone, and my favorite phone of the year, the Moto X, which didn't sell all that well. But I think that the new one might fix some of those problems. They also announced a Scarlett Johansson earbud, the Hint, that you can put in your ear and you can talk to it. I say Scarlett Johansson because it is very much like the earbud that he wore in "Her". They are not even saying the battery life on the Hint. They are saying that it comes in the container with 10 hours, or 3 charges. I'm gathering from that that it's got 3 hours of battery life. People are complaining that the Moto 360 that it won't make it through the day. Who wants a wrist watch that dies at 6 pm?
Jill: You know that I am all into the fitness wearables. It's really fun. I've been doing a lot of research lately about what's coming out in that market. The people who are developing those products are really forward thinking about how does it fit on your body, how can it last a long time? Because if you are running a marathon or you are on the field you are going to need something that will last. So I'm seeing a lot of new products that are coming out that have sensors built into things that we already wear. So you think about a watch as an accessory, but your clothing is something that you have to wear regardless. Shirts that have sensors embedded in them, then there is usually some kind of core or a pod that will attach to it. That's where the battery is. That's where the hub of all of the information. The sensors themselves are just built into the clothing, and there is a lot of conductive fabrics that have been made that are now needed and have been woven into athletic wear so that they are the sensors themselves. It's just a bit of thread essentially. So there are really neat ideas there too, like hats. So bicycle helmets now that have heart rate monitors built into them. LED and audio feedback is just built into the helmet so that you are not adding to something that you are already wearing. That's the kind of stuff that I think is still really in research phase. There are going to be a few products that are coming to market this year and next, but I think that is the more experimental stuff that I am personally more excited to see. How's it going to work? Are people interested in blending these things into their life instead? Having a piece that you pop into your exist watch on your wrist.
Leo: Do you think? Actually this just made me think that maybe Apple, maybe there is a fashion runway, and maybe that Apple, this would be a cool and surprising thing, doesn't just announce a watch, but a hub for a variety of things that you could put on your clothes, or your head, or your shoes?
Jill: Yeah, I think they would have had to acquire a company. That's usually the pattern. They file a patent or acquire a company that is already doing something like that. I don't think, to my knowledge, that Apple has done that.
Leo: That would be cool, though.
Jill: Yeah. So if they have a fashion store like an app store, right? They rely on other people to make these components.
Leo: But think of the fashion people that Apple has hired. Apple has gone out into the industry and hired everybody. Jay Blahnik and Angela Ahrendts, they have gone out and found these people who are the leaders in these areas. Couldn't they have a skunkworks that nobody knows about that have been working on this for 5 years and here it is?
Jill: That would be exciting.
Leo: I'm fantasizing. I'm just fantasizing. One thing we do think they are doing is talking with American Express, Nordstrom, and other credit card makers, to put mobile payments into the iPhone 6. That would make sense if they are indeed putting an NFC chip in it, something Apple has avoided for a long time. Again, this is going to be something they are going to need to convince people that we are safe. It's safe to use your iPhone as your wallet. Touch ID will help. Fingerprinting system will help. Do you think that is where Apple is headed, a payment system? They've had Passbook for a few generations and haven't really capitalized on it. It's just something that you put your boarding pass in. Now you can really use it as a wallet. Is that what they are going to do Om?
Om: You know, I wouldn't be surprised by that. It would be somewhat of a similar approach to what they have taken with the HealthKit; set up API's that they are working with other companies and developers to use. I think they will do a similar approach to payments as well. I think they have an opportunity to do that, and it will be pretty awesome if they can figure out a way to do seamless mobile payments. My guess is that it could be more in the OS layer which will allow other people to get in.
Leo: Third party companies, just like HealthKit, to add things to plug into it. Yeah, yeah, that's just how Passbook works now. If you want Delta's boarding pass in your Passbook you have to download the Delta app and then it will see Passbook and automatically use it.
Om: Passbook to me is still a work in progress.
Leo: No kidding.
Om: They probably will do a better job this time around with the payment stuff. That would actually be nice if they were able to do that.
Leo: One thing people always say when I bring this up is that Apple has a billion credit cards or whatever it is. All the people who have Apple accounts have stored their credit cards with Apple. That is not an insurmountable barrier to somebody else. Anybody can get people to enter credit card numbers. The fact that you have them now does not necessarily give you a big advantage. Or does it?
Dan: I'm willing to bet that Apple has all kinds of metrics that can prove their credit card users are more valuable, and more active, and do spend a lot of money. I wouldn't underestimate the value of Apples' consumers in major cities like San Francisco and New York, particularly in conjunction with relationships with POS vendors and with CVS. They just made a big deal with CVS and Walgreens. That's where this will go from something that people might be tentative of to an army of people who are buying crap when they have to check out. It's just a hell of a lot easier to wave the phone.
Leo: Have any of you ever used this touch to pay? You can do it at McDonald's and Starbucks.
Jill: I've tested it with Google Wallet before.
Leo: You tested it as part of your journalistic? Does anybody use it in real life? The same guys who have Pebble watches are raising their hands again. You guys are really good doctors.
Jill: There are a couple of apps that I do use regularly. It's usually an app that shows a QR Code on your phone and then the vendor has another phone that reads that QR Code.
Leo: That's too horrible.
Jill: If they are going to give me a discount for using my phone then that's great. I do like seeing the idea of not having to pull out my wallet or not necessarily bringing my wallet. So if I'm out walking my dog and I want to pop into the pet store, and I didn't bring my purse with me I do like being able to use my phone.
Leo: I'm going to go out on a limb. If you have to use QR Codes it's not going to fly.
Dan: Oh, no, no Leo. I mean, what Jill is saying is absolutely correct, at least anecdotally in these hubs. You can stand in a Starbucks line here in Manhattan, and the amount of people you see waving their phone to pay...
Leo: Oh, they do it, okay.
Dan: I remember the big Starbucks mobile hack that happened earlier this year, and I remember thinking thank god I didn't put that app on my phone. Getting coffee that morning, customer after customer was waving their phone. I know that this is not in maybe Carbondale or Spearfish yet, but it will be. It's here now, and it's actively being used. If people are using QR Codes you betcha that they are going to use NFC.
Leo: But why did Square then get out of the business. Square had this.
Dan: Well I don't know. There is a lot of reasons. They had too much debt. There are a million reasons.
Leo: It may not have to do with adoption.
Dan: Yeah, right, there are a million reasons Square could determine that it's not the business for them that have nothing to do with Apple.
Dan: And if any company can get a large block of consumers there's no way that that you could see this happen. Android has NFC in it. I also see Google Wallet. Even at the Hot Bagels around the corner from my place in Brooklyn I see Google Wallet; I never see people using their Google Wallet thing. Apple will get people to do this. Especially if it is on a little thing on your wrist and all you have to do is this, and then you look kind of silly, but you are paying.
Jill: Think about this from a different angle for a second. The way that we handle credit cards and money in this country is completely broken because it's an insecure system. It's relatively easy to fix, or at least to get rid of the parts that don't work. There is this opening now that is ripe for innovation. I think what Dan has been saying is that the company that has the most reach is Apple because IOS devices are just wildly popular, in the US and Canada in particular. Maybe not worldwide, but IOS is definitely the platform that everybody uses here. So they have a way in. I think that if we don't think about it from a point of view of do you want to use your smartphone to make payments and think about it instead as credit cards are a broken system, the market is ready for new construction, then it will make a lot more sense why Apple has this opportunity right now.
Leo: And Apple users are sheep and will do anything Apple tells them to.
Dan: Oh, come on, that's silly. Whether they will or not what you also need...
Leo: I will tell you one thing. It's a lot easier to herd Apple users than Android users.
Jill: We didn't all start using Passbook though; I think we just established that.
Dan: Right, right.
Leo: They didn't try. They didn't try. Apple put out a product and they didn't wire it into anything. They didn't put credit cards in it.
Dan: You need one more thing in this chain. You don't just need platforms; you need a company that can make deals. That's what Apple has really done with those POS vendors, with places like American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. You need one entity. Whether or not Apple customers are sheep or not Android is a platform, but they are not going to activate their customer base, or Android is not going to make the deals. Google may but Android is not. Android is just a platform.
Leo: Google historically has not been able to do those kinds of deals.
Dan: Right, exactly.
Leo: And Apple did, but they had Steve Jobs who went in there, and made those deals, and had the personal charisma to do that and pull it off. I don't know if Tim Cook does. I don't know who goes in and negotiates for Apple now?
Dan: The most valuable company in the world. Who cares if it's Steve Jobs or not? It's Apple. So when Motorola comes knocking on your door, you say maybe, go talk to the biz dev guys. When it's Apple you go high prioritize that meeting.
Leo: Yeah, that's right. When Apple asks me to meet with them I always say yes.
Dan: I know that you do.
Leo: Someday they will ask me to meet with them. We are going to take a break. I want to talk about Samsung’s' curved screen when we come back. We didn't get in to that at all, the new Galaxy Note Edge. But first a word from audible.com. I am a reader once again I have to say. It makes me very happy. I used to love to read. But then life happens and you get busy. Who has time to read? You've got so much reading you have to do for work and so forth. You don't get to read fiction anymore. Who has the time to sit under a tree and read a book? Thank goodness we do have a lot of time in our car during commutes, at the gym on the treadmill, walking the dog, doing the dishes. Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to listen to books? That's what Audible does; the world’s biggest bookstore of audio books, 150,000 strong. They are certain advantages to an audio book. For example, Joan Rivers' autobiography, "Diary of a Mad Diva", well she reads it. Listening to Joan Rivers do her autobiography, that's going to be more interesting than just reading words on the page. There is actually a lot of Joan Rivers' reading. We miss her, she passed away this week. There is a lot of Joan Rivers' books on audible.com including "Men Are Stupid and They Like Big Boobs - A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery", very, very exciting. And Joan Rivers' performances too, "Live at the London Palladium". There is some really neat audio content on here that's not just books. I'm going to get you two free audio titles; I shouldn't even say books, audio titles from Audible right now. If you go to audible.com/twit2 you will be signing up for the Platinum account, that's the account I have. I get 2 books a month; in fact I love the 22nd of the month when my credits go from 0 to 2. I get so excited. Yeah, I get 2 more books! I have been listening to Audible books since the year 2000. I have over 500 books on my Audible library. I can listen to any of them. The great audible apps for all of the phone models, IOS, Android, Windows Phone, the beautiful Windows Phone App, of course Windows, and Mac too. I listen to Audible on my Sonos. You can listen to Audible everywhere. These are some of the books I'm going to listen to any minute now. I'm getting a little behind. "Whisky Tango Foxtrot" from David Shafer, which is supposed to be a great book. Are you reading that Chris? Do you like it? New York Times said it was the book of the summer. Russell Shorto's "History of Dutch Manhattan". See, I like to mix fiction and nonfiction. "Gone Girl", the thriller from Gillian Flynn. "Thinking Fast and Slow", this is the guy who kind of inspired the whole freakonomics, the whole behavioral economics field. He's the original, Nobel laureate, the original behavioral psychology economics and happiness guy that inspired Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell. I've got this as a recommendation from somebody. That's one of the fun things about being an Audible member. What are you listening to? What do you like? What's your favorite book? Go to audible.com/twit and the number 2, twit2, and sign up for the Gold account, I'm sorry, the Platinum account, and you will get 2 credits. It's free for the first 30 days. Cancel at any time during the first 30 days and you pay nothing. You do get to keep the books. You can also get the Daily Digest from the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. So you will keep up on current events as well as listen to the great stories. Science Fiction is fabulous on Audible. Audible.com/twit 2, try it free today. You are going to love it.
Somebody wrote an article, I think that it was actually an interesting piece, that there was a failure of nerve at Samsung. They announced the Galaxy Note 4, which is kind of a little bit bigger, little bit better Galaxy Note 3. This is as Samsung has want to do, this very slow evolutionary improvement. Then they also announced the Galaxy Note Edge, which is wacky. It has a screen that curves around the right edge of the phone. I think they are 2 separate screens. It looks like a single plate of glass, but I've been told that there are 2 separate screens. Icons show up there. You can look at weather if you are at a meeting, or you are at dinner and your spouse has said that if you take out that phone you are dead you can just put the phone on the table and surreptitously look at the edge of the screen and it's there. Is this just goofy or is there a market for the Galaxy Note Edge. Who wants to buy this, anybody? Om, are you running out to get this? See, you are all iPhone users. You are sheep.
Om: No, I use an Android phone once in a while. I use OnePlus.
Leo: Do you like the idea? I admire Samsung for trying something.
Om: I have an Android phone. You can take a look at it.
Leo: Okay, I believe you, I believe you. Oh, you've got the OnePlus. Do you like that?
Om: Yeah, and I also like Nexus 5.
Leo: You like cheap phones.
Om: No, I like good phones.
Leo: Yeah. No, that's my daily phone is the Nexus, rather the OnePlus right now although I'm really looking at the Moto X. I love a phone that will talk back to me. The new Moto X, you don't have to say, "okay, Google now". You can say, "yo Moto", or whatever you want. You can have it say anything. I can have it say, "Hey Needles". I'm going to do that. Now don't tell Jeff, I'm going to activate my phone by saying "hey Needles".
Om: Who is Needles?
Leo: Needles is this guy who works here. We like to tease him. But, see, you could do that.
Jill: Talking about innovation, I think that this phone is innovation for innovation's sake.
Leo: You think that nobody wants the Edge?
Jill: I think a small number of tech forward early adopters are going to want it. They are going to be bored with it in a year when something new comes up. I think there is a lot of products that come out. Let they were saying before, you are trying to get something different out there because there is this hunger, and this demand, and this pressure on companies to put out something different. What I think about from time to time is video conferencing, right? Like 40 years ago this was everybody's dream. To have a phone call, and be able to see each other face to face in color would be amazing. What we actually want in this day and age is the ability to send text messages.
Leo: We just want to Snapchat really, that's all we want.
Jill: It's so simple. We just have to remember that the thing we can do is not necessarily the thing that people will want, right? So I think that this phone in particular, the Edge, is another instance of tech companies showing what they can do and not necessarily tapping into something that people want.
Leo: But Caususspellin in our chat room says, "Hey, the Note One looked pretty goofy when it came out at 5.5 inches". Actually it wasn't even that big, it was 5.2 inches. Everybody said, oh it looks like you have got a giant candy bar against your ear or whatever. Now a big phone like that; no big deal at all.
Jill: Do you think that's innovation, though? I don't really think that big is innovation.
Leo: I think so, and I can't wait for a 5.5 inch iPhone. But I have to agree with you on the Edge. Anybody want to defend the Edge? Om, Dan? No, nothing. Alright, okay, I just want to give Samsung a little credit. They are big enough that they can just try anything and hope that something sticks.
Om: They are all waiting for somebody to copy.
Leo: They are waiting for Apple. How can we be expected to come up with a new idea for a phone if Apple just releases one a year? Get to work Apple. TechCrunch did have a story, I thought this was interesting, that Apple is cranking out so many new iPhones, and so many iPhone 6's right now, that in fact other phones from other manufacturers are being delayed. All of China now is basically making iPhones as fast as they can. Apple shipments via UPS and FedEx said to be incredibly high for the holiday quarter. This is Matthew Panzarino writing in TechCrunch pointing to a massive number of iPhones. Logistics exec John Martin told Businessweek that when Apple, this is a couple of years ago, that when Apple ramps something like this up there is not any air in the room for anybody else. Nothing to say, huh?
Dan: Agenda setting.
Leo: Agenda setting, huh?
Om: Billions of dollars allows you to do that. They buy capacity, they buy production, and they buy logistics, you know supply chain, they buy it out. I think that's what smart companies do if they have a lot of money. They put their cash asset to the most use.
Leo: This isn't a question. The Moto 360, the first round Android Wear Watch, sold out within hours of it being made available at Best Buy, online at Google, and everywhere else. Is that a case of them just not making enough or is that really incredible demand? What's the story there?
Dan: It's the definition of terms.
Om: How many units did they sell?
Leo: Well they don't say. We don't know.
Om: Exactly, so 1000 units came out and they sold out.
Dan: Right, definition. We have no way to contextualize something like this. We can only speculate because all of this is PR spin.
Leo: Mark Gurman, who has been very right on, the 20 year old journalist at 9to5Mac, says Apples' wearable whatever it is will run 3rd party apps and that big developers like Facebook have already received an SDK. That's not unusual, Apple likes to show off apps at the reveal, and even if the iWatch isn't available Tuesday they would like to show it working. Om, do you think, some have said that you aren't going to see an iWatch; they are just going to talk about it. Do you think you will actually see a product?
Om: We are pretty sure that we are going to see some kind of a product, but if it will be for sale is a whole different story.
Leo: I think it is probably going to be a little delayed.
Dan: What Om just said a moment ago about the supply chain is so crucial. Let's rewind the clock to a couple of years ago when Adrian Chen got that iPhone 4. Remember what a big deal that was just seeing the casing and the body ahead of time. It was a huge story. Fast forward a couple of years and of course the supply chain will have more leaks if there is an actual product in that chain. If there was an actual watch that was coming out this week we would have seen more leaks and more information would be available. Just the fact that we have seen the iPhone casing; we can almost guess with some certainty that okay, we will probably see an iPhone within the next 2-3 weeks. We will not see for sale this wearable watch thingamajig.
Leo: Yeah, I feel like not only would we have seen leaks, but also this is pretty common for Apple. When the iPhone came out it was 6 months from the announce to the release. When the iPad came out it was how many months, 3 or 4 months? It's pretty typical when you have a brand new category that you can pre-announce this and it's going to take a little while to get to market. I think we can plan on that.
Om: We should just be happy that the new iPhone is coming out. My phone is so broken right now.
Leo: Don't you love your OnePlusOne?
Om: I do like OnePlusOne.
Leo: But you want an iPhone. You know, I have to admit that I am kind of salivating for a new iPhone, too. How do they do that? It's really amazing. Good marketing. Let's take a break. We will come back. There is a lot to talk about. I'm not going to talk about phones anymore. I'm bored. We will see what happens on Tuesday. Everything that has happened before is a wash when Apple announces on Tuesday, right? It doesn't matter anymore. Apple is already here. Apple owns the space. Is that right?
Leo: Maybe. Could Apple really stumble? I mean, could it happen that on Tuesday we look at it and we go wow, that wasn't good? No, not because they are so great, but it's just a machine.
Om: You know things do go wrong with companies. It's not like they are invincible. Things can and may go wrong.
Dan: What a better story that would be.
Leo: I'm not rooting for anything to go wrong, but you are right, it would be a lot more interesting if Apple announced something like that horrible watch that Samsung announced. We all looked at it and said, wow, we've been waiting for years for that?
Dan: What if it's a TV? Come on, that would be funny.
Leo: Wouldn't that be funny, an Apple TV?
Om: What's wrong with that?
Dan: Nothing is wrong. It would be amazing. Our speculative heads are in a different world.
Leo: Everybody would have to rewrite all of the articles they have already written.
Om: That is actually quite funny.
Dan: That's what I'm saying. It would be hilarious. What were people talking about a year ago?
Leo: You would see people running out of the Flint Center, running to refile. That article I gave you was wrong!
Dan: We had the exact same conversation a year ago, and two years ago, and three years ago. It would be awesome if Apple was like we are releasing a snack basket.
Dan: With cheese.
Leo: Anything. At this point anything unexpected would be great. One more thing, pants. Everybody is going to be wearing Apple Jumpsuits from now on. Chris likes that. Our show today, brought to you by Gazelle. You know who is capitalizing on a new iPhone? Gazelle, because they will buy your old iPhone. The key on this is to lock in the price. I know everybody knows what Apple is going to announce on Tuesday. I don't care; the price for it goes down the minute they announce. What you do now, and this is no commitment on your part; you go to Gazelle, and you get a quote for your old iPhone, and you are locked in now not just for 30 days, they always lock you in for 30 days, you are locked in until October 10th. They know it might be hard to get, it might take you a while to get, it might take you a while to move your data over, you might not be convinced, whatever. October 10th isn't much more than 30 days, but they have been doing this for a couple of weeks. That's going to give you some time and you will get top dollar for your old iPhone. Let's say you bought last year, you bought an iPhone 5s last year and now you are thinking, awe man, what did I do? I want this new iPhone 6. Is it in good condition? Yes, it's in good condition. Look at that, $295 if you unlock it. They teach you how to unlock it. If you don't want to take the trouble, $270 on an A&T locked iPhone 5s. That's a great deal. That's a great deal. Now, here's the deal, you have until the 10th. You don't have to commit, you are just getting the quote. I got the quote. If you decide to commit, you press the button. You check out. They’ll send you a box, prepaid postage. They’ll turn it around fast if you forget to wipe the data, they’ll wipe it for you and then send you a check, a PayPal credit, or an Amazon gift card. If you like Amazon, that’s a great deal because they bump that up 5%. And the beauty part of all of this is you could throw other things in this box. By the time you’re done, you’ve got thousands of dollars in that gadget drawer you have not capitalized on. Don’t just start with the iPhone, but don’t stop. They will buy old surface computers, Apple Macs, MacBooks. They’ll buy Google Nexus stuff, Samsung phones, Samsung tablets. Gazelle: cash is awaiting for your gadgets from Gazelle. To-date, they have sent out $170M to over one million customers. Lots of happy people with cash in their pockets thanks to Gazelle. Did any of you know Andrew Kaye? I didn’t know Andrew Kaye. He created the K-Pro computer. He passed away this week at the age of 95. I do remember the K-Pro very well. We all wanted one, but this is a bit of computer history. This was a CPM machine that came with Word Star for $1700.95. This was the competition for the Osborn One. Om, do you remember the K-Pro?
Om: I actually don’t.
Leo: Nobody’s as old as me.
Om: Amen to that.
Leo: I remember this very well. We actually have an Osborn One somewhere in the studio. But the K-Pro; Arthur C. Clark wrote 2010 Odyssey II on it. Steve Case bought one as his first computer. You may know the name, Steve Case. Because he was the founder of America Online. It was a really exciting computer and I’m just boring everybody to death. Andrew Kaye, the creator of the K-Pro. I wanted to give him a tip of the hat because he really did create something that people really wanted. Look at this, this is what portable computing looked like in 1986.
Om: That keyboard is so awesome.
Leo: You fold it up. The keyboard clipped onto the front of it. The Osborn had this tiny screen. This had a 9-inch screen! Blows your mind. See that, two floppies. Not one, two floppies. Now how much would you pay?
Jill: That was the Galaxy Note?
Leo: Yea, this is the Galaxy Note of the 80’s. I can’t believe I’m working with people so young, that they look at that and just go, I don’t understand what that is.
Dan: Oh, that’s nonsense. We’re both old.
Om: I think it’s a cruel thing to say about K-Pro. And that is Galaxy Note.
Dan: Oh yea.
Leo: They called them luggables. Because they were heavy; they were like 15 pounds.
Dan: That’s why Apple won.
Leo: Yea, maybe.
Om: If you see the old Apples, they were not all that great.
Dan: No, I remember those about the same time, the mid 80’s in school. The Apple, what were they?
Leo: My kids went to kindergarten 20 years ago. They still had Apple Two’s in the kindergarten, like eight of them. And they’re playing Oregon Trail. Did you play Oregon Trail?
Leo: Kids today! I think this is interesting. A lot of people tweeted me when this happened. TwitPic is shutting down. In the early days of Twitter, TwitPic was how you shared photos on Twitter. You’d upload them to TwitPic, put a link in your tweet. I never liked them much because that word twit in there kind of stepped on my brand. But what am I going to do about it? There’s nothing I can do about it. A couple years ago, Twitter trademarked the work tweet. And invited all the third-party developers making stuff for Twitter not to use twit. But to use tweet. If they had called themselves TweetPic, Twitter wouldn’t have minded. Apparently a few weeks ago Twitter contacted TwitPic and said you must abandon your trademark application. They had applied for a trademark in 2009 for TwitPic. And if you don’t, they’re not going to sue them, but we’re going to cut you off from the API, which basically puts them out of business. If you can’t post pictures on Twitter, well then it’s no good. Remember Twitter has its own photo service now. And it really doesn’t want people to use third-party photo services. TwitPic said, oh screw it. And they’re shutting down.
Om: I don’t know if that is actually entitled to; it’s not complete full disclosure on part of…
Leo: They probably were going to fold anyway, right?
Om: Yea, and you can change your name to something else. It’s not like; the reason people use them because they were TwitPic.
Dan: And I’m willing to bet that Twitter did not strong arm them. When you own a trademark, you have to defend your trademark. And you have to send letters that say do this or you will face some sort of action. I can’t imagine Twitter saying this TwitPic, they’ve been a thorn in our side since day one.
Leo: But TwitPic has been around for like four years.
Dan: They have but they’re no competitive threat to Twitter. I’m sure that Twitter’s attorneys were just saying we have to defend our trademark. I think this was like 2009 when they trademarked tweet. And it became a capital word. This has been, almost exactly right. This is not just because Twitter was defending their trademark and the boogeyman of Twitter. This is a nice spin on some backroom activations.
Leo: They actually have usage guidelines on Twitter’s website for how you can use Twitter trademark safely and a recommendation to use tweet, not twit. I always flatter myself that they did that to protect us. But probably not. A number of people said, if TwitPics been put out of business by Twitter, can TWiT be far behind? I would like to reassure you the TWiT trademark pre-dates Twitter. In fact, we’re older than Twitter; we’ve been around longer. And we had our trademark for a year before Twitter even existed. So no, they’re not going to go after us. And I think you’re probably right; this was just convenient. But why be so vindictive? Do you think TwitPic didn’t like Twitter? One last chance to kick them before they die, or what?
Jill: I wonder if Twitter just wants to keep more of the property that’s shared on Twitter.
Leo: Of course they did. They killed all the third parties.
Jill: Yea, that’s clearly the main message here. The other thing that comes to mind for me is how is Twitter making its money? Is Twitter really valued appropriately as a company? A lot of people like to speculate on that; and it’s worth speculating on. Anybody I know who lives in San Francisco has just been driven out of the city because of the city. Largely brought about by Twitter’s headquarters being in the…
Leo: Really? You don’t blame Google and Apple? You blame Twitter?
Jill: Well Twitter is right downtown. Google and Apple are not. And people say they built this giant campus. Everybody came down. That whole area was gentrifying anyway and the prices were going up for apartments to rent. But I kind of wonder, have we seen enough from Twitter to really know what their value is? And what they own, and what they’re doing to make money? It still feels pretty nebulous.
Leo: I saw recently an article that in fact, it isn’t that expensive to live in New York. People always think, oh that must be the most expensive city. It’s not. Well it’s expensive. But it’s not as bad as San Francisco.
Om: That’s why you live in Petaluma.
Leo: That’s why I live in Petaluma, baby.
Om: I think it’s easy to blame Twitter for all the; but it’s not really to employ what 3000 people; not all of them are in San Francisco. So they can’t single-handedly inflate the property values in San Francisco.
Jill: Oh I don’t think they do; I think they’re a factor.
Om: They’re not the factor. The factor is there are a whole lot of landlords who are putting their apartments on AB&B, which is what is inflating a lot of the real estate prices. People are renting more through AB&B and as a result of that, there are much fewer properties for sale. And there has also been very little real estate development. I think it’s not an easy and simple problem. It’s a much more complex issue and to say that Twitter is responsible for that is just kind of over-reaching. I think Twitter as a company, their valuation is actually much more reasonable than most people realize compared to let’s say something like Facebook. We know Facebook’s recent growth has come from all the mobile advertising or the mobile install; the app installs they’ve been selling to other applications. Which is essentially all these startups which are out there pushing their apps. They’re giving money to Facebook. I think somebody needs to look into the revenues; you should look into the revenues of Facebook because they’re not as great as they seem to be. Twitter is doing what it’s supposed to do a company. As a company that doesn’t know how to grow its user-base and make as much money as it can. They have struggled with one thing, which is to grow its user-base and make it valuable to people who are not hardcore internet nuts. Anyway, I think average people find Facebook more interesting. Twitter is struggling to find those people and get them on their own platform. I think that is the view for the problem.
Leo: We did hear this week that Twitter was considering using some sort of edge ranking to change the feed. And boy there’s a petition and people are furious. As you know, the way Facebook’s news feed works is very algorithmically-controlled. We actually talked a lot about it over the last couple of weeks. Robert Scoble even showed me how to make my Facebook feed better. Because you don’t see everything your friends share on Facebook. You do currently on Twitter. Your timeline on Twitter is composed entirely of everything tweeted by everybody you follow. But the story was, and I don’t know if this has been confirmed by Twitter, but Twitter was looking at ways to change that to make it more valuable by eliminating stupid tweets or something. Is that something Twitter said it’s going to do, Om?
Om: Well they did indicate that they will be using more machine-learning to make adjustments to the feed. And I don’t know how or two what extent they’re going to do that. I have no idea personally. I do think that we’re all headed towards the future where you’re going to have the machines making a lot of decisions on our behalf. I think Twitter is probably part of that bigger trend. I think Facebook is part of that bigger trend. Why do we assume that things won’t change at all these companies? They are essentially companies and just because they’re all cute and cuddly, doesn’t mean they’re…
Leo: I want them to stay cute and cuddly.
Dan: And it would be irresponsible for them…
Leo: You’re still cute and cuddly, Om. Why should Twitter not stay cute and cuddly?
Om: Because I refuse to grow up, that’s why.
Leo: The story actually came out of GigaOm. Twitter’s CFO implied that a Facebook style filtered feed is coming whether you like it or not. And of course a lot of Twitter users don’t like the idea. It feels like we should have a place for an unfiltered stream like Twitter. And if you like the filtered stream, go use Facebook. I’m sorry, I stepped on your, Dan. What were you saying?
Dan: Not one bit. I think that it would be irresponsible if Twitter and every other company were not to; these are public companies, they have to support things like this. Whether it’s going to be implemented, how it would be implemented, it’s just internet going blah, blah, blah. The rest is just; time will tell.
Om: A little bit of machine intelligence is important. Look at just this year the level of noises so much. I think it’s like applying the Dolby system.
Jill: But people ask me about how I use Twitter. Like my parents or people who don’t understand it. And I like to say I kind of roulette-wheel it. It’s all about what time of day I’m looking at my feed. And how fast I scroll my finger on my mobile device. I really don’t have; sometimes I have things that I follow and I’ll look for specific things. But most of the time, it really is like a roulette wheel. And I like that; it’s a surprise like looking through a magazine. And I have people that I follow; I follow a good number of people. It’s a whole bunch of different interests. And I like that randomness of it. And Facebook I find completely boring. I hope to never again write a story about Facebook because it’s just a place where people talk, where people share pictures of their grandkids and I’m completely bored by it. And I fell for Facebook for a year or two. I don’t know. I understand they’re technology companies at heart, in one way or another. But I almost feel like we don’t need to cover everything that’s going on with Facebook. And we don’t need to have articles talking about, is Facebook a trend anymore. Is Facebook dying? Like, who cares?
Dan: I think the next big trend, if it’s not coming it’s already here, is exhaustion. I mean, the feed metaphor is fine. It’s established if it’s not already over. And people are kind of Pinterest two years ago. Their quick rise two years ago showed that people are kind of into looking at things that look different. But I think if there is a big trend coming, it is just exhaustion. There’s too much noise in the system. That maybe an opportunity for Twitter; they may be able to say, look, we’ll capture your interest graph and not the graph of your social, all of the backdoor bragging you have to do on Facebook. But I think people are just exhausted of social media.
Dan: I think the next big app is no app. Right?
Leo: I like it!
Jill: I want to call Dan out on something for a second. A couple days ago, Dan posted on Google Plus that he had given up Gmail and he quit Facebook. And then today Dan, it’s so funny; I got a Facebook friend request from you.
Dan: Well the reason for that is I had a friend who posted a suicide note on Facebook. So I came back to Facebook. There was a reason I came back. Leo, like you I want to kill my Facebook with strangely. But I had a friend who I thought was strangling himself, so I came back to Facebook.
Leo: Is he okay?
Dan: Yea, he is okay. But that is one think I found Facebook useful for. I think like you Leo, and like a lot of people, I’m just exhausted with Facebook and that I don’t want to brag. I don’t want to see other people bragging. I just want to connect with people I love. It is one of those things where my God, when I had a moment of terror, I sure as hell didn’t go to Twitter. I went to Facebook to make sure this guy is okay.
Leo: You’re not going to tweet it. That’s a good point.
Dan: Of course. And I did go to Twitter and found that he long ago deleted his account. Why? Because, he didn’t feel like he was making a personal connection with people and Facebook is where he did feel he was making a personal connection with people.
Leo: That’s kind of why I don’t like the algorithmic stuff on Facebook because it gets in the way. I just want to see my friends’ stuff and it just gets in the way.
Dan: Sorry to be a dick about that.
Jill: Oh no.
Dan: You guys kiss and make up, will you! I’m just saying there’s a reason for coming back. I did leave Gmail though. I IMAP’d 188,000…
Leo: Why did you leave Gmail?
Jill: I want to hear about this too.
Dan: Okay it’s not explicitly anti-Google or anti-Facebook, but part of my though process when I approached the social web and social apps is learning the mechanics of how these things work. Just like a video game or any kind of game; you have to learn the fundamental principles of the things that make these things sticky. We can look at Snowden’s revelations last year and say all the conversations we’ve had in the last year and a half about privacy; I am somebody who loves PGP and I do make sure I do take encryption seriously. But I also when approaching the social web, that I’m dog-fooding the advice I give to people. And say, let’s look at the mechanics here that make a Gmail almost more sticky than Facebook. It’s easier to leave Facebook than it is to leave Gmail. So I just wanted to see if there is a something that is robust. I always use Google Apps. I don’t use pure Gmail. But I wanted to see if there’s something, a product that’s as robust in terms of my mail exchange, my mail servers, and that can handle; I literally have 200,000 email in here. And I’m on every press release ever sent, so I wanted to see if there’s something that can handle the high volume of email I get. But filter out the noise and let me see just the signal. And could handle, Google Apps is pretty robust; I want to see if there’s something that can handle that. And I wanted to test my unstickyness to a Google product. I mean, am I beholden to this thing that is Google? As much as I am to this thing that is Facebook. It took literally a week of IMAP ports, but I ported everything over to Fast Mail and did the name server stuff there. And it seems to be holding up pretty well.
Leo: Actually I’ve been using Fast Mail for years. I just renewed my Fast Mail account for five years. But you know why I use Gmail, the only reason why is that it has the best spam filter ever. I just pump my mail through Gmail; I don’t actually use Gmail. I just borrow the spam filtering. I pump it through Gmail, and it’s great. To me that’s the only reason to use Gmail.
Dan: So that was my little tech test last week. Can I leave the social services and is there an app as robust as Gmail?
Leo: This is the new thing. I think you’re going to see a lot of this. People just throwing up their hands in dismay and saying I’m off. I quit.
Om: I think there is a more moderate way of doing these things. I have taken a more, not as drastic approach as that. But what I’ve done is removed both Twitter and Facebook from my iPhone and from my mobile devices.
Leo: That’s what I did too.
Om: And I use them thrice a day for Twitter and twice a day for Facebook on my desktop.
Leo: That’s a good idea.
Om: So if I’m not at home and I’m moving about, I’m not looking into the phone ever five minutes to see what is going on. Sharing a cat video or whatever. And the other thing I did on my Facebook, is I started unfriending people who kept putting up their cat pictures and their baby pictures. I’m not interested. That was a very drastic move on my part. I just think those were the two things which entertained me the most about Facebook; cat pictures and pictures of their babies.
Leo: We did a whole thing before TWiT last week with Robert Scoble. It’s going to air on September 29th, for people who are wondering. It was a Triangulation episode where he attempted to show me how to cultivate my Facebook feed to make it better. A lot of it was exactly that, Om. Just getting rid of people that don’t give you content you want. And it’s gotten better but it’s still not anything you want…
Jill: Could you imagine if we did that in real life? If I was like, Leo, don’t show me pictures of your kids anymore. I don’t care anymore.
Leo: That’s the beauty of Facebook. You can do it and nobody knows!
Jill: Like our psychology and the way we interact socially is so different online than it is in physical space.
Leo: I got a number of people who tried to re-friend me afterward. I unfriended about 100 people. And a large number of them asked to be my friend again. And now I feel guilty.
Om: But Jill, you saw baby pictures. You met people when you went to their house. You’re meeting them for coffee; it was in real life. So it was essentially one set of pictures a day. This is 500 pictures in a day; it’s just a bit too much.
Jill: Yea, that’s what you get if you meet somebody face to face now. And they show you on their phone, the pictures of their dog or their kids.
Om: I’m fine with that.
Jill: And I don’t unfriend these people. I don’t use Facebook very often but my sister and their kids; that’s the main place where my sister posts photos of her kids. And I have to check in on that every now and again because I’m a good aunt and that’s what we do. This is my selfless act of using Facebook. I go in and check in on the baby pictures from time to time.
Leo: You’re doing your duty.
Jill: I think it is a socially responsible way to stay in touch with people.
Leo: Do you help clear their crops in Farmville?
Jill: Be engaged and I’m still participating in it. Maybe a very lightweight, but at least I’m presenting that appearance that I am there and I am participating.
Om: I think that’s trying to less prove to yourself that you feel less guilty about everything.
Leo: You’re a good person.
Om: All like to use Facebook for that reason. Oh wow, happy birthday so and so. Do we really mean it? Probably not.
Leo: Yea, Facebook is social grease now. It’s not real social engagement. Let’s just check to see. I did everything Scoble wanted me to do and I went through it. Let’s see if I’ve really… there’s a baby picture. Let’s see. There’s a baby picture. There’s a Brussels, going to New York. Here’s an ad. Here’s a baseball picture. No, it’s still crap. It’s still crap.
Jill: Maybe you need better friends.
Leo: That’s what he said. He said you should get better friends.
Om: Unfriend Scoble first.
Leo: Yea, that’s the first thing. He said follow more. You want to follow me more. Alright, let’s take a break. When we come back we’ll wrap things up. We’ve got a nice panel. We’ve got Dan Patterson here. What’s your affiliation? What are you up to, Dan?
Dan: I just did some writing for the Washington Post and the Summary. I did a long form study on the trafficking of guns on the so-called iron pipeline and the data behind gun trafficking here in New York City.
Leo: You were talking about that last time. Have you published that? Has that been published now?
Dan: Yea, you can find that on contently.org. I’m just a writer.
Leo: I’m just a writer, he says.
Dan: Maybe a reporter.
Leo: Angels of death. So what is this? This is an interesting site. Contently.org. What is this?
Dan: You must know Contently. Do you guys use them?
Om: No, we don’t unfortunately. But I do know them and they’re pretty awesome.
Dan: Contently makes a number of products. But this one on contently.org is specifically intended to fund long investigative journalism. So this is a two-month report. I know Jill is working on a long thing, too. Right?
Leo: Are you, Jill? What are you working on?
Jill: Yea, I’m working on something. Well PC Mag is still my bread and butter. I’m working on something right now freelance for Prevention magazine about the future of health and technology. So that’s been real interesting. Digging into it from a different side and interviewing a lot of doctors and people in the health care industry. And trying to see what do we see happening in this first generation of fitness and healthy trackers. And where is that going to lead in 15-20 years?
Leo: Yea, we’re no longer going to be in our bodies. We will be in space, in the galaxy. One of our viewers just sent me an FDA document about rules for health trackers. And those have been changed a little bit probably to accommodate this new wave of health trackers. Is that right?
Jill: From what I understand, there’s a very clear line of something begin FDA approved and something that does not need to be FDA approved. And it doesn’t make a diagnosis. So if makes a diagnosis, you have to have FDA approval and you have to have some kind of oversight with your doctor. So you can’t just use these devices on your own, generally, when they’re FDA approved. If something is not making a diagnosis, then it doesn’t have to be. One of the blurriest lines is with sleep trackers. I shouldn’t say it’s a blurry line. The people who make the devices know exactly where the line is and never cross it. But something as common as sleep apnea, is considered a disease. So if you have a disease, you cannot with it diagnose someone as having sleep apnea. You have to say, here’s the data you collected. You should look at it and decide for yourself what it means. So that’s the very fine line that fitness trackers try not to cross. Because if they do they have to go through this long approval process. One of the most interesting products I’ve been following that is pending FDA approval, is called Scanadoo Scout. This has been in the news for the last year and a half or so. People like to call it the tri-quarter. So if you’re a Star Trek fan, you probably know it. It’s a handheld device. I have actually tried it on myself. It’s a little disc. And it takes a number of your vital signs: your heart rate, your EKG reading, temperature, and a few other things. You put it up to your forehead and while you’re making that other connection with your finger, it’s competing that circuit to take an EKG. And the idea is it’s giving you an overall picture of your health because it’s taking so many different data streams. One of the criticisms of modern-day trackers is that they usually have one or two things that they monitor. Scanadoo is collecting five or six data points. The guy who made it is the really interesting inventor. He developed it in believe, if I remember correctly, he has a story of his sun and they get sick. They go to the hospital and they’re collecting all this information in the hospital. Nurses are coming in and taking his vital signs every so often. And this, Walter DeBrower is his name, was just like this is crazy. This is my kid! I should be able to have this information. I should be received this information. We should own this stuff. He’s a really interesting guy; he’s a proponent that the FDA shouldn’t be as strict. And that we should be allowed devices that collect information about ourselves. Because it’s our body, it’s our data. We should be allowed to that. So that’s one device that I’m just on the edge of my seat yet to be approved. But it could take years.
Leo: This document is kind of interesting. It is not binding, but it says the intent of the FDA to no longer require pre-market medication requirements for some medical devices because they’re well understood and do not present risks. If you look through the FDA database, current databases that have been submitted for approval for the Apple. Apple has nothing in there. Remember Apple did meet with the FDA and I imagine part of the meeting was to say well how much do we need to get approval for? And it feels like the FDA has decided at least when it comes to these Apple devices, either it’s going to be third party for applying for approval. Or Apple may not even need to apply for approval.
Jill: Apple is really good about working with their developers. I wonder if part of this was to say, what we’re going to do is provide a platform. Everybody else is going to handle the devices. Some of them are even getting to handle different apps. We’re just going to be the platform where everything comes in. I wonder if that was kind of the direction of the conversation but you know it’s Apple. They have meetings with everybody.
Leo: And they have the clouds. And nobody says not to a meeting with Apple. Om Malik is also here from gigaom.com. Back from his rural travels. What are you excited about? One of the things everybody should read is what Om posts every weekend. His weekend reads. Which is a great source for just interesting provocative stuff. And you’re still doing that, of course.
Om: I took the summer off.
Leo: Are you going to come back and do it?
Om: Yes, next week.
Leo: Good. That, I loved. I really loved that. And what else are you up to? Anything else you’d like to mention?
Om: No, just doing my thing. Traveling and meeting interesting people always. I will let you know how I feel about the Apple event on Tuesday.
Leo: We’re going to grab you. We’re going to have a camera crew down there. And if you’re there, I’d love to grab you and get your opinion afterward.
Om: I’ll be there. Bring a jacket, too.
Leo: Yea, you’ll be all dressed up. It’ll be great. We have a few final words in a second. Our show today is brought to you by our good friends at stamps.com. Anybody who does a lot of mailing ought to know about stamps.com. It happens to me, and it just happened the other day; people send me stuff for review. Postage too! And I was like you’re expected to pay $1.49 to me, the post office says, if you want to see what’s in this package. That’s crazy! That’s not a good way to introduce yourself to somebody. If you send stuff out via mail, and you’re not using stamps.com, you’re not looking as professional as you could. Stamps.com first of all eliminates the trip to the post office. It lets you print your own postage with your computer, your printer. You don’t need a postage meter or special link or anything. They have a great USB scale that would eliminate the postage due problem because it automatically prints the right amount of postage so you put neither too little nor, I think a lot of people do this, too much. Before I got stamps.com, I was always putting a couple extra stamps on there, just in case. That’s a waste of money. Stamps.com also looks more pro because you can go right on your envelope, print right on your envelop with your company’s logo. The postage of course, the recipient’s address, and your address all prefilled. It will read the information from eBay, Amazon, Etscy, so you don’t have to enter anything in. All of the sites. It will automatically fill out customs form if you’re mailing internationally. And you get discounts you can’t get at the post office at stamps.com. Priority mail on insurance, it’s all automatic. It’s all simple to use. And we have got a really good trial offer for you. If you visit stamps.com, click the microphone in the upper-right hand corner and use our offer code TWIT for an offer. I don’t think they even offer this on the front page anymore. This is a great deal. $55 in free postage. You get a free digital scale, you get a $5 supply kit and of course a four-week trial at stamps.com. Stampls.com, give it a try today, absolutely the best way to start sending your letters and packages. Over 2 billion letters and packages were sent this year via stamps.com. Two billion. Stamps.com. Apple is going to live-stream the event by the way. If you go to apple.com/live, you get the countdown clock. They’re really treating this like a big deal. I’m glad they’re streaming it. A little word, you have to use an Apple device to watch it. You can’t stream it on a Windows PC. Don’t you love Apple? Live-streaming video requires Safari on OS 10. Or an Apple TV. I presume you can do it on an iPad as well. So, can we find, Chad, an Apple TV so we can watch?
Om: You don’t have an Apple?
Chad: I think we already have one.
Dan: Safari for Windows, right?
Om: What are you using?
Leo: For what?
Om: The desktop?
Leo: For life? I’m using a Mac. I could just stream it from here. I tried to hide the label but it’s all cruddy now. So I need to get a Snow White sticker or something.
Om: You need your own screen with your own logo on it.
Leo: You can get it. We actually did the research. There’s companies that will mill new aluminum backs with the TWiT logo on it. But it’s like $500.
Om: You should do it.
Leo: I should do it.
Om: Don’t be cheap.
Leo: I’m cheap.
Om: Should we do a Kickstarter for you?
Leo: That’s a good idea. Help Leo have a special laptop lid. It’s about all you get from Kickstarter anyway. Anything I missed? Microsoft is going to appeal the court order, says we’re not going to hand over Irish email stored on Irish servers. That’s a good thing but they’ll lose in the end and then they’ll hand them over. So big deal, right? Here’s a story: New Zealand internet users were so keen to see naked celebrities pictures they actually crashed the entire nation’s internet. Telecommunications giant Spark, it took them until Sunday to repair what it termed a dynamic cyber-attack overloading their system because everyone was trying to get pictures at the same time. So just spread it out. Your neighbors get it, then you get it. Don’t try to do it all at once. I think we’ve seen the week of Efa, we’ve seen everything. It’s time to wait and see what Apple says. We will do that coverage live starting at 10am Pacific, that’s 1pm Eastern time. 1700 UTC, Tuesday, September 9th. Join me, Mike Elgin, Sara Lane, and Alex Lindsay as we cover the live event. And then immediately after a special Mac break weekly. Justine will join us. Andy Inocco, Rene Richie, live from Cupertino. Maybe Om Malik if we can grab him. And who knows. I don’t know who else will be there. But we’ll get as many people as we can to give you their impression of whatever Apple announces and whether it is a world changer or just another ho-hum list of products. Thank you, Dan Patterson for being here. We appreciate it.
Dan: Thank you.
Leo: Great to see you again.
Dan: You too.
Leo: Om Malik, you’re the best. He once called me the Yoda of technology reporting. But in fact, you are the Yoda. You are the man, yea.
Leo: It’s always good to see you. Gigaom.com and of course, thank you so much Jill Duffy for being here in your very attractive jump suit.
Jill: My pleasure.
Leo: Does it have any health things in there, at all?
Jill: No, not this one. I like to say this is my Three’s Company outfit. It’s a little blast back there.
Leo: Come on knock on our door. Thank you guys for being here. If you missed anything on TWiT, we’ve actually had a very fun week. Of all the TWiT promos we’ve done, I think this reflects very accurately what it was like this week on TWiT. Watch.
[Voices]: Last time on TWiT. If you bring a laptop, just a little tip, you can turn it around and facetime Apple invitations have gone out. Did you get one? I did. Shut up. You’re all going. You think you just fell off the list? They used to love me. They don’t even know I exist. TWiT live specials. For any software updates, you have to reconnect to a Galaxy product. Freedom. Apparently a new definition of freedom. Tech news today. Christina Warren, you wrote a really interesting piece called How I Hacked My Own iCloud Account for $200. Even with two-factor authentication on, I was able to download my iCloud backups from the cloud without any sort of prompts or notification. The social hour. Putie Pie, a very popular YouTube celebrity turned off comments. YouTube comments are such a cesspool. This Week in Google. I think the world needs a verified social network. Jeff, what do you think? I already registered, verified.zone. I know a lot of A-holes by name. TWiT. Technology isn’t always pretty. But we are. It’s so pretty. We’re so gross!
Leo: Oh, that I can’t un-see that. We got a big week ahead. And I think Mike Elgin, our news director has it all lined up. Mike, what’s coming up?
Mike Elgin: Coming up this week, the big event is Apple’s big announcement at the Flint Center in Cupertino. The company’s expected to unveil a couple new iPhones and a smart watch. Our live coverage will happen right here at live.twit.tv starting at 9:30am Pacific, 12:30pm Eastern. TNT will take place at 9am Pacific that day with our Apple coverage immediately following. Also, Reddit, FourSquare, Etscy, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Vimeo, and other sites are planning a new neutrality day of action on Wednesday, September 10th. They’ll showcase net neutrality issues on their sites and invite visitors to post comments on the FCC congress and white house websites in support of strong net neutrality. The protest is scheduled just a few days before the end of the FCC’s public comments period on Monday, the 15th. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: Thank you, Mike Elgin, news director. TNT Monday through Friday. Normally 10am Pacific, 1700 UTC. We’ll be doing it a little bit early on Tuesday to make room for the Apple event. Thank you, Dan Patterson, Om Malik. Thank you, Jill Duffy. Thank you all for joining us. We’ll see you next time on another TWiT!