This Week in Tech 505 (Transcript)
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWIT: This Week in Tech. Great panel for you! Jason Snell, Ben Thompson, and Steven Kovach. We're going to talk about the Apple Watch. We're going to talk about the Apple Watch, and I think there will be some Apple Watch coverage in there as well. TWiT is next!
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Leo: This is TWiT: This Week in Tech, Episode 505, recorded April 12, 2015.
My Thumb Got Sweaty
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It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech, the show that we every week to cover the latest tech news. We bring in the greatest journalists, my good friends, people we enjoy talking to to talk about the week's tech news. There's lots to talk about. So glad Jason Snell could be here.
Jason Snell: I'm here in person! Thanks for having me.
Leo: Thanks for coming in. You don't have an Apple Watch, but you do have a Macbook.
Jason: I do have a Macbook.
Leo: Good enough. I'll take it. We'll talk about that in just a second. Also here from Taiwan and Stratechery, Ben Thompson. Good to have you.
Ben Thompson: Good to be here.
Leo: Very early in the morning. 6 AM. Thank you for putting on a shirt for us.
Ben: I realize it's—what's the word? M...?
Leo: That's OK. We can read your super-secret notes on your whiteboard behind you.
Ben: It's OK. I already wrote that article.
Leo: Ben is an amazing analyst. I love having you on. If you are not yet subscribing to his newsletter at Stratechery, you must. Also with us from Business Insider, Steve Kovach. We've got a great panel here. Hi guys!
Steve Kovach: Hi! International panel.
Leo: International. In honor of Apple Watch day. Maybe better, in honor of Game of Thrones day.
Steve: I like that better.
Leo: I was thinking. This is a terrible night. Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, and Veep premier on HBO but there's Mad Men episode 2 on AMC, and The Good Wife.
Steve: Daredevil is back on Netflix.
Leo: Daredevil is back on Netflix!
Jason: I have one of those TEVOs.
Leo: In years gone by, they would have never done this. They would have carefully programmed this. You only go head to head if you want to sock—rough. But everybody watches on demand now. Nobody cares. It'll be interesting to watch tonight, because this is the first big night for HBO Now. This is the over the top. They have HBO ships on Apple right now. In three months, the exclusive will be over. Right now on iTunes... not iTunes...
Jason: Apple TV. IoS app. I've heard some people say it's not actually true that it's exclusve. It's the exclusive for HBO Now, but Sling lets you get HBO, so it's sort of over the top, but it's like regular HBO because Sling is considered a TV Provider. HBO Now through the Apple devices is a different thing, but it's going to be interesting to see if the Internet grinds to a hault at 9 PM Eastern when Game of Thrones comes on.
Leo: They did this last year, remember.
Jason: HBO Go did not make it.
Leo: HBO dismantled that multi-million dollar project up in Seattle.
Jason: Their CTO basically exited the company and they're using major league Baseball advance media for the streaming of HBO Now, which is funny. If you're not a baseball fan you might think: That's totally random, why are they using that? But it turns out Major League Baseball Advance Media is maybe the best, it's certainly one of the best video distributing mechanisms. CBS uses it for all of its sport's broadcasts, I believe ESPN is still using it for its streaming. They've had other clients for a long time, it's not just a baseball streaming service. They've got this huge infrastructure. I've been in their building in New York City that has this huge streaming infrastructure that they've built.
Leo: Do they have their own CDN, or do they use something else?
Jason: That I don't know. Their own infrastructure is gigantic, and they probably have CDN partners too, but I don't know that offhand. It's an amazing company. It's funny that HBO is drawing a little more attention to it. This is one of the great benefits baseball had of having the foresight to embrace digital technology earlier than most other sports leagues did. They invested in the tech, and now you've got big media companies like Time Warner with HBO now coming to them and saying, "Please help us." We'll see how they hold up.
Leo: It is a surprise, isn't it?
Jason: It's funny how that is. But baseball—that rural pastoral game—they did some really smart things with their tech.
Leo: Sling TV had trouble with March madness. The NCAA tournament were using Sling TV to watch ESPN saw buffering and stuttering—it wasn't a good experience.
Jason: I don't know. Interest here is outpacing the ability of these streaming services to catch up. Apple did some live streams of their events early on and then they stopped for a while. I think the reason was they couldn't manage it, and when they came back, they struggled to put together—streaming video is hard if there's demand. It can be really hard.
Leo: Well it's a very different model than the broadcast model. It doesn't matter if you've got a transmitter and an antennae if one person watches or a million, it's the same bandwidth from your point of view, but it's completely upside down for streaming. Cable is a little bit more like streaming, but it's so distributed that I think the Cable companies don't have to worry about this. HBO decided to launch Game of Thrones in 170 countries this year. It was the most pirated TV show of last year. Guess what? Can you watch it in Taiwan? is it on somewhere in Taiwan, Ben?
Ben: I'm not sure. People ask me if I get a lot of stuff done, and one reason is I don't watch TV.
Leo: It's why I get very little done myself. I prefer to watch TV to actually doing anything. I presume it's going to be 170 countries, it doesn't leave many out. But, already, the first four episodes have been leaked to the Bit Torrents. The thinking is the Review copies that were sent out.
Jason: I know a TV critic and I know that they got the four episodes. I actually saw the screeners the first year before it came on, and these seem to be a little more recent than the ones I saw in year one where they were missing effects. Looks like the effects are all there. It's an inferior experience, but if people really want to see those four episodes early they'll go ahead and do it. I'd rather watch it in HD with everything locked down and final.
Leo: Have you watched Daredevil the TV series on Netflix, Steve, or did you just bring it up to be—
Steve: I watched the first three episodes.
Leo: People are raving about it.
Steve: It's really good, the second episode especially. I was blown away. We put the story up on the site today. There's this one fight scene that they do in one shot, and it's absolutely brilliant. They did a really good job, and it ties into the other Marvel movies and TV shows. It's really good. It you have time to watch it, you definitely should. It's a must watch. Even if you don't like Marvel.
Jason: It's not like any of the other Marvel stuff. It's TV MA, it's grittier, it's darker. It's more violent, like realistic violence instead of cartoonish violent. What I like about it is the ramifications of the violence are not ignored. If a guy gets in a fight, he's hurt afterward and in pain. I like that. Violence has consequences, and that's one of the things that happens in Daredevil.
Leo: Now I have another show to watch. I'm really not going to get any sleep.
Ben: Honestly, days like today—premiering Game of Thrones, winds of regret. The one that I have kept up on is Mad Men, so I have that to look forward to.
Leo: It's kind of even more incomprehensible this season. I can't figure out what the hell is going on. I do like the style. I like the period. So Daredevil, when did that come out?
Jason: Friday. It was all Friday. The same minute that the Apple Watch went on sale.
Leo: And the Digital editions of Star Wars! They really don't want us to get anything done, do they?
Jason: They want your money.
Leo: Who are they, these people? All right. Let's talk about—
Jason: It's the watch Marvel axis complex.
Leo: Yes. The axis of Evil. So now I have to watch Daredevil. A lot of Twitter chatter about people saying, "It's darker than 'The Dark Knight,' " I don't know what they're talking about. Twitter is great for keeping up with what the in crowd is talking about. I've been putting off talking about the watch. Let's talk about the watch. Friday 12:01 Pacific time. I feel bad for anyone who is not in California. 3 AM if you're in the East coast. Apple opened the store, ten minutes later sold out. Pretty close to. Sold out. Right? I bet Ben must be following this a little bit. Is this a lack of supply? Unexpected demand? Inability to produce them rapidly enough? We don't know of course, but do you have a thought?
Ben: You just said my thought. We have no idea. Obviously it's some combination of limited supply and excess demand, but that's like saying two plus two is four. It's hard to say. I think it's as you would expect. It's in high demand, it sold out everywhere, not just in the US, but also in China. They launched in China the first week. Something to keep in mind is they did that for the first time with the—this is really the first time, actually. They planned to do it with the iPhone 6, but it was delayed in China. I'm sure Apple would prefer everyone to think that it's massive demand, but we don't know. It will be interesting to see if Apple does release a press statement on Monday saying how much they sold. They often do. If they do, I'm sure that the interpretation will be its excess demand.
Leo: Even the most expensive—a $17,000 gold edition sold out till June!
Jason: I think there's a question of whether they were—
Leo: It said August at first. At first signing it said August, and then they downgraded it to June. You think they hadn't made any?
Jason: They said that they were going to be later to ship the editions.
Leo: Maybe they can't crank these out. This is the one I would buy if I had $17,000, but who has $17,000? Obviously somebody. So everything across the board as you look, the sport, the edition, the stainless steel, almost all of them are now June. Whatever June means. I don't know if that's June 1st, June 30th...
Jason: I ordered mine 15 minutes into the order period and got mid May.
Leo: What did you get?
Jason: I got the sport edition, which seems to be the nerd watch of choice. I didn't even know that I was a stereotype. Turns out I am. Mid May is what I got.
Leo: I overslept. I woke up at 12:09. I ran to the computer which I had pre-configured. I had the Apple Store running and the app on my iPad. I had two that I favorited. I was very fortunate, because Lisa wanted a 38 millimeter steel, I want the 42. The 42 back ordered as well to May, but I got April 24 to May 7.
Ben: So that's really interesting is that it went on the Apps, it was available until midnight. It didn't go up on the web until 12:08.
Leo: That happened with the iPhone as well.
Ben: It did. I was very pissed off because I have to ship it the US first. Two, I was on the web because it's three in the afternoon, I was at my desk anyway. I'm curious if that was an intentional to drive people to use the App more. What was interesting is you could pay with Apple Pay, and I wonder if that's the first time using Apple Pay outside of the app store. It was the first time for me, and to be frank, it was pretty amazing. You coud have ordered the watch you wanted in less than 15 seconds. I'm curious if that was intentional or an accident. For me, it was effective in getting me to use Apple Pay to pay for a physical object. It was a very impressive demo.
Jason: This is not the frist time, it's happened a bunch of times now, and it seems to me that there's something in Apple's infrastructure where the store back end goes up, and the app is directly hooked into that back end. The web front end goes up later, and this has happened 3 or 4 times at least to the point that it's like the open secret now. If you really want to buy an Apple product the moment it goes on sale, use the Apple store app on iOS.
Ben: That makes sense if you think about— unfortunately the open secret was forgotten by me. I still have the ship date. I was very stressed out. For some reason, the app store has my wrong address and I can't get it to update, so every time I order I have to change the address. So I was changing the address—
Leo: It's like James Bond. The bombs ticking down.
Ben: Apple pay didn't work for me, because I think my thumb got sweaty.
Leo: I see a movie here. If I had to guess, there was an open question whether the Apple watch is a luxury and as a new category would sell as well as an iPhone. It's in the initial blush. I think a lot of people thought, "Oh wait till the next generation. Don't rush." I would geuss that the demand outpaced Apple's expectations. The rumor that the Wall Street Journal published was that they made five or five and a half million. Obviously they're going to go back and make as many as they can as fast as they can. We don't know. Maybe they made 1 or 2. My guess is that they sold 5 million in the first minute.
Ben: Jason put a wiser explanation to my surmising about background thinking. Ramping is difficult, and raming a brand new product is difficult.
Leo: But nobody knows how to do this better than Apple. They have decades of experience.
Ben: Sure, but it doesn't change—it's a physics problem. The speed of light is a constraint. Gravity is a constraint. It's like that when it comes to manufacturing. There are fundamental constraints when it comes to making and ramping a product. We've never had a company of the scale of Apple launching a new product. You have to remember, the iPhone, Apple wasn't at all the company that it is now. Event he iPad, whereas today the demand for anything they sell is so overwhelming. I'm sure that no matter if they had estimated, it would still be sold out for the very constraints that come with building a new product.
Jason: Strategically, if you're Apple you want to get to the point where you can release a decent number of them, but you don't want to get to the point where you can fulfill all demand anyway. You want to have some backlog, I think. Otherwise, you've waited too long.
Leo: If somebody is waving money at you, you want to take it.
Jason: They took it. And then they'll give you your watch later.
Ben: To meet demand, the demand is always highest in the first quarter. If you want to meet that demand, it's extremely inefficient, because the problem is all that capacity is then going to be underused the rest of the year. So it’s a very difficult balancing act. I suspect with the iPhone, the date of the physical week of the phone—what the phone looks like from a physical perspective—it's actually getting earlier and earlier every year. So this year, the first leak of the i6 was in February.
Leo: It's because they're starting earlier and earlier.
Ben: They're actually ramping earlier and earlier, because they want to have—if you build enough capacity to satisfy first quarter, you're wasting money. They're trying to start earlier and earlier so they can have some pent up. They sold 75 million in the first quarter last year, which is insane, so they still didn't meet demand. It's a good problem to have, but it's a problem that no one in the industry has had to face.
Leo: Steve, you're getting yours tomorrow?
Steve: No. Next week. I think, this could be reviewing it from my point, even trying to order it—first of all I'm not sure I want to own one in the first place. Second of all, I think if they really did make 5 million in the intiial shipment, we're going to hear about it on Monday, because they don't really have a precedent for bragging about these things. There's a reason why they haven't been saying—it's because their sales are going down, whereas iPhone sales—each opening weekend is bigger than the previous year. If they can sell 5 million.. wow. That's more than any smartwatch maker has made ever. Pebble has only sold 1 million.
Leo: 700,000 Android wears...
Steve: That's nothing! That's peanuts. If they can do 5 million in one weekend, that's insane. They've already proven that they have a market for this thing. They've already said they're going to lump these things in with that other category with Apple TV and a bunch of other junk. We'll get a sense from third parties how well this thing is doing, but it will be interesting to see if they have that press release tomorrow talking about opening weekend sales and pre orders.
Leo: It's a triumph of marketing, isn't it Steven? Look how poorly everything else has done in this category. Nobody needs one. It's a luxury item, and yet the triumph of Apple's marketing is it doesn't matter. They're going to sell out no matter what.
Steve: If you look at feature for feature what this watch can do vs. Android wear, the features are similar. You can talk into it, you get notifications, it buzzes you. It looks a lot better than Android watches. It has that status symbol, it feels premium. As far as feature for feature what it can do, there's not that use case. It's too earlier to judge. Maybe because it's Apple and it's a triumph for marketing like you said, people will find that use case. Right now, even Apple has been mushy on that messaging. Why do you need this thing? There's a big thing at Wired—I know Ben wasn't a big fan of that piece, but it said it helps you not look at your phone so much. That kind of came from Apple. It's unclear if that's Apple's real mission with this thing or is it just a status symbol of marketing.
Ben: So on one hand, it's Apple's marketing. On the other hand, Apple is bad at articulating what it's good for. This is the tiredest trope when it comes to Apple ever, that Apple sells stuff because of good marketing when it matches feature for feature. Why can't you sell a Macbook that's more expensive, like the one that I'm sitting in front of Jason. At some point, when do we put this argument to bed that Apple sells stuff because of marketing and actually consider that there's other stuff going on?
Steve: Marketing may not be the right word. Let's say "wow factor" then. The Apple allure. Marketing, fine. Let's put that aside. The allure, is that a fair statement then?
Ben: I think Apple has built up a very loyal customer base. No question. The reason why they built that up, I would argue, is they've delivered a superior user experience for their products. User experience isn't something that goes on a feature sheet, it's not something you can check off and compare next to each other. You start off—why Samsung losing the high end to Apple? It's not because of features. Given that, Apple—people trust if they buy an Apple product, they're going to be satisfied with it. Now, Apple can trade in on that trust. People will buy the watch regardless of what—
Leo: This is the culmination of years of reputation.
Jason: It's like saying people are going to see a Disney movie. First off, that's earned. Disney earned that label, and second if they spend too much time not delivering what the promise is, people will stop going, but there is that truth that you can have a brand that has that attachment to it. That's what we see with Apple. Yes, people are buying it because it's an Apple product, but Apple has earned a lot of that brand loyalty.
Leo: They're buying it on faith.
Jason: I hate the faith based metaphors for Apple, but in this case, you got it right. A product in a new category. There is trust that people are putting into Apple that this is a great product, even though they may not know quite what they're going to do with it because it's from Apple and they have some trust there. That trust could easily be harmed if it doesn't live up to the hype, that's true.
Leo: Apple probably also gets a pass from journalists who are unwilling to be too strongly critical of it, because you don't want to look like an idiot when the thing sells so well.
Ben: That's not getting a pass though. That's being totally rational. The reality is... I think I was on before the iPhone, Leo. You were super skeptical of the sales.
Leo: I'm the idiot who keeps saying that.
Ben: Fortunately, most of the time you don't have people like me coming out and reminding you of it.
Leo: I don't mind. I honestly don't think the iPhone is a better device than the galaxy 6S Edge, it knocks the iPhone all over the place in so many ways. But that has nothing to do with why people buy the iPhone, apparently. The same thing with a watch.
Ben: Or maybe what you value in a phone is different than what a lot of consumers value.
Leo: I think anybody with an objective mind would say Android is a far superior choice.
Steve: I'm not getting into this right now.
Leo: that's objective. If you look at the two and you came from Mars and you didn't know any of the history and you looked at it, you'd say, "I don't understand why people are buying iPhones." Why would you buy an iPhone? That thing is constipated as hell. You've got a grid if icons. It's horrible!
Ben: The problem with this perspective, Leo, is the implication of that is that there are a lot of people who are dumb in the world.
Leo: I'm not saying dumb.
Ben: You are though. You're saying obviously this is better. Why are these tens of millions of idiots buying a product that costs more?
Leo: I'm not saying that because it's an insulting thing to say. They're not stupid. For whatever reason, they're buying into—look. People bought a windows for years even though it was a horrible opperating system. But that's what they bought. You buy a PC, you're going to buy a Windows. You buy a phone, you're going to buy an iPhone. It's not that they're dumb, it's they don't have time to figure out which is better. They go with a default.
Ben: No offense to Jason, but you were dumb to buy a Mac in the 90's.
Leo: I agree. OS 9...
Jason: Those were dark times.
Ben: The reality is until the Internet came along and most of our applications moved to the Internet, there was lots of stuff you couldn't do on a Mac. User experience aside, and that was changed with the Internet, which made it remove that gate. There's two different things when it comes to features. Some stuff is a reason to buy, and then there's stuff that's a reason not to buy. The reason not to buy is devastating. Windows Phone for example. Not having a competitive set of apps, and even if you do have apps, they're all inferior. That's a reason to not buy. It doesn't matter how good the user experience is, or how delightful it is to use. You're not going to consider it because there's a gate there. That was the same thing when it came to the Mac. To say that people were buying Windows because they were sheep... I think that's insulting to people. The reality is, most people aren't tech people. They're not sitting around weighing the stuff. They have stuff they want to get done. Normal people who aren't technical at all consistently find it's easier to go about their day and it's less frustrating, and they can do what they want to do more consistently on an iPhone.
Leo: I agree with you. That isn't true after 2005, 2004. But there's a lot of momentum and people continue to buy Windows. That's my point. In the 90's there was no question. I'm not talking about the 90's.
Ben: Fair enough. But you're the one who brought up the analogy.
Leo: Let's say ten years ago, 2005. Windows sold out of momentum more than anything else. Windows XP sold out on momentum compared to a Mac.
Ben: 15% of the market is the enterprise market. There remains very good reason to buy Windows.
Leo: I agree. Enterprise, absolutely. I'm not talking about enterprise.
Ben: In the consumer market in the US, Apple is not far from 50%. They are crushing...
Leo: The momentum doesn't last forever.
Ben: We live in a world with friction. The problem with an LG is the momentum is in favor of the iPhone.
Leo: Yes. Does that mean it's better? Does that... It's a silly argument. You like what you like. But I think that just because something sells it doesn't make it better.
Jason: I think that's true, but objectively you could see that for different people, different operating systems and platforms could be of value to them. I don't think an alien that came down from outer space would look at the Android eco system and say that is clearly better. I think that it would depend on what that alien's personal preferences were and how they wanted to use their phone. The difference between a platform and a product... I think you could argue that the Galaxy S6 is one of the few, as Ben mentioned, Samsung is changing their approach and pulling lots of features out of the Galaxy in order to create a product that is way closer to what Apple has been doing with hardware. People really like it. A lot of these products aren't there. A lot of Android experiences aren't that good. So it's not just the operating system platform. It's the hardware. Apple has excelled in that for quite a while now. Only now are we seeing Android phones that can match it.
Leo: Katy Perry wearing her Micky Mouse Watch. I think there is something interesting going on here. I think this has to do more with Beats more than it does with a watch. I wonder if they're going to these artists in the face of an assault by Title, and Apple is saying, "Hey Katy, just remember us when the new album comes out." Here's your $17,000 gold watch.
Steve: They've done celebrity seating forever, even at the Apple watch debut way back in September. Gwen Stefani was there. Will I am was there. They've always had this... there's always been a celebrity aura around this product.
Leo: Stakes are higher now.
Steve: Oh yeah. Stakes are higher, I don't know if we're getting into this later, but the Beats thing. One thing they might want to do to set themselves apart is have this exclusive deal. I don't know if a $17,000 watch would entice someone who has a cash hoard that Katy Perry and Drake have to start using Apple instead, but who knows?
Leo: They say if you get all the Micky Mouse watches in a row, they'll all be tapping their foot together. Can we try that.
Ben: I would assume so.
Leo: I don't know. I think that's a hard thing to do. You've got to get the foot tapping—are they synchronized? That would be pretty cool. All right. Anything more to say about the watch?
Steve: I went to the store on Friday on the fifth avenue flagship store, and I thought the retail experience is interesting. Obviously the Apple Store employees will spend as much time with you as you need. Answer all your stupid questions, but this is very different. It's intimate. They're letting you try on the bands, they're putting it on you. There's a little drawer locked underneath the table that they unlock with an iPhone. It was very much different than any other time we've been to the Apple Store. It's a very unique experience they're building around this product.
Leo: Especially when you say I'll take this, and they walk you over to a web browser. Good. Here, you can order it online now.
Jason: The consierge takes you to the web page. I went to the Madera store here, north of San Francisco. They have this new set up, like you said. I think it's the device stuck on the back of an iPod touch, so it's not actually in the unit, but they've got this RFID thing. They were struggling with it, and how you get those doors unlocked and all of that. It was a learning curve. It is fascinating. It'll be interesting to see how this changes the feel of Apple Stores, because now they've got this big tables for the Apple Watch in the middle there. Are those going to be super busy with people? Are they going to be quieter than the other places? I don't know, but it's going to change the retail experience at Apple stores a little bit.
Leo: The Verge went shopping at Lafayette in Tokyo. These are the non Apple retailers, but the fancy stores where they are selling.
Jason: Luxury, Leo.
Leo: Of course... did any of you have the nerve to say I want to go in and look at the edition? I want to do that.
Jason: They would look at my hoodie and say I don't think so.
Leo: You think they would do that?
Jason: No, they would play along.
Leo: They're not asking for a credit report before you go see it, are they?
Jason: Probably not. Besides, this is the Bay area. Billionaires wear hoodies now.
Leo: Right! My startup, just launched it. My CFO said I should get something pretty.... Was it Tom Lauren who made a run for it? One of the Verge people made a run for it. The Security guard simply smiled and watched me run to the door. Good job I'm not a real thief, otherwise I'd be in the back of a London taxi typing up my ebay auction right now. Good for you Tom Warren. He ran for it! Joanna Sterns review for the Wall Street Journal, she actually did a funny thing. She got a camera attached to her head, temporarily, it's not permanent. She was shooting her whole day. She gets in the shower with it, she says don't try this at home. Then she's walking through the Wall Street Journal offices. Rupert Murdoch walks up to her and says what's that. She says it's the new Apple Watch. "Can I see it?" He walks off with it.
Ben: It's funny. It's been translated into Chinese. It's been very popular over here as well.
Leo: Interesting. I think this is the best review of the Apple Watch is the Wall Street Journal. Joanna's really excellent video. We were talking before the show, Steve Kovach and I were talking about there must have been tens of thousands of dollars that the Verge put into the production of the review where there's at the end credits.
Jason: I wanted music to play at the end credits, in fact. Yeah.
Leo: Unbelievable! Steven and I looked through it like a glossy magazine. I've never seen anything like that in a blog.
Steve: I've a feeling that a lot of people did what you and I did Leo, which is scroll through it. It is way too dense for me to read. I tried to on the phone. Also too dense. I have no idea what that review said.
Jason: It's a good review.
Leo: It's so sad. They spent so much money on the production.
Jason: To read the article, I ended up reading it on insta paper.
Leo: Steve tried to do the same thing. It didn't render that well. Through this vieo showed the battery life. The battery does die early on. At 10 PM it was going in low mode.
Ben: I thought the consensus was that the battery is better than what was expected.
Jason: It seems to me that Apple was worried about all day battery life, so they have cranked back on a lot of other things in order to make it get through the day, which is the right decision, but it makes it where people say it didn't wake up and tell me the time fast enough, or it didn't sink with the phone fast enough. Those are all decisions that Apple had to make in order to get it through the day. But, if you can't get it through the day, there's no point in having that product.
Leo: Both Joanne and Neil complained about the creepy emoticons. The 3D emoticons. She had trouble with the UI because it's so tiny. She said you had to have doll-like fingers to use the buttons, but she didn't know you could pinch it to make it bigger.
Jason: You can twirl the crown to make it bigger. It's not multi-touch.
Leo: A lot of people say—in fact it was a real commonality in the reviews. There's a learning curve. Some people say it's a discoverability curve. Nontheless, time spent with the watch will benefit you because you'll get better with it.
Jason: It's good that these reviewers had time with it, because I feel like the best review of this thing will be after somebody spends more than a month with it to really get what it's like and to really get it integrated. Oh! that old man is going to steal your watch!
Leo: Do you think they called Rupert and said, "we're doing this thing? Could you come down to the 4th floor?"
COMMERCIAL GIRL: Sure. That's OK.
COMMERCIAL MURDOCH: That's really nice. Thank you very much. Thank you.
COMMERCIAL GIRL: Actually, I need that back.
Leo: At the end of the review they show the head gear. She shot the whole thing herself! Compared to some other guy who had 18 camera men. She's wearing some strange bicycle helmet with a camera in front of it!
Jason: And an umbrella.
Ben: She used to have one on Twitter. The resolution isn't high enough.
Leo: That's a lot of guts to get on the Subway wearing that.
Ben: It's great. She did a great job. They're consistently informative and really funny, she's doing a great job. This is a high point.
Jason: There's a reason she was working for ABC news for a while. Her video personality is so great too.
Leo: By the way, she also writes that the Galaxy S6 has met its match. The only thing wrong with the S6 is battery life. It's terrible. It's got a finger print reader that is as good as the Apple. You don't have to swipe it.
Jason: Samsung might regret the glass back at some point.
Leo: It gets hot.
Jason: The glass back, you're asking for trouble.
Leo: Finger prints, if nothing else.
Jason: Apple tried that with the 4, and they went away from it with the 6.
Leo: 577 dots per inch. The retina brand has been stolen from Apple.
Jason: At some point you can't see the dots anymore.
Leo: With a magnifying glass you can't see the dots on this thing. The camera is stunning.
Jason: I love that Samsung took features out of this product. It's a more focused product. That was one of my concerns about the Apple watch . There are so many features in it, instead of focusing on fewer but more solid features. We'll have to see.
Leo: That's a pretty sweet looking, well designed phone.
Jason: Took the plastic back off. That's good.
Leo: I don't think so. I want to put the battery in there, it's driving me crazy.
Ben: It's interesting, Leo. You mentioned that... I'm curious to see how the S6 sells. One reason to think objectively why Android is superior in your words is there's no question that the OS is more flexible. More customizable. You can arrange things more to your likely, but if you're dealing with a premium product where someone is paying several hundred dollars for a phone and they are buying it because they value that flexibility, I would assume they probably value it in the hardware as well. This is the advantage that Samsung has over HDC. HDC has been making beautiful phones for a while and it hasn't helped them that much. I think that someone who values that is more likely to value it in the hardware. It's a shame to hear you say that you're disappointed that they prioritize the industrial design or aesthetic over the rest of it. I suspect that there's a lot of people who are going to think that way.
Leo: It's a pretty spectacular shift for Samsung who was making utilitarian industrial design phones. I'm not a Samsung fan by the way. I thought the S5 was awful. I've been disappointed by the junkwear Samsung has been putting into its Android. This phone is the most beautiful phone I've ever held. This is the Edge. It's got the infinity screen. I wish it had infinity battery life.
Jason: They're following Apple in so many different areas. Even people complaining about the battery.
Ben: What's the size of the S6 again?
Leo: It's close to iPhone 6. 25, 50 by 1400. If you have an iPhone 6 and put it next to it, the width, the height is a little taller, but the thickness is the same. Weight wise is about the same. It just doesn't run that constipated IOS.
Jason: Why don't they invite you to things, Leo? Why doesn't that happen?
Leo: Did you read Kushell Dave's piece? He says I know Apple app developers are afraid of speaking out about this, because they're afraid of getting slapped down by Apple. He says, and I completely agree with him, that the review process in the App store is hurting users. Bug fixes are delayed by weeks, partly because Apple has decided to be a nanny and prohibit all sorts of Apps that we should be able to see. We're not 4 year olds. I'm not just talking about adult content, but political content. Apple is blocking apps that ridicule public figures, that show too much skin. Apps with Jobs themes, legal marijuana themes, search engines, drones. Steve Jobs once argued he was offering us freedom from porn. If you want to criticize religion, write a book. I think Apple is putting itself in an interesting position here. People don't care. they sold 75 million phones. This is a strong inditement of Apple as a gatekeeper and as a bad steward of the App store because it's so hard to get bug fixes out. So hard to test apps. Anyway. I'm not here to bash Apple. I wasn't intending to do that.
Jason: I think there's a bunch of things in this piece. A lot of this is not new at all. A lot of this is fundamentally complaining about App store moderation policies. A lot of them have been in place since Steve Jobs was making those rules. There's some interesting rules in there about how in the present day, the back log creates issues where it's hard to get bug fixes out. I've heard from developers who've said they have updates that it's nice to have features. They don't bother to release them because they don't want to go through the process. If you're going to be Apple and say we're going to watch everything that gets submitted, there's some responsibility you have to take to get the back log down. You've got to find a way to make it so that your developers aren't spending weeks waiting for their apps to get out.
Leo: Also, arbitrary enforcement of the rules. It's never clear whether your app is going to get approved or not.
Jason: A good friend of mine is a developer of an App that got approved and then told to be removed. It was applauded and featured on the store, and then some other part of Apple said "No. We don’t want you to do that." That happens sometimes, and I thinka bunch of things are going on here. Steve Jobs was a key figure in defining what the rules were, and with him gone, Apple was willing to change, but there are some parts of Apple that are changing and other parts that aren't changing as quickly if at all. Inside Apple there is conflict, and when Apple is a black box, like it is, it's very hard. You end up with these bizarre behaviors. They say yes, and they say we'll feature you, and then they say please take it out of the store, which doesn't make sense. It's problematic. The idea that comes from Steve Jobs that we need to make the App store a place that if it's not appropriate for the lowest common denominator, we need to keep it out of the store is crazy now. I'm optimistic that Apple is changing, and that their approach is going to change here. Right now, it's a mess, because there are parts of Apple that want to change, and parts that don't.
Leo: We're finishing the Apple stuff.
Ben: One more thing on this point. First off, I agree with both of you and with Jason's point that there are significant issues with the App store process. This is something I've been consistently very critical of Apple about. Not just from the randomness of it, but also because I think they're hurting themselves. I think Jason's point "we look at Apple as being a monolith," but there are different factions within Apple. There's parts of Apple that are still connected to the old Apple. One of those sections is App review. It's an organization. That said, I thought this article was disappointing. It was disappointing primarily for the title. Apple's app store review process hurting users. It's hurting users by extension. It's hurting developers. By developers being hurt and not releasing updates, users are hurt. The issue is nowhere in this article does it acknowledge the App store and Apple's stringent control and the trust that people have in Apple has fundamentally changed the way users think about software and apps. To go back to Windows, people were scared to download stuff. No one would do it, and the App Store and this process changed the way people did it. Both helping users, and helping developers frankly. I think that there's an issue here where there are things Apple needs to change. I critisize them consistently on this point, but without acknowledging that the real benefits that are here and the benefit to normal people, it does this argument a disservice. It goes too far. I think unbalanced users benefit from App review, and without acknowledging that balance it makes the article weaker than it ought to be. There's a lot of good points in there.
Leo: Apple certainly does a better job with App review than Microsoft, but I'm not sure it does a better job than Android.
Jason: they're doing limited review, but it doesn't seem to be at the scale that Apple is.
Leo: I don't know that there are particularly bad... there are bad apps on all the app stores.
Jason: Apple does provide the additional layer of scrutiny here.
Leo: There's malware on all the App stores I might add.
Jason: There's a lot less of it at the Apple app store, because they have people checking. It can get through, and then they run the kill switch on it.
Ben: Beyond that, I think that the way that the Apps are sand boxed more aggressively on IOS, perhaps leading to your constipation, Leo, you can't really hurt your phone by downloading an App from the app store. I'm not sure you can say the same thing about Android, at least previously. I know they've instituted a new level of control. Again, it's this mushy hand wavey sort of stuff. That's how Apple gets trust. People feel safe using an iPhone. They feel like everything is going to be OK. They can download stuff and delete and it's going to work OK. I think it matters. It's not marketing. It's not people being brainwashed. People don’t want to be techies. They want to live their life and have something that will do it better. Apple has their trust that they're going to do it better than other brands will. I don't own any Apple stock, I don't want to be a defender, but a core thing is that they don't value this gray area, this consumer psychology aspect, user experience aspect that Apple excels at. I think it makes it harder to understand why the company does so well. It's why people get the predictions wrong all the time. I find it so intellectually fascinating.
Leo: But is that any different from making a great brand like a Burbury raincoat, which isn't demonstrably better than some other brand raincoat, but outsells it because the brand is better? I come from a background of celebrating technical excellence, not marketing excellence. I think Apple has clearly got marketing excellence behind it 100%. I'm not convinced that that reflects technical excellence. Let's talk about 10.3. This is a little frustrating. Apple has patched it in 10.10.3, but they've decided that it's too hard to fix it in previous versions of OS 10, meaning that thousands of Apple Macintosh users are vulnerable to it. It's actually an API that was put in there by Apple. It allows group privilege from any account in the system. Maybe it's not a real threat, but the fact that Apple is patching it only on the latest version of their operating system seems to me not great. Then there's the icloud.
Jason: You've got to keep in mind that Apple has spent the last few versions of OSX not pushing the compatability forward. So there's a huge number of existing macs. Almost every Mac made since 2009 can run the current version of the Operating System. So yeah, they would have to update for free.
Leo: We had somebody in the audience today who runs some specialized sign making software that won't run on Yosemite.
Jason: It is not as catastrophic as an operating system that didn't run past two year old machines, and that you had to pay a lot of money to upgrade. It's not as bad as that.
Ben: I appreciate you bringing this up, Leo. I can prove that I'm not completely in it for Apple. I think that this is a poor decision. Frankly, I think Apple's security record, particularly with OS X is getting worse and not better. It's never been particularly great. It's a dangerous game. I can understand Jason's point. They're offering the updates for free, they go back a long ways. Why aren't you up to date? Their reasons in professional contexts where you might not be up to date. Appe prioritizes 1. Apple, 2, Users, 3. developers, in that order. This seems to be taking the prioritizing a little too far. Unfortunately, it's part of a pattern of Apple being slow with updates and not as far reaching as they should. It's a dangerous game because it messes with their trust. If someone has an issue here, because Apple wasn't agressive updating it. That's a problem. I was disappointed and not surprised by this news.
Jason: My point was that it could have been worse. You can update many systems for free. At Macworld we had a system that was still running Snow Leopard because there was specific software that didn't run on Lion, let alone Mountain Lion or Yosemite. Apple security has not been great.
Leo: How do you like the MacBook?
Jason: I like a lot about it. I like the screen, I like the lightness.
Leo: I admire their willingness to really strike out. Not strike out in the baseball way, but to venture forth and to try something new. I remember when the air came out, everybody imitated. It's an interesting thing to make a device that has one connector. Nothing else. It's amazingly light. I thought the keyboard was OK.
Jason: It depends on how you feel. Some people have very strong opinions about keyboards. This one has a lot less keyboard travel, that's the amount of space the key depresses when you press it. I'd say it's about a third and a half of travel. So that's what they've done to make up for the reduced physical movement because they need to make this as thin as possible. They've got the new buteterfly switch. It's clicky. The keys are wider. They're more stable. There's all these things they've done to make up for the fact that when you hit it, it doesn't move very much. For me, I don't like that reduced travel. it's a halfway point between typing on glass and typing on a traditional keyboard. A little bit better than a touch screen where there's no feedback, but it's not that far away.
Leo: I've used ultra thin notebooks. Also had a keyboard that was difficult to type accurately with. They fixed it in the second generation. I feel like this is better than that. I haven't used it for that long. How about speed? It's a Core M processor.
Jason: That's about as fast as a MacBook air from 2011. If you're somebody who cares about speed, it's going to be an issue. The fact is, I don't think most people use the processor speed they've got. The SSD makes up for a lot of that, because so much of what we think of as computer speed is actually slow disc. The biggest upgrade I ever made in a computer is when I went to an SSD for the first time. You realize that you were waiting for disc the entire time. Now when I use a computer that's still got a spinning disc in it, it makes me sad. That makes up for a lot of the ills of the core end being slow. That said, if you're somebody who is rendering video...
Steve: So Jason, who do you think should buy this? It still costs more than a MacBook Air. You are paying for a design, and a Retina screen, plus battery life.
Jason: You are paying for the Retina screen. This is basically a MacBook Air with a Retina screen, and you are paying what you pay for the MacBook Pro 13, and what you are getting is something that is not as powerful, but it thinner and lighter. It's a matter of priorities. Apple now is making 3 different lines. They've essentially got 5 computer models, laptop models, so you've got to pick if you want cheaper but no Retina, do you want more full featured and powerful with Retina but heavier, do you want something that is not very powerful but has Retina and is super thin and light? Pick 2 of these things. I think for a lot of people who want that Retina display and don't really care that it's not super powerful because they are not going to use that super power anyway I think that it makes sense. In the end this is going to be the new MacBook Air essentially, right? The Air is around because they can make a non-Retina laptop for less than $1,000. Apple can't sell a Retina MacBook for less than $1,000 yet. So that is why it's still around. I think that today it is limited appeal, and in 6 months it will be more appealing, and in a year it will be more appealing. Especially as the USB C stuff comes out.
Leo: I love Type C. I have it on the Pixel and I love it, just love it.
Ben: I get the consensus that it's of limited appeal, but I don't understand that honestly. I think that it's limited appeal to us as tech people, but again anecdotally, I've talked to be people and not to use the tiredest cliché in the book, but looking at how my wife uses her computer for example; I don't think that most people plug anything into their computers ever.
Steve: I do.
Leo: But we are unusual.
Ben: We are unusual. Especially in the big difference here is that most people's camera is their phone. Now that that is the case that was kind of the last thing that people plugged in regularly. Now having the USB C kind of being an emergency hatch where there is a port of you need it, the expectation is that you don't use it most of the time, I think that is going to be totally find for the majority of people. Again, I would only buy one if I had a separate desktop computer. I know Jason has the iMac over there. I think for the majority of people though, it's perfectly fine as their normal computer. I think that Jason is right; the MacBook Air still exists because they can't get it under $1,000. I think that it is going to be more successful than people think.
Leo: It sold out, right?
Steve: It's spectacular in person.
Leo: It's backordered, right?
Jason: The people who complain about the processor being Core M are the same people who complain about the one port. There is a whole annex of people in our chatroom and watch the show, and that's fine, not every product is for everybody. Ben is right; there is a whole class of people who just don't care about that. They want it thin, and light, and they want the pretty Retina screen, and it's got all of that.
Leo: It's so light.
Jason: There are a lot of nice things about it. I think that all of our concerns about it are going to fall away over time, and then just like with the Air, in 2 or 3 years we are going to say, oh, that makes sense.
Ben: There are lots of people who don't care about Retina.
Leo: Oh, I care.
Ben: Sadly enough.
Leo: Once you start using a high resolution screen it's hard to go back.
Ben: You care. The people who don't care that it's only one port...
Leo: Don't you think that people can tell? Immediately you look at once you start using it, you go well now I see the difference. I agree that until you see the difference you don't know the difference. It's like the difference between HD and SD. There were people who said when HD came out, oh, nobody is going to care. You care once you see the 2 together and you know.
Jason: You know, as computer nerds we also get hung up on specs, right? But the most important specs for that are that it's thin and it's light. Those are the most important things. Looking at it and saying oh my god it's so thin, it's so light.
Leo: This screen looks remarkable.
Jason: The screen is good too. I think that comes first for people. It's very easy for computer people to say, oh that's looks, and it's really about what is inside. For some people it's about looks.
Leo: I've come around. I mocked the Chromebooks when they came out, and I have completely come around on that.
Jason: This reminds me a lot of like a thin Chromebook Pixel actually.
Leo: Our concept of what a computer is has changed dramatically. The Pixel is incredible, incredible. Alright, now we are finally done with that. Not one more word about Apple. That's it, we are over.
Jason: I can go home now.
Leo: No, no, stay here. There is more stuff, just not Apple stuff. So for those of you who have been sitting through the podcast with your fingers in your ears saying I don't want to hear it; you can now take your fingers out of your ears.
Jason: You should motion to them to come.
Leo: Darth Vader is loose. By the way, I'm actually re-watching Star Wars because I bought all 6 of them. I bought it on Google so that I could play them on iTunes and on Voodoo because of the Disney Anywhere thing. Don't buy it on Amazon because then Disney Anywhere won't work. Disney won't have Episode 4: A New Hope because that's a Fox. This is a big deal, I don't know why; this is the most recent version.
Jason: Yeah, special edition.
Leo: Special editions.
Steve: Not the original originals.
Leo: Yeah, I got really caught up in this. I was like, what, Han shot first? Then I went to Wikipedia and I found it. There is this whole movement, there is a documentary about it, and there is a whole movement about people who want to get back to the original Star Wars.
Jason: There is a guy who just got hired to do 4k restorations of other films whose name is Harmy, and he created these Harmy's Specialized Editions. It's amazing; he's used 20 different sources to create the highest resolution possible equivalent of the original releases.
Leo: You know what is annoying is that George could do this, but George has decided that I don't like the original version, so just because you grew up with it doesn't mean that I'm going to support it.
Jason: The theory is that at some point we will see those and they will be sold to the true film buff and fans of the 70's version. They will soft peddle it; they won't say that it's the real version.
Leo: In front of the Harmy video about how he did it they have got an ad for the special editions. Are they confused?
Steve: It's Google.
Leo: It's Google. It's automatic. They don't know what they are doing. If you haven't watched these specialized editions...
Jason: It's staggering how many. They used a laser disc, they used a TV broadcast, and they used a 35 mm print that they scanned...
Leo: A TV broadcast?
Jason: Yeah, there was an HD TV broadcast that had stuff that wasn't in the Blu-ray, so it was a Hi-res version that they used. So they took all of these sources and this is what the video is. It's amazing, and of course they are not legally available, but the work they did, this is not some minor film edit.
Leo: It's completely insane.
Jason: They color corrected it all to look like the right color pallet from the original. It's great.
Leo: They do point out that there really is some horrible stuff that Lucas did.
Leo: Come on, you can't change Annie Baru's dialogue.
Jason: No you can't. At least the milk is still blue.
Leo: The milk is still blue. They didn't change that. It's really fascinating. Where do you get these specialized editions?
Jason: On the internet, the dark corners of the internet.
Leo: Secret spy stuff.
Jason: Search, you may find.
Ben: It's not that dark. It's pretty easy.
Jason: No, it's very easy to find.
Leo: See, I was 21 when it came out. So I didn't grow up with this. But I understand, if you were 8 years old and you watched the original Star Wars 24 times you are going to be upset.
Jason: Well those 90's Mac based special effects that they build in the special edition now look old. If they are going to look old you might as well look at the original models.
Leo: Right, that's actually a good point.
Jason: It will happen. They will come back some day.
Leo: George says that the original Star Wars was only one third of what I wanted to do and I have just been making it better all along. There you do.
Steve: That's why in Episode 7 JJ Abrams seems to be going back to the puppet thing, which I think really makes more sense. I think that everything that we have seen from behind the scenes and stuff like that he has been using actual like animatronics, and Muppets, and whatever. That just feels more real. We don't need CG storm troopers. It makes no sense.
Leo: I'm watching The Empire Strikes Back, and Yoda really is obviously Fozzi Bear. I'm just saying.
Jason: Or Grover.
Leo: Or Grover.
Ben: I think that people could put up with the having more effects and stuff like that, people who be more justifiably annoyed, but when you get into changing plot details, and that's why people focus on the Han shot first thing because that like changes the fundamental nature of the character. That puts the lie to Lucas's argument of oh, that's what I always wanted to do because no, if you wanted Han to shoot second you have him shoot second, but you didn't, you had him shoot first. If he had only done the extra stuff I think that people would still complain, but I think a lot of us, including me, would get over it. It's still the same movie. But now that you are actually changing stuff.
Leo: They took the Ewok song out.
Jason: Yeah, they put in a different one.
Leo: That's not okay.
Steve: They took out the Yub Nub.
Jason: Yeah, there is no Yub Nub. And it shows like scenes from the prequels at the end.
Leo: That is not okay.
Jason: I think that it will eventually get resolved. I think that the Harmy's Specialized shows that there is a market for this. Eventually now that Disney controls Lucas Film I think that it will happen. Just to make George feel better they will have the special specialized over here, and we will have the original editions over here, and everyone will be happy. In the meantime, if you like the original seek out the internet.
Leo: Look at the motion blur that was produced by this really crappy digitization. I mean, just terrible. Alright, I didn't mean to get into this.
Jason: Star Wars segment. Now no more Star Wars either. No Apple and no Star Wars from now on.
Leo: No, there might be more Star Wars.
Jason: Alright, fair enough. No promises.
Leo: Yub Nub will appear later in the show to sing.
Steve: That's the title of the show right? Yub Nub.
Leo: Yub Nub. No Yub Nub. What did they do with Yub Nub? Our show today is brought to you by GoToMeeting. Oh, those folks at Citrix, they make such a useful product. I use it all the time. I don't want to do a phone meeting anymore without GoToMeeting running. First of all, it's a great way to do a conference call, but then if you want you can share screens, you can turn on the HD camera to see each other, it makes a ;meeting over the internet as good or maybe even better than a meeting in person. With GoToMeeting you can meet from any computer, any tablet, any smartphone. No travel expenses, no traffic, your team can join by clicking a link. There are no sign ups. It's really really easy. Even if you are sharing a meeting for the first time and nobody has ever used it before it really only takes 30 seconds and they are up and running. They love it. HD quality webcam makes it seem like you are in the room. You can share screens. Everybody sees what you are seeing. I want you to try it for free. This is the one, this is the killer, this is literally the number 1 meeting app. You have got to try it. 30 days free for you. That's it, no credit card or anything. Just click on Try It Free on gotomeeting.com. I'm just asking you to try it free and see what you think. Gotomeeting.com, we thank them for their support. They are longtime supporter.
You know, we are coming close to our 10th anniversary. Next week will be our 10th anniversary show, and all of the original folks from TWiT will be here, John C. Devorak, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, Robert Herring, Roger Chang, David Prager. It's going to be a lot of fun, we will look back. We have lots of stuff coming up. So make sure that you set your DVR, I don't know, whatever it is that you do to watch next Sunday's TWiT, the 10th anniversary edition. I'm very excited about that. If you missed anything from This Week in Tech you missed some great stuff, and we have an edited down, I call it a Harmy's Edition of TWiT right here.
(Video Plays): Previously on TWiT. How's it going? I'm getting a little freaked out right now. Really? Just slightly freaked out? Before You Buy. This is the Samsung Galaxy S6. This is the best Android phone on the market today. I've looked at them all. It's probably going to be the phone of 2015. FLOSS Weekly. We see people who are talking about a certain issue, and suddenly there are about 300 people who descend on them on Twitter. Twitter lacks the filtering mechanisms to allow you to block out any of that abuse. What did you do to sort of combat that with regard to Gamer Gate? Well, the short version of the story is that I got drunk and wrote a 200 line Perl script which broke the internet. This Week in Google. Google has a patent for a cow avoidance mechanism in their self-driving cars. I have this vision that some Googlers get patents just for their jollies. You think this is just for the lulls? TWiT, cow avoidance patent, live from Penta Luma; here, have an egg. I believe that this is actually the way that we are going to be bringing you into the TWiT TV Network from now on. You are going to be a head in a jar. I love it.
Leo: I hope you saw it. Do we have a week ahead? Alright, let's see what is coming up because we've got a big week ahead. Mike Elgan.
Mike Elgan: Coming up this week, Intel reports earnings Tuesday, Netflix does the same on Wednesday, also on Wednesday Haewai is set to launch its Ascend PA flagship smartphone at a special event in London. Etsy's long awaited IPO happens Thursday. That's what is coming up this week. Back to you Leo.
Leo: Mr. Michael Elgan, our news director, Monday through Friday 10 am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern Time, 1700 UTC for Tech News Today, our daily look at tech news. Of course there is Tech News Tonight at 4 pm Pacific, 7 pm Eastern Time, Megan Maroney hosts, that's 2300 UTC. It's kind of before you go to bed you can watch that.
Jason: Well, we covered Star Wars and we covered Apple vs Android.
Leo: There is really nothing else to say.
Jason: Who else can we make angry on the internet today Leo?
Leo: You can tell us what happens on Episode 4 of Game of Thrones Season 5. Spoiler alert. How many die? Twitter is actually getting pretty aggressive in the marketplace, cutting off 2 of its Firehose subscribers. What is the Twitter Firehose Steve Kovach?
Steve: That's these certain specialized companies that they give full access, they call it the Firehose, to literally every tweet, and every favorite, and everything that we input into Twitter. Different companies do really cool stuff with it.
Leo: Not any more.
Steve: Not any more. They are very restrictive of whom they let have the data, and sometimes they buy the companies that do really interesting stuff with that data.
Leo: Like Gnip?
Steve: Gnip, yep, that was the last one. It's not unusual, they've been doing this, I think that this company has been doing a lot of social media analytics and so now they are boosting up their Facebook business instead of Twitter, which probably makes more sense, more people are on Facebook anyway. I think that the Firehose is interesting. There are a lot of cool companies doing cool stuff. My favorite just as a journalist and a news junkie is Dataminr. Have you heard of them?
Leo: No, tell me about it.
Steve: They are really cool. They are building this live dashboard for journalists. So basically if someone tweets about a tornado hitting, or some kind of disaster, or anything like that, journalists who are on Dataminr can get instant alerts for those kinds of things. We at Business Insider have actually been the first on some stories because we get alerted to that kind of stuff. It's a really cool product, and it shows the power that some of these companies can have with that Firehose if Twitter lets them.
Leo: Twitter said that they are not going to let anybody have the Firehose anymore. They've got their own internal analytics since the acquisition of Gnip. It just shows, I feel bad for these guys, DataSift I think is one of them. Now they are going to shift over to mining analytics from Facebook, but I have to think that their customers are going to be a little unhappy when DataSift gets cut off in a month. No longer will you get those insights. Not only will their customers be unhappy, but their investors, they've raised $78 million to date. You have got to think that company is a lot less valuable all of the sudden. I feel bad because I feel like Twitter made their bones by having this open platform, and letting people do stuff with it, and that is one of the reasons that Twitter got so good. Now that they are successful they are going to pull up the ramp and say okay, we will take it from here.
Ben: The issue is that Twitter isn't that successful. It's a phenomenal service, every time I talk about the company I reiterate this, but there is no tech product or service that is more important to me personally. I would gladly trade away my iPhone and my Mac for a Windows computer and an Android phone with Twitter as opposed to the opposite. That said, the reason why it is so great for me also makes it so valuable, it's that it understands me and it understands my interests. Like this idea of there being an interest graph instead of a social graph is super powerful, and quite frankly if you are an advertiser and you want to connect to me then Twitter is the best way to do it. That's why Twitter is monetizing quite well. The problem is that there just aren't that many people on Twitter. The official count is 250 million or something like that. I think that there is strong reason to believe the actual number of regular users is significantly less than that. That is a problem for them, and so I think that what you see and will continue to see from a business perspective, justifiably so, is them pulling in all potential money making avenues. This is one of them. To be frank, probably in 2012 when they cut off the access for third party tier clients, but they said, oh, you can still do this other stuff, they should have ripped the band aid completely off and pulled it all in house. If you are going to screw developers then screw them all at once instead of kind of dribbling it out over the years. I think that it is a business kind of imperative for Twitter. I agree with you Leo, there is no question that Twitter was built on the back of third party developers. I think that it is just a reality of their business that they have to do this.
Leo: When Hilary Clinton wanted to announce her candidacy today she took to YouTube and Twitter to do it. That tweet, which everybody was watching, and by the way, she completely redesigned her Twitter page and everything, it's clear this is the campaign page, and this is a big part of what a presidential campaign is today. Twitter is apparently pushing celebrities, this according to TechCrunch, and publishers to stop using Meerkat and start using Twitter's own Periscope.
Ben: It fits in the same vain.
Leo: It just feels petty, though, really?
Jason: That's like dog bites man, though. What do you think is going to happen?
Leo: They have an exclusive with Mcdonna, Madonna. Or Mcdonna.
Leo: There is a brand that I'm interested in. They have apparently, according to TechCrunch, Twitter has been contacting celebrities who are using Meerkat to try and convince them that Meerkat is dying and they should use Periscope instead. Sources also say that Twitter has been in touch with media companies that use Meerkat going to far as to imply that if they don't exclusively use Periscope then Twitter could cut off their access to Amplify, which is some sort of thing.
Jason: Magical secret Twitter thing.
Steve: Hasn't Meerkat usage and Periscope usage kind of evened out now after the glow of the Periscope launch kind of waned off and now it seems like they are equal? At the same time Madonna tried her Meerkat premier and it totally bombed.
Leo: What happened? I didn't see it. That's one of the problems with these is that if you weren't there live you weren't going to see it. What happened? What did it do?
Steve: Apparently it didn't work really well and then she went somewhere else or something like that. I just heard, I didn't get to watch it. I got an alert that Madonna's video is coming. I don't know if that is the audience that you want to be showing. It's still a bunch of tech journalists using it. I don't know if that is how you should premier your next music video.
Leo: What is stopping Snapchat from doing this?
Steve: From doing live streaming?
Leo: From doing live streaming.
Steve: They do something similar. They have their stories. They call it live, but it's not like directly live. Those seem to be more popular because it's like a curation of stuff like Coachella, or Final Four, or stuff in your neighborhood. That stuff seems to be doing really well because it's nicely curated, it's not as raw as just a straight up live stream.
Ben: I think big picture of looking at Snapchat versus Periscope is going to be akin to Facebook versus Twitter. One is just bigger and more meaningful generally, but the reason that Twitter had no choice to kind of pull the knives on Meerkat is the one thing that Twitter does better than anyone else and always has done better is the real time stuff when something is happening. The issue is that video is infinitely more powerful than texts when it comes to relaying something that happens real time. Twitter has to own that space. That's a core value of Twitter that Twitter does that no one else does. Meerkat was very threatening, not because it had a ton of users, but because it had the potential to unbundle kind of a core part of that, of what Twitter is. It's very fortuitous, or strategic, or smart, or whatever adjective that you want to use that Twitter acquired Periscope when it did and that it was ready to be released when it did. I would expect them to continue to be very aggressive.
Leo: Jason? We've lost you Jason. He's writing jokes in the chatroom.
Jason: I'm trying to imagine all of the Mcdonna menu items right now.
Leo: I like that one.
Jason: The best that I've got is the Like a Virgin Olive Oil Salad Dressing, but I'm trying to do a Filet of Fish / Ray of Light kind of thing, but I haven't got it yet. I'm working on it, I'm working on it, I will let you know. But Twitter you were saying?
Leo: Twitter is such a mixed bag because on one hand it is a cesspool and on the other hand it is really a valuable signaling mechanism. When Twitter first came out, and I didn't realize it...
Ben: It's signaling cess.
Leo: Well, but somebody likened it to a dial tone, to an internet dial tone, and I think that it's kind of that.
Jason: What makes Twitter great is this asymmetry where a random person can ask me a question and I can answer it on Twitter. I love that. The problem is that a random whacko can say things and I have to listen to that, at least until I block them. It's funny because I love it and yet my friends and I, my colleagues in this industry are finding that there is stuff that you have got to keep personal. Marco Arment, on his Accidental Tech podcast this week, they were talking about this this week too. A lot of the dark social stuff, like private social groups, things like Slack Channels, where you retreat because you know everybody there. On one level it's a real shame that people who have followings and who like interacting on Twitter have to retreat for some of that stuff because you are losing interesting conversations that you might have. At the same time, people are only human beings, and the toll of dealing with some of the people that you are dealing with on Twitter becomes so great that you take some of your stuff and you put it behind the personal shield and just say I'm not going to share this with people I don't know anymore. I think that is an issue for Twitter.
Leo: I was going to say, is that a problem for Twitter?
Jason: I think to a certain degree it is because if you are somebody who has got 50,000 followers, or 1,000,000 followers, or whatever, you need ways, you either need to be able to manage what you see or just give up interacting and become just a broadcaster. I hope that Twitter sees some value in providing tools for those people to be able to stay in the mix on Twitter without being involved in the craziness. If you are a verified user I think that you get a few more features in terms of only seeing verified people.
Leo: I only want to see other verified users in my Twitter Stream.
Jason: You can. You can.
Leo: You riffraff are ruining it for the rest of us.
Jason: That seems wrong, right? It seems like not a good use of Twitter.
Leo: I could turn it on, but it's like I don't want to do it.
Jason: I agree with you. But this is the down side of Twitter. There is that initial flush of I'm going to share everything on Twitter, I'm going to share my pictures of waffles that I'm making for breakfast for my kids...
Leo: That's all social media, right? We go through these phases of putting everything on Facebook and on Instagram too, right?
Jason: I think that we are just at this point now where Twitter has had enough problems with bad behavior that people are pulling back a little from it. Which is a shame, but I'm with Ben, I find Twitter indispensable. I'm not going to quit Twitter ever.
Leo: I keep wanting to but I can't.
Jason: I talk to so many interesting people. I feel like being accessible to people that I learn all sorts of things from people that I don't know.
Leo: I follow you. During the watch thing I was watching you, and Glenn Fleshman, and others talking together. It's great, it's like you are a fly on the wall to these conversations that are fascinating.
Jason: I think that one of the problems is if you lose site of the fact that there are flies on the wall then that is a mistake. You have to realize that you are in public, and you are having a conversation in public. If it's a conversation that you aren't comfortable having in public then you shouldn't have it in public. I think that is one of those social media lessons that we have to keep learning. I think that Twitter has great value. I just think that what I use it for has changed over time.
Leo: I think that Twitter, and to some degree much more so Meerkat and Periscope is a very narcissistic medium. It's a medium for people who say watch me, look at me. Like I'm not. But I was here first gosh darn it.
Jason: I think that the problem is do you have something to say or not. If all you want is for people to watch you then that's a problem, right? We did a Meerkat stream when I was on MacBreak Weekly with you a few weeks ago after the Apple event, and it was literally like the after show behind the scenes. That was actually kind of a lot of fun, but for every one of those there is one where there is just no point, why are you even doing this? It's a new medium, that's going to happen.
Steve: That is all of my Periscopes. I do the most inane stuff on Periscope. I will literally be walking down the street in my neighborhood and just streaming everything, and hundreds of people are watching. Or in a cab or something.
Leo: That's the whole thing, right? Oh, hundreds of people are watching me walk down the street. We formed a Segway gang and terrorized Penta Luma on Meerkat. That was fun. 6 of us had Segways.
Ben: I think that this criticism of this is misplaced because remember that the criticism of Twitter at the beginning was I don't care what you eat for breakfast, right? It takes a while for the content that resonates to get out there and get figured out. That could be the case for Meerkat and Periscope. It's incredible. The first time I used it was with Jason at the watch event. It was just the idea that there are hundreds of people all over the world, it's incredible. There is obviously something there. It will take time to figure it out and kind of distill it, but there is clearly something very, very powerful there.
Steve: I found it interesting that on the launch day of Periscope that explosion happened at East Village and right away people did was start Periscoping it, not Meerkat, Periscoping it. FBI, we gathered a lot of stuff from there because people immediately started filming it. That was kind of like when that jet crashed into the Hudson River. People took to Twitter, and somebody sent a Twit Pic right away. That went up and became this defining moment. I don't know if this was Periscope's defining moment, but I think that it was very interesting that instead of photos we got these live streaming videos as buildings were burning down. That's really interesting to me.
Leo: Absolutely. Apparently, I didn't know this, but someone has videotaped the Segway gang riding around Penta Luma and posted it on YouTube. So even on Meerkat you never know, you never know what is going to happen. It's crazy.
Jason: I love the internet. The internet is the best.
Leo: It's crazy. Thank you Pixel Punisher whoever you may be. Facebook apparently is not dominated by old farts like me, but in fact teenagers are still using it. What a relief that must be to Facebook. This is an article in Re/Code by Kurt Wagner. I felt like Facebook was for your parents, right? Not my parents, obviously, but actually my parents are on Facebook. Facebook was not for teenagers. But research on Thursday released a study that found despite a dip in total teen users from a few years back Facebook is still far and away the most popular network among teens. 71% of teens 13-17 use the service.
Jason: Number 2 is also Facebook.
Leo: It's Instagram.
Jason: It's Instagram. That's my daughter's number 1. But Facebook, still Facebook.
Leo: My kids use Snapchat. Although Abby, who is a little older, likes Instagram. But both use Facebook to keep in touch, so if there is an event, or when Abby went to LA or New York, she went to New York for spring break a couple of weeks ago, and all she did was put it on Facebook that she was going to be in New York. Every night when she went out to dinner she saw friends. I think that there is real value in that. That's probably why a lot of people still use Facebook, is for that kind of interaction.
Ben: This idea that anyone is only ever going to use one social network has been flawed from the beginning. The reality is that Facebook is so embedded that Facebook is the Rolodex of the world, and it doesn't matter how fuddy duddy people think it is or if their parents are on it. Everyone is going be on it. That's one of the many reasons why I think that the service, strangely enough, is still underrated by a lot of people in tech in particular. It's enmeshed in people's lives. In every country you look at, they may have different messaging services or different things, but it's always and Facebook. The ones that are actually used.
Leo: I hate Facebook so much.
Ben: You are stuck with it, sorry.
Leo: I know, it's another one where...
Ben: I guess they have good marketing.
Leo: No, no, no, no, that's not the case in fact. Facebook, you have to be there because that's where everybody is, right?
Ben: No, exactly.
Leo: Facebook's marketing is terrible. They keep releasing apps that nobody wants. Did you see Riff for 3 seconds? They put out apps that people use and go what is this? This is terrible. They can't figure it out. Yet they survive because of the network that they have.
Jason: I like their experimentation, though, right? Instagram is a success. I know that it started on the outside, but the idea that Facebook can have other apps that have their own ecosystems, they are so smart. In the end that seems to be the place that links all of the people. Facebook won't rest until everybody on the planet is on Facebook.
Leo: I think that I'm not alone when I say that I hate it and I use it. That seems pretty universal, right? Everybody hates it.
Jason: I don't love it, but I have to use it.
Leo: You love Facebook?
Ben: I like it. Honestly, I would be happy if Twitter was a lot more like Facebook with the people that I follow on Twitter. I think that the value in Twitter is not necessarily the 140 character thing. I actually wrote about it this week, everyone is getting a preview, but the value in Twitter is the people on Twitter and the people that I am connected with. Quite frankly the people that are still doing all of these hacks, like now the pasting screenshot thing, right?
Leo: Oh my god, so you only have 140 characters, so you paste a paragraph.
Ben: The fact that you can't have a real conversation on Twitter because all of these people get clogged into it, and at reply, and you end up having these 3 words responses; it's ridiculous. This is kind of the big concern with the company pulling in more and more parts of the service into itself, is that the company has really yet to demonstrate any capability of evolving the product in a meaningful way to be perfectly frank. I would love to have the Facebook feature set, but with Twitter people. Twitter is miles away from that. Even like Sina Weibo, the Chinese one which was kind of big for a while, but has kind of gotten destroyed by WeChat, but they have had a conversation threaded type view within a Twitter type user experience for a long time now. I guess the depth of your love for a product will be reflected in your frustration for it not being better. That's certainly me and Twitter.
Leo: I want to take a break. We have lot's more to talk about, but I have to get on a plane. I'm going to Vegas tonight for the NAB Show, the National Association of Broadcasters, and we are doing a panel. If you are in Vegas for NAB it's called Broadcast Minds. I've done this a couple of times before with our friends from NewTech who do that Tricaster we are so dependent on. I'm going to moderate a panel, I think that it is open to the public, well actually I know that it's open to the NAB Show attendees. Scoble is going to join me. Also, and I'm really interested to talk about what is going on now in streaming and digital with, I have to find the names, wait a minute...
Ben: You mentioned the 10 year thing. That is spectacular by the way.
Leo: Isn't that amazing?
Ben: Huge congratulations to you.
Leo: Jeez Louise. I'm the old man of this stuff.
Ben: It's not just that Leo. We are at the front edge of Periscope, and we will see how it develops, right? We are at the front end of a watch, and we will see how it develops. I think right now, now there is deluge that podcasting is the big thing. When the history of podcasting is written your name is going to be on it. That's pretty cool, so.
Leo: It will be on my gravestone.
Ben: I meant it as a compliment.
Jason: He died as he lived, doing what he loved, being on the internet.
Leo: S222 South Hall, Monday, 5 pm; Scoble, me, and Marc DeBevoise, who is the EVP for Entertainment, News, and Sports for CBS interactive. They've got some really interesting digital aspirations. From Vice Media, their head of Digital Strategy, Sterling Profit. They just signed a deal with HBO to do it's nightly news cast. So there is some interesting stuff happening in this space. That's what's fun about doing it. Doing it for 10 years I've watched it change, and I keep waiting for IPTV and over the top. I keep waiting for that to happen. I think that we are getting closer and closer. That's when it's all going to blow up.
Steve: This is going to be a big year for that.
Leo: You think so? This is going to be the year?
Steve: Well, a monumental step towards that.
Leo: Well, HBO NOW, Sling TV...
Jason: If the dam hasn't burst it's got cracks.
Leo: It's about to, yeah. Hey, our show today is brought to you by stamps.com. Use stamps.com to do your own postage thing right at your desk, no more trips to the Post Office. It sounds like, oh, I'm going to print stamps. Oh, no, no, it's so much more than that. Yes, you can buy and print official US Postage right from your computer with your printer, so special inks or postage meter needed. But it's really more about fulfillment, about shipping. It can give your small business a more professional look. I can't tell you how often I get eBay or Etsy packages. They look like a monkey wrapped them. They have like 100 stamps on there, and the address is drawn in crayon; it doesn't take anything to do it with stamps.com. Make your packages beautiful. People go wow, I really trust this, this is a big company. You get bar coded postage return and deliver addresses all printed automatically on a mailing label with your logo and the stamps.com barcode. It makes it so easy, it makes it look professional, you always have exactly the right postage because of the great digital scale that you get. It's so much better. You can print directly on envelopes with your company's logo. It is professional, it is the way to do it. For shipping labels you can put your label on it too. You also get discounts that you don't get at the Post Office on Certified Mail. If you are sending stuff out with confirmations you can send an email out with it saying here comes your package. International Customs Forms are automatically filled out. It is just so great. No long term lease, no hidden fees, no expensive postage meter ink. The postage rates are always kept up to date, it's just great. Stamps.com; do everything that you do at the Post Office and then just hand the package to your mail carrier, and that's it, you are done. There is even a button on the stamps.com site that says get the mail carrier out here. No wonder half a million small businesses, including ours, are using stamps.com. I want you to try it. Go to stamps.com, that microphone in the upper right hand corner, that's for you. It says Podcast Listeners Click Here. Make sure that you type in the offer code TWIT, promo code TWIT, T-W-I-T, and you are going to get a very nice offer, a $110 bonus offer. We have talked about this before. It includes that digital scale, it includes $55 in free postage, it includes a no risk trial of stamps.com itself, so it's a really great deal. It's worth $110. Stamps.com, click the microphone, enter the code T-W-I-T.
We mentioned that Hilary Clinton announced her run for President in 2016 on Twitter and on YouTube. She has also hired a long time, well respected Google executive to oversee her campaign. The CTO Stephanie Hannon, formerly Google's Director of Product Management for Civic Innovation and Social Impact, will become the Chief Technology Officer of the Clinton campaign. For you democrats who are in the know. She will be the first woman to hold the title of CTO in a major Presidential campaign. So digital is going to be so important in the next 18 months. It's, I feel like, critical to any campaign.
Steve: But is she accepting Bitcoin like Rand Paul?
Leo: It's that funny? I love that.
Steve: That cracked me up. I love that he's accepting Bitcoin.
Leo: Yeah, he will take anything.
Leo: Yeah. The Russians hacked the White House. Did you see that?
Jason: What did they do, turn on the lights, open the garage door?
Leo: No, they got into the State Department and then got into sensitive parts of the White House computer system according to US officials. The White House has said that the breach only affected unclassified systems, however, the hackers, according to CNN, did have access to things like the nonpublic Presidential schedule. You can make a few dates. I don't know if they had read / write access. The White House said that in October they noticed suspicious activity in the network. The system has been shut down to allow for security upgrades. The FBI, Secret Service, and US Intelligence Agencies are all involved in investigating the breach. They say that it was among one of the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against US Government systems. They think that it came from Russia.
Jason: The US Government track record of being on the forefront of technology outside of I guess the NSA collecting information. All of the stories that you hear, all of the stories of Hilary Clinton being on her personal email Cloud, it's a similar sort of thing. When you think about other countries making efforts to invade computer systems, and you wonder who is trying to prevent that. I think that it is not a good story.
Leo: I feel like the cyberwar is just going to explode, don't you?
Leo: It's taking off. It's just begun.
Jason: It's scary because you can tell when people are shooting, but a lot of this stuff happens and it's invisible.
Ben: It's funny how every attack is the most sophisticated that they have ever seen.
Leo: That's kind of saying, hey, it's not our fault. These guys were really good.
Ben: Right, in the same paragraph they are saying that they are shutting the whole thing down to update security. That suggests that it might not have been as secure as it could have been to start off with. Perhaps it wasn't the most sophisticated attack ever. There is a bit of a disconnect. The President's private schedule, that's a pretty bad thing to have available. I think that it is a pretty severe breach. I question the level of sophistication relative to the level of security. I'm sure it was sophisticated, but the rest of the excerpt doesn't suggest that it was as secure as it could be.
Leo: Well of course now the head of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael S. Rogers, is saying we'd like a key to all of those private transactions that you guys are involved in. They are going for something called "key escrow". They want to require technology companies to create a digital key that could unlock any smartphone or other locked device to obtain text messages or photos, but no one agency would have the whole key. So you would have to go to the FBI, CIA, and NSA to get the whole key. I guess that is the idea.
Ben: Or go to the President's private schedule, right? That's the issue. You can create a key that cannot be hacked. The issue is that the key has to exist somewhere. If they can't secure the President's private schedule then how can they secure this key? Once it's out there everyone is going to want to get ahold of it. Maybe if it stayed on one guy's computer in Wyoming, but yeah, it's unrealistic. I think that the fundamental issue with security is that the US, as a government, as an institution, views security too much from an offensive perspective, of how they can use it to attack other countries or get influence in other countries. Probably something like Stucksnet, where they disrupted the Iranian centrifuge was a problem in that now the US looks at these issues as how can they leverage it from an offensive perspective without, I think, a deep appreciation or focus on the defensive angles of it. You view this with this key thing. The more you make it easier for the NSA to break in the easier it is for it to come back the other way. It's a two way street, there is no one way when it comes to security. It's certainly very concerning, and unfortunately it's going to have massive impacts. We just don't know what they are or in what direction.
Leo: Apparently Apple's decision to fully encrypt the iPhone was really kind of a catalyst of some concern among law enforcement. Android now in 5.0 can do this as well. Of course desktop operating systems have their own proprietary encryption. We don't know if there is a back door to that. The White House is also considering, here is another option, why don't we have a third party hold the key?
Jason: Does that third party live in a cave somewhere and the key is on paper?
Leo: This is the Washington Post, "One possibility, for example, might have a judge direct a company to set up a mirror account so that law enforcement conducting a criminal investigation can read text messages shortly after they have been sent. For encrypted photos the judge might order the company to back up the suspect's data to a company server when the phone is on and the data is unencrypted. Then they would have to get a warrant and they could go look at it." No tech company in the United States is going to agree to something like this. They will have to be forced to do this. It's already hurting US tech companies internationally.
Ben: You mentioned the iPhone being a catalyst for this. One wish is that the iPhone putting on this full disc compression would be an inspiration for having...
Leo: It was for Google. They said we can do that too.
Ben: Yeah, right. The reality is that this is hugely damaging to US tech companies abroad. We are only starting to see the impact now of like the Stone Revelations and that sort of thing because it takes other countries time to build up alternatives. But in the long run this is absolutely hurting US companies. It will continue to hurt US companies. The issue isn't necessarily something like China per say, because China was already on a path to wean itself off of US technology. I think that it accelerated it. The issue is all of these other countries in the world, where now once the Chinese finish building up their alternatives they are going to go to them, and there is going to be an alternative, and the US should have no expectation of being able to hold out like we are better. There was the big brouhaha about Huawei and their routers, and basically Congress banning them for all intents and purposes from the US because the Chinese might spy on them. That is exactly what the US does.
Leo: That's our thing!
Jason: That's our thing!
Ben: Yeah, the idea that it's okay if we spy on you, but they are going to spy on you. It's like no, it's such a ridiculous, self-centered viewpoint. I'm annoyed at a lot of stuff today apparently.
Jason: Leo, you mentioned the Washington Post. This is essentially an updated version of the editorial that they did back in October.
Leo: Remember that?
Jason: The secure golden key that they wizards at Apple and Google can invent that will change cryptography and allow all of these magical things to happen. It's like they are just looking for a solution because they don't want to admit that you need to choose.
Leo: It's tough though. Obama himself has even said look, I believe in privacy and encryption, I think that everyone should have the right to it, but I also understand and am sympathetic to law enforcement who says but then people can do bad stuff and we wouldn't know about it.
Jason: But the fact is that law enforcement when the Miranda decision was handed down they couldn't do their job if they read people their rights. The fact is that law enforcement will find a way, but once you give that privacy away you are never going to get it back.
Leo: I agree. We are going to take a break and come back with our final thoughts in just a second. Steve Kovach is here from Business Insider. Great to have you. You moved back to New York? It looks like you are in Brooklyn with the bricks.
Steve: No, no, I'm on the Upper East Side.
Leo: Oh, nice.
Steve: They do exposed brick up here too.
Leo: Okay, just checking. Can you get pizza up there?
Steve: Pretty good pizza. A lot better than San Francisco pizza I'm sure.
Ben: The West Coast pizza is terrible.
Leo: It is terrible. Are you happy that you went back?
Steve: Oh, so happy. I miss the burritos, though. You guys have the best burritos.
Leo: We make good burritos. You have got the pizza. It seems like in this great country of ours that we could solve that problem. I don't know how.
Jason: One word. Chipotle.
Jason: That's not a solution.
Leo: No, that's not a solution.
Leo: Mcdonna is the solution! Jason Snell is here, also from, I haven't given you a plug, sixcolors.com.
Jason: Thank you.
Leo: The Incomparable Podcast, too.
Jason: I have a couple of tech podcasts on Relay FM that you should check out.
Leo: What's Relay FM?
Jason: That's Mike Hurley and Steven Hackett's podcast network.
Leo: Oh, that's neat.
Jason: Right, so I got a couple.
Leo: We weren't good enough for ya, huh?
Jason: Well, you know, you guys, I'm a little intimidated by this studio and all of that. Also I can do those shows in my pajamas from my office.
Leo: Yeah, there is something about audio. It's so much easier than video. Well actually, some good news for podcasters like that in a second. Also, here with us from Stratechery, and you must subscribe to his incredible newsletter, and read his blog, Ben Thompson is really one of the best, as you can already tell, in the business. I'm glad to have all 3 of you. Really fun show today. I'm going to hear from the Apple fans, I know. Our show today is brought to you by Squarespace, the easiest way to create your new website. The best hosting, never go down hosting. Plus the best software gives you a gorgeous site to reflect your ethos, your style. Whether it is a professional website, a blog, or an online store Squarespace has incredible, elegant interface, beautiful templates, it's very easy for you to create a website, and the best 24/7 customer support right from the Squarespace offices. It is easily the most beautiful, the most powerful, the most simple platform for your next webpage. I was really proud, my daughter and her friend are creating a new site, and I told them all about the free stuff and so forth. Without any input on my part they chose Squarespace. When you do your research you realize what you get with Squarespace. It starts at just $8 a month. All of the hosting, all of the software, and you even get a free domain name when you register for a year. Live chat from Squarespace; 24/7 with live chat and email support. All of the Squarespace sites are responsive. There is Mcdonna's. That means...mmm Like a Virgin Olive Oil...that means that they scale to look great on any size device. Ecommerce with every single template. Every website comes with a free online store. With cover pages you could set up a beautiful one page online presence in minutes. I love Squarespace. Right now if you want to move to New York, or you want to think about it, Squarespace is saying that they are hiring engineers who are ready for the next step in their career. They have created something that they are calling NY Commit, N-Y-C-o-m-m-i-t, an initiative that will select up to 10 engineers from all over America to experience the history, vivarancy, and diversity of New York City. And the pizza. Apply today, and if you interview before April 30th, you and your spouse or partner will get to spend a complimentary weekend in New York City. That is good. Learn more at the website nycommit, New York City, nycommit.com. Of course Squarespace awaits, no credit card needed for a trial. Start building your website today, importing your data, and really getting a sense of what it can do for you. Make sure that you use the offer code TWIT to get 10% off of your first purchase, but it's free to try. Squarespace.com, use the offer code TWIT, Squarespace. Build a beautiful.
Good news for our friends who were are Gigaom; Fortune has hired 6 of Gigaom's very good journalists, including, I think, our good friend Mathew Ingram, Stacy Higginbotham, Barb Darrow, Katie Fehrenbacher, Jeff John Roberts, and Johnathan Vanian. There were a lot of people let go with the sudden demise of Gigaom. Some of our favorite people, including people who have been on this show, like Mathew. So I'm very happy to hear that. Thank you Fortune. Seems like they are going to take a run at technology with 6 new hires. Mark Pincus is back at Zynga?
Steve: That's a head scratcher.
Ben: Plus 10%
Leo: How much? 20%?
Ben: No 10%.
Leo: Wow. Why did he leave Zynga? Why did he come back?
Steve: Zynga was having a lot of trouble, I think that it was 2 years ago, Matrick left, or was it a year ago, I forget. Anyway, Don Matrick left the Xbox unit at Microsoft and kind of came to rescue Zynga. Their stock price was tanking and, you know, there were only so many Farmville games that they could make. He didn't do it. Things were still just kind of chugging along.
Leo: Matrick said that he wanted to go back to Canada.
Ben: It's the new version of the "spend more time with my family".
Steve: Yeah, my family.
Leo: I want to spend more time with Canada.
Steve: It's interesting that Pincus came back, though, instead of finding new blood. I think that there were some rumors that Pincus wanted to start another thing or something, but apparently he wants to give it another shot as CEO.
Leo: Was he still Chairman?
Steve: He was still Chairman of the Board, yeah.
Ben: I don't know. It's not a great job. I don't know what. The reality is that it's a company without great prospects that has to deal with company market pressures, and they've lost a lot of people, and they are going to continue losing people, and they just really haven't managed the transition to mobile or given any indication that that is going to change.
Leo: They have Zynga poker.
Ben: Which was a disaster until they updated it, and the newer version was terrible, so they had to like re-release the old one.
Leo: When you lose $290 million, I'm sorry, $209 million in 2012, then $226 million in 2013, you know you are in trouble. Trouble is ahead. You can only lose so many hundreds of millions of dollars. Do you think that Pincus is there forever, or is he just there until they find somebody else? Some people were saying that it was so sudden that it was like, yeah, yeah, I will take over.
Steve: That's what it feels like to me. Again, like Ben said, it's not the kind of company that people are going to be dying to run. They are not going to be able to find some super hero to swoop in and fix things right away. It's just telling of this industry, especially mobile games, it's like these one hit wonders. They IPO, they get hot for a second, and then nothing after that. They just can't recreate that magic again. Zynga was a little different because they were a desktop game built within Facebook, piggybacking within Facebook, and they just can't adapt.
Leo: Really happy for our sponsor, lynda.com. Lynda Weinman sold lynda.com to LindedIn for $1.5 billion. Just showing tech ed is a hot category right now. It actually makes a lot of sense, LinkedIn, which is all about professional networking, could use some education, some professional education and so forth. Lynda founded lynda.com with her husband Bruce Heavin in 1995. It's 20 years old. $1.5 billion.
Jason: I remember when Lynda was writing web tutorials. It's amazing.
Leo: Me too. We used to interview her on The Screen Savers all the time.
Jason: Yeah, exactly.
Leo: It's awesome. So proud of her. Nicely done. Kind of wrapping it up here. You saw the Robo Car that drove across the country? Delphi, which is guess is an automotive accessories company, took an Audi hatchback, and loaded it up with autonomous stuff. What's nice is that it doesn't look like an autonomous vehicle. It's got stuff hidden behind plastic panels and it just looks like a normal car. They did have a driver in it. 15 states, 3400 miles, the car did almost all of the driving itself. The only time it was really touch and go, the driver got very nervous when they went over a metal bridge and he knew that metal was death to these autonomous vehicles. He just hovered his hands over the wheel and never did have to take it. It worked. The Audi SQ5 went all the way across the country. I think that we are getting closer and close to autonomous vehicles.
Ben: I think there is something to this. You are going to see it with AI generally, is that it's less likely to arrive at a finished product. There was the Google car that they had, like no steering wheel or anything. That may be in the future, but it's only going to come piece by piece. You already see that happening, right? We have cars that can park themselves. You have cars that on the freeway can all but drive themselves. There is going to be that Tesla update, but also Mercedes has a similar system.
Leo: So does Audi.
Ben: It will be one of those things. There is that Bill Gates quote. It's such a great quote. You make way less progress in 2 years than you expect and way more in 10 than you imagine. It's something along those lines. I think that is going to be the same thing with self-driving cars. With AI generally. We are starting to see that play out.
Jason: It will come slow. I think that there is the expectation that self-driving cars are going to be one day your local car dealer will have a self-driving car and you will be like I don't know. It's not going to happen, it's going to creep in. We've talked about this before. It's going to be in luxury cars as an auto drive on freeway, then it's going to be some sort of like campus taxi service on college campuses, and things like that. It's going to creep into our lives to the point where it's not going to be that big of a deal when the first fully auto drive vehicle happens because we will have all been on an auto drive vehicle in some context before. It won't be that big of a thing.
Leo: Big news for podcasters. I'm going to end with this just because we have a little celebration I think. There was a patent troll named Personal Audio. They came to us asking, what did they ask, I think $1.5 in license fees. They claimed that they had invented podcasting in 1995. We were prepared, we hired a law firm. Adam Corolla got sued. We didn't ever get sued. They said, okay, we said no money, and they said, okay, we are going to sue you. We never heard back from the. Adam Corolla got sued, and a number of big networks also got sued, Discovery I think got sued, Grammar Girl, a lot of podcasts were approached by these guys. We contacted a law firm, and we waited and watched for those papers. One of the things that the law firm said you could do, but it's a high risk strategy, is to go back to the US Patent and Trademark Office and try to invalidate the original patent. They call that an inter partes motion. The risk is that if you lose that just strengthens their case. They were suing in east Texas where patent cases are usually very strong for the patent holder. So we were prepared. I had a strategy. We were going to get all of the Baptist churches in Texas that do podcasts to join us for a big picnic out in the square. The courthouse is on a square. All of the law firms that pursue these patent troll lawsuits are on the square as well in small empty offices. I thought that we would just have a nice picnic, a little barbeque, bring all of the meat, ministers from all of the Baptist churches, meet the jury, get to know the judge. We don't have to. EFF decided to go after them with inter partes motion. They went to the Patent and Trademark Office. We helped kick some money in. A lot of people did. They raised money to do this, they got some pro bono work from some big lawyers, and the very good news is that the US Patent and Trademark Office on April 10th invalidated the so called Podcasting Patent.
Ben: Just in time for the 10 year anniversary.
Leo: Yeah, thank god. Well, the first thing that you do when you go to the lawyers is say, well, the really just logical business decision is well how much do they want and how much is it going to cost to go to court? Of course you may lose in court, so there is the risk that you spend a lot of money in court, then lose, then still have to pay the money. I'm trying to remember, but I think that they asked us for $1.5 million. I thought that was odd, because we were told that the defense would be about $1 million. So I think that the normal thing that you want, these guys weren't that bright, think normally that you want to do is ask for less than the cost of going to court. We were prepared to do it. Adam Corolla did in fact go to court. He raised a lot of money through crowd sourcing right on. They dropped the suit against Adam, and now I have the feeling that they are kind of out of business. They say that they are going to find some other stuff. It's not over. But thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the cyber law clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and glad the Patent and Trademark Office made the right decision.
Jason: The bottom line is that these guys didn't invent podcasting. They didn't.
Leo: They weren't practicing it. They were what we call, the nice way to say patent troll is non-practicing entity. Somebody who owns a patent but doesn't in fact intend to use it.
Jason: They found a patent that looked good, and there is prior art that proves that it's not as good as they thought.
Leo: We were very involved in the finding of prior art. Kevin Marks, who kind of did a lot of this early stuff, was very helpful with that as well. A guy named Carl Malamud, who really is a pioneer in podcasting, had a Geek of the Week online radio show that he offered for download many years before this patent. CBC and CNN also did. A victory. EFF said, "Unfortunately our work to protect podcasting is not done. Personal Audio continues to seek patents related to podcasting. We will continue to fight for podcasters. We hope that the Patent Office does not give them any more weapons to shake down small podcasters." Or big podcasters. Or any podcasters. I want to thank you for being here Ben. I know that it was very early in the morning in Taiwan, but we really appreciate it. Go to stratechery.com, s-t-r-a-t-e-c-h-e-r-y, sign up for Ben's newsletter, read his posts, he is a really insightful analyst. It's always a pleasure to talk to you.
Ben: No, obviously I would love to have to do my newsletter, but there is a free weekly post as well plus my podcast at exponent.fm. So if you want to try it out first and sign up in the long run it works for me.
Leo: Thank you, too, to Jason Snell. It's always a pleasure to see you.
Jason: Great to be here.
Leo: And to see the MacBook. Very nice, very pretty. Sixcolors.com, that's where you write.
Jason: Yeah, it's a good place to be.
Leo: Anywhere else that you want to plug? You've got all of those podcasts.
Jason: Theincomparable.com for pop culture podcasts, and relay.fm for my weekly, I've got 2 weekly tech shows, Upgrade and Clockwise.
Leo: Ah, nice, look forward to that. Thank you so much for being here, too, Steve Kovach from Business Insider. Always a pleasure.
Steve: Thanks for having me on again. I love being on this show.
Leo: We love having you. Anything that you want to plug? It's plug time.
Steve: Businessinsider.com; that's it, /tech or just follow my crazy stuff on Twitter I guess. That works too.
Leo: Good. @?
Leo: S-t-e-v-e-k-o-v-a-c-h. Thank you everybody for being here. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon, 3 pm Pacific, 6 pm Eastern time, 2200 UTC. Next week do not miss it, we are sold out for in studio tickets, but if you want to get on the waiting list email@example.com, and if you have been given tickets for next week and you can't make it please let us know so we can release your tickets to somebody on the waiting list. I want to make sure that anybody, I hope that as many people who want to get in can. I know that won't be the case, but it's going to be a lot of fun. The good news is that you can watch us live. We will probably start early, we will probably start at 2 pm Pacific, 5 pm Eastern Time, 2100 UTC. Kevin Rose, Patrick Norton, John C. Devorak, David Prager, Robert Harron, all of the original, Roger Chang, people from the original This Week in Tech, which began April 15, 2005.
Ben: I was an original listener.
Leo: Were ya?
Leo: Well thank you. We appreciate it Ben. It's going to be a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun memories to share. I think that we will cover some tech news, but I don't know what it is going to be. I don't know. Maybe we will all just get drunk and cry.
Steve: I'd watch that.
Leo: I love you man. I love you. If you want to be at any other show, we do have tickets for most shows, firstname.lastname@example.org, do please email us before you come. You can, of course, watch live as well at email@example.com, or download shows, video on demand, and audio too, after the fact, twit.tv, iTunes, use the TWiT apps on every platform, or podcatcher, whatever it is. Subscribe, that way you won't miss an episode. I'm Leo Laporte, thanks for being here! Another TWiT is in the can.