This Week in Tech 522
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech! We've got Om Malik, we've got Jill Duffy, and we’ve got Harry McCracken. We're going to talk about the future of messaging, the future of social networks, why the big three German automakers bought Here Maps and a whole lot more. It's all coming up next, on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 522, recorded Sunday, August 9, 2015.
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It's time to talk the week's tech news, time for TWiT! It's been a good day everybody. Leo Laporte here with Harry McCracken, the Technologizer, fastcompany.com. Great to see you.
Harry McCracken: Hello. Great to be here.
Leo: Still with the iPad.
Harry: Still with my iPad and my keyboard. This is the one I'm stuck with.
Leo: I thought two years ago when you came here just with an iPad that this was a little, testing it out.
Harry: I think I'm heading into my, this fall it will be 3 years since I started using this as my primary device.
Leo: Nice. Wow. Also here from Madras, Jill Duffy is joining us from pcmag.com, she's a contributing editor there. Hi, Jill!
Jill Duffy: Hello.
Leo: I apologize. It's 3:30 in the morning.
Jill: That's all right. I'm a morning person.
Leo: Did you stay up late or did you get up early?
Jill: I just woke up. I'll hang out with you. I might go for a walk while it's nice and cool as the some comes up, and then I'll take a nap later.
Leo: How hot does it get there in the heat of the summer?
Jill: I think this year, it topped out around 110. There was a real bad heat wave here earlier.
Leo: I remember that. That was a big deal!
Jill: It was a really big deal.
Leo: Also here from San Francisco, and it's been so long since we've seen you. I'm so glad to welcome you back to our microphones. Om Malik.
Om Malik: How are you doing, Leo?
Leo: I am great, Om. I haven't seen you since the tragic fall of Giga Om. You've recovered.
Om: I have.
Leo: Are you feeling all right? It must have been a bit of mourning for that.
Om: I think six months is long enough.
Leo: I can understand it.
Om: You work in technology, things happen, you move on.
Leo: Your primary business now, and actually had been before Om went away was investing anyway, right?
Om: I joined two ventures full time in the first month of 2014. I'm there as a partner. Occasionally write on my personal blog, om.co. I hope to write more after the summer is over. I started writing for New Yorker and Bloomberg a little bit.
Leo: Oh really?
Om: Occasional. I don't think I'm very good.
Leo: Are you submitting little talk of the town pieces like, you won't believe what happened in San Francisco the other night? That kind of stuff.
Om: I wish I could.
Leo: Om Malik. Man About Town. Giga Om got purchased by a company called Knowingly.
Om: I have no knowledge of that.
Leo: If I were you, I would disavow it as well. It was so weird, because I got two new articles. What the heck?
Om: Is it alive again?
Leo: Yeah. Two articles, if that makes it alive.
Harry: I haven't seen any of the new stuff yet.
Leo: They're feature articles. They're not hard news articles, but they're interesting. They're not very often. There's more now since I saw it. They had an interview with Stephen Wolfram, and then they talked about the Reddit kerfuffle. It seems like there's only two people working there, but maybe more will come. Amway. This is the weird thing because it has your name on it. Don't put your name on it!
Om: Next time around, I'm not going to do that.
Leo: Notice the name not on TWiT. Nowhere does the name appear.
Om: I thought that was an oversight by you in the early days.
Leo: Did you really? Unlike you, I'm an unassuming guy. Om is probably the humblest man I know. In fact, he's a role model for everybody in the industry. Great to have you back. It's good to see you. I'm sure you watch as things happen and think I want to talk about that. Have you felt that way lately?
Om: Things about?
Leo: Tech stories. I'd love to weigh in on this Reddit controversy kind of thing.
Om: A lot. You can't change your stripes just because you're not in the game any more.
Leo: I noticed when I was on vacation I would do that. I would stand in front of the mirror and talk for a half hour about something. It's really kind of embarrassing. Any thing happen this week? Did anything go on this week? Any big stories in the news? I read a great story on Wired Magazine. It caught my interest about messaging. I thought this would be a fun one to start with. Its author David Pierce said can we just decide to have one messaging platform that we all use? I feel like the next big thing, there it is. Kill the ad. Screw texting. It's time to pick a universal messaging app. In the States we use SMS, but there are a lot of apps vying for our attention. Facebook paid 22 billion dollars for What's App, I think a lot of people in the US were puzzled by that. Outside of the states, these apps are dominant. Pierce talks about WeChat--
Harry: WeChat is huge.
Leo: He points out it's more than just messaging. There are WeChat stars, there is YouTube or Instagram stars. People buy train tickets, they get their laundry done. They live in WeChat.
Harry: Same thing in Japan with Line. It's an all-inclusive platform. You play games on it, you order pizza on it.
Leo: We are meanwhile in the states in a situation. There's people on ICQ, there's people on AIM, there's people on Microsoft Messenger. There's no unified platform. This is the question I'll pose you all. Is that the next big thing, messaging?
Harry: Messaging is already here as the next big thing. Facebook really wants to take Messenger and make it into something more like WeChat or Line. Last year, when Facebook told everybody that they were splitting off Messenger from Facebook and you'd have to download or use a different app, it ticked off a lot of people and people were puzzled and it became clear that eventually the reason they did it was because they wanted to make Messenger into an all-encompassing platform, similar to the ones people use in other countries.
Leo: It's obvious. After all, didn't Facebook buy WhatsApp?
Harry: They also WhatsApp, so they have two of them. The theory is, it won't be like that. WhatsApp is going to focus on messaging. It's never going to be inundated with ads because they won't do advertising.
Om: The funny thing is, that I read that article and my first reaction is "Yeah, we need a unified messaging app, but in reality, today the different demographics, different people different geographic locations, people use applications differently, so that is why we have so many different applications. Slack has a certain purpose in our life, just like SMS or iMessage has a certain purpose than WhatsApp, so has Facebook Messenger. I think to dream of a unified app is a childish dream to have. I think there should be a little bit more interactivity between these services, but I think it's more like think of messaging platforms as communication network. All social networks, if you look at the way they are, they are essentially messaging or communication platforms. On Facebook, people communicate through status and photos and updates, and then it became messages. I think we have messaging and communications for social human behavior, and every so often we re-invent it. I think you remember Skype when they came out, since all the people were on Skype, Skype took off and all the other services didn't take off, even though they were still there. Now you see the same thing with the current generation of messaging apps. They're taking off because we like to communicate all the time. That's a very fundamental human need. I think it's something I've been writing about for 20+ years. We always overlook at the end of the day what really makes the Internet work is our ability to communicate and interact. The next generation of interaction is essentially WhatsApp and WeChat. They all remain different from each other. We don't need to have all of them in one package.
Leo: But if that's true, how do you account for the fact that WeChat is used by half a billion people or that Line is used by is it the majority of Japanese users?
Harry: It's everybody has a Line ID, even though it's a messaging app, it's more used than Facebook in terms of its importance.
Leo: We've had unified apps before like Trillion and Pidgeon. It's never as satisfying as if we were all using one app. Jill, you're in an interesting position.
Jill: I have a lot of international friends and we used WhatsApp as a simple messenger that everybody signed up for early on. I think it was similar to Skype in their early days. Everybody has a Skype account, this is what we're going to use and it was a simple enough tool that when we all had accounts, it was fine. When you look at something like the Chinese market, you have to remember that it's its own market in a lot of ways. You have a lot of people in one country that has its own special technological challenges, it makes sense that in the timeline of how China's technology has rolled out, that they came to have a different messaging platform among the majority of their people at a different time than other parts of the world. I agree with what Om was saying. I don't want one messenger for all of my needs. When I use Business Communication tools, I want to have something else that lets me more easily search my history, upload large files, mark up PDFs. That's a different kind of service than having private and quick one-on-one communication with my friends. My main concern there, did they get my message, did they read my message? That's all I want is that confirmation. I think they're very different uses. There should be a lot of room for lots of different messengers.
Leo: You don't want to use a messaging app that your parents use.
Jill: I certainly want them to be able to message me.
Leo: You want to use the same one when you message them, but not the same one when you message your friends. Or is that not true?
Jill: I don't know if I'd agree with that. The other one that I use...
Leo: My kids don't want to use the messenger app I use. What is the other one? SMS?
Jill: iMessages through Apple. Most of my friends have Apple products.
Leo: Because they all have iPhones.
Jill: Right, and Macs.
Leo: I don't like being a green bubble on your phone.
Jill: Once Apple enabled everything to be synchronous, so you could get messages and SMS on your Mac and on your iPad as well as your phone, that helped that platform, move along. Again, we don't have to rely on having a cellular network we could use it over Wifi. For a lot of people that works too.
Leo: Doesn't seem like the ideal situation. I reject your premise, Om, that I'm an old man. I feel like all of us would like one platform. No?
Harry: I agree with Om. Inter-operability would be nice, but we've been waiting for it since the 1990's. At one point when it was all about AIM vs. MSN Messenger, the theory was that they'd all talk to each other. That went almost nowhere. I don't see any evidence today that any of the major platforms are serious about it. They want to keep you within their garden walls.
Leo: Facebook has added payments to messenger. By the way, they've got to come up with a new name. They're all Messenger, so it's very confusing. Maybe that's intentional, they want it to be THE Messenger. According to this article, they're rumored to be doing something called Money Penny, which would be a personal assistant messenger, like an automated personal assistant. Those things exist already. Here's an interesting listing from Apple for an applications engineer for Android and what's really interesting is you figure Apple Music needs an Android App, although if they're not well on their way to finishing that, then they're in trouble. The implication is it says exciting new products to the Android mobile platform besides the music and Move Apps. I find that intriguing. Maybe Apple wants to do a native Android iMessage. What do you think?
Om: That would make you happy.
Leo: Wouldn't you want to be WeChat in China or Line in Japan? Wouldn't you want to be that guy?
Harry: When FaceTime came out originally, they said they were going to open it up. They still haven't. They never said they were going to write all the apps themselves, they said they would have other people write the apps.
Leo: That's my complaint, even though you can use iMessage with SMS. I'm a green bubble in the message. Apparently, I didn't know this. People discriminate against Green bubbles.
Harry: Also if you jump back and forth, it's a real headache.
Leo: I'm told by my kids, when we're doing group messaging you can't be part of group messaging because you're a green bubble, so we just leave you out. We don't include you.
Jill: I think that's a good point too. Social networks are social. Messaging I would say is a social network. The way people behave online is similar to the way we behave in life. Especially when you're younger, you don't want to be one of the large group. You don't necessarily want to be included in the biggest thing. You want to have your own niche environment where people are like you. It's that social behavior of wanting to be with your group. I think that can certainly happen with messaging. You want to be in the platform that is representative of you and your people. I would say that something that makes WeChat successful is that it has that sort of thing in it. There are subcultures within WeChat. Maybe that's part of the problem is that the messaging platforms we have don't allow for that differentiation between people.
Leo: I told my wife: "Can we just use Facebook Messenger?" It's got stickers, it's got stuff. We did one message and then it's back to SMS. I think that this isn't going to happen in the United States. You're right Om. I guess we don't all want to be on the same platform. It just bothers me that I have Slack, Limewire, Messenger, it feels like Google is missing the boat here. Hangouts could be a unified platform that unifies a lot of people, but they're not making many efforts in that direction.
Harry: They were on the cusp of that and then they walked away.
Leo: I don't understand Google at al.
Harry: If there was a consumer personal version of Slack, that could be appealing to me. I'm on Slack all day for work.
Leo: I've heard people do use it. They have Slack groups. slack is cool because you can have bots and every time I type certain phrases... we use Slack with our web team, when I type certain phrases, Slack like Borat shows up. Every time I say nice move, Borat goes yeah. It's very customizable. Very powerful. Maybe that's what is missing. If we all use the same platform, we could all be speaking the same language. You're right, Om. It's old fashioned. We used to all watch the same TV show Sunday nights. We're in a more fragmented world. I'm just an old one. Let's take a break. We're going to come back. I thought you guys would all join me and we would all team up and we could create a movement to all use whatever. What would it be. I don't want it to be Facebook. I don't want Facebook to win, I guess that's the problem. 1.5 billion active monthly users on the Facebook platform. 300 million on Instagram. What's happening? I guess they already won. If they put a personal assistant, more features into Messenger, do you think they could win? Is it possible to win in the US?
Om: I think Messenger would be their play in the non-China market. I don't think they can win in China or any of the other big Asian countries like Korea or Japan. Messenger could be a huge win for them in India, for example. They're massive in India. That's where their big numbers are coming from.
Leo: Really? Interesting.
Om: Africa is another place where Messenger could be really huge. I think a lot of people don't realize it. WhatsApp got a lot of traction in Africa, BBC used to publish a lot of stories in WhatsApp. People have created groups inside WhatsApp and BBC News to cover elections in Nigeria and Kenya. These societies are much more mobile and advanced compared to us. If you're looking at Facebook, it will be in places like India and many parts of Africa. Some parts of Latin America where they are massive. I would not be surprised if it becomes a dominant global messaging system.
Leo: There's considerable money to be made in banking. It's very successful. Empasa goes over text messaging.
Om: Facebook hired the guy who was running PayPal to lead the Messenger effort. David Markus. It will be interesting to see what they can actually achieve, but it looks pretty promising.
Leo: We talk about the next big thing being virtual reality. Messaging platforms seems like a mundane subject, but to me it seems like there is a battle raging between these big companies. Because there's no incumbent, there's no big winner. It's going to be interesting.
Om: 20+ years of covering communications and messaging. For the longest time, they only way you could monetize messaging was through SMS. You bought minutes. Now with mobile things that have advanced to a level where we can start to think about making commerce, not just commerce. Why can't I have a subscription group where I share a link to an article. You've got the link and it's only available to that group. You go away after that. You can't share it. It's confined to that. I think there's a lot more promise in messaging communications right now. The emergence of intelligent bots, those are things that are not too far off. Within 12 to 48 months time frame, you're going to start to see a lot of these services become mainstream.
Leo: Microsoft is not being counted out here because whether anybody realizes it or not, they are all in on Skype and in fact, on Windows Ten they've started the movement of separating Skype messaging into a separate application, just as Facebook did with its messaging. I think Microsoft wants to get back into this business. It gave up on MSN Messenger, quite famously a few years ago, but I think they want to get back into this. Everybody is looking into this.
Om: The problem with Microsoft is that they kind of get too distracted with making a lot of complex features into the product instead of trying to stay simple. Facebook messenger is simple. WhatsApp is simple. I used to use Line and WeChat. All pretty simple and easy to understand on day one. Over a period of time they have taught us new behaviors. It's important not to forget how important it is to have simple features. I only have negative feelings about Skype.
Leo: You mentioned human behavior as being part of this too. We don't make phone calls as much as we used to. E-mail has failed us as a way of communicating. Email is federated cross platform, and everybody hates it. One of the most interesting areas for a new app has been a new approach to email that is glomming the messaging interface on top of email. Something about messaging that fits the way we communicate. I remember in the early days of text messaging in the US, nobody text messaged, because you didn't have a Smartphone. Then you couldn't message across carriers very well. I remember seeing TV shows in England saying SMS us your vote. It was huge, they were sending billions of messages a week, and it was non-existent in the US. It was thanks to Apple. The iPhone in 2007 changed it. We're going to take a break and come back with more. Om Malik is here from om.co, one of the great great observers of the Tech Industry. Also from Chinai India visiting us via Skype. You're literally on the other side of the world. We get a great image of Jill Duffy from PC magazine. It's the middle of the night, but hey don't hold that against us. Sitting in studio with me, Harry McCracken, who had the biggest ordeal. He had to get here through traffic to get here in Meetspace. Our show to you today brought to you by GoToMeeting, the powerfully simple way to met with coworkers and clients from the convenience of your computer, your Smartphone, your tablet. No one wants to commute across the bridge, through outside lands, drive through Marin, through Sonoma county just to sit face-to-face for a meeting! Nobody, except Harry. It's even worse if you're pitching somebody. You're not doing them a favor with a face-to-face meeting. Clients and colleagues prefer GoToMeeting. It's easy for them, it's easy for you. With GoToMeeting you can meet them from any computer, any tablet, any Smartphone. You can even present from an iPad. It's not just screen sharing. That's how GoToMeeting started. You can see the same screen; you can show them your PowerPoint, that kind of thing. Now that everybody has a high quality webcam on their device, they've added HD meeting video. I love that, because now it takes a meeting and makes it a face-to-face meeting, even if you're on opposite sides of the world. I want you to try GoToMeeting today. It's free for 30 days. You don't need an offer code. Visit GoToMeeting.com, click the try it free button. I tell you before the show is over, within a minute or two, you'll be set up and having your first meeting. It doesn't take anything. It's easy for your clients too, even if they've never used GoToMeeting. They'll find it simple and fast. I love it. GoToMeeting.com, it transforms a phone call into a really valuable face-to-face meeting. Lot of folks in Vegas over the last ten days for Black hat and deaf con. We talked a little bit with Steve Gibson the other day on the new Screen Savers. We talked about some of the new revelations. A lot of this was released ahead of time, like the new car hackings, the jeep hackings, the Tesla hackings and so forth. We were hoping to learn more at these conferences and this year we did not. Not much more from Charlie Miller about the jeep hacking. Everything we learned about in the Wired article is true, but not much more. Stage Fright, which was revealed beforehand. Nobody wants to help hackers, which is good. StageFright is the Android vulnerability that takes advantage of the media player in Android called Stage Fright. Zimperium, which is the group that has discovered the StageFright virus has released a detection tool. Steve said if you installed it on an Android you should also install LookOuts detection tool. Get a second opinion. I put it on my up to date brand new model, Nexus 6, Google Fi, and I'm vulnerable. If I'm vulnerable, we're all screwed. What about somebody with a really old phone. There's not going to be a real update. LG Samsung and Google have all agreed to start a monthly update cycle. That's probably an improvement.
Harry: Amazing it took this many years for them to do that.
Leo: There are attacks in the wild. I don't know how dangerous they are. Google has pointed out that because it is using Address Space relocation in all versions of Android since JellyBean, that it's not really an issue of somebody getting control over your phone on those more recent versions of Android. There are literally something like 800 or 900 million Android phones that are vulnerable to this. We've already learned that hackers can remotely steal fingerprints from Android phones. That's a little big scary. Have you looked into how this works? This was announced Wednesday by Fire Eye.
Harry: Apparently on an iPhone, your fingerprint is encrypted and it's stored in this walled off part of the phone. I assumed that the same was true with Android.
Leo: I thought so, but apparently not.
Harry: Apparently not. On Android, different manufacturers are implementing different fingerprint scanning in different ways, so there is not one company in charge of making it safe.
Leo: The attack was confirmed on the HTC One Max and Samsung Galaxy S5. A hacker could without your knowledge acquire the fingerprint images from the device. That's bad news.
Om: Find a 1997 phone.
Leo: Everything should be wired and old. Then we'd all be safe.
Om: That's why people love watching your show. Wired and old and safe.
Leo: What did I ever do to you? It comes from love.
Om: A joke.
Leo: Lets's see. Did you see the GOP debate? By the way, the highest rated cable news show of all time.
Om: Kardashians have nothing on this.
Leo: Screw Kardashians. We've got Donald Trump. Were they talking about it in India, Jill?
Jill: I saw some of my US friends commenting about the debates on Facebook. I didn't watch them live, obviously. I read some of the recaps. I think the most interesting thing from the international perspective is to see how early these debates start in the United States.
Leo: We've got 18 months till the election!
Jill: The candidates started campaigning. It was something like 15 weeks before the election. It was like the holiday decorations came up before there was Halloween. People were outraged. It's just so crazy.
Leo: If you're going to spend a billion and a half dollars to get elected president, you've got to get elected early. It's not easy to put off that money. Speaking of India, Google is planning to bring Android One back in India with a sub 50 dollar device. This is part of the problem. Simultaneously as a stage fright story, you see this and this is part of the problem that Google has. A lot of these low-cost phones are never going to get updated. There's no way to update them. This is important to everybody to get people online and using computers.
Harry: And the idea with Android is to do a phone which is really cheap, but it's also a respectable phone for the price. It's not going to be based on a basic version of Android and it stands a chance of getting updated.
Leo: I think Google is moving a lot of the system components out of the system and into the playstore precisely so they can update.
Harry: They're trying to do current versions of Android which are small enough to be run on a phone that can be sold for a price like 50 bucks.
Leo: It's interesting. Verizon announced this week that they're joining T Mobile in eliminating subsidies for Smartphones. All of a sudden people in the United States are seeing what that Smartphone costs. It's not 200 bucks. An iPhone is 700 bucks. Many of the top of the line phones are between 6 and 800 dollars. I think that's going to add pressure to reduce phone costs here in the states even. The new phones that we're seeing, the Moto X, the Moto G, the One Plus Two are all sub 500 dollars. That's telling, isn't it?
Harry: It's more bad news for everybody except Apple. I think Apple will still be able to sell a flagship phone at a flagship price. I think it will be a challenge for Samsung, and if you're HTC or LG or anybody else it gets tougher and tougher to do.
Jill: It will still work as long as there's a payment plan system. Part of the issue is that people have decided how much they're willing to pay for a mobile phone monthly. They've been anchored into a price. That price can be anywhere from 45/50 dollars to 100 dollars. If you're saying up front that I need to pay $800 now and enroll in a plan, people aren't going to go for that. If you can work out the numbers one way or another to make it a monthly payment based on what they pay, I think it can still work.
Harry: With Verizon it's pretty confusing. Some people are going to end up paying more under the new plan and some are going to end up paying less.
Leo: People with existing Verizon accounts are not going to get any change at all.
Harry: This will be really good if the price you pay for your service no longer has the price that Verizon needs to pay for all those phones. Historically you've gotten a subsidized phone and you've paid a price with the subsidy built in, but you've continued paying the service charge even after you have paid off your phone. It's become pure profit from Verizon.
Leo: Is this pressure from T Mobile. Why is Verizon even...?
Om: This is clearly T Mobile. I think they are changing the game and making things work more effectively for the consumer and using that as an advantage to steal market share away from Verizon. Definitely, there is an upside to the whole thing right now. The One thing I wonder where the future is headed is if the sticker you have on your laptop, the Google Fi sticker. I think as we speak less and less and the phone data becomes more important, you're going to start to see more experiments like Google Fi start to emerge. That's where the next battleground is going to be. I look at what T Mobile and Verizon is doing is actually preparing for the reality of tomorrow, not today. I think if I can get 100 dollars for data only on my phone. That’s all I want. I will be very happy. I will be much happier getting a phone number or SMS data.
Leo: I never use the phone any more.
Om: Whenever I do, I'm actually calling through Viper or WhatsApp or sometimes through Skype. Even Google Voice. It's just not that important. The phone part of the phone isn't important at all. The text messaging is important, and even that is less relevant. What you need is a data connection. I think that is why it makes sense for these guys to get away from subsidizing the phone itself.
Leo: The most popular plan among the geeks is a hidden pay as you go plan on the T Mobile web page. 30 dollars a month for unlimited text and data and only 100 minutes of calling a month. I tell you what, I could easily do that for me. I never do more than a hundred minutes. Google Fi is 20 dollars for the texting. By the way, I'm holding the Fi phone up because I secretly fell for it. 20 dollars a month for texting and phone, and ten dollars a gigabyte for data. That's the only upside for Google. The more data you use the more you'll pay. It uses the T Mobile and the sprint network and wifi if you happen to have Wifi handy. I don't understand though. For somebody who is using the 30-dollar t mobile plan, this is not a savings. I don't feel like Google's strategy is clear. Maybe I'm missing the boat.
Harry: I have 15 gigs and I'm not paying 150 dollars for that.
Om: the Google Fi intrigues me. Now that I'm a civilian, I'm still waiting for my phone to show up. I haven't tried it, but I look at that and think it's interesting because I can get 3D when I'm traveling world-wide, which is great. I think this is where we are headed. Maybe not this exact model, but this is where we are headed where we see all the carriers getting abstracted on our devices. I think it's not as crazy to think about the future in a service like device coming with you turn it on, you don't have to think about who you were signing up with. That's just the network. I think not today, but in the future. Companies like Cox and Comcast and Time Warner are doing, they are setting up their own massive Wifi cloud everywhere. You suddenly start to think: what is the idea of connectivity going forward? Sign up with a phone company, give them 150 a month, and basically you're locked into a 3-year contract. It makes no sense anymore.
Leo: It's also driving the size of the phones. If you're not making phone calls on it, you want the biggest screens you can get, because that's better for typing, surfing, and computing, which is mostly what you do with phones these days. Motorola’s new phones are big. Samsung's new phones are big. Everybody's got, and this phone is ridiculous. It's six inches.
Om: I have an iPhone six plus. I have a 1999 Samsung flip phone. I pay 29 dollars for my flip phone to make phone calls. It's impossible to make phone calls on these big phones. You have to have headphones. It's too complex. You have to do too many things while you are using the phone. I like the comfort of the flip phone. It actually sounds cleaner and clearer. There's no GPS chip on the damn thing.
Leo: It's a burner! Jill, did you get a new phone when you moved to India? What did you do?
Jill: I just got a Sim Card, so I had an unlocked phone and a sim card. The majority of phone calls I take actually, this is my setup. I have a headset and I use my computer. I use Google voice often, so when I have meetings with companies in the United States, I want to give them a US phone number, so I still use Google Voice, which is not the best system.
Leo: Does it work in India?
Jill: Oh yeah. I used to live in the UK too, and I used it a lot for the same reason there, to give people a US phone number. The convenience of having a US phone number is huge and you don't have to pay for it with Google voice in the way that you have to with Skype to get a phone number. My setup is I'm usually at my desk. My phone calls are always planned. I don't take impromptu phone calls. Nobody calls just to say hello.
Leo: I do too. If somebody rings my phone, I ignore it.
Harry: It's weird.
Jill: It's like a meeting. I'm usually in my home, I have my setup, I have my headphones. I'm often recording the call and that's what phone means to me now.
Leo: But I'm not doing any reporting, and I notice I still go to my desktop computer, put on my headset, before I make a phone call. It's more comfortable. I don't want to be holding the phone. This is only useful for emergencies, basically. I only answer the phone if it's my friends or family. Mostly just family because I don't have any friends.
Harry: Family over the age of 70 in lots of cases.
Leo: Right. It's an emergency thing. My kids aren't making phone calls. They're texting me. Behavior has changed.
Jill: Speaking of emergencies, I have an article coming out tomorrow, Monday Morning on PC Mag, about putting emergency contact information into your phone. This is something as I started to look into the different phones and the ways to do it, Apple is definitely ahead. It has the easiest system.
Leo: Don't they have an app for that?
Jill: It's in the health app. Every phone has to allow you to make an emergency call from the locked screen. This is a requirement in the US. Apple has a little button that has medical information on it. I really highly recommend everybody who has an Apple device use that. If you have kids, if kids are going away to college soon, absolutely make sure they set it up. It has your name, your medical information as much as you want to put in there. Allergies, blood type, as many contacts as you want to list as your emergency ID people. It's important not only for us to set it up.
Leo: Does that show up when you make an emergency call from the lock screen?
Jill: When you swipe from the lock screen and hit emergency cal, you then get a dialer and you also see on the bottom a thing that says medical id.
Leo: That's if I have a heart attack and somebody grabs my phone, they can actually grab my phone and call for help and have that information right there.
Jill: It's not as good on Android. There's a lot of apps that offer this. It's not on all phones. There are some phones that have it in the settings, but it's fragmented. It's Android. The trick with Android is to find an app that offers it with a widget from the lock screen.
Leo: That's what I need.
Jill: A lot of them are buggy. Some of them mess with your alarm, apparently. Then I looked at Blackberry and Windows phone. They're not as good either. I think there's an app for both of those that allow you to put any message you want on your lock screen. Again, I recommend to people to put their emergency contact info in there.
Leo: Jason Howell have you found anything... Jason is not only my producer but the host of All About Android. Have you found any good emergency apps for Android? Are you aware of this?
Jason Howell: Specifically I know that there are plenty of apps that do that on a locked screen like Jill is talking about. The problem there is that Lollipop and beyond, there are no more lock screen widgets. They basically got rid of that and now it's the notification stream by their default. That helps you if you're on an older version of Android. Current versions, Lollipop and more recent don't have that ability. It should be built into the phone.
Leo: The irony is I don't know if everybody knows that this is on the Apple lock screen.
Jill: yeah. It's important to know it.
Leo: First responders have been told this, right?
Jill: I would hope so. The other life hack way to do it is to create a note in any note-taking app. Make sure it's centered. Type your emergency contact info there, take a screen shot, make that your wallpaper.
Leo: Then it's always there. I have a friend who is an EMT. I'm going to ask him if he knows about this. Is this common knowledge amongst first responders. How about the chat room? Any first responders in the chat room? I remember dimly that Apple announced this. If forgot this was even in there. I'm glad you wrote that article, Jill.
Harry: I didn't know it was in there.
Leo: You didn't either? See. Om and I who are old men...
Om: I definitely need that.
Leo: Well you've had a heart attack in all seriousness.
Om: I'm glad I came on this show. I learned something new.
Leo: How did you, when you had your heart attack, was that in public? Where did that happen?
Om: It was at home.
Leo: You knew that you were having a heart attack?
Om: I thought I was having heart burn. I had a certain kind of food the night before. I assumed I was having heart burn because of that. I figured out later thanks to a friend who diagnosed me while I was telling him on the phone how I felt, his father was a cardiologist. He paid attention to what was going on and he came over and took me to the hospital.
Leo: That's awesome. That is one thing my EMT friend has told me. With both stroke and heart attack, getting a person to the hospital as quickly as possible is hugely important. I remember reading a New York Times article last month that they had something like 18 percent improvement in heart attack recovery, not because of medical improvement, but because they got people to the hospital faster. They have EKGs in the ambulance now; they can send that to the hospital now before you get there, so that they're ready when you arrive. The other thing they told me, and this is important for everybody to hear, if you think you're having a heart attack, don't drive yourself. Get to the hospital. Don't be embarrassed. We're very used to this. People coming in with anxiety, it's not a shameful thing. We're used to it. We far prefer that you came in than you ignore the symptoms. It can save your life. Every minute that goes by, a certain percentage less life expectancy. I can't remember the exact thing. We'll move on. I'm glad you made it, Om, and I'm glad you had a good friend who was there to get you. More to come back in a bit. Om Malik is back, baby. You don't travel in the summer because the amateurs do that.
Om: Is that true?
Leo: it is. Plus it's hot.
Om: Also the airports are so crowded.
Leo: Where are you going next and when? I'd like to raid your apartment. It looks like you have good stuff in there.
Om: You can try.
Leo: You have some booby traps?
Om: That's ten million views right there.
Leo: Leo broke into my apartment and you'll never believe what happened next. It's a hit. That's a million views right there. Also visiting us, who knew? A couple months ago she moved to India. We're so glad though that you would be on the show with us, even though it's early morning. Jill Duffy from PC mag.
Jill: I don't know if you can hear, but I'm starting to hear birds chirping outside.
Leo: The morning is come. Morning has broken. Harry McCracken and I are going to do a little performance here. The Technologizer from fastcompany.com. Somebody got mad at me last time you were on. They said he's not the Technologizer anymore.
Harry: I will always be. I write on Fast Company. Don't go to technologizer.com to read my new stuff, go to fastcompany.
Leo: Do you maintain that?
Harry: Every once in a great while I will write on Technologizer.
Leo: I’m proud of Om for keeping this alive. It's for old men. No blog for old men. om.co, which is one of the most beautiful designs ever.
Om: No design.
Leo: That's why it's so good.
Om: No ads!
Leo: No ads either. We'll talk about ads in just a second. There's a lot of news in the online advertising world. Our show to you today brought to you by BrainTree. If you're a mobile app developer and you want to know , you know you're good. You could write it yourself. Don't. One of the biggest mistakes people make is doing their own e-commerce, their own security. Braintree makes it so easy. Ten lines of code. It's funny. Who was I talking to? A mobile app developer said that was the phrase that got me. Ten lines of code and you can accept Apple Pay, you can accept credit cards, Ven mo, Paypal. All kinds of payment, easy as pie. You can even accept Bitcoin if you want to in your app. We talked to the CTO of BrainTree, great guy. Juan Benitez about the feedback he's getting from developers about Braintree. Listen.
Juan Benitez: When we talk to iOS engineers, they get excited by how fast and easy it is to have Apple Pay through BrainTree. A ton of feedback from Android developers saying wow great. Now I can get Android pay. Then you see people responding and saying now I can do more than one of these through integration. That's going to make my finance guys happy!
Leo: Fast payout, superior fraud protection, great customer service. It's easy for the developer. As he said, it makes the finance guys and gals really happy. Look at who uses BrainTree and you'll get an idea of who uses it. Air BNB uses it, so does hotels tonight. Uber uses it. If there were one company where mobile payment is the entire story, it would be Uber. That's Braintree. So does Lyft. Lyft uses it too. In fact, GetHub started with BrainTree. There's no better way. You're going to like it. Uber is using that One Touch product that makes it so easy. A full stack payment solution, ready for you, and as a little sweetener, if you go to braintreepayments.com/twit, we're going to get you your first $50,000 in transactions fee-free. Braintreepayments.com/twit. Tell your boss. Whoever makes the decisions. That's the product. Emergency information. Here's an Android. There isn't any good... Jill did you make a recommendation in your article for something?
Jill: There is one. if you search for Ice, there's usually a few that come up. I don't remember off the top of my head, but there's one that costs 3.99 that was widely used but seemed to cause bugs for some people. Again, if it's offered in your settings and everybody should check with their particular phone and particular carrier, if it's offered in your settings, that's where you want to be implementing it.
Leo: Awesome. This is something that Google should put into Android. I guess we haven't done any Apple stories. It wouldn't be a TWiT without some Apple stories. Apple apparently, according to John Patchoski is rapidly eclipsing Mark German, now that Patch... I don't know if anybody else calls him Patch. Now that Patch is at BuzzFeed he still is getting the scoops. Apple's fall iPhone event will be September 9.
Harry: The actual story says the week of the 7th, probably the 9th.
Leo: Sometimes in the 7th, could be the 8th, could be the 9th. Apple holds its events on Tuesdays, which would make the 8th the more likely if you ask me. We don't know what they'll announce. It's September, so it likely is a new iPhone.
Harry: iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.
Leo: No October Event. Just get it all done with.
Harry: Maybe just one even this time.
Leo: Apple TV is one of those things Patchoski has been talking about since June when WWDC was going to be announced at the worldwide developers conference. Apple backed out, probably because they couldn't make the deals with the networks and the local TV stations they wanted to make. I don't know if they made those deals. It may be that they finally said screw it. If we don't release this now, we'll never release it, and they hope the deals will come. Apple would like for the Apple TV to be the ultimate cord-cutting device. Will it be? Om?
Om: I hope so. I don't have a television. I haven't had a TV since 2008. We had a website called new TV. I said I should live the lifestyle if I'm going to start a blog about that.
Leo: Rutgers was one of your great reporters. He's now at Variety.
Om: He is one of the more amazing people I had a chance to work with. Liz Gaines was the founding editor of that site.
Leo: She's at re-code.
Om: I think she's doing some research now at Stanford.
Leo: That's right. She's retired to become a student.
Om: It's great to not have televisions o you can actually experience the no screen life. When I go and see some of my friends who are using Apple TV, you can see the potential. I actually really like Chromecast.
Leo: I do too.
Om: It’s a very well made product from Google which doesn’t do too many products finished and you know, completed like Google has done with Chromecast. I also like Roku. I think Roku is an interesting little company that keeps growing. And I like the whole category per se because I believe that, you know I think that whole idea of television the way it was is just—makes no sense anymore. I think, I felt that way in 2008 and I still feel it. You know it’s finally last one week you’re beginning to see everyone to talk about the reality of cord cutting. Sometimes it takes 5-7 years for reality to happen. But it’s been fun. The iPad is a great viewing device from my standpoint. I watch MLB on there, I watch cricket on that, I watch my NBA on it. It’s like a very small television. But the Apple TV if it comes out will actually push more and more people to think about just using that as an interface for consuming content.
Leo: This week Wall Street cut 60 billion dollars off the value of major media companies based on this kind of cord cutting fear. Somebody, who was it who was talking at a conference and said—
Harry: It was ESPN.
Leo: It was ESPN. Their revenues are down for the first time.
Harry: It sounds like the TV business is finally acknowledging that cord cutting might impact their business over the long term. Which until recently they were in real fierce denial mode about.
Leo: Well it’s confusing because you read these statistics. ESPN which is traditionally the cable channel people will pay the most for, they make the most money, something like 6.25 per subscriber. For them to make less is a big deal. But then you also hear statistics that people are watching more broadcast television than ever before. So I don’t know which is true but obviously media stocks really took a hit. Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox and Viacom, although the CEO of Cablevision said, “Not so fast, it’s not that bad. We don’t see,” they told the Wall Street Journal, “we don’t see a landslide of cord cutting in the near term.” James Dolan. And of course he’s talking to investors. So he’s trying to shore up the stock. He says, “I don’t think the sky is falling quite yet.” Nevertheless Cablevision shares fell 2.7% on Friday and 5% over the 2 days.
Om: Leo, the key way to think about any of these changes is we’re beginning to see a whole generation think about television not as television but as something on demand. And then you have a generation behind them who think of video only in terms of devices which they can hold in their hand and they can touch.
Leo: I think that’s exactly right.
Om: And so 10 years forward these guys may stem the losses for a little while, do some financial engineering. 10 years down the line the behavior of the consumer is very different. That’s when it’s not cord cutting. It just is a different behavior.
Leo: They’re not watching television at all.
Om: Yea. And I think this whole notion that live sports are going to save their bacon and live events. I don’t know. We don’t know like what the consumers of tomorrow are going to adapt to these things or not. I don’t know. I am really interested in trying to figure out how people can view television in the next 5 years. To actually make a reasonable call on what the future looks like but one thing is for sure. The way things were, that’s gone. That 60 billion or 600 billion on their market cap? That is just irrelevant. These companies have been sitting and doing absolutely nothing. And that’s why they’re beginning to suffer.
Jill: You know there’s been some--
Leo: Well cable companies are first and then the networks next. I think the networks are in denial about the fact that people aren’t even watching TV. Go ahead, Jill, I’m sorry.
Jill: There’s been some really great stories about MLB which was one of the 1st leaders I think in getting to the online space. So the MLB TV people, Major League Baseball, were really trying to offer some kind of online experience early on. They knew that they had a worldwide audience of people watching baseball who couldn’t always watch it because they didn’t have US network television. So in the early days of MLB TV it was awful. It was like watching a pixelated video game, you know, frame by frame. It was terrible. But they stuck with it and they developed it out. And we’re an MLB household so we use it quite frequently. But HBO did—
Leo: At 3 in the morning unfortunately (laughing).
Jill: We have actually, I have to start the game because I’m allowed to see the final scores.
Jill: So I’m in charge of starting the game.
Leo: I see.
Jill: But yea, after the fact. But what happened is that HBO hired some people from MLB who had worked on that product.
Leo: Right, HBO Now was based on MLB, yea.
Jill: Exactly. And they said we really need someone who has expertise. And nobody had any expertise.
Leo: Including their own giant, in-house, very expensive HBO Go team up there in Seattle.
Jill: Right. Except for the MLB people. So I think, and I think HBO has been a huge story this year. Once they offered that ala carte service. That’s going to be a real—I think it’s going to set the tone for a lot of every channels.
Leo: ESPN went over the top with Sling TV.
Harry: I think Sling has been an epic deal. I think we’ll look back at Sling as having been really important.
Leo: Yea. Yet I think the real problem is exactly as Om points out. I look at—I have 2 kids. 23 and 21. The 23 year old will watch Netflix, she’ll watch—she’ll sit down in from of a TV set. She’s a cord cutter in that sense. She’s not watching live programming. She’s watching on-demand programming off the internet. The 21 year old won’t do that. He watches You Tube. And that’s it. And I feel like that’s really – you’re missing the boat if you’re thinking, “Oh, the next thing is over the top.” I think you nailed it, Om, which is TV watching itself has changed completely and people are using mobile devices. They’re not watching TV. They’re consuming content in some completely different way.
Om: I think that what it does is it basically all the economics of our television and entertainment ecosystem is built on mass audience, right?
Om: And we are going into more you know, like fractional audience over a long period of time. And there will be hits and there will be some people who will do very well with the hits. Like you know, HBO and True Detective or Soprano’s type of shows—
Leo: Do you think there’s a future for that kind of programming, that kind of event programming?
Om: Absolutely. I think great story telling is great story telling.
Om: Whether you tell them to, you tell them as a poem or you tell them as a movie or a running TV series. Great stories are great stories. There will be far—the focus has to be on finding that interesting thing that people are glued to. But most of the viewing is going to be fractional. So the economics of the industry changes not from mass audience, which is like mass audience with lots of television, charge lots of money and go home. Fractional is everything is just up for grabs. Maybe we need to be thinking really, really hard about paid content, subscription models, which are entirely different than what they are today. I think Netflix works because it is actually interesting business model. Not because it has the best content. It’s like they figured out that for $10 a month people are ok putting up with a lot of average content as long as they find something to see on a daily basis.
Leo: We don’t really care as long as there are colors and people moving. It doesn’t really matter what it is (laughing).
Om: But think about it this way. How much time do you have in your day anymore to watch television? Like that state, what’s happening in our society right now? If you don’t have full time jobs in the middle class, people are going to work 2,3,4 jobs. They’re going to do – right? To make ends meet. They’re not watching television. They will watch television. But then you know, all these things that they are doing and finding—we’ll have to steal time to entertain ourselves.
Leo: Does that mean short form is going to be more successful?
Om: Not like 2 minute videos definitely. But I’m sure there will be—like somebody will come up with a new format.
Leo: It’s hard to tell a story—in fact you’re seeing really the opposite when you think about the fact that these HBO shows like Game of Thrones or True Detective really are 30 and 40 hour movies. They’re not, they’re not even 2 hour movies. They’re spread out. But they’re a lot of hours. We’ve gotten better at a long story arc than ever before. We like those long stories.
Om: How about like a 2 hour New Screen Savers?
Leo: It is 2 hours (laughing). As a matter of fact.
Om: Well it feels like it’s like half hour or so.
Leo: Good, I like it. Thank you, Om. Rock on. Yea, I—
Jill: You know when you start to look at some of the TV shows that are coming out exclusive on Vimeo and You Tube I think they’re breaking away from the idea of having a format at all. They say, “Let us tell the story in the amount of time that we need.”
Leo: Oh good.
Jill: So shows like High Maintenance for example, which is on Vimeo, and there’s a few others which have very short programs. I think that’s a good experimental way to go. But I think we also have to remember that we’ve been programmed to consume content in certain blocks. So a half hour show is usually actually somewhere between 22 and 26 minutes in the US because of commercial breaks. And if you watch on Netflix, right, you’ll like watch those 22 minutes straight through. And then there’s the difference between an hour long show on network which is usually about 46 minutes, and an hour long HBO show which is actually more like 58,59 minutes. And I think we’re acclimated to watching in those breaks. And writers start to get used to writing in those breaks, right? So you have 14 minutes until your plot twist, and you have 8 minutes of resolution. You know what I mean? So I think we have some forms that are more ingrained in our behavior for consuming media than we realize. And I would say the same thing about movies, too. So you know that the movie studios are pushing for a certain amount of time on a movie because they know that the consumer going to the theatre wants a certain length of an experience to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. So writers are taught to pace their stories based on that block of time that they’re given. So I think some of those issues are going to be harder to overcome in new media. I think new media helps them a lot but I think getting used to the idea that we the consumer want to have certain things happen in our story, in the plotting and the pacing, just because we’ve been accustomed to that, that’s the way a story is told.
Leo: It might even be biological. Ira Glass says that there’s a natural, of this American life, says there’s a natural beat structure that’s almost built into our biology. I think its 45 seconds. He has a whole talk he does about this natural structure. You know what comes to mind? This is very similar to our conversation about messaging earlier. Which is essentially that we are moving into a fragmented world where there are lots of different flavors and you pick the flavor that suits you. I’m looking at High Maintenance. It’s interesting. This is on Vimeo. It’s a – have you watched this, Jill? It’s a series.
Jill: Yea, I’ve seen a little bit of it. It’s a story about—
Leo: It’s $1.99 an episode. It’s the same as a real TV show.
Om: It is a real TV show.
Leo: But it’s on Vimeo.
Om: Yea, so that doesn’t mean anything. Right?
Leo: I guess you’re right. Wiz in our chatroom keeps on saying, “You guys are missing the point. It’s about cost. The cable companies are charging us so much, we’re just trying to save money.” I don’t think that’s the case.
Om: I think that is. That is the case too, right?
Leo: It is?
Om: They keep charging for things we don’t want.
Om: People would happily pay for the things they want, right?
Leo: It’s much like the music industry selling you an album when you only wanted one song. As soon as you can go ala carte you will.
Harry: It’s like 100 channels you will never, ever watch. At least if you buy an album it’s all by the same person.
Leo: I do think we’re willing to pay for our content though. You know what I’m saying? I think that people don’t want free content if it’s good—I think people will pay for Game of Thrones. HBO Now as far as I can tell is a success, right?
Harry: HBO is doing well because it set the standard so very high.
Harry: That people are willing to pay for it.
Om: But not everybody can be HBO or New York Times, right? Let’s be very clear.
Leo: Well that’s the scarcity frankly is talent.
Om: Right, right, right.
Leo: The scarcity is writing and acting.
Om: And also the quality. I think HBO has done a great job in maintaining the quality and what they—and being very clear about what they stand for. I think New York Times has done a good job so far. But I see that they’re starting to go down this path where—
Leo: They’re stumbling.
Om: Yea. That they’re starting to miss out who they really are and why we are getting to pay for them. I think that’s the other thing. You know the thing which we have never talked about or people don’t talk about is like how story telling will actually be different going forward because the technology is different, right? So Jill was talking about 26 minute blocks or 58 minute blocks. But think about it this way. Today we can stop and have a video sync to another screen at any time. Like so we don’t watch—like I have not sat down and watched a single movie end to end. I just maybe watch 10 minutes here, and 15 minutes there.
Leo: No, you’re right. Interstellar which I watched at the theater was interminable in the theatre. But we watched it over 3 nights again and it was great (laughing).
Leo: 3 chunks.
Om: And that’s where the story telling is. Right there, that’s where the idea of what is video content is different. You know, the idea of television as we know it doesn’t make any sense because we are in full control of how we experience it, right? How we experience it defines what is going to happen to the medium and it is not going to be a mass medium as a result effect. And I think that most of the television industry misses the point about that. Completely misses the point. Like we are in charge. We the end customer is in charge of how. That’s the beauty. I think people talk about cord cutting. DVR was the most disruptive thing that happened to television.
Leo: Yes. As soon as you didn’t have to watch it live everything changed. And you could pause it. And let’s not forget, you could skip commercials. And that’s a big issue for advertisers and the monetization. Do you think we’re going to go paywall and everything will be for pay? That the idea of free advertising supported media is threatened by this, Om?
Om: I don’t know. I mean –
Leo: I’m hoping you say no because that’s what we’re doing here today.
Om: Ok, no.
Leo: (Laughing) I knew I should have gone into that preaching thing. I really feel like that—I blew, I missed. Yea, I missed the bet.
Om: Yea. You’re doing a good job, though.
Leo: Of preaching?
Leo: Well you know if there’s this thread—the through-line through all of this is that the technology has completely disruptive. And what’s really interesting is that human behavior is as much disrupted as the business models. Business models have to accommodate these new human behaviors. And it’s a moving target. I watch, you know, I watch my kids –I love using my kids as an example, but I watch them go from – you know, when we were teenagers, we were on the phone while we did our homework. I watch my daughter be on instant messenger while she was doing her homework with music playing, to watching my son be on a multiple conference call with Skype while he’s doing his homework. I mean, and that’s in a couple of years. It’s changing so rapidly. I don’t blame NBC and Viacom and ESPN/Disney for having some trouble figuring out what the hell we want and where it’s all going.
Harry: And by the time they do figure out we’ll want something else.
Leo: You know what I want? I want a $25,000 Panama hat. But I’m not getting it.
Om: Why not?
Leo: Did you see that amazing story today in the New York Times about the best Panama hat ever made? Was it the Times? I think it was. No, no it wasn’t the Times. It was New York Magazine.
Om: You should totally get it.
Leo: Look up Panama hat. There’s one last guy.
Harry: The world’s finest Panama hat.
Leo: The worlds—yup, and who will buy it? It’s NPR, sorry. Great. And by the way that’s another point. You don’t know where you read the story anymore.
Harry: In Ecuador.
Leo: Nobody even goes to the front page of the New York Times. You deep link everything, right? Yea, this guy, he’s never going to do it again. He’s woven one, the last one. And nobody knows how to make these anymore. There are fake Panama hats that are bleached but this is like what is it, 800 thread count?
Harry: One of his last hats went for 25 grand.
Leo: Yea to a movie star who wanted it for his honeymoon. But they don’t even know what this one’s worth. Because there will never be another like it. I don’t know how I got on that.
Harry: It’s like the Stradivarius of Panama hats.
Leo: It’s the Stradivarius, thank you, of Panama hats.
Harry: Can I bring up one other thing about the Apple event?
Leo: Yes, please, would you? Thank you.
Harry: I have my fingers crossed that they’re going to announce a large screen iPad which I’m personally very excited about.
Leo: The iPad Pro.
Harry: Yea. And like the 12.9” screen.
Leo: You notice Paczkowski kind of implied that that might not happen.
Harry: It sounds like he’s leaning against that. You would think that if it was happening, we might have seen more supply chain leaks.
Leo: No leaks at all. There was also a rumor they would do a new Mini, iPad Mini that looked a lot like the iPad Air 2, but no supply chain leaks on that either. In fact the only supply chain leak I’ve seen is iPhone 6S screens.
Harry: They might be doing a large screen iPad as the stuff they are doing with iOS 9 with the multiple apps on one screen and stuff that sounds like it’s very productivity oriented. And would serve you very well if you were trying to use an iPad more like a PC. So, I’m holding out hope but I’m not all that hopeful that it’s going to happen in the next few weeks.
Leo: I’m going to go out on a limb here because one of the few new features on the iPhone is Force Touch. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that is a failed technology.
Harry: Force Touch?
Leo: Force Touch. It kind of makes sense on the watch because there’s not that many things you can do. But I have had Force Touch now on a couple of Mac laptops. It’s unintuitive. You never know what’s going to happen when you click it. Apps don’t support it. Apple supports it but it’s still unclear. And it gets in the way of things like clicking and dragging. You press too hard and now you’re doing something completely different. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s a flop. And no one cares. Which proves my point.
Om: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
Leo: Exactly. Proved my point. Not only is it a flop, Om never even heard of it.
Om: I do have to say, Harry, you should try the new MacBook.
Leo: I love my MacBook.
Harry: Yes. I like that to.
Leo: Do you love that? Do you love that, Om?
Om: I absolutely love it.
Leo: And you don’t know what Force Touch is?
Om: Never used it.
Leo: That’s one of the key features of the MacBook.
Harry: If the new MacBook had a built in LTE I’d be more excited about it.
Leo: Yea it’s odd that it doesn’t. But the new Chromebook Pixel doesn’t have one either. It seems like that should be.
Harry: Is Om the only person that likes it?
Om: I think that you have to think about the MacBook as an accessory for your iPhone.
Leo: And tether.
Harry: It is a really nice MacBook.
Leo: There is a real hit. That MacBook, I was not confident I would like it because it has short key travel. It’s just the right size. And you know I can live with the keyboard. It’s not perfect but I can live with the keyboard. But here you are with your iPad here. Your silly little—
Harry: And I just realized I started doing that about the time Steve Jobs left us because I was in Japan when that happened at a tech show. So it’s been four years almost since I’ve been mostly iPad.
Leo: 4 years. That’s a long time. But couldn’t you see yourself with a MacBook now right there in front of you?
Harry: I have an Erent which I love and use a lot. And usually if I’m sitting at a desk at work I will frequently use my Ernet.
Leo: You know when I decided to get the MacBook? When I saw all the, you know the Kevin Roses and the Om Maliks of the world were using them. And I thought, “Well, this must be something.”
Om: We look at you for feedback.
Leo: Well then it’s a feedback loop. We’re going to take a break. Come back with more, lots more to talk about. A little more Apple news before we go. But first I want to tell you about Stamps.com. I haven’t talked about Stamps in a long time. I think you know, I hope you all know about Stamps.com. This means you no longer go to the post office. That is awesome. And I’m not talking a postage meter. Postage meters are terrible. That’s so 1980s. They’re expensive, you have multi-year commitments, the ink, there’s hidden fees. They change the postal rates you have to pay to get the postage meter updated. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about the modern way, Stamps.com. It’s software. It’s web based. You can print and buy official U.S. Postage for any letter or package right from your desk with your computer, your printer, no special ink. You’ll get discounts you can’t get at the post office. It is the ultimate for fulfillment. So if you sell online-- I get, you know every once in while we’ll buy something fancy and I’ll get this crazy package. And somebody has licked and placed stamps on it. And it’s just—I look at that and I go, “Why? Why aren’t you using Stamps.com?” If you’re selling on Etsy, EBay, Amazon, it will take the information from the website, you don’t have to fill out forms. It prints a beautiful looking label with exactly the right postage by the way. I know when they put stamps on there that either it’s going to be too few or too many. You never get it exactly right. But now, never again. Stamps.com will always print precisely the right postage. In fact you get this great USB scale with your Stamps account to make sure you do that. You can also print out certified mail, return receipt, international custom form filled out completely, automatically by Stamps.com. And they’ll send an e-mail out if it’s, you know, saying your package is on its way if there’s a tracking code. Here’s the deal. Use our promo code TWIT and you’re going to get a special offer. Go to Stamps.com, click the microphone in the upper right hand corner, and T-W-I-T. We’ve got a $110 bonus offer including a digital scale and up to $55 in free postage that you can use over the first few months of your account. I just love this. Stamps.com. It’s all we use. I even, I’ll come in and say, “Print me up a page of stamps.” It’s awesome. Stamps.com. before you do anything else click the microphone at the top of the page and type in the word TWIT. By the way I was just reading that the NHL is going to be using MLB Advanced Media for their streaming. So.
Jill: Makes sense.
Leo: Yea. Seems like they solved, they figure it out. They solved the streaming issue. So, Apple TV, maybe with the new deals, maybe not. It certainly needs a new user interface. I would love to see an iPad Pro although Paczkowski calls that a wild card. New iPhones. We won’t see—I don’t think that if Apple is true to form—new hardware, right? It will be the same form factor but they’ll add Force Touch and maybe a better camera.
Harry: Right. New hardware next year. But if the camera is a lot better that would be something to get excited about.
Leo: Yea, does it feel like Apple’s falling behind? The camera still looks great but it’s only 8 megapixels. Is that an issue?
Harry: It’s really good, though lately I’ve seen comparisons where people are—
Leo: I think my S6 is as good if not better. I think the LTG4 is as good if not better. So that’s got a worry.
Harry: They have real competition in a way that they did not a year ago.
Leo: But that’s what’s going to happen. You know people talk a lot about fragmentation. We’ve got a new fragmentation chart from Open Signal. 24,093 different Android devices, distinct devices. More than double from 2013. And nobody’s really got the lion’s share. The biggest one is the Galaxy S3 and then the S4 and the S5. Then there’s lots of little do-hickeys like the HTC Desire and the i-mobile i-STYLE, the Alcatel One Touch. But you know, you can use the word fragmentation which is kind of a pejorative. Or you can say this is a vibrant eco-system. And it’s hurtful to Apple because the iteration, the innovation happens so much faster when you’re putting out a new phone every few months. And Apple’s only doing it every year and only new hardware every 2 years.
Harry: Although, I mean 23,999 of those phones Apple is not paying attention to.
Leo: They don’t care about the low end.
Harry: Yea. They’re just a handful. They’re not serious competition from companies that tend to put out one major new flagship phone per year.
Leo: Samsung in fact is struggling a little bit. Even though they dominate. They’re 47.5% of the Android market share. I’m sorry. It was 47. It’s now down to 37 in a couple of years. Still dominant. So that’s the only one Apple has to face. And they don’t even have to worry about the low end Samsung, they only have to worry about the top of the line.
Om: I think that the Android eco-system doesn’t take into account all the fast rising brands. You know the Xiang, the One Plus, the you know, Micromax and all those kind of native brands from China and India. I think they are doing their own version of Android. They’re doing their own version of phones. I think those guys are going to drive this market. I think Samsung is a little bit on the back for a bit right now because these smaller companies have like huge markets and they actually way more cooler than the Samsung. I think—I was talking to somebody the other day, I was visiting India and then came back. And he was telling me that Samsung has lost its pull on all these Asian markets. It’s just not a cool brand anymore. Because it’s like doing too many things and all over the map and it doesn’t really have a market positioning. However, I think when you think about Apple, yea, they put out technology way far ahead of everybody else, but the things they put out are actually usable, right? Like nobody’s talking about hacking their fingerprint scanner or their camera doesn’t have to have the most amount of megapixels and yet pictures are still coming out better than any other camera.
Leo: Well I think you’re half right. I think that Apple in fact isn’t ahead of anybody else. But I think you’re exactly right when they do put out a feature, it works better than others. They did lead with fingerprints. But NFC, they finally got NFC. They finally got Touch to Pay.
Om: But the NFC didn’t really work, right? Like for the longest time it was just there.
Leo: Right. Until Apple did it.
Om: I think a lot of the time technology, you have to know when to market it to people, right? Coming out too soon it just a feature which nobody knows what to do with it. I think camera-wise I’ll give you that Nokia phones have better cameras. But, you know, the iPhone takes a really great picture. They’re making so much progress on the software inside their individual computing part, they’re doing really better than everybody else.
Leo: I feel like though we know that and we care about it. That’s not really why people buy iPhones. That’s a small slice. Most people my iPhones because it’s the default.
Om: It’s a good phone and it takes great pictures. Like literally you cannot explain to people what is a great picture. It should take great pictures. And other people keep talking about megapixels. And you know, just like look at the phone. You take a---
Leo: Nobody cares about megapixels. I don’t think people know that it’s 8 megapixels or that Samsung is doing 13. I don’t think they care. And I don’t even know if they care about specs or anything. I think that they—I honestly think people buy an iPhone just because that’s what everybody else buys. It’s like buying Windows.
Om: And one day Android phone will work better than the iPhone and that’s the time when Apple should be worried. Like as long as—
Leo: You don’t think that time has come?
Om: No, I think the phone still works better than most phones, right? Like it just is more intuitive than other phones. I don’t want to be apologist for Apple. I just feel like if you’re an Android user you get a lot more—you have to jump through more hoops than you do with the Apple.
Harry: All these years later Apple still has the best app store and there are still major apps that ship later for Android or don’t ship at all for Android. Or the updates come along later. I think that if you want the single best selection of apps, not counting the things you can’t do at all on an iPhone because Apple won’t let you, Apple is still on top.
Leo: I think there’s a lot of apps that Apple doesn’t have or come to Apple after Android. And that number is flipping. It was Apple.
Harry: I’m always assuming it’s going to but I still haven’t seen—
Leo: It hasn’t maybe completely but I think it’s on its way. I also think Apple suffers because their gatekeeper on updates to apps. And I think that causes a problem. Apps do not get updated as rapidly on iOS. If you use an Android phone you’re getting app updates, 10 or 12 updates every single day. I know that’s a little annoying in some ways but I think it makes me feel better that bugs are getting squashed faster because you don’t have to get past the Apple gatekeepers.
Om: But why are the bugs there in the 1st place already?
Leo: Oh, come on, you can’t tell me that Android are more buggy than iPhone apps.
Om: I think we just talked about the difference between Android and iPhone like a few minutes ago. And the emergency contact information. Apps which are there but they’re pretty mediocre. I think what I’m trying to say is that because there is an editorial process on the apps, maybe that pushes the quality a little bit higher. It forces companies to look at the bugs more closely before somebody can be in the app store.
Jill: You’re also talking about the very savvy consumer, right? Like the very savvy tech consumer knows about the differences between the app stores and maybe some of the different features of the camera. But at the most basic level think about a person who is just buying their 1st smartphone. If they go with an iPhone, they have about 3 choices to make.
Leo: It’s really simple.
Jill: The three most recent models. How much do I want to spend? Are these phones all going to work for 2 or 3 years? Great. If you look at Android you don’t even know where to start. Sure if you went through all the work and read up on all the phones, you could probably find a phone that would make you very, very happy and have every feature you wanted. But the work of getting there is so exhaustive that it’s easier to just say, “Here are my 3 options. They’re going to work. They work with my carrier. Boom. Let’s do that.”
Leo: Yea, I think it’s a no brainer. Very much like buying Windows in the 90s was a no brainer. And I didn’t think at the time that Windows was better than Mac OS. I don’t actually think iOS is better than Android now but I can understand exactly as you say, Jill, why normal people who don’t really want to get involved in this warfare. It’s the default. It’s easy. Nobody ever got fired for buying an iPhone.
Om: Also how much money you have in your pocket makes a huge difference, right?
Leo: Oh, yea.
Om: If you have $50 you’re not buying an iPhone.
Leo: Well let’s be fair. If you look at global sales, iPhone is dwarfed by Android. But that’s because the low end phones sell a lot more than the high end phones.
Om: And iPhone has retained its aspiration of quality. I don’t think Samsung is aspirational by any means. Like I will not, you know—
Leo: Someday I will own an S5.
Om: Yea. I don’t need an S5 or an S6. Not that they’re bad phones, they’re just—they commoditize their own products. They cut prices on their own products.
Leo: Isn’t there and opportunity for somebody to make an Android phone that is the iPhone of Android phones?
Harry: I recently talked to the co-founder of One Plus who said that that’s why they started the company. They figured there was no company in the Android eco-system whose goal was to do the best possible design and you can argue whether One Plus has met their aspirations. So that was definitely what they set out to do. And they’ve sold a million and a half phones despite not having been around very long.
Leo: Compared to Apple, in the same time frame Apple sold 150 million phones.
Harry: Right, but One Plus is a really small company. They’ve had trouble to use to sell at all. But I think they’ve had some success.
Leo: I’m ordering my One Plus 2 on Tuesday.
Om: Yea, I fell in love with that phone. 1st Android phone I want to demo.
Leo: Yea. Although no NFC on this one, no wireless charging, no fast charging. But the battery life was so good last year I’m hoping it will be as good on this new one. Yea it’s very interesting for me. You know, one of the roles I like—and I think you like this too, Om—is sitting a little bit back and watching. Because I just find it fascinating to see—the anthropology of all this is fascinating.
Om: I love how much this is the new sport, right, that people talk about what they’re doing. And they get so angry and passionate about it. And it’s like, one of the great joys of not being a professional writer anymore is not having to write these stories and having to deal with the comments.
Leo: Yes. The comments (laughing).
Om: You know, buy whatever phone you feel like. I’ve got nothing.
Leo: I’ve got nothing to prove. Apple Music which has been out now for a month and a couple of weeks, according to Apple has done all right. They say, and by the way this is unprecedented. Apple very rarely releases this kind of information. They say, according to Eddie Cue, 11 million trial members and 2 million of them paying for the family plan. They’re actually paying $15 a month for the family plan. They say they’re happy with that number. I have to say they must be. That’s ten times the number that was using the Beats Music service when Apple bought it. It was 110,000. So that’s good news. But there you go, that’s another example of the tyranny of the default. It’s an icon on your screen, well I might as well try it. Do you think given the issues some people have had with Apple Music that Apple will keep the lion’s share of those 11 million people after that free 3 months runs out?
Harry: I think it has the potential to grow a lot because right now it’s kind of scary because there’s been so much coverage of glitches and music disappearing and all kinds of problems. And Apple is likely to iron those out. It might be a more appealing proposition 6 months from now.
Leo: So maybe in time. I talked to my son. I said, “Do you want to do the family plan on Beats?” I’m sorry, on Apple Music? And he said, “Why?” And I said, “Well because it only costs me $15 and I can have all of you on it.” He said, “No, I like Spotify.”
Om: There you go.
Leo: There you go. That was literally the end of the conversation. It was like I couldn’t persuade him. “No, I like Spotify.”
Om: I have to say that Beats radio is so good.
Leo: You listen to Beats 1?
Om: Oh yea, I love the radio station.
Leo: What? Really?
Om: Hmm mmm. It is just, I like the idea of somebody doing the curation of the music and –
Om: And bringing it up. There’s a little surprise element to it. Like, “Oh, yea, I like this song.” It just is a nostalgic feeling the idea of a radio station. Which is actually, and I also like the idea of it being global. The day it launched I think I was in Paris. And I was listening to it on like a very hot afternoon. And I was listening to this music because essentially all late night tunes from L.A. I guess at that time. It was so much fun. It just felt like you’re listening to, you know—
Leo: Let’s listen. Let’s listen to a little of what’s playing right now on Beats 1.
Leo: It’s “Lose It’ featuring Rick Ross and Lil Wayne.
Leo: What are you kids listening to? Turn it down! Om, you’re very hip.
Leo: Does that make you want to— I try to listen to that. You know, there’s 12 hours of live stuff. There’s L.A. with Zane Lowe, who is the BBC1 guy that the stole. I’m told it’s good, I never hear him. Then there’s a New York D.J. I can’t remember his name. And there’s Julie Adenuga in London, right?
Om: London. Oh, so good.
Leo: You like Julie?
Om: Oh, she is—
Leo: Because you feel like you’re in the club don’t you?
Leo: Yea, yea.
Om: They do need to add a couple of D.J.s—
Leo: It’s only 12 hours of the 24.
Om: Yea. But there’s still more 12 hours to go, right?
Leo: Interesting thing. Apparently they have licenses with the music industry to do more channels. It’s not just one. They could do Beats 2. And I guess if you think about it, the name Beats 1 implies there will be a Beats 2, 3 or 4. Maybe something for us older folks. Actually, Om, you like it.
Om: I do love it.
Leo: So does it give you a little taste of home, Jill Duffy, there in beautiful India?
Jill: (laughing) you know, I’m not so much into music. But I’ve been looking a lot lately at a different category of music streaming apps. Which are ones for working out. So you know I’ve read a lot about Fitness Tech.
Leo: I like what Spotify’s doing.
Jill: So Spotify Running. This is a new feature in Spotify’s mobile app if you’re a premium subscriber. When you run it will match, it will find some music that matches your cadence or I think it’s just your running cadence right now.
Leo: So you start it, then you start running, and it gives you something that is appropriate?
Jill: And if finds out, yea, what are you beats like for your steps. And finds some music that matches that. So there are some other apps that do the same thing. One is called Spring Moves. And it does the same thing. So if you are running, or wearing a heartrate monitor I believe, it will match music to that beat. Then there’s another one called Rock My Run. And I think it’s this one. But when you wear a heartrate monitor it actually has a song all ready and it speeds up or slows down based on how fast or slow your heartrate is going. So that one actually, I was really excited to try it out. But what happened was the music sounded just weird and frenetic even when it was electronic music with like no lyrics or anything. It just sounded, it sound off, right, because it was changing based on how fast or slow I was going. Another one I’ve been using lately is called Fit Radio, F-I-T Radio. And I really like the yoga channels on there. Which sounds a little new agey but it’s not. It’s actually some really interesting DJ mixes of electronic music with a good beat for that pace of an activity. So if you do a lot of yoga or even like mild weight lifting. I feel like it’s good music for that.
Leo: Really, you do a lot of mild weight lifting?
Jill: I do. I’m not a heavy, heavy weight lifter, but I – I don’t know, how would you say that? How would you say—?
Leo: No, I get mild weight lifting. I like it. It’s good. I’m going to do more of that. I need to more of that.
Jill: I’m just not like a power lifter.
Leo: Yea. I could see you though with the chalk on your hands all taped up. Just really – arggh! Arggh! All right so Apple Music. Sounds like they’ve really—I mean given that they started with something like 110,000 subscribers I think 11 million, even if only 10% survive, is going to be a good number.
Om: I do like Beats Radio but I don’t care much for anything else. You know, I’m a huge fan of SoundCloud as well.
Om: So much more fun. It’s got so much more energy there because you find music which is—you know it’s more, like it’s more like emerging in many ways. We can see a lot of re-mixes and a lot of—there’s a lot more creativity there.
Leo: My younger son listens to SoundCloud all the time. It’s interesting that you say that. You’re very hip, Om.
Om: Yea I’m the hippest old man.
Jill: It’s kind of more like a You Tube model, right? Like SoundCloud is more of the You Tube model if anybody can upload. So there’s more stuff to explore. You get the high end. You get the low end. You get a little bit of everything.
Leo: Yea. Yea, and he likes the You Tube, too. Yea.
Om: I think that they would surprise me to see them do like a Spotify style.
Leo: I think an interesting thing, and I’ve mentioned this before, which is really that Spotify lives only at the tolerance of the record labels. At any moment the record labels could just pull the plug and say, “You know what, this is not a good idea. Let’s remove, let’s yank it.” And they could yank it from any of these. None of these guys have a viable model.
Harry: Nobody really a business model?
Leo: There’s no real business model here.
Om: Actually that’s not true. I think Spotify is owned by, like the record labels own enough of it on Spotify they’re not going to pull—they’re not going to end. And also they need this badly. They need something. The record labels are in the same place as television.
Leo: Yea, we may agree on that but I don’t know if the labels’ know it.
Om: Well just because they’re delusional doesn’t mean it’s the fact.
Leo: They’re crazy (laughing).
Om: See the thing is they’re going to push people back into piracy if they charge much more.
Leo: Well, I think that’s the only thing keeping them honest at this point. But I think they haven’t shown—I mean I guess they’re doing better than the networks and the movie industry. But they haven’t shown a lot of understanding of what their business is.
Harry: They still seem amazingly backwards given that we’re 15 years into this.
Leo: Do we even need a record industry? I mean even that term seems anti-artistic. The record industry. It sounds like a factory cranking out hits. Oh wait a minute, yes it is. And true artists I think no longer need the record industry. They can go direct to listeners. It feels like the record industry is an anachronism. Just ready to collapse.
Om: I think you look at the streaming industry and the record industry and you start to view the world of music in a certain way. And then you look at it from an artist’s perspective. Oh my God, things are not very good for the artists.
Om: And the only way that they can stay relevant is through live performances. And that’s hard work. And I think this is, this is—
Leo: Aww. Those poor artists have got to work for a living. I’m so sorry.
Om: No, if like you have to tour 300 days out of 365, they can’t be home.
Leo: That’s hard work. Yea.
Om: So and it’s not—
Leo: It’s not like they have to do that.
Om: And not all of them are like famous, right? Like not all of them made like you know, tens of thousands of dollars.
Leo: Yea but if you could make a living, a good living doing it, I think that would be a good thing. And I think that more musicians have a better shot of making a good living, while fewer musicians have a shot of being platinum artists. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
Om: I do feel that again here, to someone that would come up with a new model of figuring out how to connect artists to their fans in a more effective way which is, you know, like one of the companies that are funded in Walden is Bandcamp. In fact that’s a lot—
Leo: Oh, huge.
Om: And you know like I see that and I see so much amazing music there. So you start to think like there is something much bigger which will happen in the industry. It can’t just be—
Leo: Well I think Bandcamp’s a great example actually. That’s an example of artists going directly to their audience, right?
Om: Yea. And I think we just have had the old idea of creative industry. Which is again, I keep talking about the mass, everything was built around the idea of mass market. I don’t think that idea works anymore. I’m not going to go and say that long term or anything, I just feel the idea of mass audience, mass media, that idea is off the paths now.
Leo: That’s the theme of the show. Is the future is fragmented and it’s a good thing. Let a million flowers bloom. I remember talking to Paul Simon. Nice name drop, huh? At dinner, we were at dinner, Paul Simon and I. The Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel. That Paul Simon.
Harry: Not the senator?
Leo: Not the senator Paul Simon. And we were talking about the music industry. And he says, “Yea, but Leo, I worry.” Because his 2 kids are musicians. I didn’t know that. And I said, “Paul you made it. You don’t have to worry about it.” He says, “Yea, but I’m worried for my kids because they want to be musicians. They want to be working artists. And it’s not clear what path they should follow. But what is clear is that they can’t follow their dad’s path. That platinum artist, that’s not going to happen.” Paul Simon, you’ve heard of him? All right, I thought I’d just do a little name drop. Why don’t we take a break? Hey, you know if you missed anything this week on TWIT, fortunately we edited it all down into 60 seconds. You can watch right now.
Narrator: Previously on TWIT.
Andy Ihnatko: Are you ready to go surfing in your sofa?
Narrator: Tech News Today.
Mike Elgan: China slides into a new totalitarianism when the Chinese government announced plans to station police officers inside major tech companies.
Kevin Tofel: I kind of get the sense of desperation in China. They keep trying to lock down the internet more and more there.
Narrator: MacBreak Weekly.
Leo: You need a Nico Gerard Pinnacle watch. A high end Swiss watch and on the other end the Apple Watch. There is a gold version. $112,000.
Andy: I’ve got to hand it to them. They found a way to make the stainless steel watch even more expensive.
Narrator: Tech News 2Night.
Megan Morrone: Engadget reports that researchers in Japan recorded children in a Osaka shopping mall interacting with a robot. I mean punching, kicking, hitting, shaking and verbally abusing the robot. So the take away on this story is we do not have the robots to fear, it is the children that we should fear.
Narrator: TWiT. The happiest place on earth.
Mike: Coming up this week on Thursday, August 13, Samsung will hold one of their big Unpacked events. We’re expecting Samsung to introduce the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. And of course we will be covering the event live at 8:00 A.M. Pacific, 1500 UTC at TWiT.tv/live. That’s what’s coming up this week. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: Our show brought to you by FreshBooks, the super simple cloud accounting and invoicing solution for you. If you’re a small business owner, and entrepreneur, I know I loved FreshBooks. Man, it saved my life. The worst thing about being a freelancer was doing the invoices at the end of the month. You’d fire up Excel, you’d get all your expenses, your hours. Then you’d fire up Word and that little template I made and stick the stuff in there. And, oh yea, I’m invoicing Canada, I’ve got to convert it to Canadian dollars. Eye, eye, eye. FreshBooks solved all that for me. This is a while ago actually. I started using them in 2004. Super easy to use invoicing software that looks professional, makes billing painless and you get paid faster. This actually is true but they have research that proves that you get paid on an average of 5 days faster. And that’s because your clients who actually want to pay you, hate paying you, hate paying the bills as much as you hate sending the bills. But with an invoice that comes from FreshBooks there’s a button right on it that says “pay.” They can use all the on-line payment services out there and it makes it easy for them. So they pay you. It’s just everybody loves it. Everybody’s happy. And if you ever have any questions, the FreshBooks support rock stars are famous for their knowledge and they’re right there in the FreshBooks offices ready to help you with any questions. FreshBooks. Simple, there they are – aren’t they a cute team, a cute bunch. I love them. FreshBooks.com/twit. You can try it free for 30 days. Can I ask a little favor? When you, when they ask how did you hear about us could you mention TWiT? Because I think they forgot I exist. FreshBooks.com. Tell them Leo sent you. FreshBooks.com/twit. Put the word TWiT in the how did you hear about us section. You’ve got 30 days free. Did we all read “Theft, Lies and Facebook Video,” the posting from Hank Green, YouTube star vid-com creator. He says Facebook is lying when it says it’s streaming more video than YouTube partly because they miscounted. And then he also talks about something called freebooting which is apparently—I didn’t know this—widespread practice on Facebook. Big brands will steal, they’ll download YouTube videos from quality creators and they’ll put them on their page to get, to artificially get more likes and views. He says as a creator, Facebook is not a good platform for him compared to YouTube. And he thinks Facebook needs to do a better job. Anything to say about that? I have to say if you’re a brand, if you’re a creator I should say, if you’re not putting native video on Facebook you’re kind of missing the boat, right? Do you do that?
Harry: We have our video all over, yea.
Leo: Yea, you don’t put a link to a YouTube video, you upload it to Facebook, right?
Harry: I mean some of the stuff you said was pretty eye opening in terms of if you link to your YouTube video, people will not see it in anywhere near the quantities they will if it’s native.
Leo: Whether Facebook’s doing it on purpose or not, you still have to kind of…
Harry: And I do feel like in the long term, Facebook has to cater to people like Hank Green because of that eventually in the long term they will do things that will make them happier.
Harry: Because as he points out they’re not doing stuff right now to make him happy. And there are two super powers of online video. YouTube and Facebook.
Leo: That happened fast. You wouldn’t have said that a couple of years ago, would you? Facebook is one of the, is like in the same breathe as YouTube.
Harry: Well that’s about the closest thing.
Harry: A few years ago there was one super power.
Leo: Now there are two. Facebook is super power in every respect. Matt Rosoff writing in Business Insider, “Facebook is the undisputed king of the tech industry.” Any disputes? Anybody want to dispute that?
Om: Yea he should have just said, “For now.”
Leo: For now.
Om: Because I read the same headlines about Microsoft and Cisco and Netscape and Apple when I was really, really young. So everybody says that things are forever and they’re wrong. That’s the beauty of tech industry. You know we used to say Google is the undisputed king of technology. No wait, really? Now we have put Facebook there? So I don’t know. Like I think people just forget that everything is like, has a time value attached to it.
Harry: He does make that point at the end of his—
Leo: Yea but… there is a stickiness to Facebook because that’s where all your friends and family are. What would it take to put Facebook on the back burner? It would have to be a cataclysmic shift.
Jill: I’ll tell you, I’ve had a pretty rough experience with Facebook lately. I think like you said, Leo, it’s for friends and family and I do go there to keep up with people, to see what’s going on. But I really dislike the feed that I get. And I know that that feed is curated and ever changing based on my previous actions, my clicks, things I go shopping for online elsewhere.
Leo: If you hate your feed it’s your fault.
Jill: It is my fault. It’s my fault for not spending 8 more hours on Facebook curating my feed. Right, like? Why on earth would I do that? But I see so much stuff that I don’t care about. I roll my eyes at. I don’t want to see. And I don’t watch videos on Facebook for that reason primarily is I know if it’s there it’s probably not material that’s of interest to me. So I go and – I actually have a blocker on my browser that limits my Facebook usage to 10 minutes a day.
Jill: I use StayFocusd.
Leo: But wait a minute. Isn’t that telling? You feel like you need something to keep you from using more Facebook?
Jill: Well, so I set that up a long time ago and I do, I do pop in, right, and I check out some stuff. I see what’s going on. But I don’t want to spend a lot of time there because I’ll find I’ll start scrolling and scrolling and scrolling, looking to see if there is anything of interest.
Leo: So if you didn’t have this blocker, would you spend more time there?
Jill: I would probably leave it open more than I should.
Jill: That’s another thing. I like to log out of Facebook. I don’t use the Facebook app on my phone. I don’t use any geolocation tracking when I’m using Facebook in a mobile browser. Like I’m very, I’m kind of sensitive to that. And I don’t want to be logged into Facebook all the time letting it see everything else that I’m doing.
Leo: I feel like if you need to use Antabuse not to use Facebook then you probably really like Facebook.
Jill: Yea it’s a mixed message, isn’t it?
Leo: Yea. But I feel the same way. Often when I use Facebook I feel bad (laughing). I want to take a shower afterwards. But I do notice that that changes sometimes. Like of late it’s been better. And I don’t know if it’s fully my fault. They’re clearly tweaking it all the time, right? Constantly. But again, if Facebook isn’t like now and forever king, what kind of thing will happen to dethrone them? Is there a Myspace that’s going to come along and un-throne Facebook, Om, or is it something? What’s going to happen?
Om: So don’t you remember where we started? We started talking about messaging, right? And messaging as an interface for communications. And you know, staying in touch with each other. You don’t know but we’re already beginning to see—like it was big enough threat for Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $20 million dollars. It was a big enough threat for them to launch Facebook Messenger. So clearly something like that will come out of nowhere and will be a threat to Facebook.
Leo: Come to think of it, it’s not—maybe we were looking in the wrong place if we’re looking for another technology. What it really is, is behavioral changes. So that Google became less dominant, not because somebody beat them in search but because search became less important.
Harry: Yea like AOL was not replaced by something similar to AOL.
Harry: You’re never replaced by something similar. Microsoft is not in trouble because there’s a better operating system.
Leo: Because the cloud makes operating systems irrelevant.
Harry: And even Microsoft Office is still doing fine. It hasn’t been beat by other office suites. So it’s never something similar.
Leo: That’s a good point.
Harry: It’s always something different.
Leo: All right. So we don’t know what it will be because it’s not going to be a Facebook-like thing. It’s going to be something else.
Om: And that’s what makes tech so much more fun and interesting.
Leo: Yea. Yea it’s all paradigm shift all the way down.
Harry: I do think they bought WhatsApp partially because WhatsApp was one of the more plausible scary competitors just because of the enormous growth.
Leo: Was it defensive only?
Harry: Not entirely, no. But I think that that as part of that. If you were going to make a list before they bought it of things that might compete with Facebook, they would have been high up on the list.
Leo: Look at Twitter. Twitter’s struggling all of a sudden. I don’t know if you ever would have said Twitter was on top of the world, but it certainly looked like they had an unassailable position as internet’s dial tone. Now we’re hearing that Dick Costolo says he’s going to leave as soon as they find a new CEO. We don’t know who that CEO is. Twitter’s stocks down so much people are saying there might even be—Google might just do a hostile takeover. Is Twitter coming back or is it all over for Twitter? I mean how could it even be all over?
Om: It’s not all over.
Leo: It can’t be all over. I wouldn’t mind but I’m just saying. Google—it’s all over for Google+, right? Not that it ever was like all that.
Om: You were a big user of Google+.
Leo: I liked Google+. But see, what I’m looking for isn’t necessarily the biggest most successful platform. Because in some ways that’s what I don’t want because I don’t want everybody to be using it. I want something exclusive. I want a private club just for me and my close personal friends.
Harry: That’s kind of where they’re going. They say Google+ is going to be about special interests.
Harry: Rather than the masses.
Harry: Which kind of makes sense.
Om: I was never a big fan.
Leo: You never like it?
Leo: You know better.
Om: No I just didn’t care much for getting on a social network for a company that is not very social.
Leo: Are social networks over?
Om: No. I mean human beings are social so to say that social networks are over, you say that human beings are over. I just think Google as a company was all about using internet and logic and logarithms to make search web faster and show high results. That’s it. You know anything beyond that is just like them trying to convince themselves that they’re better than that. I think they don’t love what they do which is sell ads. That’s pretty much Google’s big issue.
Leo: They’re good at that.
Om: They’re very good at that. Probably the best at that. But seems like you know Facebook is getting really, really good at that too.
Leo: Well and there’s this problem because I think advertisers are starting to realize-- Google admitted 56% of all the ads they sell are never seen. That’s not a good number.
Om: You know the guy we don’t talk about enough is Jeff Bezos. And I don’t know, a long time ago I talked to him. And he often talked about like why does advertising exist. And he pointed out the core reason advertising exists is to sell people things whether it’s physical things or digital things. Or in terms of content, selling content. But it was all about getting people to buy something else. And he says, “What if you remove the need to buy something else?” But remove the middleman, the advertising and made it easier for people to go from—what you and I are talking straight through a purchase and buy something from that. Like you and I talk about a device. We like it. Other people believe what we are saying and they go buy it.
Leo: Oh that’s always better than advertising isn’t it?
Om: Right? I think the internet enables bad behavior much more effectively.
Leo: Yes. In fact the reviews on Amazon, for me anyway, are a must stop. Before I buy anything I read the reviews.
Om: If you look at Wirecutter, it’s another good example of a company which is succeeding by just saying, “This is what we really feel about this device and if people want to buy it, they just click on a link. Or they don’t have to click on the link. That’s even—so I think the need for advertising is going to start to go away.
Leo: Does Wirecutter not have any ads?
Leo: So the revenue they make, and I’m sure it’s significant at this point, comes from the affiliate codes on the links.
Leo: That Brian William’s no dummy.
Om: No because he’s catering to his one audience which is his readers. I think that’s the number one thing which works for that site is that you know they take everything they write when they see the things. You don’t—in fact if I didn’t trust what they have written, I’d probably not shop, I’d never click there. So I think that’s the key thing.
Leo: They are moving away from their original premise which was the one. They brought a range of product recommendations now. Maybe that’s telling. It used to be what’s the best TV now. It’s what’s the best $500 TV, what’s the best small TV.
Om: And like I said, we’re all different snowflakes. So anybody who has a different need. I mean you remember, because you were opposed. They used to have all these variations on technologies and – I’m sorry, on reviews. What reviews? What kind of—
Leo: No ads. No ads.
Om: No ads. And that’s what really it is. I think—
Leo: But advertisers hate it because they can’t buy the review.
Om: Well you actually have to make a product that people want to buy.
Leo: Come on, that’s too hard.
Om: I know.
Leo: Interesting. I think Bezos is smart.
Om: I think we should watch him, what he does. That’s something that he does 5 years later.
Leo: Well he had a loss with the Fire Phone, which is basically a total write-off. But I have to say, Echo is pretty amazing.
Harry: Echo is fun.
Leo: And people have a much--- even though, I don’t know if Echo’s really better than Siri or Google Now. People like it better which is interesting.
Harry: The hardware’s cool. As a service it has a lot of work left. I kind of wish they would enable it to work either as an interface for Google Now or Siri. But the hardware idea is great.
Leo: Speaking of end of the line Nokia has sold off the Maps division. I don’t know what Nokia has left now. HERE Maps which were in play, I would imagine there are a number of companies would have liked this. Uber was rumored to be one of the companies in the market because maps are very important to them. It ended up being sold to a consortium of BMW, Audi and Daimler. But no for a lot of money. Only 2.8 billion euros. Which is-- I would have thought it would be worth more but I think—we were talking about this on Windows Weekly. The problem is, it’s one thing to buy it, but now you’ve got to spend millions every year to maintain it and update it and make it better. So it’s an expensive product to own. Maybe that’s why—
Om: They have to own it, right? Without that they don’t have any mapping data they can use. They have to own and maintain it so that they can get proprietary data around traffic conditions, maps, stuff like that, so that whenever they introduce, you know, self-driving cars or automatic cars, they need this data. Like without that, they can’t compete with Google.
Leo: Oh. You just put it all together for me. It’s about autonomous vehicles.
Om: Yea. And even you know, semi-autonomous.
Leo: Yea. Well if you’re just making a car with a GPS in it, you could rent it from other companies. But if you’re building an autonomous vehicle your whole business is relying on the maps. You better own them. Very interesting. Which is by the way why Uber wanted it because it’s business is reliant on the maps as well. I think we should wrap it up here. We’ve gone on long enough. The sun is finally up in Chennai.
Jill: Coming up. It’s coming up.
Leo: Birds are singing. It’s coming up. Hey, Jill, thank you so much. I had no idea it was so early in the morning. I’m not sure we would have called you but if you don’t mind doing it again we’ll have you back.
Jill: Yea, no, this is my crazy lifestyle now so I’m all in.
Leo: All right. We love having you on from PC Magazine. Look for her article on those ICE programs tomorrow on pcmag.com. You can follow her on the Twitter, jilleduffy.
Jill: Yea, thanks for having me.
Leo: Thanks for being on the show. Thanks to Om Malik as well. Om always great to see you now that you’re back, you’re out of mourning, you stopped wearing black. You’ve taken the crepe off the mirrors in your house. You’re ready to venture out into the world.
Leo: Which was worse, the heart attack or the closure of Gigaom?
Om: I think it’s part of the journey, my friend. I can’t say one was worse than the other.
Leo: You’re our guru.
Om: It taught me some very valuable lessons.
Leo: I’m learning from you. You’re the valuable lesson, Om. It’s great to have you. Thank you so much, we really appreciate it.
Om: Thank you for having me.
Leo: om.co He is the man with the only two letter Twitter handle, @om. Rock it. Thanks, Om.
Om: Thank you.
Leo: You can go out clubbing now.
Om: Hm mmm.
Leo: Julie Andenuga is waiting for you.
Leo: (Laughing) Harry McCracken, always great to see you. You went up through the traffic and the fog and the smog. We’re glad you made the trip up with Marie. It’s good to see you too, Marie. Great pictures from the audience. I’ve been liking them on Facebook. What else do you want to talk about? Fastcompany.com? What you’re working on?
Harry: Fastcompany.com. I have a bunch of cool secret projects I’m working on. I have a good story going up this coming Friday. But it’s super-secret right now so I’ll come back on Friday.
Leo: Follow him on Instagram, too.
Harry: The better the story, the less likely it is you can talk about it ahead of time.
Leo: Yea, right. It means it’s a good one, yea. Did you—you were at Time for a while, right?
Harry: I was at Time for a while.
Leo: Did you see the very funny article on – what’s wrong, why does Time Magazine hate geeks? The cover of I guess this weeks’ Time is of Palmer of Oculus Rift looking like a complete and utter nerd. Would you be, if you were Palmer Luckey, would you feel a little bad with that picture on the front cover? Let me see if I can find it.
Harry: He actually took it really well. He was a good sport and if you look at his Facebook page, he has been sharing that cover and the variants of that cover that people have been putting together.
Leo: That’s pretty funny.
Om: Do people read Time Magazine?
Leo: (Laughing) Shh. Shh. He’s really—is that the cover? That’s just a video. Let me see if I can find the—
Jason Howell: That’s the image from the cover, yea. There you go, you got it.
Leo: Actually somebody put a dinosaur under him. I don’t know if that’s—that’s the meme. The left is the actual cover and the right is even better (laughing). Apparently there is an internet meme of Palmer Luckey images.
Harry: If you write for magazines you have to really quickly get emotional separation between you and the covers given that not only do you not do the covers but they don’t really check in with you about how you feel about the covers.
Leo: (Laughing) I’m sorry this is for the video extras on the show today. Luckey Apostyle. Where is he in this one? I don’t see him. Oh, that’s him.
Harry: That’s him. Looking right in front of us.
Leo: Just sitting there. Not dancing on the beach or nothing. Aww. King of the world. Oh my. With Vladimir Putin on horseback. Flying through space in virtual reality with, I don’t know, some wrestler. On the moon. You could be anywhere at Oculus Rift. Thanks for joining us. We do This Week in Tech every Sunday afternoon, 3:00 P.M. Pacific, 6:00 P.M. Eastern time, 2200 UTC or 3:30 in the morning Madras time. If you’d like to join us we’d love it if you would. But if you can’t be here live, and by the way, there is room in the studio for you because everybody left. You can e-mail email@example.com for your very own seat. If you can’t watch live, on-demand audio and video of all of our shows on the website at twit.tv, on YouTube and wherever you subscribe to podcasts. Please do so because we would love to see you back here next week. I’m Leo Laporte. Thanks for joining us! Another TWiT is in the can.