Fred Wilson’s Predictions for 2015
Fred Wilson starts off the new year with some predictions for 2015. Among lots of interesting thoughts, this is relevant for Apple nerds:
5/ Another market where the reality will not live up to the hype is wearables. The Apple Watch will not be the homerun product that iPod, iPhone, and iPad have been. Not everyone will want to wear a computer on their wrist. Eventually, this market will be realized as the personal mesh/personal cloud, but the focus on wearables will be a bit of a headfake and take up a lot of time, energy, and money in 2015 with not a lot of results.
I think this is likely to be correct. A wrist computer has to have utility beyond being just another screen to view notifications. Perhaps the killer use case (or use cases) will eventually emerge, but I don’t we’ve seen it yet.
Google’s Android Begins to Top Out
Rolfe Winkler in the Wall Street Journal:
Android ran 84% of smartphones shipped globally in the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, down slightly from 85% in the second quarter.
“Android’s global smartphone market share is peaking,” said Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics. “Unless there is an unlikely collapse in rival Apple iPhone volumes in the future, Android is probably never going to go much above the 85% global market share ceiling.”
Market share over 80% is still an amazing figure. I’d like to see sales in emerging markets broken out, as I suspect China and perhaps India look completely different from the U.S. and E.U.
There’s also bad news for Samsung:
Meantime, Samsung Electronics Co.’s dominance over other Android handset makers is waning, reducing the threat that the Korean hardware maker could wrest more control from Google. In the third quarter of this year, 25% of smartphones shipped were Samsung devices. That figure fell from the year prior, when it stood at 35%.
Samsung ships mostly Android devices and long has been dominant among Android vendors thanks in part to big commissions it pays to smartphone distributors, particularly in emerging markets. That gives them an incentive to push its devices over rivals.
Yet Samsung is losing out to startups like China’s Xiaomi Inc., which are undercutting the Korean giant on price.
This was entirely predictable. Samsung is fundamentally a copycat company that makes second-rate products. Their hardware is mostly cheap plastic, even on high end devices, and their expertise in the most important differentiator for smartphones, software, is non-existant. Given the consumer-centric nature of the smartphone business, they’ve always been vulnerable to Apple closing off their high-end differentiators (screen size, some of Android’s software configurability), and commodity hardware vendors eating away at their low end.
Is the world starting to turn against Bill Cosby?
Soraya Nadia McDonald, writing for The Washington Post:
What was strange was the mushroom cloud of controversy Buress set off repeating something he had said before — not about new allegations, but about the same 13 women who signed on as witnesses in Constand’s 2004 lawsuit.
Without intending to, Buress became a perfect example of the conundrum of male allyship: It wasn’t enough 13 different women accused Cosby of drugging, raping and violently assaulting them. It was only after a famous man, Buress, called him out that the possibility of Cosby becoming a television pariah became real.
Last month, Cosby was a guest on the “The Colbert Report.” Colbert remained in character, but was unambiguously deferential. In August, Cosby appeared on “The Tonight Show” and got similar treatment from Jimmy Fallon.
I remember seeing these late night appearances when they happened, and Bill Cosby was very much still Cliff Huxtable to me. I had no idea he was a serial rapist, but I know now.
A Look at the Apple ‘Skankphone’
I find these details amazing:
“There was the UI that you got if you were knighted by Steve to see these glorious pixels cause they’ll blow your fucking eyes out. And then there was this other UI that we called Skankphone for testing. It was this awful UI that allowed you to make phone calls and text, but it was these hideous red buttons and boxes.
[The team had] to go to extremes to work around the system to the point where he had to sit his own engineers next to one another with a curtain in between–one with full iPhone access, the other with Skankphone access–to debug the code.
44 engineering management lessons
Some good advice. One item in particular that caught my attention is:
- Personally fix bugs and ship features. You have to write code to remain an effective tiebreaker, but that’s where your coding responsibilities end.
I do exactly this myself and find that it’s the most effective way to manage a team. Some new engineering managers try to code too much, or have a habit of parachuting in when things go sideways to do the job themselves. I won’t say I’ve never gone into hero mode to save something, but when it happens I always treat it as a sign that I failed as a manager, and I take action afterwards to correct that.
The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic
Almost 8,000 cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, have been reported to California’s Public Health Department so far this year. More than 250 patients have been hospitalized, nearly all of them infants and young children, and 58 have required intensive care. Why is this preventable respiratory infection making a comeback? In no small part thanks to low vaccination rates, as a story earlier this month in the Hollywood Reporter pointed out.
The conversation about vaccination has changed. In the 1990s, when new vaccines were introduced, the news media were obsessed with the notion that vaccines might be doing more harm than good. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine might cause autism, we were told. Thimerosal, an ethyl-mercury containing preservative in some vaccines, might cause developmental delays. Too many vaccines given too soon, the stories went, might overwhelm a child’s immune system.
Then those stories disappeared. One reason was that study after study showed that these concerns were ill-founded. Another was that the famous 1998 report claiming to show a link between vaccinations and autism was retracted by The Lancet, the medical journal that had published it. The study was not only spectacularly wrong, as more than a dozen studies have shown, but also fraudulent. The author, British surgeon Andrew Wakefield, has since been stripped of his medical license.
But the damage was done. Countless parents became afraid of vaccines. As a consequence, many parents now choose to delay, withhold, separate or space out vaccines. Some don’t vaccinate their children at all. A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that between 1991 and 2004, the percentage of children whose parents had chosen to opt out of vaccines increased by 6% a year, resulting in a more than twofold increase.
How people can be so misguided baffles me, but I continue to hold out hope that any meaningful rise in the occurrences of these preventable diseases will drive people back to vaccines. After all, it’s easy to think they can be delayed or skipped when no one you know is sick. Once you’re friends with parents who didn’t vaccinate their kid, and that kid ends up hospitalized with whooping cough, maybe you’ll think twice about vaccinations when you have kids of your own, even if you are suspicious of them.
Why Scrum Should Basically Just Die In A Fire
In addition to defying logic and available evidence, both these Agile Manifesto principles encourage a kind of babysitting mentality. I’ve never seen Scrum-like frameworks for transmuting the work of designers, marketers, or accountants into cartoonish oversimplifications like story points. People are happy to treat these workers as adults and trust them to do their jobs.
I don’t know why this same trust does not prevail in the culture of managing programmers. That’s a question for another blog post. I suspect that the reasons are historical, and fundamentally irrelevant, because it really doesn’t matter. If you’re not doing well at hiring engineers, the answer is not a deeply flawed methodology which collapses under the weight of its own contradictions on a regular basis. The answer is to get better at hiring engineers, and ultimately to get great at it.
One of the best articles on software process I’ve read in a long time.
U2 and Apple collaborate on non-piratable ‘interactive format for music’
If true, this is a bad sign. There are large paradigm shifts going on in music that gimmicks like this aren’t going to stop or even meaningfully slow down. Apple is known for recognizing those shifts and getting in front of them, but this kind of initiative looks like they’re trying to find way to cling to the past.