Extra Reading: February 20, 2022
The source for what’s here comes from my weekly reading. My reading starts with my RSS feed in NetNewsWire. From NetNewsWire, things that I want to read go into Instapaper. What ends here are things that I found interesting enough to highlight in Instapaper.
Posted on Sundays.
As I’ve done for a few years now — 2020, 2019, 2018 — I’m publishing my full remarks and grades here. It’s a good annual idea. On Snell’s report card, voters give per-category scores ranging from 1 to 5; I’ve translated these to letter grades.
We may be headed for a future in which the iPhone looks a lot more like the Mac. Where sideloading and alternative app stores are allowed. But in the end, all those changes might not actually change the financial relationship Apple has with app developers at all. If you look at how Apple has built out its Mac security architecture, apps by default must be signed by an authorized Apple developer and notarized by Apple’s servers. In other words, Apple reserves the right—in the name of security, mind you—to shut off any app or developer that it doesn’t like. And it doesn’t like anyone that doesn’t pay Apple its cut.
At the end of last month, Google officially detailed the “new integrated view” for Gmail on the web. This redesign is now rolling out for the first Gmail users, including those with personal Google Accounts.
Facebook built one of the most amazing money machines the world has ever seen. Then Apple came and threw a wrench in the gears.
That’s one of the narratives that sprang from last week’s news, when Facebook’s parent company Meta delivered an alarming earnings report to Wall Street, which promptly cut an astonishing $250 billion out of the company’s value in a single day — a 26 percent drop. And there were a lot of narratives.
Unfortunately, as Meta’s empire is increasingly scrutinized, small businesses that depend on it are feeling the squeeze.
Meta constructed a fundamentally unethical business model that allowed it to offer cheap ads, and it is laundering that scummy behaviour through the much better reputation of coffee shops, and florists, and travel agents, and other small business owners. Entrepreneurs should not be blamed for taking advantage of the marketing opportunities available to them.
This is a complex problem with a simple root: in a more just world, where the privacy of individuals is truly respected, Meta would never have offered these kinds of ads in the first place. But the company recognized that it was on legally firm ground to follow users’ activity across the web and through third-party apps, and it built its entire business around milking that strategy for everything it could give. It gave small business owners the ability to buy better advertising at lower rates, but has cost all of us our privacy online with little in the way of notice, consent, or control.
So that is how we got into this mess, and lawmakers in many regions around the world are trying various ways of getting us out of it. But Apple, having a business model more conducive to privacy and being an operating system vendor, realized it could also do something about tracking without due consent. It asks a simple question when apps want to track a user: do you want to permit this? Most people answer in the negative.
A disconnect has formed between the way corporate America is talking about the dawning concept of the metaverse and its plausibility based on the nature of the computing power that will be necessary to achieve it. To get there will require immense innovation, similar to the multidecade effort to shrink personal computers to the size of an iPhone. No one knows how — or where — to start, let alone whether the devices will still be semiconductors.
The metaverse may forever remain science fiction.
Now, it seems, Zuckerberg wants out. On Wednesday, he announced that Nick Clegg would become the company’s new president of Global Affairs, reporting directly to Zuckerberg and running point on all of the company’s policy work globally. “We need a senior leader at the level of myself (for our products) and Sheryl [Sandberg] (for our business) who can lead and represent us for all of our policy issues globally,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook.
In an interview with The New York Times' DealBook on Saturday, McCarthy broke down exactly what Peloton got wrong.
”The cost structure got out of whack with revenues, and they spent money on things that they shouldn't have,” he told DealBook.
Peloton poured hundreds of millions of dollars into its logistics network in recent years to keep pace with demand for its products. It opened new warehouses, bought a manufacturer in Taiwan in 2019, and spent $420 million to acquire fitness equipment maker Precor in 2020.
But when demand fell as the company's pandemic popularity faded, Peloton fell prey to the bullwhip effect, with some employees previously telling Insider that warehouses grew so stuffed with bikes that it became like a jigsaw puzzle to try to find room to fit more.