Web Excursions 2021-09-10

Tech Epochs and the App Store Trap by stratechery.com

  • Trump’s gambit accomplished what the Chinese government never could: aligning private companies’ incentives with the state’s goal of economic self-sufficiency.

    • It is one thing to align private incentives with state incentives;

    • it is an open question if doing so by removing the drive for dominance and outsized profits ends up being a case of one step forwards, and two steps back.

  • In 2014 I described the The Three Epochs of Consumer Tech to that point

    • The PC epoch had Windows as its operating system, productivity software as its killer app, and email was the dominant communications medium.

    • The Internet epoch had the browser as its operating system, search as its killer app, and social networking, particularly Facebook, was the dominant communications medium.

    • The mobile epoch had iOS and Android as its operating systems, the sharing economy as its killer app, and messaging was the dominant communications medium.

  • In 2020, I argued we had reached The End of the Beginning:

    • about the overall shift in computing

    • from mainframes to PCs to mobile,

    • which mirrored the shift from one room computing to desktop computing to cloud computing

    • This is a progression where the potential for crypto-based computing and its inherent decentralization fits right in

  • It was the Internet that gave mobile the fuel to get off of the ground

  • It’s much harder, particularly in 2021, to appreciate the extent to which Apple increased the total addressable market for everyone

  • What is new to the App Store are the shift of more and more productivity applications to subscription billing.

  • What is not clear is if, in a vacuum, this is particularly good for their business

    • The App Store, though, is not a vacuum:

    • it is an economy where Apple sets the rules

  • by 2015 it seemed clear that the era of mobile productivity apps was going to be a disappointing one

    • Six years on and not much has changed

  • Apple, meanwhile, is seeing more challenges to its centralized control of the app economy than ever before,

    • from antitrust lawsuits to potential legislation

    • to run-ins with regulators around the world.

  • What is important is that these changes happen sooner rather than later, for the sake of tech’s fourth epoch.

  • If consumer tech’s second epoch — the Internet — was built on and enabled by the first — the PC — then it follows that the fourth epoch is built on and enabled the third.

  • Whether that innovation can be achieved as control is re-centralized is one of the most important questions of the next decade.

  • the question, as always, is about

    • the companies that aren’t formed,

    • the creators that aren’t empowered,

    • the metaverses that die on the vine because developers couldn’t make money, or

    • the platform creator couldn’t justify the risk.


Stop Doomscrolling: 6 Ideas for a Quick Break

  1. Listen to a short podcast

  • ListenNotes is a great podcast search engine, and you can filter for podcast length on its free version.

  1. Get in some foreign language study

  • Duolingo is a great, free option for learning vocab. You could also find a short easy language podcast.

  1. Try walking meditation

  • Calm and Headspace, two popular meditation apps, both have a bunch of walking meditation sessions.

  1. Create and listen to 15-minute playlists

  • Do a search on "energize," "relax," or "destress" in whatever music app you use.

  1. Enjoy a long read of personal interest

  • While the read-it-later app is also useful to clip and manage all the work- and industry-related articles you want to read, that's not what you want during your break.

  • Instead, find some sources or authors that regularly publish long reads with a strictly personal appeal.

    • Maria Popova's Brain Pickings,

    • Something more classic like The New Yorker.

    • Writer aggregation sites like Medium and Substack, where you'll find content on every topic imaginable.

    • Blinkist

  1. If you just can't resist the social media…

  • You don't want to fall into Twitter toxicity or weirdly inauthentic lifestyle Instagram feeds.

  • Instead, pre-select specific hashtags or accounts that bring you joy or relax you. The Dodo (@dodo) and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (@SheldrickTrust) have happy animal videos. Highly recommend.

Bonus option #7: It's a phone. Call someone close and have a chat.


Daring Fireball: Why iPhone Names Have Numbers and Most Other Apple Product Names Don’t

  • Apple wants people who are buying new iPhones that were first introduced 2–3 years ago to feel like they’re getting a new iPhone.

  • They should, because they are — they’re great devices at lower prices, and will be supported for years to come.

  • But if the iPhone XR were named “iPhone (2018)”, they’d feel old.