How Cool Was Google I/O? Gruber’s Law Cool.

For the uninitiated, Gruber’s Law:

Gruber’s Law: how quickly an Apple blogger mentions Microsoft when (allegedly) discussing problems at Apple. Or, how quickly an Apple blogger evokes Microsoft’s past the very moment Microsoft reveals something totally awesome.

Does this post on Google I/O qualify?

To me, this week’s I/O keynote made me more convinced than ever that Google is turning into the Microsoft of old…


Grading Apple on a Curve. Photos Edition.


I know. Nobody needs to tell you how brittle and limited Apple’s Photos app and accompanying iCloud Photo Library service is. You know. I know. Everyone knows.

So let’s say it.

Go on. Say it.


See. Easy.

So why didn’t you? What prevents you from not speaking the truth about a product from a giant corporation that we’re not even sure the giant corporation gives a fuck about?

Why the insistence on grading Apple products on a curve? On giving Apple a pass, over and over, sometimes for years?

The latest example from Dan Moren in Macworld: (emphasis added)

I really want Apple to do a great job of storing and presenting my photos. I’m rooting for Cupertino here, because I think the company has a history of being on the side of its customers. But in addition to the wrinkles with its new photo solution, the company’s current approach to cloud storage pricing is simply not competitive.

Google and Amazon are both offering free options for storing a lot of photos, albeit with caveats, as well as low-priced plans for storing pretty much every picture you take. Apple, meanwhile, still has only a paltry 5GB for all your online data, and is charging twice as much as Google for a terabyte of storage. Some question the entitlement that leads us to argue that photo storage should be free—I say it’s not entitlement, but clearly a matter of market forces: when companies like Amazon and Google start offering free cloud storage, well, that’s competition at work.

For me, the clock’s ticking. Though it’s unclear exactly when my current setup might expire, I’m giving Apple as much time as I can to respond to Google and Amazon’s respective salvos. When the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference rolls around in just a short couple weeks, I’m hoping that Apple takes a hard look at its photo offering and paints us a compelling picture.

You are empowered. Use your our voice. Apple’s offering is sub-par. Say so. Your readers deserve the truth. I’ll start:

Apple’s product is bad. The competition is better. We don’t know if Apple’s product will ever rise to the level of competition. Probably not given that the product is not core to Apple’s mission or profit centers. Honestly, you should go with the better product and not wait around hoping that this corporation decides to do right by you.

1 Billion Versus $10,000. The Primary Difference Between Google and Apple.

A legitimately insightful interview of Google SVP Sundar Pichai in the Verge. He says much and except for the occasional corporate-speak, such as “we will double down otherwise we will cross-connect,” it’s clear to the reader Pichai’s vision and abilities.

Yet it was the interviewer’s summation that I found most profound:

Pichai is clearly proud of the fact that Google’s products work the same whether you’re a billionaire or a rural farmer

There is much I do not like about Google. At the very least, much I do not like about Google’s hacking away at our privacy. That said, is there any company in the world actually doing more to connect and enable everyone, no matter how wealthy, no matter where they are located?

The big news out of Apple this year — and, reminder, Apple is the richest tech company in the world — is that they now sell a very special “Apple gold” watch that will cost you about $20,000. You can buy a brand new Honda for that money, and it will serve you far better, far longer. Meanwhile, every Google consumer product is available to anyone with a connection, and works exactly the same. That’s to be lauded.

I’m glad I can afford Apple products. I am smart, work hard, save my money, and blessed to be born in a nation that typically makes the right choices. But, most of the world, still, cannot have what I have. Respect to Google for making sure no one gets left behind.


Those who can, do.

Those who can’t, blog.

Which leads to a disconnect between what is and what is talked about.

It’s why New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo, as one example, can decry Silicon Valley for focusing its efforts on “the wealthy and the young” and the **very next week** can decry Google for giving away the Android operating system and thus limiting its profit potential.


Those who write, write. We don’t hire — or fire. We don’t have to make payroll, meet the numbers, adhere to myriad government regulations, the tax code, haggle with suppliers, fix bugs. Nothing.

That’s why you hear so many bloggers scream at Apple THERE ARE NO WOMEN ON STAGE!

Because, apparently, putting a token woman on the stage, whether or not she had any role at all in the product being introduced, is, in the blogger’s mind, the equivalent to the blistering efforts of all the people who actually did have a role in the product.

You built a phone. I made a blog post. Same same.

It’s so easy to talk. It’s so easy to demand change from others. It’s so easy to write, to pretend we know, to insist we are right, to demand those that do the work, the actual work, adhere to our views.

Fact: there are a highly disproportionate number of gays, Indians, Chinese and others in tech — working in Silicon Valley.

They deserve to be.

They earned it. They worked, they studied. They did not get a degree in Social Work or English Lit. They did not wake up late today. Silicon Valley may be the most diverse conglomeration of businesses, people and ideas in the world.

Want to be part of it? Do the work.

An Indian, not a privileged white male, oversees Android, the most popular operating system in the world.

An Indian oversees Windows, the second most popular operating system in the world.

A gay man runs Apple, the world’s biggest tech company.

A woman runs IBM. A woman runs Yahoo. A woman is second in charge at Facebook. A woman runs HP.

They are not tokens.

They achieved their position through being much smarter than you and I, working much, much harder than every buzzing blogger, and by making the right choices.

There is no more diverse, open, meritocratic industry than professional sports. But, tech is second.

Tech does not have a diversity problem. Diversity has a tech problem. Tech is wildly successful. Tech is worth trillions. Want to be part of tech? Work hard, choose the right degree. Done.

With one caveat: the work in tech appears deliberately constructed to favor those that are young and without a family. Married with children? Over 40? Tech companies look at you with deep suspicion. This is not good.

I think it’s going to get worse.

In fact, I think the new Salesforce HQ, the new Uber HQ, the new Twitter HQ, all built or being constructed in San Francisco — not the suburbs — is a testament to the anti-older person mentality so prevalent in tech.

Older, married people don’t live in cities, but in suburbs. Nicer homes, far better schools, safer for their children.

I can’t help but think that putting tech offices in cities, not suburbs, is a way to keep out the older folk. Of which all of us will become some day.

No. Jony Ive is not Co-CEO of Apple.


You do realize Apple is not actually magic, don’t you? I mean, it’s a corporation, it’s run by people — human beings, mortals. That whole magic thing is just made up. Like Santa, or that Flo from Progressive. A thing we say and it’s fun but it’s not real. Not really real.

You do know this, right?

Because fuck if we can’t get analysis of Apple, it’s moves, its changes, its products, without analysts contorting themselves to tell you, to tell the world, that Apple is magical!

Oh, and Steve Jobs is dead. Still.

As Apple gets even bigger, even richer, as it very rationally chases profits deep into China and around the world, those whose money comes from the glowing Apple halo, the constant talking about Apple, about what Apple will do, won’t do, might do, should do, shouldn’t do, for this product, for the next product —


…we are left with analysis that’s not really analysis but instead one never-ending reminder that Apple is all things that are right and good for now and forever for one and for all (except for those icky people who want only those products which are made by companies who race down to the bottom). Because Steve. Because magic.

This is a lie.

The Apple halo spreads wealth and middling fame to many, far more than any other company in the world, and those made rich from the Apple halo are incentivized not to offer analysis but rather proof — PROOF! — that Apple is magic.

Spoiler: Apple is not magical. Apple is a for-profit corporation headquartered in the surprisingly dull town of Cupertino, California.

Which brings me to the promotion of Jony Ive.

It’s not a promotion.

Tim Cook remains fully, 100% in charge of Apple.

Thus, when Gruber says: “I can see Cook-Ive as a sort of titular reversal of the Jobs-Cook C-level leadership duo. Cook oversees operations and “running the company”; Ive oversees everything else,” it’s shockingly wrong.

Tim Cook is fully in charge of Apple. Jony Ive, who already reported directly and only to Tim Cook *still* reports directly and only to Tim Cook.

Jony Ive is still *not* in charge of retail. Jony Ive is still *not* in charge of the money. Jony Ive is still *not* in charge of marketing.

Nor software development. Nor hardware. Nor iCloud…

Moreover, Jony Ive is no longer in charge of design on a day-to-day level. And I can assure you, even those of you whose business experience comes from blogging, if you aren’t in charge of the day-to-day, you aren’t in charge.

This is good.

Jony Ive without Steve Jobs is like Paul McCartney without John Lennon. Just silly love songs.

Consider what Ive has done since Tim Cook (then) placed him in charge of all “human” design:

iOS 7 — which is just ugly

iOS 6 — a Samsung phablet derivative

Apple Watch — pricey jewelry that does damn near nothing

It’s very telling that in the same piece where Gruber suggests Ive is co-CEO, that he says this of iOS 7:

(Ive) and (Alan) Dye more or less assembled a new team. This sort of thing invariably ruffled feathers from the prior UI designers in the company — especially those who worked under Forstall on the iOS team.

Wink, wink. iOS 7 is a fail.

So where are we?

Here: the idea that Jony Ive is now or ever will be co-CEO is wrong. Apple is a business. The world’s biggest. The CEO doesn’t go about handing over his authority to someone else…



But we can’t be told the truth of Apple, not ever. Because we must believe Apple is magic. We must believe that the ghost of Steve Jobs magically guides all who enter. Because magic. Because to ever describe or analyze or review Apple and its products in non-magical terms reduces Apple to what it really is, a corporation. And corporations are filled with politics, in-fighting, competition, collaboration, the very best, the typically middling, and sometimes the worst of humanity.

But to say this, to reveal this obvious and verifiable truth is to dim the Apple halo and if we dim the halo the Apple blogosphere is similarly dimmed.



In Gruber’s piece about Jony Ive and the company’s “masterful” announcement of his “promotion,” he mentions Steve Jobs six (6!) times.

The ghost of Steve Jobs now resides within Jony Ive!



Gruber also links to the Ben Thompson piece on the Jony Ive “promotion.” And I quote:

Steve Jobs’ spiritual partner

Jobs believed so deeply

(Ive) now serves Steve Jobs’ function as the soul of Apple

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs


Jobs’ spiritual partner


Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs



Jony Ive has zero experience in retail, zero experience in marketing, zero experience in hardware or software development, in cutting deals with Hollywood, in anything at all related to the critical importance of the cloud. To think he’s now a “co CEO” is laughable.


You won’t hear this from the echo chamber, however, because it comes damn close to suggesting that Apple is not, might not be…magic.

Spoiler: Apple is not magic.

I’ll close with this: wanting to believe, to believe in magic, is a deeply held human trait. It resides within us all. Some seek magic in the word of the Lord. Some seek magic in the quiet of nature. I wouldn’t dare mock these people for their faith, for wanting to believe in magic.

But if you seek magic from a giant, global, for-profit corporation, you may be disappointed.

Taking Bitcoin Mainstream

A year ago, exactly, I wrote this primer on “How Bitcoin can go mainstream.” I think it’s still correct, still relevant.

Bitcoin is peer-to-peer. It is scalable. Bitcoin supports personal privacy and enables transactions at near-zero cost—not all of which need be strictly financial in nature. It decentralizes trust and limits financial threats from governments and middlemen. These should guarantee Bitcoin a bright future, despite the many obstacles before it.

Spoiler: it’s all about trust, scalability, and moving transactional power to the edge (that’s you and me, mostly). As a secret currency, um, not so much.

A year later, I’m still a believer — which is not at all the same as recommending anyone buy Bitcoin or invest in a Bitcoin start-up!

Uber and Airbnb Should Merge

I mean, with driverless, autonomous cars, the “car” no longer needs to be designed like a car. I walk outside my front door, my Uber is there — no driver.

Work is three hours away.

No big deal.

I shower and shave inside the moving vehicle, completely safe. I make a few video calls. I watch my favorite Netflix show. On the way home, I exercise and take a nap.

This weekend, the car drives me to the Grand Canyon — at night, while I am asleep. It parks me along the edge of the river. The car is more like a small hotel room on wheels, and I have a bathroom, a fold-out bed, a small refrigerator.



Everything is collapsing inside a screen.

Silicon Valley controls your screens — soon, all your screens.

Meaning: all your television belong to Silicon Valley!

Software is eating the world. Mobile is eating the world. Yada yada. The truly big, profound, lasting disruption is how everything is collapsing inside a screen. For the past 60 years, screens meant television. Television becomes the first major victim of this new world order.

Think of all the video — the television — you now watch.

Consider how much of it is via an iPhone, iPad, an Android tablet, or an Apple TV box.

Your content is via Netflix, a Silicon Valley company.

Everything you want to watch but can’t find is probably on YouTube, owned by Google.

An ever-increasing amount of video is now seen through Facebook, a Silicon Valley company.

Chromecast lets you easily beam your content to any number of dumb (TV) screens.

My favorite new comedy, Other Space, is available only from Yahoo.

Ad insertion technology, integrating video with data, using apps to identify the show, the actors, the products and scenery will all be crafted by Silicon Valley.

When the old, dumb TV screen is on, no doubt playing something from a pricey cable network, my eyes are typically down at my big Lumia smartphone, clutched in my hand, and not at that big TV screen over the fireplace. Yours too?

Everything is collapsing inside a screen. TV is just one more app. Ruled by Silicon Valley.

And given that nearly everyone in the world watches television every single day, this is a really big deal.

The Tao Magic of Apple


Apple makes a lot of products. Several laptops, desktops, multiple iterations of iPod, iPhone, different lines of iPad.

Apple makes dozens of Watch bands to go along with multiple Watch watches. There is a “TV” box, more Beats headphones than I can count, backup drives, cases, mice of various types, software for music management, payments, office work, imaging, editing. The list goes on and on.

The vast majority of these many products are…meh. Beats headphones and Apple’s many software products are often sub-par, particularly on a value-per-dollar basis, while the many models of iPhone and iPad range from good, but overpriced, to excellent, the very best available. Macs follow a similar pattern. Regrettably, that new Macbook with one port for USB-C is particularly bad, saddled with a high price, weak processor, meh screen, and non-user-friendly keyboard and trackpad.

We should not be surprised by these. When you make so many different products, there’s going to be some misses. The more products Apple makes, the more misses they will have.

Everybody knows this.

So why can’t the Apple Echo Chamber acknowledge this?

That’s the part I find so fascinating. I mean, Apple is a company. A giant company. Apple is the Proctor & Gamble of computing products. High-margin, brand-focused, available everywhere, and typically of superior quality, or at the very least, good-enough quality so that choosing one of their products won’t be a bad decision even if it’s not necessarily the best decision. But not every product is a winner. This is verifiably obvious.

What is stopping the echo chamber from speaking this truth?

Is it the money? Should they dare speak the truth, readers will stop buying and if readers stop buying, sponsors stop making a profit, and if sponsors stop making a profit they stop paying boatloads to the echo chamber?

Maybe. That’s a simple explanation — and a boring one.

Rather, it’s the irrationality that I find so fascinating. For example, I can acknowledge that, of course Apple copied the phablet form from Samsung. This is obvious. More importantly, it was a very smart decision by Apple.

Another example: I can like the iPhone 6 Plus, I own one, in fact, but can also acknowledge that it’s design is nothing special. Whereas the iPhone 3GS was iconic, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will quickly be forgotten.

What is inside the brains of the card carrying members of the echo chamber that they can’t say these things?

What leads them to spout such verifiable nonsense as:

  • Apple won the PC wars!
  • Apple sells more than anyone else! Apple doesn’t chase market share!
  • It’s not about the specs! Your laptop doesn’t have Force Touch!!
  • Apple won’t get in a race to the bottom! Apple products are accessible for everyone!
  • Phablets are stupid! Apple makes the best phablet!
  • Its not a bad product because the next version will be better!

Free yourself from this. Apple Derangement Syndrome doesn’t help move society forward. It doesn’t encourage Apple to take risks. It doesn’t help individual buyers.

So why say it?

I write this on an old MacBook Pro. It’s an excellent machine. I highly recommend it. Whereas that new Macbook, er, no. Don’t get ripped off.