If you’ve read my previous articles, then you know I’m a Facebook (FB) bull. I’ve always thought that Facebook had what it took to succeed where other similar social sites like MySpace have failed. To my point, they have accomplished the following very quickly:
- Obtained a massive user-base applying social psychology to grow very quickly (link)
- Embraced Mobile As a Primary Platform (link)
- Targeted Social Advertising and Massive User Engagement (link)
Specifically, they can handle the growth and every move they make is well considered in light of the impact on their user base. They’ve now proven they can monetize their users.
Apple’s Performance Not So Sweet
Apple (AAPL) had their Q2 2013 earnings conference call last night. The after-hours pop and drop was a mix of investor denial drowned by a flood of savvy investors taking profits. But it’s also a clear indicator that the inflection point I’ve been talking about in previous articles has happened.
My thesis has been that Apple is changing into a different type of company. What happened last night is strong evidence that I’m right. And I’m sorry about that. I’ve been an Apple user, developer, and investor for nearly three decades. From the day the first Mac launched in 1984 I’ve been on-board. I’ve ridden the roller-coaster and fully enjoyed the ride. But it’s over.
Last night, Apple presented an earnings announcement that had some good news but a significant amount of bad-news for those who still haven’t let go of the dream.
So let’s take a look at what happened.
When Apple (AAPL) launched the Mac in 1984 I was one of the first to by the Inside Mac developer series and started leveraging my skills as an Apple developer. I’ve been a fan ever since that time. In the beginning, it was all about the Steves. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. You couldn’t really determine who was key to Apple’s creative direction. But it soon became clear that Steve Jobs was the wizard behind the curtains.
In this article, i’d like to present a mostly qualitative argument that without Steve Jobs there is no Apple. Instead you are left with a boring company that hit its maturity prematurely and will be the subject of plenty of debates, internal and external, on how it should be operated. For example, due to its recent momentum from the sales of iPhone and iPad sales, Apple recently (August 2012) hit a market capitalization of $623.5 billion making it the largest company in the world against this measure surpassing Microsoft (MSFT).
Mark Zuckerberg Introduces Facebook Home
Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s (FB) new mobile strategy. Starting April 12, you will be able to download and install Facebook Home directly from the Google Play store or buy an HTC phone which will have the software pre-installed. While this announcement was delivered with a typical Zuckerberg lack of enthusiasm, it was the best possible announcement they could have made.
Even though Zuckerberg had previously denied making a Facebook phone, the rumors that they would announce either a new phone or a forked version of the Android OS were rampant. Either one would have been a bad idea.
My whole family, including myself, are movie buffs. We’ve been Netflix members from almost the beginning. We have Rokus on every TV and I’m not at all unhappy with my Netflix (NFLX) account. But the relationship with Netflix has not always been easy. We started by having a combined DVD and Streaming plan that costs (to the best of my memory) about $14.95 per month. At the time, we had unlimited Streaming and no limit on the number of DVDs per month with a maximum of 3 out at a time.
My wife and I used to go our local Borders Bookstore and have coffee and read magazines and books. Inevitably, we’d leave with a bag of our favorite books and magazines. Sometime in 2009, that all changed. We’d still go to bookstore to read and have our coffee but I had purchased T-Mobile G1 smartphones and I started checking the prices of each book I liked by scanning the bar-code on the back. To my surprise, I found that in the majority of cases, I could buy the book on Amazon (AMZN), shipping included, for less than half the retail price in the bookstore. Our purchasing pattern changed quickly to coffee only with the books showing up a week later by mail.
In a previous article, I speculated that Netflix might be trying to get out of paying the winning team due to a technicality. While my speculation turned out to be completely unfounded, the final 30 days of the contest were as exciting as the Kentucky Derby.
I’ve been following the Netflix Prize for years. This is the contest that gives all comers a chance to try and beat the formidable Cinematch algorithm that Netflix uses to give customers highly targeted recommendations. According to a recent email, Netflix may be preparing to announce the disqualification of the leading team “BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos” who submitted results that beats Cinematch by the contest’s goal of 10%.
I joined Twitter a little over a year ago and have been learning how to be a good twitizen ever since. I would follow people that were interesting or who were talking about topics that interested me. When I first joined, it seemed to be populated mainly with real people but as time passed I started seeing twitter accounts that were automated. I would follow someone and within seconds or minutes I received a direct message thanking me for following them. I know that Twitter has an API but I couldn’t imagine that everyone I was receiving the direct messages from knew how to do that.
Any application that needs to scale needs to designed to do so from the beginning. Or at least that’s what I used to think. Even when Amazon introduced EC2 and S3 there were still design requirements that you needed to consider. In fact, I actually started this project with S3 as the back-end. The idea was to store the URLs on S3 which had very quick response times and use quick scalable hosting (I hadn’t decided which hosting service at that time) with round-robin DNS to scale the front-end. It was a simple architecture but it would have worked. But…before I was able to go very far with the project, Google launched AppEngine. AppEngine took an entirely different approach to scalability. Use their SDK and platform and don’t even bother with scalability. So, I decided to switch over and give it a try.
This project is the ongoing development effort based on that decision. I will describe and write about design decisions, feature plans and problems and roadblocks caused by the AppEngine platform.
Oh, and feel free to comment. I will approve any and all constructive comments both postitive and negative.