Posts in Daily
Apple Music on Track to Overtake Spotify in U.S. Subscribers

Spotify has a clear lead in worldwide paid subscribers, but they're losing their advantage in their largest market, the U.S. This was a huge surprise to me! Anne Steele at the Wall Street Journal reports:

Apple’s subscriber-account base in the U.S. has been growing about 5% monthly, versus Spotify’s 2% clip, according to the people familiar with the numbers. Assuming those growth rates continue, Apple will overtake Spotify in accounts this summer.
— Anne Steele, WSJ

It gets even more interesting:

By one standard, Apple Music has already passed Spotify. Including people who are still in free or deeply discounted trial periods leading up to paid subscription, Apple Music has a slight edge on Spotify in the U.S., according to one of the people familiar with the figures.

Apple Music has three to four times the number of such trial users as Spotify, according to this person, in part because it doesn’t offer a free tier. Also, all Apple Music subscribers are entered automatically into a free initial three-month period. Excluding those trial users, Spotify is ahead, but by a small amount—and that gap is closing.
— Anne Steele, WSJ

Neither company is making a profit from their millions of subscribers. This makes me believe Apple Music will likely win the music streaming battle in the long run.

Read full article.

Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

DailyTimothy Buck
What's the Point of Amazon Go?

Amazon Go has officially opened in Seattle. It's a physical store that takes the next step in retail automation—allowing customers to scan their phone as they walk in, pick up any items they want and walk out without getting in line to pay. It works with a massive array of sensors and cameras (displayed below) that track your movement, know what you pick up and charge you for what you take with you.

As I read about Amazon Go over the last few days, I kept running into tweets and articles suggesting Amazon Go might just be a novelty store, a one-off. But that doesn't make sense. I believe Amazon is in the early stages of something much bigger, and Ben Thompson offers a strong argument for that being the case.

This principle undergirds the fantastic profitability of successful tech companies:

- It was expensive to develop mainframes, but IBM could reuse the expertise to build them and most importantly the software needed to run them; every new mainframe was more profitable than the last.

- It was expensive to develop Windows, but Microsoft could reuse the software on all computers; every new computer sold was pure profit.

- It was expensive to build Google, but search can be extended to anyone with an Internet connection; every new user was an opportunity to show more ads.

- It was expensive to develop iOS, but the software can be used on billions of iPhones, every one of which generates tremendous profit.

- It was expensive to build Facebook, but the network can scale to two billion people and counting, all of which can be shown ads.

In every case a huge amount of fixed costs up front is overwhelmed by the ongoing ability to make money at scale; to put it another way, tech company combine fixed costs with marginal revenue opportunities, such that they make more money on additional customers without any corresponding rise in costs.

This is clearly the goal with Amazon Go: to build out such a complex system for a single store would be foolhardy; Amazon expects the technology to be used broadly, unlocking additional revenue opportunities without any corresponding rise in fixed costs — of developing the software, that is; each new store will still require traditional fixed costs like shelving and refrigeration. That, though, is why this idea is so uniquely Amazonian.
— Ben Thompson, Stratechery

Header image from The New York Times

DailyTimothy Buck
A Relatively Modest Proposal

Matt Birchler over at Birchtree put together very thoughtful suggestions for watchOS 5 in a recent blog post. Of all his suggestions, this is what I want to see most.

The number one thing I want from watchOS 5 is for third party apps to be able to tap into the Siri watch face. As I mentioned in my watchOS 4 review last year, the Siri watch face is one of the best additions to the Apple Watch last year. It’s one of my most used watch faces, especially when I’m at work and have a ton of items on my calendar. Being able to tilt my wrist and see the next couple events instantly is massively useful.
— Matt Birchler, Birtchtree
DailyTimothy Buck
People Spent $300 Million on Apple's App Store in a Single Day

Apple recently published some App Store sales numbers on their blog.

App Store customers around the world made apps and games a bigger part of their holiday season in 2017 than ever before, culminating in $300 million in purchases made on New Year’s Day 2018. During the week starting on Christmas Eve, a record number of customers made purchases or downloaded apps from the App Store, spending over $890 million in that seven-day period.
— Apple

Those numbers are mind-boggling. People spent $890 million dollars on the app store over a 7 day period and $300 million in a single day! Crazy numbers for an app store.

Read Full Post on Apple's Blog

Photo by William Hook on Unsplash

DailyTimothy Buck
Go Watch “App: The Human Story”

My friend Steve Aquino recently shared that App: A Human Story was released to the world. Steve was one of the people interviewed for the documentary.

Watch the trailer below, and if you're at all interested, spend a couple bucks and support indie film makers.

Some of the early reviews:

There’s a segment of the developer community that approaches their work as craft, not mere work. They make apps that aren’t just used, but that are loved. ‘App: The Human Story’ perfectly captures the ethos of this community in the explosive early years of the App Store. The film tracks many threads but tells one story: how apps became a fundamental part of our daily lives and culture.
— John Gruber, Daring Fireball
App: The Human Story is about my people. It’s a loving portrait of a culture that I adore and the people who make it go. The film deftly threads together stories and ideas from the communities and craftspeople who dedicate their lives to the common goal of empowering humanity through software. And by the end, the viewer senses a rich tapestry of tension and triumph that make up the universe of this new cultural unit of progress—the app—and the reasons why it will propel us into a better future.
— Adam Lisagor, Sandwich Video
DailyTimothy Buck
Apple's Working on Heart Health

Apple has just launched a joint study with Stanford to research irregular heart rhythms.

Apple today launched the Apple Heart Study app, a first-of-its-kind research study using Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor to collect data on irregular heart rhythms and notify users who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib, the leading cause of stroke, is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations in the US every year. Many people don’t experience symptoms, so AFib often goes undiagnosed.
— Apple

 

And this is how it works

To calculate heart rate and rhythm, Apple Watch’s sensor uses green LED lights flashing hundreds of times per second and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist. The sensor’s unique optical design gathers signals from four distinct points on the wrist, and when combined with powerful software algorithms, Apple Watch isolates heart rhythms from other noise. The Apple Heart Study app uses this technology to identify an irregular heart rhythm.
— Apple

 

It'll be interesting to see how much Apple moves into the health market, particularly as wearables become more and more common.

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

DailyTimothy Buck
Why Ajit Pai is Right: The First Good Argument I've Read Against Title II.

In "Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II", initially titled "Why Ajit Pai is Right", Ben Thompson gives a thoughtful and in depth argument for how you can agree with Ajit Pai's deregulation of internet providers while still supporting net neutrality.

Here's an excerpt, but I highly recommend you read the whole thing.

Allow me to state this point plainly: I am absolutely in favor of net neutrality. Indeed, as I explained in 2014’s Netflix and Net Neutrality, I am willing to make trade-offs (specifically data caps) to achieve it. The question at hand, though, is what is the best way to achieve net neutrality? To believe that Chairman Pai is right is not to be against net neutrality; rather, it is to believe that the FCC’s 2015 approach was mistaken.

Any regulatory decision — indeed, any decision period — is about tradeoffs. To choose one course of action is to gain certain benefits and incur certain costs, and it is to forgo the benefits (and costs!) of alternative courses of action. What makes evaluating regulations so difficult is that the benefits are usually readily apparent — the bad behavior or outcome is, hopefully, eliminated — but the costs are much more difficult to quantify. Short-term implementation costs may be relatively straightforward, but future innovations and market entries that don’t happen by virtue of the regulation being in place are far more difficult to calculate. Equally difficult to measure is the inevitable rent-seeking that accompanies regulation, as incumbents find it easier to lobby regulators to foreclose competition instead of winning customers in an open market.
— Ben Thompson

 

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

DailyTimothy Buck
Google Collects Android Users’ Locations Even When Location Services are Disabled

This type of thing is all too common. But you know what scares me most? The average consumer's view of Google and Android will not change. The repercussions will be minimal. This will have little or no impact on their bottom line. And because of that, this type of thing will continue to happen at powerful companies in the Valley and across the world.

Many people realize that smartphones track their locations. But what if you actively turn off location services, haven’t used any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card?

Even if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they’re connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed.

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.
 

Solid reporting from Keith Collins at Quartz. Go read the full thing →

 

Photo by Adrien on Unsplash

DailyTimothy Buck