Where I foolishly indulge in: What would Steve do?

I cried the day in January 2011 he announced what would be his final leave of absence. Again when he resigned as CEO. And again, much much harder and longer, the day he died. I’m no Steve basher.

But ship a beautiful reboot of a product with a little less substance under the hood? That’s exactly the kind of thing my namesake Mr. Jobs would do.


iOS 6 Mapping: A Guess and a Clear Observation

The Guess

Apple dropped using google data for the long term health of mapping on iOS. Control of map data was a strategic asset that google would use/was using to differentiate Android and disadvantage iOS. And it would only get worse… every data request to google map data is more information to improve google map data. So Apple felt it had to bite the bullet and launch a product without the benefit of 100s of millions of users improving it for years… in order to insure its users would have a first class solution with that exposure to real world usage. No way around it.

The Clear Observation

Since google mapping was completely available on iOS 6 by loading it into Safari (and yes you can create an icon for it on the home screen), all this controversy seems to say something about the importance of apps vs. the mobile web.

But, of course, the HTML5 mobile web is the One. True. Future. Of course.

Mobile Mobile Mobile…

MG Siegler, in which he first uses the word “mobile” like an 8 year old to make his point.

The value in the desktop web is increasingly an illusion. Given the rate at which these mobile devices are improving, a plunge is rapidly approaching.

Don’t build an app based on your website. Build the app that acts as if websites never existed in the first place.

Before i was an IOS developer, I wrote for desktop platforms. Software you installed on your hard drive and not only didn’t require a net connection… it didn’t use a browser. Ask your Dad or a high-end gaming geek.

I had good reasons not to embrace the web as a developer. I used it, but come on, serious software was always going to run locally so it could scream. I couldn’t have been more wrong and these days I’m having to spend time away from my true love (iOS) to remedy the shame of having a godaddy.com hosted web site. And web guys are still on top of the world right now.

But just as the web was once the new Microsoft Windows, it is now the old Microsoft Windows. Yesterday’s platform, and mostly today’s platform. But not tomorrow’s. It’s kind of amusing watching history repeat itself, watching the web guys see mobile the way we desktop guys saw the web.

The mobile future, however, is not making mobile work like the web any more than the web was about making it work like Windows (Microsoft definitely tried.) It will be the primary platform (and yes, there may be more than one OS.) Design with a clean sheet of paper. Use the best tools. Bring your A game.

And if you don’t have a great native iOS app, not to worry. Somebody else will.

If there was any web entity with enough power to impose its will on mobile it was facebook. Instead they made a 180 degree turn, embraced native, and spent a billion dollars for Instagram.

Few companies will be able to spend a billion to buy the app they should have built. Users will simply find the apps that feel right.

The Write Once Run Anywhere Holy Grail

Jean-Louis Gassée on HTML 5 apps for smartphones

Then we have the good old Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA) refrain. Developing and maintaining native apps for different devices is time-consuming and expensive. You need to hire separate teams of engineers/designers/QA, experts at squeezing the best performance from their respective devices, educing the most usable and intuitive UI, deftly tracking down elusive bugs. And even then, your product will suffer from “feature drift”: The ostensibly separate-but-equal native apps will differ in subtle and annoying ways.

HTML5 solves these problems. In theory.

In practice, two even more vexing dilemmas emerge: Performance and The Lowest Common Denominator.

As well as I’ve seen it put. And he’s not anti-HTML at all. He’s just seen the quest for this holy grail before.

In my opinion, iOS is the most dynamic and competitive native app platform ever. Bring your A game.

Portion Size and the Nanny State: I attempt to thread the needle

I hate the nanny state. It says “Liberty” on my money and I take it seriously.

But I find myself thinking Mayor Bloomberg has an idea worth trying on limiting portion sizes. I know why. But I’m also trying to justify it intellectually. Here goes…

Why is simple: I’m a parent. I had a huge fight with my 11 year old when I told him: Yes, you can have this sweetened beverage as a treat. But it’s too big, so it’ll have to be two treats.

Case closed. No nanny state required. Just do your job as a parent.

Except his answer was: [name of his stepdad] lets me have the whole thing.

i grew up with mere 12 oz. sodas. It’s plenty. Bloomberg is actually a wimp.

But can I justify this and not the nanny state?

Here’s my attempt: Information. A serving size implies “this is an appropriate amount to consume at once.” Our brains process this instinctively. You’ll eat less if your plate is smaller.

Ray Kroc, the genius behind McDonald’s, thought that a larger size of fries was a silliness. Just buy a second bag. One of the many things that made him rich was being willing to be proven wrong on. People needed the signal that it was “reasonable” to eat more fries than a single bag. (Though not all.. when I was unsupervised as a kid, I’d buy 3 milkshakes. They make those in larger sizes too now.)

Humans have been gauging portion sizes long before they were measured in ounces. A serving size not so obviously “bulk” tells the brain “this is how much you should consume.” So perhaps Bloomberg is just mandating less inaccuracy in the information conveyed to these instincts. Better information makes us both freer and better off economically.

More simply: Big servings sizes lie.

And a true nanny state wouldn’t let you buy two. Or a six pack.

But the biggest instinct of all may be the parental one: nothing is more human than jettisoning principles and logic for your own child’s welfare.

Of course it’s named iPhone 5

If the rumors are close to true, it’ll be the 4th iPhone form factor (original, 3G/GS, 4/4S, new one). And the 6th generation (original, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S.)

So how possibly can they call it “5”? Well of course they can. They can call it iPhone 𝛑 if they want.

Why would they call it “5”? Doh. Because 5 comes after 4. Ask any first grader in case you’re fuzzy.

The geeks of the blogosphere really overthought this one.

And the revelation, for Apple Kremlinologists, is that Apple is emphasizing generational differences for iPhone where they do not for iPad, iPod touch, or Macintosh. Makes sense if you’re selling 3 generations of product, moreover, why get in consumers’ way (everyone calls it the 5 except for geeks who insist it can’t be called that)? Why different for iPad? Because iPad is going to be like iPod… iPad, iPad mini. Not “iPad mini 3GS”

Now when they call it something else on 9/12… this will be my slam dunk… that missed!