Tag Archives: Gizmodo

So Does It Come Out Every Day?

The Daily:

New York, NY, February 2, 2011 – Today Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of News Corporation, unveiled The Daily — the industry’s first national daily news publication created from the ground up for iPad.

“New times demand new journalism,” said Mr. Murdoch. “So we built The Daily completely from scratch — on the most innovative device to come about in my time — the iPad.”

“The magic of great newspapers — and great blogs — lies in their serendipity and surprise, and the touch of a good editor,” continued Mr. Murdoch. “We’re going to bring that magic to The Daily — to inform people, to make them think, to help them engage in the great issues of the day. And as we continue to improve and evolve, we are going to use the best in new technology to push the boundaries of reporting.”

The Daily’s unique mix of text, photography, audio, video, information graphics, touch interactivity and real-time data and social feeds provides its editors with the ability to decide not only which stories are most important — but also the best format to deliver these stories to their readers.

John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up

Erick Schonfield at Tech Crunch:

A new edition will come out every day, with updates throughout the day. it will feature a carousel navigation that looks like Coverflow, an dinclude video and 360-degree photographs.

Since there are no trucks and no printing costs, The Daily will cost 14 cents a day or about $1 a week. The first two weeks are free, thanks to a sponsorship by Verizon. You will be able to download it live at noon ET.

Murdoch also revealed that the total cost to get the Daily up and running—the technology, the staff, everything—has been $30 million, and that operating costs are half a million dollars a week.

I asked Murdoch why he thinks it is better to charge a subscription versus gaining a larger audience via free downloads and selling that larger audience to advertisers, who are lining up anyway because their ads look so much better in an iPad app. “I think they will pay much less per thousand if it was free,” says Murdoch. “We feel this is better for advertisers and will draw a better class of advertisers at a better rate.”

Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo:

Of course, he seems really adamant about his project. His letter is full of Cupertinian hyperbole: “this pioneering digital venture, fully championed by Steve Jobs and the rest of his team at Apple, establishes an entirely new category of delivery and consumption.” An entire new category. It must be really magical. This fair and balanced quote, however, makes me think The Daily may be just another glorified reader with lots of video thrown in: “I’m convinced that what they’ve created is the most immersive and unique experience available – one that will resonate with our audiences everywhere and change the way news is viewed.”

Peter Kafka at Media Memo:

The Daily’s formal debut is in a few hours, at which point we’ll have no shortage of pro/con opinions about News Corp.’s new iPad newspaper.But until then, here are the reasons the Daily won’t work, followed by the reasons it will. They’re both from the same guy–Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan. From his note published yesterday:

CONS:

1. Consumer Acceptance Could Take Time: Nobody really knows the future of the iPad daily, and the official launch party is not “where the rubber meets the road” in terms of understanding consumer acceptance of such a new concept.

2. Hype or Reality?: Hype does not necessarily translate into market share, revenue, or cash flow.

3. Control: Apple tends to control its environment so tightly that there may be clashes down the road with apps offered by Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, AOL, Amazon, and a host of other Internet companies. This could reduce overall profit potential for iPad publishers.

4. Understanding the revenue model will be key. Online ad networks and other intermediaries could be left on the outside, looking in, if the iPad remains a premium offering with high CPMs. The subscription model is somewhat irrelevant unless it scales to support a vibrant advertising environment. We will have to wait and see on that key point.

PROS:

1. Product Differentiation: News Corp could marshal the resources of its newspaper, cable television, studio, and Internet divisions to differentiate the product from most other companies.

2. Apple is a powerful ally. The recent track record of product innovation and commercialization at Apple is unmatched. If Apple is willing to throw its weight behind this initiative, along with News Corp, then the chances of success are high.

3. Playing Offense: If News Corp can make an iPad daily work, then other media companies will begin to play offense as well. And that is generally a good thing for innovation, and ultimately for advertisers and marketers alike.

4. Makes More Sense than Wired for iPad: Mid last year, we attended a pre-launch event for Wired magazine’s iPad initiative, which Conde Naste marketed at a surprising $5 per copy. The product was beautiful, but results were mixed at best. And it was a monthly, not a daily, which implied that the frequency of visitation was much lower.

Rohan, by the way, is ultimately bullish on the Daily, and he was that way before he got a look at the thing at Rupert Murdoch’s apartment last night. Now he’s very, very bullish, but he’s been embargoed from talking about it until noon today.

Darrell Etherington at GigaOm:

Unlike many existing print and newspaper magazine conversion apps, The Daily seems to feature a lot of clickable and interactive elements. Web links will bring up pages in a built-in browser, and Twitter feeds are accessible from within the app. There’s also an in-app text and audio commenting system for greater reader interaction. The app will also be able to pull in breaking news using Twitter and other sources, so that it stays fresh throughout the day without undergoing the kind of massively frequent overhaul you see on blogs. It’ll be interesting to see how The Daily strikes this balance.

No back-issues will exist at launch, and users instead will have to save articles for later from within the app or retrieve them on the web via HTML. Plans for improved access to older content are in the works, but won’t be included at launch.

At launch today,  The Daily will be available only to customers shopping in the U.S. store, and will be free for the first two weeks. According to a leaked official memo published by Gizmodo (which was completely accurate regarding other details), News Corp. is planning to bring The Daily to international markets (and other tablets) in the coming months.

Apple VP of Internet Services Eddy Cue announced the inclusion of new in-app recurring subscription billing with “one click,” but didn’t offer any further details. Cue noted that an upcoming  (“soon” was the only timeline hinted at) Apple announcement would detail this new feature further, including implementation plans among other publishers.

Colby Hall at Mediaite:

There is no question that the partnership between Apple and News Corp. is a big story worth covering, as it received a lot of deserved attention months ago when it was announced. And yes, Rupert Murdoch is arguably the single most powerful media mogul (best evidenced by his place on the Power Grid); his enthusiasm and embracing of a new media platform (and pouring of $30 Million into its development) is a compelling and relevant story.

But the story unfolding in Egypt right now could not be more compelling, since it appears that the American ally (with huge strategic influence on the U.S. economy) is on the brink of complete and total destabilization. Ironically, the Murdoch-led press conference was introduced by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, an individual who has repeatedly reported the relevance of the Egyptian uprising on the price of oil. The decision to go with The Daily press event over the revolution in Egypt seems odd at best.

Obviously, other news networks continue to air short, fluff pieces in between their Egypt coverage, and if Fox had relegated this to such a segment, clearly disclosing the relationship, then they’d be much less open to criticism. But this was neither short nor fluff.

In many ways this feels similar to Sunday night’s programming decision at MSNBC to air reruns of their Lockup series, while Fox News and CNN covered Egypt live. As we reported earlier, MSNBC was rewarded by getting the highest ratings of the night!

Clearly this event was planned well in advance of the upheaval in Egypt, and when two giant corporations like Apple and News Corp. partner, it is big news (particularly with regard to the future of media and news.) But the Fox News’ decision to forgo real news coverage in Egypt for the promotion of a new commercial information platform (from which they hope to profit) seems to be at best a perfectly ironic example of the state of media today.

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The “Where’s The Beef?” Lady Is Probably Dead By Now

Erik Hayden at The Atlantic:

Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” appears to be a clever mirage. That’s what an Alabama law firm is alleging when it slapped the chain with a “false advertising” suit for misleading customers about the actual content of its Taco fillings. Surprise! The “meat” is only 36 percent actual beef.

Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo:

Taco Bell “beef” pseudo-Mexican delicacies are really made of a gross mixture called “Taco Meat Filling” as shown on their big container’s labels, like the one pictured here. The list of ingredients is gruesome. Updated.

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

It looks bad but passable… until you learn that—according to the Alabama law firm suing Taco Bell—only 36% of that is beef. Thirty-six percent. The other 64% is mostly tasteless fibers, various industrial additives and some flavoring and coloring. Everything is processed into a mass that actually looks like beef, and packed into big containers labeled as “taco meat filling.” These containers get shipped to Taco Bell’s outlets and cooked into something that looks like beef, is called beef and is advertised as beef by the fast food chain.

Can you call beef something that looks like ground beef but it’s 64% lots-of-other-stuff? Taco Bell thinks they can.

Jonathan Turley:

Taco Bell Corporation spokesman Rob Poetsch responded by saying that “Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value. We’re happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree. We deny our advertising is misleading in any way and we intend to vigorously defend the suit.” That is an interesting statement. It does not appear to deny that it is serving marginal beef products but that the company never really promised anything more than it serves. Presumably, if the company issued a statement that it was in fact serving “beef” in response to this lawsuit, it could be cited as part of the alleged effort to deceive in advertising (assuming they are not serving “beef” as defined by federal law).

The class action alleges the company is serving what is referred to as “taco meat filling, which is comprised mainly of “extenders” and other non-meat substances, including wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate as well as beef and seasonings. Of course, the company could claim that it is the anti-dusting agents and maltrodrexin that gives it that “high quality Mexican inspired food” taste but it would not actually have most Americans “running to the border.”

MB Quirk at The Consumerist:

Hey, at least they’re making the distinction of “Mexican inspired food,” although that might be stretching it, too.

Robert Sietsema at The Village Voice:

Five Reasons You Should Hate Taco Bell, Besides the Lack of Real Meat

1. Meat, schmeat – are you ever certain of the meat supply at any fast food outlet? A few years ago, there was a website that claimed the average McDonald’s hamburger had been lodged in permafrost for around three years before it was thawed and served at an outlet. The rancid meat explains the odd smell you associate with stepping into a McDonalds.

2. When you order something made with ground meat (we used to call it “mystery meat” in school), you get exactly what you deserve. I’m much more annoyed by the other ingredients at Taco Bell – the gummy flour tortillas that turn into glue in your mouth, or the weird micro-“cheese” curls that seem to be poking out of every orifice: The white ones look exactly like pinworms.

3. The astonishing lack of spice in nearly everything you get at TB (that’s Taco Bell, not tuberculosis – though maybe you’ll get that, too, if you linger long enough). And the little plastic packets containing what tastes like Tabasco — when there are zillions of authentic Mexican hot sauces available — don’t help at all.

4. What Taco Bell has done to Mexican food, which – with its dependence on minimally refined corn products, beans, and fresh vegetables – must be one of the healthiest cuisines on earth, is criminal! The chiles, cumin, oregano, scallions, and other herbs and spices seem to be entirely missing, and in their place, bad mayo.

5. Have you ever seen a Mexican eating in Taco Bell?

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Status: Time’s Man Of The Year

Lev Grossman in Time:

Almost seven years ago, in February 2004, when Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he started a Web service from his dorm. It was called Thefacebook.com, and it was billed as “an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges.” This year, Facebook — now minus the the — added its 550 millionth member. One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day. (See a Zuckerberg family photo album.)

What just happened? In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest, behind only China and India. It started out as a lark, a diversion, but it has turned into something real, something that has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale. We are now running our social lives through a for-profit network that, on paper at least, has made Zuckerberg a billionaire six times over.

Facebook has merged with the social fabric of American life, and not just American but human life: nearly half of all Americans have a Facebook account, but 70% of Facebook users live outside the U.S. It’s a permanent fact of our global social reality. We have entered the Facebook age, and Mark Zuckerberg is the man who brought us here.

Mark Joyella at Mediaite:

The announcement was made live this morning on NBC’s TODAY by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel.

When it came right down to it, as Stengel told Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, it was Zuckerberg’s social networking site Facebook (perhaps you’ve heard of it?) that was the deciding factor:

“It’s something that is transforming the way we live our lives every day. It’s social engineering, changing the way we relate to each other.”

Zuckerberg’s also the subject of an Oscar-buzzy film, The Social Network, which portrays the Facebook mogul as a geekily shy CEO. As Stengel put it:

“He’s very affable, he’s in the moment, he’s quick-witted,” Stengel said, but “he has this thing when he gets on camera” and becomes suddenly shy.

Also-rans in the Person of the Year competition were WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, those Chilean miners, and members of the Tea Party.

Sam Biddle at Gizmodo:

Congrats, Zuckerberg! You’ve officially made the list—up there on TIME’s cover issue hall of fame alongside Churchill, some popes, and Hitler. But unlike the awards of their pre-internet era, the selection couldn’t mean less today. POTY, you’re obsolete.Let’s not mistake the irrelevance of TIME’s pick for the irrelevance of Facebook, or even Zuckerberg, in the history of technology. They’ve both changed almost all of our lives, even if only in the most superficial of ways. Some of us use Facebook to talk with wonderful people whose friendship might have otherwise shriveled up and died had it not been for a way to trade photos and messages. Some of us use it as a way of remembering what we did last night. Some of us just use it as another way of being vain (Ugh, do my cheekbones look good in this new profile picture? Is my music section obscure enough?). But putting its merits aside, anything as ubiquitous as Facebook is important qua its ubiquity—as is Zuckerberg. But Zuckerberg’s importance is something for historians to pick over sometime in the near future. The accomplishment that TIME beams over—that Zuckerberg “wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S.”—has taken seven years. It’s an incredible feat, but it isn’t 2010’s feat. So why shine a glossy mag spotlight on him for this one, particular year? I want to ask you—what did Mark Zuckerberg do this year that he hadn’t done before?

Oversee some marginal redesigns?

Get caught in privacy imbroglios?

Find himself portrayed pretty well by Jesse Eisenberg?

How was this Zuckerberg’s year? It wasn’t. For a roundup of entities that actually made 2010 the strange contortion of good and awful it was, you can look, ironically, at TIME’s “Runners Up” list: The Tea Party. Hamid Karzai. Julian Assange. The Chilean Miners.

Well, maybe not so much the Chilean Miners.

But to think that Assange—a man whose actions in less than one year have shocked governments around the world, sent the US State Department scrambling with its face beet-red, put INTERPOL on a controversial manhunt, and triggered internationally coordinated hacker retribution—was overlooked, is asinine. Assange’s determination to make information available at any cost is unprecedented in the history of information—and 2010 was the year his cause ignited, whether you consider him villainous or virtuous.

But we don’t need TIME to tell us any of that. Hell, you don’t need me to tell you any of that. Like the cables he leaked, Assange’s story was everywhere, spread online through a diversity of mediums, un-suppressible and undeniable despite the attempts of world governments.

You blogged about it. You GChatted about it. You texted about it. You commented about it here. And, we now know, you tweeted the hell out of it.

Statistical troves like Twitter’s 2010 Year In Review show (and validate) more than TIME can ever hope to in 2010. We don’t need a magazine to tell us what we care about. We know what we care about—because we’ve make it important, not an editorial board.

On Twitter’s list of most-mentioned people, where is Zuckeberg? Nowhere. Instead, we have Tween Internet Baron Justin Bieber (OMGZ!!), Lady Gaga, Nobel Prize-winner Zilda Arns, and, of course, Julian Assange. But no Zuck. Granted, TIME’s Person of the Year isn’t a popularity contest, but if the man had made such an earthquaking difference in the past 365 days, wouldn’t people be talking about him? Or talking about him at least enough to bump top ten Twitter trender Joannie Rochette—a Canadian figure skater?

Ed Morrissey:

Honestly, though, what other real and significant impact has Facebook had?  It has spawned a Hollywood movie, which is probably why Time bothered to notice it after more than six years.  It’s a popular meeting space, and it allows people to reconnect to old friends, as well as waste vast amounts of time with imaginary farms and wannabe virtual Mafia dons.   Facebook is mostly a time suck.  At least Twitter had an impact last year in the attempt by the Iranian people to rebel against the dictatorship in Tehran.

We deal in politics, and so it’s possible that our perspective on the most significant trend or person this year is somewhat skewed.  However, it seems pretty clear that while Facebook allowed a lot of people to play, the Tea Party dismantled Barack Obama’s agenda and took both political parties by surprise.  Even Julian Assange would have been a better choice; while his impact was certainly malicious, he changed the way the world does diplomacy, at least temporarily, and opened a new front in radical transparency.  I have nothing against Zuckerberg, but this is a silly, insubstantial choice.

Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair

Owen Thomas at Social Beat:

For the Person of the Year is an observation, not a celebration. As a young editor a decade ago, I worked at Time magazine and helped on Jeff Bezos’s 1999 Person of the Year profile. Within the Time-Life Building’s corridors, we always discussed the fact that Time’s founder, Henry Luce, defined the annual feature as noting the person who “for better or for worse” had done the most to change the news, even if that message didn’t always resonate in the wider world. Time’s current managing editor, Richard Stengel, dutifully notes that Person of the Year “is not and has never been an honor” and adds that Zuckerberg’s creation is “both indispensable and a little scary.”Zuckerberg himself seems to lack that perspective. “This is a real honor,” he wrote on his Facebook page. The adulatory comments posted on his Facebook wall seem to mirror that naïveté.

Before anyone starts popping champagne corks in Palo Alto, consider the company Zuckerberg has joined: Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin. The Ayatollah Khomeini. Richard Nixon. Okay, and Gandhi, JFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But still.

Zuckerberg’s not the youngest Person of the Year — that was Charles Lindbergh, the aviator — but he has a long career ahead of him. With more than 500 million users on Facebook, he’s the sovereign of a new nation in cyberspace. Facebook’s corporate structure is designed to keep him in control for years to come. But do we really know how he’ll wield his power? And will it be for better or for worse?

Tim Stevens at Engadget

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What, No Ironic Rabbit Ears App?

Apple:

Apple® today announced the new Apple TV® which offers the simplest way to watch your favorite HD movies and TV shows on your HD TV for the breakthrough price of just $99. Apple TV users can choose from the largest online selection of HD movies to rent, including first run movies for just $4.99, and the largest online selection of HD TV show episodes to rent* from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America for just 99 cents.

Apple TV also streams content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe™, as well as music, photos and videos from PCs and Macs to your HD TV. Enjoy gorgeous slideshows of your photos on your HD TV using Apple TV’s selection of built-in slideshows. Apple TV has built-in HDMI, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and an internal power supply for easy set-up, and features silent, cool, very low power operation in an enclosure that’s less than four inches square—80 percent smaller than the previous generation.

“The new Apple TV, paired with the largest selection of online HD movie and TV show rentals, lets users watch Hollywood content on their HD TV whenever they want,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “This tiny, silent box costing just $99 lets users watch thousands of HD movies and TV shows, and makes all of their music, photos and videos effortlessly available on their home entertainment system.”

Apple TV users can now rent thousands of commercial free, HD TV episodes on iTunes® for just 99 cents, with up to 30 days to start watching and then 48 hours to finish—or watch multiple times. Users can also rent over 7,000 movies with over 3,400 available in HD, with most new releases available the same day they are released on DVD.

Matt Burns at Crunchgear:

Forget the iTV name, the refreshed Apple TV is still called the Apple TV. But that’s about where the similarities end. The entire system from the form factor to the UI is different; even the entire concept is different. I think we can officially say Apple is taking the Apple TV and the whole streaming market seriously now. It’s no longer just a hobby despite what Steve says.

The new model is dramatically smaller than the old one — 1/4 of the size actually. It features 802.11n built in with HDMI, Ethernet, and optical audio on the backside. The power supply is even built-in. No more power bricks, people!

Just like the rumors stated, the new Apple TV is significantly smaller than the previous generation. That’s partly because it no longer utilizes a spinning disk hard drive for local storage. Flash memory now handles that task, but it’s really only for buffering as it’s not that large. This device is after all a low-cost streamer designed not to hold your media, but to access it from other locations.

The real news is the added content. Apple feels that people do not want to manage local storage — hence the lack of hard drive — and so content will be delivered from the cloud. Keep in mind, there’s no purchasing content, just renting. First-run movies will be available the same day that they hit DVD for $4.99. TV shows now cost $.99 rather than the old price of $2.99 but only Fox and ABC are on board right now.

Then there’s Netflix. Yep, it’s in the box as well and so is YouTube. Both are available through beautiful custom-built UIs. No more red screens for Netflix. (yay!)

Sam Biddle at Gizmodo

Brian X. Chen at Wired:

The major limitation: For TV rentals, only two studios are on board to stream shows through the Apple TV — ABC and Fox. This isn’t an adequate replacement yet for cable subscriptions.

So calling it a “hobby” was right — Apple’s starting out small, and maybe it’ll roll into something bigger if more studios warm up to the idea.

Nonetheless, I got some hands-on time with the new Apple TV and it is a promising start.

TV and movie rentals are really snappy and fast. After choosing to rent a movie or show, the Apple TV takes a few seconds to prepare a buffer and begins streaming your video live.

Also particularly cool was internet integration. I enjoyed searching through Flickr streams: Select a photo and hit the Play button and it immediately plays a slideshow with music and fancy transitions. I’m too lazy to check my friends’ Flickr streams the normal way on Flickr.com, aren’t you? Plus, the photos look great on a big screen through the Apple TV’s HDMI connection.

The Apple TV’s remote is familiar: It’s got the same aluminum and black design as the current MacBook Pros. It’s also very similar to the current Apple remote that controls Macs — only it’s a little longer and the buttons have small bumps for subtle tactile feedback. It feels great in the hand and navigating through the Apple TV menu was really smooth.

As good as the idea sounds, you won’t be able to use your iPhone or iPad as a remote for the Apple TV (not yet, at least). Instead, there’s a feature called “AirPlay,” so if you’re using your iPad or iPhone to listen to music, look at photos or watch a video, you can tap an AirPlay button, select your Apple TV and boom — your content is streaming onto your Apple TV. We weren’t able to test that since this feature won’t be available until iOS 4.2 ships in November, but we’ll keep you posted.

Paul Miller at Engadget:
It’s now a streaming-focused device (as we predicted months ago) in a small matte black enclosure we’re calling “the hockey puck.” It has HDMI, Ethernet, optical audio, and USB plugs around back, and of course 802.11n for the cable-averse. Inside there ain’t much — there’s no local storage, which makes this thing an entirely different beast than old Apple TVs, relying entirely on the “cloud” for content. Those new streaming HD TV rentals from ABC and Fox will be a mere 99 cents, while first run HD movies will be a less thrilling $4.99. Other services include Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, and Mobile Me, along with Rotten Tomatoes integration in the movie catalog. You can also stream from your computer, if you miss those old hard drive-sourced days of yore, but iOS 4.2’s AirPlay also enables streaming from an iPad straight to an Apple TV for something much more surreal. The best news? Apple will start shipping this sucker four weeks from now for $99.

Don MacAskill:

If only there were a way to seriously monetize the platform *and* open it up to all services at the same time. Oh, wait, that’s how Apple completely disrupted the mobile business. It’s called the App Store. Imagine that the AppleTV ran iOS and had it’s own App Store. Let’s see what would happen:

  • Every network could distribute their own content in whichever way they wished. HBO could limit it to their subscribers, and ABC could stream to everyone. Some would charge, some would show ads, and everyone would get all the content they wanted. Hulu, Netflix, and everyone else living in perfect harmony. Let the best content & pricepoint win.
  • We’d get sports. Every geek blogger misses this, and it’s one of the biggest strangleholds that cable and satellite providers have over their customers. You can already watch live, streaming golf on your iPhone in amazing quality. Now imagine NFL Sunday Ticket on your AppleTV.
  • You could watch your Facebook slideshows and SmugMug videos alongside your Flickr stream. Imagine that!
  • The AppleTV might become the best selling video game console, just like iPhone and iPod have done for mobile gaming. Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds on my TV with a click? Yes please.
  • Apple makes crazy amounts of money. Way more than they do now with their 4 year old hobby.

The new AppleTV runs on the same chip that’s in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. This should be a no-brainer. What’s the hold up? What’s that you say? The UI? Come on. It’s easy. And it could be the best UI to control a TV ever.

WORLDS BEST TV USER INTERFACE

Just require the use of an iPod, iPhone, or iPad to control it. Put the whole UI on the iOS device in your hand, with full multi-touch. Pinching, rotating, zooming, panning – the whole nine yards. No more remotes, no more infrared, no more mess or fuss. I’m not talking about looking at the TV while your fingers are using an iPod. I’m talking about a fully realized UI on the iPod itself – you’re looking and interacting with it on the iPod.

There are 120M devices capable of this awesome UI out there already. So the $99 price point is still doable. Don’t have an iPod/iPad/iPhone? The bundle is just $299 for both.

That’s what the AppleTV should have been. That would have had lines around the block at launch. This new one?

It’s like an AppleTV from 2007.

Devin Coldeway at Crunchgear:

The other players are scrambling to set themselves in opposition to the new Apple TV: earlier this week, Roku dropped their prices preemptively; Amazon is touting 99-cent shows; now, Boxee is pricing their long-awaited Boxee Box. It’s $199, and they defend the price in a blog post, saying that people really do want the extra features it offers. I’d tend to agree, but in the end it’s the consumers who will decide it.

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Every Few Years, We’ve Got To Declare Something “Dead.” It’s In The Constitution Or Something.

John Hudson at The Atlantic with the round-up

Chris Anderson at Wired:

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service.

You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.

A decade ago, the ascent of the Web browser as the center of the computing world appeared inevitable. It seemed just a matter of time before the Web replaced PC application software and reduced operating systems to a “poorly debugged set of device drivers,” as Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen famously said. First Java, then Flash, then Ajax, then HTML5 — increasingly interactive online code — promised to put all apps in the cloud and replace the desktop with the webtop. Open, free, and out of control.

But there has always been an alternative path, one that saw the Web as a worthy tool but not the whole toolkit. In 1997, Wired published a now-infamous “Push!” cover story, which suggested that it was time to “kiss your browser goodbye.” The argument then was that “push” technologies such as PointCast and Microsoft’s Active Desktop would create a “radical future of media beyond the Web.”

“Sure, we’ll always have Web pages. We still have postcards and telegrams, don’t we? But the center of interactive media — increasingly, the center of gravity of all media — is moving to a post-HTML environment,” we promised nearly a decade and half ago. The examples of the time were a bit silly — a “3-D furry-muckers VR space” and “headlines sent to a pager” — but the point was altogether prescient: a glimpse of the machine-to-machine future that would be less about browsing and more about getting.

Michael Wolff at Wired:

An amusing development in the past year or so — if you regard post-Soviet finance as amusing — is that Russian investor Yuri Milner has, bit by bit, amassed one of the most valuable stakes on the Internet: He’s got 10 percent of Facebook. He’s done this by undercutting traditional American VCs — the Kleiners and the Sequoias who would, in days past, insist on a special status in return for their early investment. Milner not only offers better terms than VC firms, he sees the world differently. The traditional VC has a portfolio of Web sites, expecting a few of them to be successes — a good metaphor for the Web itself, broad not deep, dependent on the connections between sites rather than any one, autonomous property. In an entirely different strategic model, the Russian is concentrating his bet on a unique power bloc. Not only is Facebook more than just another Web site, Milner says, but with 500 million users it’s “the largest Web site there has ever been, so large that it is not a Web site at all.”

According to Compete, a Web analytics company, the top 10 Web sites accounted for 31 percent of US pageviews in 2001, 40 percent in 2006, and about 75 percent in 2010. “Big sucks the traffic out of small,” Milner says. “In theory you can have a few very successful individuals controlling hundreds of millions of people. You can become big fast, and that favors the domination of strong people.”

Milner sounds more like a traditional media mogul than a Web entrepreneur. But that’s exactly the point. If we’re moving away from the open Web, it’s at least in part because of the rising dominance of businesspeople more inclined to think in the all-or-nothing terms of traditional media than in the come-one-come-all collectivist utopianism of the Web. This is not just natural maturation but in many ways the result of a competing idea — one that rejects the Web’s ethic, technology, and business models. The control the Web took from the vertically integrated, top-down media world can, with a little rethinking of the nature and the use of the Internet, be taken back.

This development — a familiar historical march, both feudal and corporate, in which the less powerful are sapped of their reason for being by the better resourced, organized, and efficient — is perhaps the rudest shock possible to the leveled, porous, low-barrier-to-entry ethos of the Internet Age. After all, this is a battle that seemed fought and won — not just toppling newspapers and music labels but also AOL and Prodigy and anyone who built a business on the idea that a curated experience would beat out the flexibility and freedom of the Web.

Matt Buchanan at Gizmodo:

Chris Anderson’s new Big Idea—that the open web is giving way to a mere transport system for closed or semiclosed platforms like Facebook or iPhone apps from the App Store—is not very new. In its current iPhone-y, app-y incarnation, it’s at least a couple of years old. Wired even participates in the very phenomenon it bemoans, with its very fancy iPad app. (Because it has to: “The assumption had been that once the market matured, big companies would be able to reverse the hollowing-out trend of analog dollars turning into digital pennies. Sadly that hasn’t been the case for most on the Web, and by the looks of it there’s no light at the end of that tunnel.”) And the general idea itself goes back even further—Wired proclaimed the browser was dead in 1997, as he points out.

It’s true that the open, free-for-all web is besieged, but in a lot of ways Anderson doesn’t mention, like the potential neutering of net neutrality principles or the ongoing bandwidth crimp that could hamper innovative-but-data-intensive services—and, in turn, push users toward the kind of boxed services (cable VOD or ISP preferred content) that has Anderson so nerve-wracked. Like Comcast giving preferred access to NBC’s content by not counting it toward your monthly data allowance (since Comcast owns half of NBC now), or Verizon speeding up YouTube over Vimeo. You can look at it as a hardware problem vs. a software problem—and if the hardware is screwed, so is the software.

Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch:

These shifts happen in waves. First the browser took over everything, then developers wanted more options and moved to apps (desktop and mobile), but the browser will eventually absorb those features, and so the leapfrogging continues. The ubiquity of the browser overcomes most of its technical deficiencies. Even in mobile, people will become overwhelmed by apps and the browser will make a comeback.

Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing:

Wired uses this graph to illustrate Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff’s claim that the world wide web is “dead.”

ff_webrip_chart2.jpg

Their feature, The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet, is live at Wired’s own website.

Without commenting on the article’s argument, I nonetheless found this graph immediately suspect, because it doesn’t account for the increase in internet traffic over the same period. The use of proportion of the total as the vertical axis instead of the actual total is a interesting editorial choice.

You can probably guess that total use increases so rapidly that the web is not declining at all. Perhaps you have something like this in mind:

graph2.jpg

In fact, between 1995 and 2006, the total amount of web traffic went from about 10 terabytes a month to 1,000,000 terabytes (or 1 exabyte). According to Cisco, the same source Wired used for its projections, total internet traffic rose then from about 1 exabyte to 7 exabytes between 2005 and 2010.

So with actual total traffic as the vertical axis, the graph would look more like this.

3.jpg

Clearly on its last legs!

Matthew Ingram at Gigaom:

As with some of his other popular writings, Anderson seems to be coming to this realization rather late in the game, and has resorted to a sensationalized headline to grab some attention. We at GigaOM (and plenty of others who cover the web and technology space) have been writing and talking about the rise of the app economy — and particularly the rise of mobile apps thanks to the iPhone, as well as the iPad and Google’s Android platform — for more than two years now. As Om has pointed out on a number of occasions, the success of Apple’s iPhone and application store has accelerated the evolution of the web from a free-for-all to a selection of specific apps for specific needs.

Om’s favorite comparison is to the real world of home appliances: we don’t just have a single all-purpose appliance — instead, we have toasters and coffee-makers and can-openers and other devices that perform specific tasks. So, too, we now have applications for maps, applications for photos, applications for reading books, and apps for video and location-based “check ins” and dozens of other things. That doesn’t mean the web is dead; it means that the web, and the way we use it, is evolving. Instead of wandering around on the web looking for interesting websites by using services such as Yahoo or AOL, we’re using task-specific devices in a sense.

Anderson is right in a technical sense when he says that the web is “just one of many applications that exist on the Internet, which uses the IP and TCP protocols to move packets around.” But he also gets it wrong when he conflates the demise of the web browser with the demise of the web itself. Plenty of applications are using web technologies such as HTTP and REST, just as web browsers do. In a sense, they’re like mini-browsers for discrete applications, and although it’s almost a footnote in the Wired piece, HTML5 has the potential to allow developers to create (as some already have) websites that look and feel and function exactly like apps do. (For more on that, read our recent GigaOM Pro piece on the potential of HTML5.) Where does that fit in the “web is dead” paradigm?

It’s also worth noting (as others have as well) that the chart Wired uses with its story is misleading, or at least the way it’s being portrayed is misleading. (It also has the wrong dates, according to TechCrunch.) It shows the amount of total U.S. Internet traffic that different types of content have accounted for over the last decade (as calculated by Cisco). At the far right-hand side of the graph, video is seen as making up a large proportion of that traffic, while something called “the web” makes up a much smaller proportion than it did in 1995. But this does little to prove Anderson’s thesis, since the bulk of video is still viewed using websites such as YouTube and Hulu — and the fact that we have a lot more video traffic than we used to isn’t exactly a revelation.

Choire Sicha at The Awl:

Between 2000 and 2010, Americans with Internet access went from 124 million to 230 million.

(The world at large, by the way, went from 393 million Internet users to 1.5 billion, but let’s keep the focus on America, right Wired? Because we’re so much more interesting and also we buy iPads.)

Rob Beschizza made a related point extremely well. He notes: “According to Cisco, the same source Wired used for its projections, total internet traffic rose then from about 1 exabyte to 7 exabytes between 2005 and 2010.”

So, just in terms of basic Internet-using population in any event, as the “web use” “declined” by half over the last ten years as a percentage of use accorded to Wired, the real world activity presumably, at the same time, “stayed constant due to the doubling of the Internet-user” in the U.S.

Except use of the web blew up far more than that.

There’s a number of other questions I have about these numbers, which are almost the only numbers in the piece, apart from a claim by Morgan Stanley that in five years, more people will use the Internet over mobile devices than PCs.

For instance: doesn’t this chart measure data usage as traffic? Would that perhaps be why the “video” section is so swollen?

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic:

The problem is Anderson’s assumption about the way technology works. Serious technology scholars long ago discarded the idea that tech was just a series of increasingly awesomer things that successively displace each other. Australian historian Carroll Pursell, in reviewing Imperial College London professor David Edgerton’s The Shock of the Old, summarized the academic thinking nicely:

An obsession with ‘innovation’ leads to a tidy timeline of progress, focusing on iconic machines, but an investigation of ‘technology in use’ reveals that some ‘things’ appear, disappear, and reappear…

Edgerton has the same flair for the flashy stat that Anderson does. For example, to illustrate the point that newer and older technologies happily coexist, he notes that the Germans used more horses in World War II than the British did in World War I. More prosaically, some of the electricity for your latest gadget was probably made in a power plant that’s decades old. Many ways to bind pieces of paper — staplers, binders, paper clips, etc — remain in common usage (“The Paperclip Is Dead!”). World War I pilots used to keep homing pigeons tucked inside their cockpits as communication tools (see above). People piloting drones and helicopters fight wars against people who use machetes and forty-year old Soviet machine guns; all these tools can kill effectively, and they all exist right now together.

But that’s not how Anderson presents technology in this article. Instead, technologies rise up and destroy each other. And there’s nothing you or I can do to change the course of these wars. This is the nature of technology and capitalism, and there is not much room for individual decisionmaking or social influence in the algorithm.

Ryan Tate at Gawker:

Where did this argument first appear? Funny you should ask!

  • Irony 1: Wired released its cover story package first to the Web, on Wired.com. You won’t find it in Wired‘s iPad edition, and it’s not out in print yet. The death of the web might be the “inevitable course of capitalism,” but it apparently pays better to deliver that news via a dying medium.
  • Irony 2: Revenue is up at Wired‘s profitable website this year, despite a fairly severe reduction in staff last year. Yet Anderson, who has no control over Wired.com, writes that most Web publishers haven’t been able to “reverse the hollowing-out trend of analog dollars turning into digital pennies… and by the looks of it there’s no light at the end of that tunnel .” That tunnel being the one Wired, itself, is not in, apparently.
  • Irony 3: At the same time, circulation — and thus revenue, almost surely — are down for Wired‘s iPad edition, which was approaching (and possibly even surpassing) 100,000 copies for the debut issue but has since fallen off — to less than a fourth of what it was, one source claims. However large or small the decline, it could certainly be corrected; dropping off from a big bang launch is common enough in print and online media alike.But Wired’s iPad tumble does raise the possibility that Anderson is speaking as much from his hopes as from his analysis when he writes, “We are choosing a new form of Quality of Service: custom applications that just work.” The iPad team belongs to Anderson, after all (unlike, again, the web team).
  • Irony 4: Isn’t this the guy who wrote a book called Free and noted, “You know this freaky land of free as the Web. A decade and a half into the great online experiment, the last debates over free versus pay online are ending?” Eh, maybe not so much; Anderson today writes, “Much as we love freedom and choice, we also love things that just work, reliably and seamlessly. And if we have to pay for what we love, well, that increasingly seems OK.”

To his credit, Anderson also runs a feature in which publishers Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle get the opportunity to basically tell the editor he’s nuts. (Battelle: “Splashing “The Death of the Web” on the cover might be, well, overstating the case just a wee bit.”) In the online package, Wired.com editor Evan Hansen does likewise (“the web is far too powerful to be replaced by an alternative that gives away so much of what developers and readers have come to love and expect”).

Like any provocative editor, in other words, Anderson has people talking. (See also this take from Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing and from blogging pioneer Dave Winer; TechMeme has more reaction.) Now we get to sit back and watch as the author/consultant/editor tries to explain why nearly the entire conversation about the Death of the Web is happening on the Seemingly Quite Alive Web. That should be, at the very least, entertaining.

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Verizon And Google Sitting In A Tree, Killing Net Neutrality

Edward Wyatt at NYT:

Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers. The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.

Any agreement between Verizon and Google could also upend the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to assert its authority over broadband service, which was severely restricted by a federal appeals court decision in April.

Jared Newman at PC World:

If Google and Verizon really are conspiring to kill Net neutrality, as several reports suggest, both companies would bruise their reputations in the process.

Word of a deal or near-complete negotiations between Google and Verizon appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico and Bloomberg, each publication citing anonymous sources. The stories all present slightly different versions of the facts, but they generally agree that Net neutrality — the idea that all Internet traffic is treated equally — would erode.

The New York Times’ version is the most terrifying, claiming that Internet companies, such as Google, would be able to pay a fee to Verizon for faster delivery speeds on services like YouTube. If Verizon extended these kinds of deals to other companies, consumers could choose to pay more for these faster services in a premium package, says the Times.

All the reports note that the agreement wouldn’t apply to mobile phones, meaning Verizon would be able to manage traffic as it pleases, with no intervention from Google.

A deal like this would put Google’s reputation on the line. In the past, the company has defended the idea of an equal-access Internet, and in 2006 Google chief executive Eric Schmidt slammed “phone and cable monopolies” who “want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest.”

Comments like those give the impression that Google’s commercial interests were secondary to preserving a level playing field for all Internet companies. The supposed deal between Google and Verizon would jeopardize that impression if it allowed Google to pay extra for faster delivery.

Josh Silver at Huffington Post:

The deal marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as you know it. Since its beginnings, the Net was a level playing field that allowed all content to move at the same speed, whether it’s ABC News or your uncle’s video blog. That’s all about to change, and the result couldn’t be more bleak for the future of the Internet, for television, radio and independent voices.

How did this happen? We have a Federal Communications Commission that has been denied authority by the courts to police the activities of Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast. All because of a bad decision by the Bush-era FCC. We have a pro-industry FCC Chairman who is terrified of making a decision, conducting back room dealmaking, and willing to sit on his hands rather than reassert his agency’s authority. We have a president who promised to “take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality” yet remains silent. We have a congress that is nearly completely captured by industry. Yes, more than half of the US congress will do pretty much whatever the phone and cable companies ask them to. Add the clout of Google, and you have near-complete control of Capitol Hill.

A non-neutral Internet means that companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Google can turn the Net into cable TV and pick winners and losers online. A problem just for Internet geeks? You wish. All video, radio, phone and other services will soon be delivered through an Internet connection. Ending Net Neutrality would end the revolutionary potential that any website can act as a television or radio network. It would spell the end of our opportunity to wrest access and distribution of media content away from the handful of massive media corporations that currently control the television and radio dial.

So the Google-Verizon deal can be summed up as this: “FCC, you have no authority over us and you’re not going to do anything about it. Congress, we own you, and we’ll get whatever legislation we want. And American people, you can’t stop us.

Jason Kincaid at Tech Crunch:

Yesterday, the New York Times published a story that detailed an agreement in the works between Verizon and Google that would effectively kill off net neutrality by allowing “Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege”. The news sparked outrage in the tech community, because Google has a long history of advocating net neutrality. Now both Google and Verizon are coming out to claim that the New York Times story is incorrect.A report in The Guardian cites a Google spokesperson as saying ” “The New York Times is quite simply wrong. We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open internet.”

Verizon’s policy blog has posted a statement as well:

“The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.”

Google’s own public policy blog doesn’t have anything on the story yet, but its Twitter account did comment on the matter:

“@NYTimes is wrong. We’ve not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet.”

Obviously Verizon and Google are talking to each other about how best to deal with the backlash, and Google is making it clear that it’s still an ardent supporter of net neutrality. Still, it’s a bit odd that it took so long for Google to respond to this in any way (the NYT article came out last night, and literally dozens of stories were written about it before Google tweeted about it).

Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic:

Today we learned that Verizon and Google were near a deal to slaughter the principle of Internet neutrality in its sleep. Shortly thereafter, however, they denied that they are planning to inflict any harm on the maxim that the Internet should be an egalitarian utopia. While it’s possible that Google will try to hold onto this philosophical ideal, it’s rather likely practicality will eventually gnaw away at their willpower and force them and others to cut deals with Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon. If you combine this with several other ways the world is evolving, you quickly see that ISPs will eventually take over the world, or at least be one of the biggest forces in the economy.

Net Neutrality Is Bound to Fail

Net neutrality has already been alluded to. This is a complex topic that can’t possibly be fully explored here, but net neutrality won’t likely endure. It’s simply impractical. ISPs have legitimate reasons, beyond squeezing more profit out of customers, for wanting to be able to discriminate on pricing. When they eventually do break through the current barriers that exist, their pricing power will be incredible. Eventually most Internet-driven revenue will have to pass through the hands of the ISPs, who will eagerly take a cut.

John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up

Rosa Golijan at Gizmodo:

Of course, even if Verizon and Google come to such an odd agreement, they’ll still have to deal with the FCC before anything can happen, so let’s not panic just yet.

UPDATE: Alan Davidson and Tom Tauke at The Google Blog

David Dayen at Firedoglake

Stacey Higginbotham at Gigaom

Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch

UPDATE #2: Kevin Drum

David Post

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Uh… They’re Number One?

Frank James at NPR:

The U.S. is no longer the single largest consumer of the world’s energy resources. That distinction now goes to China, according to the International Energy Agency.

The IEA says that according to an analysis of its data for 2009, China, with a population of 1.33 billion compared with the U.S.’s 310.2 million, has outstripped the U.S.

It’s been known for some day that this day would come. But it happened faster than was forecast because China was hurt less by the global recession than the U.S.

Nicholas Deleon at Crunch Gear:

The actual numbers are pretty impressive, particularly when you consider that a mere 10 years ago China was quite a bit behind the U.S.

China consumed some 2,252 millions tons of the oil equivalent of sources such as coal, nuclear power, natural gas, and hydropower. The U.S. consumed 4 percent less. These are numbers from last year, by the way.

But that’s where energy efficiency comes into play. Since the year 2000, the U.S. has increased its energy efficiency by about 2.5 percent annually. China? 1.8 percent. So not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Does this really mean anything to you? Eh, maybe. Certainly it’ll have implications for the world at large though. Now that China is the biggest consumer of energy, it alone is in the position to tell energy providers, “Look, we’re willing to pay X for Y units of energy.” If China’s X is bigger than the U.S.’s X, then we may be looking at a situation where energy prices will go up simply because “someone else” is willing to pay more.

Which could mean that all the factories that produce all the lovely electronic gizmos we talk about day in, day out, could see their costs of doing business go up. And who would make up the difference? Yes, you!

Then again, it could have the very opposite effect, and end up lowering prices.

Mark Wilson at Gizmodo:

A different metric? Three years ago, China was the world’s biggest exporter of coal. Now it’s the leading importer. And last year, for the first time ever, Saudi Arabia sold more oil to China than the US.

Given that China’s consumption will give them more negotiation power in the world’s power market, it may be a good time to buck our trend of a mere 2.5% energy efficiency increase per year.

Frank Holmes at Wall Street Pit:

While most, if not all, had predicted China would become the world’s largest energy user, many didn’t think it was going to happen for another five years. China’s rise to the top can largely be attributed to a decline in energy usage in the U.S. China’s 2009 energy usage was below that of the U.S. from 2004-2008, before the financial crisis.

In fact, just ten years ago China’s energy consumption was less than half that of the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. remains the biggest energy consumer on a per capita basis, the IEA economist said, consuming three times more per citizen than China. The U.S. also consumes more than twice the amount of oil that China does in a day.

But like most things with China, that statistic won’t last long. The IEA reported in last year’s World Energy Outlook that China and India will represent more than half of all incremental demand increases by 2030.

Well aware of the global politics of energy, the Chinese government was quick to dismiss the story as an overestimation by the IEA. Probably not the last time we’ll see modesty from Beijing as the country continues to put “world’s largest” in front of more and more resources.

Paul Denlinger at Forbes:

This is why the Chinese government has chosen to invest in developing new green energy technology.

The country is very fortunate in that most of the discovered deposits of rare earths used in the development of new technologies are found in China. While these deposits are very valuable, up until recently, the industry has not been regulated much by the Chinese central government. But now that Beijing is aware of their importance and value, it has come under much closer scrutiny. For one, Beijing wants to consolidate the industry and lower energy waste and environmental damage. (Ironically, the rare earth mining business is one of the most energy-wasteful and highly polluting industries around. Think Chinese coal mining with acid.)

At the same time, Beijing wants to cut back rare earth exports to the rest of the world, instead encouraging domestic production into wind and solar products for export around the world. With patents on the new technology used in manufacturing, China would control the intellectual property and licensing on the products that would be used all over the world. If Beijing is able to do this, it would control the next generation of energy products used by the world for the next century.

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Four Bars, Three Bars, Two Bars, One Bar

Apple:

Dear iPhone 4 Users,

The iPhone 4 has been the most successful product launch in Apple’s history. It has been judged by reviewers around the world to be the best smartphone ever, and users have told us that they love it. So we were surprised when we read reports of reception problems, and we immediately began investigating them. Here is what we have learned.

To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones. But some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band. This is a far bigger drop than normal, and as a result some have accused the iPhone 4 of having a faulty antenna design.

At the same time, we continue to read articles and receive hundreds of emails from users saying that iPhone 4 reception is better than the iPhone 3GS. They are delighted. This matches our own experience and testing. What can explain all of this?

We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising.

Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.

To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone’s bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see.

Clive Crook:

Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the new iPhone. (I just had a hunch.) Interesting to see how Apple switched today from, “it’s not an issue, you’re just holding it wrong,” to, “it’s not a reception issue, it’s just that the signal strength indicator tells you you’ve much better reception than you have–and by the way previous iPhones have the same defect.” So after all that fuss, the answer is really very simple. And you all thought there was a problem!

Richi Jennings at Computerworld:

The upcoming firmware patch will make the bars display differently. Perhaps in a way more consistent with the way other phones do it.

The patch will not fix the actual problem. It should be clear to anyone who has a little understanding of RF, that allowing users to touch an antenna in such a way as to change its impedance will have a significant effect on signal strength and quality — possibly improving it, but usually making it worse.

Yes, holding older iPhones also caused reduced signal, but to nowhere near this extent. The more scientific tests — such as those performed by Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi — show that actual signal strength as measured by the UMTS hardware is reduced by 10 or 20 dB more on an iPhone 4 than on an iPhone 3G.

Don’t forget, this is a logarithmic scale: a 10 dB reduction is a 90% loss of signal. 20 dB is a 99% loss: basically catastrophic, unless you’re really close to the cell tower and not in an environment with too much RF noise.

The iPhone 4 antenna design is certainly innovative, but as I said last week, those of us with a little understanding of RF knew that a bare metal antenna was going to be trouble, as soon as we saw the pre-production unit lost in a bar. The natural assumption was that Apple would cover it with a transparent film; I can only speculate as to why they didn’t.

Still, from early indications, it looks like the Apple fanbois are lapping up the explanation. The famous reality distortion field strikes again: it’s not a design flaw, just a firmware bug.

Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo:

Michael Anderson, who used to work at Motorola’s FCC testing lab, points out that “it’s a fundamental flaw that can only be fixed through a redesign. If that is redone, all the FCC will have to be completed again. This may be a long slow process to fix.”

In his reply to Apple’s letter, Richard Gaywood—PhD on wireless network design from Cardiff University—thinks the signal display fix is a good step to fix user perception, but it won’t fix the antenna interference problem that exists in the iPhone 4:

But if there is no design issue at work here, why did Anandtech and I both show significantly different attenuation when holding an iPhone 4 in a bare hand compared to holding it in a case? And why did Apple themselves recommend “using a case” as a possible solution to the problem?

The antenna interference problem

According to wireless experts consulted by Gizmodo, the iPhone 4 antenna interference problem happens to everyone, and it’s not a matter of signal bars displayed in the phone. However, some people are not noticing it. Why?

Scientific tests conducted by Anandtech, there’s always up to a 19.8dB signal loss when you grab the iPhone naturally with your hand, with your skin touching the deadly spot. That’s losing signal by a factor of almost 100.

This technical measuring has been demonstrated empirically in both voice calls and internet access by thousands of users around the world, independently of their network.

Robin Wauters at TechCrunch:

I trust by now you’ve read Apple’s letter claiming that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the antennae on the iPhone 4, and that any real reception issues are inexistent and merely a result of faulty displaying on Apple’s part, which it intends to fix in the coming weeks.

Unimpressed by that statement? You’re not alone.

Mason LLP, one of the multiple firms that have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of customers who recently purchased the iPhone 4 alleging that the antenna on the phone is in fact defective by design, isn’t terribly impressed either.

The firm, which filed the lawsuit seeking an order requiring Apple to ship a protective case for the iPhone 4 to all consumers who purchased one as well as monetary damages, provides us with the following statement after reading and analyzing Apple’s letter:

Our investigation revealed that users lost reception when gripping the phone in a conventional manner. We believe that the problem is not merely how the signal strength is displayed but involves a physical blocking of the antennae which cuts off calls.

In other words, don’t expect those lawsuits to go away now that you’ve written up your version of the truth, Apple.

UPDATE: Farhad Manjoo in Slate

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Read This Post With The Theme Song Of “Cops” Playing In Your Head

Wendy McElroy at Gizmodo:

In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, “[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want.” Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, “The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law – requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense.”

The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler’s license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

In 2001, when Michael Hyde was arrested for criminally violating the state’s electronic surveillance law – aka recording a police encounter – the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction 4-2. In dissent, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall stated, “Citizens have a particularly important role to play when the official conduct at issue is that of the police. Their role cannot be performed if citizens must fear criminal reprisals….” (Note: In some states it is the audio alone that makes the recording illegal.)

The selection of “shooters” targeted for prosecution do, indeed, suggest a pattern of either reprisal or an attempt to intimidate.

Radley Balko at Reason:

In a column last month I wrote about Anthony Graber, a Maryland man who was arrested for posting a video of a traffic stop to YouTube. Graber was pulled over on his motorcycle by Maryland State Trooper Joseph David Ulher. Uhler drew his gun during the stop. Graber was wearing a camera on his helmet. Graber thought Uhler’s actions were excessive, so he posted the video to the Internet. Days later, police raided the home of Graber’s parents. Graber was arrested, booked, and jailed. He was charged with violating Maryland’s wiretapping statute. In an interview he gave to blogger Carlos Miller shortly after, Graber said, “The judge who released me looked at the paperwork and said she didn’t see where I violated the wiretapping law.”

In my previous column, I interpreted that to mean the judge had dropped the charge. Apparently that isn’t the case. Graber is due in court next week. He faces up to five years in prison. State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly has also charged Graber with “Possession of an Interception Device.” That “device” would be Graber’s otherwise-perfectly-legal video camera.

Graber’s case is starting to spur some local and national media discussion of the state’s wiretapping law. As I mentioned in my column last month, his arrest came at about the same time the Jack McKenna case broke nationally. McKenna, a student at the University of Maryland, was given an unprovoked beating by police during student celebrations after a basketball game last February. McKenna would probably still be facing criminal charges and the cops who beat him would likely still be on the beat were it not for several cell phone videos that captured his beating. According to Cassily’s interpretation of the law, if any of those cell phones were close enough to record audio of the beating, the people who shot the videos are felons.

Now we have another video of an arrest during the Preakness Stakes in which a Baltimore police officer can be heard telling the camera-holder, “Do me a favor and turn that off. It’s illegal to record anybody’s voice or anything else in the state of Maryland.”

That simply isn’t true, and it’s outrageous that Maryland law enforcement keeps perpetuating this myth. Perhaps that officer was merely misinformed. But Maryland police spokesmen and prosecutors are giving the impression that the state’s wiretapping law is ambiguous about recording on-duty police officers. It really isn’t. They’ve just chosen to interpret it that way, logic and common sense be damned.

Maryland is an all-parties-consent state, which means you have to get permission from all parties to a conversation before you can record it. But unlike Illinois and Massachusetts, Maryland’s law does include a privacy provision. That is, if the non-consenting party does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the conversation that has been recorded, there is no violation of the law. State and federal courts across the country have determined that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public spaces. This is why someone can snap your photo in public without your consent.

[…]

No one expects what they say to a cop during a traffic stop to be private. But when you combine that with how some Maryland cops and prosecutors are interpreting the law, such as in Graber’s case, you get a perverse result: When a cop pulls you over or detains you for questioning, he—the public servant with the badge and the gun—retains a right to privacy for the entire encounter. You don’t.

This does not sound like a serious interpretation of the law. But it’s apparently the interpretation among Maryland law enforcement officials. A cynic might conclude that law enforcement officials in Maryland are reacting to the McKenna embarrassment by threatening and cracking down on anyone who videotapes on-duty cops, and they’ll interpret the law in whatever way allows them to do so. At least until a court tells them otherwise.

Whatever their motivation, their legal justification is dubious. The McKenna case is a strong argument in favor of more citizen monitoring of on-duty police. The police not only beat the kid, they then lied about it in police reports. The security camera footage of McKenna’s beating, which is controlled by University of Maryland Campus POlice, mysteriously disappeared. The officer in charge of the camera system is married to one of the officers involved in the beating. Does anyone really think the charges against McKenna would have been dropped—and the officers who beat him suspended—if it weren’t for the cell phone videos?

There are strong constitutional arguments in favor of a basic right to record on-duty police officers. But the prosecution of Anthony Graber is also wrong by any reasonable interpretation of state law, and by any sane concept of good public policy. This is the state that’s home to the notorious Prince George’s County Police Department, for God’s sake—the department that spent five years under federal oversight because of the repeated use of excessive force among its officers.

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler should put an end to this faux ambiguity and declare that Marylanders who record on-duty cops are breaking no laws, much less committing felonies. He should also make it clear that so long as they don’t physically interfere with an arrest or police action, they also are at no risk of having their recording equipment confiscated or destroyed.

If he doesn’t, the state legislature should do it for him.

Alex Tabarrok

Tom Bell:

Did that video violate the privacy of the three officers, clad in riot gear and swinging batons, who surrounded and beat the unarmed McKenna? No. Neither did the video that Graber shot of the Maryland trooper strutting towards him with a drawn handgun. Courts have already explained that wrongs under the Maryland Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act require a showing that someone’s reasonable expectation of privacy has suffered violation (see Fearnow v. C & P Tel. Co., 104 Md. App. 1, 655 A.2d 1 (1995), rev’d on other grounds, 342 Md. 363, 676 A.2d 65 (1996)), and no officer can have a reasonable expectation of privacy while on a public street, performing public duties.

The Maryland ACLU has stepped forward to help defend Graber, and with any luck will soon educate local prosecutors about the proper scope of the Maryland Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act. In the meantime, and in other jurisdictions where police threaten to deploy privacy laws against whistle-blowers, we citizens would do well to remind public servants that we can and will record their on-the-job performance. I’ve worked up a couple of notices to help.

This bumper sticker should help to put police on notice that you may record them during traffic stops, thus negating any claim to a reasonable expectation of privacy:

Traffic stops may be monitored . . . bumpersticker

Make sure that you place it where video taken from the officer’s vehicle will record it! That proof might end up helping your case if, like Graber, you want to publicize police abuse.

To make doubly sure that you give adequate notice to an officer who subjects you to a traffic stop, you might also want to carry this handy magnetic sign:

Traffic stops maybe monitored . . . magnet

Once you have been pulled over, just roll down your window and slap the sign outside your door, where a police officer cannot fail to see it.

Click on either image to buy a copy for yourself or a friend. All proceeds will go to aid the defense of Anthony Graber. Perhaps his case would have turned out differently if he had had that bumper sticker on his helmet, or that magnetic sign on his gas tank. (I thank Prof. Orin Kerr for inspiring the wording of these notices, though he of course bears no blame for my legal hijinks.)

Robin Hanson:

And this is all about the official rules. I’m pretty sure that unofficially, police have ways of punishing you for trying to record them, even if you are legally allowed to do so. Consider also:

An obvious enabler of police corruption is the fact that internal affairs units, tasked with exposing corruption, usually report to the same police chief that would be embarrassed by such exposure, and who may also be corrupt. An obvious solution is to make internal affairs more independent, e.g., reporting directly to a city council or even a governor.

This isn’t some temporary lack of adaptation to a new tech; the obvious solution has been possible, and ignored, for a long long time.  Now ask yourself honestly, in near mode, what you think will usually happen in ten years to someone who tries to visibly record their interaction with police.

Reihan Salam:

Via Alex Tabarrok, Gizmodo has a fascinating feature on how law enforcement officials are responding to the growing number of citizens who are using digital cameras to record police officers in the line of duty. So far, at least three states have banned recording on-duty police officers. This strikes me as an alarming and counterproductive trend. The vast majority of police officers behave responsibly and within the bounds of the law. But inevitably there are police officers who abuse their power, and the advent of cheap digital cameras gives citizens a valuable self-defense tool.

I could be missing something here. It’s possible that ubiquitous surveillance of this kind could undermine good order, perhaps by enforcing an excessively rigid and rule-bound approach to policing. My suspicion is that this danger is outweighed by the danger of pervasiveabuse that sows distrust between the police and the policed, a divide that is a particularly vexing problem in high-crime urban neighborhoods.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds at Popular Mechanics

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I’ll Have A Martini, Extra-Dry, With Vodka, Stirred With An iPhone

Jason Chen at Gizmodo:

You are looking at Apple’s next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It’s the real thing, and here are all the details.

While Apple may tinker with the final packaging and design of the final phone, it’s clear that the features in this lost-and-found next-generation iPhone are drastically new and drastically different from what came before.

[…]

We’re as skeptical—if not more—than all of you. We get false tips all the time. But after playing with it for about a week—the overall quality feels exactly like a finished final Apple phone—and disassembling this unit, there is so much evidence stacked in its favor, that there’s very little possibility that it’s a fake. In fact, the possibility is almost none. Imagine someone having to use Apple components to design a functioning phone, from scratch, and then disseminating it to people around the world. Pretty much impossible. Here are the reasons, one by one.

It has been reported lost
Apple-connected John Gruber—from Daring Fireball—says that Apple has indeed lost a prototype iPhone and they want it back:

So I called around, and I now believe this is an actual unit from Apple — a unit Apple is very interested in getting back.

Obviously someone found it, and here it is.

John Gruber at Daring Fireball:

It’s been an open secret to those of us in the racket that Gizmodo purchased this unit about a week ago, from those who claimed to find it. That this belongs to and was made by Apple is almost beyond question at this point. Just how much it looks like what Apple plans to ship this summer, I don’t know. Note that it’s thinner than a 3GS.

I’m mentioned in the article, and must respond. Jason Chen writes:

Apple-connected John Gruber — from Daring Fireball — says that Apple has indeed lost a prototype iPhone and they want it back:

So I called around, and I now believe this is an actual unit from Apple — a unit Apple is very interested in getting back.

Obviously someone found it, and here it is.

Note that I did not use the word “lost”. It is my understanding that Apple considers this unit stolen, not lost. And as for the “someone(s)” who “found” it, I believe it is disingenuous for Gizmodo to play coy, as though they don’t know who the someones are.

Daniel Lyons at Newsweek:

The photos of the phone are splattered all over the home page of tech-gadget blog Gizmodo today. If they’re real, the folks at Apple, a place known for its crazy secrecy and security measures, must be freaking out.

“This is our biggest Apple week ever,” says Brian Lam, editor of Gizmodo. “This is the best. It’s just so great.”

Traffic to the site was so heavy that Gizmodo had to take down its comments system. The post, they said, was “setting our servers on fire.”

Apple, for its part, did not respond immediately to NEWSWEEK’s request for comment.

MG Sielger at Tech Crunch:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a guy walks into a bar. No, a guy walks into a bar with an iPhone. No, a guy walks into a bar with a next-generation iPhone disguised as a current-generation iPhone. No, a guy walks into a bar with his next-generation iPhone disguised as a current-generation iPhone and leaves it there. Okay, we’ve never heard anything like this before.

Yes, it appears that the next hardware iteration of the iPhone (two common monikers are ‘iPhone 4G’ or the ‘iPhone HD’) has been outed. And while the apparent specs are sexy (higher rez screen, front-facing camera, bigger battery, etc), the story behind the leaked device seems even more interesting.

[…]

There are still a few oddities to all of this. First, assuming this is real, it is definitely the most high-profile leak of all time out of the super-secretive Apple. Hell, it may be the most high-profile hardware leak of all time from any company. If there has ever been anything that will draw the wrath of Apple’s legal team, this would seem to be it. And yet, if Gizmodo (or its parent, Gawker) have gotten a take-down notice, they haven’t let it be known yet.

It’s possible, and likely even probable, that Apple is taking this as something worthy of action much more serious than the fairly common takedown notices the company sends from time to time. As Gruber noted earlier today, according to his sources, Apple considers this device to be not lost, but stolen.

Well what do you know about this? With all those rumors flying around that the iPhone 4G we’d spotted was no more than a Japanese knock-off of an Apple product, it was starting to look like this thing was too good to be true. That is until one of the Engadget editors spotted what seems to be solid proof that this is — in fact — the next iPhone. If you’ll recall, the night before the iPad was revealed, we had leaked shots of the device from what appeared to be an Apple test lab. Upon further inspection of these pictures today, the aforementioned editor discovered that the new iPhone 4G we’ve just gotten photos of is actually sitting on the table beside the iPad prototype! Imagine how blown our minds were when we realized we have had a photo of the next iPhone for months! As you can see in the pic above, the left side of the new device is clearly visible on this table in the upper right hand corner, and since we believe that these photos come directly from an Apple testbed, it’s hard to deny that the phone you’ve just seen is in fact the real deal. Not only that, but we suspect that the device on the tablet itself is also a version of the new phone (you can see what looks like aluminum along the bottom) which seems to be housed in some type of iPhone 3G-like case.

Additionally, a source — who confirms this is the next Apple iPhone — also tells us that the device apparently does have a higher res screen on-board, a front-facing camera, a higher resolution camera with flash, and takes MicroSIM cards (that’s the little “button” around the side you see in the Twitpic which is floating around the internet)

Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair:

Someone miraculously found what could very well be the new iPhone in some bar in California and just gave it to Gizmodo. The editors say the prototype was “camouflaged” to look like the current version of the iPhone, but such a disguise did not fool the enterprising bloggers, who have already disassembled, photographed, and reviewed the thing. Josh Gruber of Daring Fireball corroborates the phone’s legitimacy: “So I called around, and I now believe this is an actual unit from Apple— a unit Apple is very interested in getting back.” Gruber says Gizmodo’s videos and description—along with Engadget’s photos of the device, posted over the weekend—are consistent with Apple’s 2006 patent for “the use of Zirconia as a radio-transparent material for part of the enclosure.”

The new version also apparently includes a “front-facing video chat camera,” a back camera with flash, an “improved display,” an entirely flat back, and a “16 percent larger battery,” among other things. Of the design: “Gone is the flushed screen glass against the metal rim. Gone is the single volume button, replaced by two separate ones. Gone is the seamless rim, and gone are the tapered, curved surfaces.” The result? A phone that feels “freaking amazing.” As we reported earlier, it’s rumored that Apple could release the device as early as this summer.

UPDATE: M.G. at The Economist

Brian Lam at Gizmodo

UPDATE #2: Huffington Post

UPDATE #3: Jon Stewart

UPDATE #4: Michael Malone at ABC

Matthew Yglesias

David Carr in NYT

Rod Dreher

UPDATE #5: Connie Guglielmo and Joel Rosenblatt at BusinessWeek

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