But there is no catastrophe here. In fact, Facebook bankers like Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs might have priced the company just about perfectly.
Facebook paid its IPO underwriters to do one job, and one job only: Generate the most money possible through the initial public offering of Facebook stock. It did not pay them to offer 10-15% discounts so that Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs could ingratiate themselves to high-net-worth clients. That may be how it usually works in practice, but that doesn’t make it right. Imagine if you found out your real estate broker had priced your home for $50,000 below market value because she thought it would generate more interactions with buyers for her other properties?
The only people who should be thrilled about this are Twitter’s bankers, who climbed over the Chinese wall to get a sweet deal for their high-net-worth clients.
Twitter itself obviously wanted a bit of price pop for PR and employee morale purposes, but here’s something else employees could be thinking about today: Had Twitter priced at $45.10 per share and used the extra proceeds to give out holiday bonuses, it would have worked out to more than $580,000 per employee. How’s your morale feel now?
The Nexus 5 is an excellent phone in many ways. It’s solidly built and feels great to use. It’s got serious processing power which means it can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. The phone has an absolutely gorgeous display. The KitKat update is polished and refined, and cements my belief that not only is Android leading the charge in mobile OSs from a functionality and user interface standpoint, but from a design standpoint as well. The battery life, while not perfect, appears to be good enough to get you through a day of work — which is certainly on par with its competition.
Sounds good! But it seems that there is always one deal-breaker with Nexus phones. This one is a doozy:
The 8-megapixel camera on the back of the Nexus 5 is certainly capable of taking rather beautiful photos in the perfect setting. Unfortunately for us, life is not filled with perfect settings — and when you’re faced with real-world picture taking, the camera underperforms constantly and consistently.
More than anything else, the sign-up process helped me construct a bare-bones timeline that felt extraordinarily impersonal. Granted, nobody can be expected to craft a meaningful feed in minutes — much of what makes Twitter great and so useful is the care that is put into carefully pruning and re-pruning one’s network — but Twitter’s “onboarding” process seems currently geared toward creating a very superficial, celebrity-focused experience. To get anything more requires a fair amount of effort, which is a lot to ask of users.
Building a large and active base of mainstream users is Twitter’s biggest post-IPO challenge.
Word on the trading floor is that the stock will open above $45 a share. That means Twitter potentially left about $1.25 billion on the table when they set the strike price of $26 a share last night. But this is a delicate dance, meant to reward the bankers and their clients who agreed to buy up the stock ahead of time. Twitter is most concerned about having a clean opening that will give the stock positive momentum, the opposite of what occurred with Facebook.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to leave $1.25B on the table, especially to reward bankers. Facebook’s IPO, contrary to popular belief, was a huge success because they arguably left nothing on the table. Facebook, the company, obtained maximum value in the IPO. A huge jump between the IPO price and the trading floor isn’t a win for the company or the trading public, it’s a win for financial industry insiders - a group that I always hate to see winning.
Twitter stock will soon be available to the public. Whether it’s a good investment remains to be seen.
When Facebook went public, I had an overwhelming feeling that it was a good buy, even at the $38 IPO price. When it later dropped to $20, it was a no-brainer. Facebook is the largest social network ever, and with that comes a certain stickiness to the platform. With a billion users socially connected, it is human nature to stay connected and continue using Facebook. That stickiness gives Facebook plenty of time to figure out the best way to make money. For example, a misstep in monetization strategy won’t send users fleeing to another service. And Facebook was already profitable at the time of its IPO.
Many things the Facebook IPO offered (profit, users, and stickiness) are lacking with Twitter today. I’m not a finance guy, so I haven’t analyzed the fundamentals, but my gut feels a lot different about Twitter than it did about Facebook.
Joe Kissell wrote a heavily-cited article on how Gmail is broken in Mavericks. I first saw this linked by John Gruber:
As Joe Kissel documents in this piece for TidBITS, the relationship between Apple Mail and Gmail has gotten more complicated than ever in Mavericks. I’m surprised this didn’t boil to the surface during Mavericks’s beta period.
And tonight, I see Marco Arment has jumped on the bandwagon:
It’s pretty bad that Apple didn’t catch this in beta testing — it is, after all, a pretty big set of new bugs with the system’s email client when configured for one of the world’s most popular email services. That’s on Apple, fair and square. But if you’re a Gmail user and expecting to wedge it into an IMAP client without ever hitting problems, that’s increasingly your problem.
The problem with all of this is that Gmail actually works better in Mail with Mavericks than ever before. Joe admits as much in his article:
I eventually found a combination of Mail settings and Gmail settings that, prior to Mavericks, resulted in a stable — and indeed largely pleasant — experience. As I documented in “Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail,” 2 May 2009, you just do x, y, and z (well, 21 steps’ worth of x, y, and z), and it will all work smoothly.
Mail in Mavericks tries to meet Gmail on its own terms, more or less. As part of this approach, it now treats archiving Gmail messages essentially the way Gmail itself does — moving a message from the Inbox to Archive removes the Inbox label, which means it shows up only in Gmail’s All Mail list (unless you apply another label in Gmail or move it to another mailbox in Mail). Note that deleting a message in Mavericks Mail won’t archive it in All Mail; it (logically enough) moves it to the Trash.
It sounds like Joe previously configured Mail to work with Gmail in a convoluted 21-step process (because Mail didn’t work well with Gmail in the past). In Mavericks, Apple finally made the archive button archive in Gmail, the delete button delete in Gmail, and the All Mail folder, wait for it, displays all of your mail. That’s how it’s supposed to work! I don’t care if it broke Joe’s 21-step hack. It works great for me and anyone else who simply adds their Gmail account to Mail.
In my opinion, the most thoughtful review was by John Gruber at Daring Fireball, where he looked at the iPad Air from the perspective of two types of people:
Those who still need or merely want to carry a MacBook with them when they travel, but who also want to carry an iPad.
Those whose portable computing needs can — all, or even just most, of the time — be met by an iPad.
I really think he nailed it. The second group of people is the iPad’s core audience. These people literally can get by, now more than ever, with an iPad as their primary PC. The only thing that I might change would be to add a third category: Those who still need to carry a MacBook with them when they travel, but who wish the iPad could replace their MacBook.
This third category is not insignificant, and it’s the target audience for the Surface. As soon as I heard the name iPad Air, I immediately started thinking about whether Apple was carving out a spot for an iPad Pro. I sure hope so, because I’m in the third category.
My all-time favorite calendar app for iPhone, Fantastical, received a huge update today. Fantastical 2 is a new app, not a free upgrade, but it’s well worth it. It adds a plethora of new features, including a new iOS 7 refreshed design, reminders integration, a new light theme option, updated day ticker, and the ability to open appointment locations in Google Maps. It’s on sale for $2.99 in the App Store for a limited time.
With the upcoming launch of the iPad Air and new Retina iPad mini, some folks might be looking for Retina quality wallpaper for their new device. Look no further. I’ve been using Simon’s wallpaper for years and it’s simply stunning.
Oppenheimer’s statements during the call indicate that future versions of OS X will also be free. This, along with iWork updates and free copies for each purchaser of Mac and iOS hardware, would contribute to a $900M sequential increase in net revenue deferred for software upgrade rights and non-software services.
The world’s most successful hardware company is doing so well that it can give away $900M of “free” software subsidized by hardware sales. Wouldn’t it be great if Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, could give away $900M of “free” hardware subsidized by software sales? Or Google, the world’s largest advertising company, could give away $900M of “free” hardware subsidized by advertising revenue? It doesn’t look like the latter two are going to happen anytime soon, which illustrates the power in Apple’s business model.
Dan Frommer (and his awesome charts) on TechCrunch:
You’ll note a modest uptick in Apple’s revenue and profit growth rate — though profits are still down year-over-year. The iPhone is still the heart of Apple’s business, representing 52% of sales and likely more of its profits.
Ben Thompson on the philosophical differences between the Surface and the iPad:
If your worldview of productivity is limited to what can be done on a PC – documents, spreadsheets, presentations, coding – then of course you will produce a product that is like a PC, but worse for having tablet features. Of course you’ll produce a Surface.
If, though, your worldview of productivity is defined not by the PC, but rather by people – by the liberal arts – then you will produce a product that is nothing like a PC, but rather an intimate, responsive object that invites people in, and transforms itself into whatever you need it to be.
You’ll produce an iPad.
It’s true that Microsoft’s focus for the Surface is retaining the PC experience on a tablet form factor. This focus has created a less-than-perfect tablet experience. By way of contrast, Apple’s focus for the iPad has been creating the most responsive and delightful user experience. This focus has created the best tablet experience in the world, but with little emphasize on traditional PC productivity.
For many people (musicians, artists, grandmothers, and children are examples given by Thompson) the iPad is a perfect device. But for another large segment of the population, it offers little more than a smartphone. As Marco Arment mentioned on last week’s Talk Show, he barely uses the iPad, and when Apple releases an iPhone with a larger display, he probably won’t use an iPad at all. He’s not alone.
People in school, finance, law, business, journalism, engineering, and many other fields still need a PC, and will need a PC for the foreseeable future. There are a lot of these people. And that’s who the Surface is for. Is the Surface perfect? Not yet, but Microsoft making the Surface a better tablet faster than Apple is making the iPad a better PC.
This brings me to an answer to Thompson’s question:
If you are human, the iPad is your magic wand. And, honestly, who does not want a magic wand? And why isn’t Apple selling it as such?
The problem with the iPad, and the reason Apple may be emphasizing things like iWork, is that, eventually, some company will make a device that satisfies the liberal arts people and the PC people (and the people who fall into both categories). That’s the goal of the Surface. One device that does it all - a magic wand and a PC. In the five examples that Thompson gives in his piece, not a single one describes something that can’t also be done with a Surface. The difference between the Surface and the iPad is that when little Richard, the student, actually has a research paper to write, or a resume to produce, or a college application essay to draft, he can easily accomplish those things on a Surface. Good luck on an iPad.
According to users in a support thread spanning over 14 pages, the trackpad and the keyboard on the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are reportedly locking up at random during use, with a hard reset through the machine’s power button appearing to be the only present solution to the problem. Users are also reporting that a reset of the MacBook’s System Management Controller (SMC) appears to be ineffective, and a small survey of users within the thread show that the problem is affecting all three configurations of the 13-inch model. Currently, it is unknown as to whether the freezes are a hardware or software problem, as Apple has not officially commented on the errors.
Macworld ran some benchmarks on the new 13” rMBP with Intel Iris graphics. The results are pretty good:
The most impressive improvements in the new laptops came courtesy of the new Iris graphics. Compared to the HD 4000 graphics in the early 2013 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the Iris graphics posted between 45 and 50 percent higher frame rates in Cinebench r15’s OpenGL tests and the Unigine Valley Benchmark. Unigen’s Heaven benchmark showed the new systems with about 65 percent improvement in frame rates over the earlier model.
Last week, Apple updated the Retina MacBook Pro (rMBP) line with Intel’s latest chips. I’ve been patiently waiting for this update and got the first one sold at my local Apple Store (13” with 2.4/8/256). All of the early reviews are largely positive, but they focus on the 15” model:
The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is probably the best all-around laptop on the market. It checks every box, from “portable enough” to “insanely powerful” to “beautiful trackpad” to “reasonably priced for its market.” At $1,999 it’s a mile from cheap, but compared to other laptops with its capability that price tag isn’t so bad. This is the most versatile laptop I’ve used, one of only a couple that’s at home in any situation, simple or complex, personal or professional.
A Retina Mac is just more pleasant to use now than it was a year ago. The importance of Retina-optimized third-party applications can’t be overstated here, because without them you end up with an operating system that actually looks worse than it would if you were just running it on any old non-Retina display. This was just as true of the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro as it is of the 2013 version, but the 2013 refresh includes battery life improvements, slight CPU performance increases, Thunderbolt 2, and a new Wi-Fi standard that all reward those who refrained from buying one of the first-generation laptops.
Apple’s 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Retina Displays are simply the best available notebooks, and which you choose depends totally on budget and priorities over anything else. If power is what you’re looking for, look no further than the 15-inch reviewed here.
Since nobody has focused on the 13” model, here’s a short review after a few days of use. I’ve included some size and price comparisons to the 13” MacBook Air (MBA), since that was another machine I considered.
Build quality is solid as always, with no flex in the machine at all. The keyboard has a bit less travel than my old 2011 15” MBP. The reduction in size is noticeable. Interestingly, the 13” rMBP (12.35” x 8.62”) has a smaller footprint than the 13” MBA (12.8” x 8.94”). And when compared to the 13” MBA, it’s only .03” thicker at the thickest points and weighs in at only .5 pounds heavier. The price to pay for a Retina display in size and weight is falling rapidly.
Apple decreased the price of the base model by $200 to $1,299. This puts the rMBP in MBA price territory. For example, a 13” MBA with 1.3/8/256 will run you $1,399. A 13” rMBP with 2.4/8/256 is only $100 more at $1,499. The price to pay for a Retina display is also rapidly decreasing in dollars.
Improvement to battery life is one of the biggest benefits of the new Intel Haswell chipset. The battery life appears to be better than Apple’s claim of 9 hours. I don’t have a standardized battery test, just real life experience. On a recent flight to San Francisco, it estimated 19 hours of battery life after the brightness was reduced to 40%, radios turned off, running Mail, Word, and Preview (a typical usage scenario for me on flights). After 6 hours on the plane, it estimated 12 hours remaining, so the initial estimate (while ridiculous) actually seemed fairly accurate. In a more typical working scenario, it is getting around 12 hours of battery life with the display at 60%, radios on, running Mail, Word, Safari, Calendar, and Messages. Not too shabby.
I haven’t run an extensive set of benchmarks. I just use the thing. It’s fast. My machine is set to 1440 x 900 scaled, hooked up to a 24” HD display, and running the applications listed above. No hiccups at all. The Retina display is gorgeous. I have mine set to 1440 x 900 scaled, which gives me the same screen real estate as I had on my 15” MBP. Although Apple claims this may decrease performance, I haven’t noticed any impact. My only issue so far is that the mouse pointer and keyboard randomly freeze. It could be an issue with Mavericks, or the rMBP, or both. Shutting the lid and waiting a few seconds before reopening fixes it.
The new 13” rMBP is easily the best machine I’ve ever used. It’s the perfect combination of size, a beautiful display, and performance. The 15” model, especially the high-end configuration, clearly offers better performance, but few people actually need it. For those who prefer compact size, a Retina display, and a performance increase over the MBA, the 13” rMBP offers a compelling option at a competitive price.
It happened, cord cutters… it really happened. Following a report from DSLReports, it appears as though Comcast has made a new Internet service plan available in some markets that really is a cord cutter’s dream come true. The new offering, dubbed “Internet Plus,” bundles 25Mbps Internet service with HBO GO, local TV channels and Comcast’s Streampix streaming movie and TV show service for $40 per month to for a year.
For me, this represents a good start, but it’s hardly a dream come true. I’ve completely eliminated cable TV for the past two years, successfully replacing it with a combination of iTunes, Hulu, and Netflix via an AppleTV and a Leaf HDTV antenna. It costs me less per month than cable and I still watch almost everything I want with fewer commercials. The only thing I’m missing is HBO, so a dream come true for me would be the ability to subscribe to HBO GO without a Comcast subscription, either directly through Apple TV or HBO.
LG has announced official details of its curved-screen smartphone, the G Flex. The phone, which uses flexible OLED screen technology to allow for a dramatic curve on the horizontal axis, is between 7.9 and 8.7mm thick at various points
This looks like the gimmick to rule all gimmicks. What happens if you forget it’s in your back pocket and sit down?
I’ve written about Apple’s upgrade dilemma before, however, the decision to continue selling the iPad 2 is a significant development. By selling the iPad 2 into a third year, Apple is admitting how little the iPad has evolved since it was released in 2011. In addition, as noted by Marco Arment, it means people aren’t using iPads for anything that requires an upgrade:
Or maybe Apple should be concerned that most people are using their iPads for such mundane tasks that years-old hardware is still adequate.
The rate at which people purchase iPads is also declining faster than many expected. Ben Thompson, referring to the graph below, had an interesting theory:
That line is flattening much too soon for a product as truly revolutionary as the iPad. It is not obvious to customers what the iPad is and why it matters.
I don’t think the iPad has a problem resonating with customers, as Ben stated above. People love iPads and use them quite often. The big problem for Apple, and the real reason that the line is flattening so early, is that many of the iPads represented earlier in the line are still going strong, and as noted by Marco in the aforementioned piece, will likely be used for some time into the future.
But why is Apple still selling such an old device, three generations behind the most current model? Why not force iPad buyers to choose the latest technology? According to John Paczkowski at AllThingsD, it’s because they can:
According to CIRP, the iPad 2 accounted for 22 percent of the iPads sold in the U.S. during the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2013. Now, that’s down from the 35 percent it accounted for in the quarter prior, but it’s still a significant percentage.
Despite the fact that people are buying them, there’s a couple problems with selling such an old device. First, as iOS and apps mature, the iPad 2 hardware degrades the user experience. iOS 7 significantly slowed down my iPad mini (which uses the same hardware as the iPad 2, and will also be sold by Apple this year alongside the new iPad mini). In addition, iOS 7 looks fairly terrible on a non-retina display. With the iPad 2 and iPad mini on sale this year, they will likely need to support iOS 8 as well, which may be more resource-intensive than iOS 7. A responsive UI is the hallmark of iOS devices, and selling such old hardware taints the brand.
Second, for every iPad 2 purchased for $399, there is a missed opportunity to sell an iPad Air for $499. This likely provides more profit and a definitely provides a better user experience. I’d guess that a majority of iPad 2 buyers would buy an iPad Air if no iPad 2 was available. If they were going to buy a cheaper Android tablet, they already would have since most are cheaper than $399 (i.e. Nexus 7) or the same price for superior hardware (i.e. Nexus 10).
To me, continuing to sell the iPad 2 (and iPad mini) is a mistake. Not only is Apple losing potential sales of more expensive iPads, but customers purchasing iPad 2’s will not have the same delightful experience iPad Air owners.
Apple may have stranded itself between two worlds: it produced a cheaper-looking phone that didn’t appeal to premium customers but was too pricey for more cost-conscious ones.
In the U.S., the iPhone 5c is $100 cheaper than the iPhone 5s, and $100 isn’t what it used to be. It looks like iPhone customers are willing to fork over an extra $100 for the latest technology rather than last year’s model wrapped in plastic.
In the rest of the world, the $550 unsubsidized price of the iPhone 5c is no bargain, and I think people who are already willing to spend $550 on an iPhone are very likely to spend an extra $100 for the iPhone 5s.
Apple’s event yesterday was largely successful, but also entirely predictable. The one huge surprise was the announcement that Apple’s latest version of OS X, Mavericks, would be offered for free. In addition, Apple’s other software suites would be free to those purchasing new Mac hardware. This is big news for consumers, but potentially huge news for corporate IT departments, as noted by Austin Carr, writing for Fast Company:
Though it’s unclear whether this represents a long-term change in policy for Apple, with all its future Mac OS upgrades remaining free, it’s easy to see how this pricing model would be appealing to the public. Imagine a corporate IT buyer choosing between purchasing Macs and Windows-based PCs for employees. Certainly, PCs are likely to remain cheaper up front, but now they might seem significantly more costly to maintain over the years. Rather than have to upgrade from XP to Vista to Windows 7—with all the associated headaches and expenses—a new Mac can stay as fresh as possible without putting a hole in your wallet.
Walk into any corporation today, and you’ll likely see a bunch of black boxes running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 (if they’re lucky). Upgrading Windows has always been expensive and time-consuming. A simple, free, one-click OS upgrade like Mavericks is a great selling point. Upgrade costs will be significantly lower long-term, offsetting the higher price of Apple hardware. People will have better hardware and updated software for a lower overall IT cost.
As I’ve noted before, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. It’s not that Apple is giving away software for free, but that they are subsidizing software through favorable margins in hardware sales. Likewise, Google subsidizes software through advertising. In response, Microsoft needs to accelerate its shift from licensing software to selling hardware. That makes the Surface one of Microsoft’s most important projects in a very long time.
Microsoft’s goal with the Surface is to deliver a single device that works well as a tablet and a laptop. Microsoft believes, as do I, that such devices are the future. That’s why Windows 8 is designed the way it is. However, even the new Surface devices fail to meet such a goal, with the largest criticism being that the device doesn’t work well as a laptop.
Adjusting the two angles requires no switches or buttons — you simply push on the kickstand until it clicks into place. It’s certainly a big improvement from the original Surface Pro, but if you’re looking to use it mainly as a laptop in your lap you’ll probably want to opt for a traditional laptop. Improved as the Pro 2 is, it’s still no match for a laptop display that’s fully adjustable, or a sturdy, attached keyboard.
I used a Surface Pro for quite some time. It worked quite well as a laptop on a desk, however, on your lap, not so much. The new wider angle kickstand might help, but apparently doesn’t solve the problem.
The lack of stability is a two-fold problem. First, the Surface itself is too heavy as the top portion of a laptop. A traditional laptop display is just that - a display. The guts of the laptop, along with the keyboard and trackpad, comprise the bottom portion. This provides balance between the top and bottom and, thus, better stability. The Surface doesn’t have this option, so the top portion is way heavier than the bottom keyboard portion, making it unstable to use on your lap.
The second problem is the hinge, or lack thereof. The Surface keyboard covers attach with a strong magnet, but they have no rigid hinge. Since there is a lack of a sturdy hinge that can support the top portion, the kickstand is the only means of support.
To fix the problem, the Surface itself needs to get thinner and lighter, and the keyboard covers need to include a sturdy hinge that works in conjunction with the kickstand. Instead of making the keyboard cover out of flimsy material, use a thin sheet of VaporMG. Use the current magnet connector, but add a sturdy hinge mechanism that cradles the back of the Surface. Something similar to my mockup below would provide a much sturdier experience when using the Surface as a laptop.
The Verge has reviewed Microsoft’s second generation of Surface tablets and, while both seem to be greatly improved from the first generation, they still aren’t the perfect all-in-one tablet/laptop hybrid Microsoft is hoping for.
The Surface Pro 2 was reviewed very favorably, however, the bulky tablet form factor was the biggest gripe. Also, it still isn’t as solid for lap use as a traditional laptop. From Tom Warren’s review of the Surface Pro 2:
The Surface Pro had far too many compromises to be used fully in each tablet or laptop mode, and Microsoft is clearly trying to address those with the Surface Pro 2. A new two-stage kickstand improves the lap use and the accessories have been tweaked and refined. Even the battery life is much better to the point where you could realistically use this as a tablet. However, it’s still bulky for its primary tablet purpose and nothing has changed to address that. It’s the same weight and size as the original, so Microsoft still wants you to make compromises on the tablet side. A Surface with the specifications of the Pro and the slim form factor of the Surface 2 is the dream.
The form factor of the Surface 2 is much more tablet-friendly. The biggest problem with the Surface 2 is the application library, which still lags far behind iOS or Android. From David Pierce’s review of the Surface 2:
It’s lonely using a Surface 2. I can’t play all the games my friends are playing, or test out all the apps they’re downloading. Trying to use apps in IE tabs is a clunky, messy process, and no one should have to do it. Microsoft needs to convince developers to make things for the Windows Store, but for most Windows 8.1 devices, companies can just build desktop apps — that’s what people are used to, that’s what will work on virtually every PC out there. Windows RT devices are a rare and endangered breed with a brutal track record; I don’t blame Rdio or Simplenote for not making apps. But until they do, I can’t tell anyone to buy a Surface 2.
Great hardware for a tablet, runs Office for productivity, thin, light, great battery life. But a weak app library really is a deal-breaker for most.
Overall, I think this is good news for Microsoft. In a very short time frame they have refined the original Surface line and addressed many of the initial shortcomings. The keyboard covers have been improved, performance has improved in both models, and the new two-step kickstand makes it more comfortable to use on your lap. I’m hoping next year they consolidate the two models into a single Surface Pro that’s the same size, or thinner, than the current Surface 2, and with 10 hours of battery life. And LTE. If they can make this happen, the application library will be less of an issue and the device will be more comfortable to use as a tablet.
I really hope Microsoft sticks with it, because the combination of Windows 8 and the Surface is getting very close to the ideal post-PC device. And with Windows 8 and the Surface, Microsoft is light years ahead of Apple in this regard.
The people who have actually attempted to live without being tracked—most often due to a safety threat—will tell you that security cameras are just about everywhere, RFID tags seem to be in everything, and almost any movement results in becoming part of a database. “It’s basically impossible for you and I to decide, as of tomorrow, I’m going to remain off the radar and to survive for a month or 12 months,” says Gunter Ollmann, the CTO of security firm IOActive, who in his former work with law enforcement had several coworkers who dedicated themselves to remaining anonymous for the safety of their families. “The amount of prep work you have to do in order to stay off the radar involves years of investment leading up to that.”
It’s amazingly difficult to maintain any sense of privacy these days.
Apple Inc. has notified its two assemblers for the low-cost iPhone 5C that it is reducing orders of the smartphone for the fourth quarter, people familiar with the situation said, raising concerns about weaker-than-expected demand and its pricing strategy for the device.
According to CIRP’s survey of consumers who purchased Apple’s latest iPhones during the last days of September, the 5s accounted for 64 percent of total iPhone sales following its launch that month. Meanwhile, the the 5c accounted for 27 percent, with the legacy iPhone 4S making up the remaining 9 percent.
So not only is the 5s outselling the 5c, it’s outselling it more than two to one.
The popular refrain after the announcement of the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s was that the 5c was the new mainstream iPhone, with the 5s holding the top spot for those who need the latest technology. Further, as noted by John Gruber, the iPhone 5c was the focus of Apple’s marketing at and after the announcement. But despite popular opinion and marketing focus, the 5s is selling twice as well.
As I argued before, there is a collective misperception that, with respect to the 5c, what looks new is new. The problem is that colored iPhones aren’t new, and the 5c doesn’t even look new. People commonly use colored cases on their iPhones, so a slightly thicker iPhone with a colored back is simply more of the same.
I suspect people will argue that, as noted by AllThingsD, the 5s appeals most to early adopters, and thus, this early sales report may be skewed towards the 5s. However, as also noted in the article, and most worrisome for the 5c:
What’s more surprising is the iPhone 5c’s sales performance relative to that of the iPhone 4S’s following the debut of the iPhone 5. Despite the 5c’s newness and its colorful design, it’s not selling that much better than the 4S did when it was demoted to legacy iPhone by the flagship iPhone 5.
If the 5c is truly viewed by customers as new, and not just a repackaged iPhone 5, shouldn’t it at least be selling better out of the gate than the 4S last year?
Instapaper 5 is finally live in the App Store. It sports a new iOS 7-friendly design and crisp layout. It’s the same Instapaper we all know and love, but prettier. And most importantly, we no longer need to archive in the trash!
In so many places in iOS 7, it feels like Apple sketched out the right blueprints for an interconnected, clever, advanced operating system — and then didn’t have time to finish connecting all the pieces.
The past few iPhone launches have been a bit rough on Apple. First the infamous antennagate, and then last year’s horrendous release of Apple Maps. Most people I’ve spoken to about iOS 7 share the sentiment quoted above - iOS 7 is confusing and largely unfinished. Only time will tell how people will react when the mobile operating system most often praised for ease-of-use becomes much less intuitive and unpolished overnight. Will this year be iOS 7-gate?
The iPhone 5s reviews are in, and it looks pretty good. Plus, the fingerprint sensor actually works. But I noticed one glaring criticism of the iPhone 5s. The screen is too damn small compared to the competition. Instead of spending time redesigning a color plastic shell for the iPhone 5c, maybe Apple should have developed and released the iPhone 5b (big). Here’s a summary of what the reviewers had to say about the screen size of the iPhone 5s.
Personally, I would’ve appreciated something a bit larger that made better use of the front facing real estate. The 5s’ width is almost perfect for my hands. I could deal with the device being a little larger, with the ideal size for me landing somewhere between the iPhone 5 and the Moto X.
It remains to be seen the impact display size has on iPhone sales. Anecdotally I know a number of die hard iPhone users who simply want a larger display and are willing to consider Android as a result. I still believe that users don’t really cross shop between Android and iOS, but if Apple doesn’t offer a larger display option soon then I believe it will lose some users not because of cross shopping, but out of frustration.
The 4-inch 16:9 LCD display features a 1136 x 640 resolution, putting it at the low end for most flagship smartphones these days.
Apple is quick to point out that iOS 7 does attempt to make better use of display real estate, but I can’t shake the feeling of being too cramped on the 5s. I’m not advocating that Apple go the route of some of the insanely large displays, but after using the Moto X for the past month I believe there’s a good optimization point somewhere around 4.6 - 4.7”.
The 5s builds upon the same chassis as the iPhone 5 and with that comes a number of tradeoffs. I still love the chassis, design and build quality - I just wish it had a larger display.
I’m a little more disappointed that Apple stubbornly stuck to a 4-inch Retina display when many Android competitors offer 5-inch displays or larger. Sure, there are trade-offs with larger screens, but since Apple has already bolstered consumer choice with two new iPhones, would a third model have been that much of a stretch?
For anyone who needs copious amounts of screen space, a 4-inch display likely won’t cut it, but to be fair, the 5s is the best small phone you can get — we can’t think of any other device with a display smaller than 4.5 inches that even comes close.
But, it also has a smaller screen (4 inches) than most of its Android cousins. I love using a more compact phone, but competitors have found a way to make larger-screened 4.7-inch phones with excellent feel, like the Moto X, which has nearly edge-to-edge screen across its face. The iPhone 5S has a lot more bezel framing the display, and I couldn’t help wondering if that screen couldn’t be just a bit bigger.
A larger screen would have really helped this year: not because the competition has it, but because Apple’s newest features and apps would put it to good use. I found editing and appreciating the improved photos and video recording, and even playing games, to be challenging; the better that graphics and camera quality get, the more you need a larger screen to appreciate them.
Swanking the same 4-inch, 1136x640 at 326ppi screen as its predecessor, and matching that of the 5c, the iPhone 5s display feels small in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S4 (5-inch), the HTC One (4.7-inch) and the Sony Xperia Z (5-inch).
Screen quality is pin-sharp but, after watching films on bigger handsets, you really notice the drop in size. However, the Retina screen really shows off iOS 7’s brighter, more vivid UI.
So that means the same 4-inch, 1136 x 640 pixel (326ppi) Retina display. Not taller, wider or more resolute this time around. We suspect Apple will increase the screen size in the iPhone 6 - and the lack of movement here might disappoint a whole lot of fans hoping for Apple to stand up against the competition out there.
Galaxy Gear reminds me more of a Casio Calculator Watch than anything we would expect a high-tech company to build today. Samsung got caught up in trying to be first to market with a product instead of trying to solve a problem for its users. That is what technology is supposed to do for us—this doesn’t.
Totally agree with Jim here. While the Galaxy Gear is an impressive piece of hardware, it doesn’t solve any real problems. Looking at my wrist for a notification before I get my phone from my pocket doesn’t seem worth $299 and the hassle of charging another device every day. Expensive smartphone accessories that simply mirror information are not the future. With the iWatch, I think (and hope) Apple has something truly new up its sleeve, and it must be very frustrating for Samsung.
Apple is likely to introduce two new iPhones tomorrow: the 5S and the 5C. The iPhone 5S, by all accounts, will look the same as the iPhone 5 with the addition of a fingerprint sensor in the home button and maybe a new gold color option. The iPhone 5C will be a new plastic design in a number of different colors, but will offer little innovation over the iPhone 5. Thus, a common criticism of Apple will certainly be that the only thing they announced is colors. Whoop-dee-doo.
Getting ahead of the curve, several people have argued that new colors alone are enough to create a hit product. The most popular reference points have been the iMac and the iPod mini:
Yes, colors aren’t new to smart phones. But they’re new to iPhones. Better starting point - the original iMac was still a crappy computer.
However, the iMac and iPod mini aren’t great comparisons. In both cases, third-party cases were not popular at the time. People didn’t wrap their computers in colored cases, so a new color computer was a neat thing. And while iPod cases did exist when the iPod mini was released, the third-party accessory market was in its infancy. Most people did not use a case for their iPod.
Just look around. There are iPhones in color cases everywhere. A majority of people already choose any color they want for their iPhone. A color iPhone isn’t going to be a new thing. It’s an old thing.
Tuesday, the e-commerce giant announced a coming MatchBook program that will offer customers a corresponding Kindle version of certain print books purchased at any point since Amazon came into existence.
The ability to obtain Kindle versions of previously purchased books is a fantastic deal for all involved. Consumers get the convenience of an e-book for little or no cost, while Amazon and publishers get new revenue from past purchases.
When I first saw the headline, I thought they were only allowing Kindle books to be purchased along with physical books for future purchases. This didn’t sound interesting at all because I personally have no desire to accumulate more physical books. But the ability to download Kindle versions of previously purchased books means that you can actually get rid of many physical books in favor of their Kindle counterparts. Now that’s interesting.
What if today was the largest mobile event in history?
The recent acquisition of Nokia’s mobile business by Microsoft has set loose a firestorm of negativity regarding the deal and the chance of Microsoft/Nokia’s success in mobile. Many people are acting as if the mobile game is over, with Apple and Google winning the crown. But it’s far from over, and Microsoft/Nokia may have what it takes to win a significant piece of the pie.
I’ve been thinking of an idea over the past few months, and this seems like a nice time to explain it. Imagine if there were no smartphones yesterday, only feature phones without touch screens. Today is the largest mobile event ever. Apple, Google, and Microsoft are all announcing their new mobile phones and operating systems. How would they fair? Let’s look at hardware, operating systems, and services. As for devices, we’ll consider the current flagships: iPhone 5, Moto X, and Nokia Lumia 1020. I’ll make the case, that if they all launched today, Microsoft/Nokia might be the leader.
Not surprisingly, the iPhone is the clear winner when it comes to build-quality and overall hardware design. But, importantly, Apple handily loses when you consider the single most important factor for smartphone consumers today: screen size. Had these three phones launched side-by-side today, Apple could lose based on this factor alone. Nokia, on the other hand, has best-in-class hardware, and arguably has the best overall hardware when you consider the screen size as an important factor for consumers.
I’ve used all three extensively, and Windows Phone (WP) is the superior operating system, followed by Android, and then iOS. WP provides the stability and polish of iOS, with the flexibility of Android. iOS loses because it provides little to no glanceable information, no multi-window support, no default third-party apps, and no true multi-tasking. On a feature-by-feature basis, iOS would be eaten alive by WP or Android. Android is getting better, and fast, but still does not provide the polish of iOS or WP.
Google handily wins this category. Its services are best-in-class and integrate seamlessly into Android with a single login. Microsoft takes a close second, and it’s rapidly improving. Microsoft’s online suite, including Office, Outlook, and SkyDrive, is a powerful combination. And you can’t forget about Xbox. Apple’s services have always suffered, and the current combination of iCloud and iWork is no different.
I’m certain people will disagree with points I’ve made above, but I doubt anyone can argue it’s ridiculous. Looking at Apple, Google, and MS/Nokia on a level playing field, right now, MS/Nokia doesn’t look that far behind. And it’s an important analysis because the mobile game is only just beginning, and there’s plenty of time for Apple or Google to stumble, or Microsoft/Nokia to breakthrough on its own.
But, you argue, this exercise is nonsense because Apple and Google have already had a huge headstart with consumers and developers. There’s no turning back time for Microsoft/Nokia. I have some points to make on this:
To remain successful, a company needs to constantly compare itself to its competitors. Having the first great mobile operating system doesn’t guarantee unlimited success. Apple, while launching a breakthrough product in 2007, has slowly allowed its competitors to produce better products. Its early lead may not last forever. Just look at Blackberry.
The mobile space moves quicky. Consumers purchase new phones every 1-2 years, creating the possibility for relatively rapid shifts.
There’s little lock-in to mobile operating systems. This isn’t iPod/iTunes all over again. Most mobile services are cross-platform. The cost of switching is cheap.
Microsoft does have a problem with third-party developers, but it’s not insurmountable, and Microsoft has the resources to make it happen. And you don’t need 100,000 apps to satisfy 95% of consumers needs. A few hundred of the most popular apps is all you need.
Horace is an easy guy to agree with because he’s usually right. However, he didn’t think this one through enough. As I learned in Economics 101, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. You see, Microsoft’s problem isn’t that companies are giving software away for free, it’s that other companies have found alternative non-consumer sources of revenue to subsidize software.
Take Apple as an example. Much of Apple’s software is provided to consumers for free or very cheaply. New versions of OS X aren’t likely to cost consumers more than $20 going forward. This isn’t because the cost of software development has drastically decreased over the years, but because Apple is subsidizing software development with the sale of hardware. In Apple’s case, hardware is paying for software.
Google is another good example. Virtually all Google services and software are free to the consumer. That doesn’t mean Google isn’t getting paid for the software. Advertisers are paying for it so Google can give it away for free.
Microsoft used a similar strategy for many years. By bundling Windows with new PCs, consumers weren’t directly paying for Microsoft’s software, but instead paying for a new machine from a manufacturer. PC manufacturers were subsidizing Microsoft’s software. However, this strategy is failing with the rapid decline in PC sales.
Microsoft’s problem is that it needs to find someone else to pay for its software. Subsidizing Windows or Office with advertising is not a viable option. Microsoft has only just begun building its own hardware, so it is difficult to immediately follow Apple’s path. However, I suspect the new company reorganization is directed at following Apple’s model, but it’s going to take quite some time, effort, and a little luck to successfully make the transition.
There simply isn’t a scenario in which paying for Next is better than just buying an unlocked phone at retail — AT&T is fundamentally taking advantage of consumers trained to think new phones are a magical gift bestowed on them by greedy, controlling wireless carriers.
It’s great that The Verge called AT&T out on this ridiculous plan immediately. Hopefully people don’t fall for such a scam. Something needs to be done about the wireless industry. Consumer abuse like this doesn’t happen in truly competitive industries.
Law professors Jennifer Stisa Granick and Christopher Jon Sprigman:
The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law. No statute explicitly authorizes mass surveillance. Through a series of legal contortions, the Obama administration has argued that Congress, since 9/11, intended to implicitly authorize mass surveillance. But this strategy mostly consists of wordplay, fear-mongering and a highly selective reading of the law. Americans deserve better from the White House — and from President Obama, who has seemingly forgotten the constitutional law he once taught.
Apple’s competitive message to developers during the keynote was clear: iOS is doing great, it’s the best platform to build apps for, and you don’t need to think about other platforms. iOS 7 reinforces this even further: whatever app developers were planning to do this fall is probably on hold now, because everyone’s going to be extremely busy updating and redesigning their apps for iOS 7. Anyone thinking about expanding into another platform now has a more pressing need to maintain marketshare on iOS.
Marco has an interesting, and informed, viewpoint on how developers will react to the new design of iOS 7. Marco would know best, but I’m surprised there is a mad rush to update apps due to iOS 7’s design.
Apps that are already designed well with a unique look (Twitterrific, Clear, Vesper) need little updating at all. Very popular apps (Facebook, Instagram, CNN) are usually designed with their own style, providing a common app experience between platforms, and are unlikely to change. Further, as Marco points out in his post, games will remain largely unchanged.
That leaves apps that are already poorly designed. And if an app is already poorly designed, it’s likely the developers don’t care much to begin with. Why would they rush to update their apps now?
My local Tesla store in Virginia is amazing. The energy inside the store is only comparable to the Apple Store. But there’s one problem: they aren’t allowed to sell you a car, or even discuss the price. It’s ridiculous that state lawmakers are trying to prevent Tesla from selling directly to consumers. They are protecting automobile dealerships instead of providing choice to the people. Sign this petition by July 5 if you agree.
Last night I started researching ways to encrypt email to avoid being spied on by the NSA. I’m not emailing anything important, but I also don’t think it’s right for my government to spy on me. Shortly thereafter, a friend sent me this piece from Ars Technica:
While the documents make clear that data collection and interception must cease immediately once it’s determined a target is within the US, they still provide analysts with a fair amount of leeway. And that leeway seems to work to the disadvantage of people who take steps to protect their Internet communications from prying eyes. For instance, a person whose physical location is unknown—which more often than not is the case when someone uses anonymity software from the Tor Project—“will not be treated as a United States person, unless such person can be positively identified as such, or the nature or circumstances of the person’s communications give rise to a reasonable belief that such person is a United States person,” the secret document stated.
And in the event that an intercepted communication is later deemed to be from a US person, the requirement to promptly destroy the material may be suspended in a variety of circumstances. Among the exceptions are “communications that are enciphered or reasonably believed to contain secret meaning, and sufficient duration may consist of any period of time during which encrypted material is subject to, or of use in, cryptanalysis.”
It looks like you’re better off not encrypting your messages, since encryption appears to be specifically targeted and subject to clear abuses by the government.
One year ago, Virtual Pants was born. I spend way too much time thinking about technology and needed an outlet for my thoughts. After emailing for a few weeks with a good friend about starting a site, I decided to just go for it. It needed a name. My friend came up with Virtual Pants, it sounded catchy enough, and so it was born.
I was hesitant to spend the time writing a column because it’s so difficult to find an audience of people to read your efforts. Luckily, Virtual Pants had great success in its first year. I wrote 160 posts and 106,935 unique people from 178 countries viewed them. Way more than I ever expected.
Most of my favorite sites are just like this one - interesting thoughts from people I trust. My hope is that, over the next year, Virtual Pants becomes such a place for many more people around the world. Thank you for reading.
Today, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom introduced video on Instagram. It’s a direct competitor to Twitter’s Vine, and introduces many features that trump Twitter’s video offering. For example, videos can be 15 seconds long compared to Vine’s 6 second limit. Instagram characteristically provides filters and even cinema-quality image stabilization, both lacking from Vine. Instagram also lets you delete clips and choose a cover image, common gripes among Vine users. In short, video on Instagram is an impressive offering. For the first time, it is easy to see why Mark Zuckerberg eagerly acquired Instagram, literally pulling the rug from under Twitter’s acquisition effort. With video on Instagram, they have pulled the rug from under Twitter yet again.
iOS, and the devices that operate it, aren’t suddenly going to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo for dominance of the gaming market, and controller support in iOS 7 isn’t going to change that.
Diving into the living room is a huge bet, and could be a costly mistake. Instead, Apple is slowly, but surely, sneaking into our living rooms. Game controller support in iOS 7 is another small step towards living room domination.
Apple today announced that HBO GO and WatchESPN are now available directly on Apple TV joining the great lineup of programming offered to customers. iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes to date, and they are purchasing over 800,000 TV episodes and over 350,000 movies per day.
Apple TV is only a few independent subscription deals away from becoming a very big deal.
So the new MacBook Air has ridiculously long battery life. It truly represents a breakthrough in laptop computing. But when compared to the battery life of an iPad, it’s only catching up to 2010. The iPad achieved amazing battery life right out of the gate due in part to low power chips and a limited operating system. While the MacBook Air’s epic battery life represents a breakthrough for laptops, it’s the combination of battery life, processor, and operating system that represents the future of the iPad.
I’m certain that the future of computing will look very similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro. A laptop/tablet hybrid. Some say that Apple is religiously opposed to such a device, however, that’s not true. Apple is opposed to the current hybrid devices because they don’t excel at either being a laptop or a tablet. But the new MacBook Air is one step closer to a true “best of both worlds” scenario.
Imagine a touchscreen MacBook Air roughly the size of an iPad. Instead of a smart cover, you have an aluminum cover with a MacBook Air keyboard and trackpad. When it’s being used with the keyboard, it runs OS X. When the keyboard is gone, it’s an iPad. No compromises. Really. This wasn’t possible before because putting OS X on a tablet probably resulted in abysmal battery life, something Apple has never taken lightly. Now, however, you can get 10-14 hours of battery life from a real computer running OS X. It’s much less difficult to imagine running iOS on a MacBook Air than running OS X on an iPad.
Are we there yet? No. The MacBook Air needs to get thinner and the power to support a retina display without comprising battery life or performance. Further, OS X needs redesigned for a touchscreen. It doesn’t look like that is happening with Mavericks. Are we close? I’d say give it two years, tops.
A very helpful Apple salesperson saved me $750 and here’s how he did it. I’ve had a 15” MBP for a couple of years now, but it is just too big to use when traveling. I’ve been patiently waiting for new Haswell MacBooks, whether Air or Pro, for quite a while now, looking forward to a smaller machine with better battery life. When Apple announced the new MacBook Air at WWDC, I knew it was time for an upgrade. After a couple trips to the Apple Store, I decided that the 11” MacBook Air was for me.
I never buy the base model of anything, probably because I think that I’m some super geek that needs massive amounts of processing power and memory. Plus, Apple’s scheme makes it so easy to upgrade. Only $100 for double the RAM, $150 for the faster processor, and if you’re doing that, you might as well max out the SSD as well. It didn’t take me long to decide on the $1,749 11” MacBook Air Ultimate, primarily because I wanted the 512GB SSD for my rather large iPhoto library.
I walked over to my neighborhood Apple Store and found a salesperson to help. “I’m looking for a new MacBook Air. I’ll take the 11” model with all the options, please,” I said. Most salespeople would have thought, “Bingo!,” and proceeded to upsell me on AppleCare. Instead, this guy asked me why I needed the i7 processor and 512GB SSD. I explained that 512GB would be necessary because I have a large iPhoto library and I figured the other upgrades wouldn’t hurt either. He asked what applications I use most and I replied, “Chrome, Twitterrific, Word, Messages, and Mail.” He explained that I’d most likely never notice an upgrade to the i7 processor, likewise with the 8GB of RAM, and that he had a much cheaper option for my photos. He grabbed a $80 500GB external drive and showed me how to transfer my existing iPhoto library to it and set it up on the new MacBook Air.
As one of my friends put it, he must have been a great salesman, because convincing me to downgrade is probably harder than convincing most people to upgrade. But it worked. I walked out with a $999 base model 11” MacBook Air, and I love it. I’ve been working on it for a couple days and it’s super fast. With my photos all on the external drive, I have almost 100GB of free space. Most salespeople would have sold the more expensive computer, but this guy took the time to explain why I didn’t really need it, and convinced me to spend much less. Apple recognizes what few other retailers do: customer satisfaction starts even before a product is purchased, and it is customer satisfaction that makes companies great.
Some would argue that it’s just a new style and takes some getting used to. I’ve tried for several days now to “get used to it”, I’ve used my phone more intensely than ever, but it just doesn’t work. The design is bad. Some things, like good symmetry and combining the right colors, never go out of style, it’s just good taste.
For that reason, I started creating a mock-up of my own version of iOS 7. This is how I believe Apple should have done it.
I generally like the direction that Apple is heading with iOS 7, however, as noted above, the design of iOS 7 needs some work. In fact, it needs to look just like Tristan’s redesign. I can’t think of a better resume for a design job at Apple.
Today, Yahoo’s General Counsel posted a carefully worded denial regarding the company’s alleged participation in the NSA PRISM program. To the casual observer, it might seem like a categorical denial. I do not believe that Yahoo’s denial is as straightforward as it seems.
Below, I have carefully parsed Yahoo’s statement, line by line, in order to highlight the fact that Yahoo has not in fact denied receiving court orders under 50 USC 1881a (AKA FISA Section 702) for massive amounts of communications data.
This Yahoo statement, while probably accurate, really says nothing, as Christopher Soghoian points out. It’s the kind of statement that we don’t need in a situation like this. At best, it misleads your customers. By way of contrast, the statements coming out of Google are refreshingly blunt and include unequivocal denials:
I’m not sure what the details of this PRISM program are, but I can tell you that the only way in which Google reveals information about users are when we receive lawful, specific orders about individuals — things like search warrants. And we continue to stand firm against any attempts to do so broadly or without genuine, individualized suspicion, and publicize the results as much as possible in our Transparency Report. Having seen much of the internals of how we do this, I can tell you that it is a point of pride, both for the company and for many of us, personally, that we stand up to governments that demand people’s information.
I can also tell you that the suggestion that PRISM involved anything happening directly inside our datacenters surprised me a great deal; owing to the nature of my work at Google over the past decade, it would have been challenging — not impossible, but definitely a major surprise — if something like this could have been done without my ever hearing of it. And I can categorically state that nothing resembling the mass surveillance of individuals by governments within our systems has ever crossed my plate.
If it had, even if I couldn’t talk about it, in all likelihood I would no longer be working at Google: the fact that we do stand up for individual users’ privacy and protection, for their right to have a personal life which is not ever shared with other people without their consent, even when governments come knocking at our door with guns, is one of the two most important reasons that I am at this company: the other being a chance to build systems which fundamentally change and improve the lives of billions of people by turning the abstract power of computing into something which amplifies and expands their individual, mental life.
Each of the nine companies said it had no knowledge of a government program providing officials with access to its servers, and drew a bright line between giving the government wholesale access to its servers to collect user data and giving them specific data in response to individual court orders. Each said it did not provide the government with full, indiscriminate access to its servers.
The companies said they do, however, comply with individual court orders, including under FISA. The negotiations, and the technical systems for sharing data with the government, fit in that category because they involve access to data under individual FISA requests. And in some cases, the data is transmitted to the government electronically, using a company’s servers.
All of the responses from the tech companies linked to PRISM reeked of doublespeak. Terms like ‘direct access’ were red flags, especially when used by multiple companies. It’s one thing to comply with government demands, but it’s a damn shame that these companies, most of which impact our daily lives, lied to us today. Either tell us the truth or don’t say anything at all. Or better yet, stand up for your users like Twitter did:
Twitter declined to make it easier for the government.