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Amazon's Shock & Awe

Regular readers will know that I'm just about as big of a bull on Amazon as one could be, and have be
First Draught
Amazon's Shock & Awe
By M.G. Siegler • Issue #99 • View online
Regular readers will know that I’m just about as big of a bull on Amazon as one could be, and have been for years. Chess vs. Checkers and all that. But yesterday seemed insane (in a good way) even to me. And I sort of wonder if it doesn’t kick off a new era of product announcements.
Basically, everyone copies the Apple approach now. Invites go out, anticipation builds, speculation is rampant, and then, boom! The reveal. Usually at least a couple products, but often just one main focal point. 
This model used to work brilliantly. These days, it feels almost as if there’s a backlash to such pomp and circumstance. Perhaps because even Apple often fails to live up to the hype (at least in terms of the view in the press). 
Amazon did the opposite. While they clearly invited the press ahead of time (as they all had to book flights to Seattle), they asked them to keep it quiet. As such, there was no speculation until right before the event. Then the event itself was a blitzkrieg of announcements. I honestly haven’t even caught up myself yet. But it feels like a good model for a new era. 
Provided the products are any good, of course. The Fire Phone was not. The Kindles have been. The Echoes have been thus far…
Drinking: a Sierra Nevada Tropical Torpedo IPA 🍻

The Premium iPhone
I enjoyed this post from Steven Levy, Apple Is Defying History With Its Pricey iPhone X. On the surface the title sounds like the argument will be a tired one – Apple products are too expensive! – but he brings in the historical knowledge to back up his point:
What happened next is interesting. With the iPod—Apple’s first successful stab at market dominance—Apple had begun with a high price but quickly dropped it. Over the next few years, the iPod underwent amazing transformations, each one introducing vast improvements and—wait for it—much lower prices. It was a classic instance of Moore’s Law, which explained how tech devices can quickly get both cheaper and dramatically better.
But the iPhone was different. It was introduced with $499 at its top price—and 10 years later, its successor costs twice as much. Apple is treating Moore’s Law as if it were a jaywalking statute. Even the second-rung phone announced today, the iPhone 8 —albeit a substantial upgrade to the current top-line model—starts at $699.
I’m not too worried about it, Apple is still going to sell a ton of all of these devices. But it is an interesting point. Prices are rising. And I know Apple’s costs are rising and they want to maintain margins. But this is different than historical product updates…
One more point: Maybe it doesn’t matter so much that Apple is milking its lead—because smartphones are on the clock. Today, Tim Cook referred to iPhone X as “the future of the smartphone.” But we’re approaching the time when what really matters is the future after the smartphone. When I interviewed Phil Schiller earlier this year on the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone launch, he opined that the iPhone might be around for 50 more years. That’s ridiculous. Consider how far technology has come in the last half-century, and then look at how that pace is accelerating. There is no way we will be carrying around those slabs of silicon and glass in our pockets in 2067.
That is ridiculous. Smartphones may exist in some capacity in 50 years, but there’s no way they’re the same form of computing then. I don’t care how dominant they are now. 50 years in a long time, and it may as well be infinity years in technology time. I’m not sure I’ve ever read something that would have me more worried about Apple’s state of mind.
Of course, Phil Schiller and Tim Cook will not be running Apple in 50 years… Related: Can anyone catch the cell phone king?! (This was 10 – not 50, TEN – years ago…)
Twitter 280
Twitter is moving from 140 characters to 280 characters. Look, I think that ultimately this will be fine. And their justification in this regard is fine:
We see that a small percent of Tweets sent in Japanese have 140 characters (only 0.4%). But in English, a much higher percentage of Tweets have 140 characters (9%). Most Japanese Tweets are 15 characters while most English Tweets are 34. Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people Tweeting in English, but it is not for those Tweeting in Japanese. Also, in all markets, when people don’t have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting – which is awesome!
That said, the higher-level justification – that 140 characters was arbitrary, therefore we’re going to thoughtfully double it to 280 characters is ridiculous. 280 IS JUST AS ARBITRARY AS 140!!! And actually, dually so because you had a chance to make it not arbitrary – why not, say, 500 characters? A nice, round number, at least…
If they’re going to do this, I would rather see something like 10K (or unlimited) characters. And then simply snip the tweet down to 140 characters for the feed (either manually or automatic). In other words, long text would be just another payload. Just like images or GIFs or what not. 
My main concern with all this is scan-ability. I think it’s unheralded, but the fact that you can open Twitter and quickly read dozens of items is awesome. On what other service can you do this? Maybe Drudge Report? Maybe that’s why it also works! For some people!
There’s also something to say about brevity being beauty. And it leading to more creativity. Twitter is playing a dangerous game here…
The iPhone may be around for 50 years!
The iPhone may be around for 50 years!
X Gon’ Give It To Ya
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M.G. Siegler

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