Particle Debris (wk. ending 1/14) Coming Down, Out of the Clouds

| Particle Debris

Is Facebook just an attractive waste of time? It could very well be subject to the 80-20 rule: Twenty percent of the people are doing something interesting and the other eighty percent are just consumers. I’m not on Facebook because I don’t have the time, the service doesn’t provide value to me, and it’s a proven violator of people’s privacy. So I don’t bother.

Here’s a chart from Business Insider that lists the reasons why some people still haven’t joined Facebook. “…they think it’s a waste of time. And they think that increasingly, as they see their friends sucked into a vortex of looking at photos, playing FarmVille, and posting status updates.” In Colorado recently a mother allowed her 13 month old child drown in the bathtub while she played a game on Facebook. I think it’s better to go live life than sit around simulating it. 


I’ve been sitting on this one from a few weeks ago too long…. What does Apple really sell? One argument is that Apple sells emotional experiences. On the other hand, if you’re into free and don’t really have a sense of taste, then you may be inclined to go with Android. Of course, this could almost guarantee that Android will win out. Accordingly, Android’s business model dictates that it must be free and everywhere. All this and more is thoughtfully discussed in this insightful essay: “The Unbearable Inevitability of Being Android, 1995.”

At CES 2011 we learned that the TV-cable-satellite-entertainment industry is in a tizzy. They know that customers are predictable in some ways, but the trends are confusing and alarming to them. As a result, every doofus VP is working on a scheme to cover the bases. Just about every technology concoction one could dream up is being developed or on the drawing board. Eventually a few companies will get lucky without ever having to have a vision. Read more here: “A TV-Internet Marriage Awaits Blessings of All Parties.

Watching TV

Does Intel have the wrong business model for the future? Will the ARM technology kill off the traditional microprocessor? Intel is making a lot of money now, but that’s only because PCs, while damaged by tablet sales, are still popular. The ARM co-Founder, Dr. Hermann Hauser, has some interesting ideas about the future in “Who killed the Intel microprocessor?” Warning: this article is dense and thoughtful. Be prepared to read it twice, but it’ll be worth it.

One of the fundamental things we have in our society is the concept of identity. My neighbor doesn’t make my car payment, I do. When I buy an iTunes song, it’s billed to me, not someone else. And yet, on the Internet, there is a certain amount of identity fluidity and fraud. Is that e-mail really from my bank? the IRS? So without getting into the nonsense of a National ID card, the Obama administration, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is quietly looking into helping the private sector with the technology of trusted IDs. After all, we already have something like that with our Apple ID, and it’s not a bad idea when it comes to commerce in general. “Obama Administration fleshes out online trusted IDs.”

For example, what if your ID were linked to a constantly changing, encrypted credit card number, never used twice? The archaic idea of a piece of plastic in your wallet with a single number — which leads to trafficking in stolen numbers — would suddenly go away.

We have yet to fully see how the Android phones will do against the iPhone when customers have a choice. AT&T customers, to some extent, had a choice, and uniformly selected the iPhone. But that depended on AT&Ts Android offerings. Now that Verizon will get the iPhone in February, we’ll see first hand the choices people make. It’ll take about a year for the system to stabilize, but here are some starting points: “iPhone Vs iPhone: Let The Battle Begin” and this very informative chart from Business Insider: “Why Apple’s iPhone War With Google is Just Beginning.”

Ok, time for some comic relief, as only the British can do it. “My Blackberry Is Not Working! - The One Ronnie, Preview - BBC One.”

Did you know that Blu-ray players have been able to output high-definition via component outputs? That’s so that owners of older HDTVs with only component inputs could watch Blu-ray movies in HD. Not any more. The movie studios are set to invoke the Image Constraint Token (ICT) on new Blu-ray discs that will force the Blu-ray player to restrict the component outputs to 540p, much less than high-definition. That’s okay now because all new HDTVs these days have HDMI inputs. According to TV Predictions, “Blu-ray discs purchased before 2011 can not include the Component restrictions. So, your current library of Blu-ray movies will still work fine with an HDTV that does not have an HDMI port.” The new Blu-ray discs that enforce this protocol must be clearly labelled. More technical details are at Engadget.


There are people who have criticized John Dvorak in the past for some Apple baiting and poorly conceived, out of touch articles. But every once in awhile, he comes up with a gem, and I can recommend this one. It’s chock full of good analysis and analogies. “The Apple-Google Blood Feud Worsens.

Every technical topic has its nuances. For example, the smartphone industry has been successful in meeting the iPhone challenge, but the tablet industry has not. Will that trend endure? Will the Apple tablet eventually become an also-ran? Is there something fundamental about tablets that’s different and will allow Apple to maintain it’s lead? Here are some thoughts from PC Magazine’s Tim Gideon on all that.

Speaking of the iPad, there’s been a lot of discussion about how the (print) publishing industry should be handling its transition to digital documents. Here’s some blunt advice from the Online Publishing Insider: “iDiots’ Guide To Publishing On The iPad.” It’s both funny and informative — and fit for both consumers and publishers.


Like me, Infoworld’s Bill Snyder is no big fan of the cloud. In his latest column, he argues that the sensationalism of mobile computing and the cloud has to be weighed against “privacy, vendor lock-in, and bandwidth constraints,” and that will slow down the demise of the desktop PC (and Mac). It’s one of those “The Emperor Has No Clothes!” columns that will bring you back down to earth. As always, highly recommended is: “The PC era is not over — yet.

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Lee Dronick

I held off getting a Facebook account for many of the listed reasons. However, last year I got an account, under my real name, and I do find it useful, fun, and handy. I have reconnected with old friends and classmates, some of whom I haven’t talked to in almost 40 years. I don’t play any of the games, and in fact have them blocked so that I don’t ever see when a friend wants a new milk goat or whatever for her farm.

I don’t like the new profile design, I find it clumsy to manage.


Same experience, sort of, like Sir Harry.  I reconnected with friends that I hadn’t been in touch with for 30 years.  But the novelty wore off after three months when the misanthrope in me reared its ugly head and I figured out why I didn’t try that hard to keep in touch with them in the first place.  No, nothing wrong with them but it gets boring just chatting with them and not doing anything together.  You just run out of things to talk about.

Frankly, I am amazed that there are people who truly believe that the world cares to hear about every little inconsequential thing that happens to them.  [Status update:  Picking up the laundry, wondering whether to open a cabernet or merlot tonight.  Comment:  I don’t give a flying falooly.]  So I open Facebook rarely now.


FB can be a big time waster, but like a lot of things, its manageable with a little self discipline. I have friends spread out all over the country that I probably would never interact with except for FB. Personally, I don’t post all that often, and never play FB games. I mostly share links and make comments on other people’s posts. At first it seemed pointless, but once I found a few dozen friends the “news feed” really came alive. My friends are my friends because we have similar interests. The things my friends post are often interesting to me, and hopefully they sometimes feel the same about my posts.

Twitter on the other hand… I have very little use for. Seems like its mostly for finding out your favorite celebrity’s pet peeves.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Increasingly, I just think “WTF?” when Particle Debris comes out on Friday. Facebook has been great for finding a few old friends that I’d lost track of and who I really missed for a few years. If I mention that to any Facebook user in his or her 30s or 40s, they’ll say they had the same experience. Very powerful emotional connection there. As for FarmVille, strangely enough it’s how I keep up with my sister and niece on an every other day basis and I’ve actually landed a regular client after being a helpful neighbor for a couple weeks. Not that that’s why he hired me, but because it’s an easy way to demonstrate commitment and build some sense of reciprocity. Go figure.


Nice picks, John.

I joined Facebook some time ago, and have to admit, it did allow me to connect with people with whom I had lost contact. The primary driver, truth be told, is so that I can monitor my kids, whose posts and/or pics occasionally (rarely these days) prompt a private ‘dad note’. My personal interaction with FB is to keep both my posts and information minimal. Despite this, it has never inspired passion in me to log in, and most posts I see are, as suggested by the graph, a waste of time.

Excellent read on ‘...Android…1995’; re-tweet worthy. I liked it almost as much as your next selection by Horace Dediu on modular vs integrated business architecture.

There is little doubt that Android is marching to market share dominance with Android, certainly for the near term. Samsung, for example, are aggressively marketing their Galxay tablet here in Asia, where I am at the moment (ironically, featuring happy Europeans and arguing how one can ‘do more’, though they don’t specify more of what).

It seems to me that Google are not simply recapitulating the path taken by MS in the 90’s, but their votaries, acolytes and apologists are resurrecting the same arguments regarding market share to imply superiority (of product, business model, whatever), often seeming to imply that Apple should capitulate and die an honourable death. One may ask, if it didn’t happen in the 90s with MS, when Apple were weak, why should it happen with Google now?  Google may be reaching back in time for their strategy, but they face a very different Apple here in the 21st Century. No company is perfect, but simply looking at the proportion of product ‘misses’ over successes that Google vs Apple have had, it is Apple who appear to be clear on their strategy, and have the better prospect to live long and prosper.

I have said before, and repeat again, that while most of its competitors, including Google, appear to be content to play the short game, concentrating on immediate and near-term gains, Apple are playing a long game, and on multiple fronts. I don’t believe any their competition have any idea just how long a game it may be.

Steve Kennedy

There is no link to the referenced Business Insider chart.

John Martellaro

Steve:  I fixed the link.

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