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A small-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone

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Apple is now the biggest watchmaker in the world, overtaking Rolex during the last quarter. This achievement happened less than two and a half years after Apple entered the watch market. Rolex, on the other hand, was founded in 1905, 112 years ago at a time when watches were the avant-garde of technology. Given this revelation of sales, we can test the estimates I put forward on the Apple Watch sales, shown below:

We know that Rolex produces about 1 million watches a year and we also know that Rolex had sales of $4.7 billion in 2016. The average revenue per watch[1] was therefore about $4,700.

My estimate has been that Apple sold about 15 million Watches in the last 12 months at an average price of about $330. This puts the Apple Watch revenue run rate at $4.9 billion, indeed above Rolex.

They may be slightly high but the news makes me feel quite comfortable in my methodology. Note also that within the last quarter Apple said sales for the Watch increase by 50%. This is also reflected in my estimate of 3 million in Q2 vs. ~2 million for the 2016 Q2.

Overall, about 33 million Apple Watch units have been sold since launch and they generated about $12 billion in sales. Coupled with a 95% customer satisfaction score, altogether, this has been a great success story. But with only 2.5 years in, it’s still act one.

To understand the long term trajectory, it’s important to qualify this product as part of another, larger story. The Watch, even with LTE, is an accessory to the iPhone. It still cannot be activated without it. Even the coverage plan is an extension to an iPhone plan. The company is careful to address it as a companion product.

But how long will that last?

It used to be necessary to first attach an iPhone to a computer to activate it. That used to be cited as a reason for the iPhone not being a “proper computer”, diverting attention from what it actually it would inevitably become. Those who clung to that thin wire as a reason not to face the future were deceived. The iPhone and the iPad now stand alone of any PC or Mac. Will the Watch cut these familial links and stand alone some day?

I think this too is inevitable. The technology trajectories are easy enough to plot. Apple has invested enormously in the silicon that goes inside the Watch and has taken it to new levels of connectivity with LTE, 85% faster wifi and with a 70% faster processor and all with 50% more power efficiency.

These enable independent voice keypad, Siri everywhere, Find my friends, Maps, music streaming. These breakthroughs are only possible with a new W2 processor which is more powerful than the first iPhone processors.

This comparison is apt: the Watch is effectively stealing usage from the iPhone. At first it took alerts, timekeeping, and basic messaging away. Now it’s taking basic phone calls and music and maybe maps.

It’s fitting therefore to remember how the iPhone was launched; as a tentpole troika: A wide-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone.Today the new Watch is a small-screen iPod, an Internet Communicator and a Phone.

So not only is the Series 3 Watch more powerful than the original iPhone but it is also poetically capable of the same tentpole jobs. But it’s not just a miniature iPhone. it has a new, completely orthogonal attack on non-consumption and market creation: fitness and health. This is a key point. The iPhone was born a phone but grew up to be something completely unprecedented, unforeseen by its creators and, frankly, undescribable in the language of 2007.

The Watch was born a timepiece but it is traversing through the early iPhone and pulling in a new direction all of its own. The fact that we are talking about “Resting Rate”, “Arrhythmia” and “Atrial fibrillation” at a timekeeping launch event indicates that new behaviors will follow and so will the language we’ll use to describe this child-like product once it grows up.

Notes:
  1. Includes services such as repairs
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jhecking
1051 days ago
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Singapore
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The US Senate Is Using Signal

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The US Senate just approved Signal for staff use. Signal is a secure messaging app with no backdoor, and no large corporate owner who can be pressured to install a backdoor.

Susan Landau comments.

Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I think we just won the Crypto War. A very important part of the US government is prioritizing security over surveillance.

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jhecking
1179 days ago
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Singapore
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1 public comment
zippy72
1178 days ago
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No doubt signal will be banned in the UK soon
FourSquare, qv

New – HTTP/2 Support for Amazon CloudFront

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When I interview a candidate for a technical position, I often ask them to explain what happens when they see a interesting link and decide to click on it. I encourage them to go in to as much detail as they would like. The answers let me know how well they understand and can explain a complex concept. Some candidates will sum up the entire process in a sentence or two. Others have filled an entire whiteboard with detailed diagrams. At a very simple level, here are the steps that I like to see (If you know much about HTTP, you know that I have failed to mention the SSL handshake, cookies, response codes, caches, content distribution networks, and all sorts of other details):

  1. The domain name is converted to an IP address by way of a DNS lookup.
  2. A TCP connection is made to the remote server.
  3. A GET request is issued.
  4. The remote server locates (or generates) the desired content and returns it to fulfill the request.
  5. The TCP connection is closed.
  6. The client processes and displays the result..

A complex web page might contain references to scripts, style sheets, images, and so forth. If this is the case, the entire sequence must be repeated for each reference. On mobile devices, each connection request wakes up the radio, adding hundreds or thousands of milliseconds of overhead (read about Application Network Latency Overhead to learn more).

Amazon CloudFront is a global content distribution network, or CDN. Several of CloudFront’s features help to make the process above more efficient. For example, it caches frequently used content in dozens of edge locations scattered across the planet. This allows CloudFront to respond to requests more quickly and over a shorter distance, thereby improving application performance. With no minimum usage commitments, CloudFront can help you to deliver web sites, videos, and other types of content to your end users in an economical and expeditious way.

New HTTP/2 Support
The retrieval process that I described above contains a lot of room for improvement. Repeated DNS lookups are avoidable, as are TCP connection requests. HTTP/2, a new version of the HTTP protocol, streamlines the process by reusing the TCP connection if possible. This core feature, combined with many other changes to the existing HTTP model, has the potential to reduce latency and to improve the performance of all types of web applications.

Today we are launching HTTP/2 support for CloudFront. You can enable it on a per-distribution basis today and your HTTP/2-aware clients and applications will start to make use of it right away. While HTTP/2 does not mandate the use of encryption, it turns out that all of the common web browsers require the use of HTTPS connections in conjunction with HTTP/2. Therefore, you may need to make some changes to your site or application in order to take full advantage of HTTP/2. Due to the (fairly clever) way in which HTTP/2 works, older clients remain compatible with web endpoints that do support it.

The connection from CloudFront back to your origin server is still made using HTTP/1. You don’t need to make any server-side changes in order to make your static or dynamic content accessible via HTTP/2.

Several AWS customers have already been testing CloudFront’s HTTP/2 support and have seen clear performance improvements. Marfeel is an ad tech platform that helps publishers to create, optimize, and monetize mobile web sites. They told us that CloudFront’s HTTP/2 support has reduced their first-render time by 17%. This allows the sites that they create to consistently load within 0.8 seconds. making them more accessible to mobile readers.

Enabling HTTP/2
To enable HTTP/2 for an existing CloudFront distribution, simply open up the CloudFront Console, locate the distribution, and click on Edit. Then change the Supported HTTP Versions to include HTTP/2:

The change will be effective within minutes and your users should start to see the benefits shortly thereafter. As I noted earlier, HTTP/2 must be used in conjunction with HTTPS. You can use your browser’s developer tools to verify that HTTP/2 is being used. Here’s what I see when I use the Network tool in Firefox:

You can also add HTTP/2 support to Curl and test from the command line:

$ curl --http2 -I https://d25c7x5dprwhn6.cloudfront.net/images/amazon_fulfilment_center_phoenix.jpg
HTTP/2.0 200
content-type:image/jpeg
content-length:650136
date:Sun, 04 Sep 2016 23:32:39 GMT
last-modified:Sat, 03 Sep 2016 15:21:01 GMT
etag:"b95a82b8df7373895a44a01a3c1e6f8d"
x-amz-version-id:fgWz_QaWo_.4GF7_VOl0gkBwnOmOALz6
accept-ranges:bytes
server:AmazonS3
age:644
x-cache:Hit from cloudfront
via:1.1 91e54ea7c5cc54f4a3500c72b19a2a23.cloudfront.net (CloudFront)
x-amz-cf-id:Dr_A3emW7OdxWfs3O0lDZfiBFL7loKMFCP9XC0_FYmCkeRuyXcu5BQ==

Learning More
Here are some resources that you can use to learn more about HTTP/2 and how it can benefit your application:

Available Now
This feature is available now and you can start using it today at no extra charge.

Jeff;

 

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jhecking
1433 days ago
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Finally!
Singapore
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Skype finalizes its move to the cloud, ignores the elephant in the room

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The new UWP Skype client. (credit: Microsoft)

It has been a slow transition, but Skype is finalizing its move away from a peer-to-peer system to a cloud-based one.

When it was first created, the Skype network was built as a decentralized peer-to-peer system. PCs that had enough processing power and bandwidth would be elected as "supernodes" and used to coordinate connections between other machines on the network. Similarly, text, voice, and video traffic would flow between peers, directly when possible (when intervening firewalls and routers were cooperative) or indirectly through other systems on the network when required.

This peer-to-peer system was generally perceived as being relatively private; with no central servers the assumption was that there was no central ability to perform wiretaps or other forms of eavesdropping. This belief was in fact mistaken.

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jhecking
1482 days ago
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The Facebook of ecommerce

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As we all know, the internet changed how we chose what to read. It removed the old bundles and aggregation systems and created new ones, and those new systems result in different things being read in different amounts and from different kinds of publishers. It seems to me that much of this is going to happen to retail. The current bundles and aggregation models will be split up and people will chose in new ways, and that will remake at least some brands in the same ways that publishers have been remade. 

Once everything is online, ’How do you get people to look at your content?' is actually a very similar question to 'how do you get people to look at your product?' For products as for journalism, there are things that can cut through - that people will deliberately and consciously go to - and there are very-low-volume items in the 'long tail' that will be surfaced though search. But then there is a broad middle of more-or-less commodity, more-or-less undifferentiated choices that depend on distribution and aggregation to be chosen. That particular story is perfectly well written, but it’s read because it’s in that magazine and that magazine is bought because it’s on the rack, and now people don’t come to stories like that anymore. And equally, that particular product is bought because it was ranged and placed at eye level, and now it's not going to be being bought like that either. Today, those stories get their traffic, very often, from Facebook - Facebook recommends stories it thinks (based on its machine learning model) you might like. There's not really an equivalent for products. 

Amazon in particular and ecommerce in general is good at search. Amazon, very obviously,  is Google for products. It's good at giving you the best-seller you've heard of or the water filter for your fridge (the long tail). It's not so good at the things in the middle. Amazon is great at selling you what's on the table in the front of the bookshop, and at selling one copy a year of a million or so obscure titles, but it's not very good at showing you what's on the shelves at the back of the bookshop. It's not so good at selling the mid-list - things that you didn't know existed, or didn't know you wanted, before you saw them. It does have a recommendation product, but it's not clear how well it works, and indeed an interesting question for Amazon is how far it can grow before running into categories for which its commodity merchandising model doesn't work so well. (Even in print books, Amazon's market share only reached a quarter of the market after 20 years of ruthless execution).

More broadly, it strikes me that 15 or 20 years ago people used to try to distinguish in ecommerce between ‘high touch’ and ‘low touch’ products, on the basis that it would be easier to buy online things that you didn’t have to touch first. That was true up to a point, but it turned out that many fewer things were ‘high touch’ than we thought, while same-day delivery and free returns are eroding much of the rest: we’ve now reached the point that it’s not clear that there is anything that cannot be bought online. But actually, the real barrier now is often not touching it, but knowing about it. These are things where a lot of the role of a physical shop is curation, recommendation and demand generation rather than logistics: the shop shapes your choice but it also tells you about things you didn't plan to buy, and you can't search for things you hadn't thought about. Some of these products might not get bought at all if you hadn't been shown them - you went in for one book and came out with ten. How will that work online? Without that, we'll have more of the  polarisation one can often see in ecommerce today, between bestsellers on one hand and the long tail on the other with the middle squeezed. 

So, someone needs to do the demand generation - to tell you there's something you might want. That might be physical retail, or advertising, or media - the fashion or home magazine or the book review, online or offline. Indeed, some online brands are creating their own print magazines (for example, ASOS and Net a Porter), or creating physical retail to show the product and build awareness, but where you order online. It can also be the brand itself: there's an interesting case study in Walker & Company (an a16z portfolio company). The founder spotted an under-served market in personal grooming products, but also spotted that it was now possible to reach that market online without necessarily going through all of the barriers that traditional large-scale physical distribution would place in the way of a new brand, at least at first.

However, there is clearly also an opportunity to do this at massive scale, for many people across many products - that's kind of the point of the internet. From that perspective this is not a particularly solved problem. Google doesn't do demand generation. Etsy, ProductHunt and Pinterest (the latter two both A16z portfolio companies) are building solutions from different directions, and a great many people trying to replicate some form of the boutique model online as well, as I suggested here - to create some kind of specialist curation. As machine learning ripples out across the tech industry, entrepreneurs will probably also find entirely new and better ways to answer 'what would I like'. That might include Google, indeed. 

That kind of scalable automation, though, could also go in completely the opposite direction for some things - away from any kind of decision at all.  You put an Amazon Dash on the machine, or perhaps it can measure what you’re used and re-order by itself, and so you in effect subscribe to the product, and once done you’ll probably never bother to change brand. Or, say to Siri or Alexa or Google Assistant ‘Hey, order some more soap powder’ and the same brand is added to your next delivery. (And in both cases your choice of channel is just as now locked in as your choice of soap powder, once you've set the default.) Either way, an impulse purchase in one of 2 or 3 retailers you might have stopped in at, based on real-estate portfolio on one hand and eye-level placement and brand equity on the other, shifts to auto-renewal or a natural language parser. Given that P&G and Unilever's combined ad budget is larger than the global revenue of the recorded music industry, this means that subscription soap powder could be a much bigger deal than subscription music. What will you have to pay to be Google Assistant's default choice of dishwasher tablets?

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jhecking
1493 days ago
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Twitter’s back, baby

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It’s been too long. Twitter unceremoniously knee-capped their API a few years ago and a number of solutions popped up to fix the loss. However, those stopgaps also closed and left us with no good ways to read Twitter while in NewsBlur. Until now, that is.

You can now subscribe to https://twitter.com/username to get individual Twitter accounts on NewsBlur. Put them all in a folder to recreate your tweetstream.

Not only do you get the full tweetstream for that user, but you can also filter out tweets that are replies, retweets, or contain any text in them. You can also train Twitter feeds to highlight tweets that contain photos, are retweeted or liked, or have a word you want.

YouTube also deprecated their API and NewsBlur came to the rescue with native YouTube API support. Now Twitter joins that list of native support, giving you a better Twitter experience than ever before.

And because this native Twitter support takes more work than normal RSS feeds do, this feature is only available to premium subscribers.

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jhecking
1530 days ago
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Great new feature! NewsBlur just keeps getting better all the time!
Singapore
popular
1531 days ago
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8 public comments
Harvison
1527 days ago
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it’s been over a week and I’m still not able to figure this out?

Any help would be greatly appreciated,
Dan
Dennison, OH
egoexpress
1531 days ago
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Great feature!
49.46904200,11.11430400
cygnoir
1531 days ago
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Yes! This is great news.
Portland, OR, USA
joshuapoehls
1531 days ago
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I'm excited. Can't wait to try this!
Texas, Earth
skorgu
1531 days ago
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Nice!
samuel
1531 days ago
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This is a big deal. First Youtube, now Twitter. Next ... email.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
kyleniemeyer
1531 days ago
Then... THE WORLD
Splike
1531 days ago
Very nice! Hopefully we will see facebook pages next (feeds for user, public/private groups and public fan pages).
alexjurkiewicz
1531 days ago
How liable is support for these new systems to be killed by yt/twitter? Or are you pretty confident they're using stable APIs
samuel
1530 days ago
I can never be sure but these APIs have been stable for a couple years now. If they yank the cord, then that's their call. I'd like to not rock the boat though, so if it works I'm happy with that.
jqlive
1530 days ago
Can we add twitter lists? or is it only profiles? ... awesome feature update!
gazuga
1526 days ago
Another feature of yesteryear Twitter RSS was following a user's liked tweets by subscribing to twitter.com/[user]/favorites. What you've already hacked together here is a beautiful thing, though.
genseng
1531 days ago
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Is the response below expected behavior? It's true I have not set it upbut the article makes no mention of this.
"Your Twitter connection isn't setup. Go to Manage - Friends and reconnect Twitter."
KW
larand
1531 days ago
Seeing the same thing here.
samuel
1531 days ago
Yeah, I didn't bother to add that. You need to connect Twitter to get this to work.
moimadmax
1531 days ago
And if I don't want to create a Twitter account, any plan to have this without twitter account ?
samuel
1531 days ago
I would make a burner Twitter account then. I need to use your Twitter access token to assemble these feeds. That's the only way it works.
genseng
1531 days ago
Thanks!
ahooper
1530 days ago
"Manage - Friends" == Home - Manage - Followers - Social Connections
genseng
1523 days ago
Hey, look at that! Twitter is relevant to me again!
mburch42
1531 days ago
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This could be useful.
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