Self-Driving Car Subscription

I don’t want to own a car.

Instead, I want a car subscription: 500 miles per month for $50, or unlimited miles for more. I want a self-driving electric car that shows up when I need it. It knows:

And add to that, I don’t

And all the bad drivers here in Silicon Valley won’t piss me off anymore. With a self-driving electric car at my beck and call, I can relax. Getting somewhere will be pleasant again.

The Electric Car

Geoff Ralston:

Gas stations are not massively profitable businesses. When 10% of the vehicles on the road are electric many of them will go out of business. This will immediately make driving a gasoline powered car more inconvenient. When that happens even more gasoline car owners will be convinced to switch and so on. Rapidly a tipping point will be reached, at which point finding a convenient gas station will be nearly impossible and owning a gasoline powered car will positively suck.

I haven’t thought about the gas station variable in my equation for an electric car future. I simply thought gas stations would add solar power roofs (or use gas to generate electricity) for electric chargers and/or replacement battery packs. But as gas stations focus more on electric car customers, driving a gas-powered car will become inconvenient.

Microsoft’s Path Dependent Strategy

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, interviewed by Mary Jo Foley:

Universal Windows apps are going to be written because you want to have those apps used on the desktop. The reason why anybody would want to write universal apps is not because of our three percent share in phones. It’s because a billion consumers are going to have a Start Menu, which is going to have your app. You start the journey there and take them to multiple places. Their app can go to the phone. They can go to HoloLens. They can go to Xbox. You talk to somebody like Airbnb. It might be more attractive, given our three percent share on phone, for them to actually build something for the desktop and for the Xbox.

And by the way, when we hook them on that, we have a phone app. This strategy is path dependent, which is a term I use that means where you start is not where you end up. And therein lies a lot of the nuance. The fundamental truth for developers is they will build if there are users. And in our case the truth is we have users on desktop.

Universal Windows apps is an ambitious vision. I am not convinced universal Windows apps will be competitive against Android and iOS apps. Android and iOS apps are coded and compiled to run efficiently on specific hardware and on specific operating systems. That’s why Android and iOS apps are almost always faster, and therefore offer a better user experience, than their ‘equivalent’ web apps. On iOS Apple is trying to further differentiate how we interact with apps on iPhone 6 and smaller iPhones, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPads. The differentiation makes it more difficult for iOS developers, but it also gives them an opportunity to fine tune the experience. Can universal Windows apps be as fine tuned? It would be a great achievement, but I have my doubts.

In general Microsoft’s approach will be always this dual-use focus, or this multi-focus. What we can uniquely do is bridge consumer to enterprise. That’s in our DNA.

Multi-focus? Sounds paradoxical. Perhaps Nadella is trying to convey the idea of multi-level strategy?: time (short-term, mid-term, long-term), market (broad & horizontal, verticals), devices. Regardless of his semantic inaccuracies I think Nadella’s focus is singular: Windows. Azure, Office, etc. all end up strengthening Windows. Windows can be thought of as Microsoft’s neural network. Everything else is built on top of it and adds skeletal structure or muscular strength.

Obese News Sites

Frederic Filloux and Jean-Louis Gassee, Monday Note:

When I click on a New York Times article page, it takes about 4 minutes to download 2 megabytes of data through… 192 requests, some to Times’ hosts, most to a flurry of others servers hosting scores of scripts. Granted: the most useful part — 1700 words / 10,300 characters article + pictures — will load in less that five seconds.

But when I go to Wikipedia, a 1900 words story will load in 983 milliseconds, requiring only 168 kilobytes of data through 28 requests.

News websites need to generate revenue from their online properties so they display ads. Most ads suck: they are irrelevant, they are visually unappealing, and they take a while to load. (I too used to have those ads in the earlier days of DISPLAYBLOG; I apologize for making you wait and cluttering your reading experience.) That’s why I use AdBlock and recommend it to all of my friends. Getting rid of ads cleans up the website, makes it load quicker, and lets me get to the content I want to read with less delay.

Requests by a site like the Washington Post are impossible to measure since the site never stops downloading, endlessly calling data for auto-play videos; these megabytes are often rendered by Flash Player, well-known for CPU overheating (you can hear your laptop’s fans make a drone-like noise).

Using Google’s Chrome browser on a 64-bit Windows 7 laptop, I set the device to Samsung Galaxy S4 and network to GPRS (50 kbps) in Developer Tools. The Washington Post took 2.2 minutes to finish loading 731 KB (KiloBytes). (Read “Developing For A Slow Internet” to understand why I used those settings.) 2.2 minutes. We shouldn’t have to wait that long to read the news. Note: In addition to AdBlock, I use the Disconnect extension on my Chrome browser. Disconnect stops background tracking of your online activities. I’m guessing that’s probably why The Washington Post eventually finished loading. Just in case you were wondering, the Monday Note article I referenced for this article loaded in 1.1 minutes, transferring 332 KB. In my opinion, that is better than the Washington Post, but only by a little bit.

Speed isn’t everything, but when all you want is to get to the content, all the ads and background trackers that make you wait can get annoying, really fast.

So what’s the solution for news sites? Here are a couple of ideas:

I’d pay for a ‘newspaper’ like this.

SHOWTIME, Cable Optional

Chance Miller:

In addition to coming to Apple TV, a new Showtime app that does not require a cable login is also hitting the iOS App Store. The app is not live yet, although it should rollout soon. The same $11/mo charge applies to it, as well. HBO’s standalone service costs $14.99, for comparison’s sake.

FYI, for Hulu subscribers SHOWTIME can be added for an additional US$8.99. Content aggregation and streaming services like Hulu seem poised to be the next generation of ‘cable’.

   
Shop at Amazon.com and support DISPLAYBLOG