Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Left hands and right hands

Duane Reade/Walgreens has an app that, among many other features, has an electronic copy of their loyalty card and permits it to be included in Passbook (iOS’s electronic wallet).  In fact, it is even location aware so that the card will appear on one’s phone when nearby the store to ease scanning at the register. And the website confirms that the phone version of the card works in the store.

So far, pretty sensible.

However, when one arrives that the register and tries to scan the phone, the cashier will say: “Sorry, we’re not allowed to scan phones so please enter your phone number instead.”  And then, “no, you may not enter your card number, only your phone number.”  What?  Why is there an electronic copy of the card?  Why is it in passbook?  Why is it location aware?

Is the unfortunate person on the app side unaware that someone on the rewards side doesn’t want people to use electronic versions of the loyalty card (which itself is baffling given that using the card is more helpful to Walgreens than it is to the customer)?

Someone at Walgreens is not doing their job.

See also this for Target's version of left hands/right hands with respect to apps and in-store.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Using Android against itself

This is funny.  As part of its efforts to switch users from Android to iOS, Apple will release an "Android Migration" app to move "contacts, message history, photos and video, Web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars and even wallpapers" from the user's Android phone to iOS.

Why funny?  Because the loose nature of security in Android (including access to system level items such as wallpapers) means one can create an app like this on Android but not (or not without great difficulty) on iOS.

Also funny is that, given the prevalence of developing for iOS first, nearly all meaningful apps on Android have iOS counterparts and so Apple could have a "baby-version" of the app that at least shows that the potential switchee will not lose any core apps he or she depends on.

Finally funny is seeing Apple's fonts and style on an Android phone and not because it is a knock-off.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

tablet doom and gloom

There's been a lot of concern about declining year-on-year tablet, including iPad, sales.  I think the definition of the relevant market needs closer examination.

For traditional business measures (will this business line increase sales this period vs the relevant prior period), then these metrics (total unit sales, revenues, etc.) are correct.

But, for trying to predict the relevance and permanence of a sector (are tablets a flash in the pan or are they a device with staying power), these are NOT the right metrics.

Regarding reduced year-on-year sales, tablets, and the iPad in particular, had huge initial sales because it answered the unmet demands for many people and there had never been a solution prior to iPad's release.  The dramatic improvements from iPad1, to iPad2, to iPad retina, and iPad Mini, all led to meaningful sales even to those who previously purchased earlier generations.  But, as many have pointed out, iPads are durable and capable devices so upgrades are less frequent, especially as incremental improvements have been less dramatic (iPad Air 2 v iPad Air 1 is a sharp example).

None of this means that the second meaning of market (userbase) is adversely impacted.  I'd bet that many iPad1s are still going strong and relatively useful.  iPad2s are definitely still useful (noting that they continue to be sold as the base iPad Mini!).  So, in terms of a growing userbase, tablets look healthy.  Apple's own comment that most buyers are new suggests that this is the case (and helps to explain why, atypically for Apple, it continues to sell 3 year old hardware in the tablet space unlike any other).

I think we are close to the point of seeing what normal replacement cycles look like on iPad and should think more about household durables (washing machines and televisions) than phones or even computers.  It's probably a five year cycle and so will start seeing some meaningful growth in a few years as the pig of those first few huge years moves through the python.

Monday, April 27, 2015

oxymorons and Apple results

This headline isn't unique to Apple but it is especially conspicuous given Apple's prominence: "Apple second-quarter earnings expected to top expectations".  I'm not quite sure how something can be expected to top its expectations...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Apple Store Down?

why is the Apple Store down?  And how is there no news on this?

Monday, March 30, 2015


Is there a correlation between having had and raised children and Alzheimer's?

Monday, March 23, 2015


I wonder whether consciousness evolved because it helped higher animals (and people in particular) to hone skills.  I was thinking about whistling and other complex learned skills and it occurred to me that it was the ability to think of our individual body parts as tools and objects that we can control (but not precisely) that allowed the faster learning to take place.  This is perhaps the flip-side of Cartesian duality - the body came first and the illusion of the mind developed as a way to gain advantage.

And perhaps all the elements of consciousness work to permit faster learning (deferred gratification, distinct episodic memory, etc.)?

I'm sure there are already tons of books about this but I had not thought of consciousness (and self-awareness, especially of body parts) as an adaptation to permit learning until this morning (when wondering if a dog could be taught to spit).