Wednesday, November 19, 2014

iOS app privacy

How does a Google or Microsoft iOS app know that I have other Google or Microsoft apps installed on my iOS device?  For example, if I download and install Chrome (after having, perhaps Google Maps installed and myself logged in), I am greeted with to offer to sign in - and Chrome already knows my Google ID.  Similarly, if I download Word, log-in, and then download Excel, Excel already knows my Microsoft ID.

This is surprising as it means the apps have access to both a list of my existing apps (I think this is okay but not ideal) as well as my user ID (huh?).  Is it possible for me to write an app that can: (i) determine a user's Google ID; and (ii) ask the user to log in and thus give me credentials?  (i) alone seems bad, (ii) is very bad.

Also, noting that I do not even need to provide a password to confirm to Chrome that I am myself, is there some serious security lapse here?

All very odd

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Apple and high defensibility

There are lots of reasonable questions about iPad's growth and future.  Nevertheless, this article makes a nice argument that Apple has enough of a lead in the space and, more importantly, a sustainable advantage in processors, to continue to earn profits and improve the product without obvious near-term risks or competition in its high end space.  This is a direct result of Apple's vertical integration and, as a corollary, having a proprietary source of supply for chips.  Whether or not there is some enormous use case of the iPad is still somewhat unknown (to be clear, it is a big business even if people have difficulty articulating exactly why it is better than alternative formats), at least there is time for Apple, its customers, and its developers to figure it out.

Even more interestingly, this processor independence fits well with AppleTV and AppleWatch, was the article makes clear.

So as Apple works to bring general computing to different places, it can stake out a high and differentiated ground using hardware (processor) and software (OSX/iOS) advantages unlike anyone else.  It is not the idea of vertical integration as a defensive strategy that is interesting, it is the fact that no one else seems to be trying this (at least successfully).

Friday, October 24, 2014

Economic Growth

A reasonable NYT article on economic growth (in particular, growth in China) but relevant on a variety of fronts.

There is one aspect that sticks out.  The article (and cited sources) suggest that growth reverts to the mean and that superior growth will inevitably decline over time.  And notes that the USSR and Japan were both expected to surpass the US but never did.  This seems to gloss over the US's high growth over a long period.

My thumbnail view on growth, in particular, growth in the US:

1) huge natural endowment;
2) significant immigration and high birth rate; and
3) most importantly, strong property rights and rule of law.

#1 helped to give a head start and encourage #2 but, ultimately, it is #2 and #3 that allowed above trend growth to continue.  As a nice example, see the eventual stumbling of the USSR and Japan for #3 and #2, respectively (notwithstanding the large #1 of USSR).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Apple Pay and Target

Someone at Target is not paying attention.

Target revised its iOS app to let shoppers use Apple Pay to buy on-line.  However, they neglected to work with their bank partner/issuer (TD Bank, I think) to allow their own store branded Visa card to be registered with Apple Pay.  I know Target can't direct their partner and that Target is not that interested in the Visa card at this point, but one would think they could cajole TD and/or delay the adoption of Apple Pay until they could avoid this conspicuous gap.  This is on top of not being able to use Apple Pay at the register (which is understandable as Target has not yet installed NFC devices at the register).


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Starr vs US regarding AIG

Article in the NYT about the Starr suit against the federal government.

It would truly be wonderful if we saw some evenhanded coverage that showed exactly what the government did and did wrong when it used AIG's value to bail-out much of wall street.  Even if the actions were necessary to preserve the financial system, it doesn't mean that AIG shareholders should have uniquely borne so much of the burden of those actions.

The use of AIG as a conduit to make other parts of the financial system whole was a panicked reaction by the government to the crisis.  Taking the government at face value that there was no malice does not justify the use of government powers to act so inequitably.  Some recompense is appropriate.

The following statement from the NYT article captures what I have been writing for years

The decision to use taxpayer and A.I.G. money to repurchase soured mortgage deals that the company insured for big banks in the form of credit-default swaps amounted to a “backdoor bailout” of Wall Street, the lawsuit says.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Touch ID and Mac

I wonder why Apple has not brought Touch ID to the Mac to help in password management.  I know typing in passwords is faster on a keyboard and that safari can be set up to automatically enter passwords but still, simple identity verification seems like it would be useful.  Maybe this is an example of less is more and just saying no.

Friday, September 12, 2014

U2 and the circle of endorsements

Just a thought on how funny it has been to see U2 migrate from Apple, to Palm, to RIMM, and back to Apple over the past several years.