I’m thinking about productized consulting today. The latest episode of TropicalMBA, The One Where a Business Starts on the Show, lays out plans for creating a productized service and got my mind on what I’d like to do. It seems like a great business model. I need to think more about this.
Are we fighting ads, or are we fighting garbage?
I’m on the side of content blockers and agree with John. When it comes to blocking ads, this is the feature of content blockers that appeals most to me. Truth be-told, I don’t mind good, targeted ads that introduce me to great products and services.
The garbage ads are the ones that offend me. The ads the pop-up modally and force me to wait to close, for me to read them. These are the ads I want the option to block.
I’m in the fighting garbage camp but how would this be distinguished? How is a content blocker now supposed to show me ads someone has deemed “quality”? I’m not sure this is not just another can of worms.
UPDATE: Marco pulled Peace from the App Store today. Such a shame but I get it.
I’ve been following the debate lately about the ethics of using content blockers. The argument falls on two sides, those serving and hosting ads and the rest of us that are tired of all the junk loaded in our web pages. The average user browsing a web page is often faced with a barrage of ads and popups all while being tracked with every click they make.
I’ve been running Ghostery for a few weeks and the experience is great. A couple things I’ve learned in the time I’ve been using Ghostery:
- The shear number of trackers on most web sites
- How fast the web is without all these being loaded
- How my WordPress sites were loading trackers I wasn’t even aware of thanks go some plugins
Think this isn’t really a problem? Visit the CNN main page. How many different mechanisms are either tracking you or serving an ad?
See that little red “14” next to the address bar? Yes, that’s how many. What are they you ask?..here’s a sample:
No, it’s not OK.
Mobile Content Blocking
The introduction of iOS 9 gives users the ability to use content blocking on their mobile devices too. Developers have stepped up right away and given users good add-ins. One such content-blocker is Peace, which uses Ghostery data to do it’s job. Peace is developed by Marco Arment.
Today, I’m launching my own iOS 9 content blocker, called Peace, to bring peace, quiet, privacy, and — as a nice side benefit — ludicrous speed to iOS web browsing.
This is really a game-changer. It’s not the only content blocker, there are a ton. This one uses Ghostery which works really well, so this is at least a solid place to start.
We depend on mobile more and more. Blocking content here helps us reduce bandwidth and speeds up our experience. Even Marco blocks the ads displayed on his site:
But Peace uses the Ghostery database, and Ghostery includes The Deck. It’s classified as “Advertising”, and even though it’s far nicer than most other entries in the category, it’s fair to call it advertising.
Obviously traditional advertises and tracking applications appear to be on the losing end of this wave of content blocking add-ins. The problem is, consumers aren’t respected..tons of trackers and advertisements are forced upon us. I don’t mind ads from networks like the Deck, they are very tasteful.
Tasteful, unobtrusive should be the goal of advertisers. Ad networks need to rethink how to make this work, take lessons from those like the Deck.
Many people are not happy with content blockers, calling them unfair. What’s unfair unknowingly being tracked and advertisements in our face.
Two thumbs up for the content blockers. Go try Ghostery and Peace and see how your web experience improves.
I watched the Apple Special Event on September 9th with excitement. The iPad Pro was announced and has been on my wish list for a long time.
Ben Thompson had an excellent piece on Stratechery, which highlights some points about the event and iPad’s future that I hadn’t considered.
Talking about Tim Cook’s iPad Pro introduction:
Note that phrase: “How could we take the iPad even further?” Cook’s assumption is that the iPad problem is Apple’s problem, and given that Apple is a company that makes hardware products, Cook’s solution is, well, a new product.
It sounds good, Apple recognizes the need for a different iPad, something with more. Bigger, with needed peripherals to make the user’s job easier, better.
My contention, though, is that when it comes to the iPad Apple’s product development hammer is not enough. Cook described the iPad as “A simple multi-touch piece of glass that instantly transforms into virtually anything that you want it to be”; the transformation of glass is what happens when you open an app. One moment your iPad is a music studio, the next a canvas, the next a spreadsheet, the next a game. The vast majority of these apps, though, are made by 3rd-party developers, which means, by extension, 3rd-party developers are even more important to the success of the iPad than Apple is: Apple provides the glass, developers provide the experience.
So right. The iPad is an excellent device I use everyday, often for long periods of time. 90% of my usage is as a consumption device and very little to produce content. Why? Well, there’s not a lot of applications that transform this piece of glass to a device running software I can’t live without or use on my MacBook.
It becomes apparent the success of the iPad and now the professional iPad Pro is reliant on developers. Developers who can and are willing to create great apps to take advantage of what these devices can provide.
As an iOS developer, I can attest first-hand how hard it is to make a living on the App Store. It can be done but it’s not easy. Apple needs to change the way the App Store works, the way developers have been saying they need it to work:
The problem for iPad developers is three-fold:
First, the lack of trials means that genuinely superior apps are unable to charge higher prices because there is no way to demonstrate to consumers prior to purchase why they should pay more. Some apps can hack around this with in-app purchases, but purposely ruining the user experience is an exceedingly difficult way to demonstrate that your experience is superior.
Secondly, the lack of a simple upgrade path (and upgrade pricing) makes it difficult to extract additional revenue from your best customers; it is far easier to get your fans to pay more than it is to find completely new customers forever. Again, developers can hack around this by simply releasing completely new apps, but it’s a poor experience at best and there is no way to reward return customers with better pricing, or, more critically, to communicate to them why they should upgrade.
That there is the third point: Apple has completely disintermediated the relationship between developers and their customers. Not only can developers not communicate news about upgrades (or again, hack around it with inappropriate notifications), they also can’t gain qualitative feedback that could inspire the sort of improvements that would make an upgrade attractive in the first place.
The introduction of the iPad Pro is an opportunity for developers and for Apple. It’s a chance to truly be able to develop pro-level applications, but it won’t happen if things don’t change for developers. We have to be able to charge a reasonable amount for our hard work and allow users to try it out. We need to be able to charge for upgrades without having to resort to obscure tactics.
Ben also discusses this in more detail on his Exponent podcast with James Allworth in the Segue episode.
Apple, it’s obvious you need the support developers to continue to grow the iOS platform. Apple it has to be more about getting developers to write software for free so you can sell more hardware.
I was hoping we were going to hear some really special news about the new iPad Pro from the recent Apple event. I hoped we were going see the iPad Pro running OS X and an Intel Skylake processor. Why? This would allow such a wide array of existing great applications. Applications like Xcode, Microsoft Office or the Adobe Creative Suite.
Justin Williams beat me to the punch with his thoughts on the iPad Pro:
In their current incarnations, I believe that Windows 10 is better suited to the Surface than iOS is to the iPad Pro.
Granted both Microsoft and Adobe demonstrated tools developed specifically for the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. It’s a clean slate and the invented-for-ipad-pro apps are very few. There are so few apps that even look good and even fewer designed for the iPad today.
And we haven’t even started talking about the third-party ecosystem for the iPad. I can count the number of apps on my left hand that are thoughtfully designed for the iPad screen size. Most are, for lack of a better phrase, blown-up iPhone apps. Just this week, Twitter updated their iPad app to be exactly like the iPhone version but with a bit more padding on the edges to make up for the larger screen size. That’s fine for the iPad mini and mostly tolerable for the Air. On the iPad Pro? That’s approaching clown shoes territory.
I had dreams of using my iPad Pro with Xcode as Microsoft Surface Pro developers are fortunate enough to be able to do with Visual Studio. A truly portable, pro-level, device with powerful applications.
iOS may be a better choice of operating system than OS X here but iOS is the limiting factor. I doubt we will ever see Xcode running on an iPad Pro. Developers are one example of pro-users, that means we have to stick with our MacBooks for the time being.
Spending the day using Swift; it’s the future for sure. Swift feels like a cross between Ruby and C#, in a good way. I love writing Swift.
I still love Objective-C but because it’s like C++ and not like Ruby. There’s a place for both for now.
I really like the idea of microblogging and controlling my own content. I’m going to give it a try. What do think about it?
I’ve been an Apple Macintosh user for a long time now, but I often do things the hard way.
I work from home and mix up the work day by listening to podcasts. If the family is around I will put on the headphones as to not disturb them, but some days when I’m alone I remove the headphones and listen through the iMac speakers.
The obvious way to switch from headphones to internal speakers and back again meant I went to System Preferences->Sound, selected the Output tab and then picked which way I wanted to hear the audio. No, not difficult but there has to be a better way.
It turns out there is (otherwise this post was completely pointless). When you go to the Menu Bar you should see the speaker icon. Clicking on it shows you the volume. Here’s the key..if you hold down the Option key while you click on the speaker icon you get a nice menu:
There you go switch away, nice and easy. Maybe everyone already knew this, but I doubt it.
I used to be a software developer, and my computer use was split between my desktop machine (a big iMac with the maximum amount of RAM, upgraded processor, extra display, and all kinds of attached gadgets), and my “evening or travel” machine. I didn’t code, or design, on the evening machine if I could possibly help it – and since I work from home, the big desktop was always within reach.
I’ve been using the new MacBook for the better part of a month and haven’t had much time to write a review just yet, but it’s coming. Matt’s post pretty much reflects my experience with the new laptop. It’s great and the new keyboard and trackpad are fantastic. The keyboard worked for me almost instantly. I had gone into it with the idea I wasn’t going to like it. Marco Arment’s post about the MacBook came out while my MacBook was on order so I had some doubts.
I have a different use-case with the MacBook. I am a developer, unlike Matt. I use Xcode and Sublime Text for Ruby development. I have no problems using the little MacBook for the projects I build. I use both Xcode 6 and 7. I don’t baby the laptop, often have PostgreSQL running alongside an instance or two of Sublime Text and an Xcode IDE up and running. Works great.
No, it’s not as fast as my main machine, an iMac 5K, but I didn’t expect it to be either.