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John Gruber on Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz’s Statement That He’s ‘Stepping Down’”

John Gruber:

From a company-wide memo sent by Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz Thursday:

As we’ve shared over the last several weeks, in order to set Magic Leap on a course for success, we have pivoted to focus on delivering a spatial computing platform for enterprise.

As nearly everyone has finally realized, our actual technology is nothing at all like what we promised, lied about for years, and sold gullible deep-pocketed investors on. Our con is falling apart at the seams, so we’ll milk the last few dollars out of the only investors dumb enough to give us even more money, by repeating the word “enterprise” and doing that thing with our fingers like Obi-Wan Kenobi.

We have closed significant new funding and have very positive momentum towards closing key strategic enterprise partnerships.

You’re not going to believe this but we somehow raised another $350 million. I know, right?

As the board and I planned the changes we made and what Magic Leap needs for this next focused phase, it became clear to us that a change in my role was a natural next step.

Everyone agrees the jig is up.

Read the rest of his post to finish his translation of their memo.

Apple and Google are launching a joint COVID-19 tracing tool for iOS and Android

Matthew Panzarino, writing at TechCrunch:

The project was started two weeks ago by engineers from both companies. One of the reasons the companies got involved is that there is poor interoperability between systems on various manufacturer’s devices. With contact tracing, every time you fragment a system like this between multiple apps, you limit its effectiveness greatly. You need a massive amount of adoption in one system for contact tracing to work well.

At the same time, you run into technical problems like Bluetooth power suck, privacy concerns about centralized data collection and the sheer effort it takes to get enough people to install the apps to be effective.

Apple announces online-only WWDC 2020 due to coronavirus spread

Apple has announced that this year’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be held online due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus. Scheduled to be held on an unspecified date in June, it will feature a “completely new online experience” that includes both Apple’s traditional announcement keynote and developer sessions.

This June, WWDC20 brings a completely new online experience to millions of talented and creative developers around the world. Join us for a fully packed program — including Keynote and sessions — to gain early access to the future of Apple platforms and engage with Apple engineers. Dive into an exciting learning experience and discover how to create your most innovative apps yet using the latest Apple technologies.

Stay tuned for details on the web, by email, and in the Apple Developer app.

Not really surprised at this point as everything is getting cancelled thanks to covid-19.

Google Cancels Google I/O 2020: “Due to Concerns Around Coronavirus”

Corbin Davenport, writing for Android Police:

Google I/O takes place near Google’s headquarters in California every year in the early summer, aimed at helping developers with their work and announcing new products. The 2020 event was scheduled to take place on May 12-14, but now Google has canceled it due to safety concerns.

Google is sending out emails to registered attendees, explaining that the company decided to cancel I/O due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus. “All guests who have purchased tickets to I/O 2020 will receive a full refund by March 13, 2020,” the message reads. Also, guests who registered for the event will automatically enter the drawing for I/O 2021 tickets next year, and Google is pledging to give $1 million to local small businesses and schools for STEM research and coronavirus protection.

Google I/O is the latest in a string of events to be canceled due to the coronavirus, joining Mobile World CongressGDCFacebook’s F8 developer conference, and others. It’s a shame for anyone who planned to attend I/O, but as governments around the world are struggling to contain the virus, bringing together thousands of people from many different countries might not be the best idea at the moment.

Wonder if Apple will go ahead of WWDC?

HQ Calls Game Over

CNN Business:

The company behind the once-popular live mobile trivia game is shutting down, CNN Business has learned. HQ will part ways with 25 full-time employees. When HQ launched in 2017, its first game HQ Trivia quickly attracted millions of people across the world who stopped whatever they were doing twice a day to play the game on their smartphones. The company was profiled by The New York Times and its original host Scott Rogowsky became a household name, appearing on programs like NBC’s “Today” show. 

But over the next year, the game’s popularity faded and its parent company was hit with a series of setbacks.

The company grappled with internal turmoil, including the death of HQ cofounder Colin Kroll, who died in December 2018 from a drug overdose. CEO Rus Yusupov said in a company-wide email on Friday that “lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution.”


Yusupov also disclosed that the company had hired a banker “to help find additional investors and partners to support the expansion of the company.” He said the company had “received an offer from an established business” and was expected to close the deal on Saturday, but the potential acquisition fell through. 

In recent months, HQ tried to expand its audience by launching new products, including a photo challenge game in December called HQX. 

“Since Colin and I founded the company, we really set out to develop this network of live interactive shows on mobile phones,” Yusupov told CNN Business at the time.HQ generated millions in revenue through brand partnerships and in-app purchases — a feat few young consumer tech companies could boast of in their early years.

It worked with big-name brands such as Nike and Google and partnered with NBC, ABC and CBS to promote their programs. HQ’s sponsored show for Warner Bros’ “The Lego Movie 2” was nominated for an Emmy. (Warner Bros. and CNN are both owned by WarnerMedia.)But HQ wasn’t immune from financial woes.

The company laid off employees in July 2019 and other staffers left. HQ raised $15 million at a $100 million valuation in March 2018. The company had previously raised $8 million.

Apple Bringing Universal Apps, Enabling a Single Purchase for Mac, iPhone, and iPad Apps

9to5 Mac:

With the latest beta releases, Apple has added the ability for developers to create unified purchases across Mac and iOS.

This means that a developer can list an iPad app in the App Store and a Mac version in the Mac App Store. When the customer buys either version, it automatically unlocks for all platforms. Previously, developers could only offer separate independent purchases.

This feature is clearly designed with Mac Catalyst in mind but the unified purchase capability can be applied to any Mac app.

The developer simply has to change their Mac to use the same bundle identifier as the iOS app, and the App Store handles unifying the purchases. For developers with existing independent Mac apps, migrating to a universal purchase model might e difficult.

Apple is automatically enabling unified purchases for new Mac Catalyst applications created with the just-released Xcode 11.4 beta. Existing apps will have to change their bundle identifiers if the want to switch to unified purchases.

It’s not just paid up-front apps that can benefit. In-app purchases can also be shared across iOS and Mac fior the first time, if the core app is unified.

Nintendo Switch overtakes SNES with more than 52 million sold

Sam Byford, for The Verge:

Nintendo had its strongest Switch quarter ever this holiday season, moving 10.81 million units to reach a total of 52.48 million sold as of the end of 2019. That means it’s now overtaken the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to become Nintendo’s third best-selling home console of all time behind the Wii and the NES. The 16-bit SNES was released in 1990 in Japan and the following year in North America, achieving a total of 49.1 million units sold worldwide.


Nintendo’s Switch hardware sales are up about 15 percent year-on-year, which the company attributes partly to the launch of the cheaper Switch Lite while also noting the December launch in China — though that’s unlikely to be a major factor yet. The 3DS, meanwhile, is now officially a non-factor with just 260,000 consoles sold even in a holiday quarter.

The “Tragic” iPad

Ben Thompson, writing at Stratechery:

Steve Jobs stepped onstage 10 years ago today to introduce the world to the iPad. It was, by his own admission, a third category of device that sits somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop. Jobs unveiled the iPad just days after the annual Consumer Electronics Show ended in Las Vegas and at a time when netbooks were dominating personal computing sales…

Apple had an answer to the netbook: a 9.7-inch tablet that allowed you to hold the internet in your hands…Apple was also looking to create a third category of device that was better at certain tasks than a laptop or smartphone. The iPad was designed to be better at web browsing, email, photos, video, music, games, and ebooks. “If there’s going to be a third category of device it’s going to have to be better at these kinds of tasks than a laptop or a smartphone, otherwise it has no reason for being,” said Jobs.


It’s tempting to dwell on the Jobs point — I really do think the iPad is the product that misses him the most — but the truth is that the long-term sustainable source of innovation on the iPad should have come from 3rd-party developers. Look at Gruber’s example for the Mac of graphic designers and illustrators: while MacPaint showed what was possible, the revolution was led by software from Aldus (PageMaker), Quark (QuarkXPress), and Adobe (Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat). By the time the Mac turned 10, Apple was a $2 billion company, while Adobe was worth $1 billion.

There are, needless to say, no companies built on the iPad that are worth anything approaching $1 billion in 2020 dollars, much less in 1994 dollars, even as the total addressable market has exploded, and one big reason is that $4.99 price point. Apple set the standard that highly complex, innovative software that was only possible on the iPad could only ever earn 5 bucks from a customer forever (updates, of course, were free).


The situation has improved slightly since then, primarily with the addition of subscription pricing for apps. Still, that is far inferior from a customer perspective to the previous “Pay for Version 2” model that sustained developers on the Mac for decades; we never did get upgrade pricing or time-limited trial functionality for regular paid apps.

Instead, as Apple is so wont to do, it tried to fix the problem itself, by making the iPad into an inferior Mac.


To be fair, would that we all could “fail” like the iPad; it was a $21 billion business last fiscal year, nearly as much as the Mac’s $26 billion. That, though, is why I did not call it a failure: the tragedy of the iPad is not that it flopped, it is that it never did, and likely never will, reach that potential so clearly seen ten years ago

Go read the rest of the post, Ben covers quite a lot and makes several good points.

A few changes to this site

I’ve made a few changes to how this site works, the backend is still in WordPress, but the frontend is now Gatsby and I’m using GraphQL to talk between the two.

I have a plugin that triggers a webhook to push a deployment on Netlify when posts or pages are published or updated, it takes a few minutes for a new build to get pushed thanks to all the posts I have but it’s pretty smooth.

I’ll be updating the layout used by the site, as I go, but I’m enjoying this setup currently.

Google’s End of an Era

Alan Murray, writing for Fortune:

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down from running Alphabet, leaving the company to Sundar Pichai. This likely signals the end of an era, when Google tried to solve a vast array of human problems under Alphabet’s broad umbrella—but pretty much failed to turn any of them into a profitable business. The notion then was that Google was not just an awesome search and advertising business, but rather a whole new way of doing business. (See Jeff Jarvis’ book, What Would Google Do?) With the founders’ departure, it once again becomes just an awesome search and advertising business.

I had the rare opportunity to interview Larry Page at the very beginning of the Alphabet age, at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco in 2015. When people ask me to name my favorite CEO interview, I often cite this one—mainly because Page’s answers were so remarkably unrehearsed.

My favorite part of the conversation was this:

Me: Is there any company out there you look at and say, “That’s kind of what we want to be”?

Page: Mmmmm…No.