I used to hold an A+ certification. I wanted to eventually get my MCSE and CCNA. I used to care about hardware and specs a lot. Then I stopped.
To many, the very talk of specs has become tiresome. We're in a pretty different world, and most of us care about meaningful metrics. Does it suck? Is it great? Is it better or worse than something else? These are the questions that many of us want answered.
Then there's the other half:
Your die-hard Android fan? Chances are that they care deeply about specs. And that's OK. It takes all kinds.
I cared whether or not something worked well. If specs were the underlying cause of it working well, then that was great, but I didn't really care about the numbers. I wanted to know if it sucked, if it was great, if it was better or worse than something else.
I would venture to say that a good majority of Apple fans have similar concerns. I honestly couldn't tell you what components are in the 4th-generation iPad, but I do know that it's faster than my 3rd-generation one so it will work better. The new Mac Mini? I know it's faster and better than the last one.
The very fact that discussions such as the one picture above (from the comments on The Verge's review of the new Nexus 4) are happening should be enough to let you know that we're talking Mars and Venus when it comes to die-hard Android fans versus their iOS-loving counterparts. We're different animals. We care about different things. I can't imagine any forum in the world where Apple fans are talking about prying apart their phones to increase the storage capacity without any sort of irony.
It's these very same differences that show the stupidity of the back-and-forth fanboy word fights. It's much like the currently-polarizing talk of the election here in the US. No matter how many times you call someone a mouth-breathing idiot you're not going to get them to change their vote. It's like standing in the door of your house, claiming to be welcoming while brandishing a shotgun pointed at their crotch. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Buy whatever phone you want. Use it how you want. Leave other people out of your decisions. Choice is good. Without it, as many in both camps seem to desire, it's just another day of having the status quo shoved firmly down your throat. Nobody got time for that either.
As the father of one very artistic and creative son, I'm constantly enthralled by watching what he does. He's talked to me at great length about what he wants to do when he gets older, and art is always within the equation. But as his father, and one who has worked within creative fields, I understand the difficulties that he'll face.
That's why I'm so excited for The Lamp Post Guild and its Kickstarter project. These are three guys who know what it's like to walk the line between a hobbyist and professional artist and they want to share their wisdom with the world.
Please, take 5 minutes, watch the video and then back the project. But most importantly, spread the word. These guys aren't doing some sexy new technology, but what they're doing might just change the world for someone you know.
Over the past couple of years that I've worked with TNW, I've been humbled and blessed to be asked by a number of startups to mentor them, or to be an adviser, in some official capacity. I've always turned them down, graciously, because my primary job was that of a writer on a publication that could very well write about them, and that's a line that I didn't want to cross.
The fact is, I have zero doubt that I can be objective, but it's the outward appearance that matters. In my day-to-day role I had next to no editorial oversight placed upon me because I was the editorial oversight. People knew that fact, and I didn't want to have any potential conflicts of interest.
But my job has now changed. I'm doing business development, and I'm back into a world where I've cultivated a long, somewhat-distinguished career. I have zero input as to what should or shouldn't be written on TNW anymore. That's the job of Matthew Panzarino, as well as some others. In fact, I now have editorial oversight placed upon me, and I have full faith in Matthew's ability and willingness to tell me no.
The first thing that popped into my head when I switched jobs was “oh crap, I hope I don't screw this up.” But the second thing was “maybe I should be more open to mentorship requests now.”
So I did what I do when I have questions about what the right thing is – I turned to Micah, who I consider as one of my own mentors, even though there's nothing on paper saying that. His response?
“I say go for it. You will be very helpful to entrepreneurs.”
Done deal. As of today I'm opening up the floodgates (or at least the dripping faucet) to those of you who feel like I could help you. I've seen thousands of companies. I've seen what makes them successful and I've seen what makes them fail. I don't claim to know everything about startups, but I've done a couple myself with varying degrees of success. That said, here are the areas in which I can offer guidance:
There's probably some other stuff that I'd be OK at doing too, but these are the areas in which I'm immediately confident that I can help people. David Tisch, a guy that I respect a lot, once told me something pretty smart - “If you want to be a mentor, just be one.” I think that's a good rule under which I will feel comfortable working.
It should also be known that I'm not looking to profit by doing this. At some point I may agree to a small stake in return for my assistance, but the time isn't right for that yet. I have to prove myself first. Rest assured, if that day comes, I'll be quite public about that transition.
I'll do as much as I can, in the time that I have, to help you to be successful. I'll expect you to understand that I have to keep my family fed, so my work with TNW has to be priority #1. I'm also going to be highly selective about the companies with which I work, because I only want to be involved with the ones that I feel I can help the most. So if you're interested, drop me a line and let's chat.
CNET has, via the German site MobileGeeks reported that the forthcoming iPad “Mini” pricing and configurations have been leaked via a screenshot. Unfortunately, the data in the screenshot just doesn't seem to jive with what we know about where Apple has gone.
There are two schools of thought about what the Mini is set to be:
1 - A smaller, less expensive version of a favorite, aimed at the bargain market
2 - A new class of device for Apple
I'm betting on option 2, with a small sprinkling of option 1 thrown in for good measure (and a near-verbal “screw you” to the rest of the tablet market). We'll get to the “why?” about that sprinkling in a moment.
The base pricing for the Mini (according to the screenshot) places the device at €249 for an 8 GB model, WiFi only. The most expensive version is said to be €649, including 64 GB or storage and LTE.
Now let's delve into the likely scenario. If Apple's going to do an 8 GB version of its new tablet, something about the $199 price point just rings very clear to me. For $249, I'd expect 16 GB. Will Apple truly carry over the 249 price point from Euros to USD? That remains to be see; if the price is even real. If it does, I get the feeling that many people are going to want a 16 GB tablet at that $249 price point. If it's any higher than that, well…expectations are only going to go up as well.
Where the device makes a lot of sense is in that higher configuration. If it's truly €649 (and again, if it carries over to $649) then you're talking about something that's $180 cheaper than the current 64 GB, LTE iPad 3. For a device that offers considerable more utility than your iPhone, but only slightly less than your 10-inch iPad, that's a steal.
But I think it will be lower. Much lower.
The thing to consider here is that Apple still really likes the iPad 2, and soon the current-generation iPad will move into that “discounted” foothold. At $299 the current iPad 2 is the single best deal on the tablet market. Something tells me that Apple will avoid having identical price points for the “Mini” and the 2 at all costs. Though the 2 doesn't have LTE available, the soon-to-be-discounted 3 does. Again, no overlapping price point.
So, my pricing scheme would go something like this:
8 GB, WiFi - $199
8 GB LTE - N/A
16 GB WiFi - $249
16 GB LTE - $379
32 GB WiFi - $349
32 GB LTE - $479
64 GB WiFi - $449
64 GB LTE - $579
Apple's not going to enter this section of the tablet market like a lamb. Expect the company to come out roaring, with price points that should make just about every other manufacturer quake. Apple's supply chain is absolutely unparalleled. At this point, there's also next to zero doubt that Apple is (at least partially) aiming for people who wouldn't otherwise purchase a tablet. As Gruber pointed out when it comes to the discussion of using a lower resolution display in the device, this is Apple's “screw you” to the market.
Remember when the Retina MacBook Pro launched? Conventional wisdom placed the entry level pricing of the device at around $2,500. Apple one-upped that, coming out $300 lower on a device that's exponentially more expensive than a small tablet. Shifting around $100 or so to make certain that everybody hears the lion roar should be no problem for Apple.
I'm no mind-reader, and I have zero sources within Apple. So it's entirely possible that everything I've written here is wrong. When we get to the announcement, and the pricing is revealed, I'll either gloat slightly or I'll never mention this post again.
I'd seen this before, but my dad sent it to me today with the following message:
“Perspective. And why you all mean more to me than anything. Nothing else matters.”
From the clip:
“In 1990 I had three appearances with the legendary Johnny Carson and a total of 14 appluase breaks. And I would have given it all if I could have just had one more day sharing a bag of french fries with my daughter.”
Writer finds a story. Writer then has 2 choices - Contact PR or don't. Then another 2 choices - Wait for comment or publish and update later.
But what really happens is something more like this:
Writer publishes the story, not waiting for comment because past experience has told the writer that it will, at a minimum, be an hour before the comment comes. So s/he presses “Publish” and then gets a nasty email 5 minutes later from the PR person, wondering why they didn't wait for a reply.
But even if they had waited for a reply, they're always the same.
“Attributable to a ______ spokesperson - We don't comment on rumors or speculation.”
“We're very excited for ______ but we have nothing more to share at this time.”
In other words, they don't really say anything. 9 times out of 10, it's the same canned response. Is it really any wonder why we don't bother to wait for the reply?
There are exceptions. There are PR folks who you can email and you will always get at least a human reply. But it goes back to that great PR firewall. PR exists, at some level, to control the message. Writers exist, at some level, to spread the real story. There's a fundamental breakdown between the two, and until a compromise is found the painful PR circle will continue.
When the announcement of my new job went live on Friday it was as if a weight was pulled off of my shoulders. Over the weekend, during a trip to visit some startups and old friends in St. Louis, I had plenty of time to reflect. What's happened in the past day is a moment of clarity the likes of which I'd not had since before I started with TNW.
I don't care about tech.
Gasp “But Brad! I thought you loved startups, and entrepreneurship!”
I do! But here's a news flash - You can love startups, you can be enthralled bye entrepreneurship…and you can simultaneously not really give a rat's rectum about technology.
I guess I should elaborate, because saying that I don't care about tech is a bit of a misnomer. I love technology. I'm a gadget-loving geek through and through. But I don't really care about tech in the same way that I once did.
What I do care about are the people. I care about their stories, their triumphs and heartaches, their goals and their dreams. I care about the stuff that matters to me, and that's the humans behind the technology.
I spent a good portion of today clearing out my Following list on my main Twitter account. I weeded out companies and people that I only followed because of their technology. While I still have another account that I use for writing and following tech stories, I don't need that constant barrage of blowhard in my face. What's left are 300-some people and companies to which I feel an emotional attachment.
So the obvious question is this – If I don't care about technology in the same way, how can I focus on developing the business of a company that is dedicated to technology news? To me, that answer is simple. Again, it comes down to people.
I understand that there are millions, if not billions of people out there who live, eat, sleep and breathe everything tech. I understand that TNW has a staff of those people. I want to help them do the things that they hold dear, whether that's reading about technology or writing about it. I believe in the mission and goals of TNW, primarily because they're centered around the mindset of a startup and entrepreneurship. I live, eat, sleep and breathe TNW. I'm addicted to it, and I have no desire to rehabilitate from that.
If the day ever comes that TNW breaks its focus away from reporting on amazing people and their stories, I'd have to reconsider that position. Fortunately, we're a company founded by entrepreneurs and I feel very confident that we'll never shy away from that culture.
People matter. Relationships matter. Helping people, developing relationships and waking up every day happy to do so? That matters.
This is my clarity, and I've never felt more alive.
“You're a Christian. So you don't believe in science.”
This was actually said to me. Maybe not verbatim, but the sentiment was the same. To top it off, it's been said not just once, but literally so many times that I can't be bothered to keep count.
Here's the thing - Generally speaking, there are two groups of people who call themselves Christians. You have the group that denounces everything even remotely related to science, be that evolution, the “Big Bang” theory or whatever else. Then you have the group that is (arguably) sane. I fall into the latter.
I do believe in evolution. Perhaps not in every way that you do. But it's impossible to deny that evolution of species exists. We have irrefutable evidence. My favorite is the Mexican Tetra. It's actually two versions of the same fish. The ones that live in the caves have no eyes, because they don't need them. The ones that don't live in caves do have eyes because they're necessary.
There's the group of Christians who believe that the earth can't possibly be more than around 6,000 years old. They've been dubbed the Young Earth Creationists. I tend to believe that they're taking things a bit too literally. If you're going to look at the wonders of God and freely admit that you can't explain all of them, then you have to be equally ready to admit that you don't understand everything about the world in which we live, and you have to be accepting of the very real risk that you might be completely wrong.
I'm also in the group of people who will love my fellow human regardless of their sexual orientation. It's not my job to judge them. It's my job to love them.
I'm sure I'll be lambasted for so publicly expressing my beliefs, and that's OK too. I was never promised that it would be an easy life to be a Christian. I think it's highly unfortunate that religion has so jealously overtaken the true meaning of Christianity.
There is absolutely an intersection where Christianity and science can peacefully coexist. There is room in my heart and in my church to love people who don't feel the same about me. At the end of it all, if I'm wrong in my belief, then I've simply lived by a guideline that has challenged me to be a better person when I otherwise might not have. But to me, the very fact that we've been able to figure out science, the smell of a fresh-cut lawn, the ability to love to the point that it hurts, the miracles of medicine…these are all reason enough for me to keep my faith right where it is. Firmly planted at the intersection.
The short version of the story is that I see the numbers and I know TNW's growth. I know where we're headed and I'm glad to have been a part of the editorial side. But I also know where we can do better, and now it's time to rise to that challenge.
For a long-term career choice, you could probably do better than blogging. The burnout rate is extraordinarily high and the workload can be staggering. But there are those of us who thrive on that kind of stress, and I'm one of them. I'm still stunned by the fact that I've gotten to wake up every day, find amazing companies and tell their stories. I'd do that for free, but I'm very fortunate that I've worked with TNW and they've kept me fed.
TNW has been exceptionally loyal to me since day one. This job came about, quite literally, because two weeks ago I went to Zee and told him what I'd like to eventually do with the company so that I could have a more long-term vision. In the matter of 48 hours, we were fleshing out what I truly believe is my dream job.
For those who don't know, I got my start in radio, progressing from an AM station in 1993 to a few market leaders over the next 10 or so years. But where I've really fallen in love is in being a story teller. I translated that into creating unique and effective advertising while I was in radio, and that sparked my love of marketing.
In the years that have followed, no matter what my “day job” has been, I've always been involved in marketing in some form or another. When I look at TNW, and the resources that we have in both the blog side and our TNW Labs I'm constantly reminded of exactly how marketable we are. I think that there are roads to be traveled that haven't even been discovered yet, much less paved. TNW is full of people who are just crazy enough to pull off the impossible. Being in the position to work with them, dreaming up ideas and working with amazing companies to bring them to fruition is like waking up as a kid on Christmas.
But it's bittersweet. My love of startups and the entrepreneurial community makes it hard to walk away from writing about them on a daily basis. My biggest fear is that anyone would see this move as abandoning either of those groups of people. In fact, the opposite is true. By helping to make TNW even more profitable I'm working to make sure that we're going to be around, telling those stories for years to come.
I'll still be writing on TNW. Sometimes. I'm extraordinarily happy to see Matthew Panzarino taking over the Managing Editor role. I'm looking forward to filling in as needed, taking direction from one of the guys who has quickly stepped up to being unarguably one of the best in the business.
It's been a far better life than I deserve, and I hope that I can be lucky enough to have that trend continue.