Best estimate is “lots.” Read:
Expectations for the iPhone on Wall Street are high, as hardly a day goes by without another sign that Tim Cook made the right call when he decided to go after the oversized phone market that Samsung once owned.
On Wednesday, for example, Counterpoint Research reported that Apple’s market share in November grew to 12% in China, 51% in Japan and 33% in Korea — Samsung’s home turf.
“No foreign brand has gone beyond the 20% market share mark in the history of Korea’s smartphone industry,” said Counterpoint’s Tom Kang in the company blog.
So it really is true that everybody loves the big phones other than me. But not once when I was slipping my phone into my pocket did I think, “You know what? This could be bigger, maybe even lots bigger.” And don’t get me started on phablets, which seem like either buying a Subaru Brat when you need a full-size pickup truck, or like strapping a grandfather clock on your wrist to tell the time.
What’s the appeal of these beasts?
Colorado voters spoke, but our governor wishes he didn’t have to listen:
“If I could’ve waved a wand the day after the election, I would’ve reversed the election and said, ‘This was a bad idea,’ ” Hickenlooper said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“You don’t want to be the first person to do something like this,” he said.
He said that he tells other governors to “wait a couple of years” before legalizing marijuana as Colorado continues to navigate an unknown, nonexisting federal regulatory landscape for the industry.
“There’s a whole regulatory environment … that really regulates alcohol,” he said. “We’re starting from scratch, and we don’t have a federal partner because [marijuana] is still illegal federally.”
We’re supposed to be a laboratory of democracy, Mr. Governor, and not a mere satrap of Washington. I’d apologize for the inconvenience, but why don’t you try earning your paycheck instead?
George Lucas told Cinema Blend in an interview posted yesterday that when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, along with the company came some of his ideas for a new Star Wars trilogy. But it sounds like none of them will be part of the new Star Wars universe of movies that Disney will roll out beginning with the seventh installment, the JJ Abrams-directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is set to hit theaters December 18.
When Cinema Blend asked about some of those ideas, he responded: “Well, the ones that I sold to Disney and everything, they came up to the decision that they didn’t really want to do those. So they made up their own. It’s not the ones that I originally wrote.”
A black man who was found guilty of murdering two white teenagers execution-style in a vacant Detroit field defiantly declared “black lives matter” Wednesday before being sentenced to life in prison.
Fredrick Young and Felando Hunter were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole for robbing, torturing and murdering Jourdan Bobbish and Jacob Kudla, who had met up with them in July 2012 to buy drugs, a local Fox affiliate reported.
Young shocked the courtroom when he was given the chance to address the victims’ families, but instead apologized to the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
“I’d like to say sorry to the families of Aiyanna Jones, Michael Brown, Eric Garner,” he said. “And I want to apologize to them for not being able to get justice for their loved ones who was murdered in cold blood.
“And in respect for the peaceful protest, I want to say ‘hands up don’t shoot,’” he said, raising his hands in the air. “Black lives matter — that’s it your honor.”
Young’s life mattered — until he chose to become a killer.
I don’t know how to introduce this story, other than with the most profound regret and a woefully insufficient “You know you aren’t supposed to do that, right?” So without further ado:
In a bizarre, but true illustration of that edict, a jealous wife in China, 30-year-old Feng Lung, reported chopped her husband’s penis off with a pair of sharp scissors, not once, but twice, in order to teach him a lesson for his infidelity.
Having found out her husband was cheating on her, the woman sliced off his penis, which was reattached successfully by surgeons in Shangqiu in central China’s Henan province. When she saw her husband had sent a raunchy email to his mistress once again, she severed his member a second time.
Lung is now facing jail after being arrested for causing grievous bodily harm to her husband, 32-year-old, Fan Lung.
The Mirror reports that surgeons were able to reattach the penis, but when the jealous wife found the email on her phone, she reportedly sneaked into his hospital room and cut it off again before throwing it out of a window.
The second cut is the deepest.
The LDS couples profiled on TLC’s “My Husband Is Not Gay” may find these statistics sobering: Marriages like theirs — same-sex attracted husbands and straight wives — are two to three times more likely to end in divorce than others.
That finding and others come from a newly released in-depth survey of 1,612 self-selected LGBT/same-sex attracted Mormons and former Mormons, thought by researchers to be the largest study ever conducted with this population.
Rather than tapping a random sample, John Dehlin, a doctoral student at Utah State University, and Bill Bradshaw, a retired Brigham Young University professor, with help from Renee Galliher, also of USU, solicited responses via various websites, including pro-Mormon outlets such as North Star International and those more critical such as Dehlin’s own “Mormon Stories” podcast.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess this study would apply to couples of other religions, too.
Last week I think I had everybody pining for shiny new 4k monitors to display NASA’s stunning Hubble “photograph” of 100 million stars in the Andromeda Galaxy two million lightyears distant.
Well, Rob Griffiths did me one better. Actually, he did me 50 better:
Last week, I used the just-released Hubble Space Telescope images of the Andromeda galaxy to create a couple of desktop images for my Retina iMac. I liked the results so much that I spent some time collecting other suitable images from the Hubble site, and then cropping and/or scaling them to create interesting high-res desktop images. (I used Acorn for all the edits; it had no troubles, even with TIF images as large as 20,323×16,259!)
The end result is a collection of 50+ Retina iMac-sized (5120×2880) desktop wallpapers, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope.
If you’re a lucky owner of a 5k Retina iMac, or even a mere 4k monitor, I can’t urge you strongly enough to click over and take advantage of Rob’s generosity.
(Hat tip, Jim D.)
Icelandic brewery Stedji, which is producing the beer in time for the country’s mid-winter festival, Thorri, said the Hvalur 2 beer was made with the testicles of fin whales – which are classified as endangered on the conservation Red List – smoked in a “traditional way” with dried sheep dung.
Stedji may very well be redefining “on tap.”
There’s one place where Apple is kinda-sorta-nearly competing somewhere adjacent to the low end, and that’s in the market for sub-$1000 laptops. The company’s 11″ MacBook Air got a price cut last year to “just” $899 retail, and that seems to be paying off:
Apple sold a record 5.75 million Macs in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, an increase of 19% that beat the overall industry by a wide margin, IDC said Monday.
In a preliminary estimate, IDC pegged Apple’s sales for 2014′s fourth quarter at 5.75 million, a record for a three-month period. According to IDC, Apple sold 4% more Macs than the previous quarter, currently the record.
If U.S. retail sales are any guide, the Mac’s jump came primarily from its lower-priced laptop, the MacBook Air. “Apple had about a third of all notebook sales below $1,000 in the 14 weeks of the fourth quarter,” said Stephen Baker, analyst with the NPD Group, another research firm. “That number was only 8% in 2013.”
When a company can swoop into the highest-price segment of the low-price market and immediately grab a third of it, then they must be doing something right.
…Google? Let’s read what Katie Benner has to say about that:
For all of its innovation, best captured by Eric Schmidt’s “How Google Works,” Google is a 55,000-person behemoth, and it’s nearly impossible for any company to move quickly and creatively at that size. Among tech giants, only Apple has managed to innovate after becoming so big. Hewlett Packard? Nope. IBM? No way.
Despite all the talk about Google’s much vaunted moonshots – self-driving cars and Google Glass, internet-connected balloons and drone deliveries – the company is still basically a purveyor of cheap online ads that it sells at massive volume against the things that we search for online. Advertising accounted for $51 billion of the company’s $56 billion in revenue last year.
The most valuable thing that the official moonshot incubator, Google X, has produced isn’t innovative products that will maintain Google’s search dominance. It’s good PR. It codified the idea that Google is always trying new stuff and failing because that’s what true, crazy, bountiful innovation looks like.
There’s much more to Benner’s argument, so you might just want to read the whole thing.
I’d argue that’s what Benner describes at Google is exactly what innovation doesn’t look like. Successful innovators imagine and iterate new products with exactly one thing in mind: Pleasing their customers with something new which they might not have even known they wanted. It’s a focused approach to creativity.
Wireless communications are one example. It turns out, hardly anybody really wanted a large and expensive satellite phone which could only be used outdoors, and which required a constellation of multimillion dollar satellites in orbit in order to function. It also turns out that almost everybody wants a touchscreen computer which they can fit in their pocket and access most any kind of data from most anywhere. Iridium is still around, focused on a very few, very special customers — but its parent company Motorola has since been twice orphaned. Meanwhile, perhaps more than 1.5 billion-with-a-b people own an iPhone or an Android lookalike.
Google’s approach might very well produce a gem — someday. But the way they go about “innovating” makes the next Iridium much more likely than the next iPhone, and worst of all, doesn’t allow Google to tell the difference in advance.
See: Google Glass.
The Samsung Group announced Thursday that its yearly profit fell for the first time since 2011. The electronics giant still beat analysts’ expectations as its slowing smartphone sales were buoyed by demand for its computer chips.
Sales of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones made up two-thirds of its profit for the last two years, but they will be eclipsed by its semiconductor business in 2015, according to analyst Lee Sei-cheol from Woori Investment & Securities. The company announced that its 2014 operating profits were expected to reach 24.9 trillion won, or $22.6 billion, down 32 percent from a year earlier.
Samsung is feeling the squeeze from Apple on the high end, especially now that the iPhone comes in two new sizes — “Extra Large” and “Waffle Iron.” (I know, I know — everybody loves the big smartphones but me.) Worse for Samsung is that they’re having the floor eaten out of their massive low-end sales by even lower-cost copycats like China’s Xiaomi. (Somewhere, Jony Ive and the ghost of Steve Jobs are doing the Happy Dance together as they watch their copycat get consumed by copycats.)
The point to remember here is that Samsung was literally — and I’m not abusing that word — literally the only Android phonemaker generating any profits worth mentioning. What Samsung’s troubles mean for Android going forward is anyone’s guess, although it took the Android market a comparatively short time, maybe even a shockingly short time, to become just as commoditized as the Windows PC market. Over the course of decades, Windows generated billions and billions for Microsoft and for PC makers before commoditization (and OS X) sucked all the profits out of the Wintel business model. Android went down that same road in just three or four years.
The key difference is that Android doesn’t have to generate profits for Google — but what happens to the OEMs who at some point are going to have to generate a profit or two?
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) January 9, 2015
The image you see above is a tiny version of Hubble’s HD panorama image of the Andromeda galaxy, two million lightyears away. NASA has a 6000-pixel-wide version for you, and it is staggering to see — I want a 4k monitor now just to do this one picture something like justice. Here’s more from NASA:
The largest NASA Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled, this sweeping bird’s-eye view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the sharpest large composite image ever taken of our galactic next-door neighbor. Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, the Hubble Space Telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disk. It’s like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand. And there are lots of stars in this sweeping view — over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk.
This ambitious photographic cartography of the Andromeda galaxy represents a new benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies that dominate the universe’s population of over 100 billion galaxies. Never before have astronomers been able to see individual stars inside an external spiral galaxy over such a large contiguous area. Most of the stars in the universe live inside such majestic star cities, and this is the first data that reveal populations of stars in context to their home galaxy.
I’ve been re-reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (more on that another day) which has this to say about the matter:
Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.
(Hat tip, Jim D — and an infinitely big kudos to the Hubble team.)
The best tech article I’ve read in weeks is Fast Company’s behind-the-scenes report on the development of Amazon’s Fire Phone — which was thoroughly rejected by consumers and caused an embarrassing $170,000,000 write-down for the retailing giant. So what went so wrong?
The short version might be: Jeff Bezos thought he was Steve Jobs.
Bezos drove the team hard on one particular feature: Dynamic Perspective, the 3-D effects engine that is perhaps most representative of what went wrong with the Fire Phone. Dynamic Perspective presented the team with a challenge: Create a 3-D display that requires no glasses and is visible from multiple angles. The key would be facial recognition, which would allow the phone’s cameras to track a user’s gaze and adjust the 3-D effect accordingly. After a first set of leaders assigned to the project failed to deliver, their replacements went on a hiring spree. One team even set up a room that they essentially turned into a costume store, filling it with wigs, sunglasses, fake moustaches, and earrings that they donned for the cameras in order to improve facial recognition. “I want this feature,” Bezos said, telling the team he didn’t care how long it took or how much it cost. Eventually, a solution was discovered: Four cameras had to be mounted at the corners of the phone, each capable of identifying facial features, whether in total darkness or obscured by sunglasses. But adding that to the phone created a serious battery drain.
And team members simply could not imagine truly useful applications for Dynamic Perspective.
On the Fire Phone, Bezos forgot all about his laser-like focus on the customer’s needs, to pursue a feature his own design team didn’t know what to do with. Has Bezos reached that point of success where nobody can tell him No anymore? As a happy Amazon customer, I certainly hope not, although Amazon could fiddle around with more failures like the Fire Phone for years before it negatively impacted its retail operations. But here’s the bit which should have investors worried:
Bezos has said that his job is to encourage more “bold bets” and to embrace failure inside the company in pursuit of the big successes that “compensate for dozens and dozens of things that [don’t] work.” That drive and willingness to experiment has made Amazon a formidable competitor; Google chairman Eric Schmidt, for one, has said he considers Amazon to be the search giant’s most dangerous rival. For Apple, too, its ambitions with e-commerce, iCloud, and now, even devices, all run headlong into Amazon’s initiatives. But will all of Bezos’s risk-taking ultimately pay off? “They make no money!” former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer exclaimed in a recent TV interview. “In my world, [that’s] not a real business. I get it if you don’t make money for two or three years, but Amazon is, what, 21 years old?”
You get the feeling the profits just aren’t a part of Amazon’s business model?
UPDATE: An unfair thought just occurred to me. If you want to expand an existing business into profitable new fields, Ballmer is not the person you call on to help. But if you want to squeeze extra billions out of existing products and services, there might not be anyone better than Ballmer. Maybe Bezos should make him an offer he can’t refuse…
If at first you don’t reignite sales, try more of the same:
The chain is instead “reigniting” the “I’m lovin’ it” theme “by introducing a new platform that puts more focus on lovin’,” said the company in a statement. The messaging will focus more on positivity “with more uplifting content and conversations in the lovin’ spirit.
Ad Age first reported the brand campaign after Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett won a pitch for ideas to refresh the brand. “I’m lovin’ it” was not expected to be jettisoned, but rather to be evolved.
“This new focus will inspire everything we do moving forward, from advertising and marketing to how we interact with customers in restaurants and on social media,” the company said.
If McD is serious about winning back customers, all they have to do is fix the damage they’ve done to their formerly world-class french fries.
If you really want to upset white people at brunch, water down the Bloody Marys.
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) January 6, 2015
The “Foodini,” as it’s called, isn’t too different from a regular 3D printer, but instead of printing with plastics, it deploys edible ingredients squeezed out of stainless steel capsules: “It’s the same technology,” says Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines, “but with plastics there’s just one melting point, whereas with food it’s different temperatures, consistencies and textures. Also, gravity works a little bit against us, as food doesn’t hold the shape as well as plastic.”
The Barcelona-based startup behind the machine says it’s the only one of its kind capable of printing a wide range of dishes, from sweet to savory.
“In essence, this is a mini food manufacturing plant shrunk down to the size of an oven,” Kucsma said, pointing out that at least in the initial stage the printer will be targeted mostly at professional kitchen users, with a consumer version to follow, at a projected retail price of around $1,000.
If you need me, I’ll be standing over my charcoal grill with a couple of ribeyes cut from an actual cow.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published as “Your VodkaPundit Christmas Movie Guide” in 2013 and is now resurrected and republished as part of the Ghost-Lists of Christmas Past Series.
Tis almost the night before Christmas — but there’s still plenty of time to load up the DVD player or stream from Netflix. So make lovely adult beverages for you and yours, and mugs of hot cocoa for the kids.
I should also mention that I’ve never once been able to sit through all of It’s a Wonderful Life, so there’s a good chance I’m a terrible person with retrograde taste in holiday entertainment. So with that out of the way, let’s look at what we do watch every year here at Casa Verde.
Apparently there’s some kind of bitter feud amongst the Love Actually-haters and the Love Actually-lovers, but I’m here to resolve those differences by gently reminding you that the Love Actually-haters are possibly less than human, almost certainly dead inside, and at the very least are incapable of simple human emotion.
Here we have every love story crammed into one breezy and perfectly paced gem of a movie. There’s romantic love, new love, young love, lost love, love that bridges the language barrier, brotherly love, lustful love, the love between a sister and her institutionalized brother, and perhaps the most touching of all, the love between a step-father and the son he finds himself caring for alone. The scenes between Liam Neeson and young Thomas Sangster are by themselves worth the price of admission. And every Anglophile will love Rowan Atkinson’s two pitch-perfect cameos.
There’s some language and some comical nudity, so this one might not be for the kiddos — but prove to me you aren’t dead inside and learn to love Love Actually.
A new Orlando-area tourist attraction has opened up to add to the long list of other theme parks. But it’s unlike anything you’ll fins at Disney World, Universal Studiosm or Sea World. It’s called Machine Gun America.
It allows participants to fire live ammunition from fully automatic weapons.
“Everybody has something they always wanted to try,” General Manager Bruce Nierenberg told local CBS affiliate WTSP Channel 10 News. “This would be on people’s bucket list to try it and have a new experience.”
If you think that’s awesome — which it is — wait until you get to this next part:
Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of the 13,000 square foot facility being planted within the Mecca of Florida’s family-friendly theme parks.
“You’ve got Holy Land right there in Orlando. You’ve got Disney World, and Epcot,” said Lucia Kay McBath, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, “All places for family fun where they should feel protected.”
But it would appear that McBath is among the minority. The station is running a poll where it asks participants “Do you think it’s okay to allow kids as young as 13 to handle high-powered machine guns?”
Over 76% voted “Yes.”
I love this country.
Via The Independent:
An American pastor from Indiana, who leads a church that preaches same-sex marriage is “sinful”, has been arrested after he allegedly grabbed and squeezed a man’s genitals before requesting oral sex.
Gaylard Williams, 59, who leads the Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour, southern Indiana, was arrested and charged with battery and appeared in court last week, WLKY reports.
Williams allegedly approached a 27-year-old man in his car at Cypress Lake in Indiana. The man said that when he rolled down his window to speak to Williams, the pastor grabbed and squeezed his genitals, and then requested oral sex.
This next line is the clincher:
Police found gay porn in Williams’ car, who denied it was his and claimed he was returning it to the owner.
The chances are still slim of there being life on the Red Planet, but they’re better than they were last year:
A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday.
Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months.
For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.
“It is one of the few hypotheses that we can propose that we must consider as we go forward,” said John P. Grotzinger, the mission’s project scientist.
The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them.
Let the terraforming begin.
Cevin Key, the band’s keyboardist, says the band at first planned to design an album cover based on an invoice for the U.S. government, rather than sending a physical invoice. But after learning that the government had allegedly used their music without permission, Key says the band was told it could bring a suit against the Department of Defense.
“We sent them an invoice for our musical services considering they had gone ahead and used our music without our knowledge and used it as an actual weapon against somebody,” Key told CTV’s Kevin Newman Live.
As someone who has tried and utterly failed to withstand Skinny Puppy’s music on more than one occasion, I’d urge the government to pay up — the band is worth every penny at Gitmo.
One year after legalization, marijuana use is down among teens in Colorado and in Washington State:
University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, now in its 40th year, surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade in schools nationwide about their use of alcohol, legal and illegal drugs and cigarettes.
“There is a lot of good news in this year’s results, but the problems of teen substance use and abuse are still far from going away,” Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator, said.
After five years increases, marijuana use in the past year by students in all three grades declined slightly, from 26% in 2013 to 24% in 2013. Students in the two lower grades reported that marijuana is less available than it once was, the survey found.
One year does not make a trend of course, so I’m not jumping up and down over this, even though I support legalization.
I had expected a small bump in the usage numbers — even if teenage pot smoking had remained unchanged — because it’s safer to tell a pollster you’re doing something legal, than it is to admit to breaking the law.
It will be interesting to see what the next few annual polls brings.
The Navy’s ship-deployed laser we talked about last month has been deployed on the USS Ponce — and tested, too. And it works:
The Navy announced that it had deployed and fired a laser weapon this fall aboard a warship in the Persian Gulf. During a series of test shots, the laser hit and destroyed targets mounted atop a small boat, blasted a six-foot drone from the sky, and destroyed other moving targets.
“This is the first time in recorded history that a directed energy weapons system has ever deployed on anything,” Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, told reporters at the Pentagon. “A lot of people talk about it—we decided to go do it.”
It was built cheap, using lots of COTS parts — a rare instance of our procurement system working as advertised.