My goal is to write one 'Pattern Recognition' a week. Just the top 3-4 stories that stayed under my skin. Here's what stuck this week:
- Maps Mea Culpa: Unless you were trapped in a bomb shelter all day, you probably read Apple CEO Tim Cook's 'owning' of the fact that the new Maps in iOS 6 is a poor replacement to the old Maps in iOS 5 (and before). First off, that's the textbook right way you do it. Accept full responsibility, without caveat, something that I blogged about regarding brands and trust. For good measure, Apple even created an App Store section for Maps Alternatives (meh). Second, as I blogged about a couple of weeks back, almost regardless of what Apple did in launching iOS 6 and iPhone 5, a backlash was inevitable. This just provided the match. Third, know this; while Apple was not perfect in the time of Steve (see Me.com, Ping, AirDrop, AntennaGate), this time is different. Those instances were new products, new features or instances that touched a tiny subset of users. Maps is a CORE feature, and this is the first time that Apple has taken users BACKWARDS based upon business goals conflicting with consumers' best interest. Consumers trust Apple because they have repeatedly protected consumers interests and by ensuring that the solution would always get better. In this context, sideways or backwards is not acceptable. COOK SPEAKS: "At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."
- Mobile’s Hidden Opportunity - Marketplaces: I love the evolution taken place in marketplace models (see: Kickstarter, 99Designs, Etsy). In fact, I blogged about the topic recently for O'Reilly with respect to my own experiences using 99Designs for design of a new logo; it's an article that pissed off a bunch of designers (see the comments section). This piece by Matt Cohler frames the role of mobile, and codifies what models are most interesting. MONEY SHOT: "The best opportunities for creating new marketplaces (or reshaping old ones) via mobile will be in markets where supply is inherently constrained and there are no viable (similarly priced) substitutes for that supply. Aggregate that scarce supply and the demand will follow. This playbook isn’t new to mobile. Mobile just makes it a whole lot easier."
- The Lesser of Two Evils: A friend of mine noted that in recent times, elections seem to come down to a choice between the lesser of two evils. He notes, "If you play that one out, at the end, all that you are left with is evil." I thought about this in reading Matt Taibbi's excellent article, 'This Presidential Race Should Never Have Been This Close,' which forked me to a great article by Frank Bruni of the New York Times. Bruni suggests that the electoral process systematically generates (increasingly) shitty candidates. Regardless, of which candidate you are rooting for, the current scenario is pretty sad. I will, however, express a bit of schadenfreude for Mitt Romney, who if he had even one iota of intellectual honesty or personal humanity, and simply ran on his record and history, probably would have been electible by people like me. Instead, the '47 Percent' ads simply kill for the simple reason that it's a case of a man in his own words confirming how most people believe he thinks. JUST TRY SHRUGGING THIS OFF: "If this race had even one guy running in it who didn't take money from all the usual quarters and actually represented the economic interests of ordinary people, it wouldn't be close. It shouldn't be close. If one percent of the country controls forty percent of the country's wealth – and that trend is moving rapidly in the direction of more inequality with each successive year – what kind of split should we have, given that at least one of the candidates enthusiastically and unapologetically represents the interests of that one percent?"
- Spray vs. Solve; AKA The Power of the Particular: In the movie 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' there is a joke about Nia Vardalos' dad. He seems to think that Windex is a magic tonic for which the answer to every challenge is to spray some Windex on it; "it" being EVERYTHING. This is emblematic of what ails so much of tech where the ethos is to "spray," be it 'speeds and feeds,' lines of business, social, mobile, media, real-time, analytics, etc. when the answer instead is to "SOLVE." This is why I am such an acolyte of the Apple model (see 'HP, Dell and the Paradox of the Disrupted'). David Brooks ruminates on the outcomes that such particularity yields (''The Power of the Particular)'. EXCERPT: "It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all."