Sam: Congrats Apple fans! The new iPhone is the exact same as the one you are using to read this… except now they don’t even give you a charger. Wow… such innovation! Thank you Raj (as our resident iPhone owner) for writing about this, I would have been even more critical than you were.
Raj: As someone who majored in mathematics in college, I can tell you that Apple has an in-house mathematical system in which 12 = Max(Pro(Plus(Mini(SE( 4 ))))). Really a genius way to keep releasing the same phone every year. Don’t understand? Just do the math.
A dead body is reported in the game Among Us. Time to accuse your friends!
Raj: I’m terribly sorry to inform you that I bring word of yet another addition to the quagmire of Google messaging apps.
Google Talk. Google Hangouts. Google Voice. Google Fi. Google Messages. Allo. Duo. Android Messages. Huddle. Plus whatever that early chat feature in Gmail was. Also the chat feature in Google Docs. I think that’s all of them. Now Google is unveiling the one chat app to rule them all, called …. Chat. A very anticlimactic but fittingly forgettable name. Chat has been around for a short while, but Google is finally making the move to crown Chat as its primary messaging application. In 2021, Chat will be free and will no longer require paying for G Suite while features of Hangouts will be phased out. If all this has your head in a spin, you’re not the only one. The biggest WTF aspect is why Google is introducing a whole new app when they could have just replaced the Hangouts client with Chat and have required no migration on the user side. Probably very few people will feel the effects since the quagmire has already been messy enough to discourage users from using any Google messaging service. Certainly Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, Messenger, and more are vastly preferable to anything Google has put out. The series of Google projects that have failed has become something of a meme, and there’s even a website called Google Graveyard that tracks these dead projects. Having failed to capitalize on text messaging, voice or video calls, or shared workspaces, it’s safe to say that Google has lost on messaging as a whole.
Raj: Twitter and Facebook irresponsibly banned a New York Post article. It’s high time to question giving these companies total control over deciding what’s real and what’s fake.
It has been a severely hectic week for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over a censorship controversy. One of the big topics of discussion in politics recently has been allegations of shady dealings between the Bidens and a Ukrainian energy firm.
Take a minute to read this article published by the New York Post.
What you just did was exactly what Twitter and Facebook tried to shut down this past week. Facebook initially announced it would curb the spread of the story, and Twitter followed up by blocking the link outright. Twitter users attempting to post the link saw the below message calling the article “potentially harmful”:Wow. twitter going even further than FB and is no longer letting ppl tweet the NYPost story. This is what pops up if you try.
Alex Thompson @AlxThompFacebook says it's reducing the distribution of the NYPost's Hunter Biden story. https://t.co/K7IqXrQmXw
Subsequently the New York Post, the fourth most widely circulated newspaper in the US, has had its Twitter account locked for 5 days and counting. The justification for the censorship comes from suspicion over the leak’s sources and manner of procurement. There has been very little said to challenge the details of the leak, on which I will not comment as it is up to you to reach your own informed conclusion. But it’s a bit rich for Twitter to complain about unconfirmed sources when it is the birthplace of hoaxes and false stories every single day. Over the past few years, many of the stories that have dominated news have either been outright fabricated or have come from suspicious sources, causing Twitter’s stance against the New York Post to seem contradictory at best if not malicious. This level of censorship should not be tolerated especially a mere 3 weeks from the presidential election.
What is clear is that we are seeing politically motivated leaders at Twitter and Facebook abusing their power to blatantly and unaccountably control the flow of information. The media and journalists have for years tried to foist the role of “arbiter of truth” on tech companies who in 2020 are happy to oblige. Dorsey, Zuckerberg, and the execs at these companies view themselves as paternal figures charged with the responsibility of governance. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai warned about Twitter being part of the problem faced by an open Internet back in 2017.“[L]et’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to an open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.” Ajit Pai, November 28, 2017 docs.fcc.gov/public/attachm…
Yashar Ali 🐘 @yasharTwitter has blocked users from tweeting the New York Post story link and from sending the link via direct message to other users.
In the wake of this controversy, Pai has announced that the FCC will be re-examining Section 230. Watch for more updates on this in the coming weeks.
Sam: A small indie game that was almost forgotten has exploded in popularity, and for good reason.
In just the third quarter of 2020 alone over 100 million people have downloaded a free mobile game that was originally released in 2018. “Among Us”has become a viral sensation over the last month, and the game has been dominating streaming channels, meme pages, and zoom calls. As the New York Times describes the sensational game:
Among Us is a multiplayer game where between four and 10 players are dropped onto an alien spaceship. Each player is designated a private role as a “crewmate” or “impostor.”Crewmates must run around the ship and try to complete a set of tasks while trying to root out and avoid getting killed by the one or several impostors. Players can be voted off the ship, so each game becomes one of survival: Successfully vote off the impostors, or complete all your tasks to win. It’s simple, cartoony and easy enough for a five-year-old to play on an iPhone.
To put it simply, this game is fantastic and after playing it myself it is clear why it has become so popular. The key to this game’s success is how much fun it is to play with friends, which is easy and free to do. Running around a spaceship trying to fix wiring, chart courses, and fuel engines while constantly watching over your shoulder for who might be acting a little “sus” is a riot. And when a dead body is reported or an emergency meeting is called all hell breaks loose as accusations are made, defences are mounted, and players are voted off. This game is perfect in a time where getting together with friends in person is difficult, and provides a fun and easy activity for a group of friends. As the NYT article points out, Among Us is more like a board game than a video game, and it reminds me of playing Risk in college for all the best reasons.
Raj: Apple conducted its iPhone 12 event last week. While diehard fans are content with marginal improvements, most people have been left confused by some controversial decisions.
Sure, the iPhone 12 is probably great. Sleek design, OLED display, 5G support. Depending on which interchangeable suffix there is attached to the model you buy (X Pro Plus SE S Mini Max …. What does any of it mean???) your new phone will have a combination of the new features announced by Apple. Great.
But can Apple go a single year without rubbing its moral superiority in everyone’s faces? A controversial announcement from the iPhone 12 event is that Apple will no longer ship a power block or earbuds along with the phone. This could be to reduce waste or to cut costs, but the reason that Apple provided instead is to reduce its carbon footprint. This is odd since customers will want to buy earbuds and power blocks anyway and these items will require their own individual packaging and shipping. At the same time, Apple is not reducing the price of the phone to reflect the removal of these items. What a great token of appreciation: charge exorbitant prices while lecturing customers about how you’re actually saving the world! While it’s true that many Apple customers have USB-A power blocks lying around, Apple also announced that the Lightning cable shipping with the iPhone 12 will be USB-C. These are strange moves from a company that used to be all about intuitiveness and user friendly design but now is forcing customers to keep up with questionable moves.
If Apple really wants to help the environment, it should consider moving totally to USB-C and abandoning the Lightning port altogether.
Sam: A viral video brought back a classic rock hit and provided a level of exposure many brands can only dream of.
On September 25th Nathan Apodaca, aka 420doggface208, posted a video of himself skateboarding to work after his car broke down. The video is straightforward: Apodaca is gliding along on his skateboard, he glances around, takes a massive swig out of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry, and turns to the camera to lip sync “Dreams'' by Fleetwood Mac. Fast forward to today and the video has over 60 million views, Ocean Spray’s shares have doubled in value, “Dreams” is 21st on the Billboard charts, and numerous celebrities have recreated the video including the CEO of Ocean Spray and Mick Fleetwood. Woah. Viral marketing has some power.
The song’s jump in popularity is part of what many people are calling the TikTok Effect. TikTok has taken the music industry by storm and viral videos and “sounds” (short clips of songs or other audio) have created superstars overnight. Rick Beato, a YouTuber who is best known for analyzing what makes hit songs great, talked about the TikTok Effect in a recent video. Beato explains the results of the viral TikTok, and why certain artists are missing out on similar levels of exposure by blocking creators from using their copyrighted music. When artists remove videos that include their copyrighted music from websites like YouTube or TikTok, they prevent their songs from finding new audiences the way that Fleetwood Mac did. I think that artists and record labels will begin to see the power that TikTok and other video platforms have in driving streams and generating long term revenue, and they will become more lenient as a result. Sony, Universal, and Warner... Please send me a check for consulting when you have a chance.
As Ocean Spray has discovered, TikTok holds an important place in marketing moving forward. Mark Ritson at Marketing Week broke down how TikTok will take on Google and Facebook moving forward. TikTok has been encouraging companies to focus on organic content that engages audiences and customers, backed by the flashy slogan “Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks.” Companies have seen great success with this strategy on other platforms, such as Wendy’s infamous presence on Twitter, and as the fastest growing social media TikTok is a logical place to invest energy. The Washington Post is a great example. They have a wildly popular TikTok account that is aimed at entertaining, informing, and subsequently capturing the attention of a younger audience. Ritson has a different opinion and thinks that in the long term organic TikTok content from brands will be replaced with a more traditional advertising platform which shows sponsored commercial messages sandwiched between user content, just like every other social media platform. Although I think that TikTok will have more traditional marketing on the platform in the future, I disagree with Ritson and think there is plenty of room for both approaches.
Who’s Making Moves?
Sam: Non-Amazon retailers did better on Prime Day than Amazon did. Amazon’s sales increased by 36%, but other online retailers’ sales increased by 76%.
Sam: Among Us is a lot of fun. Download it now and get some friends together on Zoom and your mood will go up.
Raj: The Boring Company (one of Elon Musk’s side projects) promised to drastically reduce Los Angeles’ congested traffic via an underground system. A review by TechCrunch has revealed that it might only carry a small fraction of what it promised due to fire regulations. I’m just hoping for a modern overground cross-country train solution one of these days.
Sam: Loop stock got dunked on by the same group that reported on Nikola. Hindenburg Research released a report on the recycling technology company that made it seem even worse than Nikola. There is now a class action lawsuit against the company from investors.
Sam: Nikola stock is still in a selloff, but JP Morgan is still confident that the GM partnership will pull through. I am less confident.
Sam: Your blood sugar if you drink Ocean Spray. Seriously. It is really bad.
That’s all for this week. Keep on moving.
Title contenders for v2.7:
iPhone 12 Shock, Rock on TikTok
Indie Hits and TikTok Ad Blitz
Ocean Spray Fame, iPhone Shame, iPhone LAME
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Until next Monday,
Raj & Sam