📘 After Steve: Apple’s transformation unravelled
A new book describes how "technocrats" took over and the story of Jony Ive's departure.
👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
After Steve is a new book that looks at Apple’s last decade
EU is going after Apple because of Apple Pay
Facebook pulled the plug on podcasts
It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited by a book. After Steve by NYT tech journalists, Tripp Mickle covers mainly the past decade of Apple.
There is no denying the company has changed. One of the best examples of how much it changed can be documented by how Jony Ive left Apple.
Here’s a short quote from the book excerpt that the NY Times published here:
In the wake of Mr Jobs’s death, colleagues said, Mr Ive fumed about corporate bloat, chafed at Mr Cook’s egalitarian structure, lamented the rise of operational leaders and struggled with a shift in the company’s focus from making devices to developing services.
Disillusioned with Mr Cook’s Apple, Mr Ive would depart five years later, in 2019. His exit would change forever the balance of power at the top of a company long defined by its product ingenuity, leaving it without one of its most creative thinkers and the driving force behind its last new device category.
Today, Apple boasts a market value of $2.57 trillion and a lineup of legacy products that have helped it preserve its perch as America’s largest public company. In Mr Ive’s absence, Mr Cook has accelerated a shift in strategy that has made the company better known for offering TV shows and a credit card than introducing the kind of revolutionary new devices that once defined it.
You can preorder the book on Amazon. I’m waiting for my copy and will write a review afterwards.
🇪🇺 The European Commission believes Apple is violating antitrust rules by refusing to allow rival mobile wallets to offer tap-to-pay functionality on the iPhone. Apple Pay is the gatekeeper and no one else is able to access the NFC chips for payment within iPhones and EU thinks that’s anticompetitive behaviour. Apple says that’s just the way for keeping things safe and secure. This is going to be an interesting fight, I would love more companies to use the capability. [FT, Bloomberg, Protocol]
PayPal helped to spur a formal antitrust complaint against Apple and its iPhone payments system by raising concerns with the European Commission, according to people with knowledge of the matter. [Bloomberg]
🇺🇦 DJI insisted drone-tracking AeroScope signals were encrypted — now it admits they aren’t, the signals broadcast by every modern DJI drone aren’t actually encrypted. Last month, Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov accused DJI of helping Russia to kill Ukrainian civilians by allowing Russia to freely use a drone-tracking system called DJI AeroScope to target the exact location of Ukrainian drone pilots and, allegedly, kill them with mortar strikes and missiles. The reason something like this was possible is the fact the signal can be easily hacked. DJI announced it’s halting all shipments of products and all after-sales support for both Russia and Ukraine. [The Verge]
😭 Intel’s Pat Gelsinger now expects the semiconductor industry to suffer supply shortages until 2024. Well, that’s not great. Prepare for at least 3 more Christmases where you need to buy electronic gadgets months in advance if you want to give them as presents. [CNBC]
👻 Airbnb CEO says staff can ‘live and work anywhere’. Interesting note: Brian Chesky said that Airbnb just had its most productive two-year period in its history while working remotely. Another good point: Chesky suggested that firms will be at a “significant disadvantage” if they “limit their talent pool to a commuting radius around their offices” as the best people live everywhere. [CNBC]
👩👦👦 Mother’s Day gift guide. If your mom doesn’t have a robot vacuum cleaner, this is your opportunity, and other ideas. [The Verge]
👀 The week in Musk + Twitter news:
Elon Musk raises $7.14bn for his Twitter bid from Saudi Prince Alwaleed, Larry Ellison (Oracle), Sequoia, VyCapital, Binance, a16z, and others. The largest equity commitment is $1bn from Oracle founder and major Tesla shareholder Larry Ellison, followed by $800m from Sequoia Capital, $700m from VyCapital, $500m from crypto company Binance and $400m from Andreessen Horowitz. [Axios]
Elon Musk expected to serve as temporary Twitter CEO after deal closes. Sure, Twitter’s problem was never a distracted CEO with another company. 🤦♂️ [CNBC]
Ad execs say they will move spending elsewhere if the company relaxes content moderation. Ads account for roughly 90% of Twitter’s revenue. [NYT]
Here’s what Twitter’s still-in-development edit button looks like. There’s a little “Edited” button that’ll show up next to the timestamp, and you can click it to go to an Edit History page that should theoretically show all the previous versions of that tweet. [The Verge]
📉 Tech sell-off pushes Nasdaq to steepest drop since June 2020. Big Tech suffered a massive sell-off, with Amazon dropping almost 8% and Facebook owner Meta Platforms off about 7%. Among other big names: Apple fell nearly 6%; Google parent Alphabet declined about 5%; and Microsoft shares slid 4%. [CNBC]
Why tech stocks are crashing and burning? The fed’s rate hikes are deprioritizing future growth, Russia’s war in Ukraine is hurting demand, inflation is tightening wallets, lockdowns in China are slowing the recovery, the supply chain remains broken, and some competitive moves — like Apple’s anti-tracking changes in iOS — are turning creative destruction into outright destruction. [Big Technology]
🤷♂️ And last piece of tech news is this breakdown of Facebook’s endless pivot. [Axios]
🤔 Sigh. In the past week, I have read several takes on the slowing down of the subscription business and publishers abandoning paywalls. There were mostly two examples cited: Netflix & Quartz. Now, most of these takes are from media writers living in the US. Watching both markets, US and EU, I can tell you the situation is by no means as dramatic as it would seem. Sure, keep diversifying your revenue, but don’t panic, subscriptions or memberships (the reader revenue model) work for publishers of any size. It may not be your only revenue source, still I wouldn’t give up.
RELATED: Here’s my piece from a week ago: No, subscriptions aren’t doomed. Despite what Netflix and CNN+ signal to the industry.
🤓 The pros and cons of monthly, quarterly and annual subscription terms. With a shorter period it is easier to sign up new subscribers, but harder to retain them. This is a nice overview. [Subscription publishing toolkit]
😶 The 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index was published. It reveals a two-fold increase in polarisation amplified by information chaos – that is, media polarisation fuelling divisions within countries, as well as polarisation between countries at the international level. [RSF, the Index]
RELATED: 52% of people in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic fear media freedom in their country is in danger. In the most detailed study ever undertaken across these countries, pollsters found widespread concern over the independence of national media and a desire for action to protect media freedom. [Media Freedom Poll]
👏 Kyiv Independent journalists made it on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. [Forbes]
👊 New online tool launched to protect journalists from harassment. TRFilter is a free web application that syncs with the user’s social media accounts, automatically recognising and flagging harmful comments. It limits journalists’ exposure to abusive content, allowing them to block, mute or save comments at scale. It also allows users to create reports to store or share with third parties as needed. It is currently available for use on Twitter, with plans to expand to other social media platforms in the future. [Press Gazzette]
😲 The New York Times reaches 9.1 million subscribers, and 10.4 million subscriptions, a distinction the outlet is going to communicate from now on. CEO Meredith Kopit Levien also said Wordle brought an unprecedented tens of millions of new users to The Times, many of whom stayed to play other games. [NYT]
💁♂️ Instagram wants to look more like TikTok. The platform is testing full-screen vertical home feeds that show likes and other features at the top of the post. I like the idea, also, this kind of copying is not very innovative and forward looking. I bet the Meta execs know this, but at the same time don’t have a better idea, so copy/paste is the only way forward… [@mosseri]
🗣 Meta has built a massive new language AI – and it’s giving it away for free. Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3. [MIT Tech Review]
😳 Quartz was sold for less than $10m to G/O Media. Quartz sold to Uzabase, a Japanese business data and news firm, in 2018, after its inception at Atlantic Media, for a reported $86m. The price drop is striking especially for a media company once heralded as the most innovative in the industry. [Axios]
🧐 The Guardian releases new social media guidelines for staff. “Be aware that expressing partisan, party-political or strong opinions on social media can damage the Guardian’s reputation for fair and fact-based reporting, and your own reputation as a journalist,” reads one part. Guardian News Media also recommends using the Tweetdelete service to delete old Tweets and is ready to expense the cost. The next is hiring a specialist who staff can turn to for expert advice and support (also in case of abuse or harassment). [NIemanLab, Press Gazzette]
FROM THE FIX
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😢 Facebook is pulling out of podcasts and plans to remove them altogether from the social media service. Must admit, I was looking forward to the fact a major platform decided to make audio a first class citizen. I guess, I shouldn’t have believed Facebook. [Bloomberg]
🔗 How to get universal links to your podcast for everyone? Here is a good and updated overview of services you can use. [Podnews]
🪧 Pod Cards is a new service you can use for free to generate and download podcast cards. You can use tham when share your podcast on social media, your blog posts or add it to your podcast newsletter. [Pod Cards]
🎮 Josh Wardle, the Wordle creator, recommends a new word game called Knowtwords. [@powerlanguish]
🤖 A new Boston Dynamics [dancing robots] video dropped. This latest, though, has some serious advertisement vibes, not just “look at these cute robots” vibes.
❓ Poll: When was the last time you read a book on tech & business?
Last poll results: Are you a fan of the TikTok-style videos on FB, Instagram and YouTube? 21% don’t watch them, 19% think they are too short, 18% do watch them and 15% hate them.
🙏 And big thanks to Celine Bijleveld who helped me edit this newsletter. You can follow her on Substack here.