Four quick posts: 11 April 2009

[I love Nat’s “Four short links” format and am ripping it off to try to get myself blogging again. Instead of links, these are four blog posts I’ve been meaning to write but haven’t.]

  1. It turns out Facebook is not completely useless if you’re married! And no, I’m not talking about the world’s most overvalued Scrabble platform, and I don’t mean “I’m in an open relationship.” Instead, I was shocked this week to find that Facebook is better than Flickr for sharing private photos. I’ve considered myself a member of the Flickr generation for some time now, but when posting pictures of my daughter, I set them to “Friends and Family” only. My Flickr contacts seem to get pictures mostly via RSS, and since no RSS message is posted for private photos, they never see my shots. Facebook, though, by making their Newsfeed a site-only feature, brings people to their site every day, which in turn lets them see my private postings. I posted a picture on Flickr and wound up with zero favorites and one comment (as it turns out, from a Flickr employee who happens to be a contact); I later posted the same picture on Facebook and got 8 favorites and 11 comments. Flickreenos: you should put a message in RSS feeds that says, “Marc just posted a private photo — click here to see it.” Or, you know, add a Scrabble app.
  2. Is there any doubt the iPhone has totally won the mobile platform war? I don’t really get why Palm is even bothering to launch the Pre. “It’s the App Store, stupid.” It took the original Palm OS about 12 years to reach 50,000 applications developed for Palm OS; in under a year, the iPhone OS already has 25,000 applications available. The App Store promises to fulfill many developers’ dream — to work alone and strike it rich. Palm is competing by trying to match the UI, and that won’t work. The Android team made a smart move recently by working on a home automation platform; changing the playing field is probably their best bet.
  3. Related: the App Store has an inscrutable, time-consuming, whim-dependent approval process. The App Store newsgroup postings are full of angry claims that this is a bug, but I bet it’s a feature. If you can’t get an app approved until it’s working perfectly, and you have to wait a week or two — or more — between approval rounds, you’re much more likely to put a lot more effort in up front to get it right. That raises the quality level across the App Store. Palm is talking about lowering the bar for development of apps, and I bet that will fill their platform with crap-ass, low quality one-offs, and people will learn to distrust apps as being valuable; instead they’ll just be widgets.
  4. Nearly all of the things that have gotten me excited online over the past year involve making media faster and easier to consume over the air (OTA): Boxee, Roku, Kindle for iPhone, even sad-sack Hulu. A lot fewer Amazon boxes are showing up at my house, even though I’m buying plenty of media from them through Kindle and Roku. OTA-media FTW! Now we just need a DRM revolution so I can actually own this stuff instead of getting a lame-ass license.