Bring Your Pitchforks on June 6
I'm really tired. I'm not sure why exactly, but I'm tired and I have a lot to do this week so I'm going to have to shorten this post a bit if I want to get it out at all. So I'm going to focus in on just a few really big stories and briefly highlight a few others. I've cut quite a few stories I would've talked about if I had more time, but oh well.
Clearly, the biggest story last week was Facebook. I have to admit that I'm surprised at the reaction the tech media has had to Facebook's recent changes with turning your profile information into links to pages that expose you and other privacy changes Facebook has made recently. We let this happen gradually over time by not reacting enough to Facebook's previous changes, and now that they've really jumped the shark it looks like people are finally ready to step up and say something. I expected a reaction similar to previous changes, but it looks like we're getting really passionate posts from blogs and respected news publications every other day crying out against the changes, some of which are nicely summarized in this picture. It's a bit misleading, but it's not really exaggerating things when you boil down the facts. It's not likely going into great details about those points make the situation better.
The Huffington Report reported on a group of individuals who have decided to send as clear a message as possible to Facebook: an organized boycott of Facebook. They're planning to all delete their accounts on May 31 and are encouraging everyone to do the same. Of course, even after you delete your account Facebook will still have access to your data, but it may put a heavy enough dent in their numbers to wake them up and realize that this isn't like when people got a little annoyed by Facebook's past indiscretions. It's going to be hard to get everyone to quit Facebook though (myself included) so I'm actually in support of their second idea: don't use Facebook at all on June 6. It'll probably be much easier to convince people to do that. It may not be as powerful, but it may actually hurt Facebook's wallet.
After reading this interview with an anonymous Facebook employee, you may not find their movement so extreme. Like many startups, it looks like Facebook began without much long-term vision. It was all about getting a product to market, which is reasonable except that it ended up breeding a culture where privacy isn't a top priority. Half of the interview sounds nuts, but then the other half sounds more reasonable. A group of NYU students are actually trying to build their own Facebook called Disapora that actually respects privacy. Sadly, there's no word on when it'll actually be out whereas now is exactly the best time for them to ship and capitalize on Facebook's bad press. It's an interesting concept, but you've got to wonder if they can really stick to their morals in the face of investors wanting them to satiate advertisers, if it ever takes off. These guys seem smart though so I hope it works out.
The Flash Dilemma
I wonder if Apple predicted that the controversy regarding their disapproval of Flash on the iPhone/iPad would go on for this long? In a ZDNet article that almost seems to have been swept under the rug in everyone's mind since it was posted, it was revealed that a Flash demo on a Nexus One crashed twice. Granted, the rule of thumb for demos is that things will never go exactly as you plan, but you have to admit that, even in that philosophy, two crashes looks pretty bad. It's worth noting that he was using an outdated version ofFlash in the demo, but it's not like the build was months old or something.
Some people have noticed a technology called "Gianduia" popping up in random places that looks to be Apple's competitor to Flash. The reading I did on it was kind of boring and went over even my head, but if Apple were to make that an externally facing technology then I hope people would be a little insulted by the hypocrisy given their repeated argument that Adobe Flash is flying in the face of open web standards.
Part of why this story dragged on another week is that Gawker's Ryan Tate engaged in an e-mail exchange directly with Steve Jobs regarding Flash and porn on the iPhone and Steve's responses were well crafted and interesting. I don't buy his we-want-to-do-the-right-thing argument one bit, but I do believe that they just want to promote the user experience their envision. Whether you agree with that or not is for you to vote for with your dollars - there's no need to whine about it. There's nothing wrong with being willfully ignorant of what Apple's doing if you're happy with their products. They're not torturing anybody, they're just conducting business.
Let me cram in two more quick Apple stories. In the saga over the "stolen" next-generation iPhone, it has been revealed that Steve Jobs contacted Gizmodo directly to get a response that was an e-mail almost in the realm of extortion. They wrote it in a very clever way, but if you read between the lines you may come to my conclusion that Gizmodo was being sleazy. Lastly, Mac Rumors noticed that the new iPad ads are almost a sequel to the ad campaign for the hapless Apple Newton. I'm sure Apple is hoping for very different results this time.
Android Outsells the iPhone
I wish this was the biggest story of last week because it's such a cool one. Google Android, when you look at all the phones running the operating system, outsold the iPhone last quarter for the first time. Some analysts believe it's due in large part to Verizon's buy-one-get-one-free promotion, but I think it's more than just that. Android phones are just finally cool and the iPhone hasn't been new in a while.
If you're really excited about Android though, you should check out Froyo (Android 2.2), or at least AndroidPolice's impressions from trying it out on the Nexus One. It turns out to be quite a bit more performant.
Speaking of the Nexus One though: Google will no longer be selling it directly and will instead work with partners to actually sell it in stores. It may be too late for this to turn the phone into a financial success, but it's their only hope of salvaging the situation. The phone received much critical acclaim despite, unsurprisingly, not getting a lot of sales (since you can't play with it in a store).
I'm going to go through these even faster then normal.
Steam (probably the best service for downloading and managing quality games) is now available for Macs and Valve is giving away Portal for free. Act now because that game is ridiculously fun for all ages.
Billshrink has a great infographic on wireless dissatisfaction in America and pricing comparisons.
Sprint will start selling the HTC Evo 4G, the first 4G phone ever, on June 4 for $199 (subsidized). That's a pretty standard price for a new high-end smartphone, but Sprint is obviously a small player so we'll see how the release goes.
If you have Windows 7 then you really need to check out this article on how to speed it up. It's already fairly fast for me and some of these tips make it even better.
YouTube finally fixed how private videos work to make more sense.
The FCC is allowing the MPAA to activate set top box controls to deactivate pieces of your home theater system if they think you're breaking the law. Definitely scar stuff.
Ars Technica has a great article on the government plan to bring 4 Mbps Internet to the whole country. It's a very steep bill for taxpayers.