“These guys really thought the process through”

(Via Gabor Cselle’s blog)

Steve Jobs in Wired, Feb 1996:

Is there anything well designed today that inspires you?

Design is not limited to fancy new gadgets. Our family just bought a new washing machine and dryer. We didn’t have a very good one so we spent a little time looking at them. It turns out that the Americans make washers and dryers all wrong. The Europeans make them much better – but they take twice as long to do clothes! It turns out that they wash them with about a quarter as much water and your clothes end up with a lot less detergent on them. Most important, they don’t trash your clothes. They use a lot less soap, a lot less water, but they come out much cleaner, much softer, and they last a lot longer.

We spent some time in our family talking about what’s the trade-off we want to make. We ended up talking a lot about design, but also about the values of our family. Did we care most about getting our wash done in an hour versus an hour and a half? Or did we care most about our clothes feeling really soft and lasting longer? Did we care about using a quarter of the water? We spent about two weeks talking about this every night at the dinner table. We’d get around to that old washer-dryer discussion. And the talk was about design.

We ended up opting for these Miele appliances, made in Germany. They’re too expensive, but that’s just because nobody buys them in this country. They are really wonderfully made and one of the few products we’ve bought over the last few years that we’re all really happy about. These guys really thought the process through. They did such a great job designing these washers and dryers. I got more thrill out of them than I have out of any piece of high tech in years.

Android in the Indian mobile market

This is what’s happening:

It was not long ago that Nokia held over 70% of the Indian market. That market is now larger but the share for Nokia has dropped by half at least. The share was not lost to Samsung but to 63 new entrants. They managed to capture 40% of the market, roughly equal to what Nokia lost. These new vendors will launch Android phones next year or the year after that.

From an IDC article (which the above post links to):

The number of handsets shipped in the country during the year is forecast to be 156 million, including nearly 6 million smartphones.

Android gained acceptance in India as a mobile OS, with 9.4 percent of smartphones shipped in the third quarter based on Android (this is almost 600,000 Android phones in the country).

The number of models with Android OS also increased to 19 in the third quarter, up from just two models in the same quarter last year.

“I, Reader”

I’d always read the news as a part of my writing ritual: wake up, go to the newsstand, buy the Times, the Post, the Daily News, get coffee and a bagel, sit down with the papers, read until an un-definable click occurred and I started writing. But a newspaper in your hand is a quiet thing, even when it’s a tabloid. When I gradually switched over to getting my news on the web, it was like walking into Internet Fight Club, with articles headlined to incite arguments from anonymous commenters who left thousands of angry, misspelled, and misinformed comments for others, also leaving the same, and each side returning to leave more, driving traffic. Reading the Times/Post/Daily News no longer elicited the click. Now, reading it online, it was the readerly equivalent of listening to cats on meth.

Bingo.

Read the full essay. It’s worth the ten of fifteen minutes it’ll take (unless something on-screen distracts you, of course).

“America lacks leverage”

Tom Friedman (who has said these same things many times) stands vindicated by WikiLeaks:

Yes, these are our allies — people whose values we do not and never will share. “O.K.,” our Saudi, Gulf, Afghan and Pakistani allies tell us, “we may not be perfect, but the guys who would replace us would be much worse. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are one-faced. They say what they mean in public and private: They hate America.”

That’s true, but if we are stuck supporting bad regimes because only worse would follow, why can’t we do anything to make them reform? That brings us to the sobering message in so many of these cables: America lacks leverage. America lacks leverage in the Middle East because we are addicted to oil. We are the addicts and they are the pushers, and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.

Yahoo circa 1998 as Ponzi scheme

Paul Graham, as part of an article on Yahoo!’s problems:

By 1998, Yahoo was the beneficiary of a de facto Ponzi scheme. Investors were excited about the Internet. One reason they were excited was Yahoo’s revenue growth. So they invested in new Internet startups. The startups then used the money to buy ads on Yahoo to get traffic. Which caused yet more revenue growth for Yahoo, and further convinced investors the Internet was worth investing in.