Chris Dixon: the return of podcasting →

In this NY Mag article I previously linked to, Kevin Roose attributes the resurgence of podcasts to the newly connected cars systems, the ones you can connect your smartphone to and listen to any audio file you want. Following this article, Chris Dixon wrote a few words about other successful factors. These words especially stood out to me:

Podcasting, on the other hand, feels fresh in the same way that other forms of social media did 5-10 years ago. No one knows what the right way to podcast is. Very few people have followings. The expectations are low. You are rewarded mostly for being fresh and experimental. It’s the beginning of a new medium, and no one knows the rules. That’s what makes it exciting and attracts pioneering creators.

I’m already sold on podcasting. I listen to a ton of them, way more than music or watching TV, browsing the web, way more than any other form of media actually. I definitely see Chris Dixon’s point about experimentation and it clearly is the beauty of it.

However, I wonder how podcasts will conquer the hearts of a mainstream audience, especially in France. I guess the best introduction to them is via the traditional radio stations, which distribute their own shows as podcasts. Once accustomed to this new format, some listeners will subscribe to native podcasts.

I am not sure this will be enough though. I guess it will require one podcast series to be so good that the press will drive attention to it and introduce masses of people to this new format. Who is going to do this? A hobbyist? A big media organisation? A radio station?

Let’s see how it goes. I’m curious!

A day after launch, HTC sold the Nexus 9 for 50% off →

Last week precisely, I quoted The Verge’s review of the Nexus 9, specifically their overall feeling about the tablet and build quality. I added the following note:

Not that easy to build a convincing iPad competitor at the same price, it seems.

What was my surprise, when I read that one day after launch HTC cut the price by 50%.

Ars Technica:

We've seen widespread complaints about the new "premium" pricing strategy for the new Nexus devices, and to make matters worse, the Nexus 9 didn't really live up to the "premium" price. With a price cut this deep just a day after launch, we have to wonder if the Nexus 9 is really worth $400. On Google Play, the device is still going for $400, but this is definitely an eyebrow-raising move by HTC. We were able to buy one and actually got a confirmation e-mail. We'll update this report should any new information on the situation become available. Update: HTC just tweeted that it is "working on something for everyone who missed out," which makes it sound like more price cuts are coming.


A Study about banner blindness →

In my last post, I quoted Farhad Manjoo writing about banner ads and their decline. In his article, Manjoo linked to a study, published in March of 2013, about users’s responsiveness to banner ads. To follow up on my last post, here are the main results:

Infolinks, a global leader in monetizing digital advertising for publishers, brands and their agencies, today released the results of its first proprietary study examining the industry challenge of “banner blindness.” The message seems clear: Brands and publishers need to rethink banner ads. Results showed that only 14% of respondents recalled the last display ad they saw and the company or product it promoted. Even with today’s sophisticated targeting technology, relevance remains a key challenge with only 2.8% of respondents stating that they thought the ad they saw was relevant to them.
  • Half of the users never click on online ads while 35% click on less than 5 ads a month.
  • Among online ad viewers, 75% saw the ad on their computer while the remaining 25% saw the ad on their phone or tablet.

Fall of the Banner Ad: The Monster That Swallowed the Web →

Farhad Manjoo for the New York Times:

These days, finally, the banner ad is in decline. That is because the web, the medium in which it has thrived, is also in decline. Today we live in a mobile, social world, spending most of our time online using apps that load faster and are much prettier and more useful than websites. Instead of banners, many of these apps, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, make money through ads that appear in users’ social feeds, rather than off to the side of the page. But what’s so bad about banners? For one, they have ruined the appearance and usability of the web, covering every available pixel of every page with clunky bits of sponsorship. More than that, banner ads perverted the content itself. Because they are so ineffective, banner ads are sold at low prices for high volume, which means to make any money from them, sites need to pull in major traffic. This business model instilled the idea that page views were a paramount goal of the web, thus spawning millions of low-rent, me-too sites bent on getting your click. Finally, there is privacy. Behind just about every banner ad is a vast infrastructure designed to track your movements across the web to improve the effectiveness of ads that, according to several studies, most of us never view anyway.

Manjoo describes clearly why banner ads are declining. I can’t believe I still meet people who swear by them and cannot consider a campaign without them nowadays.

Amazon presents its new product, Echo →


Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It's always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, "Alexa." It's also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.

Watching the video will give you a better understanding of what the Echo is.

I guess Amazon is being very subtle about the Echo though. They focus on information-based features, when they only want to put this device in your living-room so you buy more from them. It certainly looks kind of cool in the video, but I cannot figure out who is going to buy this. I’m curious to see, as always, what the first reviews are going to say about the voice recognition capabilities and hardware quality too.

This Is Why Australians Hate Starbucks →


[…] the biggest stumbling block in Starbucks’ attempt for Down Under domination is that Australia’s cafe culture is just too damn good. Thanks to waves of Italian and Greek immigrants in the early 1950s, Australia adopted the art of espresso-drinking-as-a-social-lubricant much earlier than the United States. While Starbucks introduced Americans to a European Lite version of coffee shop culture, in Australia it was a latecomer to a party no one invited it to.

Sounds true to me, from what I’ve experienced.

Old photos of brilliant tech CEOs from the 80s and 90s →

A small collection of old pictures whose subjects are the innovators of Silicon Valley. It is interesting for the little pieces of insight below each of them.

They are taken from Fearless Genius, a project by photographer Doug Menuez. He followed Steve Jobs for more than 3 years starting in 1985 when starting up NeXT. As a result, other tech CEO’s opened their doors to him and he has been able to capture the early days of the digital revolution.

This webpage is only a teaser to Doug Menuez’s wider project, which involves a documentary, TV/Web series, education program and more. You can learn more about it on

Ads Are Coming to the Comments Section of Disqus Websites →


"When people come to a page that has Disqus, we know what they’re reading," said David Fleck, gm of advertising at the company. "We know if they choose to comment. We know what they comment on and know what they say in that comment. We know if they voted on it, and shared it out to social networks." Disqus said its metadata are used to create anonymous profiles against which brands could target ads, without sharing personally identifiable information. "We have the largest and deepest audience profiles on the Web," Fleck said.

Another ad format for digital marketers.

Mechanical smartwatches, wait what? →

The Verge:

This doesn't look real. And right now, it isn't — but a startup named Kairos claims that it will be shipping the first versions of its stunning mechanical-digital hybrid smartwatch in December of this year. If that actually happens, it could dramatically close the gap between the two oft-opposed forces — tech and fashion — that are driving the market for wristwatches today.

It’s a very impressive concept in theory. It has everything expected from a smartwatch nowadays: push notifications for call, texts, emails, includes a fitness tracker, control music playback from your smartphone, remote control your phone’s camera, GPS for world time display, etc.

It’s a shame though that everything from the design of the product itself, to the video, the website, and so on, makes it look like a bulky gadget rather than a true fashion accessory.

The Verge reviews the Nexus 9 →

The Verge:

With the Nexus 9, Google is putting forth its best effort to beat or match the iPad. But unfortunately, the Nexus 9 doesn’t beat the iPad in anything. And in many places, it doesn’t even keep up.

On build quality:

Despite HTC’s manufacturing pedigree, there are many places where it feels like corners were cut on the Nexus 9. The power button and volume rockers feel low-rent and mushy and are too flush with the body. The plastic rear doesn’t hold a candle to the metal finishes Apple uses on the iPad, and there are flexes and loose panels on more than one of our review units. All of that would be excusable on a low-cost tablet like the Nexus 7, but the Nexus 9 costs as much or more than a competing iPad.

Not that easy to build a convincing iPad competitor at the same price, it seems.

What’s Behind the Great Podcast Renaissance? →

The New York Mag:

But as I talked to podcasters, they told me that the biggest reason for the podcast renaissance has nothing to do with the podcasts themselves, or the advertisers funding them. It's actually about cars. The secret to radio's success has always been the drive-time commuter. An estimated 44 percent of all radio listening takes place in the car, and that's the way the radio industry likes it. Car-based listeners are captive, they tune in for long stretches at a time, and they're valuable to advertisers. And drivers' dedication to the AM/FM spectrum has made radio a remarkably stable medium — even in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center and Nielsen Audio, 91 percent of Americans over age 12 listened to the radio on a weekly basis. Now, though, cars are going online. Both Google and Apple have rolled out connected-car platforms Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, respectively, and most new cars sold in the U.S. these days come with the ability to play smartphone audio over the car's speakers, either through Bluetooth connectivity or through a USB or auxiliary plug. One industry group, GMSA, estimates that 50 percent of all cars sold in 2015 will be internet-connected, and 100 percent by 2025.

Love the podcast format. I can break 2-hour shows into smaller listening sessions and listen to them when I am out and about, everywhere. It has long replaced the traditional radio format for me.

Love the fact that producing a podcast is incredibly cheap nowadays. My favorite radio hosts are already podcasters.

Hopefully, I’ll start our old show or another one soon. :)

“Android Browser flaw a “privacy disaster” for half of Android users” →

Ars Technica:

A bug quietly reported on September 1 appears to have grave implications for Android users. Android Browser, the open source, WebKit-based browser that used to be part of the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), has a flaw that enables malicious sites to inject JavaScript into other sites. Those malicious JavaScripts can in turn read cookies and password fields, submit forms, grab keyboard input, or do practically anything else.

Google stopped using this browser in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and replaced it with Chrome. It also stopped using core elements of this browser for web views within apps in Android 4.4 Kit Kat, but stats show it is still widely used:

Google's own numbers paint an even worse picture. According to the online advertising giant, only 24.5 percent of Android users are using version 4.4. The majority of Android users are using versions that include the broken component, and many of these users are using 4.1.x or below, so they're not even using versions of Android that use Chrome as the default browser.


Just how this fix will be made useful is unclear. While Chrome is updated through the Play Store, the AOSP Browser is generally updated only through operating system updates. Timely availability of Android updates remains a sticking point for the operating system, so even if Google develops a fix, it may well be unavailable to those who actually need it.

It does not seem to trigger much fear or scandal around the web, surprisingly. Why?

CNET’s profile of Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president responsible for Apple Watch →

CNET’s introduction:

The exec, who clashed with Apple while at Adobe, now runs the team working on wearable software at Apple -- a vital role as the company expands into a new business.

Fascinating that Apple chose to trust him with Apple Watch even though he had been so critical of its stance on Flash. You would think this would directly disqualify him as potential hire. It seems rather intelligent for Apple to see past that and recognise talent above everything else.

The Verge tests the VivaLnk tattoos for the Moto X →

These are small tattoos that you stick on your arm. When you want to unlock your device, you tap it on the tattoo and it unlocks. This is supposed to be simpler than typing a password. Let’s see if it really is. Dan Seifert at The Verge bought a pack and tested them:

It’s a neat parlor trick and amusing to show off to others, but practical use is limited. The phone will only recognize the tattoo when the screen is on, so you either have to press the power button before tapping or rely on the Moto X’s motion sensing to wake the screen up when you pick up the phone. The whole process actually takes longer than just typing my PIN or drawing my swipe code. It also requires two limbs to accomplish, whereas the traditional methods can be easily done with one hand. That’s not to mention that you need to set the whole thing up again every time you replace the tattoo on your body. Unless I specifically thought about using the tattoo to unlock my phone, I quickly forgot about it and would use the other, more traditional methods most of the time. Old habits are hard to break, after all.

Not surprising that it is bad.

Amazon Fire Phone review roundup by The Guardian →

The Guardian has gathered several excerpts from press reviews about the Fire Phone. Everything seems to be bad: battery life, temperature of the device being used, slow performance, very small number of apps available, gimmicky features such as Dynamic Perspective and Firefly. The only aspect that seems good is the integration with Amazon’s marketplace. At least, they did not fuck that up!

Amazon’s Fire Phone: NY Times’ review →

The first reviews of the Fire Phone have come out. Last month, I wondered if Dynamic Perspective, one function heavily advertised by Amazon, would be useful.

Farhad Manjoo for the New York Times has a couple pragraphs in his review about it:

At its best, Dynamic Perspective adds helpful gestures that allow you to get around the phone more quickly. Snap the phone to the right while you’re in the calendar app, you see your daily agenda; snap left and the agenda disappears. But these shortcuts are never reliable; a lot of times you’ll snap and nothing will happen, because the app you’re in isn’t coded for gestures. Other instances of Dynamic Perspective are downright annoying. Take Auto Scroll, which moves the text on your screen as you tilt the phone back and forth. Because Auto Scroll calibrates its scrolling speed according to how you’re holding the device when you first load up an article, your brain will struggle to find a set rule about how much to tilt to get the right speed. Often I’d scroll too fast or too slow. Worse, if you put your phone down on a table while you’re in the middle of an article, the scrolling goes haywire and you lose your place. The best thing about Auto Scroll is that you can turn it off. As with Firefly, I expect that Dynamic Perspective might become more useful as developers add support. But right now, like a splashy new coat of purple paint, Dynamic Perspective feels like a difference merely for the sake of being different.

Ok, it’s terrible.

Microsoft shuts down Xbox Entertainment Studios →

I was curious to see what this division could do back in April. Six series were reported to be in the line-up. The shut-down does not impact them, but we won’t see anything else from the studio. This is part of the 18,000 job cuts plan announced today.

Re/code has several details:

Xbox Entertainment Studios fit with Microsoft’s plan to dominate the living room through its game console. But the unit has struggled to deliver on its promise. Sources paint a picture of a disorganized studio that struggled to close deals and lacked a fully fleshed-out business model. This inability to execute has turned off potential studio partners, they say, complicating the process of securing premium content.

Because of slow Xbox One sales, the studio probably did not seem like a good idea anymore:

Microsoft has moved away from positioning the Xbox One as an all-in-one entertainment system — a message that appeared to alienate gamers who are the most likely first buyers of a new game system. At this year’s E3 game industry trade show in Los Angeles, it was all about the games.

Yes, you buy a gaming console to play games. It’s nice if you can stream TV or buy/rent other content, but you bought the console because it can play good games otherwise you would have bought an Apple TV.