Chemistry
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Apple’s Magic Formula is Secrecy and Rumors

Apple’s longstanding perchant for secrecy is legendary. It’s also a myth. Granted, the company has a strict no-comment policy about future products, which isn’t so much about keeping information from seeping out but controlling who disseminates it. Something else: Secrets are impossible to keep when a company produces physical products overseas and depends on so many third-party suppliers. Controlled leaks, or strictly managing those that aren’t, lets Apple maximize marketing advantage.

The value cannot be understated, because Apple’s business model in 2014 isn’t much different from 2001 or 1995: Reselling to the same core group of loyal customers. The Mac faithful mattered when the company struggled to survive against the Intel-Microsoft duopoly and made the majority of profits from selling computers. Cofounder Steve Jobs wisely chose to expand into new product categories—iPod (2001), iTunes Music Store (2004), iPhone (2007), iPad (2010)—that freed Apple from monopoly bondage. But the core philosophy of selling to loyal customers, even while trying to grow their numbers, remains the same. [Read more]

Baseball
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ProPublica and NPR hit a Home Run

Every news gatherer should read “Unseen Toll: Wages of Millions Seized to Pay Past Debts“, which is example of great news reporting. The sidebar is just as good.

Increasingly, news reporting is more than culling sources and chasing leads. ProPublica practices what sometimes is referred to as “data journalism”, and it is a cornerstone of the news organization’s investigative reporting. As I learned from working as an analyst for JupiterResearch a decade ago, collected data wants to tell a story. Hidden in spreadsheets is truth that only lies when someone deliberately misinterprets the meaning. [Read more]

Bull
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Like I Said, Aggregation is Plagiarism

File this in the “When things are too much alike department”—and I meant to write this post last week. Better late than never, eh? Scrolling through my RSS feeds on Friday I came upon this Gizmodo story which matters to me: “HBO Is ‘Seriously Considering’ Offering HBO Go Without Cable TV“. Pranav Dixit’s piece provides no real reporting but aggregates from Quartz’s “HBO is now ‘seriously considering’ whether to offer HBO Go without cable TV“.

I recognize there are only so many ways to write a headline with quote “seriously considering”, but c`mon. Aren’t bloggers embarrassed puking out someone else’s digested food? There is something like alien culinary abduction here, and the results are disgusting. How hard would it be to get the quote, rather than lift it from someone else? What if Quart’z John McDuling misquoted (he doesn’t) such that Giz and countless other aggregators regurgitated and the social web smeared it all over their Walls? [Read more]

Post Investigative Report
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Should I Thank Jeff Bezos?

Seven years ago next month our family of three left the D.C. area for San Diego, to be close to my wife’s now 92 year-old dad. We miss Washington, and she still reads the Washington Post but complains about monthly story limits placed on non-subscribers. (The newspaper put up a paywall last year.)

About two weeks ago, we both received email from the Post, offering special all-digital access pricing: $29 for a year. That’s for smartphone, tablet, or the web for two accounts. According to the Post’s subscriber site, the regular web plus mobile subscription is $99 year, while Digital Premium, which adds “unlimited access to all tablet + mobile apps”, is $50 more. So, yeah, $29 is helluva deal, and I signed up—not knowing that is a $120 discount. [Read more]

Circus
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Another Apple Media Circus Begins

The Apple media invites are out today, and I am disappointed to see how effectively the company manipulates the Fourth and Fifth Estates and how willing are they to be led. For the record, I got no invite, nor did I expect one.

To the Apple marketing team, I tip my hat in recognition for job well-done. Please enjoy a well-deserved laugh on me. You earned it. The venue choice already has some blogs and news sites a-going. [Read more]