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Marc Gerstein  

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  • Riddle Me This On Amazon Prime [View article]
    Have you contacted Sandvine or IBD or Amazon IR to pose this riddle?

    As other commenters have mentioned, there is a lot to AMZN Prime apart from video watching. And even within video, some here have criticized AMZN's offering. I disagree that it sucks or anything like that, but it id clearly aimed away from the mass audience; it's more geared toward the art-house film type crowd (such as me; I probably watch more AMZN video than many, but i can easily see why most people would run up the dominating majority other time on Netflix). But even so, as you write, the stats seem puzzling. So yes, it is a genuine riddle.

    But I also find it odd and dsappointing that the SA editors accepted the article. I was under the impression they had backgrounds in journalism. When I worked at Reuters, I didn't actually work in the news division, but I did know and collaborate with some high-placed editors and know there's no way in hell they'd have let this get into print without comments from the key parties, or at least an effort go get comments and reporting of their refusal to comment.

    And on the other side of the aisle, in investment research, the result would have been the same. There's no way any research department would allow anything like this to see the light of day without a serous effort to communicate with the parties involved in an effort to get some clarification.

    Paulo, I suggest you do the right thing: Get on the phone. Work to reach people in the know. Dig for a resolution. And then, share the findings with the SA audience.
    Jul 18, 2015. 12:35 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Of Seeking Alpha, From One Contributor's Perspective [View article]
    "Can you explain to me how I could confidently choose someone who WILL do better?"

    Opening your mind would certainly be a critical step one. But it is obvious that you are deeply committed to your belief in mediocrity.

    I'm not going to keep pounding a dead horse here. I have my own experience; I have my own brokerage account. I know plenty of others in similar situations. Many such people can be found here on SA, although not easily given the company's traditional preference for crowd sourcing rather than quality advice. Hopefully, the new premium service will point SA in a new better direction and make it easier to find better sources. Whether you open your eyes and look here or elsewhere, however, is entirely up to you.

    And by the way, I absolutely positively do not make a simplistic "this time its different" argument. You read Chilton's book. Then if you want more from me, read one of mine. Whether you do or don't best of luck to you.
    Apr 1, 2015. 09:32 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Of Seeking Alpha, From One Contributor's Perspective [View article]
    "Marc, I'm sure we'll have to agree to disagree, but I'd like to make one point anyways.

    If there were such a strategy that kept beating the market long-term (20 years+), would it not get increasing attention, and eventually become the average because of the number of participants replicating it?"

    First things first. Forget 20+ year, at least for now. The quant-oriented approaches that can and do beat the market haven't been around that long. Modeling platforms have been in existence for decades, but it's only been since the late 90s that they have actually progressed beyond trade-show gimmicks to serious tools. Father Time will eventually make 20+ years possible, but we're not there yet.

    Secondly, who said anything about becoming the average. This isn't the world depicted by the old Kurt Vonnegut short story involving forced equality (where high I.Q. people had to wear earphones through which a pitched sound played at regular intervals to dumb them down by interfering with their concentration). We live in a world where talents vary. The average will remain the average. But don't place stock in articles that deny the possibility of the superior. Just because dumb professors and dumb reporters are too dumb too envision talent, don't assume talent doesn't exist.

    Beyond that, human behavior is an amazing phenomenon. You'd think that would be the case wouldn't you. And there is an element of partial truth. To stay ahead of the market, one would need to constantly evaluate and tweak what is being done; strategies that worked spectacularly in the early 2000s have been somewhat arbitraged down by more and more investors using them, but creativity and innovation still gets rewarded. That, actually, is one of the flaws in the studies relied upon directly or indirectly by the article you saw on nerd-something dot com. They assume strategies must be static. That's deadly not just in investing but in any endeavor. Being dogmatic, rigid, or brain-dead is not conducive to success.

    More interesting, though, is the issue of "increasing attention." I can't answer that. You'll have to ask Seeking Alpha to give you an answer. Several times I have directly pitched to Seeking Alpha to work more closely with my company to create more idea-generation content that would make available some of what I and others do in this regard. To date, they've shown zero interest. and they're not alone. Ad-supported web finance is, as I've mentioned, responsive to the needs of advertisers, not investors. Beyond that, they're generally staffed and managed by people with journalistic backgrounds, not finance backgrounds, and those people understand news-oriented articles, not systematic idea generation.

    But I suppose a bigger issue is you (the plural you). You have to demand better. If you don't, if you keep clicking on topical articles rather than other that offer market-beating ideas, that's on you. That may be why SA, sites like them, and the advertisers who pay the bills do as they do. Maybe I was wrong to expect too much of them. On reflection, who can blame them for giving you what the content on which you click.

    I guess the bottom line here is that if you want to lock in on the notion that mediocrity is all you can get, then that's your choice and mediocrity is exactly what you'll continue to get. I suppose the benefit of the subscription model is that it allows those who believe in better and want better to buy it and benefit from it.

    P.S. Don't assume David Chilton is a great genius. Just because he f***** up and wrote a book at it, don't assume everybody else has to. Maybe he'd do better if, instead of writing a book pointing fingers at others, he'd look to himself and reassess what he did and how he could do better.
    Mar 31, 2015. 09:43 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Of Seeking Alpha, From One Contributor's Perspective [View article]
    "Marc, I would be surprised if you've never heard of studies that indicate active investing is unlikely to beat the market. I guess my "random guessing" comment was an exaggeration though. One study I googled just now:"

    Yeah, that same rehashed stale pablum is what one should expect on a site that calls itself nerd something. It's not practical to rip it apart in the context of a comment board, but the short answer is that seat of the pants decision making doesn't beat the market. But sensible disciplined strategies can and do. The profession and academia has gone way beyond the fluff upon which that author relied.

    "I'll reiterate a comment I made elsewhere in this thread, that SA has become successful over time without this pay structure. Unless you feel that content in the past was poor, then you surely agree that a new pay structure is not needed to result in quality content. It was not needed before, and is not now. "

    Actually, SA has undergone a lot of evolution since its early days. There's always been and still is some terrific work done here. But the introduction of author fees attracted a lot of bad content. Every now and then, SA has tried to reassess who is getting published. But from what I can observe from looking at the site, I suspect it may be too much of a burden for the man hours that are available. Bear in mind that comment moderation can lead to a distorted view of where things stand, to the point where I'm not sure if company insiders realize how often in real world conversation among investors, simply saying the words "Seeking Alpha" can generate sneers, chuckles and eye-rolls.

    I do think a new pay structure will help. In a purely ad supported world, it does not hurt SA to publish bad content and it can certainly help. As people love to stare at a highway pileup, it can be fun to read and bash bad articles (not necessarily on SA because of moderation, but SA can't control what's said about authors off the site). Subscription changes the game. If readers have to pay, they are not likely to be so keen to laugh at bad authors but are instead more likely to focus on those who can really help them make money.

    Or, if they do want to pay for entertainment, at least they're likely to demand good entertainment -- i.e., authors who are self aware, up front and effective about the entertainment aspect of what they're doing -- which is also fine. (And actually, there's a part of me that might want to pursue that niche; in a recent newsletter, I actually introduced my dog Max and made a case for his being the world's number one oil-price forecaster!) But entertainment that fools itself and some readers by thinking it's serious content -- that's bad stuff and will not likely survive in a subscription environment.
    Mar 30, 2015. 10:14 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Of Seeking Alpha, From One Contributor's Perspective [View article]
    "Marc, since there are multitudes of evidence that a single investor has essentially zero chance of beating indexes over the long term, how would you go about choosing which subscription(s) to buy and follow their advice since each individual one will fail? Evidence shows that advice from a particular individual is no more likely to be successful in the long run than your own random guessing. Personally I think exposing yourself to as much content as possible gives you a better chance to find collective wisdom, instead of using subscription advice and limiting your information input. "

    Great question!

    But I do have to take issue with the idea that advice from any one individual is no likely to do better than random guessing. I'm curious as to what sort of evidence you see. I really disagree with that -- unless you pick the individual randomly, in which case, that would be a problem.

    It's hard to answer the how-to-choose question until we see how SA markets this; what sort of info is given to prospective subscribers. And it will be up to the participating authors to effectively present themselves.

    Hopefully, there will be good-enough pitches that let prospective subscribers figure out where the author is coming from, how he/she goes about making investment decisions, and that looking at the authors articles can effectively complement it. I know SA asked for three different pitches of varying lengths; ignore the two shorter pitches and look only at the longest. This isn't like selling soft drinks. Hopefully, SA will figure out that at least 500-1000 words will be needed and that the quick pitches they're asking for are inadequate. If you find a combination (pitch/past articles) that appeals to you, that's good. If not, then don't do anything and wait for other authors to come along.

    It's tempting to say you should track returns on stocks the author recommended in free articles. That's relevant. But it would have to be tempered by realization that even the best ideas don't work every day. Try to get a sense of whether things that didn't work turned sour because of things the author could not reasonably have been expected to see ahead of time (example: pretty much everybody was caught by the plunge in oil prices), or because of the inevitable ebb and flow of market fashion (e.g., value is good over the long term, and so too are small caps; but sometimes, the market has a flight to size and/or a flight to junk).

    And i know a lot of folks on SA are going to hate hearing this, given it's crowd-social leanings, but experience counts. . . just like any other profession. Hopefully, SA will curate the novices out of the premium area, but if they don't, you should. Market history repeats more often than many imagine, so I'd be leery of paying for advice from anyone who hasn't lived through a good cross section of market situations.

    Ultimately, there is no silver bullet. Choosing advice is something that needs to be learned, just like choosing stocks, flying a plane, doing a hip replacement, cooking a five-star meal, auditing a set of financials, playing golf, playing piano, fixing a car, etc.. At the end of the day, investing is like anything else; no instant answers and a need for learning and practice.
    Mar 27, 2015. 06:36 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Of Seeking Alpha, From One Contributor's Perspective [View article]
    "I have author's I disagree with on investing, they do not get my clicks."

    Actually, you should click on authors you disagree with. There's a buyer and seller in every trade so disagreement is the natural state of affairs here. You're at a huge disagreement if you don't know what the other guys are thinking. Yesterday, I spent most of the day on stocks of interest to me going back a few years to understand WHY the high short interest got to where it did. I can disagree, but I sure as heck need to know.

    You should, on the other hand, deny clicks to those who don't justify their views capably.
    Mar 27, 2015. 09:18 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Of Seeking Alpha, From One Contributor's Perspective [View article]
    "Marc, what you say is true about the Ad buyers vs the readers but without content the readers find relevant, there would be no Ad buyers willing to buy. The content must find a happy medium to be successful. "

    I know that. You know that. I assume most or all readers here know that.

    Sadly, though, it doesn't mean ad buyers know that nor does it mean ad sales teams know that, or that they'd care and act on it even if they did figure it out. I'm amazed that business school "management" classes don't teach this, but I've found that the single most important driver of behavior in organizations is that which will make one's own role seem as important as possible (money and all else flows from that). Ad buyers and ad sales people cannot and will not define the organization in any way that allows anything to diminish the prominence of the ad transaction. The investor, who doesn't even get a seat at the conference table, doesn't stand a chance. That doesn't make it right. There's a reason why most rank and file people in a business are no less mediocre than low-level civil servants. Most people are not excellent. But it's the world we live in, and if investors don't pay for their content, it's what influences what they see.

    Sorry if this sounds cynical, but I've served enough time in the ad-supported dot-com world to have seen this play out with 100% consistency.

    The sadder thing is that within the ad world, the dot-com personnel tends to be less competent than most. Remember, this is the new hip area that every graduate is dying to get into. Recruiters are overwhelmed by numbers and there aren't enough track records to sort out who is good and who isn't. As the years pass, this will change. But for now, it is what it is. So what are the odds of you getting good investment content when it's brought to you this way?

    Ultimately, factoring in subscription fees and investment returns, subscription content is by far that best choice for the investor. Supposedly free content is just too darn expensive (after you factor in what it can do to your brokerage accounts).
    Mar 27, 2015. 09:14 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Future Of Seeking Alpha, From One Contributor's Perspective [View article]
    Larry, I’m not sure if you’re addressing subscription content on Seeking Alpha or subscription content in general, or both. But for what it’s worth:

    While there is obviously much affection for anything offered for free, right from the start of the internet I have believed that free investment commentary is what’s dysfunctional at best. In truth, there is no such thing as free content. There’s plenty of labor and capital involved in putting content up on the net and the bills have to be paid. If the user isn’t paying, someone else is. In the case of seemingly-free investment, it’s being paid for by advertisers.

    As in any profession, the provider of a service must, should and does serve the interests of the person writing the checks. So in the case of free investment content, the interests being served are those of advertisers. The well-being of the users, the investors, is irrelevant except, perhaps, to the extent some 20-something former Marketing major and now ad-buyer who may or may not be able to spell PE can figure what investors need. And I’m not kidding. I used to work for ad-supported dot-com and I can assure you this is absolutely so, and that these ad buyers have no grasp at all of what it takes to satisfy the needs of investors. I even recall a big-time strategy meeting when the chairman started by asking “Who do we serve?” Me innocent dumb-ass that I was, naively said “Investors, of course.” And oh did I get my head handed to me as I spent the next half hour being harangued for not getting it; we didn’t care about the investors. It was all about the sponsors (i.e., advertisers), who’s entire attention was fixated on how boldly they can be displayed and on how many occasions.

    So Larry, if you feel you’ve been ill served by the content you’ve been getting for free, I hear you. Yes, you’ve been served horribly. And I think it’s been a problem even on Seeking Alpha. I used to write here a lot but have been pulled back out of frustration with the site’s setup that has, in effect, been most friendly toward content (some good, much bad) designed mainly to attract eyeballs. (It’s not what I really do.)

    I’m not participating in the pay platform on day one (because I don’t have time to refine an offering right now), but I hope it succeeds and believe it will. Subscription services turn the tables in a huge way. Writers now can ignore the ad buyers and focus on serving investors. If their content does that, it’s an obvious win-win. If their content fails to do that, then investors will cancel subscriptions and choose others that deliver.

    That’s a functional world investment commentary prepared with the sole aim of bettering the investor. That is absolutely positively not the world of free content. Based on the law of supply and demand, it necessarily is the basis of the subscription world.

    Again, Larry, I completely understand your hostility to the idea of paying for Seeking Alpha content. But this is a game changer. Nobody is going to give money to an author out of affection. It’s only going to happen if the author delivers good profitable ideas. (Ultimately, expect subscription prices to be negative in that you have every right to expect that you will make in the market far more than you pay for the content and cancel if that doesn’t happen.) SA has curated this and is choosing participants they think can deliver under this new and much-better criteria. And they have financial incentive to get it right and work to improve if they don’t on day one. So I suggest you check out some free trials and get a sense of what’s being delivered. Hopefully, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And if not, keep your credit card in your pocket until you find other authors who succeed in satisfying you, among the first group and/or among later entrants.
    Mar 25, 2015. 02:19 PM | 15 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Does Shareholder Lawsuit's Failure Vindicate Herbalife? [View article]
    Watching the HLF longs and shorts continue to duke it out . . . cool . . . this may be the most entertaining spectacle since gladiators carved each other to pieces in the old roman forum. All that's missing now is for Caligula to signal thumbs up or down as to whether Ackman lives to fight on or gets executed.
    Mar 19, 2015. 05:23 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart Looks To Step Up Competition With Amazon As It Considers Buying Nook [View article]
    "the publishers perspective they welcome any viable entrants into the E-Book business with open arms because it will diminish Amazon's leverage. "

    Any publisher that thinks they'd be better off with WMT having a meaningful role in e-books should be imprisoned for felonious stupidity. But then again, seeing how over the years traditional media has consistently bludgeoned itself, perhaps there are a good number of feloniously stupid publishers out there. Wonder if Bezos has stopped laughing yet . . . .
    Dec 19, 2014. 09:15 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wal-Mart Looks To Step Up Competition With Amazon As It Considers Buying Nook [View article]
    "A competitively viable Nook would damage Amazon's competitive moat in far more extensive ways and it would also weaken their position against publishers during the inevitable next round of pricing negotiations."

    What the #$^$%

    Amazon has been desperate to slash prices on e-books and has been largely unsuccessful due to publishing industry resistance. So you thin Wal Mart's entry into e-books might damage AMZN. Heck, I'll bet it was Bezops who whispered into the ears of some investment bankers to get them to pitch a Nook purchase by WMT. With those avaricious supplier-abusing maniacs (How do you think WMT became WMT?) in the e-book business, watch publishers run to Bezos to rescue their industry.

    And by the way, Amazon had a very viable competitor in Nook. The reason Nook became an unviable competitor is because AMZN beat the daylights out of it in the marketplace. AMZN knew something B&N never figured out -- nobody cares abou tech bloggers and PowerPoint jockeys cared about the hardware-feature bake-offs that obsessed B&N. It's always been about the on-line eco-system and customer service. If you think WMT is more likely to gear up in those areas . . . . ROFL!

    Oh, and by the way, you are aware, I presume, that the dedicated nook tablet doesn't really exist. It's a brand and widget added to a Samsung Galaxy tablet which, by the way, can install the Kindle app just like other droid apps in the app store. So it's entirely possible that Amazon could sell more books on the Nook than Nook will -- unless the B&N eco-system and customer service can be better -- uh, I think we were here before. :-)
    Dec 16, 2014. 08:07 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Barnes & Noble: Misunderstood Turnaround And Potential Breakup Play Has Up To 80% Upside [View article]
    Interesting perspective but ironically, I found e-readers to be the solution, not the problem.

    For me, the eye-strain issue is mainly about font size. With e-readers, I can and do adjust. With books, I’m stuck. The transition for me has been amazing. Notwithstanding use of reading glasses, traditionally, I had always assumed it would take me about three months to finish an average-length novel. Now, with Kindle, I can knock off several novels per month and no, I never studied so-called speed reading. Now, I can read as much of the weekly Economist as I want. In the past, I cancelled a hard-copy subscription because I could read very little. And it’s pretty much impossible for me to get through a feature New Yorker article in print, but it’s easy on Kindle. As a separate benefit, my wife and I decided recently to buy a new place in a hot area of Manhattan, where square footage is always at a premium. She asked what I’d do about my shelves and shelves of books; I held up my Kindle and said that was all I’d need to take to Manhattan. So in some cases, for big-time book junkies, e-reading permits even major lifestyle changes. And let’s not forget bulk. Anybody here read Atlas Shrugged? It’s a cinch with an e-reader. But if you read a physical book, you must choose between a ridiculously tiny micro font, or a gym-style workout having to hold a decent-font-size copy of that 1,000-plus tome. Ditto for many other big books.

    Do I miss the feel of real books? Yeah. But this is nothing new. We’ve gone from stone carvings to majestic hand written scrolls to illuminated manuscripts to hardcovers with illustrations to bare-bones hard covers to chintzy paperbacks that quickly yellow to trade paperbacks. So evolution in the nature of reading didn’t start with e-readers and it won’t likely end there. Such is life. I also miss fountain pens. Anybody expect to give up word processing and go back to those?

    Bear in mind too that e-reading comes in varied forms. The articles on eye-strain refer to computer screens, which involves back-lighting. Kindle PaperWhite and Nook Glow are front-lit e-readers, which is the ideal kind of fatigue-free reading. And in both devices, the level of lighting can be user adjusted so it’s always just perfect relative to the illumination in the environment. And both are now so cheap, they aren’t alternatives to tablets; they are additions to tablets. (And in both cases, they electronically synch with tablets and phone apps so you can easily go back and forth from one to the other.)

    I’ve been a book lover since I was a kid, but I have to say I do think e-reading is the future. And I’m not so sentimental about the diminution and potential loss of B&N. Sure it’s pleasant and easy to buy books there now. But that’s because so few do. My memories of the chain’s heyday involve waiting on line to pay for sometimes as much as half an hour and occasionally, just putting down the books I planned to buy and walking out because of only one or two registers open and dozens of customers waiting. So frankly, waxing poetic about the love of going into B&N stores to buy books nowadays seems like someone talking about how much they love visiting the bedsides of comatose family because they no longer talk back at you.

    And let’s not get too snippy about AMZN. AMZN won because it is flat out better. NOOK definitely had a chance to gain the upper hand (tying an e-reader to a universal book format, and a brick and mortar chain that included coffee cafes – how good is that!). But in e-reader land, the pervasive experience was magnificent customer service from AMZN versus arrogance and nastiness from B&N. It’s hard to say anything good about AMZN on Seeking Alpha because for reasons some sociologist will someday have to discern, this venue has become a hotbed for AMZN haters (as well as AAPL lovers). But the reality, backed by dollar votes of countless real-world consumers, is that AMZN doesn’t so much wreck businesses as pick up the money left by inept arrogant businesses that choose to self-destruct. Don’t let some mis-step such as Hatchette blind you to the reality.

    I have no idea if the valuations posed her make sense. But if you like them and want to act, fine. But just don’t put your money on the table because of dreams of some sort of anti-AMZN backlash. In the world beyond Seeking Alpha’s cyber borders, that’s simply not going to happen.
    Oct 12, 2014. 12:30 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple, Google Will Crush Microsoft Just As Amazon Did Best Buy [View article]
    "You are very wrong. Someone emails me a word doc when I am on my Mac I simply open it. It opens in Pages. I edit it. Then, if I have to send it back to some poor bloke who can't use Pages, I export the changed document back to office and email it. Seamless."

    True but only in a very simplistic and limited context and one that is completely unsuitable for a bona fide business user.

    I do most of my work in Office. But before getting my W 8.1 2-in-1, I tried valiantly to use Pages and Numbers while away from my main work venue. It was a disaster. Tables I created in Word were hopelessly botched when translated to pages, and tables I edited in Pages were hopeless when converted back to Word. Highlights I inserted in Pages kept coming back as blank comments in Word. I also got fed up trying to define blocks of text I wanted to put into the clipboard for one reason or another; Pages kept going off on its own defining entire paragraphs and sections and battling me tooth and nail to get just the text I wanted. Meanwhile, I couldn't find any use at all for Numbers since it contained none of the advanced data analytics I need and since it was too hard to define and transition large blocks of cells and it couldn't even get the freeze-columns/rows the way I wanted. And in both cases, I found myself having to turn to google to figure out how to do things because the artistes at AAPL thought menus were passe.

    Finally, I broke down and paid the tab for Office for iPad. Eureka! It was still not all I needed (it was, after all, running on the iPad/iToy). But at least I was finally able to do some basic work while on the run and move seamlessly back and forth to my main computer. Complete perfection followed only when I got the W 8.1 device.

    The stated purpose of this article was to make a case that AAPL/GOOG is a threat to MSFT's hold on the business users. Rocco gets an F- for his non-effort. I'll grant that you at least took a shot at it, but I do think you need to learn more about business users; not the sort of things you could find out in your context as an IT pro but the things you'd find out if you REALLY learn FROM THEM what THEY need and do.

    BTW, in my comments I talk only about AAPL but the article is, actually about the AAPL/GOOG combination. I do actually find Droid devices a bit better than iPad (drastically better in file handling and transfer) but still not fully up to snuff since even the best Droid devices share some important limitations with Apple devices. While AAPL has achieved and will likely to achieve magnificent success in capturing business from people who never probably never should have owned a pc in the first place (but bought them in recent decades because that was all there was) and will likely continue to succeed as long as it can continue to please this large segment of the market, it would be foolhardy to think they are even a remote threat to MSFT's core which is the COMPUTER market (as opposed to the recreation/entertainment market), users who get paid to do what they do with these machines and need to do serious things with them.
    Sep 25, 2014. 10:12 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple, Google Will Crush Microsoft Just As Amazon Did Best Buy [View article]
    Me out of line? That, coming from somebody who publishes a hit piece on MSFT that contains absolutely zero substance, somebody who, in response to my comments on the unmatched usefulness of MSFT for business users can come back with nothing other than some chickensh** about thinking conceptually!

    Me defensive? Seems like others have posted much harsher comments but I'm the one who attracts a specific response. Perhaps I touched a nerve. Good. Somebody has to.

    OK. So you want to be conceptual. Then be conceptual, not a whinny crybaby.

    Explain the concept behind AAPL's clinging to a walled-garden model, something that is a giant leap backwards into a hierarchical paternalistic past.

    Explain the concept behind AAPL's clinging to iTunes, a circa-1990s overblown dinosaur of a program that still resides on hard drives and flies in the face of the new generation's push to be untethered.

    Explain the concept behind AAPL's persistent insistence on supplying "do it my way" products that fly in the face of the very idea of personal technology, technology that doesn't dictate to users what they should do but empowers users to do what they want to do, even things that the provider of technology never imagined. (Hence the reason why MSFT is the ecosystem of enterprise, the engine that drives innovation and economic growth, and new discovery; AAPL is great at letting you discover what Steve Jobs offers you but stinks at allowing you to discover anything inconceivable to Jobs).

    My experience as a user of modern technology (not a fan, not a critic, not a commentator) has made it clear to me that there are two broad approaches to product design; (1) dictating, and (2) empowering. AAPL is firmly planted in the dictating camp. MSFT, on the other hand, is planted in the empowering camp.

    Is AAPL prettier and more elegant? Hell yes! Is MSFT clunkier and uglier? Hell Yes! Does MSFT take longer to get things right, to get the bugs out? Hell yes! But that's the way it is. when you dictate, when you limit, you have the luxury of precisely fine tuning and controlling the aesthetics and the experience. But when you empower others to create possibly things you can imagine and possibly things you can't imagine, you are not going to be able to control so tightly and leave yourself more open to mis-steps. Anybody who has ever done anything genuinely creative knows how messy and chaotic the "process" can be, and knows it can't be done with paternalistic tools that constrain.

    It's all a matter of choices and priorities. If you choose to pay maximum homage to control and to aesthetics and elegance, fine. That's what Jobs most loved. That is the tradition handed down from the past, whether it be doric or ionic ornamentation on columns, etc. where form is exalted apart from function. If you choose to sprint into the future with its wide-open anything-YOU (not Jobs)-can-imagine paradigm then form will follow function and since function isn't always pretty, form will often look like crap. AAPL has shown itself to be a magnificent elegant practitioner of the past. MSFT has shown itself to be a fearless engine that drives the future, however scary and challenging that might be.

    Is that conceptual enough for you?
    Sep 24, 2014. 03:28 PM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple, Google Will Crush Microsoft Just As Amazon Did Best Buy [View article]
    "I'll just say there are those of us who think practically in very concrete terms and those of us who think conceptually."

    Translation: I'll just say there are those of us who use devices to accomplish things that are useful and there are those of us who just sit around and write any nonsense that comes to mind.
    Sep 24, 2014. 11:55 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment