In September, my wife and I packed up our photo gear and headed to Iceland for 10 days to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. Of the 10 days we were there, it rained for 7 days, with cloud cover for 8 days. We set out in the cold, wind and rain to capture as much of Iceland as we could. As the weather made shooting difficult, “Weather permitting” quickly became the theme of our trip.
Even with the weather, there was nothing but awe for Iceland. It’s an amazing place. Every 5 minutes we’d come across new terrain, textures, and colors. This was my effort at trying to capture all of the unique landscapes that Iceland has to offer.
After a few non-serious attempts playing around with a homemade time-lapse dolly, this is my first complete time-lapse video, which includes a mix of time-lapse, long exposure, and video footage.
Music: Zack Hemsey - I’ll Find a Way (music.zackhemsey.com)
Camera: Canon 5dmkII
Lenses: Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
Dolly: Dynamic Perception Stage Zero
Hardware vs Knowledge
A few weeks ago I was watching the keynote at the Google IO. They were demoing Google Now. This is where they took all of the little pieces of data they knew about you – like where you lived, where you worked, what topics you searched for – and started actually making that stuff useful. For example, Google Now knows how long your commute is and gives you an alternate route when you walk out the door if traffic is heavy. It knows whether you ride the bus or drive a car. It knows what sports teams you follow just based on what you’ve searched for in the past.
While borderline creepy, it was the first time I felt like Google was starting to actually use all the data they know about us in a relevant way. Hell, we all know they have this data about us. I remember laughing when, at the time of Pocket’s series A, Google Ventures requested information on my previous addresses and employers as part of a background check. My response was: Don’t you know this already?
This was the first time I had been to Google IO and the first IO keynote that I had seen. The last time I was in the Moscone Center was Apple’s WWDC keynote in 2010 where they announced the iPhone 4. During Apple’s keynote there was one piece of data they flaunted, like they do every year: The bajillion credit card numbers they have on file.
I kept thinking of that figure as I sat and watched the Google Now presentation. Apple has your credit card, but here Google was stating very simply: We have your entire life.
Ultimately the story of iOS vs Android is one of a hardware company becoming a knowledge company vs. a knowledge company becoming a hardware company.
Steve Jobs famously complained about Android “We did not move into the search business”. But now Apple has to. “Search” is not about search engines. It is about knowledge and being able to instantly deliver that knowledge on demand. This is something that is becoming more and more important to a connected experience. Siri showed that Apple recognized this. But even with Siri, Apple still has an incredibly long way to go to become a knowledge company. Right now they have to rely on third parties: Siri is entirely based on third parties like Wolfram Alpha and Yelp. Contrast this with Google where they were able to power Google Now from their own data.
Another prime example of this is the new Maps app in iOS6, which completely dropped the use of Google Maps data. In order to do this, Apple had to build their own solution. As a consequence, they dropped transit and walking directions from the Maps app. However, on Google’s side, they have transit, walking, traffic and even biking data all within their own system and can use it to build a really rich, seamless experience like they did in Google Now.
On the other side, Google has a ways to go towards building the type of hardware that Apple can produce. Every one of the major Android devices have been built by manufacturers like Samsung and HTC. Not Google. Even their new flagship tablet, the Nexus 7, has a big ASUS printed on the back. Compare this to Apple where they build and meticulously control every piece of hardware that runs iOS and Mac OS.
Both Google and Apple have their work cut out for them, Google has an enormous amount of work to do to become a hardware player that operates on the level that Apple does. Likewise, Apple has to move mountains to ever have the data set that Google has created. Both are massive undertakings for each company but both are going to be incredibly important to their success.
Why Read It Later/Pocket Went Free
Today we launched a brand new version of Read It Later (now named Pocket). As a part of this update we have made all of our apps free.
This is a big change to how we’ve operated in the past and I wanted to give some more insight into the decision. Personally, I always like to know how the services I love make money because quite simply: I want to know they will stick around.
I understand that there is a stigma of the Silicon Valley startup with a business plan of “We’ll figure it out later”, and that is not who we are. We decided to make the move to a new revenue model last year and today is just the first step in that process.
Why Go Free?
Paid apps are hard for a service like ours for two reasons:
1. It is hard to ask most people to pay for something they don’t understand
While the concept of “save for later” has been growing in popularity, it is not something that the majority of people understand, nor immediately see the value of. Integrating a service like Pocket into your day takes a big investment of time up-front. It takes a little bit before it finally ‘clicks’ and a user can truly see the benefit. No app store description or screenshot can do that for you. You just have to use it first.
2. Our value lasts a long time
Read It Later was profitable from the day it launched its iPhone app. Before today it was the number one paid news app on Android and Amazon and a top app on iOS. Read It Later made money, but that doesn’t mean it was doing it in a way that best fit our type of service.
I’m a visual kind of guy so let me explain with some graphics. (Phil Libin from Evernote showed me these a long time ago and unfortunately I couldn’t find the deck on the web so I had to recreate them. As far as I know, all credit for these should be attributed to him.)
Consider that if simplified, there are 3 different types of products out there:
In the first case, we have something like purchasing food. Immediately that hamburger has a lot of value (you’re hungry right?) but after you eat it, the value is largely gone.
In the second case, there are products that deliver the same amount of value to you every day. A newspaper subscription is a great example of this. Every day it shows up at your door and you get the same value from it each time.
In the final case, you see a product whose value increases over time. On day one, you haven’t invested much time into it and you probably don’t even understand how it helps you. However, as you use it more and more and put more into it, the value becomes increasingly clear. Services like Dropbox and Evernote are perfect examples of this.
By being a paid app, Read It Later was charging like the fast food case, even though the value of our product maps much closer to the second and third graphs. Put simply: From a business perspective, having a user pay $2.99 up-front once and then use the app for 4 years just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
After this realization about our previous revenue strategy we knew we had to change it. We’re moving towards a new model that better fits our business and our users. In the end this will allow us to provide a better service to all of our customers.
Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who has purchased Read It Later Pro in the past. To be honest, RIL wouldn’t be here today if it was not for your support. You allowed me to turn a side project into a full time job and eventually, into a company. I can’t even begin to describe how awesome that is. It’s been a fantastic ride so far and I have put everything I have had into this company over the last 4.5 years.
I hope this post helps explain some of my thinking. We have a plan here. We’re not going to talk about everything in the works here - today is about Pocket and the awesome new experience we’ve created for all of you. I hope you enjoy it and I’m really excited for what comes next.
How to make a failure as massive as losing your entire backup sound like a feature.
This is way too casual, it even makes it sound like I can just postpone this action and doesn’t clearly indicate that my entire backup is gone/corrupted.
Sorry about the ginormous/blurry image, this theme apparently likes to upscale.
We should invent a new English word to describe the mixed feeling of relief and frustration that occurs when you find that stupid, stupid cause of a bug you spent hours searching for.
It’s like being enraged and relieved all at once.