The beauty of different systems coming together

说一说最近我看到的Google Maps AR里所发生的美妙化学作用。这种不同的系统(产品技术、设计哲学、以及商业战略)都完美结合的例子并不常见。

Google Maps AR的视频:

应用层面是AR增强现实,稍用了点机器学习来识别建筑物,同时谷歌街景有世界各地城市的建筑物图像。虽然这三者(AR + ML + Street View)的配合缺一不可,但私以为其中最savvy之处在于街景,因为这并不容易被其他公司复制:过去数年数个街景汽车在地球各地所采集到的数据。以往的努力完全pave the way for今天的应用。

这种有默契的配合,让我想到我之前的一篇博客Cutting a hole to make a handle里面提到的”不重造轮子“之美。利用已有资源来建造商业moat优于重新去添加或开发yet to happen的“轮子”。这种天衣无缝的感觉,就像Facebook主产品(带有Social Graph的Feeds)和其商业模式(based on Social Graph的highly targeted的广告)那样的一拍即合。对于这个,Benedict Evans或许形容得更加形象:“sharing和feed browsing是revenue-generating behaviors。”

Search for China

Interesting comments on Baidu’s downturn in China: https://www.zhihu.com/question/311212158

While most discussions about Project Dragonfly (Google Search for China) focus on ethics or privacy, this perspective seems to be missing – Search as product might no longer be relevant to China users. No?

74% of Chinese online payment is on mobile vs 15% in the U.S. (source)
98% of Internet Users in China are mobile users (source)

From the user behaviors standpoint, unlike US, it’s a totally different climate when the dominant of population are mobile-only users who have never used PC (or web). Search by nature arguably isn’t a strong vehicle in mobile; Apps are. On mobile, people don’t like searching stuff to get jobs done, but instead would browse feeds to consume whatever algorithm throw to them.

From the data aggregation standpoint, Search was born in the era of World Wide Web, and is largely beneficial from the open web. But in the mobile world, each App is an isolated island, and it became difficult for Google to harvest data (I doubt if PWA / Instant Apps only work best with Google’s own ecosystem like Android and Play but struggle to work with iOS Apps).

That said, even Search might not be the best product-market fit for China users, Assistant might have a chance to get it through. Because Assistant is a native form to mobile (or all kinds of devices). I have a hard time to imagine what a success will be looking like for Assistant though. If Assistant can succeed, I think it’s a better product than Search for China’s population.

(Disclaimer – views in the article are my own and have nothing to do with my company.)

如果做这么一个插件 – Headline Blocker

午饭和组里人讨论出一个项目idea:Headline Blocker。

就是做这么一个插件,把所有文章的标题屏蔽掉(就像Ad Blocker屏蔽掉广告一样),这样大家不会因为“标题党“而点进去一些 “You won’t believe…“ 或 “7 things you should…” 这样clickbait的文章。技术上并不难。

如果觉得缺点是人们需花更多时间去识别一篇文章的好坏的话,可以加这么一个feature:通过文章内容自动生成一个中立的文章标题。这样每篇文章从标题角度来说起码是同一起跑线。

虽然这插件初看是没有盈利的希望,而且是一种“反惰性“(而不是利用人的惰性)的自讨苦吃的方式。但是从humanity*的角度来说,或许是一种挽救?

(*假新闻传播得更快更广,利用人类贪嗔痴弱点的文章更受欢迎)

Apple’s vulnerability in China

In the most recent Stratechery podcast Episode 158 – A Significant Shift, Ben Thompson made a good yet subtle point about Apple’s recent revenue warning followed by its biggest stock-price drop. To paraphrase – because of Apple’s shallow software moat in China, it’s particularly vulnerable in China when there’s an economic recession.

To break the analysis down in my own words –

1) WeChat (and similar services in China) and Android undermine iPhone’s software experience.

  • WeChat provides much better experience than iMessages because its holistic integration of rich services and so on. Unlike the iMessage’s popularity in the US, it is just lukewarm in China.
  • Android’s open source strategy allows the local manufactures like Huawei and Xiaomi to customize their own OS, which weaken the necessity of the holistic iPhone experience (hardware + software). iPhone users in China are not affected by the ecosystem “lock-in”. So switching is easy.

2) Because of 1, people in China cut across iPhone’s underlying OS and buy iPhone more of as a commodity – just like buying a Chanel bag or a Rolex. Apple is a luxury brand for status symbol.

  • (But also thanks to this, most U.S. internet giants (e.g. Google, FB) failed to break into the Chinese market but not for Apple – Apple was able to enter China and succeeded in the market)

3) Because 2, while it’s always the case, when economic recession comes, iPhone sales is more vulnerable in China compared to western countries. People avoid buying luxuries during economic downturn (roughly started from last quarter).

4) Apple’s less vulnerable in other countries because Apple has deeper software and services moat. Westerns buy because they are “locked in” in Apple’s ecosystem.

如何戴上有色眼镜看中国的tech

我当然对China Tech感兴趣,但对通过不同lenses所产生的对China Tech的看法尤为感兴趣。你总不能只沉浸在那些布满“融资/独角兽/AI/区块链”等词汇的微信公众号里。试着戴上不同的“有色眼镜”再去看中国科技圈,便会觉得奇妙无穷。譬如说,对于同一件科技事件,视角一可能会说中国科技日益强大已超越美国,视角二会说中国用户缺乏用户私隐的常识导致这公司有扩张可能性。

我发现有这些有趣的视角来看代中国的科技圈:

  • 没有亚洲背景的左派白人视角。代表:Decode/Recode的Kara Swisher
  • 有亚洲背景的白人视角。代表:Stratechery的Ben Thompson
  • 土生土长的混在白人堆里的ABC的视角。代表:YC的Justin Kan
  • 在美国求学但后来在中国发展的大佬的视角。代表:李开复/陆琪
  • 在中国长大然后在美国求学或工作的中国人的视角。代表:硅谷中国程序员/中国留学生
  • 在中国求学和工作的互联网圈从业员的视角(先锋型)。代表:汪滔
  • 在中国求学和工作的互联网圈从业员的视角(土鳖型)。代表:雷军
  • 在中国求学和工作的非互联网圈的视角。代表:我们爸妈

 

有时间再展开这些视角带来有哪些不同观点和偏好。

Engineered like a computer, but works like a pencil

这次iPad Pro的最重要的创新应该是性能,其次的才是(依重要性排):USB-C插口、pencil地位的增强、全面屏和外观结构、FaceID、其它。

像苹果说的,iPad Pro用的是“比市面上92%的笔记本电脑还要高性能”的A12 Biontic chip,视觉计算比专门打游戏的Xbox One还好。

这是苹果第一次seriously把iPad看作为取代现在笔记本电脑的下一代computing platform的开端。像Luke说的”Engineered like a computer, but works like a pencil”(顶端的计算能力,以人为本的设计)应该就是他们对下一代计算平台的远景。

明天就去剁手😛

2B53F1AC-7557-43BB-B6DF-2709B3BDA8E4

Rams documentary screening

482D7C80-6414-4852-8568-10F8EF01AE0E2A7FD1CC-D5EE-46BD-8A25-268A302975BBDieter Rams纪录片的三藩市试映。电影票数个月前就售罄。

这86岁的德国老头住在一个50年前装修好的家里,被他50年前设计的物件包围着。而这些物件和他本人50年来的性格一模一样:长存、真诚、低调、又顽固。

或许他不知道他的物件和思想启发过多少个追梦少年,从50年前直到现在。

It is an end of an era。