The Micro And Macro Of Mobile

Here’s a great podcast featuring my favorite analyst Benedict Evans, talking about macro and micro stuff in mobile.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Cued up for later.I’m a smarter business person for following and reading Benedict. Can’t beat the combo of being articulate, knowledgeable with his own unabashed point of view.

    1. Richard

      the British accent alone makes what he says credible.

      1. jason wright

        but i also have a British accent.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Disqus ought to make it so you can type with an accent

          1. jason wright

            yeah, a keyboard app with dialect modes.

          2. pointsnfigures

            Yup, it’s hard to type in Chicagoese! Three becomes tree, The becomes Da. Maybe just an autocorrect for dialects. Elevator becomes lift (in England)

          3. Vasudev Ram

            Shouldn’t that be “lift becomes elevator” (unless the lift, er, elevator, was invented in the US? :-)And, haha, that reminds me of those articles contrasting the differences in English English and American English, like:- sidewalk vs. pavement- In England, a person stands for election, in USA, a person runs for election- can probably find more by googling.Update: Wikipedia article about elevators:…Maybe it was invented in Russia after all:”The invention of a system based on the screw drive was perhaps the most important step in elevator technology since ancient times, leading to the creation of modern passenger elevators. The first screw drive elevator was built by Ivan Kulibin and installed in Winter Palace in 1793. Several years later another of Kulibin’s elevators was installed in Arkhangelskoye near Moscow.”

        2. LE

          What’s interesting is that I don’t have enough experience with british accents to be able to divine the class and/or possibly the education of the person speaking. I mean I know what cockney sounds like and I know when someone is speaking the queens english (whatever that is) but I don’t really have a seat of the pants feel for in between.Otoh I had a young guy come to my house last week to give a quote on painting and I immediately could place him in the world (he had a voice and presentation that allowed me to peg him as “white rapper”).Even in the US this can be a problem although much smaller. I’m sure JLM living in the great city of Austin TX can tell much more about someone from that area than I can. Obviously. I’m sure Sigma Algebra can tell more about someone in academia than I can. Etc. [1]The real world implication of this is that if I am visiting London I don’t have the ability to see danger the same way I do in my home town (or opportunity I guess as well).So let me ask you. Where does Benedict Evans fall on the British Social strata the way he speaks? (Which is separate of course from what he has achieved of course..)[1] Corporate people have their own tone and words of course as well.

          1. pointsnfigures

            [1] Corporate people have their own tone and words of course as well.—-that’s because of lawyers.

          2. LE

            Naw I’m not even talking about that [1]I’m talking about what I will call “tool” talk as in “they are a tool”. This is where a corporate person mimics a speech pattern that they’ve picked up from coworkers in the relentless pursuit to just get the job done without respect for any details or nuance of the situation. It’s all about results and making the numbers. “We can rely on Jim to get the job done. Jim’s a can do guy”.I was helping someone out (for literally no charge) and sent a detailed email to them (was a startup and not the first one either) and they had some new adviser that they hired (a former corporate tool with what might be viewed as a stunning linkedin by corporate standards) and she got on the phone (conference call like I have time for that) and started peppering me with questions. I said “did you read the detailed email that I sent?”. Wanting to make sure she was “up to speed”. To which she responded “well I skimmed it”. (Answer meaning “no”). I guess she was busy and so she wanted to offload the work to me. Just have me repeat what I had already detailed in writing. She then says “so do you think you can get this job done for us?”. It was her particular tone and way she said it that was annoying to me. Like I don’t work for you. I’m not your fucking underling. I can’t defy gravity. Read the long email I sent and get back to me by email with your questions. I’ve giving you the detail so you can decide how much risk you want to take. I’m not making the decision so you can then pin it back on “the guy said do this” and avoid blame.[1] Corporate “male” people probably wouldn’t say “naw” either they speak in staccato with deep voices trying to enunciate with authority. They appear together on the surface but then need to self medicate in order to unwind from all the pressure of their jobs.

          3. jason wright

            accent contains (or did until the age of mass broadcasting) horizontal and vertical information. horizontal is (or was) geographic, and vertical is (and tends to remain so in the UK in spite of the media’s attempt to camouflage who is running the show here with their ‘populist’ choices of aired voices) a ‘class’ thing. in the UK class is a mysterious mix of money, education, family ‘background’, and outlook. it’s deliberately unclear.I couldn’t possibly comment, but Benedict has an accent that would probably be heard spoken in policy meetings at the Home Office, and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and by people not elected. A London boy, privately educated, nice prep school, possibly a boarder, father a QC, mother an academic, but one has to be a little careful about these things…..

          4. LE

            (Appreciate the detailed response very good commentary btw).In other words roughly equivalent in this country to “one who is featured in the NYT engagements in the ‘style’ section even if they don’t have any particular connection currently to the NYC metro area”.Actually here is an example don’t be fooled by the fact that the couple went to Princeton that’s not really NYC SMSA [1]Jacqueline Diana de Armas and Marco Issac De León were married Saturday. The Rev. Joseph Shea performed the ceremony at the Mission San Fernando Rey de España, a Roman Catholic church in Los Angeles.Mrs.De León, 31, is an associate in the Washington law offices of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr. She graduated from Princeton and received a law degree from Stanford.The bride is a daughter of Joanne M. Seaton of Simi Valley, Calif., and Oscar C. de Armas of Davie, Fla., and is a stepdaughter of Gary S. Seaton and of Alina Gastesi-de Armas.Mr. De León, 30, is an analyst in the business management group of the National Park Service, which is in Washington. He graduated from Stanford and received a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton.The groom is a son of Nelda De León and Abel De León of Corpus Christi, Tex.Even though the bride and groom went to Stanford and Princeton, their years at the universities did not overlap. Their first meeting occurred at a basketball game in Washington in 2008, after a mutual friend had insisted that they meet.…[1]

          5. jason wright

            Yes, much like The Times (of London) and its social notices.There’s also this one. The Gazzette; may not have heard of it. it’s the government’s newspaper. Started in 1665, and no other newspapers were allowed. British democracy has a dark past.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            There you go again, reading the society pages. Shame on you!Some of this sounds like some of the dialog by Aunt Pittypat in ‘Gone with the Wind’ — yup, it’s still there.But for the most “posh” language usage, have the verb ‘graduate’ be intransitive so that, e.g., “Joe was graduated from Princeton”. The society page writer has to move up a step or two in true ‘posh’!

          7. sigmaalgebra

            If that turkey had ever made it with a girl, then all my life girls should have been fighting each other and rushing to sit in my lap, even while I was standing up (old Bogie movie — extra credit for knowing which one!).Actually, one, but only one, girl did that: She had a gorgeous blond ‘page boy’ and a nice smile — could have lost a couple of pounds. I took her on an actual date, movie, and she dressed in Sunday best but did sit next to me in the car. When I called her for a second date, it was no for Friday, no for Saturday, no for the next Friday, …. And I gave up.Then once in the afternoon after school I went by her house unannounced, and she was alone. She let me in but claimed that she was not supposed to have a boy in the house when she was alone (she was a high school senior). Then I understood why her parents had the rule: I said, “I’m not going to do anything to you.” and immediately she wanted to do something about that and jumped on me, arms around my neck and legs around my waist, in her full skirt. My guess: The time I called her for a second date, I’d gotten her mother who had fun imitating her daughter’s voice; likely the parents had a rule, with any one boy, at most one date until over 18. It took me a while to guess that little deception.

      2. LE

        People definitely instill importance to what they don’t have a frame of reference for. (See my other comment re: Jason). Foreign is better unless it’s been identified as crap by another metric. It’s can be classy because we aren’t as used to it (only one reason of course).Another thing is that most of the foreigners that we come in contact with are the better educated higher class foreigners. Not the dregs. The dregs never made it over here they are still over there. So we get the ones that are either better motivated or the ones who family was better motivated and made it to our country.We don’t hear the equivalent of the morons that you might hear on the local news being interviewed in the shitty section of the city. And even if we did hear them being interviewed in their shitty section of their city we don’t have an immediate frame of reference for how stupid they might be. Because it’s not our language.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Have to deduct a few points when he does the British thing of refusing to sound out the last word a sentence.

      1. RichardF

        that’s just too funny….(from a British perspective)

        1. sigmaalgebra

          So, the British realize that they do that! Suspicions confirmed!In the podcast, there were several last words I just couldn’t understand at all, and maybe some of those words were important.Mostly here on the west side of the pond, we admire the use of the English language by the British; they use the language so well it is almost as if they invented it. Still, for us here on the west shore, there are some issues. E.g., at…there isSir Edward Elgar, ‘Pomp and Circumstance’, March No. 1 (Land of Hope and Glory) (Last Night of the Proms 2012)with a lot of British flag waving (literally), where the announcer pronounces ‘march’ without sounding the letter ‘r’, basically says, say, ‘MArCH’ or something like ‘mahch’. Gee, what sin ever did the poor, little letter ‘r’ do to deserve to be so minimized and neglected? Unfair, so UNfair!I do recall that, from the movie ‘The Battle of Britain’, only about 1 in 6 British fighter pilots died — fantastic fighting.And I recall that in Gulf War I, the British were so diligent with their fighter-bombers that they were taking chances and crashing. Bummer. They were starting to threaten the statistic that there were more casualties on the allied side from off-duty R&R, e.g., baseball, than from enemy action — when need to fight a war, then that’s definitely the way to do it! I hope the British pilots learned to calm down and fight another day!I will say to the British, they are good friends with us former colonialists here on the west side of the pond, are good with the common language, are just terrific at comedy, should emphasize Newton as by far the greatest ‘writer’ of the 1600’s, and should set aside British music, art, drama, and food! Music? German, Italian, Russian. Art? French and Italian. Food? French, Italian, and Chinese. Drama? Hollywood and otherwise f’get about it! Newton, Maxwell, Rutherford, Chadwick, Dirac, and more — terrific! And, wear a special bracelet so that whenever a word is not pronounced, there is an electric shock, a little stronger each time! Oh, I left out cars: German, American, Italian. Oops, girls! Yup, Lady Di, one of the most desirable, adorable, gorgeous women who ever took a breath but with some rather poor judgment in men, e.g., one who would rather talk to plants than be with her. Breathtakingly gorgeous, unforgettable woman — with the right man, she doesn’t need good judgment!

          1. jason wright

            there is the ‘clipped’ British accent, where every word has its last syllable unvoiced, or throttled off. rather posh, utterly proscribed in mass media output, but still alive and well in select social networks.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Due to your explanation, you may be risking a drum roll at dawn with your sword broken and your buttons and epaulets ripped off, being ostracized from all British salons and drawing rooms, having all well dressed British young women turn their backs on you, being turned away at the race at Ascot, and at the Henley Regatta being pushed into the Themes! Or would it be much worse? You might be stuffed and displayed in the British Museum as a genetic throwback to before Stonehenge? Is it that the British elite can seem so courteous but can be really cruel? :-)!

          3. jason wright

            English manners, invented to hide the truth.

          4. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            now. that is funny. and no truth hidden!!

          5. Vasudev Ram

            “Horsewhip the bounder on the front steps of his house, by gad!” – “P.G. Wodehouse et al”-style stories … :-)…Some of his novels are really funny, though it takes a little while to get the humour.

          6. Vasudev Ram

            One variation on British accent that I’ve heard is, some British people say what sounds like “idear” for “idea”.

          7. sigmaalgebra

            So finally they found a place to pronounce an ‘r’? Amazing!

      2. jason wright

        that could form the basis for a great comedy sketch. wars start that way.

      3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        I have always been thinking British came-up with English language … how wrong I am.

  2. Barry Nolan

    Jeez you sqeeze a lot of free consulting from A16Z. They should contemplate an VC only paywall.

    1. mike

      Benedict can thank Fred for raising his profile and maybe even his role at a16z??

      1. Barry Nolan


    2. fredwilson

      i suspect they found out about Benedict from all my promoting of him here at AVC and on Twitter

  3. Andrew Kennedy

    This is great. Loved the inter office memo example as well as the hertz rental analogy.

  4. JimHirshfield

    Interesting deep dive on the numbers.

  5. Richard

    I think its fair to say that the iphone and its clones have had more of a (positive) impact on the standard of living of its users than any device in history. You may not see this in the income and GDP metrics, but it is also causing the greatest shift in the how the economy operates as well.

    1. jason wright

      what are these clones you speak of?

      1. Richard

        Any mobile device post 2007.

  6. jason wright

    if the rumor is correct i wonder what will happen to ipad sales when the iphone 6 mega is released to the market?

  7. Matthew Perle

    The weakness of Samsung lately has been surprising. For awhile, it seemed like they were on an inexorable march toward becoming the dominant maker for the dominant platform. With the iPhone holding steady and even gaining share in some markets, it seems less likely to be a repeat of the Mac/PC era.

    1. Elia Freedman

      When there is little to no differentiation on the Android side between hardware than it is easy to see sales go somewhere else. Samsung likely still owns the high end Android market but is losing the low end to Lenovo and Xiaomi. The PC market is a great corollary as the leadership position changed multiple times over the past fifteen years.

      1. Matthew Perle

        Owning the high end for Android is cold comfort for Samsung if they keep getting squeezed by Apple.The PC hardware market was volatile, but there was always Microsoft taking their cut on the software side. I wonder if Google will decide at some point to go that route and start charging for Android.

        1. Elia Freedman

          Exactly. Samsung doesn’t really have the high end. Apple does. Which means Samsung is just another mid-tier provider, and mid-tier providers always get killed.Regarding Google charging, I’d be shocked. Remember MS made money by charging for software licenses. Google makes money through ads.

          1. Matthew Perle

            True, although desktop search doesn’t translate as well to mobile and will continue to be unbundled by other networks, so they may need to consider new revenue sources down the road. Also, since Android is locked in as the standard mobile OS it would seem to be pretty easy money if they were to charge.

  8. sigmaalgebra

    The smartphone was supposed to be a phone but, with its other features, e.g., portability, camera, GPS, soon became a solution looking for a problem. After some solutions were found, apparently (from a comment here at AVC) people used such devices to communicate but mostly via text and no longer with voice as a phone. Amazing.Now the smartphone, tablets, with being a voice phone no longer the main interest, are again looking for problems to solve. So, clerks at a car rental can be in the car lot with such a device and touch, swipe, type, etc. and not be behind a counter using a PC, and people handling boxes can use such a device to read bar codes. For such ‘enterprise’ applications we are back to ‘client-server’ where the mobile device is really just for the user interface (UI), and the serious data, computing, etc. are handled at the server somewhere in a server farm. Okay. In this case, the mobile device is a UI device.To me, with this new client-server model, there promise to be some struggles: Basically, the Web browser became the core of a very standard UI device, say, a new version of the ‘dumb terminal’, in that both the Web browser and the dumb terminal were very standard for both the users and the server side programming.But we have to notice, it took, now, 20 years for Web browsers to become polished UI devices, through several versions of HTTP (don’t forget HTTPS), HTML, CSS, JavaScript, tab browsing, client side storage, handling user logins, plug ins, handling still images, moving GIF images, sound formats, video formats, doing up/downloads, getting the bugs and security problems out of Flash, setting aside ActiveX due to grim security problems, solving more grim security problems (e.g., once the Akamai download manager security problems wiped me out for far too long, one of the worst things that happened to my startup), getting enough performance, getting the security good enough for, say, on-line banking, getting the Web site programmers good enough with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to make good UIs, etc. E.g., as I type this, I am using Firefox version 27.0.1, and the latest version of Internet Explorer I have is about as useful as a boat anchor.Well, the mobile world, with its emphasis on discrete apps, should be looking at some severe problems:(1) Standard UI Principles. Note that with many of the old PC applications, e.g., Microsoft Word, a new user can take 2-3 weeks to get good with the software, e.g., in Word getting running headers and footers, section titles, an index, and a table of contents correct. So, each PC application was free to have a unique, idiosyncratic UI and its own security problems, etc. But, in strong contrast, with the Web with HTTP, HTML, etc., a UI long was significantly constrained so that 1+ billion Internet users, each with a standard Web browser, could nearly instantly make use of any of 100+ million Web sites. And slowly the security problems got solved in ways largely independent of the efforts of the Web site programmers. So, with the Web, we’re talking fantastic improvement in productivity for both the users and the programmers. Now with mobile apps instead of the Web, likely we will be back to the problems the Web solved but, now, with each app programmer largely forced to develop their own solutions.(2) Development Effort. The app developer has what to replace the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. that on the Web took 20 years to get right? The programmers of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc. worked hard for a long time, and we have to expect that individual app developers will successfully reproduce that work?(3) Security. The app developer has what to replace HTTPS, encrypted hidden fields, encrypted post data, user state handling (e.g., cookies, user ID fields) that took so long to get right on the Web?To see some of the magnitude of the issues, the world now has, what, 100+ million Web site URLs and 1+ trillion Web pages or some such? And with the app model instead, the programmers would have to write 100+ million apps, and each user, instead of one Web browser to access hundreds of different URLs a year, would need in that year hundreds of different apps?For more on the magnitude, there’s Google: It helps people find URLs of Web sites and, by reading the HTML, CSS, etc. of Web sites, can collect text that Google can use to match search users’ keywords/phrases. But with each Web page replaced by an app, how the heck to build a search engine? And without a good good search engine, how the heck to find the apps? Go to some app store and do a download instead of going to Google and clicking on the URL of a search result?So, no: Largely mobile devices need to be running one or a few Web browsers, not a separate app for each Web site to be replaced.So, yes, as in the Evans podcast, there will be apps, say, for Hertz, the cargo handlers at American Airlines, maybe the wait staff at the new Red Lobster, or a Trulia employee gathering numerical data and pictures of a house, but for the 1+ or 2+ billion mobile users, mostly to access servers they will use a Web browser.So, for seeing the potential impact of mobile, we can narrow a little: Mostly it will be a future of mobile devices using Web browsers. So, we’re back to the Web with, yes, possibly some Web sites that have mostly mobile users.

    1. LE

      Microsoft Word, a new user can take 2-3 weeks to get good with the software, e.g., in Word getting running headers and footers, section titles, an index, and a table of contents correct.The complexity is a great way to create customer lock in you have to admit. I mean I use to see these help wanted ads where they talked about being able to use excel and word. Like it actually takes people time to learn this stuff. Or better yet they have to take a course in those subjects (I think my daughter had to in college iirc.). So once someone has gotten initiated and received their certification it’s a great barrier to keep others out.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        > The complexity is a great way to create customer lock in you have to admit.Yup, it was.”But, it has a really big flaw: It’s so darned difficult to learn to use.””‘Flaw, you say? It’s not a flaw! It’s a feature, a crucial feature, one that stands to make us billions!” :-)!

        1. LE

          Reminds me of when we would add a new machine at my old business. I immediately comprehended how to work the machine in real time. Employees not only didn’t, but when we hired someone new there were 20 machines they had to learn the ins and outs of which of course they never did.This happens over time because people are always adding on in a way that is easy for them (like a new chapter in a textbook) but hard for a newbie. Another example is the superintendent at a local apartment building. If he’s been there for 20 years no doubt he’s has all these work arounds, gotchas and unique ways of doing things that would totally throw a new guy for a loop.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      This post by Benedict Evans speaks to those points !The next phase of smartphonesThis, I think, is what we started to see at this year’s WWDC and Google IO – the end of the first 7 years and the start of a new phase/ . . . . . Hence, WWDC was all about cloud as an enabler of rich native apps, while the most interesting parts of IO were about eroding the difference between apps and websites/ . . . . .I’ve said before that Apple’s approach is about a dumb cloud enabling rich apps while Google’s is about devices as dumb glass that are endpoints of cloud services.It seem to me that Apple’s approach is betting on a more organically-distributive bio-mimicry approach. (echoes of the Steve Jobs mindset)The long term benefits of that bio-mimicry approach are far less obvious at the moment because mass-culture has yet to absorb/appreciate the fact that social/commercial systems are quintessential analogues/instantiations of complex living systems. All those same organic complexity-dynamics will ultimate emerge as pivotal social constraints/benefits, slowly necessitating the adoption of a more functionally appropriate zeitgiest-toolset of organic-process-literacy based narratives/metaphors/language.In this race Apple plays the tortoise while Google plays the hare.Apple represents a less-efficient/more-redundant, distributive organic-insurance, capitalist free-for-all approach where Google represents a would-be more-efficient/less-redundant centralized soviet model. I know that characterization seem somewhat counter intuitive at this juncture but the key danger inherent in the pivotal organic-dynamic that is the network-effect is its propensity for runaway/snowballing positive-feeedback-loops. Without any built in mechanisms or global structural constraints exerting a countervailing inertia-dampening effect that overly centralized soviet/Google approach can quickly flip from an efficiency-tool into a stranglehold-impediment.once again paraphrasing something from William Mougayara socially positive network-effect is all about facilitating more and controlling less<end of=”” broken=”” record=””>

      1. sigmaalgebra

        I didn’t really hear Evans address the concerns I tried to explain. But, then, as we have learned elsewhere on this thread, Evans is British and, therefore, as part of being “posh”, sometimes drops ending syllables!It appears that apps replacing Web sites would be a big threat to Google since Google can search the content of Web sites but not in any comparable way the content of apps.So, Apple’s ‘thick client’ is a source of ‘content’ Google can’t search.But Google’s ‘thin client’ leaves data on a server that is still a challenge for Google but, maybe long term, is less of a threat than Apple’s ‘thick client’.HTML and CSS in a Web page enables so many uses, especially finding keywords/phrases, that it has been astoundingly productive for civilization. To have the content and formatting in just Objective C or some such executable code is a real bummer for such uses.I’m sorry: Apps have been fun things, but I believe that mostly, especially for enterprises, the main app on a mobile device will be a Web browser — it is just too important for developers and users to keep using that Web infrastructure that took 20 years to polish.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          I sense that Apple’s implementation of sandboxed extensions is meant to target those issues in a new more distributive/granular fashion?But then again what do I know I’m not a developer !

          1. sigmaalgebra

            ‘Sandboxes’ in one form or another are an old idea. That there has been so much trouble with computer security from too little use of these ideas has been a grand tragedy — and at one point one heck of a shot in the gut for my work.From now on, just what to do/not do with something like a sandbox will always be a struggle, basically, to offer freedom enough to the real apps to do the real work while still blocking the full range of security problems — so, as apps want more freedom to do more, as the range of data vulnerable to security problems increases, and as ‘connectivity’ means increase, we are in for struggles.From some old studies, a computer without any computer security problems was one in a Faraday cage with really good filters on any electrical power coming in. Internet access? Wireless access? GOTTA be kidding! Not a chance! For any other solution, we’re at risk — a billion such computers, over 10 years, something bad’s just gotta happen.Closer to real practice, somehow it worked out and someone noticed that the instruction set of the IBM 360/67, IBM’s first virtual memory computer, could be used to implement ‘virtual machine’. In simple terms, give a program, especially one that is regarding itself as an operating system that has full control of the real machine, its own virtual memory address space (that is, with paging), and if it tries to execute a privileged instruction, have the real operating system, in that case, Control Program 67 or CP/67, examine the situation and, if happy, execute the privileged instruction on behalf of the program, a ‘guest’ operating system. The guest operating system could be malicious — just fine, no worries, it can’t hurt anything but itself. Such a guest operating system could be CP/67 itself, and there was a claim that CP/67 had been run on itself 7 levels deep. No doubt all of CP/67 was written in assembler — those were the days of iron programmers and wimpy machines!CP/67 was implemented at the IBM Scientific Center in Boston and worked great. First it was used as a means of a time sharing computer good for developing operating systems. So, 10 people could each be developing their own operating system and all running at the same time on the one real 360/67. The overhead for the tricks the CP/67 real operating system played on the ‘guest’ operating systems was surprisingly small. And the 10 users couldn’t hurt each other: Each was writing a program that thought it had full access to all the real hardware, really believed it, but definitely didn’t. One heck of a ‘sandbox’.Eventually IBM called CP/67 VM and used it on nearly all their ‘mainframe’ computers. Some tweaks were added to the hardware to make VM even more efficient, and, net, the advantages were high.In 1969 the MIT Project MAC did the operating system Multics. There the main idea was to have ‘capabilities’ and ‘access control lists’ (ACLs) for each program or address space, and let that be the main source of program isolation and security, i.e., the definition of the boundaries of a ‘sandbox’. Yes, I’m leaving out ‘rings’, gate segments, etc. — I’ll include those in the book! Since then, the main ideas of capabilities and ACLs have become bedrock for computer security all over computing.Microsoft’s hierarchical file system HPFS implements ACLs, but as far as I can tell they are rarely used. First cut, those ACLs should be able to be the basis of at least something in a sandbox for Windows: So, give a program the capabilities it needs to run in a file system directory and let it do what it wants inside that directory but essentially nothing anywhere else.Eventually IBM implemented RACF — resource access control facility, essentially capabilities and ACLs.Prime computer was a single board, bit-sliced computer with some cute instruction set ideas and an operating system written in a tweaked Fortran and a poor-man’s Multics. They had a nice box. It’s fair to say that the Intel 286 owed a lot to the Prime ideas. As I recall, in 1980 Prime had the highest ROI on the NYSE. And they did really well with computer security. Their basic ‘sandbox’ was capabilities and ACLs for each user and their ‘home’ directory in the hierarchical file system. When I was a prof, I’d gotten the college to buy a Prime, and when I got a test done in some word wacker, I copied the file to a certain directory of a department secretary, and she printed out the file had the reproduction work done by my class time, There my capabilities were to write only, not read, delete, or change capabilities. Cute.Another approach to a sandbox should be just a user log in on Unix, Linux, or Windows Server. Hopefully, for a wide range of operations, one such log in can’t do any damage to any other one. Of course in the movie about Zuck, a drunk programmer could get ‘root’! Dumb Linux! I hope Linus, et al have since fixed that nonsense.Now, of course, at least on x86 processors, there is VMware which apparently tries to be like IBM’s old VM but with much more, e.g., move an executing program from one hardware server to another one! Cute.Recently on Linux there are ‘containers’, another version of a sandbox.Now just what capabilities a sandbox should grant/deny stands to be complicated, especially considering communications.There is also the Mach Kernel, which ‘abstracts’ much of the hardware, was done at CMU, has some aspects of a virtual machine, and, as I recall, has been heavily used by Microsoft in versions of Windows, I would expect at least Windows Server.So, we have sandboxes, containers, kernels, and virtual machines. Just what all the details are for each of these, or even any one, could be complicated.For anything important, I wouldn’t trust the security on a mobile device about as far as I could throw a Mac truck. For most apps for most users, my concerns don’t matter.

  9. William Mougayar

    So why isn’t there a decent PC/Tablet hybrid, where you just snap off the screen & it turns into a tablet?

    1. Elia Freedman

      Because touch is touch and mouse is mouse and the two models don’t work well together. I’d love this, too, but just don’t think it will ever work really well. Too many compromises on both interfaces.

      1. Bruce Warila

        I have been wondering about a dual boot setup where my phone is my only computing device, capable of running OSX for sit-down / lean-forward tasks when called for; while still enabling IOS apps in a window. Pull the monitor cable and walk away, and the device turns back into a dedicated phone.. (I did not listen to the podcast…)

        1. Elia Freedman

          Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the idea but the devil is in the details on this one and my guess is the details are really really complicated.

          1. Elia Freedman

            “How quaint!”

          2. PhilipSugar

            I think this is an engineer centric point of view. I’d like one thing that can do it all!!! Nope. My stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, microwave, all do different things even though they are all kitchen appliances.Same for TV, Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, Phone. So what??? They all merge and as one gets better it replaces the other: Microwave versus Oven. But you still want the Oven.Anybody who does woodwork remembers this: Guess what??? Not adopted.

          3. Elia Freedman

            Personally I always liked Steve Jobs’ trucks versus cars analogy.

          4. PhilipSugar

            So right I forgot about that one and almost used it. Totally right.

        2. sigmaalgebra

          You seem to want a version of a hypervisor with virtual machines!

      2. William Mougayar

        well…touch could be disabled when hooked to the keyboard.

        1. Elia Freedman

          The issue is design, not touch itself. I think what you’d need is a set up where the OS X version ran alongside the iOS version on the same system, and the “switcher” knew which to run based on what peripherals were attached. But running OS X on desktop and smartphone won’t work any better than running the same version of Windows on both does today. Designing for keyboard is very different than designing for mouse.

    2. LE

      where you just snap off the screenSnap off means “where did I put that” and something you have to keep track of. And if enough people’s behavior prevents adoption you don’t get to the tipping point of popularity and ubiquity.

      1. William Mougayar

        i dunno. i kind of still like the idea.

    3. jason wright

      the Google Ara phone suggests that this may possibly be on the way….sort of.

    4. Vasudev Ram

      I had seen an online ad for a hybrid PC/tablet from HP some time ago. Don’t remember the model now.

  10. LE

    It would be nice if things like this were available to be read so you could at least get the content without allocating 17 minutes.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      But, but, but multi-media is supposed to be sooooo much better!You are saying that you prefer text that you can read faster and easily save, search, and edit and quote? Gee, don’t we all have to catch up with the progress? :-)!

      1. LE

        Like Akroid’s SNL conehead character I like to consume mass quantities of material in what I personally believe to be the most efficient manner possible.Podcasts to me are like sitting in a room and listening to the radio as a primary activity. The radio is something you listen to to kill time in a car or during some other “transportation” event. Nobody sits and listens to words on radio unless they are doing it as background to some primary activity.

    2. kenberger

      I will bet that Fred posted this just as much as a Soundcloud promotion as for the content.And I must say that Soundcloud is suddenly bringing me a few a-ha wins with it: when I come across video throughout the day, i add it to my Watch Later lists (using youtube and Plex), and view the queue whenever I next am seated at my TV (over takeout dinners, etc).Soundcloud elegantly provides the equivalent for audio streams, which are particularly good when you can’t be reading. I used to have 1-hour driving commutes, twice a day. I would almost always use that to learn something– languages, audiobooks. Today I would listen to this podcast and other such content by simply streaming soundcloud when in the car.

  11. pointsnfigures

    As I started to learn about mobile, it was really interesting to learn about all the platforms on android-and then if there was a way to segment them and market to them.As to Benedict’s description on mobile with regard to blue collar jobs like baggage handler or Hertz, Google glass might be better because it’s hands free. I also see a lot of applications in medicine. It’s still mobile, but it’s a different device. Work flows in factories can change with things like mobile and glass too.As to mobile/photo, this company does what he is talking about: other interesting thing about mobile is you can’t count on the user updating your app. On a web based program, a central hierarchy can push to users and make sure they use the most current debugged package. In mobile, you have to hope that if you detect a bug and fix it-your users go to the app store and get the update-and install it in their phone. Many times mobile companies lose users because the experience is buggy-and the users don’t download the new stuff. Interesting conundrum.I find I am more transient on mobile. Not “married” to any real apps-except the stuff that I use on the web.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      >In mobile, you have to hope that if you detect a bug and fix it-your users go to the app store and get the update-and install it in their phone. Many times mobile companies lose users because the experience is buggy-and the users don’t download the new stuff. Interesting conundrum.That’s a good point. I wonder if there any companies working on solutions to it.One (not foolproof) approach is to send push notifications to the app when a new version is released, recommending them to download the new version. That already happens with Android apps.

    2. Russell

      My bank sends push notices and won’t let me access sensitive information on their app without updating the latest version. It auto-detects if I have wifi before downloading, which is nice too.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      Yes. See also my post…on this thread comparing the Web and apps.Yes, Apple had some very bright ideas with the iPhone and the rest of mobile, and they have made a huge pile of money, but, net, due to considerations like yours and more, I have to believe that much of the current ‘ecosystem’ of apps for mobile will stagnate so that mostly the growth in usage of mobile, especially for enterprise applications, will be back to the Web. That is, as in the Evans remarks about enterprise mobile apps, they all need to be clients in a client-server architecture, and for that the Web infrastructure with HTTP, HTTPS, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, Flash, PDF, Apache, IIS, etc. is, from the past 20 years, far too well developed to be ignored by developers who want a mobile device as the client.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        Or maybe not ?Yes new web-tools did rewrite old workflowsbut that is an old pendulum whereNew mobile-workflows will likely rewrite old web-tools

        1. sigmaalgebra

          I’m working on my Web site, which to a user looks like just dirt simple HTML, CSS, etc. So, I have not looked into what operating system features and software development functions and tools Apple and Google offer app developers.But there’s no royal road in client-server: Instead, good client-server is challenging, for ease of writing the software for both the client and the server, for the range of powerful, high quality functions and tools needed, for performance, reliability, privacy, and especially for security. And we have to keep in mind the security threats of wireless, a mobile device lost or stolen, etc.Since it took 20 years from Mosaic to the present Mozilla and Firefox, Chrome, etc., with a LOT of serious mess-ups along the way, I have to suspect that, just in basic terms, the mobile client-server infrastructure has a very long way to go.Back to work: Today I got a lot of junk out of the way and am putting a revised, but tricky, function into my production code. I’d like to test the function thoroughly, but now the fast, easy way for that ‘scaffolding’ is just to use the production code and there, in a DEBUG block, go over the results of the function in a simple, reliable, but very slow way to check. If no problems are found through early on-line production, then I’ll comment out the checks. So, off to write two simple DO-loops and a print statement!For the issues of ‘organic’, I’m not able to think very productively about those. Instead, my interests in computing are at a simpler and more ‘tangible’ level!

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            Yes in deed it is easy for non-developer armchair spectators like myself to wax on about global topdown trajectories. If you have skin in the game that of course is much more sobering.I in on way mean to be critical in any way of all the hard work being done down in the software engine rooms.Just throwing out global food for thought.Still even to an outsider like myself it seems obvious that developers are on an ever accelerating treadmill of changing tools.That implies that new software framework efficiencies are accelerating and may seriously shrink your rear view mirror time frame comparisons?

          2. sigmaalgebra

            > That implies that new software framework efficiencies are accelerating and may seriously shrink your rear view mirror time frame comparisons?Some developers for iOS and/or Android and the corresponding Windows features might contribute here, but just think: Can pick up a dirt simple book on dirt simple Web page development and get going in two days. So, the Web server uses HTTP/HTTPS to send the Web client, i.e., the browser. essentially just some simple text which is HTML which is, at its core, a simple word whacking markup language. Then the user clicks or types and sends back some resulting data, call ‘post’ data. The Web server reads the post data and sees what the user did and continues from there. Simple. But to get it all cleaned up took 20 years. But what’s there is quite good work and darned useful.And we’re talking the network effect of all network effects: All the Web sites, 100+ million, 1+ trillion Web pages, send HTML because all the Web browsers, maybe 2+ billion, use it, and all the Web browser use it because all the Web sites send it. The whole thing works great. It’s all client-server computing. With the latest versions, can do a LOT. The total amount of powerful, polished infrastructure software is enormous.All this Web infrastructure software ‘accelerating’ in some ways very directly relevant for mobile? I doubt it. Or, if the Web servers want to send/receive something new, then 2+ billion users with Web browsers will be very slow to cooperate. If a new Web browser comes out with something new, then 100+ million Web sites will be slow to cooperate. Yes, there’s HTML 5, with likely some nice stuff, say, scalable vector graphics (SVG), but so far HTML 5 is so far from being important on the real Web that I just ignore it. “Accelerating” change in the basic Web infrastructure would be more difficult than getting people in the US to drive on the left. That infrastructure is, say, like the US Interstate highway system: It’s very well designed; what it can transport is nearly unlimited; but the infrastructure itself is changing only very slowly.Now, Apple came out with an iPhone and an app store and got people to write in Objective C or some such with no doubt a lot of iOS APIs to create apps. Fine. Likely can get an app for a TODO list. Maybe use it as a voice recorder. And can even use it as a phone! I’m semi-, pseudo-, quasi excited.Then it dawned on people that, for much the same reasons the Web is there, these little iPhones and their progeny want to be clients in client-server computing. Okay, should have anticipated that.So, there’s infrastructure for such client-server computing; it’s called the Web; it’s polished and powerful; the infrastructure is enormous; the problems found and solved, at a penny a piece, would sink an oil tanker.And, now, for mobile devices Apple and Google want something different, new? They better be borrowing an awful lot from the Web infrastructure, or they will have thousands of wheels to reinvent. Maybe they are so borrowing. Okay, then, borrow a little more and just use the Web and let the mobile devices run a generic Web browser, with all its many advantages. If the mobile UI needs some new keywords in the HTTP post data, fine.I have to doubt that the ‘framework’ tools for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android will, for making developers more productive in client-server computing, soon overtake the tools for Web development.

  12. Mario Cantin

    If anyone needs an additional clue that Benedict Evans takes his role seriously, take a look at his engagement level on Twitter. I’d bet he’s probably tweeting while in the shower 🙂