Apple's Podcasts Update - What Really Matters

Earlier this week, Apple released a major update to its Podcasts app for iOS. As a fanatical podcast listener, I've tried nearly every major client available for iPhone and iPad, and had settled on Instacast, a remarkable app that combines a strong feature set, good design sense, and a robust syncing backend. I generally like to use the default (or near-default) option when given the chance, especially in the case of Apple, as it usually features deeper integration with the hardware and the operating system - integration which often yields unique benefits to the end user. However, Apple's Podcasts app has simply not been up to snuff, thanks to some questionable design choices, performance issues, and a poorly considered interface.

Fortunately, Podcasts 1.2 addresses the majority of these issues. Much attention has been devoted to Apple's decision to back away from the more skeuomorphic elements of the app, such as the reel-to-reel tape player and tapedeck-like buttons. I think the more important development, however, is the introduction of a sensible navigation hierarchy, which was lacking in previous iterations.

Although I've never bought into the notion of Apple as an image-centric company, I do think that Podcasts as it was represented a triumph of form over function, which runs counter Apple's usually clean fusion of both. The new update rectifies this imbalance. That's what really matters, not whether or not we have a reel-to-reel tapedeck embedded in the app. I'm going to give it another shot as my primary podcast application. I recommend you do as well.

"Apple CEO Unable to Swim"

From Michael Malone's Infinite Loop, a joke by John Dvorak, of whom I'm usually not a fan. He nailed this one:

"Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were playing a friendly game of Frisbee at the Gates estate on the shore of Lake Washington. At one point, Bill accidently [sic] sends the Frisbee over Steve's head, and the Frisbee lands in the lake. Steve walks out onto the surface of the lake and retrieves the Frisbee. 
The next day, the newspapers report: GATES' THROW EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS, APPLE CEO UNABLE TO SWIM.

Change "Steve Jobs" to Tim Cook and "Bill Gates" to any hot young tech CEO. Perfect.

Asymmetric Competition | asymco

In fact, jobs-to-be-done theory suggests that the only successful competition is against non-consumption, especially if you’re an entrant. Non-consumption is easy to beat (because the alternative is no solution to the job) while an entrenched incumbent is very difficult to beat, and it’s often inefficient to even try even if you have the resources. This is what I describe in talks as the “David vs. Goliath” approach vis-à-vis the “Charge of the Light Brigade” approach.
So the theory that competition exists on the de-facto basis of a similar feature set fails a whole series of tests in the real world. Consumers decide based on complex criteria and businesses actually conspire to make the choices as complex as possible reducing the decision to a single option.

Interesting thoughts on competition as a concept. When are companies really competing with one another?