Cold Takes

(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter — more about it here.)

I love this new Google Photos PhotoScan app. I’ve long wondered why a company like Facebook, which long ago became the de-facto photo service of the internet didn’t offer to scan and upload every user’s old collection of photos — the actual physical kind — for free. It just seems like it would have been so powerful from both a nostalgia factor and, of course, a customer lock-in factor. But enough time has passed that Google was able to do that idea one better.

While taking pictures of old photos is nothing new, our smartphone cameras are finally good enough, our connections fast enough, and the algorithms the big companies like Google are able to use to perfect photos in the cloud are robust enough that it’s the perfect storm, and time, to do this in an even easier way.

Yeah, I know a lot of startups have been trying to do this for a while with varying degrees of success. But the last part above is key in my mind for why one of the larger companies has to be the one to do this. Not to mention the cost of storing and serving all those photos. And, maybe most importantly, the notion that they won’t be going away if a startup goes under — something which, sadly, I think all of us have experienced.

Also, this is a great launch video. Kudos to the team that launched this, I’ll only take half the credit ;)

5ish Links

I spoke to Business Insider about the future of audible and vocal computing. Something near and dear to my heart

Super mario run.0.0
Super mario run.0.0

Super Mario Run hits iPhone, iPad Dec. 15

At last, we have an answer when it comes to price: $9.99 (though free to start). I wavered on this a bit, but my initial bet was right. People will pay for the Mario IP, but this isn’t a “full” Mario game, so I think this is the right balance.

If it’s not, I expect to see that price drop to $4.99 in a hurry… (But I believe $9.99 will work here. I also hope it does!)

Meanwhile, in pricing news that makes no sense, Apple is releasing a $299 coffee table book of their iconic hardware designs throughout the years. Price aside, I see a lot of folks making fun of this book’s existence, period. Certainly, no less than Steve Jobs has made many comments in the past about letting go of the past and always looking forward. This would seem to be the opposite.

That said, I also sort of get this as a “resource for students of all design disciplines” as Apple says in their statement on the book. I’m just not sure why Apple themselves had to do this — others already have in the past. And, if they really were feeling nostalgic, why they had to make the price point so high. In true Apple style, it must have one hell of a margin…

Image for post
Image for post
So little!

Meanwhile, finally getting around to linking to this interview with Phil Schiller after the new MacBook Pro unveiling. When David Phelan asks Schiller about some of the backlash over the new device:

To be fair it has been a bit of a surprise to me. But then, it shouldn’t be. I have never seen a great new Apple product that didn’t have its share of early criticism and debate — and that’s cool. We took a bold risk, and of course with every step forward there is also some change to deal with. Our customers are so passionate, which is amazing.

We care about what they love and what they are worried about. And it’s our job to help people through these changes. We know we made good decisions about what to build into the new MacBook Pro and that the result is the best notebook ever made, but it might not be right for everyone on day one. That’s okay, some people felt that way about the first iMac and that turned out pretty good.

I think this is a great answer. If you’re not pissing off some people, you’re not doing anything interesting. There’s a fine line to walk here, of course. But my guess is Apple ends up just fine here with the MacBook Pro… (I still haven’t read any of the reviews yet, saving them for a plane ride tomorrow.)

I think I have more to say about the state of the MacBook in general, but that’s probably a longer post…

In the Family

Michael J. de la Merced did a profile of Spark Capital, the venture capital firm where my wife is a general partner, on the news of their new funds. Required reading :)

(Originally published on Cold Takes, my newsletter.)

Written by

General Partner @ GV (née Google Ventures). In past lives I wrote at TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and ParisLemon. A man of few words. Except when writing. 🍻

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