The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

The iPhone Makes Apple’s Success With The iPod Look Anemic

Posted in Data Analysis, Technology by Noah Harlan on January 27, 2012

Apple announced its fiscal Q1 earnings a couple days ago and the numbers were staggering. There have been a lot of interesting stats people have noted. They had the second most successful quarter in all of business history – not Apple’s history – all business. Their profit – $13 billion – was more than Google’s revenue – $10.6 billion. Their revenue and profit were double Microsoft’s. And so on.

The driver of Apple’s comeback was the staggering success of the iPod. It was a device that changed how we listen to music, and it was (is?) ubiquitous. What’s amazing is that the iPhone has made that success look positively anemic. The iPod’s best year ever was 2008 with 54.8 million devices sold and its best quarter was Q1 2009 with 22.7 million devices sold.*

Q1 2012 saw Apple selling 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said they sold 62 million iOS devices in the quarter. That means iOS is nearly 3 times more successful than the iPod at its peak. For the calendar year 2011, Apple sold 93.1 million iPhones – more than 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 combined – and nearly double the iPod’s most successful year.

*Apple’s Q1 is actually calendar Q4 (the holiday season). They start their fiscal year in October.

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Great Moments In Internet Upselling –

Posted in Humor, Technology by Noah Harlan on December 13, 2011

I just logged into the admin panel for this blog on As usual, they were suggesting an upsell:



That’s kind of awesome.

Did David Brent Take Down Blackberry?

Posted in Humor, Technology, Theory by Noah Harlan on October 10, 2011

Around 11AM in England yesterday morning RIM’s Blackberry service went down for consumers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Needless to say, this is terrible for RIM given the decline that Blackberry is in at the moment they can’t afford to also be seen as unreliable. But there was one piece of the article in The Telegraph that really caught my eye:

The glitch, which struck at around 11AM, was affecting online services for consumers all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. All are served by a RIM data centre in Slough.


Where have I heard of that place before?

Oh yeah, it’s the place where this guy works:

David Brent from Slough

Coincidence? You decide….

Spam vs. Hijacking

Posted in Data Analysis, Software, Technology by Noah Harlan on July 19, 2011

The most common and widespread form of spam is spam from an alien sender directly to me. Alien in the sense that they are unknown to me and directly to me in the sense that it lands directly in my inbox (or, more often, my spam filter). An email address like and sent to dozens of variations of my email address. It’s carpet bombing and, like carpet bombing, is not very effective.

Increasingly the spam that does find its way into my inbox is of two related types. The first are hijacked direct sources: people I know who have had their accounts hacked and are unknowingly sending spam. And the second is indirect: social network accounts of people I know who have had their accounts hacked. Both types reveal a problem with traditional spam reporting. If I don’t know you and you send me spam then I am inclined to click the spam reporting link. If I do know you then I assume you’ve been hacked, but I don’t want to report you as a spammer because then you’ll potentially lose your account.

A solution would be a “report this as a hijacking” link adjacent to the “report this as spam” link on all messages. If the former is activated then the host would automatically change the passwords for the account, shut down outgoing mail, send an in-bound email to alert the user of the hijacking, and require re-authentication on the next login.

With this new feature I’d be inclined to report more of these incidents faster and networks & mail hosts could respond more quickly.

Data Liberation

Posted in Technology by Noah Harlan on July 6, 2011

The most fundamental difference between Google+ and Facebook is a single, simple screen called Data Liberation.

Can you say “like”?

Live Stream of “New Opportunities For Writers” Panel Today @ 2:30

Posted in Distribution, Self Promotion, Technology by Noah Harlan on March 5, 2011

I will be moderating the “New Opportunities For Writers” panel at IFP’s Script 2 Screen conference today, Saturday, at 2:30PM (Eastern). It will be livestreamed on uStream so please check it out. The panelists will be Carol Kolb, Head Writer of the Onion News Network, Ursula Lawrence from the WGA East, and Susan Miller and Tina Cesar Ward from the webseries “Anyone But Me“. The live stream is here:
Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV

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The Internet, On A Disc

Posted in Humor, Technology by Noah Harlan on March 3, 2011
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Android Malware Alert

Posted in Software, Technology by Noah Harlan on March 2, 2011

Google today pulled 21 popular free apps from the Android Market after discovering that they were all malware. They had been downloaded by somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 users. It is advised that users actually take their phones back to the carriers and get them replaced.

What’s worse is that the apps were largely knock-offs of well known apps. So not only does this reveal the problem with security but it also underlines, once again, the issue with IP infringement. The publisher who created the malware was able to download existing apps, inject root exploits into them and then re-upload them to the market.

The way the malware was discovered (by the AndroidPolice) is very revealing:

Link to publishers apps here. I just randomly stumbled into one of the apps, recognized it and noticed that the publisher wasn’t who it was supposed to be.

So a very savvy user recognized that the publisher name was wrong. Tell me, without looking, who the proper publisher is of each app on your phone… yeah, thought so.

Initially they thought it was just pulling phone info (your user ID, phone ID, etc…) which would be bad but then they discovered that it actually has the ability to download more exploits and install them on your device. That’s the ultimate nightmare scenario and why you have to return your phone. Google is remotely wiping all these apps from user’s phones but they can’t remotely wipe any malware that the malware itself has downloaded onto your device. This is truly the worst type of exploit and something you’re going to see a lot of in the future.

This is exactly why the Apple curation model is vital to a successful app ecosystem. If users become afraid of downloading apps then the number of apps downloaded will plummet and developers will not have an incentive to keep working. What’s worse is that you have to go back to a store and beg them to replace your phone. This is just a nightmare and one that will get worse and worse unless Google gets its act together.

That’s strike two for Android today.

Here are the apps:

  • Falling Down
  • Super Guitar Solo
  • Super History Eraser
  • Photo Editor
  • Super Ringtone Maker
  • Super Sex Positions
  • Hot Sexy Videos
  • Chess
  • 下坠滚球_Falldown
  • Hilton Sex Sound
  • Screaming Sexy Japanese Girls
  • Falling Ball Dodge
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Dice Roller
  • 躲避弹球
  • Advanced Currency Converter
  • APP Uninstaller
  • 几何战机_PewPew
  • Funny Paint
  • Spider Man
  • 蜘蛛侠


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Android, Openness, and the Developers Union

Posted in Software, Technology by Noah Harlan on March 2, 2011

I thought Google’s Android was supposed to be the antidote to Apple’s closed system. Looks like a group of top Android developers don’t think so. They’ve formed the Android Developers Union and have issued the following demands:

  1. Renegotiation of the 32% Google-tax on applications sales
  2. Remedy to the Order of Entry Effect
  3. Public Bug Tracking
  4. Increased Payment Options
  5. Codified Rules and a Removal Appeal Process
  6. Communication and Engineering Liaison
  7. Algorithmic Transparency

Let’s look at those a little closer.

32% Google Tax: They say “Even iPhone developers, who pay a similar tax to Apple, receive value for their tax in the form of Market curation. We get nothing.” Looks like Android’s “open” platform hurts developers.

Order Of Entry Effect: This can affect Apple’s store as well but they compensate for it by time-limiting leader charts. Most popular changes every hour based on what’s being downloaded right now in your region. Google just uses a sum of all downloads which means a new app will never reach the top.

Public Bug Tracking: Here’s something I’ve never heard about iTunes Connect & iTunes: “The Android Market has been, and still is, consistently plagued with technical problems.” They are complaining that the market is closed source and thus the community is stuck with crap software controlled by ‘the man’.

Increased Payment Options: “We demand increased payment methods, particularly a Web or Desktop based interface to the Market, as well as a way for developers to implement “Pay What You Want” pricing schemes.” It is absolutely insane that the Android Market can only be viewed from an Android device. I get sent links to iOS apps all the time and I want to take a look at them from my laptop while I’m working. Without iTunes and iTunes on the web, I’d be driven nuts. That’s how I feel about Android apps.

(Update – 3/4/11 6:09pm: As noted in the comments. When I wrote this I completely forgot that they did in fact launch a webstore a few weeks ago. It was completely insane, but it is no more. I visited the webstore when it launched and hadn’t been back and thus forgot about it. Generally when I want to try a new app for my Android device I go directly from the device because this option hadn’t been available. I stand corrected.)

Codified Rules and a Removal Appeal Process: Where have I heard this complain before…

Communication And Engineering Liaison: Well this would be less of a problem if the Android was a better piece of software.

Algorithmic Transparency: (see above)

All-in-all, Google has to get its act together. Their store is a mess. It’s poorly designed, poorly managed, and – if this is a serious focus of theirs – just feels like it’s not being paid attention to. Google has so much money and so many resources I can’t understand why their Android support is so incredibly anemic.

What is “Internet”?

Posted in Content, Humor, Technology, Television by Noah Harlan on February 20, 2011

This is great. Let’s hop back to 1994 when people were just hearing about this thing called “internet” for the first time. Bryant Gumble, Katie Couric, and another host (who I don’t know off the top of my head) are left totally befuddled as to how to pronounce the @ symbol in an email address and then spend a few minutes trying to understand this new invention.

To make myself seem rather old, I remember when I had visited every site on the World Wide Web circa 1992/1993. It was such a rush not to be dealing with Archie any more. That, and you could do it all on a 28k modem…

Enjoy (via my friends over at ConductHQ)