Wanna come geek out over the best Mexican food in Silicon Valley? LunchGeeks is on tomorrow. Sorry for the late notice – almost didn’t realize August was over until the Wall Street Journal mentioned us today.
I promise I’ll try to give more notice for September. 🙂
I think it’s safe to say that everyone building web apps said “wtf?!” when Flash 9 shipped without H.264 support, and we all said “WTF!?” when Microsoft shipped Silverlight without it, too. I mean, come on! We finally have an industry standard that’s efficient, used basically everywhere but on web pages, and neither the leader (Flash) nor the upstart (Silverlight) thought to include support, opting for expensive proprietary encoding formats instead? Talk about dumb.
Silverlight, especially, is a head-scratcher. Silverlight 1.0 is focused almost entirely on video, including HD, and clearly gunning for Flash. So why wouldn’t they go right for Flash’s big Achilles heel – no H.264 support?
Oh well – that opportunity is now lost, and I believe this basically nails Silverlight 1.0’s coffin shut. (The bad Mac installation process had nearly done this for us already) Sad, because I had high hopes for how beneficial strong competition would be for those of us building Rich Internet Apps.
Adobe deserves lots of kudos for actually listening to their customers and doing what we want. Honestly, I never thought this day would come. Finally, we can all encode video without expensive closed-source Windows-only encoders. You can’t imagine how limiting that is unless you’re in the trenches, but mark my words:
You’re going to see a massive boom in the online video space shortly. You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Have you been to a tech conference lately? They’re dominated, absolutely dominated, by MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Their employers are happy to buy them because they’re fast, reliable and productive. I know I love mine. But ask any of those happy MacBook-toting people what they have on their desks at work, and they’ll admit to having a Dell.
So I found it interesting that at Apple’s big Mac event yesterday, Apple blew it with the Mac again. Steve fielded some questions about Mac adoption in the workplace, and another about price. But he skirts completely around the issue at hand: Apple has a huge, gaping hole in their desktop lineup. They have an iMac, a Mac mini, and a Mac Pro. But where’s the Mac?
At SmugMug, we’d put a Mac on every employee’s desk tomorrow. So what exactly is a Mac? That’s easy – it’s a Mac Pro with one dual-core Desktop class Intel CPU in it. Two (or four!) Server class dual-core CPUs (Xeons) are overkill both for performance and for budgets. I know – we’ve got some at our office, and I’m writing this on my Mac Pro at home.
Why not just use iMacs? Please. No business is going to buy desktop computers that require you to throw the display out when the CPU/RAM/etc get old. Displays last multiple generations of CPUs, particularly in the workplace.
Why not use Mac minis? Man, I wish! I love the little guys. But our employees, especially those writing code or doing lots of Photoshop work, are more productive with dual-displays. (Dual 30″ displays, if you really want to know). The Mac mini can only drive one, and not even the 30″ models. (You’d think Apple would want to drive sales of those 30″ displays, but I guess not?). So 2 x dual-link DVI is a requirement, and it’s a lot more common than you might think. Been to Google lately?
Also, like many IT departments in this day-and-age of cheap hard disks, we like to do RAID-1 on our employee’s desktops to reduce data loss. Mac OS X does great RAID-1 out-of-the-box, if only there were desktop computers to run it on…
So we need a Mac. Something like $500-1000 cheaper than a Mac Pro, powerful enough for most employees, and flexible enough for most jobs. Perfection – not to mention completing Apple’s lineup.
Oh, and when I talk to those same tech conference attendees (or their bosses!), I hear the same sad story. We’re all forced to head on over to dell.com to fill the void instead – or pony up extra for Mac Pros that we really don’t need.
Guess which option most employers choose. 😦
UPDATE: Lots of comments all over the web on this story and how it’s not just for the workplace. Complaints about poor graphics cards in iMac/Mac mini making gaming impossible, people upset that they’d have to throw away their iMac monitor along with the CPU, etc. As a hard-core gamer, I have to agree – the gap is wider than just work machines. I’d rather have a Mac than a Mac Pro at home, too.
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To answer the questions, yes, we’re definitely going to be using FPS in a big way (millions of dollars per year) shortly. We aren’t, though, going to be using the part that all the press are talking about – the so-called ‘PayPal killer’. We don’t talk about un-released features at SmugMug, so I’m afraid I have to leave it at that – but feel free to speculate. 🙂
On a personal note, I’m really excited about FPS because, like many, I hate PayPal. When we were getting SmugMug off the ground, I was interested in using PayPal either as our main payment option, or at least as an alternative. Their developer support was terrible, though, and the ability to do big batches was apparently nonexistent. I even knew people over there, and they’d just shrug with a ‘what can you do?’ look on their faces when I’d ask them if we could use their stuff.
Definitely not Amazon’s approach. 🙂
UPDATE: Apparently I was too abstract in my initial post about how we’d be using it, so here’s a quick clarification. We’re not going to use FPS to enable you to signup for SmugMug service or buy prints & gifts using FPS. We have something else in mind. 🙂
Why not use FPS (or PayPal, for that matter) for signup & purchase, you might ask. Our answer is that we’re not totally comfortable passing customers along to a UI we don’t control and isn’t branded at such a crucial point in our monetization process. The establishment of brand, and even more specifically, trust in that brand, is extremely important to us. These are people’s priceless photos, afterall, and we want to be clear on who’s taking care of them. It’s entirely possible we’re shooting ourselves in the foot with this stance, but that’s our prerogative.