If there’s one thing we learned from this week’s earnings from Facebook, Amazon, Apple and others, it’s that the tech industry crossed a Rubicon a lot sooner than anyone anticipated: We are truly in the age of mobile.
Even Amazon, which as usual is sacrificing profit for investment so it can grow even bigger, is now funneling some of that money not into warehousing and distribution but into building a custom Android Phone. Its most innovative feature isn’t its unique 3D interface, however, but that Amazon will apparently pick up some of your mobile data bill if you use the phone for streaming video, music and other Amazon services.
Even if that move flops (the pummeling Amazon’s stock took on Friday suggests many are skeptical), it’s just another sign that mobile is everything in tech now. Google’s earnings, the previous week, illustrated this too: The company missed expectations, in part because it isn’t making as much money on mobile ads as desktop ones. (Though some think that’s just because marketers don’t yet know how to exploit Google’s mobile ad system.)
A year ago we argued that there was no such thing as a tech company because every company—telcos, courier services, even retail chains—is now a tech company. Today we’d have to modify that: Every company will soon be a mobile tech company. The internet giants showed this week that they know this. Others had better realize it too.—Christopher Mims
Five things on Quartz we especially liked
Ten easy ways to tackle income inequality. Economists have moved on from arguing about whether Thomas Piketty (Capital in the Twenty-First Century) is right that wealth inequality inexorably increases, to debating whether his solution—a global wealth tax—would work. Tim Fernholz presents 10 alternatives, from patent reform to large-scale warfare.
What every company can learn from Manchester United. The catastrophic first—and last—season of David Moyes, the football club’s manager, holds lessons for every corporate boardroom about how to handle the succession from a long-serving CEO, writes Jason Karaian. (Lesson 1: Avoid long-serving CEOs.)
Your made-in-Bangladesh clothes are still tainted with blood. A year after the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory that killed 1,133 people, there are accords and mechanisms for making factories safer—but they’re too weak, Western retailers aren’t doing enough, and garment workers are still dying, reports Liza Jansen.
The web isn’t getting more global. You might assume that as more of the world gets more connected, ever more information would travel across borders. But we’re actually mostly reading about ourselves, Nikhil Sonnad finds: the data show that domestic web traffic remains a constant majority share of the total.
Where the world’s young and rich are, according to Uber. The car-service app released maps of its usage in 100 world cities, and like similar maps from firms such as Foursquare, they reflect geography. But in Uber’s case, writes Leo Mirani, they’re also a socioeconomic guide to where the affluent and tech-savvy live.
Five things elsewhere that made us smarter
How to write a best-selling fantasy saga. George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire (the basis for Game of Thrones) talks at length to Rolling Stone’s Mikal Gilmore about world-building. Among the lessons: Ruling is hard, redemption is essential, and you’re not a good fantasy writer if you don’t also think about tax policy.
The United States of baseball. The Upshot, the new data blog at the New York Times, cranked out a detailed technicolor mapping of where different baseball teams’ fans live, using data aggregated from Facebook. Essential stuff if you’re a baseball lover planning a road trip.
The flora of the future. If you’ve never seen a city through a botanist’s eyes, it’s worth taking a stroll with Peter del Tredici in Design Observer, who ruminates on how roads, walls, chain-link fences and even the use of salt in winter create ecological niches, and argues for celebrating the untidy biological diversity our cities inadvertently create.
A guide to the growing-ups. They’re not “grown-ups”, they’re “growing-ups”, the 20-somethings that, to an older generation, look as if they can’t quite get their lives in order. Psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett in Aeon mounts a defense of taking your own sweet time to figure out your direction in life.
The 10 technologies to watch in 2014. Okay, okay, we’re a third of the way into 2014 already, but still: Have you really given much thought this year to neuromorphic chips? Genome editing? Microscale 3D printing? MIT Technology Review gives a quick brush-up on the techniques just hitting the mainstream that will change your world.
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