Why YouTubers MKBHD and iJustine Got the First Sneak Peek at the New Mac Pro
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If you want to get a visceral sense for some of the stunning changes in the media landscape over even just the past decade, we got a fascinating test case this week.
On Tuesday, Apple rolled out its long-awaited Mac Pro computer. To help build excitement and generate some buzz, Apple chose to seed a few pre-release models (worth tens of thousands of dollars) with some of the most popular and influential people who regularly cover the company’s new products. The three were MKBHD, iJustine, and Jonathan Morrison. In case you don’t watch much YouTube, don’t have teenagers who constantly watch YouTube, or otherwise live under a (media) rock, those are the three most popular Apple-using tech reviewers on the planet today. And they’re all–you guessed it–on YouTube.
Contrast that strategy with Steve Jobs’ seeding of the first iPhone 12 years ago. Four guys got one, each a guy about the same age and demographic as Jobs: Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal, David Pogue at the New York Times, Ed Baig at USA Today, and Steven Levy at Newsweek. They spread the word that the iPhone was an amazing new development on the tech landscape to their millions of readers.
Today, newspapers have lost their monopoly on the attention span of tech consumers like us. At least two of those original publications that got an iPhone, the Journal and the Times, are still thriving in this more digital age and still have influential tech columnists in Joanna Stern and Brian X. Chen.
But they don’t have the audience that Justine Ezarik, aka iJustine, Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD, and just plain old Jonathan Morrison rack up on a regular basis. For example, Stern’s recent video review of the Airpods Pro garnered less than 150,000 YouTube views (despite the hilarious use of a mechanical bull). Ezarik’s take? Over 3.3 million views. Brownlee’s two-day old Mac Pro video has over 3 million views and a second video, posted last night, about the Mac Pro’s monitor and crazy expensive display stand will have 1 million views by the time you read this.
All three YouTubers’ Mac Pro takes are impressively comprehensive and visually sharp. Turns out, the kids are alright. Have a good weekend.
Coming into focus. Speaking of Apple, the company paid an undisclosed amount to acquire Spectral Edge, a British A.I. startup focused on improving photography. Also, Apple, in conjunction with Ichigo Asset Management, will help bail out Japan Display, a struggling company that supplies screens for the iPhone 11.
Breaking up is hard to do. The Federal Trade Commission is considering limiting Facebook's future operations via a preliminary injunction, the Wall Street Journal reports. The injunction would prevent Facebook from integrating its various apps more closely, on the grounds that the government may seek to split up the company down the road. Meanwhile, Facebook said it would spend $130 million to create its internal "Supreme Court" of content oversight, but also delayed naming members to the body until next year.
Buckle up. The 5G slow roll continues, as AT&T on Friday turned on the next gen wireless technology for its customers in 10 cities, including Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and New York. Customers who buy a $1,300 Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G phone, that is. The new offering uses low-band frequencies, similar to T-Mobile's 5G service, so it should provide solid coverage but less-than-insane speeds.
Fast getaway. Diversifying further beyond the ride hailing business, Lyft on Thursday rolled out a car rental offering in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Breaking from typical practices in that industry, Lyft said it wouldn't tack on extra fees and refueling would be charged at local market prices.
Real time query. On Wall Street, Oracle disappointed investors slightly, while Adobe impressed. The database giant said revenue in its latest quarter increased less than 1% to $9.6 billion, short of what analysts expected. Oracle shares, previously up 25% this year, lost 2% in pre-market trading on Friday. At Adobe, revenue rose 21% to $3 billion, a little better than expected. Adobe's shares, already up 35%, gained another 3% in pre-market trading.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
As the viral controversy over Peloton's recent ad demonstrates, tech companies have produced some of the most memorable and conversation-starting bits in our popular culture today. CNET's Ian Sherr rustles up a list of the most notable tech ads of the decade, and they're almost all quite memorable. For example, consider Samsung's classic Apple-bashing ad "The Next Big Thing."
The marketing blitz, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars in its first two years alone, was part of Samsung's plan to cement itself not just as a TV brand in the US but as a tech behemoth with big Galaxy phone dreams. "Beating Apple is no longer merely an objective," Dale Sohn, the former CEO of Samsung's US mobile business, wrote in an internal document from 2012. "It is our survival strategy. We must take consumers back from them and generate the type of brand loyalty that Apple currently enjoys."
The tactics worked, and helped turn Samsung into Apple's biggest phone rival. But the effort also drew Apple's ire, causing the tech company to launch a series of lawsuits against Samsung starting in 2011. The suits continued until 2018, when Apple and Samsung finally settled their dispute, with the ultimate settlement figures remaining private.
FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE
A few long reads that I came across this week:
Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate Moments (Bloomberg Businessweek)
How the world’s biggest companies got millions of people to let temps analyze some very sensitive recordings.
Why the ‘Queen of Shitty Robots’ Renounced Her Crown (Wired)
YouTuber Simone Giertz gave up wildly popular but barely functioning machines and confronted her fears of imperfection (while facing her own mortality and making an awesome Truckla EV).
She was Instacart’s biggest cheerleader. Now she’s leading a worker revolt. (Washington Post)
As the online grocery delivery company experiments with wages, some of the companies’ independent contractors are banding together to demand change.
The Influencer and the Hit Man (Medium)
How a years-long domain name feud ended in a bloody shootout.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How to Make Sure Your In-Flight Wi-Fi Isn’t Terrible By David Z. Morris
A Masterclass in Negotiating Your Salary By Michal Lev-Ram
BEFORE YOU GO
It's not dolphins or parrots or even giant squid. Nope, the smartest animals on the planet after primates could be...crows. Yes, those black-feathered birds, a flock of which is known as a murder, can solve problems, make tools, and even show emotional intelligence, the BBC reports. I wonder if the elephants are jealous.
On Twitter: @ampressman