Friday, February 15, 2013

Reviewing Predictions Past and Future

Immigration Reform and Split

On election night, I predicted Republicans would do an immediate about-face and embrace immigration reform as one of their first acts in the new Congress. Obviously, that came true.

The about-face is hilariously captured by The Daily Show's contrasting of John Mccain's response to the call for immigration reform in 2012's State of the Union speech with his response to this year's:

I also predicted that the right would, as a result, split into two parties. We'll see what happens with that, but my belief is that the Tea Party was just a pre-tremor, and we'll soon see the appearance of an ultranationalist, overtly racist third party.

The Republicans are starting to back away, horrified, from the crazies at the extreme of their base. That dalliance was doomed from the start. But the crazies aren't going anywhere. There've always been right-wing nuts, but only now do they have an Internet where they can organize and amplify their voices, plus a media segment whose business model is to cater to paranoia and anger via a relentless feeding schedule of flatteringly glossy demagoguery.


When the iPod Mini was first introduced, I worried that Apple would set a precedent of non-indispensableness. I already owned an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad, and a Macbook Pro, and while all were highly useful, it was starting to feel like a bit too many black rectangles.
But now there's this. I'm certainly not buying a mini iPad, too. It required some persuasion to get me to reluctantly add an iPad, but no marketing can entice me to add this fourth device. I doubt Apple will even make a case for the indispensableness of mini iPad. This one is, for the first time, strictly optional.

The sense of momentum - that each new device improves our information ecosystem in essential and inevitable ways - will be lost. If I'd lost that sense of momentum two years ago, I'd never have sprung for iPad. But I will now be a much tougher sell for any sort of future iDevices. I'll be asking myself whether I really need to buy, rather than whether I can make the sacrifice of not buying.
Here's what I hadn't anticipated: it turns out that the iPad Mini is the good one. People insist this is the ideal size; that their old iPads feel huge and clunky by comparison, and that it's ever so better to be able to hold the thing in one hand. And the next regular iPad is supposed to be close to the Mini's dimensions. They won't have to shrink the screen; instead, they'll just reduce the bezel - the black outline around the screen (don't worry, there's software to detect when your fingers are holding the device rather than pointing at something on-screen). So the progression of inevitability should remain intact.


But Apple is about to do a stupid thing. They're apparently working on wristwatches. The NY Times reports that Apple is "experimenting" with smart watches made of curved glass. Big plasticky wraparound wristwatches.

A lot of people don't wear watches anymore. They read the time from their cellphones. And those who do wear them aren't wearing big clunky brainiac watches. Those days are long gone. The only people who might still wear big clunky watches with lots of features are Silicon Valley types. So I suspect this is a phenomenon we all should have expected.

Since Apple never takes the pulse of what consumers want, preferring to offer products consumers hadn't known they wanted, Apple execs are in the habit of relying on their own taste. And while their taste works with gadgety gadgets, this is something people will wear. Like, fashion. And Tim Cook is lots of things, but he's no fashion leader.

As a stockholder, I have a very bad feeling about this watch idea. The iPad Mini may not have killed inevitability, but this might.

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