A new show launched today. Critical Path #1: The Five Year Plan – 5by5

Critical Path #1: The Five Year Plan – 5by5.

Critical Path is a talk show contemplating the causality of success and failure in mobile computing. Using Apple as a lens to look at both telecom and traditional computing markets, we try understand what it means to be great.

In this inaugural episode, Horace Dediu and Dan Benjamin try to weigh the strategic implications of Apple’s WWDC announcements. We take a look at the impact on RIM, operators, Google and Apple’s flirtation with Twitter.

  • Jon

    Awesome! Ever since I heard the podcast where Dan interviewed you, I thought that you should do a regular show. John Gruber, Marco Arment, and Horace Dediu on the same set of shows is like the Apple holy trinity.

    • Geez Jon, you're going to make J-Sir cry.

  • I completely agree with Jon… although I think John Siracusa is missing from the Holy Trinity! I never listened to podcasts until I found 5by5. Critical Path should be the best one ever.

  • Sam

    I was really hoping you would do a 5by5 show with Dan; it's an absolutely perfect match. Congratulations!

  • Dan Benjamin's podcasts are the best, and I'm now all caught up with ALL the podcasts of the Four Musketeers – Dediu, Arment, Siracusa and Gruber. 🙂 I look forward to discovering more 5by5 podcasts, but I don't have much more time available.

    Like I've mentioned before, it takes a couple trips to the gym to get through ONE podcast. Good thing I go to the gym almost daily. Podcasts are time consuming, but 5by5's are always very rewarding and almost required.

    There are so many other podcasts that just don't compare, are disorganized, and the interviewer is interrupting all the time and makes it difficult for the speaker to paint the picture (ahem, Mr. Steinberg). Charlie Rose is a great interviewer in that he asks a question and then steps aside, just like Dan Benjamin does, who is very experienced and insightful too.

    Yeah, we need our Horace fix, and this new podcast helps. Thanks for raising the bar.

  • This is great! Looking forward to checking them out!

  • great stuff, Horace — As the others have said the initial interview with Dan was super and glad it will be a regular event.

  • KGB

    Thanks for your perspicacity, clarity and poetry. Superb interview!

  • Related to this podcast discussion, I thought it was interesting that before the WWDC keynote the pundits associated Apple's iCloud with music. But during the keynote everyone cheered when "cut the chord" was mentioned and no other new feature got that kind of response.

    On one side you have the public and the pundits thinking in terms of what they knew. And on the other side, once again, Apple is anticipating an even better and more strategic use of iCloud.

    The kids out there just heard that there was no iCloud music streaming. But the developer's response was quite different, and when they heard about the iCloud APIs it was like 5200 lightbulbs snapped on instantly and the gears started whizzing. (Having been to three WWDCs, sometimes you don't even hear what's said next because your imagination is racing.) That's what I noticed.

  • Sorry, one more post. I apologize…. I can't imagine Apple not working on their own implementation of, say, Maps (or any other core technology), to be used both as 1) Alternate Plan B if Google doesn't renew, and 2) as a bargaining tool for getting a good deal. Is Twitter integration another means of bargaining with Facebook? They're two different things, of course, but both are very important to end-users. But my sense is that Apple's not getting what they want from Facebook. Facebook may be playing hardball with Apple, and perhaps Apple is doing the same using Twitter. Or perhaps it's just convenient that it's working out that way. Hmmmmm.

    • sdasg

      I think Twitter is more like a first try to make services available. Thats something that could come in iOS6 and twitter is the first available service that they try to figure out what is the best way to do this.

  • TwangisKahn

    Funny only because you missed the best of the bunch…Siricusa

  • Sve

    Real theme is that competitors armed with 30 years Moore’s law progress are coming to conquer their next market. Incumbents stand no chance. It happened with music distribution, print media, now video, now cellphones, soon TV, soon telecom..

  • Great insight as always Horace. I love the new show. Just when I think I have enough 5by5 shows to listen to, Dan goes and starts a secret new show with you!

    So another obvious example of Apple disrupting an existing industry is what Apple did to the music industry. And finally, Apple foresaw the future of the iPod and replaced it with the iPhone. I'm sure they are already working on the successor to the iPhone as well.

    Can't wait to hear more about your thoughts on Apple's integration of twitter in iOS 5.

  • Lincoln


  • Kristian

    Apple has always been Apple Inc. It was only Beatles who managed to get the Apple to include the Computer in their name. Now when the Beatles is payed off the Apple gets to have it's original name. There is no other conspiracy story behind the name.

  • Kristian

    Where is the promised hour about the Twitter and Apple? 😛

  • The twitter integration is interesting. It is almost certain that Apple will be utilizing twitter's URL shortener as well as their recently announced photo sharing capabilities. With the iphone being the most popular digital camera, it gives a potentially huge boost to these fledgling offerings from Twitter. This further provides a very large number of impressions as well as a lot of information to track for various purposes including advertising. I will be very interested to know what Apple is getting from Twitter (equity?). I think integrating some Social function into the camera app was a necessary part of the icloud integration. Camera app improvements had to be made to allow photo stream to work. Folks were using other apps to take their pictures for tweet and facebook purposes because they couldn't do it from the camera app. It is now much more capable…

  • Les S

    So in thinking about where iCloud might lead, is it reasonable to think that given the volumes of data iCloud will be pushing around and network providers becoming a possible pain-point for this experience, that Apple will want to take advantage of their MVNO patents:

    • praev

      Most of the syncing if not all of the syncing is done via wi-fi. The OS won't do it through normal 3G or 4G connections.

  • Now one can learn this language by listening in addition to reading!

  • Ottawaman

    Great interview. It's so rare to get a well-spoken expert who is given enough time to summarize trends and provide spot-on analysis in an objective, reasonable and un-rushed way. Most media outlets (certainly cable news, but the big networks too) have deteriorated into a cacophony of loud, ignorant sound bites. Well done Horace and Dan. I will definitely be back for more!

  • Suni Omar Grant

    I listened to the show, brilliant as always Horace.

  • Gromit1704

    I like the 5by5 shows and I am really pleased that you have one of your own. I hope you are as good on audio as you are on pixel (i haven't listened to it yet). I hope it is a regular show and good luck.

  • Just finished listening thought it was insightful. I'll continue to listen. I'd like to request future shows on theory in data visualization I always enjoy the clarity of most of your graphs.

  • Gromit1704

    Now I have listened to it and I am glad to report it is better than I could have hoped. Horace talked a lot but was very lucid, flowing and interesting. His voice is very clear and even though I assume it is unscripted, there were very few gaps or hesitations. Content wise it was informative and illuminating.

    Hopefully Dan will check out these comments so just to say the show is a winner. I will definitely listen every week. Keep up the excellent programming.

    • Gromit1704

      Part of Asymco's greatness is his use of graphs and tables and I wondered whether that would be missed in a audio broadcast, but thankfully it wasn't. Well done again on a great show.

  • MGold

    Great show. Very insightful !
    I sent a tweet but I am new to it so it may not have gone through. At the end you speculated about why Twitter as opposed to Facebook. My speculation maybe "its personal" and not business. There was supposed to be a association with Facebook with Ping. It was announced and then immediately quashed. I suspect there were hard feelings.

    • Gromit1704

      I had the same thought? Facebook was supposed to be intergrated with Ping! and it immediately went sour. Adobe messed Apple about for years and Apple started to support rival technologies. Deja Vu?

  • Gromit1704

    What I was implying by that is that Google wouldn't not renew as it is the customer. Plan B might be Apple wants that revenue if they can get maps (and maybe a search engine) right.

  • Excellent podcast. I am amazed that you can talk as well as you write.

    Looking forward to future episodes

  • … one more thing.

    Horace: as you go forward don't worry about content overlap between the podcast and the blog. I think it would be great to have you go in to more depth on topics discussed here

  • This is great news….I'm subscribing to this podcast right away.

  • davel

    This is really great.

    It shows how much thought you put into this.

    Thank You.

  • I can't wait to listen to this.

  • great show. Like to add that I reckon apple's plan is to release a cheaper iphone type with imessage. Just like blackberries being popular with youngsters with their messaging service.

  • Robert Haavie

    Great work Horace, and of course Dan, somewhat awestruck tho he was in this episode 😉 I still can't see a point where I won't need a high power workstation for image editing and a local aperture library; my photo archive alone is over a TB now and grows steadily in tandem with my children. I foresee a future where all my social interaction and general information needs are served by smart devices but I can't imagine entrusting a lifetime of image making to the cloud, even the iCloud…

  • relentlessfocus

    I'm glad you brought up the Twitter integration as a topic for rumination. Someone posted pics tonight showing that the onscreen keyboard for iOS now (iOS5) has the @ and # "key" on the alphabetic keyboard. What I find fascinating given just how far Apple was willing to go to have this deep integration is the answer to the question "what was the driver(s) for this decision"? The last and maybe only time I can think of where Apple integrated a 3rd party property though not as deeply would be Google in 2007 Twitter is obviously not Google.

    Anyway, this integration of Twitter helps dispel Apple's legacy of "not getting social" and gives Apple many of the advantages of owning Twitter without the cost and friction they would face if they actually tried to buy Twitter. Twitter gets a large new gaggle of potential users and an audience of people more prone to spend money than perhaps with our Android using cousins.

    Is that enough to explain this deal? There must be someway of looking at how each has gained using numbers, charts and graphs

  • wilde

    Interesting show. A few things that you didn't cover that you might want to cover in your next show.

    I'll pick out three major topics that you avoided ( 😉 ).

    Topic 1: The importance of listening to customers and how Apple's persistent listening to one customer has guided this move.

    Topic 2: ICloud and it's future as the long vision of SJ.

    Topic 3: ICloud, and what all the analysts and Western bloggers and media is missing.

    Topic 1: When the Ipad 2 was introduced, one of the reasons for the HDMI connection was that this was demanded by educational institutions. One can speculate that ICloud was also demanded, because IPads probably cannot be taken home in many schools. Most computer companies have not focused as much on the educational market, as Apple has. It grew them in the early years, sustained them in the dark years, and rejuvenated them in the second coming of SJ. They have kept with it and kept listening because the philosophy has been to push the products to the impressionable youth, the customers of the future.

    Topic 2: Icloud, as described in 1997. It will look like this eventually to the affluent.

    Topic 3: Icloud, who it's really for. The cost of an Iphone in parts today is around $178. Let's flash forward in a few years, when that cost to build an Iphone is $50. Or let's flash forward in fewer years when the cost to build the present Ipod touch is $25. Although it's great that the Icloud makes the life of the affluent in the world easier and more organized, the ICloud could do a lot more to the life of the non-affluent–those in the third world, the vision of a cheap computer for everyone.

    I think that this is the direction that the ICloud is leading. Because Apple has recently made attempts to introduce a universal SIM, it makes the most sense. The ICloud is for the second world and third world countries (often described as the "emerging markets" more than it is for affluent consumers.

  • Thought the show was excellent. Liked how I could simply rewind a bit if I didn't quite hear something. One of the best things about is the charting. If you do get to a point of wanting to talk about a chart

  • Great show!

    You said something that was odd.
    You said that it's hard for Apple to release a new iPhone model once a year and ramp up production just for that model, yet they did that for the iPod for a couple of years and there were no supply shortages (at least no reported).
    They used to release new iPods in September and sell over 20 million of them in the next 4 months.
    The iPhone and the iPad seem to have problems with ramping up production.

    Also, if rumors are true and they release a new iPhone in September, they need to build them fast for the Christmas season.

    Can you explain why would this happen and why the production debit seems to differ from iPods and iPads?

    • asymco

      You are right. The iPod could be ramped much more rapidly. However the best seller was the mini or nano and it was a much simpler product to build. It was also not changing in as many dimensions.From my iPhone.

  • Martin Knestrick


    a few of other strategy items came out of WWDC for me. Are they worth working into your mix ?

    Aiming at the WinTel world: now they have all the pieces save one – the high learning curve to get users off Msft Office and onto iWorks. Bunch of ways I can think of to do this .. some fast and risky, some slower and less so

    Leverage iAds. None of us like ads, but our implied contracts with media providers will be more compelling if ads pay for a good part of this. With the Cloud and all the background synching and updating, Apple can now make a pitch to advertisers to enable their holy grail world … follow a user between devices and keep a conversation going. Dollar value to Apple of "following the conversation" with ads is higher than with content.

    Aiming at Operator network services. micro-blogging, iMessages are a good step. Now need NFC and mobile trans processing … the latter should be easy since the Stores already have the back end gear.

    Bookstand … this could become THE window through which users see their pubs. That's a gateway to $100 billion businesses in mags and papers … subs and ads

    Like you, I crunch data before speaking in loud tones. Let ken know if any of these strike you, and I'll work up the data sets.

    A paradigm for you to consider when gluing the media markets to the collision of computing and comms:

    think of user spend in time and dollars by medium … then of advertiser dollars in the same. Has always well defined the market potentials for continued disruption of media markets beyond music. Your readers might be very surprised at some of the time investments which users make in various media.

    Keep up the great work … and the wonderful conversations.


  • Dick Applebaum


    I think the iCloud strategy will evolve as follows:

    1) Initial release: As announced, transfer files among computers and iDevices via iCloud

    2) iCloud evolves to include permanent storage/backup/archival/collaboration of files.

    3) a local iCloud component ala TimeMachine to concentrate/consolidate WiFi communication between a local facility (nome, office) and the cloud. This will be used to stage files from the cloud to local storage based on recent usage.

    "The Truth is in the cloud".

    4) The totality of this will be an iCloud Mesh solution. Having this solution available allows the following to be addressed for 2nd and 3rd world countries:

    5) The iPad/iCloud assumes the role (and delivers the promise) of OTPC (One Tablet Per Child).

    I expect that this will be in full bloom within 2 years.

  • chandra2

    I agree Horace's show is pretty cool.. but Oh come on, Syracusa is great. He knows his stuff on the tech side down pat.