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Month June 2013

Sponsor: Tokens for Mac

Tokens is a Mac app for managing App Store promo codes

Tokens gets promo codes from iTunes Connect, creates shareable URLs for each code and notifies you once they’re redeemed.

The first step to getting your app noticed is inviting bloggers to try it. Promo codes let you give away free copies of your app, but unfortunately they’re laborious to create, awkward to redeem and impossible to track.

With Tokens you create a code with one click and bloggers can redeem it just as easily. By naming the token you can tell who has tried your app and follow up with them. You can also reuse any unredeemed codes before they expire.

Tokens is available now at usetokens.com/syndicate. Asymco readers get a special 20% discount until July using this link.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate

The end of the projector

After having “taken the show on the road” and spending an inordinate amount of time giving presentations during the last year I came to the conclusion that what remains less than good enough for presentations is the variable quality of projectors.

The problem is not just quality of image but also the unpredictable size of screen, how far it is from the audience, how poor the contrast or color reproduction might be and to what degree there is support for wireless connections.

When presenting detailed, information dense graphs, these quality issues become presentation killers and not only do they result in poor retention for the audience but decrease the confidence of the presenter, leading to a vicious cycle.

The answer is not to lug around your own projector because many times the venue will not accept it, other times the image “throw” is not matched to the screen and it’s a pain to set up and transport.

What I think needs to happen is that the projector needs to be disrupted.

This is where the iPad and Perspective come into play. When presenting using Perspective we have the ability to “airshow” or present directly to the (iOS) devices that the audience has with them.

This way not only the presenter’s screen is “mirrored locally” but also the direct manipulation and choreography of the data reveal is instantly visible. You can see a fragment of how it works in this test:

This is the technique we use at the Airshow event and it has proven to work well even with large audiences. To see it in action (and to learn how to develop presentations into cinematic experiences) join us at the next Airshow in Chicago.

The Critical Path #90: The Praetorian Guard

Horace investigates asymmetric organization structure, and how Apple’s functional vision of careers and jobs differ from most tech companies.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #90: The Praetorian Guard.

Preempting the Praetorian Guard

The functional organizational structure may be causal to successful disruption. Although this hypothesis needs much more research and testing, there are correlations in the anecdotal evidence. One of the principles of this theory is that functional organizations are less prone to “political infighting” where a powerful division can disable a self-disruption through the wielding of the power of the Profit/Loss statement.

Under the divisional structure the modus operandi is that once an internal threat is detected, the incumbent division unleashes antibodies to destroy the smaller and less powerful opponent. This is possible because as soon as the threat is perceived, a threat response kicks in and the power to deflect the threat is abundant in the reward and incentive structure. This response mechanism is so common and well understood that it forms the basis of the Innovator’s Dilemma.

My hypothesis is that in the absence of product/divisional level power bases, the threat is not felt and the political power to respond is not available. In a functional organization there is no “business leadership”, where the P/L “belongs” to one person. Only the CEO has life-and-death power over products and their decision is “purchased” through discussion with functional heads who stand to benefit as much as to lose from disruptive change.

This functional organization decision process is typical if not universal in small companies and atypical if not unheard of in large companies. It’s one of the reasons small companies are inherently more disruptive. The challenge for a growing company is that functional organizations don’t scale well. There are very few and all depend on vigilant, almost maniacal defense of the structure. Divisional organizations are “natural” at scale and the preservation of functional structures is like fighting entropy.

The organizations which seem to preserve functionality at scale are militaries. This is why I’ve been thinking about it takes to manage such organizations and preserve their apolitical status.

As it turns out, militaries are also not immune from the corrosive effects of political power. In fact, the slide into corruption begins with the formation of elite divisions. The rationale is simple: elite soldiers whose loyalty and skill are most valuable are chosen for special roles and status. They begin by usually acting as bodyguards to the leadership or the state.

The Critical Path #89: Not Bad for a Hobby

Horace reflects on his analysis of iTunes purchase data, details the just-announced AirShow in Chicago, and touches on fascinating “heat maps” of mobile platform use. We close our week of three shows by talking about “deep focus” and Citizen Kane.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #89: Not Bad for a Hobby.

Sponsor: MightyDeals.com

Ask anyone who’s ever tried to knock in a nail with a screwdriver: having the wrong tools is a major hindrance. Access to the right tools saves time, increases the quality of your work and adds to the pleasure of doing a job well.

The trouble for designers & developers is that there are so many tools out there, it’s hard to know what’s worthwhile, let alone being able to afford half of the resources we want.

That’s where MightyDeals.com comes in. We negotiate promotional deals with suppliers and often manage to agree up to 97% off regular pricing.

And what’s more, these aren’t just any tools, some of the best companies on the web promote their products through MightyDeals.com.

So if you’re looking for great deals, or just want to stay in touch with the latest fonts, applications, themes and resources, visit MightyDeals.com or sign up for our newsletter today.

Sponsorship by The Syndicate

Measuring the iTunes video store

It’s been five years since we had an update on TV show downloads and six years since we’ve had an update on movie downloads from Apple. In Q3 2008 Apple announced 200 million TV show downloads and in Q2 2007 2 million movies. That’s a long period with no information making a tough extrapolation to the present.

Nevertheless, I tried. My estimates for these two quantities were 963 million TV Shows and 108.2 million movies to date.

So I was quite surprised to see that figures for both TV show downloads and Movie downloads were published today. The figures were 1 billion and 380 million respectively.

My TV show forecast has proven to be very accurate but I severely underestimated movie download rates. Apple states that the movie download rate is 350k/day. My estimate  was only about 126k/day.

After adjusting for the new data, the picture of downloads that emerges looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 6-19-6.20.31 PM

The overall iTunes gross revenues by sub-component becomes:

Next Airshow: Chicago, July 13th


We’re excited to bring the second Airshow to Chicago in July. Thanks to Ryan Singer and Jason Fried of 37signals.com for offering to host us this summer.  Their venue is ideal for our particular pedagogy.

Speaking of which, I should explain what it is.

Our first Airshow (San Francisco, June 9th) had several objectives:

  • To explain a theory of narration with data, especially big data
  • To narrate this explanation with a tool called Perspective
  • To reveal and test a new feature within Perspective called airshow

Now that we have revealed the feature (mirror your presentation including your direct manipulation of the visuals to any member of the audience—wherever they may be—on their own device, available in version 3.0) we can talk more freely about the structure of the show.

It’s in three parts:

  1. Performance
  2. Cooking Show
  3. Theory

The Performance is the “keynote story” whose recipe we show in the Cooking Show and whose motivation and foundations we deconstruct in the Theory. You can think of the sections as as answering “{What, How and Why} make a great story.”

The show is self-referential in that we use the process we teach to do the teaching. In other words, we use a great storytelling tool to tell great stories about storytelling. Furthermore, Airshow, as a show, uses a tool whose feature  is itself called airshow.

It’s not that complicated; at least not if you understand recursion.

Register here: airshow.asymco.com (Limited to 37, bring an iPad).

The Critical Path #88: Siri in the Driver's Seat

In the second part of our WWDC wrapup, we delve into the large-scale shift represented by iOS 7. Siri guides us on the journey from navigation to consumption in our latest AsymCar segment, and Horace examines what iWork for iCloud means.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #88: Siri in the Driver’s Seat.

The Critical Path #87: De Gustibus

In the first part of a post-WWDC “doubleheader”, we look back at AirShow and begin our dive into the keynote, with regard to Apples hardcore product Mac Pro, Mavericks, iTunes Radio, and examining discovery versus playback.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #87: De Gustibus.