Here is what to read this weekend

Wow, that week surely went fast. I didn’t even realize it and Friday just showed up. Good news is that I have some great stuff for you to read this weekend. A lot of it is about tech, but one story in particular has nothing to do with tech. It is about being knowing what is enough. It is my favorite of the week. It is about a man who makes a tiny house. 

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Tsovet does classic elegance

Given that Apple Watch is only a few months away, I feel guilty recommending a watch. But this new-ish Tsovet JPT-TW35 (dress) watch just stole my heart. I am smitten by the sheer aesthetics of the watch. It is not too big. It is not too small. It is not round. It would look great under a white shirt. It isn’t too expensive: $250 is not cheap, but again not a bank breaker. I wish they used sapphire crystal instead of mineral crystal. There are two flavors — gold and steel. I like steel look: it is more classy and golden sheen gives it a cheap/trying too hard.

I have not bought it  — but it is on my Christmas wish list. I am not a fan of quartz watches, and yet I think it is beautiful — classic, elegant and minimal. From a quality standpoint, Tsovet (which is based somewhere in Southern California) makes pretty good and reliable watches: I have owned two of them — both of them are now with new owners. Tsovet replaces batteries in the watches for free but you have to send them in, so it is a bit of a laborious process. On the other hand, it is a good reason to try out Shyp.

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A rapidly growing city of Paperholm(s)


Tumblr is a wonderful place — you just don’t know what you are going to stumble into! A few weeks ago, I ended up on Paperholm, a website where Edinburgh-based architect/artist Charles Young has been sharing photos of miniature homes he has been creating out of paper. Since August 2014, he has shared multiple creations – each intricate, beautiful and nearly perfect. Obsessed with these paper homes, I cold emailed Young wondering what got him started. “The project started as a way of keeping myself making work,” he replied. “By having to produce something every day you’re forced to be creative and productive.”

I couldn’t agree more with him — I have slowly started to blog everyday and it has forced me to once again feel creative and productive. Of course, I struggle with my inability to find time to write and have been reconfiguring my life to incorporate writing, my new love photography and my new-ish day job at True Ventures!

What made him pick paper as a medium of creation? “The use of paper is really about its material properties,” Young replied in an email. “Using it as a construction material, at this scale, watercolour paper has a balance of delicacy and strength that make it ideal.” Like Young, I too am obsessed with paper — I prefer to write with fountain pens on good quality (Japanese) paper. That act allows me to slow down the brain, think, compose, rethink and ink what is on my mind.

Now for the important question — how long does he expect to be doing this? “Even at this stage I’m not sure how long I will continue with the project. I’d like to complete at least a year of daily models but Paperholm is really more about keeping inventive and developing my own technical skills.”

Charles, as a fan, let’s just say, I am happy for whatever you create. These paper homes are a delightful addition to my life!


All About That iPhone 6+

Because you know 
I’m all about that 6+ 
‘Bout that  6+, no Mini 
I’m all about that 6+ 
 ‘Bout that 6+, no Mini 
I’m all about that 6+  
‘Bout that 6+, no Mini 
I’m all about that 6+  
‘Bout that 6+ 

In early January I wrote a post called “iPhone, the behemoth.” In it I detailed a report by UBS Research that predicted that Apple could sell close to 67 million iPhones and that thanks to the brisk sales of the iPhone 6 and its big brother, the iPhone 6+, the company would rake in about $68 billion during the quarter. UBS expected iPhone revenues to be around $43.4 billion.

Many people were incredulous at those massive numbers. Some, including close friends, privately chided me and said that I was just straight up wrong. Well, Apple does have a way of proving believers right and nonbelievers wrong.

In an earnings release yesterday, Apple said it sold 74.5 million phones during the quarter — about 10 iPhones per second — and had total revenues of $74.6 billion. The iPhone revenues alone were $51.2 billion. The company made $18 billion in profit during the quarter, which was the highest profit in corporate history in the world. The iPhone was 69 percent of this quarter’s revenues, up 22 percent from the iPhone revenues it recorded in the fourth quarter of 2013.

AppleDec2014quarterUBS estimates that of the total, 22.34 million iPhone 6+ were sold during the quarter, bringing in about 30 percent of total iPhone revenues, or around $18.5 billion. I suspect the 6+ has been a huge hit in Asia, especially China, the single largest growth market for Apple. IPhone 6 sales were around 35.37 million, or about 48 percent of the total iPhones sold, and brought in $25.25 billion. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s are still selling well: about 12 percent of the total, or around 8.56 million devices. USB estimates that the 6+ has a high average selling price (ASP) of around $828 while the iPhone 6’s ASP is around $713.

If you want to see the impact of the iPhone 6+, look no further than iPad sales: about $9 billion during the quarter, which is down 22 percent, from $11.5 billion during the same quarter in 2013. The iPad as a percentage of overall Apple revenues was down to 12 percent from 20 percent a year ago. Apple saw an 18 percent year-over-year decline in iPad unit sales during the quarter. Of the total iPads sold during the quarter, 45 percent were iPad Minis, down from 49 percent during the fourth quarter of 2013. The iPad mini sales were about $4 billion during the quarter, down from about $5.7 billion a year ago. These numbers provide anecdotal evidence of my earlier contention that the iPhone 6+ is going to cannibalize the iPad mini. Not that there is anything wrong with that: Apple is perfectly okay with eating its old and rejuvenating itself with new products. Year-over-year quarterly iPod sales declined by almost half: 3.3 million units versus 6 million a year ago.

Bottom line: It looks like Apple is going to ride the iPhone wave for a while, perhaps right through the launch of the Apple Watch, which I suspect is going to provide the big lift. That said, I am not bullish on the watch, mostly because when I saw it, the software looked incomplete by a mile. It lacked that usual Apple software pop! I wish Apple had spent more time making Apple Pay realize its true potential, because it could change how we purchase and thus define a new era for the company.

Apple has set up seriously high expectations, and Wall Street is as moronic and illogical as ever, driven by momentum. It needs the Apple Watch to work flawlessly. I also fear the reliance on a single product line (the iPhone, that is), because it can be a bit dangerous for any company, even Apple. There are many challenges that are cropping up, especially in software and services, which are defraying the typical Apple experience. Even people within Apple have shared their frustration. I think Apple management cares, but for now it is busy riding the rocket called the iPhone!


A camera called iPhone 6+

The web, recently was abuzz with news that Apple had become the second most popular camera on Flickr, pushing Nikon down and just behind Canon. It is not surprising – more people take more photos with their iPhones (or other smartphones) than DSLRs or other standalone cameras. As someone whose interest in photography was catalyzed by the amalgam of Instagram and the iPhone, my most loved camera is my iPhone 6+. I have a Sony RX-100 (mark 3) and I have a Sony RX-1 (not sure why) but I absolutely love the iPhone 6+. It allows me to take photos that I could only dream of capturing a few years ago.

This weekend, I went for a photo walk with some friends. In addition to my iPhone 6+, I took the wide angle and telephoto lens made by Marc Barros’ Moment Lens. These results speak for themselves — the Golden Gate Bridge and the board were snapped without the Moment. The Sunset photos used Moment 60MM Tele lens and Average Cam Pro app for long exposure. No filters applied, and no touch up either — just look at the dust on the lens…ugh!

While these don’t compare to the high-end cameras and even pricer lens, they make the amateur in me feel encouraged about photography. I think this is the ultimate beauty of iPhone — it has made photography not scary. It has removed technology and made it just an act of creation. This is what Apple is good at — pushing technology aside. I hope they never forget that.

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