Hacked Off

The “Fappening” exposed several celebrities’ most intimate moments against their will, without their consent, and for the whole world to see. This hacking is shameful, illegal, disconcerting for any of us who may have something in the cloud we wish to remain there under password lock and key, and further illustrates the limitations of cyber security.

With its attendant coverage (both high minded and low brow) we will surely see changes to cloud protocols, admonishments about “digital perpetuity” and a host of other well-intentioned measures to keep our private lives and our privates just that.

That’s all well and good, but I think it misses the point. Security isn’t really at the eye of this storm. Shame is. Most people are far less upset about the fact our data might be exposed than our dates might be.

My solution to this kind of trauma and drama is to take the snatched booty out of the purloined and prurient and put it squarely where it belongs— in the Department of Redundancy Department.

Let me illustrate.

You see, it turns out Jennifer Lawrence has breasts. These breasts have nipples. She’s even got a vagina.

You don’t say.  Yawn.

My wife and every other woman with whom I’m familiar have the exact same equipment. While there are slight differences, they’re essentially the same.

It’s not news, so we shouldn’t give it the front page treatment. In fact, people might not act like thieves stealing our candid images if we didn’t act like ours were the Crown jewels. I’m not blaming the victim. I’m saying the only thing that was exposed was the victims’ humanity. They shouldn’t get a scarlet letter tattoo despite the fact that a perfectly innocuous picture of Olivia Wilde breastfeeding her newborn son had some reacting as if it was eighteenth century Salem.  He’s a baby. Baby’s drink breast milk. Breast milk is commonly found in breasts. I don’t think we need a CNN Crossfire to discuss it or debate her right to do it.
will
We’re acting as though we “discovered” through relentless traditional and social media coverage of this unfortunate crime that some of our young and famous celebrities like to have sex— sex on their backs, fronts, knees and sides.

Me too. Whenever I can. No big deal. Ask my wife;)

Instead of sensationalizing our bodies and what they do on occasion let’s commonsensationalize it.

Especially now.

Putin seems to be channeling his inner Stalin. ISIS is beheading people. Boko Haram is kidnapping girls by the thousands. Ebola is spreading like wild fire. Tens of thousands of children are huddled in makeshift shelters in the Land of the Free and I’m supposed to care that Kate Upton has had sex? And leave Apple alone. This predates Apple to when we bit the Apple and it’s high time we got over it.

Everyone gets naked. Everyone of a certain age has sex. Those two things are done in combination because it’s fun. No story. No news. Nothing to see here.

Certainly nothing to steal.

Criticize bad acting on the silver screen. Leave it alone on the tablet.


Residuals

I think I read somewhere that dreams are the ‘residue of consciousness.’ I believe that’s true. Most dreams take all of the “open apps” of the mind and tie them together in somewhat scatological yet occasionally coherent narratives while we sleep. As to why this happens, I’m not sure. I suppose no one is. Many think it’s the brain continuing to work on the same issues the waking brain is challenged with but attempting to solve them with different filters. Sounds a bit Timothy Leary, but I’m directionally buying it.

 

Take last night for instance.

 

smashinghub.com

smashinghub.com

“I have a call. It’s Bill Gates1!” the flummoxed admin all but shrieks with one hand over the receiver (a quaint anachronism.)

 

“I guess I should take it,” I say meekly. I’m the most senior guy in the room and the one brought (back) to this Seattle2 agency where things had gone so wrong3 so famously years before to handle the Microsoft4 account that never was there. I’m not yet up to speed, but no time like the present.

 

“Patrick Reynolds. Can I help you?”

It’s Gates.

“Hello Patrick, welcome aboard. Or should I say back? I’m in Vegas5 with _______ (my waking mind can’t reform the name from my dreaming one). You know, the rep from Rolling Stone6. I’m piss drunk.”

 

Conscious or asleep, it’s a shocking confession either way.

 

“Here’s what I’m hearing: smart guy7 but you’ll want to come in and consolidate power right away8. You’ll have the right idea but may or may not be able to bring everyone along9.”

 

“Interesting, but I assure you that I’ll do way more listening than speaking early on10. I have no ‘Grand Plan” to be enacted Day One. I’ll know ‘my song well before I start singing’ as Bob Dylan says.”

 

“We’ll see,” he says laughing. “Then there’s that famous temper11. Nobody’s forgotten what happened last time.” More laughter.

 

“Ask around. That was a one-time deal.”

 

“We’ll see. Look, I want this to work. We need you. Talk to you soon.” Click.

 

Soon, it’s morning.

###

 

1 I’ve been thinking a lot about Gates lately and how his personal stature for me grows and grows as his creation seemingly continues to drift in the wrong direction. In many ways, he’s like Jimmy Carter; infinitely better in ‘retirement’ than ‘on-stage.’ I also think about Gates in relation to his rival Jobs. Not even five years ago this seemed like an unfair fight: Jobs so intuitive and creative versus Gates so clinical and square. Today, I see the opposite. I see Gates using his massive intellect and even more massive wealth to solve the still more massive challenges facing the planet and all its inhabitants. Jobs, conversely, spent his time and talent designing a better mousetrap. Harsh, but not untrue.

 

2 I dream often of Seattle. Lush and lovely, exotic yet domestic, the year I spent there was packed with so much it felt like a decade. I dream of its scenery—a glimpse of Rainier when it’s out, Lake Washington and it’s houseboat tapestry collaring the shores, the Sound, and, of course, the dense and damp forests. I also dream of its neighborhoods and how they fan out in what only a Seattleite would call a grid with straight face. (Chicago, where I lived for nearly a decade in reality, now that’s a grid.) I also dream of its people, the ones I knew anyway. They all had a special glint in their eyes that I found appealing but never fully understood. You could look at that as part of the paranoid narrative that everyone knows a secret you don’t or simply that they were onto something I wanted to learn more of– Buddhas in Birkenstocks.

 

3, 11 As beautiful and peaceful as Seattle is, my year there was the most challenging of my career and it’s the scene of my biggest professional failure. And regret. I was brought in to get a situation under control and I failed. Full stop. That happens. While a platitude, I do subscribe to the idea that if you don’t fail sometimes you’re not reaching high enough. Even so, particularly as a younger man, I accepted failure with the same equanimity John McEnroe accepted poor line calls. So when the ship there was going down, instead of standing grim-faced and resolute at the wheel like the Shackleton I’ve always tried to be, I raged and railed like a child. Rather than the disappointment fading over time, as most do, the Seattle scar is constant. Keeping that Jack in the box has been a recurring theme round midnight since the day I left the Emerald City.

 

4 I just heard a very funny bit on NPR about an internal memo from Gates regarding some Microsoft offering he very clearly (and humorously, intentional or not) deemed unworthy.

 

5 I have a trip to Vegas coming up and I simply don’t want to go. The place holds zero appeal for me, yet I’m there every year despite my best attempts not to be.

 

6 Rolling Stone is some sort of symbol for me of the changing of the guard. It was a huge part of youth and now seems inexorably fading away–putting Tsarnaev on the cover a desperate last shot at relevance before the final coda. For me, Rolling Stone says a lot about youth, rebelliousness, counter-culture, alternative views of the world and its events… By extension, dreaming of it could be construed to symbolize aging, being part of the establishment, and a general dulling of the senses if not the intellect.

 

7 As sad as it may be to get intellectual affirmation from yourself via the dreams we script, if Gates did say that I’d drop the mic right there and then.

 

8 9Patience has never been a signature characteristic for me, and pushing from behind is something I’m cautious about because it’s something I’m inclined to do. I’m now much more subtle but no less committed to pursuing the course I feel is best. That said, today, unlike occasions of the past, I’ll take a different route if that’s the one agreed upon by the group to see who’s right if nothing else.

 

10  This is very much my modus operandi. I remember my favorite high school English teacher lecturing on Ode on a Grecian Urn by putting a waste paper basket on his desk and having us all stand up and walk around it, viewing it from every possible vantage, as the author would have regarded the urn in question. It’s a good lesson. Things generally end poorly in my experience when the Listen-Think-Speak-Act pattern gets out of that sequence.

 

SO there you have it. The remains of the day become the plot of the night.

 

NB

12 After the Gates dream I had a bizarre sequence of flying down something like a runway. No plane. Possibly on a winged dog. We took off just at the edge of a body of water similar to the way planes do at Logan or LaGuardia airports. I flew a hundred yards or so before landing in three feet of guck. I limped back to shore, dazed.

 

Freud said dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious.” Let him figure this one out.


Inside Jobs

“I want to make a dent in the universe.”

                                                      -Steve Jobs

 

Define “dent”. Is it selling five million iPhone 5s in the first week of availability? Is it selling around twelve million songs on iTunes per month or nearly fifty million apps per day? Is it being the only choice in personal computing for the ‘creative class’ and inarguably the most sought after and revered brand in the world? At $400 Billion, perhaps being larger than the GDP of Greece qualifies?

It would for me, I can tell you that.

But Steve Jobs was a dreamer of big dreams and a doer of big things. I’m not sure those were his crowning achievements but steps along the way to the final act, the big finish. And it typical Jobs fashion, even the grave couldn’t keep him from getting the job done.

Flying beneath the radar as much as anything Apple does can, a few things point at what might be a grander vision than we even thought. Last month Apple was awarded a patent for ad-skipping technology. It’s also been rumored that its long anticipated set-top box for television is closer to a reality than previously thought.

So Apple is getting involved with television. That’s the next disruption on the docket. Seems inevitable, but maybe there’s even more to be won than the disruption of a sixty billion dollar industry in the US. Maybe “hearts and minds” is more than a metaphor in this instance.

“When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.”

[Wired, February 1996]

“The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television.”

[Rolling Stone, Dec. 3, 2003]

 

“We think basically you watch television to turn your brain off, and you work on your computer when you want to turn your brain on.”

[Macworld, February 2004]

 

Conspiracy, corrosive, dumb, in need of being shot…obviously, Jobs was not a fan of the ‘boob tube.’ While these quotes and references clearly predict Apple’s coming impact on TV, I think he’s also aiming for an even higher mark—our culture at large. Currently, the people are getting what they ask for, he reasoned, if only by asking for nothing at all. By just sitting there and soaking-in what’s pumped at us, we’re as complicit in our stupidification as the morbidly obese person scarfing Hot Pockets and Mr. Pibb hand over fist.  It’s omission versus commission, but the sin is just the same and more mortal than venial for Jobs. When you pay for nothing you should expect nothing and get nothing every time in the Book of Jobs.

I think this view of the landscape also moved him to move us to higher ground, the land of quality where the individual not only can choose what content to consume, but must choose. If that terrain was fruited with Apples, so much the better.

So, to hook us on the good stuff he’d have to first wean us off of the junk. Jobs’ television would have no mass ads, no more “low, low price” or “…lasts more than four hours seek medical attention immediately…”. Think the HBO model. You choose from a smaller edited selection of high quality stuff and you pay for it. By the episode. By the show. By the network. By the week. By the month. But we’ll all buy something by the something.

Why? Simple psychology.

When you pay for something you assign a value to it. Chances are you won’t sit there like a lumpy mouth-breather if you paid for a show. You’ll watch it more attentively than you would if it was just pumped into your living room like nitrous-oxide. That ups the pressure on content producers to create ever-higher caliber programming. There may be no second act otherwise. All boats rise as a result. “Consumers” become actual consumers, not victims. They call the shots and buy or not as so persuaded on the merit of the content itself, not the content’s PR man.

In my heart of hearts I think this was the grand plan all along. Jobs saw us going gently into that good night, led further and further down the path by a flickering signal that leads to nowhere– exactly where he thought we are now.

(Blank) as usual did not work for Jobs. Not politics. Not business. Not technology. Not media. Not sloth.

Of course he wanted to sell more Apple products, and killing television consumption, or putting a good dent in it anyway, was a key strategy in doing that. But I believe it was just that—strategy not objective. In typical Jobs style he not only thought different about it, he thought bigger.

 

And he thought how to do it with style and flair befitting Apple and Jobs himself.

 

The fact that his subversive campaign to kill campaigns began with a campaign (“1984”) is his most delicious bit of (social) engineering ever.

 


Olympic Torched

The London Olympiad is upon us, and I for one am thrilled. In a ‘win at any cost’ sports culture that mimics our larger society whether we want to admit that or not, the Olympics somehow float high above the grit despite the sponsorships, despite the doping, and despite the professionalization that’s foundationally changed the Olympics over the past few decades.

Underpinning it all is a wonderful set of tenets we could all do worse than to strive to achieve in our everyday lives:

Not to win but to take part.

Not the triumph but the struggle.

Not to have conquered but to have fought well.

So here are a few ideas I think merit recognition for their ‘going for gold’ if not ever achieving it.

Gold: Huffington Post
HuffPo may not have vanquished traditional News formats across media, but it certainly has made its presence known– and quickly. In just seven years it’s been bought, become one of the most visited News sites, and won a Pulitzer Prize. Not bad. What I like most about it is that it’s the proverbial box of chocolates. It’s got hard news and gossip, syndication/aggregation and original reporting, national and hyper-local news, liberal and conservative points of view. There’s something for everyone without being just completely vanilla, as in the USA Today. Rather than saying nothing, HuffPo says seemingly everything. Cool.

Runner-up: Facebook

Like The Dream Team, people love to hate. But, Facebook is bringing lots of the best parts of the web together under one blue roof. Acquisition of Instagram, integration of Spotify, and many other land grabs continue to make The Facebook the shiniest site on Earth for most folks.

Silver: MobileMe
What if all your stuff was synched and stored in the Cloud? Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Yes. It is. Before iCloud and other services made that de rigueur, there was MobileMe, Apple’s Hindenburg meets Pinto blemish. A great idea that just never worked, MobileMe was tantamount to asking all of your stuff to stop working. It effectively shut down all conversation between devices like a third martini over dinner with your in-laws. Undaunted, Big Mac came back strong and MobileMe is all but forgotten. I like that Apple makes computers but isn’t a computer itself. This was the ultimate feet of clay demonstration of that. Happens.

Runner-up: RIM/Blackberry

Seeing Blackberry’s struggles is like the opening sequence of The Agony of Defeat. I’m not even sure if that epic tumble was from the Olympics, but it was Ski Jumping, so close enough. Blackberry pioneered the multi-purpose mobile space, blazed the trail, was run over by an iTank, dusted itself off only to get speed bumped by a speeding ‘droidmobile’. They brought their 400m game to the Marathon with predictable results.

Bronze: Napster
In so many ways Napster was the ‘straw that stirs the drink’ for so much of what we have today. Before getting squashed like a bug, it egged the Music Industrial Complex, ushering in the likes of Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud and others who crossed the chasm from traditional to digital delivery on a bridge fashioned from the charred bones of Napster. P2P got rolling in earnest with Napster. “Don’t own it, share it” became the mantra for a whole generation, second only to “don’t buy it when you can burn it.” While its reach did exceed its grasp legally and ethically, Napster began the process of people looking to each other and not to corporations for answers, ideas, and of course, music. Rock on.

Runner-Up: Samsung

Apple and Samsung need to get a room already. These two remind me of the Harding-Kerrigan soap opera. Engaged in an Olympic-sized pissing contest over patents, Made-in-the-USA (by way of China) Apple stares down the “menace from the East” with global Gold in the balance. Sorry, that was the made-for-TV Olympic-hype version. But don’t sleep on Samsung. They could very definitely medal in the Handset 400. My money’s on Apple to nip them at the tape.

None of these products won it all and that’s precisely the point. They strived. They tried. They pushed themselves and their competition to the limit. Isn’t that what we all should aspire to do? Not competing against anyone but competing for someone. For ourselves, our ideals, our ideas. The Olympics are about Personal Best, not destroy everyone in your path.

Prediction Time
It wouldn’t be a Sporting event if we didn’t have wages on it.

Gold
All of us. That’s right. I think over the next fortnight or so we’re going to get a glimpse into how multiple technologies, multiple screens, can be used in a complementary way for regular folks, not just the Adderall-with-a-Mountain-Dew-chaser gamers. Use the web to learn more about events, contestants, venues…while also providing your own color commentary on your social web. With the apps out there and the anticipated coverage London will receive, it will be easier and more fun than ever.

Silver
Chicago. The City of Broad Shoulders wanted the Summer Olympics. When they see what an enormous cluster it is for Londoners, they’ll thank Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow they lost the bid. It’s not like they’re not used to losing.

Bronze
Innocence. I think the Olympic flame stirs something in even the most jaded hipster among us. What it stands for deep down at its core is pretty good stuff. While the McOlympification continues to dismay and disappoint, I think there’ll be enough genuine passion, genuine appreciation, and genuine sportsmanship and camaraderie to keep the flame aflicker.

Let your Games begin.


Unplugged.

The phantom vibration in my pocket from the iPhone that wasn’t there was the least of it.

Yesterday I bit the Apple. I did what I was warned never to do. I put all my technology down and walked away. For twelve hours.

I’m blessed to commute by ferry. Having left my iPhone, iPad, and laptop locked away in my office (as much from me as from any would-be thieves) I set out on foot for the fifteen-minute walk from my office to the boat.

I played with the now impotent headphones in my pocket nervously. The first thing I noticed was the birds. Spring had sprung and they played call and response even amongst the office buildings and industrial landscape.

The next thing was the sirens. Goddamn but there are a lot of sirens in the city. Who knew? I wondered which were Police versus Fire or Ambulances. I feel sure I used to know. Was it my imagination or were some more urgent than others? Maybe just nearer?

disconnect, patrick reynolds, triton digital

I soon passed the Children’s Museum (lots of chortles and squeeeels) and arrived at the boat.

That’s when it hit me.

I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge tripping back through time or Patrick Swayze in “Ghost.” That’s a bad feeling. On so many levels.

Virtually everyone was heads down. They took no notice. Most wore headphones. Some scrunched over mobile phones (still lots of Blackberries!). Technology is not improving our posture, I can tell you. Many tapped away on iPads or read Kindles. A few Type-A’s banged away on laptops but they were high-achiever showoffs.

I could have been butt naked and on fire and nobody would have been the wiser. Every person was locked away in his or her own little Private Idaho, alone and oblivious to everyone and everything surrounding them.

Even the boat’s bar had been compromised. A crowd of mostly financial types stood around in club ties, vodka sodas in one hand and phones in the other. Every thirty-seconds or so– regardless of whether or not they were mid-sentence– they not-so-furtively glanced and scrolled.

Certainly ten years ago this would have been social ineptitude of the highest order. Now nobody batted an eye.

Hmm.

I got off the boat a half hour later. A light drizzle was falling. I wondered if my daughter’s soccer practice had been interrupted and dismissed early. Did my wife pick her up? Did a teammate’s family drive her home? Was she standing there under a tree, mop of soaked red hair pasted to her forehead waiting, waiting, waiting for her Dad to arrive?

How would I know without my fu*&ing phone!?

I put on the radio to distract myself. I normally stream from my phone via Bluetooth. I don’t even have the pre-sets programmed in the car. Oh my God. What an audio wasteland of cheese and snake oil. My ears wept. I found NPR and thanked my Maker.

I screeched into the parking lot like Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit.” Practice was still in session. No calls had been made to Social Services. Whew.

I got home. Had dinner. Was noticeably distracted by the lack of distractions. This must be what it’s like to wake from a coma after many years. I finally found focus and learned many things I didn’t know about my kids’ school, our dog’s incorrigible prey drive, and the neighbors. Bucolic my ass!

After dinner and dishes we checked homework. It’s hard to be a role model where complex fractions are concerned. Can’t we just check Khan Academy and…

Doh!

After the kids went to bed my wife and I talked. Not skyped. Talked. While hard at first, this was prime iPad hour after all, I nevertheless got the hang of it after some time. New Analog Me and my wife talked about plans for the summer, projects we’d like to do around the house, how Mormons could possibly be Christian… You know. The usual.

We had a glass of wine or three and went to bed. I felt tired but very much awake.

I woke up once during the night thinking I’d heard the phone vibrating on the bedside table, but fell back to sleep with surprising ease.

Then morning came. Like the picture of God reaching for Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (and missing it by ‘that much’) I reached reflexively and futilely for a phone that was not there.

I showered, dressed, and had breakfast with the family. We talked about what we might do over the weekend in between their various activities. I prepped to leave at once not really wanting to but simultaneously feeling like things were very much in a good place at the same time.

I headed to the boat with a very “quiet mind” I think the Buddhists call it.

I hopped the ferry and in forty-five minutes was back in the office. I unlocked the desk drawer like Pandora (the myth, not the app– wait, that’s weird) and pulled out the iPhone first. No calls. Two texts. Both stupid.

I fired up the laptop. Emails were something different altogether. Hundreds of business emails and dozens in my Gmail since 6PM the night before.

With a mighty wave of my mouse I mass-deleted like a man (self) possessed. I ended up with a handful of “important” emails that certainly could have waited and did.

I was back in the saddle, but changed. The rest of the day I didn’t check as much, didn’t click so often. I began to sit apart from my ‘stuff’.

I wrote a lot. I made phone calls. Get this– I even thought about stuff deeply.

For me, technology had addled my mind to the point where I was becoming a mile wide and an inch deep. I made incremental progress on dozens of things but finished the final nail on precious few.

Putting it all down. Leaning back. Stepping back. It gave me a feeling of satisfaction and wholeness I hadn’t had in some time.

Technology is awesome and getting better every day. There’s just too goddamn much of it.

Left unchecked it had moved from a tool, to a crutch, to a vice. That’s no good.

So my advice to you is try going cold turkey. Walk away. It will still be there when you get back. When you bite the apple you won’t fall from grace. You’ll be happier in the garden.

 

(This article originally appeared in iMedia)


Curly Was Wrong

Curly Was Wrong

I was reading Fast Company’s list of “Most Innovative Companies” when it struck me: Curly was wrong.

You know– leather-faced Curly from City Slickers. Specifically when he (played by all-time badass Jack Palance) was imparting his cowboy wisdom on hapless (and now similarly leather-faced Oscar host) Billy Crystal that the key to life was ‘just one thing.’

All apologies, but wrong.

Life is about a bunch of things. Big things. Smaller things. But “things” plural. Fast Company’s top four most innovative companies—Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon—have this decidedly in common. In a seemingly ‘there’s an app for that world’ where ‘do one thing and do it better than anyone else’ is the mantra, they stand in contrast to a degree. Their utility is not one-dimensional or limited in any way. Their future seems wider, not deeper.

I won’t belabor the Applification of America. Apple is pervasive, thanks largely to ease of use and enormous utility. Apple works like you think it should and does a bunch of stuff that makes your life better or more enjoyable—even if you didn’t know it prior. What started with the iconic Mac has ballooned into something much, much more—a mix of hardware and software wrapped around an elegant experiential core. Even now, Apple seems nearer to its beginning than its end. Don’t delude yourself. We’ll all be driving Apple cars soon and asking Siri where the best place to beat the meter is.

Facebook began as a great way to keep in touch with friends new and old, to share some pictures, and blow off a little steam and time. Now it’s a way to share music, is on its way to becoming the prevalent Search venue, and will soon be all of our personal valet. It will know what we want—from turkey sandwich to Turkey vacation—before we do. Its key is that it’s so outwardly anthropomorphic. It doesn’t feel like software or layered databases. It feels like the corner pub, the high school reunion, or Aunt Gertrude’s parlor. Eight-hundred million people and counting stick with Facebook and all its foibles because we’re deeply engaged with it and have too much invested to unplug from it and move to Google+ or any of the other suitors for our social pursuits. In time, I have every reason to believe the Pinterests of the world will be bought or buried, reincarnated inside THE Facebook as it further solidifies its position as the place people digitally commune with one another for a long, long time.

Google, in contrast to Facebook’s warm and fuzzy human qualities, was the icily efficient box you typed search terms into. Remember that? Now it is email, calendars, maps, hardware, and the single best way to visualize a 3D rendering of the ulnar nerve. We all feed it more and use it more because it works—usually quickly and efficiently. Honestly, we’d all be reduced to nose-picking mouth-breathers if it went away one day. It is the undisputed champion of moving information into our heads. Think about it. Its utility and inroads into our lives (and soon our wallets) will grow unabated for the foreseeable future. Google it. You’ll see.

Amazon was a place to buy books. Now you can get Hugo Boss jeans (I’m told), organic pickles, or authentic MG (the iconic British convertible) cufflinks. Oh, and you could even get a Kindle, arguably doing more to promote reading than Harry Potter. With a significant share of hardware, software, and content sales, Amazon is not just transforming retail, but virtually all industries. It works. People like it. It’s simple. Why change?

Ultimately, I’ll give Curly this—they all began with ‘just one thing.’ From there, they consolidated their bases and built upon them vast, diverse enterprises that give us all more and more reason to use them. And use them. And use them some more. If it aint broke, don’t fix it, most of us say.

In a world increasingly thin-sliced, these four (with Foursquare hot on their heels) are becoming less specialized and more generally utilitarian. One and done competitors should take care. These all-in-one giants are not quite monopolies, but they’ve clearly got hotels on the green and yellow properties. They’re so hard to avoid because no one really wants to.

There’s a time for the new and a time for the familiar. And as these familiars are proving, there’s profit in bringing the new inside a familiar trusted source environment.

Don’t tell Curly. He’s packing.

 

 

(This post originally appeared in iMedia http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/blog/2012/03/26/curly-was-wrong/)