Orbits and hardware

15.19, Thursday 9 May 2013

Open in my browser right now:

  1. Planar Choerographies. We’re all familiar with stable orbits in a two body system: it’s how the earth goes round the sun. The earth describes a big circle, the sun a little one, and both are centred on their mutual centre of gravity. It turns out there are stable orbits for n-bodies too, and they’re lovely. I wonder what it would be like to live on a planet in a seven on a butterfly solar system.

  2. Wired interview with Bill Gates. Saved 5 million lives, and he’s funny? Dammit.

  3. The pitch deck Buffer used to raise $500,000. Great pitch deck. A simple story, well told.

  4. Chris Dixon on hardware startups. A big factor in why hardware is possible now? The peace dividend of the smartphone war. (Chris Anderson.) Chris Dixon lists a few points to keep in mind: Manufacturing (no Amazon Web Services for production); defensibility (no network effects); planning (it’s not agile); B2C vs B2B (attention vs margins).

    I’m gonna add four other points of differentiation from software. One is distribution, both attention and fixing shipping things. Is hard. Incumbents win. Second is funding: margins are lower, you have working capital tied up in stock, the pipeline is slower. Third is complexity. Connected products (and that’s my concern) have mechanical parts, embedded software, connectivity/protocols, and cloud software. These need to move in sync, and it’s hard to tell what takes the lead. The fourth point is business model – the business model of products is already moving into flux. It’s about to go chaotic.

    Further reading: Indiepocalypse (Andy Biao): For hundreds of years, publishers across every industry - book publishers, record labels, film studios, videogame publishers - solved problems for artists in four major ways: being, Funding, Production, Marketing, Distribution. And the internet is disrupting all four of these simultaneously.

    The way I think about this is the “fat middle.” In each industry - say, news - we’ve had the dominant head (New York Times) and long tail (round robin newsletters). In music? Dominant head of stadium tours and U2, and the long tail of bar gigs. The internet’s flattened the curve, and a fat middle has arisen. In news, major blogs: Engadget, the Verge, etc. Music: see all of YouTube.

    So… a fat middle of hardware? Yup. It’s happening. Cool.

Now I can close my tabs.

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