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Let’s talk about the new, 12-inch MacBook Air. Typically, I don’t comment on speculation but 9to5mac seems confident about their information. Anyway, this isn’t about the MacBook Air per se and more on how Apple is still willing to take big risks — which is fantastic — and about their view on computing.

Here’s the quick rundown on those MacBook Air rumors:

  • 12-inch display in an extremely compact design
  • One USB Type-C port, one headphone port and…that’s it for ports
  • Smaller than standard keyboard
  • Trackpad has no mechanical key

The Type-C port, in addition to its typical USB functionality, is also capable of powering the laptop and driving displays. The thinking is that one port will be used for all those things and via hub when needed.

This is a risky design. The Type-C port will break easy compatibility with accessories, similar to the lightning port for iPhone and iPad, and will surely piss some people off. The smaller keyboard may annoy Apple lifers. Removing the mechanical key on the trackpad means the likelihood that a touch is misinterpreted as a tap is higher.

So why do it?

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Fast Company has a fascinating article on Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Fire. It’s a great piece and worth the long length. Check it out and then come back here.

For those who don’t need the nuance, here’s the story’s bottom line: the Amazon Fire was Jeff Bezos’ baby. He micromanaged it like Steve Jobs, and made decisions unpopular with his team but which he pushed through anyway. One example is Dynamic Perspective, the feature that enabled the phone’s 3D effect, came at great cost and which customers didn’t end up appreciating.

The story is fascinating because it gets to the heart of intuition vs. data. Are great products born out of intuition and personal genius? Or out of market research, data analysis and testing? Microsoft is traditionally about the latter, and the one time they tried the former — Steven Sinofsky and Windows 8 — it wasn’t successful.

It appears that Amazon too tried to make that leap.

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2015 will be an exciting year for fans of 2-in-1 devices — i.e., hybrid convertibles that double as both laptop and tablet. Driving it are Intel’s new line of chips, which broadly offer a significantly better performance-to-power ratio. This means you can get reasonably performing PCs that don’t require fans, so designs can be thinner and lighter and have longer battery life.

As companies announce new devices that take advantage of the new chips at CES (happening right now), I’ll be zeroing in on one key metric: weight.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I believe the right form factor for a 2-in-1 is as large of a display as possible given a maximum weight of 1.5 pounds. Above that threshold, the tablet part of a 2-in-1 is heavy to hold with one hand as the other taps the screen.

2-in-1s have not yet achieved mainstream success because limitations of technology meant they were either too slow, too heavy or too short on battery life. Hopefully, this year, manufacturers get it right.

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When I moved out of the US, one of the things I missed was Netflix. I considered keeping my subscription and streaming via VPN, but decided I needed to cut down on TV anyway and so canceled the subscription. I do have friends in similar situations who opted to keep subscribing, signing up for VPN services so they can watch in countries where Netflix is not present.

Unfortunately, according to TorrentFreak, it appears Netflix is now cracking down on customers using VPN to watch its shows. Note, that they are in fact customers.

This is in likelihood due to pressure from studios, who often have geography-focused licensing schemes. So if you’re in Australia, for example, that show you saw on Netflix via VPN was likely paid for by an Australian operator to show in Australia. I.e., it presents a lost profit opportunity for the Australian operator.

So Netflix cracking down on VPN use is perfectly fine, in my view. It’s their prerogative to structure their business however they see fit. What I do take issue with is these same Australian operators calling customers who watch via VPN as “pirates,” as if they are criminals breaking the law.

Highlighting how the TV networks view these people, an article this morning in News Corp-owned The Australian went as far as labeling subscribers as “pirates”, even though they are paying for the service.

It’s a little offensive if you think about it, and I’m not even part of the group being slandered.

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Tim Cook is fond of citing customer satisfaction scores as an indication of Apple’s truth north — that it’s about making delightful experiences for customers first; with market share and profits further down the list.

He won’t like the most recent customer satisfaction survey about mobile phones from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, based on 70,000 consumers. And that’s because Samsung beat Apple in the latest report.

Fortunately for Cook, the survey was conducted prior to the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The bigger display just might reverse the trend.

If it doesn’t, it would be interesting to see what Cook has to say in his next keynote.

Making customer satisfaction scores the key metric is tricky business. So much of it is dependent on initial expectations that’s it’s not often a good indicator of actual product worthiness or progress.

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I just returned from a holiday in Japan, a country with a fascinating culture for electronics. My biggest takeaway is how mainstream gadgets are in Japan; unlike most other countries, there seems to be electronics stores at every corner, with average, everyday kind of people shopping there.

The first impression you get from visiting one is the barrage of colors and signs that beset you. Check out one below:

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Dear Cornerplay readers, happy new year! Here’s hoping your 2014 was great and that 2015 will be even better.

When I first started this blog in May last year, I just wanted an outlet from the daily grind of entrepreneurship — a chance to flex my fingers and create something that I can complete daily, as opposed to products that take months to build and launch.

I love writing this blog. There have been times when posting daily has been an incredible challenge — because life and work can take a toll sometimes — but on the whole, this blog has been a source of joy and positive energy.

Thank you for your readership, and thank you for contributing that bit of energy in my life.

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