Discover more from Steady Beats | Matt Tillotson
The Mix Tape, Vol. 16
Old dog, new tricks
You can, indeed, teach an old (err, middle-aged) dog new tricks, even if it requires the occasional whiskey or cabernet treat:
For my personal website, I used to use a great and simple website service called Squarespace, which I highly recommend if you are a normal human who needs to create a nice-looking site.
But, if you have control issues (like me) and want everything just so, you can take things to another level and learn Webflow.
Webflow is a browser-based (there’s no software to download) website building tool which gives you total control over every detail of your site.
Best of all, you don’t have to learn to code. Webflow is visually based, with drag-and-drop elements and an interface to customize and tweak just about anything your heart desires.
BUT: Webflow has a learning curve. Fortunately the company offers Webflow University, which has tons of super-professional videos to show you how to do everything.
You can build your site and publish it with a custom domain for $20 a month (less if you pay for a year), same as Squarespace.
And dammit, Webflow let me put the newsletter signup box exactly where I wanted it to go.
Like any site, mine (www.matttillotson.com) is a work in progress.
If you’d like to drop by and then give me any feedback, I’d appreciate it. I might even reward you with a whiskey treat afterwards.
Apple’s Super Advanced Pro 100.0 XL Naming Strategy
For being one the strongest brands in planetary history, Apple has a strangely complex and confusing iPhone naming strategy.
I am bewildered by it, and I am not alone. M.G. Siegler:
I honestly worry Apple is blinded to how ridiculous some of their branding has become. It’s like they’re terrified to excise any part of a brand that has worked in the past and so they’re just appending stuff on. It’s like a growing centipede or worse, like Microsoft. We’re just a few years removed from the iPhone 15 Pro 5G 5K S MaxX Plus with a Super Retina XDR HD NanoDot display and Fusion Quantum NanoBoost AR/VR/ML/AI technology.
For a company that thrives on simplicity—in how products work and in how interfaces look—Apple’s naming strategy has wandered far afield.
Pricing is another story
On the other hand, Apple is razor-sharp and completely savage in its iPhone pricing strategy:
A few notes on the Apple keynote
Apple’s big fall keynote event lacked the “wow” factor, but had some interesting developments:
The $4.99/month price point for Apple TV+ helps reset pricing in the streaming content space. Both Apple and Disney are aiming at Netflix with low price points, and Apple is even including a year of the streaming service with the purchase of some products.
Launching an all-you-can-eat gaming service (Apple Arcade) for just $4.99/month adds value at a reasonable cost and increases the pain of switching to another smartphone platform. The service will feature more than 100 unique games.
The $329 iPad, which supports the Apple Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, is a great value. For nearly everyone, that price-point is a no-brainer and there is little reason to be irrational (like me) and buy the far more expensive iPad Pro.
Speaking of irrationality:
Me, watching the Apple keynote: “I definitely do not need the new iPhone this year.”
Apple: “…and new, this year, the iPhone 11 Pro comes in a Midnight [NOTE: MSU Spartan-like] Green.”
*Starts strategizing on when/how to purchase.
The cyborg future (and present) of McDonald’s
Your McDonald’s drive-through experience may soon be voice automated:
You: “Siri, I’d like a Quarter Pounder.”
Siri: “Ok. Ordering a quart of Round-Up.”
McD’s continues its high-tech buying spree, focused on automation and A.I:
Today the Golden Arches announced the acquisition of Apprente, a voice AI system focused on fast-food ordering. It's a niche, but it just paid off.
Apprente's speech-based artificial intelligence deals within the relatively narrow confines of quick-service restaurants. As with Dynamic Yield's decision engine, which switches up menu items based on what it thinks consumers want at any given time and location, Apprente's ultimate goal is to increase the speed of any given transaction. Anyone who's had to repeat their order into a squawking speaker knows that pain.
McDonald’s positions this as part of its “Velocity Growth Plan,” and it seems clear the company is trying to use tech to:
Increase revenue-per-order (show dynamic menus by time-of-day, and maybe, someday, by customer profile).
Improve throughput (decrease time-to-service).
Reduce overhead (automate as many tasks as possible to reduce labor hours).
I don’t understand political arguments about the minimum wage. The real issue is the jobs are going away and not coming back.
This week in business speak
I’ve read (and, yeah, sadly, written) an awful lot of “business speak” — but this is a new one for me:
GameStop, the Grapevine, Texas-based retail chain that peddles hardcopy video games out of more than 5,700 stores worldwide, says it will shutter 180 to 200 “under-performing” locations globally by the end of the 2019 fiscal year, with more closures to come over the next two years. It also has a plan to transform itself into a “social and cultural hub” for gamers.
“We have a clear opportunity to improve our overall profitability by de-densifying our chain,” GameStop CFO James Bell told analysts on a second-quarter earnings and sales call transcribed by Seeking Alpha.
Wow. Kudos to GameStop, and to the comms team that wrote this up for James Bell. Gutsy.
This is taking spin to an all-new level. GameStop isn’t closing stores and laying off workers. It is “de-densifying.”
As the video game market moves away from physical media to downloads and streaming services, expect more de-denisfying from GameStop.
(Business speak is often called B.S., and we all know what that—correctly—stands for.)
What is happening?
And finally, in the “the processed junk food market is completely out of ideas” department:
Maybe this is a play in states that have legalized marajuana. I don’t know.
Thanks for reading! I cursed twice in this week’s edition. I’ll try to do better next time. See you then.