Archive for February 11, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

Spotify’s Podcast Aggregation Play


That’s why we announced today the strategic acquisitions of two podcasting companies, Gimlet and Anchor. These companies serve two different, distinct roles in the industry. Gimlet is one of the best content creators in the world, with unique, celebrated podcast shows like Homecoming, which was recently adapted into a critically acclaimed show on Amazon Prime, and the internet culture hit Reply All. And Anchor has completely reimagined the path to audio creation, enabling creation for the next generation of podcasters worldwide — 15 billion hours of content on the platform during Q4. These companies are best-in-class and together we will offer differentiated and original content. Gimlet and Anchor will position us to become the leading platform for podcast creators around the world and the leading producer of podcasts.

Ben Thompson (Hacker News):

The shift in purpose from “music” to “audio” is, for now anyways, about podcasts. And, at least from a user perspective, it is a natural extension: playing music and playing podcasts entail downloading or streaming some sort of digital file, decoding it on a device, and playing it back through some sort of speaker. That one involved melodies and harmonies and the other primarily the spoken word (although there are plenty of music podcasts) is, from a technical perspective, a distinction without meaning.

From a value chain perspective, though, music and podcasts could not be more different[…]


This importance of centralization to an advertising business model is best seen by the fact that Spotify drove €542 million ($616 million) in advertising revenue last year, far outpacing all of podcasting, even though half of the company’s users didn’t hear any ads at all.


To that end, it is worth considering if this is good for the podcasting industry generally. After all, to return to the web analogy, the price of the Internet finally monetizing effectively was the shift of content to centralized platforms like Facebook.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast, Core Intuition, Download, Exponent, Recode.

Update (2021-10-19): Marco Arment:

Gimlet, after the Spotify acquisition in 2019: “The shows that are out there now are going to continue to be available everywhere.”

Heavyweight, which was “out there” then, is now a Spotify exclusive.

Is anyone surprised?

Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer

Jeff Bezos:

In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

Rather than publishing this as a JPEG of text, he used Medium.

Jaclyn Peiser:

Medium, the online open platform and publisher, is one bloglike platform that has persisted and innovated in the social media era. With 90 million unique monthly visitors, it has maintained relevance as a destination for open letters, petitions and personal essays. But it scarcely sparks such frenetic reactions as it did Thursday night.

The post went viral, and Medium soon found itself in the middle of a major news story.

In a statement, a Medium spokeswoman said the site hadn’t known that Mr. Bezos was going to publish the post.

Vlad Savov (tweet):

But what stood out to me, precisely by virtue of it not being noticed or widely recognized, was the role that Twitter played in that explosive news moment. If Bezos dropped a bomb, it was Twitter that sparked and catalyzed the explosion.


The anatomy of the Bezos disclosure was simple. He chose Medium as the receptacle of his thoughts — perhaps as a neutral alternative to writing in The Washington Post, which he owns — but the path that everyone followed to get to Medium was via his tweet. No journalist was casually browsing Medium’s “Combative Blog Posts from Multibillionaires” section and accidentally stumbled upon it. No one could even have been sure it was Bezos just by looking at the blog post in isolation. Twitter was both the trigger of awareness for the post’s existence and the first step of verification for its legitimacy.

John Gruber:

Here’s a detail I would like to see everyone reporting on this story identify: what type of text messages was Bezos exchanging with Lauren Sanchez? […] This matters because SMS is not encrypted. iMessage is not just encrypted but end-to-end encrypted. If, as Bezos’s investigator apparently believes, Bezos’s phone was not compromised, that means either Sanchez’s phone was compromised, or the messages were intercepted in transit. But if they were iMessages, they couldn’t be intercepted in transit.

I’m not sure whether Bezos uses an iPhone (and thus has access to iMessage).

Lachlan Markay:

The brother of Jeff Bezos’ mistress, Lauren Sanchez, supplied the couple’s racy texts to the National Enquirer, multiple sources inside AMI, the tabloid’s parent company, told The Daily Beast.

Of course, he denies this. But, if true, he could have gotten them via physical access to Sanchez’s phone, or directly from her, without having to intercept anything. So perhaps there’s a messaging tech angle to this story, but perhaps not.


Update (2020-01-30): John Gruber:

Bezos had a personal relationship with MBS and MBS personally sent Bezos the payload to exploit his phone. The evidence is strong enough and the allegations serious enough that the United Nations has issued a report on the matter, considers it part of a pattern of human rights violations from the Saudi regime, and is calling for the United States to further investigate.

But — but! — two days ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in Manhattan have evidence that The National Enquirer obtained the photos from Lauren Sanchez’s brother, who in turn was sent them from his sister’s phone.

See also: Hacker News.

On Covering Webcams

John Gruber (tweet):

I have never understand the mass paranoia over laptop webcams — which have in-use indicator lights, which I’ve seen no evidence can be circumvented on Macs from the last decade — and the complete lack of similar paranoia over microphones, which cannot be blocked by a piece of tape and which have no in-use indicator lights. And I don’t see anyone taping over the cameras on their phones. This story is only going to feed that paranoia, because the takeaway is going to be “The Wall Street Journal says you should cover up your webcam.”


The problem isn’t your camera, it’s malware. Don’t install any software from unknown or sketchy sources, keep your OS up to date, and you should be fine. And if you do have malware on your Mac, the webcam is likely the least of your problems.

I cover my Mac’s camera with a piece of tape, not because I’m terribly worried about it, but because it’s easy to do, so why not? But I think something like Little Snitch is probably better protection. I don’t really care whether an app is using the camera or microphone so long as it isn’t sending data anywhere.

Phone cameras and microphones should probably be of greater concern, but there’s not much you can do about them. It’s not practical to cover sensors that you use throughout the day. Third-party phone apps are harder to audit. And intelligence agencies can allegedly activate the microphone and camera, anyway.


Sandboxed macOS X Login Item With XPC

Uli Kusterer:

I’m currently working on updating the Talking Moose to modern macOS, with an eye on a Mac App Store release. This differs from your stock XPC setup, as the Talking Moose consists of a GUI application for configuring it, and a background process for the animated character, the latter of which should be launched at login and stay running, instead of only being launched on-demand when someone makes explicit requests to the service.

Here are the things I had to do differently from Xcode’s standard XPC Service target template[…]