April 27th, 2014
Rubik’s is a company who holds the rights to the singularly most popular toy icon in history. Given the cube’s new found popularity over the last 10 years, the problem has been presented to them of how to build on top that success. Responses to this problem include the Rubik’s Revolution, the Rubik’s Slide, the Rubik’s TouchCube, the Rubik’s 360; and now, most recently the Rubik’s Light.
I have had the same reaction to each: ridiculous, silly, laughable. (I’d say the one exception is the Mirror Blocks.)
I can imagine or hope that they are trying to solve this problem somehow. 2008 was the year the cube’s popularity exploded, I have this Google Trends lookup and a spike in my YouTube video views to support this. By happenstance at the US Nationals 2008 I briefly talked with a pair of very out of place people who were from Rubik’s. Their purpose there was to investigate their product’s popularity and figure out how to bring it more mainstream. The conversation was brief, and as far as I can tell since then they’ve failed.
When the whole time, all everyone wanted, was a decent 2×2-5×5. Believe it or not Rubik’s used to hold that market. Then Eastsheen came along. They did some innovation and made a 2×2 that didn’t pop, a 4×4 that was smooth(er), and a 5×5 whose pieces wouldn’t break. V-Cube also made a huge impact, cube sizes greater than 5×5 were something that Ernö himself once said were impossible. Cubesmith came up and made stickers people loved! A few years later every cube that’s in competitions are not Rubik’s cubes and the products that Rubik’s make, including their classic 3×3, have been turned into a running jokes by the community.
Rubik’s can bring themselves back up, they can be a new force to be rekoned with. In addition to the above I have this to tell them directly: Stop focusing on gimmicky or digital spinoff products. Focus on the niche market you could have. Make a cube that is as fast as any generation of Dayan cube. Do what you did with the Mirror Blocks, remix your classic puzzle, (just look at what’s coming out of Meffert’s these days). Do one or both of these well and people will start listening, buying, more.
March 26th, 2014
Over the years I have had the unusual misfortune of having products I like and use get acquired by Facebook. Sometimes good things come out of these deals, but often they do not. Here is my brief list.
A good lifetracking web app that had a really nice iOS app. At least until the team/co-founders were acquired. The web app continues to function, but the iOS app, which was my sole and preferred method of data entry; is no longer supported and crashes on start up. I know of nothing on Facebook’s end that came from this deal.
Mike Matas, the original designer behind iOS, brought us a fresh digital look into books and publishing. They go acquired in 2011 by Facebook after their first book “Our Choice” by Al Gore. The team at Facebook moved on to create Paper, which I have yet to try but is claimed by many to be good. Let’s remember that Paper took roughly two and a half years to make after the acquirement of PushPopPress.
I was pretty skeptical when I saw their Kickstarter in Summer 2012. Then I heard about a couple of my friends who got them and liked them. Now, where I work there are a few laying around and we have some plans for them in our interaction framework. They got acquired by the blue empire today and I can’t help but feel betrayed.
My first reaction was that it was some joke, or that it was a different Oculus. Then surprise. Now frustration and a little anger. What are they going to do with this if anything at all? Are we going to see some odd byproduct creation several years down the road like we did from the PushPopPress team? Or nothing, like what we got from the Daytum purchase. They’re either going to kill Oculus or turn it into something the original Kickstarter backers didn’t want. I really hope they don’t eff it up either way.
January 4th, 2014
This last weekend I was the victim of news overdose as delivered to me by my preferred tech blogs and news aggregates.1 If there’s an equivalent for obesity of the mind, this is it. My subconscious has turned gluttonous, ready to spew out any irrelevant fact that it may have retained. Looking back I can barely remember a story or meme that was worthwhile or interesting beyond the news that Amazon will try shipping stuff with drones. While it’s not like I feel like I didn’t do anything worthwhile this weekend, it’s that I could have done much less of things that have no overall effect on the quality of my life.
Catching myself reading Buzzfeed’s “The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs Of All Time” inspired this post. The futility of it all struck me while watching #39 “diving corgi“. All of this is the same, and none of it is improving your life. That immediate thought was referring to the post, I had seen plenty of dog gifs before. Then the rest of it hit me too, I get nothing from news.
All of this is the same, and none of it is improving your life.
Sure there are important bits, but checking the same sites five times a day just so you can be the most caught up with the news from California isn’t worth it. It was the TV-esque crap my parents had told me about, it’s everywhere, constantly churning out new stuff, and I’m addicted to it. I thought reading more would be of some benefit, not this kind. I feel like I’ve read the first chapter in a book twenty times now, it never really changes.
It’s decent journalism usually, I just don’t need it 24/7. There are a lot of books I haven’t read that are in the mind of popular culture. I think I’ll take spend some time finishing up those instead of reading “Why Your Startup is Dead if You Can’t Enchant”.