Weekly tech summary for May 2nd, 2016

I have a theory about the strong demand for the iPhone SE, demand that Apple expressed a bit of surprise over in their quarterly earnings call. People are framing it as proof that bigger iPhones really are terrible, but I’m only half buying the notion that all those people love small phones. For most people, I believe there’s only one real benefit to the iPhone SE: price.

Android users have been using screens a lot bigger than 4 inches now for years, and I don’t hear a lot of horror stories from them about how much pain they’re in and how they have to stop everything and sit at a table and use two hands and a foot to operate their phones. Meanwhile, in iPhone land, it’s suddenly like a late night Juiceomatic 3000 commercial where no one can eat an orange without squirting themselves in the eye — even a 4.7″ iPhone is suddenly a huge burden and the SE is just the pain reliever the doctor ordered.

Uh… no.

I do believe some people really do prefer tiny iPhones. I also think there are more people who like the idea of relatively top of the line iPhone innards (a mix of iPhone 6 and 6s level technology, basically) at a cheaper price. It’s really easy to suddenly remember how great less screen real estate is when it costs a lot less to buy.1

I’m in the midst of watching a debate between CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and Edward Snowden on the topic of encryption. Zakaria is no dummy — he’s a hugely respected writer, analyst, and political thinker, but I was astounded at some of the things coming out of his mouth. At one point, he stated that he doesn’t use encryption because he believes in the law of averages, and that it’ll just be fine. Later he asserted that it’s not the federal government’s job to help tech vendors secure their products. It actually is exactly part of the federal government’s job to do just that.

If I didn’t know anything else about him, I’d conclude he’s just clueless in general, but that’s not true. And based on his own claims and the opinions of many other people about Zakaria, he’s not just a voice for the government:

Zakaria has stated that he tries not to be devoted to any type of ideology, saying “I feel that’s part of my job… which is not to pick sides but to explain what I think is happening on the ground. I can’t say, ‘This is my team and I’m going to root for them no matter what they do.’

I have a hard time being patient with people who don’t understand the importance of and the need for good information security. Clearly I need to admit that it’s a difficult concept, because even really smart people have a tough time wrapping their heads around it.

  1. A 64GB iPhone SE is half the cost of my 128GB iPhone 6s Plus.