The Critical Path

The Critical Path
The Critical Path is a talk show contemplating the causality of success and failure in the evolving story of mobile computing and related industries. Using Apple as a lens to look at existing and emerging tech markets, we try to understand what it means to be great. Hosted by Anders Brownworth & Horace Dediu.
199: Transport
Mar 16 • 76 min
Horace and Anders discuss two wheeled vehicles, commute times and tunnel boring!
198: The Most Valuable Business
Mar 3 • 73 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple amongst the new top five tech companies and take listener questions.
197: Death of an Algorithm
Feb 23 • 83 min
Horace and Anders discuss Bond movies, cars, commute habits, streaming services and take listener questions through the hashtag #CriticalQuestion on Twitter.
196: Antifragile
Feb 3 • 78 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple’s fiscal 2017 first quarter results and take listener questions from Twitter.
195: Anthropological Constant
Jan 25 • 79 min
Horace and Anders discuss the AirPods, commute time, the future of the automotive industry and answer questions posted to #CriticalQuestion on Twitter.
194: Is HomeKit a Refrigerator or Washing Machine
Dec 29, 2016 • 81 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple Music subs, exiting the router and display business and take listener questions on everything from George Orwell to HomeKit.
193: Startup Strategy
Nov 20, 2016 • 91 min
Horace provides an outline for the research he’s been doing over the past 2 years covering a strategy theory for startups and established businesses.
192: Brands Revisited
Nov 17, 2016 • 65 min
Horace and Anders discuss PanAm, Apple’s return of cash to the US, Samsung and other listener questions.
191: Bitch’n ain’t Switch’n
Nov 5, 2016 • 80 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple’s Mac business and how the PC is being used less and less but will stay around in large numbers for a very long time. They also take listener questions from Twitter using the hash tag #CriticalQuestion.
190: Niche Time
Oct 20, 2016 • 72 min
Horace and Anders discuss the car industry, hiring products for smaller and smaller slices of time and take listener questions.
189: The Job the iPhone is Hired to Do
Oct 16, 2016 • 98 min
Horace and Anders discuss the job of the iPhone and take listener questions.
188: The New Basis of Competition
Oct 1, 2016 • 104 min
Horace and Anders discuss how the iPhone 7 and Airpods evolve the Apple ecosystem. Then they take listener questions via the Twitter hashtag #CriticalQuestion and inevitably finish by covering the car market in some detail!
187: Poetry and Perseverance
Sep 18, 2016 • 92 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple’s event, the iPhone 7, the AirPods and touch on the iPhone economy. Horace takes questions from listeners on Twitter using the hash tag #CriticalQuestion.
186: Mini Me
Aug 26, 2016 • 65 min
Horace and Henri go for a drive.
185: Lithium Iron Phosphate
Aug 22, 2016 • 106 min
Horace gives an update on his EVW electric car project and takes listener questions in this extended episode.
184: Playing the Long Game
Aug 18, 2016 • 82 min
Horace discusses Apple services numbers, Fast Company’s interview of Tim Cook and takes listener questions.
183: A Billion iPhones
Aug 8, 2016 • 90 min
Horace and Farshad discuss Apple’s recent milestone of one billion iPhones shipped. They also answer a slew of #CriticalQuestions.
182: The Apple Production System
Jul 9, 2016 • 69 min
Horace and Anders discuss the evolution of production systems and take listener questions.
181: Tesla and SolarCity
Jun 26, 2016 • 75 min
Horace and Anders discuss Tesla’s proposed takeover of SolarCity.
180: Asking the Right Question
Jun 16, 2016 • 66 min
Horace and Anders discuss the numbers from WWDC, what didn’t come from WWDC and cars!
179: Pre-WWDC
Jun 9, 2016 • 92 min
In this special pre-WWDC show, Horace and Anders discuss the enterprise, NSA and landing a helicopter at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
178: Special Edition
Jun 1, 2016 • 73 min
Horace and special co-host Farshad Nayeri discuss Log Log Scale, the iPhone SE and Artificial Intelligence.
177: Moving Parts
May 20, 2016 • 95 min
Horace discusses Apple’s investment in Didi. Can R&D expenditures tell us anything about future performance? Horace and Anders take listener questions and the discussion devolves into health and dental benefits for henchmen in an evil lair.
176: The Over-Under Service Dichotomy
May 14, 2016 • 85 min
Horace talks about developments in Disruption theory. A fairly long and deep discourse on the state-of-the-art in innovation theory development.
175: There Is No Such Thing As A Free Service
May 5, 2016 • 85 min
We pause briefly from talking about cars to talk Apple’s quarterly. The China slowdown, the Watch as the future of computing, services and trusting an advising automaton.
174: Automobile: The Next Generation
Apr 30, 2016 • 56 min
Horace interviews his son on what the next generation will think about cars. Insights only a 10 year old can offer and we take a few questions from the audience. (recorded live in front of an Airshow audience)
173: iPod, iPhone, iPad, i3?
Apr 15, 2016 • 90 min
Horace explains why he was wrong about the BMW i3. Also, more Q&A.
172: This is my iPad Pro, and this is my other iPad Pro.
Apr 10, 2016 • 94 min
On this special “in person” edition of the Critical Path, Horace and Anders discuss Apple’s latest product offerings, the iPhone SE and the new 9.7 inch iPad Pro 9.7, and take listener questions via Twitter.
170: Bending the Adoption Curve
Mar 31, 2016 • 102 min
In this live recording of Critical Path, Horace takes questions from the Twitter audience in real-time. Topics include how to value Apple, collaborative platforms and the Apple Car & production methods.
171: Happy 40th
Mar 31, 2016 • 89 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple’s 40th birthday and what “the next 40” might look like. We also compare Tesla’s production line with that of the BMW i3.
168: Exposed Skin
Feb 18, 2016 • 103 min
Horace and Anders talk about how Apple is a new class, not a disruption. They also touch on the job to be done of drones.
169: Earnings
Feb 4, 2016 • 38 min
Horace discusses Apple earnings and PC shipment data.
167: David Sundahl
Jan 26, 2016 • 52 min
Horace interviews David Sundahl, fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute.
166: A Glance at Apple
Jan 7, 2016 • 57 min
Horace and special guest Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies discuss the Glance conference. They investigate the job of the Watch and touch on the changing responsibilities amongst the upper ranks at Apple.
165: Audio Port
Dec 18, 2015 • 67 min
Horace and Anders discuss the iPhone analog audio port, the lightning port’s use by Apple Pencil and Apple’s viewpoint on privacy and the environment. Horace rounds the episode out with a definition of disruption.
164: Rocky II
Dec 7, 2015 • 55 min
Horace and Anders discuss viewing Apple’s business as a recurring revenue model, then touch on the iPad Pro somewhat unsuccessfully and host a very special guest.
163: You Say You Want a Revolution
Nov 13, 2015 • 65 min
Horace discusses politics and disruption with Michael Tofias. Is disruption of government possible? Michael pursues the study of American political institutions, elections, Congress, and computational political economy to reveal how disruption might play…
162: Nerd Culture
Oct 19, 2015 • 63 min
Horace and Anders welcome Henri Dediu for an advance look at technology and the world from the point of view of the next generation. Insights from this unique perspective and your questions on this special episode of The Critical Path.
161: Who’s Jack Dorsey
Oct 9, 2015 • 107 min
Horace and Anders answer reader questions and opine on Jeremy Clarkson’s crew.
160: Metamorphosis
Oct 2, 2015 • 99 min
Apple’s 13 Million iPhone weekend and the iPad Pro and listener questions on the 160th episode of The Critical Path.
159: The Appification of TV, Revisited
Sep 23, 2015 • 116 min
Horace and Anders revisit Apple TV and answer listener questions in this special 2 hour episode.
158: Disrupt Yourself with Whitney Johnson
Sep 4, 2015 • 61 min
Horace interviews Whitney Johnson about her new book Disrupt Yourself. How can the theory of disruptive innovation be applied to you? How can you disrupt yourself?
157: Modular Revolution
Aug 28, 2015 • 92 min
Horace discusses the recent market turmoil and takes listener questions on everything from Alphabet to SpaceX.
156: Power and Charm
Aug 25, 2015 • 89 min
Horace and Anders discuss Uber’s transportation business and discuss how software modularizes the world. In the second half of the show, they take listener questions posted to Twitter using the hashtag #CriticalQuestion.
155: New Production Method
Aug 7, 2015 • 80 min
Horace and Anders discuss car production methods, the BMW i3, tubular and composite frame construction and how Uber could change the landscape.
154: Come Fly With Me
Jul 6, 2015 • 103 min
Horace and Anders talk about the “Plug Bug”, safety in the aircraft industry and take listener questions.
153: Across the USA
Jun 22, 2015 • 93 min
On the heals of an epic driving trip across the United States, Horace discusses WWDC and takes listener questions from Twitter.
152: Chief Jobs Officer Part 2
Jun 4, 2015 • 82 min
Horace talks about Jony Ive’s promotion and answers listener questions on everything from Apple TV to the need for companies to “have children”.
151: Why Herbivores Could Never Read
Jun 2, 2015 • 78 min
Horace and Anders discuss Comcast, cable companies and lowest common denominator content on television screens everywhere. After the break, Horace takes listener questions from Twitter.
150: Circling Back
May 21, 2015 • 88 min
Horace interviews Anders about Goldman Sachs’ investment in Internet finance company Circle and we take listener questions over Twitter.
149: Whippersnapper
May 4, 2015 • 80 min
From impressive iPhone sales to slowing iPad revenues, Horace and Anders recap the most recent Apple earnings. In the latter half of the show, Horace takes questions from Twitter.
148: Fight for the Wrist
Apr 30, 2015 • 87 min
What does the Apple Watch mean? Can it be considered disruptive? Horace and Anders consider if the Apple Watch represents a meaningful “real estate” business.
147: Attracting the Mind
Apr 28, 2015 • 63 min
Horace and Anders look at the segments of the luxury market and consider how success can be measured in Apple’s watch business.
146: Bob Moesta
Apr 9, 2015 • 116 min
Bob Moesta demonstrates Jobs to be Done interview technique by speaking with Horace about a car purchase.
145: Arbitrage
Mar 26, 2015 • 91 min
Back from the Apple Watch event, Horace gives his trip report discussing watch pricing and what we now know of how Apple intends to sell them. What cognitive illusions might come into play as people consider the watch?
144: The Hookup
Mar 10, 2015 • 71 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple’s brand reorientation from the intellectual and analytical to the emotional and instinctual. Moore’s Law is fundamentally incompatible with luxury so new measures are necessary. What should one call this new paradigm?
143: Moving Parts
Mar 7, 2015 • 72 min
Horace and Anders discuss the design of Gordon Murray and what it might take to enter the automotive industry. Is an integrated strategy the only way? What job would an Apple car be hired to do?
142: The Great Insufficiency
Feb 26, 2015 • 67 min
Horace discusses his latest work at the Christensen Institute and considers why the educational system works the way it does. Can large scale education be modularized? In the second half of the show, Anders and Horace discuss the rumors about the…
141: Old Dogs
Feb 17, 2015 • 62 min
Horace presents the next class in The Critical MBA. Having too much of a fundamental footing could be a disadvantage when evaluating what theory might apply to a given situation. Could this be why so many fail to understand Apple? In the second half of…
140: Apple Earnings Call
Feb 17, 2015 • 69 min
In this special “live” version of The Critical Path, Horace gets the numbers just minutes before Apple’s January 27th, 2015 earnings call and dissects them live. The show picks up just after the call finishes with a quick recap and discussion of yet…
139: The Great Gap
Jan 23, 2015 • 73 min
Horace and Anders discuss the current uncertainty in the commodities markets and take a look at the logical segments of the adoption curve. Could the conventional wisdom between invention and product in the market be wrong?
138: The Critical MBA
Jan 20, 2015 • 64 min
Horace and Anders discuss this year’s CES, Apple’s record $25B in payments to developers as well as the initial installment of the Critical Path MBA. How is business taught in schools? What is a business school graduate optimized to do? Horace explains…
137: The Inception
Jan 16, 2015 • 63 min
Can we measure the time between inception of an idea and the disruption it later causes in the market? Startups are there to discover a job nobody sees yet but not all laboratory experiments make it to commercialization. Horace and Anders discuss the…
136: An Interview about The Interview
Jan 12, 2015 • 73 min
Moisés Chiullan returns to join Horace Dediu in a discussion of the film “The Interview”. Could the unique circumstances surrounding this film spur a renaissance in content creation in Hollywood?
135: Fruit Fly Analysis
Dec 18, 2014 • 79 min
Horace outlines his work at The Clayton Christensen Institute and sets out a number of topics for upcoming shows. We also revisit YouTube and the art of self promotion.
134: Chief Jobs Officer
Dec 7, 2014 • 82 min
Turning our focus back to “Jobs to be Done” theory, we look at how producers can exceed consumers and the role of the focus group from the “Jobs to be Done” viewpoint. We examine “Jobs to be Done” as an essential core of the product process. Where does…
133: Transcendental Valuation
Nov 28, 2014 • 68 min
Having reached $700 billion we ask whether $1 trillion is an achievable valuation for Apple. We also discuss why this is not at all interesting. Also, the future of banking.
132: The World’s PIN Code
Nov 24, 2014 • 67 min
How does an organization’s structure, resource allocation and measurement dictate it’s capabilities? Horace and Anders discuss Amazon’s AWS business in comparison to their traditional online retail business and the Apple and Google strategies.
131: How Big is iCloud?
Nov 17, 2014 • 43 min
Apple’s Services business is growing by leaps and bounds. How much of that can be attributed to iCloud? Horace and Anders consider how big the iCloud business is for Apple, as well as Apple’s recent stock price rise in this “rolling show” on the way to…
130: Determinism vs. Probabilism
Nov 7, 2014 • 62 min
Horace and Anders discuss Apple Watch pricing, Consumerism and Planned Obsolescence. In the closing segment Horace presents a new dichotomy of company values.
129: The Right Incentives
Nov 2, 2014 • 63 min
We talk about Samsung, Apple Pay (vs. CurrentC) and Xiaomi.
128: The Upper End of Guidance
Oct 24, 2014 • 56 min
We go over Apple’s last earnings report. Is significant growth conceivable for the next quarter? Plus the new iMac and the end of visible pixels.
127: Cupertino to San Francisco on 280
Oct 17, 2014 • 53 min
On the October 2014 iPad and iMac event. Where and when are the iPad killer apps going to come out?
126: Making the world go ‘round
Oct 10, 2014 • 63 min
Horace and Anders on the irrelevance of shareholders. Anticipating an Apple October 2014 event they discuss how the iPad and tablet designs could evolve. Diving into how brands can manage disruption through a whirlwind tour of products from cameras to…
125: War of Attrition
Oct 8, 2014 • 78 min
Horace and Anders analyze the possible business models for Apple Watch, how it may be introduced, distributed, sold, and bought. What impact will the Watch have on Apple’s top and bottom lines? They further look into possible introductions for the rest of…
124: Big in Japan
Oct 2, 2014 • 71 min
Horace and Anders discuss Opening Weekend Sales of iPhone 6, Accurate Timekeeping Device, the 3rd tentpole of Apple Watch, leading to a brief history of wristwatches, a study of Job-to-be-done for the watch and what it signals about Apple’s future. Horace…
123: Salubrious
Sep 30, 2014 • 60 min
Steve Jobs said death is the best thing in life. And yet we seek immortality, or at least life extending technologies. What are the possibilities and implications of a salubrious app? Is life extension the next killer app?
122: Where the Money is
Sep 14, 2014 • 64 min
How and why does Apple get paid for Apple Pay? Anders and Horace dive into the payments value chain and break it all down for you: what’s in it for users, merchants, issuing banks and payment networks. What are the risks and opportunities for Apple? Is…
121: There’s A Lot More To Say
Sep 9, 2014 • 38 min
Immediately after Apple’s historic announcement on Sept 9, 2014, Horace Dediu, Farshad Nayeri and Anders Brownworth discuss Apple Watch…while driving to the Airport.
120: I Wish I Could Say Less
Sep 8, 2014 • 69 min
Anders Brownworth and Horace Preview of Apple’s September 2014 special event. We focus on how Apparel gets disrupted. We also wrap the Creativity, Inc. book review.
119: Creativity and Engineering
Aug 19, 2014 • 80 min
Predictions of the iPhone Portfolio, big screen phones and what they are good for, and a tentative review of Ed Catmull’s “Creativity, Inc”
118: The Cook Doctrine
Jul 10, 2014 • 70 min
After a lengthy break, Horace and Moisés reflect on the substantial implications of Apple’s WWDC announcements and the ongoing evolution within Apple culture. What does it take to allow for greatness?
117: Why Did Apple Buy Beats?
May 28, 2014 • 75 min
Horace talks about CapEx and begins unpacking the massive topic that is The Capitalist’s Dilemma. We focus on the surprisingly under-discussed data with regard to Apple’s acquisition of Beats. The deal was officially announced within hours of this…
116: Freshwater/Seawater
May 8, 2014 • 68 min
Horace and Moisés catch up on a few weeks of topics, from Apple earnings to iPad discontinuity to ecosystem disparity to followup on ComiXology. Why would you ask a freshwater fish what it’s like to live in the open sea?
115: The Canvas of Pixels
Apr 14, 2014 • 72 min
Horace and Moisés talk about Amazon’s acquisition of ComiXology, digging into the very “local” nature of book publishing in general and the extreme regional differences in content popularity and delivery.
114: Veronica’s Dilemma
Mar 25, 2014 • 87 min
Horace and Moisés talk about the major triumphs and minor failures of the Veronica Mars campaign on Kickstarter and kick off a series on The Capitalist’s Dilemma.
113: Takt Time
Mar 5, 2014 • 55 min
Horace and Moisés talk about CarPlay, MWC2014, Microsoft and Nokia, “Tim Cook’s outburst”, per-user value, and re-evaluating how we analyze companies in tech.
112: Business Model Diversification
Feb 21, 2014 • 57 min
Horace and Moisés examine Facebook’s acquisition of Whatsapp: the job it is hired to do, and the value system attached. They also begin a look at The Capitalist’s Dilemma.
111: Man of Arts and Letters and Science
Feb 10, 2014 • 97 min
Horace and Moisés discuss the excitement surrounding Microsoft’s hire of new CEO/poet Satya Nadella, Apple’s recent numbers announcement, and yet more on Google (and their sale of Motorola to Lenovo).
110: The Profit Algorithm
Jan 23, 2014 • 100 min
Horace is once again drawn to the paradox that is Google, a company full of data that shares almost none of it with its “customers” or the public.
109: Google Ventures
Jan 22, 2014 • 97 min
Horace builds on his discussion of Google from the previous episode in light of the Nest acquisition news. We also look at the relatively unreported news regarding China lifting its 13-year ban on game consoles and the variables it introduces to a “big…
108: Chief Magical Officer
Jan 4, 2014 • 74 min
With new ChromeOS and Chromebook data, Horace returns us to the topic of Google. How do they define and view their customers, products, and businesses? Who actually serves whom? What user data is collected, how is it used, and why?
107: Conservation Mentality
Dec 27, 2013 • 81 min
Horace and Moisés discuss iPhone’s move onto China Mobile and the long-brewing implications. They dig into how Apple’s potential reach dwarfs that of Google, Facebook, and Amazon combined in the People’s Republic, and look back briefly on 2013.
106: Can Bitcoin Be Money?
Dec 19, 2013 • 62 min
Horace and Moisés discuss the sudden decline of Bitcoin due to a crackdown in China, from the purpose of Bitcoin’s existence to the nature and concept of a functional currency. What do we hire currency to do?
105: Subsidize This
Dec 14, 2013 • 45 min
Horace unpacks the rumored, denied, and seemingly inevitable arrival of iPhone on China Mobile. Reflecting on smartphone adoption in the US, where does the unconventional logic take us from here?
104: Cinematic Presentations
Dec 14, 2013 • 74 min
Fresh off of back-to-back AirShows, Horace discusses the future of his “cinematographic” presentation style and announces Airshow World Tour. We also look at episode #103’s very prescient prediction of Amazon’s move into delivering their own products.
103: The Amazon Electric Car
Dec 2, 2013 • 93 min
A history of retail as a series of innovations in transportation. How to think about Amazon in a continuum of changing consumer behavior. The source of Amazon’s market power and its hypothetical disruption. What would Amazon do and not do to improve its…
102: The Advertiser’s Dilemma
Dec 2, 2013 • 106 min
A history of Cinema as seen through disruptive lenses. How did the medium evolve from novelty to experimentation to establishment of a predominant business model to concentration of power, regulation and ultimate stagnation. How to measure “performance”…
101: The Genie is Out
Nov 17, 2013 • 87 min
The fascination with highly visible but largely unknown business models continues. How do infomercials work? What is the value of fashion? How can you make money when no creative idea can be protected? Why is Apple building a sapphire manufacturing…
100: Fin du siècle
Nov 8, 2013 • 75 min
The closing of one and the onset of another era. In this hundredth episode of The Critical Path we look back to some of the big questions we asked and ask them again with hindsight and foresight. They are: 1. What happens to entertainment in the era of…
99: Grand Unified Theory
Oct 25, 2013 • 46 min
In the wake of Apple’s final announcement event of the year, Horace and Moisés discuss the cost of free software, the unification of file formats, and the cost/benefit of interoperability.
98: Kicking and Streaming
Oct 16, 2013 • 75 min
Horace and Moisés look beyond Apple’s rumored “watch” project to contemplate the real reasoning behind recent executive acquisitions from the world of high fashion (and what it signals). Is Apple now driving “lifestyle” more forcefully than ever? We…
97: Squealing in Delight
Sep 28, 2013 • 75 min
Horace discusses AirShow NYC and his appearance on Bloomberg Surveillance, alongside blockbuster opening weekend sales of 9 million iPhone 5s/c units. We look ahead to what else Apple may have in store through sustaining and disruptive innovation.
96: P is for Personal
Sep 13, 2013 • 65 min
Relative to Apple’s iPhone 5c/s introduction, we extrapolate the implications of their “most forward-looking phone” by examining product against price point, feature set, and the mysterious possibilities within iPhone that Apple has yet to unlock.
95: Catharsis or Anticlimax?
Sep 6, 2013 • 84 min
A special episode in three parts: 1) Too many variables: The mechanics of the Microsoft Nokia deal 2) Climbing Everest without oxygen: The implications for Microsoft and 3) Post-abyss: The implications for Nokia.
94: The Limits of Executive Power
Sep 1, 2013 • 74 min
We begin with a defense of Ballmer for preserving great things, continue by condemning him for not having destroyed those very same things and end by asking whether anyone could have done the right thing.
93: The Innovator’s Curse
Aug 14, 2013 • 73 min
Markets are expected to do one thing and one thing only: determine price. What happens when they fail? The tragedy and comedy of corporate raiders. Also more on Airshow New York.
92: Microsoft’s Critical Path
Jul 15, 2013 • 41 min
Horace talks about Microsoft’s reorganization from Divisional to Functional, and the implications on their Windows and Mobile OS roadmaps. In doing so, he and Moisés touch briefly on the subject of last episode, Scott Forstall’s ouster from Apple.
91: Apple’s Douglas MacArthur
Jul 2, 2013 • 61 min
Horace expands on last episode’s discussion of organizational structure, as well as his recent appearance on Screen Time with Guy English. We begin speculation on the job iWatch would be hired to do, and preview the relaunch of High Density.
90: The Praetorian Guard
Jun 27, 2013 • 68 min
Horace investigates asymmetric organization structure, and how Apple’s functional vision of careers and jobs differ from most tech companies.
89: Not Bad for a Hobby
Jun 20, 2013 • 78 min
Horace reflects on his analysis of iTunes purchase data, details the just-announced AirShow in Chicago, and touches on fascinating “heat maps” of mobile platform use. We close our week of three shows by talking about “deep focus” and Citizen Kane.
88: Siri in the Driver’s Seat
Jun 18, 2013 • 52 min
In the second part of our WWDC wrapup, we delve into the large-scale shift represented by iOS 7. Siri guides us on the journey from navigation to consumption in our latest AsymCar segment, and Horace examines what iWork for iCloud means.
87: De Gustibus
Jun 18, 2013 • 55 min
In the first part of a post-WWDC “doubleheader”, we look back at AirShow and begin our dive into the keynote, with regard to Apple’s hardcore product (Mac Pro), Mavericks, iTunes Radio, and examining discovery versus playback.
86: Staying Foolish
May 27, 2013 • 86 min
Questions for Tim Cook; a brief look at the grammar of the organization; Xbox One vs. the Spruce Goose and how to avoid knowing too much.
85: Achilles’ Heel
May 22, 2013 • 75 min
An update on Airshow, the state of Apple retail, and beginning dialogue on the open question of what is Google’s greatest weakness
84: Blessed Are the Apps
May 13, 2013 • 74 min
A new theory of device-enabled presentations; the iTunes ARPU (average revenue per user) and its putative erosion; a definition of smart devices, the cycles of computing as a continuum.
83: The Analyst Taxonomy
May 6, 2013 • 82 min
Horace proposes a classification of analysts and their motives and how to think about the value of commentary. We delve into how Apple executives obtain and preserve authority and talk about the disruptive impact of Nintendo. Also a hint about a new…
82: Adding Rows
Apr 29, 2013 • 97 min
The Apple Q1 financial performance review with a short look at the impact of warranties on gross margins. The growth question: why financial analysis cannot offer insights into new product creation, and why makers of things think different. Finally, a new…
81: Continuous Flow
Apr 23, 2013 • 73 min
We cover misleading headlines with respect to the iPhone at Verizon while questioning the ebb and flow of media tone on Apple news. We also dive deeper into Asymcar and how to think about car manufacturing. Finally, how to approach industry analysis…
80: Functional Structure
Apr 16, 2013 • 71 min
A report on Ùll with recollections from Don Metlon and Michael B. Johnson (Dr. Wave): what is a functional organization and why is that a thing of beauty? What do Pixar and Apple have in common? What is Horace’s favorite Pixar movie? Also a new…
79: Make It Rain
Apr 7, 2013 • 80 min
This week we cover a bit of Facebook Home, a bit of YouTuber economics, the best analogy ever heard for Google’s business model, and we kick off Auto industry analysis with the “Five Whys”-the paradoxical questions that nobody seems to be asking about…
78: Facebook Inside
Apr 1, 2013 • 71 min
Youtubers, BlackBerries and what Facebook is planning with their “Home on Android”. Horace and Moisés discuss how co-branding, strategy, and secret deals intertwine, with illustrations from Intel, Sony-Ericsson, and Acura
77: Making Sausages
Mar 24, 2013 • 83 min
The more we deconstruct and take apart iTunes, the more we come to respect how it cannot exist independent of the system it’s a part of. Its scope and scale and its history and future all indicate that there is more to it than just a store and that it…
76: Google vs. Android
Mar 18, 2013 • 73 min
Beginning with the data on activations, we traverse the strategic implications of a shift in Android governance and management. Along the way we also cover Samsung’s marketing strategy, budget, and the Galaxy S4 launch.
75: Bigger Than US Steel
Mar 4, 2013 • 70 min
New data allows us to estimate the components of iTunes with more precision. The entire business is now transacting over $17 billion a year. We take a look at how this insight can be gained and what it means for the future of commercial media.
74: Pixelated
Feb 25, 2013 • 84 min
On the disruption of console video games and the signals sent by Google with their very own Chromebook.
73: The Best Single Invention of Life
Feb 18, 2013 • 78 min
A review of the Apple Store international roll-out process; a preview of an analysis of Apple’s innovation culture as described by Tim Cook; a reflection on the sustainability of growth: personal, institutional and societal.
72: Bingewatch
Feb 6, 2013 • 87 min
We take on the future of TV again, given the developments and experiments hitting the news. Hanging in the air like a big matzah ball is the question of a catalyst to bring long form video to the age of software. Not just digital production and…
71: Max Headroom
Jan 17, 2013 • 66 min
On assessing demand from “supplier checks”; measuring headroom and the race to a billion users; the disruption of computing becoming accepted by PC industry.
70: Harvesting Talent
Jan 11, 2013 • 92 min
Over-serving TVs, bizarre keynotes, iPhone “mini”, cracking the China code, the T-Mobile iPhone and the iPhone operator deal structure.
69: The Concentration of Power
Dec 31, 2012 • 65 min
A discussion on a forthcoming blog post titled “The Last Feature Phone”. Also why stock markets are intractable: the problem with understanding the motivation of buyers and sellers of equities, especially those who act on behalf of others as fund…
68: On Very Large Scale Integrated Companies
Dec 21, 2012 • 76 min
A review of RIM’s latest service pricing surprise; what do maps cost and what are they worth and the way to think about Google as a business.
67: Manufacturing Flying Cars
Dec 14, 2012 • 66 min
On Samsung’s use of Capital, Value Chain Evolution and Below the Surface. Why would you read the balance sheet of a tech company, the difference between R&D and capital spending, how to prevent suppliers becoming competitors and what are the economics of…
66: An Area of Intense Interest
Dec 7, 2012 • 77 min
Horace and Moisés talk about stateside manufacturing, semi-annual product cycles and Tim Cook’s area of intense interest. Also an update on Asymconf.
65: The Shoe Seller’s Dilemma
Nov 28, 2012 • 76 min
An update on Asymconf California, a discussion of engagement and why Android does not get enough of it, why Amazon likes giving away Fires and the causal hypothesis of Samsung’s success in smartphones. That plus announcing a new 5by5 show: High Density.
64: Mano a Mano
Nov 24, 2012 • 69 min
A dialogue with Benedict Evans, mobile analyst. Benedict has observed not only the technology and telecommunications industries as an equities analyst but also worked for an operator and a major media company. We take a look at mobile strategy and what…
63: In Orbit
Nov 15, 2012 • 71 min
Horace and Moisés talk about the consequences of Samsung’s absorption of all Android profits, the limits of iPhone’s addressable market, Apple bear markets and, like an object in orbit, how Apple seems to always be falling but never hits Earth. Finally,…
62: The New Chess Game
Nov 7, 2012 • 83 min
In this episode Horace and Moisés discuss the iPad mini launch weekend (vis-a-vis older iPads and Windows 8), the curious case of choosy late adopters of smartphones in the US and the mystery of Apple’s capex late in the year. Horace spins a yarn about…
61: Testing the App Supernova: An interview with Maxwell Wessel
Nov 5, 2012 • 61 min
Horace interviews Maxwell Wessel, fellow at Clay Christensen’s Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School. We explore the notion of apps as a disruption for multiple industries, especially entertainment.
60: Innovation Anxiety
Oct 25, 2012 • 92 min
Horace and Moisés discuss Apple’s recent announcements, Horace’s trip to Taiwan, and an Asymco special announcement. They also analyze claims that Apple has stopped innovating, and look ahead to where Apple’s “puck” is going.
59: Gut-level Affection, An interview with Jean-Louis Gassée
Oct 15, 2012 • 56 min
Horace talks to Jean-Louis Gassée about the early years of personal computing from 1968 to 1991. Covering his early roles at HP, Exxon Office Systems and his years at Apple, the story takes us back to a time and place that seems so distant and yet so…
58: Going Commando
Oct 11, 2012 • 73 min
Horace and his new regular co-host Moisés Chiullan (5by5’s Screen Time) discuss composing presentations on an iPad while on the road and, at long last, the completion of the Critical Path book. They also examine Apple’s honing technique in design, and how…
57: There Were Too Many Newspapers in New York
Oct 3, 2012 • 56 min
A conversation with Philip Elmer-Dewitt on Apple’s relationship with the media. How did the relationship evolve, is it changing and how is Apple addressing different media channels. Philip brings 30 years of experience to Apple journalism and provides…
56: Strategic Disadvantages: A discussion with James Allworth
Sep 28, 2012 • 68 min
James Allworth, Harvard Business School Forum for Growth and Innovation fellow and co-author of How Will You Measure Your Life joins Horace for an in-depth discussion of the vulnerability of Apple to low-end disruption. Specifically, assuming the iPhone…
55: Gravity Well
Sep 21, 2012 • 73 min
Horace and Moisés discuss the early consumer response to iOS 6 (Maps in particular), and how people appear to greatly prefer native apps to their web app counterparts. They also dig into just how large an opportunity cost Apple is capable of absorbing in…
54: Moving the Ball Forward
Sep 14, 2012 • 84 min
Horace and Moisés discuss this week’s Apple announcements, and implications as to where Apple goes from here, along with the rest of the industry.
53: To Be First and Loudest
Sep 8, 2012 • 72 min
Horace is still out crossing the globe on secret missions, so Moisés Chiullan, host of Screen Time, fills in for Dan. This week, Horace covers his Swipe Conference presentation on the history of personal computing and the shift to new platforms that…
52: The Art of Making Money
Sep 2, 2012 • 69 min
With Horace criss-crossing the globe on various secret missions, Moisés Chiullan, host of Screen Time, fills in for Dan this week. In this episode, Horace follows up on last week’s predictions now that the Apple v. Samsung verdict has been finalized … or…
51: Product Portfolio Theory
Aug 23, 2012 • 66 min
We cover three topics: 1. Safety and air travel: the bases of performance that don’t get credit 2. The unintended consequences of litigation: US v. Microsoft and lessons learned for Apple v. Samsung 3. Product Portfolio theory: is focus impossible for…
50: From Impossible to Inevitable
Aug 15, 2012 • 68 min
The crumbs of data falling off the Samsung v. Apple trial table get some scrutiny. Horace expands on some of the hints from the partial release of information and then continues with a discussion of how market data is collected and whether it should be…
49: Fly me to the Moon
Aug 8, 2012 • 58 min
Horace takes another look at the aviation industry and asks whatever happened to air taxis. Then we go back to the manufacturing miracle of WWII in order to ask what might be the limits to growth. That helps us describe the “top down” opportunity for iOS…
48: Asymmetric Competition
Aug 1, 2012 • 64 min
We turn our attention to the notion of competition. It’s a concept that has many contradictory connotations. What we anticipate as sporting or fair is never the way business or war is conducted. How should you think about this and why does it matter in…
47: Impatient for Growth
Jul 25, 2012 • 66 min
This episode is recorded on the day after Apple’s second quarter earnings release. We go through all the income statement updates and discuss what went wrong (almost everything) and what went right (precious little). We use statements by management about…
46: The Next Victim
Jul 18, 2012 • 57 min
Dan and Horace cover the valuation question regarding Apple and tech in general as seen through investors’ eyes. We also look at who is most vulnerable in the ongoing mobile computing disruption and who are the up-and-coming challengers. Finally, Horace…
45: Management vs. Leadership
Jul 11, 2012 • 71 min
We start with a discussion of RIM’s latest quarterly performance and follow with a description of the inherent tension between managing and leading. To further illustrate this divergence we discuss the conflicting messages from Microsoft relative to the…
44: White Knights and White Nights
Jun 27, 2012 • 71 min
Dan and Horace reflect on the Osbourne effect of Windows Phone 8 on Nokia and how to value a company in distress. In particular, we talk about the potential of a Microsoft acquisition and the conditions needed to make it happen. Horace takes two reader…
43: We’ll take it from here
Jun 20, 2012 • 59 min
Horace and Dan look at Microsoft’s Surface through disruption colored lenses. First, the ongoing evolution of the computing value chain and how it foretold us of Surface. Second, how the economics of Microsoft’s businesses makes Surface compelling. We…
42: Full Circle
Jun 13, 2012 • 80 min
Having just returned from China, Horace gives his impressions which leads to a discussion about industrialization and innovation and how countries “mature” and what is Apple doing in China and the new relationship between Apple and strategic partnerships…
41: Contextual Inquiry
Jun 6, 2012 • 53 min
Dan and Horace talk about the distinction between what Facebook is and what its value is perceived to be. We touch on both the opportunities and the challenges for social media and how these are reflected in the IPO. We note how and why Facebook…
40: Awaiting the Big Bang
May 30, 2012 • 63 min
This week, Horace follows up on his discussion of automobiles and road infrastructure by talking about how road networks were rebuilt in European countries to accommodate cycling. That leads to hints about the challenge of re-building energy…
39: The Locus of Power
May 23, 2012 • 65 min
Dan and Horace take a nostalgic trip through the automotive industry. Horace asks why should a 20 year old car (which he happens to own) be replaced? Why are cars built to be disposed of and why aren’t they meaningfully improved based on new jobs to be…
38: Seeking Enlightenment
May 16, 2012 • 59 min
Horace and Dan wade into Android Economics expanding on the series of posts on Asymco. We also give an update on The Critical Path Kickstarter project.
37: Pathfinder I
May 9, 2012 • 47 min
Horace and Dan talk about how the Critical Path (The First Year) ebook Kickstarter project began, and hint at an upcoming topic: how to analyze the Android market.
36: An Interview with Clayton Christensen
May 2, 2012 • 62 min
Horace interviews his teacher Clay Christensen to discuss his new book, How Will You Measure Your Life. We discuss some of the concepts of learning, jobs to be done and approaches to self-disruption. We also cover what Clay is working on next in his…
35: Joys and Sorrows
Apr 25, 2012 • 67 min
A review of Apple’s performance in the first calendar quarter. Covering the iPhone’s predictability, greater China and international opportunity swamping the US opportunity, the iPad surprise and what mobile means to Apple. Dan and Horace ponder what it…
34: Climax and Anti-climax
Apr 18, 2012 • 81 min
Horace and Dan talk about the recently ended Asymconf 1.0 focusing on the risks taken and rewards obtained. We cover the concept, technical implementation, dynamics and where the show will go from here. Horace describes the fascinating “lost tapes” of…
33: The Futility of Machinations
Apr 11, 2012 • 68 min
Dan and Horace are back to discuss the latest news from Nokia, RIM, HTC and Sony and what they have to do with each other. We touch on the distinction between market and product orientation and meander into the question of what is the value of the…
32: Mockumentary
Apr 4, 2012 • 60 min
Horace talks again with Dan Abrams about film budgeting, Kickstarter, pre-production, location, technology for production, and a surprise announcement. We also discuss the project-oriented nature of movie production vis-a-vis “pipelined” product…
31: Greenlighting
Mar 28, 2012 • 72 min
Horace talks to Mike Schneider, a feature film development executive about what development means in the context of filmmaking. We cover the changes the development process faces, the impact of technology on business models and the future role of…
30: Jetlag
Mar 21, 2012 • 81 min
The thirtieth Critical Path is an extended edition covering a broad sweep of topics: The new iPad and the value of filling the gaps, trip report on the Apple Investor Summit, Conversations with a TV show writer, Tim Cook’s attack on the cash mountain and…
29: The Consequences of Disruption
Mar 14, 2012 • 50 min
We discuss the five characteristics of disruption: Net growth and value creation, inevitability, increased speed of change, necessity for macroeconomic growth, historical consequences. This and much more will form the basis of discussion for Asymconf.
28: False Profit
Mar 7, 2012 • 62 min
Horace interviews writer/producer Dan Abrams. Dan talks us through the budgets and cost structures of independent movies as well as the obstacles to innovation presented by the current industry structure. We talk about some of the new concepts that are…
27: Supernova
Mar 2, 2012 • 63 min
iPads and what we’ll hire them to do for us. We talk about how measurements of the market show an unprecedented growth in mobile computing and how that leads to a new context for computing along axes of non-consumption. That could mean that the devices…
26: Zeitgeist
Feb 22, 2012 • 60 min
Act I: An analysis of the manufacturing cost structure for iPhones Act II: The $10 billion App store economy and how to quantify value of apps per iPhone Act III: Like GM and IBM, rather than seeing it as the exception, Apple may be the rule that defines…
25: Only the freshest Mountain Dew
Feb 17, 2012 • 51 min
We take a look at Mountain Lion as evidence that Apple is cross-pollinating its product lines. We look at the Apple stores as a service brand and Horace tips his hand ever so slightly about Asymconf.
24: Spidey Sense
Feb 5, 2012 • 57 min
We talk about Apple’s fourth quarter, Horace’s trip to California and his visit to Colbert Report. It’s all leading up to a fusion of entertainment and technology to create something never seen before. Something wonderful.
23: Auteur Theory
Jan 26, 2012 • 66 min
Horace talks to Prof. Bill Torgerson from St. John’s University about the writing process and how it survives and/or thrives as a commercial enterprise. We touch on writing for movies and compare the collaborative process of “content creation” vs. the…
22: Asymconf
Jan 18, 2012 • 62 min
Horace announces Asymconf and takes an archaeological expedition into the ancient history of personal computing so we can understand the distant future.
21: Negative Costs
Jan 11, 2012 • 57 min
Continuing our discussion of the creative side of Hollywood accounting, Dan and Horace take on the way income from movies is distributed and why no movies ever make money. The observations sharpen focus on the over-arching influence distribution has on…
20: Below the (belt)line
Jan 4, 2012 • 67 min
Horace and Dan begin a journey through the financial carnival that is Hollywood and talk about the wonders they encounter.
19: The hiring and firing of milkshakes and candy bars
Dec 29, 2011 • 60 min
Horace talks with Bob Moesta, a pioneer of Job To be Done research. We go over the theory and process of understanding what products are really hired to do and ask why this understanding is so hard to come by. In a discussion rich with examples from…
18: Who’s Paying for My Lunch?
Dec 21, 2011 • 57 min
Dan and Horace ponder why some companies are more mysterious than others. We ask whether transparency and simplicity of business models is a sign of strength or weakness. We compare the measurement, creation and capture of value and why we should…
17: Working with Clay
Dec 21, 2011 • 62 min
Horace interviews James Allworth, author, Fellow at the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School, and a former Apple employee. James describes what it’s like working with Clayton Christensen and takes us on a journey through the latest…
16: The Existence Proof
Dec 14, 2011 • 58 min
Horace interviews Dan Benjamin on the motivation, basis of competition and trajectory of the 5by5 network. By studying where podcasting came from and where it’s going we provide proof of existence of disruption in “big media”.
15: The Theater of Disruption
Dec 12, 2011 • 64 min
Horace talks to actor Hoon Lee about the challenges of disrupting the creative arts in general, and theater in particular. By observing the changes in the performing arts we look to how mainstream media will change in response to technological and…
14: The Super-platform ecosystem
Nov 24, 2011 • 58 min
In the first of the Critical Path Interviews, Horace discusses the disruptive potential of cloud computing with Randy Bias. Is the new ecosystem the coupling of devices with backend cloud APIs? How do we calibrate new business models based on tightly…
13: The Innovation Anomalies
Nov 16, 2011 • 56 min
Dan and Horace talk about innovations in emerging countries related to mobile service and how that might foreshadow changes in the developed world. We also discuss why some industries seem to be exempt from disruptive innovation and suggest that there are…
12: Back to the Future
Nov 2, 2011 • 57 min
Dan and Horace talk about the tension between relying on data and using intuition to make strategy decisions. We also apply this dual approach to think through the next evolution of user interaction and the jobs we might hire mobile computers to do for us.
11: The Thermonuclear Option
Oct 26, 2011 • 58 min
Dan and Horace talk about patents and litigation as a means of defending innovation. We go way back to the beginning of the last century and talk how patent wars have played out in the past and how they affected the fortunes and fates of innovators.
10: The Means of Production
Oct 19, 2011 • 56 min
Dan and Horace talk about Apple’s quarter with an eye toward the operational commitments being made. We cover the cost of store openings, data center purchases and machinery used in manufacturing iOS devices. By tracking capital expenses we can get a clue…
9: Getting To Know You
Oct 5, 2011 • 59 min
Dan and Horace talk about some of the more profound implications of “intelligent assistance” in personal devices both in terms of business models and in terms of industry dynamics. Getting assistance is an implied bargain we all make as internet citizens…
8: In Memory of Robert Boyle
Sep 28, 2011 • 47 min
Horace and Dan talk about why CEOs are paid so much and what analysis has come to mean in equities research and the value of cross-pollination between the camps that form around technology companies.
7: Genericized Trademarks
Sep 21, 2011 • 58 min
Horace and Dan look at brand theory and decide it should not be left to the experts. Also, we ask what jobs products are hired to do and tie that to the meaning imparted in the brand and visual imagery associated with it.
6: Black Boxes
Sep 14, 2011 • 62 min
Horace and Dan tackle corporate valuation and hypothesize whether amateur bloggers know more about Apple than professional analysts. We also look at the ancient economic history of Windows and how that still shapes it today.
5: HP’s Innovation Antibodies
Aug 23, 2011 • 57 min
Horace and Ryan discuss HP’s departure from the PC business, the end of the TouchPad, buying your way into innovation and what it takes to compete and survive in the Post PC era.
4: Acquisitions
Aug 16, 2011 • 52 min
Sitting in for Dan while he is on paternity leave, Ryan Irelan speaks with Horace Dediu about Google’s planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility and the potential ramifications for competitors.
3: It’s Good to Be King
Jul 3, 2011 • 57 min
Horace Dediu and Dan Benjamin discuss the power of cash to control supply chains in the post-PC era and how Apple is challenging conventional wisdom about its value to shareholders.
2: Synchronized failure
Jun 17, 2011 • 51 min
Horace Dediu and Dan Benjamin discuss how smartphone pioneers Nokia and RIM falter while the market is booming.
1: The Five Year Plan
Jun 7, 2011 • 56 min
In this inaugural episode, Horace Dediu and Dan Benjamin try to weigh the strategic implications of Apple’s WWDC announcements. We take a look at the impact on RIM, operators, Google and Apple’s flirtation with Twitter.