Apple is a country club

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The Apple Effect Isn’t Real

I spent the second half 2022 talking to a lot of people about virtual reality — VR developers, tech experts, bloggers, etc. And, inevitably, those conversations would circle around to Apple. Everyone I spoke to assumed that Apple’s VR product was right around the corner and that when it dropped, VR would finally break through. We now know that didn’t happen. The Vision Pro is expected to sell about 400,000 units this year.

But the Vision Pro’s flop era has not dinged the assumption (delusion?) that Apple canonizes new tech trends. Hell, I’ve even fallen for this a few times over the years. Crypto evangelists, at one point, believed the only thing standing in the way of their new currency was Apple Pay integration. And, of course, there’s been chatter about exactly how Apple would embrace generative AI dating all the back to when the first weird DALL-E prompts started hitting timelines. And we now know that the big plan for “Apple Intelligence” is texting disgusting cartoons to your mom.

(Someone help her)

If the mantra for consumer tech in the 2010s was, “move fast and break things,” then, in the 2020s, it would be, “move fast and hope Apple adopts it before you run out of money.” Which is a funny misunderstanding of history, largely based on the extremely incorrect belief that the iPhone invented the mobile web.

The first iPhone launched in 2007. It wasn’t very good and you could only use it with an AT&T contract. If you did get it to actually work, there wasn’t much you could do with it. It was cool, sure. And, yeah, an entire touch-screen phone was truly revolutionary. But I also remember using an iPhone for the first time in 2009 and, after about two hours of trying to load Tumblr on it, I gave up and went back to my Droid 2. Which couldn’t load Tumblr, either, but didn’t cost $500. I’m pretty sure I ended up buying my first iPhone around 2011 or 2012. At least, I assume it was 2011 or 2012 because that was when the mobile web started to actually matter.

I know this because I was working in newsrooms at the time and watched as, first, referral traffic switched from StumbleUpon (rip in peace, king) and Google Search to Facebook which then, about four months later, led to mobile traffic beating out desktop. You think the iPhone 4s did that? In fact, if anything, you could argue that the mobile web as we currently understand it — the great big revolution in computing every AI company thinks they’re repeating now — didn’t actually arrive until Android phones overtook iOS, which happened around 2012-2013. And I’d go so far as to say that the only real innovation Apple has actually really made towards the social, mobile web in any meaningful way is probably the accidental invention of podcasting, which they let languish for years and still don’t know what to do with.

If you press Apple fanboys about their weird revisionist history, they usually pivot to the argument that while iOS’s marketshare has essentially remained flat for a decade, their competitors copy what they do and that trickles down into popular culture from there. Which I’m not even sure is true either. Android had mobile payments three years before Apple, had a smartwatch a year before, a smart speaker a year before, and launched a tablet around the same time as the iPad. We could go on and on here.

And, I should say, I don’t actually think Apple sees themselves as the great innovator their Gen X blogger diehards do. In the 2010s, they shifted comfortably from a visionary tastemaker, at least aesthetically, into something closer to an airport lounge or a country club for consumer technology. They’ll eventually have a version of the new thing you’ve heard about, once they can rebrand it as something uniquely theirs. It’s not VR, it’s “spatial computing,” it’s not AI, it’s “Apple Intelligence”. But they’re not going to shake the boat. They make efficiently-bundled software that’s easy to use (excluding iPadOS) and works well across their nice-looking and easy-to-use devices (excluding the iPad). Which is why Apple Intelligence is not going to be the revolution the AI industry has been hoping for. The same way the Vision Pro wasn’t. The iPhone effect, if it was ever real in the first place, is certainly not real now.

Whether it’s, as New York Mag’s John Herrman argued, because Apple is cautious after Siri failed to live up to the hype or, as venture capitalist Sam Lessin argued, because the company wants to reduce ChatGPT to “commodified” “middleware”. Either way, Apple will not magically anoint a new era of personal computing. Unfortunately for Silicon Valley, technological revolutions only arrive when you create something truly interesting that people want to use in their daily lives. And I just don’t think that sort of thing interests Silicon Valley anymore. Maybe they can ask Siri what they should be building.

Garbage Day’s first-ever West Coast event is finally happening! It’s at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco on July 12th. I, also, fixed the typo that was in the previous version of this poster which was definitely on purpose. The show will also feature some very exciting guests, including visual artist Danielle Baskin, Platformer's Casey Newton, V-Tuber Shindigs, and The Onion's Stan Kelly.

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This Is The TikTok Content That Congress Doesn’t Want You To See Because It’s Too Powerful


Replying to @Daniel McSpaniel III dont tell congress

BeReal Was Acquired By A Game Studio?

Remember BeReal? It’s the app that’s come the closest to earning the title of Yik Yak for Gen Z — at least in the sense that it mattered a lot, inexplicably, after basically appearing out of thin air, only to vanish from pop culture immediately after. Well, it’s being sold to Voodoo Games for half a billion euros.

BeReal reportedly has around 40 million users, but has stagnated since it initially blew up. As for Voodoo, they make a bunch of mobile games I’ve never heard that look like spyware.

(Voodoo Games)

I’m not totally willing to say that this means anything for the broader tech market yet, but it does feel fitting that the self-described “most successful social app launched in nearly a decade” is being sold to a games studio. The age of Roblox is coming, folks. Gen Alpha turns 18 in four years.

X Likes Are Private Now


Sure, whatever. I’m not even going to waste the energy picking apart this decision. Do whatever you want to the app. Who cares.

But I will use this space to say that someone from X has been emailing me. I’ve been emailed about an “application for Creator Subscriptions” that I never actually applied for that was apparently “recently reviewed”. And a rep from X has also been asking me if I want to schedule time to discuss buying ads on the platform.

If anyone working at X thinks I am ever, in a million years, clicking on any link I ever get from that company, they’re out of their minds.

Speaking of X…

No, “Twitter” Is Not “Back”

NOTUS, a nonprofit political journalism project, wrote a piece that’s been getting shared a lot right now — on Threads, ironically enough. It’s titled, “It’s 2024. Elon Musk Rules X. And the Political World Is Still Addicted.” And those are actually all true things.

What I find frustrating is the thesis of the story, which argues that X is still important politically. “Political elite circles are on Twitter once again, only in a weirder fashion than before Elon Musk took over at the end of 2022,” it reads. “The argument is over; the hellsite is back.” And this sentiment has been echoed by a bunch of the aforementioned Threads users that are sharing the piece.

Look, I get why reporters are reticent to get off X. Even with its new algorithmic For You tab, it’s still the only site that you can semi-reliably share real-time information on. But I would also argue that the fact that a massive chunk of yet-to-be-laid-off political journalists using a platform no one else is on is exactly why this election does not feel like it’s even happening.

And why do I think that? Because this is exactly how politics used to feel the last time the internet was this decentralized. It’s 2011 all over again. The cable news shows are talking to no one in waiting rooms and all the political journalists are dumping their reporting onto a site no one is actually looking at.

A YouTuber Was Just Elected To European Parliament


Fidias Panayiotou is a Cypriot YouTuber who makes very MrBeast-ian content. Though he kind of tries anything he sees, danger tourism, pranks, viral stunts, giveaways, whatever. If he sounds familiar to you, it might be because he was the guy who, last year, pissed off everyone in Japan by riding trains around the country without paying.

He was elected to European Parliament as an independent and, per the BBC, was able to grab close to 20% of the vote. He has, reportedly, never voted and has no real plan for what he’s going to do politically because he didn’t think he’d actually get elected. Very cool.

New None Pizza With Left Beef Dropped


A redditor shared this excellent bit of pizza crime to r/midlyinfuriating earlier this month. Users there are calling it “None pizza with left pepperoni,” which, if you don’t get the reference, allow me to introduce you to a real internet classic.

Did you know Garbage Day has a merch store?

P.S. here’s a good Dril post.

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***


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