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LanceLetter : Tech Boom-Chip Bust; Making Money Off Memes; Apple v. Epic

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LanceLetter

May 3 · Issue #228 · View online

Stuff that matters.


Composed while appreciating the May Day sun

Apollo 11 Saturn V Rocket Projected On The Washington Monument (NASA)
Apollo 11 Saturn V Rocket Projected On The Washington Monument (NASA)
So many big numbers and bigger questions
Every tech company (almost, sorry Twitter) killed it this past quarter with eye-popping earnings built mostly on the strength of a quarantined public desperate for connection. In most cases, digital had to do, which is why consumers bought up laptops, tablets, phones, subscriptions to streaming content, and, through Amazon, anything else they could get their hands on.
What happens next, though, is up for some debate.
Have we forever changed as a society, rarely venturing outside, avoiding human contact, ordering not just new gadgets but basic necessities through Amazon? It’s possible. However, I think two factors will push us willingly or otherwise, back to our old ways.
On the willing side, a vaccinated public is going to get the heck out of wherever they’ve been hunkering down. We will travel (maybe not always by air, but people will drive), we will congregate outdoors, and some might even return to the movie theaters. Though, on that last point, when I ran a survey asking if people are ready to return to movie houses, 75% of respondents said, “ Hell, no!” Okay, I added that emphasis. They just said “no” with the “Hell” implied.
The other thing that could push us a bit back to a slightly more analog existence is the impending chip crisis. The pandemic messed up supply chains and normal chip-buying patterns. Tech companies churning out systems for a demanding public bought a lot of basic chips and left car companies and others with few-to-none.
Now the tables have kind of turned as, I guess, silicon manufacturers are trying to supply entry-level chips to those left starving for them, while leaving some companies like Apple, wondering if they’ll have enough silicon to meet still-strong laptop and tablet demand next quarter. One thing this has highlighted is the need to get chip manufacturing back in the U.S.
Put simply, there are no easy answers to what the next 12 months will really look like. We want normalcy, but most agree we have to settle for The New Normal. I just wish someone would tell me what that is.
Memes Part II
Ever wonder what happens to memes when they move on or grow up? In some cases, they become NFTs, or at least they turn the original iconic image of themselves into an NFT (Non-Fungible Token).
Last week, I read about Disaster Girl, now a college senior, selling for $500,000 the image of her grinning sinisterly (as much as a very young girl can) in front of a house fire. My first thought was, “Oh, my God. That little girl is now an adult.”
Memes are so powerful because they are iconic, unchanging images. What’s often forgotten is that these are almost always photos of real people who grow up, change, and generally do things that have nothing to do with that one-split-second moment. Overly Attached Girlfriend Laina Morris is now 30 (also YouTube star). Success Kid Sammy Griner (who was a toddler when he became meme-famous) is a teenager. Time and people march on.
Now we have grown-up memers doing what makes the most sense for them, continuing to cash in on that one, special image. Sammy’s mom confirmed to me on Twitter that they have created one NFT based on the Success Kid image (and plan more). I say more power to them and wonder: Is it time for me to get in on the NFT action? I am, after all, “Toaster Face.”
Goodbye to a Space Hero
Former Astronaut Michael Collins was right there with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the first trip to the moon, but unlike Aldrin and Armstrong, Collins remained in orbit while the other two astronauts descended to the lunar surface.
Now, I don’t think Armstrong or Aldrin went to the moon for the glory, but stop for a minute and think about what Collins did. He literally made the moon landing and return possible while sacrificing his opportunity to touch that dusty surface and be a part of that history.
Obviously, Collins was a part of history and feted along with Aldrin and Armstrong, but I don’t know that he always got his due, at least not until more recently. I particularly enjoyed his late arrival to Twitter where he would share interesting space history tidbits.
Collins was a true American hero (and former National Air and Space Museum Director) who lived a rich and full life. He will be missed and, I hope, honored for many decades to come.
Apple’s Epic Battle
Keep your eyes peeled for fascinating bits of disclosure dropping from the Epic vs. Apple trial, which kicks off today. Not only is this a battle over Apple’s vice-like control of its App Store and the apps within it, but it’s also a chance to see Tim Cook testify.
It’s likely Epic’s lawyers will ask Apple some tough questions about its cut of every bit of app revenue and how this (and the fact that you can’t side-load iOS or iPadOS apps) may equate to a monopoly of the iOS app business.
Regardless of whether you support Fortnite maker epic or Apple, this case should prove to be more exciting than a good match at Wimbledon.
Correction: Last week, I said Tesla CEO Elon Musk was hosting SNL last week. It’s actually May 8. Sorry for the confusion. BTW: Musk spent last week trolling Twitter for skit tips. I suggested he play a Tesla solar panel tile installation guy.
Stay well
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See you soon
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