Kara Swisher

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The Longish Goodbye: Highlights From AllThingsD Staffers Johnson, Del Rey and Cha

Here’s the third installment of posts that the staff has highlighted, as All Things Digital gets ready to close down as the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31.

To be clear, the archives of what we have written since April of 2007 — close to 38,000 posts — will remain in the digital ether for your perusal, and the whole staff of AllThingsD is headed for a new venture. On Jan. 1, The Wall Street Journal will redirect the main page of this site to its own tech coverage.

Taking the bow today will be gaming reporter Eric Johnson, e-commerce ninja Jason Del Rey, and tech reviewer Bonnie Cha.


1. Valve’s Steam Machines Won’t Be “Console Killers,” but Here’s How They Could Shake Up Gaming Anyway

Key lines: “Assuming that they work as promised, Steam Machines will bring the PC-esque option to routinely upgrade to better hardware to the living room, while tapping into Steam’s expansive library of both indie and mainstream games. If anything, Steam Machines might disrupt the PC market — not the console one.”

2. Notes From a n00b at E3: A Sensory Overload of Fun and Games (But Mostly Just Games)

Key lines: “This line at E3 is killing my feet. The guy in front of me says he has not moved in five minutes. ‘Do you think this is an actual line, or a fake one?’ he wearily asks.”


3. If Wearables Are Going to Grow Up, Games Might Point the Way

Key lines: “In tech circles, the buzz around wearable computing, already a multi-billion dollar market, has never been louder. No one wants to miss the boat if wearable apps are going to be as disruptive as apps for smartphones and tablets, an anxiety reflected well at GDC Next in Los Angeles.”

4. Why Some Videogame Characters Get Toys, and Others Don’t

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, games aren’t entirely a hits-driven business. Innumerable games, particularly on mobile and online, do just fine for themselves by attracting and catering to small, passionate audiences. But if you want to see that favorite game character cross over into the real world, maybe in the form of a toy or stuffed animal? Yeah, you’re gonna need a bigger hit.”

5. Don’t Regulate Me, Bro! Social Casino Companies Band Together to “Inform” Lawmakers.

“Free-to-play games are unregulated, and some of the companies that make them would like to keep it that way. For most game developers, governmental regulation is a non-issue. But the studios behind social casino games claim they’re under pressure from foreign policymakers and are going on the offensive.”


1. Emotionless E-Commerce and the Death of the Joy of Gift-Giving

Key lines: “A visit to H&M’s website: Click, click, click. Done. Then, a visit to Amazon.com: Click, click, click. Done. Hardly a thought involved. No stress. Christmas in a neat brown box for the most important woman in my life, delivered to my doorstep in just two days.”

2. Amazon Expanding Its Own Private Label Offering to Supermarket Goods

Key lines: “Amazon already sells its own brand of batteries, keyboards and bedding. And now it looks as though the Seattle-based online retailer is in the process of creating its own line of the kind of products that you’d normally find on supermarket shelves, according to several job listings the company has posted over the last few months.”


3. The Real Reason for Fab’s Layoffs: A Big, Bad Bet on Flash Sales

Key lines: “What [Fab CEO Jason] Goldberg didn’t admit in the public explanation is that the company has had to drastically cut its headcount because it made a giant bet on being able to build a big, sustainable business over the long term around flash sales — the selling of a limited amount of product inventory that’s available only for short periods of time, designed to spur impulse buying.”

4. Does LivingSocial Have an Identity Crisis?

Key lines: “That track record puts LivingSocial’s current management team in a tough spot. If it launches more unique products, it risks more failures and the company will only get so many swings and misses.
But if it continues to follow the playbook of others, the lack of differentiation may eventually catch up to it.”

5. Bitcoin’s Biggest Bet: Andreessen Horowitz Leads $25 Million Investment in Coinbase

Key line: “If you’re a bitcoin doubter, you might want to turn away. The doors to venture funding in bitcoin startups are about to swing wide open.”


1. Twitter Takes On Music Discovery, but Comes Up Short

Key lines: “I’ve been testing Twitter Music on my iPhone 5 for the past week, and it’s a beautifully designed app. It helped me keep abreast of what’s popular, and turned me on to a couple of new artists. The Web version also worked well, and it was nice to be able to navigate through the various sections on a bigger screen. That said, Twitter Music as a whole has limited capabilities.”

2. Tomorrowland Today: Disney MagicBand Unlocks New Guest Experience for Park Goers

Key line: “Walt Disney once said, ‘We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.’ So, I’d imagine he’d be pleased to see that the company he founded is heeding his words and heading down a new path.”

3. Rescuing Water-Damaged Devices: Is There a Better Fix Than Rice?

Key line: “Let’s play a quick game of ‘Jeopardy,’ shall we? Here’s the clue: An iPhone 5, a water bottle and an energetic 2-year-old. If you answered, ‘What is a recipe for disaster?’ you win!”

4. Apps That Curb the Temptation to Text and Drive

Key lines: “Would you ever drive the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour blindfolded? Some daredevils might consider it, but what if the field was filled with obstacles like people and cars? I’m guessing most people’s answer would be a resounding “no,” but that’s pretty much what you’re doing every time you text and drive.”

5. Good News, Germaphobes: Corning Working on Bacteria-Killing Smartphone Screens

Key lines: “Here’s something to think about: Your cellphone — the one that you hold up to your face during phone calls or fervently tap on to text friends — probably contains more bacteria than a public toilet seat. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute to wipe down your screen.”

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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post