图灵访谈之十五：专访Brian X. Chen
人物介绍：Brian X. Chen
iTuring: We see you wrote this book "Always on" under the background that smartphone and online services being prevalent in America. But In China, smartphone does not get that much market share (2011 smart phone penetration rates: 6%)and 3G mobile network seems like still in its infancy, so we may need your explication of "Always on" to help us understand it in such situation.
Brian: I refer to "Always On" in the sense that we are constantly connected to a global Internet through mobile devices we carry around everywhere in our pocket. It's true that the smartphone isn't yet a strong force in China and some other emerging markets, but it will become increasingly clear that countries without smartphones will be at a competitive disadvantage if they aren't always on, and they will embrace these devices as they become more affordable. We're already seeing major changes in pricing — Apple, for instance, has a version of the iPhone that's free in the U.S. market already, and we can expect the company to keep aggressively lowering its prices in countries around the world including China.
iTuring: iPhone has sparked off many discussions, including vertical business model, Why do you choose to write this topic in your book?
Brian: Vertical integration is a fascinating business model. Apple had the same strategy with its original Apple computers, and ultimately it lost the PC war to IBM and Microsoft. What's interesting is that today Apple is the most valuable corporation in the world because of vertical integration. What's changed to make this possible? For business-minded readers, I attempt to answer this question in the book.
iTuring: You mention the diverse attitudes and policies of big companies on privacy including Facebook, Google, and Apple. And It is really startling that Echometrix predicted the dark horse of American Idol with the confidential information from young people. So how should we handle our privacy in a 24/7 online world?
Brian: Our traditional definition of privacy has been tossed out the window. Privacy doesn't exist anymore in a world that's always on: We are plugging in to companies' servers — it's their space, not ours, so in some ways we sacrifice our privacy in exchange for their services. In a 24/7 online world, I think the safest bet is to not store any extremely sensitive information inside phone software, and to use our discretion about what types of apps we can safely use. The lack of privacy is a big tradeoff of being always on, and I urge regulators to form stronger laws regarding online privacy.
iTuring: You used to say this book originated from various reports of iPhone you wrote for Wired. You realized there was enough happening in this area to write a book about it. So From articles to a book, how you made it?
Brian: It was great being a writer at Wired, where it was easy for me to learn and write about the newest phones, apps and small startups making software. After a few years it seemed obvious to me that I had to turn my work into something that lasted longer, and a book was the best way to do it.
iTuring: What have you been doing recently? Still "Alway on"? Would you like to share some new stories?
Brian: I spend most of my day working at The New York Times, and I try my best to unplug and enjoy friends after work. However, because it's a very competitive news publication, I'm still always on and always available, keeping up with e-mails and the stories on the Internet. I'd say this type of work was perfect for a guy like me.