Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every day I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
AMAZON WEB SERVICES APPRECIATION DAY
- Obviously the biggest news of the day was Amazon Web Services going down and taking a substantial chunk of the internet with it for four hours. (They’re back now.)
- AWS is a staggering success story; you could reasonably argue that it’s actually Amazon’s most important business. But so many companies and services rely on it that it ripples across the entire world when it goes down. Real money was lost today.
- Our image system runs on AWS, so we’ve published a bunch of stories without images today when we didn’t think the news could hold. But we’ve also held a bunch of stories that featured images to help tell the story, and other sites around the web have just been hosed entirely.
- Here is the headline and story Casey Newton was born to write.
- Today was also Amazon’s AWSome Day, which is just lol.
AJIT AJIT AJIT
- The net neutrality vote passed two years ago this weekend, and to celebrate, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told a bunch of European mobile execs that net neutrality was “a mistake” at MWC. This isn’t a surprise, since Pai voted against net neutrality and issued a stinging dissent during the vote, but make no mistake: he’s out to dismantle this law.
- One of the stories we held due to AWS being down was Jake Kastrenakes talking to a lot of people on both sides of the net neutrality debate and asking how the law has impacted the access industry. I don’t want to spoil it too much — we’ll run it tomorrow — but one of Pai’s main talking points is that the law costs broadband companies money and hurts investment. But you can look at a lot of numbers to make a lot of arguments.... stay tuned for charts.
- Pai also repeatedly took credit for the wireless carrier price war around universal plans that’s currently ongoing — he drew a direct link between his decision to stop investigating zero-rating schemes and the rush to roll out unlimited plans.
- You can argue this one both ways: zero-rating and unlimited plans are actually opposites, and what wireless carriers would do if they couldn’t offer zero-rating would be... to offer unlimited plans. So it’s a pretty tenuous link.
- On the other hand, a great way for Verizon to compete with T-Mobile’s popular zero-rated plans is to just say that everything is zero-rated, which is... an unlimited plan. So there’s a combination of things going on here. But at the end of the day, zero-rating is bad for the internet and unlimited plans are good for the internet. The real question is how much you think the ends justify the means.
YOUTUBE GOES BIG
- YouTube just launched a new TV service for $35 a month — Ben Popper has the scoop.
- And last night the company announced that people watch a billion hours of YouTube a day.
- Add it up and it becomes pretty clear that YouTube has a massive advantage in getting an OTT TV service off the ground — we’re already instinctively going to YouTube for video anyway, and YouTube Red is terrific. Why would you pay some other service with crashier apps and a worse interface when you could just pay to make YouTube more valuable and have more stuff in the place you’re already looking?
- And just to make it clear that there is exactly one thing I think about: if there’s no net neutrality, do you really want to live in a world where AT&T can exempt DirecTV Now from data caps while throttling YouTube unless Google pays up? Icky.
- So much space news is happening right now — we’ve got a lot more about SpaceX’s plan to send two anonymous rich people on a trip around the moon.
- Including some analysis of how much that might cost.
- And some analysis of how SpaceX can learn from our previous Apollo missions.
- And the fact that SpaceX is now in direct competition with NASA in a way that is actually quite exciting. Here’s Loren Grush, who is heroically filing from vacation at Mardi Gras: “If SpaceX does pull off its Moon mission before NASA does, and for a much lower cost, it’s a very loud message that New Space may be just as capable as Old Space — and maybe even more efficient.”
- And President Trump will reportedly call for a return to human space exploration tonight in his address to Congress, so let’s hope we can all leave this planet sooner rather than later.
- Lightning round is a great name for this section today, because the WSJ reports Apple will ditch Lightning for USB-C on the next iPhone. You fall into two camps here: you believe this and think it’s the best (which it would be), or you think the Journal got mixed up and Apple is just going to ship a USB-C-to-Lightning cable in the box now. Which, frankly, makes way more sense.
- Google isn’t going to make another Chromebook Pixel. Which is super sad, because I loved the Chromebook Pixel. This company is up to something when it comes to Android and Chrome OS, but none of it seems to be particularly clear or executed particularly well right now.
- Here’s the new Roborace car, which looks actually quite terrifying. Nascar might be doing everything it can to regain viewer interest, but I am way more interested in a bunch of self-driving cars blasting around a track as fast as they can.
- Today in Uber just... being Uber: Travis Kalanick was caught on tape being a jerk. By an Uber driver. Sigh.
- There’s a new Raspberry Pi that costs $10 and includes WiFi and Bluetooth! Nerd inventors, go forth an realize your dreams.
- I keep saying I’m going to buy a PS4, but I just keep playing my Xbox One. And now Xbox Game Pass is basically Netflix for console games, so.... yeah.
- I want this turntable.
- Finally, watch this video we did of the new Porsche Design Book One, which is a super-hot riff on the Surface Book: