January 30, 2010
8 startup taboos that Apple breaks
Sent on the go from my Peek
January 29, 2010
"Huge disappointment" after the first days of iPod, iPhone
AT&T said it signed up 146,000 iPhone customers, well below analyst estimates, which ran as high as 500,000 units. Shares of Apple fell more than 6 percent, closing at $134.89, down $8.81 on the day. AT&T’s shares were off less than 1 percent, closing at $39.68, a decline of 35 cents.
AT&T has an exclusive deal with Apple to provide wireless service for the iPhone, the combination digital music player, cellular phone and Internet device. The phone went on sale on June 29, two days before the quarter ended, amid fanfare surpassed only by the release of the final “Harry Potter” book last week.
The number could also reflect the difficulty many iPhone customers reported experiencing when they tried to activate their phones during the first few days, analysts said.
Richard G. Lindner, AT&T’s chief financial officer, described demand for the iPhone as “strong,” and said that iPhone subscribers tend to buy more expensive rate plans than other wireless customers.
Eugene Munster, an Apple analyst with Piper Jaffray, said iPhone sales were largely in line with analysts’ earliest targets, but as public excitement grew so did investor expectations. “Our belief all along has been that there is a surge of demand coming for the iPhone, but it is hard to predict when that surge will hit,” he said.
Mr. Munster compared the iPhone launch to that of the iPod, which was viewed a huge disappointment at the end of its first quarter on the market. Apple sold 4.6 million units during the last quarter of 2004, while Wall Street had expected 8 million. Mr. Munster said the iPhone would probably show a similar gradual ramp up, surging in 2009.
January 28, 2010
Roundup of surprises from the telco and wireless industry today
- Qualcomm down 15% today! They think revenue is going to be way down this year
- Nokia up sharply. They blew away expectations and have increased market share globally this past year -- up from 37 to 39%. While, we've been writing their obituary, they have been killing Mot, LG, Samsung globally. Just not in the US
- AT&T added a ton of Amazon Kindle 2s. 1 MM.
- Verizon added a TON of Tracfone customers -- at least 1MM -- in Q4. Half of all their adds
- iPhone sold 3MM new accounts to AT&T users. But since AT&T's net growth was only about 1MM postpaid subs, this is mostly not net growth
- Verizon has about 3 MM TV subscribers on FiOS and AT&T has about 2 MM. They are becoming big cable companies. In another 2-3 years, that number will be 8-10 MM each at this rate. Considering that Comcast is 30ish and DirecTV is 15ish, that is very significant.
How did people react to iPhone in January 2007?
There has never been a Macworld Expo keynote speech quite like the one Steve Jobs just gave, one that was devoted entirely to a single product. Nothing about Macs, nothing about new iPods, not even a word about the iLife software suite or Mac OS X “Leopard.”
But you can see why; there was enough to show and tell about the iPhone to fill the full 2.5 hours—and to justify the standing ovation the crazed Applephiles gave it.
It’s quite a device.
Now, there will be plenty of people who will pass on the iPhone: people who have no Cingular service where they live (that’s the exclusive carrier); who are disappointed that, as a GSM phone, the cellular Internet service is slow; who find the iPhone too big (though incredibly tiny for what it does, it’s big for a phone); who would prefer typing e-mail with a dedicated thumb keyboard than hunting and pecking with one finger on the iPhone’s on-screen keys; and who consider $500 too much for a phone.
Everyone else, however, will be beating a path to the iPhone’s door. The iPod showed us how breathtaking beauty and effortless simplicity can trump any number of practical quibbles in the real-world marketplace.
This thing will go through the roof, exactly according to Apple’s master plan. Prepare for a replay of the iPod lifecycle: other cellphone companies will rush out phones that match the iPhone’s feature list, but will fail to appreciate the importance of elegant, effortless, magical-feeling software.
Wow. Predictably, the torrent — and I do mean torrent — of iPhone commentary from the citizens of the Web is practically outflooding spam this week. Most of it comes from people whose shirt fronts are practically drenched in drool. Plenty is negative and bitter.
The big news…Apple is finally announcing the iPhone (images are actual device) after 2.5 years in development. Name is confirmed. The device has a large, wide touchscreen with a virtual keyboard and runs OSX. The device has a 3.5 inch touchscreen, 8 GB of storage, a 2 megapixel camera and one button. Also wifi enabled. Cingular is the carrier. This thing will run desktop style applications. Get Google maps via the browser. Check email like the desktop. There are two models. The 4 GB is $499. The 5 GB is $599. They won’t be available until June. Oh. Great.
I’m clearly switching to Cingular. In June.
The stock, per Techcrunch:
Once again, Apple CEO Steve Jobs wowed the crowds like no one else can. In his 9 am keynote at MacWorld in San Francisco this morning, Jobs announced the new iPhone cell phone. From the description in appears to be a game changing device, and the public markets seem to agree. As of the time of this writing, Apple stock is up over 7% for the day. Competitor Research in Motion (Blackberry) is down over 6%, wiping $2 billion dollars in market cap off the table. Palm, maker of the Treo, is also down, nearly 6%.
The iPhone is an impressive, and expensive, device. It comes in 4 GB and 8 GB models and costs $499 and $599, respectively.
January 27, 2010
Today's biggest loser? M$
Sent on the go from my Peek
January 26, 2010
What the hell is Garmin doing?
Why venture capital returns have sucked for "the last decade"
When people say the returns have sucked, they usually mean "the returns for a dollar invested 10 years ago cumulative through now". As you can see, there has been a fallow period for exits.
Investments are down too
But the firms themselves are managing less money or at least they should be, so of course they are investing less.
I think the causality goes in the direction I just laid it out -- fewer exits, so fewer investments, so less money being raised. Not the other way around.
Here are my guesses on the root causes of all this:
1. Marcroeconomy has been basically flat in the US since 2001. Stock market shows this. It's flat for the decade. Few IPOs. And also overall weak corporate earnings over the period. So VC hasn't had anywhere to exit to.
2. Technical regulatory stuff that has made it expensive to go public
3. Many non-expert VCs entered the VC business after 1999, the banner year for being a VC investor. This was driven by limited partners seeking VC vehicles and by private equity firms/hedge funds that entered the category
4. Most people have still been focusing a ton on the Internet. The Internet's returns are probably just lower this last decade vs. the 1990s. Everyone from Yahoo to Google to Amazon to Ebay to all the big Internet players were funded in the 90s, not in the 2000s. Were any big public Internet companies founded in the 2000s? Skype, Vente Privee, Zappos...all acquired, not public. And none are 10B or 100B companies.
January 25, 2010
Verizon and Android's golden quarter (AAPL)
Sent on the go from my Peek
January 22, 2010
Mytether for Palm Pre
Makes your Pre a hotspot for free
You need to put your Pre into developer mode after installing the Mojo SDK (or the Novacom packages)
January 21, 2010
Last night's FR & Y+30 talk: "10 years since 1999"
Here are some predictions for 2010-2020 from the venerable panel last night. Courtesy of the Hotpotato stream.
some - the long video at http://livestream.com/blkny30
Is there any video from the event up on the web?
I'm pissed I missed out. How much mobile was discussed?
Wow what a great way to track the conversation. Really feels like I was there (and not on my couch in Boston). Hot Potato in full effect folks
Sounds like a lot of great conversations went down. Wish I'd been able to make it.
Following that from rainy LA and pretty bummed not to be part of the crowd... please post photos and videos... at least I'll be able to check it out on the red eye...
I just got home and am really po'd that I wasn't allowed into the event. I rsvp'd, but when I arrived they said that if I hadn't paid I couldn't enter-even though they still had empty seats. The General Manager, Andrew Dainoff, was a jerk. He blamed the problem on Meetup and said that if I had gone to the 92Y website, I would have known that my rsvp was meaningless. It wasn't his problem that I spent over an hour to get there and back.
I made it!... To the bar. http://pegshot.com/p/6853aab36 @ Y 30 Future of Tech (92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St - New York, NY) #Y30
Thanks for a really nice evening!
Rent is cheaper in Brooklyn! Williamsburg startups represent!
Incredible event and great discussion here guys. I'm honored to be here and be a part of it.
Reshma has been really aggressive in pursuing the entrepreneurs with her campaign.
Great job panelists, especially NY tech's Super Banker, Bob Lessin.
Sold Out http://pegshot.com/p/2f23aab34 @ Y 30 Future of Tech (92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St - New York, NY) #Y30
Great conversation!!! Thanks guys for organizing.
Fuck yeah we are battle hardened
Come on Foursquare users - we're 29 away from a Swarm.
Will we ever get too old to appreciate free booze? Of course not . . . #Y30
RRE in the house!!! #y30
I am clearly in the minority here, but I don't see TV changing much over the next 5 years. The newspaper tv analogy is pretty thin.
If direct mail and tv still makes more money than online content - does that mean that they dont get it?
"Its inconceivable to me 10yrs from now that today's teens will pay $150/month for cable." - Blodget #y30
"TV is where newspapers were five yrs ago... in denial." Amen #y30
TV industry faces the newspaper-style collapse in t-5 years sez @hblodget #y30
TV industry is now where newspapers were 5 yrs ago - in denial - Henry Blodget @ #y30
Dynamics of advertising are changing, but the value in reaching a large portion of an audience: still there, maybe more valuable as it gets more difficult.
Notes from @y30 7% of Gilt's wknd sales are from iPhones, nyt will be around in 30 yrs & murdoch is nuts to think he can subvert google #y30
What will the future of technology for sustainability look like? #y30
RT @aweissman: Kevin Ryan: 7% of Gilt's weekend transactions come from their iPhone app #y30
Human beings are better at laying out content that appeals to other humans than algorithms. -Blodget #y30 @92YTribeca
Kevin Ryan: 7% of Gilt's weekend transactions come from their iPhone app #y30
I'm enjoying the different perspective. Lots of the same talk in the usual tech circles. Not often we get to hear from Bob Lessin in this audience.
: @foursquare just got plugged on stage. They are a location trailblazer.
7% of gilt transactions are on the iPhone on the weekend. Wow.
#Y30 is interesting but in terms of tech. moving really slowly.
Mobile advertising in the traditional sense is still not interesting, but mobile is beginning to drive transaction value for brands. Kevin: 7% of transactions are on iPhone on gilt.
Kevin Ryan: 14 years later, mobile advertising is still overhyped. #y30
Apparently, sending a coupon to Blodget's phone when you pass a store doesn't agree with him #y30 @92YTribeca
The most successful mobile ad of all time was eBay's iPhone app.
Great event! I had to leave early. How do I check out on Hot Potato?
Is it finally the year of mobile ads (first claimed in '96)? -Blodget #y30 @92YTribeca
At the FR and #Y30 "10 years since 1999" talk. Shout out to nyc startups drop.io bonobos hotpotato peek zenbe
How will gatherings change in 10 years? Virtual support, but physical connecting and beers together will always be important. #y30
Nice, Hot Potato FINALLY brings in #y30 hash tags into discussions. Passivity at it's best.
at work, @bonobos says hello to all there. can someone make a recording of the video available so that i can watch it on @boxee later
Is it me or did Hot Potato suck in a tweet? #y30
Where will my tweet go? #y30
Most bankers we've spoken to in the last 2 months are anticipating 40 or more tech IPOs this year vs 9 in 2009.
Live stream is stuttering/failing for me quite a bit from home :/ (blaming the cable)
2 Wall St guys and 1 tech guy... Not surprised we're talking cap mkts, not tech. Back to tech plz, kthxbai.
January 20, 2010
January 18, 2010
What does "winning" look like for Microsoft in mobile?
Is it too late for MSFT to come back in mobile?
Depends on what you think the goal is. "To kill iPhone" is getting it all wrong.
The goal is just to help drive smartphones into commoditization -- the way that Microsoft was able to make browsers irrelevant by giving out a pretty good browser for a long time -- and for that, it's not too late.
It is definitely possible to make a pretty good mobile OS and app environment, now that Google and Apple have showed them how, and release it for free.
They can avoid irritating device makers by not competing with them.
Nokia still hasn't declared allegiances, nor has Sony Ericsson, and Motorola is miffed, LG is hedging their bets. Samsung isn't really on the Android bandwagon.
Lots of no-name ODMs in China would love a little M$ "marketing support"
Even Qualcomm is likely to be happy hedging its bets across Apple, Android, etc by keeping a healthy competitive environment in the mobile OS world (especially if MS Win 7 is BREW friendly).
Folks may be working with Android eagerly right now, but they were working eagerly with Windows Mobile just a few years ago. "What have you done for me lately" is the MO in that biz.
There will be many Intel based phones in the mid-term future. You can count on Dell and HP to show up for that party.
So if you are Microsoft your goal is eminently achievable, as long as it is:
- make sure to have some market share with some devices
- make sure very little value is locked-in with the mobile OS platform, the way it was with PC OSes, so that devices can just ditch the current generation of OSes in a little while
- keep the door open for a later convergence between PC OSes and mobile OSes (later, not now)
And oh by the way here are some aims that Microsoft SHARES with Google
- keep weakening the carriers by forcing for application openness on the phone deck. Apple, Google and Microsoft want this. Consumers do too. And maybe even carriers benefit from this but they have historically blocked this
January 15, 2010
Your startup's one line pitch: we are X meets Y
Conventional wisdom for quite some time is that you should think of your startup idea as an "X meets Y" formula. Peek is like Blackberry meets Flip. Foursquare is Twitter meets Yelp. Hunch is Wikipedia meets games. Boxee is an EPG for PC/internet video. It's a great shorthand for describing
Someone recommended "Getting to Plan B" recently, and its most useful idea is basically applying this kind of analogy thinking to different parts of your business. You lay out your strategy by analogies and disanalogies -- you do your marketing like Amazon, your operations like Ebay, your revenue like Google...it's going to be open source unlike Microsoft, single-feature unlike Yahoo, intended for grownups unlike Facebook...
In our case, Peek is email-centric and a whole product solution like Blackberry, but a revenue model like MetroPCS and ease of use like Flip and hardware design like Palm and marketing like your typical web 2.0 app. The "strategy by analogy" process is kind of a handy insight from "Plan B", but I suspect it's been at the heart of business thinking since the Harvard Business case studies got started and at the heart of startups since before Netscape set out to be the "Microsoft of the Internet".
Surprisingly enough I often meet entrepreneurs who are so caught up with the nuances of their business and how it blows anyone and everyone away, that they don't have a good one-liner. It's the elevator pitch meets Twitter.
January 11, 2010
Battleground: the home phone
January 10, 2010
OK, Apple. The gauntlet is thrown.
My headline from CES was all about pre-Apple drumroll. Dozens and dozens of tablets, from Wintel (e.g., Lenovo's Skylight) and the Qualcomm mobile-mafia (smartbooks) and even Android-powered. And don't forget the tons and tons of readers.
Has the industry, suitably tipped off, stolen Apple's thunder?
Or, more likely, has the phone-PC-industrial complex missed the key insight again?
For one, zero percent of these devices integrate a hardware-software-cloud app stack at all. They are gadgets that look like no-keyboard-netbooks, but they run the usual OSes and UIs.
For another, they are generalists. They just do what computers do: surf the web, mostly. For all the wide powers of Apple's gadgets, they always enter the scene as a handy little X-machine. Music, phone, TV.
They look like stuff even Peek could churn out given 8-10 months of scramble. Off the shelf software, some novel mechanicals, a little tweaking to the app experiences of existing PC software + and web apps.
So that's my prediction for this week's Apple announcement. If I'm wrong, then here is another prediction: Apple is dead. The iPhone is headed for the commodity trash heap (Android makes that a fait accompli) and if the tablet can't be a next act, then the iPod-iPhone-powered decade we just left will be the epitaph on a great run for Jobs.
PCs - Apple was first, won early, then lost
Laptops - Apple was first, but Wintel's strength in PCs translated over
Handheld computing - Palm was first, but Apple's iPod-iPhone punch was a mid-game winner
The next great era (tablets? TVs?) - TBD
January 9, 2010
Why the Great Depression happened and why we are better off now
Lords of Finance got all kinds of praise last year, so I read it, and it's good. Why did the Great Depression happen? Because the West's collectively poor knowledge of economics around the time screwed up badly. There are these lovely profiles of the guys who ran the US, UK, French, and German central banks, and you get a sense for who these powermasters were (and how they are similar to today's) but also how they can come to be so wise yet dumb/wrong (again, today has these failings too).
What did we do wrong?
1. After WW1, we totally annihilated Germany economically and created insanely huge reparations bills that would keep Germany bankrupt and furious forever. But the US specifically kept the UK and France encumbered under insane war debts. And nobody thought about 'rebuilding Europe'.
2. Everyone desperately clung to the gold standard. Which made it hard to manage the local economies (Germany had inflation problems, UK had deflation, US had a runaway stock market). Folks didn't realize it was better to have a free interest rate policy than to have a straightjacket against inflation.
3. US & all mishandled the 1920s stock market boom and mishandled the European deflation
4. Then the US, UK, Germany all mishandled the post 1929 bank collapses
Who were the villains? Basically, it was the conventional economic wisdom of the era that was wrong.
But Woodrow Wilson was also a naif and bungled the post-WW1 peace. And the ultra-conservative and backwards French leader, Clemenceau, ensured the peace would be really unbalanced.
The heroes? Maynard Keynes basically saw it all first and best, and if only we had listened to him... After WW2, we basically built the system of his dreams
It certainly an unusual confluence of disasters -- currency crisis, bank runs, stock bubble, and economic downturn all at once.
Are we better off now? Well we learned all kinds of Keynesian lessons and the energetic leaders of the 1990s and 2000s actually confronted many of these one off: the East Asian/Russian panic of 1998, the Mexico currency crisis of 1994, the stock bubble burst of 2000, the bank crisis of 2009. Rubin, Summers, Greenspan, Bernanke, Geithner have basically saved the day over the last 2 decades.
Though then, as now, these leaders are part of the run up to the problems, and often the conventional wisdom is the biggest weakness.
If this topic is at all interesting, you really have to read Keynes himself (free on Kindle) and possibly the more political book about the 1919 peace, and even Galbraith's book about the 1929 crash and aftermath.
January 8, 2010
3D = no Napsterization of Hollywood
Movie files are big, which has prevented the death-by-filesharing of Hollywood so far.But the Normandy-style launch of 3D into video via Avatar, all these CES 3D tv announcements, and ESPN 3D (to name a few) has a really big implication for the industry: it ain't going to die like music. 3D video is going to be even more expensive to make, bigger file format to download, and more rich to watch on your TV. Therefore: big budget Hollywood movies and TV live to play another round.
Sent on the go from my Peek
January 6, 2010
Next next Windows Mobile
Lot of Android buzz right now. But recall these glory days (from Wikipedia):Windows Mobile's share of the smartphone market has been in decline year-on-year. Gartner research data showed that while the total smartphone industry grew 27% between 2008 and 2009, Windows Mobile's share of the smartphone market fell 2.7% in that same period.
In 2004, Windows Mobile accounted for 23% of worldwide smartphone sales. By 2008, its share had dropped to 14%. Microsoft licensed Windows Mobile to four out of the world's five largest mobile phone manufacturers, with Nokia being the exception. Although Microsoft apparently has 50 handset partners, 80% of the 50 million Windows Mobile devices made have been built by one contract manufacturing group, HTC, which makes handsets for several major companies under their brands, as well as under its own brand. In February 2009 Microsoft signed a deal with the third largest mobile phone maker, LG Electronics, to license Windows Mobile on 50 upcoming LG smartphone models. But in September, 2009, Palm, Inc. announced it would drop Windows Mobile from its smartphone line-up. The Samsung Omnia Pro B7330 runs the Windows Mobile operating system. An October 2009 report in DigiTimes said that Acer will shift its focus from Windows Mobile to Google Android. End of quote.
January 5, 2010
Who goes to CES
The Consumer Electronics Show in the first week of every January is the biggest convention in the US (which is why it is always in Vegas -- no other city can hold it).
CES is by far the biggest tech show of the year. Mobile industry definitely shows up in force, anyone in CE is definitely there (think any product in a Best Buy), and interestingly tons of component and no-name brands from Asia are there. You can see tons of iPod clones and digital cameras and stuff.
Absolute legions of press show up because there is the "here is the trend" story. And a surprisingly large number of regional distributors and "man on the street" types that work somewhere in the industry (have a retail store, do installations of home theaters). Of course all the big time "buyers" are there too -- the retailers, the wireless carriers, organizations that do large-scale purchasing (I would suspect some hotel chains TV buyers are hanging out there).Car guys and automotive tech takes a ton of room.
The purpose for the established companies is basically: get PR by announcing cool stuff (e.g., biggest LCD TV race every year); host meetings with partners (like retailers or suppliers) while they are in town. One time I saw the Wal-Mart buyer roll into the Panasonic pavilion -- you have never seen so many Japanese suits instantly focus on spot.
For the no name guys, I suspect there is the aim of having some promising distributor or white-label retailer drift by. The most astonishing thing about this wild east group of pavilions is usually how similar everything is.
The most telling thing about what is happening in tech is how many PC guys are there, how many media/content folks are hosting parties, and even the high profile of wireless (that's why Nexus One announced today). One thing to watch for is how big a profile the Googles and Yahoos have this year -- as far as pavilions and dancing girls, I mean.
One last thing: the Apple Macworld that happens RIGHT after CES is just about the most brilliant Apple thing of all. It ALWAYS gets huge solo airtime. I remember the year when all they had was the iPod Shuffle and the Mac Mini, and that still had people gaga. This year, they have one better.
January 4, 2010
The new Google phone is the end of the smartphone wars
The new Google phone is the end of the smartphone wars
Everyone has seen the new Google phone by now and it's a good phone. What's new is that it's really thin and a nice looking. Maybe there is a faster processor or more pixels on the screen -- we'll find that out in the next couple of days, but nobody cares about that part. With this last improvement to the physical form, it has closed the gap. The Droid Clone Wars are over -- they have made an iPhone Clone.
The UI is good, the interface is touchy and slick, everything is fast, they have a really big app universe that's expanding, they have bluetooth and gps and wifi and so forth. They have it all. Camera, video, maps, etc etc.
They even sell Android phones in every variation and combination you could want -- Verizon or Sprint or Tmobile, contract or unlocked, with keyboard or all touch.
But the main thing they have not made is something important that the iPhone doesn't have.
In fact, 2010's new iPhone is really no different than 2009's. At least 2009's was better than the previous one -- had 3G and had apps. My guess is that 2011's will be even less "different" on this kind of scale. Faster chip? 4G radio? It's just not much different. Camera on both faces for video phone calls? Stretching credulity.
This kind of thing happens in biological evolution too. See the Cambrian Explosion. Life forms like products go through periods of massive change, and then stabilize on certain bodyplans and compete around the marginal features. We're in for that now with smartphones.
There are probably going to be a bunch more Microsoft, Nokia, RIMM, and other devices that are sexy and lovely in many of the same ways as the Nexus One. And the Nexus One may not even sell many units. But it's the end of iPhone's "we are better" era.
So what next?
Mobile internet devices that aren't phones, maybe?
Smartbooks -- little laptops powered by cell phone CPUs?
Netbooks? (Netbooks without the keyboards?)
Or maybe Apple knew this day would come as soon as it did. And the next thing is tablets.
January 3, 2010
Computers in the world after keyboards
Why does a computer need a keyboard anyway?
What if most of the things you did on it didn't require typing?
Let's say you already had a device or two around the house where you wrote your papers and business documents and emails -- things that require more than 15 words or 140 characters of typing.
Let's say there are other things you want to do on the computer -- like point at stuff, scroll, click/tap, drag.
And what if those things are way more important in 2010 than in 2000 or 1990.
That means you are spending more time watching your computer screen, reading it, playing with your computer, surfing etc.
So you can have a computer with no keyboard.
And isn't a keyboard an ugly horrible thing? Clunky, really very complicated with all those buttons, and it can even be replaced moderately well by on-screen keyboards. So when typing doesn't matter...why not ditch the keyboard?
I often wish my laptop didn't have a keyboard. I always wish desktops didn't have them -- they ruin your desk.
Certainly the game machines like Wii and Xbox do just fine without keyboards.
They keyboard is the most shocking dogma of the PC era to persist. Some computing uses definitely require a keyboard, but many don't. And if you just redid the UIs... you would even less often need one.
And that's all a tablet is anyway. A nice video, web, reading, remote control gadget.
But I still agree with Daring Fireball that the new generation of tablets will "replace" much of what we use laptops for.
How Fiction Works, and how literary criticism ought to go
I read this excellent book this past week and now I can say I genuinely appreciate literary criticism, and I think I'll enjoy all the fiction I read more in the future.
The only other writer who I have ever read that so successfully modeled the critic's role in analysis of texts and objects was Roland Barthes. There are lots of great critics of course, but they have often been too academic for me to follow. I've read a lot of art criticism and I can follow some of that stuff. But when Lacanian analysis or theory of deconstruction is being debated in philosophy, I never understand it. I just don't know literary criticism or novels, so all the "theory of" has always made little sense. I didn't have the rooting in what the core debates were. Now I kind of do.
But what a great book -- how narration works, characters, detail, the realism of fiction.