E-bikes, NUCs, and arcade sticks
Instruction Set 2023/7/14
Welcome back to Multicore. This is Instruction Set for Friday, July 14th.
These words come to you from the lounge of a hip capsule hotel in Kyoto that is implausibly called “The Millennials”. I’m in town to cover the BitSummit indie games show, and it’s been a whole lot busier and hotter than I expected. This week’s other subscriber post will go up this weekend. Stay tuned.
Alex Aniel, a good friend of mine, just launched a new Substack called Complete Global Saturation. Among wearing various games industry hats, Alex literally wrote the book on Resident Evil, and he’ll be covering the series and beyond in further depth on Substack. He’s insightful and well-connected — it’ll be a must-read for anyone interested in Japanese game development.
VanMoof, the Dutch company that makes e-bikes owned by people such as me, is in serious financial trouble and has applied for legal protection to avoid bankruptcy. Its brand stores have all closed down until further notice, and owners are worried that the company’s issues could eventually render the connected bikes unusable.
News of VanMoof’s mounting troubles without an official response from the company has resulted in predictions of doom all week. Members of the popular VanMoofing Facebook group fretted over headlines and urged each other to take protective action like exporting their Bluetooth encryption keys. “If VanMoof becomes unable to cover its server costs, these keys might be lost forever, leaving countless bikes as electronic waste with no means of retrieval”, reasoned one posting from a top contributor.
I really do love my VanMoof X3, but the company’s issues with reliability and customer support have seemed unsustainable for years. I had to get a full replacement last year when the electronics gave out, for example, leaving me without a bike for more than a month. I’m no CEO but making complex, irreparable products that cost thousands of dollars and ship in boxes the size of a grizzly bear seems like a risky business model.
I would not have recommended the X3 to anyone who doesn’t live near a VanMoof brand store, and clearly now I can’t recommend it at all. I just have to hope that mine stays in working order.
It doesn’t sound like we can expect a VR or AR comeback from Google any time soon.
I have decided to step away from my role at Google, where I was Senior Director of Engineering, responsible for OS and Software Platform for AR and XR devices. The recent changes in AR leadership and Google’s unstable commitment and vision have weighed heavily on my decision.
Unstable Commitment: The Google Hardware Story. There’s a book idea.
Apple, meanwhile, is in it for the long run with the Vision Pro headset. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that the company is targeting sales of just 400,000 to 500,000 units in the first year, and customers will only be able to buy one at an Apple Store by appointment.
It’s not every day that new arcade stick technology comes along, but leading parts manufacturer Sanwa is releasing the JLX on August 3rd, the successor to the venerable JLF series. Sanwa claims improved stability and durability, and it’s designed to be easily swappable with existing JLF sticks.
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