Back in February of 2008, the CouchGuy introduced you to The Average family and their Apple Home just after Christmas of 2009. I thought of it as a conservatively speculative look at what was (to me) obviously possible and practical based on what we had then.
Well, I somewhat overestimated the speed of adoption of expanding technologies, and underestimated the ability of the industry to drag its feet for no good reason whatsoever.
Despite this, the original visit with the Average family is the most popular post ever on this blog, so letâs take a look at my predictions to see how I did. Later, maybe we will take another look at the Averages, down the road a few years.
Joe has already plugged his iPhone into a cradle in his office, so he picks up a 16GB iPod Touch from a cradle on the table near his chair. This used to be Joe Jrâs iPod before he got his upgrade to a new 64GB model for Christmas last week. Now, it is the family room Apple TV remote, running Appleâs VirtualRemote software.
Well, I got this one, at least, dead on. The current 64GB iPod Touch is none too big, considering the massive number of applications available for the platform. (My own 32GB model, once top of the line, is feeling a bit cramped these days.) The Remote software is among my favorite apps, because it gives perfect control over my Apple TV. This works even better under the new Apple TV 3 software.
Joeâs modest instant-on 56â plasma TV set … is connected to an Apple TV Media Server Edition he purchased at the same time, which in turn outputs to the family roomâs Dolby 5.1 wireless stereo sound system.
You can get a 56â plasma, but no one would consider this âmodestâ. The CouchGuy just replaced his recently-deceased 27â with a only-slightly-less modest 32â model. The best change is 3 HDMI ports instead of one, however, allowing me to at last connect my Sony DVD player without unplugging the Apple TV.
Do I really need a DVD player? Well, yes and no. These days, you can get a standard DVD player for a song, and I bought mine because it uprates normal DVDs to fill the screen of my HDTV. But I havenât bought a new DVD in a long time — digital downloads via Apple TV is how the CouchGuy rolls now.
The new Apple TV 3 software is fine, with a much more attractive interface. But iTunes is still a poor way to organize a large video library, and the current Apple TV model — while still a great way to get your iTunes-based video to your HDTV screen — isnât robust enough to be a real media server.
The new, mightier Mac Mini would be a great basis for an Apple TV Media Server Edition like the one discussed.Appleâs currently bundling it with top-of-the-line server software for under $1000. Give us a more media-oriented version of that and weâll be right where I predicted.
The only other ornament on the wall is the iSight 2 wireless camera mounted above the plasma screen, which the family uses for Apple TV iChats with Joeâs mother and father in Florida on Sunday evenings. Heâll have to show them the videos from Joe Jr.âs Senior Prom this weekend — if they havenât already checked them out on the familyâs .Mac video gallery account.
The current Apple TV is maybe a bit processor-deprived to drive live video chat on your HDTV screen, but easy video chat seems like a killer app that should have been bigger than it is. Meanwhile, .Mac is now MobileMe — and still not living up to the potential for such a centralized Apple-driven service. Appleâs massive new data center must mean something big is planned that will likely have MobileMe at the center of it. But not yet…
The red alert star indicates a completed download, and this turns out to be the rental copy of Cloverfield II that Joe pre-ordered a few months ago. Heâd forgotten it was due for simultaneous Blu-Ray and download release this week. OK, theyâd have something cool to watch tonight — or they might save that for the weekend. Joe knew he would probably end up buying the movie, as much as he had enjoyed the original, but the first rental price would automatically be deducted from his purchase price later if he decided to keep it.
The only thing holding up simultaneous releases on DVD and digital download is stupidity and greed on the part of the studios. If anything, we are moving backwards, with Big Media trying to prevent NetFlix from making DVDs available to subscribers until well ater the sales release. Big Media is just driving piracy by trying to force tiered releases, then trying to stop the pirates that they, themselves are encouraging by intimidating their customer base. It wonât wash in the long run, but in the short run this foolishness is holding the direct download market back far more than any rational person would have guessed in February 2008.
He glances at the Blu-Ray disk slot on the Apple TV Media Server and again wonders why he bothered to buy the unit with that option. It had been useful when he first got it, since most Blu-Ray disks now came with Apple TV compatible versions of the films right on the disk. He moved over some of his Blu-Ray purchases that way, and could use the slot to play the older disks without this feature.
I stand by this one. The price of Blu-Ray has dropped below $100 for some of the Black Friday sales, but I still believe Blu-Ray is a dead issue. Apple iTunes Extras make DVDs even more irrelevant for the future.
All of his old non-HD movies he has long since moved over to the Apple TV Media Serverâs drives using Flip4Mac’s Drive-In 2 software to archive them. With the old Digital Millennium Copyright Act finally modified earlier this year, it was perfectly legal to keep archive copies of his old DVDs on the server hard drive where they were available with a single touch on his remote.
Talk about stupidity… The decision of the U.S. District Court in Real Networks, Inc. v. DVD Copy Control Association, Inc. killed Drive-In along with RealDVD — for now. It looks like it may take a consumer revolt and the revocation of the insanity of the DMCA to get us to the place where we can store most of our video content, legally, in convenient mass-storage digital format.
The yellow alert star indicates a new podcast of special interest had been detected. Sure enough, on the TwiT.tv channel the new episode of MacBreak Video Weekly was out a day early! Heâd look at that later from the bedroom while Kris was getting ready for bed.
Video podcasting continues to grow and Apple TV makes it easy to enjoy this great content on your big-screen HDTV. Others have caught on to this and many top podcast creators (TWIT.tv, Revision 3, etc,) are available through a variety of set-top boxes and internet-connected TV sets.
While he is thinking of it, Joe pulls up the plug-in menu for the EyeTV ATV Edition USB dongle attached to his Apple TV and selects to record the new episode of American Gladiators coming on later that evening.
We canât do this through Apple TV yet, but the Eye TV iPhone app allows me to set up my recordings from my iPod Touch, which is almost as easy.
There is another feature he is using less often, he mused. Most of the TV shows he and Kris really cared about — Lost, Monk, Star Trek: The Academy Years and Three and a Half Men — they had purchased iTunes Season Passes for when several networks started offering bonus episodes for pre-ordering. (…) Heck, two of their favorite shows, CSI: Atlanta and Joss Whedonâs Luna City, are iTunes Exclusives, produced especially for Apple and not available anywhere else until the once-yearly Blu-Ray DVD collections come out.
For most network and major cable channel shows, it is quite possible to use Apple TV and iTunes season passes to substitute for cable. No major iTunes exclusive TV series yet, but wait for it. (Joss Whedon… call Steve Jobs. You guys need each other.)
Joe thinks about punching up the Games menu on the Apple TV to see if anyone out there is up for a quick game of Worldwide Naval Battle.
Again, the current Apple TV model is a little processor-light for this, perhaps. It is obvious that gaming is a huge success on the Apple mobile platform, though. It still could be big on Apple TV. Not yet, though…
Instead, he idly checks the drive space available to him on the Apple TV Media Server and is surprised to find he is over the halfway mark on the 2TB built-in drive. Maybe it is time to buy an add-on drive. He could stack a 4TB NewerTech MiniStack ATV right behind the Media Server. (…) Of course, heâd have to add additional drives to the TimeCapsule 2 backup system in his office, but he needs to do that anyway. (…) Adding another 8 to 10 terabyte external drive to the TimeCapsule 2 is no big deal.
Drive size and backup is still a problem for people who manage huge hard-drive-based video libraries. The Drobo is a popular solution right now, and more mega-drive arrays will appear with easy-to-use setups for home video enthusiasts.
Joe gets up and wanders into his office, touching his wireless keyboard to wake up his 30â iMac Pro and the matching 30â Cinema Display alongside it. (…) Kris had frowned a bit when he purchased the extra Cinema Display for the office, but she had to admit it was convenient for watching movies and other video streamed from the Apple TV Media Server on one screen while working on the iMacâs built-in display.
I got really close with this one, thanks to the new 27â iMac. What a powerhouse! I am amazed, though, that it isnât set up to handle HDMI input directly and that it doesn;t have an option for a built-in digital tuner. With a little more media-friendly approach, that iMac might have been where my new 32â Magnavox HDTV set is today. Perhaps by next year…
Joe finds he is reluctant to go anywhere without his iPhone these days. The 3G connection brings him the web, video, and books anywhere he goes, although he finds he can rely on quicker (and free) wi-fi access in most places — at home, at the office, and in most restaurants and larger businesses he visits. Last night while at the mall food court waiting for Kris to finish shopping, his iPhone offered him a special price on the download version of the new Tom Clancy novel. He purchased it right then and there, courtesy of the mallâs Barnes and Noble bookstore who co-sponsors the free wi-fi connection there. He read the first couple of chapters while sipping the coffee he had also ordered from his iPhone, which was brought over to his table by a smiling barista from the nearby Starbucks. Joe thinks of his iPhone as an extension of his home computer system, and he can get anything he wants from it with a touch or two, including any movie in his Apple TV Media Server library.
In the last two years, our iPhones and iPod Touches have become the real growth platform for Apple. Where Apple has allowed the living room media market to languish, their hold on the mobile market has expanded at an explosive pace. (And Barnes and Nobleâs wireless internet access is now free, so… a win there!)
Kris relies on her MacTablet much as Joe does his iPhone — it is her daily connection to her home and her office. As a real estate agent, she finds the MacTablet perfect for displaying listings to clients on the fly and keeping her busy schedule straight. It syncs directly and automatically with the local multi-listings service, keeping new local real estate listings at her fingertips as they are added throughout the day. It is also the perfect media player and electronic book viewer. — much better for the latter purpose than the smaller iPhone screen.
The much-awaited Apple Tablet is, alas, still much-awaited. Maybe by next year they will be almost as ubiquitous as the iPhone. Or maybe not.
Right now, Joe Jr. is in his room watching music videos on the new iMac Media Edition he got the previous Christmas. The 24â iMac Media Edition has a built-in syncing dock for his new 64GB iPod Touch, and a built-in TV tuner so that Joe Jr. needs no other TV in his room. He uses either the iPod Touch or his Apple Remote and Front Row to watch TV and movies and listen to music in his room, as served by the Apple TV Media Server or resident on his iMacâs hard drive in his own copy of iTunes.
As I noted earlier, weâre still awaiting a true media edition iMac. iTunes is better at sharing among multiple installs, so it is common for various members of the family to have their own media collections — and to share them.
So where will the Average family and their Apple Home be in another couple of years? Iâll tackle that in my next post…——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Dear NBC/Universal: I’m not dead yet… STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 9/9/2009 2:23:00 AM ——- BODY: For a number of years, the ol’ CouchGuy has been a frequent participant in an online survey group run by NBC/Universal. I get several emails a month with detailed surveys about my likes and dislikes as relates to NBC/Universal’s many shows and cable channels. I’ve always enjoyed doing these, and having the feeling that I might in some small way be helping to make TV a little better, (Yay, Monk and Psych! Boo, celebrity reality shows and changing “Sci-Fi” to the even more execrable “SyFy”.)
When it comes to the Apple Music Event coming up on Wednesday, September 9, it is a lot of fun to speculate on what weâd like to see announced. When it gets down to cases, however, what we can really expect to get is probably a lot more limited. I suppose as Apple fans weâre a bit spoiled. We canât expect every announcement to be as exciting as the first iMac, the first iPod, the first iPhone, and the first iPod Touch. Or can we?
A lot of people are counseling to limit our expectations. The more soberly inclined among Apple pundits seems to agree on almost nothing except that this event is likely to be an iPod refresh for the most part. Honestly, that is what seems to be called for right now — something just new enough to kick over iPod sales for another good Christmas season.
Still, Apple is known for bringing around a surprise or two when you least expect it. Letâs take a sober look at what we can expect to see on Wednesday… and then spice up each prediction with a nice bit of a slightly more imaginative nature that could add a really magical Apple sparkle to the occasion.
The iPod line
There can be no doubt weâre in for some refresh here. After all, the event invitations feature a classic iPod silhouette motif and the line âItâs only rock and roll, but we like it!â The iPod line is the product series that brings the music, and we can be virtually certain Apple will want to be offering some reasons for us to trade up over the fall and the holiday season. This is the traditional time for an iPod-centered event, so what can we reasonably expect to see?
The new shuffle is about as tiny as it can get, so unless Appleâs signed up with the American College of Surgeons to offer a dime-sized implant that goes under the skin right behind your ear and eliminates the need for ear buds, I think we can assume that the miniaturization trend is over.
It might be reasonable to expect a cosmetic change, but I wonder if colors really matter when the item in question is almost too small to see at twenty paces already. More likely would be a drop in price on the existing model to about $49, and/or a model with about twice the capacity for the current price of $79.
If I were feeling a bit more fanciful, however, Iâd look for Apple to move back to a larger design more akin to the Generation 2 clipback model, restoring the buttons for those who like them but including VoiceOver and remote-bearing earbuds as exist on the Shuffle 3G. Such a model would probably have more capacity for the money.
Want me to go way out on a limb? Iâd love to see a shuffle with a postage-stamp-sized screen that displayed either album art or a visualizer-like light show, but I fear thatâs a bit beyond practicality. It would be interesting to see a 2G-size shuffle that snapped into a variety of fashion accessory mounts, though — a bracelet, necklace, belt buckle or pin. This would offer a lot of third party accessory opportunities and make wearing a shuffle even more of a fashion statement. (This makes keeping a variety of colors available a must .)
The iPod Nano seems to change shape almost every year, and I doubt this year will be an exception. It could afford to get a bit bigger and feature a larger screen and a built-in camera. (The prudent man doesnât expect video here… but the more freethinking CouchGuy might not be surprised.). A capacity expansion is practically a given if a camera is installed.
Is the iPod Classic going to stay in the line? I think so, though it is possible Apple could kill it off. Even the conservatives among us seem to be expecting it to hold on one more year, simply because there are still a lot of people who want to carry all their music and still have room to use their iPod as a portable hard drive. The realistic expectation would be no capacity change at all but a slightly lower price. Slightly less realistic but sure to be popular would be sticking a camera on this baby, too.
Getting daring with the Classic leads me to think of a combination of the Classicâs capacity with an iPod Touchâs interface — a bulkier item Iâd be tempted to call the SuperTouch. Such a device would be a power hog, having to handle both a touchscreen and a hard drive. But oh, man… what a device for the true on-the-go video fiend!
The iPod Touch is an absolute must for an upgrade. The camera is almost a dead certainty, and it isnât that much more outrageous to figure it will be take both stills and video. Lower prices for higher capacity is very likely. I would further expect them to keep the current more-limited iPod Touch at the bottom of the line at a price that makes it practically irresistible, as they did with the iPhone upgrade. Anything that makes the potential app market larger is likely to be seen as a Very Good Thing by Apple, and a really cheap iPod Touch would do that nicely.
A bit less likely but still not too far out would be wireless sync with iTunes via Wi-Fi. That might wait, however, until they can do it with both the iPhone and the iPod Touch at once. Uh… I wonder — could that be added to the existing new iPhone with just a software upgrade? Hmm…
If it were up to me, Iâd push a little farther and make the new iPod Touch a feature match for the iPhone — just without the phone. Camera with video, microphone, compass, voice control, Bluetooth — the works. Why the heck not? Might it cannibalize some iPhone sales? Yes, and why should Apple care? They no longer have a direct financial interest in selling you cellular contracts, and theyâre rather hacked off at AT&T anyway. An iPod Touch that was a feature-for-feature match for the iPhone without the cellular communication capability makes sense for Apple today.
In truth, I expect down the line the differentiation between the iPod Touch and the iPhone to go away entirely. Build and sell one unit, into which you can slide a sim card — or not — as you choose. No sim card — it works just fine on Wi-Fi — and perhaps on WiMax. Thatâs most likely a year or two away, though.
Any substantial iPhone upgrade at this time — well, thatâs a prediction too far out for even this CouchGuy to contemplate. But I would expect a software update to accommodate a few things that could get added to the iPod Touch, like the wireless sync capability I mentioned earlier.
An iTunes upgrade is to be expected. Conservatively, we can probably look forward to some social networking features — perhaps tied in with existing social networks like Facebook and Twitter and perhaps featuring Apple-branded social network offerings tied to MobileMe as well. Most of us would expect a few performance enhancements and some new media deals to announce.
The new digital media format codenamed âCocktailâ seems like a good bet for introduction under iTunes 9. The more restrained prediction has this as simply a way to package a set of songs with album art, lyrics, liner notes, and music videos in one downloadable product. Some of us, myself included, think this might be the first use of the format, but that it is designed to be much more — an ambitious attempt to establish a true multimedia package format that would be perfect down the line for all sorts of things, including multimedia textbooks.
What Iâd most like to see is a complete revamping of iTunes as a media organizer. Frankly, it is a mess right now, trying to stretch metadata and sorting capabilities originally intended for music only to fit a much broader range of media. iTunes is slow and bloated and not very well designed to handle media stored on multiple drives, networked storage, or âcloudâ backup. It needs to support more formats, organize files better, and run a lot more smoothly than it does. Iâm really hoping some of this will be addressed in iTunes 9, but realistically I think the less-important social networking and album format âupgradesâ are a lot more likely to happen.
Really out-there predictions for DVD ripping capabilities arenât likely in the face of what has happened to RealNetworksâ RealDVD software in court recently. If anyone could have a chance of taking on the dimwitted media giants in this arena, it would be Apple — but I donât think they are ready to do that yet.
As for The Beatles in the iTunes Music Store… it is well overdue and would be a great way to kick off Cocktail, but Iâm not feeling it. I think they are going to miss the boat here. Theyâd be better off to do it now and sell digital downloads of all the new remastered collections in Cocktail format alongside the physical-media versions. But I think they are going to fiddle around on this awhile longer, which will result in a lot of lost sales when all that new Beatles material hits the torrent venues about a half-hour after the CDs come out. Pity. (Iâd love to be wrong about this. Really, I would.)
You know the olâ CouchGuy really wants to see something happen here, but the conservative and realistic predictor says it isnât in the cards. That said, Iâll go out on the ledge just a little way and say I do expect something to be said about the Apple TV on Wednesday. New hardware would be a stretch, but I would certainly think it reasonable to expect Cocktail support for the existing hardware.
If it were mine to do, though, Iâd at least go for a revamp of the Apple TV software entirely with a Snow Leopard core and Quicktime X powered display capabilities. Using this opportunity to fix the sometimes sputtery iTunes syncing would be nice, too.
People predicting new hardware with DVR features or a subscription model on TV shows — well, the CouchGuy likes your spirit, but not your chances. Not at this event, anyway. A revamped Mac Mini with a hardcore Media Center orientation is maybe slightly more likely. Maybe.
Macintosh - Desktop/Laptop
This is the wrong show for this. I canât imagine a scenario with a big Mac rollout for the stage on September 9. I would not be surprised at some moderate upgrades announced quietly soon after this event (especially to the iMac), but it wonât be the focus of this event. As I said, Iâd give a very tentative maybe to a Media Center Mini, but only as the most liberal of expectations.
The majority opinion is that we wonât see an iPad tablet product until early to mid 2010. If you are betting the rent money, this is sure the way to bet. If you have some cash you can afford to lose, though, there might be some outside chance that Apple will make some sort of commitment to this, if just to admit the project is in the works and to turn loose of some iPhone app-making tools and expansions to support it for the developer crowd to play with. The CouchGuy can, when heâs having one of those nice dreams, foresee a lovely surprise with an iPad that is essentially a big iPod Touch announced now (most likely for shipment after Jan 1, 2010) with a hint at a full OS X touchscreen Mac coming later. I havenât quite given up hope that the iPad is ready now. It sure would make for a nice holiday sales season for Apple. But I wonât bet the farm.
And who, exactly, is going to be leading this clambake on Wednesday? The conservative money is on Phil Schiller as master of ceremonies because if the conservative view of what is going to be announced is correct, it is just not a big enough event to bother trotting out Steve for his big return to the spotlight. Personally, though, Iâll be surprised if there isnât just enough magic happening to get Steve on stage for at least a wave, a smile and a word or two. A full-fledged Steve Show? Only if one or more of the long shots come in. A Beatles appearance, an Apple TV relaunch with a TV show subscription service, or an iPad reveal would bring Steve onstage to host. Otherwise, I think this is unlikely.
In any event, Iâll be hovering over my iMac waiting for each piece of news as it trickles in. Iâll share my instant reactions through my Twitter feed, and in a longer blog posting later in the day. No matter what, itâll be a fun time.——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Snow Leopard: Secret Weapon for Apple TV? STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 8/29/2009 6:29:00 PM ——- BODY: Andy Ihnatko in the Chicago Sun-Times gave some interesting hints about what the power of the new Snow Leopard OS X might do for the rumored Apple tablet. There’s a lot of speculation out there about this non-product (some of it from me), but this is a really thought-provoking piece. Snow Leopard’s reduced drive footprint, enhanced performance even on slower processors, slick new Quicktime X interface, etc. sure would make it attractive as the underpinnings for a media-oriented iPad. Food for thought, indeed…
Right off the bat, I find his assertion that âwell over 95% of you responded that Apple was acting too closed and should, for market opportunities alone, open up their platformsâ is somewhat suspect. Iâm not sure what measuring stick heâs using. It appeared to me that most of the longer blog responses I saw around were refutations of his points, not support for his thesis. Most of the âsupportâ in shorter comments appeared to be of the usual unreasoned âyeah, screw Apple!â variety. Even the comments attached to his own blog run no better than 50-50.
âThe Case Against Appleâ was at worst a badly-aimed scattershot repetition of oft-repeated off-target analogies about what (mostly) the iPhone âshould beâ. âAppleâs Master Planâ is, in my opinion, far less defensible. The piece is full of scare tactics, name-calling, misdirection and outright errors.
Calacanis is correct that Apple is fighting for the mobile desktop, and that they are off to a good start. Heâs wrong, however, when he asserts that if Apple wins it will set the industry back decades. In fact, Apple may be the last, best chance to save the mobile desktop from the morass that the mobile phone has been mired in for years.
I find the repeated assertions in this piece that Apple is in the mobile market only to âline their own pocketsâ pretty disingenuous coming from a businessman as competitive and matter-of-fact about making lots of money as Calacanis. Does Calacanis advocate running a publicly-held company with no profit motive, aimed at some goal of assisting his competitors to divvy up the market âfor the good of allâ? Of course not. If so, his stockholders should take him out and have him shot. Thank goodness Apple does aim at making a profit, and they do it by offering products that lots and lots of people want to buy. Consumers vote with their dollars, and they are overwhelmingly voting for Apple. Calacanis calls those of us who think Apple should aim for profits âAyn Rand-ersâ, which is doubly insulting coming from someone who (a) knows the difference and (b) never had a problem aiming at profits himself in the past.
Calacanis asserts that âcompetition and open systems are better for consumers on all levelsâ, implying that Apple doing well in the mobile desktop market will put an end to that. Again, Calacanis knows better and is using generalizations that donât fit as a scare tactic. There is plenty of room for competition in this market, and if the competition fails it will be because they do a poor job of delivering what their customers really want. One way they can assure such a failure is to deliver a mobile desktop experience that is exactly what Calacanis says he wants, expecting that he is a typical user. There is plenty of room for mobile data devices that target an open-source, anything-goes, elite audience that needs and wants that. Indeed, the Blackberry did well targeting the top end business elite for a long time. But Blackberry did not begin to penetrate the market formed by the ârest of usâ until Appleâs iPhone showed there are other ways to approach things. They are learning quickly that there are more of us than there are of the elite Calacanis-type users.
The term âopen systemsâ is not set forth here in the usual sense. Instead, it is used by Calacanis as a meaningless buzzword, setting âopenâ equal to âgoodâ and âclosedâ equal to âevilâ. The issue here is not one of âopenâ vs. âclosedâ, but one of who is the audience Apple should target with the iPhone/iPod/iTablet product line. Calacanis claims âopenâ is better on all levels for consumers. Nonsense. Not every data communications product or product line needs to be a no-standards free-for-all.
Apple seems to be choosing to create âthe mobile platform for the rest of usâ, and in so doing is attracting tons of customers who never gave a damn about the idea of a âsmartphoneâ before. Apple did the work to figure out what customers like and how to give it to them in a package that anticipates needs they donât know they have yet and provides unequaled usability. While others created phones that were âdesignedâ by Torquemada and systems that told customers theyâd use what they had and like it, Apple created something that was a quantum leap ahead. Calacanis, however, seems to think that this is some sort of dastardly plot to turn us all into slaves. For him, âopenâ means Apple does the work and everyone else is âopenâ to exploit it and bend it out of shape and force all users to deal with the consequences, whether they want that or not.
My idea of âopenâ is that Apple is open to seek the market they see out there and everyone else is open to do the same. A certain level of interoperability and data portability is certainly required, as we all have to use the same cellular networks and data formats. Apple canât possibly develop every desired piece of software themselves, so a market for third-party software is also necessary. But there is no reason that every mobile data device needs to be wide-open to everything any individual wants to put on it, regardless of what that does to the overall user experience. Iâm the homeowner and if I am more comfortable sitting in a walled garden than in a glass house, who is Calacanis or anyone else to tell me Apple is evil for allowing me to make that choice?
Calacanis discusses the rumored (and almost certainly soon-to-be-announced) Apple tablet, and is horrified that Apple might bring it out as part of the iPhone/Touch ecosystem. To do so instead of equipping it with the more âopenâ Mac OS X is in Calacanisâ words âthe ultimate tellâ — making it clear (to him) that Steve Jobs intends to rape the world by somehow forcing them to buy something easy to use and demonstrably popular with an extremely wide variety of consumer types instead of something aimed at only the same people already buying Mac laptops.
Using this scare language, Calacanis hopes to convince you that black is white, bad is good, and buying what you obviously want and like is the worst thing that could happen. Please donât fall for this. Calacanis says we âfanboysâ (thereâs the gratuitous insults again) are drunk on the kool-aid, but right here it is Calacanis that is standing at the punchbowl with the rat poison box in hand insisting that Apple selling anything short of a Calacanis Chaos Communicator which offers any experience different from that big box you already have on your desktop is the work of the Devil.
The next section, however, is where Calacanis goes completely off the deep end. Here he tries to sell you the idea that a more narrowly-focused iPhone and an iTablet based on the same concepts will lead inevitably to Apple coming into your homes to take away your ability to load third party software on your desktop computer. Steve Jobs is coming to make you buy your desktop software only from the App Store, to rip away your Firefox and Opera browsers in favor of Safari Forever, and lock you away in Apple-branded Hell eternally! Piffle.
(By the way, Jason — despite your assertion here, Appleâs heinous decision to not put the gross piece of memory-hogging crap that is Adobe Flash on the iPhone does not prevent you from playing Bejeweled for free, forcing you to shell out an outrageous $2.99 for Bejeweled 2 in the App Store. After all, thatâs a whole microfractional percent of a Tesla payment! You can go to http://popcap.com/iphone/games/bejeweled and play Bejeweled for free on the iPhone any time, without Flash. I frequently do. If you are going to use inane scare tactics, at least be accurate with them.)
Calacanis doesn’t really believe this load of bull. I canât believe heâs sincere because heâs a smart, savvy guy. He has to know that this is the worst sort of crappy âslippery slopeâ argument, as favored by venal politicians and fly-by-night hand-in-your-pocket televangelists. Iâm insulted that this should even come out of his mouth — that he thinks his readers are so incredibly empty-headed as to let that one slide by while we stand slack-jawed and drooling. Damn, Jason, I never underestimated your intelligence. How dare you underestimate mine in such a fashion!
The personal computer as it has developed (in the usual chaotic way that anything like this grows) is a whole different sort of beast than a mobile. Using a personal computer attached to the internet requires an investment of time, money, study and focus. Everything affects everything else and woe will befall anyone who canât handle that for themselves or rely on someone else to do ti for them. You no longer have to be a geek to use a computer — but only because there are a lot of other geeks working damn hard to cover your butt for you. Even so, you are asking for it if you so much as download your email or hook up a wireless access point for your laptop without having some idea about what you are doing.
No matter how smart you are, you donât necessarily want that level of complexity all of the time! It is no reflection on oneâs intelligence to want a device to do a more limited set of tasks and âjust workâ for each of them — especially when it is not the only device you own. A mobile device that âjust worksâ for a wide range of data handling, communications, media and fun uses is a nice thing to have, and Apple is discovering (or rather the world is discovering because Apple made the choice available) that one way to accomplish that is to be a little picky about what you put on the device in the first place.
If you want an everything box, fine! Buy one. (You probably already have it — it is called a âlaptop computerâ, and Apple makes the best ones on the market.) But for those times you donât want or need that out in the mobile world, there is an iPhone. And if you want the bigger screen along with the simpler interface, I think Appleâs going to have you covered there soon, too.
This is not a Commie plot, it is a Good Thing. If you want a mobile platform that is utterly open like the proverbial barn door in all ways, Iâm sure someone will make one for you. (Googleâs Android platform might be an excellent place to start.) Iâm equally sure that such a thing will not sell in the numbers that the iPhone sells, but thatâs OK. Thereâs room for both. But it is utter balderdash — insulting balderdash — to say that anything else is Evil and aimed only at sheep who havenât the sense to want exactly what Calacanis wants out of a mobile platform.
Calacanis is trying to tell you that âfreedomâ requires that anyone have the ability to do anything, anytime, with (or to) any device and system you buy. Thatâs a load. Freedom means you — the buyer — have the freedom to choose what you want to buy. Apple is offering a better choice, and people are flocking to it in droves. We kid about the Steve Jobs âreality distortion fieldâ, but the real distortions are coming from the people who want you to âthink the sameâ about the growing mobile desktop as the existing personal computer market because they donât know how to compete on any other level. The target markets are not the same and there is no reason the devices must be the same.
I want to be free from crap on my iPhone, free from software bloat, free from the same hassles in the great outdoors that I have when I am at my desktop computer. A lot of people have brought out tablet computers that failed because they were just laptops with a different form factor. I want my mobile platform to just work, and if Apple can do that — Iâm buying. I do want flexibility, and if Apple restricts my choice too much Iâll buy from someone else. But it is not a moral crusade, and anyone who tells you it is a holy mission is just trying to get their piece of the pie for free, and they say screw you and what you want and need. Donât fall for it.
Appleâs only âMaster Planâ appears be to offer an easy-to-use and self-consistent platform for mobile devices that is aimed at the widest possible market, not just the minor percentage who want seventeen browsers and the latest bloatware, and all the rest all the time. Sure, Apple wants to sell you something, but they are giving you something honest in return for your money. There’s a new concept. Watch out for the people who claim only they are wearing halos while the other guy who is trying to make an honest buck is Satan incarnate. Their hands will be in your pockets a lot deeper in the long run, and youâll have a lot less to show for it. ——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: The Flaw in the Calacanis Case Against Apple STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 8/9/2009 3:01:00 AM ——- BODY: One of my favorite tech personalities is Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo.com. I always look forward to his visits to Leo LaPorte’s This Week in Tech podcast because Calacanis never fails to make the discussion lively. Unlike so many in the tech spotlight, Calacanis isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, even if he’s all alone in his convictions. His bombastic style as a CEO and as an observer of the tech scene suits my tastes. I often agree with him, but I enjoy hearing what he has to say even when I don’t agree.
So when he posted “The Case Against Apple - in Five Parts” at Calacanis.com, I dropped everything to read and digest what he had to say. Calacanis has been increasingly critical of Apple of late, sometimes with good reason. If he was ready to state his overall argument for his growing mistrust of a company he’d usually supported in the past, I was ready to hear his story.
Now that I have, I still think he’s sincere and thoughtful in has assessment. But I also think he’s basing much of his thesis on the same fundamental flaw in reasoning that invalidates the arguments used by so many Apple naysayers. I won’t class Calacanis with the blowhards out there who know they are dealing from the bottom of the deck. This man has earned more respect than that. But he’s wrong this time, and I can point out how and why.
The original post is well worth the reading, and I encourage you to click this link and do so if you haven’t already. None of the charges he brings against Apple here are new, but they are stated here with more clarity and less special pleading than I have seen them in the past. I note that all five of his points involve the iPod/iPhone ecosystem, and I think that’s an important distinction. The reason for most of the complaint here is not that Apple runs this side of its business so much differently than it runs the Mac side of things. Rather, it is because the iPhone and iPod have been so phenomenally successful that in these areas Apple is easy to cast as the villain. Indeed, it is no accident that so many parallels are draw throughout the posting between the Microsoft of yesterday and the Apple of today. But the cases are not at all parallel, and it is the critical difference that eludes Calacanis as it has so many others.
Calacanis charges Apple with five anticompetitive practices. Here they are, along with his “bottom line” conclusion:
1. Destroying MP3 player innovation through anti-competitive practices
2. Monopolistic practices in telecommunications
3. Draconian App Store policies that are, frankly, insulting
4. Being a horrible hypocrite by banning other browsers on the iPhone
5. Blocking the Google Voice Application on the iPhone
Bottom line: Of all the companies in the United States that couldpossibly be considered for anti-trust action, Apple is the leadcandidate.
Let us look at what is really meant by “anticompetitive”. I think Calacanis would be the first to defend vigorous competitive effort in an open marketplace. Calacanis is a fierce competitor when necessary, but has always been smart enough to know when alliances are better than warfare. He would not expect Apple to throw away a competitive edge, and would probably call them traitors to their own stockholders if he caught them doing so. He instead seems to be accusing Apple of using a dominant market position as an unfair lever to stifle the efforts of others to compete fairly. Calacanis cites Microsoft and Google as companies that have drawn government interest for unfair competitive practices, and offers the opinion that Apple has — undeservedly — been given a free pass in this regard.
The case, however, doesn’t hold water in any of the five areas, and the flaw in all five is basically the same.
Under charge #1, Calacanis says that Apple’s refusal to allow open access to use iTunes software to feed and manage any and all MP3 players from any and all manufacturers is anticompetitive. He blames Apple’s “lack of openness” for the lack of advanced features on today’s crop of MP3 players, and says that people would be wholly outraged if Microsoft had made it so that the Zune was the only MP3 player compatible with Windows.
The Calacanis analogies don’t hold up under scrutiny, however. Apple didn’t make it so the iPod is the only MP3 player that will work under OS X. Indeed, iPod dominates among Windows users, and you can hardly say Apple had any way to keep competitors off of that computer platform. Nothing prevents any manufacturer from making an MP3 player with any set of advanced features they wish, and any MP3 player can be used on the Mac platform Apple controls (as well as on Windows) — as long as the manufacturer is willing to provide the user with Mac/Windows digital hub software that will support the player and those advanced features. Apple has done nothing to keep any such software from working in Mac OS X. But marketing an MP3 player is more than just creating hardware — it is providing a hardware-software ecosystem that works well. Calacanis wants Apple to relieve the competition of 2/3 of that burden, taking on the chore of keeping iTunes up and running for the benefit of everyone else’s hardware. Apple would be foolish to do so.
What sells iPods is not just the iPod hardware — it is the iPod/iTunes ecosystem. I would be the first to says that iTunes needs a lot of improvements. As a media manager, it is still horribly flawed. If someone else can do better — let them! Apple can’t stop that, and hasn’t tried to do so. To make it, however, they will have to have the software run as well and be as easy to use as iTunes, and that’s no going to be an easy task. A lot of whiners want to build cheap MP3 player hardware and let it ride on the back of Apple’s expensive and hard-won position with iTunes easy-to-use interface. It is not anticompetitive for Apple to deny them the free ride.
Microsoft built the Zune, built the Zune software, and had the advantage of knowing all there was to know about making it work well with their own Windows product. The result? A truly laughable failure to even come close to challenging the iPod in a free marketplace. Why? Their ecosystem was just not as good at meeting the needs of the target audience as the iTunes/iPod combo.
So Apple is only “guilty” here of not doing the other MP3 player manufacturers’ jobs for them, for free.
The second charge that Apple is engaged in monopolistic practices in telecommunications (with the iPhone) is similarly a misdirected charge. Calacanis says “AT&T is the suck” and the fact that you must use AT&T service to use an iPhone is monopolistic. This one is hogwash, and I’m frankly disappointed in Calacanis for falling for this old line of drivel. Oh, I agree that AT&T is “the suck” in many ways. I also agree that the practice of tying a particular phone to a particular carrier or set of carriers as a competitive practice is undesirable, and this sort of thing has stifled the growth of cell phone services in the US for years while growth of services has flourished in places like Japan. But Apple didn’t create that situation her. Consumers have allowed a handful of carriers to collude and engage in consumer rape for a long time before the iPhone came along. The only reason that people are just now noticing is that, for the most part, all cell phone hardware choices sucked just about equally hard until the iPhone came along and made consumers realize that they deserved something better.
Suddenly, the focus was off what services you could eke out of your carrier with your crummy phone and onto a piece of hardware that made it worthwhile to care about what was hanging off your belt. AT&T sucks as a service provider — and all of the others suck, too, in various ways. But to get into the market, Apple had to make the iPhone work with some carrier. Now that the iPhone is a certified hit, every carrier would love to offer the iPhone, and that might eventually put Apple in a position when they can dictate some consumer-friendly terms to the industry at large. But the anticompetitive practices of the cell phone industry can’t be laid at Apple’s feet, any more than a TV set manufacturer can be blamed for the excesses of the cable TV industry. Those practices existed in the market when Apple entered it. Again, this charge by Calacanis is misdirected. Two down.
In charge #3, Calacanis takes Apple to task for not opening the App Store to any and all comers, and for “draconian” practices to eliminate apps that compete with Apple’s own business offerings. I’ll agree that there have been some inconsistent, unwise and just plain dumb decisions handed down in the history of the App Store approval process (and that process needs to be improved), but overall the idea of restricting the software available on the iPhone to approved offerings is a wise one.
Once again, analogies used by Calacanis to software use on personal computers don’t apply. When the first personal computers were created (and no one knows more about that than Steve Jobs — he was one of the midwives at that birth), there was no “internet” — no personal computer networking of any kind. Personal computers and personal computer networks grew up together, facing the various opportunities and security pitfalls alike together. Meanwhile, cell phones and cell phone networks crew up side by side as well. But when the crossover point comes that merges the two comes(a point that is not exclusive to the iPhone, though the iPhone is the poster child for the movement, as it were), there is a danger that the less capable and complex protections of the cell phone network are not ready for the full brunt of the wild and woolly practices of the internet. Some care seems prudent.
Even so, this is not the only reason to restrict software on the iPhone. The truth is that the iPhone was never intended to be the sort of wide-open platform that the personal computer is, nor should it necessarily become so. Most of the audience for the iPhone does not want or need to stick a full-blown personal computer into their pocket — along with all the vulnerabilities and operational complexity that implies. Above all else, the iPhone/iPod Touch experience needs to stay accessible and simple to the average person. The App Store vetting process needs to be smoother and more fair to developers, and Apple will learn how to make it so over time. Like most new ideas, it has some shaking out time to go through. But Apple wants to keep some hand in seeing that what gets to the iPhone platform is at least marginally consistent and a truly open software market would make that impossible. There will be those consumers who want the wild and woolly experience in their pocket (woo!) and if so, there will most likely be plenty of other devices they can buy that will allow this. But for those of us that want something that just works, there’s this set of devices from Apple. The market will decide. and there’s nothing anticompetitive about Apple deciding which kind of device they want to sell, and the market deciding which one they want to buy. Want an utterly open source phone — go with Google’s platform instead. It’s your nickel. But there’s nothing here to interest the anti-trust boys either as long as anyone can play the game. Three down.
On charge #4, I’ve got some sympathy with the prosecution, but only to a point. Having Safari Mobile as the only approved iPhone browser seems a little overprotective on Apple’s part, at least from where I sit. I think that Apple may not trust their own approval process here, at least not yet. There are SO many ways a browser can go wrong because there are SO many web pages out there that it has to deal with. Microsoft’s IE is a great example of what a poorly designed browser can do to the platform on which it runs. The iPhone is intended as a walled garden to protect the largely nontechnical audience that uses it, and Apple is — perhaps wisely — hesitant to install too many doors into that garden. They have to take responsibility for what gets through Safari Mobile as the gateway to the web — and to make sure that it integrates well with every other iPhone app that potentially calls on it. They may not be ready to guarantee that for something else as well. Still, I’d like to see a situation where multiple browser developers are free to push each other to improve, as Firefox, Safari, Opera. etc. have pushed each other in personal computer browsers.
Calacanis loses me entirely, however, when he trots out yet another inept (or, rather, “non-apt”) analogy. There is no comparison between the anticompetitive use of IE in Windows and the bundling of Safari as the only browser available on the iPhone. The problem with the way IE was used anticompetively in Windows was not with the browser but with the way Microsoft unlawfully bullied independent hardware manufacturers into including IE and only IE on their hardware products. Microsoft used unlawful coercion to force hardware makers to offer IE exclusively. If the hardware manufacturer had freely chosen to do so, that would not have raised any anti-trust eyebrows. In this case, Apple IS the hardware manufacturer, making the free choice to offer just one browser. Any other hardware manufacturer in this space can make a different choice. The market will decide. That is fair, and that is four down for Calacanis.
The final charge by Calacanis involves the removal of Google Voice apps from the iPhone. It seems obvious that voice apps using the iPhone should receive scrutiny at the highest level, if it is given that Apple wants to keep the iPhone experience controlled and usable by the average person. After all, voice communication is what a phone is designed to do. Should the way this is handled be a matter of great interest to the consumer choosing a phone? Yes, of course. Is it a matter for government scrutiny? Not under any current law I am aware of! Once again, it is not illegal to prevent a competitor from piggy-backing on your product. I would urge Apple to do so consistently, and to weigh consumer satisfaction against a desire to profit directly from all aspects of the iPhone ecosystem. Indeed, if Apple can leverage the iPhone’s overwhelming success enough to force the various carriers to treat consumers more fairly, I would expect this space to be opened up considerably in the future. If data communications by cell carriers can be freed of the stupid ways they have run things as voice carriers, the need for the iPhone and iPod Touch to be two different devices may go away altogether and you could install anyone’s phone application on your device to run across whatever data carrier you choose. But that day has not (quite) arrived yet. Apple is probably as anxious to see that happen as we are.
Calacanis cites the defection of Michael Arrington of TechCrunch and Peter Rojas of GDGT.com as indicative of Apple’s wrong choices, and I suppose we can add Calacanis himself to this list now as well. That is fine for them, making a free and individual choice. But just because what Apple has chosen to do is not what they want is not evidence that Apple has dome anything illegal or even unwise in the overall scheme of things. If these people need a more open platform, they should seek and support one — and nothing prevents them from doing so. Five down.
The flaw in all these cases is thinking of the iPod/iPhone platform as the only game in town. It isn’t, and should not be. People should be, and are, free to choose what they want in a hardware device and the associated software platform. For years, I chose to use a Mac when that choice meant I could not run a lot of Windows-only software I would have liked to have. I chose this because, overall, the Mac experience — while more limited in some ways — offered me more of what I wanted. The same is true of the iPod and iPhone today. Many choose to use them because the overall experience is right. Forcing Apple to accept as part of that experience anything anyone wants to throw at them will not improve that experience. This market doesn’t need government regulators to drag Apple down. It needs consumer pressure to force everyone else to make their products more attractive than what Apple is offering. That forces everyone in the industry to get better at what they do.
I encourage Calacanis to stay on Apple’s back and encourage them to be better. But don’t forget to encourage everyone else to work just as hard to make what they create at least as good as what Apple provides. Apple leads because they have what people want to buy, not because people are forced to buy what Apple provides.
UPDATE: Another excellent rebuttal to Calacanis is at http://www.zerologic.com/Blog/The-Case-Against-Apple-My-Rebuttal.html by Michael Sitarzewski.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Intros at the Naysayers’ Club STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 8/7/2009 6:10:00 PM ——- BODY: Oh, you two guys have to meet.
Zack Whittaker? Have you met Rafe Needleman? Zack, Rafe; Rafe, Zack…
Seeing as how both of you have recently written blog posts essentially condemning to an early grave a product that hasn’t even been announced yet from a company that’s had very, very few product release missteps in the last few years, I thought you ought to have a chance to chat. I suspect that you’ll find you have a lot in common when (and if) Apple releases a tablet device.
“Epic fail. In my professional opinion, having a tablet is like having a grandma without the sweets, like drinking non-alcoholic beer and bringing sun protection with you on your holiday to Scotland. Itâs absolutely pointless.”
“(I)n the real world, I believe this whole category is a nonstarter. Why we keep waiting for the killer tablet computer is beyond me. Few people really want one, especially at the prices that they will have to sell for.”
“Call us crazy, but if it were us, we’d wait to see exactly what Apple has cooked up, what its capabilities will be, what its form factor is, and how much it will cost before writing and publishing articles about its viability.”
But then, MacDailyNews doesn’t usually hang around the Naysayers Club. And come to think of it, neither do I.
See ya later, guys! We’ll talk again sometime between September and March, OK?
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: A little facelift STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 8/6/2009 5:23:00 PM ——- BODY: This place was in desperate need of a coat of paint. I hope y’all like this look a bit better.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Tales from the Couch 002 STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 8/5/2009 5:01:00 PM ——- BODY: Not that I haven’t made a few contributions to that network myself from time to time…
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Tales from the Couch 001 STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 8/4/2009 8:12:00 PM ——- BODY: This is in the nature of a somewhat self-indulgent experiment. I can tell already that my dear friend John Kovalic (cartoonist extraordinaire of Dork Tower fame) has absolutely nothing to worry about. (Well, he might laugh himself sick, but he can always claim he doesn’t know me and thus avoid dying of shame…) You want good cartoons, go to dorktower.com.
My Adobe Illustrator powered cartooning style (if one can call it that) is good enough to render the CouchGuy, I suppose. (Yes, that’s how I wear my hair.) On the other hand, Mrs. CouchGuy may have a fit when she sees what I did to her. My only defense is that I could be Rembrandt himself and not do her justice.
I make no further comment on this exceedingly humble effort except that I had fun doing it, and I may inflict another on you one of these days. You Have Been Warned!
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: The Many Faces of Apple’s Touchable Tablet STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 7/25/2009 4:54:00 AM ——- BODY:
Anyway, I’m hanging out on Twitter and I catch a tweet from Cory Doctorow (or @doctorow if you speak Twitterese). Cory (I call him by his first name though I don’t know him at all because I’m less likely to misspell that than “Doctorow”) is one of my favorite writers, and as I’ve said here before, we all owe him big time for writing Little Brother. Anyway, Cory tweets:
Dear hivemind: I hire a typographer to design some pages, he delivers PDFs. How do I make minor edits/corrections to them from a Linux box?
C’mon, doesn’t that just make your eyes tear up just a little?
We all know editing PDFs without the proper tools is really a pain in the ass. I couldn’t stand the thought of poor Cory wasting all that precious writing time fiddling with a Linux solution to PDF editing. Maybe that’s why it is taking so freaking long for Makers to get posted in 81 parts! It’s like he’s trying to drive a nail with his shoe. There’s a hammer right there in the toolbox, Cory!
Something has to be done. So I posted:
If everyone who downloaded “Little Brother” sent him a dime each, poor @doctorow could buy himself a Mac. Who’s with me? #amac4cory
(#amac4cory is a hashtag. It is a lame attempt to create a twittermeme so everyone can jump on the bandwagon. If I have to explain it, you aren’t on Twitter anyway.)
So, come on, my legion of readers! Retweet and repost the message all over the place about #amac4cory. There has to be an address we can mail all those friggin’ dimes to noted somewhere on craphound.com, right? Make it 12 cents each so he can get Acrobat & InDesign, too. Let’s free Cory Doctorow from this burden so he can get on with what he does best.
PDF editing with a Linux box? Gotta love him. (And man, do I hope he has a sense of humor. After reading Little Brother I know he must have a thousand ways to screw with you if he doesn’t like you…)
A. The cable providers don’t pay the bills. The viewing public pays the bills, ultimately, for cable and Hulu and every other consumption of the video product. And the viewing public wants to watch TV on a TV set most of the time. And Hulu knows this already. If not, why does Hulu have all those expensive star-studded TV ads promoting Hulu to TV viewers? If all you want is people who already are glued to their computers, you only need to advertise on the web.
B. It’s been too late to put this genie back in the bottle ever since Sony Corp. of America vs. Universal City Studios, Inc. was decided in the Supreme Court in January 1984. That’s the “Betamax ruling” that established that noncommercial, nonprofit use of a VCR to “time-shift” broadcast programming was fair use of such programming. If you can’t sell that, imagine trying to sell the idea that freely available programming on a computer screen somehow becomes infringement when you watch it on a TV screen instead — without making an unauthorized copy of the programming at all!
C. A browser is a browser is a browser. IE is a browser. Safari is a browser. And so is Boxee. (In fact, Boxee is officially “powered by Mozilla”!) A difference that makes no difference is no difference. Boxee runs on Windows PCs and Linux PCs and Macs and Apple TVs. They’re all computers and they all use a variety of display devices. What is the difference between a TV set and a computer monitor? Watch a TV show on a Hulu link using Safari (and they encourage you to embed Hulu videos to your own sites, too, gang) on a Mac Mini attached to a huge Apple monitor. That’s OK by everyone. Hook that same Mac Mini to a TV set and watch. Is that OK? If not, why not? And how would they stop you? Maybe it really doesn’t matter enough to worry about. Now do the same thing via a browser (for argument’s sake, let’s call this mythical browser something like.. oh, I dunno… “Broxie”) on an Apple TV. Suddenly, the world is coming to an end? Please.
(1) “Hulu” + “apologist” = “Hulupologist”. I made that word up — feel free to use it. Honest. I promise not to sue you later. I am not and never have been represented by the RIAA or MPAA. At least I don’t think so.
(2) OK, I stole the “Here’s why” riff from RoughlyDrafted. Maybe Daniel Eran Dilger will sue me.
Bundled offering is not going away. what is going away is the traditional concept of a âchannelâ and the idea that the cable company is the one deciding what content is included in the bundle. The user should and will be the one making the decisions on what he is going to pay for. While it may be bad news for some incumbents it is overall a great positive for the content industry and the consumer. — Avner Ronen, CEO, Boxee
“Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.” — Friedrich Schiller
Up the Swanni Riverâ¦ Without a Paddle
Thanks to MacDailyNews for reminding the olâ CouchGuy to throw a sneer at Phillip âSwanniâ Swann, president of TVPredictions, who is â for the third straight year â predicting the imminent demise of the Apple TV. You have to admire the stamina, at the very least, of a man who can be so wrong so often and still have the fortitude to come back for more humiliation. Keep tryinâ Swanni! Hey, maybe you should predict that HD-DVD sales will slow down in 2009. That one might have a chance of being right.
You Canât Keep a Good Hobby Down
The Apple TV project isnât bulletproof, of course. If the movie industry continues to foolishly fire endless boxes of ammo at the device, as they have since it was introduced, they may eventually manage to wing it and maybe give it lead poisoning. But so far, all theyâve managed to do is keep its head down. The movie industry will surrender to common sense and the lure of easy money eventually. Apple TV just needs more content to make a breakout as the easiest-to-use, most family-friendly set-top box out there. Personally, Iâm predicting that 2009 is the breakout year, and we might see the break at (or soon after) Macworld Expo 2009.
Given Appleâs obvious intent to play down Macworld as an announcements venue, we might not see the real meat of Appleâs plans until an Apple-campus event in February or so, but I think we will see hints at Macworld that the Apple TV concept is far from dead. Hereâs what Iâm expecting to happen sometime in the first part of the year.
The Mac Media Mini
This has been widely predicted for Macworld Expo and I wouldnât be at all surprised, though I think it may be awhile longer before we really see why this is so important to all the CouchApples out there. Predictions are for a long-overdue spec bump for the Mini, giving it Â 2.0 or 2.3 GHz Core Duo processors, NVIDIA graphics, dual display capability, and much more expandability than the current long-in-the-tooth version. I think that very likely, but I also expect it to be designed to be even more suited to home theater uses, with HDMI output and a revamped Front Row that basically emulates the functions of the Apple TV.
I do not expect this to replace the existing Apple TV. Rather, it is the next step up for those who want more expandability. The new Media Mini will be a home entertainment hub, capable of being configured to run your central music/video/photo repository (iTunes, natch) and feeding it to your main TV, your home computers, your video-capable iPods and iPhones, and â through other Apple TV devices â to your other home TVs. It will support a variety of relatively easily swapped-out drive options, including larger hard drives (USB 2.0, but probably not Firewire), solid-state drives, a Superdrive (perhaps with the ability to upconvert standard DVDs) and â down the line â perhaps Blu-Ray. It will support gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth and an infrared Apple Remote for a variety of control and connectivity options.
iTunes Media Library Media Hub Software
Either along with the new Media Mini or soon thereafter as a separate product, I expect a true Media Server software package. This will run on any Mac, but is designed especially to take advantage of the Media Miniâs capabilities. This will be an expanded version of iTunes designed to easily gather and organize your media and feed it out to wherever you want it â including across the internet to remote locations where you might take your laptop or iPhone. The iTunes Media Library will be designed with expandability in mind, making it easy for Apple to add support for a variety of sources and formats via a plug-in structure. (Boxee would have been a great place to start here. Have you guys been talkingâ¦?) It will also facilitate easy backup to a Time Machine or connected big drive array. (Connect something like this to a Drobo and never worry about storage space again.)
The Apple TV App Store
The success of the iPhone App Store has surely not been lost of the Apple TV team. I expect an early-2009 update for Apple TV and the Media Mini which brings games and other third-party apps to the platform. The Apple TV would be a great casual gaming platform, and there are many household productivity apps that would lend themselves to being attached to your TV. iChat via TV with a USB webcam peripheral? Certainly! This is a source of continued revenue that I cannot imagine Apple passing up for much longer.
Expanded iPod Touch/iPhone Remote App
With the expanded capability of an Apple TV App Store, a Media Mini, and an iTunes Media Library, we need an expanded version of the Remote app for the iPhone to control it all from a convenient touchscreen across the room. The iPhone can also become a game controller in this manner. Slick! Even better with the inevitable larger-format touch-based product the CouchGuy expects sometime in mid-year.
Thatâs where I expect this to go sometime this year. What do you expect out of Macworld Expo and beyond? Share your thoughts in the Comments!
AUTHOR: Guy McLimore
TITLE: Macworld: Group Movies into Folders on Apple TV
ALLOW COMMENTS: 1
ALLOW PINGS: 0
DATE: 1/3/2009 2:16:00 PM
Hey, a tip of the CouchGuy’s hat to Macworld for this very useful tip on how to group movies into folders in your Apple TV menu. I like this better than grouping by genre (because multi-genre films — say something tagged “comedy, musical” — always get grouped separately when you group by genre). Ideally, I’d like to be able to put a movie in more than one folder, and have nesting hierarchical folders, but this is sill a huge help with organization for a large film collection.
AUTHOR: Guy McLimore
TITLE: Apple TV? Oh, yes. Apple televison? Not a chance in Hell.
ALLOW COMMENTS: 1
ALLOW PINGS: 0
DATE: 12/17/2008 1:02:00 PM
Jason Schwarz at Seeking Alpha revives the old “Apple will make a television set” prediction. The CouchGuy says, “Not a chance in Hell.” C’mon exactly what value proposition would an Apple-branded TV provide? Why in the name of all that is Jobsian would Apple want to assume the support burden on the entire HDTV hardware system, when there really is little they need to do but use that part of it as a display for the real Apple magic? Why would Apple try to get you to replace your entire TV, when all they need to do to dominate your living room is sell a box attached to your existing TV?
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: The Best of All Possible Worlds (?) STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 11/20/2008 6:04:00 AM ——- BODY: My Boxee/Apple TV 3.2 dilemma from the last post combined with a nice post in 9to5Mac from Michael Kahn to get me thinking about finding a way to have everything I want at my fingertips in one Apple TV box. I present this not as a prediction for the way I think things will go, or even as they necessarily should go, but more of a thought experiment on how I can get everything I want from Apple TV — all the most-requested features — into one Apple TV box.Â
There was no “One more thing…” from Steve Jobs today. The most surprising announcements came at the top of the event, in fact, instead of at the end. Apple is introducing HD TV shows as well as movies, which can be downloaded directly to iTunes on your computer (not just seen via Apple TV). $2.99 for HD shows is a little high, IMHO, but for some shows it would be well worth it. NBC is, thank goodness, returning to the Apple fold with HD and standard definition shows as well.
Apple’s new iTunes 8 was indeed announced and should be available later today. The Kevin Rose-heralded Genius feature builds “goes great together” playlists automatically from your songs at the touch of a button and also recommends additional selections from the iTunes Store library. The Genius feature apparently will even recommend TV shows and movies. The visual interface has been enhanced with another browsing mode as well.
The iPod Classic continues to fade from importance with only a passing mention. The big 160 GB unit is going away and the 80 GB unit is being expanded to 120 GB.
Steve was noticeably put out that last-minute leaks stole his thunder on the brand-new iPod Nano. The new Nano is pretty sweet, with a larger vertical screen and an accelerometer like the iPhone/iPod Touch that changes the display orientation when the unit is tilted. (You can shake the Nano to shuffle your playlist — a clever idea.) Tall, thin (the thinnest iPod yet!) and oval in cross-section, it has an aluminum exterior and built-in voice recording and calendar capability. 24 hour battery life for music (4 hours when used for video) at $149 for the 8 GB model (available today) and $199 for the 16 GB unit (available this weekend or early next week) — in a wild set of eight different colors. New $29 headphones with on-cable controls and microphone also coming, as well as $79 in-ear headphones for the real audiophile. One of the nicest features is the ability to create Genius-style playlists without connecting to iTunes, right on the Nano itself.
The new iPod Touch is changed a lot less than many had expected. It is thinner, with the same display as the first-gen model. On-board Genius playlists are also available on the iPod Touch as well, and it now has the Nike + iPod software and receiver built in for all of you runners and joggers out there. There is a built-in set of speakers and exterior volume controls like those on the iPhone, but no GPS or camera. 8 GB model for $229, with 16 GB at $299 and 32 GB at $399. Sorry, no 64 GB models yet…
The new iPod Touch 2.1 firmware will also be available later today, giving the Nike + and Genius playlist functionality to first-gen iPod Touch owners as well. The upgrade is free if you already made the move to software version 2.0, or $9.95 if you are upgrading straight from 1.x. iPhone 2.1 firmware with these functions plus (it is hoped) the long-awaited stability fixes will be avaialble by Friday.
But those waiting for a killer surprise announcement… well, they’re still waiting. Gee, I hope the guys who flew out from the east coast for this one weren’t too upset.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: What happens tomorrow? STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 9/8/2008 8:18:00 PM ——- BODY: Digg’s Kevin Rose has been sharing what he says is insider info (which he admits could be pure rumors) about what Apple is about to announce at their special “Let’s Rock!” event tomorrow. Updates to the iPod Nano and iPod Touch are certainly overdue (though it will create a twinge of pain for me when my 32 GB Touch is no longer the Bleeding Edge of iPod coolness). An update to iTunes makes perfect sense, though I was more expecting Apple to split off a very basic “iTunes Lite” which was just a CD ripper and database as a tiny, ultraclean app, and create “iTunes Plus” with all the iTunes Store/movie rental operations as well as a major expansion of social/community network functionality. (And that could still happen). The iTunes Genius concept seems very cool, though far short of the iTunes subscription model that had been widely predicted, then just as widely dismissed not long ago. And — oh, yes! — a nifty new visualizer.
- iTunes Music Subscriptions — I think this is highly unlikely, given that I doubt the major record labels would have stayed so cool about this right up until 24 hours before announcement day. This could not help but leak. I’m not sure I want to see this, really — at least not the way others have done it and are doing it now. I won’t rule out Apple finding a revolutionary approach to subscription music that satisfies both the “own my music” and “rent my music” crowds — but not without first creating a lot of chatter within the major music distributors.
- Apple TV/video services major expansion — From your blog to Steve’s ears, Peter Magnusson! Oh, I’d love to see a big Apple TV announcement, but I don’t seriously expect this either. I would not be surprised to see Apple offer HD movie sales on top of their current HD rentals, and a new deal that allowed same-day rental, download and DVD releases is possible. A major deal to bring Hulu or NetFlix through the Apple TV interface would be big news. And a new expanded Apple TV box like the one Magnusson talks about would be bigger still. But it is obvious from the announcement title and style that this event is going to center mostly around music, not video. (Alas…)
- Extreme upgrade for iPod Touch — A Touch with GPS, camera, internal speakers, 64GB of Flash memory (or even a hard drive) and other major hardware upgrades would be bigger news than a new Nano and a cheaper Touch alone. Again, though, not quite enough. The one innovation that could be added that would rock the world would be a Kindle-style cell-network connect-anywhere capability that is paid for as part of the purchase price (or very, very cheaply, perhaps as part of a MobileMe membership). That would be one kick-ass product (and would motivate the CouchGuy to trade in his own Touch, where lesser upgrades mentioned earlier would not). If this is indeed primarily an iPod Touch-centered announcement, this would be where it would have to go to create the necessary level of market excitement.
- Touch-based tablet — A lot of people still think this is inevitable (the CouchGuy included), though most think they are not quite ready to take this concept to market. This would certainly produce the high-Richter shakeup, as the MacBook Air did. I rate this a long-shot, but I can’t rule it out. Steve is certainly capable of announcing a maxi-Touch (or a cross between a maxi-Touch and a mini-Air) out of the blue. Combine that with the Kindle-like cell-network connect-anywhere deal above and you would hit Richter 8.0, easy.
- Steve Jobs retires — This would be Richter 9.0 or more. (Great — Devastating in areas several thousand miles across.) Bad news, certainly, no matter how Steve would spin it. I sure hope this isn’t true, as the only thing that is likely to pry Jobs out of the top seat right now would be a major downturn in his health. I think such an announcement would be more likely as a separate, low-key matter, though. This is one blockbuster Apple rumor that I sure hope is all wrong. It is a slight possibility, though, which taints the tingle of anticipation preceding tomorrow’s announcement with fear as well as ecstasy.
You thought the iPhone was big before? Well, it’s about to explode.
First of all, Apple sent out invitations today to a special event for March 6 to reveal an “iPhone software road map” which is likely to include the iPhone/iPod Touch SDK promised for the end of February. The SDK is expected to be joined with an Apple-planned pathway to distribution of third-party iPhone software via iTunes, and this will no doubt be accompanied by some early-program developers seeded by Apple to have apps ready to go at the SDK’s announcement.Â
Third-party apps is big enough news as it stands. Opening up the iPhone to outside developers means a steady stream of applications is virtually assured — both big apps that everyone will want and the equally important little apps aimed at specialty markets that will let everyone customize their iPhone to do the everyday jobs they need (or just dream about). iPhone is not just a phone — it is a new computing and communications platform. Third-party apps and a way to distribute them makes the platform infinitely more valuable to consumers.
But Apple decided to kick it up a notch for this event, adding that they will have some exciting new enterprise features to show as well. Other than an upgrade to 3G connectivity, this is the only announcement they could have made for this event that would actually be more exciting than the SDK itself. The one weakness of the iPhone up front was business connectivity. Only recently has AT&T even supported the iPhone on business phone contracts. If Apple can announce fuller connectivity with Microsoft’s mail and calendar platforms and Lotus Notes, and other initiatives to make the iPhone a real alternative to the Blackberry for the serious business user, look for a second run on iPhones that might make the first one look thin by comparison.
What does this do for the Apple-centric family, meshing this platform with a growing dependence on Apple as their entertainment provider? Plenty. As I said, the iPhone platform is about more than phone calls. This platform (supported by the un-phone member of the clan, the equally-capable entertainment-oriented machine called the iPod Touch) is a quantum leap beyond the iPod as a personal entertainment device. And it’s about to open up, big time.
Look at Apple’s success as an entertainment provider. This week, we learned that Apple has become the number two provider of music in the United States. Moreover, they are expected to pass Wal*Mart to become Number One sometime yet this year. How have they accomplished this in such a short amount of time? According to analysts at NPD Group, Apple hooked teens on downloadable music purchasing (where everyone else from Wal*Mart themselves to Amazon has been much less successful) by making it easy for them to buy without the use of credit cards (via the iTunes Store gift cards available at practically every retail store in the country). Interestingly enough, some of the biggest growth for the iTunes Store this year came not from those heavy music buying teens but from people of middle years, 35-50. Why? Perhaps we oldsters can go to the iTunes Store and actually find the music we want without being embarrassed by the uncomprehending looks of 18-year-old store clerks. (As small as Wal*Mart’s selection of CDs has become, it is no wonder people are turning to the iTunes Store in — excuse the pun — record numbers.)
Apple makes it easier and easier to spend money. With an iPhone or iPod Touch you can buy music directly from the portable device itself. Apple’s deal with Starbucks lets you walk in there and use their wireless connectivity to buy from the iTunes Store’s online version — free. Want to bet that you won’t be able to do the same thing with iPhone software sometime soon after March 6? Third party apps on this most ubiquitous new mobile device will be turned to serve the home entertainment user, too. Games, software, media, even ebooks are likely to be available for this platform soon with the same instant-gratification system that is about to make Apple the Number One music purveyor in the nation.
Big? You haven’t even begun to imagine how big the iPhone can be. March 6 kicks off the second wave. Prepare to be swept away.——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: The Fool and the Future: Why the Motley Fool’s 2010 Isn’t Really Apple’s Future STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 2/26/2008 2:11:00 AM ——- BODY: When I saw that The Motley Fool’s Rick Aristotle Munarriz had decided to indulge in a little crystal ball gazing with a look at Apple in the year 2010, I had to wonder if his view would look anything like my own recent predictive post regarding the Apple Home of late in the year 2009. I wondered if he would visit the same happy future day where the Average family organized both their business and their home entertainment with Apple products.
Other new features that have received less attention are quite exciting as well. The Flickr integration is as slick as can be, and the .Mac Web Galleries connection finally gives me a real reason to use that feature of .Mac.
One of the best Apple TV features is the expanded podcast support. I expect to do a separate column on this feature alone in the near future, as it is the one function of the Apple TV that puts unlimited content on your TV screen instantly. If you have loaded the Take 2 software and have not yet explored the Podcast menu, you are really missing out on half of what the Apple TV can do.
The Take 2 software upgrade is a major step forward in Appleâs Grand Unified Media Strategy, and playing with it this week left the CouchGuy thinking hard about what the next steps will be in that direction. Appleâs move into the home continues to accelerate. What will the Apple Living Room look like in another two years?
Hereâs the CouchGuyâs look at The Average family and their Apple Home just after Christmas of 2009. This is no wild-eyed blue-sky prediction — I think of it as a speculative look at what is obviously possible and practical based on what we have now. If I were a betting man, Iâd lay good odds that this is conservative, and when you look back on it in as little as a year you may wonder at how quaint and old-fashioned it appears. As always, your comments are invited…
Our tour of Joe Averageâs Apple Home starts with Joe in his family room recliner after work. It is his wife Kris Averageâs night to cook, so he has a few minutes to relax before dinner.
Joe has already plugged his iPhone into a cradle in his office, so he picks up a 16GB iPod Touch from a cradle on the table near his chair. This used to be Joe Jrâs iPod before he got his upgrade to a new 64GB model for Christmas last week. Now, it is the family room Apple TV remote, running Appleâs VirtualRemote software.
Joe âs modest instant-on 56â plasma TV set was brought in just before the Super Bowl last year (Giants again… whodathunkit?) to replace an older LCD screen now residing in the bedroom. It is connected toÂ an Apple TV Media Server Edition he purchased at the same time, which in turn outputs to the family roomâs Dolby 5.1 wireless stereo sound system. The Apple TV Media Serverâs silvery case is itself attached to the wall just below the screen via aÂ TV Tray 2 wall mount from H-Squared. Joe bought the wall mount to avoid having to put a table under the TV screen, and because he liked the built-in USB-powered backlight which gives the box a nifty glow. The only other ornament on the wall is the iSight 2 wireless camera mounted above the plasma screen, which the family uses for Apple TV iChats with Joeâs mother and father in Florida on Sunday evenings. Heâll have to show them the videos from Joe Jr.âs Senior Prom this weekend — if they havenât already checked them out on the familyâs .Mac video gallery account.
As the Apple TV menu pops up, he can see by the glowing color stars at the top right of the screen that he has a couple of alerts. The blue star tells him that there is an iChat recorded message waiting. The contents of the plasma screen are duplicated on the iPod Touch in his hand and he taps the blue star to go directly to the message. The image of his friend Glen appears, and from the background he can see Glen was in his office when he recorded the message. (Or was he? Glen likes to play with iChatâs Video Backdrops. Once he left a message that looked like he was on the moon…) âHey, pal, donât forget weâre watching the basketball game Saturday afternoon with Bill and Louise!â Ah! Another use for the iSight. The three families had not given up their Saturday afternoon sports gatherings when Bill and Louise were transferred to Seattle — theyâd just moved them to âWatch Togetherâ sessions using iChat. Glen and his wife Susan might come across town to visit in the flesh on Saturday — or they might just arrive as Bill and Louise do as a live image of their living room floating in a window above the widescreen image of the game.
The red alert star indicates a completed download, and this turns out to be the rental copy of Cloverfield II that Joe pre-ordered a few months ago. Heâd forgotten it was due for simultaneous Blu-Ray and download release this week. OK, theyâd have something cool to watch tonight — or they might save that for the weekend. Joe knew he would probably end up buying the movie, as much as he had enjoyed the original, but the first rental price would automatically be deducted from his purchase price later if he decided to keep it.
He glances at the Blu-Ray disk slot on the Apple TV Media Server and again wonders why he bothered to buy the unit with that option. It had been useful when he first got it, since most Blu-Ray disks now came with Apple TV compatible versions of the films right on the disk. He moved over some of his Blu-Ray purchases that way, and could use the slot to play the older disks without this feature. All of his old non-HD movies he has long since moved over to the Apple TV Media Serverâs drives usingÂ Flip4Macâs Drive-In 2 to archive them. With the old Digital Millennium Copyright Act finally modified earlier this year, it was perfectly legal to keep archive copies of his old DVDs on the server hard drive where they were available with a single touch on his remote. I guess the serverâs built-in drive had been useful for that process, though he could have done it almost as easily from his office iMacâs Blu-Ray drive. CouchApple.TV had an article claiming the built-in drive model was the slowest-selling in the Apple TV line, and Joe could see why. These days, he bought and rented almost all his HD films directly from the iTunes store as downloads.
The yellow alert star indicates a new podcast of special interest had been detected. Sure enough, on the TwiT.tv channel the new episode of MacBreak Video Weekly was out a day early! Heâd look at that later from the bedroom while Kris was getting ready for bed.
While he is thinking of it, Joe pulls up the plug-in menu for the EyeTV ATV Edition USB dongle attached to his Apple TV and selects to record the new episode of American Gladiators coming on later that evening. There is another feature he is using less often, he mused. Most of the TV shows he and Kris really cared about — Lost, Monk, Star Trek: The Academy Years and Three and a Half Men — they had purchased iTunes Season Passes for when several networks started offering bonus episodes for pre-ordering. He still records a few shows like American Gladiators to view once then erase, but if he adds it up it probably isnât really worth it to him to keep all the cable TV channels. After the first of the year, the new FCC regulations will kick in and he can purchase individual cable channels a la carte if he wants. Heâd have to put the numbers to it, but it might prove worthwhile for him to drop everything but ESPN, Turner Classic Movies and a few others. Heck, two of their favorite shows, CSI: Atlanta and Joss Whedonâs Luna City, are iTunes Exclusives, produced especially for Apple and not available anywhere else until the once-yearly Blu-Ray DVD collections come out.
Joe thinks about punching up the Games menu on the Apple TV to see if anyone out there is up for a quick game of Worldwide Naval Battle. Instead, he idly checks the drive space available to him on the Apple TV Media Server and is surprised to find he is over the halfway mark on the 2TB built-in drive. Maybe it is time to buy an add-on drive. He could stack a 4TB NewerTech MiniStack ATV right behind the Media Server — it would even fit in the H-Squared wall mount, as it is exactly the same size as the Apple TV server itself. Of course, heâd have to add additional drives to the TimeCapsule 2 backup system in his office, but he needs to do that anyway, since it is already handling backup for 2 Apple TV units, 2 iMacs, his old MacBook Air and Krisâ MacTablet. Drives are really cheap, though. Adding another 8 to 10 terabyte external drive to the TimeCapsule 2 is no big deal.
Joe gets up and wanders into his office, touching his wireless keyboard to wake up his 30â iMac Pro and the matching 30â Cinema Display alongside it. a Dashboard widget shows him the current status of his TimeCapsule 2 wireless hub and backup system and sure enough over half the capacity of the built-in 16TB drive is full. He brings up the Apple Store window and places an instant order for a LaCie 16TB external drive array for the TimeCapsule, as well as the 4TB NewerTech MiniStack ATVÂ for the Apple TV Media Server. He glances fondly at the storeâs order page for the MacBook Air 2, but decided heâd better not push his luck. Kris had frowned a bit when he purchased the extra Cinema Display for the office, but she had to admit it was convenient for watching movies and other video streamed from the Apple TV Media Server on one screen while working on the iMacâs built-in display. Besides, rumor has it that a new MacBook Pro Air is expected at MacWorld Expo next month.
His iPhone is sitting in the AirDock cradle next to the iMac and the cradleâs built-in liquid crystal display indicates it is now fully charged, finished syncing, and safely disconnected from the desktop, so he picks it up and reclips it to his belt. Joe finds he is reluctant to go anywhere without his iPhone these days. The 3G connection brings him the web, video, and books anywhere he goes, although he finds he can rely on quicker (and free) wi-fi access in most places — at home, at the office, and in most restaurants and larger businesses he visits. Last night while at the mall food court waiting for Kris to finish shopping, his iPhone offered him a special price on the download version of the new Tom Clancy novel. He purchased it right then and there, courtesy of the mallâs Barnes and Noble bookstore who co-sponsors the free wi-fi connection there. He read the first couple of chapters while sipping the coffee he had also ordered from his iPhone, which was brought over to his table by a smiling barista from the nearby Starbucks. Joe thinks of his iPhone as an extension of his home computer system, and he can get anything he wants from it with a touch or two, including any movie in his Apple TV Media Server library. His cable company now offers fiber optic connections direct to the home, which gives Joe and his family more bandwidth than ever before — and they need it more than ever before.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Kris is making dinner, using a recipe demonstrated by Emeril Lagasse on an episode of his show that Kris recorded earlier and archived. She views it on her MacTablet which sits on the counter in another AirDock, streaming the content from the Media Server in the family room.
Kris relies on her MacTablet much as Joe does his iPhone — it is her daily connection to her home and her office. As a real estate agent, she finds the MacTablet perfect for displaying listings to clients on the fly and keeping her busy schedule straight. It syncs directly and automatically with the local multi-listings service, keeping new local real estate listings at her fingertips as they are added throughout the day. It is also the perfect media player and electronic book viewer. — much better for the latter purpose than the smaller iPhone screen.
The MacTablet has 3G phone capability, but Kris has wireless access almost everywhere and doesnât use the 3G much unless she is in the home of a client who doesnât have wi-fi guest access or in her car if she gets lost on the way to an open house and needs to pull a Google map. She makes most of her phone calls from the wi-fi connections at Starbucks, which she thinks of as her âfield officesâ. She often meets clients there as well. It is amazing how many clients get relaxed and ready to buy when Kris is paying for the Cinnamon Dolce Lattes.
Kris has just used the last of her favorite curry spice mix, so she pauses the Emeril Live playback and opens the MacTabletâs browser, linking to a bookmarked page for Sugar and Spice, a local gourmet food shop she uses frequently. Like many specialty stores, Sugar and Spice has an iPhone/MacTablet optimized website where Kris keeps a want list. There are two other items already marked there. She adds the curry mix to the list and sends the order through, noting she will be by to pick it up the next day. On impulse, she adds a small stainless steel whisk like one she saw Emeril using a moment ago to the order, since the site noted it as being on sale. It is such add-on purchases that makes maintaining the site worthwhile for the storeâs owner. Almost all of his customers have an iPhone, iPod Touch or MacTablet these days, and maintaining convenient want lists for them bring sales to his store.
Kris would not need to use the AirDock to link to the Apple TV Media Server nor to place her order for the spices, but it is convenient to have one in the kitchen to keep the MacTabletâs battery charge topped off and to hook to a nice set of under-cabinet speakers for better sound. The AirDock props the tablet up at an adjustable viewing angle as well. It recognizes her MacTablet when it is plugged in, syncing TV shows she wants to carry with her that are recorded by the Media Server. Joe could plug right into the same AirDock with his iPhone (though he usually prefers the dock in his office), and Joe Jr. could do the same with his iPod Touch — the server knows what each of them wants to keep synced and does so automatically, no matter where the individual portable devices are docked.
Right now, Joe Jr. is in his room watching music videos on the new iMac Media Edition he got the previous Christmas. The 24â iMac Media Edition has a built-in syncing dock for his new 64GB iPod Touch, and a built-in TV tuner so that Joe Jr. needs no other TV in his room. He uses either the iPod Touch or his Apple Remote and Front Row to watch TV and movies and listen to music in his room, as served by the Apple TV Media Server or resident on his iMacâs hard drive in his own copy of iTunes. His iMac Media Edition also backs up to the TimeCapsule 2 in Joeâs office, and his music collection and subscriptions to a host of music-oriented podcasts is a primary contributor to that deviceâs need for additional storage capacity! Having an iMac Media Edition gives Joe Jr. both a powerful computer and a media center as powerful as an Apple TV in one device. Heâll take it to college with him when he leaves next fall. The iPod Touch lets him draw on that content anywhere he goes that has wi-fi, which describes the homes of most of his friends, his school cafeteria, the mall where he hangs out, and the under-21 dance club he frequents with his girlfriend Mindi. Mindi has an iPhone, but since Joe Jr. is rarely away from a wi-fi connection, he decided to ask for a higher-capacity iPod Touch instead because he likes to keep lots of music and video on board. Besides, he can still use it to place telephone calls via Skype over wi-fi with an add-on Bluetooth headset.
This look at the Average family home in December of 2009 is probably pretty conservative. If the expanding market demand for more and more bandwidth can bring us widespread access to WiMAX or some other low-cost, high-bandwidth, longer-range wireless alternative, all bets are off. There will be no difference between an iPod Touch and an iPhone — theyâll be essentially the same device. Better battery and charging technology could come along as well, which could be a major game-changer. It is possible that content providers will wise up even more than predicted here as well, making the experience of getting music and video content to any device you choose very cheap and utterly painless. There could be no such thing as a ârecord labelâ or a âTV networkâ any more — look at the Averages in ten years instead of less than two and that will certainly be the case.
Comments? How do you see the Average family and their Apple Home?
“Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
read more | digg story ——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: AppleTVSource Saves the Family! STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 1/26/2008 4:15:00 AM ——- BODY: Luck Kanthatham ofÂ Apple TV Source posted a really great article today aboutÂ how Apple TV can help bring your family together. The CouchGuy thinks this is very much what Apple TV is all about, so pop over and take a look. (If you’re here, you should be visiting Luck’s site on a regular basis as well, anyway…) ——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: AAPL: Wall Street Makes No Sense… STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 1/23/2008 1:20:00 AM ——- BODY: These two links which were back-to-back on MacSurfer (the place to go for Mac news, IMHO…) sum up perfectly why I don’t understand Wall Street at all…
It is always fun to read all the after-keynote Monetary Mediums ( in this case, the NYPost’s Brian Garrity) claim that they know what it all means, as if they have personally interviewed everyone who issued a sell order within 24 hours of Steve leaving the stage.
Garrity says “Investors also weren’t thrilled by Apple’s new high-capacity external hard drives that can back up user data wirelessly”. I’m sure they were impressed, however, with the way Garrity can get their opinion right out of their brains wirelessly. Of course, that’s not much of a prognostication, really. I’m sure that wireless backup was right on the top of every investor’s mind when making their buy/sell choices yesterday.
Report on the fact that AAPL fell a little — fine. But please, don’t tell us you know for a fact why the stock fell in a story with no sources attributed. At least tell us which cereal boxtops Brian had to save up to get his Telepathy Helmet.
Of course, if you are reduced to getting your stock tips from the NYPost, you have bigger problems than a dip in Apple stock, anyway. I think I have more faith in Business Week’s Arik Hesseldahl. He doesn’t have a Telepathy Helmet, but he does seem to have a head on his shoulders and the ability to look at real numbers and past performance instead of just reading brainwaves from the ether.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Macworld Expo 2008 Keynote Predictions Scorecard STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 1/15/2008 8:27:00 PM ——- BODY: Okay, let’s see how clear or cloudy my crystal ball was for my Macworld Expo 2008 keynote predictions!
- iTunes 7.6 with movie rentals & iTunes-ready files on DVDs: I was pretty much dead on with this one, but that’s no surprise as it has been heavily rumored for weeks. Steve outdid even my predictions by bringing on not only Fox. Disney and Lionsgate, but every major studio out there, including Sony. Even Universal, whose execs hate iTunes and Steve with a passion, signed on for this! Wow! Fox releases starting with Family Guy: Blue Harvest will carry iTunes-ready files right on the DVD release.
- Apple TV firmware upgrade: I’m calling this a win, too! Movie rentals and video/music sales direct to the Apple TV unit was provided, as was a content partnership (with flickr— good choice) and improved organization and navigation with a brand new interface. No word on external drive support or a broader range of file formats, though those could be in there as well — we’ll have to wait until later this month when the upgrade is pushed out the door. Enhanced support for the EyeTV DVR was not announced, but Elgato has shipped EyeTV 3 with a lot of enhanced features today, so we’ll have to see what is in it that improves the connectivity with Apple TV. The only thing I called for we can be pretty sure was a miss was the Safari web browser — Steve would not have failed to mention that in the keynote. Maybe later.
- Apple TV price drop and Apple TV 2: This was almost a total win, and then some. The Apple TV dropped in price (though only to $229 when I had called for a drop to $199) and we did get a brand new Apple TV Take 2. better yet, the Apple TV Take 2 is the original Apple TV with a free firmware upgrade! You could not ask for something better than that — a brand new product and it is FREE! The Take 2 firmware gives us true DVD quality and HD video with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound stereo in the Apple TV at last. It also makes the Apple TV into an independent device, capable of buying music and video and renting movies directly to its own drive without a computer running iTunes. It isn’t quite the massive server product I envisioned with an LCD screen, larger hard drive, enhanced remote and iPod dock — but that would have been asking a little much from a firmware upgrade. Apple’s engineers are good, but not good enough to build self-replicating nanobots into the download to build on the additional hardware to our existing Apple TV systems. I think we will see such a product later, though.
- iPhone SDK and new iPhone/ iPod Touch apps: I was dead right on all of this except the exact nature of the new apps he would demo, and the formal announcement of the 3G iPhone. The new apps seem pretty sweet, and more will be coming once the SDK ships in February. I expect all of what I predicted by summer, though.
- Macbook Air: I got half of what I called for here. The Macbook Air is exactly the machine I described. (The flash memory drive is an optional extra, but it’s there.) I was seduced by rumors and visions on the AirDock, but we could still get something like that down the road, I suppose.
- Mactouch minitablet: OK, this was a clean miss — for now. I still think it is a viable product that fills a niche in the overall Grand Unified Strategy. But not this time. The MacBook Air will do a lot of this, but we need something about half that size to fill the space between an iPod Touch/iPhone and a MacBook Air. I still think we will get this, by and by.
More thoughts on the media-related announcements once I’ve had a chance to find out some details. iTunes 7.6 is already available for download and installation (and I have it installed on three systems — two Macs and a Windows PC). The material on the Apple website says movie rentals are supposed to be operational once you have 7.6 installed, but they aren’t yet there. Macworld says they won’t be available at all until late February, but that contradicts Apple’s press materials. The Apple TV firmware upgrade won’t push out for a few weeks, though. Also, the iTunes Movie Rental press release at Apple.com seems to imply that rentals won’t run on the 5G iPod with video — you have to have an iPod Classic, new Nano with video, or an iPod Touch. We’ll see about that…
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Movie Rentals and an all new Apple TV for free! STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 1/15/2008 6:04:00 PM ——- BODY: Steve’s still in mid-keynote, but I couldn’t wait. here’s the scoop:
iTunes Movie Rentals
- EVERY major studio - Touchstone, New Line, Miramax, MGM, Lionsgate, Disney, Fox, WB, Paramount, Universal and Sony!
- Over 1000 movies available by February with new releases 30 days after DVD release.
- Watch on Mac, PC, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV - move from one to the other.
- 30 days to start watching, 24 hours to finish once started.
- Library titles $2.99; New Releases $3.99.
- HD titles with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound! Library titles $3.99; New releases $4.99. 100 titles today!
- Launches today, with iPod/Itunes software updates coming.
- No computer required! (Prediction — check!) Rent and buy movies (and buy music) directly from Apple TV.
- DVD quality and HD with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound!
- Syncs with iTunes, YouTube, podcasts, etc.
- Photo slideshows from your (or a friend’s) .Mac or Flickr account.
- Can preview movies from Apple TV; see what other users who rented this movie also rented.
- All new interface with lots of new features — genres, movie search, favorites, etc.
- Surprise! It’s a FREE SOFTWARE UPGRADE coming in 2 weeks for the existing unit, not a new box!
- Price drop on entry-level unit to $229.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: The obligatory pre-keynote stream of consciousness blog… STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 1/15/2008 3:32:00 PM ——- BODY: 7:30 am Pacific time (2 hours before the Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld Expo 2008) and the Apple Store online is already shut down for the duration. I expect there is a LOT of stuff going on behind that particular curtain.
I’m going to open this entry and add thoughts and ideas as I go between now and the keynote, which I will be following on Gizmodo and anywhere else I can get a decent live-blog feed. I have the feeling this one is going to be HUGE… Merlin Mann on TWIT yesterday seemed to feel that way as well, expecting Steve to pull a real rabbit out of his hat for this keynote. What in heck could be as big a surprise as the iPhone last year? A big merger or technology alliance? A totally unexpected product line or platform? Steve stepping down as Apple’s active CEO? (Yipes! Let’s not go there…) We’ll know in about 2 hours or so.
8:03 am Pacific time. I feel somewhat strange sitting here in my office. I have three screens up and running on my iMac, iBook G4 and Windows XP Media Center, all running various live-blog feeds from the lines outside the keynote. (Oddly enough, I’m doing the blog entries at this point on the Media Center.) While I wait, I’m playing Peggle and The Sims Pool on my iPod. The iTunes Store is still up, but not yet featuring the normal Tuesday update. (That will come sometime after the keynote… and it is likely to be a big one!)
8:34 am Pacific time. MacRumorsLive.com and MacDailyNews.com liveblogs have yet to post anything, though both seem to be up and running. Gizmodo is posting some pictures from the line. I’m liveblogging other people liveblogging… how messed up is that?
8:55 am Pacific time. MacDailyNews.com is getting hit pretty hard but they are running. Gizmodo likewise. Pics from MacRumorsLive but no text yet. Five minutes to go.
9:00 am Pacific time. People aren’t all in yet. This is going to start late…
9:05 am Looks like Twitter’s been clobbered. Figures — half the auditorium is probably Twittering…
9:15 am …and Steve takes the stage!
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: ElectricPig.tv: Apple dropping discs in favor of USB thumb drives STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 1/15/2008 12:14:00 PM ——- BODY: This story from ElectricPig.tv (gotta love the name!) slipped by me yesterday, but it provoked a thought or two. According to their sources, Apple has begun phasing out their supply of OS X optical install disks and is already providing Apple Store support staff with the operating system, etc. on USB thumb drives. These aren’t yet available to the general public, but if Apple is releasing a disc-free ultra-thin notebook today, support staff will surely need these.
But when you think about it, the idea of dumping CD/DVD disks entirely in all Apple products for the install and diagnostic copies in favor of thumb drives would make perfect sense. I was doing this back in my earlier life as a mild-mannered systems administrator for a Great Metropolitan Newspaper, with my various installers and diagnostic tools on thumb drives. The drives were expensive 5 years ago, but today they are dirt cheap in smaller sizes — almost Cracker Jack prizes.
Micromat already sells Techtool Protege, a FireWire thumb drive preconfigured with a bootable copy of OS X and Micromat’s Techtool Pro and DiskStudio utility programs. They also sell Techtool Protogo, a DVD-based installer designed to put the proper OS X boot configuration and these utilities onto your own spare portable hard drive or USB/FireWire thumb drive.
There would be many advantages to Apple dumping the DVD and including a preconfigured thumb drive in every Mac sold, whether it has optical drives or not. A thumb drive is bootable (depending on the Mac system you have), easy to use and can contain all your installers, diagnostic programs, manuals, etc. in one location. Better still, it can be updated. Apple could post a downloadable installer for every new system software update that would look for your serial-numbered Apple thumb drive and update it to the latest and greatest automatically. Plus, how nifty, how sweet, how absolutely Apple is the idea of getting a sleek little key with an Apple logo and a Leopard-print lanyard in the top of the box when unpacking your new Apple computer?
This is a slick idea, and Apple should definitely go this route in the future.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Engadget: Live Macworld 2008 Keynote Coverage STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 1/15/2008 5:06:00 AM ——- BODY:
Please forgive the old CouchGuy from drifting off-topic for a moment, OK?
OK, so some folks from Gizmodo used an IR blaster to prank a bunch of exhibitors at CES last week by mysteriously turning off TVs in the middle of demos and presentations.Â It is the sort of plan that the term “sophomoric” was invented to cover (though that may be horribly unfair to sophomores everywhere, most of whom are smarter than that). Not exactly high-class, but as meanness goes, pretty low-calorie stuff.
Why do it? Well, why do prankers do anything — to attract attention. Not the noblest of motives, but a joke is a joke and even an ill-advised joke can be forgiven if everyone chuckled and maybe learned something. When Gizmodo fessed up to the whole thing, they seemed a little sheepish about it, and Brian Lam even half-heartedly apologized to the people they’d inconvenienced. (It didn’t keep him from running the video on their site, though. Hey, hits are hits and money is money, and you gotta get it while you can, right?)
Unfortunately, that didn’t end it. Gizmodo got some kicking around from the rest of the electronics industry blogging and press community. Rightfully so, IMHO, as this sort of thing really doesn’t do anything to enhance anyone’s image for responsible behavior. Gizmodo should have taken their lumps, promised to grow up a little bit, and moved on. No such luck.
Gizmodo’s Brian Lam has instead decided to compound the foolishness by claiming it was done as a noble protest against advertorial reporting.Their self-aggrandizing editorial today tosses out the phrase “civil disobedience” in a headline, and claims their prank “pays homage to the notion of independence and independent reporting”.
Borrowing images fromÂ Apple’s ‘1984’ commercialÂ (There’sÂ the Apple connection!)Â to go with their smarmy self-important editorial isn’t going to convince anyone that Gizmodo was making a grand gesture of protest against “the Man”. (To be fair, neither was Apple. They were selling computers — but they never claimed anything else.) “Civil disobedience”? Oh, please. No one is likely to mistake Brian Lam forÂ Rosa Parks here. (Bert Parks, maybe…) Claiming high motives and pointing fingers at everyone else’s supposed lack of journalistic integrity to take the heat off themselves is cowardly and insulting. It was just a goof, and nothing more.
If Gizmodo really wants to strike a blow against bad reporting and pocketbook journalism, they could try doing more good reporting and less ill-advised pranking and cheap pandering for website hits. If you want to demonstrate high aspirations, don’t take the low road in the first place.
Under the new program, all Netflix subscribers but those on the most limited one-at-a-time plan will be able to watch unlimited streaming videos through the Netflix service. Currently, the number of streaming movies you are allowed to watch monthly is proportional to the number of movies you can have out at once. For example, those subscribers on the most common 3-at-a-time plan can view up to 17 hours of streaming video (or approximately 10-12 movies) per month.
The timing of this announcement, like the news of the Netflix/LG partnership for products with built-in Netflix streaming, seems timed out of abject terror of the expected Apple announcements more than a cohesive plan to move into the living room space with streaming video. It seems pretty obvious that Netflix is reacting more than acting, which cedes the initative to Apple before they even begin.
There is no doubt that Netflix is the strongest potential competitor for Apple in this space, but it seems that even they know that if Apple can make a reliable and compelling movie streaming service a reality on Tuesday that they may find their LG partnership (which is not expected to offer any real products to connect your TV to the Netflix service before spring or summer) is too little, too late. The decision to go unlimited on streaming videos for subscribers right away, supposedly being announced tomorrow on the eve of the Steve Jobs keynote, smells strongly like desperation. Netflix still has no way to bring those videos to your TV set, which is the way subscribers really want to view them. The CouchGuy is a Netflix subscriber (and loves the service), but I find I never use up my current 17-hour-a-month allotment. I want to watch from my couch, not my office.
Unfortunately for Netflix, predators can smell fear. And so can investors, the press and the public.
Of course, an Apple TV firmware upgrade will be necessary to bring those new rentals to your big-screen TV. The update will allow for iTunes rentals and purchases direct from Apple TV, support for a broader range of file formats, enhanced surround sound, improved organization of files, external USB2 external drive support and at least one additional content deal (a la YouTube). Enhanced support for some 3rd party DVRs (EyeTV)Â is also a possibility, along with an implementation of the Safari web browser.
To bring this bounty to an even larger audience, Steve is likely to announce a price drop on existing Apple TV units — 40GB @ $199; 160GB @ $299. To fill in the original Apple TV price point of $399, enterÂ Apple TV 2 with a TV tuner, 500GB hard drive, built-in iPod charging/syncing dock, LCD screen and enhanced remote. Apple TV 2 is a step up for those who are really committed to an Apple-driven media life, designed to be capable of acting as a media server running iTunes right on the drive. This makes the whole iTunes/iPod/iPhone/Apple TV ecology available to your home entertainment system WITHOUT a computer in the mix at all! For less than the price of a Blu-Ray player, you can hang the whole Apple Media Revolution off the back of your TV. Sweet!
Speaking of the iPhone, Steve will next roll out the Apple MultiTouch Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The actual SDK will be generally released in February, but Steve will have a number of proof-of-technology apps to show, including push email support for Exchange servers and Enhanced Apple Remote software that will make the iPhone a touch-screen remote for Apple TV and Front Row. Steve will show these running on a prototype of theÂ iPhone 2 with 3G, which will be announced, but not ready to ship until spring/summer.
Steve will next (and at last) come to the Macintosh. He will make reference to the new Mac Pro and XServe models announced the previous week before moving on to minor upgrades to the Macbook Pro (and perhaps MacBook) laptops. This will lead to the big climactic announcement of the MacBook Air, an ultraslim MacBook with flash memory, an oversized multitouch touchpad and an optional external optical drive. An AirDock, essentially a Cinema Display into which the entire laptop slides to make it a viable desktop alternative, is also a possibility.
And, just when you think it is over,Â One More Thing… the MacTouch minitablet with flash memory storage, iPhone-like multitouch screen interface and extensive iPod-like media capabilities (including an Adobe PDF-based e-book reader). The MacTouch is the bridge product between the iPod/iPhone and the Macintosh lines, running pretty-much all OS X software, but having the ease-of-use of an iPhone. With the introduction of this product and the other Stevenote 2008 announcements, the era of the Total Apple Media Environment has arrived. You can have music, video, ebooks, communications, the web, and everything you need, anywhere you go. The combination will be unbeatable.
Sounds like a pretty full keynote to me. Tune back in here Tuesday night so you can chuckle at the stuff I got wrong, marvel at the things I got right, and hear about the Couchside view of Steve’s announcements.
Reisinger appears pleased that reports say Apple is having to pay $17 instead of $14 per movie sold through the iTunes Store, as a trade-off for the studios signing on to the new Apple movie rental service. Don seems positively giddy that the music industry is going DRM-free with other sales outlets, but is requiring iTunes to remain DRM-ridden even though Jobs was the first major industry voice to call for an end to unproductive “protection” schemes. He says this is evidence that Steve Jobs has lost his power.
Even if this were true (and it isn’t — we’ll talk about how I know that in a minute), why is Don so damn happy about this?
Thanks, Don, for taking the side of the greedy bastards who want to charge us the same for a low-res video download that costs virtually nothing to create and distribute as they do for a physical high-definition DVD with extras and costs for packaging, shipping, and a stack of wholesale middlemen to move it to the end user. Thanks also for being so jazzed that the most popular and easiest to use vendor of music in the entire world (and, by extension, the majority share of consumers of downloadable music who are served by that vendor) is stuck with DRM. This is DRM, mind you, that neither that vendor nor those consumers want or need — and that brings no benefit whatsoever to the artists and creators it is supposed to protect. Don must think consumers — that’s you and me, pals — should continue to take it right up the wazoo, just so The Man can bring Steve Jobs down a peg or two for daring to think those consumers deserve a fair shake.
Don disdains Steve’s “pompous nature” and “his belief that he was invincible”. I suppose pomposity and arrogance was OK when it was Bill Gates strutting like a peacock, telling the world that they’d have to buy whatever Microsoft wanted to sell them and they’d damn well like it, whether it worked well or not. At least, I didn’t see c|net beating Gates up about that attitude. It was Bill Gates’ God-given right to push crappy software to a captive audience and make himself the richest man in the word doing it. But how dare Steve Jobs think he should profit in any way from innovative approaches to computing and marketing that are successful because they give the average Joe something he can really use and actually enjoys paying for because it works and brings him joy.
Thank goodness, says Don, the music and movie industries no longer have to kowtow to Jobs. Don says Jobs has put the record labels and their execs through Hell. Not sure about that, but Jobs did put those execs’ kids through school and saved their collective asses, almost single-handedly preventing the full-scale meltdown of the music business. Let’s be sure to thank him by kicking him around at every opportunity.
Don says Steve should “say goodbye to power” and “say hello to your new rulers”. Since Don has made it clear he doesn’t give a damn about you and I, those “new rulers” he talks about must be the same greedy masters who have already been pounding us all in the rectal cavity for so many years. That’s what appears to make Don happy.
Well, guess what? Too bad, Don, because you are right smack in the middle of the proof that Steve Jobs and his media revolution aren’t anywhere near beaten.
CES is just wrapping up this week, and Macworld Expo is about to begin next week. Last year, the two shows were held at the same time, which rendered CES almost totally irrelevant. From memory, can anyone name even one innovation that came out of last year’s CES. No? The impact of last year’s Macworld expo is still reverberating through the personal electronics industry.
The best place to see just how much impact Macworld Expo 2007 had on consumer electronics is… CES 2008. From all I have seen in the industry press there are four kinds of products being shown at CES this year:
- Products that tie into, build upon and rely upon Apple’s innovative products.
- Products that desperately try to emulate, marginally improve upon, or outright copy Apple’s innovative products.
- Future-looking technology demos of non-products that won’t really become “consumer electronics” for several years, if ever.
- And the vast majority of the CES offerings — products nobody (not even the Apple-hating c|net editors) can even bring themselves to really give a crap about.
Apple isn’t even exhibiting at CES — and it appears to be the only thing that anyone at CES can talk about!
Next week, Steve Jobs will hold another of his famous keynotes. Does anyone really want to bet that what he has to show and say will draw the same kind of yawns that CES is drawing? Really? Want to bet your company’s future and your livelihood and your kids’ college funds on it? Nor does anyone in the industry, which is why everyone who isn’t Apple is chasing Apple, cozying up to Apple, trying to pretend to be Apple, or — when all else fails — attempting to draw unwarranted attention to themselves by screaming about how much Apple sucks. If you don’t have something to say that has the word “Apple” in it somewhere, no one is listening. Could that be why c|net can’t get through a publishing day without a cheap shot at the folks at One Infinite Loop?
And gang, there is a reason everyone is talking about Apple. It isn’t a tyrant in a turtleneck, or a reality distortion field, or a monopoly on media. It is one simple fact. Apple is creating products people want to buy and use, and that they don’t mind paying to obtain. Everything else is bushwah. People are tired of bushwah. Which is why everyone cares about what Steve Jobs will say next week. And why no one gives a damn about what Don Reisinger said today.
This is a change from the original Netflix plan to build a dedicated Netflix set-top box. Anthony Wood, the ReplayTV founder who came to Netflix to head this up, will be leaving to return to other pursuits.
This may or may not be a good idea for Netflix. How exclusive is the deal with LG? I guarantee not many people are going to run out to buy a new TV just to get access to Netflix. But if Netflix partners with a number of manufacturers, and some of them produce add-on devices as well as Netflix-equipped TV sets, it might work out OK for them.
Well, it might have worked out if it wasn’t for the fact that Apple’s new video rental system is going to bury everyone else later this month…
It still leaves me with my dilemma, however.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Torn Between Two Lovers: Netflix vs. Apple STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 0 DATE: 12/29/2007 3:50:00 PM ——- BODY: It looks like it is more than a rumor at last — Apple is entering the downloadable movie rental biz with both Fox and Disney as partners. No one could be happier than I… except… oh, dear…
What am I to do now?
I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since October 2004, getting the most out of that lovely 3-at-a-time unlimited subscription plan. I installed a special security mailbox at my new home specifically so my incoming Netflix discs wouldn’t disappear while I was at work. (Netflix was very nice about it, but after losing ten discs since my move a year ago, enough was enough.)
But I also love my Apple TV. I was one of those early adopters, ordering my unit the day they were announced for sale. Despite all the naysayers, I’ve never regretted the purchase. Apple TV performs flawlessly at bringing my iTunes-based video to my big-screen TV. In fact, I broke down and joined the flat-screen HDTV revolution especially to use with my Apple TV, buying and installing my HD set while waiting for my Apple TV to arrive. I keep my favorites among my personal DVD collection in my iTunes library for convenient repeat viewing (thank you, Handbrake and up yours, DMCA). I buy the occasional movie from the iTunes Store, but I’m mostly too cheap to pay $9.99 to $14.99 a movie for downloads. If I want to own a movie that badly, I buy the DVD.
I do buy lots and lots of TV shows this way. $1.99 at a time is pretty painless, though I have been known to indulge in whole series purchases, too. ( Jonny Quest, you say? Wheeeee!!!!) I use Apple TV for video podcasts, plus I have an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid attached to my new iMac to record all the stuff I miss and bring it right to iTunes and my Apple TV for convenient time-shifted viewing.
So, a rental service from Apple is perfect for me. I get the convenience of Apple TV (and can you imagine Apple doing a download service that isn’t Apple TV centered? I can’t…) with the lower cost of rental. Will it be subscription based or a la carte? Either way, it works for me.
Except… I love both Netflix and Apple. And I am probably only going to be able to justify using one of them as my rental movie source!
Why do I want an Apple iTunes-based movie rental program?
- Apple will make it fast, fun and utterly effortless. Face it, don’t they always? The iTunes Store dominates — hell, it practically owns the downloadable music market simply because the iTunes/iPod ecosystem is easier to use than anything else out there. An iTunes-based movie rental system will have a similarly compelling interface. Movie rentals are an irresistible impulse buy if they are simple and fast. Apple will, inevitably, make the experience amazingly pleasant and transparent.
- Almost-instant gratification. Adding things to my netflix queue is not difficult at all. But then I have to wait. If the title is even marginally popular or new, I have to wait a lot. (I am so tired of seeing “Very Long Wait” pop up on my Netflix queue that I could just scream. I only recently was able to get Shrek the Third, and how long has that been out on DVD?) A downloadable rental service reduces the wait from days (sometimes weeks for a popular title) to hours or minutes, depending on your personal bandwidth. There will be no reason for a popular title to be any harder to get than an obscure one. This works in Apple’s favor, too. I often put stuff in my Netflix queue on a sudden whim, only to remove it later before it ships when the casual desire to see the movie fades. With a download service, I get the movie while I am still in the mood to see it.
- Security assured. As I mentioned, I had to put in a special locking security mailbox to protect my Netflix deliveries from theft. No problem like that with Apple downloads.
- The ultimate in easy returns. I got Netflix because I never seem to get around to returning rentals to the store. My late fees ran to more than my rental charges for awhile. I don’t have to worry about when I take something back, but I still do have to remember to pack up the Netflix disk and take it to a mailbox somewhere for return. Sometimes I don’t get around to this for a long time, thus delaying further items in my queue from reaching me. Occasionally I misplace a disk around the house somewhere and have to dig it up to return it. And it seems to take a lot longer than it should for those returns to reach Netflix, especially since I am quite near to a Netflix distribution center. With a download service, there are a variety of ways they could handle it, none of which should be harder than pushing a button or waiting for a rental to expire on its own. I can’t lose a download, and crediting the return should be instantaneous.
- Possible rent-to-buy deals. If Apple (as most people expect) goes with a pay-by-the-rental plan, I can’t imagine Apple missing out on the opportunity to nudge extra movie download sales by offering a deal where part or all of your rental cost can be applied toward buying the download for permanent residence in your iTunes library if you choose to keep it. “Only a few bucks more, pal, and I don’t have to fade away — whaddaya say? Just click the little button…”
- Painless subscription program. I never have to think about shelling out per rental with Netflix. Once a month, my subscription cost is invisibly charged to my credit card, and I get all the movies I want without forking over cash. Apple could (and no doubt should) emulate the Netflix pattern and offer a 3-at-a-time subscription program as well — but I’m not sure that is as sustainable from their side of the bargain with a download program. Netflix controls me to keep me from downloading two movies every night by filtering my choices through the postal service and through a queue-delay system based on how fast I turn over items in my queue. If I’m consuming more than they think I should, my queue slows itself down. Yes, that’s a “feature” of Netflix that every subscriber hates with a passion, and it is a violation of the whole “unlimited” use image that Netflix shows to the public. But it works for them, and probably makes a lower subscription price possible. With a downloadable subscription service, Apple won’t be able to do that, at least not with any subtlety. They would have to explicitly limit the number of downloads I can get in a given month. If they don’t, that “almost instant gratification” advantage I mentioned before will come back to bite them in the ass. Sure, I’d love an Apple download system that let me have any three movies queued up for watching that I want at all times, swapping them out for new ones whenever I desire. Can they manage that (and sell it to the content providers) at, say $16.95 a month? I doubt it. Apple may have to go with an a la carte model instead, and that’s not as painless or as good for the consumer.
- Incredible selection. Since Netflix rents physical DVDs rather than downloadable files, it does not have to make separate deals with every content provider. If it exists on a commercially-available DVD, Netflix can rent it out and they don’t need anyone’s permission to do so. This means Netflix can make available every obsure DVD release there is, from every content provider. And they pretty much do exactly that, with a library of over 90,000 titles. Netflix does have to make deals with all the content providers for their streaming movies viewable on the PC, and that selection is much smaller — around 5000 titles according to the company. But those are much less useful to me because I want to watch on my TV, not on my PC. My tastes run to the obscure genre offerings about as often as to the big blockbuster new releases, making the Netflix selection a particularly important selling point for me. I could get Pirates of the Caribbean from either service, but will Apple ever be able to offer me movies like Comic Book Villains, Atragon, Bugsy Malone, Steamboy, The Magdalene Sisters, The Devil Rides Out, Wrath of Daimajin, and The Conquest of Space — or TV collections of fare like The Flash, Wonderfalls, The Outer Limits, Alien Nation, The Lone Gunmen, From the Earth to the Moon, Jack of All Trades, and Banacek? (All of those are from my actual Netflix rental history…)
- DVD extras. Downloadable titles don’t come with all the nifty DVD extras like behind the scenes featurettes, commentary tracks and other bonus material. Granted, some of this is utter fluff when all you want to see is the movie, but in some cases the extras are not to be missed. Except when you rent by download, you’ll miss them.
If Apple goes with an a la carte rental model, I could justify only renting the stuff I really want to see right now — impulse rentals and blockbusters I’m dying to see. Anything else I could wait and get from Netflix at no additional cost above my base subscription price. If Apple’s offerings don’t go beyond newer releases from a few major studios, that would still not add up to many rentals. After all, I have digital cable on-demand films available to me now and I never use that service at all.
I have a perfect solution, but it is unlikely to happen. Still, I think it would be a wonderful deal for Netflix, Apple and all the customers of both companies. Apple should purchase Netflix outright. (Yes, I’ve said this before. More than once, in fact. It bears repeating, especially now.) This is how it could work:
- Netflix and Apple keep doing what they do well. Netflix keeps renting DVDs and selling surplus rental DVDs at discount prices. Apple keeps selling downloadable content. Nothing available now goes away, though some products and services change form a bit to make them easier, more broadly useful, and more synergistic.
- Netflix integrates with iTunes. Apple would integrate the Netflix queue into iTunes, making the iTunes Store the gateway to renting DVDs through Netflix as well as purchasing surplus DVDs from Netflix and ordering downloadable rentals. iTunes as a gateway is a proven commodity and Apple’s greatest strength here. Want to watch a particular film? Search iTunes. It will tell you if it is in your iTunes library already, or what is available as a DVD or download purchase or rental — also offering to sell you the soundtrack album and (if Apple’s really smart) a link to outside sources of interesting material like related Wikipedia pages, entries from Rotten Tomatoes or TV.com, etc. One click gets you whatever you want in whatever format it is available at the time.
- Apple’s superior technology makes Netflix downloadables useful. Right now, the Netflix streaming content works only on Windows systems and cannot be viewed on portable devices or on your big-screen home TV. That means I never use up my free viewings that are a part of my subscription. I don;t want to sit at my computer to watch movies. Replacing that with FairPlay-protected downloadable video using QuickTime makes the downloads much more versatile and improves their quality. I can put TV shows on my iPod, and watch movies via Apple TV on my big family room screen.
- Netflix/Apple rentals and sales work together and support each other. You can have one queue, containing both downloadable rentals and rental DVDs, as you choose. Or buy a plan that you like offering a lot of downloadable slots and a few DVD slots, or vice versa. No matter what you are looking for, Netflix/Apple can bring it to you in some form or another. You can rent it or buy it — or rent to see it and then change your mind and decide to buy after all at a reduced price if you find you want to keep it. This one-stop-shop has it all, so why go to anyone else? Those already using Netflix are now exposed to all the Apple offerings, while iTunes Store users are constantly reminded what they can get from the Netflix side of things. Who can resist? Both sides of the business expand. Marketing for both sides costs no more than marketing for one or the other — and grows the whole thing. Gift card sales, credit card processing, web bandwidth — all of this is integrated in the most efficient way, and done with Apple’s traditional flair.
- A taste of the Apple. Give three free DVD rentals or downloads — a one-month trial subscription as Netflix does now — to every purchaser of a new Macintosh. Give one freebie to every purchaser of a new iPod or iPhone, just to get them to try it. That gets the user connected to the system. After that, all they have to do is one-click to buy more. Again, who can resist? Soon, everyone’s a CouchApple.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Could even Apple save this? STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 12/28/2007 1:00:00 PM ——- BODY: We can only hope the upcoming Macworld Expo keynote goes better than this…
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: CouchApple.tv: The Relaunch STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 12/28/2007 5:36:00 AM ——- BODY: Long time, no see.
Coming in 2008, a relaunch of this blog with a few changes. The undoing of this blog back in September was an emphasis on trying to aggregate news. Aggregating Apple news — even Apple news about a very narrow subject like the Apple TV — is not a job for a single blogger.
Really, there are plenty of places that aggregate news better than I could ever hope to match. (Hint: check out our friends at macsurfer.com, the grand master of Apple news aggregators.) Also, it was very hard to keep this blog on topic (Apple TV, originally) at a time when all the hot Apple happenings were focussed on the iPhone. I came to realize that Apple’s approach to Personal Entertainment encompassed a wide variety of products and services but that the philosophy as a whole was unified and interdependent.
So the relaunched CouchApple.tv will not focus on Apple TV News and Commentary as before. Instead, we’ll leave the news to those who do it so well and center our efforts on commentary and opinion — my own and that of others around the web. I will try to point you at the best the web has to offer of opinion regarding Apple’s overall approach to Personal Entertainment (and some of the worst, if only so we can poke holes in the more painful of pundits). Along the way, you’ll get my take on what is happening as well.
Relaunch will officially begin January 1 — but don’t be surprised if I can’t wait that long to talk about some of the latest happenings. I’ve been on the couch observing for quite awhile, and it is high time I shared the view.
Guy (CouchGuy) McLimore
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Want to Play Some Touch?: What the New iPod Touch Still Needs STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 9/8/2007 4:37:00 AM ——- BODY: When Apple released the iPhone, I was almost persuaded (as the song goes)… but the iPhone, while amazing, is just a little more machine than I really want or need. I love the iPhone’s interface, but it isn’t likely that the company I work for is going to adopt it as the corporate-approved executive phone. (Not that I didn’t try, mind you…) Buying it for a second phone myself was out of the question. $599 for a phone would be tough enough to swallow, but I just couldn’t see paying for a 2-year contract with AT&T on top of the basic-but-still-rather-nice phone and service that my company already provides.
But I coveted the slick Cover Flow interface, the multi-touch control, the beautiful video and — most of all — the ability to carry a real web browser experience in my pocket. I didn’t really need a new phone, but I wanted everything else the iPhone could do.
Still my 5G iPod with video has served me well and continues to do so. I was content enough. Steve Jobs put an end to that on Wednesday afternoon, though.
The new iPod Touch is, for all intents and purposes, an iPhone without the phone. All the music-playing, video-watching, web-browsing coolness I desired most from the iPhone was wrapped up in the iPod Touch for under $400. Now, I have to be happy, right?
It’s like this.. I’ve been doing feature comparisons ever since the iPhone was first described, wondering if it would be a good tradeoff for my 5G iPod at some point. My 5G has a 60 GB hard drive — the max at the time I bought it. Most of the time it runs at a little over half-full, with most of my music library, a big stack of podcasts, a smattering of TV shows, and one or two movies synced up at any one time. The only time I really need all that capacity, though, is on long car trips when it tends to run continuously. Maybe 90% of the time, I really only am using one favorite playlist of maybe 100-150 pieces of music, the latest episodes of 20-odd podcasts (including a couple of video ‘casts like Cranky Geeks and InDigital), plus a handful of TV shows and perhaps one movie, to occupy me when my beloved Barbara decides to make another marathon run at the department stores and fashion outlets.
I used to need all that capacity for video because I kept my iPod connected directly to my TV at night to run TV shows, but my Apple TV fills that role much more effectively, making the need for vast amounts of video storage on the iPod much less critical. I could do what I need (except for the infrequent long car trips) in 8 to 16 GB, no sweat. That makes an iPod Touch really attractive with that big, beautiful screen.
Web browsing in my pocket is my personal “killer app”, though. I have wanted that for a long, long time, if just to indulge my Google/Wikipedia/IMDB habit at the drop of a trivia question. Instant and portable personal access to the world’s information is a science fiction dream of mine since I was a child, and the iPhone made that practical and useful for the first time. (I know it isn’t the first web browser in a phone. It’s just the first GOOD web browser in a phone, OK?) The iPod Touch isn’t quite the same thing, since you must have a nearby wi-fi hotspot to use it, but it doesn’t require a monthly fee, either. Wi-fi’s not as easy to come by in Evansville, IN as it is in San Francisco or Seattle, but we have Panera Bread and Starbucks and McDonalds (Yes, my local McDonalds’ all have wifi. Don’t yours?) And I have a sweet wi-fi setup at home. (The IT guys at work would frown, though — the company has wi-fi but it is locked down and only accessible for frivolous uses on certain machines in the break rooms. I doubt I could convince them to bend security a tad to allow my iPod Touch to connect to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. C’ie la vie…) All in all, wi-fi browsing is close enough.
So I’m buying an iPod Touch, right?
There’s still one little hang-up for me. It shouldn’t bother me. It is such a small thing — not something I originally bought an iPod for in the first place. I didn’t think I’d care… but I’m discovering that I do.
There’s one thing my 5G will do that the iPod Touch cannot match. On my 5G, I can play games…
I love games in general — made my living creating board games and role-playing games for many years, but I’ve never been a big video gamer. I don’t care for shooters and fast-action button-mashers at all, and (with the sole exception of City of Heroes) I can’t get into MMORPGs. I can count the console games I’ve really played heavily on the fingers of one hand, and a short flirtation with the Game Boy died long ago. (I’m not even sure where my Game Boy is since my most recent move…) But I have found that I like to pass the time with a casual game from time to time, and I’ve truly enjoyed the selection of iPod games available from Apple. I find myself whiling away the spare quarter-hour playing Sims Pool or Mini Golf or Bejeweled quite frequently these days. I can grab a quick game alone even when there’s not time to play a TV show episode, and it has become something that occupies more of my iPods time than I would have thought possible.
And I can’t do that on an iPod Touch.
The current run of iPod games work on the 5G, on the new iPod Classic which replaces it, and even on the new iPod Nano. All of them have the same screen ratio and the same clickwheel interface. The iPhone and iPod Touch have a bigger and better screen and a much more versatile multitouch interface, but the current crop of games won’t work and the current firmware doesn’t seem to support any sort of games at all. There’s no Games icon, and no built-in games — not even the lame ones that came with the 5G, let alone the cooler ones that come with the new Classic and Nano.
And, thought I don’t quite believe it myself, that might make me hesitate to trade my 5G for a new iPod Touch.
There appear to be some great browser-based games being rolled out by independent developers for the iPhone, and they will certainly all work with the iPod Touch as well — but you must be connected to the internet to play. Stuck in my car sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot or in one of those uncomfortable “husband chairs” tucked away in the corners at the local Women’s Wear Warehouse, I’m not going to have a wi-fi connection. (Note to the owners of stores catering to women: Put in a comfortable “husband area” with a pop machine, TV set, a few decent magazines, a wi-fi connection, and good chairs and my wife and everyone else’s wife will make millionaires out of you. Trust me.) There’s no way to hold a game in memory in the iPhone or iPod Touch.
At least, not yet…
So to push me over the edge (and I daresay I’m not the only one who would welcome this), we need some game play on the iPod Touch/iPhone. At minimum, give us the same games available for the other iPods, adapted for the bigger screen and a touch-screen interface. If you really have to use exactly what you have now, Apple already has patents on a scroll-wheel interface superimposed onto the touch screen technology. Just put the routines that adapt the game display and controls into a firmware upgrade and you could probably make most of the current games run on the new machines. But at pricing similar to the iPod games out now, I wouldn’t mind at all buying the whole library all over again, if need be.
But why stop there?
New games designed by the likes of PopCap and EA especially for the enhanced capabilities of the iPod Touch/iPhone screen and multitouch surface could be just that much more interesting. And if you decide to make full use of the wi-fi and internet access capabilities, the horizons are almost unlimited.
Good: Sims Pool and Sims Bowling on the bigger screen, with some enhanced control options.
Better: A Sims gameplay core where you create a more individualized personal Sim who can then be taken into a number of gameplay modules. My Sim wants to go bowling this morning, and play pool this afternoon. When he finishes playing, he can show off his various trophies and prizes won from his efforts at his SimHome. Maybe tomorrow I’ll download the Sims Darts module to add to the fun.
Best: I can connect by wi-fi with friends near and far and play against other people’s Sims, with my SimHome available for visits online via web connection. Wanna come over and see my SimTrophies tonight, and get in a rack or two of eight-ball?
Wi-Fi allows you to design games where you can:
…play vs other iPod Touch/iPhone owners locally, or at a distance via the web.
…download and/or share game additions/enhancements (such as a modular Sims environment or iQuiz trivia questions)
…upload high scores to a shared web-based leader board
…purchase them through the iTunes Wi-Fi Store
…build and share a players community
I think it is inevitable we will have iPhone/iPod Touch games eventually — but I said that about the Apple TV and we still don’t have those, or any real hint that they are coming. If Apple would simply say “there will be games — they’re in development”, I’d have a lot less trouble turning loose of my 5G iPod. If Apple released a set of iPhone/iPod Touch games to replace those I play so often on my 5G (even if I have to buy them all over again), I’d plunk down my cash now.
Instead, I find that the iPod I said I always wanted is right over there… and I’m still not quite ready to buy. It is such a little thing. But in the end, it is the little things that can make the difference.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: NBC Dinosaurs… Your Ride’s Coming STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 9/5/2007 2:27:00 AM ——- BODY: He may not be the Real Steve Jobs, but the Fake Steve Jobs knows how to tell the truth about other things, as he does in a blog post he inaccurately calls “A boring rant” this week. Fake Steve nails the Secret Masters of Television to the wall, and I can’t help but wonder if he’s not channeling the Real Steve when he says things like:
You know what the new network is? It’s me. I don’t think people have quite figured this out yet, but just as Pixar was once a medical imaging company until I decided to make it into something completely different — ie, the most important entertainment company of the 21st century — so Apple is not really a computer company anymore, or even a consumer electronics company. We’re a network. We take content and distribute it out to millions of people, who play it on handhelds (sold by me) and computer screens (ditto) and yes, maybe, sometimes, on actual TV sets. At one end of the value chain, the consumer end, people have already voted. They like my system better than yours.NBC/Universal, meanwhile, has run down the street to put their shows on Amazon.com’s Unbox service, thus proving that when the going gets tough, the dimbulbs get going to a download service whose fate was sealed when it was universally (see what I did with that pun there?) dismissed as underengineered and irrelevant the week it was introduced. Amazon Unbox and hulu.com — yeah, shakin’ in our shoes, now, NBC. The NBC/Universalists apparently like Amazon Unbox because they are more pliable in their pricing structure, and because their ultra-restricted DRM scheme fits better with the whole “we-will-control-your-lifestyle” philosophy that make the dinosaurs comfortable and secure in the short time left before that mucking big asteroid finally hits.
Tomorrow’s Apple Event may not quite bring the planet-killer that is overdue for the TV industry, but Apple doesn’t trot out announcements at a venue the size of Moscone Center just to let us know that the iPod Hi-Fi is saying Bye-Bye. Sure, there will be new iPods — everything from a new Product RED Shuffle to a phat video Nano to a ginormous iPhone-like touch-screen model at the top of the line. Yes, we’re probably looking at the long-awaited Second Coming of the Beatles, courtesy of the iTunes Store. (Even the Real Steve can’t resurrect John and George, though I’m betting he’d give Heaven and Earth and toss in his Gulfstream if he could manage it for even one day. But Sir Paul is still with us, as is the esteemed Mr. Starr. Hey, Jude, take a sad song and make it better. For the rest, all you need is Love…)
Goodness knows that’s enough to keep the Faithful Fans and the Faithless Stockholders happy. But I have a strong feeling that there’s One More Thing in store (and possibly In Store) tomorrow. The CouchGuy is planning a weekend pilgrimage to the brand-new Apple Store in nearby Louisville, KY, just in case.
Close your eyes. Make a wish. Count to three.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: NBC Calls Us Pirates Again; Says “Hell No, We Won’t Go” STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 9/2/2007 11:07:00 PM ——- BODY: In a press release that sounds remarkably like a kid whose hand is still stuck in the cookie jar up to his elbow loudly proclaiming his innocence, NBC has responded to Apple’s recent decision to drop the NBC line-up from iTunes right away rather than promote all of NBC’s fall lineup for them like they did last year, only to have the network pull their shows mid-December in a highway robbery attempt once we’re hooked on their shows for another season. The entire release is available at Bloomberg.com, but the paragraph-by-paragraph gist seems to be as follows:
“Not being able to get what we want right now makes us sad.”
“Liar, liar! We did not neither wanna double our prices! We just wanna set our prices as high as we want, and bundle our stuff so that you have to buy what we say you can buy instead of what you want!”
“Apple’s a bunch of big meanies who just wanna sell iPods, and they don’t care if we don’t get to be rich selling you overpriced crap!”
“Besides, you’re all just a bunch of nasty pirates anyway! It’s only right that we steal from you!”
“We aren’t gonna go home just ‘cause Apple says we gotta — so there! We’re gonna stay right here and hold our breath until we turn blue! And we’d rather be someplace else anyway! Nyahhh!”
It is so nice to know that negotiations are proceeding with the mature, rational folks at NBC continuing to protect the interests of their beloved fans. Now will someone please get this whiny little brat in the peacock t-shirt a Kleenex?
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: NBC “Heroes” turn to Zeroes: NBC Gets Greedy, Apple Says No STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 9/1/2007 4:48:00 AM ——- BODY: In a move of unparalleled stupidity (OK, maybe there’s one parallel), NBC decided recently to insist on doubling the wholesale cost of their upcoming TV season shows as iTunes Store downloads, starting in December. This has led Apple to post a press release today announcing that they are dropping the NBC fall season from their offerings.
Personally, the CouchGuy applauds Apple for not caving in to an obvious burst of greed on NBC’s part. NBC’s big hit, Heroes, owes some of it’s early popularity to a free preview episode released through the iTunes Store. Now they want to double their take, a move Apple says would have forced the current $1.99 price per episode to climb to something like $4.99 to maintain Apple’s already-thin margin on download sales. At $1.99, the CouchGuy is happy to buy some episodes here and there to make sure I don’t miss anything (as I did with Heroes for season 1), or buy a whole season of a favorite oldie (the revered-in-childhood-memory Jonny Quest) or new show I missed catching on broadcast from the beginning (Commander-in-Chief). But at $4.99 per? Not a chance, pal.
Observers of the scene from the Macalope to Macworld/Playlist’s Christopher Breen agree, this is a dumb move for NBC and a good place for Apple to draw a digital line in the sand. If Apple caves here, it is the end for download TV in the long run. That kind of pricing will kill the growth of the most promising new venue for video entertainment on the horizon. We can help by continuing to buy from other still-sane vendors on the iTunes Store and telling NBC to take a long walk off a short season. They don’t get my money via iTunes, and they don’t get my eyeballs counted for their advertisers. There are other people who want my business. The CouchGuy truly hopes this insanity doesn’t extend to USA Network, owned by NBC/Universal, which is the home of some of the other favorites around the CouchGuy household like Monk and Psych. If so, there’s always The Discovery Channel.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: HDTV Content from Apple? Here’s how it might work after Wednesday! STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 8/31/2007 2:32:00 AM ——- BODY: There’s another big Apple Event coming to Moscone Center on September 5, and those always bring big news. The last Apple Event brought Your Friendly Neighborhood CouchGuy a new aluminum-and-glass iMac (yummy!) but no interesting news about the Apple TV.
The new event appears to be iTunes centered, which brings us closer to our favorite topic, but most of the Usual Gang of Rumormongers are convinced that the big news will be the long-awaited refresh of the iPod product line. Frankly, the CouchGuy figures a new iPod line is likely to be the centerpiece of Steve Jobs’ announcements as well. If the CouchGuy was a prognosticatin’ sort of CouchGuy (and when has he not been?), he’d figure we were going to see an iPhone-inspired touch-screen iPod with wireless capabilities, and probably also a redesign of the iPod Nano (or maybe a new product entirely to replace the Nano) with a bigger screen and video capability of its own. I’m figuring both lines to be based on Flash memory, though a hard drive in the upper-end touchscreen line wouldn’t be overly surprising.
But Blackfriars’ Marketing is expecting Apple to put a content-laden cherry on top of the iPod Sundae. (iPod Sundae comes on Wednesday next week, but what the heck…) With long-time Apple content delivery partner Akamai now offering the capability to deliver HD video, Blackfriars’ figures Apple is ready to take the plunge and bring forth HD movie sales and rentals via iTunes, come Wednesday next.
Is the CouchGuy ready to believe? Oh… whattheheckyeah! We all have to figure Apple planned to do this sometime, since the Apple TV was designed with HD output in mind, even though there was no way at release to get HD content into the machine! I think Blackfriars’ may be right. Doing this simultaneously with the release of sexy new large-screen super-iPods makes sense, especially if those iPods have wireless capability. Ordering direct from your Apple TV or new touch-screen iPod? That’s a big maybe, but I see no real technical reason it can’t be done.
The really slick move would be to make the new iPod operate as a wireless remote for your Apple TV as well. The touch screen would enable the new iPod to become a Mighty Morphin’ Magic Manipulator for our favorite piece of HD-slingin’ hardware, changing the touch-sensitive control screens as needed to match whatever you were trying to do. I might be able to resist a wide-screen touch-sensitive iPod for a time (yeah, right… pull the other one!) but if it also opened new control horizons for my Apple TV — well, prepare to take a good kick in the credit limit, VISA, old pal!
Think about it. Sit in your easy chair and tap your iPod screen to call up your favorite movies and TV shows. See a new trailer that sounds promising? Place the order right there on the Apple TV using the iPod’s iPhone-like touch keyboard mode. It starts to download to iTunes and it’ll be there in all it’s HD glory by tomorrow evening when you get home from work. (Even with Akamai Power, HD takes a long time to download. But two hours or twelve hours — who cares? Still faster than Netflix!) Not sure I want to own, but know I want to see? Rent instead of buy. It downloads and syncs directly to my Apple TV hard drive — but won’t be on my computer in my iTunes menu. I can watch it once for $4 or so and then erase it (or let it erase itself after a couple of days). If I like the film, I can pay the difference between the rental price and the purchase price and it copies over to iTunes on my computer — now I own it and can watch it all I want, on any computer, iPod, or Apple TV I have.
That touch-screen iPod-as-remote can do lots more, though. You can stop a movie in the middle if you are getting sleepy — and start it up again the next day on your iPod, which remembers where you left off. It can act as a sophisticated game controller for Apple TV based games — including interterminal games played with other Apple TV owners all over the world. (This would be perfect for board games, quiz shows, and other family-approachable games. Anyone up for multi-player Sims Bowling?) You can use the keyboard mode to send a quick email (with pics of the kids sent to Grandma’s Apple TV) and even iChat with her about the photos using a peripheral iSight camera that plugs into the Apple TV USB port. (Remember that port? It’s still there and I still say it is overdue to be used!)
OK, I’ll slow down. It’s hard to stop a all this going to be ready Wednesday? Well, maybe not. But it is quite possible that the first HD content rollout could be less than a week away, as Blackfriars’ suggests. And that’s good news for Apple TV owners any way you look at it.
And if Steve does use a new touch-screen iPod as a super-remote for an Apple TV at Moscone Center on Wednesday — remember who told you about it first!
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: iPhone: Yes, dammit, I want one, too… STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 6/30/2007 6:36:00 PM ——- BODY: OK, you may have noticed that this blog hasn’t fallen all over itself to cover the iPhone. Aside from a couple of posts here and there, we’ve pretty much ignored the biggest Apple story in years — not to mention the most talked-about technology rollout in recent history. Despite the fact that we maintain an iPhone category on this blog which refers to the iPhone as part of Apple’s “grand unified media strategy”, the CouchGuy maintains that CouchApple.tv is intended as an Apple TV blog, and that iPhone coverage should pretty much be limited to how the iPhone and Apple TV interact as part of that strategy.
Besides, there is a TON of iPhone coverage out there already, including a whole list of blogs devoted solely to iPhone news and opinion. They have been doing a far better job of covering the daily iPhone buzz than this one-CouchGuy-operation could possibly manage.
Nevertheless, the iPhone touches the CouchGuy’s world, too. As an Apple enthusiast going back to the early days of the Apple II, I am intensely interested in all things Apple and I’ve been following all the iPhone news with the appropriate measure of devotion. I knew early on that I was probably not going to buy one, at least not immediately. First of all, the iPhone is a pricey little piece of hardware. That hasn’t always stopped me, mind you. I dropped the cash on the Apple TV soon after it became available for preorder, I bought the top of the line iPod with video right away, and I own no less than nine Apple computers, three of which are Macs in daily use. (Next up will probably be a Mac Mini if they upgrade it soon, or whatever replaces it in the Mac pantheon if not…)
But I just can’t justify the purchase of an iPhone right now. I carry two cellular phones and an iPod everywhere I go these days. One phone is provided by my workplace — a very basic AT&T-carrier flip phone without even a camera. If my bosses would replace it with an iPhone, I’d embrace that in a heartbeat, but at my level that’s highly unlikely. (My boss two levels above me carries a Blackberry, and she would be a likely candidate for an iPhone.) Besides, Apple/AT&T isn’t giving much encouragement to corporate buyers right now on the iPhone. I’m not sure it is even available on a corporate buy plan as yet.
My second phone is a pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile unit — again as basic and simple as I could purchase. I use it very little, but for some reason I can’t let go of having a “personal” phone that I am not beholden to my employers to maintain. I call almost no one on it but my wife (who has the same service). Mostly, I purchased these phones for us because my wife and I got separated while on a weekend trip a few years ago and the incident made me vow to keep us tethered by cell phone ever after.
If I shelled out $500 for an iPhone, I’d be able to semi-retire my iPod with video (probably keeping it in my car, which is the place I really use it). I could also give up the Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go. I’d be really happy to lose that, actually. Virgin Mobile service is aimed at teenage girls who want trendy ringtones and cool cameras, not guys in their mid-fifties. At my age, there’s something disconcerting about having a phone carrier that answers their support line with “Yo!”
And the iPhone is truly a dream machine for me. I love all-in-one gadgets and the iPhone is the ultimate in this space. It is not only a video iPod, it is by far the best video iPod on the market, with features (but not capacity) far beyond anything I have on my once top-of-the-line iPod with video. The screen is amazing, visible under even difficult lighting conditions and gorgeous beyond belief. Navigation by flipping through cover flow is easy to get used to and just mind-boggling to watch.
As a cell phone, the iPhone is everything that every phone should be (and no other phone really is). It is easy to make a call, easy to get voicemail, easy to maintain contacts. Easy is the iPhone’s middle name. Both my little flip phones are a pain in the ass to use. I’ve never updated all my contacts on my company phone (the newer of the two) because it is such a hassle to enter them. On the iPhone, I type my contacts in on my home computer’s big keyboard and just sync with Address Book on the Mac. through iTunes. Done. Updating on the fly in the field is even easier using the iPhone’s touch-screen keyboard.
Let’s talk about that keyboard. Some pundits continue to bitch because the iPhone has no physical keyboard. Most phones have nothing but telephone keypads and they are painful to use for alphanumerics. Expensive Treos and Blackberrys have regular QUERTY-style keyboards, but they are still tiny. The iPhone touch-screen keyboard would probably take me a few days to master, but the AI they use to adapt to your typing and anticipate your data entry and catch your spelling mistakes seems smarter than any similar system I have ever seen. I think I’d learn to use it, and possibly to love it.
But it is the data functionality of the iPhone that makes it a dream device. How many times have I been out and about and needed information or access I could get easily if sitting at my Mac laptop? How many times have I had to scratch a note on a piece of paper, hoping I would not lose the note or forget later to hit the web and get the info I desired? When my wife Barbara and I were house-hunting a year ago, I’d have cheerfully tossed $500 at anyone who could have given me access to Google maps, my email, and a web connection to the multi-list sites that worked from anywhere and was small enough to fit in my pocket. A device that can put Wikipedia, Google, MacSurfer, Gmail, my company website, and all the rest of the internet at my fingertips anywhere, any time — that’s my idea of heaven.
And I know all this works, not just from the hype but because I have now held an actual iPhone in my hands and used it freely. Last night at 7:30 I left work and on my way home drove past the AT&T wireless store in a suburban shopping mall five minutes from my house. I expected a crowd, but when I saw no line at the door I stopped in — and was holding a functioning iPhone in my hands ten seconds later. I’m here to tell you, the iPhone does not live up to the pre-release hype. It surpasses it. It is a better experience that the most glowing of pre-release Apple fanboy wet dream bloggers imagined. It feels like magic.
Yes, there are things I’d like to see improved. Wi-fi speed on the data functions is outstandingly fast, but it slows down greatly when on the expensive EDGE cellular network. (Going 3G would have improved the speed in places where 3G connectivity is common but done nothing for those of us in smaller markets where 3G isn’t such a panacea — and increased the cost while vastly reducing the function time on a battery charge. EDGE was a good tradeoff and I understand why Apple went that direction.) Wi-fi is widely available, and the iPhone seamlessly jumps back and forth. It may not be as big an issue as some think. I also would miss my big capacity iPod — 8GB just doesn’t compete with 60GB on that score. But I think that would matter to me only occasionally, if I can continue to keep the big video iPod in my car. When I’m away from the car, 8GB of music and movies would be enough. But those things are quibbles. The iPhone is the prototype of the Grand Integrated Device I have always wanted.
So why didn’t I buy one? My wife, when I admitted I’d dallied at the AT&T store on my way home, even asked me why I hadn’t brought one home. She half-expected I would, despite the fact that the last thing we need is to make a $500+ luxury technology purchase right now (what with our buying a new home and still having the old one to maintain for at least another several months). When she told me that, I experienced a momentary wave of techlust. I must have one credit card left with $500+ open on it. The AT&T store was open till midnight — I could go back…
But no. For me, the iPhone is a massively desirable, but totally impractical purchase. My cell phone use is such that it is wasteful for me to consider owning anything but a simple, minimally functional phone with a pay-as-you-go plan. I want instant data access from anywhere, but I do not need the monthly data service cost that goes with it.
If Apple offers (and I expect they will, soon) an uprated non-phone iPod with the iPhone’s screen and interface, I’ll almost certainly buy one. If it offers similar data capability via Wi-Fi only (again, without the cellular component), I’ll be even more pleased to shell out the bucks. But I really don’t want to be on a monthly cellular plan with expensive data service. I want the iPhone, but I don’t want the monthly bills that follow.
So why is it that I began to suspect, when I held that little jewel in my hand last night, that I am somehow going to end up with one anyway?
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: iTunes 7.3 released, supports Apple TV streaming photos, iPhone STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 6/30/2007 4:19:00 PM ——- BODY: Apple has just released iTunes 7.3 and update to the Apple media software core that adds a key feature to Apple TV - photo streaming. Up until now, the Apple TV could stream almost all forms of media — movies, music, podcasts, etc. — stored in iTunes. Users could sync their favorites or most recent additions, but always could gain access to anything in their iTunes library by directly streaming it from iTunes over a wireless or wired network.
The sole exception was photos, which had to be synced to the Apple TV’s local hard drive to be displayed. The proved to be a problem for some photo fans with more pictures available in their Windows My Pictures folder or their Mac-based iPhoto libraries than would fit on the relatively small 40GB Apple TV 1.0 hard drive.
Worse yet, the Apple TV 1.0 firmware and the first versions of iTunes to support Apple TV treated photos as something of an afterthought when syncing. Photo syncing took place last, after all other selected media types. If the other selected media left no room for photos, they were not synced at all.
The Apple TV 1.1 firmware update released only a couple of weeks ago changed that somewhat, allowing users to choose to sync photos first instead of last. Now, iTunes 7.3 adds the ability to stream photos as well from any connected iTunes library.
The iTunes 7.3 update also features some minor changes to the iTunes interface, synchronization settings, downloading and transferring iTunes Plus tracks. Oh, yes… it also supports activation and synchronization of something called the “iPhone”. You may have heard about that device somewhere, lost in all the tons and tons of Apple TV news…
iLounge has a nice Instant Expert article on the secrets and features of the new iTunes 7.3, complete with illustrations and the CouchGuy recommends it highly as a good first look at the changes.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: The Next Jobs Apple Event Speech? Maybe… STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 6/21/2007 2:36:00 AM ——- BODY: In response to rumors floating about, the CouchGuy waxes poetic about…
The Next Apple Event (?)
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Apple TV 1.1 Adds YouTube to the Menu STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 6/21/2007 2:12:00 AM ——- BODY: Apple delivered on Steve Jobs’ promise from the D: All Things Digital conference and today released Apple TV 1.1 software update, which adds YouTube access to the Apple TV menu. The new software upgrade is downloaded directly through the Apple TV’s Settings menu via the Update Software selection. (You can wait for Apple TV to update itself, but since it only checks for updates once a week, you may be the last on your block to be watching YouTube videos if you do…)
The update adds a YouTube menu selection at the main level menu, with submenus allowing users to select from YouTube’s current Most Viewed, Most Recent and Top Rated lists. Your own browsing/viewing history is stored under the History submenu, and you can also Search for videos using the Apple remote and an onscreen keyboard that the CouchGuy finds surprisingly easy to operate. You can also Log In to your personal YouTube account from your Apple TV. Once you do so, you can rate videos and save the ones you want to find easily in a Favorites submenu. You can also report videos as Inappropriate from the Apple TV screen interface.
Other new features include Parental Controls to apply a coded lockout feature to the YouTube section and enhancements to the Screen Saver and the way Apple TV loads your Photos. No streaming Photos yet, but you can have Apple TV update Photos first instead of last if you want, and select an individual Album to use for the original photo screensaver or a new Slideshow screen saver. The Settings menu also allows you to reset which of the various international iTunes Stores is linked by your Apple TV. Right now, all this does is localize the contents of your Top Songs, TV Shows, Movies and Music Videos lists (where these exist in the regional iTunes Store of your choice). Later, who knows what this feature heralds…
iLounge offers The Complete Guide to Apple TV 1.1, which is a good illustrated walk through the new features. iTWire has a good report on the underlying security fixes that are also a part of the Apple TV 1.1 software update.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: WSJ: Apple in Talks to Start Movie Rental Service Through iTunes STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 6/11/2007 3:50:00 AM ——- BODY: According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is seeking permission from its Hollywood studio partners to start an iTunes-based movie rental service. The WSJ article says that Apple favors a $2.99 rental fee which would allow access to a movie for a set number of days. Partners like Paramount Pictures are in favor, while others like Universal Studios are resisting the idea. If this were to happen, it would be a real shot in the arm for the Apple TV line, and Apple is supposedly pursuing the initiative aggressively.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: iLounge Backstage: About Apple TV Margins and Lessons Learned STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 6/9/2007 3:18:00 PM ——- BODY: Jeremy Horwitz, in his Backstage column for iLounge, takes on the question of what lessons may have been learned by Apple from the results of their decision to make the Apple TV a more expensive, feature packed box than the immediately-available content really required. This is a savvy analysis, well worth reading. The CouchGuy agrees that the Apple TV is more box than the obvious job required, but thinks that the obvious job is only the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t just want a better video iPod dock — I wanted a kick-ass content control device, and the Apple TV is that device. But I agree that it is time for Apple to make more use of the power of the Apple TV.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: MacRumors Reveals iPhone Specs STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 6/9/2007 3:12:00 PM ——- BODY: MacRumors claims to have the definitive set of final stats for Apple’s iPhone, due to be released June 29. It won;t be long until we’ll all know for sure…
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Apple Releases DRM-Free iTunes Plus and free iTunes U Content with New Version of iTunes Software STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 5/31/2007 3:09:00 AM ——- BODY: Apple today released a new version of the iTunes software for Mac and Windows systems, and in the process enabled two major new sections for the iTunes Store.
iTunes Plus is the long-awaited DRM-free segment of the iTunes Store, where DRM-free music tracks featuring high quality 256 kbps AAC encoding are available for $1.29 per song. The standard 128 kbps AAC versions with DRM will continue to be available for 99 cents, and those who have already purchased the 99 cent versions can upgrade any or all of their purchased tracks for 30 cents per track (or less, if purchased as albums). iTunes Plus is launching with EMI’s digital catalog of recordings, including singles and albums from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, John Coltrane and more than a dozen of Paul McCartney’s albums available on iTunes for the first time. Playlist offers a good first look at using the iTunes Plus store features, including a tutorial on how to upgrade your collection.
For some time, Apple has offered iTunes U to a number of colleges and universities to distribute course material and special events to their student bodies. Now, iTunes U has become open to the public at large through the regular iTunes Store, allowing free downloads of selected course lectures, special events, and even campus tours from Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University and MIT (among others) as iTunes downloads.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Jobs at D Announces YouTube for Apple TV; Larger Hard Drive Model Also Announced STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 5/31/2007 2:38:00 AM ——- BODY: In his Q&A appearance with Walt Mossberg at the D 2007 conference today (as reported live by engadget), Steve Jobs called the Apple TV project “a hobby”… and then raised the curtain on two blockbuster Apple TV announcements that showed it to be anything but.
Jobs remarks about the Apple TV he later explained were prompted by the fact that it was not yet one of Apple’s core product lines because “lots of people have tried and failed to make it a business”. Jobs said that he believed the Apple TV could crack millions of units a year if they continue to improve it, however.
Then he proceeded to demonstrate that Apple is committed to continuing to improve the Apple TV. Jobs demonstrated a new Apple TV software upgrade that will allow Apple TV users to search for and view YouTube video as streaming content direct from the Apple TV. Users will also be able to log directly into their personal YouTube accounts to watch and save videos. YouTube content will be streaming only, and cannot be stored on the Apple TV hard drive. This software upgrade will be released as a free download in June.
Later, in conjunction with the YouTube announcement, Apple also revealed that they would now be selling a custom configuration of the Apple TV unit through the online Apple Store with a 160 GB hard drive for $399 US. (This configuration is not available on the Apple Store pages at this writing, but is expected shortly.)
CouchGuy’s take: I find streaming so reliable on my own Apple TV that I have no particular need for the new 160GB version, but I applaud Apple for making the larger unit available for those who do want it. I expect that the whole point will be moot eventually as I still cannot imagine that Apple does not intend to enable the existing USB port for use with an external drive. The YouTube connection is one I predicted in this blog some time ago. (I still believe a Joost plugin is inevitable as well.) Steve seemed amused at the D conference demo to be showing low-resolution YouTube videos on a huge floor-to-ceiling screen using Apple TV, but the feature is bound to be a popular addition to the Apple TV’s menu and is just a hint that Apple hasn’t even begun to show just how versatile and expandable the Apple TV can be.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: “Lost” Game Released for iPod STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 5/23/2007 3:14:00 AM ——- BODY: Apple has posted a new game to the iTunes Store based on the hit TV series “Lost”, which was itself one of the earliest TV show download successes for the iTunes Store. The “LOst” game is created by Gameloft, a creator of games for mobile phones. It allows gamers to play as Jack, the leader of the castaways, as he interacts with characters such as Sawyer, Kate and Sayid and explores well-known locations from the series including the beach, the jungle, the Black Rock and the Hatch. Game sequences replay familiar incidents from the series as Jack attempts to protect the castaways from the various mysteries and dangers of the island. The game sells for $4.99 and can be played only on 5G video-capable iPods. The game does not play on the Apple TV or through iTunes on your computer. A preview can be seen on the game’s iTunes Store page.
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: Refurbished Apple TV Units Now Available from Apple Store Online STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 5/23/2007 3:09:00 AM ——- BODY: The Apple Store online is now offering refurbished Apple TV units for sale at $249.00 US, a 17% savings over the regular $299.00 US price tag of the device. The Apple Store offers free shipping on these units, and they might be a really good buy, especially for someone who wants a spare unit (perhaps for a second TV or some hacking experimentation…)
——- EXTENDED BODY: ——- EXCERPT: ——- KEYWORDS: ——- ———— AUTHOR: Guy McLimore TITLE: First Non-Invasive Apple TV Hack STATUS: publish ALLOW COMMENTS: 1 ALLOW PINGS: 1 DATE: 5/23/2007 3:01:00 AM ——- BODY: This blog has not attempted to keep up with every minor hack of the eminently-hackable Apple TV, but this one demands attention. Turbo of 0xfeedbeef.com has posted what appears to be a reliable technique for booting an Apple TV from an external USB drive — without opening the case. The technique, described in its own page on Turbo’s site. is definitely not for the casual user with no experience with OS X hacking, but the hack, once completed, does give the user the ability to use many of the hacks previously reported for the Apple TV, but still allows the user to go bac