Scripting News for 9/5/07

Will 2007 be like 1984? 

I followed the Apple event by refreshing the Engadget live-blog page, written by Ryan Block, who has a real talent for live-blogging. It’s almost like being there, and in some ways better. Obviously you don’t have to travel if you’re just reading and refreshing. And you avoid the discomfort of being in a room full of reporters cheering and applauding the CEO of a company they cover.

Anyway, I don’t really care about the new form-factors for iPods, or the reduced price for more memory, these are always expected (Moore’s Law), and frankly I don’t know how useful the upgrades could be to most people. Do people really have 40,000 songs they care about? (I have a feeling if they did, Steve would have had a slide that explained how everyone is clamoring for more space.) I have a 60GB iPod with video that I bought in the fall of 2005 that still works great, and has plenty of room. I also have an iPhone which has an iPod built-in, but I haven’t gotten it to work properly as an iPod, and I’ve tried it on three of the Macs I own. No matter, the 60GB unit works fine.

The two features I thought were interesting were the interface to the music store and the interface to Starbucks. They are interesting if only because they illustrate so clearly that it’s possible to get content onto the iPod directly, without synching, without tethering to a laptop or desktop computer. I think the users will love this, and it will quickly become the primary way music gets on the device. That’s the good news. The bad? The music can only come from Apple. Oy. “It’s Steve’s world, we just live in it.”

But there’s more. Suppose Apple had never done the deal with AT&T and they were announcing the iPod Touch today. If they hadn’t announced a deal with Skype or their own software to connect the new iPod to the phone network through wifi, we’d all be speculating about it widely. It would be the obvious next step. And suppose they had announced it. At the same time they could have said “Okay, we know wifi isn’t everywhere yet, but 17 billion Starbucks outlets have them, and you can use your new iPod at every one of them to call anyone, for a very astonishingly low price.” So intstead of propping up the old over-priced locked-down phone system, they’d be like the runner in the 1984 commercial, throwing the torch in the face of the oppressor. Defining a starting place, a coral reef of the first order.

If they were doing stuff like that perhaps I wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable about all the cheering and applause. 🙂

Oh. One more thing. Maybe Google’s phone will give us nirvana?? One can hope. 🙂

24 responses to this post.

  1. Correction, Ryan Block is the liveblogger, not me


  2. If 2007 is like 1984, does that mean Steve Jobs will be fired again in 2008?


  3. “… it will quickly become the primary way music gets on the device. That’s the good news. The bad? The music can only come from Apple.”

    Maybe not. Are downloads disabled in Safari on the iPhone? Conceivably you could buy eMusic MP3s through the browser and save them in your iTunes library. But if file downloads are somehow blocked, then you’re right.

    Until someone hacks the touch.


  4. Posted by heavyboots on September 5, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Actually, some of us DO care about the space requirements. I was all set to pull out my credit card for the iPod Touch right up until the moment he announced the storage capacity. 16gb max is a LOSER!

    My current 60gb iPod has 9000+ songs, 1 video and a few photos. And I only have 4.5 gb free space. And the screen kind of sucks for trying to watch videos on anyway so I’ve never really bothered trying to add video. At any rate, the new Touch could store either one third of my music or perhaps one quarter and a few videos. What a joke!


  5. heavyboots, I was thinking “People who have 60GB might not be looking for more space.”

    I know damn well what it’s like having much less than that, I’ve had several players that were much smaller.

    Ryan, thanks for the tip — my brain isn’t working too well yet, still recouperating from this flu/cold thing. 🙂


  6. Yes, I always thought myself quite the music lover, but have yet to fill up even one-third of my iPod. The extra space seems arbitrary and the “you can only deal with us” attitude is really going to kill Apple in the end. You mentioned the gPhone; I think what I really look forward to with the GoogPhone is–besides being able to cure cancer, heal children, and stop earthquakes–is the rumors of it’s open-source nature. Does Steve Jobs know what open-source even means?


  7. I understand the value of partnering with Starbucks, both from a logistics point of view and a financial one, but I’d like to see that kind of capability made generic. My friend Tim owns an independent coffee shop that is a community touchstone, and he often pipes music from an imac. It would be great if the music he played were available right then to customers in his cafe. Extend, of course, to independent bookstores and other places that often have music that customers might like.

    And if said business got a cut…said business would probably try to shove the purchases down their customer’s throats. But maybe the business would say, “We’ll take those proceeds and donate them to this organization.” Those are the kinds of attitudes you get in good independent places (chains, too, to some extent).

    But the Starbucks thing makes this all much closer to reality, whether it happens or not.


  8. Derrick, I totally agree, and the example makes it so clear.

    They’re setting up the rigid, corporate version of what eventually will be an open platform. And it won’t just be for music.

    However there’s the sticky problem of patents, no doubt Apple is filing them all over the place.


  9. Dave, other than the Mac specific trades-plus the people from Wired–, it’s the front row Apple sycophants and employees ( who get their specific seating from the Apple events team) that does the cheering, drooling and self mutilation in Jobs’ presence. I can’t ever remember a real reporter cheeering or getting all teary eyes at an Apple event. And that’s been my experience over a 30-year career covering Apple going back to to Jim Warren’s Computer Fair.


    Jim Forbes


  10. Posted by Tumbleweed on September 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    FYI – your ‘Previous’ links and permalinks don’t work on the website (I know, I know, I should be reading via RSS).


  11. Tumbleweed, I fixed the broken links.


  12. Posted by Tumbleweed on September 5, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Fantastico. You da man.


  13. Dave,

    Is using to hold Open ID or i-names legit. The spec seems to imply it’s for humans. Perhaps the wording could include services as well.

    I know we will want to mesh with burgeoning id revolution. For my part, this is one area where OPML will really shine, as a payload between social networks for our attention and social metadata.


  14. Oops, it hid my brackets. I’m asking about OwnerId from the spec. Whether it’s for humans or services as well.


  15. Posted by Al Willis on September 5, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Remember, it’s not all songs–people are getting video podcasts, full-length movies and tv shows on these devices. 160 Gb seems like a lot today, but the content will grow to fill it.

    The time is coming when the cell carriers–as they exist today–will be out of the equation. But we’re not there yet. Perhaps when the 700 MHz spectrum happens in a couple of years.

    For people that want content from other sources other than iTunes, that’s never been a problem: download it or rip from a CD and sync it. Don’t forget: Apple’s DRM is the least bad of the ones out there; other than the few stores that sell MP3 and AAC, everything else is in a proprietary format with far worse DRM than Fairplay.

    It’s easy to predict that anyone developing a store that sells MP3s or AAC files will make sure it can be accessed by Safari on the iPhone and the iPod touch.


  16. Of all the things announced today the content push via Starbucks has to be the most intriguing. Imagine walking into a movie theathre and being pushed movie trailers, or your local grocery store and you get the weekly specials. What about going to class and being pushed a video of the lecture or a PDF of lecture notes. I mean really the sky is the limit here.

    Regardless of all the moaning and groaning Apple is so far in front of everyone else it’s almost scary. The Zune is looking like some sort of brown mystery meat and the PSP in all it’s wifi glory looks like a floppy disk drive with those UMD cassettes.

    When Kathy Sierra still blogged she talked about being at the ends of the spectrum, passionate users. You want people to love you or hate you but don’t fall in the “zone of mediocrity”. If you use that as a measure of success Apple is there – people either love or they hate them.

    Heck for $399 I went right out to the Apple store and I’m sporting a new iPhone knowing full well that they are making room for a 16GB model soon.


  17. Posted by Jake on September 6, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Which cell carriers will be out of what?

    The cell carriers that own the leases on the antenna towers all over the country? With the little hardened points of presence and power generators? The established fiber and wireless backhaul.


  18. Re the new high capacity iPods. One thing you should consider is that they have a dedicated though smaller following by audiophiles, who like to store uncompressed AIFFs. So each CD is 400-600MB. For this market the 160G was welcome news.


  19. Posted by Phong on September 6, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Jim Forbes wrote, “I can’t ever remember a real reporter cheeering or getting all teary eyes at an Apple event.” He obviously wasn’t at the introduction of the iPhone in January. Jobs had a standing ovation. And it wasn’t just Apple employees. The auditorium were full of journalists.


  20. Phong, you’re right, I wasn’t at the iPhone launch. and neither do I have an iPhone. My cell bill is about $15.00 a month but I’m glad some people are buying iPhones.
    Long before I moved to NorCal to cover technology, I was a working reporter in Southern California for a daily newspaper.
    Real reporters. not “techno sycophants” whose first job was at MacWeek, PCWeek or InfoWorld manage to remain distant from the subject of their stories. Have I bought and used a Macintosh, you bet I have. Do I think it’s better than sex in the morning? No way. Computers are tools and although I do have a certain fondness for some specific tools ( my plasma cutter is a fav), I’m not in love with them.

    Be well
    Jim Forbes
    Escondido, CA


  21. Posted by Phong on September 6, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Jim, I guess Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue from the New York Times are both “techno sycopants” and not real reporters.


  22. at one time, Walt was a real reporter covering the DOD and the teamsters. David has always been a real reporter. and neither David nor Walt have ever worked at a “trade”. I worked at a trade m,agazine and at several dailies. My point is that many of the trades hire and hired inexperienced reporters whodidn’t know how to maintain distance from the subjects of their stories.
    Best wishes,

    Jim Forbes
    “un reporterro viejo”


  23. @Phong, if you have photos of Mossberg or Pogue standing and cheering or applauding at an Apple event, show us the link.

    And you really need to give us some evidence for the allegation that at the iPhone’s introduction – at a keynote at an Apple show, where hundreds of Apple fans had queued through the night to get in, and lots of Apple’s commercial guests were there – there were *journalists* giving Jobs a standing ovation. It wasn’t “full” of them. I’ve been to a few and journalists are segmented off, usually on the RHS (as you face the stage) about halfway down. You knew that? You checked their badges?

    Else you’re just smearing people who have some work to do. Sure, some of the Mac-specialist *sites* and *bloggers* might whoop, and maybe Apple puts them in there if it counts them as “press”, but I’d stop short of calling that journalism.

    And the challenge to you on Pogue and Mossberg – who as Jim points out has some form in the serious journalism field – remains.


  24. Space is definitely a factor, whether it be for Ipods, Iphones, hard drives. The bigger the better. Several years ago I had a 40 GB hard drive on my computer and thought it was plenty, I had a 128MB MP3 player and thought it was plenty. Then the next thing came out and I realized I didn’t have enough videos and songs on my computer and MP3 player. Now I am maxing everything out. As technology moves forward so does size that you need to accommodate the new formats.


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