Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Broadcast Yourself...on Apple TV

You can save yourself some reading by looking at the image to the right, but this is going to be big. And I called it.

Things aren't looking so good for other media extenders. They need to hurry.

DRM Free iTunes

iTunes 7.2 (iTunes Plus) is now available. Apple will finally sell DRM-free music from the only record company willing to offer it, EMI.

DRM-free tracks will cost $1.29 each, instead of $0.99 per track you normally pay. The extra thirty cents buys you better audio quality than the standard DRM'ed tracks (256 kbps AAC versus 128 kbs AAC). You can expect larger data downloads as your audio files expand to nearly twice the size to accommodate those extra bits. The 256 encodings do sound better and you now have the freedome to do whatever you want, as many times as you want with your purchaced EMI tracks.

And so it begins.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nooo, I can't go back

No commercial skipping...I don't like the way this is looking.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Microsoft Making Money

For the first time, the XBox is expected to be profitable in 2008. How refreshing that Microsoft will finally start making money. Everyone knows that Bill Gates is the richest man in the world, and that Microsoft makes a lot of money. But I read some statistics from a Yahoo Business article recently that helped put their profitability in perspective.

Microsoft announced their quarterly revenue of $14.4 billion and net income of $4.93 billion. That means Microsoft made $55 million a day of pure profit. The article goes on to help us understand what kind of money that is.

Do some quick math and you'll learn it takes Microsoft only about...

  • four days to exceed Starbucks' quarterly net income of $205 million.
  • one week to exceed Nike's quarterly net income of $350.8 million.
  • two weeks to exceed McDonalds' quarterly net income of $762 million.
  • two weeks to exceed Apple's quarterly net income of $770 million.
  • 18 days to exceed Google's quarterly net income of $1 billion.
  • 23 days to exceed Coca-Cola's quarterly net income of $1.26 billion.
  • five weeks to exceed IBM's quarterly net income of $1.85 billion.
  • 10 weeks to exceed Wal-Mart's quarterly net income of $3.9 billion.
The Wow certainly does start now. With this kind of revenue and these sized pockets, they can afford to sit on unprofitable products (like the XBox and Zune) until Sony or Apple screws up and they are profitable. Good for them.

Three weeks to make more money than Coka-Cola?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Not so Creative

I appreciate the Zune, the Zen, and the Sansa in the MP3 player marketplace. Although I would never buy one, it forces Apple (and everyone else) to make better products, to innovate ahead of the curve. However, the reason I would never buy one, is the other products offer no real incentive, they are lacking the refinement and development. When you are behind the ball, that's all you have. They don't make a better product, and they don't have anything new.

This point is made loud and clear with Creative Lab's new Zen Stone.
If it’s not completely obvious, it is a weak, tardy attempt to get a piece of the micro MP3 player market that Apple is nearly alone in. Make no mistakes about it, this is an iPod Shuffle replica, it's a knockoff, a hack. They try to throw you off the trail by disguising it in a crazy new material and moving the nearly identical navigation circle to the complete opposite side of the device. In my opinion they’re not much different than cheap Korean knock off’s.

The frustrating thing is, having seven months to replicate the Shuffle, Creative Labs still hasn’t been able to improve on it. They weren’t even able to strip it of it’s “smallest MP3 player” title, and it has 2 hrs less battery life. Aesthetics are relative, but we all know it’s not as pretty. It’s better looking than the previous Shuffle, but alas it’s a year and a half late for that. Not to mention you won’t have the array of Shuffle accessories, to keep you from losing your postage stamp player.

If there where any doubts that it is a cheap copy. Creative’s site states:

Choose how you want to listen to your music! Push the dedicated random button for shuffle playback, play your music in the order you like or repeat your favorite song over and over again?
You mean there is a mode that allows me to randomly SHUFFLE the songs on my micro MP3 player? Creative indeed!

Creative chairman and CEO Sim Wong Hoo says (ha-ha "Hoo says"):
The Creative ZEN Stone, at just $39.99, opens up a huge new market for MP3 players. This is an incredible price for everyone to get a superior quality MP3 player capable of holding up to 250 songs.
First of all, please let me know what makes this a superior quality MP3 player. Second, I appreciate the price of MP3 players, and electronics in general dropping. They might as well movie tickets are nearly $10. However Creative hopes to move these not by offering something cooler or different, but by simply underselling the Shuffle. This doesn’t work.

I forgot to mention that Mr Hoo made this statement In January of 2005 when the Shuffle Debuted.
So I think the whole industry will just laugh at it, because the flash people – it’s worse than the cheapest Chinese player. Even the cheap, cheap Chinese brand today has display and has FM.


Can anyone tell me why this is a good idea? Wouldn't it be a better idea to get a standard portable ipod speaker dock, with undoubtedly better speakers, and take it with me not only when I grill, but everywhere else I choose? With 10 watt speakers and no touch sensative controls, I'm not sold. Aren't there any activities that we engage where we don't need to have some sort of connectivity to an iPod? Do everyday products need to be catered to, or made for MP3 players all of a sudden for some reason? For a premium nonetheless. Just some thoughts.

IPod accessories are getting ridiculous, and I'm not quite sure how most of these companies can afford to make products of which have to contend with hundreds of competitors. Oh well, have a healthy BBQ.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Dude, your getting Linux

Speaking of offering alternative Operating Systems to Vista, Dell confirmed that it will offer Linux on select Dell models.

I’m no Linux cheerleader, but I’m glad to see things moving in this direction and Linux (open source alternatives in general) getting more public exposure. For most people, that is non geeks (and even often geeks), Linux is painful. Weather it be lack of software support, mainstream titles, or the 1992 style UI’s. This could help change that.

So what’s the big deal? Linux is already free, what is this this going to change? I’m glad you asked. First of all you can buy a new Dell without Windows which you are otherwise forced to buy with a new machine, lower price. This will give Linux more recognition, press, and interest. Most importantly, it will increase developer (software and driver) support, for an eventually more widely accepted, more usable, Linux. These two factors (depending on it’s popularity through Dell and otherwise) could force Microsoft to both acknowledge and respect the open source community and reflect this in their quality and pricing. Oh yeah, it would also be nice of Apple to release a Linux iTunes, but they don't want Linux to succeed any more than Microsoft.

A wider adoption of Linux could also forces the open standards issue a little more which is something Microsoft tends to ignore when it’s convenient or when it helps their sales model.

It’s nice to see Dell bucking Microsoft and Intel, it keeps everyone honest.

As a side note according to Dells profile page, Michael Dell's home laptop runs Ubuntu. It's okay Mike, you don't need any street cred.

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