Posts Tagged ‘twit’

Google Voice? Who really cares?

I really enjoy listening to Jason Calacanis when he’s on TWiT, and I think he generally makes a lot of sense (and considering his success, he clearly knows more than me).  However, his anti-Apple rant (like so many others) is really off-base (I’m not the only one that thinks so).

There is no technical reason why the iTunes ecosystem shouldn’t allow the ability to sync with any MP3 player

The iTunes ecosystem does allow the ability to sync with any MP3 player (even more so now that music is DRM-free).  You can build an application that uses the XML library description that iTunes creates to figure out where all the music/video is, and do what you like with it.  The way I see it, there’s no reason that iTunes/Apple should be forced to support any MP3 player with their software.  Apple clearly makes some money from the iTunes music/video sales, but it’s clearly not the main profit generator is the ecosystem – the high-margin iPods/iPhones are.  Apple has spent a great deal of time and money building a store and an application to make the players more appealing.  Why should any other player get to piggyback on the top of that?  If (e.g.) Palm wants to create an online music store and develop an application that works with it and the Pre, then they should be able to (and I see no reason they can’t).

I like iTunes more than other media applications I’ve used, but it’s certainly not perfect, and it shows that it started out as a music player and is now a great deal more.  I love the iTunes Store, but Amazon completes with it (I can’t tell how well, since they won’t see to me in NZ) as does the Zune Store – which even offers a subscription model (no idea if this is available in NZ – it’s too Windows-centric for me).  There’s absolutely room for someone (e.g. Palm) to build a better store (or interface with an existing one like Amazon) and built a better application.  Do that, and build a better device, and you’ll get customers.  Don’t expect that Apple should have to help you compete against them.

Think for a moment about what your reaction would be if Microsoft made the Zune the only MP3 player compatible with Windows.

The iPod/iPhone isn’t the only MP3 player compatible with OS X.  However, isn’t the Zune is the only MP3 player compatible with the Zune store?  The “PlaysForSure” idea got thrown out some time ago.

Simple solution and opportunity: Not only let the iPhone work on any carrier,

How many countries is the iPhone locked in?  It certainly isn’t locked here, or in many other countries (e.g. Australia).  This is only an issue in some countries, like the U.S. – it’s a U.S. Apple problem, not an Apple problem.  From what I understand, it makes business sense for Apple to have an exclusivity deal with AT&T, at least for now.  I don’t see anything wrong with that.  If AT&T was bad enough, then people wouldn’t use it, even if it was the only iPhone choice.  If other companies made phones good enough on other carriers, then it wouldn’t matter which network the iPhone was with.  I presume this is a temporary issue and the U.S. will join the other enlightened countries before long and have unlocked phones, anyway.

but put *two* SIM card slots on the iPhone

A nice idea in some ways, but about as un-Apple as you can get.

3. Draconian App Store policies that are, frankly, insulting

This is actually points 3, 4 and 5.

Yes, every application on the phone has to approved by Apple, and if you were interested in something adult in nature…well…you can’t do that.

From all accounts, the approval process needs a lot of work.  One suspects that now that Jobs is officially returned to work (and Schiller is speaking openly about at least some things) that changes will happen before too long.  I think Apple must surely realise that the situation is getting out of control, and will start implementing changes.  For now, there are still a lot of applications that I really love, there are none that I know of (which is an issue, of course) that I wish I had, and only one that has been pulled that I love (which is Amazon’s fault, not Apple’s).  I’m willing to give Apple a bit more time to fix this – I suspect that even they didn’t realise quite how successful this would be.

4. Being a horrible hypocrite by banning other browsers on the iPhone

Again, this is really just a specific case of #3.  Personally, I see almost no demand for Opera anywhere apart from by a few (very extreme) fans.  I don’t even see much desire for Firefox or Chrome on the iPhone.

5. Blocking the Google Voice Application on the iPhone

There’s a lot of talk about this.  It seems overblown to me, considering that Google Voice isn’t even publicly available (I believe it’s an invite-only beta) and is U.S.-only.  I think it’s just that a lot of the noisy tech pundits use Google Voice, and so this impacts them directly.  I think there are much worse cases of App Store approval problems.  In any case, this is again just another instance of #3.

Making great products does not absolve you from technology’s cardinal rule: Don’t be evil.

It seems to me that the cardinal rule is more “make great stuff”.  I’ll still buy from Amazon, even after they killed my favourite iPhone application.  I dislike some of how Apple handles App Store submission, but I’ll still buy various products from them.  I dislike DRM in general, but the iTunes Store is good enough that it’s still worth using.

1. Do you think Apple would be more, or less, successful if they adopted a more open strategy (i.e. allowing other MP3 players in iTunes)?

Less.  A huge part of the appeal of the Apple ‘ecosystem’ is that because they control all parts, everything “just works”.  If you use all-Apple products, everything works so much nicer than if you mix-and-match.

2. Do you think Apple should face serious antitrust action?

No.

3. Do you think Apple’s dexterity and competence forgive their bad behavior?

Yes.

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MacBreak Weekly almost killed me

I’m working away, listening to episode 98 of MacBreak Weekly, and just as I happen to be taking a drink of water, Leo says something humourous in response to Scott (about 1:04:18 in), I involuntarily start to laugh, and start choking.  It was not a pretty sight – the water had to go somewhere.  I’m still coughing.

The show has some reasonable Mac analysis/tips, but it’s really the humour that makes it worth listening to.  Just be careful drinking at the same time!

Meterage

There was a lengthy discussion on this week’s TWiT about bandwidth metering; the topic was discussed on the Daily Source Code for a few episodes a while back too.  Although Dvorak is often excessively inflammatory and I don’t always agree with what he says, this was a case where he was clearly right and everyone else (well, Leo really did all the talking) is wrong.

The biggest problem is that Leo is confusing two separate issues:

  1. how much you pay for your Internet access, and
  2. do you pay based on how much you use.

These are not the same thing!  Does Leo really think that unlimited Internet usage will stay the same price forever?  If the ISPs want to make more money, they just all put their prices up – they don’t need to muck about with changing how they charge people (which is much more work on their end).

I agree with Dvorak‘s 8 reasons – but it really just comes down to #3 and #4.  I should pay more than my parents do, because I’m using more.

The comparison to water is nice, but very flawed in that there isn’t a lot more that you can do with water.  If I had “all you can drink” water for a single price, would I use more?  Well, maybe a little – I guess people might have baths more than showers, and maybe pool usage would increase.  People might waste less, although I doubt people that avoid wasting water now are really doing it to save a few dollars.  Compare that to unlimited Internet access – there’s really no limit in sight as software gets larger, services move to the ‘cloud’, and audio and especially video online takes over from offline sources.

In the modern economy, are there any resources that are provided (other than those that nature provides) that are not metered?  Over-the-air radio and TV aren’t, but there’s no consumption, either – no matter how many TVs I have receiving an over-the-air signal, the ability of my neighbour to receive the same signal is not effected.  In NZ, local phone calls are unlimited, but that’s enforced for by the government, and from what I understand there’s little effect on my neighbour if I use the phone more (and again, there just isn’t room for much more use – there’s a strict 1440 minute limit per day per phone).

Electricity would perhaps be a better example – there’s an unlimited supply, and much closer to unlimited demand.  (The unlimited supply comes from a willingness to spend money on nuclear/solar/hydro/wind/etc generators, but unlimited Internet access supply comes from spending money on fibre/cables/satellites/etc too).  Is anyone arguing that electricity should be ‘all you can eat’?

Actually, my bandwidth is metered (from TelstraClear) – I’m not sure if there are any other ISPs in New Zealand that offer this.  I pay a base rate (covering overheads) and then a fixed price per 10GB.  There’s no limit to how many GB I can use, but I pay for each.  There are problems here:

  1. it’s not granular enough – it should be 1GB (you can meter in 1GB blocks, but the per-GB price is higher), and
  2. the price is really too high compared to elsewhere in the world.

If those problems were fixed, however, I would still have no problem with metered pricing.

Leo tried to argue that there’s no cost to bits.  While Dvorak argued this, I don’t think it came across just how wrong Leo is.  It doesn’t matter how much peering goes on, somebody eventually has to pay for creating and maintaining the ‘pipes’ that the bits are moved through.  Those pipes have a fixed capacity, which means that there’s limited supply.  If there’s limited supply and limited demand, then the only fair solution is to charge based on the amount that is used.

I’m sure that the a chunk of the motivation on the ISP’s part is to be able to make more money – but they are aiming to make more money by being more fair.  My argument is that the prices are going to rise anyway, so wouldn’t it be better to have things fair now?

Leo is concerned about the viability of services like TWiT Live and Revision3, since if people are paying for bandwidth they will be less likely to use it on Internet video (when over-the-air TV is still free).  I don’t see that as an argument against metered bandwidth, though, but as an argument for lower pricing.  Are people reluctant to turn on the tap to get a drink because that will increase their water bill?  When do you ever hear “Sorry, honey, we can’t watch Lost tonight because the TV will use up extra electricity”?  That’s because the per-unit cost of water and electricity is low enough that people don’t care about using a bit more.

Note that you do get people reducing waste water/electricity.  If you’re not using a tap, you turn it off.  Electronic devices have power-saving features (some people even turn their microwaves off when they aren’t using them, and so on).  But that would be good for the Internet!  What possible benefit is there from me leaving TWiT Live streaming on my computer when I’m not even there?  Does Leo really want to pay (or have sponsors pay) the bandwidth for that sort of wastage?  (This is Dvorak’s reason #8, which seems dubious until you think it through).

What Leo (et al) are arguing is that everyone (or perhaps everyone outside of business) should pay the same price for Internet access, no matter how much they use.  I simply can’t agree with that.