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Whew, It was worth the Risk

Well, it is great to be mostly right. Apple did in fact launched a video service today, with music videos and TV shows, and even video podcasts, so I’m three for three there.

The company also announced a new video-based iPod. I even got the Mac entertainment repositioning right. Apple released a new iMac with built-in video camera and new entertainment interface called Front Row. 

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Because I’m a Risk Taker

I feel more comfortable hanging myself out in the wind over here on my personal site than my work blogsite. Normally, that’s where I’d put a post like this one, but there is just too much chance my speculation is wrong. So…regarding Apple’s mystery announcement planned for tomorrow, I’m ready to make a prediction.

For some time, I’ve suspected that Apple might have a an iTunes-like video service in the works. And that’s where I’ll place my bet on tomorrow’s announcement, a video service, perhaps with music videos, TV content, and video podcasts. I’ll go further and predict a video-capable iPod and (if Apple is smart) Mac repositioning around digital entertainment. 

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Gramps and Digicams

It’s mixing-and-matching time—pulling together elements of the last post (on digital prints) and the next-to-the-last (about my father-in-law).

I have used digital cameras for a long time, at least as far back as 1997. The photo of my daughter and her grandfather was taken in late 1998 with a digital camera I can’t recall. I suspect that it was Kodak’s then top-of-the-line 1.6 megapixel shooter, which sold for more than a thousand bucks. A year later, I moved up to Canon’s PowerShot S20, a lightweight (for the time), full-featured 3-megapixel digital camera.

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No So Do-It-Yourself Fast

Today’s New York Times story, “Why-Do-It-Yourself Photo Printing Doesn’t Add Up” presents premise: Home printing costs anywhere from 28 to 50 cents a print, depending on who you believe (manufacturers or Consumer Reprorts). Consumers can get their digitals printed elsewhere for as little as a dime a print. More consumers are choosing the lower-cost options.

The story cites some analyst numbers showing a sharp decrease in home photo printing (48 percent of the photo prints made, down from 64 percent during the previous 12 months). From the news story: “Despite the ceaseless efforts of manufacturers to convince consumers that printing at home is fast, convenient and a whole lot of fun, the evidence shows that many people are tuning out the marketing”. 

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Simply Amazing

My father-in-law visited over the last two-and-half days. I didn’t spend as much time with him as I wanted to, because of my work schedule. That’s too bad, because my wife’s father is an amazing man.

He’s 83, still spry, alert, and interested in continuing to grow and mature his character. He flew out to Philadelphia and drove down to Washington for the visit. Later, he braved the pelting rain (more than five inches fell in the Washington, D.C. area over the last two days) to drive back to Philadelphia, before going onto New York and then back to California. 

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Google: It’s Not About Search

These days, Google seems to be interested in just about everything—portals, search, VoIP, instant messaging, email, photos, blogging, maps, topography, Wi-Fi and NASA, just for starters. Google’s eclectic interests must aggravate Microsoft’s competitive analysis folks. Every week, someone asks me what any part of all this stuff has to do with search. After all, Google is a search company.

I disagree. Google no longer is just a search company, if it ever really was. Search is really a means to an end, and that end is the access to information. Looked at from this perspective, access to information, all of Google’s recent announcements make sense. And combined they foreshadow where the company is going and why Microsoft really should worry about Google. 

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Apple Makes Good

With the tiniest of coaxing, my local Apple retail store replaced my wife’s ailing iPod mini. My daughter and I purchased it when the store grand opened, day before Mother’s Day, 2004. At the time, iPod minis couldn’t be purchased anywhere. But the store had a few in stock for the event.

Battery ran down over time, even though I took great care with the recharging. We’ve owned more than a half dozen iPods in the house; first one with battery problems. Few months back, when my wife eked out about two hours of playback, I took the iPod mini in to the store’s Genius Bar. The good folks there tested the device, which barely passed. Damn. 

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There is No Excuse

Sometimes I wonder what print publication editors think, what’s accidental or intentional in publishing and what is the backstory beyond certain decisions. Excellent example is last week’s New York Times Magazine.

On page 78 starts an article about luxury hybrid vehicles. Part way through the story is a two-page ad for Lexus, the kind of ad no legitimate publication would allow. Tagline: “Welcome to the Luxury Hybrid”. An ad for a Lexus hybrid vehicle in a story about hybrid vehicles? For shame! Print publication tradition, particularly in the esteemed New York Times Magazine, would forbid the mixing of editorial and related ad copy. 

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No Direction Forward

I recorded the PBS special on Bob Dylan, “No Direction Home” and finished the first part last night. The film left me with a sense of loss about the state of American culture.

Dylan started making music at a time of counterculture poetry and song, the Greenwich Village crowd, that still had some lifeblood even through the early 1980s. My question: Where is the interest in arts for arts sake today? I recognize this isn’t exactly a new problem. The term counterculture is explanation enough for a longstanding problem. 

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Greed Killed the Trojan Horse

Seems like Apple and music labels are on collision course as iTunes contract renewals approach. Steve Jobs called record labels “greedy“, over alleged plans to move digital downloads to a tiered pricing model. Right now, iTunes buyers pay a 99-cent flat rate for singles, while most albums sell for $9.99. Apple does bundle some singles with music videos for $1.99.

So, I had thought Steve Jobs was being just a wee bit over the top, until a few days later when Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. said during an investors conference: “We are selling our songs through iPod, but we don’t have a share of iPod’s revenue. We want to share in those revenue streams” [source Red Herring]. Ah, yeah.