Friday, September 17, 2010

Rumor: AirPlay to allow streaming from apps to Apple TV, more?

I love it when a plan comes together...

AirPlay to allow streaming from apps to Apple TV, more?: "AirPlay, Apple’s revamped version of AirTunes meant for streaming audio, video, and photos to compatible devices, may also allow for streaming of content from third-party applications, according to a new report. Citing testing done by a reader using the first iOS 4.2 beta, Mac Rumors reports that every application that uses the standard iOS audio/video playback interface now shows an AirPlay button for streaming.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

iPods, iPads, Apple TV and Streaming Apps...

I have to admit, I was feeling a little ambiguous about the Apple TV announcement this week (even though I ordered one anyway). Considering my previous post, I thought I had missed something completely in thinking that there would be an app store for TV. And I suppose I did. But then it hit me: AirPlay is going to be about much more than media stored on your device. It's going to be about apps too.

Consider the biggest problem: there's no touch interface for the TV.

It's something that was constantly in my head when thinking about what might become of Apple TV. If you can't touch the screen, how to you interact with iOS, much less all the apps in the store. Simply put, you can't. And no amount of innovation can get around certain limitations in the interface that would make converting apps sloppy, if not impossible. You just can't play Angry Birds on a TV with a remote. I was sure that Apple would come up with a simple and elegant solution. And I think they have...

Consider the solution: a wireless connection to a large display, driven by a touch device (and not one, but two A4 processors).

So you're sitting on the couch, catching up on some news, when you decide to see what games are on. You fire up the MLB app, pick a game, and send it out to your Apple TV to watch, while all the game stats and controls are displayed on your device. Or maybe you decide you want to play some Real Racing HD, so you fire that up and send it over to the Apple TV. Your iPod/iPad/iPhone turns into the controller, and you're off to the races.

The point is that the Apple TV is basically a simple display for whatever apps are on your device. The device itself become the control, providing the missing touch interface, and allowing you to interact with the app in the way it was intended.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Apple iTV: Why apps on your TV will work

It's really quite simple when you think about it.

It's the one thing customers have been asking cable companies to provide for nearly two decades that they haven't delivered.

A-la-carte Content.

Netflix, Hulu, Discovery, ABC, CBS, MLB, PBS, ESPN, Disney.

They all have apps.

What do you want to watch today?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What if Verizon got the iPod instead?

Remember back in the day when the government was auctioning off the 700Mhz wireless spectrum, and Verizon stepped up with their Open Network Initiative? Well, in recent months there's been a lot of speculation about a Verizon iPhone or iPad, but no one has said anything about the possibility of a data-only Verizon iPod.

I have long thought that Apple is waiting for a carrier-agnostic model for their devices, but they've needed the industry to get to a point where it meets Apple's criteria for ease-of-use. I think the iPhone can almost be considered a stop-gap product, filling the void in time necessary for true wireless ubiquity to become a reality.

Make no mistake: Apple does not want to be in a relationship with AT&T, or any other wireless carrier for that matter. If they could operate their own network, they absolutely would. They are well aware of the tactics the cellular industry has adopted to limit device capabilities in the name of profit., and it doesn't fit with their approach.

All Apple really wants is their devices connected to a decent network. FaceTime is the key.

Why is FaceTime wifi only? Why are we reading rumors of FaceTime on iPod and iPad being linked to an email address and iTunes account? The answers are relatively simple...

  1. Apple doesn't want to create a strong association between FaceTime and a cellular network. They want you to think data network, not voice. Banish the thought that you are "calling" someone. And there's no way they're going to let AT&T's network issues impact their hottest new technology.
  2. Linking through an email address means you don't need a cellular phone number to route through. You just need an IP address and an iTunes account and you're set.
  3. The stage is being set for a much bigger audience. This holiday season is going to be all about FaceTime-capable iDevices. Christmas morning opening presents? Let's FaceTime grandma and show her how you look in that new sweater! Yeah, 'nuff said.

With iOS 4 offering multitasking capabilities, and background VoIP, the ecosystem is getting ready for an influx of data-driven communications. We all know it's just a matter of time before the iPod gets a camera. What if it got a 4G/LTE modem too? Would you need a cellular number any more if you could make and receive calls using Skype, and leave it running in the background on your iPod?

Which brings me back to Verizon. It's still going to be years before the networks are robust enough that this becomes a reality. But it's only a matter of time. And in the mean time, Verizon has what many consider to be the best network in the country, and they've said they're pursuing an Open Device Initiative (fwiw). It sure would be nice to have a camera-equiped iPod with a data-only connection to the best wireless network in the country.

It's all just speculation...but a kid can dream can't he?

Apple to world re: antenna issues

Suck it.

Enjoy your new phone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

iPhone carrier exclusivity: Coming to an end?

It's one of the big questions everyone wants answered about the iPhone: when will carrier exclusivity end, ridding us of the ball-and-chain that is AT&T?

I'm starting to believe the recent rumors of a CDMA iPhone being released on Verizon before the end of the year. Here's my reasoning

  • AT&T recently upped the early termination fee for canceling a contract from $175 to $375. That's a pretty big jump, and would definitely provide incentive for people to keep their new contract.
  • Early upgrades for most users - AT&T made the iPhone 4 upgrade eligible early...up to six months in some cases.

Why does this point to the end of exclusivity?

Apple is giving AT&T one last bonanza of iPhone users through the iPhone 4 launch. When the dust settles, and the majority of users are signed up for their new cellular contracts, Apple will launch the iPhone on Verizon. AT&T will be in a decent position with their existing customers, who will need to pay a premium to defect.

This would undoubtably piss quite a few people off, but do you think AT&T really cares that much, considering their recent service track record? My guess is they're banking on a lot subscribers leaving for another carrier eventually anyway (once they can take their iPhone with them) and are looking to cash in now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The next iOS device should be the Apple TV

The more I think about the state of the iOS universe since the recent WWDC keynote, the more I think there's an important piece of the puzzle coming soon. There were a few rumors before the keynote that there would be news regarding a new version of the Apple TV. With Google's recent unveiling of Google TV, everyone seemed to expect a response from Apple to counter their living room offensive.

I can't be the only one thinking it's only a matter of time until we see a completely revamped Apple TV based around the iOS and capable of tapping into the App Store. There are already apps available to bring the content, including video from a variety of sources (Netflix, YouTube, MLB, iTunes, etc). They would need to be modified to work at HD resolutions, but the iPad is already demonstrating that a larger interface only presents more opportunities. Of course, the TV lacks the touch interface, but there's no reason an iPhone, iPod or iPad couldn't serve that purpose.

If it were up to me I'd be mashing up an Apple TV with a Time Capsule to serve as a centralized media player/server and wireless backup device. It would backup any iDevice that's linked to it, and make media available via Home Sharing to both linked devices and other media players on the local network. You'd be able to browse the full shared library and add media for offline consumption. It's probably a few years off at least, but a guy can dream can't he?

As for Apple TV with iOS...maybe in time for the holidays?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Choice, according to Google

I've been following the latest announcements from Google I/O and reading responses from across the web to the news about Google TV. It's definitely a compelling product, and should provide some drive for the rest of the industry to get their act together.

For the record, I'm a self proclaimed Google fanboy. I've been preaching Domain Apps since they launched. I truly believe Google is building the foundation of the future of the web, and doing so in a relatively open and flexible manner. Shit, this post is even running on Blogger...

But something about how Google has positioned the TV product doesn't sit right with me. Maybe it's the smug tone of their announcements, or the statements about how they're different from Apple, or the dire warning about an Orwellian future (seriously?).

Frankly, what they're talking about doesn't sound a whole lot different than what's already on the market today. Here's a rundown of the details, in case you missed them...

  • Buy a TV from Sony exclusively -or- Buy a set top box from Logitech exclusively
  • Buy these devices at Best Buy exclusively
  • Get a DISH subscription (only with a DISH subscription do you get the full features of the Google TV experience)

So let's recap...
  • 2 device manufacturers, but only one for each type of device
  • 1 place to buy all the hardware
  • 1 TV subscription service to get all available features

Here are the issues I have with this arrangement:

  • Hardware: I haven't been interested in Sony hardware for 5 years. Maybe this will change that, but I don't have a lot of confidence. Back in the day I used to love them (I even still own a 10-year-old Sony CRT that sits in the basement currently, and still works great), but Sony products seem to suffer from the same 'brand tax' that plagues Apple. (Logitech, on the other hand, I love. I have a Harmony remote and other Logitech devices, so this could be a saving grace.)
  • Place of Purchase: Best Buy? Personally I hate setting foot in those stores. The service is poor and the employees aren't what I would consider 'knowledgeable'.
  • Satellite TV: I'm a Comcast subscriber, for a few simple reasons. First and foremost, they carry the Portland Trailblazers basketball broadcasts. There's no other provider who can show 70+ games out of the Blazers season. I know this isn't something that Google has control over, but there's no way I'm taking DISH over my home team. They also provide what I consider to be pretty good Internet's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than DSL.

Can someone point out the choices here? Because I'm having a hard time finding them.

Here's some real choice...
A Mac mini plugged into my TV running Boxee or Plex. Or maybe MythTV on a Linux VM. I guess I could give Windows 7 a shot on a different VM, or in Boot Camp. Or maybe I'll just use a web browser and go where I want, when I want....or maybe...

Oh sorry, was that too many choices?

How long until Google buys Canonical?

There's been a lot of news recently about Google TV, Android, the Chrome browser and mobile ads. So where's all the news about Chrome OS? Makes me wonder if the team is having trouble with the myriad hardware configurations they might want to support.

Could an acquisition solve all the problems and bring in a strong, stable OS that's already built on many of the foundations and principles Google already preaches?

I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CE-Oh-no-he-didn't!: Sony's Sir Howard says 'when you beat Apple, you're dominating'

So Sony sells well in their home country of Japan, and that means they're dominating? Interesting logic. Considering the iPhone is the best selling smartphone in Japan, with 1.7 million units sold in the last year, I think they have some catching up to do.

From Engadget:
CE-Oh-no-he-didn't!: Sony's Sir Howard says 'when you beat Apple, you're dominating':
Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer has always been delightfully direct, and he didn't hold back at Google's I/O conference: talking about Sony Ericsson with Eric Schmidt during the Google TV launch, Sir Howard noted that the Xperia X10 is the best-selling handset in Japan, and that 'when you beat Apple, you're dominating -- it's the new definition.' Strong words from a gadget titan -- we'll leave it to you to debate their veracity.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Clicker Launches HTML5 Interface for Watching Online TV in the Living Room

After reading this I can't help but think that Google's TV play will be based around Chrome and not Android...

What's an Internet TV anyway, other than a big monitor with a network connection and a browser? I've had a Mac mini plugged into my TV since they were PowerPC machines, and the experience has only gotten better along the way. It's definitely an area where Apple has missed the boat...although they may be building their own right now. I'm basically waiting for a 42" iMac that can leverage the App Store and that let's me use my iPhone, iPod or iPad as a remote.

Clicker Launches HTML5 Interface for Watching Online TV in the Living Room: "

clicker_logo_nov09.pngClicker, the Web service that aims to be the TV Guide for Internet television, just launched at Google I/O. is a new HTML5-based interface for Clicker's programming guide that is optimized for the '10-foot viewing experience' on a big screen in the living room. Google chose to highlight Clicker during today's I/O keynote because of its innovative use of HTML5 to create an easy-to-use interface that gives its users access to a large catalog of online video.

Twitter Expects Hundreds Of Advertisers This Year

Hundreds? Lol.

I still think Twitter will need to come up with a real business if they want to survive. As it stands, there's no compelling reason to continue to use what amounts to a feature of a more robust social application.

Twitter Expects Hundreds Of Advertisers This Year: "Twitter plans to have hundreds of advertisers using its new ad system in the fourth quarter as the company ramps up plans to become a self-sustaining, profitable business."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

iPad vs. Kindle: The race to the middle

I've been saying for over a year that this is the battle to watch...

It's effectively a race to the middle, with the Kindle starting from the low end and the iPad coming from the high end. At some point they reach near parity in features and functionality. In the end it's going to come down to apps and content...

Amazon Beefs Up Its Kindle Team to Take on the iPad [Kindle]:
Nick Bilton flags a surge of job openings at Amazon, all for the Kindle team. Word is that Amazon's working on a touchscreen color Kindle, and if anything, this hiring spree shows that they're not screwing around: They're gathering software engineers, new QA staff and apparently talking to game publishers about games for the platform. This wouldn't be a Kindle 3, it'd be a Kindle tablet. More »

How Adobe can win the Flash fight

John Gruber points to a post today advocating Adobe make a version of Flash Player available to the jailbreak community here. It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would make much of a difference.

I really think the only way Adobe can really win this is by making Flash truly open source. It's time to give back to the web community as a whole. This would really change the face of the conversation, and signal an all out attack on the principles that Apple has been pushing.

Adobe, haven't you made enough off of Flash over the last decade to now hand it over to the web community that made it what it is today? This wouldn't stop you from creating the best authoring tools, although it would certainly create additional competition for you...and your $700 application.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Is Facebook the new smoking?

With the number of people talking about quitting, following a year in which Facebook use was in some cases called an addiction, it seems we may have our first major site with a broad social stigma.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hey Adobe! Your propaganda is transparent...

No one is telling developers that they can't use Flash. And your attempts to paint Apple as the villain in this campaign are misguided.

Mr. Jobs gave you the best advice for your business and products. Stop focusing on controlling the platform. Instead, build the best products you can for working with open formats and standards. We're coming to the end of an era in that respect, and the world is moving away from your model.

The web is a platform. We don't need a platform on top of it that is controlled by a single entity. If you think that's exactly what Apple's doing, you're wrong. Apple leverages open formats and standards to integrate the web on their devices. The only thing Flash leverages the web for is to deliver proprietary media files to the end-user. 

In case you didn't know already, wikipedia makes it pretty clear: "...multimedia embedded in this way is either unavailable or notoriously difficult to access for those without the Flash Player." That pretty much says it all.

The real disservice you're doing is to your customers. You're creating a platform battle where none is needed. You should be shepherding your customers through these times of change, and empowering them by providing access and guidance in how to transition to these new standards. By doing so, you endear yourself to the audience and make yourself into an invaluable and trusted resource (rather than a necessary evil).

Do you see the difference?

Nice design though...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mac Rumors: Next iPhone to Record 1280 × 720 HD Video?

Mac Rumors: Next iPhone to Record 1280 × 720 HD Video?: "

John Gruber: Mobile phones are obviating the Flip class of pocket video cameras.

Correction: Mobile phones are obviating digital cameras.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Apple still defines the future of computing interfaces

It's been nearly two years since I first wrote about Apple defining the touch computing experience. Now they're taking us all a step further with the introduction of the iPad, which has earned the unfortunate monicker of an 'iPod on Steroids'. This new, larger touch interface brings a whole new range of possibilities for how people can interact with the device. Things that felt cramped before now have room to breath.

Along with the added space, Apple is taking the opportunity to introduce entirely new interface capabilities, and in the process continuing to write the book on user experience. I expect that the general conventions that Apple includes as part of their touch-capable OS will eventually become the standard across the industry.

Take a look at the guided tours they put up this week and you get a sense of what I'm talking about...

The only New Yorker cartoon caption you'll ever need


Monday, March 29, 2010

Pageview Pumping

Interesting perspective, but a little extreme in my opinion...

Pageviews are still an important part of measuring any audience online and how engaged they are with the content. And there are many a tactic available to publishers that help drive traffic, and thus pageviews, and many publishers who do engage in the type of hype-writing described here simply to drive traffic. I work for a media company where we measure success in pageviews, and it is misleading. But breaking articles into multiple pieces is no different than a newspaper continuing a front page article at the back of the section. Are those valueless pageviews as well? Are the advertisers on the back page the victims of a scan? We still need a way to cut things off for people who aren't interested in the remaining 54,632 words in the article and just want to move on to the next thing.

What we need is a way to measure a complete session, and how engaged the user is with the different pieces of content they encounter along the way...

PS. Ads are content...and don't you forget it!

Pageview Pumping:

MG Siegler:

But what interests me about all this is the underlying war going on between those playing the pageview game, and those that hate the pageview game. To put it another (simplified) way: the war between quality versus quantity.

Siegler comes close to getting it, but falls short. Pageviews, as a metric used for directly billing advertisers, are a scam. Publishers game it with sensational link-bait articles and bullshit tricks like breaking articles into multiple “pages”. Advertisers get stuck paying for valueless impressions. Readers get stuck with the sensational bullshit articles, the tricks (like breaking single articles into multiple “pages”), and suffer through too many annoying ads surrounding actual content.

It is, as Jim Coudal and I argued at SXSW, a race to the bottom. Be careful of the “everyones” who say pageviews are imperfect but the best we can do. They’re the ones who are happy with the web as a market for bullshit.

Not Much of an Argument, Really

I believe the other argument amounts to "But Flash is good...enough".

From Daring Fireball:

Not Much of an Argument, Really:

Matt Buchanan:

It’s interesting, to say the least, that a device promising to be the best browsing experience — cue Scott Forestall crazy eyes — is in fact reshaping the internet. You could argue it’s for the better, moving sites away from proprietary formats and heavy, resource-sucking designs to more open standards, and more efficient layouts that are easier to use (as many have, convincingly).

What’s the other argument?

Google already running into problems with Android development

In case I wasn't clear...

One company controlling the source, while other companies try to develop different interfaces for the core product, leads to massive fragmentation. Things just don't work right everywhere.

Google's Solution to Android Fragmentation: Break It Apart [Rumor
Click here to read Google's Solution to Android Fragmentation: Break It ApartAndroid's problem: There's a lot of Androids out there! 1.5, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.1, just to name the major current versions. A problem, 'cause spiffy apps that'll run on 2.0 won't run on 1.5, and now everybody's confused. Google's solution? More »

Android will overtake the iPhone, guaranteed

But that's not really much of a statement. Of course it will overtake the iPhone. There are at least 5 major phone manufacturers building phones on the Android platform. It's only a matter of time before there are more Android handsets out there than iPhones. Whether or not they will be as capable or streamlined as the iPhone remains to be seen.

There is no question that there will be more Android phones, but will they be as good? Will apps be as simple, move effortlessly between devices? Will things just work? It's entirely possible that some day, Android phones will be far better than the iPhone...but that's not today.

How the iPhone Could End Up In Second Place [Smartphones]:

Here are the US mobile web traffic figures for iPhone OS and Android, getting ready to collide: Android, on its way up; iPhone, on its way down. So when will Android overtake the iPhone? Try next month. More »


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hulu blocking yet another browser, trying to drive customers away

When are they going to figure out that preventing customers from accessing your content isn't a sound business model.

Hulu blocking a specific web browser is like a broadcaster trying to keep their shows off Sony TVs. Pure idiocy...

Read more on Mashable.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Foursquare, Twitter & Gowalla: Innovating themselves into irrelevance?

The biggest concern I have with services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Twitter isn't whether they have value (I think they've clearly demonstrated they do), but it's whether or not they are building sustainable businesses. All these services seem like they are developing feature sets that their larger competitors (read Facebook and Yelp) will simply be able to add to their existing service as a major enhancement. Why would I use a dedicated service, when the broader services I do mostly the same thing?

TechCrunch: Facebook QR codes and location

TechCrunch: The Location War

Video: The End of Publishing (or media as we know it for that matter)

Great video examining the current issues facing the publishing industry. Replace 'publishing' and 'books' with 'media', and you start to see the big picture...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Twitter to roll out '@anywhere' service

Have I mentioned that I'm not particularly fond of Twitter, and think they'll be more or less irrelevant in 5 years?

Well there, I said it...

Twitter to roll out '@anywhere' service: "The new service, unveiled at the South By Southwest conference, will allow Twitter users to connect to their accounts through third-party Websites."