Monday, June 18, 2007

You Have to be Kidding Me! More iPhone, PSP, ORB, Streaming Video, etc

A couple of years ago I met a young woman and I took a very strong shine to her because her response to almost every travesty in the world, no matter how major, no matter how minor, was exactly the same: you have to be kidding me!

I realized after a short time that, "Goodness, that's my response to every travesty in the world, no matter how major or minor."

I have been attempting a shift where I reserve that response for other things. Not necessarily major travesties. I can tell you right now that performance enhancing drugs in professional sports are not considered any real travesty by the masses, and that's why they are still in use today. If you could blood test all the MLB players right now, I predict more than half of them would test positive for HGH (human growth hormone). You can't test for HGH without a blood test, and blood testing is not currently a part of MLB's collective bargaining agreement with the MLBPA. If anyone really cared to actually fix the problem right now, they'd find a way to get blood testing right now. This doesn't happen and likely won't until someone besides me, in a real position of power views it as a travesty and is hell-bent on fixing it. Let's face it Bud Selig and the players are not hell bent on fixing the problem, they are more bent on "not being stained by it". It's human nature. Ever it was…

It's no travesty, but I am ok with a "you have to be kidding me!" response to it because, especially in the coming weeks approaching the MLB All-Star game here in San Francisco, home of Barry Bonds there will be lots of talk, talk, talk with no actual "fixing of the problem". Fans are decidedly not voting with their wallets based on ticket sale trends over the last ten years. And it's the rub of trying to fix the problem. If we found out the real results are that more than half the players are using HGH who is that information good for? Not the players, not the owners and not the fans. I think we're in some classic "ignore it until it goes away" scenario with a lot of jibber jabber about doing something that really just amounts to jibber jabber. So of course, travesty or not: you have to be kidding me!

Then there's stuff like having a nice Playstation Portable (PSP) that would be able to receive wifi streams of all my media, except the nefarious scoundrels at Sony don't want you to have that much capability for their ~$150 device. You have to buy either a ~$200 add-on (Sony's Location Free Player) or a $600 add-on, the PS3. There's no reason it has to work that way at all, Sony set it up that way on purpose. So of course, "You have to be kidding me!" I bought both the add-ons though I didn't buy the PS3 with that in mind. Someday there definitely will be a very cool portable device that streams video from your home media library very nicely for less than $200, but it might be a few years. I don't really fault Sony as I do not believe they would have already sold millions more or even a 100,000 more PSPs if they had done this.

Here, it's me who is the hypocrite because I just contribute to the problem. Sony is a unique company in that it's business decisions really do make it look like it's run by a bunch of scoundrels, but their products are so good, people by them. I have a high end Vaio sub notebook, the PS3, the location free player, etc. That I sometimes view the Sony Corporation as a bunch of evil imperialists doesn't matter at all. If someone said they could only buy one Microsoft Windows based laptop, I would recommend the Vaio brand. Of course when the Apple Store moves into its Chestnut Street location, I'm for sure going with an Apple based laptop when it's finally time for me to upgrade. Take that Sony!

One of the most interesting things to me is that when I was writing ten years ago, Microsoft was a very interesting company to follow and write about. I don't know whether it's just me, but I no longer find this to be the case at all. I use Microsoft products, Vista and the Xbox360 and they are both fine products, but Microsoft the company, like Sony the company just isn't all that interesting. I like their products but don't find anything they're doing particularly notable. On the other hand, I find Google and Apple absolutely fascinating.

Google it seems is out to optimize everything. I'm not sure I'll live long enough to see (with the OY standing for "Optimize Yourself" rather than a kvetchy oy), but I don't doubt they are on that trajectory at all. Apple, well, Apple seems way better at optimizing portability/remote access than anyone else with the iPod, and presumably with the forthcoming iPhone. When you couple some future version of the stand alone ipod that is an 80GB (or more) version with wifi? In 5 years when all that is hooked into the 3rd generation of "Steve's Little Hobby™, AppleTV – I won't be the only one in Starbucks watching TV on my iPod. Steve will take an "aww shucks' approach to that success. If I had to pick right now who is going to own the "media server" space that will stream your content wherever you want it (whether it's your HDTV, the TV in your office, your computer at work, your iPod..) I don't see it being Microsoft or Sony.

Of course I may well be hugely wrong. Ten years ago there was no Google and I didn't think the future looked bright at all for Apple. But Steve Jobs came back, then the iPod, now the iPhone and…because of all that, Apple, in my opinion is likely to grow its market share in the personal computer space (and while it's not exactly a zero sum game, improved market share for Apple will come almost entirely at the expense of Microsoft).

These are exciting times.

For now Orb on a Microsoft Media Center machine provides a vastly richer and better experience than Steve's Little Hobby™, but in a few years there will be more options, all of them much better than any of the options.

Until then: getting all my media wherever I want it, whenever I want it, on any device I want it: miserably hard to do!! Please note, there are many good solutions in place if all you want to do is stream your video to a laptop, but if you want it wherever you are whenever you are, it's going to be a pain in the butt probably at least until version 3 of Apple TV (~5 years).

The stories I will be able to tell about "the old days" will have a strong resemblance to, "I had to walk 10 miles to school, through the snow, without shoes…" People will say, "You have to be kidding me!" I won't be kidding at all.

For now, having seen today's battery life announcement for the iPhone, I think I may well pass on passing on the iPhone. But I will definitely pass on being a fool standing in line on 6/29. You have to be kidding me!

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