I am sick of this Apple-branded TV rumor

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Aug. 27, 2011 | Tweet | | 2 Comments

I shoulda written this six months ago.

Rumors like Apple Developing ‘New Technology’ for Delivering Video Content keep popping up and all I hear is that Apple is going to enter into the branded TV space. I mean look at this nonsense:

Apple is not going to make TVs.

Why not? Gee, where to start. That HDTVs are a market with preciously thin margins? Apple’s displays are more expensive than other monitors and still aren’t the best. Or how about the capricious nature of the HDTV market? Apple will have to chase the finicky home entertainment trends — 3D, 240Hz, plasma vs. LCD vs. OLED vs. lasers, internet, wireless internet — on what amounts to an expensive commodity. Then there’s the size issue. Is it 50-inch, 60, 72? How thin is it? Apple will have to compete with all those specs, because TVs are an electronic commodity and must compete on specs. And those are just the specs you can measure. Nevermind the inflated, ridiculous specs of most TVs, like the laughable “infinite dynamic range”. All this effort to make a couple of bucks on a product that’s physically bigger than anything else Apple makes?

Why would Apple dedicate the bulk of their warehouses to a product that would potentially make them the least amount of money? Apple uses iTunes to help sell iPods and iPhones. Tiny, high-margin products. They won’t make nearly as much as they would if they continued to sell these handheld devices, unless Apple can sell a TV for $4000-$5000. Would you pay that much for the convenience of having a TV with iTunes?

All this: the stiff competition, the razor-thin margins, finicky trends, so Apple can sell an expensive commodity just to get iTunes in more homes? They already have a product that does that for under $100. If AppleTV exists, an Apple TV makes no sense.

I’m guessing what happened was some dim tipster heard, “Apple’s working on something big for the home entertainment market!” and assumed Apple is working on a big ass TV. And at times, this rumor may have alluded to the iPod Touch, AppleTV, the iPhone, AppleTV 2, AirPlay, and so on… I don’t know what the next thing will be, but it isn’t going to be a huge, expensive TV.

Even this guy says no, and he seems to be in charge over there.

UPDATE: And still, the rumors keep flying: Apple is working on a television for 2012, sources say [2011]. The article actually guesses “2012 or early 2013.” But it was supposed to be 2011 just a few rumors ago!

BETTER UPDATE: Chris Rawson at TUAW gets it.

Don’t Even Pretend

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Jun. 19, 2011 | Tweet | | Leave a Comment

Yeah Amazon, I read every page of your Cloud Drive agreement, in the six line high text box, through the two nested scroll bars.

Hmm… it’s almost like Amazon doesn’t expect people to actually read the Terms of Use.

“The Universe” Bingo Card

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Mar. 28, 2011 | Tweet | | Leave a Comment

After years of watching The Discovery Channel, I feel like I’ve at last acquired a 10th-grade understanding of astrophysics, so even one of these is usually enough for me to change the channel.

BS and advertising

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Oct. 28, 2010 | Tweet | | Leave a Comment

I have been thinking about Cracked’s article describing 5 Reasons The Future Will Be Ruled By B.S., particularly this:

We’re celebrating that we don’t need to pay greedy corporations because technology means we can get more and more of what we want for free, but at the same time, we’re moving toward an era when corporations won’t need to pay us.

A pretty bleak future where the wheels of industry grind to a halt, until you realize this argument is based not around industry and hardware, but on movies, music, books and games — entertainment. Jeff Koons has made a name for himself on the unbelievably inflated price of his art, but maybe that cuts to the core of the issue, that the monetary value of entertainment, even artistic expression, is ultimately arbitrary. When does a 12-foot aluminum balloon dog become more valuable than the man-hours and cost of materials it took to make it?

But say you work in an entertainment industry, a business predicated on making money off things like movies, music, books, and games. As Gizmodo points out, they aren’t going to accept a pay cut to live within the means that 99¢ rentals and $2 ad impressions allow. And since raising prices on content when it’s free to find a myriad of other ways, the way to make up the difference is by raising ad rates. This passes the cost onto the company doing the advertising, who passes the cost onto you. TV will cost 99¢ an episode, but the products in the 30-second, unskippable ad before it will become more expensive. Recall Koons’ art: an arm and a leg for trinkets and knick-knacks. We’ve achieved cheap entertainment at the cost of real-world goods, and learned that while there may be free TV, there’s still no such thing as a free lunch.

The maddening inconsistency of Mobile Safari’s URL autocomplete

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Oct. 14, 2010 | Tweet | | 4 Comments

If there’s one thing people want from a computer, it’s capriciousness. Let’s say I have a favorite site I visit every day that starts with a T. And so I begin typing its address into the URL field of mobile Safari. Tee…

What is this? T brings up a site that starts with W? Only the third word even has a T in it. And after that, ‘The’? ‘The’ ranks higher than a website that has two T’s in the name over a website that doesn’t even have a T in the URL? Keep in mind this is in a form field where URLs are entered. And the only website on this list that starts with a T is the fourth one down. Try that in landscape mode and you wouldn’t even know it’s there.

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The Hub, you got my hopes up

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Oct. 5, 2010 | Tweet | | Leave a Comment

The Hub is a new network airing a few favorite cartoons from the 80s and 90s, so I was excited when I saw this guy in one of their ad spots:

Blue fur, yellow eyes, razor-sharp teeth, a pointed nose and a bad attitude? Look familiar?

Joke’s on you, animation fans! It isn’t our beloved Sharkdog of Eek! the Cat fame, but Von Ripper from some new “Twisted Whiskers” show. Or so says its bio:

Ever seen a dog who looks like a shark on legs? Meet Von Ripper. This scary guard dog has sharp teeth, gray fur, and a really bad attitude. Stay out of his way – or else!

Ever seen dog who looks like a shark on legs? Why yes, as a matter of fact, I have.

How much bandwidth can an iPhone use?

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Sep. 9, 2010 | Tweet | | 1 Comment

Predicting that mobile video will only become more widespread in the future, I decided to keep my unlimited iPhone data plan, but how much data can I reasonably use in a month beyond the new AT&T data plans of 200MB and 2GB per month?

While reading Apple’s new app guidelines, I came across this gem:

Bandwidth:

  • Audio streaming content over a cellular network may not use more than 5MB over 5 minutes
  • Video streaming content over a cellular network longer than 10 minutes must use HTTP Live Streaming and include a baseline 64 kbps audio-only HTTP Live stream

So if listening to streaming audio, I have (1024MB x 2 per month used at 1MB per minute) a total of 34 hours of audio streaming, or over an hour a day just listening to the radio.

Video streaming at 64kbps (3.75MB/minute) yields nine hours of on-demand video a month, enough for four average-length films, or nearly all of Max Headroom.

Suddenly 2GB is starting to feel like a lot.

CORRECTION: Todd points out 64kbps is just the baseline audio-only stream, and doesn’t include video, which should be obvious to anyone who actually read the spec. That and Max Headroom isn’t available for Netflix streaming. Still, in a month, I was only able to use 1087MB, so 2GB isn’t what I thought it was, but it’s still quite a bit.

Eek! the Cat’s last life

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Sep. 3, 2010 | Tweet | | 1 Comment

Like many cultured cartoon geeks my age, I have been waiting patiently for Eek! the Cat to come out on DVD, so that I might recapture the halcyon days of the early 90s watching the best thing on Fox Kids.

You won't see a cat getting sucked into a jet intake on Saturday mornings anymore

I asked writer/director “Savage” Steve Holland about the fate of Eek at Cinefamily’s recent double-feature of Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer, and learned that Disney had bought the entire lineup of Fox Kids cartoons — including our beloved show. However, Eek! the Cat is too “politically incorrect” for Disney (see above pic) and it has remained incarcerated in the Disney vault for the last two decades, no doubt to languish on a shelf between Song of the South and Education for Death. It was a delightfully freakish show with a great voice cast including Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons), Gary Owens (Laugh-In), Tawny Kitaen (that Whitesnake video), and Cam Clarke (everything, including the voice of none other than Max Sterling in Robotech). Eek still holds up because it was a kid’s show that didn’t dumb itself down and was great fun for those with the sense of humor to appreciate it. Disney is doing a disservice to animation fans by not releasing this (nearly) forgotten classic. I agree with Curtis Armstrong, character actor and voice of Scooter from Eek!Stravaganza, “It was ahead of its time.”

Until Disney decides to dust off this brilliant series, I hear there is a torrent somewhere…

PhoneFlicks vs. Netflix for iPhone

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Aug. 31, 2010 | Tweet | | Leave a Comment

I love Netflix, and I think they’ve shown some amazing innovation in the on-demand video market, which is why they more or less own it. But Netflix for the iPhone is the first product they’ve released that I am disappointed in, enough to make me rethink my earlier assessment of Phone Flicks, my Netflix stand-in. Let’s say I’m looking for a movie to add to my queue, such as Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

Bye Bye Brazil, indeed. Dear Netflix, when are you going to release my film?

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They’ve lost ‘Control’

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Aug. 26, 2010 | Tweet | | 1 Comment

I was glad to ditch PhoneFlixFlicks from my iPhone because of its crappy UI. Say I want to add Control, Anton Corbijn’s 2009 biopic of Ian Curtis. Well, PhoneFlicks gives me one result: it’s Control all right — a 2001 thriller with Sean Young.

Did you leave enough room for the ad, the header, and the keyboard? Oh shoot. We forgot to leave space for the search results! So I was excited to download the new Netflix app and finally get some Control. Only I get this:

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