Tag Archives: Amazon

Episode 77: Microphone in the wrong computer

arrested-development

Jeremy and I agree that the new Independence Day movie will be one of the best movies ever. Awfully (good) as Jeremy says.

That leads us naturally into a discussion about Netflix, Arrested Development and the future of TV shows on Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services.

We also discuss how HBO, Netflix and others don’t need as many successful shows as a broadcast network would need in order to be successful.

We also discuss the latest Apple TV update and how both HBO Go and WatchESPN require a cable subscription to use, which is a big change from the past.

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Episode 62: Surface Pro, no compromises?

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We discuss whether or not the Surface Pro is a no compromise machine or a machine filled with compromises.

Good design is about compromises, after all. And is the future of computing having a tablet or smartphone and docking that device into a keyboard, mouse and big monitor when needed? Are we going to move away from having separate computers, tablets and smartphones?

We also discuss how Skyfall was released first as a digital download before DVD/Bluray. The end of physical media is near. Other big releases such as The Hobbit are coming first to iTunes, Amazon, Vudu and other digital download services.

There’s more.

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Amazon first displaced book stores, now moving to displace publishers

The New York Times reports:

Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form. It is a striking acceleration of the retailer’s fledging publishing program that will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York houses that are also its most prominent suppliers.

Several large publishers declined to speak on the record about Amazon’s efforts. “Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,” said Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, who is known for speaking his mind.

My gut says this will be good for authors and readers but not for the publishing industry.

Episode 13: Your password sucks. No really, it does. And it endangers us all.

This week we talk about password security and how having one password for everything — no matter how secure you think it is — is a very bad idea.

If one website where you have an account is comprised, hackers could have access to your username, email and password. They will then try those same combinations on countless websites, particularly financial websites.

So, yes, your email password matters. That password you have on that random forum matters. They all matter.

That leads us to discuss 1Password, which allows you to remember one password on your computer that can unlock unique passwords on every website you join. Password managers are your best way to stay safe on the Internet.

Then we discuss the rumored Kindle tablet, which we’re all pretty sure is going to happen this fall. But we think it may be going more after the Nook Color than the iPad.

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Episode 6: Lion roars, Borders snores

Could we kick off this week’s show by talking about anything other than OS X Lion? 10.7 is a worthy update, and we give some initial impressions and who will and won’t like some of the updates.

I wrote another love letter to Spotify today, while Jeremy tried to understand what I was talking about.

Then we get into books, libraries and our love for things that other people may not love as much. It’s a great show. I promise.

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Don’t blame ebooks for Border’s demise

Borders just got its own website four years ago…

I mean it wasn’t until 2007 that it decided that it made sense to have its own Web site rather than to outsource online sales to archrival Amazon.com. How hard would it have been to figure out that the Internet was going to be kinda important?

While Borders was busy giving the Web and e-books short shrift, it was also doubling down on the notoriously tricky business of running brick-and-mortar superstores. Until late 2010, San Francisco had four Borders stores–three of which were within a mile and a half of each other. I’m no retailing genius, but I couldn’t figure out how the city could support so many giant bookstores in so little space. Now we know it couldn’t: the three ones that were practically neighbors are all gone now, and the last store will close as part of the final shutdown.

Put all of these curious decisions together, and it’s not hard to see why Borders is going away. Do not outsource your Internet presence!

Amazon offering Kindle e-book rentals for textbooks

Just another outdated legacy industry being seriously disrupted:

Amazon claims students can save as much as 80% off textbook list prices by renting from the Kindle Store. The company is offering tens of thousands of textbooks, which students can rent for periods ranging from 30 to 360 days. Amazon has also extended its Whispersnyc technology so that students can access all their notes and highlighted content in the Amazon Cloud, even after the rental agreement is over.

Should you really need to buy an overpriced book to use for three months? This digital rental model makes a lot more sense. The big question will be execution and getting textbook makers on board.

My dream for streaming movies

It’s a simple dream: I want to be able to stream any movie ever made in HD to my TV, computer, smartphone, iPad and other devices.

It’s a reality that could happen today. It should have happened already, but it hasn’t. If this happened, I would spend more money on movies.

I would spend more money on movies.

But the movie studios have resisted this idea, because they are more tied to what has made them money in the past than what people want in the present. They don’t like streaming. They have begrudgingly given Netflix some older content to offer up and a few newer releases. They allow iTunes, Amazon and other companies to allow most newer movies to be streamed and some older movies, usually at prices that feel a little high, with really restrictive windows on watching the movie ($4.99 to watch a movie once at home within 24 hours?).

There should be no outrage that Netflix wants to charge customers separately for its streaming and mail services. They are separate services with separate costs, but people are angry almost entirely because Netflix streaming doesn’t have enough content for most people. It’s not the price, it’s the product.

But it’s not Netflix’s fault. They have all the content they can get. The movie studios just don’t want to give up the ghost — the dream that you’ll keep buying DVDs.

They want you to buy movies that you only want to watch once. Sure, you can watch a DVD as many times as you want. That’s the dream they want you to believe, but it’s not the reality for most movie purchases.

It’s like how music labels tried to cling to CDs desperately because it’s so much more profitable to get people to buy an entire CD for one or two songs.

But this is myopic. It’s silly. It’s retrograde.

Heck I would even buy more movies if I could buy them how I want to buy them. I would love to “buy” a movie that would allow me to stream it as many times as I want to any device I own. I don’t want to have to deal with storing a digital file (and backing it up), and that whole dance of trying to sync the movie to different devices.

This whole situation is anti-user. The technology is available to make more movies available for streaming. The technology is available to make movie watching easier than ever.

Streaming movies is so easy. I can just sit down on my couch and select a movie that I want to watch on my Apple TV and just hit rent. Watching Netflix streaming movies is just as easy to. The service even saves my location, so that if I go from watching on my TV to my iPad, I can pick right up where I left off. I like that.

No going to the store, no waiting in line, no dealing with out of stock issues. If you make a product or service easier to consume, people will consume more of it.

I’m done with physical media. It doesn’t fit my life. I don’t like needing shelf space for it. I don’t like going to stores to see what is in stock, nor do I enjoy wasting my time, energy and gas/public transportation money to get there.

Frankly, even with Netflix’s mail product, I couldn’t be sure that the movie I selected on Tuesday to ship to my house to watch on Friday would still suit me when I actually sat down. How can I judge my mood days in advance? With streaming I sit down, look through what is available and select something — often an impulse (most companies try to encourage impulse buys).

These impulses should be fed by making moving watching easier and more social. Why doesn’t iTunes and other movie services have a social component or integration with existing social networks. I want to see what people with similar tastes like. I want to see what my friends are watching. I want to watch movies with them.

Make these things happen, and I will watch more movies. I’m not alone.

We shouldn’t have to dream about putting existing technology together. We have seen bits and pieces, but it is time to give the people what they want.

My current movie watching setup is like this: Netflix streaming for whatever I can find and all those awesome esoteric movies and documentaries it has, iTunes on an Apple TV for renting of new releases and other movies not available on Netflix and I buy blu rays of movies that I want to watch a lot, particularly movies that look great. I can never watch Lord of the Rings enough, and it really shines on blu ray.

This is why everyone should go Netflix streaming only. Drop the DVD portion of your packages. The studios shouldn’t force us to watch DVDs as a fallback because they don’t want to make more content available for streaming.

Users should never be forced into an inferior user experience. DVDs are an inferior user experience, especially when you have to ship them back and forth with the post office.

You’ll always make more money by getting people to like your product more.

Books may never be the same again after J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore

Pottermore is a pretty big deal for the publishing world. First, the seven Harry Potter books will finally be coming out as e-books, but sold only through Pottermore.com. J.K. Rowling is bypassing her publisher, Amazon.com, the iBooks store and other popular e-book stores to control and deliver e-books as she wants them (and to avoid paying middlemen).

But that’s only part of it. Next, Pottermore will deliver new details about the Harry Potter world. A book and world as big as the one in Harry Potter could definitely use an encyclopedia. Pottermore will function as an interactive and social encyclopedia for readers.

Pottermore has also been hinted at as an online community/world where readers can read the books together, experience the Harry Potter world, play games, etc. We’ll know more in a month when more details and screenshots are released.

The potential for this is amazing. In my wildest dreams, I imagine an iPad app that is a beautiful 3D game (think The Sims or World of Warcraft), where users walk around the Harry Potter world, interact with other people around the world, form groups, read the books together, play games and more. The iPad and tablets would be perfect for this because they can do beautiful 3D games and provide a strong reading experience for books.

If books are to become electronic, why stop at e-books that try to merely mimic print?

Pew: E-readers have surpassed tablets, ownership doubles in 6 months

With Amazon reporting that ebooks are the top selling books on Amazon, this doesn’t surprise me:

The percent of U.S. adults with an e-book reader doubled from 6% to 12% between November 2010 and May 2011. Hispanic adults, adults younger than age 65, college graduates and those living in households with incomes of at least $75,000 are most likely to own e-book readers. Parents are also more likely than non-parents to own these devices.

I find myself reading more books now that I have ebooks. The ability to take all of my books with me on my iPad, wherever I go, lends it self much better to spontaneous reading. I also really like how my iPhone syncs with my iPad, and I can read a book for a few minutes if I get bored (when my wife is shopping or when I’m waiting for a drink order).

I believe that physical books — particularly well-done hardcovers (higher end than a standard one) — will become collectors items for people really interested in a particular book. A display item of sorts. For most other reading, ebooks will be the way to go.

That’s my new model.