Apparently, sex sells iPods, at least according to Steve Jobs quotes in this week’s Newsweek.
In celebration of the iPod’s fifth anniversary, Steven Levy sat down with Steve Jobs to talk about the appeal of the iPod and a bit about where the iPod is going. Two quotes really stuck out at me as being a bit off message for Steve, but maybe a signal of some new marketing coming down the pike.
First, when asked about the iPod’s cool factor waning due to overexposure, Jobs’ replied, “That’s like saying you don’t want to kiss your lover’s lips because everyone has lips.”
Then towards the end of the interview when asked about sharing songs on the Zune, he comments:
It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you’re connected with about two feet of headphone cable.
I suddenly understand why the iPod is so popular. It helps you get chicks.
I saw the Reader back at CES this year and despite my own skepticism, really liked it. The screen was incredible, highly legible and much easier on the eyes than LCD. The technology the Reader is based on, e-ink, has been around for a few years, but there have been no consumer applications until now.
If you’re inclined, here’s a bit from the Times explaining how e-ink works:
Sandwiched between layers of plastic film are millions of transparent, nearly microscopic liquid-filled spheres. White and black particles float inside them, as though inside the world’s tiniest snow globes. Depending on how the electrical charge is applied to the plastic film, either the black or white particles rise to the top of the little spheres, forming crisp patterns of black and white.
In any case, the screen looked great and the device had a lot of promise. Sadly, many of the features (which aren’t core ebook features to most) are either poorly implemented or require Sony’s PC only software. The device, besides reading books from Sony’s store, will also read RSS feeds, pdf and Word files.
And unfortunately, there is the rub. The Reader will only read RSS feeds that Sony has pre-selected and the Reader will only update those feeds once a day.
Pdf files must be re-formated for the Reader to render them properly. From Walt Mossberg’s review:
But the Reader’s claim to display PDF documents proved hollow. In every PDF document I tried, the text was nearly unreadable and the text resizing feature of the Reader didn’t help. Sony concedes that PDF documents work well on the Reader only if they are created for the Reader’s screen size and resolution. But it includes no conversion software to make them fit.
Maybe I’m being too nit-picky. The Reader will fit exactly one of my needs – I read a lot of books, but I never know what I’ll be in the mood to read. The Reader will reduce a stack of books to the size of a paperback and works almost as well as the paper it replaces.
The first thing that I thought today was how strange it was that Mark Cuban had been calling Google “moronic” for thinking of buying YouTube. I don’t imagine that he was telling Tim Koogle that he was “crazy,” for buying his company, Broadcast.com, a company that Yahoo! would spend the next several years dismantling.
Mark’s definitely asking the right question as to whether this is a good deal for YouTube or not. After all, Broadcast.com, which arguably was more of a “real business,” (they had corporate customers, after all), wasn’t making any money and still got $5 billion. YouTube probably should have held out for a lot more money.
Ah, but those were bubble times and everyone thought that the future would come more quickly than it did. Who could have imagined that streaming video would suck so much? Aside – can you pause Real, QT or WMV streaming without waiting for 2+ mins for it to restart yet?
While the YouTube acquisition is similar to Yahoo!’s acquisition of Broadcast.com, I think there are two key differences. First, the iPod (and to a certain degree, the cell phone). Everyone has one (or both) and short form video excels on these devices. I know you can’t carry these YT videos around easily yet, but it’s coming.
Second, and more importantly, is the Class of 2009. If you live anywhere near teenagers, you may have noticed that there are a lot of them. The Class of 2009 (and the years surrounding them) is the largest graduating class in American history. These kids are already powering a lot of Web 2.0. They have always had a computer in their home and they probably can barely remember not being connected to the internet.
Google’s acquisition of YouTube is part of their bet on this upcoming generation of creators. It has taken us a long time, but we’re finally getting people off their butts and making them into content producers not just consumers. Mark Cuban helped lay the groundwork for this revolution and instead of pedantically nitpicking from the side lines, he should be cheering them on.
Now, let’s just hope they find a business model. :-)
Every so often I find something that saves my butt in some way. I’ve recently moved to using a Macbook as my primary machine. I immediately upgraded the hard drive inside, but my drive was filling up pretty quickly. Having XP and Mac OS X on the same device is great, but just having both OSs on the Mac takes up a lot of space. Even without dual OSs, I’m always in need of more hard drive space. Today, I remembered a great tool that helps you do just that.
Mac OS X is great in that you don’t need to install anything special to run an app in a different language as many apps ship with a cornucopia of languages already installed. Trouble is, those languages take up a lot of space.
Monolingual is an app that will remove all excess languages from your Mac. I saved 2 gigs of space alone by just removing all the extra languages.
Now, while I don’t travel internationally much anymore these days and I don’t have many friends that don’t use English at least as a second language, if you do find that you need other languages on your system, Monolingual allows you to check off any language that you might want to keep.
Two word of caution (and thankfully for once in my life I actually RTFM). First, do not just select “US English.” It is a subset of “English” and removing “English” from your system will make your system non-functional. Second, and this is a little kludgy, if you are using Adobe products, deselect those folders from inclusion. Adobe apps “self heal,” which basically means that you will be do a partial reinstall if you remove their translations.
Monolingual is a free, open source app that is a universal binary.
Berkeley and Google Video team up Not content to get your lectures via podcast? Now you can watch your prof’s give lectures on Google (as well as talks, symposiums and more). I wonder what this does to attendance?
Two thumbs down for Amazon Unbox Wow… so I never did my review of the service (actually, I never downloaded a movie), but this review pretty much seal’s the deal. Old time computer smarty pants Peter Lewis gave Amazon’s Unbox service a pretty scathing review in Fortune magazine. His 5 hour download experience alone makes you want to run to bit torrent. I wonder if their update has helped?
[via Paul Stamatiou]
SocialText Wiki goes 2.0 And aims to solve the biggest problem of most wikis today, UI. SocialText 2.0 enables wysiwyg editing and improves the flow of default SocialText sites. To get their Web 2.0 on, they renamed their key word feature to “tagging.” WetPaint already has a great UI, but is aimed at the consumer market and doesn’t offer the extensive feature set many corporate users want.
FaceBook to sell to Yahoo!? WSJ is reporting today that Facebook may be in talks to sell to Yahoo for $1bn. One has to question the dollar value of almost any social network due to the fickleness of their clientele, but despite recent problems, Facebook appears to be going strong on track to do $100mm in revenue this year.
Zillow adds community features Zillow, that oh-so-web2.0 info porn real estate site, announced they are letting homeowners share improvements with the world. Zillow has been criticized for having wildly innaccurate estimates for property value, theoretically, this will help increase their accuracy.
Build your own Atlas Gloves Here’s a bit of extreme nerdery, but I’ve got a keen interest in alternative interfaces. Link contains instruction about how to make LED gloves that create an alternative interface to Google Earth. I’ve not tested these gloves, but look like a great weekend project.
YouTube, Warner Music in ad share agreement Warner Music will provide it’s entire music video catalog for YouTube users to remix and reuse. Warner will get a cut of all advertising associated with their videos and their derivative works. Sadly, for users, they get nil for there efforts. PaidContent postulates that this is the model for deals going forward. Still, this is a step in the right direction.
The Zen Vision W launched in the US today and I took a look at the specs on Creative’s website. Looks like a pretty cool product, but they’ve got some work in the marketing department. Maybe they figure this thing will market itself.
Apple has probably the best marketing team in the consumer electronics and computer world right now. Creative should consider taking a page out of their book to win in the marketplace. Below are a few examples how they might combat Apple’s marketing team.
#1. Make your product pages clear and concise.
A little bird sent me this page today:
When you click “Learn More” find out more, you are taken to this page:
Um, ok, whatever.
#2. Sell the benefit, not the specs.
Ok, so it looks like the Zen will hold 15,000 songs. Cool.
Except, maybe there was a misprint because one of them costs more than the other one and it has 60GBs instead of 30GBs of space.
Nope, they meant to put that there. Congrats, my mom just bought the cheaper one!
So, if you can’t accomplish the other 2, at least:
#3. Try not confuse users.
Creative seems to have sent their “B” marketing team on this product. How the hell are you expecting to beat the iPod if you can’t figure out how to sell your device. For a device named the Zen, the site and the product seem awfully difficult to use.
This post is a little mean spirited, but I want the Zen to be better. Competition is the thing that drives product development and gets us better products. Maybe the Zune will bring their “A” team to the table.
Zune gets announced Mostly stuff folks already knew, but it’s official – “WiFi, 30GB of HDD, built-in FM, a 3-inch screen and the basic music, pictures and video playback.” No word on price or street date. I’m digging the interface and the brown, but man-oh-man, why doesn’t anyone do 16×9?
How Odeo screwed up Straight outta the “Future of Web Apps” conference, Om details Odeo’s CEO, Ev Williams, on how they have screwed up by not following their own rules. Words to live by if you are in the web startup game.
High on Vapor Fumes Can I just mention how much I love John Gruber? His latest diatribe focuses on the Zune. (I still like the brown player)
CNET’s Alpha Blog Normally, I link to new sites or news bits here, but I gotta tell you, CNET’s Alpha Blog is pretty cool and arguably one of the best unsung tech blogs out there.
My one beef – CNET, for god’s sake, give me a full feed. You can put ads in it, just don’t make me come to the site every day. I’d love to read you, but you’re only getting my attention weekly at best.
Includes two of the most requested features automatic cover downloads and gapless playback. New cover browse mode (no secret of why they added automatic cover download, eh?) From a quick test, it seems to have better playback of video (thank god).
I just installed it on my box at home and while it did take over an hour to analyze my music catalog for gapless playback (it’s over 100Gb), it seems to have picked out most of the tracks that I would expect to be gapless(certain Beatles albums, live performances, opera). A nice touch is that those changes carry over to the iPod, which I haven’t tested.
The interface is cleaned up a lot on iTunes and includes iPod status, Coverflow views and a personal favorite, View Options that are dependent on the media type (Podcast, Video, Songs). This is super helpful in creating smart playlists.
The newest bits of content on the iTunes Store (as it is know called) are movie and game downloads. All videos are 640×480(or less depending on aspect ratio) and will play on 5th Generation iPod. Movies are available in both widescreen and 4×3. A little sparse with the first set of movies as they are starting with movies from Buena Vista and Disney. Other studios are on their way and if you remember, the television store started with only ABC. Currently, there are only 75 movies on the service.
Games are a very interesting suprise as most people don’t think of Apple as being much of a games company, but my feeling is that this is aimed squarely at further differentiating the iPod from others. One fun bit here is that you can play games while listening to music on the iPod.
Ok, so not really a new iPod, but I think that Engadget named it 5.5G. It has a brighter screen and longer battery life. The 30Gb version went to Weight Watchers and is sporting a slightly slimmer look and an 80Gb model was added because they could.
Nano – 2, 4, and 8gb models that look like the old Mini shrank down to a more portable size. God I hate those colors… Shuffle – 1Gb model with some shrinkage – looks like a matchbook.
The lack of widescreen iPod will be disappointing to many (including me), but I have to say, Apple is making a tidy profit on the current iPod and a new widescreen iPod would surely cost them more to make. Personally, I’m stoked my current 5G iPod got a new lease on life.
Steve said that this was a code name (iTV is pronounced “EyeTV“), so don’t expect it to ship with this name. This is a wireless device that will play video, audio and pictures from iTunes. It’s got HDMI and component video as it’s only video outs, so you can make your own HD assumptions here. It will launch in 2007, presumably with the real 6G iPod.
Overall, while their wasn’t a new iPod, current customers are probably pretty happy with the new features of iTunes and their current 5G iPods.
TechCrunch posed an interesting question over the weekend regarding top users of social media sites: should they be paid?
In my experience, the answer is, it depends.
Epinions vs. Amazon
Amazon pays their users nothing to write product reviews. Epinions pays their users a small amount. Yet, Amazon has many, many more reviewers.
Why? Amazon has a much larger reach. For many writers, nothing is more satisfying than having a large audience. David Walker posits “recognition, respect and goodwill” explain why these writers do what they do.
Book reviewers come to Amazon because it’s where the bulk of intelligent, Internet-using bookbuyers come to shop. Some people would call it a book-buying “community”.
Epinions has a great community of book reviewers as well, but it pales in comparison. Why? People don’t comparison shop for books. They buy them at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or their local book store.
YouTube vs. Revver
A very similar kind of battle is being waged in the video sharing space.
Not content to concede viral video to YouTube, competitor Revver has stars of its own and a revenue sharing program based on still image ads at the end of each video. Ad based revenue sharing is unlikely to be sufficient incentive for the vast majority of any system’s users, but that may not be the case for a site’s biggest stars.
Revver is squarely aimed at people who want to make money for their work. Why else would you post your video on Revver? At this point, it is not just to generate an audience, at least not the kind that YouTube can.
Why does Revver offer money to share revenue with it’s users? To get above the noise generated by YouTube and to attract top talent not content with just giving away their creations. When you are #2 in an industry, you have to do something that differentiates yourself from a competitor.
Revver isn’t going to create community for it’s users, that’s what YouTube is for. When you create a following on YouTube, you can choose to graduate to Revver to get paid for your work. The question is will your crowd follow you there?
Why are they there?
If you run a social media site, you have to ask why your users are there. Would all of your users leave if someone else offered to pay them? Could you pay users and stay in business? If you can’t, how can your competitor? Using books as an example, I’m not sure anyone could stay in business paying book reviewers very much given the small margins in the book industry.
When you work out how long it must take a user on Digg or Netscape to be a top user, $1000 doesn’t really work out to a lot of money. These people aren’t doing it for money. They are doing it for recognition. They are doing it because their stoking their passion. They are doing it because they like the site, the activity, the community of folks around them. They are doing it for fun. Maybe money will make it more fun, maybe not.
If you have a community site that is happily plugging along and another site pops up and offers their best users money for their work, what do you do? Is Digg suffering as a result of Netscape’s offer to pay? If it is, it’s not because Netscape is better, it is because Digg has failed to create enough of a reason to stick around.
There is no doubt that in this new social media world that paying users for their work is inevitable. The value that users create for these sites is incredible. But these sites create value for their users as well, it’s just not quantifiable in the form of payment.
[Update: Micki over at Revver comments on graduating to Revver from YouTube]