iPhone

Post ImageI am not crazy about Apple’s iPhone. Obviously it doesn’t work in Canada yet anyway, but it will, eventually. I think gadgets generally fall into two categories the day they launch: there are gadgets you “must have” right away, and there are gadgets where it’s wise to take a “wait and see” approach.

The difficult thing is that you can’t predict which of the two categories a particular gadget will fall into. I figured the Xbox 360 was in the first category, so I lined up and bought one the day it was released. That turned out to be a good decision (minus the lack of HDMI output). When the Wii came out, I figured it was in the second category. Turns out I probably could have bought that one right away! I think the iPhone falls into the second category, but I guess we’ll find out over the next few weeks.

Today is the first day where the lineups to buy the iPhone will be insane, though some individuals got started a couple days ago. The rules are basically that you can only buy two per person, and it’s first come, first serve.

It’s already hard to ignore iPhone-related news, and it’s not going to get any easier, at least for the next few days. That said, I’d be disappointed to look back in five years and not find a post about the iPhone. Most of the things I have read so far are kind of the same, but I did like Paul Colligan’s list of reasons for not lining up, especially his last point:

Ratatouille Opens On Friday Too! Shorter line, better snacks, my kids can come and Steve Jobs still makes money off of me.

Well said 🙂

If you are especially stoked about the iPhone, don’t miss Engadget’s coverage.

iTunes Plus Launches

Post ImageSteve Jobs has finally made good on his promise to offer DRM-free music through iTunes. Apple is announcing today the availability of iTunes Plus:

Apple® today launched iTunes® Plus—DRM-free music tracks featuring high quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings—for just $1.29 per song.

In addition, iTunes customers can now easily upgrade their library of previously purchased EMI content to iTunes Plus tracks for just 30 cents a song and $3.00 for most albums.

I think this is great news. The more retailers that offer DRM-free music the better! I am kind of confused by the pricing though.

Why are DRM-free tracks more expensive than DRM’d ones? They are higher quality encodings, sure, but so high than an extra 30 cents is warranted to cover the costs of storage and transfer? I don’t think so. Not when Amazon S3 sells bandwidth for 20 cents per GB.

I also find it kind of insulting that they named the store “iTunes Plus”. A more appropriate name would be “the iTunes you actually want” or something. Seriously.

Read: Apple

Steve Jobs leads the charge against DRM!

Post ImageI never thought it would be Jobs, but in an open letter titled “Thoughts on Music”, the Apple head honcho seems to support getting rid of DRM altogether. Just over a week ago I mentioned that music should be free – no need for DRM if it is! Here’s what Mr. Jobs has to say:

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Bring it on! I am so glad he has written this letter. If nothing else, it will simply increase the pressure on the labels to give in and realize that DRM is a stupid way to sell music.

When I read about this letter today, I had the same thought as Jason Calacanis did: Somewhere Cory Doctorow is smiling! Indeed it sounds like he is…kinda:

Well, this is pretty excellent news! Now, let’s see if Steve means it.

I hope he does. The way I see it, there’s only a few people that will be hurt by abolishing DRM – the product teams at Microsoft, Apple, and other companies who have put a lot of time and effort into creating the DRM technologies. No one likes to see their hard work end up being ignored. Though I suppose, if they truly like music, they’ll benefit from having no DRM too.

Read: Apple.com

Apple introduces leather iPod case

Post ImageI am continually amazed by Steve Jobs and co – its like they get away with murder! They somehow get OS X owners to pay for minor updates, their religious zealots still love them after switching to the enemy (read: Intel), and they announce “fun” products like a leather case for the iPod…for NINETY NINE DOLLARS!

Looks like Apple wants to make sure to own a piece of every sector of the iPod accessory market. In addition to the $349 iPod Hi-Fi, the company also announced its own $99 leather iPod case. Sure, it’s a pretty basic sleeve, and only fits the iPod with video or nano, but if you want an official Apple case with an Apple logo and “iPod” stamped on the front, this is the place to go (though we hear there are some pretty convincing knockoffs available on Canal Street for about $15).

When you can release a product like this for a hundred bucks and have it sell, you really do have power. There are thousands of cheaper options for protecting your beloved iPod (or Apple could make scratchless devices to begin with) yet there will still be people who will pay Apple the money for this over-priced official leather case. It blows my mind.

I guess I am getting ahead of myself, we don’t know how well the leather case is going to sell, but the fact that any sell at all is amazing enough. Jobs must have drugs or chemicals or radio wave emitting devices hidden in his products and packaging to get people so hooked.

Read: Engadget

Disney buys Pixar

Post ImageLast week I mentioned that Disney was in talks to buy Pixar, and today they announced that the deal is done. Disney is paying $7.4 billion in stock for the company, and Steve Jobs will get a seat on the board:

As part of the deal, which is expected to be completed this summer, two Pixar veterans will head Disney’s animation efforts. Ed Catmull, who had served as Pixar’s president, was named president of the combined Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. John Lasseter, the Pixar executive vice president who is widely regarded as the studio’s creative leader, was named chief creative officer. Pixar will remain in its San Francisco Bay Area headquarters.

Additionally, Steve Jobs is now the largest individual shareholder of Disney. I think it’s a great move for Disney, as long as they execute properly – and by that I mean don’t screw things up.

What has been most successful for the two companies? Pixar made the movies, Disney handled the distribution. I don’t see any reason that should drastically change, so I hope the combined company still leaves the bulk of the creative stuff to Pixar.

Read: CNET News.com

Disney in talks to buy Pixar

Post ImageI was a little surprised to run across this article at Reuters this afternoon. Apparently Disney is in “serious talks” to buy Pixar Animation Studios, according to a report in the Wall Stree Journal:

The newspaper report said terms under discussion would have Disney pay a small premium to Pixar’s current stock market value of $6.7 billion. The deal would be a stock transaction and make Pixar Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs the biggest individual shareholder in Disney, the newspaper reported.

The talks are at a sensitive stage and other options are possible, including an agreement for Disney to distribute Pixar movies, the report said, citing people familiar with the situation.

Given that Jobs has been quite vocal about his dislike for Disney’s deal making in the past (though I am sure he wouldn’t mind being the largest shareholder), and considering the fact that Disney has already invested a lot of money in their own digital animation studio, the rumor is a bit surprising to me. I would be less surprised if the two worked out a new distribution deal for Pixar movies, all of which have been tremendously successful.

Of course, depsite all of that, the move would be great for Disney – a way to keep them relevant. Definitely another rumor to watch!

Read: Reuters