Tag Archives: itunes

We Pay for Digital Media

header_invoicereceipt_l store

With a family of 5 and a lot of screens our bill is likely at least as high if not much more. AppleTV is our go to for movies on demand and the number of apps (in both app stores) we’ve utilized year over year is too high to try and tabulate.  I’m not opposed to paying for quality and utility and have certainly entered my password countless times.  Those small tolls really add up.

Nick Bilton explains …

I was tallying my spending of the last year, and much to my surprise, I spent $2,403 in one category. No, that wasn’t on clothes. It wasn’t on my most recent vacation, either. And it wasn’t the total of all my parking tickets (though that did feel as if it came close).

The $2,403 is what I spent on digital media.

But wait, people are spending money online? On media? Didn’t music industry executives declare, “People won’t pay for things online!”? Yes, as did movie industry executives. TV, radio, book, newspaper and magazine bigwigs, too, have all made similar claims over the last decade.

Well, those apocalyptic predictions turn out to be wrong.

I am spending more on digital media than I used to spend on the physical stuff. (The federal government says the average American family spent $2,572 on all entertainment, not just digital, in 2011.) And I know why I am spending more on digital media.

Digital media, unlike its slow cousin, is immediate. In the past, if friends mentioned a good book they had just finished, people made a note (mental or on a scrap of paper) to pick it up during their next visit to the bookstore or library. The same went for other items like CDs, DVDs or magazines.

via NYTimes.com.

Monster Music Monday

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Today is a dreary, rainy day and while waiting for the train I was in the mood for some music. I somehow stepped back into time to find Rocket From the Crypt, but then immediately thought of King Kong another older indie band I was introduced to in 1995.

I’m not really sure why they came to mind so quickly but then I received the image above via Timehop, my daily reminder from the past 1-5 years. A year ago to the day I had Godzilla on my mind thanks to my son discovering the original cartoon on Netflix.

Back to today and King Kong … Impossible to find on Spotify! A quick check on iTunes where I’m paying for Match only to be reminded what a mess that truly is for large collections. And then my old friend Pandora delivered. Artist radio initiated … I can’t control what tracks or albums I listen to (thanks ancient and out of date music industry licensing) but I’m able to get a song every few in the rotation.

When the cloud works

I’m just starting a vacation with my family in an area with fairly limited connectivity. This isn’t a bad thing in fact it’s quite nice on many levels. The house we are renting has an incredibly slow but functional Internet connection which is essentially a satellite point to point from across the lake.

We’ve rented the same place a few times and this year found an AppleTV here which I’ve logged into for streaming music to the stereo, (very) slowly browsing Netflix and as I’ve just realized / remembered streaming a good portion of our home music collection via iTunes Match. We’d beamed some Spotify earlier while prepping dinner but it’s quite nice to have access to what’s yours as well. This is the first time I’ve connected my iTunes account on a new / random AppleTV and it’s quite excellent to see it in action.

At this point only Google an Apple offer such tightly knit systems. Amazon has much of this to provide as well but like Google lack the tightly connected hardware like AppleTV – even in its current hobby state – to make things this simple. Now that I’m logged in we can easily (bandwidth limits aside) stream “anything” on our collection purchased or not. The only restriction with Apple’s solution I’ve encountered is they do not sell an advanced package to upload / sync very large collections. Google Music seemed to enable my collection to upload but it’s nowhere near as easy to stream on a stereo here – or at home.

These services and general consumer knowledge of them are still pretty limited in use – compared to the more mainstream use case of an iPod plugged into a stereo though it’s not a hard concept to grasp … I’d love to even see guest access pop up as a feature … I guess that’s part of the Nexus Q when that makes a return. Could be an interesting fall …

itunes home sharing – auto sync?

 

It’s honestly been a while since I’ve actively explored iTunes or tried to solve syncing media in the house so this feature may have existed for a bit.  Tonight however, I was setting up a new machine and activated home sharing and then clicked into the settings (bottom right in iTunes from within home sharing).

 

As you can see there’s a handy option to automatically transfer new purchases between machines … While I wouldn’t want to have my full collection floating around on multiple devices based on the size, it is nice to have the option to capture the updates.  I just purchased the new Alexander album on my main machine and I can see each track is syncing over as the initial download completes.  Very cool.

When are iTunes and the iPhone going to grow up?

I believe Palm and Windows Mobile devices have had the ability to install applications over bluetooth for at least 10 years, probably longer. My history with S60 is shorter, but there has never been a time when I was unable to install something over basic bluetooth or USB. Apple has severly limited (as in removed) this functionality and as anyone who’s used the iPhone can attest, you can’t use bluetooth access to send and receive files or any data for that matter. Rememeber beaming? Palm invented (in 1992 I believe) that nice feature to make it simple to send your business card to another user … As an interesting footnote in gadget history, the Palm also cost $299 when it was released.

iTunes has a lot going for it. It’s the dominant media management software thanks to the market dominance of the ipod. With the iPhone Apple delivered what is probably the strongest sync solution of any mobile phone. Other’s have similar desktop solutions, but the simplicity with which iTunes is able to handle all your data is stellar.

So what could possibly be changed?

The strength of iTunes desktop sync is actually its biggest weakness. While you can have up to 5 computers authorized to play your media content from the iTunes store, you can only sync your device with a single machine. What’s the point of this silly limit. It’s hardly difficult to move files around via the broader internet if you like and maintaining basic playcounts and similarities within a library are not that hard. Though with iTunes you essentially have to hack the system in order to even manually copy files to a mobile device – forget sync. Media is an easy target as that effects more people and the limit is probably driven out of a paranoid legal department wanting to appease the ignorant MPAA and RIAA.

What I don’t understand though is why other parts of the iTunes sync system are simply blocked because your iPhone is already associated with another computer. I have 5 systems in my iTunes world. There are actually more if you count the additional OS installs I’ve done on the netbook, but regardless I have 5 computers authorized to play content. I’d actually like to sync some data on 3 of the 5 and this is impossible if you play by the rules.

With the current restriction, I am unable to install or backup anything outside of my main desktop, period. In my considerable experience with other mobile platforms (years of Palm and S60 devices) this rule has never applied. Going back to my early palm days I used to use the device as the actual conduit between machines to maintain the same data in multiple (work and personal) systems. With S60 my plan evolved a bit thanks to the evolution of server sync. Today the bulk of my PIM data comes through exchange but with the iPhone I am also syncing personal data through my home config which includes multiple iCal calendars.

You get the point, there’s a mix … There is however no mix of where my device data can reside. Apple has decided that for me based on where I first did my sync. I purchased the iPhone 3G S on my way to work last week and because I wanted to have some media on it for the commute home, I did a sync (and backup) with my work pc. When I later connected the iPhone to my home computer, I received the following warning:

itunes bs

As you can see, you will actually LOSE the data that’s on your device in exchange for the right to sync with another one of YOUR authorized systems. WTF? It’s my data yet I have no control over how I use it? Right … I’m currently beta testing Pocket Universe (as noted in my previous post). The only way to install a beta app is via iTunes … and as you can probably guess at this point ONLY the main iTunes. If you want to install from a different machine, iTunes will actuall ERASE the apps you have on your device in exchange for what’s on the desktop. Um, NO! How about this … since iTunes is the sole conduit for applications do a damn backup and since you know there won’t be any surprises with where things have come from – applications and downloads are even all connected to your apple ID which of course drives the iTunes ecosystem.

I’m used to being in control of my data – how I access it, where I back it up and when and where I want to change it. When is Steve going to allow the iProduct to actually be myProduct?

Windows 7 “Plays to” DLNA Standards while Apple keeps it closed – as usual

While this feature is not currently in the open beta, Play To highlights Windows 7 ability to be both a control point and server in a DLNA network.  What’s so awesome about this is that a ton of devices already have this baked in and Windows 7 can auto-discover them as well as present itself to them.  It’s great to see how easily this system works with existing media devices and formats.

Seeing this feature though also raises the obvious opposite perspective from Apple’s model.  The iTunes system ONLY works with itself.  Sure it works on both Macs and PC’s but there is no way without some hacking to get your AppleTV to play with other sources.  Even then it does not function as a DLNA UPnP device like what was shown in the video.  There’s no way to share media from my Nokia Handset to my television without first syncing to my desktop and then copying – through iTunes – over to the AppleTV.

Apple’s closed system certainly simplifies the consumer experience though that’s only due to the substantially limited perspective on how we are allowed to share media in the home.  I have many more things captures media than just those made by Apple … and I know I’m not alone.

Thanks to eHomeUpgrade for the tip.