21st July 2007

Hey Apple – How ’bout some iTunes Movie RENTALS??

Recently a friend gave me a iTunes gift certificate to thank them for some help I gave them with their computer (I have terrific friends!), along with a note suggesting that I use it to buy a movie or two to watch on my new iPhone. So here I was browsing the iTunes Store and I found that I was really struggling with this, even though there were a number of movies offered for sale that I haven’t seen. As I was pondering why I was having such a hard time picking a movie, it occurred to me that this was because I am SO frugal that I hated to spend $10 to $15 on a movie I haven’t seen because there’s always the risk I won’t really like the movie. And out of the available movies I have already seen, although some were good, there weren’t any that I loved enough to watch again – and not just watch again, but watch enough times to make it worth spending the $10 to $15 on them.

This is exactly why I rent movies – the risk is much lower, since movie rentals average between $2 to $4 (depending on where you rent from and how often), and if there is one I’ve seen that I want to see again, it’s still cheaper to rent it 2 or 3 times than it is to buy it.

So come on Apple – how about a “movie rental” program for iTunes? If you already have the technology to limit how many times a song can be burned to CD or how many computers it can play on, surely you have the technology to limit how many times a rented movie can be viewed? Or how many devices it can be viewed on?

I suggest having a two-play limit – once on your computer and once on another device such as an iPod or iPhone – with enough smarts to know if I’ve had to interrupt my viewing and want to finish watching it later. After the number of viewings has expired, then it can either automatically disappear or remind me to delete it, since it can’t be watched again.

If Apple were to introduce such program, I wouldn’t hesitate to rent movies via iTunes often – if I don’t care for a movie, so what? It hasn’t cost me that much. And if I really like it, enough to buy it, then a little discount of a couple of dollars (since I’ve already spent that much renting it) would be nice too.

What do you say, Apple? Do you have what it takes to become the king of online movie rentals? I’m betting you do.

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19th July 2007

13 Reasons not to get an iPhone??

Okay, this qualifies as a rant, but this article over at PC World by Harry McCracken just chaps my hide…….and not in the way you might be thinking…..

Yes, I am a Mac fan, but I’m more a fan of logic and fairness. So I’m not upset that this guy didn’t like the iPhone (after trying it for a week), because I realize it may not be right for everyone. And he does have a lot of nice things to say about it. And I’m not knocking the AT&T 8525 – by all accounts it’s a great phone. But I am upset that a good number of his “reasons” don’t appear to be accurate, which makes it sound as if he really WANTED to not like the iPhone, despite his nice comments……I just think in the interest of fairness folks who are still thinking about whether or not to get an iPhone deserve to hear a more balanced perspective based on facts, not just opinions.

Lets’ break this down (using his reasons):

1. The iPhone isn’t 3G. True, but Edge is available in many more places than 3G is right now, so it’s far more useful when traveling (most of his reasons read as if based on his “business travel”). So in most places the AT&T 8525 is still using Edge. And the iPhone’s SIM card is replaceable, so when the 3G version comes out (and nationwide 3G coverage is adequate) it will more than likely be just a SIM card upgrade required, not a new phone purchase.

2. The iPhone doesn’t serve as a modem. True. But I too travel for business and I can’t even recall the last time I wasn’t able to find a hotel that offered free Wi-Fi, but if finding free Wi-Fi is a problem for you, try searching on WiFiFreeSpot (or one of dozens of similar sites), or consider a Boingo account (monthly fees are cheaper than most Mobile Broadband/WAN accounts).

3. The iPhone doesn’t “talk to Lotus Notes”…..not entirely true. It will download the email, and you certainly don’t need to go through the shenanigans he went through to get your Lotus Notes Calendar onto the iPhone – heck you don’t need to involve Google Calendars at all! Just export your Calendar from Notes and import it directly into iCal. You don’t need the “missing sync” software app for that either. Just select that new iCal Calendar in the iTunes interface and sync it. The same goes for Outlook if you’re a Windows user.

4. The iPhone doesn’t have a chat client. Actually, several 3rd party developers have already written chat clients for the iPhone, a couple of which support multiple IM protocols, like JiveTalk by BeeJive.com. It has all my various buddy lists and works great.

5. No Slingbox client for iPhone. True. Finally, a truly good, logical reason why Slingbox users might want to hold off on getting an iPhone until Slingbox gets wise and develops a client for it.

6. The iPhone doesn’t have enough storage to be his “primary media player”…..hmmm, okay so the 8GB wasn’t enough to carry all his music etc, but he paid extra to add 2GB to his new AT&T 8525 and he’s syncing his music to that? Hmmmm……ookaaay………

7. The iPhone requires too many clicks to get things done.

8. The iPhone is “remarkably uncustomizable”……anyone involved in the tech world should know about the SCADS of information coming out already from 3rd party developers that let you customize the iPhone. Take a look at BarCamp. Some of these nifty apps were written even before the iPhone’s release, and updates, improvements, and new apps are appearing almost daily.

9. The iPhone doesn’t let you edit Office documents. True, it currently has no built-app for that. However, you can create and edit them using the 3rd party apps gOffice or ZoHo. I’m not trying to downplay a reason that may be very important to some folks, and I’m sure the AT&T 8525 has a nice built-in app for that, but in all fairness people should know that there are 3rd party apps that allow one to create, edit, read (and email) office docs from their iPhone.

10. The iPhone doesn’t have a “to do list” …. Check out Listingly or TaDa List (two of several To Do List apps for the iPhone). Personally I think this solution is even better than a built-in To Do app since it saves storage space on the iPhone for more of your favorite media.

11. So the AT&T 8525 has an “array of 3rd party alternatives” to its built in note-taking app……well so does the iPhone! …..and the couple that I checked out will most certainly work on the iPhone even when it is “offline”……pages stay on the iPhone until you delete them and all of them sync back to the server when you are online.

12. The two-year contract rankles [him] I understand that everyone has personal opinions about the different cellular carriers – I’ve tried most of them out there and have been happy with AT&T for the past few years, but that’s my own personal opinion. But the logic doesn’t make sense here – if he’s okay with AT&T (seeing as how he is still with them), is it just the 2 year commitment that bugs him? Most of the best phones require a commitment to get the price down, so that’s not really a reason to “not” buy an iPhone, that’s just a fear of committing to a contract….hey, I understand that – lots of guys have “commitment-phobia”. Let’s just call a spade a spade here.

13. The AT&T 8525 has a better keyboard than the iPhone. You’re kidding, right? I’ll admit that it did take me roughly a week or so to get used to the iPhone’s keyboard, primarily because I couldn’t “feel” the keys, but I’m glad I stuck with it. After I learned how to use it, and it “learned” how I type (and that’s the really smart thing about the iPhone – it really does “learn” your typing style and habits) I believe it’s the best smart-phone keyboard out there – it’s much easier than the others I’ve used.

I do want to point out that I fully respect Mr. McCracken’s personal opinions and his right to prefer whatever phone works best for him – and reiterate that the Apple iPhone may not be for everyone – but I just think it would have been a more balanced article if Mr. McCracken had taken the time to do just a little more research on some of his issues, if for no other reason than to be sure his readers have ALL the information available. But hey, a rant’s a rant, right? He can have his, and I can have mine.

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