Thoughts on Macworld

I was asked yesterday what I thought about the iPhone. My gut reaction was, "bleh". Nice, but I’m not going to rush out and get one. I will probably wait until the chipset supports 2MB download speeds- making it a viable internet device. The functionality that Steve demoed would come in very handy in central London. The price point as offered on at 899 and 999 Euro seems a bit steep for what the phone currently offers as well…

The killer intro (well, update) was the Apple TV. I was hoping to buy one this weekend at the Apple Store on Regent Street. I’m an iTunes junkie (see previous post comments). I buy Season Passes for Lost, etc. and download movies as well. I’m a compulsive subscriber to video podcasts. Having all of that accessible from the comfort of my sofa is very attractive. Watching "Me TV" is much better than some house developer show or reality TV format on Channel 4….throw in access to my music collection from our media server and we’re rollling.

Firefox Mods

Google’s Browser Sync has made me switch to Firefox. Having cross-platform bookmarks has proven to be very useful. That said, I still miss the Cocoalicious goodness of an application written in Cocoa for Mac OS X and have been considering going back to Safari for OS X.

However, I found two extensions over the weekend that are keeping me interested in Firefox: Fission, which re-creates Safari’s progress bar inside the address bar (I don’t use the Staus Bar in Firefox. The Status Bar is disabled by default in Safari and I’ve gotten used to the extra 1/4″ of screen real estate). The other is Stop-or-Reload button. Again, this mimics the two-in-one simplicity that Apple brings you.

If you’re using Firefox and are a previous Safari junkie, I would recommend you grab these two extensions.

Digital Media- Value Added Content

In my last post, I argued movie downloads need a bit of improvement and that the price point should be better.

Rather than drop the price, another way to look at it is value for money. I’ve said before that iTunes is pushing things in the right direction. I downloaded Beck’s new album over the weekend. The tipping factor was the inclusion of 15 videos along with the album. Coldplay’s video album similarly convinced me to buy concert footage I would otherwise never buy.

This is the same direction that DVD downloads need to take- giving customers something extra or different to what the physical product has always offered.

I also picked up that many people feel movie downloads are too slow- my suggestion would be to get a faster pipe. I saw an ad on a black cab today offering 24MB connection for £24 a month. At those speeds, video playback is basically instantaneous- even at much higher definition.

Digital vs Physical

With Apple’s introduction of a movie download service, retailing heavy-weights Walmart, Target and Blockbuster are crying foul and have warned that they might “re-think their DVD retail strategy”. Walmart represents 40% of retail DVD sales and Target represents 15%.

Retailers like Target and Wal-Mart typically pay $17 or $18 wholesale for new-release DVDs. They typically sell them to the public at $16 to $19, often pricing them below cost to attract consumers into their stores. Retailers worry that consumers will quickly lose interest in DVDs if cheaper online versions of movies become widely available.

Four things come to mind to challenge their claims:
1. The retailers knowingly lose $1-2 on every DVD but make it up in volume? 🙂
2. Online movies via Bit torrent offering FREE movies has made customers quickly lose all interest in DVDs?
3. The quality of a downloaded movie from Apple is far superior in viewing quality (resolution) to a physical DVD? Especially for HD TV (Blueray)
4. Online music downloads have similarly significantly impacted CD sales?

I am not a big purchaser of DVDs. I own approximately 10-15 in total. I bought “O Brother, where art thou?” from Apple’s store to support the format. (I bought one of their games as well for the same reason). I would have NEVER purchased these as boxed DVDs, so I could argue that digital distribution is expanding the market for content, not cannibalizing DVD sales.

The WSJ states that downloads of “Lost” (I’m a season ticket owner) have not impacted DVDs sales at all, and they they remain top selling items, which takes a bit of the wind out of the retailers sails.

No one likes change. Change is good.