Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Carnival of Souls in Public Domain

Archive.org has added "Carnival of Souls" to it's collection.

If you have never seen it, and enjoy subtly scary movies ala Twilight Zone, then you should see it.

I love Archive.org.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Why the iPod Phone?

A friend left a message on my answering machine last night. He had been getting caught up in Slashdot, and ran across the flurry of postings earlier this week on long-in-coming fruit of motorola and apple's partnership to develop a cell phone that can play back music from Apple's iTunes music store.

His question was a simple one, which is the title of this entry, Why? What's the big deal?

I am not as interested in speculating about this upcoming device, as I am in examining why it is that there is so much interest in this product.

First, I think people are mostly not happy with their cell phones. They use them, and manage perhaps to figure out a few things that their phones can do. But clearly, there is a lot of functionality in most cell phones that people ignore -- either because there is little need, or more importantly, because the functionality is buried in a bad user interface or implementation.

The expectation is that Apple will wave a magic wand and fix this; they will create a cell phone that has the same UI magic as the iPod. There were plenty of mp3 players on the market before the iPod. However, it was Apple that gave users the whole package; not just a good mp3 player, but an excellent desktop tool to manage content. In comparing the iPod to Dell's DJ for instance, the DJ is not a bad MP3 player at all. However, the software that ships with the Dell DJ, MusicMatch, was quite buggy and harder to use than iTunes. It took a potentially good user experience and made it frustrating. I continually find it surprising that portable media player manufacturers fail to recognize that.

Secondly, an iPod phone shifts control on content away from the wireless provider to the owner and other content providers. Wireless providers would like to control the ability to move data and applications to and from the phone, because it is a potential revenue stream for them. An iPod phone would of course sync to iTunes, and a user's music library. This cuts out the wireless provider from providing their own music service.

The third reason has to with status. This I think is of limited value, but it is the sense that an Apple phone will somehow be more special than other phones on the market. The iPod's snowball success is only partially related to the fact that Apple has delivered a superior product; it is also the buzz generated that spills over to people who spend very little time worrying about OGG-Vorbis support, etc. Apple's iPod has achieved iconic status, and the expectation is perhaps that Apple's iTunes phone will achieve something similar.

I really don't what this device will look or behave like when we see it. My expectations are that it will be a somewhat conventional Motorola phone with a somewhat nicer interface, hardware and software wise, and integrated music player support. It will have a card slot so that users can add more storage. It will support all the formats that Apple's iPod supports -- specifically, the Photo iPod's support for enhanced Podcasts and images. Beyond that -- who knows.

My guess is that will will know more by the end of the day on the 7th of September.