Jackassery of the day

Kudos to you, MacNN!

Zune leak reveals iPod nano killer?

iPod nano killer?

As pathetic as the original piece — which has all the smell of a Microsoft “viral marketing” effort — is, nowhere does it even mention the iPod by name.

Saving the Macalope the trouble

The Macalope read this and Inner Daemon saved him the trouble late on a Friday afternoon.

Note to the media: sometimes the facts aren’t “balanced”. And any time you have to resort to calling Rob Enderle is probably one of those times.

Let's not go to the video

TJ takes exception to the Macalope and Daring Fireball’s (apologies to John if the Macalope is incorrectly characterizing his stance) belief that you can’t argue about video DRM with music DRM.

Overall, TJ’s absolutely correct in almost everything he writes, but what it comes down to is the old saying about trying to teach a pig to dance.

Here’s the nut graf from TJ’s post:

Just because Steve wouldn’t hold them in parallel, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t.

That’s fine, but the point the Macalope was trying to make is that you can do that aaaallll daaaaaay loooong and you aren’t going to gain an inch with the MPAA. The Macalope and Daring Fireball certainly weren’t arguing that there should be a difference between the two, just that one is currently under successful siege and the other is not.

The Macalope’s advice? Wait for music DRM to fall. Then let’s talk again.

Sometimes teh stupid is too much even for a mythical beast.

InformationWeek blogger David DeJean keyed a post in which he complained about having to pay 30 cents extra for unprotected iTunes songs. In it he falsely complained that AAC is a closed format and did not mention the higher-priced songs are encoded at a higher bit rate.

When vociferously called on it, he did apologize for the error about AAC, but did that change his tune on the Apple/EMI deal? Nooooo!

All my facts were wrong, but my conclusion was still sound! And get off my lawn, you damn kids!

The iPod, iTunes on your computer, and the iTunes store are a closed system, designed to keep you captive. I see AAC and iTunes as . . . not exactly a DRM system, as I said to a couple of people in e-mails, but something nearly that restrictive.

The Macalope just typed “AAC to MP3 converter” into Google. He got over 2 million hits. One wonders if DeJean has used Microsoft Word in the past 15 years.

I still don’t love the EMI-Apple announcement, either. EMI may have seen the light on DRM, but it’s treated me like a thief instead of a customer for so long that it will take me a while to get over it.

The Macalope is at an utter loss to explain this graf. DeJean has apparently been beaten so long that he doesn’t want them to stop because they’ve been beating him so long?

Sorry. That’s the best the Macalope can come up with.

Also, DeJean is apparently so bewildered by the discount Apple’s giving on unprotected 256Kbps albums that the only way he can rationalize it is to assume it’s going to go away.

Does this mean, in fact, that album prices are going to be higher — that in a couple of months we’ll wake up and find new releases are one price and old catalog albums are another price? Probably.

And the gubbiment done put a trackin’ device in mah fillins!

If Jobs got DRM-free music and traded a price hike for it, as some of my correspondents have suggested…

The drunk ones.

…then he should ‘fess up rather than hide behind “it’s better quality.”

Oh. Dear. God.

It… it is better quality.

If Apple and EMI had offered protected 256Kbps songs for 30 cents more, these pinheads wouldn’t have said boo. But the fact that they took a huge step in the right direction is not only meaningless in their eyes, it’s somehow worse because they failed to have every member of the RIAA and the MPAA on stage apologizing for the last 70 years of recorded music and video sales and saying their entire unprotected collections would now be downloadable for free before dancing around with flowers in their hair as Leonard Nimoy sang Good Morning, Starshine.

But I want EMI and the other labels — and Apple — to work with me to make it easy to be honest. They way things are now, it’s easier to be dishonest.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

David, buddy, are you saying that you’d resort to getting an EMI song off a P2P network rather than iTunes because you can get it in MP3 instead of AAC?

What is wrong with you? You make the RIAA look sane.

Am I excited about the opportunity to pay more for music just because it’s finally starting to come in an open format the way it should have come all along? No, I am not.

It’s encoded at a higher bit rate! And if you buy the album, you’re not paying more! Just because you keep saying it’s paying more for nothing does not make it true. It just makes you a nutjob.

The Macalope isn’t sure what kind of crazy pills these people are on, but he recommends you stay far, far away from them. Even their imperious leader had great things to say about this deal, if he couldn’t bring himself to apologize to Steve Jobs for doubting his sincerity.

When did DRM become the worst thing in the world ever — so bad that it drove people insane? Was the Macalope off the planet when that happened or something?

Run for you lives!

News.com brings us a report that after years of toiling, researchers have finally created The Lamest Virus Evah™!

Kapersky Lab reports first iPod virus, sort of (tip o’ the antlers to Paolo and Matt Huber).

It only runs if you have Linux installed on your iPod.

And you have to execute it manually.

And it doesn’t really do anything.


The Macalope particularly liked Kapersky’s comment that

“Such viruses are created to demonstrate that it is possible to infect a specific platform…”

You know. The Linux on iPod platform. The LiPod.

Just like it sounds.


Engadget’s Ryan Block says Apple and EMI ditching DRM is good, but it’s not good enough (tip o’ the antlers to Gareth Flynn).

Was today’s announcement a real commitment dedicated to consumers’ digital rights? Or was it a play for disenfranchised music lovers’ hearts? We have a feeling the answer lies somewhere in the middle — although we can’t help but feel the whole thing is gestural at best, and subterfuge at worst.

Translation: there is no pool too big that I cannot try to ruin it for you by depositing my Baby Ruths into it.

We should be clear to start: we don’t believe Jobs is leading by example here — EMI is.

With his $4 billion+ stake in the media megacorp and his seat on the board of directors, you’d think Jobs would be quick to encourage Disney-owned labels, like Hollywood Records, Lyric Street Records, Mammoth Records, and Walt Disney Records, to “embrace [DRM-free] sales wholeheartedly.”

Well, do you know that he isn’t? Now that Steve Jobs has proven he means what he says about music DRM, let’s not believe him about something else! This first-person shooter game is awesome and has so many levels!

Perhaps Jobs and Iger don’t see as eye-to-eye as they previously postured, or perhaps Jobs is waiting to see whether this is actually the right move for the business, consumers be damned.

Yeah! Why, Jobs probably isn’t even a pescetarian! The Macalope bets he goes home and grills up a nice steak every Friday! And the Macalope has just as much evidence for that as Block does for his argument.

The finer details of EMI and Jobs’s announcement today were also dubious.

Dude, you sound like Martin Prince.

Despite the silver lining, which is that full albums should cost the same but will now default to DRM-free files, the two businesses still conflated DRM-free music with the discerning tastes of audiophiles.

If by “conflated” you mean “created value” then, yes.

Steve mentioned that 128-bit AAC just isn’t good enough for the sharp-eared, so uncrippled tracks are being bumped to 256Kbps. This gives Apple the ability to sell the music as a separate product and price point, while giving consumers the illusion of greater value.

It is a greater value, you numbskull! How is 256Kbps not a greater value than 128?! Arrrrg! The fact that albums are going to be in that format is something they’re giving you for free, not the other way around.

EMI CEO Eric Nicoli said, “Not everybody cares about interoperability or sound quality.” Since when did the two become so intrinsically linked?

Do you not know the meaning of the conjunction “or”? Maybe you should log on to LimeWire and download a copy of Schoolhouse Rock.

So why not make 99-cent 128-bit AAC tracks DRM free as well?

Why not give Ryan Block a pony?! Because he’d only bitch that he wanted a bigger, shinier pony.

Now take a look at Steve’s response to the question of whether TV shows will be sold without DRM.

No. The Macalope has said this time and time again. He does not agree with disconnect between music and video, but they are treated differently because the industry managed to get their hooks in the DVD specs. The landscape is totally different and you simply cannot argue both at the same time. Well, you can try, but you’re only going to waste your time and look like a jackass in the process.

In fact, the only other devices that we can think of that supports [sic] AAC are a handful of Sony players, the Sansa E200R, and the Zune — and good luck getting that to work with your Mac or iTunes.

Does Block not know that the majority of iPod and iTunes users run Windows? And, yeah, that whole dragging and dropping unprotected AAC files to another directory is a real pain in the ass.

The bottom line is this: we want to live in a DRM-free world, and while we’re not necessarily convinced that Jobs, Apple, Disney, and EMI do too, at least some of the players in this ecosystem are willing to look at it from the consumer’s point of view.

Yet you give credit to EMI and none to Apple and Steve Jobs.

Yes, the situation isn’t perfect, but yesterday it got a hell of a lot better and when sales of unprotected 256Kbps AAC files absolutely beat the crap out of the DRMed 128Kbps alternative — as the Macalope is sure they will — it’ll get even better. So quit your bitching.


Apple’s Arrogance With iPhone

Ah, you’re off to a great start, Gundeep Hora!

I have to ask one question from Apple, if I may.

Well, the Macalope’s only read the title but already he’d prefer that you didn’t.

What’s up with the sheer arrogance in regards to iPhone?

Yeah! What is up with that?!


Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

No, actually. The Macalope really, really doesn’t.

The lack of presence at last week’s CTIA tradeshow was purely disgusting and an insult to the entire industry.

Oh, that. Well… funny story. See, Steve Jobs thought Phil Schiller was going, and Phil Schiller thought Tim Cook was going and…

Personally, I wouldn’t be too arrogant at this point, especially considering the fact that the iPhone is going to be nothing more than a temporary novelty that will eventually wear off.

Boy, the Macalope never gets tired of hearing that one! And it’s a good thing since he’s been hearing it since 1984!

Then again, maybe that shows your insecurity about the iPhone and further proves my point.

Mmm… no.

Had you let the industry (press, analysts and competitors) experience the iPhone throughout CTIA, maybe you may have realized the idiocy behind the $599 price tag, and the phone’s lack of usefulness.

It’s $499, jackass. And “lack of usefulness”?

Let’s just say that if you and an iPhone were in a room together, something in the room would lack usefulness.

Clearly, it’s not designed for business users…

It may not be specifically designed for business users, but the Macalope suspects there will be a lot of senior executives and salespeople who are going to buy these things and simply demand their IT groups support them (at least their iPhones).

… and very few average consumers, mainly teenagers (the seemingly obvious target market of the iPhone), will have the budget to invest in a ludicrously priced cell phone.

Ah, the obvious target market for the iPhone is those punk kids because we all know Apple just makes toys! Like the iPod. Which is a toy. For… everyone.

Now, remember, this whole rant is ostensibly about Apple not showing the iPhone at some trade show. You remember the iPhone, right? It’s the product that isn’t shipping yet. The one that hasn’t received FCC approval yet.

That iPhone.

So, Apple, it’s not that I have anything against you… well, you may beg to differ after reading this column, but let’s be a little more humble, show some humility and launch a respectably priced product.

Oh, wait, maybe it’s not about the trade show. Maybe it’s about the price. Or maybe Gundeep doesn’t know what the hell it’s about, he just wanted to bash the iPhone.

Well, Gundeep, your name has been duly noted in the pantheon of clowns that rushed to declare the iPhone DOA. See you in a year or two!

UPDATE: In comments, DomBass points out that Hora’s first post about the iPhone was glowing. Try to rationalize the “lack of usefulness” comment with this:

Since the iPhone is also going to be a ridiculously powerful mobile device, the number of exciting applications that Apple will release throughout the product’s lifecycle is only going to make the iPhone an all around winner.


UPDATE II: Oh, man, it just gets worse. Commenter PygmySurfer found this gem from Hora in which he opines that Apple will dump OS X because it’s becoming a consumer electronics company.

Note to Hora: you might want to check what operating system two of Apple’s consumer electronics products — the iPhone and Apple TV (and probably the next version of the iPod, too) — run before writing something so mind-numbingly stupid.

Dear Cory Doctorow…

Eat my shorts.

Steve Jobs

ADDED: Michael Gartenberg writes:

It is a good step forward for consumers but more importantly, it showed Apple at the forefront of acting as “champion” for consumer interests. After all, it wasn’t Rob Glaser or Bill Gates up there with EMI.

Indeed. Which is why Doctorow owes Jobs and Apple an apology. Haven’t seen it yet.


Beatles and iTunes talk growing

I need somebody

EMI is to hold a media event on Monday with Apple boss Steve Jobs as special guest, prompting speculation that Beatles songs will finally go online.

Not just anybody

There will also be a “special live performance” at the London event by an unnamed artist or band.

You know I need someone

Last week at a mobile industry conference, EMI chief executive Eric Nicoli praised Apple for the simplicity of the iPod and iTunes.

He told the industry that it should learn from Apple.


(Tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball. To Mr. Gruber’s questions the Macalope would add, will the performance be downloadable from iTunes?)