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Tag: Apple

Broadcast Television: In Praise of a Relic

The latest incarnation of Apple TV has again fired up the “cut the cord” talk – killing off your obscenely-priced cable or satellite subscription.  The stranglehold is broken.  Cutting the cord is absolutely a trend.

Apple TV, for example, has now joined more than 100 other devices that support Netflix streaming, which allows unending access to a huge library of programming direct to your television.

Wired just issued a complete guide, fronted by Joel McHale (from NBC’s Community and E’s The Soup), about how to watch all the best stuff without cable or satellite.  Here’s another how-to-live-without-cable-or-satellite from Salon.com (not as fun as McHale’s).  A Google search produces at least a dozen more.

What you want, when you want it, as often as you want it – it’s easier than ever and doesn’t require a $100 cable bill.  Just a little bit of new hardware, a high-speed internet connection, maybe some new software, some non-cable and non-satellite programming subscriptions …

Just don’t tell me it’s about saving money.

Broadcast tower television digital signal high definition

Go old school: harness high definition television in its cleanest form with a $10 antenna or even a paperclip - compliments of your local broadcaster.

High definition television in its cleanest, purest form is always available to you at no cost.  The signal gets no better than straight out of the air.  No expensive hardware to purchase (because you already own that 42″ HDTV).  No cable, no satellite, no high speed internet, no Hulu, no Netflix … no subscription required of any kind.

Digital broadcast signals are in the air and all you need to harness them is a $10 antenna (though a large paperclip will often suffice).  Again, high definition television in its cleanest, purest form can be brought into your home at no cost.

  • Yes, you’re limited in programming.  In most areas, though, you’ll get a dozen channels or more between primary and sub-channels, from such content providers as PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, Univision, Telemundo and others.
  • Yes, you’re giving up some precious control, subjecting yourself to a linear broadcast with incessant commercial interruptions.
  • Yes, it’s ludicrous to imagine cutting a high-speed internet subscription.
  • Yes, you may want to augment your options with a sub-$10 Netflix subscription.

But … over-the-air television is absolutely free.  Right now.  All the time.  And it’s nearly 100% stupid-proof … just plug it in and turn it on.  It’s the true essence of passive entertainment.

If your mobile device was equipped with a DTV tuner, you could have it all available wherever you go – without paying for mobile internet access.

I know this sounds like the ramblings of your grandfather, but the point remains: if your argument and motivation for “cutting the cord” is financial, you must celebrate the role your local broadcaster plays in entertaining and informing you.

High definition television in a linear form is a relic.  And it’s absolutely free.

Too Little, Too Late for Kindle?

(((Disclaimer: this is not a technology review or product comparison.  This post is about product positioning in prospects’ minds.)))

They’re the best commercials on TV right now … but they’re probably too late.  The first of these hit the air in March.  The iPad dropped on April 3.

Amazon hit up Ithyle for these fun, imaginative and insanely stylish ads for their Kindle reader.  Between the visual technique, music, props, scenes and transitions, they sing “the simple pleasure of stories” to me.  The feature or benefit sell is strictly limited to “books in 60 seconds,” which is subtle and sound.

Too bad this effort wasn’t undertaken a year or two back.

Check out the first three:

The Kindle has a very specific purpose.  It’s uniquely focused – no apps, no color, no video, no internet, just reading.  3G wireless provides access to a huge library of books, each of which can be downloaded in a minute or less.  That 3G access requires no subscriptions or monthly fees.  The battery life is very, very impressive.  Quite simply, it’s the best e-reader currently available.

Despite all this, I feel strongly that the iPad takes Kindle’s place in the mind of prospective buyers of e-readers.

That said, this isn’t a zero-sum game.  For the sliver who only want to read books and who do a rational side-by-side comparison, the Kindle should come out ahead.

For a couple years now, Amazon has done a nice job profiling Kindle on its homepage, particularly around holidays and other gift-buying times.  They have end-cap displays at Target complete with a live device that you can pick up, hold and explore.  They continue to roll out beautiful ads on television.

I hope it’s enough.

Link: previous post on iPad’s potential value to magazine publishers

iPad to Save Magazine Publishing?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, present an idea at Ad:Tech San Francisco.  He’s also the author of The Long Tail and Free.

Anderson seems to have a strong vision and strong voice for what’s going on and what’s happening next.

Chris Anderson Wired Magazine AdTech Ad Tech iPad publishing

Chris Anderson sees a future for magazine publishing; it's all about the tablet.

His idea involves Wired, Adobe, Apple’s iPad and a healthy future for magazine publishers like Conde Nast (Wired, Vogue, GQ, and loads more).

He’s presented this idea for a few months now, so I won’t belabor it.  Instead, I’ll share my version of it in bullet-point form.

  • The tablet is the “third great platform” (PC > phone > tablet)
  • The tablet is permitted by the movement of of storage and computing/processing off the local machine and into “the cloud”
  • The web lowers barrier to entry and eliminates scarcity so competition is wide open
  • If the tablet goes rich and dynamic, traditional media may once again be able to deliver their skills in a commanding way
  • Wired/Conde Nast is working with Adobe to establish new publishing process
  • They’re seeking the efficiencies of digital, but with the pricing of analog – need a new economic model to survive, tablet era provides opportunity to create new model
  • Magazines provide the height of production value – layout, design, photos, etc
  • HTML and browsers limit the reproduction of this rich experience online – the magazine is lost in translation
  • At present, Wired magazine and wired.com are produced and sold by two separate groups
  • In a new future, digital can be designed and sold in parallel with print, simultaneously
  • Same thoughts, same people, same process
  • Print, portrait and landscape displays all laid out at once
  • It can be made to be worth paying for, not “less than print” like HTML/browser reproduction, but actually more
  • For the first time ever, Anderson sees a 21st century magazine business

I don’t have the knowledge, foresight or even interest to judge whether or not the tablet will, in fact, become the third great platform.

I support the production values argument, but the web has proven “good enough” for most people.

I also feel strongly that new economic models for publishers based in yesterday’s media must be developed.  So many people take such great pride in not watching TV, not reading magazines and not subscribing to newspapers.  Example: “I just get my news from Google.”  Meanwhile, a disproportionately high portion of their media consumption online is provided free by television-, magazine- and newspaper-based publishers.  This can’t go on forever.

So: good luck to Anderson, Adobe and Conde Nast – I wish healthy futures for all content producers, especially ones pushing forward production and display.

HP Slate (their tablet) versus Apple iPad: engadget

Verizon and Google team to make tablet: gizmodo

Another take on his keynote speech: Mobile Marketer

Chris Anderson’s blog: The Long Tail

Chris Anderson on Twitter: chr1sa

Video Demo of Wired Magazine on iPad

iPad Billboard high over Union Square, San Francisco:

Apple iPad Billboard over Union Square, San Francisco, California

iPad Billboard over Union Square, San Francisco

Playing with Our New Flip Ultra HD

Who knew!?  You can have a high-definition video camera with 2 hours of storage that runs off rechargeable AA batteries delivered to your home in two days –  complete with an additional carrying sleeve – for well under $200.  Really.

On a whim and to understand the product, I ordered a Flip UltraHD video camera with a padded, draw-string Case Logic sleeve from Amazon with 2-day shipping.  The total cost was something like $172, including the cost of tw0-day shipping (overnight adds another $10-12).

Within 5 minutes of opening the box, my 6-year-old was using it.  See here:

Here’s a clip of the exterior and interior of a charming, little store in Old Colorado City that strictly sells honey-related products:

Here’s a pan of Crystal Reservoir and Pikes Peak, just off the Pikes Peak Highway:

None of these videos has been treated or sweetened in any way – simply pulled from the camera by USB and posted straight to YouTube.  The video and audio could certainly be improved with a little effort.  You can also grab still photo frames from the video with the software that comes loaded on the camera.

Bottom line: absolutely simple to use, reasonably priced, hand-held.  Turn it on, hit the big, red button to record, hit it again to stop recording.  There are also play and delete buttons and a flip-out USB arm.  That’s it.  It’s not going to be confused with a proper video camera, as there are no settings whatsoever.  For basic and spontaneous video – insanely easy to capture and share – it can’t be beat.

Here it is plugged into a USB port on the side of my laptop:

Flip Ultra HD - Plugged into Laptop by USB

Prognostication: for a slightly more sophisticated user, Apple will probably fold a nicer HD video camera into the iTouch or iPhone.  These devices will make sharing HD video easier (wirelessly, directly from the device), but it will never be so simple to operate as the Flip.

Related: Cisco, which bought Flip, has been blogging about how the Flip belongs in every PR toolkit.

See a half dozen more videos from our first weekend with the Flip Ultra HD at:  http://www.youtube.com/ethanbeute

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