Forget Ping for Now; Apple TV’s the Real News

Apple TV

Apple TV

… iTunes in the context of Apple TV is vastly more interesting—in fact, Apple TV is by far the most enthralling thing Apple announced this week, a model for what Apple products should be more like.

Apple TV’s integration with AirPlay and an upcoming, more powerful new Remote app soothes a lot of the anxiety about the inexplicable sense of disconnect between various Apple products.

The Seeds of Apple’s Cloud – Gizmodo

There was peculation that Apple would make good on its purchase of Lala this week by finally putting iTunes in the cloud, allowing you to stream your music library from anywhere. That didn’t happen. But the connectivity heralded by the new Apple TV to all IOS devices is a really cool step in the right direction.

Despite it’s “meh” debut, the undercooked Ping might pay off farther down the road (name another social network that has more than 100 million credit card numbers already on file). The bigger announcement this week was the new Apple TV — not so much the odd “rent and don’t purchase” model, not even the Netflix integration, which should have been part of Apple TV from the git-go — but the way it easily brings together files on your Mac, iPad, iPhone and every other AirPlay enabled device third-party manufacturers can crank out.

You could argue that other services like Boxee already do this and even allow more customization and better access to wider variety of file formats. But like everything else from Apple, the new Apple TV makes it easier, particularly if you’re already part of its ecosystem. And if you’re not, this might make you want to be.

Wal-Mart Has to Make Digital Downloads Work. Vudu is Step 1

Vudu and Wal-Mart

The Vudu that you do so well

They’ve tried movie and music downloads before, and the world’s largest retailer is about to try it again with Vudu (which some say the retailer paid $100 million for).

Wal-Mart, the biggest seller of physical media — CDs, DVDs — has known for some time that the model is dying. Check out the shrinking shelf space for CDs and DVDs at your local Superstore. It absolutely has to make a splash in downloadable content.

While its previous foray into MP3 sales was an abject failure, movies could be a different story.

If Wal-Mart can sell TVs and Blu-Ray players preloaded with this Vudu app, then they’ve got a fighting chance alongside other services like Netflix, which comes as an included feature for many Blu-Ray players these days, a possibly an advantage over cable on-demand, in that you don’t need a cable connection to receive it — only broadband Internet.

Some analysts see Wal-Mart in an uphill battle:

Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media, an independent research firm in Tampa, argues that Vudu’s offerings of downloadable movies may be too limited.

Why would consumers buy a pricey new TV or DVD player just to gain online access to movies when they can already do that with services from Netflix, and that little company in Cupertino, Calif. named Apple .

“The Vudu acquisition is a realization that TVs and other entertainment appliances need Internet capability. But on the whole, consumers want unlimited access, not just movies. You can already do this with a Mac mini or Windows-based laptop connected to your TV,” Leigh said.

I disagree. I think that for most consumers — particularly Wal-Mart’s bread-and-butter core customer — hooking up a Mac Mini or Windows-based laptop to a TV — to say nothing of using services like Hulu and Boxee — is still too complicated.

An app like Vudu, built right into the new HDTV you just bought for a super-low price at Wal-Mart, seems much easier to use. And with Wal-Mart muscle, you can expect Vudu’s content deals with Hollywood studios to improve.

The next possible challenge for Wal-Mart, then, would be to get broadband Internet access to more of its core customers, many of whom come from rural areas where high-speed Internet access is little more than a rumor. Could we see the world’s largest retailer throwing its weight behind rural broadband initiatives one day?


Wal-Mart Picks Up Digital Vudu – What’s next? [BusinessWeek]

Wal-Mart’s Buying Vudu After All [Gizmodo]

Wal-Mart Takes a Swing at Amazon []

Get Ready for Apple’s iPad With A Look Back at Steve Jobs Keynotes of Yore

Above: The iPhone unveiled, 2007 (part 1). More Apple keynote videos after the jump below.

Well, it’s finally Tablet Week.

After months and months of hype and speculation and rumor and threat of lawsuits, it’s finally here. On Wednesday, Apple will announce its “latest creation,” most likely a touchscreen tablet computer (most likely called an iPad) along with possibly new details of the latest iPhone OS, maybe (but probably not) a new 4G iPhone and (most likely this year but probably not tomorrow) a new version of iTunes that puts your entire music library in the cloud.

It’s a tall order for Apple, whose fan base expects each big keynote to deliver more than the last. And considering Apple’s track record of innovation in the last 10 years or so, expectations are justifiably high.

Another Disruptor?

Gizmodo's Apple Tablet Mockup

Gizmodo's oft-posted Apple Tablet mockup

And Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ tablet (or iPad, or iSlate, or “new” iBook, whatever) has the potential to be another iPod/iPhone-class disruptor, a device that literally Changes Everything. (Jobs apparently believes it’s the “best thing he’s ever done”.) It’s a device that aims at the heart of most major media sectors: software, book publishing, video games, music, movies, TV, newspapers and magazines. It might even alter how we physically interact with computers, depending on what innovations it contains in its user interface, most likely dominated more multi-touch enhancements.

Or, Apple will show up, unveil iPhone 3Gses in assorted colors, “Thanks, that’s all folks,” show’s over and the Internet explodes. Which would be nearly as entertaining!

But seriously, an Apple tablet on Wednesday is a high probability. On Monday, Jobs even commented that the company is “starting this week with a major new product.”

The Classic Keynote

So what market is Apple going for with its tablet? Netbooks? E-readers? Laptops? Portable gaming devices? The answer is probably a mash-up of all of the above, with emphasis on the portability of netbooks and the functions of an e-reader.

In fact, one can imagine the classic Jobs keynote unfolding on Wednesday, where Jobs talks about the current marketplace for both devices, runs through their limitations and shortcomings, and remarks how ugly and cheap those devices are before unveiling his solution: the powerful, elegant, multimedia powerhouse that will be the tablet.

The business models behind the device might be just as compelling, particularly to publishers and developers. Will this device be backed by an ecosystem that allows magazines, books and newspapers to thrive digitally? Will the software’s capabilities add to a publisher’s toolkit, allowing him to create truly interactive, valuable electronic products that finally justify the price of purchase or advertising?

The New York Times has details today:

It will run all the applications of the iPhone and iPod Touch, have a persistent wireless connection over 3G cellphone networks and Wi-Fi, and will be built with a 10-inch color display, allowing newspapers, magazines and book publishers to deliver their products with an eye to the design that had grabbed readers in print.

Whatever Apple unveils on Wednesday, it’ll be another chance at seeing some truly great innovations, leaps in hardware and software that soon reach down into our everyday lives.

To get you ready for Wednesday, we’ve posted videos of some of Jobs’ most notable keynotes, including the first iMac, the first iPod and the Mac Mini, after the jump. Boom.

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It’s Friday! What You Need Is a Good Mixtape

Thank God It's #Mixday, by @LT

Thank God It's #Mixday, by @LT

After having read this Web site for months now and putting up with its sporadic updates and dubious content, you deserve something in return, don’t you? Of course you do!

That’s what we’re giving away some free music. It’s our first contribution to a mixtape series some of the fine folks at Arkansas Business Publishing Group are doing. “Thank God It’s #Mixday” is being curated at ABPG by Ryan Byrd, and you can download my compilation here and Ryan’s compilation here. Full track listing for mine is after the jump.

Other companies, like CJRW, do this as well. And we hope to make a new Friday tradition here at ABPG.

So go download some decent music, sit back and relax. It’s a small token of thanks to those who’ve so far managed to endure this blog.

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The Week We Forgot About This Blog!

Holy crap, was that a week that just when by? No, that was two weeks! Who’s running this show around here, anyway?

But thanks for remembering us! We’re about to ramp things back up around here, for what’s it worth. Regular posting, such as it is, begins again soon.

Meanwhile, enjoy this latest slice of wonderful weirdness from the new newness that is St. Vincent. Help me, indeed.

The Winner

38 million votes from Arkansas

Report: 38 million votes from Arkansas, retracted!

AP: Allen Wins

Congrats from the hometown paper | fan page

100 million votes after lowest-rated penultimate ep in ‘Idol’ history

KLRT retracts ’38 million votes from Arkansas’ report

HuffPo: ‘Spoiler!’ Allen wins

NY Daily News: ‘Surprise upset’

NY Times: Protest? Cowell remains seated after announcement

USA Today: ‘Awful, moldy, bloated finale’

Washington Post: Christians for Kris

Fox affiliate’s blanket coverage

Vic Harville cartoon

Get Allenized

Previously: Allen’s post-‘Idol’ career

(Photo via Fox)

The Obligatory ‘Good Luck Kris Allen’ Post

Click for more

Click for more

But seriously, good luck tonight.


Arkansas Business: His post-‘Idol’ prospects

Official Site fan page

Congressional Quarterly: Allen will win

F Yeah, Kris Allen