MonthMarch 2011

Amazon introduces ‘cloud drive’ online storage, streaming service

Amazon launched an online storage and streaming service called “cloud drive” that gives 5GB of free storage space to users who have an amazon.com account. The service can be used as online storage space, but it also provides the ability to stream music to any web-enabled computer or Android device, according to the announcement. Users can upgrade to 20GB of space for $20/year. The 20GB also comes for free to any Amazon customer who buys an album through its digital store. Online music purchases from Amazon would automatically be added to customers’ cloud drive and would not count against their storage quota.

According to users who have tried out the service, it is somewhat hampered by its desktop transfer software, which is built using Adobe’s Air platform. Although the service will work on Android devices, there is no iOS app at this time.

Apple has been rumored to be working on a cloud-based storage and/or streaming service of its own, possibly using the data center it has been building in North Carolina, but it has not released or announced anything yet.

Busted, Samsung

Harry McCracken on Technologizer with a great scoop on the “fans” featured in a promotional video touting Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab:

(Two of the people) came off as performers dressed for their parts and parroting Samsung talking points. I couldn’t tell whether we were supposed to take the clips as a documentary or a mockumentary. So I Googled around and couldn’t find any references to a travel-writing Joan Hess (one with, as she said, a following on Twitter) or a real-estate CEO Joseph Kolinski.

I did notice, however, that freelance travel writer Joan Hess bears a striking resemblance to New York actress Joan Hess.

And that real estate CEO Joseph Kolinski could be New York actor Joseph Kolinksi‘s twin brother:

Filmmaker Karl Shefelman, on the other hand, looks a lot like…filmmaker Karl Shefelman. Who works for a New York production company. One that’s done work for Samsung.

Harry’s one of the true journalists in the tech press. Nice job. (via Daring Fireball)

When they start designing phones for people and not the carrier, maybe they’ll have something

RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie on carriers’ reaction to the company’s upcoming lineup of phones, during yesterday’s earnings call:

“Their jaws dropped — the carriers’. They love it. And the biggest risk that we have is getting it certified and getting it to market in a certain time.”

And therein lies the problem: RIM and other phone makers are designing phones to impress the carriers; Apple designs them to impress the people who use them. (via Business Insider)

Why the NY Times digital subscription plan is not about digital subscriptions

The pricing on the New York Times recently announced digital subscription packages has a lot people scratching their heads.

From The New York Times itself:

Beginning March 28, visitors to NYTimes.com will be able to read 20 articles a month without paying, a limit that company executives said was intended to draw in subscription revenue from the most loyal readers while not driving away the casual visitors who make up the vast majority of the site’s traffic.

Once readers click on their 21st article, they will have the option of buying one of three digital news packages — $15 every four weeks for access to the Web site and a mobile phone app (or $195 for a full year), $20 for Web access and an iPad app ($260 a year) or $35 for an all-access plan ($455 a year). All subscribers who take home delivery of the paper will have free and unlimited access across all Times digital platforms except, for now, e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Subscribers to The International Herald Tribune, which is The Times’s global edition, will also have free digital access.

Don’t miss that last key point: Subscribers who take home delivery (of any kind), get free and unlimited access to all digital content. That means you can take the cheapest subscription available for the paper edition ($161.20/year) and get digital content that the Times says is worth $455/year for free. Even if you throw the paper edition away or put it on permanent “vacation” mode, you can pay significantly less than half the price of a digital-only subscription.

I’m not defending the pricing. Far from it, I think it’s a disaster. I do understand it, though, and it has nothing to do with trying to promote digital subscriptions. Rather, it’s a result of a traditional publishing mindset. The Times sees no value in digital subscriptions. They are ephemeral, non-substantive. Only paper is real; only paper subscriptions “really count.” There may be a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is the impact on advertising rates for the paper edition. But I think there’s an old-school bias at work here, too. The Times doesn’t really want to sell digital subscriptions — they want people to buy the paper.

I knew a barber who charged outlandish prices for a shave. I asked him why — did he give amazing shaves? No, the answer was that he hated giving shaves. By pricing them so high, he discouraged most of his customers for asking for them, and the few who did were paying high enough prices to make it worth his while.

The Times, I think, hates digital subscriptions. They’d rather give them away if you buy the paper than sell them on their own. And their pricing structure is designed to drive people to do just that.

Apple admits Mac OS X transition a failure; announces Mac OS 9.5, Jobs steps down

On the tenth anniversary of the introduction of Mac OS X, I thought it would be fun to take a look at this RandomMaccess column from April 1, 2003 — an April Fool’s Day look at an imagined reception of Apple’s then still-nascent operating system:

“I blew it. It’s as simple as that,” said a visibly upset Steve Jobs as he announced he would step down as head of Apple, the company he co-founded on this day over 25 years ago.

CFO Fred Anderson quickly announced the company would end its two-year-long transition to the UNIX-based Mac OS X and would release Mac OS 9.5 within the month.

“Our customers have told us they while there are a lot of things they like about OS X, they feel more productive in the Classic Environment, so that’s what we’re going to give them,” Anderson said. “Hell, Quark was never going to release a native version, anyway,” he admitted.

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Bertrand Serlet to leave Apple

Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Mac Software Engineering, will be leaving the company, according to an announcement released by the company today. Serlet worked with Steve Jobs at NeXT and came over with him to Apple, creating and developing Mac OS X. He will be succeeded by Craig Federighi, Apple’s vice president of Mac Software Engineering.

From Apple’s press release announcing Serlet’s departure:

“I’ve worked with Steve for 22 years and have had an incredible time developing products at both NeXT and Apple, but at this point, I want to focus less on products and more on science,” said Serlet.

Serlet famously poked fun at the similarities between Mac OS X and Microsoft’s then-upcoming OS update, Vista, at the WWDC Conference in 2006. His bit was more stand-up routine than keynote, made all the more charming by his thick French accent.

Serlet’s scheduled last day comes the day before Mac OS X turns 10 years old. Before joining Apple, he spent four years at Xerox PARC, then joined NeXT in 1989.

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