boneheads, business, mac, technology

NBC Wants People to Stop Buying TV Shows

On the heels of iTunes getting rid of DRM in music NBC says they want more. NBC would also like to re-negotiate pricing and bundle shows. So far NBC has declined to renew its contract with Apple.

First issue: pricing. The pricing is fine. No one else really thinks it is too much or too little. Done.

Second issue: bundling. Users don’t want to be forced to buy a bundle and won’t like a change that removes a freedom of choice that they once had.

Third issue: DRM. Okay, more and more people are starting to agree that DRM is bad for consumers. Just look at Microsoft’s PlayForSure (which even the Zune doesn’t support) and Sony’s ATRAC (which has been dumped, leaving owners of those music file holding the bag). DRM limits how legitimate owners can use their purchased content and creates a situation in which it is likely that users will be locked out of different devices or just plain lock out of ever using the content again. The good thing is that many people just won’t purchase DRM burdened files. A user on one forum wrote a response to NBC’s demands:

Either I can buy a season of Scrubs and the Office when it starts again or I can find it in some other manner that will not benefit NBC at all.

Your call, NBC.

This exemplifies the main issue with DRM, that is that it agitates the problem it seeks to solve. By demanding an increased cost and adding DRM NBC simply pushes customers towards peer2peer sites and of course that will be far worse than unbundled slightly DRM’ed $1.99 TV episodes.

update: NBC and Apple are splitting ways. Apple has announced that they will not carry NBC shows because NBC wanted each episode to sell for $4.99 which is more than double what they cost now. We’ll see how NBC likes it when their own service fails and people turn to the peer2peer networks. It will be especially interesting to see how this effects the popularity of its shows, considering it was iTunes that saved the award winning show The Office from certain death.

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The MPAA Might Need a Better Public Image

Recently a satirical news story had some people up in arms. The idea of the story was that the MPAA wanted to start charging each person that watched movies at home. The idea being that the MPAA though everyone who watched a movie ought to own it or at least pay for it. Outrageous, yes, but not outrageous enough to be put beyond the realm of possibilities. Lots of people thought this was the real deal. The question is why?

Could it be that people think the MPAA is greedy? Looking at the news we can see that just recently movie studios came out saying that they want to impose heavier limits on iTunes store movies (there are already some pretty crappy restrictions), people have a good reason to think they are greedy.

mpaaThe interesting thing is that they keep saying they don’t want to have the problems that record companies have had with downloading music. They say that, the question is whether they have considered that part of the reason record companies have done so poorly (aside from releasing terrible music) is because they were unable to adapt to new consumers.

Consider yourself that a movie ticket in Seattle costs $9.50, then you’ll have to watch five to minutes of commercials, and most of the movies out at these huge theaters are, at best, mediocre. Does this have anything to do with people not going to the theaters anymore? A family of five has to spend money on gas, probably some crappy over priced food and then there’s the tickets and maybe even parking. We are talking well over $60 for them to see a movie. Or they could watch one of the movies they just got from netflix for $17 a month. Best of all there are no commercials, annoying people in the audience (unless your family and friends are annoying), and if the movie sucks you just send it back— you’ve barely lost any money on the deal, certainly no where near $60-$70 dollars.

But that isn’t the reason movie studios are doing poorly. It’s clearly pirates, lurking in the filthy darkness where they grow rich off the sweat of the sweet hard working movie execs who just want people to play fair.

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Why Microsoft is Dumb

Microsoft’s new operating system is called Vista. From what I’ve read it is going to give pirates a heck of a hard time to steal (for a few months at least), but the real bonus is that it’ll frustrate legitimate users— not only that, it will place all sorts of limits on how legitimate users can use Vista just because Microsoft claims that somehow it will save them money.

Yes, piracy is a problem, especially in some places outside the US. The thing is, people who live in some places outside the US can’t afford a $300 operating system. We can say “tough,” but that is pretty ridiculous considering computers are the only way to participate in a global economy. Computers are a necessity not a luxury.

I don’t think piracy will change because of Microsoft’s new piracy measures, but I’m not even sure that was the genuine intention. When Microsoft puts limits on how many times you can transfer the operating system (only once) from an old computer to a new one, or even outright deny any transfer (for computers shipped with Vista) it rings to me more in the key of greed.

What else is new with Vista? Besides only being able to transfer the OS once? You also won’t be able to use the regular version of Vista as a virtual OS— this means folks using mac will have to the more expensive version (currently set to cost $300-$400). And failure to activate Vista within 30 days results in the computer doing nothing but allowing 30 minutes of internet access.

Fair use seems to dictate that some of these things are illegal, but I am no lawyer, and fair use laws have been weakened thanks to things like the DMCA. That is to say, our rights as consumers to use things we’ve purchased however we like has been, and is being, pulled out from under us inch by inch.

It’s time to go with a Mac everyone, Apple won’t pull things like this anytime soon. Right now you can buy the latest Mac OS for about $100, or buy a family pack (good for five computers) for just $160. That’s a far cry from the adware and virus friendly Microsoft line of products. If you don’t like Apple, that is fine too, but sooner or later people are going to have to consider other options, out with the old in the unix based OS’s like SuSE, Fedora, or Ubuntu. No, they aren’t a Windows replacement, but then again that’s part of what makes them good.

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