of Readability and TiVo, is Ad serving a right?

Listening to Mac Geek Gab #266. Dave Hamilton had a position on the new Reader function in Apple’s Safari browser which replicates the function of the Readability bookmark let that I’ve been using for a while and loving. He was very clear that he thought such tools “steal” from content providers comparing it to shoplifting and rejecting the idea that is was more like skipping commercials with Tivo. Personally I fall closer to the Tivo camp.

There have been many technology efforts to control the way in which an individual may use content. DRM is the most obvious one but there have been many protocol and regulatory changes that have attempts to accomplish this. The Broadcast Flag is one that keeps rattling around in my head and may be coming back in another form.

In the end this is attempts to create a technology solution to a people problem. On this I complexly agree with Dave – people think content is free and it isn’t. Unfortunately it has been the content providers that have pushed this point and get offended when if bites them. On one had they have been unable to gain a direct revenue model (consumer pays) and rely on a secondary revenue market (consumer watches, brands pay for ads, ads bias consumer behaviour, brands earn revenue).

Some providers have already questioned this model like this article from ReadWriteWeb;  “Financial Times Expects Direct Payments” I already pay (voluntarily) for many of my ‘free’ podcasts.

So back to the original discussion, is accepting Ads prior/along with content something viewers should expect to ‘give up’ to keep content free? The existence of RSS feeds have already seen this battle of full versus excerpted feeds. The Vancouver Sun does that with their feeds that combined with a slow loading website caused me to drop them from my feeds and resort to a Google News Alerts instead. Most sources are prepared to provide an RSS feed which allows viewing of content without viewing the entire page.

I think part of my view is shaped by the fact that Advertising is just Voodoo to me. I really can’t get past the idea that if everyone stopped advertising the market wouldn’t be much different from the way it is today. Probably pretty niave but that is what is at the heart of my attitude toward it.

No matter what technology you try, you may get the Ads to me, but you can’t make me care….

Why Apple can afford to lose, they’ve been there before

Watching the Google smackdown at this weeks Google I/O was an interesting take on the technology world. I’ve got to admit I’m a little on the side of Kara Swisher on Google’s Laughable–But Not So Funny–Apple Tantrum. However these companies are all run by adults and you don’t get to this level of the game without a little thicker skin than most.

After thinking of some of the comments there are a couple things that are pretty good bets. First, Android as a platform could easily pass the iPhone OS. Second, Apple probably doesn’t care. Now they care a little to be sure. You don’t get to be Steve Jobs or Tim Cook or Jonathan Ives without passionately caring about things. I’ve been in the room when Tim Cook was kicking butts over what was important for Apple so I’ve felt it first hand.

Worse, many will compare the ‘fall of the iPhone’ with the fall of the Mac to the Windows juggernaut. Probably not a bad comparison actually. Apple was fighting IBM (famous 1984 ad), while Microsoft was slowly eating their lunch and they didn’t get focused again until it was too late.

But that is exactly why you can’t expect this time to be the same. Anyone think Steve Jobs forgot what that was like? Do you think anyone that has been with Apple for more than 6 or 8 years doesn’t remember what its like to be on the outside looking in?

Plus, I like Apple’s business model and I think there is no lack of focus. Their business model, like their products, is simple. They build something and sell it to you and make money at that.

Fundamentally Google doesn’t sell anything to the people that use their services. They sell those people to other companies. That is what an advertiser does and that is the business Google is in. They are the new century’s version of Mad Men.

And even if every critic is correct, Even if Apple business model collapses in the weight of a “free and open” onslaught, the next day – whoever is running Apple – is going to get the smartest people they can find and decide how they can make another awesome, magical, or revolutionary product.

In that way Apple has an advantage over Microsoft and Google; who have never really been beaten, and Yahoo and Palm; who have never really come back.

And if we are to speak logically, what better place to go than Mr Spock:

Captain Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott: …then we’re dead.
Captain Spock: I’ve been dead before.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – Quotes from Spock: IMDB


Google Voice trial

Got my Gvoice invite this week. I use Vonage and Skype as my main voice tools so this will be an interesting contrast.

For those that have never used voice services that have web management Gvoice will be entirely new. For those that have .. Not so much.

What you should expect from IP voice services is call logs ( useful for contractors and those of us that bill by the hour), voicemail that is web excesssible, downloadable and provides email and SMS alerts. Multiple line and number support typically comes with the territory including things like call hunt.

Google voice has one interesting plus an one minus over other services. The ability to connect point to point via the web. This is not typically availible with other services. Create a call via the web interface ( including mobile) and it will call you ( including mobile) and then your other party. This completely bypasses outbound toll calls especially from your cell phone. This is a massive help as most voip services, like Skype, will not run over mobile data services. This includes 3g connections on my iPhone. That is a massive plus.

The minus is this is not really a phone service. Sorry, you heard that right. This is a call manager. You still really need a voice service; landline, mobile, or VOIP to terminate calls.

Next I’ll be looking at the group management and call screening.