Our World. Our Minutae.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cable/Broadband a la Carte - Just Censorship Disguised

Like the FREE IPOD deals, they sound good on the surface but ultimately, you'll pay more than you would with your time and money.

Cable ala carte may have worked 20 years but not now. If you look at the Top 50 cable networks ratings, about 48 of them are owned wholly or partially by Viacom, NBCU, Disney, Fox, Warner, Comcast or Hearst.

What does that mean? ESPN ala carte? $24.99 a month. Why not? There's no rule that says pricing now (about $2 a channel) gets converted to ala carte pricing - just like at a restaurant - you get 30% of the meal for 80% of the cost. But they'll be deals. If you agree to take ALL the other ESPN channels, the bundle deal is $17.99. But wait it gets better - if you take Disney & ABC - that's only another $7.99 a month or you can buy each channel separately for $9.99 a month.

So, two scenarios. We will probably pay $10 more a month to end up with slightly fewer channels or you will pay about $100 to get about 10 cable channels.

This is EXACTLY what happened the last time government decided to mess with the industry - we ended up with cable re-regulation and what happened - monthly rates dropped a little but if you wanted a cable guide - $10. If the service call was your fault - $35. Wiring insurance? $5 a month, etc, etc ... so ultimately we ended up paying essentially the same but anything non TV reception related, we were suddenly paying about 300% more.

I am not defending the cable companies but merely stating what is going to happen in the REAL WORLD. You will not be able to cherry pick 10 channels for $2 a month. You will still get the home shopping channels (As a special thank you, QVC & HSN Free FOREVER!) or the non-English channels that are MUST CARRY local channels.

What will happen is if you want ESPN, MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, E!, Bravo, A&E, etc ... you will pay around $10 to get each channel or you can pay about $15 to get their 10 "sister" channels. We will be right back where we started but the cable companies will make even more money. Want to make a change - that's $10 EVERY TIME. To prevent you dropping out after football season, ESPN will sell you a year starting in August for a set fee or it's $49.99 a month if you sign up in September through December.

Part of the reason the censorsorship groups want this is that they cannot control their own kids and want us to do so and they just think they should speak for us. Just because they don't want to watch certain channels, they want no one else to ... never mind that some people don't want religious channels or preachers who advocate assasinations - that's the braod spectrum of America but of course, anything they don't want - they don't want for the rest of us.

America is the ONLY country where there are 300+ channels. Let's not go and ruin that just because some people don't know how to appreciate other channels. There is literally something intersting, educational, and fun on EVERY channel. You should start watching the other channels and exploring instead of tightly just doing one channel over & over. When you get a newspaper or magazine, you will get articles or sections you do not read - should be getting your money back for those pages you don't read also?

Ala Carte will not work on many levels from the reality of the details (you will pay more for less - mark my words) to it's just a ploy by censorship mavens to the Bell companies trying to mess with cable companies to messing with the only system and country with 300+ channels.

Do NOT let the FCC make your decisions for you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Finally, A Real Beta-VHS Debate That's Accurate - Only the iPod

The media often miscategorizes the Beta vs. VHS debate between Apple & MS but finally in the case of the "non-ipod" dock connector, we have a winner! And the winner is, of course the iPod.

Apparently having run out of things to blame and or pass off as the reason WMA players are selling poorly (never mind the poor interfaces, bad design and not that really PLAYS4SURE thing), it's really been that power plug all along that made you pick the ipod - that is the reason you bought the ipod, right?

So, now the WMA & Microsoft minions are allegedly banding together to build a "universal" dock connector.

Never mind that Apple sold about 25 million of its 35 million ipods when the dock connector changed from model to model or that it's gone from Firewire to Firewire/USB to USB only ... that's GOT to be the ONLY reason for the success of the ipod. Nevermind that only a handful of accessories really require the plug connector (mostly speakers) though of course, the ultimate accessory is that car manufacturers are including it so you can see & control your ipod from the steering wheel or whatever so of course, MS is scared to concede that market since they've been throwing money at that market for years - also without any success ... but, here are MS's main problems:

So far, after a year of PLAYS4SURE - the "universal" software connection that's supposed to create a seamless sea to sea wall-to-wall WMA player extravaganza of consumer "choices" has produced - surprise - dozens of players that do not "play4sure."

So, how long will it take MS to gather & consolidate a couple hundred mp3 manufacturers, auto makers & MS' engineering group into agreeing on a decision/standard? What do you think? A year? Two years? Three? By then, there might be 100 MILLION+ iPods ... so what dock connector do you think car manufacturers will choose if they choose a dock?

The format used by perhaps 100 million devices or "the other one."

Guess which one is VHS and which is really, really Beta ... in the sense it's not really ready for prime time use?

And that's presuming that PLUGS4SURE actually works better than PLAYS4SURE ... Anyone holding their breath?

The other main problem for MS is that there is already a second choice - the 1/8" or 3.5mm output port so basically the first choice is iPod integration and control. The second choice is simply to provide a 1.8/3.5mm plug for external audio sources which would cover 99.98% of the market (I'm sure Sony uses their own proprietary 2.9mm plug :-)

Why would you spend money to put in a THIRD choice? It's one thing to offer a third engine choice, it's another to offer a third audio dock connector choice ... but I'm sure MS will throw $500 million down this hole anyway ... hope the stockholders don't mind ...