TV-PGMarch 28, 2005: Business 2.0 predicts future Apple products-- and why not? Everyone else does. Meanwhile, the guy who registered only to have it seized and turned over to Apple is claiming that the domain name registry is biased against small businesses, and the PlayStation Portable may well replace the iPod as the gotta-get-it gift come the holidays, but its music capabilities still leave a lot to be desired...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Best Things In Life Are Free (3/28/05)

My, isn't it a glorious day? Okay, sure, it's raining cats and dogs (and possibly a few other fluffy domesticated mammals) out in this neck of the woods... but it's rain, which is the cold, wet stuff as opposed to the cold, white stuff, and given that Boston just had its third-snowiest winter ever (and yes, we were here for the other two), we're just thankful that we don't have anything to shovel. Besides, it's officially spring, it turns out that we can pay our tax bill without selling any vital organs, The Venture Bros. was just greenlit for a second season, The Ghettobillies are playing at Sky Bar this Friday, and we've already got tickets to a FLUTTR EFFECT / Dresden Dolls double-bill next month at the Paradise. Everything's comin' up AtAT!

On top of all that, faithful viewer Konrad informs us that a long Business 2.0 article that we would have had to pay to read last week is now free like beer. Reading detailed speculation about future Apple products without paying one thin dime for the privilege? Why, that's... okay, well, that's exactly what we all do each and every day of our pathetic little lives, so clearly it's the natural order of things, but still, does it get any better than this?

As for what Business 2.0 has to say, we'll leave it to you to chew through the six-page article in one of your quieter moments, because it really makes for an interesting read-- it's chock-full of fascinating second-hand glimpses of Steve Jobs at work, and as faithful viewer Nick Aschbrenner points out, there are a few spots where analyst Rob "Wrong More Often Than a Broken Clock" Enderle is actually quoted as if he knows something about where Apple's headed, which is always a hoot to see (although it's more than a little distressing that predicts good things for Apple this time around).

Here's the nutshell version to tide you over until you get a chance to scope out the real thing. Based on "discussions with past and present company officials, Apple partners, and longtime acquaintances of Jobs, as well as clues in patent applications and other evidence," Business 2.0 figures there's: a near-100 percent chance that Apple will eventually release an iPod with wireless capabilities; a 75 percent chance that the company will ship a video iPod despite Steve's continued claims to the contrary (hey, he said he hated flash players, too, remember?); a 70 percent likelihood of an "iHome" TiVo-like entertainment center appliance; a 60 percent chance of true iPod integration into most car models by the middle of next year; and even odds that Apple will one day ship its own mobile phone. Place your bets!

Oh, but they didn't stop there: Business 2.0 even hunted down Robert Brunner, Apple's pre-Jon Ives Chief Designer, and hit him up for five artist's conceptions of future Apple products. Feast your eyes on the Wireless iPod, the vPod, the iHome, the iPhone, and (presumably because a 3D rendering of an iPod car interface would have been too dull to look at) a wrist-worn podWatch. Brain candy and eye candy to boot? Sure beats leftover Marshmallow Peeps. Like we said, life is good.

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Credibility, Shmedibility (3/28/05)

You know, we only ever mentioned Apple's legal tussle over the domain name briefly in passing last December, and we never had a chance to tell you that the matter was settled recently. Mostly. Nominet (the UK's registry bigwigs) ruled just a couple of weeks ago that 22-year-old "Internet entrepreneur" Benjamin Cohen was, in fact, "abusing his registration" by "offering to sell the domain name and by continuing to re-direct people from"; thus, says Nominet, Cohen is "taking advantage of, and being unfairly detrimental to" Apple, who is therefore entitled to the domain name bearing its trade mark. So Nominet is apparently transferring the domain name to Apple, and Cohen the cybersquatter is left with, well, squat.

Now, of course we say this issue is only mostly settled, because it seems that young Ben feels he's been hard done by; faithful viewer Neil Winton tipped us off to a BBC News article which reports that Cohen "has applied to the High Court for a judicial review," on the basis that Nominet is "biased against small businesses." See, his claim isn't entirely without merit; apparently Cohen registered the domain name in 2000, a bit before Apple's iTunes 1.0 was even announced, so chronology, at least, is on his side-- even if he is currently using the domain name to pimp off of Apple's well-known trade mark.

Cohen evidently thinks that, as long as he registered the name before Apple had started using it himself, he should be allowed to do what he wants to with it, regardless of whether he might be causing customer confusion and diluting Apple's brand. Naturally, he's steamed over Nominet's decision, and petitioned the Court because he feels that "the procedure that Nominet utilizes to settle disputes is unfair and biased towards big business at the expense of legitimate small British companies."

"Legitimate small British companies," hmmm? Well, let's take a look at how Mr. Cohen is using right now, shall we? It's a series of redirects that lands your browser at (gosh, that sounds both British and legitimate!), where you're entreated to sign up for some hinky scheme by which you patronize other sites, such as (still more legitimacy there), and accumulate points which you can allegedly then trade in for free MP3 players, CDs, or TV sets-- while you're also hit up to register to "win a trip to the Bahamas" (nothing but legitimacy, natch) or "win £1,000,000 with the Free LoopyLotto draw" (which is clearly drenched in so much legitimacy it's practically the Pope).

Gee, in the "Where Did You Hear About Us?" section of the signup form (right under where they ask for your PayPal address-- which, if the whole venture weren't so clearly a "legitimate small British company," might have set off a few warning bells), the list of choices doesn't seem to include "News Coverage of Your Doomed But Publicity-Friendly Legal Action Against Apple." Presumably that falls under "Other." Pity there's no "Other" either.

So it'll be interesting to hear what the High Court has to say about all this... assuming it can extricate itself from the diabolical grip of long enough to render a decision. Never hit on 18, fellas!

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Convergence? Yeah, Right (3/28/05)

We admit it: there is technolust in our hearts, and for once it's not for an Apple product. We are actually afraid to go see a PlayStation Portable in person, because the photos, video, and gushing reviews crammed into every last corner of the 'net are doing enough of a number on our salivary glands that we have to walk around holding empty Big Gulp cups under our chins to avoid leaving a trail on the carpet. To actually try a PSP up close and personal might well cause our glands to explode, drenching dozens of innocent bystanders in a ceaseless torrent of geek drool. Oh, sure, we've heard all about the lackluster public interest on launch day, the dead pixels, the iffy buttons; doesn't matter. It's a PlayStation 2 that sort of fits in your pocket, and it plays music, shows photos, and even plays movies, too. So will the long-awaited and much-hyped PSP finally be the product that usurps the iPod's position as the must-have portable digital entertainment device?

Could be, but apparently at least some people are betting on "no." For what it's worth, our drool is reserved solely for the games aspect of the PSP; its other features seem somewhat lacking. If you want to watch a movie on the PSP, you have to buy said movie on a teensy proprietary disc. The PSP seems more useful as a portable photo album, but it also seems too big to be a carry-all-your-photos-everywhere device like the iPod photo. And as for playing music, well, faithful viewer Andy Schimpf dished us up a Fortune article which, while assuring us all that Sony will sell a gazillion of these things regardless, lists several reasons why the PSP can't hold a candle to the iPod as a music player. For one thing, there's no hard disk, so you have to shell out for a Memory Stick to hold your tunes; 1 GB of storage will run you about $150. And once you've got your songs on there, "the PSP music software doesn't allow easy sorting of tunes by artist, album, or playlist."

In other words, every aspect of the PSP not related to gaming-- especially music-- seems like an afterthought, leading Fortune to quip that "some Sony fans were hoping the PSP would be an iPod killer, but it's not even an iPod wedgie." That doesn't mean that Sony won't sell a ton of them, of course, and they may well supplant the iPod as the hard-to-find gift that has shoppers bludgeoning each other with their own severed limbs this holiday season, but at this point we're going to assume it's more for the "crazy-good Tony Hawk 2 in your pocket" factor than any sort of "and hey, now I don't even need to carry my iPod anymore" notion. On the other hand, music on the PSP is probably less of a compromise than gaming on the iPod; Parachute, anyone?

Of course, for anyone who insists on quality portable music and quality portable gaming (not to mention decent digital photography, full-featured PDA functionality, less-compromised movies-on-the-go, etc.), the really hot gift this Christmas will be giant pants with a couple dozen oversized, reinforced pockets to house an iPod, a PSP, a cell phone, a handheld organizer, a digital camera, a portable DVD player, an intravenous steroid pump to make it possible to carry all that other junk, and a working lightsaber to fight off all the muggers coming after the $3,000 worth of swag in your trousers. Start writing to Santa now!

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