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Apple TV Take 2 – Not So Much – Choice

I’ve been chewing on the whole Apple TV take 2 thing for a few days now. Despite my Fanboy status, still completely and totally underwhelmed. Here’s why:

  • Netflix on demand but nobody else (Amazon, Vudu, etc.). I can get more choices cheaper with Roku (and won’t always pay $4.99 a stream). Heck there are $99 Blu-ray players with more functionality and you at least get a Blu-ray player (and $1.49 viewings from your local Redbox).
  • Speaking of cheaper with Roku, I can also get a lot more with that little box as well. Have you seen their continuing channel list? Throw in the possibilities Media Fly allows for and the Apple TV is 1/10th the box.
  • Of course I can’t get Hulu or anything like that with Roku but with the coming Boxee box (yes, twice as much) and the recent Plex Announcements (wow, didn’t see what coming), I will continue to watch Hulu on my big screen – despite what the EULAs say.
  • Missed opportunity. Apple TV should have her own app store – it’s as simple as that. Now, for those telling me “it’s coming” I simply ask – and where will those apps be stored – the cloud? Nope. Not in this release of the box.
  • The whole “amateur hour” dig really got to me. Instead of “people want to watch television and Hollywood Movies” (heaven forbid an Indie, Steve) how about “People want to watch what they want to watch and we’re gonna make it easy.

I know Ed Dale and others tell me this is just step 1 but I’m not seeing it. For a company who wants to “think different” it just smacks of a company rushing to get something on the shelves in time for Christmas.

Your take – fanboy or otherwise?

Weekend Roundup: Breaking Eggs Edition

As I’ve chewed on / had a few days to think about the Hulu Plus announcement, I am both amazed at what a bad idea it is, on some many levels. I guessed I’ve moved from questions to lethargy. I tweeted yesterday that I thought Hulu was trying to make an omelet without breaking eggs on this one and was failing miserably. Still feel that way.

Here are a few other thoughts from people smarter than me (although I’d love to hear from Boxee or Roku right now):

There is also a lot of talk online about how you have to pay for the higher level of access to the PS3 or Xbox versions while paying for the access but I’m pretty sure the zillion or so Xbox users watching Netflix on their gold accounts have gotten over that pretty quickly.

I’m frustrated because it is a very very very weak attempt at bridging the gap, almost so weak that one might ask if it was designed to fail. I’ve said from the beginning that I think Hulu was designed to fail since day one and although the Hulu Plus announcement did surprise me, I can’t help but wonder if I’m still right.

What do you think?

Hulu Plus – Here Are My Questions

Update #1: Just found out / realized that the Hulu Plus stuff is “broadcast only” – meaning you won’t see any cable content on there. Yes, stuff like Burn Notice and Caprica ain’t gonna happen, even with commercials. Yes, the CEO seems scared that people might think this is a cable killer.

Update #2: Boxee ain’t the only one not on the list. No Android or Google TV either. No Roku. Silly.

I’ve been saying for a long time that I never thought a “paid/premium” version of Hulu was in the cards. Somebody somewhere has smelled some coffee (they woke up too) and I’m quite intrigued. Here’s some reporting from Engadget with a little more insight than the Hulu press release.

For the record, I have no problem paying $9.95 – even with commercials – it’s far less than any cable bill out there and (at this point) has less commercials than any cable bill out there. I’ve applied for beta accounts and am waiting to hear back.

I installed this bad boy on both my iPhone and iPad. Now I’m really glad that I have unlimited 3g on both of them. The demo stuff looks great over 3g – better quality than either Netflix or ABC (on the iPad at least).

But, I have questions:

  • Where is CBS? Nothing from them is in the lineup and we hear rumors of them going all HTML5 on us this fall. Will they be the ones to go totally free?
  • What about Boxee? The lie that “content providers wanted it removed” is about as plausible as (insert BP caring joke here). How come they weren’t listed as a means to get Hulu Plus? They’re on other boxes. What gives?
  • How many commercials on plus? We know the industry is moving to more than one. Will “Plus” go with it?
  • Why Xbox in 2011? Don’t really need commentary about this one.
  • Why no Zune or Windows 7 phone options? Did Remond upset someone at Hulu?
  • Will it “take?” Right now the commentary I’m reading says folk don’t want to pay $10 for this thing.

What about you, will you pay for Hulu Plus?

Do you have answers to any of my questions?

Do you have any questions of your own?

Google TV – What It Could Mean

I finally got my mind around Google TV and what it “means.”

And it is big.

First of all, it is real competition in the “Internet video on your television” space. With Apple TV admitting being nothing but a hobby and everyone else caring about their efforts with the same passion BP seems to care about plugging the leak, it’s easy to see why we’re getting nowhere in this space. I’ve written previously about the Roku box and Boxee’s plans but what really has happened in the last 6 months, year?

With Google taking this space seriously, we’re finally going to see some passion and growth past what we’re seeing right now. And, with their war chest, this nonsense with Hulu blocking Boxee type situations will be met with a legal war chest that can make things happen. Competition is a very good thing.

But, more importantly, we’ve got another issue at play that is even more vital.

Google in this space represents a true convergence box. This is the “old and new media playing together” dream we’ve had for years but have never seen delivered. I have in my basement plenty of boxes that put obscure Internet video on my screen and I have owned / seen / been briefed on / and have beta tested an equal amount of boxes that place nice with “old media” over the intertubes. The Xbox doesn’t do YouTube (let alone a decent Podcast option) and the Apple TV is as walled as a walled garden can get (even to the point of making it too weak to stream Flash well). When we talk about Tivo or traditional cable boxes, I just have to shudder. fILS and Twitter – silly – nothing else.

Boxee is the best hope in the underdog category (and I applaud Avner’s statements that they can work in a Google TV world) but even their approach to stuff puts a line between the two worlds. A new episode of Burn Notice goes right into my queue but the latest episode of The Totally Rad show does not. It’s just not “all coming together” the way it is supposed to … Yet. Roku is nice for what it does but the channels that aren’t there don’t appear to be coming.

At CES this year I got really nervous watching boxes from the “big names” designed (I believe purposely) to squash out the new media space. Sure, they were still lousy, but they were the only element seeing growth. And they might grow into something acceptable before we get our butts in gear.

Google TV can change this. The commercials speak of a world where the Web and Desperate Housewives can live in peaceful harmony and I’m betting my future that the box that let’s them is the box I want to get behind. Google has the war chest and moxie this space needs.

And they have my full support.

Do they have yours?

Oh yeah, their ownership of YouTube is key too :-).

7 Facts New Media Creators Must Face If They Want To Survive This Year

It’s time to face facts. Here are 7:

Niche audience programs can’t survive on mass audience advertising models. This one has GOT TO STOP. The reason American Idol can do well on a few pennies per audience member is because they have a few zillion audience members to pull pennies from. Good for them, they can have them. But, the niche content creator who thinks there are a few zillion pennies in their niche to collect don’t understand the meaning of the word niche.

And the funny thing is, people want to pay more for niche than they want to pay for mainstream stuff. Why won’t we let them? The odds of making good money on pennies per audience member are so small … why do that to yourself when there are better options for everyone?

What are you afraid of?

The “Old Media” guard is doing what they can to block you out.
For me, the big theme at CES wasn’t 3D or eBook readers, or any of the other memes you’ll read about. For me at least, the big theme was that “Old Media” is spending insane amounts of money to get better at what they do.

The only reason any machine of that size “gets better” is because there is competition that might take market share away from them. The “Old Media” guard is aware of what might happen and are doing everything in their power to prevent it.

Real reason for 3DHDTV? Even Kodak won’t be able to produce a $200 camera that pulls that off.

Real reason for IPTV? Cable cutting has become so real, they’re getting ready for when it goes mainstream.

Real reason for embedded widgets in TV sets and Blu-ray players? It’s called futureproofing your tech.

But if you look at the demos, you’ll notice something very important, very important … NEW MEDIA AIN’T PART OF ANY OF IT. We haven’t been invited to that party and they so hope that we continue to bicker about page design changes at YouTube and the size of our checks so we won’t notice what’s going on.

And the thought process has even infected us. Why in the world will Boxee automatically add a new episode of “Two And A Half Men” to my queue but not an episode of Geekbrief or The Totally Rad Show?

If we don’t force ourselves into their playing field, we’re not going to be invited to the games.

Despite all this great tech, it’s still easier to watch TV than to watch you. Yes, “kids” watch stuff on their computers and love it. Yes, the average 17 year old sees no difference in watching on the laptop than on watching on the TV. These funfacts are merely transitionatory tidbits that will mark a few years of our history, not our future.

But, dear friends, the future is Internet on the television and the phone. The future is YOUR content on THEIR terms. Flash players at obscure websites is hardly the totally of terms YOUR AUDIENCE might come to you with or request from you.

First part of having a niche audience, giving them what they want …

With companies like Kunaki in play it is, simply, wrong, not to offer everything you do on disc of some sort.

How easy is it to get your stuff?

What do you have to lose?

You can add “Ask A Ninja” to your DVD queue at Netflix. Why can’t I get your show there?

“New Media” that acts like “Old Media” is missing the point.

What we bring to the game is so much more than cheap cameras and the quest for unlimited hosting for less than the cost of a latte.

More and more of what’s coming out these days looks like an attempt at “beating the studio system” than it is “changing media” as we originally started to do.

Just ask yourself this simple question … what do you really want to be doing? What is your dream here? If it’s a show on Fox or a movie on HBO, I’d say you got a better chance going the “traditional” route at this point.

If your goal is to take a small audience to places they’ve never been before and make a good profit doing it, are you on the right path for such?

We don’t act like we want our audience to act. That’s called hypocrisy.

How much “New Media” have you consumed this week? How much have you produced this week?

Ever notice that the more you eat this dogfood, the more successful you are? Rocketboom, TWiT, and Revision3 anyone?

Yes, our audience is following our lead – it’s just a bad one.

You can’t sell advertisers the same pack of lies they can. Admit it, you’ve been thinking this for years …

Yup, those advertisers pushing their 30 second spots designed for Oprah online aren’t even close to getting their money’s worth. Don’t worry, they might not be getting their money’s worth on Oprah either.

But, you don’t have the cache or the agency behind you to get those kinds of deals for your show – so stop thinking that’s your ticket.

New Media’s success won’t come from successfully lying to advertisers and audience members – it is the complete opposite.

Even if your basement, it’s still business. I’m still surprised how many have mastered Final Cut and purchased thousands of dollars in computer equipment but who haven’t done more than surf a few blogs (written by guys with day jobs) to figure out how they’re going to make money here.

It’s called “Show Business” or “Information Marketing Business” or “Training Business” or “[Insert Term Here] Business” for a reason.

What business are you in?

Are you in business at all?

Could that be why profit ain’t much?