Archive for December, 2009

Apple May Be On The Verge Of Kneecapping The Cable Industry. Finally. – Via Tech Crunch

December 22, 2009

Dead TV by rickremingtonThe cable companies suck. All of them. Some suck less than others. But they all suck. We need someone to whip them into shape. And that someone may be Apple.

Apple may be on the verge of gaining two key television network agreements, according to The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, CBS and Walt Disney (which runs ABC) are said to be considering a proposal by Apple to offer a subscription-based TV service over the Internet. Presumably, this would work through iTunes like all of Apple-based content, but also presumably it would work over Apple’s Apple TV device (though maybe a new version of it) to bring this content into the living room, where people are used to consuming it. Simply put: This could be huge.

But “could” is the keyword. Just as Apple transformed the music industry in the earlier part of this decade thanks to the iTunes/iPod combination, and the mobile industry thanks to the iPhone, a device that offered all the television content over the Internet could force the cable companies to stop sucking. Of course, Apple already offers a ton of television content over iTunes, but there are a few big problems. First and foremost, you have to buy all of this content. I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to buy 99% of the television shows I watch. I would much rather pay a fraction of the purchase cost to “rent” them, as it were, for a time being. iTunes currently has no such option — it’s all or nothing.

And buying this content has another very real downside: You need enough storage space to keep it all. Seeing as some HD TV show seasons are 50 GB in size, this is an untenable model until Apple moves iTunes to the cloud (which it will do, eventually).

Another problem for Apple is that the Apple TV device has not yet proven to be a hit. But this is just as much Apple’s fault as anyone else’s. No less than Steve Jobs has said time and time again that the Apple TV remains a “hobby” and the “fourth leg” of a stool that doesn’t yet need a fourth leg. Apple could have done a number of things to help the Apple TV, such as opening it up to the Internet for use with Hulu and other services. But it hasn’t done that, instead opting to use it to move iTunes content. And it’s actually quite good at that, provided iTunes has what you’re looking for and again, you don’t mind paying for TV shows. A recent firmware update to the device, also made the UI much more usable for scanning a lot of content.

But the Apple TV, which sells for $229, could be a hit in a hurry if Apple offered its own television subscription service that allowed you to bypass the cable companies. Just think about it: Most people pay in excess of $50 a month (and some much more) to the cable companies. For what? Mostly for a bunch of crap they don’t want and will never watch (nor would they even have time to). The problem is that the cable companies have refused to move towards an a-la-carte offering, even though there is a clear demand for it. (It’s partially the TV networks fault too since they like to package their cable channels when giving them to the cable companies.) Apple could do that. And I would bet that is the plan. They may have to start out small with just one or two networks, but if it’s proven to work, eventually they would get more on board and people could start canceling their rip-off cable packages.

apple-tv-01I did it myself last year. I cancelled all but the most basic cable and just used my Apple TV and things like Hulu to get all my content. It was much easier than I imagined it would be. Did I miss cable? Not one bit.

But I realize that not everyone is ready for that yet. But that’s why Apple’s role is crucial here. They have a proven track record of taking new ideas and technologies that seem complicated for the average consumer and making them appealing.

The networks are likely to play hardball with Apple though. They’ve all seen what happened to their brethren in the music industry when Apple came on board (they got bullied, but possibly also saved). According to the WSJ report, Apple’s proposal to the TV industry has already changed several times. One deal is said to be a $30-a-month package to consumers that would be a “best of television” package that included several shows from several networks, and more importantly, no commercials, according to the report. Not surprisingly, not everyone liked that idea.

Another part of the report has Apple paying $2 to $4 a month to the major networks per monthly subscriber, and $1 to $2 for a cable subscriber. This is more than a lot of these guys get from their current distribution deals. But Apple would also likely put costs on top of that so they make money too — though it might not be all that much. Remember, Apple doesn’t make that much money from iTunes, instead it’s a driver of iPod sales, and now iPhone sales. The same could be true with this model and the Apple TV.

While everyone is busy focusing on Apple’s tablet device, this could actually be the hot thing to watch for from Apple in early 2010. The report says Apple was hoping to launch this service in March, but that could be delayed, obviously, as the networks fight about why they should or shouldn’t join this venture.

There are at least a dozen headaches Apple would likely have to deal with to get the TV networks on board with this, but Apple’s close ties to Disney (which counts Steve Jobs as its largest shareholder) could help. While it may be just a pipe dream for now, I, for one, hope they’re able to blow up the cable industry. For too long we’ve put up with their sub-par service, their crap hardware, and their rip-off offerings. A change of the channel would do us all good.

[photo: flickr/rickremington]

Apple image

Website: apple.com
Location: Cupertino, California, United States
Founded: April 1, 1976
IPO: 1980

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computer maker to include consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from… Learn More

Apple TV image

Company: Apple
Website: apple.com/appletv
Launch Date: September 17, 2006

Apple TV is a network device for both Macintosh and PC computers that allows users to download, stream, and view High Definition television shows on demand via iTunes.

Learn More

Information provided by CrunchBase

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Triumph Introduces 2010 Thruxton Special Edition

December 21, 2009

Triumph Introduces 2010 Thruxton Special Edition

Triumph has unveiled a special edition of its café racer-styled Thruxton that comes in a sportier version of the classic British design. The renowned motorcycle manufacturer has given a decent re-design to the 2010 Thruxton SE that features modern engineering combined with a retro sports look. Its production is set to start in the spring of 2010.

Triumph 2010 Thruxton Special Edition Triumph Introduces 2010 Thruxton Special Edition

The new Thruxton features a lot of styling specs to impart the sporty looks. What catches everyones first glance is the stunning red frame and the Crystal White bodywork with a red stripe. Furthermore, a blacked out engine case and a color-matched, factory fitted fly-screen enhances its looks.

The Crystal White paint contains a huge amount of metallic content which gives a luxurious paint finish. When combined with the red powder coated frame it creates a striking contrast which makes the overall work look appealing. Both the colors are new from Triumph and a first time feature.

Triumph 2010 Thruxton Special Edition engine Triumph Introduces 2010 Thruxton Special Edition

The power plant that drives the bike is the 865 cc parallel-twin Thruxton Special Edition. It is named after the famous British racetrack which finds itself carved in golden letters in the pages of the history of Triumph. It was the track at which Triumph had a dream run of success in the 1960s. The fuel-injected drivetrain is the best of Triumph’s “Modern Classics” range, producing a power of 68 bhp at 7400 rpm and a peak torque of 51 ft-lb at 5800 rpm.

Triumph 2010 Thruxton Special Edition  Triumph Introduces 2010 Thruxton Special Edition

The engine shares the Bonneville’s 360-degree firing interval but also features a compression ratio of 9.2:1, hotter camshaft profiles and megaphone-style exhaust pipes. To commemorate the Ace Café and the racing streets, Triumph has provided Sporty, low-rise bars, 18-inch spoked-wheels and a race-inspired stripe from tank to tail.

“The Thruxton has long been a popular choice among motorcyclists wishing to experiment with custom paint, and the factory special edition introduces two premium colours to the Triumph range for the first time,” said a company spokesman.

Triumph 2010 Thruxton Special Edition 1 Triumph Introduces 2010 Thruxton Special Edition

Prices of the Thruxton SE are still to be confirmed, but the manufacturer says that it will come at a small premium over the regular edition Thruxton, which costs around $9,000 or £5,500.

They tried too hard with this one.

Toaster loaded for the dorba party

December 5, 2009

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