My Issues With Early Adopters

Here’s something I wrote a while back…

Today, I went browsing the Internet looking for the release date for Windows Phone 7.8 for my Nokia Lumia 900. While on my search, which turned up no useful information, I once again ran into posts by people blaming Nokia for letting them down (by not allowing them to update their current generation Nokia phones to WP8). As always the commentors were furious, unforgiving, and redundant. Obvious issues with updating current gen phones and the state of OS updates and rollout schedules aside, there seemed to be a missing component to the whole argument.

Lots of people like to remind these ardent commentors of the fact that technology changes very rapidly. As such, cell phones come out which use updated software and top of the line hardware, but are shortly outdated by a new version of software which requires newer hardware. Much like computers…

I can recall a day when you would purchase a computer with the best processor, highest RAM, biggest hard drive, and most powerful graphics engine. The next week a new computer would come out which had twice as good specs but still costs about the same. And I got to thinking about all the other things which run similar cycles.

You buy the newest vacuum cleaner, they come out with one that has better suction and more attachments. You buy a new car, the next model year gets better gas mileage and has more room. You buy a TV, video game system, blender, radio, or even furniture and the companies come out with new versions and models. That is how they make money. It is also coincidentally what happens as companies do research and development on their products. These companies aren’t trying to rip us off (mostly). They are trying to out-do their competitors by releasing better products. They are trying to give consumers more choice. They’re trying to provide us with more powerful devices that hog less energy and perform more tasks more efficiently. If they just did research and development forever without releasing a device, you wouldn’t have a device to complain about anyway.

So, that’s my grief today.

Bye.

Windows Phone 8 and the Coming Apocalypse

I just bought the Nokia Lumia¬†900, a Windows Phone running version 7.5 of the Microsoft mobile OS; affectionately called Mango. Today I learned Apollo, that’s the code name for Windows Phone version 8, will not be installed on my phone. No matter how much I want it, I won’t get an update to WP8. I will however get an upgrade to WP 7.8.¬† What does this mean? It means I will get some visual enhancements as well as a few new features, but nowhere near the functionality of a Windows Phone 8 device. And let me tell you: I… am… furious…ly… annoyed by the idiots who keep acting like this is a big deal.

Let me enlighten you:

Every time¬†Apple put out an update to iOS, the older models have NEVER received¬†all the features of the newest device. NEVER! iPhone 4S¬†gets Siri. Siri is not a hardware upgrade for the 4S. It is basically a piece of software, or app if you will, which adds a new type of functionality. Why couldn’t all the iPhone models get Siri? If they all got Siri, Apple wouldn’t have an impressive reason for people to buy the 4S. Do I smell marketing? That’s all it was. Even still, not too many people were upset about it. Even the all-powerful¬†Woz¬†stated that the Siri software was much better before Apple purchased it. But still, nobody cares. Even if you just bought the iPhone 4S¬†and all of a sudden Apple shows off the iPhone 5 with all these features and functionality upgrades you wouldn’t get because you only have the iPhone 4S and there’s nothing you can do but take the phone back and buy the new one when it comes out NOBODY would care!

Why do people care when Microsoft does it?

In this article, a man writes an e-mail to Nokia’s Stephen Elop¬†and AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega threatening to drop AT&T, Nokia, and Microsoft from his life. Why? Because his new Nokia Lumia¬†900 Windows Phone will not get an update to WP8. Instead, as I said before, the Lumia¬†will get the 7.8 update. Oh, poor, poor me with my Nokia Lumia¬†900 with no upgrade path to WP8. Damn you Microsoft and Nokia. Damn you all to hell!

NOT!

You want to know the difference between Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8? Here it is: hardware. That’s really it. Right now Microsoft has very strict device specs for the Window Phone 7 family. Manufacturers must keep to these or they don’t get the license for Windows Phone 7. The same holds true for Windows Phone 8. The new Windows Phone 8 devices will have different hardware specs, and as such they have the software to utilize the new hardware features. If you have a Windows Phone 7 device you wouldn’t be able to use any of those features anyway, so why would you want that software on your phone? And what exactly does this guy expect? Is Nokia supposed to take his phone, install an NFC chip, a couple or processor cores, and an SD card slot, and then give it back with that functionality? As if! Apple didn’t take people’s old iPhones and install a Retina display in them. If you wanted a Retina display, Siri, or any of the other upgrades on the newer iPhone 4S then you had to buy the newer iPhone 4S.That’s just the way it is. And that’s always going to be the way it is.

When I bought my first Android phone from AT&T, the HTC¬†Aria, I was annoyed¬†by the news of MUCH¬†better phones being announced¬†for the very near future. The HTC Evo 4G, the Motorola Droid X, etc, etc. Was I mad, livid even, to the point of yelling out in frustration at the drizzling sky while the camera backs away, spinning to show my grief and confusion about “why, oh why is this happening to me”? No. That’s what happens. You buy a car, and a better car comes out. You buy the best computer and it’s outdated in a week. You finally shell out for that awesome phone everyone is talking about and your favorite fruits release a new one.¬†Welcome to¬†the universe of technology! Companies make new, better¬†devices all the time. OR would you prefer: Welcome to the world of business! Companies put out new devices to make more money all the time.

Either way, that’s how it works. You save your money, finally buy the item you always wanted, and something better comes out.¬†The other option would be to¬†save your money and¬†wait. If the newer device comes out you hold off and save a little more money so you can buy the new one. But if you save and wait and save and wait you’ll never make that purchase and never get anything. You’re always going to risk ending up with an outdated device especially when making a technological purchase.

So, get over it Luke! They are giving you most of the upgrades with Windows Phone 7.8. But since your Lumia 900 doesn’t have a bigger screen, or an NFC chip, a multiple core processor, or an expansion slot for an SD card you won’t get those updates. What good would they be to you anyway? Think about it before you get so damn upset.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone.*

A phone I won’t be giving up any time soon.

*this post was not really sent from my Windows Phone… although that would have made this more compelling, I already wrote the article before thinking about it. Oh well.

The Problems with Digital Content

I was going to remove my notes for this post, and just write a nice little story about the stupidity of mankind.¬†However, I decided to use my notes as bullet points, all bulleted and everything. So first, here’s what I wish to discuss:

  • people whine but don’t and aren’t expected to do anything about it
  • studios are greedy
  • people are creatures of habit
  • change is for other people – or – change is just conforming to someone else’s opinions
  • the internet is an awesome collaboration tool – but it’s anonymity is riddled with deceit

Now on to the meat of my blog cow.

The Internet is a vast, virtually unlimited place. Sure, it’s limited by laws and regulations, standards, TOS and Privacy Policies, actual hard drive space, mods and administrators, and let’s not forget about the forced takedown. But besides that, and the occasional fallen utility pole, the Internet is an always-on connection to every other Internet user in the world. As such, the Internet works much like a public forum. I know there are actual forums out there, but really the entire Internet works like one big (not as orderly as, say, a Gaia website) forum. Any grief you have, opinion you’d like to share, or point you’d like to make can be done on one of many websites. You can voice your concerns in your own, personal blog. You can share your opinion in the comments of a news article. You can even belligerently¬†attack other people on any forum, comments section, or your own blog. If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone on your side. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a large group of people who think what you think: maybe even gather a following. If you’re really, really, really lucky you’ll even find people who despise your very existence, they hate your views so much.

No matter how popular you are, how popular your opinion is, or who shares or opposes it all this work sharing these opinions is practically¬†pointless. Most people are only interested in voicing a distaste for current events and the people involved. But when it comes right down to it most of these people aren’t actually interested in taking any action against the¬†perpetrators of these villainous¬†crimes against humanity (as so these posters and commentors might have you believe). Further more, no one really expects anyone to do anything about it. Sure, every now and then a commenter¬†will say, “do something about it if you hate it so much.” But people rarely ever do anything more than simply comment back with a usually insulting, and useless,¬†rebuttal.

Want an example? *sigh* OK, let me get out my example box… *dig, dig, dig* AH! Here we go!

Sony Music wants way too much money for CDs, downloadable songs, or licences for streaming companies. If you are fed up with paying so much for something which doesn’t seem so valuable (something you believe you get for free from Pandora or the local radio stations) then you need to do something about it. Stop buying music. Don’t buy the CD, don’t buy the MP3, and don’t use services such as Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm, or any other streaming service, including traditional radio (all of which pay licensing fees to Sony Music in order to be able to play their songs). If you boycott Sony Music, it’s not going to make much of a difference. If you get all your friends and their friends (real and digital) to boycott Sony Music, it might get some attention, but it will still be virtually useless. Now, if you can get 100s of 1000s of people across the web to boycott Sony Music, then they will probably start losing money. It’s at that point they will finally realize pirating is not as big a concern as no one buying any of their music. If you are worried about harming the artist who has very little, if anything, to do with licensing and pricing… don’t be. If the studio is losing money, then yes, the artist will lose out on money. But we need them to join us, and maybe this is the only way to get them on board. Currently, the studio might be the only way an artist can get their music out. It’s my understanding that once you sign a contract with a recording studio they own everything you do now and will do in the future. You cannot, in many cases, release music on your own (per the contract you signed). So if everyone is feeling the financial pinch, perhaps they will finally do something to please consumers. After all, studios are greedy. They will not enjoy not having your money.

This is why we’re in the situations we are in now. This is why DVD’s come with digital copies that you need to activate or pay fees to stream to your devices. This is why you listen to incessant ads on music streaming sites. This is why gaming companies are trying to find a way to keep you from selling used games and book publishers charge the same price for a digital copy as they do a printed book. This is why cloud storage such as Amazon’s cloud and Google Music (which let you access music you have purchased from any Internet connected device on the planet)¬†are in the sights of the RIAA and MPAA. Greed. The studios want you to buy content from them, but they don’t want you to actually use it. Well, they do¬†want you to use it, but only once. If you purchase content on a computer, then that’s where you can use it. Want to use it on a phone, MP3 player, game console, TV, tablet, work computer, or other device? They want you to pay a fee for each device you want to use. Maybe they don’t get it. Maybe consumers don’t get it. Maybe no one truly “get’s it.” Get it?

Whatever the issues, whatever the problems, whatever the solutions nothing will change. People are creatures of habit. Some of us are creatures of the night… but that’s a completely different topic. If someone has been listening to music – no, wait… I’ve got a better example. Let’s say you bought a TV. You can enjoy any of the local TV stations without having to pay a dime to anyone. You already paid $100 to $300 dollars for a TV (we’re talking old CRTs… you¬†probably paid¬†much more if you bought a flat screen TV within the past few years). Now you can enjoy years of TV programming without having to pay another dime. Wait? What? You have to buy a special device which will convert the brand new broadcasting signals to a format your old TV can handle? Well, how much is that going to cost? WHAT! $50 to $100 for a decent converter box!? You have got to be kidding…?

Ok, this isn’t that great of an example. The government mandated this because they felt we were too far behind Europe. TV networks didn’t make money off this, either. But it is kind of annoying. Here’s something which is essentially free, and now you have to pay to continue enjoying it. People were not happy about this. This is why we used our tax money to fund the DTV voucher program. People did not want to pay to continue to use their televisions. Not just that, but once they began watching DTV streams, they were not happy with what they saw. Sure, the video quality was consistent among all the channels; even beautiful if you only had poor signal, or now have an HDTV. But that’s only if you got a good signal. Say goodbye to poor but still viewable signals and hello to “slow Internet connection streaming” channels (with no ability to buffer). This all goes to show that people just simply do not like it when things change. I know what you’re going to say: “but change is good. Change forces innovation and allows us to move towards the future.”

That’s a pretty simple, positive view of change. In actuality, most people think of change mush differently. Have you heard the one about the scientist and the priest? A scientist and priest meet up every Sunday afternoon to talk about philosophy, science, and religion. The scientist puts his “faith” in observable facts. The priest puts his faith in God. Both men talk to each other about how they need to change. The scientist thinks the priest needs to face the facts and realize God cannot be proven and “miracles” can be scientifically explained. The priest tells the scientist that he needs to realize the facts are not as important as the truth, and science can’t explain everything.

Sorry, that wasn’t supposed to be a joke, but I did start it off like one. My bad. The point is both men think the other needs to make some changes in their life. These “changes” are no more than the opinion of one person about how to live, what to think, how to act and who to be. When we tell the record, movie, and gaming studios they need to change their strategies for a digital world, it’s really just our opinion. They’re opinion is not to change, but simply use the same strategies they’ve been using in the digital world, with little to no change. Why should they anyway?

They should because everyone seems to think so. They should because people are pirating their content anyway. They should because it would be smart. But this just brings us back to the nature of the Internet. It is a great collaboration tool, with¬†millions of people contributing to projects, sites, and petitions.¬†It is very difficult, as I’ve stated before,¬†to get all of these contributors to act. Unless you want to right wrongs. The hacking group Anonymous has recently shown just how powerful their might can be. Studios are afraid of what this kind of power can mean for their precious content. Already people can upload movies, music, and any software to the web for other to download. There’s the concept of “free is free” where people download these things because they’re free, not necessarily because they wanted it. This concept in action has made studios think there is a huge market for their content which isn’t paying for the content but getting it anyway.

Merge Anonymous and others like them with pirates, viruses and malware, phishing sites, spam, and identity thiefs¬†the Internet looks like (and in reality, can be) a dangerous place. Despite its¬†power for bringing people together, all that’s wrong with it is pushing studios away from its customers. Which, in turn pushes certain people *cough* anonymous *cough* together against the studios. Which in turn pushes the studios further away from its customers. Is there no end?

Digital content can, for all intents and purposes, be thought of as nothingness; and only as valuable as the consumer believes it to be. After all, what is a digital song? What is the music on¬†a vinyl record for that matter? At least you can hold the record in your hand. I think studios put too much value on their content. Sure, it might take $2 million dollars to make a movie, but that doesn’t mean I want to pay 20 bucks for it. It also doesn’t mean I’ll pay any more for a movie that cost the studio $34 million to produce. And now it all comes back to greed. If people want to watch a movie, TV show, or sports game a studio will charge them as much as they can before people say, “no way!” They do this out of greed. The studio wants as much money as they can milk out of its customers. And they want to get as much money as often as they can. At least that’s how it looks, which is why Megaupload existed. People are as cheap as studios are greedy.

But it’s not about us, right? We’re not the problem. Consumers are where the solutions lies. Right? We don’t need to change, the studios need to change. It’s a fact! Who’s with me?!