Could Apple be using U2 and Beats to resurrect Ping and help build the Uber of music?

U2, April 1st in Anaheim 

U2 Claims It’s Working With Apple On A New Music Format That ‘Can’t Be Pirated’
[Via Techdirt]

Apparently U2’s deal with Apple goes further than taking a bunch of cash and dumping unwanted music files on hundreds of millions of iTunes users. The band has said that it’s working on a brand new music formatthat “can’t be pirated.” Oh really? We’ve heard that before, many, many times. And every time someone claims that, whatever new DRM they created gets broken without hours. I imagine the same will be true of this. The format sounds like a rehash of other things that have been tried and failed before:

[The new format will be] an audiovisual interactive format for music that can’t be pirated and will bring back album artwork in the most powerful way, where you can play with the lyrics and get behind the songs when you’re sitting on the subway with your iPad or on these big flat screens. You can see photography like you’ve never seen it before.

Of course, we’ve been hearing this for years. Five years ago, the major labels were all going to team up to create “CMX”, a new music format that had all those audiovisual components. Where’s that now? Every few years we see startups claiming to have created a similar new music format that builds in all those audiovisual components… and no one cares. Is it possible that Apple with the help of U2 will suddenly figure it out? Sure. It’s possible. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Especially if it includes annoying DRM that no one wants.


First, I think U2 is involved because of Jimmy Iovine, who came with the Beats buyout. Iovine produced two of U2’s albums, both of which had lots of video adjuncts to them (Under a Blood Red Sky and Rattle and Hum).

I would not be surprised if all the U2 stuff – free album, etc. – is in lace to set up this new platform.

Platform? Because adding DRM to music or gussying it up with videos would not seem to be a moneymaker. Who pays for music?

Anything that can be digitized rapidly becomes free. Only those things that cannot be digitized seem to be open to making money off of.

Maybe that is what is going on here.

Speculation – couple this with the possible reason for buying Beats – creating a platform that permits musicians to support communities for their work. The work itself becomes free but the communities can directly support the music, without the need for middle men.

Jimmy Iovine sees the opportunity in changing the game and “building a communication between a fan and an artist.” In other words Beats Music is not yet another streaming service designed to sell music, but a platform for artists to build businesses and “sell everything but music” as Troy Carter says.

It makes the interesting comparison to Uber – which is disrupting taxi service in major cities:

In essence, Beats aims to become Uber of music by aggregating demand, connecting listeners to artists and empowering the artists to build thriving business on top of the platform. Much like Uber, which promises to end the era of poorly paid cab drivers. Or like Apple App Store, which connects users with app developers allowing them to build business on top of the platform.

The disintermediation of industries – the connection of creator and customer without intervening entities – is one of the main disruptors affecting many companies. Here it is being applied to the music industry.

The point of the article is that today, music is not really sold. It sells other things, whether they are concerts for the musicians or headphones they endorse. Business models based on selling music are doomed.The key is making it easy for the fans to find the acts they like and support them.

The strategy lesson from Apple and Beats is this: Look for opportunities to build platforms connecting consumers with value-adding complementors. (Think a “connect-ing business”, and not a “connected business”.) Capture value through bundling with the platform that will buy you hyper-growth driven by network effects and insurmountable competitive advantage. (And of course don’t tell anybody what’s you are up to before it’s ready.)

They would want to make it easy to connect fans and musicians, making it possible for communities to easily support one another. 

We already saw Apple make an aborted attempt at social music communities with Ping. It is obviously something they are interested in. The guys behind Beats seem to get this and might be able to help Apple create something actually useful.

With U2 as their first test case. We shall see.

Working FOR 1 star reviews on Yelp – undermining the ‘service’ or degrading the ‘extortion’?

 pizza 002

Restaurant wants to make Yelp unreliable
[Via Boing Boing]

Botto Bistro in Richmond, California is unconcerned about its Yelp rating. In an effort to undermine the reliability of its Yelp page, Botto Bistro is working to be the worst-rated restaurant in the Bay Area and is encouraging its customers to leave one-star Yelp reviews and offering deals for anyone who writes a bad review: 25% off any pizza and a chance to win a cooking class.


Yelp continues to fail, as its authority is undermined by the very distributive aspects it tries to make money off of.

This business does not like Yelp’s business model and does not care for what they feel are extortion tactics of yelp. They want to have their ‘account’ , which they had no hand in creating, removed.

So this might be how they do it. If it works, many, many others may take the route. Yelp makes money off of their businesses without permission and then tries to get these businesses to buy ads, with some odd coincidences being reported (ie all 5 star rating disappearing) when they refuse.

Brilliant response to Yelp’s ‘extortion’ approaches for advertising (a judge just said that yelp can manipulate ratings, giving 5 stars to those who buy ads and a 2 star to those who refuse if it wants to).

Yes, a judge said that it is not illegal for a company like Yelp to completely manipulate any company’s star ratings  even for companies who do not wish to be rated. And change those ratings if it gets ad money from the companies who never asked for the service to begin with.

Moving 5 star ratings, highlighting negative ratings? All to get more ‘ad’ money for ads the businesses never request?

Jeez, if you had someone from Goodfellas saying “Nice place you got here. Be a shame if it burnt down. Maybe you should buy fire insurance?”  we would know it was extortion.

The judge said this was not illegal.

Yelp’s ratings, based on reviews by members of the public, are within its discretion, Berzon said – a “benefit” the company chooses to provide. Because the company’s ads also have value, she said, “any implicit threat by Yelp to remove positive reviews absent payment for advertising was not (legally) wrongful.”

Businesses cannot opt in. Their businesses can appear without their knowledge and so can the reviews. No one knows who writes the reviews and who employs the autors. And now the judge says there is nothing illegal with yelp manipulating the reviews that do appear.

So, if yelp reviews are unreliable anyway since ad purchases may determine the number of stars or shills write the reviews, why not make the whole thing unreliable? Some of these ‘faux reviews are great. Give a ‘ great’ review (“The food is so awful that I’m going back tomorrow”) and one star.

And yelp claims providing an incentive violates their terms of service, which is something of little concern to the businesses, who do not sign onto the terms of service. And what they threaten to do is remove access to the business on yelp, which is what the business wants – no yelp reviews at all. (The email response of the restaurant to yelp’s threatening letter is a hoot.)

This is what happens when the user is not the customer – the user gets abused as yelp gravitates to its true customer, the ad buyers. If more companies followed this trend, yelp would be in a bad way.

Never trust yelp.

The authorities cannot get data off your properly set up iPhone without your permission

 Rough iPhone 5 & 6 size comparison

Apple Says iOS 8 Update Keeps Data Private, Even From the Police
[Via Daring Fireball]

Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT:

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the company said on the new webpage. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

Christopher Soghoian, a principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said Apple’s new privacy policy reflected the revelations of the government surveillance programs revealed in documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden. “The public has said they want companies to put their privacy first, and Apple has listened,” Mr. Soghoian said.


People want secure phones. Apple opens itself up to a lot of problems if they are lying here.

I tend to think not. Apple is focussed on their users because, in contrast to Goole and Android, Apple’s users and customers are the same.

It will be interesting to see what the response of authority is to this. Apple has said they do not care about collecting people’s data and have made a phone that reflects that. The customer has total  control over who has access to their phone.

Innovtion comes from external ideas not from internal thoughts

 Texas Bubble DOF Detail


Has Silicon Valley Run Out Of Ideas? Original Ideas Need Original Experiences
[Via Xeni @]

Will Oremus, senior technology writer at Slate, reports that, “Silicon Valley Has Officially Run Out of Ideas.” Because the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, awarded Alfred, the top prize in its competition for startups. 


They spend the whole day with the same group of people – riding buses together, eating together, etc.

 There is lots of data showing that novelty comes from the friction and interaction between ideas. Hard to be novel when everyone knows everyone else.

Epistemic closure is the result and we seem to see the same $18 billion being traded around by venture capitalists.

Where will the new ideas come from?

Glancing – People need to realize that the  watch is like a wrist watch as the iPhone is like a phone

Her lovely glance 

SMU professor thinks Apple Watch has too much to overcome
[Via MacDailyNews]

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“The first wristwatches were a flop,” Robert McMillan writes for Wired. “Called bracelet watches, they were seen as a rather unseemly replacement for the pocketwatch, a more discreet means of keeping track of the time. Though mass-produced versions first emerged in the 1880s, it wasn’t until 1927 that U.S.-made wristwatches finally outstripped sales of their entrenched competitor.”

“With the Apple Watch, Tim Cook and company are now hoping to push us through a similar social revolution. And because that’s such an enormous task, it too may be a flop — at least initially. Alexis McCrossen, a Southern Methodist University professor and author of a book on the history of clocks and watches, believes that, much like the original wristwatch, it has too much to overcome,” McMillan reports. “‘They’re making two bets,’ she says of Apple. One bet is that people want bigger screens and more visible access to information, she explains, and that’s why the iPhone 6 is bigger. But then the company has hedged that bet with Apple Watch, in case people are more interested in having information on them at all times. ‘But the thing is,’ she says, ‘your iPhone can be on you all the time too.’”

“The younger generation doesn’t wear watches,” McMillan reports. “That certainly the case with McCrosson’s students. ‘Apple Watch will redefine what people expect from a watch,’ Cook said. But so many of us don’t expect anything from our watch. Instead, we expect something from a device that slides into our pocket.”


The  Watch may well be successful NOT because it tells time. And maybe not even because of Apple Pay. It’ll be because of glances.

I have taken a small sample of youngsters (about 5). None wears a watch because they have their smartphones.

Evert single one of them liked the  Watch becasue it allowed them to glance at data without having to take out their smartphone.

There is a lot of content where we only need a quick glance. Time is only one of them. The  Watch will allow people to keep their iPhone safe in their pocket as they answer texts, check the schedule, follow directions, etc.

All things we do not need to do more than glance at. And iOS is designed to do this quire well. 

Jobs’ description of iPhone as inaccurate as Cook’s description of  Watch?

[Via asymco]

When the iPhone launched, Steve Jobs introduced it as being three products in one:

  • A wide-screen iPod
  • A phone
  • A breakthrough internet communicator

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 2.40.54 PM


When the Apple Watch launched, Tim Cook introduced it as being three things:

  • A precise timepiece
  • A new, intimate way to communicate
  • A comprehensive health and fitness device.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 2.37.52 PM


This hits an important point – how we use the iPhone today (essentially a supercomputer for mobile uses)  is not at all the 3 uses Jobs presented.

The iPhone shifted a paradigm that Jobs did not even expect – remember he was not going to allow apps to begin with.

I expect the Watch to do something similar. In a few years, the device we wear on out wrist will have little to do with timekeeping, intimacy or health, although it will do all three.

I think it will be ore of a device for glances at data, information and knowledge from our mobile supercomputer/

The iPod classic may be dead but I will be using mine until it dies

iPod nano & MacBook 

The classic iPod is dead. 13 years ago people thought it would flop.
[Via Vox - All]

Apple has quietly killed off the classic iPod after a 13-year run. You can still buy music players with the iPod branding — Touch, Nano or Shuffle — but you can no longer buy a device from Apple that sports the famous iPod clickwheel.

The classic iPod had a built-in hard drive that’s bulky and prone to failure. Newer Apple products — including the Nano, Shuffle, and iPhone — are based on flash memory that’s smaller and more reliable — but more expensive per bit. But as the price of flash storage has fallen, the advantages of a hard drive-based music player have dwindled. It’s probably not a coincidence that Apple killed off the classic iPod the same week it introduced the first iPhone with 128 GB of storage.


Not unexpected but a little sad to say goodbye to the click wheel.


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