Apple vs the App Developers

boot.jpgPre­vi­ously I’d writ­ten about the impend­ing launch of Gar­age Band for iPad, and men­tioned how Apple’s release of this app will chal­lenge smal­ler inde­pend­ent app developers in the music cre­ation space.

Today’ I’m at it again. With yesterday’s release of iOS 4.3, it seems that Apple has again taken a bite out of a developer’s rev­en­ue stream.

I’m talk­ing spe­cific­ally about enhance­ments to iTunes Home Shar­ing that enable video and audio stream­ing from any prop­erly con­figured iTunes-run­ning com­puter on your net­work.

Yep, this is a good thing, and it’s very cool tech. It’s great that Apple is mak­ing it avail­able for free. And it’s unfor­tu­nate that it’s also put­ting pres­sure on the developers of the Air Video and StreamToMe apps, both very good stream­ing applic­a­tions.

Innov­ate or else. This is com­pet­i­tion?
So now the ball is back in the developers court. They have to prove that their apps worth real money, and are bet­ter or dif­fer­ent than iTunes Home Shar­ing, which is free and just an update away.

And the developers aren’t work­ing from a pos­i­tion of strength that Apple is with all the resources at it’s dis­pos­al.


Air Video and StreamToMe and oth­ers offer sig­ni­fic­ant dif­fer­en­ti­at­ors from Apple’s Home Shar­ing, in that they can be set up to stream video from your home serv­er to your loc­a­tion any­where on the Inter­net, provided you’ve prop­erly con­figured your net­work and the apps. I’ve not seen an easy way to set iTunes up to extend Home Shar­ing to an Inter­net con­nec­ted device. It may exist, but I’ve not seen it yet.

But wait, there’s more!
Home media stream­ing isn’t the only area Apple’s jumped into recently. As men­tioned at the start of this post, Gar­age Band for iPad launched today. And it looks like an awe­some app!

korg.jpgWhich has some music app makers re-eval­u­at­ing their product and pri­cing struc­tures when com­pared against Gar­age Band iPad.

For example, today KORG dropped the price of its hugely awe-inspir­ingly-com­plex synth, the iMS-20. Giv­en the com­plex­ity and power of the app, KORG had it ini­tially pegged at $32.99. Today the price dropped to half at $15.99.

No update. No improve­ments. Just a change in the land­scape tomor­row and an app is worth $15.00 less.

Sure, com­par­ing a $4.99 iPad Gar­age Band against a full fea­tured $32.99 $15.99 synth is Apples to Oranges. But is it? Many buy­ers of iPad Gar­age Band have Macs, which already have the full com­puter ver­sion of Gar­age Band installed as part of the stand­ard Mac bundle. A built-in audi­ence and income stream for the iPad app.

In the end, the con­sumer is win­ning, it seems. With Gar­age Band, they get a new, reas­on­ably priced and power­ful app for their iPads. And they’ll also bene­fit by some price cuts on oth­er apps whose developers will feel the need to com­pete with Gar­age Band’s price, bring­ing them into line with con­sumer new expect­a­tions. Win­ning — for the con­sumer.

For the app developers? That remains to be seen.

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The Craft of iPad Music-making [Video]


Won­der­ing what all the fuss is about with Apple announ­cing the iPad ver­sion of Gar­age Band? This video will help demon­strate.

From The Future of Music V: The Craft of iPad Music-mak­ing” event, Feb­ru­ary 3rd, 2011.

At this spe­cial even­ing event, attendees heard and saw the music­al and visu­al res­ults as lead­ing elec­tron­ic artists per­formed live. Harry Allen returned to mod­er­ate dis­cus­sion between four cut­ting-edge artists: Peter Kirn, Oliv­er Chesler, Steve Horel­ick, and Joshue Ott.

Hardware helps information be free

i1_300.jpgInform­a­tion wants to be free, an inter­est­ing phrase sum­ming up the concept that tech­no­logy has the poten­tial to be lib­er­at­ing, rather than oppress­ing. It was first used in the 1960’s and attrib­uted to the founder of the Whole Earth Cata­log.

Today, that phrase is often used to sup­port open file shar­ing activ­it­ies. And recently I found two hard­ware pro­jects that facil­it­ate the ‘free­ing of inform­a­tion’.

Dead Drop
This one hit the news in Octo­ber of last year. Basic­ally a USB stick stuck in a wall. Hook up your device to it, and check out the con­tents.

I am ‘inject­ing’ USB flash drives into walls, build­ings and curbs access­ible to any­body in pub­lic space. You are invited to go to these places (so far 5 in NYC) to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favor­ite files and data. Each dead drop con­tains a readme.txt file explain­ing the pro­ject.


Pir­ate Box

This one is new. It’s a serv­er, router, and bat­ter­ies in a port­able box.

Using the Pir­ate­Box is easy. Simply turn it on and trans­form any space into a free file shar­ing net­work. Users with­in range of the device can join the Pir­ate­Box open wire­less net­work from any wifi-enabled device and begin upload­ing or down­load­ing files imme­di­ately.

Aside from the obvi­ous, pop­u­lar, and ques­tion­able shar­ing of copy­righted soft­ware or media, how else could these be used? Here’s how.

Let’s say I’m in a mod­er­ately pop­u­lar ind­iband and I’m look­ing for ways to get the band in the news, and get our music heard.

i4_300.jpgWhat bet­ter, and inex­pens­ive way than to install dead drops (loaded with our band’s tunes, natch) around the major cit­ies that I’m inter­ested in tar­get­ing.

Then ‘leak’ the word to our fan­base, tech blogs, boing-boing, and our name is in the news, and our tunes are get­ting heard.

Or I’m an author and use the Pir­ate Box to serve out cop­ies of my books to people attend­ing my Book Sign­ing or speak­ing events.

Or I’m a cit­izen in a coun­try where the news media is con­trolled by the state… yes, you can see the poten­tial.

It’s cool to see this kind of tech being developed. The poten­tial uses and real-world impact are as vast as the ima­gin­a­tion, bey­ond shar­ing the latest Justin Bieber tune to my friends.
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