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.

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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.

Winning!
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]

Synth

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’.
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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.

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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.

Usages
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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