Who are the Cranks? The Death of The Ipod, Being with It, and Corporate Control

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73 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    I think The Man got to part of your post and whacked it.Report

  2. Stillwater says:

    Off thread, but I’ve noticed this trend in titles lately where there are two or even three parts to em. Eg: “Social Inebriation: The Hallucinatory Properties of Tribal Identity, Economic Entrenchment, and Class Divisions: How Ideologically Induced Hallucinations Emerged as a Response to Endemic Power Structures.” Pretty soon, the title is just gonna be the article. (Also too, I’d read that paper if someone wants to write it!)Report

  3. Christopher Carr says:

    “Also they find it strange to encounter people who still use cash and checks.”

    I don’t necessarily find it strange, just inconvenient, shortsighted, and illogical that someone should insist on using an objectively inferior means of exchange for no other reasons than that they are likely an old fart and afraid of change. I’ll usually offer to pay for something by venmo, Paypal, debit card, or credit card, and some old fart will tell me they only take cash or checks.

    If it’s cash, I have to run to an ATM, necessitating two extra legs of whatever errand quest brought me to these payment crossroads to begin with. Plus, since my bank doesn’t have any ATMs in my city of residency I have to pay a fee to withdraw cash. So, by insisting on one rather obsolete form of payment, you force me to make two additional trips plus give the banks a taste.

    I don’t have checks, since it’s the nineties now, so I have to go to the post office to get a money order and then come back to give it to you. I also have to actually write something, which is an additional effort. Still, this beats the thirty dollars or whatever plus the insecurity it costs to actually have checks. So, with checks, your old-fartness is making me make two more trips plus write a paragraph.

    Getting a check from someone is also a strange adventure: I have to sign this, put it in an envelope, and send it to my dad in a different city. Then he has to drive to my bank and deposit it into my account. So, between me and my dad, getting a check costs time spent opening two envelopes and sealing one, writing things, an enevelope and a stamp, time waiting, and three additional trips.Report

    • I still pay cash for small transactions. Mostly because I resent the interchange fees on behalf of the vendors.

      Regarding the last paragraph, a lot of banks will let you deposit checks with your smartphones now. Since my bank has no presence in my state, that’s proven to be handy. It only allows it up to a certain amount, though. I’m hanging on to a big check now that I am going to have to mail to Portland, Oregon, where they have a depositing center.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        Attention Citizens of Portland: Do not… I repeat, DO NOT… accept large checks mailed to you from one @will-truman in exchange for small proceeds going your way and a personal check going his.Report

  4. LWA says:

    This is why I am slowly turning Amish as I age.

    The delight which technological change brings is tempered by the cost it brings with it.

    An example is music. When I was a teenager in the 70’s, the hot new thing was 8 track cassettes- You can play them in your car! Just push it in and thats it!
    So people who already owned vinyl albums went out and bought 8 tracks.
    Which of course were replaced by cassette tapes. So we had to go out and buy the same album we once bought on vinyl, then on 8 track, again on cassette.

    Which of course were superseded in the 90’s by Digital Audio Tape. Which lasted just long enough for people to replace their music library, then were superseded by CDs.

    Which then were superseded by MP3. Which are now being superseded by streaming.

    So I see young people snickering about oldsters who just can’t seem to see what is thrilling and exciting about streaming, I think of my younger self sneering at the fogies who didn’t see how 8tracks were so cool.

    But I also think of the idiots who have bought the Beatles White album 6 different times, who will have to buy it once again when streaming is outdated, then again, and again, and again.

    It isn’t that the old technology fails and wears out like old shoes. My Ipod that I bought back in aught 9 still works fine, by cracky.

    Its more that planned obsolescence is a feature not a bug for marketers, and only reinforces Matthew Crawfords point about us being no longer able to control the things that own, in fact, we don’t really own it at all.

    We are literally just renting property- our music, our books, our software…the Internet of Everything is also the Enclosure Act of the modern era, when we are slowly being forced off the terrain where we own our property and control it, to a place where we rent and lose control over it.

    P.S. I am not a crank.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to LWA says:

      Depending on interpretation, I guess I’m either a high-tech Amish or a criminal.

      The flip side of digital technology is that it has become possible for me, personally, to put pretty much any function I want into a container roughly the size of a deck of cards for $100. Half again that much money if I want cell phone capability, although that’s limited to GSM providers for now [1]. Whatever user interface I want to build into it; every known audio/video codec; plenty of processing horsepower for almost anything. When I build the next version, guaranteed backwards compatibility. Sideways compatibility now if I want it [2].

      Of course, it does open up the situation of just how closely you want to comply with the assorted vendors’ license terms. TTBOMK there are no encryption schemes that haven’t been cracked; no device handshake that hasn’t been faked to the point that it’s possible to convince the service to stream the bits to software that will record them. Some of the DRM schemes are cryptographic jokes; but the DMCA doesn’t require that DRM be effective in order to make unauthorized use illegal, only that it be present. However, unless you go into the distribution business, no way for the vendors to know that you have an “open” copy.

      Myself, I acknowledge that every e-book I buy from Barnes & Noble gets cracked and the unencrypted copy tucked away. I don’t trust B&N to stay in business for the rest of my life, or to have arranged some sort of escrow service so that I can still read “my” copy of the books if they go out of business and no longer distribute their own decryption software. One of the problems listening to music in a noisy environment — classical music in particular — is the need to constantly futz with the volume control. Dynamic range compression is a godsend, implemented in either real-time or on a copy (for old cars that can only play CDs).

      [1] When the Europeans settled on GSM as their standard, they also required that it be open enough that anyone could build a phone module compatible with the networks. The FCC didn’t bother with that in the US.

      [2] The BPG algorithm provides significantly improved image compression compared to JPEG. No reason not to include it in the photo album on a DIY handheld device.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

      But I also think of the idiots who have bought the Beatles White album 6 different times, who will have to buy it once again when streaming is outdated, then again, and again, and again.

      Except that the CD is really the last thing you had to buy. From there, you could rip it to CD. Or if you didn’t do that, or didn’t know how… MP3’s haven’t gone anywhere. That was one of the reasons that the whole DRM battle was so important.Report

      • LWA in reply to Will Truman says:

        You don’t think that getting MP3s to become obsolete isn’t a problem being worked on by Top Men, right now?Report

        • Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

          That horse has pretty much left the barn. Once they stopped slapping DRM on the digital music files, they lost a lot of control over what can play the files. I worry about my Audible audiobooks, and the Kindle library. I don’t worry much at all about the MP3 library.

          And, of course, in the first two cases the DRM can be hacked, and in the last case the files can be converted. I haven’t lost access to anything I’ve purchased since 1994, the last time I purchased a cassette.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to LWA says:

          I’ve been writing it for more than 20 years now — this is not a technology war that the media companies can win. They have to commit to a format for the long term, so that it can be implemented in consumer devices that have to last for years. They have to enable any physical media and playback on general-purpose hardware and operating systems, where it can be accessed. Encryption will eventually be broken by leaks (eg, DVDs) or by cheap brute force. Yes, there are audio formats with higher quality for a given bit rate, more sophisticated DRM… and a billion devices out there that won’t play it.

          The structure of the DMCA, and the fairly desperate efforts by the media companies to get the rest of the developed world to adopt similar terms, reflects the media companies’ recognition of this truth. Under the DMCA you don’t have to provide effective DRM; you only have to have it. Owning software that defeats the DRM is illegal; writing software that defeats the DRM is illegal; analyzing the DRM algorithms is largely illegal. The DMCA’s purpose was to shift from a technology fight to a legal fight. Unfortunately, the media companies have discovered that they can’t put enough people in jail, or bankruptcy, to deter the population as a whole.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

        “Except that the CD is really the last thing you had to buy.”

        This. I was tangentially involved with music distribution in the mid-to-late 1990s. The 1990s was a golden era for the music industry. Not, mind you, for music, but for the industry. The CD format had achieved general acceptance, and consumers were eager to replace their collections of LPs with CDs. So whoever owned to the rights to some classic album could release it on CD, do no marketing beyond a press release, and have guaranteed substantial sales. Then they could go back and remaster it, and do this again, to rave reviews about the quality of the sound. Then, if they were particularly lacking in shame, they could do it a third time, adding a couple of previously unreleased (usually for good reason) tracks and some fancy packaging and call it the collector’s edition.

        By the end of the decade this had run its course. Consumers were onto the game, and in any case the really good albums had all been put through this treatment. They could try the “forgotten classics” pitch, but that won’t take you too far. There was a round of trying to come up with some new format that would lead to another round of the same game. The problem was that the CD format, for all the criticisms of audiophiles, is plenty good enough for the vast majority of people.

        Persuading people to rent rather than buy is kind of brilliant, but seems to be limited. What is the price point people are willing to pay to rent? It seems to be pretty low. The numbers I see bandied about for the monthly fee is lower than the price of a CD. While this is just dandy for the distributors, it is not so good for the rest of the industry. In the meantime, I have officially reached Old Fart status. I am happy to stream music. When I hear something that is really good, I make a note to buy the CD.Report

        • I’ll agree with you on one point:

          the CD format, for all the criticisms of audiophiles, is plenty good enough for the vast majority of people.

          I like vinyl just fine, I even still buy it, in part because I like the physical object. But the revisionism that accompanied vinyl’s resurgence, about how CDs just didn’t sound as good/”warm” etc. was/is complete BS. Falling after an initial run of engineers not understanding how to best use the CD format sonically (and before a later run of brickwalling/overuse of its capabilities), the 1990’s in particular were a golden age of releasing great-sounding recordings on CD. Depending on price/availability, my preference is still to obtain the CD and rip my lossless copy from that.

          And I will disagree on another:

          1990s was a golden era for the music industry. Not, mind you, for music

          The 1990’s were a TERRIFIC era for the actual music as well. The mistake I assume you are making is to focus only on the mass-market stuff (and even there, I’d argue that the mass-market got so infiltrated by the underground, that there was a lot of great music being made there as well). But the technology and economics in the ’90’s were such that more underground/independent music of all sorts could be made, and made more available, than ever before.

          If you are at all interested in unusual guitar rock, or psychedelia, or hip-hop, or electronic music, to say that the 1990s were somehow musically-lacking makes little sense.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Glyph says:

            the CD format, for all the criticisms of audiophiles, is plenty good enough for the vast majority of people.

            I’m old enough to remember the vinyl-vs-CD flame wars on Usenet. The consensus that was eventually reached was that whether people called it warmth, or smoothness, or whatever, they liked the distortions introduced by the RIAA equalization curves for vinyl and the physical limits of the cutting lathes. Also that it wasn’t surprising that people liked those — neither the RIAA audio engineers nor the lathe designers were fools, and they didn’t pull numbers out of thin air.

            But the argument that vinyl was somehow more accurate was a crock. The difference in frequency response between the implementation of the RIAA recording curve at the lathe and the RIAA playback curve in typical kit — the nonlinear playback filter was typically built with ±5% analog components, including capacitors whose values drifted over time — is large relative to any errors in a competently designed A-to-D-to-A equipment chain.Report

          • Richard Hershberger in reply to Glyph says:

            “But the revisionism that accompanied vinyl’s resurgence, about how CDs just didn’t sound as good/”warm” etc. was/is complete BS.”

            I don’t disagree. I was trying to word my comment to be neutral on this subject, as it isn’t really to the point. Even were we to stipulate that vinyl is superior to a CD, the difference is not sufficient to make the vast majority of people care. Once we agree on that, whether or not vinyl really is better is pretty much irrelevant.

            “The 1990’s were a TERRIFIC era for the actual music as well.”

            I think of the turn of the millennium in this regard. We may have been paying attention to slightly different segments. There was a period where the cost of recording and manufacturing a CD was low enough that a musician could fund it out of pocket, or take up a collection from friends; the Web at reached the point where a musician, without specialized tech skills or deep pockets, could use it effectively for both marketing and distribution; and people still thought in terms of buying CDs. My take is that there was a window of perhaps ten years, once the Web had reached that point but before the young’uns stopped buying CDs.Report

  5. aaron david says:

    Well, I would first say that you live in the most tech savvy city in the country, so don’t take what you see locally as how the rest of the nation lives and plays. Second, most people don’t want to hang on to every little thing in their lives. In other words, most people who read casually don’t feel the need to have a copy of each book that they have ever read. They might keep copies of the 5-6 that they really enjoyed, and move on. Same with music and movies.

    I have a lot of hardback books. So much so that when we moved last we had to pay for an extra large truck. I am willing to bet that Glyph could say the same thing about his record/cd collection. And while I love music, I wil probably get rid of most of my CD’s in the next few months. Why? I can stream them, and in so doing find 1,000’s of new songs that I would never have heard of if I had to pony up the cash each time. We did the same with movies a few years ago, keeping only the ones that meant something. And even those we never watch.

    But books actually mean something to me, in a way that CD’s and DVD’s never have. So I will keep them, put DJ protectors on them, and enjoy reading them and preserving them for the next generation. I made a choice not to do that with vinyl as two obsessions would be too much. My son on the other hand seriously collects vinyl and plays it at his radio station. Like how I prefer the feel of a hardback, he prefers the sound and tactile sensations of records.

    On the other hand, I will always use cash for small things. It is how I budget my week.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to aaron david says:

      I have a lot of hardback books.

      {{Speaking of books, I just finished Wolfe’s BotNS on your recommendation. All I can say is “Whoa”. Oh, and “WTF?”. Thanks for the rec and the post you wrote about it.}}Report

      • aaron david in reply to Stillwater says:

        Now go back and read it again and gryy zr vs ur pna envfr gur qrnq.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to aaron david says:


          You know, I’ve already started rereading it. I’ve also cruised thru all a bunch of Google’s looking for good summaries/explanations/interviews-with-Wolfe! which could help me understand what the heck I just read. Problem is, I know there’s more to what I read than what I comprehended, but I don’t think what I missed was plot-points or foreshadowing. I think I missed pretty much the entire point of the book. But at this point I can’t even say why I feel that way!Report

          • aaron david in reply to Stillwater says:

            Still, I don’t know if there is a point to it so much as it is puzzle that can take you in very interesting directions. It is also (as I am sure you have found out) a very Catholic work, as the author is a convert.Report

  6. Tod Kelly says:

    I’m not understanding how the Man is out to get you here.

    Apple is still selling an iPod, it’s just not what they’re promoting most heavily — yes? You can still buy music, and play music you already own with your current iPod — yes? In fact, none of the changes or new products with Apple will in any way affect your ability to buy an iPod or to use your iPod in the way you’ve been using it for years — yes?

    This does’t seem like one of those situations like where you buy a printer and suddenly HP no longer make printer cartridges for it because they want you to buy a new printer. It seems more like a situation where a product that you love (and FTR, so do I!) isn’t the most popular thing with everyone these days.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Yeah, agreed. Hence my “off-thread” comment above. On one side you got yer culturally “with it!” oppressors; on the other you got corporate control keeping you down. It’s hard out there for a pimp Ipod user.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:


      They are sort of still selling Ipod classics.

      I had to set up a genius bar appointment to get mine fixed. When I reported the problem, I was told that I could get a replacement one for 129 plus tax. The replacement came in a little box (not the fancy Apple packaging) and they used that box to take my old iPod and send it back to whereever.

      So I doubt I could go into an Apple store and ask for an iPod Classic and get one.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Is it just that you want a click wheel?Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I mainly want 160 GB of space and not to be eventually forced into streaming services where music and movies and books can disappear from my devices or collections on a whim. A dispute between a band and Apple is not going to cause the band’s CDs to disappear from my collection. The dispute can cause Apple to remove the band from Itunes or their entire record label.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            You don’t have to stream with an iPod or an iPhone. I have an iPhone that I use to listen to music hiking, and I almost never stream music on it.Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              I think his issue here is that the iPhone doesn’t offer the same amount of space. So he’d be more likely to need to stream.Report

              • Why should the choices be limited to static storage or streaming? Why not clever file management? Why not adaptive software that observes Saul’s listening behavior and manages a big library through a smaller window, replacing the actual content from the library when there’s connectivity? Sure there will be an occasional miss; what’s an acceptable miss rate? The biggest barrier is that Apple’s not interested in writing such software, as memory and streaming are both profitable to them, where wifi transfers at night are not.

                There’s been enough work done with neural nets to know that we’re all more predictable than we think we are. And from the processor’s viewpoint, random “shuffles” really aren’t — it’s a pseudo-random sequence that can be computed as far ahead as you want. The device can easily load up the next 50 “random” selections from the library tonight.Report

              • I don’t even like music organized into libraries. So I don’t know how much I trust them.

                OTOH, I do think that a whole lot of bandwidth is wasted by virtue of an inability to combine streaming and storage. Especially when it comes to movies and the like.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’d also like to play my music when I’m out in the boonies with my family. Which happens a few times a year, generally for lengthy periods of time.

                Streaming’s nice, but ever tried streaming over your phone in the middle of a lake? One in the back hills of Texas? You’re lucky if you’ve got enough of a signal to send a text.

                That’s my problem with streaming. I love it — when I’ve got coverage. But I don’t LIVE in a world of 24/7, cheap, high bandwidth coverage. It’s spotty as heck.

                It’s like the folks selling Kinect. Great idea. Unfortunately I have a small living room. I guess the designer’s didn’t actually think about people who didn’t have 10+ feet of empty space to play in. (You know, folks in apartments, for instance?). Or people who don’t have broadband (like many in rural areas).

                It’s like they’re designing for guys living in a dense area, with free wi-fi and a multitude of broadband sources. And that’s a good enough chunk of my life, but I’d prefer to get to my books and music when I’m moving too.

                No wi-fi on lakes. No 4G in the rural areas.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                That’s an argument against streaming-only, but Tod’s point is that phones have storage. The question is whether they have enough. I find 30gb to be enough, but I movie songs (well, artists) back and forth, but it’s a problem if you don’t want to as Saul doesn’t.

                Chris, on the other hands, makes due with a lot more swapping than I could tolerate.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Are there other MP3 players that aren’t Apple products? If you are using it as a straight MP3 player, I’d think non-Apple products are just as useful as Apple ones at this point.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

                And a question for the techies… Why can they make an iPod with 160GB but the largest iPhone I’ve seen is (I think) 64GB? Is that because people use them differently? Is there more “stuff” (gears, I assume) in a phone than a player that takes up space that could go to memory?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Basically, yeah. And to squeeze every possible millimeter for battery size and battery life.

                My own phone has somewhere on the order of 160 space, as the Note 4 lets you have a micro-SD card. However, it’s likely that the Note 5 won’t. Which means that I will likely max out at 128. (Which… okay, I can make due with that. Better than 64.)Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                My iPhone has 12? I assume this means it is a 16 with about 4 permanently reserved for the OS? I don’t remember 12 being an option. But I don’t really store any media on it. I download podcasts but delete them after listening. The biggest data hog are my photos, almost all of which are the boys. When I get low on space, I just do a big upload and delete ones I don’t want to keep handy. I stream music if I listen to it but don’t do that a ton.

                When I’m commuting via public transportation starting in the fall, with much of it underground, things may change a bit. I’ll probably need some more room for podcasts. Or a book.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Yeah, the 12 is likely 16. My S5 is supposed to have 16, but it comes out to 11 or so. But with an S5, you can plop in a 128gb microSD. Even so, I was glad that the note came with 32 because running out of internal space was a persistent concern even with all of my media on the SD card.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’m getting pissed at products *taking away* their micro-SD cards.

                It’s the major complaint I have with the iPhone, and it’s also the reason I won’t upgrade to the newest eInk Nook.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

                Phones user more power than MP3 players. Like, a lot more. And they do a lot more. Touch screens, 4G, all sorts of bells and whistles. Requires a different sort of battery.

                MP3 players are basically build around storage. Playback is pretty low energy compared to using a phone.

                I’m pretty sure that’s why the small sizes. Capacity (especially with sim cards existing) is low priority compared to battery life, screen size, and a host of other factors. So they cut costs to keep it affordable by squeezing drive size.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Kazzy says:

                Why can they make an iPod with 160GB but the largest iPhone I’ve seen is (I think) 64GB?

                An iPod Classic is a (very small) hard drive with an mp3 player and battery wrapped around it, whereas iPhone are entirely flash memory.

                You’d think being hard drive based would drain the batteries, but the OS and whatnot are probably entirely in memory, and I suspect there’s enough extra memory to cache the music index and even the next few songs to play, so the hard drive rarely runs at all, even while playing music.

                iPod Shuffle, Nano, and Touch are flash based.Report

              • Glyph in reply to DavidTC says:

                FYI, they do make a 128GB iPhone. My hope is that my 160GB iPods will last long enough that phones will catch up and be at least 160GB (and probably larger) by the time I need a new phone.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

                The iPod Classic and Mini are built around spinning hard disks — 1.8″ for the Classic and 1″ for the Mini. The spinning disk technology is generally considered too bulky, fragile, and power-hungry for use in a phone.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                When this came up previously, I pointed to Sansa. However, Sansa doesn’t appear to take the largest microSD sizes. So I’m not sure if there is an alternative that offers the kind of space that the last iPod does.Report

              • Okay, so here is one that has massive storage opportunities. Cost $300, though, and you gotta buy the SD cards to go into it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

                $300 used to be low-to-middle of the road stereo system. Back when we were using Clinton dollars, even.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    “Yet the response to these sort of concerns seems to be labeling people as out-of-it luddites and as deeply uncool.”

    Who responds this way?

    If your premise — as your title suggests — is that the “death” of the iPod, being with it, and corporate control are all linked, you haven’t even really begun to support that argument.Report

  8. Pyre says:

    I actually bought an extra replacement Ipod when they announced the demise of the classic.

    But, to the meat of your argument over corporate control and your loss of ownership: The problem is that this is a discussion that needed to take place a decade ago when DLC and Steam first made it onto the picture and made the case that ownership is something that we don’t value highly. When Netflix started streaming, that is when the flares should have gone up.

    People snicker at you because you’re showing up to a battle that was fought and decided against ownership years ago. The outcome has been accepted. Those of us who didn’t like the outcome are either dropping out of the picture (The PSWii60 generation as well as XP are the last gaming systems for me.) or are adapting to the new reality. We’ve passed the entertainment software battle and are now at a point where General Motors and John Deere are fighting the legal fight to have the software runs your vehicle (and, by extension, your vehicle) legally considered as only leased from GM/John Deere.

    They’ll probably mostly win too.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Pyre says:

      “I actually bought an extra replacement Ipod when they announced the demise of the classic.”

      Heh. Me too.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Pyre says:

      In the future everybody is going to be a renter. I think the big problem with these sorts of arguments about ownership is that most consumers really do not think about them to deeply. They either go along out of a sense of what happens happens or they want to be the wave of the future and with it. Even those that do talk about it, don’t connect the dotes many times.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:


        But don’t we have to consider whether the prior system of ownership arose because it was superior versus because it was the only real option?

        I mean, these changes aren’t the only ones pointing away from individual ownership. The so-called sharing economy. Zipcar. And I think an increased demand/preference (not sure which predominates or which fuels which) for flexibility.Report

        • LWA in reply to Kazzy says:

          Owning isn’t important by itself, except for the legal and political attitudes we have about renting.

          Its like the legal concept of the “bundle of sticks” theory of property ownership. A piece of real estate can have many owners, each with a different stick- mineral rights, air rights, leashold rights, etc.
          This is pretty well defined in case law, and offers protections and rights to people who don’t own a property fee simple.

          But with music, books, software etc, the law and our political attitudes haven’t caught up.
          DRM and EULA have become tools to strengthen the property rights of the originators against the consumers.

          I made the comment once here that given sufficient market share and political power, I could get the government to give me the property rights to the shirt you are wearing.

          When the only property rights that we will enforce are the rights of the originator of content, it makes living a normal life in society difficult and disadvantaged.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    I deeply suspect that one of the reasons that people stampeded to apple ipods at first was that they were some combination of the best at it and the best at meeting a need that was already out there.

    This strikes me as a misstep insofar as the need for what they’re offering is significantly smaller than it was when the ipod hit the shelves.

    When I was rocking a yellow sports walkman, I could only take about 4-5 tapes with me comfortably. One in the walkman itself, 3 in the off pocket of the jean jacket, one in the breast pocket.

    A CD player had similar issues though it was possible to carry, say, a dozen albums with you.

    An ipod let you carry practically your library. (Or a double-digit percentage of it.)

    The new ipods may be able to boast carrying all of the music ever recorded (that also paid a fee to the dark gods in charge of cloud maintenance), but there are some seriously marginal utility issues there. The 1,000,000th album is worth a *LOT* less to me than the 10th.

    I rather expect to hear discussions of these things getting newer, lower, price points fairly quickly and whether this indicates a misstep on Apple’s part.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

      I deeply suspect that one of the reasons that people stampeded to apple ipods at first was that they were some combination of the best at it and the best at meeting a need that was already out there.

      Gah, no they weren’t. Especially since you had to use iTunes (fucking iTunes) to put music on them.

      And the players themselves were nothing to write home about either. At least until the iPod Touch, which I understand the popularity of…that was a tablet in phone size, back when no one had tablets. Or an iPhone for people who couldn’t afford the cell service. Okay, I see that one. (Hell, I pretend to have an iPod Touch in my car, in that I have my old iPhone 3 docked permanently for music.)

      But before that…meh. A slightly better UI for an mp3 player? Really? Who even *needs* a UI for mp3 players…you find the artist or album or playlist, hit play, you’re done. Other companies were doing that just fine, on the same crappy LCD screens. The hard drive trick was nice, I guess (I thought it was kinda odd, but other people liked having their entire music library with them), but other people were doing that too. What *exactly* was the advantage that caused people to pay the Apple tax?

      And then Apple went and proved that point by making iPods *without* a UI or any real storage! (And now everyone uses iPhones with no damn memory.) Yeah, that stuff sure was…important?!

      And consider the iPod locked you into iTunes (fucking iTunes) to *deal* with the iPod, it was clear that ‘user interface’ was actually a cruel joke on the part of Apple. It was like they sold everyone a sleek and sexy Telsa, but demanded that people drive it via strapping themselves outside the car and operating it via complicated wooden levers.

      And it wasn’t that everyone was buying mp3 via the iTunes store at the time and got locked in a music library they had to use an iPod on. This was back when everyone was still pirating mp3s.

      To this day, I will never understand how the iPod got so much of the mp3 player market.Report

      • Kim in reply to DavidTC says:

        Lookit eBay. Then you’ll understand.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to DavidTC says:

        Especially since you had to use iTunes (fucking iTunes) to put music on them.

        But in retrospect, iTunes — despite being f*cking iTunes — was the big innovation, not the iPod. Suddenly, there was a business plan and a price point where a significant portion of the market would buy high-end content rather than steal. NetFlix has done the same for mildly out-of-date movies and TV — a working business plan with a price point where a significant portion of the market will rent the high-end content rather than steal*.

        I’m waiting to see if someone can pull off the same kind of thing for book publishing. Not low-end self-publishing, but high-end books with real editing and cover art and publicity. A business plan with a price point where, to repeat myself, a significant portion of the market will buy rather than steal. If someone can come up with one, and convince the publishers (and the many authors who still own the e-book rights to their older works), libraries are going to have a problem.

        * High-end pornography is slowly being pushed out of business in part because they lack access to a service that provides a price point like NetFlix, so people steal porn.Report

        • DavidTC in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Suddenly, there was a business plan and a price point where a significant portion of the market would buy high-end content rather than steal.

          See, I’m remembering the iPods and stuff getting popular while everyone was still stealing music.

          OTOH, being completely wrong there would explain something that’s baffled me for a while.

          I’m waiting to see if someone can pull off the same kind of thing for book publishing. Not low-end self-publishing, but high-end books with real editing and cover art and publicity.

          The music and book industries, in the backend, have a lot of the same issues…the entire industry is premised on the idea of taking the work of a few creators, and somehow leeching huge amounts of money providing ‘services’ those people don’t really need and could just hire a lot cheaper themselves, especially as technology has advanced. This has resulted in a universe where the only *actual* service the industry provides to creators is presenting content to consumers…which seems rather pointless in a universe with the internet.

          But there are some fundamental differences, too. The problem with the music industry is that people rarely wander around looking for music to buy that they’ve never heard of. People find music by hearing it played, and publishers exist to make that happen.

          The problem with the book industry is the opposite. There, people do wander around looking for books, and the main job of the publishing industry has been to *filter* out crap.

          More thoughts later, have to run.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

          I understand Baen offers all their works DRM free, and still makes money hand over fist.Report

          • And I applaud. In another comment above, I point out that the DRM isn’t secure, and the main purpose of the DMCA is to shift the fight from technology to the courts. Neither of those are battles the publishers can win, and Jim Baen got that. I think Baen will eventually decide that selling e-books through Amazon and B&N — and having to raise their own online prices as part of that — was a mistake. Or at least, they need the ability to sell at much lower prices once the books reach a certain age. At some point, providing a convenient place where any of the older titles can be purchased for a buck or two (split with the author) seems to me to be the right tactic. The costs are almost nil, and the price is low enough people will pay it rather than make a trip to the library or go through the hassle of finding a bittorrent source. Seriously, at $1-2, how many copies of each of the old Honor Harrington books could Baen and Weber sell each year?

            What we really need is some sort of easy, secure small payment system.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

              You can go to Baen’s site & buy all their books from them directly, in multiple formats. I tend to do that rather often, find it on Amazon, see that it’s from Baen, and just click over to Baen & buy it from them directly.

              Another trend I’ve been seeing is the idea found on sites like StoryBundle.com.Report

              • I got a ping on another matter from a place where I occasionally buy used books this AM, so checked; they’ll sell me a hardcover copy of the most recent Harrington book for $3.59. Free shipping if my order total is over $10. They rated the quality as “good”, although I’ve found them to be fairly conservative on that (or at least, the “good” books I’ve received were fine). Granted, I wouldn’t have it in my hands for several days. To my mind, though, that’s what Baen/Weber are competing with at this point in time. They get nothing if I buy the used book; wouldn’t they (and I) be better off if they sold me the e-book for $2?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Not sure, but I do know they have this.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

        Especially with the advent of MicroSD, the fact that Apple will not allow me to add removable storage is the thing that turned me off of Apple. Right now my wife has no room on her iPhone or iPad for video, because she can’t upgrade storage.Report

  10. Road Scholar says:

    First off, owning a thing isn’t necessarily the same thing as having it forever, assuming that’s what you’re after. Sometime in the early nineties I lost my entire CD collection (nearly a hundred discs) to a burglary. Then, a couple years ago, I discovered that my vinyl collection (again, probably a hundred discs) that I had stashed in the garage had gotten wet at some point and were infested (infected?) with mold, rendering them unplayable, not to mention what it did to the covers.

    I still buy CD’s, but I rip them to lossless mp3 and store them away as master copies. It works for me since a lot of what I listen to is dad-rock which tends to be cheap. The main reason I don’t stream is that I only rarely can connect to wi-fi and I just can’t afford the data charges over cellular. Putting a bunch of music on a USB drive that I can plug into my stereo works quite well.

    I rarely re-read books since I have such a huge backlog of good stuff I have yet to read. Same deal for movies.

    Really I have little desire to own media just for the sake of owning it. What I really want is to just have it available and accessible when I want which is the only coherent rationale for owning any of that stuff in the first place.Report

  11. krogerfoot says:

    I have a first-generation iPod. It is a beautifully designed object, though it looks and feels like a brick now. I remember looking at it in the store with my wife, as she shook it while it played and we marveled that it didn’t skip like the CD players bouncing around in our bags. I gave it to her for her birthday. Last year, at least, it still synced up to iTunes just fine—it looked like a Model T filling up at a gas station. Apple has done a pretty admirable job of supporting their users, all told.Report

  12. DensityDuck says:

    I work in an area where we aren’t allowed to have anything with Flash memory. Original-model iPods are quite common here; although now that most things are on YouTube, it’s not as big of a deal anymore.Report

  13. Doctor Jay says:

    I recently made a home media computer using Ubuntu and installed a streaming media server on it to stream my music. I am in the process of moving all my music over to it from iTunes. This is because I too have seen the death of the iPod coming.

    I tried streaming to my phone while driving to work once. I did not like the experience. This is the first strike against streaming music. The second strike is that I pay for my data connection by capacity and if I started streaming music to my phone in the car, even if there were no interruptions or dropped connections, it would cost me a lot of money.

    The third strike against services is that they don’t, in fact, have the music that I want. I have some very esoteric tastes, and some oddball recordings, and I want to keep them. I want to keep my playlists, many of which are recreations of setlists of concerts that I have been to, or are otherwise personal. I, ahem, have a large collection of music made by @zic’s sweetie, for instance. I adore this, and going to a streaming service would mean never listening to it again. I’m not going there, full stop.

    Or I want to listen to operas straight through, or audio books. Or, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show (the thing that started it all).

    Streaming will do none of these for me. My plan is to move all my music to my media server in a file format that can be read by anything and is tagged correctly (this is a much bigger job than it might seem). (This means that I am breaking DRM in some cases. I don’t care, since Apple is the one taking away my ability to listen to the music that I bought from them.) Then I will move those files onto local storage on whatever smart phone I have and play them locally on the phone, as if it were an iPod.

    I’m feeling like some sort of old fogey granddad yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. The reality is that I am a very demanding, exacting user, and I do not, in the slightest, represent the mainstream, who just wants to listen to popular stuff on shuffle.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      “Streaming will do none of these for me.”

      If there is a streaming service that does not suck for classical, I have yet to find it. The hallmarks of a bad classical station are limited selection whether in depth (in college the local public radio station seemed to have a shelf about two or three feet long of classical albums–they would start at one end and work their way through to the other, then repeat) or breadth (the “from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky” phenomenon), and above all a perverse fondness of playing just one movement of piece.

      Pandora mostly escapes the “from Beethoven to Tchaikovsky” problem by virtue of letting you force the issue, but even then it tends to wander into the familiar ruts. I have a station where I started with Vivaldi, and try to force it to stick with baroque music. But if I don’t keep on top of it, it will move into 19th century Italian opera.

      It should be possible to set up a good classical streaming service, but you would need a different scheme for indexing the music, and it would have to be set up by someone who actually knows something about classical music. So the listener could specify, for example, “Italian secular instrumental baroque”. And for God’s sake play the whole piece!

      On the other hand, there are numerous actual radio stations playing classical music and that are available online. I often listen to different stations’ feeds to get a different perspective.Report

  14. Damon says:

    Call me a Luddite…

    I have an ipod. Most of the music was stuff I converted from CDs. When I got my first Ipod and read the ELUA I was concerned. I don’t like the concept of “buying” something and then having a middleman decide it’s not mine. And I’ve rarely updated my Apple Store software for this same reason. That’s also why I don’t have an ereader. I bought it, it’s for me to decide how to use it and in what form. No takebacks without my express written consent.Report

    • zic in reply to Damon says:

      Damon, I’d call you a Luddite if you played the harmonica or sang or drummed when you wanted to hear music; an ipod, a cassette deck, an AM radio with transistors even, all seem to fail the Luddite test.Report