A Bad, Bad Monday

March 15, 2011

    The Morning Bad News, or “How can we screw up his plans today?”

So it was a Monday, not anyone’s favorite day of the week.  It was also the Monday after the change to Daylight Saving Time, so like everyone else, I was short a precious hour of sleep, and had to drive in to work in the dark.

This is the month I plan to cut the cord and cancel my cable.  With the NFL done for the year, and the foreseeable future, now is the time to shed the $70 monthly bill for cable.

AT&T apparently caught wind of my plans, and decided to take action of their own by instituting data caps.

As usual AT&T execs trot out the tired line about how they have to do this to save their networks from the “data hogs.”  Sounds reasonable, right?  Hogs are greedy and selfish, taking more than their fair share at the expense of everyone around them.  It’s also total BS.  Through and through hogwash.

Let’s be straight:  this is a cash grab plain and simple.  AT&T is adding caps simply because they can.  It’s well documented that broadband costs are at an all-time low and falling.  Today’s “data hog” is tomorrow’s everyday user.

It’s also a naked move to block their most feared competitor: Netflix.

AT&T, and their brethren, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Comcast, etc… all offer video (ie: cable) in addition to broadband internet access.  The cable TV business is extremely profitable for them.  They’ve been doing it for years, and they know how to wring every cent out of it. Their video-on-demand offerings are also a huge source of  revenue for them.

What competes with cable TV?  Internet video, namely Netflix, Amazon VoD, HuluPlus, as well as others.  How does that content get delivered to your home?  Over the same internet connection sold to you by the  people who sell  you their own competing video service: cable television.

Video viewed as “Cable TV” isn’t counted against metered bandwidth, even when it’s delivered over the same connection as IPTV (which is ironically  the case with AT&T U-Verse).  Just like with the movie studios, it’s all about generating false scarcity so they can justify higher and higher prices for a resource that costs them less and less every year.

The big Telcos and ISPs seem to have our politicians in their pockets, but I would dearly love to see them called up in front of Congress to answer for what I see as anti-competitive practices.

GigaOm has some figures on how fast internet video will use up a monthly data allotment – even one as seemingly generous as 250GB.

Needless to say, I’ll be watching my own data use, and hoping to see some Telco Execs in front of a Congressional Inquiry. (Hey, you have your dreams, I have mine.)

    The Afternoon Bad News, or, “How I Love my Poor Dead Zune”

I survived a Zune Death Scare a couple weeks ago, but it left me with the residual knowledge that, while the platform would almost assuredly live on, the Zune brand, and likely the devices were nearing terminus.

I love having a personal media player for listening to music, podcasts and audiobooks.  I love the Zune device interface, and I love the Zune software.   I especially love them after suffering through the bloat and inconsistency of iTunes.  Maybe it was just iTunes on Windows, but I hear the same anguish from friends using the software on Macs, so I’m inclined to think that iTunes is just the total suck.

If your experience is different, and you love iTunes: I’m happy for you, but this is my experience, and I hated it.

I didn’t just pick up a Zune and say, hey, this is not bad.  No. To date I have purchased five Zunes, one Windows Phone 7, and influenced at least one other person to purchase a Zune.  I also pay for a monthly Zune Pass which gives me unlimited access to the entire Zune music library for the cost of a CD, and I get to keep 10 of those songs a month, regardless of whether or not I keep up the subscription.  For my money (and I am spending my money) it’s the best deal on the market.

But the same Microsoft who brought the Zune into our world, has been an extremely negligent parent.  It has failed to provide any but the most sparse support for it’s unloved child.  If it were flesh and blood, Children’s Services would have long ago taken it away to be nurtured by someone more capable of providing the love and support it so desperately needed. Someone who would help it become all that it was capable of being.

But this is not a child of love.  It is the poor unwanted offspring of a giant too self absorbed and too distracted to follow through on what it started.  It is not loved, nor even pitied by the community.  No, it is mocked and held up for ridicule because they know it’s parent will not step in to defend it.  It’s parent barely even acknowledges it.

Now the parent has sired a new offspring.  One which it seems to be trying to nurture, though it’s attempts are awkward, and it is painful to watch; especially for the unloved child and his pitifully small band of friends.  The parents have proudly proclaimed the new son to be heir to the kingdom, and sworn they will not abandon him as they did the Zune.

Be watchful Windows Phone, it is hard for a Zebra to change its stripes, and perhaps harder for a bad parent to become a good one.  Watch the fate of your older sibling, for his way may soon be yours.

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