Friday, June 29, 2007

Today at 6:00 PM


You will finally be able to buy two-(2)-only iPhones. If you still want one, need one and cannot function in society without this accessory. The round-up starts with the AP report from San Francisco.

By early evening Thursday, short lines of eager customers were camped out at Apple and AT&T stores across the nation. The gadget, which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media player and wireless Web browser, will go on sale in the United States at 6 p.m. Friday in each time zone.

At Apple's flagship store in New York City, the trickle of customers that began queuing up since Monday grew to about 50 people late Thursday, ready to brave yet another rainy night on the pavement of Fifth Avenue, outside the only 24-hour Apple store.

The gadget with a 3.5-inch touch-screen display, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs has touted as "revolutionary," has been the focus of endless anticipatory chatter and has been parodied on late-night TV. Since its unveiling in January, expectations that it will become yet another blockbuster product for Apple has propelled the company's stock up more than 40 percent.

Apple itself has set a target of selling 10 million units worldwide by 2008, gaining roughly a 1 percent share of the cell phone market.

And despite the handset's price tag of $499 for a 4-gigabyte model and $599 for an 8-gigabyte version, on top of a minimum $59.99-a-month two-year service plan with AT&T Inc., the phone's exclusive carrier, some bullish Wall Street analysts have predicted sales could hit as high as 45 million units in two years.

Apple has not disclosed how many iPhones will available at launch. But analysts expect it will sell out by early next week -- between sales rung up at retail stores and online through Apple's Web site, which has been a major distribution outlet for other Apple products.

The San Jose Mercury-News reports that if you work for Apple you don't have to stand in line but you will have to wait...

At the end of July, the company will be handing out the 8-gigabyte version of its new handset to all of its full-time U.S. employees, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said. Everyone from the executives and engineers who work in Apple's headquarters in Cupertino to the employees of its retail stores will be getting one, which will cost other users $599, Dowling said.

Dowling didn't know how many employees will be receiving iPhones, but at the end of its last fiscal year in September, Apple had 17,787 full-time employees, the large majority of whom probably work in the United States.

Apple employees will be getting their iPhones after the expected rush by early adopters. The phone goes on sale today, and consumers have already started lining up at some Apple retail stores, including those in New York, San Francisco and Palo Alto.

The Merc-News also reports that the Bay Area technorati are sending mixed signals about the iPhone

With Apple's much-hyped new iPhone handset going on sale today, just about all of the technorati - like a good chunk of consumer America - seem to have been pondering whether to buy it or not. For the tech elite, price is generally not a concern, but usefulness is.

Some are more than ready to ditch their BlackBerrys, Treos and other gadgets for the iPhone - or add it to their collection. But for now, many others have decided that the iPhone isn't good enough to replace what they're already using.

In addition to making voice calls, the iPhone can store and play digital music and videos, surf the Internet and check e-mail. The device, which will come in $499, 4-gigabyte and $599, 8-gigabyte versions, runs on a special version of Apple's lauded Mac operating system.

The buzz surrounding it is in spite of the fact that few among the elite, not to mention the hoi polloi, have even touched the device, much less played with one. Other than Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Google CEO Eric Schmidt - an Apple director - is the only tech titan known to have had an iPhone before its official launch.

"This is the privilege of being on the Apple board," Schmidt said, while showing off his iPhone at a Google event on the company's campus earlier this month. "I have to guard this with my life around here."

Not many among the Silicon Valley elite will admit plans to join the enthusiasts already in line. In fact, many of those who said they'd be buying the phone said they'd hold off until after the first days' rush.

Zach Lynch, executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization in San Francisco, sees the iPhone as a "neural prosthetic" and looks forward to seeing how he'll use the device. But he plans to wait several weeks to buy one.

Indeed, the iPhone may find its biggest fans in the valley not among the tech elite themselves, but with their wives, sons and daughters. Mitchell Kertzman, a partner at venture capital firm Hummer Winblad, for instance, plans to get one iPhone for himself and one for his 15-year-old daughter, Abigail. But Kertzman expects that his daughter's will be the only one that really gets used.

"Abigail . . . is an iPod/iTunes fanatic and . . . has thought of little else since she first saw the announcement (except maybe the new Harry Potter book and movie)," Kertzman said.

The e-mail factor

While he will buy an iPhone because he loves gadgets, Kertzman is a big mobile e-mail user, which means he might not use his much.

"I don't think this release of the iPhone will be quite ready for prime time for business/e-mail users," he said.

Many of those who plan on holding off on an iPhone cite similar reasons for why Kertzman doesn't plan on using his.

That the phone won't support "push" e-mail from Microsoft exchange servers and runs on AT&T's relatively slow EDGE network are two deal killers for Bill Burnham, a former venture capitalist who now runs Inductive Capital, a small hedge fund.

CBS reports from New York City

If there's any sign that the release of this revolutionary Apple iPhone will live up to the euphoric hype generated by the media or the crazed gadget geeks lining up and camping out for the music-camera-Internet-phone extraordinaire, how about the fact that AT&T stores nationwide will be actually closing their doors for 90 minutes Friday to prepare for the big debut?

That's right, if you need to have your suddenly uncool VGA camera flip-phone tweaked at 4:30, unfortunately you'll be straight out of luck. AT&T will be shutting down at that time in order to gear up for the iPhone launch, slated for a 6 p.m. birth to the public.

More importantly, if you plan on stomping over other customers to get your iPhone fix, prepare to work your way through beefed up security and extra employees on hand to stop iPhone insanity. Managers are ready for anything and they certainly know that anything and everything is possible after the frantic fervor that erupted upon the release of the once incredibly-coveted Xbox 360.

InformationWeek has some advice "Don't Get Greedy

People hoping to make a quick buck by selling iPhones on eBay right after the highly anticipated devices go on sale Friday are going to be out of luck.

Apple on Thursday said customers buying the combination phone, multimedia player, and Web browser through one of its 164 retail stores in the U.S. will be limited to two on a first come, first served basis. The only other place where the phones can be purchased is through AT&T, which requires the buyer to sign up for a two-year service plan. AT&T is the exclusive wireless carrier for the iPhone in the United States.

If the initial demand for the iPhone is as big as expected, then the gadgets are likely to sell out quickly, which could make the hot items a lucrative piece of merchandise on eBay. Apple is apparently more interested in getting the $500 devices to as many customers as possible.

To assist buyers in using their new toy, Apple on Saturday plans to offer free workshops at its retail stores. In addition, the company said it would offer personal training through its One to One program. "Apple retail stores were created for this moment -- to let customers touch and experience a revolutionary new product," Ron Johnson, Apple's senior VP of retail, said in a statement.

Hype aside, the iPhone is considered unique because of, among other things, its multi-touch screen to control the device. The iPhone combines three products in one -- a mobile phone, widescreen iPod for playing music and watching video, and a Web-browsing device.

The iPhone is scheduled to go on sale in the United States at 6 p.m. local time Friday. Apple's online store will start taking orders at 6 p.m. Pacific time. The device comes in two models: a 4Gbyte version for $499, and an 8Gbyte model for $599. The AT&T service plan will cost from $60 to $100 a month.

People willing to endure hardship to be among the first to buy an iPhone started forming a line at 5 a.m. Monday outside Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York. The high demand has led to others running online ads on Craigslist, offering to either hold a place in line for iPhone customers, or to buy the phones outright for people willing to pay for the service.

Nine Alternatives are profiled (follow the link)

Fortunately, there are many iPhone alternatives, including those with media players for music, video, and streaming content. At prices ranging from $75 to $450, they're cheaper than Steve Jobs' latest pet project, too.

Businesses generally have different needs than consumers when it comes to smartphones, not the least of which is access to applications. Despite Jobs' promise of "a very sweet solution" for developing and running third-party applications on the iPhone, Apple's plans for supporting business apps are fuzzy. Mobile e-mail provider Visto this week said it will support the iPhone, providing one option for accessing Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus e-mails. But for now, the iPhone is essentially a closed platform.

The iPhone will use AT&T's EDGE network, instead of the faster 3G cellular networks. That means certain applications, especially those that require a lot of server interaction, won't run as fast as they would on alternative smartphones that work with 3G networks.

Apple also has to prove that the iPhone is secure enough for the business world. Other mobile operating system makers such as Microsoft and Research In Motion have put a lot of effort into securely connecting smartphones to enterprise networks.

So it may be worth shopping around before you stand in line at the Apple or AT&T store with credit card in hand

Verizon Wireless Tries To Counter iPhone Frenzy With Store Stunt

Verizon said its stores and kiosks will stay open until 9 p.m. Friday so customers can 'test drive' and purchase any of its 18 multimedia music devices.

spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless said the open store event gives the company the opportunity to showcase the advantages of its V Cast Music library and its "pay as you go" approach to purchasing songs and music albums. V Cast music songs cost 99 cents each. "We went to great lengths to make it easy to download music to handsets," she said.

The battle of the mobile phone stores also involves comparing (sorry) apples and oranges. Apple has 164 retail stores in the U.S., while Verizon Wireless has 2,300 store outlets in the U.S.

Verizon also is trumpeting the speed of its network -- 400 Kbps to 700 Kbps -- as well as the affordability of its handsets, many of which cost less than $100. The $499 to $599 iPhone, of course, contains an iPod music player, already fabulously successful.

Verizon is showcasing its LG VX9400 phone in a $99 package that also contains a stereo headset, a PC to LG VX9400 transfer cable, and a 2-Gbyte memory card that can store up to 1,000 songs.

Our friends in foreign countries, in the real world, in the work-kids-spouse world... may honestly be wondering "What-the-....? Has the world gone crazy?"

Actually, this is another good example of the kind of creative insanity that makes humanity leap forward. No, not necessarily the iPhone or iPOD or even Apple and Steve Jobs... This is a combination of changes in technology, good design, great marketing all spurring competition, innovation and setting the stage for the next steps...

We didn't need a new telephone, a new portable computer, a new portable music or video player. But it seams that we sure do like it when one comes along... Apple forecasts selling 45 million units. AT&T will have them sign a two year contract.... That much spending, that much wealth creation will bring out many imitators, system improvements and spur additional changes in things we didn't think we "needed".

EVen if you have resisted the hype, resisted the pricing, resisted the celebrity-technorati allure... I am sure that you or someone you know will be playing with it soon...

Steve Jobs closed his email interview with the WSJ's Walter Mossberg as follows:

Mossberg: This first model is missing some features some other smart phones have, like video recording, instant messaging, and real-time GPS navigation. Do you plan to upgrade iPhones purchased now so they have these features? If so, when?

Jobs: We don't talk about future products. I will say that the iPhone is the most sophisticated software platform ever created for a mobile device, and that we think software features are where the action will be in the coming years. Stay tuned.

The whole wide world is chasing him... he'll have to run faster.


That didn't take long....

As Apple prepares for today's iPhone release, a report Thursday by research firm Gartner said that Apple is going to have to introduce a second, lower-priced iPhone within nine months to keep the momentum going.

Apple has historically updated its products within nine to 12 months, the report said, so that's not unrealistic.

It also said that Apple and partner AT&T will have to develop services to show users that the iPhone is worth it, particularly for people who have never used iTunes or an iPod.

Meanwhile, another Gartner analyst issued a warning for corporations regarding the iPhone, saying it will be difficult to make the new gadget secure by normal corporate standards....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Free Speech, Free Music, Free People

Fairness Means Fair For Who?

Whatever Happened To Markets?

Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt have noted the following bit of fluffy barking from Senator John Kerry (He served in Vietnam) talking about the "fairness doctrine"....

Hewitt points out that when you follow Trent Lott by over a week you're not exactly cutting edge, on the cusp, leading any thing... Kerry is no fool. He knows it's much safer to lead from the middle of the pack. Heck, even Diane Feinstein has come out in favor of putting the leash on media in the name of fairness... and to pull Talk Radio Leftward but not Broadcast TV Rightward. (Does that mean she has finished her Bill of Censure for Bill Clinton? She has been working on that for almost 10 years... Probably not.)

The question I have to ask and probably answer: "Where does the Internet Fit?" Is it written or spoken or video?... Yes. Its all three.

Is there a media of journalists, publishers and reporters or is it just the mindless gaggle of the bleating crowd?...(
Do gaggles bleat? Probably not. This is a mixed metaphor)

Yes again
. How will the politicians control it and us...or us and it?

Short answer: Royalties.

Yesterday was national internet radio silence day. Did you notice? You should have. Like blogging, reporting, citing and's something we all do. Well, its a part of what we're doing in trying to get our arms around something that is growing and evolving and changing all at the same time.

If radio and video can be restricted in its digital format, why not the written word? Who owns the medium, the ideas, the copyright? If the stream is getting paid by the advertising dollars that appear along side, on top of, in the middle and as a tag-a-long, then how is the revenue shared?

Now we are getting somewhere... Politicians understand money and regulations... They also understand how they can pick winners and punish losers. They like to choose which is which and who is whom. They prefer to work with the large and established. Its just easier (less work) to manage big bunches of anything than it is to respond to thousands and thousands of small units. Look at how they cozy up to the unions for the money and the appearance of doing good for the many even as they sell the workers into union slavery. Look at the family farmer... Nothing got done until the family farmer was replaced by major agri-business and could donate millions as well as sell billions in crops around the world... Now Congress must save the farmer...and distribute lots of goodies to the biggest of the big.

Look at what has happened to the broadcast medium since Congress let corporations own multiple outlets in a single market... "Robot radio" arrived with drop-in news and weather phoned in from a distant location to an empty building with a radio mast. One DJ spinning in circles being a personality in multiple cities all at the same time... Canned formats sliced and diced by consultants and marketing wizards so that the audience gets bored and wanders off... Bland-bland-bland so that NOBODY gets offended. No more regional hits, no regional personalities, no regional tastes, flavors or interests... Why else would the numbers be dropping at every measure? Why would the ad dollars be moving to the internet as a bigger portion of their ad buy...? One Size-Fits-Most just isn't very satisfying.

Jason Fry at the WSJ began covering this story some years ago. It got hotter, more urgent and more interesting in early March when

Last week the Copyright Royalty Board released a ruling proposing new performance royalty rates for online radio stations. An online radio station would pay .08 cent per song per listener for 2006 (the rates are retroactive), .11 cent in 2007, .14 in 2008, .18 cents in 2009 and .19 cents in 2010. Seems like little enough, but it adds up -- and this small change is a big change for small Webcasters. Under a deal brokered in 2002, small Webcasters had met their royalty obligations by paying artists and record labels 12% of revenue, but the new rules would do away with that exemption.

... arguing that even well-run Net-radio stations would see performance royalties eat up all their annual revenue -- and that's before the need to pay royalties to composers. (Performance royalties and composer royalties are separate -- the former are paid to artists and record labels, while the latter are paid to songwriters and music publishers.) "Terrestrial" broadcasters who stream radio would also pay more, and public-radio stations would no longer be able to pay a flat fee, as agreed to in a previous deal.

"Left unchanged, these rates will end Internet radio," co-founder Tim Westergren warned on Pandora's blog6. (Pandora, a combination streaming-audio service and recommendation engine, could be particularly hard hit by the new rules: As a multichannel operator, the service would have to pay $500 per channel that has a certain number of listener hours. Pandora has 6 million users, each of whom can have up to 100 channels. You can see why the company is worried.)

... it makes more sense to view what's happening now as hardball negotiating than as an endgame. Besides the possibility of striking a deal, Webcasters can appeal, and Internet-radio fans are signing petitions and writing letters to their representatives. It isn't clear if Congress will step in before the appeals process runs its course, but lawmakers have taken notice: Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.) said in a hearing last week that "this represents a body blow to many nascent Internet radio broadcasters and further exacerbates the marketplace imbalance between what different industries pay." Then there's the possibility that the furor could spill over to the proposed merger between Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio. Those companies have argued they should be allowed to team up, in part, because satellite radio competes with Internet radio.

... Of course not -- because that makes no sense whatsoever. Treating the two as different is missing the radio forest for the Internet trees; in a sane world, lawmakers would treat radio as radio, regardless of how it's delivered. For the recording industry's disingenuous analysis of the law governing radio and royalties, read our 2002 Real Time7, which preserves part of a Recording Industry Association of America FAQ that's been taken down. (The recording industry maintains that Net-radio operators aren't in danger of going under this time either, thanks to steadily increasing advertising revenues.)

All this aside, I've become a fan of Pandora since writing about it here8, and perhaps my recent experience with the service will serve as a warning to the recording industry of what it could be losing.

Pandora has become one of the most-important ways I find new music. It's a very simple service: You visit its Web site and tell it a handful of songs and/or artists you like, and it generates a streaming-audio channel for you, which you then refine by telling it you like a song, dislike it or are tired of it. If I like a song, I give it a thumbs-up, which simultaneously prompts Pandora to change my music channel to take that into account and bookmarks the song for later. (AJ- I, too, am a big fan of Pandora. It is so much better than much of the other music feeds. It is even better than broadcast radio over the internet i.e. and from the Bay Area.)

... that virtuous circle sure sounds like the old "radio is free promotion" bargain underlying traditional radio -- for which performance royalties have never been paid in the U.S. Yes, there are technological differences between terrestrial radio and Net radio, notably the ability to guide what's played, skip songs and keep track of what I like. But those differences seem to work to the advantage of artists and record labels: With Net radio, I'm more likely to hear songs I like, bookmark them and buy them. One listener's experiences aren't necessarily grounds for extrapolation, but this bargain seems like a pretty good deal for the recording industry, one it ought to be careful about altering.

That was in March. In mid-June the WSJ had the following story about internet radio racing to achieve equal footing with broadcast radio.

Internet radio, which can draw on vast troves of music from around the world and customize them to a listener's personal tastes, is growing. While ratings for traditional radio broadcasters have been lackluster, Internet radio listenership in the U.S. has risen to 29 million a week, up from 20 million three years ago, according to Arbitron Inc. and Edison Media Research.

... the nascent industry has yet to capture the biggest prize -- portability. Some halfway solutions exist, such as music devices that allow people to stream Internet radio on speakers, or software that allows technology buffs to access Internet radio from their phones. But results can be glitchy, expensive and technically against the terms of contracts with mobile-phone service providers. Now, start-ups and giants are jockeying for position in mobile Internet radio, in a race that could rearrange the business model of music and broadcasting.

Most major radio companies are moving aggressively onto the Web and other platforms such as mobile phones. Web sites from radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. now account for some 20% of all online radio listening, according to J.P. Morgan.

The broadcasters say listeners want to connect with the hosts and formats they know, whether it be online or over the airwaves. "That's a big distinction that we have, marquee value and brand name," says Dan Mason, head of CBS Radio. (AJ -If That is so, why does big name-big corporate radio sound so damn bland and boring? Why play the same crap in every market around the country-?)

But portability could make Internet radio operators a greater threat. Internet radio "will sweep into the car, and the traditional station is going to have to think about how they reprogram to compete," says Jonathan Jacoby, an analyst at Banc of America Securities.

Companies like Sprint Nextel are vowing to improve WiFi's reach down the road. Until they are closer to that goal, however, many Internet radio providers are skipping the car for now, focusing instead on other portable devices.

That's Pandora's strategy. The company, known for a technology that tries to learn the musical qualities a listener likes and serve up songs accordingly, is working with Sprint Nextel to deliver its service to users of high-speed data phones for $2.99 a month. Tim Westergren, the company's co-founder and chief strategy officer, notes the phone will already play Pandora through a car stereo using an adaptor, and adds he also envisions a future where Pandora is integrated alongside the car radio tuner.

Slacker says it has another advantage. Most Internet radio operators are currently facing a major increase in the royalty rate they owe to artists whose songs they play, an increase so dramatic that royalty rates in some cases eclipse the company's total revenues. Most operators, including Pandora, are complaining that the higher costs may put them out of business. They're busy lobbying Congress to change the recent rate increase, imposed by the Copyright Royalty Board, a Washington, D.C.-based panel of judges.

But Slacker says it already has a higher royalty rate built into its business model. Rather than paying statutory license fees, Slacker cut deals directly with record labels. Like satellite-radio broadcasters, Slacker will turn over an undisclosed percentage of revenue in royalties, rather than paying per song and per play.

Which brings us up to yesterday.... Again from the WSJ

Web broadcasters are planning to turn off their music for the day to protest higher statutory royalty rates payable to artists. Some of the largest services, including Live 365 Inc., Pandora Media Inc. and Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo Music, are participating in the blackout, which organizer Kurt Hanson of online-radio service AccuRadio has dubbed "Day of Silence."

any online broadcasters say the new rate structure -- which will cost some of them several times their current total revenue -- will put them out of business. The new rates, announced in March, start at 0.08 cent per song, per play, per listener, retroactively starting in 2006, and rise to 0.19 cent by 2010. The fees start coming due July 15.

The industry held a day of silence on May 1, 2002, shortly after rates of 0.14 cents per song, per play, per listener were proposed. In June 2002, the Librarian of Congress cut those rates in half, but even that rate was prohibitive for some of the smaller broadcasters. Later that year, Congress passed a law allowing small Webcasters to pay a percentage of their revenue in royalties instead of the per-song rate.

This time, the Librarian of Congress has no authority over the rates, which were set by a panel of federal judges. Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would cut the rates.

Instead of paying the statutory rates, the online companies have the option of negotiating rates separately with each artist or label, but that can be a very time-consuming process.

So What happens on July 15.........?

I hate being manipulated by big time-boring radio or controlled for-my-own-good by Congress. I enjoy the new artists. I hate the lost years when all I heard as I traveled about was the same crapola. I like being able to find new music. I like having new artists and new songs presented to me on my time...

What do Sirius and XM satellite offer? Same stuff without advertising... If I knew what I wanted, it wouldn't be new... would it? That leaves me listening to their format, their choices, their selected music and entertainment... I may as well have Rhapsody or one of the cable providers music channels... You have to know the stuff before you know if you like it. You get no vote...just a big portion served luke-cold to eat or toss out...

What does this have to do with "Free Speech" and the "Fairness Doctrine".... Everything.

What drives the markets? The audience... Who is the audience? Who decides what is fair? The audience..... Right Wing Nut Job talk Radio is entertaining. They laugh at themselves and at the absurdity of their political opponents positions.

Their political polar opposites have recently lost several hundred million dollars growing more strident and more abusive in their personal attacks. They attack any who oppose them politically. They attack any who challenge them on-the-air, in blogs or in their policies. It is a personal, ad hominem, soul destroying assault that leaves no possible room to admit error without admitting one is unworthy of being classified as human being, American.... They lose money because outrageous assaults are only funny for a brief period as parody. When it serious; it's no longer entertaining. I don't want to listen or watch... Neither do many more individuals who make up an audience....

To solve this problem... dinosaurs -of both parties- have decided that the government must regulate what we shall find entertaining. If we dislike the crapola from the left, we must have it sprinkled in equal measure across our regular-rabid-right-wing-nut-job breakfast cereal....

They have also decided that we must-must-must listen to big name-big brand -boring radio and hear only those audiences that play what they and their focus groups have decided is good for us....

BULL..... Move the servers offshore...... bring Pirate Radio back......Bring us WiFi Pirates...... Sign the individual artists... Let us buy the big name boring recording industry and theyr big brand name outlets... Let the audience (Can we call us a market now?) decide..

We're not through with this internet revolution -YET-!!!

Computerworld has a good overview of the current Net-radio flap here.

For more, see the Broadcast Law Blog's coverage here and here.

From Wiki
Wikiedia offers the following additional info:

2007 Copyright Royalty Changes

In 2007, the United States Copyright Royalty Board proposed a rate increase in the royalties payable to performers of recorded works broadcast on the internet. This decision, retroactive to 2006, may undermine the business models of many Internet radio stations.

According to a report released in March 2007, under the newly proposed rates, annual fees for all station owners are projected to reach $2.3 billion by 2008. This figure is more than four times that for terrestrial radio broadcasters who, due to terms set forth in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, are exempt from the additional royalties imposed on digital broadcasting outlets, which compensate the performers of recorded works. Both terrestrial radio and Internet/digital radio broadcasters are responsible for royalties collected by performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) on behalf of the composers of recorded works.

Many performers of recorded works have voiced their opposition to the Copyright Royalty Board's rate increases, fearing that the rate increases would cripple the internet broadcasters that have given them valuable exposure.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Future is Here

I use my cellphone to talk. I can be found anywhere. I also send and receive text messages. I prefer my email on my laptop (where I save everything), my photos on my computer (where I have a steady slide show as screen saver. I enjoy walking in and seeing pictures out of order and from the recent past). I listen to music on my laptop and desktop (mostly and but recently more about that tomorrow)... I am hopelessly old fashioned. I have resisted using my phone as a web browser, video monitor, music-on-the-go machine... I have successfully avoided the Blackberry addiction so many of my generation have fallen to...

I am now bracing myself to avoid the iPhone by Apple. Coming this week to a line, where you will not be able to buy it is the much touted latest marketing miracle by Steven Jobs and the mystic wizards at Infinity Loop...

The SF Chronicle has the story

The iPhone goes on sale Friday at 6 p.m. in each time zone. Besides Apple's retail stores nationwide, the phones will be available through some AT&T stores and through Apple's Web site. AT&T Inc. is the phone's exclusive wireless carrier in the U.S. Inc. already is taking pre-orders for books related to the iPhone, while the online classified site Craigslist had listings from people willing to wait in line for cash or looking for someone to do so.

People have waited days in line for movie premieres and for video game consoles, but for a phone?

Apple claims the iPhone — which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media player and Web-surfing device — will be easier to use than other smart phones because of its unique touch-screen display and intuitive software that allows for easy access to voice mail messages, the Internet and video and music libraries.

Switched has the interview

Scroll down for the rate plans from AT&T

The Mossberg Solution
at has The Test results

He has been testing the iPhone for the past two weeks.
Check out the whole article ...

Apple Inc., whose digital products are hailed for their design and innovation, is jumping into this smart-phone market with the iPhone, which goes on sale in a few days after months of the most frenzied hype and speculation we have ever seen for a single technology product. Even though the phone's minimum price is a hefty $499, people are already lining up outside Apple stores to be among the first to snag one when they go on sale Friday evening.

Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions.

The Apple phone combines intelligent voice calling, and a full-blown iPod, with a beautiful new interface for music and video playback. It offers the best Web browser we have seen on a smart phone, and robust email software. And it synchronizes easily and well with both Windows and Macintosh computers using Apple's iTunes software.

It has the largest and highest-resolution screen of any smart phone we've seen, and the most internal memory by far. Yet it is one of the thinnest smart phones available and offers impressive battery life, better than its key competitors claim.


It feels solid and comfortable in the hand and the way it displays photos, videos and Web pages on its gorgeous screen makes other smart phones look primitive.

The only add-on software Apple is allowing will be Web-based programs that must be accessed through the on-board Web browser. The company says these can be made to look just like built-in programs, but the few we tried weren't impressive.

Missing features: The iPhone is missing some features common on some competitors. There's no instant messaging, only standard text messaging. While its two-megapixel camera took excellent pictures in our tests, it can't record video. Its otherwise excellent Web browser can't fully utilize some Web sites, because it doesn't yet support Adobe's Flash technology. Although the phone contains a complete iPod, you can't use your songs as ringtones. There aren't any games, nor is there any way to directly access Apple's iTunes Music Store.

Apple says it plans to add features to the phone over time, via free downloads, and hints that some of these holes may be filled.

Expectations for the iPhone have been so high that it can't possibly meet them all. It isn't for the average person who just wants a cheap, small phone for calling and texting. But, despite its network limitations, the iPhone is a whole new experience and a pleasure to use.

The Mossberg examination is much better and more complete than the Forbes report from earlier in June.

Forbes has Five Reasons You May Not Want the iPhone

It's important to remember that Forbes target audience is the business owner or upper manager. Their emphasis is on the total cost-of-ownership and corporate bottomline. Cool and looking sexy don't often find friends at these price levels.
Check out the whole article...
Businesses manage that expense for executives' BlackBerrys, but will consumers happily pay that much? AT&T says existing customers will get the same deal as new customers switching from Verizon Wireless or Sprint Nextel (nyse: S - news - people )--but subscribers will have to extend their contract for two more years. Will AT&T offer a version for prepaid service subscribers? Many consumers can justify buying a $500 smart phone/iPod hybrid. But AT&T's service terms could break the deal.

David Andelman has some observations on the distribution and pricing model by AT&T.

The big question for AT&T is a simple one--why would you outbid all the competition to acquire rights to sell the device-of-the-decade, calculated to attract as many customers as possible, then promptly do your best to alienate them?

They're not, insists an AT&T spokesman. "Any customer who shows up and cannot purchase an iPhone--and walk away with it that day--can purchase it at the store and have it delivered to the store or to their home for later," says AT&T spokesman Michael Coe. "Any customer can order a phone that day. We do have a direct fulfillment process."

Neither AT&T nor Apple will say just when they might be able to produce that shiny new device, why they aren't shipping enough immediately to satisfy intense demand or, for that matter, why the all-but-unprecedented secrecy regarding the two companies' marketing techniques.

Certainly, that's been Apple's modus operandi in the past--a company totally paranoid about any disclosure of any aspect of any new product.

in the case of the iPhone, the chasm may be even bigger than Apple's other most-sought-after devices. When Parks' researchers moved the price point down to $399 or $299, demand remained virtually unchanged. "It was not until we reached $199--the average cost of a smart phone--that demand began to rise," says Cai.

What worries most of those surveyed? Some 50% cited the high price, 32% feared the battery drain of a multi-use device, 30% worried it would perform none of the functions particularly well, and 29% feared it would be too complex to use. Indeed, many were cautious about putting all their digital eggs in one electronic basket. If the battery dies, they've lost their phone, iPod and PDA in one horrible moment.

Still, there are always folks like Narene Hassan who are still ready to stand in line forever for a Wii.

"The Wii was so successful because it wasn't just targeting a small core audience," Cai observes. "After two days, lines for the PS3 disappeared. After six months, you still can't find a Wii, because it's appealing to a mass audience."

So, the question is, does Apple have a PS3 ... or a Wii?

The lines are formed, reservations made, bribes placed, security hired, promises made and histories forgotten.

I won't be there.

I dislike the whole Apple-we-control-your-world-because-you-are-stupid cocoon. I have avoided the iPod for the same silly iTunes-rules Apple-centric reasoning. Faces The Future

Forbes has a good article on I have been hearing good things (word-of-mouth )about this site and will soon be making my first purchases. I wear a size 14-15 depending on the makers last. Since I was 13 I have grown accustomed to first asking for the size when i walk in a shoe store. If they have none in my size, it was a short visit and nobody gets frustrated. I am inured to paying extra for the privilege of my "big understanding"... Whenever I find a store with my size, and an acceptable style I usually buy two or three pair in every color.... Fashion is not my friend. Luckily, I am a man and nobody pays much attention except to see that they are shined and in good repair. My poor daughters.... Well, we have been lucky to live where there is a large transvestite community. Not only does it pay to stock the larger sizes, but they have a wide variety of styles and colors....

... seven years ago when his friend Nick Swinmurn left a voice mail asking Hsieh to invest in his online shoe company, Hsieh, now CEO of what was renamed, was about to delete the e-mail--"It sounded like the poster child of bad dot-com ideas," he says--when Swinmurn got around to the numbers.

Footwear was a $40 billion market in the U.S. and $2 billion of that, 5%, was done through mail order catalogs. "That addressed the whole issue of whether consumers buy footwear online right away," says Hsieh.

Since then, Hsieh and his team have taken Zappos from an online shoe retailer to a site selling a range of diverse apparel. Customers say one of its greatest appeals is that it guarantees free overnight shipping. That, and the fact that they can return--also for free--any of the items they buy there. That speaks to precisely what Hsieh is trying to do at Zappos. His mantra: Provide great customer service and make the online experience as convenient as possible.

The interview follows:

Obviously customers can't try the shoes on, so when they come to you do they know exactly what they want or are they perusing?

Hsieh: They're coming to us for selection. A relatively small percentage of people know what styles they want. They know we offer over 1,000 brands and over 150,000 styles for men, women and kids. It's a much, much larger selection than is physically possible to have in a single shoe store. Our warehouse is the equivalent of 17 football fields. Customers may know their favorite brand and are looking to see what they have out.

Has Zappos always provided free overnight shipping?

No. We started with ground shipping but knew the faster customers received shoes, the better. We went from ground to three-day shipping after about a year and a half of being in business. Finally, last December, about seven years after we started, we got to the point where we could overnight everything. Our biggest competition isn't online retailers. It's the brick and mortar store experience. We want to come as close to that as possible.

Please read the entire article....

The promise of Internet Marketing and Selling has begun to be fulfilled after the disasterous first few years. The potential is just begun to be realized on a worldwide basis..

I was excited in 1996 when we first began our adventure in the internet. It has been an adventure, an education, and a heck of a lot of fun... We play a supporting role. We were never going to explode into a YouTube or Google or eBay valuation... We have danced with some big names and small... We wound up in boxes in a storage locker (Like so many other brilliant, underfunded and/or flawed ideas) ... I am still a believer in the potential of the internet to create, innovate and change societies...

Its greatest potential is its ability to unlock human ingenuity. It is still possible for some bright people to energize their friends with an idea and together find the funding to create something that has never been done before or has never been done that way... The game is far from over. The day when all that can be invented or needs to be invented has not arrived...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend Thoughts About Women

Saturday's WSJ had an interview with Mario Vargas Llosa, (paid link) novelist, storyteller. politician. He is speaking about how "Dictatorships poison everything in their grasp, from political institutions right down to relationships between fathers and sons."

... another disturbing current in Mr. Vargas Llosa's work that is less often discussed -- mistreatment of women, ranging from disrespect to outright violence. The abuses are particularly horrifying in "The Feast of the Goat," a novel based on the life of Rafael Trujillo, the dictator who terrorized the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961. Mr. Vargas Llosa describes traveling to the Dominican Republic and being stunned to hear stories of peasants offering their own daughters as "gifts" to the lustful tyrant. Trujillo and his sons, he tells me, could abuse any woman of any social class with absolute impunity. The situation in the Dominican Republic, which he refers to as a "laboratory of horrors," may have tended toward the extreme, but it underscores a larger trend: "The woman is almost always the first victim of a dictatorship."

Mr. Vargas Llosa discovered that this phenomenon was hardly limited to Latin America. "I went to Iraq after the invasion," he tells me. "When I heard stories about the sons of Saddam Hussein, it seemed like I was in the Dominican Republic, hearing stories about the sons of Trujillo! That women would be taken from the street, put in automobiles and simply presented like objects . . . The phenomenon was very similar, even with such different cultures and religions." He concludes: "Brutality takes the same form in dictatorial regimes."

... As for the value of freedom, perhaps he puts it best in "The Feast of the Goat": "It must be nice. Your cup of coffee or glass of rum must taste better, the smoke of your cigar, a swim in the ocean on a hot day, the movie you see on Saturday, the merengue on the radio, everything must leave a more pleasurable sensation in your body and spirit when you had what Trujillo had taken away from Dominicans 31 years ago: free will."

Larry Johnson at LGF had the following story right behind the Hamas Using 6-year-old as suicide bomber tale... There is video.

In a lecture on Saudi Arabian television, Saudi cleric Abd Al-Aziz Al-Fawzan says Islam guarantees rights to women, and anyone who says differently is an Islamophobic, ignorant, insolent infidel who’s trying to damage the image of Islam.

Then he proceeds to explain that women are twisted, silly, ignorant, prone to errors, driven by emotion, and weak. And when a Muslim man wants sex, his wife had better drop everything else she’s doing and get right to it. (Courtesy of MEMRI TV.)

Abd Al-Aziz Al-Fawzan: The Prophet Muhammad said about women: “I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you,” and so on. This hadith and others like it were misunderstood by the ignorant. Corrupt people interpreted it in a way that differs from its original intent. Because of their ignorance, their insolence, their stupidity, and because of their enmity towards Islam and Muslims, they turned this hadith into evidence that Islam disgraces women, diminishing her value, and describes her in inadequate terms. ...

These hadiths provide some of the most decisive evidence that Islam protects women and guarantees their rights. Islam has surrounded the woman with a fence of compassion and mercy. It has shown that the twisted nature of women stems from their very creation. This is how Allah wanted woman to be. Therefore, the husband must adapt himself to her and be patient with her. He should not giver her too many things to do, or things that she is incapable of doing. He should not make her do anything that is contrary to her nature, and to the way she was created by Allah. In addition, he should turn a blind eye to her mistakes, he should tolerate her slips and errors, and put up with all the silly ignorant things she might say, because this constitutes part of the nature of her creation. In addition, women have surging emotions, which in some cases, might overpower their minds. The weakness with which women were created is the secret behind their attractiveness and appeal to their husbands. It is the source of women’s seduction of men, and one of the elements strengthening the bond between husband and wife. This is one of the wondrous miracles of Allah: The strength of a woman lies in her weakness. Her power of seduction and appeal lie in her emotions, which might overpower her mind at times. ...

Both husband and wife should satisfy their spouse’s natural urges, and should try to gratify their desires, as long as nothing prevents this. This is why the Prophet said: “When a man calls his wife to fulfill his needs, she must go to him, even if she is busy with the oven.” Imagine this: There is fire in the oven, and she wants to bake bread. But even if she’s busy with this work that cannot be neglected, when he calls her, she must leave the oven and go to her husband. Another hadith says: “She must go to him, even if she is on the back of a camel.” She must go to him, even if she is riding.

At home in America we have our own view and version of the feminism and women in the political world. The Nation magazine has a story on how Hillary's star is collapsing among some feminists...

... she told the Wellesley class of 1996, "Understand: Every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you." Come late 2006, however, Ephron was the one on the attack as one of the self-described "Hillary resisters"--those who believe that "she will do anything to win, who believe she doesn't really take a position unless it's completely safe," as she wrote on her Huffington Post blog, "who believe she has taken the concept of triangulation and pushed it to a geometric level never achieved by anyone including her own husband, who can't stand her position on the war, who don't trust her as far as you can spit."

... Women don't trust Hillary. They see her as an opportunist; many feel betrayed by her," wrote Susan Douglas in a May In These Times article titled "Why Women Hate Hillary." A month later, in her Newsweek column, Anna Quindlen declared, "The truth is that Senator Clinton has a woman problem."

Not exactly true, as it turns out. Hillary Clinton was the number-one choice of 42 percent of likely Democratic primary women voters in a recent Zogby survey, compared with 19 percent for Barack Obama and 15 percent for John Edwards. And her favorable rating among independent women is a whopping twenty-one points higher than among independent men.

Let's be clear: Hillary has a "feminist problem," and more so with those who lean left

"Having a woman in the White House won't necessarily do a damn thing for progressive feminism," writes Bitch magazine founder Lisa Jervis in LiP magazine. "Though the dearth of women in electoral politics is so dire as to make supporting a woman--any woman--an attractive proposition, even if it's just so she can serve as a role model for others who'll do the job better eventually, it's ultimately a trap. Women who do nothing to enact feminist policies will be elected and backlash will flourish. I can hear the refrain now: 'They've finally gotten a woman in the White House, so why are feminists still whining about equal pay?'"

Jervis's views were echoed by her peers on the blog Feministing, where Jen Moseley wrote, "As women sign up to work with anyone but Senator Clinton, of course, they're being asked why. That's the bad news. The good news is they're all giving the same answer. Being a woman does not get you the automatic support of women. There's no vagina litmus test, people."

Back at the WSJ Peggy Noonan writes about the Hillary charm offensive under the banner of "What's Not To Like?" (paid link)

Hillary Clinton doesn't have to prove she's a man. She has to prove she's a woman.

She doesn't have to prove to people that she's tough enough or aggressive enough to be commander in chief. She doesn't have to show she could and would wage a war. She has to prove she has normal human warmth, a normal amount of give, of good nature, that she is not, at bottom, grimly combative and rather dark.

This is the woman credited with starting and naming the War Room. Her staff has nicknamed her "The Warrior." Get in her way and she'd squish you like a bug. This has been her reputation for 20 years. And it is her big problem. People want a president to be strong but not hard.

A longtime supporter of Mrs. Clinton's spoke with candor some months back of her friend's predicament. "We're back where we were in '92--likability. Nothing has changed."

Back then, when the Clintons were newly famous, their consultants were alarmed to find the American people did not believe Hillary was a mother. They thought she was a person with breasts in a suit. She had a briefcase and a latte and was late for the meeting, but no way did she have a child.

So the Clintons began to include their daughter, Chelsea, then 12, in campaign appearances. Which helped.

As for her attempts to appeal to centrists, two items deserve note. One is that Mrs. Clinton has taken, on the stump, to referring to herself as "born . . . in the middle of America in the middle of the century." This is interesting because it's word for word what George H.W. Bush said in 1988 when he introduced his choice of Dan Quayle. She has also taken to referring to herself as famous but unknown, which is exactly what was said of Vice President Bush the same year. Mrs. Clinton seems to have been studying 1988, which was the last time anyone won the presidency in a landslide.

But there is another side of the Clinton campaign, and I found some of it this week. It is a new Web site called It is rather mysterious. It does not divulge who is running the site, or who staffs it. It is not interactive; it has one informative voice, and its target audience seems to be journalists and free-lance oppo artists.

And it reads like The Warrior's Id. Hillary "took on" a journalist this week and "beat him into submission." Bloomberg has "stripped himself of allies" in "New York's cutthroat politics." "Expect stormy days ahead for Bloomberg," who will wind up "lonely." Republicans "will attempt to rip him to shreds." "A May surprise announcement will be met with mounds of research accumulated over the next 11 months."

In tone the site is very Tokyo Rose.

Encouraging readers to send in "confidential tips," its primary target and obvious obsession is Barack Obama. " (D-Senator Barack ObamaRezko) is busy lately lying about President Bill Clinton" and "attacking entire communities." "We have written extensively on Obama, and his indicted slumlord friend Antoin 'Tony' Rezko. We have repeatedly warned David Axelrod, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama that this story is not going away." The Obama campaign is "still posing as innocents incapable of doing anything unsavory even as evidence mounts that unsavory is their favorite dish." "Dirty Obama Smear" and "Obama's Dirty Mud Politics" are two recent headlines.

This appears to be the subterranean part of Hillary's campaign, the part that quietly coexists with the warm, chuckling lady playing the jukebox with her husband. It coexists with the Maya Angelou part, the listening tour part, the filmed parts.

It is the war room part. I suspect the site is a back door to that war room.

After steeping myself in the "inside baseball" details of feminism, politics and America-centric self indulgence it was a relief to turn to the book review section of Saturdays WSJ and read about a new book called "Girls Gone Mild"... (to be released on Amazon on Tuesday)

A Modest Rebellion Modern feminism's compulsory coarseness spurs a backlash By PIA CATTON
June 23, 2007; Page P10

Girls Gone Mild
By Wendy Shalit
Random House, 316 pages, $25.95

It is by now almost impossible for anyone to deny some acquaintance with the phrase "girls gone wild." It is the unavoidable title of a video series in which -- one must rely here, in part, on the candor of male friends -- college girls drink too much, bare their breasts and go all kinds of wild for the cameras, usually during an artless attempt at vacation fun.

Luckily, Ms. Shalit argues, a rebellion is under way. In "Girls Gone Mild," she claims that more and more young women today, put off by our hypersexualized culture, are reverting to an earlier idea of femininity. They wear modest clothing and even act with unbrazen kindness. They don't mind abstinence programs at school, and they prefer a version of feminism based on self-respect rather than sex-performance parity. They also take matters into their own hands when craven adults neglect to object to the objectionable.

ellingly, the National Organization for Women invited the Pittsburgh girls to one of their conferences, to honor them for "taking action," but the girls themselves were put off by what they saw there. As one of them put it: "I support equality and would never like to be controlled by a man, but the NOW conference was more like a brainwashing feminist summit than anything else. They had this artistic performance that was so much about sex and how much all men suck; it made me feel sick."

Ms. Shalit has little patience for the thinking of the older generation of mainstream feminists. They are, she says, "so committed to the idea of casual sex as liberation that they can't appreciate or even quite understand these younger feminists." To them, modesty is a step back, even a betrayal of the liberationist spirit. "They don't understand," Ms. Shalit says, "that pursuing crudeness is the problem, not the solution."

Ms. Shalit is in a good position to speak on such matters. As an undergraduate at Williams College, she caused an uproar by objecting to the school's coed bathrooms. In 1999, she wrote "A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue." Based on the response to that book, she later launched the online community Mode

What does this all add up to? One would like to believe that such protests -- together with growing doubts about the sexualized culture and growing networks of support for more traditional ways -- are a groundswell of good. But it is hard to say. By Ms. Shalit's own account, we are surrounded by excess that is justified by an ethos of "empowerment." And many of the figures in her book are admirable precisely because they have the pluck to counter a nearly overwhelming majority force.

One would certainly like to see a return to time-honored ideas of goodness -- and homemade desserts. But something is needed beyond such self-help advice and spirited cheerleading. If the young are indeed crying out for a change, "Girls Gone Mild" documents their first wave of counter-rebellion, and good for Ms. Shalit for pulling together so many examples. But that's a big "if."

The round-up..... women are badly treated in dictatorships and other oppressive regimes. America is focused on itself and cannot deal with the larger world beyond; the next generation sees things differently. Or at least some do...

There is hope. I need not sink into the Summertime Blahs of doom and despair about the future. Of course, I didn't need the weekend paper, blogs or magazines to tell me... I have three daughters and a son... There's a "whole lot of living going all around" as Lyle Lovett said. The problems were not made in one generation. They will not dissipate in one either.

I spent the rest of the weekend dozing in the hammock... What did you do?