Category Archives: Business

Time Warner & CBS Blackout : Again Consumers Hurt by Cable Company aka Middle Man

Time Warner Cable has recently blacked out the CBS network in some of its Cable TV markets. CBS, in turn, blocks streaming videos of blacked out TV shows for Time Warner Cable Internet subscribers. Time Warner continues to collect full, monthly fees from its subscribers while the channel lineup is now hobbled. While CBS continues to collect full advertising revenue. So who gets hurt? The consumer. Paying full price and getting less and less.

What’s happening? This doesn’t seem right.

In the day of high speed internet and digital home theater systems with Internet enabled TVs, set top boxes and game consoles, why can’t we get on demand, a la cart content? Because your local cable provider has the content providers (networks such as NBC, CBS, HBO, CNN, etc) wrapped up in non-compete deals, even if just implicit. Leaving the consumers with little choice but to buy “channel packages” from the Cable Providers. Hundreds of worthless channels simply because you want the local stations, History Channel and HBO (like me).

What can we do about it? DROP YOUR CABLE SUBSCRIPTIONS.

Recently, the CEO of HBO ‘publicly considered’ offering HBO as a standalone subscription service. YAY! This sounds great. I’d pay $10-$15 per month for this. Unfortunately, he decided not to. Maybe it doesn’t make good business sense to give more customers what they want.

Thankfully, more and more consumers are becoming “cord cutters” and getting rid of cable. Hopefully, we can get even more consumers to follow until all your cable company provides is a nice, fast, reliable Internet connection. On top of which you watch TV and make/recieve phone calls.

This technology has been available for years. The content distribution networks are in place. Now, it’s up to the consumers to stop paying the “middle man.”

By the way, CBS is not innocent in all of this. They’re equally greedy. By the way, why does Time Warner have to pay CBS when you can get an antenna and watch it for free? Because when there’s a middle man everyone wants to make money from their business model…that is now antiquated and getting in the way of progress.

Apple Has Crossed The Line

Apple’s release of Mountain Lion this week was exciting. Up until I found out my perfectly capable, late 2006, 64-bit, MacBook Pro upgraded to 4GB RAM, and a 500GB Hard Drive was intentionally blocked from running Mac OS X version 10.8 (aka Mountain Lion).

I’m quite sure I don’t have another $2000 to replace a laptop that actually is still running fast and working perfectly. One of my favorite ‘evangelistic’ selling points to non-Mac potential converts is that I had a 6 year old MacBook Pro working perfectly and running the latest software.

For no real technical reason, I can’t say that anymore. I don’t like Windows, and at some point I will need a new computer. But I don’t want to buy Apple anymore. Since 1989, when I used the my first Mac, this is the first time my heart was broken by Apple. Now what do I do?

Until they rethink this…I say BOYCOTT APPLE!

Microsoft’s First Quarterly Loss as a Public Company

According to the Associated Press, Microsoft may be posting their first quarterly loss in the 26 years since they’ve been traded as a public company.

Is this the beginning of the end? If so, the “end” of Microsoft as we know it still won’t come for many years. But, as many industry insiders have predicted, the string of bad decisions and lack of innovation had to catch up to the corporate behemoth at some point.

Unfortunately, the only emotion I can convey is one there is no English word for…but there is a German word…you may have heard it:  schadenfreude. It means to take pleasure in the misfortune of another. How can I possibly feel this way? What about potential jobs lost? I believe in the technology industry, as it still continues to grow at an outstanding rate, any lost jobs will be recovered in more successful sectors of tech. There will be minimal or no net loss in the end, as if you stop buying Microsoft Windows, you will start buying Mac OS (for example).

So why the deep feelings of joy and happiness? Microsoft has been profiting hugely off the misfortunes of others for many years. Including school systems (which they were ordered to pay reparations to for illegally overcharging them…schools?! Really?!). Also, the QuickTime video code stolen from Apple in the 1990’s. Microsoft was able to shield themselves legally from this by hiring a small firm called “Red Canyon Software” to develop its “Video for Windows” product. Why would a multi-billion dollar software giant with the largest R&D budget of any tech company in the known universe need to hire a 3-person company to develop such key technology? Deniability. Losing market share to Apple’s QuickTime video technology needed a “no holds barred” solution…Steal it, I imagine were the words between the lines in that RFP.

Finally, Bill Gates, sitting in front of US Lawmakers when defending Microsoft from findings that they abused their market dominating monopoly by unfairly “weaving” their Internet Explorer web browser deeply into the OS. Effectively locking out any competing web browser (e.g. Netscape). What did Mr. Gates tell them when they threatened split their browser business from the rest of Microsoft as a punishment? Bill Gates sat there with a straight face and explained that by decoupling Internet Explorer from the OS and making the browser technology modular, they would be “setting back” technology progress many many years.

Don’t we always like to believe what goes around comes around…

Welcome to the red zone guys.

How Apple’s Success Could Last Longer Without Jobs…But Probably Won’t

It’s no secret that Wall Street questions the longevity of Apple’s long-term, material success since the passing of its founder, and later, savior Steve Jobs. Now, there’s reason to be concerned with it’s mid-term and possibly even short-term market viability.

From a products and consumer perspective, Apple may always have a loyal following. Though, from a management perspective, the specter of Ivy League, Corporate pin-headed decision making haunts Apple, yet again.

On March 19, 2012, Apple announced that it would pay a dividend to shareholders. Now, over 2 months later, while the rest of the market is doing alright, Apple is down over 10% and can’t seem to hold it up.

Tim Cook, Apple’s hand-picked successor to Steve Jobs, seems to be a nice guy, respected and intelligent. It was well-known to industry insiders that there were certain shareholder-related decisions that the board may have been in favor of that Jobs clearly was not. One of which, the decision to pay a dividend on shares, was a well-known difference of opinion. Apple’s near $100 billion dollar cash stockpile has become a topic of discussion, and a dividend offering is a way a cash-heavy company can re-invest to shore up its own share price.

So what went wrong? Apple’s share price doesn’t need any ‘shoring up.’ It was already strong, on fundamentals. The future (at least the near future) looks bright, market share, brand loyalty, etc etc.

So, it seems that the corporate pinheads couldn’t wait long after Jobs’ death to resume corporate short-sighted decision making. And their very first act of defiance has already cost shareholders over 10%. What’s next? Discontinue the iPad? Base the iPhone on Android? Sell out to Microsoft? Whatever shareholders think is right…right?

In October of 2011, the world didn’t just lose a visionary, Steve Jobs didn’t just die, but the promise of Apple may have died with him. I hope I’m wrong, I really do.

By the way, thank you Mr. Cook for forfeiting your $75 million dividend last week. I may have taken it, then donated it to small businesses. So I say “Down With Overpaid Corporate Pinheads.”

Please Beware of Netflix Scam

Can someone explain to me why, when visiting the Netflix site as a guest, as in without a paying account, why their “Browse Selection” search results show more available titles than when you’re logged in as a paying customer?

Let me explain. I had a Netflix account for a couple years, then, after the DVD fiasco last year combined with hearing that the Starz movie selection would be removed, I realized that the selection of titles I would be interested not only hasn’t grown…not a bit…not in months and months, but that some of my favorite titles would be removed.
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