iTunes is not a speedy beast

This was on fireball ::

I know from talking to some of the Indian content owners that you have to get a movie all loaded and ready days before its launch on iTunes. Always one of the complaints that is is a terrible platform for day and date releases.

Silly but true.

The Interview Streaming ShitShow

This is the part that will always be an issue when movies move to using the Internet as the primary means of distribution – piracy is amazingly rampant and will take a bite out of earnings,


Will be interesting to see if Sony releases any numbers to see how well going online did.


Funny how this is all happening after recently writing this ::


I am not expecting The Interview to be a good movie but for supporting my country and telling the North Koreans to fuck off, I feel like it is my duty to rent it. Not pirate it.


First thing I did was open the YouTube app on my iPhone and search for it. I found the official copy along with more than a few pirated streams. Seriously Google – is this how you make the media industry feel warm and fuzzy about moving on to YouTube for premium content? Can’t you police the bad copies for a bit? I clicked on the official copy and get a this movie must be purchased error. Yeah – error. And nothing to click on or a way to buy it. Nice.


Then I load up the Google Play Movies app on my iPhone and log in but nothing happens. I can’t find anyway to search or buy the movie. Nice.


So then I just go to on my iPhone and I see the movie. I can rent it using Google Play Wallet. That was easy. Now what? What I didn’t know was now I could open the Google Play Movies app to see it in my playable library. Seriously – is this the best Google has to offer?


Now I go back to YouTube app on my iPhone and I see the movie and its playable. Then we decide to watch it on the living room TV so I load up YouTube on the Sony BluRay player and get the whole verification code thing – versus just logging in. The verification code failed three times but finally worked. Then I started watching it and about 10 mins in we get an error and it exits. Awesome. We try again and it starts over – totally forgetting the position I was at. Watch for another 20 minutes and it happens again. We get it running again and boom – starts at the beginning again. I can’t believe it doesn’t remember the position on rented movies. Is it that hard?


Once it crashed the 3rd time we decided to wait again. I might try to hook up the cable to the TV and watch it from my iPhone or see if I can get it it to run on Apple TV using YouTube.


It is great they moved to releasing online but Google Play and YouTube are really not good premium viewing experiences. Amazing how sucky they are this stuff.

Streaming pile of doo

Funny – I just read this ::

Notice that most of the list is not really about making anything better for users.

Back to the post…

As I am in the states I have been messing around with all the streaming services available in the states. Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Netflix across a variety of devices like TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Sony Blu Ray, Xbox, iPhone, iPad, and who knows what else. Its amazing all the innovation but yet everything is generally a pain in the ass to use and all suffer from edge cases. Nothing is really awesome and nothing works well across all use cases. 

As a precursor to all of this I know the general issue is that the content owners just don’t allow for innovation. It plain and simple how clear that is. So unfortunately I think the whole industry is held back by the owners of the content. This is why piracy is so rampant and in some sense the best user experience because product people can do amazing things with files, networks, and user experiences. Legal services cannot do anything they want and are mostly held back. Such is life. I don’t think this will change anytime soon.

It’s clear to me that even guys like Jason who is building know this which is why they are focusing on user generated content since if they get it right they can do anything they want in reality. Of course there will be markets economics driving some decisions and they have to compete with YouTube while attracting content makers but still the playing field is much less restrictive than real content or shall we say trapped content. I have no idea how vessel will do but I think it will shake the market up some. YouTube is huge but the search experience, the curation and some of the viewing experiences are really broken. They are so big though they don’t care. Vessel has the time, money and experience to make a go of it.

In my own experience of using services while I am in the states I find that the best device to use is still Apple TV but it really could use an update. The remote sucks, the home screen is too cluttered and it needs more apps but the overall experience is better. On a technical note even if I am using Netflix I would rather use it via Apple TV cause it partially deals with one of my Netflix pet peeves which is streaming only and sucks on bad connections. Yes – America is full of shitty connections. However the way the Apple TV works, and it is the only Apple device that does this, the movie is essentially downloading as you watch it which means it does not pixelate or buffer much providing the viewing position is behind the download. If you use the Netflix app, Netflix on the web or Netflix via a smart TV app the streaming only issues will crop up. I need to dig into Roku more but I think it still streams versus downloading. All in all I prefer Apple TV and Netflix.

Problem is though Netflix is pretty shitty content wise. Sure you get the big Netflix hits and a few others but almost all new TV shows are not on it and the movie selection is dim. Which means that as the family gathers around the TV and we want to watch something new – we have being using the Apple TV to purchase movies on iTunes. The selection really is the best for movies and TV shows. Yes it costs money but if 15 of us are sitting in the room and we want to watch a new release, paying 4-10 bucks is still cheaper than going to the movies. So it is actually an affordable deal. Not everything is yet released on it but there is way more new content on iTunes than anywhere else. With Netflix I have to know what I want to watch cause there is no awesome way to sort movies by rating or by other characteristics, it is mostly just genres and then lists in the order that Netflix wants you to see it. I also find that I either want to use the Netflix app on iTunes or I connect my phone to the TV to use the iOS app. The Samsung Netflix apps are shit, the Roku one is okay and the Sony BluRay one is okay. None are amazing. In summation Netflix is the best for streaming, subscription and amount of content all wrapped up into one.

Just a quick side note – Sony makes the worst software ever. No wonder they lose money and are easily hacked.

The big issue I have is Netflix is streaming only. Which sucks if you are on a bad connection, are mobile or want to prep stuff for your kids. There is no way to download anything or cache anything so once you hit the road Netflix is useless. For this I turn to either YouTube or iTunes. YouTube cause I can stream easily on mobile and find lots of kids stuff but of course this is using mobile data. I can’t offline or download YouTube yet. For iTunes I can buy and download stuff and keep it on my device. This is awesome for road trips. It sucks that Apple does this but they can’t seem to figure out streaming. Again this is where any one service cant fit all models well. Netlfix won’t download and iTunes won’t stream. This stuff is not rocket science and it sucks they both can’t figure out how to combine these functions but my guess is that the content guys are part of the problem. I know from my own experience with Spuul that content people can dictate tech or product features. Sad but true.

All this means that there is no perfect service or device – well apart from just pirating whatever you want to watch. I like the Apple ecosystem more than others but it is also ripe for disruption if Apple does not ship a new Apple TV and figure out the cloud. Netflix is obviously the big service for streaming but the inability to control bandwidth, download and sort is such a big miss for me. It will be interesting to see how Netflix conquers new markets with these limitations. Google is in the mix but I honestly don’t use it apart from YouTube – Chromecast is cool and all but Apple TV works better for me. Mostly cause I am into iOS. 

I am sure there a better solutions ahead but the content guys hold the keys I think. So the product guys can innovate all they want but the end result is content is king. The content guys are in the tech dark ages. This is why I am convinced that Vessel is focusing on user generated content first – this way the product can shine.

Merry streaming!


Can anyone run Yahoo?

Adding this for everyone ::

The internet is all on fire with the latest article about Yahoo and the forthcoming book. It is too juicy of a subject not to talk about it. Here I go.

In case you are wondering I have written about Yahoo before – and normally these posts always make my top 10.

Starting from the most popular on down:

Fuck you, I’m the ‘D’ on this

What the hell happened to Yahoo! Messenger

Thinking about Koprol 2.0

Koprol – The Inside Story. Part 1

Koprol – The Inside Story. Part 2

Koprol – The Inside Story. Part 3

Koprol – The Inside Story. Part 4

Koprol – The Inside Story. Part 5

Fuck you, I’m the ‘D’ on this – part 2 (#marissadidit)

What is happening with Yahoo?

That is my core 10 posts regarding Yahoo and they make up most of my blog traffic. I actually had another post on how Carol Bartz was the worst pick as a Yahoo CEO but I erased it one day, actually my first day at Yahoo, thinking that someone might read it and fire me. The rest of the posts were all written after I left Yahoo.

I get emails from people saying I like to bash Yahoo but I don’t. I loved working there, I loved Yahoo before I worked there and I still love Yahoo. I write about it cause I think about it. I do not intend to cause any harm to people working there even if I am sometimes accused of that.

Here is the new article on Yahoo :: . It is a riveting read and of course the book will be a must read.

Nothing in the article is really news apart from the fact that it seems Marissa thinks a lot of herself and likes to be late to everything. I heard about the Ross story first hand and of course everyone knew Ross would quit right away. I personally think Ross should have had a shot at running Yahoo. He would have massively cut staff, it NEEDS to be cut, and he would have focused on the right bits. That would be a better course of action than doing nothing or trying to acquire everything. Yahoo could make money as a smaller, more nimble entity. Ross also wanted to buy Hulu but not sure that would have worked but I think trying a big acquisition is smarter than a bunch of small ones for the purposes of recruiting.

At first I was excited about the Marissa news but I had so many current and ex Google friends tell me what a mistake it was. In hindsight a lot of what they were saying was right. She is out of touch with reality, is not a great manager and is not the right fit for Yahoo. As I am in the States right now hanging with my folks, who use Yahoo religiously, I realize that people like my folks are Yahoo’s current target user base for the USA. Yahoo may not like that fact but it is true. They use Yahoo mail, front page, news, weather and the yahoo news digest app. They used to use messenger but let’s be honest – no one uses messenger anymore. It’s dead. Huge, huge mistake for Yahoo to lose out on the messaging craze. Huge.

Enter Marissa, a CEO who knows little about my parents. Marissa is too wealthy, sheltered and full of herself to ever understand my parents. Yes – I know a lot of tech CEOs are out of touch with my mom and dad but the difference is Yahoo needs turing around, Yahoo’s strength is folks like my mom and dad and it will take knowing them to serve them. I know Yahoo wants the young ones but that ain’t happening. In fact, I am not my parents or a young one but I don’t use Yahoo anymore either. That’s the problem really – no one is really waking up everyday and checking Yahoo like they used to.

On this point one has to hand it to Gruber for somewhat nailing the decline of Yahoo :: . I don’t disagree with him on what happened but I don’t think those mistakes spelt the end of Yahoo. What cooked Yahoo was years and years of not changing course.

Yahoo knew the old stuff was dying and the new web was taking over – but they didn’t respond to it at all.

They missed mobile, then they missed apps, they missed the emerging markets and they blew their Asian deals. Let me be clear here – Yahoo made money on both their Alibaba and their Softbank deal but what they never did is take advantage of those deals. They should have learned how to import stuff from Japan and China back into the States. They should have worked closely with Alibaba and Softbank on Southeast Asia, India and North Asia. Yahoo had huge leads in these markets and now they have virtually nothing. Korea closed. Yahoo Japan is not Yahoo. There is no Yahoo in China. They are dying in Southeast Asia. Properly executing in Asia could have done a lot for Yahoo in the big picture. They let it all die.

I agree with Gruber that a comeback is highly unlikely but along the way they could have fallen less farther than they did. As to now – I don’t know if it can bounce back. It may just be too late. Apart from Flickr I use nothing from Yahoo and they could spin that off if it were up to me. Their mail sucks. Their messenger sucks. I never hit the front page. The new digest thing was interesting but too fluffy and not customizable enough for my tastes. There is just nothing interesting about Yahoo and to top it off – I live in Asia – Yahoo in Asia is even worse than Yahoo in the States. 

Yahoo makes money. They have too many people. They still need to cut back and focus. Then they would make even more money.

As to a Yahoo/AOL thing. Kill me if this happens.

Maybe Alibaba or Softbank might try to buy them. At least that would be interesting.


More app bashing

I wrote about some of this earlier :: – lots of chatter on how apps are killing the web.

Now the father of the web is bashing apps :: .

I think apps are part of the web and when I look at my own parents behavior – apps have opened up new options for them but I admit they look at websites a lot. They use their iPad for this mostly and it stuns me how bad many websites are on their iPad. Seems a lot of companies have no clue about responsive web.

If the crime is that companies build apps and lead with them instead of apps plus responsive websites then yes – that’s a problem. But apps in and of themselves are not the issue.

When Tim talks about openness, sharing and liking my take is I can share stuff from apps and most of the open web is full of vile comments. I am not clear where the issues are but I think apps work and the web is still growing.

What I am not clear is why this topic is still important. Apps are the web.

Mozilla caving bit by bit

Not sure if it is the new management or just that they are finally waking up to de-facto versus real standards. I am a mozilla fan but they astound me at times when their decisions.

Gruber covering their iOS moves ::

Notice the callout on H264 video.

I am still baffled that on top of H264 they pretend HLS doesn’t exist –

Mozilla is a strange beast but I am happy to have them in the game – I think we all benefit from it but they could do a better job at making things people use and need versus pretend that standards always win.

Good luck to them!

Things about America

This is the longest trip back to my homeland in a very long time. Since it is not a business trip I am basically experiencing life again like when I lived here. Which is fun and slightly eye opening since for the last 10+ years I have been centered in Asia.

Around my home area, where I am staying, it feels like nothing has changed much at all. Everyone is older, as I am, and all the same houses are there but with new faces in many of them.

Things that still amaze me are the big box stores that have huge boxes of everything- massive amounts of home electronics, tons of people and the inability to escape the cash register for anything less than 300 USD. I go every trip though to stock up on socks and underwear.

The growth of whole food’s like stores and whole food’s itself is something new. I assume most of it is overpriced nonsense but the selection and quality is pretty amazing. So far this trend hasn’t hit Asia but I can see that it might over time.

What’s strange to me is it still feels like I can buy a pair of shoes made in Asia cheaper in America than in Singapore. Not sure how to grok that one yet.

As we make our way down to Disneyland I am reminded that America is huge and pretty useless without a car. Once you have to live in rural America you must have a car. Must. It’s only the cities that allow non car living. I enjoy the convenience of it but back in Singapore I don’t have or feel like I need one.

Everything is too big. Everywhere you eat the portions are insane and it seems people’s bodies slowly catch up to being able to consume the ultra large portions. People look bigger to me.

Although the market is huge in America I feel like the opportunity to build things and carve into new markets that have better connectivity and a proclivity for mobile devices feels more appealing. It may not be true but it I like building for Asia and the globe more than for America and the globe but it could be that it’s just a feeling more than reality.

That being said I am stunned how bad mobile data is here outside the cities and how crappy rural Internet is. Coming from even Thailand I feel like the Internet is more expensive and slower in rural America than Thailand – apart from the great Thai firewall issues.

My parents live in Alta, CA and they have DSL from ATT that is just crap. I think it is a 5mbps line that barely gets 3 on a good day. There is no other option for them except for some line of sight service that isn’t very reliable.

Might be okay if one could tether their mobile phone but ATT gets like 2 bars there and TMobile won’t work at all. As we drive I5 to Disneyland from Alta I am amazed at how often both our phones have no signal or have edge versus real data. It’s like I am in an emergent market or something – just stunning how America got into this backwater Internet position.

What is absolutely amazing and what gets me thinking about moving back at times though is how beautiful California is and how much I miss the outdoors. The walks, the trees, the oceans, and the mountains are just incredible. Really is no other place like it on earth.

Back to the roadtrip and my shitty gprs connection.

Attitudinal Anomalies

I was reading this post from Om and was thinking a bit ::

You can skip the whole thing and go to the end of the post to ponder this:

PS: I think both those companies failed the “will I miss them or the service they provide” test!

In the end no matter what happens if people don’t need or yearn for the service then the service probably won’t make it.

For both Fab and Aereo though, the only thing I recall is hearing about the two CEO’s and the negativity around them. The Fab CEO was the I can do no wrong and I will spend huge sums of money to win. In the end it doesn’t look like it worked. He also pushed out a lot of core, early people and continued his very aggressive strategy to win all the way down.

With Aereo I actually feel like it was a neat invention and might have survived but the CEO started out picking a very public fight with the very people who owned the content versus maybe starting out by saying disruption was needed but he would kick revenue back to broadcasters versus make money on them while bad mouthing them. Whether the service was needed or not the company was tainted by the loud mouth of the CEO. Also didn’t work in the end.

Of course there are exceptions to all of this – Uber is good one. Company is killing it even though they have an exec team that appears, but I don’t think they really are, tone deaf to moral issues.

Here is Om again with a perfect post on this dilemma ::

What happens when I dive into all this reading is I think a lot about what I am working on. Does the stuff I do really matter? Will anyone miss it when it goes away? Are my customers delighted? What’s tough for me is sometimes I see people or products succeed even when the people behind them have no moral compass. I know I should not look at it what way but sometimes envy can cloud my own moral compass. I have to remind myself that I should always strive to do the right thing by my product, my co-workers and my customers. 

I do believe Karma wins in the end.