Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth to HBO, Get With The Times!

Why isn't HBO content available for sale on iTunes?

Sure, I know the standard answer. "HBO is a subscription service. If you want to watch HBO, you must sign up for it. If they sold their shows on iTunes, why would anyone pay their cable company for HBO?"

Blah, blah, blah.

Let's face facts, folks. There are some people who will always subscribe to HBO. It's convenient, it's practically forced down your throat when you sign up for cable, and it's ideal for channel surfing. Those people aren't going to ditch the monthly subscription for iTunes.

There are also a group of people that will never subscribe to HBO. They're not going to pay $15 per month -- every month -- for the few times that a movie comes on that they haven't already rented at NetFlix or BlockBuster. It's just not worth it to them to pay that much for an occasional movie. They might, however, pay $1.99 for an episode of Entourage.

Unfortunately, HBO does not allow that. They have the All or Nothing mentality. Subscribe, or you get nothing until the box set comes out a year later.

Here's a hint, HBO Execs. What you're really telling people is "Steal our content on Bit Torrent". If you don't offer a legal alternative where consumers can purchase your shows ala-cart, it will be stolen instead. That's the reality of the 21st century. It's your responsibility to provide the content when and where people want it. You no longer get to dictate how your shows are watched.

Maybe you should take a page out of Showtime playbook. They sell every one of their original series on iTunes. Weeds, The L Word, Californication, Penn & Teller BS -- everything. They don't seem to be suffering. In fact, what they are doing is making more money with their existing content, and by exposing people to their shows, they're probably getting a few extra subscribers as well.

So, get with the program HBO. It's 2008. Time to listen to your customers and embrace new technology.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Better Exchange Support Coming to Apple Mail?

On Thursday, Apple announced its Roadmap for the future of the iPhone. Great fanfare was made of the forthcoming SDK and the Enterprise features being introduced in the 2.0 release of the iPhone software. There was much rejoicing.

One interesting tidbit mentioned during the press event was that Apple has licensed the Microsoft ActiveSync technology to tightly integrate the iPhone with Micrsoft's Exchange server. This nifty bit of software will allow things like push email, calendar and contact updates from the server to the iPhone. In a nutshell, Mail on the iPhone will now have the same tight integration with Exchange that Outlook does on the Windows OS.

This raised an interesting question in my mind....

Will on OS X also benefit from this licensing deal?

Mr. Jobs and the Apple leadership went to great lengths to show that the iPhone is really just a small Mac. It runs the same underlying operating system code. It runs the same Objective-C based applications. It's a Mac in every sense, with a few minor enhancements.

If that's true, why couldn't the desktop versions on, iCal and Address Book benefit from this new ActiveSync integration like the iPhone versions will? It should be fairly trivial to make the changes in both places, right?

Many corporate users have bemoaned the lack of true Exchange support in For that matter, even Entourage 2008 doesn't have full Exchange support. Both use IMAP4 to interact with the Exchange server. It works, but it's not the most elegant (or reliable) solution.

I may be reading the tea leaves incorrectly, but I'm guessing we're about to see a much more robust version of Apple Mail coming to a Mac desktop near you very soon. Here's to hoping...