Tag Archives: itunes

Carbon Chaos – Celebrating the Launch of an iPhone App

At the beginning of September Gerri Sinclair and I began scheming around me working with a group of her students at the Centre for Digital Media on a project. My initial idea didn’t pan out (more on that in another post) but the students pitched a new idea, one the maintained the original idea of a game that would be fun and that would carry an environmental message.

The result?

Carbon Chaos – an iPhone game designed and built to be fun while educating those who download it about the various advantages and activities of Translink – the transit authority here in the Greater Vancouver area.

And so, with a ton of pride in the students who worked really long hours to create this in a few short weeks here is some beautiful art work they created…

And here is what the game looks like in action…

In short order I hope to share what I learned from the experience and from the students who worked on this (lots of interesting lessons). Needless to say the students deserve infinite praise and I’m eternally grateful to have had the chance to work with them. Amazing, every last one of them. Big thank you’s should also go to their faculty adviser Patrick Pennfather. And finally I know everyone is grateful to TransLink, who sponsored this application and gave it a home. A forward looking organization TransLink, one thinking hard about how technology can transform it – first they opened up their google transit API to the public, then they launched a partnership with Four Square (making each station and a bus a location where you can check in) and of course, they were willing to engage some students on a game they built.

Never, in all my dreams growing up and playing games did I believe that I might one day be a video game producer. Fun, fun, fun. If you have an iPhone, hope you get a chance to download it and see what some emerging developers were able to code up.

It's called Rockband and I lay down some mad drumming beats

(It’s been a good, but long hard week – here’s something fun to close out the week and kick off the weekend)

I remember first hearing about Guitar Hero back in 2003 (I believe). A friend of mine was visiting his friend who happened to be a video game reviewer and had an early edition of the game. He said it was the most fun he’d had in a long time… and I thought he was crazy. I was thinking, no one is going to play this game.

Could I have been more wrong? Probably not.

I’ve just returned from Ottawa and Toronto where friends in each town have Rockband and I’ll admit, I’m hooked. Trust me, this is both a video game AND the salvation for rock and roll. It’s like karaoke on steroids. Everybody thinks they are going to hate it, and everybody ends up loving it. The secret is that they’ve found gateway songs and instruments to get people hooked.

Take me for instance. I, and I suspect many others, was initially a Rockband snob. I preferred the drums (delusional in believing they were somehow more “real” than the guitar – a thought I haven’t completely let go of). Heck I’m still way to “cool” to pick up the mic (and nobody wants to hear me sing, trust me). But I did pick up the guitar for the first time the other day – so I believe the “drums” may just be a gateway instrument to get us snobs hooked on the game at which point we eventually crossover and experiment with other instruments…

Either way, I’m hooked. And, there are about 15 classic 80’s and 90’s rock songs I haven’t even thought about in years (some of which I never really cared for) that are now rattling around in my head. Am I thinking about getting on itunes and buying them? Well… er… (cough)… maybe… yes.

Consider yourself warned. You may think you’re above Rockband. Trust me, you’re not.

Does Jobs really want to set my iPod free?

Will your music be set free? Will you be able to share your songs from iTunes, move them from machine to machine with impunity? Steve Jobs claims “he’d like nothing more.”

Yes, some of you may have read this note from Steve Jobs about the current and possible futures of digital rights management (DRM) in the music industry. For those, like me, who don’t dabble in acronyms like DRM on a regular basis, this basically refers to how online resellers like iTunes encode their music so that a) you are limited to copying it 5 times; and b) you can only play it on their proprietary system (like an iPod – ever tried playing a song from iTunes on something else… it won’t work).

Taken on its own Jobs’ note makes it look like he’s taking on the music industry unprompted, fighting for the little guy – the consumer (that’s me and you!). The truth is a little more complicated. Even this Herald Tribune piece, which has all the pieces to the puzzle, reverses cause and effect and buries the important parts at the back of the piece. The important fact is that Norway’s consumer ombudsman, Bjoern Erik Thon, told Reuters that Apple “must make iTunes music compatible with other players than the iPod by the end of September, or we will take them to court.”

Apparently, several European countries are proposing similar rulings. What makes this interesting (and my understanding of EU law could be flawed here – so please send me clarifications) are the EU’s rules around mutual recognition. Consequently, a ruling that found Apple violating consumers rights in one EU country could be quickly adopted across all the member states. If that happened, the theoretical future scenarios Jobs mentions in his memo would very quickly become the here and now options he would have to implement in a manner of weeks.

I have little doubt that Jobs would prefer to maintain the status quo. He’s got the dominant online music vendor that forces people to use his proprietary hardware. Do you really think he wants to give up this virtual monopoly? No way. Let’s be clear, this memo is the opening salvo in an effort to renegotiate iTunes agreement with the record labels in case the European regulatory environment changes (which is beginning to look very possible). Like any savvy negotiator he’d prefer to negotiate today, when he’s got options, as opposed to 7 months from now, when he’s got a gun to his head and the music labels are threatening to pull the plug unless he shares Apple’s proprietary licensing system – FairPlay – with everyone. Such an agreement would allow anyone to sell music that can play on an iPod effectively destroying his monopoly distribution arrangement.

Jobs isn’t a champion of the little guy – he just likes to look like he is. The change of heart outlined in this memo was not prompted by his concern for consumers but out of concern for the future of iTunes.

Thank you Nicolas T. for the HT link and the prompting email.

[tags]itunes, steve jobs, copyright, copyright law, music, negotiation, apple, ipod, DRM[/tags]