Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Thanks, Steve. For everything.

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  • Simon Grigg, in reply to BenWilson,

    You don't think mp3 + Napster rates a mention?

    I think I did.

    Napster forced the issue no doubt and mp3 provided the technology but it was iTunes which opened the door to the digital delivery mechanisms that saved the big labels. And it was Jobs and Jobs alone who did this.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    and BitTorrent?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16480 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I think I did

    I missed it in your list of game breakers.

    *The others being Edison's Cylinder, Berliner's Flat Disc, Bell Labs' Electrical Recording, BASF's Magnetic Tape, the RCA 45/CBS Microgroove, and Sony/Philips' CD.

    Other than a mention that Apple did not invent the mp3. That's not really giving the inventions that made it possible for iTunes to revive the music monopolies much credit. But I guess it was a collection of technologies, and the glory is diffused, however massive the value of these things is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8315 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    The impact of iTunes was really as an aggregation/market channel, not a technology/protocol. Russell and others have written over the years about the interaction with DRM and music industry dynamics. Oh, I think I've just said what Simon did :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16480 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to BenWilson,

    I missed it in your list of game breakers.

    It was a vital technology of course, but so was the electric motor in the turntable (from Victor's labs), the diamond tipped stylus (same) and the introduction of vinyl (thanks to the US DoW and the V discs for troops offshore).

    However technology is only as good as what you do with it. Jobs took the technology and harnessed it to a viable delivery system. And doing so - battling the paranoia and reactionary protectionism of the creative dinosaurs - was something he can take full and complete credit for. There were no engineers, forgotten visionaries or other players on his side in that brawl. He had a vision, chose his battles and allies carefully and won.

    And without that war you could perhaps successfully argue that there would not have been an app store or the software delivery systems we Apple and Android users now take for granted.

    I think I just said what Sacha did :)

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    The impact of iTunes was really as an aggregation/market channel, not a technology/protocol.

    It was an environment in which people felt comfortable buying music downloads and that hadn’t really happened at that point. The major labels had formed cartels and tried to be their own retailers and failed miserably. Windows Media DRM was a frankly idiotic experience.

    Apple devised a DRM scheme that assuaged the majors’ fears but was sufficiently light-handed that it wasn’t really a bother (or even apparent) to the majority of people – and then Jobs chivvied the labels into relinquishing DRM restrictions altogether.

    When the iTunes Store launched, one application let you buy music and video and play it on your computer, make libraries, burn them to CD, or seamlessly sync them with an iPod. It was also a music server (and now video) that networked with other computers or with Airport Express, which had audio-out ports you could plug your stereo into. The application is a pig in need of reform now, but it was a true joined-up product.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18708 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    there's a whiff of faint praise there.

    More than a whiff and more than faint, I hope. Some artists need impresarios.

    In a world where so many managers suppress talent, perhaps Jobs' most significant ability was to create an environment where those creative geniuses you named were able to perform. And actually willing to stay for many many years. Having worked for many management teams that have utterly failed to recognise and encourage talent I'm kind of shocked that people are willing to dismiss what Jobs was able to do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As a comparison to iTunes>iPod, consider Sony's MiniDisc player. Sound quality was pretty good for music, and it was a good field-recording device. Later versions even connected to your computer via USB, but the software for managing it was some of the most insanely awful shit I've ever seen. And it wouldn't even let you transfer recordings you'd made as files. And the controls were stupid and fiddly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18708 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to David Hood,

    As a personal expression, particularly to do with a product that went through a phase where the advertising was "Here's to the crazy ones", it may well seem a bit weird to you, but that's OK.

    +1

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Jobs may have not invented the MP3 but he invented a way of dispersing them

    And even then it wasn't a single thing. It took several iterations to get even close to being right (if it is even right yet). But in the background I'm not sure anyone other than Jobs could have bullied and persuaded the record companies to become part of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Russell Brown,

    From The Onion: Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies

    Elon Musk also seems to know what he's doing.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 972 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Yes. For once, I think that historical analogies might be interesting and useful. Hero of Alexandria invented the steam engine, but it took James Watt to make it a practical, efficient and widely-used machine, and Brunel certainly didn't invent rail, tunnels or bridges, but he's no less significant for that. It's interesting to imagine how Jobs will be seen in a few centuries in context with them and their like.

    Jobs' innovation is of the more subtle and insidious (in a positive sense) kind compared to outright invention; a kind of social, psychological and cultural invention that made processing power as ubiquitous as electricity.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 972 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    And doing so - battling the paranoia and reactionary protectionism of the creative dinosaurs - was something he can take full and complete credit for.

    Not all the credit. There were many attempts to make online music work, and the reactionary dinosaurs resisted them all until Napster taught them that it was a choice of change or die. But Jobs made it work, and that's huge.

    I'm curious also why you left out radio as a music milestone. I can't think of a device that brought more music to more people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8315 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    high five :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16480 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kracklite,

    no less significant for that

    even his failures were impressive - like building a huge passenger ship so ahead of its market that it was available instead to lay the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable, another step towards te internet.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16480 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    I can't think of a device that brought more music to more people

    true

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16480 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sacha,

    Can't... resist... any... longer!

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 972 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kracklite,

    It's interesting to imagine how Jobs will be seen in a few centuries in context with them and their like.

    New York Times makes a comparison I hadn't heard of.

    In the memorials to Steven P. Jobs this week, Apple’s co-founder was compared with the world’s great inventor-entrepreneurs: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell. Yet virtually none of the obituaries mentioned the man Jobs himself considered his hero, the person on whose career he explicitly modeled his own: Edwin H. Land, the genius domus of Polaroid Corporation and inventor of instant photography.

    Land, in his time, was nearly as visible as Jobs was in his. In 1972, he made the covers of both Time and Life magazines, probably the only chemist ever to do so.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16480 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kracklite,

    touche

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16480 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm curious also why you left out radio as a music milestone.

    I was more talking of the in-industry delivery mechanisms and technologies rather than the marketing and exposure mediums.

    Of course radio was massively important, but over the decades that power waxed and waned for a variety of reasons.

    Radio and the record companies were at loggerheads for years, until the 1930s in the US and much longer in Europe and the UK. Record companies wouldn't allow their products to be played on radio and radio insisted on live music. In the middle of that conflict you also had the American Federation of Musicians who were a powerful law unto themselves (they refused to bend to FDR's executive instruction in the early 1940s) until the 1950s, banning music from the airwaves and from shellac at various times.

    The power of radio - in the US anyway - really didn't peak until the arrival of programmed Top 40 in the early 1960s (and in the UK/NZ with pirate radio in the mid 1960s onwards).

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    Data Palms...

    high five

    I think in this context that
    would be the much cooler iFive

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4672 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Brill!

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 972 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Has anyone read Job's commencement address that may explain a few things?

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    much cooler iFive

    not to be confused with the Palm islet! ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3416 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 972 posts Report Reply

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