For a while now, I’ve been using an app called Audiogalaxy to get back to my music library at home and essentially have access to my library with over 100 gigs of music to supplement whatever tracks I have synced to my iPhone/iPad. It’s fantastic, mostly because I know two things:
- I have music on my iPhone that I can listen to anywhere, regardless of whether I have a data connection or not.
- I can, with a data connection, get access to my huge music library.
The recently-uncovered Apple patent application is simultaneously awesome and horrific for a few reasons, all of which have to do with #2.
One of the most explosive and formative things to happen to America recently is the widespread adoption of mobile data and internet usage. As I’ve discussed before, the mobile telecom providers have used this to push their agendas and create an awful dystopian future that the American wireless subscriber is going to end up paying dearly for. It’s going to be ugly, folks. Get ready for a future based on as-yet-unwritten disgusting rates based on AT&T’s greed.
If you think this reaction is a bit overblown, let’s dissect the groundwork that needs to be in place for a person to listen to music with Apple’s new system. A person would need:
- A computer running iTunes (for syncing purposes). This is pretty much standard, and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
- An iOS device with a data connection. Not everyone wants to or can run a persistent data connection. iPod touch devices are reliant on wifi, and people with the lower-tier AT&T or Verizon data plan (250 MB for $15.00/month, in AT&T’s case) may not be comfortable with a service that sucks up data every time they wan to listen to a song.
- Possibly: the above computer with a persistent connection to the internet. This is a variable, and the future is hazy here. Depending on how the whole “Music Locker” thing will work, or how MacOS Lion home server is structured, this may or may not be necessary. We’ll see.
Let’s assume that a person has an iPhone, is using AT&T, and is using the $15.00/month data plan for 250 MB of data per month. We don’t know how much of each song will be synced to the iOS device, but let’s assume it’s about 30% of each song to allow ample buffering time. We can then “fit” three times the number of songs on the iOS device due to the reduced footprint of each song on the device’s memory. The remaining amount of each song would then be pulled from a cloud. I say “a” cloud because it’s unclear if that cloud will be the individual’s computer or this “Music Locker” service. Let’s assume it will be from this person’s computer, so as not to incur any additional fees (yet). The computer will have to be on in order to access the library data, which means an extra power demand and a load on the person’s internet usage (we’re also assuming that internet usage is capped, which, despite some companies claiming their data is “unlimited,” is most likely the case). Most likely, the data usage through a home internet connection is insignificant (especially relative to a theoretical cap of 50-250 GB). The proposed data usage relative to mobile internet connection with a 250 MB cap is significant, however, and listening to a day’s worth of music can potentially eat up all of a person’s monthly data before they have to pony up another $25.00 for the higher 2 GB plan.
Did you catch that? Let’s look at it again.
The folks who want to use this feature will be streaming data every single time they listen to music. The amount of data that will be used is unclear, but I predict that listening to music for a prolonged period of time (even a few hours a day) will cut deeply into or completely use up a person’s data for the month (again, assuming usage of a cheaper $15.00/month, 250 MB plan). Even on a 2 GB plan, monthly data usage can quickly skyrocket, shooting people dangerously close to the ceiling or their plan. I use about 1.5 GB/month right now with occasional usage of my Audiogalaxy service to get at my home library. If I were to switch over to a model that used data every single time I played a song, I’d find myself breaking that 2 GB barrier on a monthly basis, which would cost me more money.
AT&T and Verizon made a long-term move here, and we’re staring it in the face right now. Back when AT&T first introduced tiered data pricing, I could see the act as predatory. More and more services are being pushed online, to the cloud, and so forth. What AT&T did was squeeze the pipes before the water started flowing. Netflix is growing in popularity and capability, and their long-term dominance in the mobile media marketplace (I love alliteration!), while not guaranteed, is just shy of that. How are we going to watch movies on our mobile devices if we’re being pinched to do so? How will companies innovate if they know they’re going to be dealing with hamstrung devices? People are going to be paying for subscription services and the bandwidth it takes to use them, a double whammy. The outlook doesn’t look good.
Boy am I glad I got that unlimited Clear iSpot subscription while it was still around.
As an avid iPhone user, I have had to put up with AT&T and their relatively lousy service for about a year now. My first iPhone was jailbroken and unlocked on the T-Mobile network, and it worked really well, despite the workarounds I had to implement to get it to full functionality. The iPhone really is a wonderful device, and even the first version handled the network switch like a champ. Furthermore, T-Mobile would consistently go the extra mile and support a phone that wasn’t even exclusive to them. They were awesome.
Now that I’ve had to deal with AT&T for a year, I realize how bad their service really is. There are so many points during my travels through dense urban environments at which I lose service or drop calls that I’ve resorted to communicating almost exclusively through text messages when I’m in those situations. Data is almost impossible. I’m upset by that. I have a premium device and I’m paying premium dollars for service that is *SURPRISE* not premium.
This latest move by AT&T? Completely asinine. Apparently, AT&T hates their customers. This is purely, PURELY motivated by greed. That’s it. Their decision is made on history. HISTORY. Not innovation, imagination, or forward-thinking. History. Hey, Randall. Try driving down the street only looking in the rear-view mirror. You’re going to crash. You know why? Because you’re making stupid decisions for the FUTURE based on what’s behind you. But wait…for YOU, this is a GREAT decision, because it happens on the verge of the introduction of a brand-new device with a brand-new operating system that could allow said device to, in theory, slurp up data 24/7.
I bet you started drooling when you started imagining all the brand-new yachts you were going to buy with all that money you were going to make, you turd. This is a statement that says, “Our customer satisfaction doesn’t matter to us. We want money, plain and simple.”
Let’s do an experiment, though. Let’s assume that you’re actually making this decision based on data usage history, and that it’s better for the customer. I’m going to clarify a few things just so we’re on the same page.
People with unlimited data plans are not using that much data, and most use less than 200MB each month, right? Even people who do use a lot of data are using less than 2GB, from what I understand. So they’re not really taxing the network. They’re not. I mean…that’s basically what you’re saying, right? Just because someone has access to “unlimited” data doesn’t mean they’re using it. Again, they’re not taxing the network. So why cap the data? There’s almost no reason…unless you’re a greedy pig.
You know what I’d wager? I’d wager that Netflix and Hulu both magically release their apps to coincide with the 4.0 OS release. And I’d wager that AT&T signs a bunch of people up with capped data. I’d also bet that people start streaming the bejeezus out of Pandora and last.fm and Slacker Radio. I think they’ll start using things like Air Video twice as much, and AT&T will be laughing all the way to the bank.
AT&T knows that people are using more and more data every day, and they see that as an opportunity to hold a gun to your face and rob you blind. They WILL take advantage of people.
June 7th will be a sad day for the wireless marketplace in the US.