Podcast: Apple/FBI Controversy, VR Cautionary Note, Web Music Services

This week Tim Bajarin, Bob O’Donnell and Jan Dawson discuss the controversy around the FBI’s request for Apple to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone, describe some concerns around the usage of virtual reality technologies, and debate the opportunities and challenges for web-based music services.

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Bob O'Donnell

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

30 thoughts on “Podcast: Apple/FBI Controversy, VR Cautionary Note, Web Music Services”

  1. Good Podcast this week. Three topics succinctly covered. My succinct comments:

    Apple vs FBI:
    LIke free speech, we shouldn’t abandon the principles of privacy protection, just because we don’t like what is being protected. We need to divorce the discussion of principles from the specific content, to have a reasonable discussion. Though many in the broader media won’t really be interested in reasonable discussion.

    VR:
    Being a skeptic, of the impact of VR, I think Gene Munster is off his rocker on this, or clickbaiting.

    Streaming music:
    Whether ad based, or fee based, the payout/stream is going to remain an incredibly tiny number. People harping on this number being small, either don’t understand how streaming works, or are being disingenuous. Streaming is more like a radio model than a sales model and the payout will always reflect that.

    Even with the tiny payments, these companies aren’t making money. About where “all that money” is going. 70+% of the gross revenues go directly to the record companies, so you can’t expect a big increase by getting more out of streamers unless they get significantly more from customers, and I really don’t think these services could attract business at significantly more than $10/month.

    It is OK for an Apple to run streaming as a service for it’s ecosystem, but this isn’t a business model I would invest as a standalone business. You are just a squeezed middleman that everyone complains about.

    1. I’ve been trying to form an opinion about Apple vs FBI, or, rather, the more general issue.

      What I’ve come up with for now:

      1- this is the geek version of might makes right: “I can encrypt my stuff in a way you can’t break so go f*** yourself” is equivalent to “you want it ? come and get it” from The Mountain. Technology, just as strength, should serve society, not place one above it. The law shouldn’t stop at the entrance of a home because it’s fortified. Nor at the… entrance… of a phone.

      2- there’s a side issue that involves the very fragile boundary between a) hacking, b) mass surveillance, and c) search warrants. I’d say the first 2 are noxious, the last one necessary and probably “good”. This being IT, anything that can be done once can probably be done a billion times with little extra effort. I think the way forward is to work on that issue: enable warrants in a way that doesn’t open the floodgates to hacking nor mass surveillance. That’s probably going to be complicated and somewhat onerous. As are labor, safety, consumer,… laws. Deal with it. It might help if all states including old democracies weren’t morphing into surveillance states right before our eyes. I actually think a lot of the reactions to the Apple-FBI case are transference about the surveillance state issue.

      3- the specific Apple case is the edgiest of edge cases: if the phone were active, there are plenty of ways to hack it. If the phone used TouchID, a passcode wouldn’t be an issue, just fake the print; Apple can certainly make a one-off ROM to flash, if only because they can keep the phone on-premises while the FBI try their tricks.
      Apple is making a dog and poney show of it, probably as a PR and diversion move: no one knows really what goes on inside their code, nor inside their servers, which is a dire issue in China (servers are hosted in a gov-friendly platform, code has most probably been “audited” by the gov, I’m sure they’re hard at work on the numerous vulnerabilities they spotted…). I think Apple are being “principled” in the US to make up for and obfuscate what they’re allowing in China.

    2. Re: streaming, there is one key difference: with radio, the stream is out of my control, interrupted by ads, chit chat… with streaming, I choose what to listen to, and there’s no talking. Also there’s a scale difference: radio got favorable terms because it was used to promote albums. Now that nobody’s buying albums but remains streaming forever instead, the rationale for low radio/streaming prices goes away.

      1. The minutia about what the service offers, is irrelevant to the rates charged.
        Economics govern the rates. 70+% of the money is already going to the record companies, so there is no way to significantly squeeze a bigger cut from the streaming service.

        The only question is how much can you squeeze from users? Do you think anyone will pay $100/month to turn those fractions of a cent/stream into whole pennies/stream?

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