Blogs and Ends: The Bedridden Edition

Okay, actually it’s Recliner-ridden. I’m on my feet again, I just run out of gas pretty quickly. Your prayers and concerns have been deeply appreciated.

Up First:

Apple is rumored to be taking the iPhone completely portless in 2021.

Loyal Reader: Why should I care, Cataline? I don’t use one of those accursed things!

Cataline: Honestly there is no reason to care but there is also no denying that where iPhone goes the rest of the cellphone industry follows. And there is every reason to believe this rumor. The charging port is sooner or later going to be removed not just from the iPhone but from all phones. No more, cable charging. No more hard-wired data transfer. Everything will be completely wireless.

When Apple removed the audio port there was great consternation in Millennial Land. Everybody who bought the new iPhone would have to ditch their expensive Bose earplugs and go with Apple earbuds or Bluetooth headphones.

Why did Apple do it?

The answer is, space available. The engineers are under incredible pressure to make cell phones as light as possible while packing as much computing power as is feasible under the hood.

The first thing to go was swappable batteries. Which I admit, I rather miss. However, the swappable battery had to be reasonably damage resistant and that added weight. If you’ve felt the new batteries you’ll know they are kind of squishy. But once the swappables were gone they were not only using a lot of previously dead space, they could make a cell phone that was reasonably water-resistant. Although whether you wanted to keep using a cell phone you’d dropped in the toilet was up to you.

The next thing to go was the audio port for the same reason the charging port will go. When an engineer has to make every square nanometer of space count, it’s infuriating to look at these giant ports bringing mostly empty space to the interior of a cell phone.

There is also another reason to get rid of charging ports. Battery life. Since batteries can’t be swapped out anymore, your phone’s life expectancy is tied strongly to its battery health. Yes, you can pay to have the battery replaced, but what are you getting for your money?

The old rules really don’t apply to the newer “squishable” batteries. Charging up to 100% overnight is now a bad idea. Think of it like consistently overinflating a pigskin football. Over time the constant high stress damages it.

The key to longer battery life now is to consistently keep the battery somewhere between 20% and 80%.* And a wireless charger is ideal for that. Although that does mean a lot of expensive peripherals are going to become obsolete.

Ah well. Progress.

NEXT

And speaking of Apple

I gave Apple TV Plus a look and quickly canceled the subscription before it could get anywhere near the deadline for the free trial.

First the basics. The interface is decent. Reliable with nothing groundbreaking. The user interface is Apple clean and smooth if you are using an Apple device and yes, I have one. (Cataline hides his face in shame). Apple TV started as an aggregator like Amazon video. If you wanted a network show you had to buy the episode or season. If you wanted something from another service, say, The Mandalorian for example, it would open that series on the Disney Plus app.

All well and good so far as that goes but somewhere along the line Tim Cook decided that the real money was in streaming and that meant producing original content. Apple has money to burn and burn it they have on their original programming.

While I would have hit the floor in a dead faint if Apple TV Plus had produced any right-wing content, (yes, Unauthorized.tv is still safe for now), what they have created is Boomervision. It’s ALL meant to appeal strongly to the leftwingers born between 1947 and 1961. I suppose it’s possible that producing content that has been market-tested to appeal to people in the Apple Wall Garden, is a viable market strategy if you keep an eye glued to the expenses. But this marketing plan has one major drawback.

The Boomers all have to die sometime.

Cataline Does Not Recommend.

NEXT

I saw a brief YouTube documentary on the 1984 JVC camcorder. It seemed well researched until it got to this statement, “home video movies created a market for video cassette recorders which then expanded…”

I was already yelling at the TV. “That isn’t how it happened at all! I was pretty damn young but I was there!”

It started with the LD. For Millennials in my audience that was a non-recordable video laser disc the size of a vinyl record. And it never took off.** The reason that LDs never took off was that it was an answer to a problem no one had. We just didn’t consume movies like that. You saw movies in the theater during the first run. If it was popular the studio would shove it into the vault and re-release it every seven years or so, (Disney was legendary for doing this). If it only did average business they would sell it to network TV three years later. If you were a B-movie producer your only hope was that UHF stations would start running it.

My point is this. We just weren’t used to consuming movies on demand. It was as I said, a problem no one had.

Now a problem that everyone had was missing an episode of your favorite show. It’s hard to explain this to Millennials and especially Zoomers, but we structured our lives around our TV viewing schedule. Because if you missed an episode of your favorite show your only hope of seeing it was to wait for summer reruns. If you missed it then it was gone forever unless that series got picked up for syndication.

Worse still was the torment of having two favorite shows on at the same time.

The VCR answered these problems that everyone had.

BUT it wasn’t a medium for watching movies in the privacy of your own home.

Not at first anyway. Remember that vault I mentioned a little earlier? Yeah, the studios still felt that re-releases every seven years combined with sales to TV networks were the gooses that laid golden eggs.

Their view of releasing movies on VHS was, “are you kidding? Once that we publish a moviewe can’t make money by re-releasing it. Worse still we would be giving up control of the product!”

However, the B-movie producers finally made their case to the Studio Moguls.

B-Movie Producer: Look, boss, nobody is going to watch Eat My Dust or Breaker, Breaker in the theaters ever again. The networks won’t buy them and neither will UHF. Let’s give this video cassette thing a shot because we literally have nothing to lose here. There is no production expense at all because the movie is already made. They are not making any movie in the vault. Anything we make is pure profit.

Studio Mogul: Well, as you say our risk does appear to be non-existent and perhaps there is a market for… HOLY SHIT! WHO JUST GAVE US THAT LICENSE TO PRINT MONEY?!?!

However, that was just the B-movies for a long time. The A-movies stayed in the vault. In consequence, there were a few movies that took off on home video when they hadn’t in the theaters. Tron, Terminator and Blade Runner off the top of my head.

However, by the mid-eighties, it was apparent that the vault was a dead revenue stream. The reason was simple. Nobody would go to see these movies in a theater ever again because we all knew that sooner or later they would be out on tape.

Okay, I’m done here.

*Actually the optimal discharge rate according to Battery University, is between 50% and 60%. Yeah, I know. I’m not doing that either.

** At least in this country but it was huge in Hong Kong and Japan, pretty much up until the introduction of the DVD. Mostly because the local film industries were much quicker to adapt than Hollywood.

2 thoughts on “Blogs and Ends: The Bedridden Edition

  1. Yeah, movies on VHS ran at least $25 then, which was more than a day’s pay for a lot of us. You got a lot more bang for your home entertainment buck from albums or computer games.

    It’s also easy to forget that the typical TV in the mid-80s was something like 19 inches, and a really big console would be 27 or so. For bigger than that you’d need a very expensive projection TV; I only knew one family that had one of those. There was a huge gap in the viewing (and audio) quality between theater and TV compared to today. That didn’t stop us from watching movies on our crappy TVs once they got cheap enough and there were lots of rental stores; but as you say, that wasn’t the original driver because it just wasn’t something you thought of.

    Like

  2. Three other things I can think of off the top of my head that slowed home video adoption were the format war between Betamax and VHS, Hollywood declaring war on the entire concept of home video and stopping at nothing to end it (including suing people for recording movies off of TV, which eventually stopped once they lost a Supreme Court case over copying in the 80’s whose name I’m too lazy to Google), and only offering home video versions for 90+ dollars a pop until they woke up, meaning that the only people who could afford them were the super-rich and video stores who could expect to make that back by renting it a few hundred times.

    All of that changed once the studios figured out that people would buy lots of cassettes at the sweet $19.99 price point.

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