Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Okay, I Caved ... I Bought My Wife an iPhone

As I stated in my earlier post, my wonderful wife, Luisa, has wanted -- nay, craved ... with deep fervor -- an iPhone for a long, long time. And, I resisted ... until now. This is Valentine's Day after all (or nearly so). So, I just bought her a "secret" gift at the Apple store in La Jolla UTC, and had planned to give it to her on Valentine's Day. But, in my haste, I activated her new iPhone with AT&T in the store -- which, of course, deactivated her old Verizon Voyager phone. So, basically, she was now "phone-less." And, I was responsible for this dis-connection with the world (dare I say, dis-connection of the modern day life-line?). That isn't good of course. So, as a result, Valentine's Day came three days early for her. It came just now. And, needless to say, she is thrilled.

This was not an easy move for me. Why? Because when I was President & COO of Musicmatch, we had a strategic business relationship with Apple -- we were the ones that first got Apple to cross-over into the PC world with the iPod. Musicmatch powered the iPod for Windows. And, at the time, this was revolutionary for Apple -- it shocked many of the Apple faithful that they would make a move toward what many Apple faithful considered to be the "dark side."

Obviously, this proved to be a seminal event -- actually ground-breaking -- which enabled the iPod to cross-over massively to a whole new world of Windows users and which then led to all other cross-overs to the world of Windows users. This was the first move by Apple into massive strategic success.

But then, after this moment of greatness and strategic partnership with Musicmatch, Apple decided to go its own way and build its Windows software for the iPod itself. And, as they say, the rest is history (although Musicmatch ultimately fared quite well, later being acquired by Yahoo! for $160 million in 2004).

Now, don't get me wrong. We have loads of Apple hardware throughout the home and in our lives -- at least three MacBooks, one desktop Mac, one iPod Touch, a couple Nanos, and a few vintage iPods (including one of the original Windows "bricks" that Musicmatch enabled that is in one of our drawers somewhere).

But, making the move to the iPhone was a big decision -- Verizon early termination charges were involved; AT&T activation charges were involved. And, I had to shell out $300+. I had broken out into a cold sweat -- it seemed as if Apple products were taking over our lives.

Well, maybe they have. They are cool. They are beautiful and beautifully packaged. They are enticing. They are everything that technology should be -- effortless, functional, and fun.

Bottom line -- my wife won.

And, I am happy that she did ...

The Live Nation-Ticketmaster Duet is On ... Kind of ...

I first discussed the possible merger of concert and ticketing behemoths Live Nation and Ticketmaster a few days back. Well, now, this marriage of music moguls is a reality, as the all stock deal (i.e., Live Nation acquiring Tickemaster) was announced yesterday. According to those involved, the merged companies are valued at $2.5 billion. Next note in this merger song? The proposed combined entity will face the music of stiff antitrust review amid the background Muzak of justifiable concert-goer "angst" about even higher ticket prices and "service" charges.

Speaking of Muzak -- how did you like that transition? -- the company best known for soothing us as we elevate has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company had been pursuing possible merger possibilities as a way to solve its debt burden.

And, finally -- and completely unrelatedly -- I continue to be somewhat surprised at the apparent rising success and adoption of e-books. Yesterday, Amazon's Kindle v2.0 was announced with great fanfare and in obvious homage to Apple's product flair (the new Kindle looks to be incredibly thin, aerodynamic and, well, "pretty"). And, uber-author John Grisham has just signed a deal with Random House to make all of his 22 books available in e-book formats, including the Kindle.