Author Archive | Dave Z

Apple and AT&T’s Colluding, Anti-Competitive Ways

Metallica And Justice For AllApple, AT&T, and Google’s responses to the FCC inquiry have received plenty of coverage. So I’m not going to rehash those letters line by line. However, I did want to focus on the Net Neutrality angle. Perhaps, the crux of the matter. And while I may not know the legal standards or thresholds for collusion and anti-competitive practices, as a frustrated customer of both AT&T and Apple, that’s exactly the perception I’m left with.

Apple says that they make final decisions on all App Store approvals. Except when AT&T has “expressed concerns.” Or when bound by the conditions of their contract with AT&T.

The parties state that VoIP apps (like Skype) are blocked from AT&T’s data network to protect the pipe. But they’ve had no problems approving music streaming services, which could actually consume more bandwidth than a VoIP app and possibly for longer periods of time. Related, AT&T uses language to prevent customers from redirecting a TV signal to a mobile handset. Which is why Slingbox iPhone client has been crippled/restricted to WiFi usage. Yet AT&T upsells mobile TV video services (starting at $15/month) on many handsets and the iPhone facilitates baseball game video streaming (also for a fee). Content which is obviously destined for TV, given the simulcast commercial breaks of silence.

So I’m calling BS on their FCC responses. I pay $30/month for data access. And it seems to me that Apple and AT&T are collaboratively and selectively blocking apps that could compete with their own service offerings. The app that triggered this investigation isn’t even a “bandwidth hog” and doesn’t provide VoIP connectivity. However, it does allow me to make phone calls at better rates than AT&T offers. Bottom line: If AT&T (and Apple) were solely concerned with protecting their network, they’d institute bandwidth caps and/or maximum streaming bitrates/resolutions. But, as it stands, the wireless industry is protecting their antiquated business model and needs to grow up evolve. We customers are ready. These two providers clearly aren’t.

[This post is republished from Zatz Not Funny.]


What’s Next for Roku? Five Suggestions.

[A NOTE FROM HARRY: I’m tickled to announce that we’ll be republishing some of Dave Zatz’s posts from his blog Zatz Not Funny here on Technologizer. Dave’s a frequent commenter here, but I was a fan of his blog–which focuses on digital media–long before there was a Technologizer. Welcome, Dave!]


I love my little Roku box. The Roku Digital Media Player ($99, Amazon), which began life as the Roku Netflix Player, streams Netflix content (free for subscribers) and Amazon video on demand (VOD). Standard def was decent, but both are now available in HD (720p). Sure, it’s not Blu-ray but it’s good enough for many. Perhaps, most. And the mighty quick, dead simple interface is a joy to use, providing a better experience than TiVo’s equivalent Netflix and Amazon apps. We know Roku’s got several new partner services lined up this year, including video podcasts by MediaFly and webisodes. Plus, it looks like YouTube may also be on tap. At $99 the Roku’s in impulse purchase territory–it’s hard to go wrong. Having said that, as an owner and a guy who follows this space, I’ve got a few suggestions for the Roku team (and their partners). Enable a few of these, and I’ll pick up a box for every room.

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