Thanks WMS-STCers

Thanks for inviting me to your meeting last night. I had a great time and was only disappointed that we didn’t have more time to talk. If you had questions that us panel members didn’t get to, please feel free to ask them here in the comments or via email at

Since we didn’t get to all the questions, my notes for the session and available here.

Thanks again; hope to come and talk with you again soon.

Careful What You Wish For

EMI Says Goodbye to DRM

Huzzah! Finally, one company has the guts to call the technorati’s bluff and offer higher quality, non-DRM’d music downloads through a major digital distributor. EMI has announced that they will offer all of their digital assets, via iTunes, as non-DRM’d AAC-format files at “twice the quality” of the DRM’d version. EMI’s press release doesn’t mention the detailed of the kbps size, but 256kbps seems likely.

The hitch? The files will cost more, $0.30 more. Now, not a huge bump and, as BoingBoing points out, could be a sneeky way to backdoor a price increase, but not a terribly huge increase. This is feeding into the geek cred of we’ll-pay-more-for-no-DRM line. The real test will be if the general consumer will do the same thing. In a world where cheaper often wins out over quality, it won’t be the stock-optioned Valley web head that decides this, it will be the average iTunes user; the one who now sees that $20 iTunes card worth 15 songs, not 20.

Hopefully we’ll huge sales on non-DRM’d Coldplay, Pink Floyd, the Stones, and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds to validate this business move. I’ll be surprised, but here’s hoping.

One of These 37 Signals is Weak

David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails and partner in 37 signals, went nuclear on the official 37s blog in a profanity-titled post called You’re not on a fucking plane (and if you are, it doesn’t matter)! – (37signals). Now, I’m not a prude (feel free to search this blog or come out drinking with me), but leading a post on your corporate blog with the f-bomb is, what’s the word, dumb.

But I’m not here to lament David’s immature way of titling a post, but to take issue with the content of his post. Essentially, David argues that there’s no need for offline components to web applications because connectivity is so ubiquitous. Which is true, if you live in a major metropolitan area, such as David does. But here in the uncharted backwaters of suburban Detroit (Ann Arbor), there’s no such thing as ubiquitous WiFi. Sure, I could pay another $80 a month to get an EVDO card, but do I really need that? Not really, certainly not for business.

From a business standpoint, I know that my customers (professors and researchers) like to go to places that, ding, no one has been before. I wonder if they’ve laid lines that can handle 10mbps internet connections or cell tower that carry EVDO. I’m going to guess not. So, when I want my customers to interact with the web application we’ve built for them to get their research reviewed, how do they do that without an offline component? The answer now is paper, fax, and time.

So, why is 37 signals being so shortsighted? Apollo. Yep, that old chestnut called competition. Can’t access your Basecamp account from the airplane? Build your own app that let’s you update your project information offline and then synch that data when you do connect to the Internet. Sure, it’s a stretch but the threat to 37 Signals and RoR is there.

As one of the commenters to the 37s post said, “Distortion field at work here, folks.”