Listening To Reason

random musings about technologies by Andy Norris

09 May 2008

Awesome Game 3 from the Spurs

After two brutal games being ripped apart by the offensive juggernaut of the Hornets, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to stomach Game 3. It was brutal watching the Spurs get ripped apart in Game 1, but how often is Duncan going to deliver a complete no show like he did in that game? And after hearing the report that Duncan had played with a 103 degree fever in Game 1, I figured that it was just a fluke game, and they would rebound and pull through. Instead, Game 2 was like Groundhog Day -- the same thing all over again.

So I didn't know what to think going into Game 3 -- were the Hornets simply a better team?

Instead, the Spurs completely kicked ass. The Hornets led for most of the first half, but the whole thing was close. But the Spurs completely broke things open in the second half, putting on an offensive clinic and getting crucial stops for long stretches. The Spurs' adjustments -- most notably using Bowen to completely own Peja -- caused a significant momentum shift that allowed the Spurs to control the game down the stretch instead of just trying to hold on.

Meanwhile, his stat line doesn't show it, but Duncan was the key to the offensive explosion, ripping the Hornets apart passing out of the double team. The Spurs were great at bringing it around the court quickly to find the uncontested 3. All the open 3s the Spurs were getting then forced the Hornets to stop packing the paint so tightly, and that broke things open for Parker and Ginobili to drive to the basket at will.

It will be interesting to see if the Hornets will keep bringing the double teams on Duncan in Game 4. Then again, the Spurs may not shoot 44% from behind the arc again, so they may be able to get away with it. Either way, we've got one victory out of the way, and we just have to find a way to get the second to take it back to the Crescent City tied 2-all.

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Why Apple is REALLY more expensive than Amazon

Reg Braithwaite is one of the smartest bloggers out there, but I really don't agree with his latest post, Why Apple is more expensive than Amazon at all.

Setting aside the question of whether Apple is pro- or anti-DRM, the most problematic meme that is being spread (not just by Reg, but elsewhere, as well) is the idea that the music industry is using price fixing to undercut Apple. Quite simply, this is ridiculous.

Here's the bottom line: Apple has exercised complete control over item pricing on iTunes, both in terms of setting consumer prices and setting producer prices. They have a single flat-rate deal that they offer all music producers, and if you don't like that deal, your songs aren't on iTunes -- it's that simple.

The record companies want the ability to offer variable pricing -- higher on new hits, lower on catalog titles -- and Apple has refused:

The recording industry and Apple had been at odds over Apple's insistence to keep its flat rate with some labels wanting variable pricing, including higher prices for new releases.

“Apple has all the cards, and when you have all the cards, you can play hardball,” said Ted Schadler, an analyst at market research firm Forrester Research.
AP Wire, May 2, 2006

So while Amazon is fine with selling some songs for $0.99 and some for $0.89, Apple enforces their one-price-fits-all philosophy. Record companies actually can't offer tracks to iTunes for less, regardless of what they would prefer. And while Amazon may be operating at a lower margin on some items and a higher margin on others (as they do with books, CDs, and everything else they sell), Apple always takes the same margin on every song.

So, are the record companies obligated to sell Amazon tracks at the same price Apple has fixed? If so, why? Does Apple have the right to dictate pricing for all vendors, and not merely the price at which they will purchase? That doesn't even make sense.

Are the record companies trying to undercut Apple? Of course they are. But calling this price fixing is tantamount to saying that Apple has the right to set the royalty rate for the entire digital music industry. I hope people will stop drinking that particular Kool-Aid.

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