Musing about software, servers, and the awful, awful mess that is technology.

uxNot long ago I was discussing with some friends on how Apple’s innovation has slipped, but in the course of the discussion it came up that Apple really isn’t that terribly innovative. They’re hailed as innovative frequently but really, none of their namesake products are revolutionary, and really never have been. That’s not their ¬†game.

Apple plays the long game; their products are frequently late to market by most measures. The iPhone was not the first smartphone, the iPod not the first MP3 player, and the iMac not the first All in one computer. Apple wins by providing great user experience, and this was highlighted so extremely well in a recent experience I had to comment on it.

For the unfamiliar, HBO Now is the new service being brought to subscribers of specific Internet Service Providers and to anyone who has an Apple TV or iOS device (Possibly a Mac? Not sure.) It’s been rumored that HBO was bringing a direct to user streaming service for a long time, similar to HBO GO but without requiring the cable subscription. It only makes sense; up until now HBO knew and encouraged people sharing their accounts, which only makes sense if they were unable at that moment to bring the service themselves, otherwise they’re just leaving money on the table.

Anyway, at the last keynote which announced the new Macbook and Watch (ick.) HBO let it loose; HBO Now would be coming to iOS and Apple TV. This came along with a price drop for Apple TV ($69) with a rumor of a newer, better Apple TV on the way for the original price.

This past week that update went live for the Apple TV, and being a horrid Game of Thrones addict I of course went to get it. And this is where that User Experience comes in. I sat down, booted up the Apple TV. Clicked the HBO Now app, selected new account, selected bill via iTunes, and was then presented with HBO’s lineup of programming to pick from, and with the first month being free, technically I didn’t spend any money either.

I mean even by modern standards I would say 2 minutes from signup to watching content is a pretty damn good conversion when it comes to subscribing for a service. Even Netflix had a longer setup than that. This is why the iPod is the namesake of the MP3 player, even though it wasn’t the first or arguably the best from a technical perspective. Same for the iPhone. The exception is the iPad, which I still argue for the price absolutely levels all other tablets. They start with a quality made device that manages itself and follow through with the ability to buy pretty much anything with the touch of a button, without opening web browsers to activation pages or any other nonsense.

Contrast this with Windows Media Player, which still requires manual setup of a media store (assuming it even supports that, I don’t know) which I’ve never once found one of to add in the first place. I still do my shopping for my music at Amazon MP3 simply for the DRM free content, but when it comes to which of my blu ray’s codes I use to redeem? iTunes, every time.

The App Store remains the most profitable mobile store among the big players, and by a big margin.

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