Mobile Music Messenger (MMM) Demo Video

October 26th, 2009

Here’s my first try at self-producing a video about an iPhone App.
Special thanks to Michael, my great friend and camera man on this shoot. As always, I welcome your comments.

MMM Part of App Store Showcase at San Francisco Apple Store, November 10th

October 20th, 2009

I’m excited to announce that we’ll be demoing MMM live in the downtown San Francisco Apple Store on November 10th at 6 PM.  We at the San Francisco App Studio organized this App Store Showcase and we’re looking forward to sharing the stage with so many great iPhone app developers.  You can find more information on the event’s Facebook page at  http://j.mp/big-time

MMM Map

September 24th, 2009

MMM Map

I spent the morning manually crunching data for the last month of songs shared via the Mobile Music Messenger iPhone App to be able to present this Google Map.   Unfortunatley the page is slow to load and the main map view still needs optimization, but I thought I’d share this sooner rather than later.  I think it’s really fun to see and hear what songs people are listening to and sharing around the world and hope you do too. I hope to have the creation of this map automated and updated at least daily before too long.  Let me know your thoughts on what you see so far.

What I Want in My Next iPhone

September 9th, 2009

It was an interesting morning today as I followed in real time the Greg Kumparak Crunchbase coverage of the Apple “It’s only rock and roll, but we like it” launch event in San Francisco.  I think Apple does an amazing job of grouping new features and products into a single launch and maintaining secrecy amongst its employees and suppliers prior to the launch.  Except they don’t really keep secrets right up until the launch.  A few weeks prior to their launch events, Apple masterfully leaks out information to certain key bloggers and members of the press who then build a groundswell of buzz leading up to the launch, where most of what has been rumored to be part of the launch generally is. 

The same was true today.  Steve Jobs made his first public appearance since coming back to Apple full time.  The big rumor that didn’t pan out was that the Beatles’ catalog of music would be available in iTunes.  It’s still not there.   iTunes 9 was announced today and it does allow sharing of songs via Facebook.  The rumors I’d heard were that it would also include Last.fm integration, which turned out to be false.  Instead, it includes sharing of songs via Twitter in addition to Facebook. 

I’ve just tried the Share On Facebook feature in iTunes and I’m frankly surprised that it only works from the iTunes store.  I’m personally much more inclined to recommend a song I already own to all my friends on Facebook than something I don’t.  If I want to recommend a song in my iTunes library, I’d first have to find the identical song in the iTunes store and then right click the “Buy” button and select “Share On Facebook”.  I’m also much more likely to want to share music from my iPhone than from behind my computer where I really don’t listen to much music.   I’m more than a little bit biased, but I still think I’ll be using MMM more than I use this new feature in iTunes 9.  Give both of them a test drive and post your thoughts here.

The refresh to the iPod line was also very interesting.  I’d thought that the iPod Classic might not even be mentioned today.  Instead, Apple has phased out the “one size fits all” 120 GB iPod Classic in favor of a 160 GB version that sells for $249.  I actually bought one of the original 160 GB iPod Classics and am glad to hear they’ve brought it back.    I read that Apple said that the iPod Classic is for people with very large music collections—that would be me.    On their web site, Apple’s calling the iPod Classic the “take everything-everywhere iPod”.  My iPod Classic lives in my car where I listen to a lot of music these days.  When I go on an extended trip whether by car or another means of transportation, I’ll take it with me so I have my whole music collection at my finger tips.

What I really want is all my music at the ready all the time.  I frequently find myself in a situation where for one reason or another I’ll crave listening to a particular song I haven’t heard in ages.  At times I’ll be in a conversation and tell a friend, “Have you heard such and such a song?  It describes exactly the situation you’re talking about.”  When I have my iPod Classic with me, I have all my music.  But my iPhone is the device I carry with me all the time and I have an original 8 GB iPhone.  I’d like to upgrade to the 32 GB 3GS and have a faster iPhone, more storage, and the integrated video camera, but this still doesn’t solve my problem.  Even the $399 64 GB iPod Touch that was announced today doesn’t accomodate my entire 95 GB of music, let alone allow for some headroom for new music, photos, and video.  The fact that Apple launched a 64 GB iPod Touch means it would be relatively easy for them to roll-out a 64GB iPhone, but like I said I want all my music all the time and this still isn’t enough storage for me.  (The Classic is a hard drive based iPod while the Touch and iPhone use flash memory, which still doesn’t easily allow for 160 GB in a small size at a low cost.) 

Recently I’ve been wondering if I wouldn’t be better off just upgrading to a 16 GB 3GS iPhone and storing the rest of my music “in the cloud” that I could access any time I had an internet connection, which is the case in an increasing number of places these days.  This past week I flew on Virgin America airlines for the first time and had my first experience with wifi at 30,000 feet.   It worked flawlessly.   I’m curious about services like Lala, Tunes Bag, Blues Tunes, and imeem and whether storing a 95 GB music collection in the cloud and streaming it to my iPhone when I really want to hear a particular song I don’t have stored locally is a reasonable alternative to carrying my entire music collection on my iPod Classic.  There’s no question in my mind that this is the way of the future.  My question is whether these services are ready for prime time today?  I’d welcome comment from anyone who has experience with these services.

Mobile Music Messenger and iTunes 9

September 8th, 2009

Over the past several weeks since our launch, I’ve been following all the rumors about iTunes 9.  I’ve heard everything from the Beatles catalogue will finally be included in the iTunes Store to iPod Touches with cameras will be launched tomorrow, September 9th, to the addition of an interface to organize your iPhone apps from your desktop to the inclusion of Facebook and Last.FM integration for social media sharing of playlists.  And oh yes, Steve Jobs is likely to make an appearance at the “It’s only rock and roll, but we like it”  event at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

It is the inclusion of Facebook and Last.FM integration in iTunes9 that I have spent the most time pondering.   After all this is a site that is dedicated to the Mobile Music Messenger iPhone app which lets you share music recommendations from your iPhone via Email, Facebook, and Twitter.  Some have asked me whether the launch of iTunes 9, assuming it includes Facebook integration, puts an end to the need for MMM.  I answer with a resounding no.  If there’s anything I hope this blog has conveyed, it’s that music has become more mobile over the last several decades.  Between iPhones and all the lines of iPods, over 200 Million Apple branded portable music players have shipped to date.   It seems obvious to me that far more music is listened to on portable devices than on computers these days.  More of these portable music players are network enabled than ever with the growth of the iPod Touch in additon to the iPhone.  (I’ve even heard rumors that the iPod Classic may start to be phased out and it will certainly take a back seat in tomorrow’s event.)    So once again it seems to me that the logical place to be able to share music from is the mobile music player using MMM, not the desktop using iTunes 9. 

I look forward to seeing what is actually in tomorrow’s Apple announcement.

The Launch of MMM

August 25th, 2009

It’s been an exciting time here at the San Francisco App Studio over the past week as we’ve watched the sales reports for MMM and seen users from around the world sharing music recommendations with their friends.

Thanks for your support and feedback, and please keep telling your friends about Mobile Music Messenger!

Part of the inspiration for MMM was the realization that what people listen to these days is less influenced by what is transmitted on the radio (be it FM, AM, or Satellite).    We all have our favorite music collections easily at our disposal and our music is more mobile than ever.  Instead of Billboard and other charts telling us what the top hits are, based on what the radio stations around the world are playing, we the music listeners should be telling the music industry what are the most popular songs are based on what people are actually listening to on their iPods.  I thought one way to compile such a chart was to compile a list of the songs that people are recommending to their friends from their iPods.

I am pleased to announce that we will soon be rolling out a map on this blog of what songs are being shared by location around the world.   We hope to add this feature to a future version of the app as well.

This is explicit in our privacy policy but I want to be very clear here in the blog as well:  We do not collect any personally identifable information when you use MMM.  We do log the name of the song shared, the artist’s name, the location where it was shared, and the method of sharing: Email, Facebook, or Twitter.   We do this in order to improve our app and to be able to provide a chart of the top songs shared by MMM.  

All of your email login information as well as your Facebook and Twitter (and in the future other social network) usernames and passwords are stored only on your iPhone or iPod Touch and are never transmitted to our servers. Your data exchanges with Facebook and Twitter are governed by their respective privacy policies.

MMM is Available in the iTunes Store

August 15th, 2009

MMM just went live in the iTunes store.  You can buy it at http://bit.ly/mefQp

Thanks for your support and have a great weekend.  The MMM web site will be up next week.

MMM large icon v01

Mobile Music Messenger (The iPhone App)

August 14th, 2009

I’ve always enjoyed sharing music recommendations with friends.  I’ve discovered some of my favorite music from a friend’s suggestion.   We used to have the experience of going to each other’s houses, dorm rooms, or apartments and looking through CD or album collections and discussing the music we liked.  Today our music is self-contained on iPods and iPhones and there doesn’t seem to be the same interest in handing over our iPhones and iPods and scrolling through a list of artists and songs.  Maybe it’s because it’s too personal and there’s too much else on our iPhones or more likely it’s just not as fun to scroll through an onscreen list as it is to flip through physical products like CDs.

I also see less of my friends than I once did.  We’re busier and we’ve scattered around the country and around the world.  There’s less time to get together and just listen to music for music’s sake.  I find the majority of the time I have to enjoy music is when I’m out and about, listening to my iPod in my car or on the Muni train.  Music has a way of transporting me to different places and times in my life and I frequently found myself thinking about wanting to share the songs I was listening to with my friends; “I bet my friend Dave would really like this song or this song reminds me of the trip I took with friend John after we graduated college.”  I was sitting with an Internet connected music player in my pocket and yet there was no easy way to generate a quick message to a friend or all my Facebook friends and tell them about what I was listening to on my iPhone’s iPod.  I looked through the available iPhone apps, after all there had to be “an app for that”, but I couldn’t find one and after bouncing the idea off of some people, I decided to go about putting together a team to create Mobile Music Messenger (MMM).

Ah, the iPhone

August 6th, 2009
1st Geneartion iPhone

1st Geneartion iPhone

About a year ago the keyboard on my second Treo 650 was failing from heavy usage and I was beginning to shop around for a new phone.  Fortunately my boss at the time  had just upgraded to the 3G iPhone and offered me his first generation iPhone to try out.  I inserted my simcard, thinking I was only taking it for a test drive and was quickly hooked.  The benefits were obvious, ease of use, the beautiful large screen, the cool “feel” of the touch screen, not to mention the integrated iPod.

Migrating from a Treo 650, I saw some big drawbacks too.  There was no cut and paste and no multimedia messaging (MMMS), which I’d even used on my Treo to send my mom the first picture she ever saw of my daughter when she was born in 2007.  I also missed the feature of being able to instantly send any of my contacts via email.  Other than that, I was blown away by the iPhone and still use that phone to this day.  Yes, of course I would like to upgrade to a 32 GB 3GS, but I’m holding off for now.  More on that in a future post.

As someone who’s worked on high tech consumer product releases for the last 12 years what I think is so impressive about Apple is how they not only launch great version one products, but they’ve figured out how to gather customer feedback and quickly incorporate that feedback into their development cycle, addressing all major customer concerns in the next release.

The dataspeed on the original iPhone was slow and there was no GPS.  Enter the iPhone 3G (I’m guessing Apple could’ve gotten out a 3G iPhone right out of the gate, but they had to give AT&T some time to build out their network in the U.S.)

iPhone OS 3.0 released in June of this year addressed all of my major concerns and it was a free upgrade for my existing phone.  OS 3.0 added support for  cut, copy, & paste, MMS, and even the send contact feature I’d been missing.    And the problems Apple couldn’t solve in software for their existing iPhones, they fixed in hardware with the 3GS, which offers a faster processor,  better battery life, video capture, and a 32 GB model to store more music, photos, and all the video you’ll be shooting with the camera.

I Still Buy CDs. Am I a dinosaur?

August 3rd, 2009

I admit it.  I still buy CDs.   I’ve been disheartened by the decline of the brick and mortar CD stores, first Tower Records and then Virgin Megastores.   Those places used to be an oasis for a music lover like me.  One of my favorite activities was browsing the isles, slipping on the headphones connected to the in-store displays of featured albums, and listening to a few tracks.  Time seemed to fly by when I was CD shopping and it was one of the best ways to kill time before an appointment.

Despite the fewer outlets where I can buy them, I still buy CDs.  Am I a dinosaur?  I like to think of myself not as a dinosaur, but as an audiophile and as I wrote in my previous entry I believe I can hear the difference between CDs and even 320 Kbps MP3s on my home stereo system.   Of course, I also buy tracks from iTunes, but typically only when I really want one song and want the immediate gratification of having it within a few minutes.  If I like a song, typically I’ll want to hear more by that artist, which means waiting and buying the whole physical CD containing the song that got me interested in the artist. 

I also like to read liner notes to correctly understand the lyrics to songs as well as discover all the many musicians, producers, and sound engineers involved in making a recording.  I liked hearing the news that Apple is working with four major record labels to add enhanced liner notes to digital downloads from the iTunes store

My current process for obtaining music and getting it into my mobile music collection is the following:

1) Buy CD

2) Rip CD at the highest quality settings to FLAC  (Free Lossless Audio Codec) using dBpoweramp http://www.dbpoweramp.com/.  I store these in my FLAC directory on my external hard drive which is organized by artist with album subdirectories.  FLAC provides a backup of my music collection should I ever lose a CD or should it become scratched.

3) Convert the FLAC files to 320 Kbps MP3 using the LAME encoder in dBpoweramp Batch Converter.  I store these in an MP3 directory on my external hard drive organized by artist with album subdirectories.

4) Import the MP3 files into iTunes using File—> Add Folder to Library and selecting the folder for the MP3s I created in Step 3.

5) Sync with my 160 GB iPod Classic and iPhone (when there’s room)

I wonder how long it will be before I can download a CD quality lossless audio file from the iTunes store?  Once that happens I’ll probably finally stop buying CDs and not have to go through steps 1-5