Remember 2005? In 2005, Panasonic introduced the TH-65PX500. It was the world's first 65" 1080p Plasma (the press for the display actually defined the HDMI acronym). It was a cool $9k. In 2005 I was using a Nokia N-Gage as my phone - it didn't have a camera, but it did allow me to install "apps." Yes, I had a web browser on my phone back then, too. Twitter wouldn't be born for another year, and you still had to be a college student to join Facebook. The iPhone wasn't really even a rumor, and Apple was still 100% PowerPC (ok that, that last one was geeky).
The other day I posted a pic to Twitter. This was a snapshot pic of my son, sitting in front of our 65" plasma screen (no, it wasn't even close to $9k) playing a computer game. My son will never know that playing computer games on that screen just isn't "normal." We don't watch traditional "TV," instead everything we watch is delivered through the internet, on DVD/Blu-ray, or on our AppleTV. Back to the picture... close to 1,000 people were able to see the pic, a pic I took with my phone - instantly. Remember having to download images to your computer before using them? Or, if you're old enough, dropping off film rolls to be developed? Yikes.
There are things in our lives, things we use every day that just a few short years ago didn't exist. We didn't perceive a need for them, or they just simply weren't possible. These are the same things that many people relentlessly complain about of course - forgetting how amazing the technology really is. Here's a quick example: "the iPad doesn't have a camera, or USB ports." Really?
As you move though your day, give each piece of technology in your lives a few seconds of respect. No, technology isn't perfect, and no it's not always obvious. But the stuff we have today is amazing, and it's just going to get better.
What do you see that is just amazing?
This morning, while reading the newspaper (ok, my RSS feeds via Feedly, newspaper is so, you know... dirty), I wound up looking at Apple's stock price. It's at $213.69 per share as I type this. If you're a long time Apple watcher, this is astonishing. It's been near here before mind you, but that was before the recession.
I remembered hearing that Apple's market cap ($192.64B) was close to that of Google ($198.24B) but after some investigation I found something even more interesting. How does Apple's market cap compare to that of other leading companies - the companies that have major mindshare?
Take Dell for example, whose market cap is about $28.53B. Or Hewlett Packard at $123.72B, and Acer at US$8B. Throw in Ford (yes, that Ford) at $33.6B and General Motors at $3.06B. These are all companies that just about every American recognizes as huge companies.
But what if you add them all up? You get a combined market cap that equals (+/- $1B) Apple's current market cap.
Posted in: Apple by Michael.
As you probably already know, I run a company called Callisto.fm with a couple of other guys. We're always looking for ways to make the process of submitting feeds to Callisto as easy as possible. It's easy enough to just copy and paste a podcast's RSS feed into our suggestion box, but sometimes a podcaster only provides the iTunes link.
Having an iTunes link to the podcast helps if a) you have iTunes installed, and b) if you go ahead and subscribe to the podcast, click the (I) icon, and write down (no, Apple won't let you copy the text) the URL of the original feed. There are reasons Apple wants to prevent you from having the original URL, but we'll save that for another post.
itunesFeedExtractor is written to be run from the command line on a unix like operating system. It requires a command line PHP engine and should run on PHP 4 or 5. You'll also need curl installed.
The PHP script takes am iTunes viewPodcast URL as an argument, and will output the original feed URL.
Here's an example:
php ./itunesFeedExtractor.php http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=338395203
Before you ask why it won't take a simple ID as the argument, a copy and paste of the entire URL is actually faster for me. This was written for me after all. :)
If you run a Linux machine or other OS and don't have iTunes installed, you can still enjoy the podcasts contained "only" in the iTunes Music Store. Just run thisitunesFeedExtractor and use the URL you get back in your favorite podcatcher.
If you make changes to this code, by all means submit a DIFF back to me. I'll be happy to include your changes.
Download itunesFeedExtractor here: itunesFeedExtractor
For Listeners: Callisto.fm is the best way to discover and listen to podcasts! No special software or set-up is necessary to get started! Just select a channel and click "play!"
For Podcasters: Our mission is to introduce your shows to a new audience. Sign up today and let us know where to find your content. Help us build something amazing, and we might just change the future of podcasting, together!
Posted in: Apple by Michael.
Today, someone I've never met, but hold in high regard wrote a piece on how Apple has become a monopoly. Jason Calacanis jasoncalacanis published an email entitled "The Case Against Apple--in Five Parts." You can find it: here.
This is my rebuttal to each of his five parts.
1. Destroying MP3 player innovation through anti-competitive practices.
The Zune Marketplace and the Zune software will only work with Windows. Microsoft did exactly as Jason said, and created something that only Windows users can enjoy. As a Mac user, I'm locked out of the Zune and can't participate - even if I wanted to. Apple iTunes software on Windows works to allow Windows users to enjoy their iPods and iPhones as equals to the Mac platform.
Apple built the entire iTunes ecosystem from scratch, against all odds. Apple was able to convince the major labels to allow legal downloads, with copy protection, where others had failed. Without Apple, and those early days, who knows where we'd be with downloads. The fact that most music stores (including iTunes) sell DRM free songs today is directly attributable to Apple and their stronghold over DRM'd music. Without it, Amazon would never have been able to convince the majors to let them sell DRM free content in an effort to re-level the playing field with Apple.
2. Monopolistic practices in telecommunications.
Apple's iPhone is available to users of AT&T's service, exclusively, in the US. Step away from the US, and what carriers is the iPhone available with? If you want the exclusive to end with AT&T, give Apple a reason not to renew. Convince everyone you know to leave the iPhone behind and switch to something better (or worse for that matter). When people leave the network, Apple too will leave AT&T in the US.
The fact of the matter is that Apple's total control over the device is the envy of every handset maker on the planet. It has changed the game.
3. Draconian App Store policies that are, frankly, insulting.
Jason, step back for a second and put yourself in Apple's place. One day, someone inside Apple went out on a limb and suggested that Apple create an interface for buying Apps directly from the phone, and from within iTunes. Someone agreed, and so it started. They planned, pitched, planned, wrote code, and so on until it went live.
Do you think for a second that the infrastructure they planned took in to account the demand they've seen for the App store? If they'd known that there would be over 50,000 Apps, and more than a billion downloads in the first year, don't you think they would have done a few things differently? Apple created something so amazing and so well adopted that they're having a hard time. They're figuring it all out along the way. Give me one example of another company that got something this large right the first time.
Ultimately developers will deal with this as long as they can write an App over a weekend, submit it to the store, and make $100,000 in a week. There is no other App store in existence that can even come close to those numbers. And before you scream "stronghold" understand that Apple only has 10.8% of the mobile phone market. Apple controls 100% of the Apps on 10.8% of the phones in the market. That's far from a monopoly.
Give it time, it's only been a year.. That scale and growth is unprecedented in history.
4. Being a horrible hypocrite by banning other browsers on the iPhone.
Apple's entire brand is built on reliability and trust by the consumer. Think of the irony of your earlier statement as it relates to number four: "It sucked to have to buy anti-virus software and reinstall Windows every 12 months, so moving to Apple's rock-solid and virus-free OS was, in a word, delightful." If Apple allows programs that were able to execute their own code on the iPhone, Apple would lose the ability to control said code. If that happens, the risk of malicious code exploits increases dramatically. I for one, don't want a phone that's as susceptible to malware as Windows Mobile and Symbian. Apple's control of the platform protects its users from the very things you left Windows for.
5. Blocking the Google Voice Application on the iPhone.
This one has yet to play out, and I'll admit this is the first action that has truly baffled me. I bought and paid for GV Mobile before it was pulled, and it still works perfectly. Google Voice is a revolutionary product that will eventually rule the voice world - for business users especially. What gets me about this is that Google Voice isn't even a VOIP play, it manually connects two voice lines - leaving AT&T to make money on minutes just as before.
1. Do you think Apple would be more, or less, successful if they adopted a more open strategy (i.e. allowing other MP3 players in iTunes)?
Apple's iTunes store would certainly sell more music, but as everyone knows Apple makes money on hardware, not music. Why is it that everyone wants to sneak in to the iTunes ecosystem? Apple built it from scratch as they were the laughing stock of the computer industry. Now that they're insanely successful, everyone wants to just pretend that they somehow deserve to be included. I call BS, and strongly recommend that any hardware vendor that wants to eat in to Apple's market build something better. Use Songbird as a platform and integrate it with Amazon's music store. It's there for the taking.
2. Do you think Apple should face serious antitrust action?
No. Keep government out of business.
3. Do you think Apple's dexterity and competence forgive their bad behavior?
No, but I do believe that the market will let Apple know when their bad behavior has gone overboard. That process may now be starting, but it's way too early to tell. We'll all know when Apple stops breaking sales records across their entire business.
If you'd like to share this post with your friends and colleagues, here's a short URL: http://snurl.com/ph8w4 - thanks!
This is a quick "first impression" review of the Rocketfish RF-MAB2 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, as used with the iPhone 3Gs. The short review: Yes, I can finally leave the silly Apple wired ear buds in my backpack, as a backup!
When I saw the RF-MAB2 on the shelf at Best Buy, I decided to look for reviews at Amazon (using the iPhone and Red Laser). A rep walked up and let me know that Rocketfish is BestBuy's in-house brand of products, so I probably wouldn't find reviews there. I did load the RF-MAB2 Best Buy page, and it was well reviewed (4.5 out of 5, with 10 reviews). I ended up leaving without making the purchase - because I wanted to do a little more research.
The next day I stopped back by and picked them up. I was completely geeked on the way home, like a kid on Christmas day. Yes, that's the way I roll with my technology.
The initial impression of build quality was just OK. The neckband is 100% plastic, so I was a bit put off. The RF-MAB2 is a behind the neck headset, with two triangular ear pieces, about 1.5" on each side. While I've never been a behind the neck kind of guy, the cool kids seem to like them. They're comfortable enough, so that's become a relative non-issue for me. I'm not a runner and I don't do exercises that jar the body, so I can't say whether or not the RF-MAB2 is good for joggers. I sit in coffee shops and work on a computer.
Setup was as easy as it gets. If you have experience with Bluetooth and pairing there was nothing unusual. If not, the pairing instructions were well done, and clear.
The audio quality is pretty remarkable given how much I paid for the RF-MAB2. Apple wants $10 more for their "premium" wired ear buds, and to that I can safely say these are a much better value. There are 5 sound processor modes, some better for voice, and some better for music. The bass is deep enough, and the highs nice and crisp. Remember this however... I sit in coffee shops and work on a computer. I am NOT an audiophile, but these sound terrific to me.
Call quality seems to be fine. I did a limited test with @torreybelle in a noisy kitchen with a playing 5yr old. If I talk to you on the phone, be sure to comment on the call quality. I'll update the post with feedback.
I was able to listen to podcasts pretty much the entire day with a few hours of idle time, and the battery still had more. The iPhone needed charging before the headphones, as a matter of fact. I can't speak to the battery life under each possible use case, but overall I'm happy with what I've experienced. I'm not on the phone much at all but listen to podcasts like a mad man.
There are some downsides.
As with any Bluetooth Stereo Headset or A2DP device, you have to remember that iPhone 3.0 doesn't support AVCRP. That simply means that you can't use the controls on the device to do things like fast forward and rewind. You can still do those things from the iPhone, and iPhone 3.1 is rumored to have a full AVCRP implementation. Basic controls like answering calls, volume, etc. all work of course.
Getting the RF-MAB2 to pair with the MacBook Pro and the iPhone was no problem. However, switching between the devices was more difficult than it should have been. It works, but needs a little more hand holding than I wanted. Alas, I bought them for the iPhone so that doesn't matter. (Ok, I'll tell you. You have to turn Bluetooth off on the iPhone, then choose the headphone profile on the Mac. Reverse the process to go back to the iPhone.)
All in all, the value and quality of audio you get for $69.99 is pretty amazing. I've been using Bluetooth devices since the 1.0 spec in the 90's, and I'm just elated at how far the products have come. They're not perfect but we're getting really close.
Bottom line? Best Buy has a 30 day return policy, if you don't like them, the risk is theirs. I think you'll really like them. Pick up a pair now at BestBuy.com
What's with all of the hype around the iPhone? Haven't we had phones that have all of these features for years? In 2003 (6 years ago!) I had the Nokia N-Gage. I was able to install apps, play games, browse the web, and text like crazy. Ok, so it didn't have a camera, but I had plenty of friends with cameras in their phones, and some of them even did video.
In 2006 I had the Cingular 8125, a Windows Mobile based phone that had a completely customizable interface. It took pictures and video, it could do email, SMS, and had a neat slide out keyboard. Let's not forget the swanky stylus! It had Bluetooth, and WIFI too, and that was three years ago. I loaded all kinds of custom ROMs on it, and installed apps like crazy.
So why is the iPhone so great? It's just now getting features that have been in other phones for years, right? Let's take a look.
It was June 29th, 2007, I had been in line for about 15 hours, we camped out of course. I ended up being second in Boulder to get my hands on an iPhone - the line was around the corner and then some. We all had certain expectations of course - it was called the "Jesus Phone" after all. It had it's short comings, no Flash, no GPS, no 3G, the keyboard was weird, and the pricing? Yikes.
Then came July 11, 2008. We got started a little earlier in the evening this time, but I still ended up third line line. Not too bad for a line of hundreds. Again, the iPhone was the next best thing to water, though it still had it's shortcomings. The camera hadn't changed at all, and there was still no video. Turn by turn directions were nowhere to be found, voice dialing, and a decent Bluetooth implementation were missing. Don't forget Copy and Paste. And again I bought it, the white 16GB to be exact.
Then came June 18th, 2009. This time there were two lines: those that had reserved their phones ahead of time, and those that hadn't. I fell in the second line, in third place. I ended up being about 15thish into the store. Sure there are things missing from the iPhone 3Gs, like... SMS groups, Flash, and a "complete" Bluetooth A2DP profile, but you know what I've determined? It doesn't matter. It really doesn't.
I've been asked by many - what is all the hype about? Why are people so passionate about the iPhone. The Blackberry does all of this stuff, and has forever. There's the Palm Pre, and the newer Andriod phones are full of features too.
Let me tell you why I think the iPhone is a popular as it is. It's because all of it's features, the things that make the iPhone what it is, are right beneath the your fingers. Nothing makes this more clear than having my three year old (at the time) pick up my iPhone 2G and scroll through the photos, pinching and zooming away. A day later, he was taking pictures, and playing accelerometer based games. I would have never given him my 8125 (well, I did later as a toy without service).
The iPhone is so great because everything you want to do is right at your finger tips. It's not buried under levels of menus or mouse (nub) clicks away. There is no "start menu" and there's no need for a stylus. Want to take a picture? Touch the Camera. Want to send an SMS? Touch the chat bubble.
But you get far more with the iPhone than a simple phone. You get the internet to your pocket. It gives everyone the ability to keep in touch, have fun, and learn. Anywhere with a wireless signal.
Note: Apple is on the third version of the iPhone software. The software is freely available to all iPhone owners, including those of the original iPhone. This brings lots of features to a three year old phone, including copy and paste, and better performance. Think about it. Apple still releases software for it's first phone giving it new features.
This is a story that cable and satellite TV providers will find increasingly familiar. It's possible and even easy to ditch your cable/satellite box for good. We've done it - I'll show you what we use, and if you have questions ask away - I'd love the answer them. First up? AppleTV.
AppleTV is hands down the easiest way to get internet based video to your HDTV. It has outputs for any HDTV, and makes online viewing of TV shows and movies an absolute breeze. You don't need a computer to use it, but if you have one it also acts a lot like an iPod. You can sync your music and movies from your computer to the AppleTV giving you access to tens of thousands of songs with the click of a little white remote. CD changers are so ancient in comparison.
The AppleTV gives you a couple of options for watching movies. First, you can rent movies for between $.99 on sale and $3.99 (for an HD version of a new release). Once you start watching a rented movie, you'll have 24 hours to finish it, or it simply evaporates. If you don't start watching it right away, you'll have 30 days to start, then the same rules apply. The other option is to buy the movie outright, allowing you to watch it entirely on your own schedule. Purchasing movies costs between $4.99 (on sale) and $14.99, depending on the movie. Either way, the movie will sync to your computer giving you the option of watching it there or to move it to an iPod or an iPhone.
Television shows from many major networks are available for purchase through the AppleTV. They're $1.99 per episode, and aren't available for rent. You can buy entire seasons of shows through the iTunes store, just as you can on DVD. Many shows are also available as a subscription - they'll be downloaded automatically as soon as they're available - usually the day after they air on TV.
If that wasn't enough, Apple gives you access to the entire iTunes music store as well. You can buy songs and albums right from your TV - no more trips to the CD store or even to your computer. You can literally click and buy music. Since every song in the iTunes store is now DRM free (you can play it anywhere) there's no reason not to buy from Apple.
All in all, the AppleTV is an amazing device, whether or not you have a computer. If you're going to use it to watch movies and TV shows from the iTunes store, you'll want to have reasonably fast broadband internet access. AppleTV is $224 at Amazon.
Most popular shows on television are also available through the network's website. It's been a slow transition - just a couple of years ago, very few shows were available online legally making it pretty much impossible to enjoy. A few startups have popped up that make this process ever easier: Hulu for TV shows and a small library of movies, Boxee for movies and other internet based content, and Netflix for thousands of "watch it now" online movies. Other options include Amazon Video On Demand, Crackle, and of course the iTunes store.
There are really two options for getting these kinds of sources to your TV. The first is to simply connect a computer to your TV. Many HDTVs have the most basic connector - the VGA connector - and almost all newer HDTVs have Component and HDMI. Your video card will always support VGA, but may need an adaptor to connect to the other types. Once you've made this connection, watching TV from from website is as simple as going to the site, finding the show, and clicking the "full screen" button.
Finding a PC to connect to your TV can be a challenge. I built my own, but there are many options available to you if you'd prefer to just buy one. There's the Apple Mac Mini for starters, and there are a slew of Home Theater PCs too running Windows of some kind. If you'd like me to help you build one, let me know below and we can work on details and pricing.
Another way to get these shows to your computer is to buy a set top box that was developed for just this purpose. One such box is the Roku Digital Video Player - for just $99, this box connects to your broadband internet and your TV giving you access to Amazon On Demand and Netflix instantly. I've never used a Roku Digital Video Player, but I've never heard anything bad about it by those that have.
Every Thursday for the past 5 years, my wife Heather and I have hosted a dinner party we've come to call Survivorhetti (thanks to David Cohen for the name). A group of friends come over for dinner, wine, and dessert. As a part of the evening we watch several TV programs depending on what's in season. Survivor is the focus, but other shows enter and leave the evening. Dollhouse, Eureka, Lost!, and Smallville have all been staples - lately we're trying out Big Bang Theory, and Castle.
Survivor is now the only show where we need some form of "live" TV capability – it airs on Thursdays at 7:00 PM, so we need to be able to record and watch it that night. The DVR (Digital Video Recorder) has made this a non-issue over the past 5 years, but without a cable or satellite DVR recording, live TV takes a little more effort. The solution I implemented turns a computer in to a TV, literally, allowing you to watch broadcast TV in a window.
Set up was simple. I bought the Elgato Systems EyeTV Hybrid TV Tuner Stick from ElGato - an HD TV tuner with great Mac based software for tuning and recording shows. There's a simple hack that allows it to run on a Windows based computer, but if you're only going to run on Windows, get a Windows specific device like the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950Q TV Tuner Stick. I bought a really nice antenna as well, the Terk HDTVa Indoor Amplified High-Definition Antenna that lets me tune in to the local HD TV signals.
As you can see, there are lots of options for watching video on your HDTV without having cable or satellite. There are literally tens of thousands of shows and movies out there. If you can let go of the perceived need for live TV, you can also let go of the $50 to $150 per month fee you're paying for TV. Really, save the money, get Netflix, and start enjoying TV the modern on demand way.
As always, if you have questions or thoughts, comment away. Let's talk.
The day Windows 7 RC was released, I wanted to get it installed on my MacBook Pro. My MacBook has the power, and I already have a 40 gigabyte partition dedicated to Windows Vista Home. I rarely boot directly in to Vista using Boot Camp, but I do use Parallels to run that copy of Vista in a virtual machine (Parallels lets you use a Boot Camp partition as a disk in a virtual machine).
Having Vista available in both environments has been very handy, it's saved gigabytes of hard drive space by not having to dedicate 40GB in disk space to Boot Camp, and another 20GB to a disk image. In order to get Windows 7 installed, I wanted to make the existing Vista partition in to a Parallels virtual hard disk.
It took a while, but I found the perfect solution. Parallels has an application called Parallels Transporter for Windows that helps you move a real Windows PC to a Parallels virtual hard disk. It's perfect for people that want to move to the Mac, but that aren't yet ready to let their Windows applications go completely.
But for us, this means we can trick Parallels in to moving a Boot Camp based hard drive partition to a Parallels virtual disk. Simply install and run Parallels Transporter for Windows in the running Boot Camp based virtual machine. Run the Mac version of Parallels Transporter - the windows virtual machine looks exactly like a Windows based computer, and does it's job just as well.
The result is a virtual hard disk with an exact copy of your Boot Camp disk.
Yes, I'm a die-hard iPhone user. I'll try to sell it to anyone that even pretends to be interested in the device - some might even say I go overboard. I even stood in line (OK, camped out overnight) for both iPhones. I was second in line for the first, and third in line for the 3G at the Boulder, Colorado, Apple Store.
I find a lot of value in it and if people knew about the wonderful things it can do, everyone would want one. The app store is amazing, I've downloaded nearly 100 applications, and a lot of them are paid applications. The utility of these apps varies, but it is clear that Apple has set the bar for the industry. Not just in the iPhone's user interface, but in the App Store's purchasing process, and the overall iPhone experience. Each firmware release just makes things better and better.
As great as the iPhone is, it's missing a few features. A big one is copy and paste. I don't have a lot of use for it, but it sure stinks when I want it and it isn't there. The SMS alerts are modal and take over the screen. If you've ever been on a phone call and received an SMS you'll know what I mean. You have to acknowledge the SMS before you can end the call. You can only run one application at a time, and there are no background processes. If you get a new Tweet for example, you don't know until you open your Twitter application. If you get new messages in Facebook, you have to go to the Facebook app to find out. I'd love to see what developers could do if their apps were allowed to run processes in the background.
A term was coined shortly after the iPhone was introduced: "the iPhone Killer." As it has been loosely defined, it is any phone with a "touch" interface, or even more simply a touch screen. The device has to be internet connected and do lots of neat tricks like the iPhone. Several companies have tried to gain mind share with their offerings: Blackberry Storm, T-Mobile G1, Samsung Instinct, and host others. In my experience, these phones all feel rushed to market, as if they were conceived just after Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone. The T-Mobile G1 has gained a lot of attention by being completely open source - any developer can write applications for it, but it has (to date) failed to live up to its expectations.
At CES last week a new phone was introduced. As soon as I heard it was from Palm, Inc. I was quick to brush it off as another "iPhone Killer." A device that the company has put all of its heart and soul in to just be let down in sales and market adoption. The iPhone is the 600lb gorilla, after all. Palm, Inc. has lost everything it gained with the Palm OS, and has even been caught selling Windows Mobile instead. A has been company, looking for one final volley in the modern phone world.
And they knocked it out of the park. World, meet the Palm Pre. This is the first "iPhone Killer" that actually stands a chance at gaining a sustainable piece of the market. Apple might just be caught sweating about this one. Why? Because I (see above for why this is remarkable) want one. And I want it now.
This post isn't about the features and all of the things the Pre can do. For that I'll leave a link at the bottom to they introduction. This post is about me letting the world know that technology is evolving, and Apple is no longer the only player in the wicked smart phone market. Have a look at the video, and you'll be as amazed as I was. Pay particular attention the the charging mechanism and the sync process.
Here's the video: Palm Pre @CES. After you watch that, have a look at the coverage at Engadget. Read the user comments for extra credit: Palm Pre in-depth impressions, video, and huge hands-on gallery
Several years ago I signed up for a service called .Mac (dot Mac). My intention with .Mac was to have an @mac email address for life, have a place to back up important files, and to have a way to sync bookmark/address book/calendar data with several computers. You know what? It did all of those things really, really well. Sure there were outages, but they never really affected me since none of my uses were mission critical.
The day the iPhone was announced (Macworld, January 2007) I was extremely excited at the prospect of over the air (OTA) syncing with my iPhone. Push email on the iPhone wasn't really of interest to me, mostly because I never understood the advantages (I still don't get it). Regardless, OTA syncing with .Mac was never to be.
Then the world brightened. MobileMe, the renamed an much improved .Mac offers everything .Mac did, but so, so much more. Now when I add a date to iCal, it shows up on my iPhone automatically. Am I bothered fact that it isn't instant? Not in the slightest. What it means is that the next time I add an event on my phone, it will automatically show up in my iCal on my Mac, and at MobileMe.com. I don't have to plug my iPhone into my computer. Neat.
My address book is also in sync, as are my bookmarks across my iPhone, my laptop (MacBook Pro), and my desktop (a pc running Windows XP).
Remember just three years ago how horrible the land of data syncing was? I don't have to think about this syncing stuff anymore.
MobileMe is everything I need, and it works flawlessly.