Planet of the iPad

Spotify at 35 thousand feet continues to amaze. Will it upend Apple at its own game? More likely, iCloud will absorb the innovation in a more efficient combination of streaming and caching. But the inflight video is on the blink and the WiFi is cooking some Amy Winehouse and I am writing run on sentences with not a care in the world.

There’s all sorts of amazing data in this Spotify model. For starters, the service took its sweet time getting over here, so much that I wouldn’t have bet and didn’t that it would actually thread the needle. Maybe it was the rope-a-dope with the record business, as a sign of the apocalypse, the reforming of Buffalo Springfield, suggested anything was possible. No matter that the tour may have evaporated, or maybe not. Nowadays Clancy can even sing.

A tenuous thread of data ties us to the new streaming era. Last night, after returning from the new Planet of the Apes movie, we looked for the original on Netflix. No luck, but Apple TV was the charm. It took some stop and start to get to the famous final scene, but along the way I enjoyed comparing the new film’s technological mastery to what effectively represents an extended Twilight Zone where most of the budget went for getting Moses to walk naked away from the camera a few times.

It wasn’t streaming’s finest day or evening, what with the inability of the WiFi bridge from downstairs to serve the bits fast enough to stay ahead of the storyline. Even as I type, Amy Winehouse pauses now and then to give the rest of the plane a few packets. No matter; they won’t get me going to rehab for my streaming addiction. It’s like the iPad: doesn’t do flash, can’t do this or that, you’re just an Apple fanboy trapped waiting for just one more thing… I’ll take 54 million please. Digital prohibition.

This flight’s packed and I’m in a middle seat. The lady to my right has a Nook, to my left iPad 1. They’ve turned off the inflight one more time and are getting debugging code shipped up from the planet to us apes. A blinking cursor at a Linux command prompt. The flight attendants are back to taking cash. The iPad 1 lady asks if we can get free WiFi if the TV computer stays down. I don’t care if TV ever comes back. Houston, I don’t have a problem. I’m not sorry, Dave.

I think Spotify caches the songs as they play, because this time around I’m getting no fits and starts on Amy Winehouse. Floating along here I feel more and more relaxed, the tenuous thread of data now a warm lifeline back to the realtime below. In a world of instant social media, of alerts and retweets, the antidote for information overload is the micro-vacation. The chopping horns, the comping clavinet, crazy comfortable, it’s a trip way better than drugs.

Meanwhile the catalogue of losers grows. The empty Flash spaces are disappearing from non-view. Adobe has finally shipped an HTML 5 authoring tool. RIM has brand new product, three devices I’ll never use, built for what market? Thanks to Android, Gmail, and Google+, Nokia and WindowsSoft are locked out of the StreamerStakes. Apple is drafting off Android’s success these days, having out waited the carriers. I wouldn’t even think of being a Streamer without Verizon.

The neat thing about the Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie is that starting about a third of the way through and definitely for the last third you’re rooting for the apes. In the tipsy turvy world of Streaming, once you get over the first 10 dollars, everything else feels like it’s free. It’s a marketing mirage but then again the Walrus wasn’t Paul. The perception is everything, even when the reception is intermittent.

This just in: the patch from the ground has failed and we’re being rerouted to land an hour early. Also there will be a file credit the next time we fly Virgin. 25 bucks up to 100 in first class. Turns out that did pay for the WiFi, a month of Spotify, and even my Apple TV $4 rental of the ’68 Planet of the Apes. A Streamer Micro-Vacation Getaway Package. And just enough time to fast forward to the end of Planet of the iPad. If you look closely, she’s holding an iPad even back then.