November 4, 2015 Last Updated 10:57 am

US voters go to the polls and reject just about everything; Apple TV adds Top Charts

Morning Brief: In off-year election, voters swing to the right, rallying to the cause of keeping Houston men in drag from going into women’s restrooms (apparently bigger issue in Texas than in the rest of the country)

Yesterday was election day in the States and voters decided important issues such as the right of Houston men to dress like women in order to frequent women’s restrooms, ending the tyranny of health care in Kentucky, and making sure Mississippi is not seen as supporting public schools.


Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

As seen from outside the States, the view must be terrifying. Just wait, the 2016 election is already revving up.

One vote that actually seemed to make sense occurred in Ohio. There, voters went to the polls to decide if they should legalize marijuana, both for recreational as well as medicinal uses. The voters rejected the initiative, but things were more complicated than they might at first appear as many supporters of legalization came out against the initiative.

The problem was that the ballot measure would have give a select group of investors a monopoly over the sale of marijuana. So unpopular was this thought that there was another measure put on the ballot specifically to outlaw state monopolies – that one was approved.

So, the issue of marijuana legalization in Ohio may not be over.

Apple yesterday compounded its new Apple TV app store problem by adding Top Paid and Top Free app areas.

AppleTV-appstore-top-300Some developers, especially of games, have complained that app discovery is poor inside the new Apple TV app store as only a select few apps are seen on the home page of the store, and there are no categories that allow users to browse through apps easily.

Adding Top Charts only reinforces this because most of the “top” apps will end up being those promoted on the home page of the store.

Since this is the way Apple handles its iOS app store, one has to conclude that this is Apple’s way of curating apps. It is certainly their right to do so, but one has to think that many developers, especially new ones, will not see Apple as being the developer friendly company that its reputation merits.

The new Apple TV hasn’t gotten the overwhelmingly positive reviews the company may be used to, but it did catch a big break when Roku rushed out its Roku 4, apparently before they had quality control issues handled.

Inside, which is still selling the Roku while no longer selling either the Apple TV or Chromecast, 23 percent of reviews for the Roku 4 are 1-star (the lowest possible rating). Customers are complaining of overheating or unit failure (the issue that effected my unit). Those not experiencing these issues appear to give the Roku 4 high marks.

But no matter what may think of the new Apple TV app store, or its remote, the new model is getting high marks for its performance. My own experience is that streaming is far more reliable now, and navigation at least marginally better.

The remote does need work, and the app store is a disaster. But at least the new Apple TV units are not being returned due to quality control issues – at least not that I am seeing. (Of course, there is still the issue that the damn thing was released without Apple’s own Remote app being able to work on the new model.)

On Monday, The New York Times ran an interesting “Letter from Europe” piece on bookstores in France: Bookstores in France Dodge a Bullet in Trade Talks. The story from Celestine Bohlen is about the fact that France’s fixed book prices will not be an issue discussed upcoming trade talks with the U.S.

In France and Germany, book prices are fixed, a concept that probably appears to be counterintuitive to many Americans. But the regulation of prices appears to work for these countries, allowing bookstores to compete in others areas such as selection.

There are few old enough to remember what it was like to fly airlines in the age of regulation: prices were much higher, flight routes more limited, but flying was also more luxurious, service better. That does not mean it was better overall (though I know many who think it was) so much as it was different and there were advantages to that system.

Likewise, there are merits to the system employed in Europe regarding bookstores.

“It allows publishers to take the risks on young authors, it gives them a great freedom on the editorial side, and it protects them and us from a kind of price dumping that makes room only for best sellers,” one bookseller told the NYT.

Vive la différence.

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