Internet TV

The New York Times writes:

It looks like that future may well be by way of the computer, as big media and Internet companies develop new Web-based video programming and advertising that is truly under the command of the viewer. As Americans grow more comfortable watching programs online, Internet programming is beginning to combine the interactivity and immediacy of the Web with the alluring engagement of television.

… investing in new Internet video programming is a way to cash in on the demands of advertisers who want to put their commercials on computer screens, where new viewers are watching. And on many Web sites, viewers can’t skip the video commercials, the way they can when using TiVo and other video recorders.

Of course, there have been bits of rough, jerky video on the Internet for years. The new video services, however, can count on better software and faster connections to deliver pictures that are nearly as crisp as those delivered by a typical cable signal. This year more than half of the homes with Internet access have high speed, or broadband, service.

Intel vs Microsoft

Bob Cringely writes:

Microsoft has known for a long time that the PC as a platform is dying. The trends it sees for successor technologies are clear: mobility and gaming. Mobility means some combination of a handheld computer and a mobile phone. Gaming means xBox 360 and all that it can be — a game system, a home media platform, a more-than-rudimentary Internet device and home PC.

Microsoft talks about OEM licensing the xBox, but that’s a joke since the company loses money on every device. Would an HP or Dell want to enter a market in which it knew that break-even was two to three years away, and even then Microsoft could take away even that distant profit opportunity by introducing an xBox 720? Unless Microsoft is also willing to share its xBox software revenue (it isn’t), xBox hardware licensing won’t happen. But for a short moment the ploy may distract the PC companies, or that is Microsoft’s hope. By the time they notice it will be too late and the home market will suddenly be all-Microsoft all the time. Or that’s the plan.

Intel, meanwhile, is not a part of Microsoft’s calculations.

Things You Can Do With RSS

[via Richard MacManus] Tim Yang has set up a wiki. Among the things you can do with RSS:

– News syndication
– Get RSS content through your email
– Track Fedex packages
– Get bargains at Ebay
– Get stock updates
– Get the weather reports
– Find out what people are saying about you, your company, your products
– Track Music, radio shows, TV clips
– Stay updated on someone’s schedule
– Get cinema schedule updates
– Read your favourite comics
– Get software updates
– Be notified of traffic conditions

Social Machines

Technology Review writes:

Constant connectivity has changed what it means to participate in a conference or any other gathering. Using chat rooms, blogs, wikis, photo-sharing sites, and other technologies, people at real-world meetings can now tap into an electronic swirl of commentary and interpretation by other participants–the “back channel” mentioned by Campbell. There are trade-offs: this new information stream can indeed draw attention away from the here and now. But many people seem willing to make them, pleased by the productivity they gain in circumstances where they’d otherwise be cut off from their offices or homes. There is meaning in all of this. After a decade of hype about “mobility,” personal computing has finally and irreversibly cut its bonds to the desktop and has moved into devices we can carry everywhere. We’re using this newly portable computing power to connect with others in ways no one predicted–and we won’t be easily parted from our new tools.

To grasp how rapidly things are changing, consider all the things you can do today that would have been difficult or impossible just a few years ago: you can query Google via text message from your phone, keep an online diary of the Web pages you visit, download podcasts to your iPod, label your photos or bookmarks with appropriate tags at Flickr store gigabytes of personal e-mail online, listen to the music on your home PC from any other computer connected to the Net, or find your house on an aerial photograph at Google Maps. Most of these applications are free–and the ones coming close behind them will be even more powerful. With more and more phones carrying Global Positioning System (GPS) chips, for example, it’s likely that companies will offer a cornucopia of new location-based information services; you’ll soon be able to find an online review instantly as you drive past a restaurant, or visit a landmark and download photos and comments left by others.


Here is how Alex Bosworth manages:

Every day I wake up and the first thing that gets me out of bed is, gotta go over to my Kubuntu box and check my email and rss feeds.

I have a portable music player and a portable dvd player, I turn something on and go have a shower. The shower is actually the place where I come up with the bulk of my ideas for the day.

I hop into the car and plug in my ipod or switch on NPR. I rarely listen to the same song more than a couple times, paradoxically whenever I listen to music I’m always listening to find something great that’s worth listening to again.

At work I’m on email and I keep up with my ‘work blogs’, I use numbers to track everything, like my bloglines unread count, I never want to have my numbers go above 0. I’m looking at our internal wiki for other people’s changes to my pages or shared pages, bug tracking and checkins for Swik, plus I’ll also keep open my calendar (currently one of the sources of the most frustration). I also monitor the Swik traffic and edit logs for new contributions or interesting usage patterns, and our community forums.

I’ve learned to be really fast at scanning these various sources of information; everything that’s not email I tie together through RSS feeds, and I am really really fast with the pagedown button to bring my counts back to 0. Even though I get far more RSS info than email, I spend roughly the same amount of time on each because I read email more carefully.

If I see something I need to remember, I’ll post it to, add it to my tadalist, clip it using bloglines, or just write a little note to myself on paper or on our internal wiki.

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: IMS Impact

by Ninad Mehta

During the last several years, we have seen the voice services market being attacked from many non-traditional competitors. There is a fundamental shift in networks from segregating voice, video and data to treating everything as data (over IP). This has rendered access providers to mere bandwidth providers on whose networks, VNOs (Virtual Network Operators) such as Vonage & ATT CallVantage can ride. Couple this with Skype etc. who are providing peer-to-peer voice services using your existing PC.

There is a paradigm shift in the voice world from smart network, dumb endpoints to dumb network, smart endpoints. While the former was necessary for mass adoption of the public switched telephone networks and the communications infrastructure, the latter has a severe impact on the business models of the traditional service providers. We have seen the transformation of smart network, dumb endpoints previously. Mainframes supporting dumb terminals paved way for client/server computing using Minicomputers from Digital. Then Minicomputers gave way to Suns workstations. Smart PCs connected LANs and file/print servers have resulted in mass adoption of todays computing infrastructure.

Now, we are witnessing a similar value migration in the wireline voice world. Standard based networking protocols such as SIP, MGCP & H.323 have enabled applications and endpoints to become smarter over time. VoIP over wireless has the potential to enable similar value migration from todays cellular voice networks to Voice-over-Wifi endpoints supported by the next generation voice service providers (VNOs).

What this means for the incumbent service provider is that even if they dont lose customers to these new competitors at a rapid enough pace, they are surely losing control over their customers fast. Their biggest challenge is maintaining their profit margin and growing revenue while not losing control over the customers.

What can the service providers do to maintain their control over the customer? IMS provides several mechanisms for the service provider to own the customer. The customer ownership is achieved through owning the home subscriber server (HSS) database that maintains the unique service profile for each end-user. Various attributes of the HSS database are shared with different applications, on an as needed basis. Since the information available in the HSS database constantly changes (as the end-users location, presence, preferences and endpoints change all the time), application service providers need to always go back to the HSS database. Other functions within the IMS framework such as CSCF (Call Session Control Function), MGCF (Media Gateway Services Function), MRF (Media Resource Function), Service Brokers, etc. provide for further control. Also, technologies such as Session Border Controllers enable the service provider to control over QoS attributes.

The beauty of IMS is that a service provider can introduce new applications, new application service providers and other network service provider partners without the fear of losing customer control to any of these potential future competitors. Think of IMS as the middleware on which other application developers can write applications using standard interfaces.

Tomorrow, we will talk about major data/telecom vendors and service providers plans to build their Next Generation Networks.

Tomorrow: Carriers and Vendors

[Ninad Mehta works at Lucent in New Jersey. The views expressed in this column are his own.]

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