IPTV’s Impact

Ramesh Jain writes:

IPTV is the convergence of communication, computing, and content. People commonly talk about the convergence of communication and computing. In terms of content, people are accustomed to thinking mostly in terms of text and blobs (where a blob could be any media item but it was considered an atomic entity for the information system). Even VoD considers Video to be a blob, not content like pages on the Web. So a three-hour video could be played as a three-hour video but there was no indexing or content-based access possible. In the new world, this wont be acceptable. Video content will also be stored and accessed at different levels of granularities based on its structure as well as semantics.

The major change required isnt really the infrastructure, however. Its making the tools robust yet easy to use. Internet culture will result in people starting to produce lots of video content for many different applications. The long tail effect will dominate this area also. People will start producing and placing videos on the Internet that they know will be used by only a limited number of other peoplein some cases maybe only five other people. This will happen, however, only if the production tools for editing video will allow people to capture and prepare video to put on the Internet as easily as they author Web pages.

Single-Chip Smartphones

Michael Mace writes:

To run on a single chip, the smartphone OS must have what’s called “hard real-time” capabilities. That means the operating system manages its own activities rigorously, so it can get out of the way when the phone needs to do something time-critical, like transmitting your voice or answering a call. If the smartphone OS doesn’t support hard real-time, it might accidentally cause a call to drop, or generate sputters in voice coverage.

Symbian OS was re-architected in version 8 to have hard real-time capabilities. Currently Palm OS doesn’t, and The Register reports that Windows Mobile can’t yet run on single processor phones either. If hard real-time is so useful, you might ask, why doesn’t every mobile OS have it? One answer is battery life.

The Real Personal Computer

Tom Foremski writes:

I’ve noticed lately that I feel more “personal” about my cell phone PDA and its data, than I do about my “personal computer.”

I’m quite comfortable to have my email and basic applications such as wordprocessing and publishing reside on my web host’s server somewhere out there, or on someone else’s server. But I want to keep my cell phone/PDA close to hand, which is not the way I used to feel about my PC and my cell phone–two of the most useful technologies ever created.

For example, Google will soon be able to offer integrated email, calendar, web publishing, news sources, wordprocessor, maps, search. . . with other services in the pipeline. That’s a compelling mix because it will be all pre-mashed, and drag-and-drop/share-or-not (DAD/SON).

And it all lives out in the cloud, and I can access it all from any computer–which makes any PC less of a “personal” computer. But my cell phone/PDA increasingly feels more personal–it is with me 24/7–and I can’t simply use someone else’s cell phone/PDA and access my phone’s data.

As I move more and more of my digital activities out onto the web, my cell phone/PDA grows more personal–but not my computer.

Mobile Data Pricing

Ajit Jaokar links to an open letter to Vodafone by Rudy De Waele and carries a couple of comments which shed light on operator data pricing policies. An excerpt from a comment by Jonathan Crooks:

There are some fundamental differences between how GPRS and UMTS data services are delivered over that most scarce of resources, the radio (and I include the cost of the relevant infrastructure here as well).

In short GPRS access effectively competes for voice access in the 2G network – so any attempt to offer a flat fee model has to consider the potential lost revenues from those voice calls that cannot now be made due to lack of bandwidth. In the case of VF Live! there are alternate revenue opportunities for VF other than the pure per MB charge and clearly they believe they can recoup their lost revenue this way (or at least swap it for some branding advantage).

For UMTS – this is largely unused spectrum at this time and there is plenty spare for devoting to data services – such as the 3G data card package. 3G is not a service but a network capability and at the moment the voice services on offer over 3G are not very compelling – thus there is very little take up in the consumer market. However data services (mobile web browing from a PC, corporate VPN etc) is quite compelling at up to 384KBps and this is a differentiated service – hence the offer of flat rate packages. Granted sometimes there is no 3G coverage and they use GPRS (thus getting back into that lost voice revenue issue)- this is just something VF has to live with in order to promote 3G services.

For the longer term, as 3G handsets are now almost indistinguishable from 2G handsets there will be much more uptake of 3G voice (albeit unknown to the user) and you could imagine this issue (voice vs data revenue) will raise its head again in a few years.

Social Computing and Real Estate

Charlene Li writes about various online tools and sites:

I believe all of these tools are still in their infancy. Realtors have by and large embraced using technologies like email and digital photography to update their business practices. But the central premise of realtors and also of the MLS is that they control the data, and hence, the process and the power. But as tools like Zillow tap into public databases and more importantly, into the information that consumers themselves enter, that power will pass into the hands of the real estate consumer communities. This is yet another example of social computing taking its toll on traditional business models.

The impact: Realtor.com will have to do a major overhaul of its services if it hopes to compete against upstarts like movoto.com. The irony is that with IDX, Realtor.com may have to be reeling in its own members that can tap into the MLS with a better interface. Realtors themselves will to rethink how they earn their living the traditional commission has already been under fire and these services will accelerate that trend.

TECH TALK: The MySpace Story: The Early Days

One of the biggest success stories in the past few years has been MySpace. It has blended personal home pages, social networking and user-generated content in a unique way to win the hearts of tens of millions people. MySpace was bought by Rupert Murdochs News Corp for $580 million last year. Recently, there have also been some privacy and other concerns raised around MySpace. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Lets first dig deeper into the MySpace story and the MySpace Generation, and try to understand what has made MySpace one of the most popular destinations on the Web.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about MySpace: MySpace is an social networking website offering an interactive network of photos, blogs, user profiles, groups, and an internal e-mail system. As of March 2006 it is the world’s fifth most popular English-language website (according to Alexa Internet[1]). MySpace has outstripped competitors such as Friendster and LiveJournal to become the most popular English-language social networking website with higher traffic and over 64 million users. It is synonymous with teenage culture.

Wired wrote about MySpaces early days in its November 2005 issue:

When [Tom] Anderson laid out his ideas for [Chris] DeWolfe in the spring of 2003, he described an online service unlike anything on the Web. It would, he said, be the ultimate social hub: part Friendster, part Blogger, part MP3.com, part craigslist. “The idea was that if it was a cool thing to do online, you should be able to do it on MySpace,” he says. That summer, he and DeWolfe pitched the idea to eUniverse (later renamed Intermix Media), which agreed to provide startup capital in exchange for majority interest. The pair hired a team of five programmers and set to work.

DeWolfe, who had a lot of connections to the Los Angeles creative community, solicited suggestions from bands, artists, and other creative types. At first, growth was slow. A small but fervent community of musicians and club kids, many from the LA area, latched onto the site as a way to promote their music and stay in touch with fans. The site encouraged creativity to the point of chaos. For MySpace’s mostly young demographic, their pages were multimedia outgrowths of their jackets, lockers, and notebooks – a place for band stickers, poems, personality quizzes, R-rated photos, and anything else HTML allows.

In September, around the time Hawthorne Heights was sending its demo to Victory, MySpace exploded.

The magnitude of the growth hit Anderson when he flew to San Francisco to see a late-season baseball game. The night before, Anderson had indulged in his obsessive habit of checking the rankings for MySpace. “Over the course of just a few days we’d gone from the 30,000th most popular site to the 3,000th,” he says. Sitting in SBC Park watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, he looked around the stadium, taking in the 40,000 cheering fans. It struck him that approximately that many people were now signed up on MySpace. “Until then, we were getting maybe 500 new users a day,” he says. By October they were getting 10,000 new users a day.

This is what the New York Times wrote last August:

Created in the fall of 2003 as a looser, music-driven version of www.friendster.com, MySpace quickly caught on with millions of teenagers and young adults as a place to maintain their home pages, which they often decorate with garish artwork, intimate snapshots and blogs filled with frank and often ribald commentary on their lives, all linked to the home pages of friends.

Even with many users in their 20’s MySpace has the personality of an online version of a teenager’s bedroom, a place where the walls are papered with posters and photographs, the music is loud, and grownups are an alien species.

Business Week wrote in a cover story on the MySpace Generation in late 2005: Not so long ago, behemoth MySpace was this tiny. Tom Anderson, a Santa Monica (Calif.) musician with a film degree, partnered with former Xdrive Inc. marketer Chris DeWolfe to create a Web site where musicians could post their music and fans could chat about it. Anderson knew music and film; De Wolfe knew the Internet business. Anderson cajoled Hollywood friends — musicians, models, actors — to join his online community, and soon the news spread. A year later, everyone from Hollywood teen queen Hilary Duff to Plano (Tex.) teen queen Adams has an account.

Tomorrow: Founder Talk

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