Tales of the Sausage Factory

Fragmentation Games: Playstation Gets “Boxeed,” TV Anywhere Gets More Content.

In the latest twist in the broadband fragmentation games driven the overlap of MVPDs and broadband access providers, users of PlayStation 3 can no longer access Hulu. As some may recall, Hulu tried a similar trick with Boxee.tv, resulting in a good old fashioned tech arms race wherein Boxee camouflaged itself as browser and Hulu responded by encrypting html.

Now Hulu has shut off the spigot to Playstation 3. Why? As I noted when Hulu pulled this on Boxee in the spring, the people who make money off the existing video subscription model (both the cable operators like Comcast and the content holders like NBC Universal) really dislike the thought of streaming media actually competing with them. As long as video stayed on the laptop and occasionally stopped to buffer, it didn’t really threaten the established business models. But make it possible to watch streaming media on your regular TV, with a quality practically equal to what you get on cable, and it becomes a very disruptive technology.

Playstation 3 and other game consoles are obvious candidates to disrupt the existing business model. They already plug into your television set, you are very familiar with the controls, and the manufacturers are always expanding the capabilities of the units to make them more “media centers” and less “game centers.” Like Boxee, they represent a real threat by making it possible for me to stream online content effortlessly on my TV and watch in exactly the same way I watch anything else.

Meanwhile, Time Warner and Comcast have found lots of other content networks eager to join the “Entitlement Program.” This initiative appears to be gathering critical mass very rapidly, which is not too surprising. While some of the bigger folks like Disney may hold out to see how they can maximize their return, the midsized players anxious about possible changes to the business model are likely to want to get in while the getting is good.

To conclude, what we have here is not anything obvious or dramatic. It is a few more ripples in the pond, indicating where the big fish swim. Any one of the “fragmentation games” incidents I’ve discussed, for example the ESPN360.com business which has been slowly ratcheting up to include more ISPs, is not necessarily significant on its own. Taken together, however, I see a pattern emerging that tells me where the fun and games will happen over the next few years. Heck, at this point, I’m not even sure what policy prescription I would offer. I just know that I’m seeing a bunch of ripples that might be nothing. Or it might be bunch of salmon and a great place to cast a line. Or it might be a school of piranha and I need to be very careful before wading in.

Stay tuned . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Go Writers Guild!

Although as Writers Guild of America reminded its members, the strike is still on until the votes are counted, WGA has suspended picketing and it looks like they have a firm deal. The deal links writer compensation to advertising and other revenue derived from streaming media, an elegant solution to the problem of monetizing a product so new no one knows how it will make money and is extremely likely to be given away (you know, like broadcasting).

I don’t have much to add here by way of analysis, but I wanted to give a huge shout out to the writers and the guilds and the actors that supported them for holding out and getting a fair deal. If we are indeed a country on the verge of change (as I keep hearing), I can hope that one change will be to reverse the sad downward slide of organized labor. Unions have been one of the most positive forces in our country for economic progressivism. Perhaps a high profile win or two will remind people why it pays to join and why they should look for the union label . . . .

Stay tuned . . . .
(Former member National Treasury Employees Union)

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

OpenLaszlo 4 is out, you rock stars!

From the brilliant post on the OpenLaszlo project blog (man, that is a well-written blog entry! Wonder if there was a ghost writer involved?)

We are extremely pleased and proud to announce that OpenLaszlo 4.0 is now available. This is the first official release of the new multi-runtime edition of OpenLaszlo, complete with a native browser DHTML (“ajax”) runtime, a heavily revamped Flash (7, 8, 9) runtime, and much more. With OpenLaszlo 4.0, you can compile source LZX applications for any supported target with a single mouse click.
OpenLaszlo 4.0 is available from http://www.openlaszlo.org/download

This release of OpenLaszlo is built on a new kernel architecture that abstracts away platform differences. Also, with OL4, we have switched to an inheritance-based class system that tracks the emerging ECMAScript 4 standard. These new language features have been implemented in the LFC core to support (and extend) JavaScript 2 `class` declarations portably. This means that the OpenLaszlo platform is well engineered to keep up with emerging JavaScript standards and to support new target runtimes.

In addition to literally hundreds of improvements to all aspects of the platform software and documentation, we have added new features, such as support for streaming media. The documentation tools have been re-implemented in order to to make them easier to maintain and also to give us more possibilities for arranging and accessing the data in the Reference Manual. Eventually, this will allow us to provide better cross-referencing, better indexing, more user control over presentation of information, and more options for printing and displaying the documentation.

We have put a lot of effort into improving our open source processes. The tools we use to build, test, and analyze OpenLaszlo have matured significantly with OL4. We have changed to using Subversion, for source control, in order to enable a more open development process. The build is now based on ant 1.6.5, rather than ant 1.5. We have created a new testing tool, lztest, for automated testing, to complement lzunit, our tool for application- and component-level testing. We have created a suite of benchmarks and benchmark analysis tools. By any criterion, this is the most ambitious and significant release in the history of OpenLaszlo.

The OpenLaszlo project aspires to be truly open and inclusive. Raju Bitter, our OpenLaszlo community manager, is on board to answer questions, streamline processes, and generally make it easier for you to play a vital part in this platform’s success.
Post questions and comments to laszlo-user@openlaszlo.org or to the OpenLaszlo Forum. Please report bugs, especially regressions from OpenLaszlo 3.x, to our bug database.

OpenLaszlo 4.0 is the culmination of a project that began more than a year ago, and it embodies the contributions of dozens of community members from around the world. Thank you, and congratulations to all of us!

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Net Neutrality As Campaign Finance Reform

It is quite possible that the most important piece of campaign finance reform to pass in 2006 will be Senator Wyden’s “Internet Non-Discrimination Act of 2006.” Until now the internet did not require candidates to raise huge amounts of money to pay for the ability to reach voters. Without Net Neutrality, all that changes. The internet will increasingly come to resemble radio, television and cable, where the well-funded buy their way onto your screen and the rest get crowded out. Not because of any evil corporate conspiracy or antidemocracy cabal, but because of the iron rules of economics.

If companies can make money charging political speakers for premium access, they will. If that’s bad for democracy and free speech, too bad. Companies aren’t in business to promote democracy, but to maximize value for shareholders. If that means that well-funded candidates and talk radio hosts can buy “premium” access while independent bloggers and pod casters can’t, that’s what will happen. Too bad about that democracy and free speech thing. Nothing against it you understand but, y’know, it’s just business.

Read More »

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)
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