Particle Debris (wk. ending 12/3) Don’t be Evil

| Particle Debris

The arguments rage on abut closed versus open systems. It gets even more complicated when a company like Apple mixes open Internet standards with a walled garden. Whether this article closes the case, I’m not sure. However, I’ve written about the kinds of diagrams this author discusses before, and I think one can make the case against an industry with lots of players, each having its own axe to grind. Ponder: “What Open Can Look Like.

The TV industry is having fits right now trying to figure out if cord cutting is in the rise, a threat, or whether it’s just fodder for headlines. I’ve seen research numbers that suggest about one percent of households have cut the cable cord. This article, “Cord Cutting? Bah, Humbug! Magid Says Digital Video is Additive,” suggests that (what a concept!) something more complicated is going on.

All my readers know that comparing Netflix to Apple has been a popular subject for me. This first article doesn’t go down down that road, but it is a very interesting article that provides some insight into Netflix operations: “10 Fascinating Things We Learned About Netflix On Quora.” However, on the competitive side, this second article reveals that Netflix is upping its game compared to Apple.

So what is Microsoft doing about all this? Say who? In their not-so-inimitable way, Microsoft is also making some new noises in the TV arena according to Reuters’ sources: “Microsoft eyes leap back into TV…” Yawn…

I’ve been having a discussion with an attorney friend about this. I take the side that 16 year old girls don’t always appreciate the impact of their actions. My attorney friend counters that the warning label is right there on the CD — no perspective or leniency required. Man up. Or woman up in this case. Ms. Whitney Harper, after years of legal defenses for illegal music copying, took her case  to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost. The highest court has let stand the final verdict: She’ll have to cough up US$27,750 for downloading 37 tracks from Kazaa when she was 16. Case closed. So now, at last, we’ve perfected the fine art of extorting money from children.

I have a theory. When countries or businesses are small, they learn to live within their limits. Size enforces modesty. But when a company (or country) grows to a certain point, the extreme urgency to not only survive by dominate becomes all out of proportion. That’s why we see headlines like, “Is Comcast Ruining the Internet?” There are arguments on both sides, but my sense is that pushback from customers, in a poor economy, keeps a cap on price hikes, so Comcast has to come up with money from somewhere else to finance growth.  [Not that Comcast isn’t raising prices as well and rebuffing customers.] If it’s any consolation to Comcast, revenue rises linearly with the number of customers, but demand for communication rises amongst them by a factorial function. 

Thank goodness the FCC is getting more and more serious about Net Neutrality.

We are all sensing that Apple sees iOS taking on a stronger role, perhaps even on a class of MacBooks. So then the question is how to handle gestures. Recently, Mr. Jobs reiterated, when the new MacBook Airs were introduced, Apple’s research that extending one’s arm to a notebook screen doesn’t work. But that doesn’t mean MacBooks couldn’t become a hybrid computer. Take a look to see the clever way Dell is doing this. Can Apple be far behind?

I enjoyed reading this pair of articles. First, PCWorld tried to spread some Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) in this ridiculous essay: “Apple Is Getting Desperate in the Mobile Arena.” Then former Apple employee Jim Dalrymple, very cooly, picked the arguments apart, piece by piece. PCWorld deserved this intelligent thrashing: “PC World shows desperation in anti-Apple article.”

Critics of the current 3D TV technology point to ghosting, expensive 3D glasses, and serious headaches by some customers. Just as 1080p was the holy grail for HDTV for years, 3D without glasses now has to be considered a new holy grail. Curiously, Apple may be on to something in a patent uncovered by engadget: “Apple granted patents for glasses-free, multi-viewer 3D system, colorful keyboard backlighting.” I’ve said here before that Apple won’t get into the TV manufacturing business until the 3D problem is solved. This could be a start.

Finally, over the past few months I’ve been writing here about Google TV and how I think it’s too complicated for the average household. Eventually, Google will have to either rethink it or continue to pour money into a sinkhole for geeks. Here’s some evidence that Sony, for its part, has blinked on the partnership: “Sony Reads The Google TV Tea Leaves: Not Much Flavor In The Cup.” Need more evidence that Google TV is in trouble? Check the sales numbers.

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Technincal Word(s) of the Week (TWoW)

1. Edititis. (n.) A writer’s condition in which perpetual, fanatic attention to detail keeps the writer in a frenzy. Example: “I woke up this morning with a bad case of edititis.” Source: JM.

2. Vagenda. (n.) An evil woman’s agenda. Source: Fringe, episode of 2 Dec 2010.

Comments

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s a shame that Alito couldn’t convince his benchmates to review that case. Digital music is a wonderful example of the difference between legislation and law. The legislation in this case basically says that any copy an individual makes for any reason is technically illegal. But the law (our collective behavior that defines the practical limits) is more along the lines of making a CD to share with a friend is not a problem, but sharing with 20,000 of your best friends is a problem. Adding to the weirdness, while she may have been technically found liable for actually downloading the songs, she got to the attention of the RIAA by making them available for others to download from her computer via file sharing software.

Some clarity via the Supremes, or some glaring unclarity that would need legislative action, might have been warranted here. Unfortunately for Ms. Harper, her case began when the RIAA believed it could sue the public into compliance. They seem to have learned that the lawsuits tended to have a negligible effect on compliance, and instead were a black-eye on an industry that didn’t get it. Too bad for her.

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