Why monopolies may no longer exist in the online space.
Yesterday, I looked into how the modular by design approach impacted the music business. Today, I’m examining how music stores are selling tracks. Much has been made recently of the battle between Apple and Real Networks. After their attempt to partner up with Apple were rebuffed, Real Networks introduced a new product called Harmony, which allowed songs bought in the RealPlayer music store to be played on an iPod. Of course, Apple was shocked and threatened lawsuit. In a way, the reaction by Apple was to be expected as they were trying to create a new bundle around the online music business. Their model is not one of album sales but one of an integrated media package that includes both a device (the iPod) and a service (the iTunes music store). This contention is encapsulated in the way they present their offering on the Apple site. The tab at the top of their pages clearly states “iPod + iTunes” and the company sees them as part of the same offering. By introducing a different way to buy and manage music on the iPod, Real Networks attacked the heart of Apple music strategy, unbundling the device from the service. While Apple…Read More
HP made a big announcement today, and it was not its partnership with Apple. The real innovation was the introduction of LightScribe, a new technology to silkscreen CDs and DVDs. While the product itself would have been worthy of its own announcement, the news was buried into a general overview press release. Scheduled for shipping later this year, the new technology allows CD and DVD burner manufacturers to add a new feature that allows users to easily silkscreen disks. When you think of the potentials, this is pretty huge. I can see a couple of new areas expanding with this. First of all, manufacturers offering the technology will obviously tout it as an extra. Second, I could see a number of companies offering software package that allow you to better customize the images for your CDs. Last but not least could be the spread of professionally created images and backgrounds for such disk. LightScribe may seem like a small thing but I think it will have a much longer impact than HP’s partnership with Apple on the iPod. However, the partnership, in conjunction with Real Networks’ announcement that were supporting AAC in their new client, definitely puts Apple’s DRM in…Read More
News.com reports that Bill Gates believes the promises of the dotcom era will be fulfilled. I tend to agree with the concept on its face. Witness, for example, the recent development in the online grocery business. While WebVan blew up in a multi-billion-dollar disaster, the market is now growing, with traditional grocery chains adding this new feature to their product offering. In New York, it is not uncommon to see FreshDirect trucks make delivery to many buildings. Kozmo, another dotcom disaster, was set-up to rent videos and DVDs. While they did not survive the crash, Netflix did and now has a thriving business doing roughly the same thing. Broadband offerings were much vaunted in the late 90s but little came of them. Now, however, with the rise in broadband connections (either through DSL or cable), we are starting to see some basic services offering things like online broadcast (Real Networks has over one million customers, and is sitting in a niche currently eyed by AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo) and movie downloads cropping up. The key is in the incremental approach taken to developing those services. The first thing is that the larger companies largely sat the initial rush out and…Read More
Microsoft and America Online settled their browser lawsuit, putting an end to speculations that AOL would dump IE from its leading client. As part of the deal, AOL receives a seven year royalty-free license to include Internet Explorer and will get an early peek at anything new in Redmond. Most interesting to me in the different reports I have read is the following statement from Bill Gates: We have shared ideas on how to handle digital media . What exactly does that mean? I wish someone else elaborated on that point as it isn’t clear. Does it mean that they will collaborate on development of joint services? Does it mean they will collaborate in the development of joint product? Whatever happens is a bit worrisome as we now have the two largest players on the American Internet essentially joining forces. Microsoft has a commanding lead in the desktop OS and the web browser market. AOL hold most of the remainder of the browser market (yes, a few people out there use browsers like Mozilla, myself included), and has a similarly large lead in the IM and access market. The two of them joining forces leave cold beads of sweaty fear…Read More
This week, Microsoft launched the Xbox, a new gaming system that takes the Redmond giant into another market. Today, Nintendo is unveiling the GameCube, their new entry in a battle they have fought with Sony for many years. With these new gaming stations entering the market, a new war is starting and in the end, it is a war that may change the way we all watch TV, listen to music, get movies, or play games. As many of you already know, the game station is a small box that attaches to your TV and on which you can play video games. However, the firepower of new generation boxes now on the market is now equivalent or higher than that of most computers. The main logic behind this was that gamers wanted a more realistic experience and crunching 3D representation in an ever-changing environment required more and more processing power. Playstation 2 opens the gate Last year, Sony introduced the Sony Playstation 2, a new gaming system that included a built-in DVD player and a 3D graphic engine that made computer video card look ridiculously outdated. At that time, Sony admitted that their goal was to go beyond games and…Read More
With Linux becoming a strong alternative to Microsoft’s operating system, some members of the open source community are setting their sights on a new target: the music industry. The group has introduced a new sound format called Ogg Vorbis, which promises to deliver better sound quality or smaller digital music files than the popular MP3 file format. Ogg Vorbis is a fully open, non-proprietary, patent-and-royalty-free, general-purpose compressed audio format for high quality (44.1-48.0kHz, 16+ bit, polyphonic) audio and music at fixed and variable bitrates from 16 to 128 kbps per channel according to a statement on the official Ogg Vorbis site. MP3 was designed by committees so it ended up with a bunch of useless junk in it says Jack Moffitt, project manager on Ogg Vorbis. Because we designed Vorbis from the ground up, we have streamlined a lot of the technology and created better algorithms for encoding and decoding. The new format, which uses the extension .OGG, was developed as an alternative to MP3 and already has a long history. Seven years ago, Chris Montgomery, now one of the leaders on the Ogg Vorbis project, wanted to burn his CD collection to his computer. However, the hard drive he…Read More
It’s the day after the presidential election in the United States and the winner is… either Bush or Gore. The interesting thing in this is that part of the reason we have reached this outcome is that polling booth in the United States are still using antiquated technology. In Florida, the state that will decide who gets the election, the voting is done on punch cards. For years to come, this election will be scrutinized and people will ask questions as to what went wrong. Whether Bush or Gore wins, there will be about half of the people looking for some sort of reform. In the new age of computing, one is left to wonder whether there will be a change in the way election booth are shaped. Using technology could solve one of the problems: if the voting booth were more computerized, we might know who the next president is by now. Using basic client server technology, this could easily be changed. If the voting booth were to hold dumb terminals with touch screens connected to a server at every location, the servers could be brought in and the votes quickly tabulated. Other net-related votes However, a number of…Read More