Slayer Silver Wolf writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak:
“‘On October 26 the remaining LimeWire developers were forced to shut down the company’s servers and modify remote settings in the filesharing client to try to harm the Gnutella network. They were then laid off. Shortly after, a horde of piratical monkeys climbed aboard the abandoned ship, mended its sails, polished its cannons, and released it free to the community.’ And so, LimeWire Pirate Edition (LPE) was born. Based on the LimeWire 5.6 beta that was briefly released earlier this year and then withdrawn when Lime Wire LLC lost its lawsuit, LPE is now in the wild. In many ways, it is better than the version killed by the RIAA.”
It just goes to show you, no matter how many lawsuits, no matter how much the industry heavyweights try to shut it down, there is no plugging the hole that is online filesharing. The only way to compete is to actually compete by offering a compelling service at a reasonable price. It’s a new generation of media distribution, and until the providers realize that, they’re going to continue to see their customers flee to alternate sources – many of which won’t get any royalties back to the creators.
Apple ‘got’ the right combination of simplicity (interface) & complexity (apps) long before the rest of the smartphone market – including Google. Now, while Apple is still dipping its feet into the TV market with the new $99 streaming Apple TV set top box, it’s Google who is pushing ahead when it comes to delivering internet video to our TV’s. But don’t count Apple out just yet.
This recent ABC’s Nightline shows off the soon-to-be-released Google TV, a device Google hopes will find as much success under and inside your TV, as Android is finding on phones. Take a look:
While Apple is trying to press you to use iTunes for most of your content (Netflix is the only other video source available on the new Apple TV), Google is going for the whole internet’s library of video. There are built in apps for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Unbox, and new apps will surely come out quickly after the product is officially released. The killer feature is Google’s specialty – you can search for a show, and whatever video source is available online will come up in the search results. Select one, and you’re off to watching.
While this doesn’t immediately fix the problem of content providers clinging to their archaic “content bundle” cash cow, it will be a huge step in educating consumers about what TV could be. DVR was a small step – allowing people to time-shift their shows, to watch at their convenience. But the future of TV is this ‘library’ concept, where you don’t have to preemptively choose a show to ‘record;’ instead, you’ll just hop on your TV and pull up whatever show you missed, instantly from somewhere online. When consumers get a taste, they’ll start thinking, “why am I paying for all these channels, when all I really want to watch is X & Y?” And when enough consumers start asking that question, it’ll be the end of ‘cable tv’ as we know it.
But what about the content owners, you’re wondering? Why would they put their content up on the internet, if it means more people will cut the cord to their cable bundle? It will be very similar to how the music industry eventually caved in after Napster, and started to offer their music for sale digitally – if you don’t give the people what they want, at a reasonable price, they’re going to go somewhere else to get it; often times that means ‘pirating.’ While the content providers might want to think they can kill piracy through lawsuits, the only real way to reduce it is to give in, and offer a compelling product that makes piracy less appealing than just coughing up for it. Hulu was a good start in this case.
When Hulu came out, many ‘pirates’ found Hulu to be easier, and the short commercials, not too much of a put-off. So while not collecting the same kind of revenue as they had been used to on their cable networks, the content providers did find a way to curb pirating and collect revenue. By raising the cost from a few commercials, up to a few commercials plus $10/mo for Hulu Plus, suddenly the dynamic had changed once again. If that $10 got *all* of the current episodes for all networks, they’d probably be onto something (also, a ~$30 which also included all the “standard” cable channels might be a good option, too); but since it’s still just a small selection of the overall breadth of shows, it’s going to send the pirates back off to pirating again anyway; and why pay $10 for *some* of your favorite shows, when you’re already off pirating the other ones anyway?
So this is where Google TV has it right: give consumers access to *all* available content, no matter where it’s from. When the content providers see they’re losing viewers and subscribers, they’re going to have to choice but to add their videos to the pool of online content, so they can collect some of the revenue from unplugged viewers. Hopefully, at that point, Apple will come around to offering some kind of subscription TV service, and Apple and Google can both work to do for the TV industry, what they’ve done for the cell phone industry; and we can kiss the cable ‘subscription service’ good riddance.
As expected, Apple released an update to their Apple TV set-top-box. Just about all the rumors & speculators were right – the price dropped to $99, the hard drive is gone in favor of streaming, and TV rentals from iTunes will be $0.99/episode. Unfortunately, the new feature set fails to include one major update that had been widely expected, and whose omission will ensure the device remains squarely in the “hobby” department – the switch to the iOS platform. Had Apple included the iOS in the new device, it may have actually had a descent chance of being their next big success. Instead, with the custom, locked-down interface, it’s just another set-top-box.
Sure, the updated Apple TV streams from iTunes or your iPhone, & it has Netflix streaming built in – but that’s exactly the problem – it’s built in; ie., not expandable. Without the iOS and the App Store that goes with it, you’re stuck with only the applications Apple thinks you need. You prefer Hulu or Amazon On-Demand over Netflix? Get something else. You want to stream Pandora directly to your stereo? Move along. And who knows what will be out next year. The point is, by keeping the OS to a proprietary & non-expandable system, they have greatly limited its appeal, and thus its sales potential.
Had Apple built the new Apple TV on the iOS instead of their baked-in interface, consumers would for the first time really make a connection between the device, and their iPods/iPhones/iPads. As it stands, the Apple TV still *looks* like a hobby. It’s something completely different form any of their other products, and that’s the way people are going to perceive it… and continue to look right past it.
Apple had a chance to change the game when it comes to the living room. No other company has the brand recognition, loyalty, and positive mind-share in the consumer electronics market that Apple has. They could have leveraged that, and made a real run for the living room. They could have taken Apps on your TV mainstream. They could have been the king of the hill as far as set-top-boxes go, and had a huge head-start once they start integrating that box into their own TVs in the (hopefully) near future. Instead, they just came out with an updated version of one of the many set-top-boxes on the market; and if you hadn’t noticed, nobody’s really interested in the current crop of set-top-boxes.
In a recent ruling by the Australian supreme court against ISPs being responsible for its users’ copyright infringement:
“To use the rather colourful imagery that internet piracy conjures up in a highly imperfect analogy, the file being shared in the swarm is the treasure, the BitTorrent client is the ship, the .torrent file is the treasure map, The Pirate Bay provides treasure maps free of charge and the tracker is the wise old man that needs to be consulted to understand the treasure map.”
I think the analogy is quite accurate, with the exception of the treasure being something congruous to gold doubloons. To be more accurate, the treasure would magically self-replicate itself – at first from the goldsmith’s treasure chest, and then from each pirate to have pirated a piece; but by doing so, because of the treasure’s self-replicating ability, no one is ever deprived of any of the treasure. Rather, the treasure can be spread to a much greater magnitude of pirates, many of whom may otherwise never have known about the treasure or its (magical) goldsmith. With a much greater pool of fans for his/her gold, the goldsmith would have a better chance of making money off their treasure – by making more treasures, offering them in ways that pirates would be willing to pay for, and even charging pirates to see the goldsmith work his/her magic in person.
It sure beats the model of a few goldsmiths, chosen by a handful of businessmen who advertising the goldsmith’s (often inferior) treasure on a massive scale, sell it for a greatly inflated rate, block anyone from using its magical self-replicating feature, and then pay the goldsmith a pittance for their creation.
In terms of legal precedent, it’s great that the judge actually took the time to completely understand the technical implications of the case before making a ruling. If more judges would take that much time and care in their cases, the world would be a much better place for the great majority of its inhabitants, if a little less cozy for its richest.