Friday, January 05, 2007

Teledelic, baby

True info-Chaotica in the run-up to CES next week.

Check out
this short interview on with William Randolph Hearst III on his enthusiasm for his investment, Akimbo.

Also, an interesting, if somewhat obvious,
article from Outlaw, on the possible bandwidth implications of using Venice on a capped broadband package. The really explosive issue for me is (as I calculate it - I don't know how 320MB down/105MB up equates to 1GB every ten hours) that even on BT's most generous 40GB DSL package, just watching a little over three hours per day every day could put users afoul of the fair use terms - and that's not taking into account any other applications they might be running. As it stands now, you'd be hardpressed to find three hours' worth of content to watch every day on Venice, but that will change. I understand there is a lot more content coming into the pipeline, and I am hearing from other Beta testers who also have received tokens to invite new users, which means the network is actively being seeded out. So this issue for the telcos is not going to go away, and given the current pricing structures in the market, it is difficult to see what the options are if your top-tier customers start to overrun their "very generous" data caps. Incremental bandwidth "top-ups" have been tried and dumped before - perhaps we see the return in 2007? Or maybe broadband pricing simply has to rise - I'm not sure the competitive dynamic in the European markets will permit that. On balance, I think we'll see more "traffic shaping," undoubtedly under the guise of "protecting QoS." (As a side point, I think Venice is a great piece of software. The UI is very elegant and intuitive. Picture quality is definitely not near-HD, at least not on my connection, but is certainly adequate and an awful lot better than a lot of the stuff on YouTube. My only gripe is the relative lack of breadth of content, but I am certain that is just a matter of time. At this point, I'm tempted to say it's a Zennstrom/Friis hat-trick.)

Speaking of differentiated content, this morning I had a chance to catch up again with old pal
Neil Fairbrother (if you ever needed an inspiring example of "life after telco," here's your man) to get an update on developments at his venture. There's a lot to this business (i.e., potential revenue levers) which is not evident from the site, but which will become more evident in coming months. I understand a rebranding is in the works, as well as a significant deal which I cannot write about at this point. I think this is an interesting one to watch, and I can't understand why telcos hell-bent on doing IPTV don't try to embrace more of this sort of unique content in their offerings.