Rise of the RBOCs…

So imagine if turnpikes charged when you got on the road, and then again when you got off. This is exactly what some of the telcos are trying to do with internet access. They see that internet access is a commodity and decreasing revenue from the cash-cow that is circuit based voice service and are looking for new sources of revenue. The increasing usage of VoIP is directly eroding their circuit based voice service income and it’s only going to get worse as Vonage/Skype/FWD/Gizmo/PhoneGnome reach into the main stream.

Jeff Pulver, who has been a thought and action leader in VoIP for years, writes at some length about it.

The Journal story warns of a looming battle between Internet companies, who create the valuable things we do with the Internet, and the phone companies who want to control access to it. The phone companies, who continually seek new ways to apply telephone access charges to Internet communications, apparently now want to take the next step by creating and applying access charges to all forms of Internet traffic (not just voice anymore).

This idea is BAD, BAD, BAD! There already exists ‘tiers’ of internet access; you can buy your bandwidth from a backbone provider, or from someone that connects to a backbone provider, or from someone who connects to someone that connects to a backbone provider or.. you get the idea. The closer you get to the backbone providers, and, in turn, better throughput to your customers, the higher the cost of bandwidth. In essence, the ‘fast lane’ for commercial traffic already exists.

There is no logic behind this idea, only greed.

The Jeff Pulver Blog: My reaction to WSJ’s “Phone Companies Set Off A Battle Over Internet Fees”

“Just leave me a message after the mouse click…”

Imagine what would happen if you took email (asyncronous delivery & universal access), IM buddy lists (presence indicators & ‘mobs’ of interest) and voice mail (“Watson! Come here, I need you!”) and mashed them together; this is YackPack.

I think it’s an intriguing idea but I’m struggling to grasp how folks will react to yet another new communication channel in their lives. No one is ready to dump email or their phone or their IM client (those that use one anyway) in favor of this approach for quite some time. And then, only if everyone else in their ‘mob’ does the same thing.

I’m really not sure how to categorize this so for now it’s going to be ‘uncategorized’.

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Just what the World needs, another DRM technology

SDC logo Secure Digital Container is a Java based DRM that has begun to get some traction in the mobile market. It proports to work with any device that includes a Java JVM with ‘the Java Media Environment’. According to stats on their website, SDC claims that 80% of mobile phones and 90% of PCs sold in 2003 qualify. I’m more than a bit skeptical of those numbers; 8 of 10 mobile handsets purchased 2-3 years ago have a JVM? That seems like a stretch to me. And, what 10% of new PCs do not?

What they do have going for them is a platform independant (Mac, Windows, Symbian, Palm, etc) solution that has been ‘blessed’ by the major labels. They also have real commecial deployments, albeit exclusively in Europe.

However, it is not the holy grail of DRM as it does not support the ubiquitious iPod. In my mind, the world certainly does not need yet-another-DRM techology. What we do need is an open standard ([cough] OMA [cough]) with the support of the major content providers (labels and studios) and device manufacturers. Without it the market, both for devices and content, will contiue to be fragmented and limited. In a modern economy markets flourish not because I’ve built the best widget but because my widget works the best with the Acme thing-a-ma-gig and the MorbidCo pop-o-matic.

Hey, this digital music thing just might catch on

Although it should be taken with a grain of salt the size of newborn’s head, the IFPI have released a report on digital music sales in 2006. I’ll summarize:

  • Record company revenues (trade revenues) reached $US 1.1 billion in 2005 showing a threefold increase on 2004 ($US 380 million).
  • Digital music (online and mobile) represents approximately 6% of overall music sales
  • 420 million single tracks were downloaded in 2005 globally – more than double the number downloaded in 2004 (156 million).US: 353 million single tracks downloaded (up from 143 million) [Nielsen SoundScan]UK: 26.4 million single tracks downloaded (up from 5.8 million) [OCC]Germany: estimated 21 million single tracks downloaded (up from 6.4 million) [IFPI Germany]France: estimated 8 million single tracks downloaded (up from 1.5 million) [SNEP]
  • The number of users of subscription services, such as Rhapsody and Napster, increased from 1.5 to 2.8 million globally in 2005.
  • Globally there are now over 335 legitimate online services, up from 230 in 2004 and 50 two years ago. In Europe alone the number of services reached 200 in 2005, up from 150 in 2004.
  • Mobile sales in Japan totalled $US 211 million, or 96% of digital sales in the market, in the first nine months of 2005. Single track downloads reached 4.3 million during the period.
  • Mobile phone subscriptions reached 1.5 billion in 2005 – a 50% increase on 2002.
  • Satellite radio subscriptions reached over 9 million in the US alone – three times as many as the number of global subscription services users. Over 475 million people globally receive Digital Audio Broadcast services (DAB).
  • The number of infringing music files available on the internet at any one time is estimated at 885 million. This is slightly up on January 2005 (870 million) but down compared to June 2005 (900 million). By contrast, broadband uptake rose by 26% in the past year. Total infringing music files are down 20% on the 1.1 billion peak in April 2003.

More background and analaysis are available here and more analysis here.

Global digital music sales triple to US$1.1 billion in 2005 as new market takes shape

Digital Media and whatever else flows through my head…