It’s in the New York Post so it must be true.

From today’s Digital Music News:

Sources Point to Discussions Between Google, Napster

Speculation has recently focused on a possible digital music store play from Google, especially following the release of Google Video. Now, well-placed sources have pointed Digital Music News to discussions between the search giant and Napster, though the sources were unable to share additional details. Meanwhile, sources to the New York Post offered the possibility that “Google is considering an extensive alliance with Napster, which could include an outright acquisition”. Earlier, sources from within Napster told Digital Music News that the company is considering a sale or liquidation, though a Napster representative denied those claims. Napster is unlikely to respond to the most recent information, due to a quiet period ahead of an upcoming earnings call on February 8th.

Having built a digital music store from scratch I can tell you that it is a Herculean task. Mix that with the anachronistic business practices and models of the major labels and you get an extremely high barrier of entry into the digital music store business. If your goal is to get into the business quickly and with a minimum of fuss (read: dealing with the labels) the only path is to buy an established player.

This ‘news‘ (life-essence-sucking registration required), if true, would fast-track Google into the digital music space by granting them access to an established catalog with download and subscription rights from the labels. However, if they hope to leverage the dMarc acquisition they had better read those label deals carefully to ensure that streaming rights are included on the in-place agreements.

Update: Turns out, not so much.

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’.

YackPack Home

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.

Digital Media and whatever else flows through my head…