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  Tuesday, July 23, 2002

The Real Tragedy

I'm playing off the word "Real" as in Real Networks. When I was at Microsoft, on the Windows Media team, Real was our worthy adversary. They did unexpected things. They licensed and agreed to have Real v.4 distributed with IE4, then released an incompatible Real 5. It was a smart, tough move that caused Microsoft, which had invested in Real at the time, to divest, eventually. Real also licenced the WMA format to play in it's jukebox, in a way trumping MS who can't play RM files in the WM Player.

Now comes Real's Helix announcement. I'll leave the intricacies of Real's open source license to folks from Doc's world. It's a bold move that could garner Real support of lots of diverse sources of talent and ideas. Or it could be for shit. We'll see.

My take, coming from being in the streaming media world since before Real's beta v.1, is that saying this will certainly shake things up is an understatement. The open source world has had Icecast, On2's codecs, Vorbis, and other tools, but adding Real to the mix can put stuff into the "enterprise" category. IT managers can consider deploying this software. Radio chains, Record Companies, and others with capital "C" Content can consider this.

Microsoft's Corona WM Services v.9 has got a serious competitor. I have seen great Corona demos. All this is good for the industry. Really. May everyone win.

And then there's the big "BUT." But wait. But what about CARP? Just when webcasters are getting several new sets of tools and healthy competition between tools vendors for their loyalties, the government passes a rule that puts them out of business. What value are these new tools to a rapidly shrinking net streaming marketplace? With Congress working to erode fair use rights, there will soon be fewer and fewer "commercial" pieces of content to be legally streamed.

Yes, we will probably see the rise of the "indy" film and radio stations, but for some of this content, there is a reason why it's not at the local cine or on your FM dial. We'll see some stars, and hear some gems, but we won't have the depth of the music catalogs we've grown up with, or the level of imagry that we have grown to enjoy.

The Real Tragedy is that now that the tools are available, Hollywood, the RIAA and Congress are trying to close down the construction site for the next generation of media.

9:50:40 PM  comment []    

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