March 26, 2006

net neutrality...

this is gonna be another long one.

picking up on a theme raised in a couple of posts last year focused on convergence - net neutrality, to be specific. the lines couldn't be drawn much more clearly in washington. at stake: your ability to use the device(s) of your choice to access the content and services of your choice over the broadband network of your choice.

imagine the electric company telling you which lamp you can use to light your living room, which wattage bulb, and, depending on whether or to what extent you'd like to avoid the occasional brownout, charging a premium for the service of dis-serving you. nah, the electric company knows better.

ok, so maybe it's not quite that simple in the telecom space...

i can certainly sympathize with the access providers wanting to reap the benefit of the billions they've invested in their networks, but it would seem that if they have their druthers, they're likely to undermine the very profits they hope to squeeze out of those very networks. wielding to-the-home (or -pocket) market-power by blocking or down-speeding third party apps, content and services and dictating which selection of devices might be allowed to attach to networks might buy a short-term edge (first-to-market for their own services, apps and content deals, etc.). but ultimately it's a potential lose-lose for everyone. the history of internet innovation ends when new internet players have to negotiate with each or every bit pipe to take their innovation and (potential) consumer benefit to market.

but let's be fair... those who've prospered suckling gratis at the internet teat shouldn't expect to ride free forever (although who can blame them for wanting to - and i acknowledge that the gratis reference is a gross generalization). indeed, to the extent their plans to unleash next generation online wonders hinge on network evolution to true and ubiquitous broadband, it's be a bit unrealistic to expect the bit pipes to keep upgrading at their own and sole expense and competitive disadvantage. more lose-lose.

so where's the happy medium? well, for starters, to the extent the telcos want to intro new services like video, let 'em at it - that's a leveling of the playing field with the cableco's that's been a long time coming. but, don't block or throughput hobble others from competing as well. there's no easy answer here, but there has to be an access pricing scheme that allows non access provider internet players a better chance of survival then the vast graveyard of one-time competitive local exchange carriers (clecs) who were muscled out by the telecom incumbents, well-meaning but perhaps limp-wristed regulation notwithstanding.

as for the device conundrum, i'd argue there really isn't one. indeed, seems to me the easiest decision in the whole equation is that regarding device attachment. provided the devices are built to standards developed to ensure compatibility and interoperability with networks, there's no reason to block them. arguments about interference, security, capacity or other concerns - including in the wireless context - are, well arguable.

so do we need congress or the fcc to weigh in with some or another or a suite of new legislation or regulation? maybe. but at the very least, a powerful spotlight - a truly public dialogue - on the whole situation is necessary. while there's not yet any strong indication of abuse or market failure (not for lack of strong suggestion of such), by the time such is demonstrated it might be too late to remedy. it's not that there's any realistic concern that the internet big boys get muscled out, but what about the less robust or altogether newcomers?

stay tuned...

March 16, 2006

classic dolan...

...from the phone (as received from brennan's via mms)

March 01, 2006

another mobile photo app...

...gettin' to be a pretty crowded field. and with yahoo! all over it (see bottom).

zonetag (linked) appears to be meant to work ala shozu (e.g. quick click upload to flickr) but with the additional (optional) feature of tagging your image with the cell ID of the tower you were nearest when you uploaded the image (independent of when/where you actually took the picture). interesting concept - another "sort" option (e.g. location) if nothing else.

i couldn't get it to work on my device, but that could be because the app's a beta, the phone's a proto, or, perhaps, there's some interference going on with one or all of the other three similar apps (shozu, vizrea, yahoo!go) that are loaded and running on the device. notably the others seem to still be functional.

as for the yahoo! comment, well, recall that yahoo! recently launched yahoo!go for mobile which includes y! photo synching with yahoo! photos proper. beyond that, yahoo! also owns flickr (which for some reason continues to operate separately from yahoo! photos). and, now along comes zonetag - a yahoo! "research prototype release" - which is meant to marry up to flickr. don't know if they'll penetrate the embedded shozu crowd (such that may exist), but if this thing launches mainstream without bugs, they may capture the lion's share of new users of such apps, at least from the pool of those with a strong yahoo! affinity.