Category: digital media

Will the iPad Support Flash and Multi-Tasking…or is it All About Books?

I will change the web…or just sell you books! Photo: AFP/Getty

Yesterday Jobs and Co. presented the iPad as the ultimate web surfing device; something that will change the way we interact with the Web. That’s great! Can’t wait to go to all my favorite sites and let my fingers do the talking…movie sites, rich magazines, amazing design studios, and games! I’ll be able to touch and move my way around all my favorite sites and applications in a flash….ya, Flash…

All the great creative, visual effects, online movies, and virtual goodness we enjoy? Mostly all Flash (sorry Silverlight). It’s all over the Web and without it we’d mostly have just text and pictures, want to go back to that? Flash brings the web to life…and it’s coming to mobile in a big way this year.

Will the iPad will support Flash and Multi-tasking at launch…

1. You can’t enjoy the Web without Flash and Android, Blackberry, and Nokia will all support Flash this year. So, the iPhone will support Flash or be left out of the party (plus developers will get on the iPhone with Flash CS5 anyway)

2. Everyone wants to multi-task on their computer and increasingly on their phone. Android supports it so iPhone has to.

Multi-Tasking is a must-have. Do you listen to music on your computer while surfing the Web? Do you have e-mail, a browser, and a document open at the same time? We all do, and we will want to do the same thing on our beautiful iPad. With the iPhone you’re mobile and usually doing something ‘at the moment’. Sitting on the couch with your iPad means you might want to be able to do a few things and not only have one app open at a time. My bet is the iPad will support this for sure either at launch or shortly thereafter.

The distant future might see promise in HTML5 and the web moving away from plug-ins, but it’s not a guaranteed bet – remember how DHTML and VRML were supposed to change the Web? IS Flash really just a plug-in when it’s on 98% of computers out there? Plus, we need to get away from system dependent technology. We went through this with the early browser wars when you had to develop for Netscape or IE or Mozilla, and now we have the same thing on mobile. That’s got to change. We want to develop once and go everywhere.

….or is it really all about just selling books and games?

There’s only one reason I can think of that the iPad won’t support Flash or Multi-tasking…Apple only cares about selling apps and books. Reading is a dedicated activity (you don’t multitask when you read). So, could be that the real big announcement yesterday wasn’t the iPad, it was iBooks. Also, when you’re playing a game you’re not looking to do other things as well. Remember, Apple’s game is to make it easy for you to get content across all their devices; Macbook, iPod, iPhone, iPad – doesn’t matter. Device money is great but the content brings in the mountains of recurring cash.

By most accounts, iTunes dominates as the place to get (legal) online music and TV programs. The next biggest things are games, books, and magazines. All the hoopla about being the ultimate web surfing device is great but it might be that the focus is really to own and make money from more of our cultural activities…music succeeded, TV failed (so far…Apple TV), books and games are the next big prizes.

So, we’ll find out in April if the way we use the Web is really going to change or if the iPad is really a land grab to sell more apps, games, and books. I hope it’s the former because it really would change our digital lives. I’m thinking its all about the books.

What do you think? Take our poll…

TVEverywhere: I’m Not a Dumb Pipe

tv-everywhereA lot is being written recently about TVEverywhere, the initiative being led by Comcast and Time Warner Inc. to provide the same great programming we enjoy on our TV sets online, but on a subscriber basis; if you’re a cable/telco subscriber than you can get the same programming online through the respective company portals. If you’ve never heard of TVEverywhere check out NewTeeVee’s write-up. Comcast is actually calling their effort OnDemand Online and along with TW have begun trails.

This is a big initiative. Real BIG. It’s difficult enough for a large complex company (like a cable or telco) to implement their own authentication, single sign-on, or video asset management and supply chain system (trust me, we’ve done it), but to do it in conjunction with another big industry player? Summon the rabbit foot. I’m not saying it won’t happen; on the contrary I believe it definitely will. It’s the last stand.

It started with torrents, then pirated video on YouTube, then legitimization through Hulu – but the operators are still left out in the cold. All efforts to provide the programs and movies we know and love over the web, have been what are called ‘over the top services’; content and services provided on the web running on the network we call the internet. The network (read web) is provided to us by the Internet Service Provider; usually your local cable or telco provider. We pay them for access but they don’t get a cent from what we actually buy or watch online. It’s the same thing as paying for utilities; you power company doesn’t get a cut of the light bulb you buy at the store. You power company is the ‘dumb pipe’. Today’s cable/telco are fighting not to become a utility. TVEverywhere (or similar efforts by Verizon and AT&T) will either make the pipe smart or dumb.

The promise of TVEverywhere is that you get online what you already pay to watch on TV. But will it work? Whether legal or not, the fact is you can find almost any TV show or movie online or on a P2P network. The number of people canceling their cable service and simply watching online grows daily. With the ability to simply connect your computer to your TV, or stream directly to your TV, it’s a great way to save $50-$100 a month. If I want to go all legal then I can go to the ever-increasing content catalog at Hulu, licensed content on YouTube, or even directly to network or cable channel websites (I can watch a lot of Seinfeld on TBS.com) – all ‘over the top’ services where studios publish direct to consumer, bypassing network providers. People are canceling their cable/satellite services; they can get content without them. But, it’s a pain.

People are inherently lazy. Some of us actually like working, some go to the gym regularly, and some climb mountains; but the vast majority want things nice and easy (it’s the reason the drive-thru was invented). We don’t want to search the web for our shows; we want to turn on our TV and get everything easily.

The promise of TVEverywhere is that Advertiser and programmers will maintain their existing business models, and for consumers get what we want online. It’s a bet that:

(a) The vast majority of people are not all web savvy, connect my computer or stream directly to my TV geeks

(b) Studios won’t all flock to Hulu

(c) Advertisers will continue to value the 30 sec TV spot more than anything online (which is the reason for (a))

(d) The basic paradigm of new content fueled on advertising dollars will stay the norm (because of (c))

Can you imagine a world where all content we have is paid for with money generated by online ads? I don’t think that $25 CPM is going to pay for the new season of 24. Hulu is doing a great job of monetizing content but I submit that the reason studios can afford to monetize on Hulu is because they’re making the real money on TV. Without TV, Hulu can’t survive.

TVEverywhere is a good bet by the ISPs to drive traffic to their own online portals instead of other services. The promise is that there won’t be a cost to existing subscribers; idea being that with more traffic, the portals will become a cash cow of advertising dollars. Provided they can get through the operational and tech hurdles to can make it happen, there are two opportunities to really realize success:

1. Lower subscriber fees so that people will be less incented to go ‘over the top’ for content

2. Offer an online-only subscription. Even in the event that the paradigm changes and the majority start going online to watch, the big ad dollars will follow

The wild card is still the cost of bandwidth, and the ability for ISPs to make costs viable. Net neutrality concerns aside, ISPs could hamper competing ‘over the top’ services by requesting they pay to have their service streamed on the good part of the pipe (i.e DOCSIS 3.0). You want to use our pipe and take our customers? Pay me.

How things shake out will depend on the same group that always has the last say:  Us. Where, how, and when we get our video will shape the future of the industry. You’ll be able to get your movies everywhere, so keep the popcorn hot and take your pick.

Calling all Innovators..Where Are You?

wright_bros

We were in the midst of a surprisingly harsh recession; homes lost, jobs gone, and funding for innovative young companies harder to find than an educational moment on MTV. But for all the doom and gloom there was one silver lining – desperate times give rise to the next big thing. So, what have the next generation of great web entrepeneurs been up to? Looks like not much.

Above all else, during this recession us Digitalians (those that live and breathe everything digital…yes I made up a new word) have been overexposed to three products – Facebook, Twitter, iPhone. Nay a day passes that we’re not inundated with how much FB is potentially worth, CNN, Oprah, or other celebrities professing that they’re all about the Tweet, or find that yes indeed there is an app for that. Don’t get me wrong FB is a fabric of the social generation. Twitter is a new(ish) way to communicate. The iPhone, well it simply changed the mobile landscape and ushered in the mobile as a viable computing platform. But, where are the great ideas that usually crawl out of the rubble of recession?

90’s recession = Netscape and the explosion of the Web. 2000 bubble burst = Google, Social Networking.  2008 = iFart?

The problem is that ‘platform’ has replaced invention. Instead of young minds thinking about changing the world, it’s all about making the next app which sadly is either a port of existing web tools or something so ridiculous you’re left wondering why it’s named one of the Top 20. Almost everyday we talk to would be entrepeneurs about their big idea. They’re going to do something amazing; something that’s never been done before! Are they going to end poverty, make your job easier, life better, or finally rid the world of Paris Hilton? No, it’s the next great (insert platform here) app!

Honestly, how many Twitter apps do we need, and is replicating a popular video game for the iPhone really innovative? If your business depends on someone else’s great idea then sorry you’re no Thomas Edison.

To emphasize the point, at the just passed TechCrunch50 conference, a place that promises to showcase 50 of the most innovative start-ups from a crowd of thousands, expert panelists wondered where are the guys that want to change the world and the top prize was awarded to a company that is essentially an evolution of a solution that has been around for years.

So, we’re calling on all aspiring minds. Change the world! There are some smarty pants working on some pretty cool stuff. We need more! Develop your iPhone apps, connect on FB, and chat mindlessly on Twitter, but someone out there has to be working on what’s next. We can’t wait to see what the real inventors are up to.

Who invented Email? This guy!

inventors

It’s a part of our everyday lives, home, work or on the phone – we’re all addicted to email. Today, The Boston Globe reports that the man that started this revolutionary form of communication is recieving a very nice reward for his efforts.  Article is re-printed below, or you can read it here. Oh, and the guy that invented the mobile phone got his dues as well.

Facebook is great but these are the guys we should be celebrating!

A Boston engineer who is credited with the development of e-mail was honored with an international award.

Raymond S. Tomlinson, a principal engineer at BBN Technologies in Cambridge, was presented with the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research for his “advancement of human communications.”

Martin Cooper, who created the first mobile telephone, was also honored with a twin award. He is shown (left) with Tomlinson in this image from the foundation’s website.

The accolade, meant to honor achievements in technology and science, is funded by the Prince of Asturias Foundation of Oviedo, Spain. It accompanies a cash prize of more than $69,000.

“It is a privilege to have my name associated with this prestigious foundation and added to the very impressive roster,” Tomlinson said.

In 1971, while working for BBN, Tomlinson developed a program that allowed messages to be sent between users on different computers, according to the foundation’s website. He chose the sign @ to separate local from global e-mails.
(By Sean Sposito, Globe correspondent)

HD is Alive. The Rich Web is on the Way

When the web became part of our daily lives back in the mid-nineties we enjoyed a world of text and graphics. Video hit the superhighway and we were introduced to a newer experience. Still, there are few times when you look at your browser and your eyes go wide and you think ‘wow, that looks amazing!’. Well, my friends, times are a changin’. Get ready for the Rich Web.

YouTube just launched a dedicated HD page. Sure, Hulu added HD over a year ago, and even Daily Motion earlier this year already have HD but YouTube is the king and people are finally getting turned on to a richer online video experience. And, it’s wonderful.  Check out the difference between SD and HD:

HD difference

Sure, your video will load slower (for now) in HD since it depends on your connection and network, but that aside, it makes for a richer viewing experience.  And, since virtually all monitors are capable of 720p resolution your computer is already an HD screen. But what excites me most is not only that we have HD online but that there is a movement afoot to make the web a richer, better place.

Companies looking to lead the pack are developing richer solutions; products that are just as amazing to look at as they are to use. SearchMe makes search nicer, SlideRocket gives presentations pizzaz, Cooliris is crazy cool, and we’re working on something that will help our clients go from now to wow.  Once the ISPs deliver the fatter pipe then there’ll be no stopping us and the web we know and love today will be the rich, beautiful, emmerssive experience we deserve.

We’re going from a bike to a Benz and we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.