Tech trends and business ideas

All things that motivate entrepreneurs

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On Screen Protectionism?

When devices and apps talk to each other, content owners balk even at the screen format. Or so it seems from the recent pullout of Hulu from Boxee application. The advance of The Great Media Convergence — the content you want, at the time you want, on the device you want — would seem to be inexorable, based on its universal appeal to the consuming audience and the evolution of the enabling technology. But getting past all the entrenched powers is going to be a long struggle, and the early adopters on the front lines will have the wounds to show for it. To see how this disruption is driving the entertainment overlords into defensive positions based on arbitrary distinctions, just look at the current contretemps between Hulu and Boxee.

What happened? Boxee is media center software that makes it easy to watch online content on your television via a connected computer or device like AppleTV. Hulu beams TV directly to your portable computing devices, giving you more of the cerebral-gelatinizing shows you want, any time, anywhere, for free. That, is how Hollywood wants to see online video — as a supplement to "real" TV, not, heaven forbid, as a free living-room alternative to paying for cable or satellite service. To Portable Computing Devices or FROM your TV and not TO your TV. To your dumb-ass laptop, you smelly, hairy, friendless, gamer-freak nerd. (Sorry, I hate to talk about you that way, but that's how they think of the Internet. I think you smell great.) To Your TV is something completely different, and from the content providers' point of view, completely wrong. ... I'd guess Hulu had a deal to show 'content' on computers, and the 'content providers' balked when those computers started talking to their precious televisions.

Of course, media-center computer owners can still watch Hulu's shows on the big screen — they just have to do it through a conventional Web browser instead of Boxee's cleaner interface. It's difficult to see how there's even a claim by the content providers at all. They put the content on Hulu so that anyone watching the content via the Internet on a computer within the geographic restrictions should be fine. Boxee is just an application on a computer. It's functionally identical to watching the content on your computer screen. The only real difference is that the 'screen' is a television instead of a monitor. But the mechanism is identical. It's difficult to see how the content providers can claim any right whatsoever to say that you can watch the content that they purposely put online only on a specific type of screen.

Convergence may indeed be inevitable, but this is just the type of annoying and arbitrary turf protection we'll continue to see until the entertainment industry figures out a way to make the future its friend.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home