Recently in Consumer Electronics Category

Nytphoto2
Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher interview Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. John Markoff wrote a New York Times article about this interview. They used my photo. w00t!

A few notes of my own that I posted on Flickr:

Bill: "I'd give a lot for Steve's taste."

Steve: "Bill was much better at partnering than Steve Wozniak and I were."

We've kept secret that: Steve: "We've been married for 10 years." [It was actually: "We've kept our marriage secret for over a decade now."]

Bill: "I'm not the Fake Steve."

Quotes from memory. Exact text may be wrong.

UPDATE 2: The full video is online too.

Steve Jobs and Walt Mossberg
Just finished watching Walt Mossberg interview Steve Jobs. It was a lot of fun. Both of them were very funny. At one point, Walt asked Steve how many copies of iTunes there were out there compared to the number of iPods. Steve said several times. Since there are 100 million iPods, that there were something like 300 million. They discussed that some people say it is the most popular software product on Windows. Steve said that he received cards and stuff from people saying it was their favorite Windows application. Walt asked him how it felt and Steve said, "It's like sending a glass of iced water to someone in Hell." (Quoted from memory. Might not be exact.)

Steve will be back on stage with Bill Gates later. That should be fun. ;-)

Steve showed the iTV with YouTube in it. He talked a lot about the iPhone and explained that it runs basically a full copy of OS X and Safari minus the "data" such as images and sounds and some UI tweaks. Brian Dear asked why iPhone isn't open and when/if it will be. Steve said it's a hard problem and that they're working on it.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

In reporting stories in Casablanca this week I have faced a unique problem due to Moroccan mobile phone habits.

More than any other country I have ever visited, Moroccans used caller ID.

It seems to be part of the phone answering process to closely look at the number of the person calling before deciding whether or not to answer. Often they will let it ring if they can't figure out whose number it is. In most places people look at caller ID and then answer.

From my point of view the result has been that my money-saving tactic of using a local pre-paid card does not work.

Three times now (I am a slow learner) people whom I was supposed to meet for an interview simply did not answer their phone until I called using my French mobile phone on costly roaming. It was a fairly good cross section of society: One was a politician, the other a university academic and the other a musician.

Nobody here has so far been able to explain why this habit exists here. I get a similar reaction when I ask about it here: People in Morocco just presume that everyone uses phones in the same way.

(I have previously reported on other national characteristics of mobile phone usage, including the reluctance of Spanish to use voicemail, the reluctance of English to speak on the phone in places where their conversation can be heard and the way in which the French turn off their phones during meals.)

Any other national habits to add to this collection?

Hi Howard,

Congratulations. I have great respect for Mr. Idei and wish he could have completed his mission, but I'm sure the decision for him to resign was something that was thoroughly thought through. Personally, I'm glad that they chose you to run the company. I think you understand Sony and have many of the things that Sony needs to become the global company that Mr. Idei wanted it to be. My main concern is that you are quite immersed in the entertainment side of the business and I really believe that Hollywood is taking an unreasonably strong position on the copyright issue and is impinging on the rights of users and amateur creators. In your new role as the head of Sony, I urge you to try to take a more balanced and long-term view on the copyright issues. I suggest you at least listen to the rhetoric of the "other side" and maybe start by reading "The Future of Ideas" by Lawrence Lessig.

I hope you will still do the Sony Open Forum in Hawaii and let me continue to challenge you and your executives. (I promise to practice my golf too.)

Anyway, I look forward to seeing you again and hope your new job doesn't take away your sense of humor. ;-)

- Joi

Psp
I went to Akihabara last weekend with Gen, Jim and Boris looking for a PSP. There are rumors of production problems in China. In any event, they are in very short supply. I had heard that they could be found in some of the alleyways in Akihabara. We walked around for quite awhile but couldn't find one. Finally, Andrew came to our rescue and emailed me directions to a tiny shop in an alley that said on their web page that they had some in stock. After a bit of wandering around, we found the shop and I got my PSP.

First impressions. Very slick looking like in the ads, but the left buttons squeak on mine, which is unbecoming of such a hyper-designed product. Also, it is very glossy so fingerprints are very noticable. The graphics and sound are fabulous. I reunited with Ridge Racer, which I used to play a lot of the Play Station when it first came out. I can see myself wasting a lot of time again, but now mobile.

The other thing that surprised me was that when I popped the memory stick duo card out of my Sony DSC-M1 which takes mpeg movies and popped it into the PSP, it just worked. The movies played flawlessly. On the other hand, it's a bad sign that being able to move movies between two Sony devices is such a surprise. ;-)

engadget has a more thorough review and more importantly, a HOW-TO on how to get your DVDs to play on the PSP. iPSP allows great interoperability with the Mac.

I stopped playing video games several years ago after I completed BioHazard on the Play Station because I thought gaming was having too much of an impact on my productivity... but I couldn't resist the PSP.

Doraemonmini-1
Only in Japan. This had to happen. There is a Doraemon everything in Japan. For those of you who don't know Doraemon, he's the weird alien cat thingie anime character that has lot of weird magical things in his pouch. NTT once made a Doraemon phone. Now there is a Doraemon iPod mini. I still like the Doraemon telegram the best. I use it a lot. I sent on the the Governor of Nagano when he won the re-election.

via Andrew

Seth's Blog
Is there a future in selling digital words?

Sanj points me to Amazon.com: e-Books & Docs: Just in Time: Sony Talks About PSP [DOWNLOAD: PDF].

This is a special "flash report" from a reputatable firm. It costs $1,500. According to my favorite review:

If you were stunned by the shocking twist ending of "No PSP for the Holidays," well, you haven't seen anything yet! Quite possibly the best sequel ever written, "Sony Talks About PSP" takes everything you THOUGHT you knew about its predecessor and turns it on its head.

One page of data for $1,500.... certainly there is information out there that's worth that much. I think the interesting question is not "who would have the guts to charge this much?" or even, "who is stupid enough to buy this?" but, "are businesses or consumers willing to pay for a report in a medium that they've been trained should be free?"

Nobody has created a viable channel for selling this sort of information in a format like this. I wonder if they ever will.

I have participated in expensive report writing for companies, but usually it's fairly customized and often full of confidential stuff for limited distribution. $1500 for a PDF on Amazon about one product of one company is pretty amazing. I really would like to know how many of these they will sell.

I'll try to see if I can find a copy this week in Hawaii. Since Mr. Idei Kutaragi and Mr. Kutaragi will also be in Hawaii, I'll see if I can make my own version of "Sony Talks about PSP" here.

Maybe I can pre-sell a $1500 paper called "The market-size for $1500 PDFs" and later send the people a list others who ordered it. They can make a little community or something. Hmm... Maybe the list of people who buy the $1500 Sony report is more valuable than the report itself.

I'm off to Hawaii to the Sony Open Forum. It's a very small gathering of Sony executives, academics and business people who meet during the Sony Open in Hawaii, a PGA tournament. This is the third year I've been invited to go. I really suck a golf. I think I'm the only participant who isn't going to participate in the pro-am tournament. The first year, I promised I would learn to golf by the next year. Last year I made the same promise. I'm returning again, not a single step closer to being good enough to participate.

I've been asked to make some remarks to kick off the session on "Re-examining Threats and Opportunities of the Broadband Age". Here is a summary of what I think I'm going to talk about.

The proliferation of broadband into the home has dramatically changed the way people communicate and consume content. Hollywood and many copyright owners have focused on the illegal file sharing risk of broadband. They have focused on digital rights management technology and laws prohibiting file sharing and the creation of technology which enables file sharing. My view is that the success of the iPod and iTunes has been due to a focus on user experience and marketing INTO this new behavior. Content consumption has become an integral part of communications and community yet most content distribution systems are still isolated. Amateurs are also playing an increasing role in the creation, distribution and promotion of content. This new mode of creation, promotion and distribution of content is increasing diversity and there is evidence that it is increasing the overall market, albeit probably content in the "tail". Sony and others should shift their attention to the "tail" of the market, focusing on enabling new user behavior and increasing overall usability. The key is better services at lower prices, not copyright protection. In other words - great and cheap can compete with lousy and free.

I will also talk about Creative Commons and the idea that Sony should enable all of their devices with open systems to allow the creation, tagging and sharing of free content and that in the long run, the "sharing economy" may exceed the size of the commercial content industry.

Last year I talked about something similar, which you can imagine sparked a lively debate. I'm sure it will be interesting again this year.

I'm off again to the Sony Open Forum tomorrow. It's an annual event. The main event is Sony's sponsorship of a golf tournament, but there is also a small forum where Chairman Idei invites executives of Sony and several other people to discuss some of the key topics for the year. Last year I was invited to speak about the future of Japan. This year I'm going to be talking about media consumption and the future of media. My talk will kick off a discussion session. The conference itself is not public, but I'm assuming my comments are. I've put my talking notes on my wiki and Kevin Marks, Roger Wood and danah boyd have contributed some thoughts on a page about media consumption. The actual talk isn't for a few more days so any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated. Please add them to the wiki. Thanks!

So here's someone who has "social norm tensions" around gadgets and cell phones.

John C. Dvorak
Cell Phone Hegemony - PC Magazine

Let me walk you through my tale of woe. First, picture this gathering: New York Times reporter John Markoff, San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gilmore (sic), Andrew Orlowsi from The Register, author Gregg Pascal Zachary, blogger/investor Joi Ito, lyricist/pundit John Perry Barlow, and me. Everyone there had some relationship to the computer scene, and we were about to have dinner at a pseudo-swanky San Francisco eatery. Each reveler was political, opinionated, and outspoken. What transpired made my flesh crawl. Everyone, with the exception of me, like beings possessed, pulled out one, two, or maybe three cell phones, and while collectively drooling, began the macho 21st century showdown game of "who has the coolest cell phone?" It was horrible. I left, nauseated and shaken after witnessing this cult-like phone-features feeding frenzy. When I was a kid, we talked about football.

Since this dinner was officially "off the record" I didn't blog much about it, but you can imagine it how it could have been a rather awkward dinner. It was part of my "round up the journalists" dinner that we occasionally organize. It's amazing how gadget talk seems to bond most geeks (except for Dvorak) regardless of what they think of blogs or techno-utopias. We kicked off the evening with cell phone talk and had a great time.
John C. Dvorak
I've complained previously about idiots on cell phones in public, but I've given up.
[...]
Cell phones now rule the world's collective unconscious in untold ways. What astonishes me about all this is the sociology that has crept up on us. Why do we have this incessant need to chat on cell phones all day long all of a sudden?
I do agree that different countries seem to have different manners, the Finns seem to have some of the best manners. Maybe it's because American learn to talk on their cell phones when they are in cars... but you're right. Many Americans tend to shout into their phones.

But Dvorak... Why are you freaking out about cell phones man? Why don't you freak out instead about why American's can't seem to figure out how to use them or make them. ;-p

Cory and the EFF have been leading the charge to stop the broadcast flag proposal. Lessig chimes in. The broadcast flag is a bad thing which is anti-end-to-end. Fight for the Stupid Network!

If this entry is cryptic to you, you need to learn more about the broadcast flag and why it is bad. Click on the links.

My investors, my readers and a variety of other people keep trying to get me to explain what I'm interested and why I'm interested in it. Here's a first shot at this. Thanks to Steph, Kevin Marks and others on #joiito for a first pass edit. I've put it on the wiki as well so we can continue to work on this.

Context instead of content

Attention is moving from commercially produced content to dynamic or contextual content. An example of this is the shift of Japanese youth spending from CD purchasing to karaoke to cell phone messaging. CDs let you passively consume content produced by companies. Karaoke is more interactive - you are part of the content. With Cell phone messaging, the customer creates the content. From a copyright viewpoint, CDs are strongly protected. Karaoke is less protected and usually licensed in bulk, and messaging has very few copyright issues. With 20 million camera phones in Japan alone, text messaging is adding photo sharing, making conversations look more and more like content publishing. Small morsels of content, created by users and shared is called micro-content, as opposed to expensive commercially produced and protected content.

Networked consumer electronics devices will make PCs less relevant

With each new wave of computing devices, from mainframes to mini-computers to PCs to game consoles to consumer electronics devices, there is a huge increase in volume causing a dramatic decrease in cost. The users and application developers also shift to these new platforms for better performance and smaller sizes. We still have mainframes and mini-computers but they are less relevant. PCs will become less relevant as the number of consumer electronics devices with networking features increases. Eventually digital cameras, phones, TVs, PVRs and other devices will all be connected to the Internet. People will be publishing, sharing, viewing and hearing content from the Internet without having a PC. They will be as irrelevant to consumers as mainframes.

New open standards for micro-content and metadata

The third important trend is the blossoming of open standards built for creating, publishing, syndicating and viewing/hearing micro-content. Open standards have been around for a long time, but the weblog community is making them popular. These open standards are currently being tested and developed primarily for PCs, but many of the standards could be used in consumer electronics devices, allowing smaller developers to write applications and web services for consumer electronics devices. This is very similar to the way in which TCP/IP allowed the developer community to write software for communications leapfrogging the large telecommunications companies. There are many standards for consumer electronics devices, but they are complex and mired in committees, rather like CCITT's x.25 standard that TCP/IP quickly replaced in many applications.

Multimedia

As broadband becomes cheaper and computing power increases, everything we're learning and building around text micro-content and metadata will be useful in dealing with multimedia micro-content and metadata. Because it is more difficult to extract meaning from images and audio, metadata about this content will become vital.

So what's going to happen?

Microsoft will continue to dominate the desktop, but it will become less relevant as consumer electronics companies embrace open standards and use Internet web services and applications to make consumer electronics devices rich with content. The content will be micro-content such as photos, audio clips, video, text, location information and presence information of friends. Digital rights management and copyright will become less relevant. Organizing your network of friends and your network of trust become more important, so that you publish to the people you wish to hear you and you are able to sort information which is relevant to you. These trust networks will require privacy and security as well as methods of managing and using the networks for a variety of applications.

As web services and metadata create a more and more decentralized and semantic web, searching will become more decentralized and contextual and less about html page scraping and one dimensional page rank.

In the future, you should always be able to see the status of your friends (if they choose to let you), create any kind of content you wish to share or communicate and publish it easily from any device. You should be able to find and view/hear any content you have access to, using your network of trust, location, keywords and timing to search for the information. The boundaries between email and web publishing will become blurred and you will be having conversations with the web.

Key Technologies:

  • Creating and managing identities while protecting privacy
  • Creating and managing networks of friends and trust
  • Searching metadata and creating context for metadata
  • Design and interface for publishing and viewing micro-content
  • Syndication standards and technologies
  • Network infrastructure to enable location and mobility
  • Technologies to move and share micro-content, especially as it grows larger
  • Web services that interact with micro-content and the physical world such as photo printing, purchasing of real world products, connecting people, etc.

The cutting edge:

Audio blogging (Audblog), mobile picture blogging with location information (Tokyo Tidbits), personal information and information about your friends in web pages (FOAF), machine readable copyright notices allowing micro-content aggregation and sharing (Creative Commons), Amazon book information and affiliate information embedded in blogging tools ( TypePad ), convergence of email and micro-content syndication (Newsgator), searching for micro-content based on context (Technorati)

Went to see President Ando of Sony. He is second in command under Chairman Idei and is more and more in charge of representing Sony in the US. He gave the speech at CES this year and said some some very interesting things. First he pushed open standards.

Ando said Sony will also work to use open standards in future products to make it easier for consumers to more widely access content on devices and urged other companies to help to establish these standards to help the industry progress.
Then he complained about the difficulty of the current record label business.
Steven Levy
After the keynote, Ando unwound at a dinner for a few journalists, where talk turned to the knotty problem of digital rights. He startled everyone by speculating that in the long term, given the nature of Internet copying, record labels may not have a future. "When you have a problem like this," he says, sighing, "I really wish we were a simple hardware company."
My kind of guy. We talked about blogs (of course), open standards and how cool it would be for Sony to really embrace open standards and let the blog tools and services talk to Sony products through open standards that we worked on together.

Nice summary and a question on Marc's Voice about whether Sony is the answer to everything.

Sony may be the one to change all this. They certainly have the most to gain - even more than us plain old customers. What makes it REALLY interesting is that they own a label and studio. Which side are they on?
Sony is like a an ecology of competing components. Everyone is very proud of Sony and there is definitely a Sony DNA that keeps it all together, but it is not dictated top-down as you would imagine. Idei-san is almost like a coach, I think. In the Newsweek article, Idei comments on Kutaragi:
Kutaragi is the perfect example of Sony old and new. A fiercely independent engineering visionary, he created PS1 and 2 - and ran his division with cavalier disregard for the suits at headquarters. "He's kind of a symbol for Sony, how the rule breaker can survive with the rule maker," says Idei, who has tried to make Kutaragi more of a team player by giving him broader responsibility. "And now," says Idei, "the rule breaker has become the rule maker."
Idei-san definitely provides a vision a creates rules that guide the company, but it's the people like Kutaragi's that break that rules that create the breakthroughs at Sony. Sony is very good at allowing competing agendas to co-exist because of their structure. I think that where they suffer is that it's hard to connect a bunch of competing parts. Now that connectivity is the name of the game, Idei-san is changing the company to try to preserve the the Sony spirit of invention and leadership, but to network everything. What's really interesting to me about this process is that Sony is a microcosm of the basic software, standards and architecture issues that the world has.

So to answer Marc's question... They're on all sides. When the answer becomes clear, they will obviously lean towards that direction, but while the jury is still out in their minds, I think they will let competing business units compete. And they can compete harder because they are bonded together with the Sony DNA and there is constant communication at the executive level.

I think we're at a very exciting point in the history of the future. Dave wrote a great essay to kick of the year just as I was trying to collect my thoughts. Let me also be a bit optimistic for a moment and share with you what I WISH will happen. Consumer electronics and mobile devices are where computer networking was before TCP/IP. Nothing talks to anything else and everything is vertically integrated and "intelligently" organized. TCP/IP changed that for telecom/computer networks. We all know the story.

Same thing with consumer electronics. It's a very different market with lots of different constraints like power consumption, price, etc. There are a lot of people working on various layers trying to standardize with mixed results. Apple is clearly making the move into consumer electronics. Sony is trying very hard to integrate network services into its hardware. It still doesn't work well. They're too "smart". The Tivo Rendezvous support is an example of a step forward and shows the potential of open standards in this space. Apple's Safari which is based on KHTML, from KDE's Konqueror open source project is also an interesting example as well.

So, here's what I think. We all know that the network should be stupid. Network providers will be a basic utility like electricity, but they'll still make money if they stick to the network. Where is the next focus? In the hardware, content and tools. If the hardware companies are smart, they will support open standards and let the users create the content, let the community create the tools and provide API and support for open standards. Yes, they will give up some control and yes they will eventually become more of a commodity like the network, but the scale will increase and they will make money.

So here's my offer. I'll focus on trying to pitch the hardware companies in Japan to look at the MetaWeblog API and other standards that we are developing. I will TRY to invest the rest of the $15mm I have into companies that develop things are end-to-end stupid network oriented, open standards compliant, blog community supportive, non-proprietary OS based and generally un-evil. I will also try to get others to invest with us. I'm going to try as hard as I can and still be fiduciarily responsible to my investors. I want everyone else to try very hard too. Let's see if we can make this happen. Think twice before going to work for you-know-who. If you go work for you-know-who, try to get them to support open standards. If you can choose, choose something open. If you can buy/license something from the developer community vs. building it do so. And most importantly, now that we have blogs to talk on, engage us in the dialog and try to break open mobile devices and consumer electronics platforms and get them to take advantage of the most talented group of unemployedself-employed developers since before the bubble. Let's convince the consumer hardware guys to open up and focus on their strengths and benefit from this just like IBM and others were able to benefit from the Internet by supporting and embracing the developer community.

I know this is rather obvious and I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I'm serious. ;-)


Slipped out of the conference to see Jean-Louis Gassée. I met Jean-Louis when he was running Be Inc. I was the first and last advisory board member of Be. Jean-Louis is a legend in Silicon Valley from his days at Apple and all of the cool stuff he's done afterwards.

He is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at Allegis and is on the board of PalmSource and EFI. We talked a lot about personal networking technologies and shared our thoughts and vision in this area. He's such a cool and charming guy and I think Allegis is a PERFECT thing for him.

Barak and Minami joined me in the meeting and it was interesting because Barak had worked with him at Apple and Logitec so they had a lot of history... Frank got me back in touch with him. Frank used to work with Jean-Louis at Be and now works at and helps run one of our portfolio companies, AirEight.

Today I was hanging out with Leonard Liu, one of my good friends, investors in Neoteny and advisory board members. He was once the chief architect for hardware and software at IBM and architected SNA and SQL. He later became the chairman of Acer and is now the chairman of the ASE group which is one of the biggest IC testing and packaging companies in the world. Anyway, he is one of the most energetic and thoughtful computer scientists I know who can actually run companies.

He said an interesting thing that is sort of obvious, but quite exciting. He said that we still have mainframes, but everyone writes stuff for PC's because there are several orders of magnitude more PC's. Game machines are built cheaper and better because there are a lot of them too. Networked consumer electronics will probably exceed PC's in number and a similar effect of application developers shifting to these CE devices may happen. We talked about how this might happen in the next two years. Will Intel and MS be able to keep up? Will a completely new architecture win? For some reason, it sounds more convincing when Leonard says it...

intel-dma-architecture.gif
Saw this on Marc Canter's Blog.

Rick Lehrbaum (updated Sept. 11, 2002)
Intel embeds Linux in home digital media adapater
A key component of the Extended Wireless PC Initiative's media distribution architecture is a new PC peripheral called the digital media adapter, which provides an appliance-like link between PCs, TVs, and stereos. The device, which is based on an XScale microarchitecture PCA210 'applications processor' and runs an embedded Linux operating system, receives digital media from the PC via 802.11 wireless networking and UpnP technologies, and connects to TVs and stereos using standard audio/video cables -- much like a DVD player. Using a simple remote control, consumers navigate through menus on a TV screen, selecting the PC digital media they wish to receive.
Marc Canter
The 'magic sauce' is something called UpnP (universal plug and play) which was originally designed for plugging cards into a PC bus or USB devices (such as keyboards or mice.) But now they have a 'stack' to route A/V info to the Digital Media Adapter. I wonder is UPnP can sense out I.P. addresses like Apple's Rendezvous (otherwise known as ZeroConf) and make setting up Home LANs easy to do?
vis_site02.jpgThis reminds me of my SliMP3 that I wrote about earlier, but that doesn't have wireless or video. It also reminds me of my Sony Airboard which has 802.11, ethernet, dialup Internet, TV and a browser. The Airboard is less of a "hub" and more of an "all-in-one". I guess the key to the Intel thing will be low cost and open standards. If they can help orchestrate a bunch of devices without trying to make their device do everything, it might work. I still don't like the idea of "fat" home servers. I am hoping that, at least in my house, I can use everything I already have. My PC hard disk, my audio amp and speakers, my plasma display and my digital satellite dish... Having said that, there may be a market for small all-in-one's...

intel-dma-blockdiag.gif

casio_thumb.jpg
I'm at Casio right now trying to get them excited about blogs... Casio makes such great digital cameras and digital cameras are SOOO important for blogs... Pleeeze give me a blog-camera.

imodeaim_thumb.jpg
Neeraj is my only buddy so far...
AOL-Docomo the Japanese joint venture between Docomo and AOL Japan asked Neeraj of imaHima to make a Java aplet for the new Java enabled i-mode phones that allows you to use Aol Instant Messenger on your phone. They launched it last week. It's great! You can have multiple conversations at once and it is integrated with the PC based IM. I think this is a first. (There are many IM for messaging between phones.) The only thing that sucks is that you have to sign up for AOL's service any pay a monthly fee to use it. It took me almost 30 minutes on the phone to sign up...

gmimage.gif
found this in Marc Canter's Blog


Memories of General Magic
A long time ago I offered to develop for a hot startup called General Magic. I was going to do the work for free. I wanted to explore a new platform. They turned me down, saying they already had enough developers. Yesterday they announced they are shutting down the company. Now no one knows if one developer's software would have made the difference, but it's been known for a long time that exclusive platforms die and inclusive ones have a chance. It's why the Mac worked and Lisa didn't. If you're lucky enough to get a gazillion dollars invested behind your ideas, never say no to a developer. They might have the next VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, PageMaker or Mosaic.


I myself (I was still kind of famous then) was sent to talk to Steve Perlman - who has gone on to prove that he's quite a case unto himself - about Telescript 2.0 and the future of multimedia and General Magic. Basically Steve would have nothing to do with me. He wouldn't even answer my phone calls. Oh well.

I remember when Megan Smith who was working at General Magic took me to see Marc Porat. I was really excited about General Magic and tried to find some way to work with them since they had some licensees in Japan, and I had actually given a high level presentation to NTT about General Magic before their deal with them... Marc seemed very uninterested in seeing me and told me he didn't need any help.

There were so many people who were excited about General Magic and there were really a lot of cool people working there. It's really too bad they weren't more open technically and socially.

So who owns my living room? I have projectors, displays, satellite tuning boxes, various amplifiers, CD players, DVD players, remotes, universal remotes, a home PBX trying to do VoIP to the office, a plasma display, a home security systems, 802.11, a Sony Airboard, 100MB fiber Internet acccess, a few PC's and Mac's, a cars with a car navigation system that rips CD's and talks to the Internet, a car with GSM built in that doesn't work in Japan... None of this stuff talks to each other. In my basement I have boxes full of firewire, ethernet, power, coaxial, optical fiber, RCA Audio/Video, SCSI, RS-232C cables.

So, it looks like Apple is making a lunge to connect things together with Rendezvous. Stuart Cheshire, Wizard Without Portfolio at Apple Computer & Chairman of IETF ZEROCONF was interviewed by The Idea Basket (found this on Frank's Blog.) In the interview Stuart talks about how although the IETF didn't like the idea of trying to make AppleTalk an IETF standard, they liked the idea of trying to make it easier to connect things to your home network. He set up a working group at IETF to do this.

From the ZeroConf page:

To achieve this small-network functionality in IP, there are four main areas of work:

Allocate addresses without a DHCP server.
Translate between names and IP addresses without a DNS server.
Find services, like printers, without a directory server.
Allocate IP Multicast addresses without a MADCAP server.


From the interview:

I can't comment on specific Apple product plans, but I think you had some very interesting ideas in your "Backstage Pass to the Future" article. Rendezvous is not just about making current networked devices easier to use. It is also about making it viable to put networking (i.e. Ethernet) on devices that today use USB or Firewire, and it is also about making it viable to use networking in areas that you wouldn't have even considered before Rendezvous. Imagine a future world where you connect your television and amplifier and DVD player with just a couple of Ethernet cables, instead of today's spaghetti mess of composite video, S-Video, component video, stereo audio, 5.1 Dolby, Toslink optical audio cables, etc.


So Apple will become a consumer electronics maker and will try to solicit the support of IETF to help get things hooked up. OK. One world view. Too bad TiVo isn't on the ZeroConf mailing list. TiVo is such a great product, but it really doesn't "hook up" with stuff well...

I guess the home server, home router universe is also trying to do this, but maybe less elegantly. Moxi sounded initially like an allstar cast trying to get into this super-set-top-box space, but it looks like it blew up and was picked up for scraps by Paul Allen.

Microsoft is obviously trying to go there too, but not so successfully so far.

Sony is an obvious leader, but it appears that they can't coordinate their architecture and although they take risks and make cool gadgets, they can't seem to orchestrate it all. I heard that they even shut down their design group recently. Having said that, the playstation is a great contender for king of the living room.

Anyway, while we're at it, lets get our phone and IM hooked up in the living room as well. Maybe it's just that IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) was last week, but with the VoIP (Voice over IP) IETF standard SIP and the IM standard Jabber, it feels like IETF is on top of most of the important things to enable my dream living room. Could it be that Internet standards will lead the way?

I feel great things happening in this area and the rumble of architecture shifts that can make possible things that have been impossible in the past. Definitely going to steer towards the rumbling to see if there are some opportunities in the space Japan still is competitive in. So my bet is that Apple creates some cool products that prove it can be done and that Taiwan Inc. and China quickly jump in and take over... Hopefully there is some room for us to do something cool.

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