Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

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.


Short term: If I own a Gigapocket-enabled VAIO, or a Sugoroku or a PSX, and a PSP, why can't I move a TV show that I've copied from one of my Sony PVRs to a PSP?

Longer term: (In total agrement with you.) More open products to allow for non-professional media (Creative Commons) consumption on Sony devices. It's "game over" if it's only professional media.

Note: the Sony Librie e-book was crippled at the start to only use DRMed content. Of course it failed. Now they've released a patch which allows for users to upload non-DRMed content. Now it's more valuable, but the market has already passed it by.

That has happened time and time again. How many times does Sony need to be reminded that an ALL-DRM future is not what it's customers want?

Maybe lightly DRMing the professional content is one thing, but completely locking out usage for non-DRMed content is pure hubris, which Sony hasn't been able to afford for about a decade.

Good points Gen. Doesn't it feel good to have left Sony so you can speak your mind? hmm... I guess you used to say stuff like this when you worked there too.

Good luck Joi. I'm afraid your words will end up falling on deaf ears though. I've long since given up on Sony gear except for their digicams. Years ago they preached the word of the interconencted home and ubiquitous data. Out of all the hardware companies that dreamed of vertical integration of content, they did the best, but as far as I can see they just ended up with a bunch of craptacular half baked product that doesnt work well together or not at all with anything else.

In the past I've spent money on Vaio computers, Clie PDAs, Cybershot digicams, Playstation & PS2, and who knows how much Sony owned/marketed content. From here on out, I really doubt they will get more hardware money from me until I need to replace either of my two Sony digicams.

Well it's over. It was... interesting to see how divided we can be on the issue copyright. I can say one thing. I was not in MY echo chamber. ;-) I think Rob Glaser put it best by evoking the old saying, "where you stand depends on where you sit."

I think Sony Ericsson is striking a better balance between copyright and consumer use than Sony Electronics. I wonder if the teams from the phones and the consumer electronics talk to each other about empowering the user. The S700i phone I'm using provides some of the most welcome portable media play that I've experienced--MP3s drag and drop onto the phone from my laptop, phone calls or coffee chats record in a click to MP3, stills are high quality, on-board video taken by the phone converts to AVI or MOV in a simple routine--these are very helpful concepts that suggest to me that the phone people should be encouraging the electronics people to be more open in their formats and in their connectivity options.

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Joi Ito has posted a speech that he is about to present at Sony's Open Forum (their annual big confab) taking place in Hawaii right now. [For background on Joi and why you should care about what he thinks check out these articles.] I've be...

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