It seemed by around 2000 the open internet had met the open end user controlled PC environment and led to the wide scale web. Napster was in full swing, Limewire was around and emule was coming. On the other hand there was the closed sponsor model and the Hollywood model and the CES model all of which were based on enclosure and becoming ever more closed. With CES just think of the console and think of games and software sharing on the PC prior to its encounter with the console. The CES model was caught up in transnational corporate politics i.e., dumping etc., it couldn’t accommodate any kind of sharing or end user empowerment.
Clash of Closed and Open in the Prior Decade
At a time when Apple was failing with its closed model, Sony came along with a closed console model in gaming and was having success with its Playstation brand. Sony has long maintained at the very heart of groups like the RIAA and MPAA. Sony seemed to think that profit could be had from driving up hype and paranoia about piracy or IP. It’s been perhaps the major instigator of DRM and stuff like the DCMA. Around 1999 Sony was saying it could challenge PC with its closed console model Playstation brand. Around this time Linux was used in developing for Sony’s second console and the console could run Linux, a bit ironic and a sign of what was to come.
In response MS put a PC (more open) in a closed console format- consoles aren’t anymore open than cable boxes. Sony and MS had previously clashed over the original US HDTV standard and acceptable resolution formats. Sony didn’t want MS in the living room and lobbied hard to prevent it. Sony wanted incompatible resolutions etc. MS persevered. It acquired WebTV from Perlman and then followed up with its Ultimate TV plans with Perlman as a division head at MS. Perlman left MS as Ultimate TV morphed in the first Xbox. MS had some success with the first Xbox. In their first foray it really did outsell Nintendo’s Game Cube.
The second time around it beat both Nintendo and Sony but in the first half of a double span console cycle it had trouble with the RROD problem which probably prevented it from routing them. But now with the new Xbox One and Windows 8 and MS seeing the success of Apple with its walled gardens and the success of 360- well now MS is more of a closed approach in general, we have something much more closed up with a lot of spyware, sponsor elements added in. They thought they were literally going to track our eyes onto ads with Kinect’s spying. Remember all the time and effort MS wasted trying to acquire ad packer Yahoo? All of this proved so irritating that MS got a reboot at the launch of its Xbox One even as it finally got a platform that fulfills its TV goals from its original vision dating back to the mid 90s. Now MS is very much lined up with the sponsored media, sponsored government approach.
Now we also have a much more conciliatory Sony after literally having its business hacked multiple times for being so nasty. The more conciliatory Sony approach produced a new console that apparently took on a lot of developer input which resulted in an actual PC running Linux- Playstation goes x86 with PS4. It’s a big change from the Sony that wanted to do broadcast flags and down grade resolution on BD disks if they couldn’t spy on end users, or secretly install rootkits on people’s computers or got caught in radio payola schemes, or wanted to felonies for people who fast forwarded past ads on BD disks or made too many copies of their wedding photos. It’s a big change even from the Sony that said it was up to Sony if MS could sell movies. Or the Sony that told Korean developers wanting to develop or publish on PS3 just prior to its launch: give us your IP and 20 million up front for access to the platform. Or even the Sony that called the PS3 the “perfect living room toll booth.” But to get these changes it got so bad for Sony that it skirted what looked like insolvency and or at least having to spin off its entertainment division. But in the meantime MS locked down PC so much that Valve jumped ship and is doing Linux PCs with it Steam boxes, attempting to do to MS something a little like what MS did against Sony, almost coming full circle. Now Valve and Sony are selling Linux PCs into living rooms. And of course tablets and phones running Android or iOS are the big thing now. Nvidia is starting to focus on cloud powered android tablets to stream everything.
Ability to Stream Everything Partially Disrupting Closed Models
If Jobs would have lived OnLive’s (focus of Perlman’s efforts before Artemis) services may well have made it to distribution on Apple products. Note Apple’s Multipeer, Jobs was fond of disruption and may have liked to do to the rest of content industry what Apple helped do to the RIAA and CES. But Cook was one of these guys where the first thing he did was handed out dividends, Jobs was probably rolling over in his grave. Onlive was loaded up with EA’s content on launch night but it was pulled on launch night as well. It seems OnLive suffered a content strike. The big players probably didn’t want to hand Perlman and crew billions of dollars as they may well have sensed that his aspirations ran even beyond OnLive and probably noted his reputation for not playing nice. They didn’t want the next Steve. As it was, OnLive demonstrated game streaming tech that disrupted a console cycle, really it seemed to cancel a whole console generation, delaying the current cycle by 5 years. It’s been said that Perlman wanted a couple billion dollars for the company and this happened during the height of the crash, so potential buyers were uncertain and likely down on cash. But if he had received either market success or proceeds from a sale he probably would have ramped up PCell that much quicker. If there was a core issue in the early launch of OnLive it was a stack of latency, and DIDO (PCell) whitepapers promised sub millisecond latency.
Looking at announcements from not long after the OnLive launch we see that Perlman wanted to drive OnLive with the tech from DIDO. He would have ramped up PCell with that money presumably. I don’t think he is a centralization guy. He has lobbied to protect small innovators from corporate pirates. His whole career has been about disintermediation and subsequent disruption. Really, disintermediation is defacto decentralization and that’s what he seems to run on. The same type of strategy he was using to tunnel through the internet more efficiently he is now applying to physical substrate of the net. He may be trying to lure the cable/telco industry off a cliff PCell. PCell is half a solution but the other half is implied. Right enclosed communication players are consumed with pursuing stuff like TMobile’s zero rate music scam in the US and trying to foist zero rate phones on people in the developing world. These companies were lured off such a cliff once before when they laid the ocean of fiber (now dark) that is going to bidders like Google. Some were also investors in OnLive, but so was HTC. The ocean of fiber was fuel for the former dot.com bubble which even then under the Bush Admin seemed to be about the delusion of cramming people with more ads. It would be interesting to know what Perlman makes of ProjectSAFE.
As it is, Nvidia and Sony seem set to be locked in a total streaming content competition. Sony interestingly seems set on something more like OnLive’s light weight pixel streaming model than some of the intermediate models. This is particularly great because Nvidia is billing their system as the Netflix of gaming, implying its ad free or sponsor free. Sony plans on streaming literally everything and Nvidia will follow suit, setting the sponsor free tone. What is important here is that before people had the impression that some things couldn’t be streamed but now it’s clear that everything can be streamed and an ad free model can be used to take share. Global bundling under this format is revolutionary and can destroy the sponsored media, sponsored government model. This is what the fight over net neutrality is really about. The sponsor class sees it useless oppressive franchise being destroyed and it wants to put in arbitrary toll road fees to keep sponsorship and the power of the sponsor class alive. If they lose this, the current rich stand a real chance of being properly subjected to one person one vote and the merit of ideas instead of retaining the money as power (conflated with speech) hereditary model they prefer. But we must understand that if their power isn’t remove, the internet will be dead to us and become worse than cable TV accelerating along the path of becoming a spy and control network- we will face endless supervising and the unwanted and unneeded micro-management of everything we do- born in to our fake jobs and schools and never free of them even in sleep.
The Enclosure of Centralizing Clouds to be Disrupted by Distributed Models.
The new model is open source software and open source hardware owned and controlled by the end users and tied together without middle mend. ProjectSAFE using SAFEcoins over a software defined radio mesh network that spans the globe (with some helpful long distances links across the oceans.) This is a high performance distributed computing model unconstrained by latency or bandwidth or interference- even from spectrum auctions and licensing. We have options even if they get silly- options like LiFi and/or longer distance free space optical. This is a model where end users own all the hardware and don’t pay any middlemen and certainly aren’t paying sponsors. It’s a model where end users have control over their attention and total control over end user interfaces. It’s coming just in time in response to the attacks on neutrality and revelations by Wikileaks and Snowden. It’s coming in the wake of the springs and more attempts at legal enclosure with SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, TPP…