Wednesday, October 14, 2009 

Access your media remotely via

If you have been a TVersity user long enough, chances are that you were looking for a simple way to access your media on the go - after all this is one of the promises of TVersity. Until today, the only way to do it, was open a port in your home router/firewall, find out the IP address assigned to you by your ISP and point a remote web browser to this address. If you were lucky and your ISP was not blocking you, you could access your media wherever you were - a very liberating experience. For most of us however that was just too complicated.

Today, we are starting to change all that, we have come together with SureWest to offer a custom version of TVersity called SureWest Media Connect, that allows dead simple remote access (SureWest subscribers only at this point). This custom version of TVersity is fully integrated with the SureWest network and the website, so all you need to do is enter your SureWest username and password during the installation of SureWest Media Connect, and then login to the SureWest portal from anywhere. No network configuration of any kind is required, just install the software and when you want to access your personal media remotely, simply login to A widget on the home page will allow you to play your music and videos and see a slideshow of your photos from just about anywhere (see widget screenshot).

This new service is currently in Beta, so you will need to first join the Beta program by logging in at If you are not a SureWest subscriber and yet you live in SureWests Northern California service area, there has never been a better time to switch... Other users who are interested in this service can help us bring it to them by contacting their ISP and suggesting TVersity remote access as a possible value-add service.

In case you are wondering how this remote access service relates to our core offering - access of personal and Internet media on TV, the basic idea behind TVersity is to empower users to access their favorite media on their favortie devices - be they TV connected or mobile. This is the first time however that we have been able to make remote access as easy as it needs to be. Needless to say SureWest Media Connect includes all the other features of TVersity and can therefore satisfy all your media serving needs.

"I am thrilled to be launching the SureWest Media Connect Beta! We have worked for some time with TVeristy to bring this service to our customers in a way that would make it easy to access and use. With SureWest Media Connect and the My Surewest website we are able to give our customers a truly unique service, the ability to remotely access and play all of the music, photos and videos stored on their home PC from anywhere on the world!" -Rick Vohs, Product Engineering Manager, SureWest

Monday, October 13, 2008 

Copyright law needs fixing

Ever thought about the fundamental problem with copyright law at the digital age? I mean, can it be that our kids are pirates or maybe we, the old fashioned adults, refuse to change our habits and instead declare their actions illegal?

A fascinating article by professor Lawrence Lessig answers this question and suggest how it can be fixed. Here is a quote that captures the essence:

Copyright law is triggered every time there is a copy. In the digital age, where every use of a creative work produces a "copy," that makes as much sense as regulating breathing. The law should also give up its obsession with "the copy," and focus instead on uses -- like public distributions of copyrighted work -- that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.

Looks like we, the adults, are caught up in regulating our kids breathing. Who is the criminal now?

Friday, May 02, 2008 

Yet another proof that DRM is absurd

Microsoft decided to take down the DRM servers of the now defunct MSN music store and with it the ability of end users to authorize computers for playing music purchased legally on that store. If you own such music, you deserve this punishment since you violated the 11th amendment: "Thou shall not buy DRM protected music".
Note that even if you authorize the maximum allowed number of machines, once you stop using the machines (or in the case of Windows, once you need to reinstall the operating system...), you will lose the authorization and so losing your music completely is just a matter of time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 

The coming Age of the Smartphone or is it just the iPhone?

Back in January of 2007 when it was known that the iPhone is coming, many (including myself, see The iPhone Effect) were trying to anticipate the effect it would have on the market. An article in the New York Times titled "BlackBerry’s Quest: Fend Off the iPhone" got me thinking about this issue again and made me re-evaluate my original analysis.

Here are some interesting facts and observations:
  • The smartphone market (in units sold) was just 7.5% (125 million) of the overall mobile phone market (2 billion) in 2007, but is expected by analysts to rapidly grow.
  • Worldwide, smartphone shipments jumped 60 percent in the last three months of 2007 over the same period the previous year, according to IDC, the tracking firm.
  • In that same year the lion share in the smartphone market shifted from enterprises to consumers, suggesting that consumers want smarter phones and are making the shift to these phones while enterprises already have them. I think it is safe to assume that the growth of the smartphone market will come mainly from consumers.
  • Consumers demand for smartphone increased the importance of features like multimedia, 3D graphics and a desktop like web browser.
  • Blackberry US smartphone market share declined from 45% in 2006 to 40% in the 2007, this is despite the fact that their user base doubled in that year.
  • The iPhone US market share in the first six months of its launch was 17.4%.
  • Nokia is so far a very small player in the smartphone market in the US but had a 52% share of the worldwide market in 2007 (down from 56% in 2006 and expected to slip further).
  • Google Android is for now a lab experiment, nothing more.
  • Windows Mobile market share seems to be declining and no one considers Palm anymore as a serious player in that market. This leaves RIM and Apple as the current rivals to watch in the US with Nokia joining them when considering the worldwide market.
  • Danger, the maker of the sidekick, was acquired in 2007 by Microsoft, suggesting that Microsoft is aware of the trouble lying ahead and is making desperate moves, that will probably have no impact on the outcome of the smartphone battle.
So what does it all mean? Well... here are my thoughts:
  • The battle of the smarphone market is probably the most important battle the tech industry has ever seen. This is because phones are more popular than computers by an order of magnitude and with time it seems like the lion share of the mobile phone market will be held by smartphones.
  • Apple is positioned to win this battle in the US and maybe even worldwide and the only one that can prevent that is Apple, meaning unless they make tons of mistakes or some force majeure intervenes (say Steve Jobs cancer makes a comeback) there is no company that stands a chance to beat them.
  • RIM will most likely get acquired by Microsoft (once Microsoft is done with Yahoo! that is). However if Apple does make enough mistakes (or you know what happens) RIM will most likely be the winner and in that scenario they might just end up buying Microsoft and not the other way around... :) Now that is a thought worth savoring.
  • Worldwide, Nokia and specifically Symbian, will most likely drop to less than 50% share in 2008 and may lose the leadership position within a few years to Apple.
One more thing, Google Android is fundamentally different from the others since it emphasizes consumers freedom to use mobile devices like they use computers, over everything else. As such it is my favorite underdog, I dare say that in an ideal world it, or something like it, will win, but as we all know we do not live in such a world.

In case you wonder what is Blackberry stand regarding consumers freedom, the following quote from the New York Times article will make it clear that, just like Apple, they are the bad guys:

R.I.M. makes its alliances clear. “We are sort of polite and amiable and we gently interrelate with the carriers and try to find compatibility,” Mr. Balsillie said. “It may be a better strategy to fight the carrier. We may be wrong. The carrier may get disintermediated, in which case we fade with them.”

UPDATED on April 28th with more accurate Nokia market share figures thanks to a user comment, suggesting that their US market figures are very different from the rest of the world.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 

Fixing LinkedIn system for business referral

By: Alon Cohen & Ronen Mizrahi

Linked-In is one of the earliest business social networks and as such inspired great hopes of simple access to people for the purpose of doing business. The hopes were for direct or friend-assisted access to individuals you want to do business with, which may be in your network up to a certain degree of separation.

Many of those who actually tried using the network as business tool report a complete failure.

Seamus McCauley states in post at Virtual Economics: “Here’s the problem with LinkedIn - it doesn’t do anything. You sign up, you find some colleagues, you link to them and then…nothing.”

So have others, including Jeff Pulver, who completely gave up on Linked-In and moved to Facebook.

Our experience is that even using the paid version of linked-in for direct access does not help a bit. The only people you really gained access to, were the people you already knew beforehand, and all the rest of the millions on the network remained inaccessible.

One can only assume that Linked-in invested vast amounts of development time into the referral mechanisms just to discover that it doesn’t work in the real world. The network’s main value is apparently manifested as a repository of resumes and as an active update mechanism that generates notifications as friends find to new jobs.

The problem, as we identified it, was not the concept of the friendly referrals but rather the lack of incentive for people to propagate introduction requests, specifically in fear that they may not be up to par, and the lack of a method to evaluate the request and determine whether passing it on will undermine their reputation in the eyes of the receiving party or reinforce it. In other words am I doing the receiver a favor or am I wasting their time with junk. Plus what’s in it for me?

The idea is to create a clear incentive path and a tracking mechanism for deals that materialized due to referral actions taken by individuals, with the intention to make business introductions facilitated by a social network significantly more efficient when compared to pre-existing methods.

This is similar to the efficiencies social networks added to other forms of communications between friends such as selective sharing of news, photos and other personal data.

Business referrals among friends has been taking place in the world long before the Internet came along, yet it has not been made more efficient or monetized by social networks yet, like other social activities have.

The Internet and specifically social networks provide the underlying infrastructure to do just that with the potential to track the referral and its path in the network and to keep all parties updated with respect to the referral progress.

As an example if I knew that by referring a start-up to an NBC executive I will receive 1% of a multimillion dollar in case the deal is closed, I will probably do my best to forward the referral request, and even make an effort to find the correct next link to ensure higher success probability of the referral.

Think about helping an entrepreneur get to a VC for a few millions dollars deal, or any other deal that is not so hard to quantify. I am sure you can think of some as you read those lines.
Obviously the network will monetize its database by taking its own 1% commission from those “few” multimillion dollars deals.

The provisional patent described here was filed and it is depicting a method and mechanics associated with incentivizing and monetizing the referral system in business social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, Linked In, Xing, Plaxo or Pulse and can fit other social networks used for Dating and Matching, as such it is not limited to the business domain.
Third-parties currently working on social network projects and APIs (Google, Open Social and so on) may also implement it across several social networks such that the referral path may span and can be tracked across seemingly unconnected networks.

The inventors are happy to negotiate licensing terms with interesting parties that want to own the patent and its priority date.

In a year (April 7th 2009), this patent will officially lose its priority date and will be available, royalty free, to all social networks. Take that as our own contribution to the social networking world, and yes, we need this to work. We are already in discussions with few parties, so if you are the CEO of a social network straggling to differentiate and compete, or a Biz-Dev guy for that matter, with those companies, don’t let this slip between your fingers, be among the first to contact us.

For more information please contact Alon or Ronen

Friday, March 28, 2008 

Music labels must die. Hopefully, before they do any more damage

In what may be one of the last efforts to maintain a dying industry, the music labels are trying to create a music tax. Read all about it at TechCrunch (the title of this post was taken from that article).

The idea of getting paid with no relation to productivity is preposterous, someone at the labels need to be reminded that communism is not in anymore (maybe they are inspired by the rise of China, who knows). Instead of working hard to re-invent themselves in light of inevitable change the labels are busy trying to devise "clever" schemes that will essentially kill them even faster. It is time for a shareholder mutiny.

Friday, March 21, 2008 

Report: 95% of Internet video stuck looking longingly at TV

In a recent survey by Harris Interactive over 25% say they download TV shows regulary, but only 5% watch videos on a TV or other video-playing device regularly. Ars Technica attributes it to the difficulty associated with watching downloaded shows on TV due to DRM and other technical barriers. They also warn content providers from the inevitable consequences of making it hard for consumers to access their content via networked devices:

"As online video continues to expand, content providers will have to face the consequences of their own restrictions on how viewers use content. Making it easier to transfer files to portable devices and set-top boxes will help drive viewership"

What do I make of all this? Well... During 2007, Internet videos and specifically Internet TV has clearly gone mainstream, however as the survey suggests accessing Internet videos from TV is far from mainstream and is still in an early adopter phase. I am convinced however that in 2008, thanks to game consoles and popular networked set-top-boxes (like the DirecTV HR20/HR21), we will see more and more Internet content accessed in the living room. This content however won't be TV shows or movies, it will be content freely available on the web, such as YouTube, podcasts, live TV from all over the world and more. The reason it won't be movies and TV shows is precisely the one mentioned by Ars Technica.

I can testify from my own experience (a few conversations with a top NBC executive) that content publishers do not want it to be accessed via services that they do not control - they are afraid from losing control over their content to iTunes or it successor. This is why NBC and Fox started Hulu, and this is why Joost is having such a hard time and has finally realized that its future lies in the long tail and not mainstream media.

What content publishers do not understand is that they have been fluctuating between two extremes (illegal file sharing on the one hand and iTunes legally taking over their content on the other) and the conclusion they should draw is not "let's pile up additional restrictions" but rather "let's remove these restrictions" so that content won't be used to lock in users (like Apple does) and will be easy enough to consume legally. Will they do it? I am not optimistic... I said it before and I will say it again, the shareholder of the music labels and the movie studios should have replaced the board and management of their companies long ago for their remarkable incompetence when it comes to the digital age.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 

Opening television to the Internet

In a rather unusual open letter, Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire and Adam Berrey addressed the consumer electronic industry asking them to open Television sets to Internet content.

The letter, which comes after the 2008 CES show in which the absence of an open industry standard for accessing Internet content on TVs was made obvious, identified a few key elements of such a standard:
  1. Direct Network Connectivity – TVs should be connected directly to the Internet through home networks, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and Ethernet.
  2. Internet Media Browser – Every TV should have an Internet Media Browser (IMB) designed for finding, browsing and viewing video from the Internet. Unlike a web browser, the IMB as a standard should be designed around a narrower goal of browsing and viewing streaming video and music. The IMB would be like the traditional cable electronic programming guide (EPG) for Internet content. With the IMB, consumers should be able to browse through any media catalog published on the Internet and stream the videos and audio directly to their TV. The IMB should handle playback with standard codecs including MP3, Flash Video (VP6), H.264, and VC-1. Finally the IMB should support a simple, standardized programming model that would enable ad insertion and analytics integration through web protocols.
  3. Catalog Publishing – To get listings and content into the Internet Media Browsers, we will need a standard for any Internet publisher to publish catalogs of media content. Most likely using XML, this standard would provide a simple way for any website with media content to list that content along with the metadata, such as title and description, and pointers to the physical files. This standard would mean that regardless of the device, an IMB would be able to easily display the listings and access the streaming content. The relationship between the publishing standard and IMBs would be like the relationship between RSS and RSS readers.
  4. Registration Services – The final component is one that would create a natural bridge between web browsing on a PC and Internet Media Browsing from a TV. The core of this is a standard for registering devices with an online service where consumers can save links to the media catalogs they'd like to access from their TV. With this mechanism in place, it would be easy for someone to click a link from a web page to say, "I want to watch this on my TV," and have the video or collection of videos registered online and automatically made available on their TV the next time they turn it on. By making this an open standard, companies providing cloud services could compete in an open market place and consumers could choose the service they want whether it's from a manufacturer, social network, portal or someone else.
While I agree with the above suggestions and in fact TVersity today addresses most of them, I think the letter is misguided. The consumer electronics industry will not be able to respond on time to the obvious consumer need to access their favorite Internet content in the living room and will therefore lose this opportunity to game consoles and set-top-boxes.

My thinking is simple, they will need a substantial amount of time to get their act together, (believe me I know, TVersity has been discussing ways to bring the Internet to the living room with consumer electronic companies for a long time) and then it takes another 7 years or so for these new TVs to be deployed in a large enough number of households (A typical household keeps their TV set at least that amount of time and since many just got a new HD TV they won't make a new investment for a while). Until that time content publishers won't have a critical mass of viewers so they won't bother addressing this market.

In the same time, the latest generation game consoles have been deployed in more than 20 million homes already, it has impressive Internet capabilities and at least two of the three consoles (the PS3 and the Xbox 360) were designed as multimedia gateways. Microsoft and Sony are very well aware of the Internet opportunity and are looking to capitalize on it and usurp the market long before the CE guys can make their move.

While this is all taking place, the existing rulers of the living room, the cable and satellite TV operators are not going to give up their control without a battle. Comcast's announcement of project Infinity and tru2way are two indications of it. Add to that the fact that TV operators are able to deploy new set-top-boxes faster than TVs are sold and that their latest generation HD-DVRs have updatable firmware and an Ethernet connection, and once again it is obvious that they can make a market changing move long before the CE guys.

Of-course the open letter would not have been any more effective if it were addressed at TV operators or game console companies. It is the nature of every emerging market to go through all the "unnecessary" stages of extreme fragmentation and eventual consolidation both in terms of products and standard and in terms of companies that deliver them. This market is no exception, if anything it is going to be much worse, since a lot is at stake and the players come from many different tradiitonally isolated industries (Software, TV service providers, CE companies, networking companies, Set-Top-Box companies and more).

What do you think about this letter?

Friday, December 28, 2007 

2007 is the year DRM died, at least for music

Readers of this blog know that I am no big fan of DRM and so it is with great pleasure that I can now declare that DRM protected music is a thing of the past. Warner Music Group is the most recent label to drop DRM and Sony BMG, the last one out of the four major label that still sells DRM protected music only, is expected to do so in 2008.

The music industry adopted DRM as a mean to create new business models, and most importantly allow them, even in the age of digital media, to re-sell the same music to consumers over and over again in different formats or for different devices. Yet, the only business model that DRM enabled is the Apple monopolistic model. And so the labels killed DRM in an effort to battle this new monopoly that DRM created. Isn't it funny, they turned to DRM to enable new business models, yet it enabled a new business model for Apple and in the process the labels lost control over both legal and illegal digital music downloads. So now they turn to DRM again (by killing it) hoping to re-gain control over their own business. If only they focused their energy in adding value instead of fighting their customers in court and outside of it...

I am telling you all this because, movies are still mostly DRM protected and one can't help but wonder if the lessons from the music industry can be applied to the movie industry. Unfortunately for us, Apple is not yet a monopoly in movie downloads and so the studios do not feel any pressure to do what the labels are doing. Furthermore, since Apple TV is not taking off, they are not likely to become such a monopoly any time soon. Rest assured however, that some form of delivery of Internet content to the living room will emerge and go to the mainstream eventually and when that happen s it will most likely be DRM protected. If that ends up creating a new monopoly then maybe we will be lucky again and the DRM will be killed by the studios for the same reasons as the labels. If however this DRM scheme will be open, chances are that no single entity will monopolize the legal movie download business and hence the studios will have no incentive to kill DRM.

Of-course I am an optimist and a capitalist, so I believe that DRM for movies will eventually be eliminated as well. The reason is simple, something that does not add value to the customer but rather makes for a bad user experience and in the same time has costs associated with it is a great inefficiency and free markets won't tolerate it for long. What I do not know however, is how exactly this story will unfold, just like I did not know a few years ago how DRM protected music would go away, yet it did happen and it happened for the very same root cause, an intolerable market inefficiency.

Friday, December 21, 2007 

Verizon's claim to open its network is a celver scheme to open your checkbook

While I am a big believer in open mobile networks as a concept that will eventually replace the existing closed ones, I am also realistic enough to know that the path to this future is going to be full of pain and obstacles. So, when Verizon announced that they would open their network to any device and application, I was certain that there was nothing more than marketing buzz here. I then came across this article by TIM O’REILLY, titled Static on the Dream Phone, and I knew I was not the only one feeling that way.

To be fair to Verizaon, I need to explain why I think there is no substance to this announcement. According to Verizon, “devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab.” Now let me ask you how long do you think it will take and how much it will cost to get your application or device tested? Surely more than one such test will be needed, and in fact with the rapid releases we see these days for software and device firmware, any single application or device will require dozens of tests every year, assuming Verizon was able to do them fast enough (which I doubt). Therefore it follows that the gatekeeper approach Verizon is currently playing will continue just the same, the only thing that will be more open maybe is the gatekeeping process and of-course your checkbook.

Friday, October 26, 2007 

More press coverage by PC Pro

Monday, October 22, 2007 

Free My Phone

I have been saying over and over again that carriers are behaving like dictators and it is time for them to open their networks for any phone or phone software. You can imagine how happy I was to see this recent write up by Walt Mossberg. Here are a few interesting quotes:

"A shortsighted and often just plain stupid federal government has allowed itself to be bullied and fooled by a handful of big wireless phone operators for decades now. And the result has been a mobile phone system that is the direct opposite of the PC model. It severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer."

"That’s why I refer to the big cellphone carriers as the “Soviet ministries.” Like the old bureaucracies of communism, they sit athwart the market, breaking the link between the producers of goods and services and the people who use them."

Looks like Walt is at least as angry as I am about the current state of affairs. Now we only need to find the Mihail Gorbachov that can free the wireless world and end the cold war between Skype (or other software / phone vendors) and the carriers.

Monday, October 08, 2007 

New TVersity release plus making it into the top 50 list of PC Pro

We have just made a new TVersity release with newly added support for Windows Media Center as well as Media Center compatible technologies such as Active-TV. This is just a few days after we have been given spot number 44 in the top 50 free tools on the web, put together by PC Pro.

They have dedicated to us a paragraph of text and almost half a page for screenshots. Here are some scans sent to us by one of our first users and our biggest evangelist in Europe, Mike Leeson:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 

Radio iPods expected on Wednesday is reporting that the iPod is gaining WiFi support tomorrow. To be more precise they claim that new iPods will be able to receive digital radio, and will include a 'buy-now' function to allow the user to download and buy tracks as they are being played. This will finally turn the iPod into a connected device, something I predicted back in 2006 and then when it did not happen I made the same prediction again in 2007.

In my 2006 predictions about the iPod I said the following:

"With respect to music, I can visualize many new CD quality commercial free radio stations that are made available for the iPod for free simply because the iTunes store can now be accessed from the iPod and so impulse purchases can be made as one listens to the radio (yes Sirius and XM should be very worried since their business model is under a serious threat)."

I still believe that iPods with live Net Radio are bad news for Sirius and XM. If WiMax were here and the iPod was an always connected device it would have been much worse for them, to the point that they would be extinct, unless they reinvent themselves. Until WiMax arrives however, they still have time to think about this and maybe come up with creative ways to survive and then again maybe not - only a handful of companies can adjust in light of such a threat to their core business and I would not bet on these two.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 

TVersity on third party content sites

A few weeks ago we have launched the TVersity button for 3rd party content sites. The button is intended to allow one click subscription to podcasts and other types of rich media URLs, directly from publishers' website.

We are glad to announce that the first live sample of this button is now available at G4TV. Each of their podcasts features the TVersity button next to the iTunes button and a generic RSS button.

I want to personally thank the good folks at G4TV for being the first to add our button to their site and for their vote of confidence in TVersity. I know that many other publishers will follow suit once they see the great job done by G4TV.

If you want to see this button in action, please visit the G4TV Podcasts page at:

Monday, July 30, 2007 

The wireless industry is stuck in 1994

Using data services on a mobile phone is an extremely frustrating experience today and it looks like both Skype and Google are determined to change it. Why is it frustrating you ask? Here is an answer by Amol Sarva, a co-founder of Virgin Mobile USA:

"The wireless industry is stuck in 1994," said Amol Sarva, a co-founder of Virgin Mobile USA and chief executive of Txtbl. "Back then, AOL controlled how people surfed the Internet and what content they could access. And that's what the current wireless market is like today under the control of mobile operators." (taken from Unlock the Cell phone it's a high stakes debate by CNET)

The same article further suggests:

"The problem is simple. Today most of the 220 million American cell phone users are forced to buy handsets provided and controlled by their service provider. In some cases, mobile operators are actually turning off features or disabling applications so consumers cannot access them."

The USA TODAY had also published an article about this same topic:
New rules could rock wireless world (by Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY)

I always felt that something has to change with the cell phone world and that the current state of affairs is shameful, when it comes to consumer freedom. My biggest hope was Wimax, which was positioned as a long range Wifi technology that could finally bring us a true always connected mobile broadband. That is until the current major wireless players (such as Sprint, Motorola and Nokia) took over the major Wimax companies or the Wimax spetcrum and turned it into 4G, meaning that Wimax is going to be the technology used by next generation networks for data but the business is going to stay the same as before.

Needless to say, I was happy to see Skype attempting to do something about it earlier this year. I am thrilled about the possibility that the FCC may try to improve things with the 700 Mhz spectrum auction, but most of all I am delighted to see Google taking a stand. It is obvious that both Skype and Google are doing it for very selfish reasons but as long as their interests are aligned with consumers freedom and open mobile broadband, this is fine.

I am telling you all this now of all days, because tomorrow the FCC will set the rules governing the wireless auction and I want to do my share in raising awareness for this important topic.


The FCC voted for the new rules and the results are mixed. They essentially voted for openness in terms of devices and in terms of applications, which is a huge step forward, however they left out the requirement that the winner be obliged to sell in wholesale prices use of the network. It is worthwhile mentioning that this does not have any effect on the existing networks and so it remains to be seen if the winner of the auction will indeed build a new wireless network that will change the rules of the game, spur a new wave of innovation and force the existing networks to follow suit or not.

More details are at ars technica.

Monday, July 09, 2007 

The Media Center Show

Mike Wolf, the new host of the media center show and an analyst with ABI Research, was kind enough to interview me for the third show of this season. It looks like Mike is planning to offer a more balanced perspective into the media center market, a very refreshing change indeed.

If you are interested to learn more about TVersity, past, present and future, here is a link:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 

A Patch for the Xbox360 spring update is now available

As you may know Microsoft has released today a new firmware update for the Xbox 360 and this broke compatibility with TVersity (only with videos, audio and images work as before).

We are glad to announce that we already have a patch that fixes this problem and also takes advantage of the new functionality of this spring update, letting you browse your video in a folder hierarchy instead of just a long flat list.

You can download the patch at:

To apply it please follow the steps below:
  • Make sure you have version installed, otherwise install it. Please note that this patch cannot be applied on top of older versions and is designed for ONLY.
  • Stop media sharing (via the advanced menu or the tray icon)
  • Unzip the patch file and copy its content over to the TVersity installation folder (by default it is \Program Files\TVersity\Media Server)
  • Sart sharing and try accessing video from the 360
Thank you everyone for helping us test this. It will be great if people with a 360 from different regions in the world will test it since in the past we had cases where European boxes behaved different than American ones.

As always, feel free to share with us your feedback at our support forums.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 

TVersity announces on the fly conversion to FLV for the Sony PS3 and the Nintendo Wii

TVersity Inc., the pioneer in delivering Internet and home media to televisions and mobile devices, today announced on the fly conversion to flash video (FLV) for the Sony PS3 and the Nintendo Wii.

“We are very excited to allow owners of the PS3 and the Wii to effortlessly stream or download their home and Internet content and watch it on their TV”, said Ronen Mizrahi, President of TVersity Inc., “With TVersity they can, for the first time, play video files in formats not natively supported by the PS3/Wii, play Internet TV channels of their choice, and access video podcasts and RSS feeds (from YouTube, Yahoo, Google and many more) – TVersity is the first and only solution that can turn these game consoles into a full blown media center!”

TVersity is the only solution to allow seamless playback of any media on all the major game consoles (Xbox 360, Sony PS3, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PSP) as well as networked TVs, DVDs, STBs, digital media adapters/receivers, PDAs, mobiles phones, and other mobile devices (including the Nokia N800 Internet tablet).

“Our goal is to empower users to personalize their entertainment experience and to extend this experience beyond the PC to TVs and to a wide range of connected devices and applications”, said Mr. Mizrahi, “As users invest more time in organizing and personalizing their favorite content, they essentially become the new programmers and they expect to have access to their programming from any multimedia capable device - This is what TVersity is all about, personalization of multimedia content and ubiquitous access.”

TVersity is available now for free download at

About TVersity Inc.
TVersity is empowering individuals to organize and personalize their home and Internet multimedia collection (audio, video and images) and is enabling universal access to it anywhere (at the home or on the go) anytime and from any device. TVersity is a privately held company in Tenafly, NJ. For more information about TVersity, please visit

Sunday, April 22, 2007 

New Release from TVersity (0.9.10)

TVersity 0.9.10 is out, featuring support for the Sony Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, Nokia N800 and video transcoding for the Sony PSP. This new release has a new Adobe Flash based media library interface that allows audio and video streaming to any device that supports the flash runtime. While this interface was created specifically for the Sony Playstation 3 and for the Nintendo Wii, it can be used on many other devices and on computers of any operating system.

This new release has many additional improvements under the hood, designed to allow video/audio conversion to many new formats such as Divx, MPEG4, Flash Video and more (TVersity could convert these formats to MPEG1/2 before, however conversion to these formats is a new addition).

Wii owners, please note that due to inability to get a Nintendo Wii, support for this unit is experimental, however some users already report success in streaming both audio and video.

As always, we ask that you take the time to share with us your feedback and ideas for further improvement. This is now especially important as we approach our 1.0 release and wish to emerge out of beta status.

Download the new release at:

Release notes are at:

Saturday, April 14, 2007 

Apple's iPod may gain Wi-Fi by holidays

AppleInsider is reporting that the iPod is gaining WiFi support by this holiday season. This will finally turn the iPod into a connected device, something I predicted for 2006 and then when it did not happen for 2007.

The question is what kind of functionality Apple is planning to offer based on this new capability. In my original post about this topic (back in January of 2006) I tried to discuss different scenarios WiFi may enable. It will be interesting to see how far Apple takes it.

Most importantly, this new capability turns the iPod into a device TVersity needs to support and it also makes Bonjour a protocol we need to add, side by side with UPnP. Bonjour, for those that do not know, is Apple's take on device interoperability over home networks. It is an alternative to UPnP, and like UPnP A/V Bonjour has DAAP for audio and video services. iTunes, Apple TV and most likely the iPod will implement this protocol, hence it will become more important than UPnP A/V over night.

While Apple is trying to promote Bonjour and get others to adopt it (this is probably the main reason behind their recent decision to open source it), they are not trying to do the same with the audio and video services that they have implemented on top of Bonjour and for that reason UPnP still has a role to play.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the battle between the closed system approach championed by Apple and the open ecosystem approach championed by Microsoft goes to the next level and is about to span every facet of our connected lifestyle. Make no mistake, the battle for MP3 players was merely round I. The introduction of the Apple TV, WiFi for the iPod and the iPhone indicate that Apple is aiming to displace both Microsoft and Intel and become the most important company in tech by leading all the major product categories of tomorrow.

More about my gloomy predictions about Apple and their attempt to take over the world, is available in my previous post about the iPhone Effect.

Friday, April 06, 2007 

HP Drops its Flagship Media Center Line

CEPro is reporting that HP is pulling out of the media center business and will no longer sell living room friendly form factor PCs with MCE. The company that pioneered the living-room form factor for Media Center Edition (MCE) PCs has decided to drop the line. I am sure you can guess the reason, the product must have virtually no demand in the market.

The company instead will focus its energy on MediaSmart, the new brand of TVs, mobile devices and media servers - this is not Microsoft Media Center Extenders, but HP's own implementation of the UPnP A/V and DLNA standards.

This, in my opinion, is a reflection of MCE failure to serve its purpose. Sure, Microsoft is selling millions of copies, but are they being used as media centers? Are they installed in living rooms? The answer is now clear, definitely not - therwise HP would not abandon this market.


Long-form television is not Something the Average American Wants to View on a Computer Screen

Here is yet another proof that Internet TV should be delivered to the living room and not to the PC. Do you remember that experiment Time Warner started back in 2005 offering some of their subscribers basic TV to the PC? Well, after almost two years they declared the experiment a failure and they will no longer offer this service. According to Time Warner fewer than 1% of the 9,000 customers to which it had been providing this television service to the PC actually watched any TV that way on any given day.

I wonder what that means for Joost. Will they be able to get a significant number of people watching TV on their PC? If you ask me Apple TV will be bigger than Joost now and forever, but it is not surprising that I would say that. After all, TVersity is a reflection of what I think Internet TV should be like.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 

Some Screenshots from the Upcoming release

Here are some screenshot of the user interface we are creating for the Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. This will also work on any web browser on any OS that has Macromedia flash version 7 or higher. As you can see this is going to be a full blown implementation of a media center front end running on Adobe Flash.

The top of the media library:

Playing an audio podcast:

Browsing YouTube Videos:

Playing a YouTube Video:

Browsing a Video Podcast:

Downloading a video to the PS3 hard drive in Hi-Def MPEG format:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007 

DRM Free Music available on iTunes - Goodbye CD Stores

Back in January I said that this year we will see music from major labels sold on the web without DRM. I thought it might take a while and I am glad to see that it did not and already now Apple offers DRM free music.

This is is a great step forward, especially when considering the fact that the premium for a DRM free song (which according to Apple will also be in a higher quality) is just 30 cents. DRM free albums will sell for the same price of $9.99, as DRM protected ones (why even bother offering DRM protected albums?).

Looks like the industry is on track to offer music from all the four major labels without DRM by the end of the year. This hypothesis is based on the fact that in the past, once Apple signed one studio or one label the rest came knocking on Apple's door. Of-course we, the consumers, will first need to make DRM free music a big success or else the other labels won't follow EMI. I personally do not think there is any reason for concern here, I am very confident that DRM free music will allow digital music sales to grow exponentially.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Jobs feels half of the songs on iTunes will be DRM free by year end:

Mr. Jobs, however, was unequivocal in his prediction that the industry would eventually reduce its use of copy protection. He said that he expected more than half of the songs on iTunes would be available in unprotected versions by year’s end.

The one concern I do have is for all the CD stores that are still out there, everyone should go visit one soon and say goodbye, adios, hasta la vista... The one thing we cannot say to them is farewell because they won't.

Friday, February 23, 2007 

Skype vs. Wireless Carriers - Round I

Skype yesterday petitioned the FCC to force wireless phone carriers who "limit subscribers' right to run software communications applications of their choosing" to change (from Ars Technica).

Back when I was testing TVersity with wireless phones I came to the sad realization that most carriers cripple the web browsers on their devices such that audio and video files inside a web page cannot be played - even if they are in a format that the phone supports.

After digging into this a little bit it became apparent that the carriers exercise full control over our phones. They decide what applications we can run, what audio and video content we can play and what companies are allowed to offer these add-on services.

Unlike their claim that this is the only way to prevent harm to their networks, the real reasons are expensive certification processes and revenue shares. Sounds familiar?

Compare this to the world of personal computers and the Internet. Companies that provide Internet connectivity in the US have been quite vocal about their demand to share revenues with companies like Google or else... This is the well known Net neutrality debate and these companies, which are in most cases in both the ISP and the wireless phone business, wish to apply the wireless model to the non mobile world.

Thankfully Skype (who has been banned by wireless carriers as an application that can run on Cell phones) is trying to do the opposite. They want to bring the stationary model for Internet connectivity to the wireless world, and I say we should all want that. It is, in my opinion, a basic freedom that the free world should grant its citizens. Freedom of speech in the digital era should also mean the freedom to run whatever application I like on my cell phone, as long as I am not harming anyone else.

This is one example where the forces of the market might not solve this problem for us. There are essentially two options, let the market fix this or use legislation.

Can the market fix this without government intervention? The only thing in the foreseeable future that can possibly do it is WiMax. If WiMax brings the typical Internet freedoms with it, we will all be saved. But who are the major players in WiMax? They are the same companies that run wireless networks, and so if they can have it their way, WiMax will be like wireless networks and not like the stationary Internet.

What is the solution then? Legislation!!! It is time for Washington to go back to the most basic freedoms and force wireless carriers to open their networks.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 

Yahoo: By Christmas, most of our music catalog will be DRM-free

According to USA Today Yahoo Music general manager Dave Goldberg predicts that by Christmas, most of Yahoo's catalog will be DRM-free.

In the meantime Valley Wag reports that Mr. Goldberg resigned yesterday. I hope this is unrelated to the DRM prediction... :)

Friday, February 09, 2007 

Zune Phone Confirmed!

Yet another one of my predictions (this time about the iPhone effect) is about to come true. According to Crunch Gear, on Monday, Microsoft filed a mystery application with the FCC for a device that is described as being used for “consumer broadband access and networking”.

Crunch Gear thinks it is going to be a WiMax enabled phone. The important part however is that Microsoft is indeed going to compete with the iPhone:

Our source says that an iPhone competitor has been in the works for a while, and the idea of branding it as part of the Zune ecosystem, from the brown color through the interface, came as a recent decision as a response to Apple’s iPhone.


EMI in talks to sell unprotected MP3s

Looks like my prediction that this year we will see mainstream music (which means music from one of the four major labels) sold without DRM may just surprise even me and actually happen.

According to the Wall Street Journal (and also mentioned in USA Today), EMI is in talks to sell unprotected MP3s. While EMI is not yet confirming this, we all know that if it got printed in the Journal then it has to have some solid roots in reality.

Over a month ago when I made my prediction, it was to some degree a wish. I was convinced that music without DRM was the future, but already in 2007? This was the wishful part or maybe not...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 

Steve Jobs: DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy

In an unusual paper titled thoughts on music, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs has shared with the world his thoughts about the future of DRM.

Mr. Jobs suggests three different possible courses of action for the future of music distribution. The first is keeping the current situation of several competing and proprietary DRM systems, the second is licensing Apple FairPlay (to which he says no) and the third is abolishing DRM completely.

"The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat".

He then says about the labels:
"So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free (he is referring to CDs), what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies".

He concludes by saying:
"Convincing them (the four major labels) to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly".

Mr. Jobs is proving once again that he is a very shrewd business man. After leveraging DRM to take over the marketplace and reaching an unprecedented position of power in the music industry, now that the outcry against Apple's FairPlay is reaching dangerous levels he is moving to reposition Apple as the savior of consumers and the one who would want nothing more than abolishing DRM.

This same man has used the panic in the music industry back then when the iTunes store was established to position Apple as the savior of the desperate labels and artists and now he is doing it again, this time saving us the consumers from the dreaded DRM schemes that are to be blamed on the labels.

To all this, I say, Apple and Microsoft are to be equally blamed for DRM. They were the ones that mislead the labels by claiming that DRM could solve piracy. Therefore they are the one that we, the consumers, should hold responsible (together with one label, Sony BMG, for their use of rootkits).

Either way, the more people join the battle to eliminate DRM the better, so as long as Mr. Jobs truly means what he says, we are happy to accept him with open arms.

Some response from Hilary Rosen, former chairman and CEO of the RIAA, is available in the following CNBC video interview:

Friday, February 02, 2007 

Hollywood admits DRM isn't about piracy

Need I say more? Read the rest here.

Monday, January 29, 2007 

The iPhone Effect Revisited

Looks like has did the math that could validate my gloom iPhone Effect predictions. Nothing is set in stone, but if the iPhone is successful, this is going to happen and nobody can stop it except Apple itself (by making lots of stupid mistakes).


The Nonsense of DRM

Michael Arrington spoke to Yahoo Music GM David Goldberg and Yahoo Music VP of Product Development Ian Rogers, about the notion of labels abandoning DRM for music. The point Yahoo! is making to labels, is that DRM is contradictory to the laws of economic, it is a losing proposition for consumers and since it offers no value and consumers can get music without DRM they will not buy it. The evidence they provide is that CD sales continue to drop and digital sales are slowing down, and are definitely not growing fast enough to compensate for loss.

The good news is that according to Yahoo, labels get it. They understand that DRM will not stop anyone from stealing music but it hinders innovation and so they are ready to sell DRM-les music. However their parent companies are not ready just yet.

Overall a very optimistic forecast from Yahoo, the bottom line is that they are expecting that a significant portion of their catalog will be available for sale in MP3 format, with no DRM, including major labels content, by Christmas of 2007. To that I say Yahoooooooooooo!