According to an editorial in The New York Times, the House’s proposed Stop Online Piracy Act is too broad as it has provisions to cut off payments from providers such as Visa and ad networks like Google simply by filing a notice of infringement.
While the legislation is aimed at foreign websites like Pirate Bay, it could also be used against domestic websites covered by the Digital Milennium Copyright Act that has safe harbor provisions.
The editorial asserts that safe harbor provisions should be made available to foreign websites that abide by the DMCA. And a court order should be required before action is taken.
A related Los Angeles Times editorial suggests that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act both go to extremes in an effort to protect intellectual property.
The legislation could force companies to monitor their users’ behavior “turning them into a private security force for copyright and trademark owners.”
Infringement on popular sites like Facebook, Dropbox and YouTube are certainly opening them up to action in spite of safe harbor provisions now in force. The result would be less innovation to create the next YouTube and would have a potentially chilling effect on free speech.
Ron Johnson, the new CEO of J.C. Penny and the former SVP of retail for Apple, talks about what he learned building the Apple Stores, the leading U.S. retailer with sales of $5,626 per square foot, nearly double the sales of Tiffany & Co, its closest competitor.
People come to the Apple Store for the experience, the most important part of which is the staff. The philosophy is NOT focused on selling, but on building relationships and making the customer’s life better, a model that worked for Apple.
“The staff is exceptionally well trained, and they’re not on commission, so it makes no difference to them if they sell you an expensive new computer or help you make your old one run better so you’re happy with it,” explains Johnson. “Their job is to figure out what you need and help you get it, even if it’s a product Apple doesn’t carry. Compare that with other retailers where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don’t want or need it.”
The Apple model is not easy, and has required persistence. The Genius Bar, for example, was not popular in the beginning, but Apple stuck with it as the best way to help customers. “Three years after the Genius Bar launched, it was so popular we had to set up a reservation system,” writes Johnson.
Take a look at the toolkit for governments to legally monitor what people are doing on the Web. It’s an impressive catalog that includes hacking, intercept, data analysis, Web scraping and anonymity products. It makes one aware that nothing is safe from surveillance.
Hacking tools use techniques commonly used in malware.
Intercept tools can filter all traffic from the Internet backbone and determine which to forward to law enforcement.
Data analysis sorts, stores and analyzes information from a variety of sources including wired and wireless networks, surveillance, domestic and foreign agencies, tactical operations, etc. to build a complete profile of suspects or identify patterns across data sets.
Web scraping gathers and analyzes data from publicly available sources.
Anonymity hides the identity of investigators.
If governments are already using these tools, how long will it be before anyone can obtain them? WIll this imperil the confidence people have online?
Multiple screens are being used while people are watching TV. According to Nielsen, some 70 percent of tablet and 68 percent of smartphone owners are using their devices while watching TV. Checking email and looking for related content or checking social connections are the most common activities.
This dynamic is starting to have a wide-reaching effect. Advertisers, for example, want to use multiple screens to more efficiently reach audiences; networks are incorporating Twitter and Facebook to increase viewer engagement and participation; and TV OEMs are starting to package TVs with tablets.
Startups are targeting TV with apps like Yahoo’s IntoNow, which can identify a show and bring up relevant information and social opportunities. Peel is an innovative recommendation engine and universal remote.
TVs will be able to recognize users and recommend content based on preferences. They will also be able to incorporate your tablet and smartphone choices. And, of course, cloud-based apps will allow us to buy and watch TV anywhere on any device.
Hollywood is looking to special effects houses in India to deliver shots for 25-50 percent of what they would spend domestically. PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts the Indian special effects industry will more than double in size by 2015.
Digital Domain is partnering with Reliance MediaWorks, an affiliate of India’s Reliance ADA conglomerate. Lucasfilm is working with India’s Prime Focus for the 3D conversion of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”
Indian companies like Crest Animation Studios and DQ Entertainment, meanwhile, have announced projects with Lionsgate Entertainment and France Television.
“These days, as much as a third of the budget for major Hollywood films is earmarked for special effects, according to a research report by accounting firm KPMG. The annual amount spent by filmmakers on special effects in the world’s top five markets totals some $1.9 billion,” reports Fortune.
A British judge has ordered BT, the United Kingdom’s largest ISP, to block access to Newzbin2, a website that makes Hollywood content available to its users illegally. The order also made a provision for blocking access even if Newzbin2 moved to another IP address or URL.
“The judge backed the argument brought by a coalition of Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros, Paramount, Disney, Universal, Fox and Columbia, which have argued that Newzbin2 has made millions profiting from exploiting other people’s work,” reports The Guardian.
This order may set a precedent for blocking of other illegal filesharing websites in the UK.
“Securing the intervention of the ISPs was the only way to put the commercial pirates out of reach for the majority of consumers,” said Chris Marcich, president and managing director of MPA Europe. “This move means that we can invest more in our own digital offerings, delivering higher quality and more variety of products to the consumer.”
Adobe will no longer continue to develop its Flash Player for mobile devices. Instead, it will focus its resources on HTML5, according to the company’s blog.
“HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively,” writes Danny Winokur, VP and GM, Adobe Interactive Development. “This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers.”
Future efforts for Flash on mobile devices will focus on creating native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores.
“Did Apple ensure mobile Flash’s demise by preventing it from competing properly? Or did Adobe’s insistence on keeping the format proprietary, complicated by Flash’s alleged performance issues, tie Cupertino’s hands?” asks TIME. “Whatever the case, with Adobe’s mobile development switching to HTML5, all eyes are on the desktop version of Flash, and whether after nearly a decade-and-a-half of use, Adobe will eventually opt to retire it, too.”
Analyst Anthony DiClemente of investment firm Barclays Capital estimates YouTube’s revenues at $1.6 billion, which suggests the “site’s revenue has now synced up with the price Google paid for it five years ago,” reports AllThingsD.
Analysts debate the global percentage of Web video revenues YouTube has captured, but seem to agree that it “is finally a big business that makes serious money.”
Is the Hollywood channels strategy the next big step for YouTube to take on the traditional TV and cable networks?
“The big idea behind that one, after all, is to create stuff that advertisers will be happy to pay a premium for,” suggest the article. “But if YouTube is already generating $1.6 billion a year for non-premium stuff, why bother?”
AllThingsD suggests that the new “channel strategy is a big focus for YouTube, but it doesn’t mean the site is abandoning what’s already working.”
Malware has grown dramatically on Android’s open operating system compared to Apple’s closed iOS.
“Juniper Networks says Android malware traffic rose by 400 percent between June 2010 and January 2011,” reports Forbes. “Lookout Mobile Security reported a 250 percent jump in smartphone malware from January to June 2011.”
QR malware codes are becoming increasingly popular. Hackers are looking to acquire personal information, especially banking info.
“Apple has a walled garden, with its curating of apps for its App Store, so it’s had far fewer instances of malware, but Android is far more porous,” John Dasher, McAfee senior director of mobile security, told the Financial Times. “There are more than a dozen apps sites, it’s very easy to download apps and ‘sideload’ apps on to a device, and so it’s far easier for a hacker to get an app published that contains malware.”
In his compelling O’Reilly Radar post, digital media entrepreneur Mark Sigal offers his take on the post-PC wave and its major players.
Post-PC is the fourth computing wave that follows mainframes, PCs, and the Web.
Sigal suggests that Post-PC devices, which Morgan Stanley expects to number 10 billion by 2020, are becoming the most personal, mobile, social and human-centric tools that marry hardware, software and services.
For example, Sigal cites John Gruber of Daring Fireball, regarding Apple’s Siri voice-based system: “Siri is indicative of an AI-focused ambition that Apple hasn’t shown since before Steve Jobs returned to the company. Prior to Siri, iOS struck me being designed to make it easy for us to do things. Siri is designed to do things for us.”
Apple, Amazon and Google are the companies that best represent emerging trends in this space.
IBM researchers are developing SyNAPSE, a new generation chip that can learn from experience, create its own hypothesis and remember. In a simple exercise, it learned to play Pong badly at first, but was unbeatable weeks later.
“As chips such as the one from SyNAPSE become smarter and smaller, it will be possible to embed them in everyday objects,” reports Businessweek. “That portends a future in which the interaction between computer and user is far more natural and ubiquitous.”
As previously reported on ETCentric, Microsoft is working on Holodesk, a 3D user interface that allows one to interact with 3D objects using an Xbox Kinect and an optical transparent display.
Intel’s 2020 CPU hopes to communicate with algorithms and other machines as well as “understand what it means to be human.”
“Computing is undergoing the most remarkable transformation since the invention of the PC,” said Intel CEO Paul Otellini. “The innovation of the next decade is going to outstrip the innovation of the past three combined.”
At the recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Mary Meeker updated her Internet Trends analysis that she has presented for the past eight years. Meeker is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and was formerly managing director and research analyst at Morgan Stanley.
Meeker offered some compelling data this year (the ReadWriteWeb post features some great trend charts and statistics). Highlights include:
Globality — China’s Internet users add up to almost twice the number of U.S. users.
Mega-Trend — Empowering people worldwide with mobile devices.
55 percent of Twitter traffic and 33 percent of Facebook traffic comes from mobile devices.
User Interface — Touch, sound and movement is the new UI.
85 percent of world’s population now covered by commercial wireless signals.
Smartphones and tablets outshipped PCs (notebooks and desktops) in Q4 2010.
Mobile apps and advertising has been growing 153 percent/year over past four years.
Social networking time is surpassing portal times.
There was a time when Apple was a consumer electronics company, Google was a search engine, Amazon was an online retailer and Facebook a place to connect with friends. Now each of these companies is growing into the space of the others as they compete for new and expanding markets in mobile, social and cloud services.
Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Fire tablet will compete directly with Apple’s iPad. Google+ has taken on Facebook. Android and iOS are direct competitors. And Facebook has been considering its own mobile phone while it also looks to offer content, advertising and retail services.
Fast Company analyzes the “future of the innovation economy” in this regard, with a particular emphasis on the inevitable war and its major players.
“Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will not last forever,” the article suggests. “But despite this oncoming war, in which attacking one another becomes standard operating practice, their inevitable slide into irrelevancy likely won’t be at the hands of one of their fellow rivals. As always, the real future of tech belongs to some smart-ass kid in a Palo Alto garage.”
Peter Kafka interviews Peter Chernin in this interesting 11-minute video from the AsiaD conference.
“As News Corp.’s longtime chief operating officer, Chernin was instrumental in developing Hulu,” reports All Things D. “He explained why he wanted to build the video site — in part to compete with Google and YouTube — and why he thinks its studio owners should help it thrive today — in part to compete with Netflix.” Chernin also expresses his thoughts on purchasing Yahoo.
Chernin knew IPTV would be big, but didn’t want one dominant video distributor like YouTube. Thus, the studios got together to create Hulu, which today competes with Netflix.
Chernin believes online viewers will pay $2 per month for premium content. He talks about the future of video and creating something like a digital HBO.
Apple held a company-wide “Celebrating Steve” event on October 19 that featured tributes by Tim Cook and Al Gore and performances by Norah Jones and Cold Play. An 80-minute video of the event is available online.
Fortune suggests that the most touching part of the tribute was Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive speaking about Jobs and the fragility of ideas.
Ive said: “Steve used to say to me, ‘Hey Jonny, here’s a dopey idea.’ And sometimes they were. Really dopey. Sometimes they were truly dreadful. But sometimes they took the air from the room and they left us both completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet simple ones, which in their subtlety, their detail, they were utterly profound.”
“And just as Steve loved ideas, and loved making stuff, he treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence. You see, I think he better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished.”