Join Date: Feb 2002
"QCast", Palladium, and DRM - Sony vs MS deathmatc
Very interesting story over at Ars:
Posted 9/24/2002 - 11:01PM, by Hannibal
In the discussion thread attached to my most recent news post on the TCPA/Palladium initiative, Ars Centurion quux submitted a link to an absolutely fascinating Palladium article at K5. If you don't read another Palladium article this month, read this one, if only to get a look at the interplay of forces that can work inside a company and an industry to effect the kind of directional shift that Palladium represents. This article is not another call to arms against Palladium or another warning about Palladium's many dangers, but rather it gives some insight into the dynamics of Palladium from someone who claims to have been an insider at MS when this initiative first started to take shape.
The central thesis of the article is that Palladium is ultimately one prong of MS's two-pronged response to Sony and the threat to the PC posed by Sony's PS2. (The other prong is the XBox.) The PS2 was introduced as a home computing and content delivery platform that Sony completely controls: Sony can dictate what content runs on it and how, and it designed the PS2 to shield DVDs and games from unauthorized use. As the author notes, you can play DVDs on the PS2 and you can run Linux on it, but you can't do both at the same time. When the PS2 is booted into its most secure mode, the mode in which DVDs and games run, Sony has the ability to ensure that only content signed by Sony can be played on the device. (Actually, there's an important exception to this, which I'll mention in a moment.) The PS2, then, was designed from the ground up to offer the content industry, an industry in which Sony is a major player, a platform for the "secure" distribution of rights-managed content; and with the addition of a mouse, keyboard, hard drive, and broadband adapter, the PS2 also becomes a network client capable of using online applications and services of the kind that MS would desparately like to sell using .NET. Hence the XBox, and hence Palladium, which is an attempt to make the PC as a platform look more like the XBox and the PS2.
Now for that exception to Sony's control over content on the PS2. What technology takes away, it can also give back. I recently saw our boy Beeba demonstrate a beta version of BroadQ's QCast Tuner, mentioned in this post of Ator's. Using QCast, a PS2, a LAN and Caesar's crazy-big widescreen TV, Beeba was able to browse his laptop for content via the PS2, and stream MP3s and DIVX movies from the laptop right to the TV. QCast has a slick interface, and even my Mom, who though computer savvy is mystified by my dad's collection of remote controls for his various home entertainment system components, could operate the entire package with little to no trouble. It was great to see QCast in action, because it's the first time I've actually seen anything in person that really lived up to the thusfar vaporous promises of "convergence." It also seems to represent a huge blow to Sony's vision of the PS2 as a content delivery platform over which they and their peers can exercise complete control. Who cares about Macrovision when you can serve a massive DIVX library from your Windows machine (or, maybe eventually, a friend's Internet-connected Windows machine)?. If this becomes popular, I look for Sony to either laywer this to death or buy it out and neuter it by making it able to play only DRM-enabled media formats.
It'll be very interesting to see what the online console networks look like in 5 years. I think SCE Japan's Broadband Navigator 2.0 is quite far ahead, as they're already enjoying 'PS Emulator', downloadable movies, etc.
Could maybe V3, Archie, or any of our other Japanese members share some comments on the PS2 network over there?