IN PERSPECTIVE: Parallel universes

Tue, 07/31/2007 - 8:25pm
Brian Santo, Editor

At a recent conference hosted by his company, C-Cor Chairman and CEO David Woodle told the assembly of industry luminaries in his audience that what he’d really like is a device that lets him get whatever service he’s paid for wherever he happens to be.

Brian Santo
It’s almost inconceivable
it would happen, but me
and Dave can dream,
can’t we?

Right after he said that, you could hear the crickets singing.

No fool he, Woodle quickly moved on to the next subject.

But now that he’s mentioned it, I want something like that too. Sort of like a super Slingbox, only with any device I want to use – my mobile phone, my PDA, my laptop.

If I subscribe to Comcast premium and Qwest DSL and Verizon VCast and I go to Costa Rica or Italy (it could happen) or Canada (which really could actually happen), or even to the other coast of the U.S., I should be able to turn on my electronic doohickey (I should probably take a trademark out on the word “doohickey.”) and automatically see the latest episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO, or automatically access the Internet so I can download a cut from the latest New Pornographers release via iTunes, or automatically check out clips of CBS News with Katie Couric.

Really, I’d be happy if my cell phone happened to work outside the continental U.S., but the other stuff would, I imagine, be widely desirable.

I think Woodle just asked the wrong audience. Had he asked a randomly chosen group of consumers, his notion would probably have been greeted with enthusiasm. Instead, he was talking to a bunch of people who all know on a limbic level Why That Can’t Happen.

I asked a few of the other conference attendees about the idea. What would it take to make it happen? It was like asking an “American Idol” participant about that video they did a few years ago. The subject was changed with equal amounts of alacrity and finality.

And no wonder. For starters, the digital rights management (DRM) situation would no doubt be a nightmare. The big content owners, who are already so apoplectic about piracy they think nothing of suing underage customers, would have their heads explode from the rage and paranoia. So you’d have that to deal with.

Then, cable companies and phone companies and Internet service providers all over the world would have to start signing peering agreements – you know, with each other. As in, phone companies working with cable companies, making sure their network interfaces were all solid, providing QoS for each other, maybe agreeing on a fair way to share revenue under those circumstances.

Of course, since that sort of smacks of cooperation, it’s almost inconceivable it would happen, but me and Dave can dream, can’t we?

...While the enterprising souls at Sling, or a group of dreamers at some company just like Sling, will do it without any service provider’s help.


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