Tuesday, March 14, 2006

VON Spring: The Eve of Disruption

As interesting as the VoIP saga has been over the last ten years, even more opportunities are emerging now to leverage IP to effect large-scale disruptive change, said Jeff Pulver, speaking at the opening of VON Spring in San Jose, California. These opportunities arise from the intersection of the computing and communications industries, which are driven by the effects of Moore's Law and Metcalf's Law. There are more opportunities for creative disruption if you look at the world in terms of applications rather than services, said Pulver.

The first area to be disrupted by these trends was Telecom. Pulver believes the next major disruption will be Broadcasting.

"A lot of folks are doing IPTV... but what if you flip the acronym and focus on TV over IP," said Pulver, describing new ways in which the Internet is already delivering video content. He cited the AOL's online coverage of the Live 8 event last summer as a was a watershed event because it became clear that with enough bandwidth the Net is
good enough to substitute or replace traditional broadcasting. Pulver cited TiVO time-shifting and slingbox place-shifting, where a set-top device pulls content from a cable TV box and streams it over a broadband connection, as other examples of how technology is already impacting the TV experience.

The next phase will be when major TV productions or films chose direct distribution to users via the Net. For example, Pulver said the producers of American Idol at some time may have a falling out with Fox. Because their brand is so strong, they could then debut the show on the Net and keep the advertising revenue to themselves.

But Pulver also warned that if network operators get greedy all bets are off. Pulvermedia, in association with the VON Coalition, is circulating an open letter urging U.S. lawmakers to affirm their support for 'Net Neutrality to guarantee in law that the Internet remain open and interconnected, free from gatekeepers over new content and services.