Paul’s Soapbox: DRM, 3G, Playstation Home

Gaming Microsoft & Google Online Music Tech News

Paul’s Soapbox is a regular feature of TechConsumer where I sound off on various tech topics/products that I’m interested in (or hate). This is just my $.02, so consider yourself warned. This week’s subjects are all over the place: DRM, “3G” Wireless, and Playstation Home.

First award winner goes to DRM (digital restrictions rights management) for “How not to create a sustainable business model.” I don’t know how many of you consumers out there saw this, but Microsoft has decided to turn off the DRM services for the MSN Music Store. This means that anyone who bought leased music from MSN is effectively screwed. The music will still play on the machines they have authorized already, but when the computer stops, so will the music. And just like musical chairs, anyone who paid for that music will be left without a chair.

Now you may be saying to yourself, “Well who bought music from MSN? I want to know who these two people are.” But this has already happened with Google Video, Major League Baseball, MTV URGE, AOL Music Now, and Virgin Music Club. Somehow the mainstream technology media isn’t quite catching on to the realities of DRM. I don’t think that there is a sustainable business model for music ownership that includes DRM. Music subscription services are an exception because they don’t ever act like you own anything. Maybe that’s why I get my digital music elsewhere.

att If DRM was the winner of the anti-business model, so-called 3G wireless service is the runner up. ComputerWorld recently reported on 3G data networks and while most of the review is generally positive there was one thing that stood out to me. AT&T and Verizon both cap their services at 5GB of data received per month, and word is Sprint will be following suit (they are actually capping it at 300MB if you are roaming!). At first 5GB might seem like a lot of data, but when you break it down that is not the case.

If a business user were to use the 3G service for 8 hours a day only on weekdays, they could average only 29MB per hour of data without going over. Considering that the TechCrunch homepage is 1.8MB by itself or about 1/16 of the hourly quota for a business user. Or put another way, your connection can only average 8KB/sec or you’ll go over. That is for only 20 days a month, for only 8 hours of the day. Heaven forbid someone used it everyday because then that is only 169MB for the whole day!

Pshomelogo Last but not least is Playstation Home, which is soon to join Duke Nukem Forever as the world’s most famous vaporware (yes, I’ve heard some people have actually seen it, supposedly). For those not familiar with Playstation Home (also referred to as just Home), it is Sony’s total copy interpretation of Second Life The Sims Online a virtual world. It was originally announced in March 2007 and scheduled to come out in open beta in August 2007 and public release in October 2007.

Now I’m not really good at math yes I am but August is only five months after March, and we are now about fifteen months past that date, and there still hasn’t been a public beta. Later they promised a “Spring 2008″ delivery, only to announce in Spring 2008 that it would be coming out in Fall 2008. I don’t know if there is a solution to this problem for Sony other than to ship Home sooner rather than later, but you have to wonder what they were thinking when they made the announcement(s) about Home’s development timeframe. Any takers on it actually coming out in Fall 2008? Much less whether it will have been worth the wait?

The really amazing thing is, through all of the troubles the PS3 has gone through (and it really couldn’t be much worse) it is still a system people will consider buying. Talk about a powerful brand.

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