Libraries, playlists and shows

Libraries, playlists and shows. Wi-Fi Home Media Networks.

This editorial from Patrick Houston at ZDNet provides good analysis on the challenges in creating a standard for PC – CE media convergence.  He talks about several emerging products based on Intel's Digital Media Adapter (DMA) reference design, which provides a standard approach for moving media between PCs and existing TV's and Stereo's using 802.11b.  The most telling part of his editorial is his skepticism around the PC and CE industries working together:

I'm now painfully aware of just how different the PC and consumer electronics industries are, and why those differences promise to make a home-networking standard so hard to set. Despite the demands of consumers like you and me, it could take years.

The differences may best be expressed simply by comparing the PC and the TV. The PC is a complicated, multipurpose, upgradeable piece of electronic equipment that lasts maybe four years at most. The TV is a simple, single-purpose, non-upgradeable device that lasts for about 10 years.

PC vendors are accustomed to moving quickly in a rapidly changing environment. Consumer electronics makers live in a world where product decisions may haunt them for a decade or more. You can see how these different circumstances would inform their different approaches to industry standards.

There are other differences that will determine how these two industries play with each other, too. Microsoft and Intel hold enough sway to move PC players toward accommodation. The consumer electronics industry has no force like that–not even Sony wields that kind of power.

It won't help either that CE makers are wary of Microsoft. They don't want to be bound by the ongoing software-licensing fees, nor the undue influence, that Microsoft imposes on, say, Dell, Gateway, or HP.

AS A RESULT, bringing these two industries to consensus on a home-networking standard will be like negotiating an arms control treaty between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. at the height of the Cold War.”

[Jeremy Allaire's Radio]

This is so true.  I've always thought the battle between the TV and PC, was really about which wire would provide digital services into the home – the cable modem or the DSL line.

One thing that's clear.  Microsoft and Intel shoudl check out ZeroConf (which Apple calls Rendevouz.)  It's being used not just for auto-detecting devices on the Home LA, but also detecting humans – in apps like Hydra.  But the standards have to go beyond just mounting device or people onto the network.

We need standards for media libraries, playlists (currently there's a standard called M3U – which is a WinAmp playlist – so that's a good start) – and something which I'm gonna call 'shows'.  These three standards collections or groupings – could be used by a wide range of media tools and shared between vendor's offerings.  [Marc's Voice]

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