Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Cost of Money

Freeware, shareware, software.. There's no such thing as a free lunch, as they say.

The aspirations of the open source community is admirable, but even software programmers have to earn a crust.

Inevitably, this issue is raising its head in the world of TV 2.0. Since the main theme of this revolution is the move towards 'meTV' the arguments over open source is likely to become an ever more vocal part of the industry.

There is one big, fundamental problem with offering free streaming services. They're not. Or rather, the cost of providing them is enormous and eventually will need to be repaid by advertising or some other novel means. As I've previously pointed out, Youtube is spending millions every week with Limelight Networks and others.

Meanwhile, Democracy provides an excellent shareware TV on IP Player. But even Democracy needs to be built on top of a commercial - or at least P2P - service.

The commercial pressure is shown by the announcement that the Open Media Network (OMN), is going commercial. OMN is a "not-for-profit organisation" set up by open source pioneers Mike Homer and Marc Andreessen (of Netscape fame). This comes after VeriSign's US$62m March acquisition of Kontiki, which was created by Homer, and the peer-to-peer software company upon which the OMN service relies.

OMN now intends to offer paid for content on its network.

So, not really freeware or shareware. More veilware - a commercial service masquerading as a free service. Now, where have I seen that before?

Right, time for me to buy my lunch...

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