Net Neutrality Under Fire
I don't know what's more sickening, the proposal I have to talk about here or the fact that it's not likely that enough people are going to care about it to stop it. Google and Verizon have made a joint policy proposal that dresses itself as supporting net neutrality though it really smacks it in the face. It supports great ideas like transparency, protection of customers' right to send what they want over the wire, granting the FCC power to regulate the broadband access (but not its content), a commitment to using the fee on consumers' phone bills to help build a nationwide broadband network, and non-discrimination of traffic that would hurt competition. However, it only supports these things for wired networks, and given the pervasive nature of mobile Internet access and the hopeful future of 4G, this is a pretty enormous loophole. It's also conceptually silly to divide the Internet into wired and wireless where one of the two becomes a second class citizen. They claim this is because of the way that wireless works, but that's a total cop out. There's also other not-so-exciting provisions including the ability to create a separate network that an ISP can charge extra for if it's different from regular Internet access (whatever the Hell that means) and the power of network management to improve service quality. Network management assumes a lot of trust in companies that have traditionally only screwed their customers. In any case, isn't network management just a back door out of actually improving their networks to not need such management?
Senator Al Franken has rightly lambasted the agreement and called out how laughable some of the details are. I think his most potent argument is that it doesn't make sense that the major players in an industry get to write the rules on how they operate. Another really going point he brought up is regarding the future of what can happen if we let these companies do what they want.
Make no mistake, Google and Verizon have sold us out to ensure their success - they've shown that they don't care what's best for the continuation of innovation on the Internet. They're carving up the rules in a way that favors what's sure to be most profitable in the coming decades while making concessions to simply wired Internet. An Internet that's not neutral puts in danger free competition on the Internet by creating tiers to protect the websites that are already doing well without giving competitors a fighting chance. Write to your congressmen and tell them that this policy does not make any sense.
Xbox Live vs. Android Mobile Gaming
Engadget got the scoop on the set of launch titles for Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 and it's not a bad list, but definitely nothing to stop the presses for. To be fair, we still haven't seen footage of Halo: Waypoint, Star Wars, or Castlevania, so Microsoft hasn't shown all their cards yet. Supposedly, performance is pretty solid, but I didn't see anything showing off what separates it from the iPhone, Android, or Palm Pre (which has a surprising number of 3-D games). What happened to the Xbox 360 integration that was demoed months ago?
Comparatively, there's very strong rumors of a Sony Ericsson phone that crosses a touchscreen Android phone with a PSP Go sliding controller. Heavy hitter franchises seem to be part of the equation including LittleBigPlanet and God of War. Given that the PSP already integrates with the PS3, if Sony can pull off an Android device that integrates with the PS3 with really strong titles, they could beat Microsoft to the punch and really put together a compelling product for casual gamers and hardcore gamers.
I don't think video games are something that should be underestimated when it comes to mobile platforms - when you look around in meetings and on buses, you see people playing games on their phones a lot. It's a burgeoning industry and that's why the iPhone got on the bandwagon with partners like EA very early on.
After about a year now, the Droid 2 is finally here, which is the true successor to the original Motorola Droid phone since it has an improved physical keyboard. It seems to improve upon the Droid, which was already a pretty highly celebrated phone, in every way including the screen and camera.
Meanwhile, the R2-D2 Droid was announced. It will be available next month only and only online, so it'll be a true collector's edition type of phone. I think this is kind of weird - as cool as it is to have a unique phone, I'd be afraid of buying a phone that there's so few out there for Verizon to care about supporting. Of course, there's enough Star Wars geeks out there that this thing will almost surely sell out.
After much talk and speculation, Facebook's Places API for geolocation check-ins has been announced and is now available to play with. It's supposed to play nice with Gowalla and Foursquare, but I can't imagine that those two companies don't feel threatened. Foursquare believes that it's a different enough product to co-exist with Facebook Places, but given how much more pervasive Facebook is, it'll be interesting to see what really happens. As silly as it may seem, these services have a lot of potential in that it's something that small businesses can really sink their teeth into, but their profitability is still yet to be fully mined.
Google TV Struggles
Google TV was announced not too long ago as a product that basically mashed up Chrome, Google, YouTube, and your TV to provide a rich television watching experience. Apparently I was one of only a few who thought this was a compelling concept if done right. So far not so good for Google as they struggle to sign on partners. They'd like to have content owners share information to help Google link live television with offerings on these content owners' websites, but traditional media still isn't sold on the profitability of what Google is setting out to provide.
Maybe Google needs better TPMs - how do you get this far in a product (i.e. as far as telling the public about it) without having dug into the feasibility of support from the people whose support you'd need? It may be that this is ahead of its time, but I think Google may have known it was kind of pie in the sky and that it could take years to really get off the ground - Google is the sort of company with the resources to be in it for the long haul. I really do hope they pursue it - I think getting video on demand to work well in the living room has been a struggle for everyone, including Apple, but each company to try makes a small dent in it.
The Small Stuff
Just a few quick articles in closing:
Gizmodo has an awesome article explaining common symbols, like USB and Bluetooth and other such techie things. They're not at all things you'd guess unless you really knew the inside story.
This is an awesome parody trailer of The Social Network substituting Twitter for Facebook. Even though I think The Social Network will be terrible (not even David Fincher can salvage that idea), I have to give props for its trailer being pretty good.
Speaking of Facebook, Giga Om has an interesting piece talking about why so many Facebook employees who have been there from the beginning are leaving now. It's mostly normal stuff when a new company starts to age, I don't think it's particularly telling.
If you know of any kids who show an interest in computers then please direct them to one of these tools to help teach kids the fundamentals of programming. It's like giving a kid lego blocks - they're the tools to build what's in their heads.