First eBay, now Yahoo!

Interesting. Nuance, a voice technology company I’ve followed for years, is suing Yahoo! over 13 Nuance engineers who were hired away to work on voice-based applications. Nuance claims they are stealing confidential information about a new service Nuance was building. What’s intriguing to me isn’t the lawsuit, but the fact Yahoo! is staffing up aggressively in this area. The company bought Dialpad, a VOIP company, several months ago, and it ...

Reintermediation vs. Disinermediation of IP

Over at Prawfsblawg, Doug Lichtman raises a good point about the Google Print litigation. We might be comfortable with Google scanning libraries of books into a database, he says, because they have incentives to behave responsibly with respect to intellectual property, security, etc. Does that mean we’re comfortable with every individual doing the same thing? To put it another way, some of the Internet-based challenges to traditional intellectual property are ...

"The game is over, it's dumbpipeville all round."

Martin Geddes weighs in on IMS, the telcos’ latest three-letter acronym for turning the Internet into the old phone network (see, e.g., QOS, ATM). Look, guys, this is a different world. There’s no Bellcore out there to bring everyone together. And it’s the applications that get users interested in voice communication, rather than the reverse. The Internet diehards need to change their views too. Skype is a proprietary platform — ...

Who Rules the Net?

The European Union has joined a chorus of developing countries arguing that the US has too much control over the Internet. The fight directly concerns ICANN, the quasi-private group that oversees the Internet’s domain name system under agreements with the US Department of Commerce. But it’s really about much more than that. What’s remarkable is that this fight comes as American dominance of actual Internet activity is waning. The US ...

Shutting down a third of the Net

eDonkey, a leading peer-to-peer file sharing service, just announced that it’s shutting down in response to a cease-and-desist letter from the record industry. Post-Grokster, the company decided, the legal risk is just too great. eDonkey may not be a household name in the US, but according to Cachelogic, which tracks P2P traffic, it’s now the leading P2P network. eDonkey represents about half of P2P traffic by volume, which in turn ...

It Takes a Disaster

In the four years since 9/11, the US has spent billions upon billions of dollars on homeland security and disaster preparedness. The vast majority of that money has gone to the traditional vendors and service providers. At the same time, the government has thrown road blocks in front of promising decentralized communications technologies, like low-power FM radio and voice over IP. What’s the connection? It turns out that these new ...

Location, Location, Location

I’m still not entirely sure what Google is up to with its various WiFi and netowkr infrastructure flirtations. Google probably isn’t entirely sure itself — like Intel, it benefits from any growth in the relevant market, so it doesn’t have to figure out everything ahead of time. Still, I’m beginning to suspect that another casualty of the dotcom bubble, location-based services, are about to make a big comeback. This is ...

Mobile TV is real

At the TPRC policy research conference last weekend, I listened to a presentation about digital mobile broadcast (DMB) service in South Korea. DMB means television on your mobile phone. It’s up and running today in Korea, with plans to expand the system to include local as well as national channels. The audience was skeptical. One questioner wondered aloud whether any customers would actually pay for such a thing. Well, guess ...

VOIP confusion

Looks like the FCC’s attempt to clarify the legal environment for voice over IP is having exactly the opposite effect. This is what happens when a regulator tries to take half-steps at a time when bold action is required. The reality is that the telecom industry is being tranformed before our eyes. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is absolutely right to believe that social policy obligations like law enforcement access and ...

Starting Over

After months of struggling with performance and stability issues on my new Powerbook, I finally decided to bite the bullet and do a clean reinstall OS X. Nothing else seemed to work, and even the folks at the Apple Store “Genius Bar” couldn’t find anything in particular wrong with the machine. So I did multiple backups, wiped the hard drive, and held my breath. I’m still in the midst of ...