Tag Archives: legal

Chromebooks are expensive

Download

On June 15th, the Google Chromebooks will go on sale.

The price of the new Chromebook is $499. That’s the same as a Windows laptop, only you can’t run Windows applications on a Chromebook, including office apps, games, or use external devices such as video cameras, scanners, etc.

I thought that we’d see a $250 laptop with a Chrome browser. We’ve ended up with an expensive laptop with a Chrome browser. Put another way, it’s cheaper to buy a $450 Dell Windows laptop and install Chrome (plus you get the benefit of a using Internet Explorer for sites that don’t support Chrome!).

If the laptop looked as beautiful as a Macbook Air, I could understand a premium, but it doesn’t. To most people the Chromebook looks identical to a Windows laptop.

On another note, Microsoft is required by EU law to ship Windows without Internet Explorer because of its monopolistic position. If Chromebooks [first become cheaper and] become widely used, will Google need to start shipping them without a browser? Or ship them with Windows?

Any thoughts on why it costs so much?

 

The war on pirates

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Photo courtesy of Scott Vandehey on Flickr

I’ve often said it’s unfair that YouTube is a virtual broadcaster yet not held to account for hosting so many videos which would not be allowed on traditional (i.e. TV or radio) channels. With yesterday’s news of YouTube (Google) acquiring one of the highest traffic (over 2.8 billion channel views) YouTube channels, perhaps YouTube will start to change their ‘moderation’ approach?

To further help YouTube in the war on pirates, I think Amazon and Facebook could soon join sides with Google. 

Amazon (who recently acquired Netflix), Facebook (partnering with Warner Bros) and YouTube are all trying to promote video ‘rentals’ (they really need to change the term) at the $3-$5 price point. One major problem is that it’s too easy to download a BitTorrent client and head to any of the very good BitTorrent search engines to download the movie for free. 

Most of us know a number of people who do not work in the computer industry yet download movies illegally, then transfer them to a media player or stream to a device plugged into the TV.

What the three Internet giants need to do is compete with that ease-of-downloading-illegally – including getting the video on to the TV. They also need to ensure the price point is correct – Internet history has shown this is a difficult art rather than a science.

The giants also need to get together to ensure hosting a BitTorrent search engine (without which, by definition finding the torrent to download will be much more difficult) is as difficult as hosting Wikileaks. They need to get the payment partners on their side as well – just like the Wikileaks war.

 

My view of Wikileaks

Interpol

I’ve been asked a number of times this week about my view of the huge amount of publicity of the Wikileaks stories. I have a number of different views on this, so here they are, from a pro stance, to negative:

Pros:

  1. It’s nice to see some behind the scenes communications rather than the public facing toned-down-to-suit-my-allies media sound bites that we’re usually fed. I’m specifically referring to the Arabic countries asking the US (read: “indirectly Israel”) to help solve ‘the Iranian issue’. The Arabic countries can’t do this in front of camera, so it’s nice to see that behind the media façade, they’re actually thinking sensibly.
  2. Many of the articles on the site seem to be more embarrassing than serious. I’m sure that some of the descriptions of key politician’s personalities are no worse than those same politicians hear from comedians or the press. One would hope that the politician’s have thick enough skin not to be affected.
  3. David Cameron wants an open government. Well Prime Minister, like you probably warn your children to “be careful what you wish for”, Wikileaks is what you wished for. Every commercial brand who has ventured into social media has wanted to be seen open and transparent, and then tightly clenched their buttocks when someone on a social platform says something negative. The really open, transparent and consumer facing brands then use the platform and customer comments to respond and demonstrate customer service. OK, I’ve ventured off topic so returning to the main point – don’t try anything half hearted on the Internet, because the Internet population will make sure you go the whole way. The Open Government initiative is an excellent start, but people want the fluffy bits in between the publicly available stats.
  4. If you don’t want to be quoted saying something, don’t say it. Why were some of the embarrassing emails ever written? Most people wouldn’t write an email at work describing their boss in any level of negative detail, for fear of it ever ending up in HR or their boss’s Inbox. Or they might not say anything negative because they are trying to be morally correct about their views (which is why we all prefer people who are positive and aren’t two faced about other people). Granted I understand that not all the leaks are like this (such as minutes of meetings), although most of the newspaper’s quotes related to descriptions of individuals that should never have been said in the first place.

Negatives:

  1. After reading a few of the newspaper articles, which seemed to hold up Julian Assange (the founder of Wikileaks) as some sort of superhero (including the Evening Standard’s “if in doubt, a journalist should always publish first and question later“, I didn’t realise until today that Assange is a ‘wanted man’, with every country in Interpol looking for him. I think Mr Assange should be attacked in the press, because of the next point…
  2. Due to the simplicity of the site, it’s just too easy for a copycat Wikileaks to appear. I’m sure there are already a few hundred. Unless the press make the practice of Wikileaks ‘socially’ unacceptable, Pandora’s box will remain open.
  3. My final worry is about how this might will extend into the corporate world. A couple of years ago a website was setup where upset, anonymous employees could publicise internal memos/emails within companies. It was mainly used for companies announcing redundancies, hence it was called ‘FuckedCompany.com’. The site has since been shut down. At the time it was very similar to Wikileaks. I’m not sure how much publicity the site generated, however you can imagine that with the level of publicity of Wikileaks, it would hit share prices very hard. It’s a real worry that these sites may return because share prices rely on secrecy, hence ‘Chinese Walls’ exist within investment banking (a key role of the FSA) and the public companies.

Other comments:

  1. Tongue in cheek – I did joke with a a friend yesterday that the government and large corporations who spend hundreds of thousands of pounds a year trying to integrate their electronic documents together to make them easy to navigate, are probably scratching their heads at Wikileaks from a technical perspective! Mr Assange has received documents in all formats, from CDs to whatever else, and organised them in one site.
  2. How is Wikileaks funded? The site has gathered a lot of publicity, which will have sent a huge amount of traffic. Bandwidth needs to be paid for, and the cheaper hosting providers limit the amount of bandwidth for a website. I just can’t believe that many people are donating money to the site, and the only advertising on the site is to it’s own donation page.
  3. To demonstrate how far behind the curve the authorities are, if you go to the Interpol page for Assange, it says a picture is unavailable. Yet Google has about 2.9 million of him.

My overall view of Wikileaks is that it’s illegal and should be shut down. Publicising what everyone else can be tried for treason for is illegal. Assange needs to be made to account for these potentially damaging secrets and politically unstabling releases. Governments also need to behave more, and watch what is said rather than worry if it’s leaked. I think Assange will be caught, and governments won’t change, for the time being.

Why YouTube is Not Like the Postal Service

What a ridiculous comment David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google made about the Italian verdict.

He told the BBC News “It is like prosecuting the post office for hate mail that is sent in the post”. There’s a fundamental difference here though – the Postal Service can’t see what’s inside each envelope and parcel. YouTube can see every video that is posted.

Until now, YouTube have been on a honeymoon period of ignoring all copyright infringements and legal requirements in becoming a broadcaster. This is changing very quickly.

I applaude the Italian courts for having the backbone to becoming the first country to stand up to the most powerful company on the Internet.