OCAP- Who is capping whom?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Justin Thyme, Jan 13, 2006.

  1. Jan 18, 2006 #81 of 169
    dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

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    Yes ... this is what cable is saying ...
    Well ... cable is not directly precluding this second approach either. They aren't providing the specs and standards that would allow for it. Then again ... perhaps they will in the future. Then again ... perhaps they won't. Perhaps the free market will force them to. Then again ... perhaps it won't.
    They prefer to ... at the very least ... have that option. What if someone decides not to provide VOD. What if someone decides to provide VOD ... but filters out all titles contating the word "The"? Ok ... the second product probably wouldn't sell very well. But ... you get my gist. What if someone ... somewhere ... provided some product that did _______.
    Yes it is somewhere in between. On the one hand, the client side (STB) is fairly open. Developers can write their own applications to do all sorts of things. A CNN poll that allows the viewers to interactively / immediately vote ... for example. On the other hand ... cable can squash any of those apps they want to. And again, the OCAP standard does not preclude / prevent a more standardized way of OCAP apps talking cable's servers and allowing CE developers to provide those additional advanced applications (like a 'better' VOD client). It just doesn't immediately provide for one either.
    Hard to give up complete control when you're used to having it.

    The cell phone and portable content are great examples where the free market and / or additional desired functionality might force cable to standardize and / or open up better. Then again ... they may not. I think the CableLabs specs take both these use cases pretty well into account ... but perhaps not.
     
  2. Jan 18, 2006 #82 of 169
    TiVoPhish

    TiVoPhish New Member

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    dt_dc -- thanks so much :)

    I think we're totally on the same page -- I appreciate the dialogue and it helps me understand the things I don't and confirm that I'm understanding what I read elsewhere ;)
     
  3. Jan 18, 2006 #83 of 169
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    For the second time- SHE. Okey doke- here's her quote:
    Show me anyplace where a BBC anti trust expert used those words. Those are the words of the writer of an opinion piece for the Mac section of Geek.com, not the words of an anti-trust expert. And this writer has his own agenda.

    That is a fact. Or perhaps there is some new use of an attributed open quote mark that you and TivoPhish understand but the rest of the world is not yet up to speed on....

    Now if you'd like to move on to the real meat that you seem to assiduously avoid answering any of my questions on, and also happens to be the substance of what the antitrust expert really said. The key point is whether there is a separate market. If there is a separate market, then Apple has monopoly power. You disagree there is a separate market, so therefore I cannot call it a monopoly. You bring up Grinnel and this is end game but even in this they have fulfilled the Grinnel measure because they deliberately excluded (modification of iPod code to defeat Rhapsody interoperability attempt), and power to control prices. IPod customers were locked into paying 99 cents for the same music they could by from Rhapsody for 49 cents.
     
  4. Jan 18, 2006 #84 of 169
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    CEA cannot pick and choose features related to security of the Carrier network. While standards are nice to have, the 1996 telecom law requires access for third party mechanisms to all programming and services. It does not require third parties offer all programming and services.

    OCAP code provided by the MSO is not a third party mechanism, and so does not satisfy the directive of the telecom act. A public, but closed api as you describe satisfies the requirement. Third party navigational boxes are entitled to pick and choose which programming and services they wish to support, and deliberately block access to some services if they so choose. Market forces will correct such choices that consumers find disagreeable.

    Discussion:

    CableLabs can make up all the specs they want, and CE vendors can proudly put "OCAP inside" stickers on their products- stickers that no one else is entitled to stick on machines that failed certification.

    What about people that sort of conform? Well, the OCAP apps can sort of work. Maybe the CE vendor thinks that OCAP should not be able to turn off FF. Maybe they allow the consumer to block the MSO's ability to wipe out third party apps from the carousel. OK those CE vendors don't get to proudly display the OCAP sticker. Let the consumers choose.

    In all seriousness, maybe the CableCos have hit on something that consumers do want. Maybe not only do they want ITV, but everyone wants a network computer running a proprietary Java VM rather than Windows, running on cheap hardware accessing a proprietary network. With free storage, an MSOffice workalike suite, Apps sactioned by your provider that can run on your machine. Oh yeah, and it is also a box that plays television shows off that proprietary network. Maybe people will flock to that kind of product in droves. Fine- no sweat- go for it.

    Should the US government be party to requiring this little "feature", this support for "just another data type (mpeg2 + embedded OCAP)" into a take it or leave it spec for "Advanced Cable ready" features? Well what is the basis for this requirement? What I see is two orthogonal lines of argument:
    1. antitrust, and
    2. the 1996 Telecom act.

    You never responded to my point on the Telecom Act. Along with HD, I think it is important. The Telecom act said that third parties could access programming and services of the Carriers with their own mechanisms. Was Congress in 1996 refering to hardware stripped of any software functionality that the carrier would be allowed to install? I don't think so. The navigational equipment that third parties are entitled to make is the whole enchilada- including software. VOD is one of the services of the carrier, and OCAP programs created by the MSO running on third party machines does not satisfy the 1996 telecom act of third party mechanisms. What they have accomplished is a shell game trick. Access to the network is still controlled by their mechanism- only now it is an OCAP program and an OCAP VM whose specificatin they control rather than an STB. Does it matter that it is a software and not a physcial mechanism? No.

    So it can't be made part of a spec of how CableCompanies are going to conform to the telecom act.

    CableLabs can propose it as a separate spec and go through a phase of politicing in the CE world similar to the BluRay vs. HDDVD standards war. But because it is a "service" of their network, it seems to me that they are not entitled to withold content or services by tieing them to these mechanisms. That means they are entitled to run the MPEG streams without executing the OCAP code.

    Pick and choose is how all APIs are used. The public but closed Windows API doesn't require you to implement everything. And some specs can be dogs but have great parts that are useful. OLE was the most ludicrous spec Windows has ever foisted on the industry. But you could pick and choose. If you wanted to do full on embedded objects in other applications with in place editing and negotiated menus, then all the requirements were spelled out. Customers didn't want that feature, and it was real expensive to implement. But it turned out that third party developers really liked the COM object model api. This later achieved wild success now known as ActiveX objects. The market picked and chose among the spec what it wanted and what it thought was pure horse manure. If OLE was an all or nothing deal, there would have been zero benefit from the initiative. MS didn't put it out that way, I don't know why the government should.

    Sony Televisions claim they support JPG file format. Public spec. Can they implement it partially? Sure- their choice. They may choose to not support certain commonly used "JPG" features that are in the JFIF spec. Sony's TVs support all the photos you can produce with Sony cameras or camcorders. They do not support others. OK fine- their choice. The reviewer will write- only supports Sony JPG files and many consumers will smell the skunk.

    The Blu-Ray standards group decided on including BD-J Java VM in their spec last June. Soon thereafter Microsoft chose sides against BD- I think you can guess the reasons I would give for their motives.

    It turned out that the BD-J requirement is way too expensive, and many vendors will make it optional. If it is optional, then many content vendors are not going to go to the expense of BD-J features, if most boxes don't have it.

    OCAP should live or die by those sorts of rules.
     
  5. Jan 18, 2006 #85 of 169
    smark

    smark Well-Known Member

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    Justin,
    We also need the ability to shut down the box if needed, OCAP also takes into account those features as well as I looked at it.


    *Shutdown means prevent from access to content of ours when the customer is deliquent, etc.
     
  6. Jan 18, 2006 #86 of 169
    classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    I guess I should qulaify, that would be in the event a full OCAP implementation is required.
     
  7. Jan 18, 2006 #87 of 169
    ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    funny then how the Cable companies have been working very hard to postpone or entirely derail the cable card open standard.

    the law is never a concrete thing so no interest in arguing the finer points of it, without a judge and official proceedings to determine the winner :cool:

    but Apple is sure doing everything it can to protect its iTunes/iPod revenue
    Apple has tons of happy consumers, they should be sued by stock holders if they opened that up to competition needlessly.

    cable companies are sure doing everything they can to be sure they control the way in to their services and collect all revenue. Most people have no idea they do this. They do not see they are buying the car from the gas station, the only consumer action for change is to go with satellite. FCC mandate is the only thing that prompted real change here.

    satellite companies are sure doing all they can to be sure they control their entire product as well. They seem to be keeping their churn down as well but they have no reason to open up to competition. Don'y like us then make a wholesale change to cable or the other company, not many consumers doing that and with no FCC mandate with teeth - no such open standard emerging here to let a consumer keep their equipment and call the other guy.


    -- what is the one thing that would make any of them change - legislative or judical action. seems simple when the reality is looked at.
     
  8. Jan 18, 2006 #88 of 169
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    Right. Then I guess we are on roughly the same page there.

    Now, I'd like to return to something you wrote earlier...
    Well, I freely admit I am no lawyer and keep a couple guys well paid because I know that I know nothing. Still, I like to try to understand it, on the condition I don't have to pay $400/hour for a little chit-chat.

    So let's take Kodak copiers for example. As with Apple, there is a broad market for those. Kodak has a different product- Servicing of Kodak copiers. They have no "monopoly" there either- there are plenty of companies that service copiers.

    What if Kodak decided, as Apple did, that it would not allow competition in this aftermarket busness by withholding technology- For example- say they told them they could not buy Kodak parts needed to service Kodak printers.

    OK, on the face of what everyone has been hammering me with ("Moron- there are other PMPs! There are other online stores!), you could say the same here- Therea are other copiers to buy, there is a huge copier service industry. Or as ITV would analogously put it, you can't define Servicing Kodak Copiers as a separate market/ "monopoly position".

    In point of fact, the US Supreme Court felt differently. Kodak was sued for antitrust by a competitor Copier service company on the claim that Kodak had monopoly power over this aftermarket business. Kodak made it so that competitors could no longer service Kodak copiers- the simply stopped selling them parts and information manuals needed to repair the machines. This was ruled to be an abuse of their dominant market position.

    In the same way, Apple took action to prevent Rhapsody from competing with iTunes in the aftermarket business of selling online commercial music for iPods.
    Here, people have been arguing that the existence of other portable media players precludes the possibility that it could have market power in the aftermarket sale of online commercial music for the iPod player. If people don't like iTunes prices, they can buy a different music player. Unfortunately, the switching costs are substantial so that contention does not reflect market realities.

    A similar situation may already exist in the Carrier market. That fiefdom effect will grow substantially as switching costs are raised by addition of other CE products which must have the interoperability component- in this case, an OCAP VM.

    It's an OS strategy alright.
     
  9. Jan 19, 2006 #89 of 169
    TiVoPhish

    TiVoPhish New Member

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    Apple isn't withholding anything from you (or any consumer). You CAN play the music you buy through iTMS anywhere you like, easily. You keep ignoring that fact. Your analogy to Kodak is not a fair one, but in your example, Kodak is actually WITHHOLDING products that make it possible to fix their own copiers, so aftermarket service businesses could not service their copiers. Apple is not WITHHOLDING anything from competitors that could effectively put them out of business. If you told me that Apple made it impossible to play the music you buy from iTMS through anything but Apple computer, Apple CD players, Apple branded products, you'd have an argument -- but that is NOT the case.

    And, by companies reverse-engineering Fairplay (or anyone's DRM) there's an argument to be made that they're in violation of the DMCA.

    But regardless....

    Service contractors of copy machines deserve to be making a fair business for themselves by servicing copy machines... and if Kodak owns the market share of copy machines and prohibits anyone from buying parts and fixing them, they are encroaching on dangerous territory.

    But NO ONE is stopping consumers from choosing where to buy their music from, how to play it, and what to play it on. NO ONE is blocking Microsoft, or Real or MusicMatch or Napster from buying into anything that prevents them letting customers buy music from them. Apple's unwillingness to license Fairplay doesn't keep Microsoft out of the game. Whatever music I buy through iTunes I can play ANYWHERE (hear that, hear it loud and clear). Songs I buy from Musicmatch I can play ANYWHERE, including on my iPod.

    That's quite a bit different from being prevented, as a business, from repairing 80% of the copy machines on the market because I can't buy parts or be authorized to do so. It's quite a bit different than, as a consumer, me only being able to go to Kodak for servicing and parts for my copy machine. This is not a hard concept to understand Justin. If I choose to buy my music through iTMS I can play that purchased music ANYWHERE. If I buy an iPod I can load it up with whatever music I buy... from ANYWHERE (okay, I'll say "just about anywhere" because I haven't tried them all).

    The only thing I'm prevented from doing is connecting a player other than an iPod directly to iTunes, or connecting my iPod to another piece of software.

    Put it this way. Kodaks bigtime copy machines run some internal type of interface/software. If Microsoft came along and said "not fair not fair, we should have the right to offer customers OUR WindowsCopyXP on there, and consumers should have a choice of running WindowsCopyXP on there" they'd have no argument. And THAT is what your argument amounts to.

    Go back to my TiVo analogy... same thing. How interoperable are .tivo files???


    And let me add... if you're arguing for a standard, don't argue against only Apple. WMA files are propriety too (owned by one company) -- only difference is Microsoft is willing to license it out... but that doesn't mean it's the "standard" everyone should follow. The DRM is what you have issue with (because iTunes can already import unprotected WMA files) -- and I don't see the two sides coming to any agreement anytime soon.

    It'll be interesting to watch what happens with third parties now developing "media players/organizers" that supposedly bring the best of both worlds together.


    Finally, as long as it's people like Microsoft (and even Real Networks) arguing for "consumer choice" the more I just have to laugh... and I'll just let that statement lie because it could only spark another whole debate.
     
  10. Jan 19, 2006 #90 of 169
    interactiveTV

    interactiveTV New Member

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    I didn't know Apple was granted an FCC license. Putting Apple in the same vein as cable is just silly. There is no franchise agreement, no built system from a monopoly, no public good.

    I was pretty sure that MARKET FORCES could make Apple change if consumers had a better store they wanted to use with their iPods but you're right, Zeo, Apple's success should be met with government interference. Huge and swift. Because Jobs never learned his "license it out" lesson from the Mac when Apple almost went away. We should teach it to him.

    The reality is that you haven't shown a PROBLEM with the iPod. Success is not something that should be changed with "legislative or judicial action." Apple operates without any government license or minimized competition.

    C Ya.

    _ITV
     
  11. Jan 19, 2006 #91 of 169
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    Which technology Apple or Kodak withheld to maintain their monopoly position in the aftermarket is not the issue.

    The fact is that software data format interoperability can and is being used to create separate market fiefdoms, and monopolists can and will take advantage of that fact unless the law catches up.

    To those who think this is about waving flags on either side of the stadium in favor of Comcast, Microsoft, Apple, Verizon or whichever company has its hands in our pockets, I can only say... nothing.
     
  12. Jan 19, 2006 #92 of 169
    ZeoTiVo

    ZeoTiVo I can't explain

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    first off I included Apple because it was being discussed. I did not lump them together out of the blue. also show me one place where I said or even implied the FCC had anything to do with it. Also note that I at no time said Apple had a monopoly, at no time did I say the Govt. should do anything. I said "but Apple is sure doing everything it can to protect its iTunes/iPod revenue. Apple has tons of happy consumers, they should be sued by stock holders if they opened that up to competition needlessly."
    So now you look silly trying to twist yet another post of mine into something it is not.

    again you go off on the tangent and twist the statement of my post even further. I said the Stockholders should sue Apple if they opened up to competition needlessly. If consumers were going elsewhere well then Apple would need to change. Again you went off on your own agenda and implied something not even remotely in my post. More lost credibility points for you.
    in closing - I never even said there was a problem with the iPod. So go ahead and try and shoot down the two sentences in my post about Apple because that means you can ignore the whole cable and satellite part which is the actual crux of the argument in this thread.

    so what about cable and satellite? do they operate with Government license and minimized competition. Congrats for showing the whole Apple/iPod thing is precisely not the same at all as Cable and Satellite providers. Looks like legislative and judicial action should apply to cable and satellite then.
     
  13. Jan 19, 2006 #93 of 169
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    Sorry, like so many other errors in your posts, that is just not so.
    Conversely, if you own an iPod, there is only one place to buy commercial online music. iTunes. Face Facts.

    For those joining this thread late, here is why this is an interesting issue, and why it has anything to do with Tivo:

    Say your cablecompany starts moving over completely to a new data format. Never mind what that format is for a second. Say it has it's own DRM on it that they refuse to license to anyone else- like Tivo, Sony or anyone else they want to keep out of the market. That's what Apple does. Can cable and satellite companies do the same?

    OK. Now say that the new data format that they start transmitting is licensable, except to license it you must implement a software engine whose design is controlled by the cablecos that allows the cable company to take control of your CE device- to force software downloads, and remove other software that the cable company doesn't care for. That's what OCAP is.

    Is that Fair Game?
     
  14. Jan 19, 2006 #94 of 169
    TiVoPhish

    TiVoPhish New Member

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    You brought it. Your analogy was flawed.

    It's not a fact... it's your opinion. Explain this separate market you're talking about because I see two separate markets. Music commerce and Portable Players. Shopping at iTMS doesn't preclude me playing the music I purchase from them anywhere I like, and using an iPod doesn't preclude me from shopping anywhere I want. This is why your analogy doesn't work.

    You're the one who brought up Apple. It's a bad comparison to Cable... but I already addressed that earlier.

    If Apple were charging for iTunes, if I couldn't play the music I buy ANYWHERE but through iTune, and Apple CD Player on an Apple computer, you'd have an arguments. If Apple made it a requirement that I purchase iTunes on an Apple computer in order for my iPod to work, you'd have an argument. There is NO INHERENT TIE-IN because iTunes is NOT a product and not for sale, nor does it require an Apple to run.

    iTunes is a proprietary way to deliver music, but playback is no more exclusive than the DRM-WMA format. iPod is a proprietary way to play your music on the go, but getting music onto it is no more exclusive than the Creative Zen.

    Let's use Sony as a hypothetical example: Sony has the potential to create the illegal monopoly you accuse Apple of. Lets say Sony creates "Connect" to buy music, and music you buy through them can only be played through their player or Sony portables. Can't be burned to CD or ripped to MP3s. Can't make it's way to an iPod or Creative Zen. Sony decides to WITHHOLD all Sony artists' music from being available through iTMS and Musicmatch and Napster (etc.) so that the only way you can buy it is through Sony Connect? Now you're talking the monopoly position that LOCKS consumers INTO only one choice and LOCKS competitors OUT from being able to compete.

    That is more the proper comparison for Cable.

    NOT for Apple.

    And none of that precludes businesses from still being competitive with one another. Sony still has the choice NOT to provide it's content to be available through iTunes if it thinks it's more cost-effective to be elsewhere, or they'll get a better return elsewhere, or because they don't think security is high enough, and Apple has the choice not to carry a Sony artists because the wholesale price is too high. Apple is still allowed to provide "exclusives" (as provided by the record labels) and Sony is still allowed to provide "exclusives" to some other music store. Nothing evil or anti-competitive about it.


    and you're other reply:

    Regarding the fact that I CAN buy music online anywhere and get it to my iPod....

    Uh no. If you think that the only online music I buy and put on my iPod is through iTunes, you're sadly mistaken. I guess you're about to call me a liar again, huh? I've bought music online from a variety of places, and ALL commercial music I buy gets to my iPod.
     
  15. Jan 19, 2006 #95 of 169
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    Do you or don't you accept this fact?
     
  16. Jan 19, 2006 #96 of 169
    TiVoPhish

    TiVoPhish New Member

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    I don't accept blindly accept anything on WIKIPEDIA as fact... a lot of it is opinion submitted by people like you and me. See those "edit" buttons?
     
  17. Jan 19, 2006 #97 of 169
    Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

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    That was non responsive. Do you think that statement is a fact?
     
  18. Jan 19, 2006 #98 of 169
    HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    This is exactly what I wanted clarification about somewhat earlier when it first came up. My understanding is that Fairplay is essentially the DRM scheme that music bought at iTMS contains. Since Fairplay is not available to anyone but Apple, iTMS music can only be played on Apple products. So the music product you buy is tied to one company's products.

    Conversely, iPOD will play other music than that bought through iTMS. ie. MP3 (& maybe WAV) ripped easily from CDs, or converted WMA to MP3 (again not too hard to do...) and perhaps some other ways.

    I note that I don't believe iPOD took off as a market leader UNTIL the ability to play MP3 was ADDED subsequent to the original iPODs which didn't. That feeds into the market resistence to proprietary products which inhibits their success and usually causes a trend towards openness, which I mentioned quite some time ago.

    ----------------------

    An alternate situation: HP and ink cartridges for their printers might be interesting to discuss here.
     
  19. Jan 19, 2006 #99 of 169
    HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

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    Another topic: The transition from having to have an AT&T phone on your desk plugged into the phone line.

    What if AT&T had latter changed the tones or click pattern?
    What if AT&T had added an "&" button/tone to their phones which allowed you to make calls for half price, and didn't publish the tone (or used patent/copyright to protect it?)

    What prevented this from happening, and isn't it the same type of thing that could happen in Cable/OCAP but should be prevented?
     
  20. TiVoPhish

    TiVoPhish New Member

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    No, I think it's an opinion. And since this whole "online music shopping" thing is still in it's infancy, we have no idea what Apple's long-term intentions are. You don't and I don't.

    But it IS a FACT that (anyone and) I can get online music purchases to the Pod regardless of who they're bought from.
     

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