By Lance Ulanoff  |  Posted 2003-04-21 Print this article Print

LU: How have the economics of bandwidth changed in the last few years?
RG: As a general sense, weve seen bandwidth costs dropping [by one-third to one-half] a year. So bandwidth costs have been decreasing, for a frame of reference, faster than Moores Law specifies. Thats a very powerful force that takes certain applications and makes them economical when they werent economical, like downloading a movie. If a movie is 500MB, it used to be that the cost of that movie would overwhelm the consumer. Now with bandwidth costs coming down so dramatically, the economics of that kind of application are like the economics of renting a video.
With things like Real Video 9, we can compress the file 25 to 30 percent more than we could with Real Video 8, which was in turn better than the last MPEG. When you compound that trend with the generational increases in compression, you get very significant savings in bandwidth and cost reductions in bandwidth.
Look at the live video baseball product that were doing with MLB.TV. Were streaming individual games at 350 Kbit and it looks great. Its an example of something where, certainly a year ago, the economics would have been kind of dicey. This year the economics are quite good. So there are new applications that open up that would have been dicey a year ago—or two years ago might have been close to inconceivable. The interaction of bandwidth, cost improvements, and Moores Law allows us to have better and better commercial outputs. The wind is at our backs. LU: MLB streaming video is a very new service. How has the reception been on that?
RG: Its been great and exceeded expectations. I dont know what Bob Bowman of MLB has actually said publicly, so Ill be a little circumspect. From our work with them, we know theyve been very pleased from an uptake standpoint. People are actually using and watching this stuff. A live 24/7 news channel available just over the Internet and a live broadcast of baseball games—those are big events. If this had happened during the bubble, man, thered be screaming front-page articles about what a huge transcendent thing this is. The reality is that the financial bubble came and went, but the innovation is still happening. Thats a very important message that everybody in the industry, particularly your readers, really need to understand. They should give this stuff a try, and see what they think of it. LU: Microsoft and RealNetworks implement DRM differently. Whats your general sense of the importance of DRM and your general philosophy on it?
RG: DRM can give rights holders choices. Thats important in terms of having their content be used according to rules that they set. Taken as an overall portfolio of approaches, we see DRM as very important. When youre talking about the rights holders that are talking about long-form movies, theyre particularly sensitive to it. The music industry has been certainly sensitive to it. Rights are an important part of their portfolios. The fact that weve got one of the two mainstream DRM approaches in the industry is terrifically valuable from our standpoint. Weve also got the only one that embraces open standards. LU: I think the main criticism of DRM is that its invasive and does more watching of you than seems necessary. Is your DRM any different than any others? Does it grab info about the user and send that data back?
RG: Everything we do is consistent with our published privacy policy. From a privacy standpoint, theres nothing about the way our DRM works that anybody has ever looked at and ever raised their hand. Sometimes you get people that say, "Hey, we dont like DRM, we want all the content to be free." My view is, look, if rights holders want to make the content available to the marketplace on their terms, they should. Thats why we support a portfolio of ways for people to get access to content. Our philosophy is, we want to enable the consumer to have access to all fair-use rights. Thats why the RealOne player supports people ripping CDs and putting them on their hard drives for personal use. Thats why we support playback of MP3s—because we dont make any presumption about consumers having done anything illicit. MP3 is just a format. It can be used for plenty of personal-use scenarios. Thats our philosophy—to let people have personal use rights and also give rights to those people who want to characterize how their content is used. LU: As a longtime Mets Fan, what do you think of the Mets chances this year?
RG: I think the Mariners chances are better than the Mets chances this year. I say that not just as someone who moved from New York to Seattle 20 years ago, but as somebody who tries to be a little bit realistic about these things. Baseball is about having very, very reliable starters, a very reliable bullpen, and decent hitting. There are probably a half a dozen teams that are better than, certainly, the Mets, and maybe two or three more promising than the Mariners. Although Ill tell you that the Mariners won 116 games two years ago. I had seen them in spring training and I thought they looked [like theyd win] about 85 [games]. So it convinced me, among other things. What the heck do I know? [Glaser is a part owner of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.—Editor] Discuss this article in the forums.

More Lance Ulanoff:

Lance Ulanoff is Editor in Chief and VP of Content for PC Magazine Network, and brings with him over 20 years journalism experience, the last 16 of which he has spent in the computer technology publishing industry.

He began his career as a weekly newspaper reporter before joining a national trade publication, traveling the country covering product distribution and data processing issues. In 1991 he joined PC Magazine where he spent five years writing and managing feature stories and reviews, covering a wide range of topics, including books and diverse technologies such as graphics hardware and software, office applications, operating systems and, tech news. He left as a senior associate editor in 1996 to enter the online arena as online editor at HomePC magazine, a popular consumer computing publication. While there, Ulanoff launched AskDrPC.com, and KidRaves.com and wrote about Web sites and Web-site building.

In 1998 he joined Windows Magazine as the senior editor for online, spearheading the popular magazine's Web site, which drew some 6 million page views per month. He also wrote numerous product reviews and features covering all aspects of the computing world. During his tenure, Winmag.com won the Computer Press Association's prestigious runner-up prize for Best Overall Website.

In August 1999, Ulanoff briefly left publishing to join Deja.com as producer for the Computing and Consumer Electronics channels and then was promoted to the site's senior director for content. He returned to PC Magazine in November 2000 and relaunched PCMag.com in July 2001. The new PCMag.com was named runner-up for Best Web Sites at the American Business Media's Annual Neal Awards in March 2002 and won a Best Web Site Award from the ASBPE in 2004. Under his direction, PCMag.com regularly generated more than 25 million page views a month and reached nearly 5 million monthly unique visitors in 2005.

For the last year and a half, Ulanoff has served as Editor, Reviews, PC Magazine. In that role he has overseen all product and review coverage for PC Magazine and PCMag.com, as well as managed PC Labs. He also writes a popular weekly technology column for PCMag.com and his column also appears in PC Magazine.

Recognized as an expert in the technology arena, Lance makes frequent appearances on local, national and international news programs including New YorkÔÇÖs Eyewitness News, NewsChannel 4, CNN, CNN HN, CNBC, MSNBC, Good Morning America Weekend Edition, and BBC, as well as being a regular guest on FoxNewsÔÇÖ Studio B with Shepard Smith. He has also offered commentary on National Public Radio and been interviewed by radio stations around the country. Lance has been an invited guest speaker at numerous technology conferences including Digital Life, RoboBusiness, RoboNexus, Business Foresight and Digital Media WireÔÇÖs Games and Mobile Forum.

Lance also serves as co-host of PC MagazineÔÇÖs weekly podcast, PCMag Radio.


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