June 5, 2005

OT: Positioning Struggles For the Digital Home [9:40 pm]

From the NYTimes article presaging Jobs big news for tomorrow’s Apple developer conference: Apple Plans to Switch From I.B.M. to Intel for Chips

The first move in the complex industry realignment now taking place was made more than a year ago when Microsoft broke with Intel and said that it would use an I.B.M. processor chip, similar to the one used by Apple for its Macintoshes, in the second version of its Xbox video game machine.

What Microsoft has made clear recently is that the new Xbox, to be called the 360, will be much more than a video game player when it reaches store shelves this fall. It will perform a range of home entertainment functions, like connecting to the Internet, playing DVD movies and displaying high-definition television shows as well as serving as a wireless data hub for the home.

Microsoft’s decision to build its own computer hardware, with help from I.B.M., was a direct assault on a market that Intel was counting on for future growth. It is likely that Intel forged the alliance with Apple in an effort to counter the powerful home entertainment and game systems coming from Microsoft and Sony.

While the new partnership is a clear and long-coveted win for Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, it portends a potentially troublesome shift for Apple, the iconoclastic maker of sleek personal computers and consumer electronics gadgets.

Friday’s Slashdot - Apple Switching To Intel Chips In 2006

My own guess? Apple may be going to Intel to make a PPC that with the performance that IBM promised, but couldn’t/wouldn’t deliver — but it’s only a guess at this point. It *is* hard to imagine a shift to Intel x86, though I’m less sure about Itanium. Should make for an interesting day tomorrow <G>

Later: Another NYTimes profile - Apple Plans to Switch From I.B.M. to Intel for Chips

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A (c) Can Of Worms In The Making [5:26 pm]

Play It Again, Vladimir (via Computer) — Performance? Recording? Or what?

Dr. [John Q.] Walker is developing technology that enables him to break down the sounds of an old recording, digitize them and reproduce them on a Disklavier, an up-to-the-minute player piano that can record and replay performances by means of a CD in a slot above the keyboard. Sophisticated fiber optics control the instrument’s hammers.

Old recordings of great performers are often marred by scratches and surface noise, or by sound badly filtered through primitive microphones. Dr. Walker is offering the same music with the immediacy of live performance and the acoustical advantages of a contemporary piano. To demonstrate the contrast, Dr. Walker also let the audience at the BTI Center hear the original Cortot recording from 1926, which sounds as if sand had been poured on the old disc’s shellac.

“The farther you get from the recordings, the worse they sound,” Dr. Walker said by phone a few days before the concert. “The fundamental root of the problem is that I don’t want to hear a recording. I want to hear the young Horowitz, Schnabel, Fats Waller, Thelonious Monk on an in-tune piano.”

If the claims he is making for his new technology are accurate, he will soon be able to. His plan is to approach the major labels with his software and delve into their back catalogs, acting as a record producer to make old recordings new. Josef Hoffman without the scratches, Glenn Gould without the mumbling: brought back to life and performing on modern pianos, recorded with modern technology.

Slashdot: Resurrecting Performers Via Computer Performance

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Europeans Regulators and Platform Neutrality [5:21 pm]

Europeans Weigh Regulating of Converging Media

The possible shift would push European media regulators into uncharted waters. In the United States, where regulators are cracking down on what they call indecent broadcasts over the public airwaves, lawmakers are only now considering giving them similar authority over cable and satellite broadcasts.

But in Europe the move to open up new regulatory fronts seems to be driven more by technological change than any desire to crack down on naughty behavior. Long gone are the days when audiovisual media were limited to a handful of analog TV channels or the movies. Digital television via cable, satellite or the terrestrial airwaves delivers dozens or even hundreds of channels to more than 20 percent of European homes. Mobile phones offer moving pictures to users on the go. Video-on-demand services deliver movies or television via the Internet.

“Conditions of fair competition require a neutral stance with regard to and between platforms,” Viviane Reding, the European information society and media commissioner, said in a speech last week in Luxembourg. “This neutrality will put all service and content providers on an equal footing, guarantee a coherent regulatory framework and reinforce legal security.”

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German Publishers Enter the Book Digitizing Biz [5:19 pm]

German Publishers Plan Challenge to Google Print

Now Mr. Ulmer and a five-member task force of the German book trade association Börsenverein are organizing their own digital indexing project, Volltextsuche Online. The effort of the 6,000-member association of booksellers and publishers comes in reaction to Google’s plans, unveiled in December, to start digitizing books in the world, with the first step being major university library collections in the United States.

“We have to decide whether distribution is in the hands of a few global distributors and global publishing houses,” said Mr. Ulmer, who heads Eugen Ulmer Verlag, a medium-size publishing house in Stuttgart. Publishers and booksellers that are involved, he said, “feel that if they don’t do this today, they may no longer exist in some years.”

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