And Here's A Set Top Box Built On Open Standards -- So Now We Get Another Standards Battle

from the fragmented-markets dept

After just complaining about Blockbuster working on proprietary set top box technology (which Netflix was already working on as well), Wired points out that there's a company, Myka, working on an open set top box that can be used to bring all sorts of online content to your television. It's basically a set top BitTorrent device. The company has apparently worked out some media partnerships as well, which is important. However, unless the big players agree to sign up, it's still going to be pretty difficult. What we're getting is a fragmented market with the big providers betting on proprietary solutions that not enough people will want -- and the really open solutions (the ones people would want) getting left behind because the big companies won't agree to use open standards.

In the past I had complained that the high definition DVD crowd had missed its real window of opportunity due to a totally unnecessary standards battle. The point was that it gave broadband and online distribution a chance to catch up. What I didn't expect, however, was that online distribution of movies would end up getting bogged down in its own totally unnecessary and counterproductive standards battle as well. Never underestimate how certain players will muck up a huge opportunity by trying to keep all of it for themselves.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2008 @ 7:10pm

    What the hell is wrong with these people?

    You have several existing protocols that work WELL for this kind of thing, designed by people who know the Internet and are essentially free for anyone to use. You can even throw your own security on them and so on.

    But no. Lets make our own protocol. Lets spend waay too much money on something that will do a half ass job and be unuseable by anyone else.

    Real smart. Meanwhile they could be delievring their service NOW.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Mark Tomlinson, Apr 11th, 2008 @ 11:27pm

    I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one, Mike.

    An open standard developed by a third party opens the playing field to smaller content providers and independent producers that might not get virtual shelf space at Blockbuster and Netflix. What that means is small production houses can open their own distribution channels. And since the big production houses have already signed on, that gives the consumer more choice in both films and price.

    Heard that Evan Almighty is a bad film, but still want to see it? Shop around for the cheapest price. Want to watch low budget amateur porn they don't carry at Blockbuster? I bet you can find a torrent for it at

    We'll see what happens, but I think this will be a game changer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    moe, Apr 12th, 2008 @ 1:03am

    It's a necessary process


    This is a necessary process when new technologies are being developed. Does it mean that things take longer to get hashed out? Yes.

    But, in my opinion, competition adds value to the process. You know, sometimes the thing that looks great at the start turns out not to be the best option. For all the discussion you have on open markets and competition, this is an interesting stance to take.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2008 @ 7:19am

    Everyone hates boxes that sit on top of their TV.
    Why would this become the next big thing, it is doomed. What ever becomes useful will be integrated into the TV.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Nasch, Apr 12th, 2008 @ 8:01am


    Yeah, great idea. That way, when I want a new TV I have to buy a new box too. And when I want a new box.... geez, I have to buy a new TV! Wait a minute, that's a TERRIBLE idea!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2008 @ 8:33am


    The placement of the hardware is completely beside the point.

    You don't want it integrated into your TV anymore than you would have wanted to a buy a TV with an integrated HD-DVD player.

    I'm not sure why the trend isn't moving toward HTPCs. If all these set-top boxes are basically crippled computers, and fully-functional HTPCs are relatively cheap (and HDTVs are high enough resolution to make them useful) then why not just develop fully-functional HTPCs with a special remote and software - e.g. MythTV with BT or some other on-demand functionality...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Rekrul, Apr 12th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    Want to watch low budget amateur porn they don't carry at Blockbuster? I bet you can find a torrent for it at

    Actually, I don't seem to have much luck finding porn on BitTorrent. If you want to use P2P, the eDonkey network usually has quite a bit, however the Usenet newsgroups are usually the place to go for porn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Michael, Apr 15th, 2008 @ 2:33pm

    Use a Mac Mini

    The best set top box to use is a Mac Mini, basically because you can dual boot OS X and Windows XP and get movies and TV shows from iTunes, you can watch web videos in a browser, Hulu,, AOL Video, etc.

    Let's face it, once someone builds a simple application that runs on Windows that will bring in video from all sorts of places people will just purchase a $400 computer that is relatively low powered and that's going to fill the space that the AppleTV, the Netflix set top box, and the Blockbuster set top box are trying to fill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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