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.