Nilay Patel explains why Netflix paying Comcast and Verizon is bad for the internet, why they feel they had to do it, and (more importantly) how we’ve gotten to this place.
Here’s a simple truth: the internet has radically changed the world. Over the course of the past 20 years, the idea of networking all the world’s computers has gone from a research science pipe dream to a necessary condition of economic and social development, from government and university labs to kitchen tables and city streets. We are all travelers now, desperate souls searching for a signal to connect us all. It is awesome.
And we’re fucking everything up.
In the meantime, the companies that control the internet have continued down a dark path, free of any oversight or meaningful competition to check their behavior. In January, AT&T announced a new “sponsored data” plan that would dramatically alter the fierce one-click-away competition that’s thus far characterized the internet. Earlier this month,Comcast announced plans to merge with Time Warner Cable, creating an internet service behemoth that will serve 40 percent of Americans in 19 of the 20 biggest markets with virtually no rivals.
And after months of declining Netflix performance on Comcast’s network, the two companies announced a new “paid peering” arrangement on Sunday, which will see Netflix pay Comcast for better access to its customers, a capitulation Netflix has been trying to avoid for years. Paid peering arrangements are common among the network companies that connect the backbones of the internet, but consumer companies like Netflix have traditionally remained out of the fray — and since there’s no oversight or transparency into the terms of the deal, it’s impossible to know what kind of precedent it sets. …
If you read one article today, it should be this one.
Verizon’s CEO wasted no time in announcing that the company expected to strike a similar bargain [to the one Netflix has with Comacst]. On CNBC this morning Verizon’s chief Lowell McAdams revealed that Netflix and Verizon have been in talks for almost a year now, and that he expects to finalize a deal soon. “If you see someone come in with a lot of load on the internet, [with] video, you’ve got to get that in an efficient place. So making the connection far out on the network is a good thing, and frankly, paying for it,” said McAdams. “To me this shows you don’t necessarily need a lot of regulation in a dynamic market here. By doing these commercial deals we’ll get good investments and good returns for both parties.”
These deals have proponents of net neutrality up in arms, and seem like a stark contrast to Netflix’s stated position from last month, when it threatened to provoke customer outrage if it had to pay to stop the degradation of its traffic. The recent Comcast announcement that it would purchase Time Warner Cable, along with expectations of further consolidation in the cable industry, may have been a tipping point in the ongoing negotiations between Netflix and the companies that carry its video traffic.
Netflix is really screwing over consumers here. This is exactly the reason why we need net neutrality. Hulu, Amazon and anyone trying to start a new streaming service is now going to be forced into making similar deals or face bullying from the carriers / ISPs. You can basically say goodbye to innovation, and count out any new companies from entering the streaming game.
Netflix, for the love of the Internet, please stop this.
Netflix Inc. has agreed to pay Comcast Corp. to ensure Netflix movies and TV shows stream smoothly to Comcast customers, a landmark agreement that could set a precedent for Netflix’s dealings with other broadband providers, people familiar with the situation said.
In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast’s broadband network, the people said. The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the U.S., serving 30 million households.
No. No, no, no, no. This is not how it is supposed to work. How can anyone expect to innovate and compete when giant companies are paying for access. Netflix is just as wrong as Comcast is in this case. They’re setting a terrible precedent.
[edit 1: thanks to makesu1der for the grammar check]
[edit 2: so, this article is completely readable in my twitter app (Tweetbot) but it’s behind a paywall on an actual computer. I can’t figure out why. I can only point you to my pervious article.]
Ryan Letourneau writes a great article about people and the internet.
Although the immediate impetus for this post is Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen announcing that he’ll be pulling the game from the App Store due to intense media and public scrutiny, I’ve wanted to make a post about the toxic nature of online interactions for a long time. The fucked up thing is that what’s held me back is the belief that by making a post decrying the ridiculous nature and amount of abuse that people get and give online on a daily basis, I would make myself a target for the same kind of bullshit I’m advocating against. At the very least, I hated the idea that the feedback I’d hear back on this post is the same old chorus of, “people are mean to one another online, get over it” that some people are happy to trot out any time someone expresses unhappiness about the awful way people treat each other over the internet. What I really hate about it is that it somehow implies that it’s okay to be disproportionally terrible to one another online because somehow interactions over the internet are less “real” than those in real life. I don’t know if many people actually believe that deep down, but I know for sure that I disagree.
He also sums it up nicely with that old internet adage, “Don’t be a dick.”
Casey Johnston wrote an incredibly long article about Facebook. She profiles the service as it has affected her life and evolved from the .edu exclusive it was to a place where people are actually scared of posting because of how popular a place it’s become. She kills it, as usual.
Some romantic pixels have been spilled about the way no one is ever lost to anyone anymore; most people, including ex-lovers, estranged family members, or missed connections are only a Wi-Fi signal away.
Even if you had your own great stuff to tell Facebook about, someone out there is always doing better. And Facebook won’t let you forget. The brewing feeling of inferiority means users don’t post about stuff that might be too lame. They might start to self-censor, and then the bar for what is worth the “risk” of posting rises higher and higher. As people stop posting, there is less to see, less reason to come back and interact, like, or comment on other people’s material. Ultimately, people, in turn, have less reason to post.
Facebook, like every other Internet profile, gave yet another opportunity to curate an identity. But ultimately we run back into ourselves, one way or another. People simply aren’t reliable curators; there isn’t enough good stuff going on. We can’t stay interesting long enough, especially with an unreliable audience. Hence why Facebook’s gaps are now filled by brands.
It’s official: Microsoft’s CEO search is over. Following recent reports, the software giant is appointing Satya Nadella as its new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer. 46-year-old Nadella will take over immediately, allowing Ballmer to retire early. Nadella had been part of a number of candidates that Microsoft was believed to have interviewed for the role, with the company originally pushing to name its Ballmer successor before the end of last year. Despite the search extending into 2014, the timing of the CEO announcement is important as it places Nadella in charge ahead of the closure of Microsoft’s Nokia deal and its ongoing reorganization.
While Nadella takes over as CEO, co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman today and his new official title is technology advisor. “I’m thrilled that Satya has asked me to step up, substantially increasing my time at the company,” says Gates in a videocommenting on Nadella. “I’ll have over a third of my time available to meet with product groups and it’ll be fun to define this next round of products working together.”
Ok, Satya, I’m kind of a fan of Windows Phone and Windows 8, but I use a Mac and an iPhone. Let’s see what you can do here.
Bundle a Motorola phone with a ThinkPad and own the business market
I’ve read six or seven articles about Lenovo’s purchase of Motorola (for 2.9 billion dollars) but not a single one shares, what I think, is the most obvious point. This is Lenovo’s entry point to owning the business smartphone market in the US.
BlackBerry’s departure from relevance has left a power vacuum for the de facto work device (yes, even after all these years) and this is where Lenovo wants to position themselves - every employee at every major company is given a laptop and a phone. Lenovo wants to be the one company providing both.
And that’s exactly what Lenovo has been trying to do. They tired to buy BlackBerry very recently and to me, tipped their hand that they want to focus on business. Lenovo wouldn’t have looked at BlackBerry if they wanted to make a dent in the consumer market. The BlackBerry brand has never been relevant to consumers but has (until recently) been a mainstay for the white collar at work.
So, Lenovo didn’t buy BlackBerry but instead bought Motorola. Probably a better move since the Motorola name doesn’t immediately evoke a company floundering.
I see no reason why big companies, with thousands of employees, would go anywhere else. Giant companies rotate out laptops and phones every few years. My girlfriend works for one of the big four accounting firms and recently had her work computer upgraded. She went from a 3 year old ThinkPad to a new ThinkPad (still running Windows 7). And she’s eligible for a new phone when her contract runs out at the end of the year.
A Lenovo that owns Motorola will now be able to deliver both, ThinkPads and phones, to companies who buy devices by the gross. Thousands of employees all rotating through 3 year laptop cycles and 2 year phone contracts.
Lenovo can own the business sector in two easy steps:
1) Make devices cheaper for companies that buy laptops and phones together. 2) Bake in some software that will allow IT to to easily deploy and update their applications on desktop and mobile.
Game over. Lenovo wins.
This is the same thing many people, myself included, thought HP was going to do with the consumer market when they bought Palm. Buying a laptop for your kid going to college? For another $100 add a TouchPad. For $50 more add a Pre on contract.
HP had all the retail connections anyone could want. It was just a matter of bundling those devices together in a compelling way. But I guess HP couldn’t see the writing on the wall and, well, we all know what happened to Palm.
I don’t think Lenovo is going to miss this though. Their attempt to buy BlackBerry shows you exactly where their head is. They want the business market, not the consumer one. And they are poised to take it over.
I know Tom Warren. He is a man who wouldn’t publish this story unless there was validity to it. It’s a huge shame:
While the software giant originally released Windows 8.1 last year with an option to bypass the “Metro” interface at boot, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans have revealed to The Verge that the upcoming update for Windows 8.1 will enable this by default. Like many other changes in Update 1, we’re told the reason for the reversal is to improve the OS for keyboard and mouse users.
I have been a fan of Windows 8 since I first saw it in person at CES in 2012. I like that Microsoft has a different idea on how we could be using computers. I like that they actually were moving away from the windowed desktop view that they helped make so popular. I like that it could scale up to 27 inch displays and down to phones. And for the most part, the few Windows 8 (and Windows Phone 8) devices that I’ve used looked and felt pretty good.
Yes it favors touch screen computers. And while Microsoft is trying to push touch computers and convertible tablets it still seems that a majority of users are using a mouse and keyboard (not surprising). I understand the reasoning I just can’t help but think there has to be a better way to optimize Metro (sorry “Modern UI”) for mouse and keyboard. Hiding it isn’t going to push things forward.
Ben Kuchera throws some light on GameStop and the tension between the online retailers and actual physical retail stores:
The tension between digital game sales and retail is only going to get worse, and it’s likely to blame for some of the odd behavior you can see in the market. GameStop released Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition days before the announced street date, and many eager gamers rushed to their PlayStation 4s or Xbox Ones to try to buy the game online, only to find that the original street date of January 28th was being honored online.
Remember when Blockbuster would get movies before they were available on Netflix? It was a short window before Netflix had total domination and when the streaming service was in its infancy. Blockbuster signed contracts with the big studios to have movies 28 days before Netflix. It was a way for physical stores to have an edge over the online rental places. The studios agreed because blockbuster had been a cash cow for a long time, and they didn’t want to upset a player as dominating as Blockbuster.
This is what’s happening with video games. The good news is that we’ve seen this play out once before, and it doesn’t end well for brick and mortar stores.
The crazy part is that developers are essentially forced into playing ball with GameStop, who are actively trying to screw them. GameStop sells used games at a huge markup and lock people into their used ecosystem. It’s a toxic relationship and you’ll bet that devs will cut GameStop out of the equation as quickly as possible.
At least Blockbuster wasn’t relying on studios for movies to rent, while also actively screwing them.
This was a meeting for investors so none of this is a surprise.
- Of course Iwata was going throw his weight behind the Wii U, their current console, and promise games that would take advantage of the one thing that distinguishes it. Because even if they were abandoning the hardware, it’s not going to happen over night, and they need to keep selling a console in the interim.
- Of course they’re not going to put their 40 dollar games on phones, where 99 cents is considered pricy. Nintendo doesn’t know how to make a freemium game, and I hope they never learn. But people are yelling their heads off that “all they need to do is release Mario Kart on the iPhone” so phones and tablets needed to be addressed. Companion apps that drive people to Nintendo hardware doesn’t sound appealing to me, but ok.
- Of course they’re looking at new markets. Investors love hearing about new markets. I am intrigued by what they’re looking at in the health space. The Wii Balance Board was interesting, I guess. And the 3DS does count my steps when I bring it with me. I’m curious to see how this new thing fits in with the rest of their current hardware. Maybe it doesn’t.
Overall, not a lot was said. This sounds like they’re staying the course. Which is good, it’s what I think they should do. Hopefully they spend the money they have to stay the course better than they have been the past two years.
Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata addressed this by saying, “It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Nintendo needs to be Nintendo. They need to make great hardware and make great games for that hardware.
It’s undeniable that Nintendo doesn’t have the marketshare or the mindshare they had at the start of the last generation. Their new console didn’t grab the hearts of the everyman the way the Wii did, but there is still a way for Nintendo to continue to be Nintendo and, perhaps, return to the top.
I have a four point plan:
1) Nintendo needs to pull a Microsoft and start paying developers to develop for their platform. It’s exactly what Microsoft is doing on Windows Phone, and slowly, it’s working.
Nintendo should be actively pursuing indy developers and spurring games creation for their devices. Have ‘dev days.’ Pay for companies of all sizes to release their titles on your platform. Create tools that make it easier to develop. Start earning back that developer trust.
2) Abandon the Wii U. Make it a “hobby” if you want (the way Apple made the Apple TV a hobby for a few years). Sony and Microsoft are using off the shelf parts for their new consoles. Use the same ones. Release modern hardware and price it the same as the PS4. Yes, you’re going to get called out for releasing a “me too” box. But you need to do that. If you can put an Wii / Wii U emulator (or really, all the hardware the way Sony installed an entire PS2 in the PS3 at launch) that’s a bonus. We’re expecting this console cycle to last 8-10 years again, so even if this was released in 2015 it would still sell for six years.
Guys. My favorite camera app, ProCamera, is on sale for .99 today. It’s the camera that lives on my home screen. It is by far the best camera app I’ve ever used, and I’ve used all of them; VSCO, Camera+, Full Camera, 645 Pro, Manual Camera… None of them are as easy to use and give you as much control over your image as ProCamera.
First he’d need data. While his dissertation work continued to run on the side, he set up 12 fake OkCupid accounts and wrote a Python script to manage them.
What I love most about this guy is that he did all this to surface the most popular questions so he could answer them honestly. He wasn’t trying to hack the system, he was just trying to avoid the part of OK Cupid that feels the most like a game.
That was the overwhelming message delivered to the FCC by the DC Circuit yesterday when it ruled to vacate the agency’s net neutrality rules. The FCC had tried to impose so-called “common carrier” regulations on broadband providers without officially classifying them as utilities subject to those types of rules, and the court rejected that sleight of hand. Most observers saw the decision coming months, if not years, ago; Cardozo Law School’s Susan Crawford called the FCC’s position a “house of cards.”
I’ll be a little more clear: it’s bullshit. Bullshit built on cowardice and political expediency instead of sound policymaking. Bullshit built on the wrong words.
Nilay and Adi Robertson break down the ruling yesterday and failure of the FCC. Read every last word. It’s worth it.
The Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules were partially struck down today by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said the Commission did not properly justify its anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules.
Those rules in the Open Internet Order, adopted in 2010, forbid ISPs from blocking services or charging content providers for access to the network. Verizon challenged the entire order and got a big victory in today’s ruling. While it could still be appealed to the Supreme Court, the order today would allow pay-for-prioritization deals that could let Verizon or other ISPs charge companies like Netflix for a faster path to consumers.
And there’s the Nilay Patel editorial I knew was coming. Whenever he starts rage-tweeting, an editorial is sure to come.
Pull the thread out even farther and it gets even more evil: if sponsored data becomes a de facto cost of business in the exploding mobile market, those costs will just get passed right back to consumers. That “free” $4.99 Elysium rental will just end up costing $5.99, and advertising in apps like Facebook will just get more intrusive and creepy. And rest assured that AT&T will find a way to keep your service rates high and your contract terms restrictive; nothing about this plan involves shifting AT&T’s profits, just increasing them. Lower-income customers on cheaper plans will be disproportionately affected: you and I might still pay for data and use whatever services we want, but anyone counting bits will be buffeted into a world of corporate control.
If AT&T can levy taxes on access to a hundred million subscribers who are increasingly turning to mobile devices over traditional PCs, that turns the wireless behemoth into major economic gatekeeper on the internet — a situation that would flagrantly violate the net neutrality principles that govern landline internet but were waived for mobile. That was a huge policy mistake, and now we’re paying the price.
No. No. No. This is probably the worst thing for the consumer.
AT&T was careful to make clear that there will be no performance difference between sponsored and non-sponsored data. The only difference is who’s picking up the tab. Still, it’s easy to see how the proposal might worry net neutrality advocates who cried foul at a data-capped version of this plan, which was hinted at earlier this year. One observer called it “a scary proposition,” worrying that once carriers start differentiating between data on the network, fair competition will fall by the wayside.
Even without data caps, it’s easy to imagine this service being used to drive smaller firms out of certain markets. If a major company like Apple or Google decided to sponsor traffic to its movie streaming site, for instance, consumers would have to pay with their own data to use a competitor — an extra tax that dramatically changes the nature of the freewheeling internet market. That would mean cheaper phone bills but a much less healthy marketplace, with all the money ending up in AT&T’s coffers.
"Careful to make it clear" now… but this is going to have repercussions. It just smells of it. I think Nilay covers it pretty well.
This is the beginning of the end. Fuck. AT&T announces neutrality-baiting ‘Sponsored Data’ mobile plans http://t.co/izCBWHmabS