Jan 162012

UpSOPA Lamar Smith PosterSOPA has finally, at long last, died. Representative Eric Canter has announced that he is stopping action on SOPA in the House of Representatives. According to the Examiner, this effective kills the bill, though there is still concern about the Senate version, PIPA, which has 40 co-sponsors. Rep. Issa issued the following statement:

While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act [PIPA], I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House. Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.


Original Post (Jan. 16, 2012): It’s been a long battle but the tide is rapidly turning against SOPA, the Stop Online Priacy Act that has been working its way through Congress with significant bipartisan support. According to Forbes, a number of supporting are backing down including the author of the bill, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) who released the following statement from his office:

After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove DNS-blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the [U.S. House Judiciary] Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision.

This is how Wired described the new proposal:

Under the amended plan (.pdf), which was released late Monday, a judge would have to order ad networks to stop doing business with a site “dedicated” to infringing activities. Under the original proposal, a rights holder could make those demands on an ad network or payment processor and effectively kill off the site.

Still not perfect, but the DNS-blocking provision based simply on the request of the rights holder was one of the most damning aspects of the bill.

Other developments: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) is considering an amendment to scale back the Protect IP Act (S.968), or PIPA, the Senate version of the bill. In addition, the Obama administration’s technology team has come out against the bill. Finally, Rep Darrell Issa (R-CA), has decided to not hold hearings with DNS experts. Issa was at the Consumer Electronics Show last week to drum up opposition to the bill and propose the alternative OPEN Act that would have the International Trade Commission deal with piracy issues.

As Matthew Yglesia argues in Slate:

For the economy as a whole, I’ve never seen any compelling evidence that online piracy is in fact a real problem. If it was a real problem, you would expect the problem to manifest itself in the form of consumers with cash in their pockets finding themselves unable to find songs to listen to or films or TV shows to watch. Obviously content-producers (like me!) would prefer to have higher revenues, but if there’s a genuine problem here it should manifest itself on the consumer side as creators just give up on writing new books or whatever. To say that there’s no real problem here isn’t to say we need to move to a zero-copyright or zero-enforcement world, it’s simply to observe that the enforcement status quo actually seems fine.

Jan 132012

One takeaway from the Consumer Electronics show (CES) is that Apple is still blowing away the competition. Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank sums it up in a quote at CNN Money:

2011 was supposed to be the year of the Android tablet. One year later, Android tablets have failed to meet expectations and for the most part have been unsuccessful. 

Just one more reason why Apple has little need to worry and the rest of the tablet market is somewhat like the Republican primary – a lot of money being thrown at stuff that will never win. Most of the firms behind Android tablets would do better if they just made Apps for the iPad (surely, their write-downs would be less).

Moreover, Apple is utterly dominating the overall market if you count iPads as computers. Here’s IDC’s market report with iPads factored in and thanks to @YogeshMalik on Twitter for the pointer:

Computer market with Apple iPads
Jan 102012

Samsung TV Presentation at CESSamsung’s introduction of a TV with “smart evolution capability” at its keynote address at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) on Monday is simply ludicrous. A successful marketing gimmick, perhaps, but even with gesture, voice and facial recognition (oh, and upgrade slots to boot) it won’t remain a contemporary device.

One can say “Wow” as Business Insider blared in a headline – indeed, they did beat Apple in delivering a voice-controlled TV device. And customers may get an additional year or two out of the upgrade capabilities. But honestly, whenever you see the phrase “Media Hub” in the presentation, you know it isn’t.

The reality is that the pace of innovation continues unabated,  and now it’s hit television, feeding user expectations.  Five years down the road, the ES8000 will look like a dinosaur hanging on the wall. I’m trying to imagine still using my original Palm Pilot Professional (introduced in 1997) in a world of Apple and Android phones.

Even the future of the CES itself is up for grabs – it’s not at all clear what the Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s largest annual consumer technology tradeshow, will do next year. Apple never bothers to come and this is Microsoft’s last year. As MG Siegler noted at TechCrunch:

For the fifth year in a row, Apple wins CES. Before it starts. Without showing up. 

That pretty much sums up its lack of relevance.