This will be my last post for a couple of weeks, as I'm off for a much-needed break outside the blogosphere. I'll be back on 6th September, no doubt with much to cover. I've also been honored with an invitation to speak at a P2P Video symposium at Columbia University on 10th September in NYC, which will should yield a lot of interesting information.
Jeff Pulver's always interesting blog (http://184.108.40.206/jeff/personal/archives/001086.html) picks up a story from, of all places, New Zealand Reseller News (http://reseller.co.nz/news.nsf/0/CC256E690007D482CC256EF5000099A9?OpenDocument) on Sony's new software enhancement to PlayStation 2, which effectively makes the box a platform for voice/video IM services. The quote of note from the piece is:
"Although the product is mainly aimed at younger users, Sony believes its
VoIP capability will drive PlayStation into new markets as a less expensive
alternative to the telephone or PC for those wanting to communicate with
friends and relatives abroad."
This is yet another good example of device makers creating a platform for integrating voice service provision, but on the TV as opposed to the PC, as we observed some time back with the i2eye from D-Link (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=293). What distinguishes the Sony advancement is that it moves into a rapidly growing installed base of multiplayer online gamers. It also inevitably leads to questions about the potential for further integration of other features where Sony has vested interests (content, AV hardware).
Anyone interested in the phenomenon of Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming, or MMOG, should check out the interesting statistics in this frequently-updated site (http://pw1.netcom.com/~sirbruce/Subscriptions.html), which can also be downloaded in Excel format. The most popular game tracked, Lineage, shows about 2.7m subscribers in July. This is a significant target market, where MMOG players have been piecing together their own solutions for communication in the gaming environment (such as TeamSpeak http://www.teamspeak.org/_about.php) and these have increasingly offered richer presence functions (see Xfire http://www.xfire.com/xf/index.php). Having such a solution integrated into the PS2, with video included, opens up many possibilities, and will no doubt provoke a response from Microsoft.
Here again, variations on a familiar theme - voice as a product differentiator in the war between internet/media brands, with telcos in the crossfire.