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Three Reasons Why Venice Is Already Sunk

Om Malik has a short interview with Skype co-founder Janus Friis talking about Janus and Niklas’ new peer-to-peer system, the Venice Project.  It’s a peer-to-peer system for sharing television.  With Skype and Kazaa, these guys disrupted whole industries.  This time around, they’re too late.  Here’s why:

1. The world already has more video sharing networks than you can shake a stick at.  With YouTube, Revver, and countless others out there, who needs another way to share video?

2. Kazaa consumed kilobits per second of bandwidth. Skype, even less.  Quality video needs megabits.  Peer to peer might have been great for low bandwidth communications like voice, but if you think I’m going to let a peer media relay ship video streams through my network pipe, I’ve got news for you! 

3. The big media players are already doing their own thing.  FOX Interactive is delivering television shows via MySpace.  ABC, NBC, CBS, Disney — they’re all at it too.  They don’t need a new “global peer to peer platform” to deliver their video.

And check this excerpt from the interview out:

OM: Does the Venice Project use the same core underlying technologies that were used in Kazaa and Skype?

JF: Kazaa and Skype were based on a piece of technology called the “Global Index.” Skype basically built a communication layer on top of that. That technology has evolved since then, and the Venice Project, is built on that global index and we have developed a P2P video streaming layer on top of that core technology. (*)

(*) Om’s Notes: The Global Index mentioned by Janus is actually Joltid Global Index Software that is owned by a company called Joltid Limited, in which Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have an equity interest. The company was not part of the Skype-Ebay transaction.

So, if EBay didn’t buy the technology, then what did they buy?  Did they spend $4.1 Billion for the Skype user base?

Nah… couldn’t be. 

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Andrew October 5, 2006, 6:16 pm

    How I understand it, it isn't a new way to share video, it is a new way to get Video. So Cancel my 100$ Cable package from Rogers and just pay for what I want to see a la' iTunes. Or get the 'generic' version for free. Slingbox has found a market for placeshifting, this is the same thing only without the slingbox, or the TV for that matter.

  • Paul Jardine October 5, 2006, 7:14 pm

    "So, if EBay didn’t buy the technology, then what did they buy? Did they spend $4.1 Billion for the Skype user base?" – Yes!

    I agree that the P2P video/tv market is pretty crowded, but there is still room for something that is innovative. Do you think YouTube has a 'great' interface? The reason people go to YouTube is that it has the most content and download speeds are ok. Those are not easily defended advantages.

    Try TVUplayer if you haven't already, it shows what's possible on peer to peer.
    All in all I think the more interesting excerpt from the interview was this:
    "People like the freedom of choice and like freedom from choice. For example, channels are good, because they define the content. Today, the channels are locked in legacy infrastructure, but on broadband the channels are not locked in time."

    If the Venice Project 'just works' and provides the content I want in an easily digestible form, then there's no reason it will sink.
    I do have some scepticism that the Joltid framework is malleable enough to make this work well.

  • Alec October 6, 2006, 2:24 am

    Andrew, they seem to be defining their difference by (a) P2P and (b) access to content. (a) Is that enough, and (b) don't the content providers already have their own plans? I don't see Murdoch, for instance, offering up FOX Interactive programming to the Venice Project when he's already got the distribution vehicle in MySpace, and is building a direct to consumer advertising business around it. What's in it for him?

  • Alec October 6, 2006, 2:26 am

    Thanks for the tip Paul. I will check out TVUPlayer. As you can tell, i'm very skeptical about this. I think that this is a much harder problem than Skype was. VoIM was clearly broken, and Skype fixed it. I am not sure people would agree that the same is true of video. A year ago, yes, but now?

  • Andrew October 6, 2006, 6:52 am

    (a) P2P and – just means they dont' need POPS all over the world to stream video through, if it works it would substantially lower cost of entry – and provide an interactive TV experience.

    (b) access to content – remember Rupert Murdoch was apparently one of the bidders for Skype, rumour had it he wanted to buy Skype and turn it into a massive media distribution network, I wouldn't be surprised if some media companies have learved the lesson finally and have taken a "if you can't beat them, join them" stance, and are putting money and content behind this project. Who doesn't need 24 hour access to – on demand "The OC"?

    Think platform play as well, currently TV is the epitome of the walled garden, what if I could (through a series of clever API's) embed TV/Video in my applications? Media companies could touch aspects of your day they never could before. You can do that somewhat with Flash now, but the cost to do so is quite substantial.

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