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Ruckus Follow-Up

The Ruckus folks were very prompt in responding to my questions following up on the announcement of the MediaFlex Hotspot. Thanks to David Callisch, Ruckus Wireless Marketing Director for the quick turnaround.  Q&A after the jump. Continue reading

Ruckus Makes a Ruckus

Ruckus Wireless is one of the companies Motorola has invested in via Motorola Ventures. Barely 3 years old, Ruckus has made impressive waves in the Wi-Fi space, and yesterday the company announced the brand new Ruckus MediaFlex Hotspot (HS).

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The device is designed to support multimedia applications over Wi-Fi and claims increased range and capacity over traditional wireless access points. Given the toll on wired networks of new multimedia applications, it’s no stretch to imagine how Wi-Fi networks are going to be taxed when we’re all regularly streaming video over the air.

You can read the full Ruckus press release here, but I’m also hoping to hear back from Ruckus on a few questions of my own.

Slim Devices and Customer Creators

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I don’t manage to read Fast Company often enough, but someone just brought an article to my attention on Slim Devices from the last issue. Slim Devices is the company bought by Logitech last fall that produces the beautiful Squeezebox. I’m a big fan of the product, but that’s not what makes the article interesting. It’s worth a read because the piece talks about how founder Sean Adams encourages “customer creators” to improve on Slim Devices’ technology. As I mentioned last week, my secret hope is that Motorola will be able to employ a similar approach with set-tops in the future. (Note to readers: I may be going against the company party line here…)

Here’s an excerpt from the Fast Company article:

“People around the world have been contributing to Slim Devices free of charge for all sorts of reasons. Some do it to showcase their skills in the hope of attracting a job offer. Some do it for the challenge. But much of it comes down to this: We want things our way.”

I’ll second that. In Slim Devices’ case, the result is a phenomenal product that keeps getting better. (I got a free software update on my Squeezebox just last month.)

Skype Starting the Beginning of the End?

skype_logo_screen.pngThe title of this post is probably a little strong, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the wake of the petition by Skype to have the FCC force wireless operators to loosen up. Specifically, Skype doesn’t want operators to be able to control what hardware and software can connect to their networks. Gee, seems like we were just talking about this.

The crux of Skype’s legal argument appears to rest on the 1968 Carterfone decision. Landline networks have been subjected to regulations of this sort for decades, and Skype thinks wireless should follow the same rules.

As I’ve said before, there are reasons for allowing network operators to preserve some controls, but we’re going to see an increasing number of challenges to what the limits of those controls should be. Aside from some of the obviously unhelpful practices carriers have maintained (taking a 40-50% cut from charity SMS fundraising campaigns, for example), the issue is going to rear its head again because more and more devices and applications are connecting to each other via the Internet. Continue reading

Opening Up

There are too many areas of Motorola to stay up to date on everything all the time. So I wasiplay-log.jpg thrilled this week to read a company press release on a new MOTODEV Game Developer Challenge. Anyone involved with the MOTODEV network can enter a game submission to run on either Java (for the MOTOKRZR) or Windows Mobile (for the MOTO Q). Winners in each category will have their applications published by mobile entertainment company I-play.

This is the way the CE world should work. Sure, big companies can hire great, in-house developer talent, but why limit yourself to a small pool of resources when the wider world awaits? Not that companies should look outside their walls all the time, but sometimes you need to open up and bring in a fresh perspective. And what better way to create new fans for your product than to get people involved in what it can do?

My secret hope for OCAP (yesterday’s topic of discussion) is that it will allow exactly this type of activity for cable set-tops. There are a lot of smart and willing people who have ideas on how to make set-top software better. No sense in wasting the opportunity that presents.

The Trials and Tribulations of OCAP

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Peter Grant has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal offering a short primer on OCAP. It’s very readable, so if you’re looking for an overview on the subject, check it out.

More importantly though, the WSJ story brought up a debate on OCAP with other industry friends. Some folks wonder whether OCAP will ever really come to be, or if it will get “hopscotched” in the way the cable industry has of moving on to the next thing before following through on its original plans.

I am not very good at predictions, but I do have an opinion on this one. It’s going to take a while to move TV to an IP platform, and given that potentially long process, the cable industry has to do something in the meantime to open up the network and allow more innovation in. There’s just no way cable operators will sit back and let Internet video companies eat their lunch. OCAP should actually help them compete. Continue reading

Prioritizing Traffic

The Wall Street Journal had a Valentine’s Day article last week on the latest boom in network spending. A little “We Heart You” to the network equipment providers of the world. What was interesting was the distinction the reporter made between what networking gear is selling today versus what brought in the moola in the 1990s. The last decade was all about building out infrastructure for broad, unspecified capacity. Today, successful profit seekers are focusing on specialized equipment designed to prioritize traffic for the best use of bandwidth.

Continue reading