Tag Archives: technology

Found! The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle! (Meet Our Tech Wiz)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the role of serendipity in recruiting our Technical Architect. I did not reveal his name because he was still serving the notice period but I am glad to report that he joined us today.

Meet Thejesh (or Thej as we call him) – the mystery man I referred to in that post. Thej and I first met in 2003 when both of us worked at Infosys. I was the dreaded PM and he was a developer in what was probably one of his first projects at Infosys. After that project, we parted ways and never connected again. But that one project was enough for me to slot him in the “Hard-core Techie” file in my memory. Years later while I was struggling to find someone to lead the technology work at Mavrix, I knew I had the right person for the job when I stumbled into Thej.

During that project together, we had written up a short brief about everone on the project. This is what we put together for Thej –

Thejesh likes to be called “Thej The Lord Of Light”! 🙂 He loves exploring new things and shows others the path to areas unexplored. A witty guy too. When told “Thejesh your method is throwing an exception”, his response was “Then catch it”.

I am happy that some things (and people) just don’t change! Check out the team page to see Thej’s profile.

Why Music On The Cloud Does Not Make Sense

In a previous post, I talked about why streaming music would never be the same as owning a physical copy of it. Since then, Amazon has launched it’s Cloud Player which takes perfectly good physical copies that you can listen to directly and let’s you stream it over the cloud. While I understand people streaming music that they don’t own, I am bewildered that Amazon (and other companies) thinks that there are customers who are willing to pay them to stream music that they already own. Look at this comparison of the various types of music services and tell me why anybody would pay for Cloud Music (or at least the way Amazon has implemented it).

ParameterCloud ServiceStreaming ServiceOwned Physical Copy
QualityPoor bitrate. Mediocre at best.Varies from low quality (free) to high quality (premium). Another problem with free services - audio ads that spoil the listening experience.Can’t get better than this
CostOne time cost for songs + Recurring extra cost for storage + Recurring bandwidth costsRecurring bandwidth costs + Recurring streaming cost for premium plansOne time cost for songs. No recurring costs. Even is you add the cost of a hard-drive (to mimic the backup functionality of cloud), it’s a one-time low cost (and getting lower every day).
AvailabilityNot available when internet is not available (like on flights), or when there is a service disruption/outage at your ISP or the cloud service provider.Not available when internet is not available (like on flights), or when there is a service disruption/outage at your ISP or the streaming service provider.With a large capacity portable media player (ahem, like an iPod), you can carry your entire music collection with you all the time. No service comes close to this level of availability.
Music CatalogLimited – as many songs as you purchase. But your catalog is yours forever.Unlimited as long as you subscribe. Zip, zilch, nada if you don’t subscribe.Limited – as many songs as you purchase. But your catalog is yours forever.

Music Locker Service – A Primer

Amazon beat Apple and Google in the race to launch a music locker service by launching its Music Cloud Player for the web and Android. This is a primer for anyone who wants to understand what the fuss is all about.

What is it?

A place ‘in the cloud’ to store all your digital music. You get streaming access to all purchased music from any device. At this time, it is not clear if the locker will allow you to download your songs from the locker to any device. My guess is that if you bought the song from the company that’s providing the locker service, you could download it as many times as you time on as many devices as you want.

Amazon’s service allows new purchases from Amazon to be added to the cloud automatically. If you want to add your existing collection to the cloud, you will have to do it manually through an uploader provided by Amazon.

Who will offer this service?

All eyes are focused on three companies to roll out this service some time during 2011 – Google, Apple and Amazon. Other companies will likely jump in the fray but given their traditional strengths and ability to scale, the big three will define the future of digital music.

Now that Amazon has launched its service, expect Google and Apple to roll their services out soon.

What is in it for Google, Apple, Amazon?

Apple wants to offset the advances made in recent years by players (pun!) like Pandora, Spotify and Rdio, that allow access to music from any device. Google and Amazon are getting in the fray because their previous attempts at competing with Apple’s iTunes store have failed. They want to take another shot at carving out a piece of Apple’s lion share of the digital music market.

What’s in it for the music labels?

Music labels believe they are having their arms twisted by Apple, given iTunes dominant position in the market. They think they will get better terms if other big players compete against Apple. They may also be hoping that easy and ubiquitous availability of music may make music piracy not worth the hassle.

Open questions:

Would these services allow storage of songs that have been purchased through other services? If yes, how would the locker service identify that the song copy is legal?

Based on what we have seen of the Amazon Cloud Player, there is no way to check if you are uploading legal content.

What pricing options would they offer?

These services could offer a combination of pricing options that are currently distributed across multiple services – songs for download at a price (iTunes), free streaming of purchased songs (erstwhile LaLa which was bought and shut down by Apple), ad-supported streaming of songs (Pandora) that have not been purchased, tiered premium plans to stream songs that have not been purchased (Rdio, Spotify).

Amazon seems to have stayed away from streaming non-purchased content. It’s charging for song downloads and space to store your collection on the cloud. They have plans starting from 5 GB (free) to 1000 GB ($1000).