Light Reading

Metcalfe Vouches for Video

Phil Harvey
News Analysis
Phil Harvey
1/3/2006
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Even when he's explaining a statement that's not controversial, Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe has a way of stirring things up.

"I've been saying video is the next big thing for some years now and I don't consider it controversial," Metcalfe says during his second interview with LRTV in less than a year. (See Bob Metcalfe, Partner, Polaris Ventures.)

He says it's "obvious the next big thing is video on the Internet and it will just take 10 or 15 years to reengineer the whole Internet so it can carry video in its many forms."

So he's talking about IPTV, right? Not really. Metcalfe says that although television is a form of video, non-televised video will have the biggest potential and will be one of the Internet's "biggest surprises."

"One of the strengths of the Internet is merchandising, and the way we'll sell video merchandising will be an application, video mail, video conferencing, video telephone, video in ways we've yet to imagine," Metcalfe tells LRTV.

Metcalfe, even as a venture partner at Polaris Venture Partners , isn't afraid to say what a lot of people are thinking. When asked if deals such as eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) buying Skype Ltd. are an indicator of more investment hype, Metcalfe let fly with this gem: "I'm looking forward to the next Internet bubble. I don't know what everyone’s so negative about. The last bubble was lots of fun."

So what bets is Metcalfe making to take advantage of the coming "video Internet"? He and Polaris have stakes in companies such as Silicon Optics Inc. , which makes video processing chips for screen displays, and Mintera Corp. , which makes 40-Gbit/s optical transport devices for the network's core, to name a couple.

But he also notes that with more video consumed in more places, the number of cameras will increase, the number of video screens will explode, and consumer software, as we know it now, will have to change to address more video applications. (See Full Transcript of LRTV's Interview With Bob Metcalfe, Inventor of Ethernet and Metcalfe Places Broadband Bets.)

"There'll be new operating systems required; the clunkers we have, you know Windows and Linux, are 25 years old -- they're going to need updating to adequately carry video," Metcalfe says. "What they're doing now is lame."

Now tell us how you really feel...

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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dljvjbsl
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dljvjbsl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:29 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
video mail, video conferencing, video telephone, video in ways we've yet to imagine

a) Video telephone -- This has been repeatedly tried and has failed every time. It does not fail because of any technological limitation but because the video component works against the properties that make telephony useful

b) Video conferencing -- Every time this fails, there are excuses that if only some new technology could have be appied then it would have succeeded. More bandwidth, bigger screens etc. etc. etc. The problem really is that video adds little benefit to existing voice conference facilties.

c) Video in ways we ahve yet to imagine -- I suppose that this is in refence to video lounges, video tunnels and other forms of infromal awareness applications that are re-invented every few years. If it isn't then it is hard to argue against something that we have not yet imagined. We have imagined portable holographic generators aboard warp 10 star ships creating sentient holographic entities, so this statement is going pretty far.
DCITDave
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DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:28 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
re: "c) Video in ways we ahve yet to imagine -- I suppose that this is in refence to video lounges, video tunnels and other forms of infromal awareness applications that are re-invented every few years."

No, that's not what he's referring to. Those ways have already been imagined. He's talking about stuff that hasn't been imagined.

ph
alchemy
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alchemy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:28 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
dljvjbsl debunks:

a) Video telephone

In my opinion, video telephone will be a killer application once you make it mobile. You also need to offer converged service so you can make your video cell phone call your television set set-top box or PC application. "Look where I am!" and "Honey, is this the one I'm supposed to buy?" are worth spending a few extra bucks per month on.

b) Video conferencing

Requires something like a bird flu outbreak where people can't/won't do business travel.
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:27 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
If it's going to be an advertising driven revenue system, which looks to be the outcome, it will probably be video informercials that will be produced and distributed over the net. QVC on steroids.

(Also note: Google's user based video "hosting" doesn't seem to be catching on. Maybe their partnership with AOL will changes things on the video front.)

On the TV side, consumers do like VoD. Many see it as a service worth paying a few dollars a month for. It has yet to go mainstream.
dljvjbsl
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dljvjbsl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:27 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video

No, that's not what he's referring to. Those ways have already been imagined. He's talking about stuff that hasn't been imagined.


[irony = on]
Well since the original comment mentioned that portable holographic projectors had been imagined, then stuff that has not been imagined must be quite spectacular.
[irony = off]
zoinks!
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zoinks!,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:27 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
How much should we listen to Bob Metcalfe? What has he actually created since contributing to the invention of Ethernet? Visions are vaporware.

Zoinks!
dljvjbsl
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dljvjbsl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:27 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video

a) Video telephone

In my opinion, video telephone will be a killer application once you make it mobile. You also need to offer converged service so you can make your video cell phone call your television set set-top box or PC application. "Look where I am!" and "Honey, is this the one I'm supposed to buy?" are worth spending a few extra bucks per month on.


The primary utility of the voice telephone lies in its ability to link to the informal workings of a household. One can telephone someone in their house and not have to worry that they will be embarrassed by not being properly dressed, not having the house picked up, having to do something else (e.g. bathe the kids) at th43e same time. People of various degrees of acquaintance can be linked by telephone without worry about the fromal requirements for interaction that are present in face to face interaction. Obviously video telephony does not have this desirable property. People, especially women, would not want to have a video call when they are not properly groomed for the type of call that is being made.

So for the above reasons, video-telephony has failed every time it has been tried. It requires a degree of formal interaction that people do not find desirable to maintain when they are in their own homes.

However as Alchemy points out, there is a possibility that mobile telephones may have changed that. They are not like fixed wireline telephones that are used to connect household to household and household to business. They can be used to link members of a household together in an intercom like setting. So in the example given, the husband can ask the wife if this is what she sent him to the store for. Since they are members of the same household then different rules of required. Perhaps the utility of this video household intercom system will be enough to make it a viable service.

However again, the examples given are not of a video service but of an image service and a one way image service at that. So the case for video-telephony has been made very slightly stronger but it is still very very weak.
turing
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turing,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:26 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
However again, the examples given are not of a video service but of an image service and a one way image service at that. So the case for video-telephony has been made very slightly stronger but it is still very very weak.

I'm with you djvbsl. What alchemy was talking about can already be done - its an app of the digital camera in the cell phone today.

Motion video is the obvious next-step for cell phones, but again is it only for record and send? Even if there is an application for bidirectional real-time, the question is whether the revenue or competitive advantage can offset the cost of infrastructure upgrade.

If pornography, gaming, and business can't find a use for it, then you're left with teenagers I think. They account for most of the SMS market I hear. But that was more anonymous and less interactive and real-time than voice.
DCITDave
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DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:26 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
I imagined you'd say something like that.

ph
TheMuffinMan
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TheMuffinMan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:10:25 AM
re: Metcalfe Vouches for Video
There is mobile video - its called UMTS. Its been around for at least 2 years here in Oz and probably longer in some parts of Asia.

Do a lot of people use it? Hutchison don't release those sort of figures, but they don't seem to have had massive uptake, and you don't see people wondering the streets staring into their mobile phones. In fact about 2 weeks ago was the first time I ever saw someone making a video call (Joe Public not industry).

Video calling is a premium service, but not by much. Its included in capped monthly plans along with regular voice minutes.

IMHO its a solution looking for a problem.
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