There is still hope

Maybe, maybe: there are signs on the horizon that the content industry will finally come to grips with the harsh reality that their old models just do not work anymore the way they used to: enter Qtrax, a free, ad-supported P2P network that claims to have the blessings from a bunch of major labels, including Sony/BMG and EMI. Qtrax will lauch tonight, so soon we will know more.

Overall, this might be a sign that the RIAA monopoly is finally understanding that suing their customers is not a good way of advertising your goods. And while MP3s are not exactly the encoding that HiFi fans’ dreams are made out of, it is still an interesting start into a hopefully much brighter future.

There are a few things that really interest me:

  • They are using the Mozilla rendering engine. That is a good thing. Period.

  • They promise iPod compatibility. Hmm.. this sounds odd, since the iPod is quite capable of playing back MP3s. Now – assuming for the moment that they are using MP3s – why would you need to make the iPod compatible? Unless there is some sort of DRM or platform lock-in included … we will see in about 3.5 hours 😉

  • Who will be the ad source, ie. which advertising seller will get the opportunity to get access to a potentially gigantic market. While I have absolutely no idea, I’d be surprised if the name of that company started with a ‘G’.

  • How will Apple and the market react? At the end of the day, this whole thing is a thinly-veiled attack against Apples extremely strong position with the iPod and iTunes. If Qtrax can offer a similar level of ease-of-use, Mr. Jobs will have to do some very creative thinking.

  • What is their Linux story? Or – to rephrase the question in a more interesting way: What is their open source/open specification story? I can see that they are not particularly interested in opening up their platform, as this would directly undercut their ad-based business model. But will they allow ports or make the engine at least reasonably portable to other OSes, including Linux, but also Symbian or other cell-phone OSes (and – of course – OpenSolaris)?

We will see … soon.

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