Plugged:
Google's Android operating system plan for mobile phones is a much-needed step to opening up the mobile environment.

Not saying it's gonna be successful, but I applaud both the idea and the effort. Details are still pretty thin in the actual execution department, but the vision is an interesting one--an open-source (kinda) OS that would allow third-party developers to create applications for it in a standardized way.

Similar to Google's OpenSocial initiative for Web 2.0 services, the Android OS would allow these developers to write one application that would then work on any mobile phone and network supporting it. In theory anyway. Google formed the Open Handset Alliance build to push the technology, and several wireless operators, handset manufacturers and technology companies are already on board.

That would bring the mobile entertainment environment a step closer to the open Internet environment, something content and service providers have long desired.

But, it won't be that easy.

First, the whole "write-once-run-everywhere" model has never, NEVER, worked in the mobile space. Even if multiple phones run the same OS, they still have different keypad configuration, different screens, and so on that will complicate matters. It's about as much a pipe dream as interoperable DRM.

Second, it will require the operators to be on board. In the U.S., only T-Mobile and Sprint have voiced support, Verizon says it will consider it, and AT&T is keeping mum. Regardless, rest assured they'll find some way to muck it up so that the development process is harder than it needs to be under the auspices of "protecting our customers" (which is really a polite euphemism for "protecting our network investments").

And finally, there's Google. Standard are funny things. Nokia tried something similar to the Open Handset Alliance with Symbian, which became the Open Mobile Alliance and despite attracting Microsoft to the fold has not brought sanity to the fragmented mobile phone market.
Unlike OMA, though, Google and Android won't be charging licensing fees. That alone give me hope that this may actually work. Check back with me in five years.

UnPlugged:
Oh Prince. Silly man.

Other artists would kill to have legions of fans gathering on Internet sites dedicated to worshiping them. Posting and commenting on photos of artists, discussing lyrics, sharing artwork and other assets is a core part of being a fan.

But His Purpleness sees these as bad things, and is again sending cease-and-desist letters to certain sites to remove what he considers to be offending content. It's not enough that he has fans, but he wants to control how those fans engage in actually being fans.

As much as I disagree with the RIAA's campaign to sue file-traders, I can at least understand why they're doing it. But this defies all semblance of logic.

Mr. Nelson's hired guns -- a "rights enforcement" firm out of the U.K. with the chuckle-inducing name of WebSherriff -- is slapping DMCA takedown notices on everything. According to the folks at prince.org, the letter demanded removal of photos such as people's tattoos, cars, news clipping, and other non-Prince related stuff.

The best part about this is that the fans are fighting back. Three sites contacted by Le Petite Prince -- prince.org, housequake.com and princefans.com -- actually formed an alliance to fight the legal threats, called "Prince Fans United' (or Prince F.U. ... priceless). If it were me, I'd just stop being a Prince fan. These people are actually FIGHTING him to remain fans. Unreal.

This is no longer a world where you can just spoon feed your content and expect it to be consumed silently. The new entertainment world is all about interaction. The tools are there, the desire is there and the activity is there. Control is dead.

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