Freevo

Posted by Tejus Parikh on December 7, 2006

An emerging story of this blog is convergence. I’ve talked about how cool it would be to surf the web on the DS (Lik-sang closing shop put a damper on that), the neatness of the Sony Mylo mobile platform, amongst other things.

This is a bit of a surprise to me, since I’ve always been somewhat anti-convergence. To me, it goes opposite of picking the right tool for the job. For instance, it’d be hard to convince me that a cellphone would make a good music player, or camera. There just isn’t enough space for quality optics or a hard drive. If there was, then the thing’s too big or the battery’s too small.

However, it occurs to me that much of the convergence thus far has been service driven. The convergence exists because it will enable one entity to charge another for a “value-added” service (as if an even more annoying ring-tone adds value). We don’t have cameras on our cell phone because they are good cameras. We have them so that Verizon, etc. all can sell us a data plan.

Unfortunately, my natural cynicism made me miss the boat on real user-need driven convergence. While the Mylo is heavily flawed, it’s on the right track. It does wifi, voip, and play media, everything that I’d like while moving about and traveling.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: Freevo. Installing freevo is the latest in a series of steps that started with converting my CD library to MP3 three years ago. Back then, I just used a crufty laptop controlled via VNC to play music out to the stereo. That worked for a while, but then I wanted to watch movies, so I built a new box with tv-out and a dvd player. Now I just needed a way to control everything, which is where freevo comes in. After installing it, I’m pleasantly surprised at how straightforward it is to get to my music and movies, and I can do it all with a regular TV remote.

Had I not been so pig-headed about convergent tech, I probably would have done it long before. It just took a while for me to realize that I was trying to build a convergent device. The end result is that convergence shouldn’t be about crippling things in order to sell additional services. It should be about taking common ideas and putting them together in a sensible way, creating a device that’s actually nice to use.

In contrast to my cellphone, where most of the meta-keys take me to things I can buy but don’t want, the freevo and mylo let me get at what I need, when I need it efficiently. Convergence is going to continue, I just hope the vendors think about the users instead of the useless things they’d like to sell them.

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Tejus Parikh

Tejus is an software developer, now working at large companies. Find out when I write new posts on twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter: