War of Stuff . . .

News Item: Samsung To Push Solid-State Drives

News Item: People Start Trying To Crack Vista

(And, no, Vista hasn’t been done yet, despite any accounts you might have read. What’s out there right now isn’t a crack, it’s a stall that extends the time you can go without activation, but doesn’t remove it.)

What do these two events have in common?

First, let’s look at solid-state drives (and by that, I don’t mean Robson-type boot-helpers). There are two major types of computers these days, and solid-state drives are suitable for one type of computer, but not another

The first type of computer I’ll call, for lack of a better term, “work” computers. “Work” computers include most business computers, and most Sixpack-type computers used by “old” people, the browsing, email and WP crew.

The second type I’ll call “play” computers. “Play” computers have a lot of media on them, anything from games to pictures to video to movies, if not all of them.

(Yes, there are exceptions, but don’t miss the forest for the trees and the leaves.)

Solid-state drives (eventually) will be well-suited to “work” computers since, well, Grandma doesn’t need a 250GB hard drive to store recipes.

They won’t be at all well-suited for play computers because while 20-30GB may be fine for Grandma, that will fit a grand total of one HD movie.

So, in the next few years, after the price comes down, solid-state drives are likely to become very popular for “work” computers, first notebooks, later desktops. But until reasonably-priced solid-state drives can be described in terms of terabytes (and it will take a true technological breakthrough for that to happen), they’re no good for play computers.

Unless . . . .

There’s no point in having a terabyte or two of storage unless you have a terabyte or two of stuff to put in it, and there’s a problem and a half with that.

The half-problem is a terabyte of stuff takes a while to download, a long while with today’s broadband, but that will eventually solve itself.

The real problem is most of the stuff on most of the play computers is . . . uhh . . . stolen, and the ones being stolen from look pretty hellbent on stopping the stealing.

And that’s where the cracking of Vista comes into play. It’s sort of a leading indicator of how the War On Stuff is going to go; how hard is it going to be to really crack, how hard will MS try to screw up successful cracks? Since MS will be a major player in any content protection, seeing how hellbent it is on protecting its own ought to give us some idea how hard it will try to protect the work of others.

The War On Stuff will all starts with Vista, which will then mainstream “Trusted Computing” (or whatever they call it these days), and then the War Of Stuff begins.

The point I want you to consider right now is not whether or not it can be done, but what would happen to the tech world if they can.

If the only way you can fill up a terabyte or two is with free stuff, and you can’t get the cool stuff for free anymore, what does that do to terabyte hard drive sales? What does that do to consumer fiber optics broadband, or broadband in general?

For sure, there will still be plenty of people more than happy to put their HD video collection on a terabyte hard drive, just quite a few less than would be more than happy to put their free HD video collection in their terastorage. Somehow, too, I think the sales of HD recordables and HD recordable disks will be affected if their use is restricted to home movies.

(No doubt plenty of those thwarted will end up settling for the old-standard video for many years to come, but that will end up being a dying breed. What happens at YouTube ought to be interesting, too, I don’t think Google paid over a billion dollars just to become head pirate.)

We’ll see what happens, and maybe nothing will really change, but no matter what the outcome, the War On Stuff will have a big impact on shaping what equipment we’ll buy the next five years, or whether we’ll buy items at all.


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