Feeds

Why is the iPlayer a multi million pound disaster?

Betting big, and betting wrong

Top three mobile application threats

As it turns out, the Beeb itself has proved that making shows available with streaming solution would have been cheaper and quicker to develop. The Flash player catch-up service cobbled together in response to Mac and Linux iPlayer interoperabilty gripes took just a few months.

Before we examine why a download "platform" was wrong, we want to make it clear we're not making a happy-clappy anti-DRM argument against the iPlayer. The BBC has unshakeable obligations to producers who spend vast sums on the expensive telly-making process.

Downloads take time and build up certain expectations. Anyone prepared to wait for a download of their favourite programme to finish before they can watch it, expects it to last longer than 30 days - or however long it takes for the DRM to disable the file.

PC users who have become accustomed to using BitTorrent as a main source of TV aren't interested in iPlayer's lower resolution encoding.

And in the real mass market, most licence-fee payers won't be enamoured to learn that the iPlayer's Kontiki P2P system is distributing programming on the BBC's behalf - via their bandwidth. For the average consumer it's been made tricky to turn off, too.

It'll leave us, the British public, with a multimillion-pound internet curio.

Special Needs

Despite the widely reported problems and mistakes made over iPlayer, the BBC has keenly stage-managed its drunken stumble into the limelight. A bizarre opinion piece by Silicon.com in July, which called for a "ceasefire" on iPlayer from Linux enthusiasts, made the claim that "so far, it seems the Corporation has managed the development well".

As we wrote earlier this month, arguments over interoperability have provided a convenient diversion for the spinners from our bigger question of how to deliver BBC shows over the net. In focusing on DRM and Linux interoperability, campaigners have missed the bigger picture.

The irony of this is that the whole free software versus BBC bunfight would have been avoided if the Corporation had only been more patient. It should have concentrated on getting the content management and archives right before spending big on a consumer-facing distribution system.

Even today, the internet TV business is immature: a special needs six-year-old who still wears nappies. Yet the BBC was teased into an expensive and premature attempt to second guess the market, and technology.

Rebirth?

BBC on demand via broadband and a TV set-top box - the real reason the BBC spent £130m - is on the cards, and makes much more sense than a redundant PC desktop app. Whether it'll be branded iPlayer remains to be seen, but hopefully it'll bear little resemblance to Auntie's current digital village idiot.

Today, the the size of the team that is building the second generation iPlayer client is closer to 15 - a far cry from 400, and far more productive.

Banishing the desktop download service altogether would be even better. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.