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Bittorrent tosses Orb into Apple's walled garden

Apple - a monopoly in the making?

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Bittorrent Inc. announced a deal with Orb yesterday to bundle the streaming media centre software with its own P2P client, and both parties used the opportunities to goad Apple over its "walled garden" approach to media.

"We're breaking down the barriers of the 'siloed' environments, where hardware companies tie media to a specific device," Bittorrent's VP of product development, Mark Hopper, told us.

Can't think who he means, there.

"Now with Bittorrent, you can access any form of media and distribute it to any device you have," he went. "The first step is PC-centric - BT and Orb PC hub - but aligns very well with deeply integrated UI combinations."

Orb's Joe Costello was more explicit.

"Ever since OS X, Apple has tried to claim the halo of being not just cool but Open. But as anyone who's tried to play their Bittorrent movies or TV shows on their iPod can confirm, the iTunes + iPod/iPhone monopoly-in-the-making is anything but open. Steve Jobs is turning into that soup guy from the Seinfeld episode," he told us.

As a timely reminder of how closed-gardens can creep on us, NBC inadvertently set a flag in some of its broadcasts last week that prevented Windows Media Centre from recording the shows.

"Contrast that with the free pass Apple gets over its own ever-more-massively walled garden. Would even Microsoft dare suggest you can only put apps they certify on your phone?"

Ouch.

Alas, the bundling deal is only for Windows - the Mac version of Orb never seems to get any closer. You can, using Parallels or VMWare and an Intel-based Mac, send your songs and movies to your work PC or phone, but you'll have to replicate your iTunes playlists manually.

(Any readers know different? Let us know.)

Orb is well placed to break down the walled garden media model - levering open the mobile world with a partnership with Vodafone a couple of years ago - and opening up the Wii last year. ®

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