Highfield joins Microsoft after just four months at Project Kangaroo
After just four months in charge of web TV joint venture Project Kangaroo, ex-BBC tech chief Ashley Highfield has quit for a new job at Microsoft UK.
The launch of Project Kangaroo, which will offer shows from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, has been forestalled by scrutiny from competition authorities. Rivals including Sky and Virgin Media have complained that a joint venture backed by public service broadcasters will have an unfair advantage in the nascent commercial web TV market.
"I was presented with an amazing opportunity which I couldn't turn down, and I am looking forward to embarking on my new challenge, while wishing everyone at the project continued success," Highfield said in a statement.
He will become Microsoft UK's "managing director and vice-president of consumer and online", making him responsible for Windows, Windows Mobile, advertising and Redmond's various attempts to loosen Google's death grip on the web.
Highfield's vanishingly short tenure at Project Kangaroo has been most notable for delays. The service now won't see daylight until the middle of next year at the earliest. Former Channel 4 exec Rod Henwood will take charge while a permanent successor is sought.
As director of future media and technology, Highfield cut a controversial figure at the BBC. Reg sources blamed him for the culture of commitees and waste that saw iPlayer development take several years and run millions over-budget. In the last months of his reign a new management team was brought in to rapidly develop a streaming version that has proved much more successful than the unwieldy P2P client he oversaw.
Open source advocates also accused him of being too close to Microsoft... ®
Tie me kangaroo down, sport...
...no worries, cobbers, there'll be another entertainingly-named project along in five minutes or so.
Not necessarily with ITV though - too much belt-tightening going on. (It'd make me feel much better about that, BTW, if I could tighten it around a couple of executive necks...*)
*joke stolen from the great prophet Hicks, may his name be praised forever.
Hopefully this will mean an end to the BBC's ridiculously pro-MS attitude in all things technological.
Kangaroo's DOA anyway
Kangaroo was going to be DOA anyway, even ignoring the regulatory issues. In fact it's like most of the rest of the UK HypeyTV market... but that's another story for another day.
Tony Bliar's "Broadband Britain" (born 2002?) is near enough dead in the water (where Tony should be?).
In the urban areas, competition from LLU operators and cable makes high speed broadband (>8Mbit) both affordable and available (at least to some, if you're in a cable street or have a short phone line). But if you have cable who needs Kangaroo, and if you don't have cable, your LLU broadband is supplied by useless cowboys like Orange, Sky, and TalkTalk (OK there's Be/O2 as well... there's always one :)). Now, can anyone explain to me: why would a supplier offering "free" broadband want to encourage lots of extra traffic, which incurs big extra costs without any matching increase in revenue? 'Cos that's Kangaroo, that is. Like iPlayer, but more so.
Outside the LLU/cable urban areas, ISPs based on BTwholesale are usually the only choice (wireless and even the wonder-miracle powerline having conspicuously failed to make any visible showing in 99% of the UK).
But leaving BTwholesale to monopolise these expensive-to-serve areas means (a) they'll be way behind the times, even if BT's much over hyped 21CN does ever finish its technical rollout (b) it'll be so expensive and so bandwidth-limited (because it's a BT monopoly and Ofcon will still be asleep) that Kangaroo-class applications in volume would be unaffordable and impractical.
Mind you, I'm not sure our former Beeb former Kangaroo man will be any better off in the consumer division at MS just at the moment. Obviously he thinks he will be - but seemingly the man who succeeded him at the Beeb thinks different - he came from MS to the BBC!
Pirates don't need Kangaroo; they just need cheap high speed bandwidth.