From the very beginning, the Internet has been a kind of bazaar for the worlds opportunists, taking advantage of the technology, fuzzy legal definitions, and the entrepreneurial spirit to make money.
In this category, you wont find anyone as successful, or as dangerous, as Michael Robertson.
It was Robertson that created the company MP3.com back in 1998, which would essentially allow users to access music from any CDs theyve purchased through the Web. What they do with that music was not MP3.coms business.
He was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America and lost, but MP3.com remains online allowing people to download MP3 music and software.
Microsoft recently sued Robertson for a Linux-based operating system and software called Lindows, arguing that the name of the system violates the copyright for Windows.
His latest venture, SIPphone, isnt going to make him any friends, either.
A SIPphone can be plugged into any broadband Internet connection through your broadband account. Because you can only contact other SIP-ready devices, not cell phones or land lines, the phone has limited uses. But imagine buying one for your extended family youd never pay long distance for a call home ever again.
Launched just two weeks ago, the SIPphone retails for just $65 US, and comes with a phone number in the special 747 area code (SIP) on your area code.
The SIPphones, available at www.sipphone.com, use the Session Initiation Protocol, which allows voices to travel through the Internet without interruption. People have been using the technology for a decade to save on long distance, but it never really made it past the desks of tech geeks and companies.
If past activities are any indication, Robertson is about to get hit with a massive suit from the telecommunications industry, but as always he comes up smelling like a daisy and with a new idea for making money.
Read the article on SIPphone at Wired Magazine, www.wired.com.
The return of Tron
Trons back. Thats right Tron a 1982 Disney film about a programmer who gets caught in a computer program and has to battle his way out using light cycles, frisbees and other high-tech weapons.
Buena Vista Games is releasing a Tron game this August called Tron 2.0 that includes many of the same elements as the movie with vastly better graphics and arguably a better storyline. Its a role-playing game that mixes live action battles, Tron gladiator arenas (including the light cycle game), and solving puzzles.
To give it a test run, visit www.tron20.net.