Cdigix, one of the major players in the higher education online entertainment service field, has joined Internet2. Napster and Ruckus are already members. This announcement (that doesn’t seem to be anywhere on their website, including their press release section) is one of two big announcements expected from Cdigix and Ruckus in the coming weeks. Their second announcement has already been forwarded to the institutions that already subscribe to Cdigix’s services and it could be pretty big when they make it public.
Let’s focus a bit on their I2 membership. With Cdigix joining Ruckus and Napster as Corporate Members of I2 that leaves Real as the only significant player in the higher ed sector sitting on the outside. It’s also curious that Apple hasn’t joined but I think it’s been clear that they really aren’t aiming iTunes at this particular market right now. I also have to wonder if these companies’ presence in I2 really means anything. Is this just a status move (“Look at us – we’re on the Internet 2!”)? Does this simply allow them more access to higher ed institutions in a different and more exclusive venue? Or are there real technical advances that we should expect to come from these companies now that they’re in the I2 club?
I understand why for-profit corporations are allowed to join I2 as they can often contribute a ton of experience and knowledge. But as an I2 outsider I can’t help but wonder how political some of these memberships are (the RIAA and MPAA are members) and just how much some of these groups can and do really contribute. I know that politics matter but that doesn’t lessen my distaste for them.
Update: The second announcement, this time from Ruckus, has been released: they’re opening up the music part of their service to all American college and university students.
Update 2: The New York Times has chimed in on Ruckus’ latest move.