OnLive Steals Show at D8: The Next iTunes?

Here at D8 there was one tech demo that stole the show. And that was OnLive, which is starting out as a cloud-based gaming service for Macs and PCs in two weeks but has the potential to be much, much more.

During the show OnLive founder and CEO Steve Perlman wowed the crowd by showing an intense 3D first-peson shooter being streamed over the Web to a MacBook, but also to a micro-console that makes your Wii look positively bloated and even an iPad. (The iPhone version flaked during the demo). The idea is that you can start playing a game, and then pick up where you left off on the device of your choice. And we noticed zero lag, although OnLive says you need to be within 1,000 miles of a data center (so far in Silicon Valley, Dallas and the Washington, D.C. area). That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Check out the gallery and more impressions below.

The OnLine service (originally announced at $15 per month but now expected to cost less) has a very slick video wall interface and is highly social, with the ability to spectate other gamers–with their permission–and to create brag clips of your own gameplay that you can share with others. So without question OnLive poses a threat to the Xbox, PlayStation 3, and Wii, if it’s executed well.

This service could also prove hugely disruptive to Apple’s iTunes or any other digital music and video service, including Netflix and Amazon on Demand. It also threatens mobile TV services like FLO TV and Mobile DTV. If the compression is as good as advertised, there might not be a need for broadcast. Although the company was not able to divulge content partners, Perlman showed how easily OnLive could handle a Harry Potter stream, which he played on the iPad but could have just as easily fired up on a PC, it’s tiny set-top box, or a phone.

Of course, there are plenty of other companies that are getting more aggressive with premium content and the cloud, including Apple (lala acquisition), and Gaikai, but we definitely like the idea of seamless access to games, movies, and more across all sorts of gadgets. First things first, though. Stay tuned for a review of the beta service for PCs and Macs.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. EJ Says:

    All of these cloud solutions sound great until you take into account the arbitrary data limit restrictions that many of the ISP’s and mobile carriers place on you. Oh yeah, and we all don’t have the luxury of Fios or some other bandwidth forsaking service either. This type of content/delivery cannot fully blossom until that is addressed.

  2. Fanfoot Says:

    Cool. Waiting to see what happens when it finally rolls out. I’ll certainly try it when it becomes available in my area. I do still worry about the latency though which I don’t think they have a magic fix for. Also I think you’re being snookered about their ‘magical’ compression. Sounds like the sort of crap we heard about VP8 (which is fine but no better than h.264 unlike it’s claims). Doubt verily much this will have any impact on video streaming. But hey, it could be a cool cloud based gaming service and that’s probably enough.

  3. otoko_tenshi Says:

    luckly thanks to moores law, the data limits (in australia at least) have been increasing 50% every 6 months. i started off on 25GB for $80 at 300KB in 2004 and now im on 70GBx2 for $50 at 800KB

  4. billy corgan Says:

    I+ wouldn’t waste your time getting this working on the ipad with so many 50X better tablets coming out now.. Even the Dell Streak laughs at the ipad.. It supports full flash and has webcam and you can make calls on it.

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