Day by day, more and more streaming services are competing for an ever-growing audience. However, the upcoming Quibi is a little bit different than its competitors. It is only made for smartphone users and delivers episodes in ‘quick bites’. It means all episodes are either 15 minutes or less. However, the platform has found itself in the middle of a copyright battle. And the ‘Turnstyle’ technology is the center of the controversy.
What is Quibi’s ‘Turnstyle’ technology?
At the CES in earlier January, Quibi revealed its ‘Turnstyle’ technology. Turnstyle allows a seamless transition between portrait and landscape modes. Consequently, no black bars fill the screen during the switch. Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman provided a live demo for the audience. The shift was flawless and the video was crisp in either orientation. CEO Whitman said:
[YouTube] is the most ubiquitous, democratized, incredibly creative platform. But, they make content for hundreds of dollars a minute. We make it for $100,000 a minute. It’s a whole different level — it’s Hollywood-quality content.
The fight over patenting
If there is one thing every generation is tired of, it is the patents. From Amazon’s One-Click patent to insulin drugs, patenting has become a matter of confusion. Similarly, this controversy is not very different. It all began back in 2017 – when Katzenberg met Eko’s CEO for a possible investment in Eko. The meeting ended fruitlessly, as Katzenberg says “he barely remembers it”. A year later, he formed Quibi. In March 2019, two Quibi employees met with Eko to “get reacquainted”.
After Turnstyle’s reveal in CES, Eko sent a letter to Quibi alleging that its employees stole trade secrets and code. Quibi filed a complaint to end “a campaign of threats and harassment” and argues that:
[Those employees] are not engineers or computer programmers, do not read source code and would have had no reason to request or obtain Eko code. Our Turnstyle technology was developed internally at Quibi by our talented engineers and we have, in fact, received a patent for it.
In its defense, Eko has dismissed the complaint as “nothing more than a PR stunt“. Their spokesperson says that a demo was provided to Katzenberg in the meeting. They also demoed its technology for three Snapchat employees, all of whom later went to work for Quibi.