There are two aspects to Internet Multimedia - the content, and the delivery. This chapter is an introduction to these two topics, of which the rest of this book is a detailed discussion. The oft-cited convergence of computing and communications is particularly important because of the convergence of multimedia and computing at the same time. There are three dominant multimedia applications in the world today which appear to be separate, but are in many ways likely to merge as a result of the Internet, namely telephony, television and the World Wide Web. In fact, the main reason that the merge is likely is that it enables the development and deployment of a far wider set of intelligent and easy to use services to the paying public more quickly and cost effectively than any pre-existing technological approach.
The open model of the Internet means that services can be delivered to the right users, while the costs associated with delivering them unnecessarily to some of the wrong users can also be avoided. The low entry cost means that services can emerge that would normally not be considered viable (virtual community web TV for example, where a community may be widely dispersed - e.g. a set of speakers of a given language throughout the world).