The "mashup" has become a popular and even mainstream term over the past year. It refers to taking two seemingly different things and mashing them into each other for a new, value-added result. While this is by no means a new idea or practice, it has taken on new fervor with all things digital. Originally, the term gained notoriety as hip-hop artists like DJ Danger Mouse meshed songs by different artists together (raising a host of copyright issues along the way), but mashups have now extended across media forms and most notably into software and technology. What is important is that the digital environment is making it increasingly easier to effectively mash and stitch together products and services in new and valuable ways. For example, Google Maps has been mashed with Craig's list to create HousingMaps (for more details, see this article), PlayStation Portables are mashed with TV services, and Skype (VoIP) software with eBay's platform.
What is interesting is that these technology, content and industry mashups cause the emergence of brand new types of media experiences - media that is no longer simply packaged into well-defined segments and pushed through a pipe, but is instead remixed, wrapped with service offerings, etc. For instance, Yahoo! Music Unlimited is a type of new media service where music is not only delivered via a non-traditional channel, but also has personal, community and market services layered on top. Telecom, software and media firms will find themselves in new partnerships and battles as they launch mashups across traditional market boundaries (i.e. the recent Yahoo! and TiVo deal). This trend is particularly important for policy makers to be aware of because the markets and pipes for media are becoming increasingly entangled. Clear delineations for media markets and competition are no longer available. Mashups and the corresponding relationships must not be ignored in policy analysis. This trend goes far beyond DJ music and cool websites.