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Predictions for digital media for 2008

January 5th, 2008 · 9 Comments

Predictions appear to be a big blog topic this New Year. I have decided to pick a particular topic to predict about and it’s what I mainly blog about. Technologies that will change the way we watch long form visual media.

I appear to be a little late with my predictions, as video on the internet, within the first 3 days of 2008, has become the hottest topic for 2008 and looks like it will be THE ISSUE of 2008.

In any case, let’s get to it.

This year, the lean back TV experience will become accepted as a new window into the internet. Currently we have the “Computer, keyboard, mouse, LCD screen” and the “Mobile phone”. The TV will be seen as a new platform with individual characteristics and design requirements.

For example. The internet as we know it today is designed to be used from a computer.

The Mobile Phone, has been hack at for years with standards and different web experiences to make it as Web friendly as possible. Due to its limited size, speed etc, Websites are designed specifically for mobile phones. Even with the iPhone, possibly the best web surfing phone of general web content, still has an API specifically for making content that works as best it can on the device.

The TV will be accepted into this club this year and we will start seeing TV-OS specifically designed for big screen TV’s using a remote control as your interface.

Google has already hinted at this. I expect Android-Mobile will soon also be announced with some new additional APIs and as Android-TV most likely with a torrent type back end for file transfers.

Still this is a very busy area. TV-OS’s have already come and gone. There has been a lot of development in this area in the past. From numerous STB created for IPTV streaming to the holy grale and massive failure that is MHP. (Multi Media Home Platform). MHP, a SMPTE supported standard, designed (by committee) as the OS for digital TV. It aloud APPLICATSIONS to be send over the side channels that the Digital TV picture was coming, and load interactive ads into your TV. Some support for internet was also in there. But really the ideas behind this do not gell well with what is needed in the TV-OS we need now. Still I imagine some argy bargy coming from them when this takes off. I must admit I could write an essay on why MHP failed. My company looked into it for a while but realised early on that the world would change beyond what MHP was designed for.

Realistically, Google and Android is the favourite as they are basically giving this away as to grow their core market. Get more people using the internet were they have dominance in search and ads. MHP and all the other STB-OS’s all expected this to be a cash cow.

My next prediction is that content creation companies will start making portals which back into this new TV-OS. Currently I see it like this. If you look at the way we program a TV at the moment, we purchase it, turn it on, plug the aerial in, and tell it to search for all the channels in the area. The new TV-OS will be similar. But instead of searching for TV channels on the arial, it will contact a site run by the producer that lets you add tv channels to your system. Or you can simply enter the TV channel “URL” into the TV-OS directly.

Yes, a TV channel of the future will simply be a typical “URL” as we know it today. This URL will launch an interactive experience that is designed for navigation via TV remote control.

As it is only a URL, anyone with a website will be able to make their own TV channel serving up their own media, either by streaming or more commonly via RSS type feeds downloading the content and storing it on a local HD in the TV.

DRM is completely dead. As the last of the record labels realise this for music, it is still going to take a while for video producers to also come to terms with this. Unfortunately video will be affected much more. Until different business models can be worked out to keep the bankers and the risk assessments happy that they will get a return. It is going to become very hard to make mega budget films.

While on this, the EU (Europe) have come out with warning (Also see TechCrunch point of view) that the current players need to start co-operating and develop a DRM system that is interoperable or the Music, Video, Games industry as we know it will crumble. Unfortunately it is too late for this. Realistically, to archive this, even if possible, is a 5-10 year exercise. The internet is not going to stop and wait for this. It is best to face the music and realise that all content will make it onto the internet as non-DRM content. That is what the people want. Non-DRM content is the only true interoperable content available today. Find ways to make money out of it. Get on with business.

Micro Transaction systems will now thrive. Paying 5-20 cents to watch your favourite Podcast will make those lucky enough to be the top podcasters, a great living. This is also likely to become the money making method which will sustain the production of the top rating shows like “Desperate House wives”, “Lost”, “Heroes”.

Sony is likely to really push the PS3 into this Market. Let’s face it. As of this Christmas, it has definitively LOST any war it had with the Xbox360. In all areas the Xbox leads the way. Sony need to re-invent the PS3, and really the only area it can possibly pull itself as better then Xbox is in the area in which Microsoft would start cannibalising other products, so is less likely to go there. And that is by becoming a big flagship for TV-OS, which is also a Games Console. Still, it’s too expensive. Not sure what they can do about this. At least they have Blu-Ray, which is the winner (Come on U.S. open your eyes. Its 95% (BD to HD-DVD) of the Market in Australia), in the console.

Microsoft are spending BIG on IPTV (See newteevee, and this and this and gigaom). They are going to make a huge splash and be adopted by a lot of old media. Problem is that old media does not really exist in the future of digital Media. So it will be interesting to see what these companies, which have huge pockets, do in the struggle that is seen when it is no longer your time. My biggest worry is that they pay to get government to make laws to keep their dominance. This would be short lived as, you cannot stop a DRM free world with laws, and it is a good way to loose office.

Still, Micorosft and the Xbox360 also have plans of world domination. Still, thats a world with DRM. I can see them doing back flips if an Open-TV-OS starts to get traction. There is already evidence on this (See AppleTV will be a new beginning at MacWorld ) And also see this for a picture of Microsofts future of the internet at Audio-Video is Dead, Long live ONLINE GAMING.

And how can I not mention Apple. As I predicted before Christmas, MacWorld will be all about video online. This is already apparent with leaks of Itunes and Video rentals. (See AppleTV will be a new beginning at MacWorld and More on AppleTV and being Open )

Finally, and this is not much of a prediction, this year will be the year “Going Online”. The switch to Digital TV. The writers’ strike. The depression or flattening of the economy at best. This all points to GET ONLINE and leads me to wish you all the best in this rocky year ahead.

Tags: Apple · DRM · google · IPTV · Microsoft · Sony · Uncategorized

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 IPhone » Predictions for digital media for 2008 // Jan 5, 2008 at 9:14 am

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  • 2 Online Music » Predictions for digital media for 2008 // Jan 5, 2008 at 9:22 am

    […] post by JamieG Analysis and software by Elliott Back This entry is filed under Online Music. You can follow any responses […]

  • 3 Philip Hodgetts // Jan 5, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Good summary of the likely trends James. Predicting is hard, particularly about the future. All I can add is “H.264 over all” into Flash/Adobe Media Player for web browser and online viewing and into iTunes (or Miro) for iPod, Apple TV viewing.

    It’ll be an interesting year, particularly in my small part of the Internet. My life gets interesting on (current schedule) Jan 22nd (in the US).



  • 4 JamieG // Jan 5, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Philip,
    I highly value your opinion as your right in the thick of it in L.A.
    I am in Melbourne Australia.
    I may read and listen to all the chatter coming out of your region plus get my hands dirty by playing with API’s and other low level Internet technologies that are likely to make up this future. I am still on the other side of the world and have to, as my blog says, analyse all this info and come up with likely outcomes.

    But yes H.264 is “THE CODEC” of the future. But I predicted that last Christmas and was actively lobbying on Adobe’s blogs and there Flashplayer front men.

    It’s more about how the dominos appear to be lining up are we are near ready to push the first one over and let the show begin.


  • 5 roy // Jan 5, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    i agree that long form will take center stage this year. been watching Reeltime for high quality streaming http://www.reeltime.com/ which has some interesting niche content and is about to load up and perhaps partner with some of the big studios. think this little seattle startup has some reel potential.

  • 6 joe // Jan 6, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    What everyone involved in online video and yes VCs should know is contained in a demo video at http://vator.tv/pitch/download_file/downloadzip. It is critical to know where things are going and the writers strike is nothing compared to this, it’s a real eye opener.

  • 7 JamieG // Jan 7, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Ray: Thanks for pointing reeltime out. This is the type of platforms I have expected. It is DRM based with a torrent type distribution model. I have seen a few others like this.

    I do think this is where the distribution companies want to go, however, I do not feel this is the future of distribution.

    The combination of a DRM system with a Torrent type distribution is great, however, these are both proprietory systems. This is where it will fail.

    Firstly DRM is undesirable, and secondly, why go with a proprietory one when I can purchase Adobe’s new FMS-3 (Flash Media Server with H.264 and HD support) for $1200 which comes with DRM.

    Secondly. P2P technology will become just another FTP (File transfer Protocal) type implementation. FTP was first, HTTP was second, and Torrent is likely to be third. And likely to be built into browsers or the operating systems of the future. Any company expecting to become a powerhouse in this area is crazy. Its like trying to own the HTTP protocol.

    As such, companies setup on this model are bound to fail. It really comes down to being an agrigator or marketing company. What the distribution companies should aim for.

    Distribution of video on the web will follow the path of non-proprietory protocols on the top of applications the producer can, if he desires, implement himself. For example, an open torrent protocol on top of a simple website and if DRM is required, FMS3 is a good option doing progressive download with AES encription. (Well it should do this accoring to what Adobe techs are telling me.)

    Any technology that forces consumers to use any proprietory software, in my opinion, has failed before it has started.


  • 8 JamieG // Jan 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    joe: I expect this is a form of self promotion. Those behind this proposel evidently have no idea about the industry that are trying to get into.

    Firstly, any TV interaction we develop for the future has to be based around standards. And if you can get that far your still got a very long way to go.

    Have a look at OpenTV/MHP and why it has failed.

    And it was SMPTE supported etc.

    I personally do not expect this kind of interactive TV people invisage. I have worked in production for a long time. It’s expensive, and how can we afford implementing another very expensive production layer on a process that is getting fragmented as we speek. Lowering the budgets we have to spend on these production. And you want to spend another 30-50% of the production costs on interactivety that a fraction of the viewers may use. On a non-standard viewing system that looks expensive to install on a TV.

    Its dead before it starts.


  • 9 Dimitrios Matsoulis // Jan 9, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I agree with your point of view and indeed 2008 is going to be very exciting. I have expressed my opinion on this here:
    It is true that especially in the US we see the emergence of several cable and IP platforms and it is certain that most of them will not make it in the longer term. Google’s open platform would be great, I want to wait and see how Android will turn out in its initial mobile form. Overall, great article.

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