* This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it * It can only be attributable to human error * Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it

DVD Insider #56 - 2001: A Space Odyssey

THE Insider

DVD Insider #56 
2001: A Space Odyssey

by THE Insider
an industry marketing/communications expert with more than 15 years of video, storage and networking experience.

  • This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it
  • It can only be attributable to human error
  • Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it

Imagine our space odyssey!

Right now we have maybe 10 million broadband households worldwide. By 2010 it should be 70 million. We're projected to have a 10X growth in IP-enabled consumer electronics products.

It's all about the network baby, a living breathing, self-producing, self-healing wonder that puts everyone in touch (Figure 1).

Cellular subscribers will be about 945 million this year and by 2009 probably 1.5 billion. We already have 10s of millions of people who are downloading music for their phones, whatever. We have millions downloading video to their devices and the demand is huge!!!

The need for home spinning media storage is doomed. All of this stuff. All of this capability is just too important to be left in the hands of mere mortals who huddle in their homes.

Hold the phone HAL !!!

Something is wrong with your view of the universe.

There are about 300 million people in the U.S. About 6.5 billion worldwide. Only about 0.25 billion have broadband and perhaps 2 billion with a cellphone (Figure 2).

Sure you're connected. You've got your HUGE screen TV at home. You've got your video iPod with a hundred songs on it and the last night's segment of Lost. All of your friends have the music/video toys so obviously everyone is abandoning silver discs!

Opps…about 4.5 people on your sphere don't have a cellphone, let alone one with music, video, IM, ringtone capabilities. Five billion don't have a TV even 20-inch B&W unit! About a billion have never seen TV and two billion have never made a phone call.

It is true that digital content is coming to the home and it is coming rapidly (Figure 3) so the potential for online communications, video and audio is growing…dramatically. In the U.S. and around the globe broadband connectivity is increasing at better than 20 percent annually (Figure 4).

And it is far from being a male testosterone thing. As homes get broadband capacity women take to the net in increasing numbers (Figure 5). It is at a point today where the number of women online has surpassed men.

But there is an ugly side also. Some people have unplugged their Internet connectivity at home and others simply don't want the hassle the phishing, the spam, the crud (Figure 6)! And these aren't the people who simply can't afford the connectivity you know those who must choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.

We're not one of those people. We go through withdrawals when we don't check our email every couple of hours. We go on the web to find new content, new intelligence, new information in the universe.

But there is a segment of the population who are what Faith Popcorn calls cocooners…they come home to their space station, close the door to the outside world and get their enjoyment from friends and family.

Ok that isn't our family.

The kids have their systems in their rooms where they IM, watch IPTV, listen to music and do schoolwork…all at the same time.

While the wife watches HGTV we use HAL to talk with people around the globe, work, connect in the sterile Internet environment.

But we and you aren't the average folks. Average folks if they have a PC or two at home struggle to connect it to the printer and the Internet. The stereo is in one room. The TV (ok let's say it is HD-ready, not enabled, just ready) is in another.

We seem to believe that by getting PC prices below $500 and plasma/LCD sets below $1,000 we are going to grow the market. But past history shows we continue to sell new devices to the same market. Sure we grow the market slightly but most of the purchases come from people who are upgrading or adding. You know from two to four PCs. A TV in every room.

At least Shapiro, the CEA's (Consumer Electronics Association) boss, realizes that the only way to drive HDTV is with consumer education. If they can do that for PCs we might grow this market a little faster. Also Intel is trying but in the PC industry it is still every man (and woman) for himself/herself when you try the dream … the home everything network !

We'll give you a clue… this stuff is not easy to connect. It doesn't come on BAM !!! And, weird things happen…

The fiber is there. The last 100-ft options are there. The content is beginning to be there.

Now all we need to do is:

  1. make it absolutely "gotta have" for more people
  2. make it slam-dunk easy to install/connect/use
  3. keep Tellywood and the government(s) out of our usage

That's going to take time, effort, patience. Failure will only be attributable to human error !!

But for the teens and tweens all of that home stuff is a waste.

They are never there and they are always on. At least they will be if the people at CTIA have their way -and you believe all the analysts.

The wireless world is no longer about a phone. Oh sure it does make calls but they were almost incidental at the show. It is the huge, Swiss Army Knife which will do it all for you (Figure 7).

There was more noise about content at the show than about the phones (let's use the old phone company reference instrument).

We realize we aren't the target market for the show.

We want a phone:

  • - that reliably connects to the person we are calling
  • - (and infrastructure) that lets us hear them and them to hear us
  • - that lets us talk hands free while driving because well ya know you've gotta talk to friends
  • - ok that lets us read/respond to email
  • - alright that lets us grab the photo/video of a bank robbery that we can sell to the media and make a couple of hundred thou from

We're not interested in:

  • - putting on earbuds that block out the traffic noise so we can hear Hendrix wail on his guitar
  • - watching TV shows or someone's video on an itty-bitty poor resolution screen
  • - taking photos and videos of just everything
  • - memo capabilities (writing it down once seems to work for our memory)
  • - IMing the kids
  • - scanning something (if we want a copy we'll "borrow" the document, use a copier or take a photo with our camera)
  • - having an 8GB HD (Samsung) in the instrument because hey you can never have too much storage capacity

But we're not the target market and it's a good thing because 3G phones and services that beam music and video are going to be huge (Figure 8).

The new instruments were impressive with their features and offerings. Think of it .. a Nokia UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) technology that ties your cell/WiFi phone to your home network. How about the W-CDMA high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) phones that let you download music BAM!!!

Think that's good? Don't forget the MSN video, YouTube, Google Video, iFilm, Yahoo Video and thousands of other mobile virtual network operations that will include online shows from ESPN, HBO, CBS, MTV and more.

Microsafe knows if it isn't safe, they'll announce a patch is in the works the digital lifestyle of tomorrow (Figure 9) will be that you'll have it all on your phone instrument. You won't have to go home to eat because you can use the unit for micropayments at the local drive-thru.

Life will be so cool.

You'll have one connection number you can use for everything business, education, personalized content you can tap into anytime/anywhere, a feeling of community without even having to be with real people.

Okay half the world will never experience that. The other half will disconnect HAL some of the time.

If they don't their phone bill (no matter how they receive it in hard copy or electronically) will be as big as the phone book every month!

We'll have hundreds of TV channels, web sites, videogames, adds, music sites and community connectivity locations. We've got podcasts, photo downloads, information/data sites and personal/indie videos we can watch. We'll pick and choose from all of this for home, office, on-the-go usage (Figure 10).

One do-it-all instrument won't do it all for us!

Notebooks and wireless connectivity will increase in popularity (we like to see our videos on a "big" screen). Folks will take along personalized or store bought/rented videos/music when they travel to watch and listen to their content. Music systems (home and away) will get better so you can listen to really good content when you want (some have advocated killing their TVs). People who want portable video will get units what have decent size/resolution screens (say 4-7 inches diagonal).

We'll end up with more devices to lug around (or we'll accept compromises) and we'll have multiple numbers, multiple IP addresses.

With all that great content we can all say with confidence… Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it.

Sometime you're going to have to go home, unplug from the universe, recharge the batteries.

Or maybe those who have never experienced a PC, a TV show, a phone call are better off because they never turned HAL on.

NAW !!! That's not good for business.

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