Home Toys Article
- June 2006 -
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DVD Insider #57
Most people don't believe in ghosts. But they believe they can sit in a Starbucks, open a little box and watch their favorite TV show or recently released movie. Worse yet they can walk around with a tiny white box plugged to their ears and listen to music or watch/listen to shows.
There are big companies out there that are positive they can make huge profits sending that stuff to these units.
But the leap of faith is that the people who open the boxes and walk with the white cigarette packs actually believe they own that stuff after they have passed along their credit card or PayPal number.
The CTIA and NAB shows delivered the message loud and clear. It is less about the equipment and more about the content. Like spirits it will be flying all around us. All we have to do is believe.
Used to be the big news was a super new Nokia or Moto cell phone, superlight Vaio or Mac notebook, the fantastic new Panasonic or Samsung Plasma or LCD screen. You know the stuff you can put your hands on and…own!
The hardware numbers are still impressive.
HDTV set sales are supposed to increase 45% this year even though sales people can't describe it, many of the installed sets don't have the HD tuners and laws are changing so fast that early adopters sets will obsolete. Ours shows HighDef content because it says so right at the bottom of the screen !!!
PC sales (Figure 1) notebook and desktop continue to have solid sales numbers even though the profits are off. That's why a lot of the subcontractors are coming out with their own brand. They know it's always the other guy who is making the huge margins right?
The music and video MP3 player market is hotter than Howard Stern on Sirius. Like it or not, it is still a white player-cable-earbud world (Figure 2). Jobs' products are so cool that Tellywood actually buys the iMac and iPods to plant in their shows/movies (ok so Steve gives some of it away but really…) while the rest of the industry pays huge dollars for a walk-on part.
Mobile phones at CTIA? They've turned into things that "oh yeah they do allow you to place/receive phone calls but…"
That but is huge!
The units quit being mere phones in Japan and the Pacific Basin years ago. The add-on services and capabilities have finally caught on in the U.S. and Europe. They've got more blades than a Swiss army knife.
While HDTV firms target boomers, mobile services are targeted at the teens/tweens. While ringtones, streaming and download music and video messaging/downloads continue to grow (Figure 3); it is text messaging that is increasing the most rapidly. Wish it had been around when we were in school, would have made tests a whole lot easier !!
Mobile video is what makes Tellywood's collective hearts skip a beat and give them heartburn.
ABC, Disney, CNN, ESPN, MTV and heck everyone have been announcing new services (read revenue streams) because people are willing to pay for the content. The recent study in Europe showed that people really want to stare at the two-inch screens and get their daily dose of entertainment (Figure 4).
So much for the consumer demanding HighDef content !!
Tellywood (MPAA and RIAA) still has rooms full of lawyers. And they hang people !!!
At the same time they are trying to figure out how they can protect their creative work from being copied everywhere with better (read sneaky, tough to work with) DRM.
Despite all the noise of the great content coming everywhere (at home and on the road), the great new PCs, the fantastic phone/entertainment devices; it is the lowly storage device that makes it all possible (ok so Intel helps a little) !!!
See all the fantastic toys (Figure 5), they all require storage unless all you want to listen to the music or watch the show when it flies through the air. Then too there is your business presentation, family photo/video album, term paper, indie music and movie you want to save.
Ghosts and content have to stay somewhere.
Content is more than doubling every 18 months according to IDC (Figure 6). An MP3 song takes 1.5MB of storage, photo 2.07MB, MPEG2 video 2,025MB, MPEG 4 video 260MB.
And that's just the beginning. The more we digitize the more storage space we demand. No wonder you feel those prickly things on the back of your neck.
The great thing is, everyone has the storage answer for us (Figure 7)…flash, hard drive, optical. Don't waste your time. Don't waste your money. Each is the only solution you need and will ever want…just ask them.
Flash rocks ! It's rugged. Requires almost no power. Content just sort of sits there on the chip until you want it. You can slip a card in your phone, your PSP, camera, notebook, whatever and create/play your content for years. You can even get them with USB connectors and loops. That's great for hanging on your keychain or wearing around your neck as really chic jewelry.
At the lower capacities (256MB 2GB) flash is relatively cheap. Want 8GB, 12GB, 50GB, 1TB? You're talking serious jewelry.
While flash has a lot going for it in the low end of the storage arena (Figure 8), hard drives are still the workhorses of the computer market and increasingly in the CE arena. First the HD folks shrunk the package so that now you can get a cute little spinning disk unit that's about the size of your thumbnail (0.85-in). Then they found ways to write on the sides of the grooves so you can pack in even more data (stuff).
To make the devices even more appealing for use in your car, your camera, your phone and your wherever, whenever access moment; they made improvements well beyond capacity/price.
They have developed technology that withstands 1,000Gs of force when they are operating and 2,000Gs when they aren't operating. Some have build-in intelligence so that they lock down when they suddenly drop as little as four inches!
Some of the new 0.85-inch drives use almost no power (0.5-watt at 3.3V) during use with intelligent caching. No big deal for our notebook but if we ever figure out a way to rationalize and buy one of the new Samsung 8GB HD phones it will make a huge difference.
While most of the flash we buy has a temperature range of zero to 70 degrees (and yes it can be used in the Arctic and on the Equator), the hard drive folks have pushed units to 20 degrees (what in the H*** are you listening to, watching or writing at that temp?) and 85+ degrees.
They have done all of that while giving us more capacity for less bucks than we dreamt about five years ago.
Yes but !
Hard drives crash and take your data/content with them at the worst possible moments. You're not going to send mom/dad your family vacation photos, the wedding video or ballet recital movie on a flash or HD. You're not going to store them permanently on the drive (ok bad example because that's where more than 70% of the content sits). You're not going to sell/distribute your new music mix or self-produced movie to thousands of folks on flash or HD.
That's left to the lowly optical disc. Sure unless you use one of the 45rpm or movie reel looking CD or DVD discs they aren't sexy. But they are cheap. They are reliable. They are versatile. They can be played nearly everywhere.
Ok so that doesn't describe the blue technology but Tellywood hasn't determined what type of content protection they will implement that teens will crack in a day so the writing technology is still…just around the corner.
Depending on the present disc you can put 30 min 2 hr very good video on the disc, hundreds to thousands of photos and filing cabinets of personal/company data/documents on them. Cost is a few cents to a few bucks. Whip them out in 10, 30, 50+ years and they still play (assuming you have a player). And you can send them almost anywhere -- Kenya, Keokuc, Rotterdam, NJ and someone in the office or neighborhood can play them.
The good thing more devices are being sold to use the content. We're getting great content from the indies. And Tellywood is tipping their toe in the water. They know people are going to get their content one way or another. All they have to do is figure out a way to meet the need without letting those horrible teens/tweens steal it.
One answer might be hang the lawyers that are in the building and work out a fair scheme for letting you have the content you buy.
Is someone out there? Open the door, please!
When they do and they will have to you'll be able to get the content you want. If they don't? Treasure the teen in your family to solve the problem for you !!!!
Just pick the media that's right for the job.
One size storage doesn't work…regardless of what folks tell you.
No storage solution lasts forever…unless you believe in spirits !!