All 40 entries tagged New Media
November 17, 2007
YouTube Fails to Create Cash:
While doing the annual round of recruiting next year's students to the wonders of A level Media Studies a bright eyed school student asked the obvious question when I was talking about the rapidly changing world of the internet and the $1.65 Billion acquisition of YouTube by Google - one of the World's greatest money spinners:
"But how do they make money?"
I replied that whilst Google was doing extremely well out of advertising thank you, as far as I knew they had not found a money making model for YouTube yet. This is rather confirmed by the folowing blog posted on the FT website the following day (talk about serendipity):
“The lack of monetisation on YouTube today is astounding,” said Dennis Miller of venture capital firm Spark Capital.
“You’ve got the single best monetising machine that can’t figure out how to monetise all those eyeballs. There’s some paltry number out there for the millions of streams they serve.”
There is a but though with this fact to remember for the Audiences part of the Exam:
But while there may be dissent among the videorati of Silicon Valley, YouTube’s status in the public’s eyes is still considerable. According to Nielsen Online, YouTube was the seventh most popular brand online in the US in October with a unique audience of 57m users. (My emphasis and it is Oct 2007)
Well YouTube are promising to work how to make money out this phenomenal number of users who apparently spend 15-20 minutes on the site.
Well, perhaps it would be nicer if Google kept this as a sort of Public Service Broadcasting (Webcasting) space in cyberspace especially as Google is getting so powerful now that people will start to dislike it rather as they do Microsoft!
June 06, 2007
Web 2.0 Is User Generated Content just a cheap profit generating trick?
The big change for me in Web 2.0 is that you leverage the people's resources."
This is why websites are so keen to harness what they call the wisdom of crowds.
Businesses are much cheaper to run if you get your customers to do most of the work generating content
Perhaps that is why users are made to feel so good about Web 2.0. It venerates the amateur over the expert and tells us we can all collaborate in producing something worthwhile.
The Growth in Online Software: an Advertisers Paradise?
Adobe has released a stripped-down web version of its video editing software, called Remix, and later this year plans to launch an internet version of its very successful photo manipulation program, Photoshop.
One incentive for companies to supply online software is compatibility. In one go all customers can be upgraded to the newest version and create files that are universally compatible, unlike different generations of Word documents.
"Another advantage of online software is that the companies can track exactly what you do and how you use it. Then they can target specifically to you," said Mr Thompson.
"If you send a lot of e-mails about they'll know that maybe you're trying to buy a cellphone, and they can serve you ads on cellphones.
"So the companies really like it, and it's to the companies' advantage for the software to work extremely well and for you to use it all the time because then they get more information and then they can sell you more stuff."
Moral of the story is you will have a choice of free or very cheap online software and have to put up with cleverly targetted advertising aimed at YOU. Or, you could just pay Adobe the £600 + for Photoshop. It's a no brainer really :-).
June 05, 2007
Developing the Digital Heart of Africa
We have covered Nciholas Negroponte's One Lap Top Per Child project elsewhere on this blog. The project was planning to produce a wind-up computer with a Linux operating system with a robust build that could communicate wirelessly with qa local transmitter. The plan would put internet based computing into the centre of countries with very weak telecommunications infrastructure providing a huge boost to the educational system and enabling new voices to develop and be heard globally. Negroponte's ideas were to be run by a not for profit company.
In a flippant mood I suggested to visitors that they email the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to stump up some money and send a few thousand of these computers out to Africa or wherever. Bearing in mind that these computers don't run on Windows this was a little cheeky I admit. But of greater significance is the fact that a real commercial battle is developing as the BBC has reported today as computer chip global giant (3,000 pound gorilla) Intel has announced that is producing a rival computer in conjunction with Asus the world's largest motherboard maker:
The laptop has been dubbed the Eee PC - and will sit alongside Intel's Classmate which is also aimed at the developing world.
The partnership with Asustek is the latest twist in a developing battle between the chipmaker and rival group, the One Laptop per Child foundation.
Both plan to offer sub-$200 laptops.
The Intel Classmate which already is aimed at the underdeveloped world.
Intel has a World Ahead development programme
What is interesting is that presumably the new machine will be able to run the cut down version of Vista which Microsoft is designing for the underdeveloped world. One is reminded of the desperate battles fought by cigarette companies to get people in these countries smoking on a regular basis. Often it is possible to by cigarettes individually. Just as you don't get the whole package of cigarettes so you don't get the whole computer package but you get an excellent taster all the same.
This tends to show that big comapnies can respond to brave initiatives from the not for profit sector. In the long term history may well note that Negroponte's determination to provide affordable computing for the underdeveloped world forced the world's companies to move for fear of competition!
April 25, 2007
iTunes: the cornerstone of Apple's business strategy?
Apple's last quarter profits up by a massive 88%
This isn't a Shuffle its Quicktime :-)
Apple sold more than 10.5 million iPods in the first three months of 2007, helping the US technology firm to record an 88% increase in profits. (BBC Technnology Story: Wednesday, 25 April 2007
From computer manufacturer to vertically integrated consumer media company
The figures above certainly confirm the argument developed below that Apple is situating itself as a vertically integrated company placing itself in a strategic position in the rapidly growing downloading music market. Furthermore, through its strong brand name, it is positioning itself on the strategic heights so that it can take advantage of what is likely to be a hugely popular cash generator in the near future. This is the downloaded video market whether this is via computer, iTV or iPhone. The Apple new media hardware products being linked through the powerful iTunes downloading site which also acts as a client side media organiser. This will allow the iTunes customer to be able to access what they want, when they want it and where they want it.
This notion of vertical integration is a contemporary variant of the original model in which everything from raw materials through manufacturing and distribution to sales in the High Street is owned and controlled by a single company. It is a model which has had variants in the past with companies such as Marks and Spencer successfully outsourcing the manufacturing whilst designing and planning in house. At the same time they built a powerful presence on the High Street.
In the world of media there have been interesting styles based upon vertical integration. Sky TV has centered itself upon control of distribution via satellite linked to its own receivers and interactive Skyboxes which inform the company what viewers generic tastes are and trying to push genre accordingly. The current dispute with Virgin Media in the UK bears witness to the powerful position they exert through controlling key elements in the distribution chain. Apple too are creating themselves a similar position within the marketplace which they have largely been responsible for creating. Being able to lock their software so that other distributors cannot use it gives them a powerful position in any developing market place. Whilst they are unlikely to achieve 'total domination' for the forseeable future they are significantly ahead of any rivals who have failed to get into that market position.
A little aside:
Well apart from the fact that for all the flack that Bill Gates gets the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing some prety good stuff in Africa. They are even developing a cut down version of Vista for developing countries to help them get on the ladder to a networked society. Feeding your iPod could well be feeding Steve Jobs' pockets, anybody know the name of his charitable foundation?
iTunes as a Loss Leader or iTunes as Brand Builder?
For Apple, music has been a loss leader to promote the sale of its iPod MP3 players (Emiko Terazono Financial Times, April 8 2007 18:42)
Apple has managed to sell over 100 million iPods which isn't bad when you consider that is equivalent to about 1 and half iPods for everybody in UK. Part of the growth if the iPod phenomenon has been the growth of iTunes. Terazona is right about aspects of a business being separated out and 'making a loss'. But Jobs' game is a much bigger one than just setting any trends in the market he is adeptly reading customer desires and turning them into products.
By allowing anybody to download iTunes for nothing jobs is building his brand and when people do want to buy through downloading they are likely to be the first place that people will go if they already have installed iTunes as their default music player and library system.
Let's take the UK for example: it is probably further down the road of digitising the old analogue broadcasting system. Once analogue TV is turned off then mobile companies will compete for a lot of bandwidth. The big game in town will be having bandwidth finally available to make mass downloading on line over a mobile device of video streaming. The iPhone and its successors will be well placed to win a high market share of this future dynamic market with iTunes as the hub which allows the whole system to interface.
iTunes legal downloads: bad value?
The reality for the record companies and Apple is that iTunes offers incredibly bad value. Currently at 79 pence (UK) per 'tune' for something which is seriously degraded in quality terms and can only be transferred to a very limited number of other devices is pathetic. Anbody with any sense would go and buy the CD copy it and sell it on or swap it for other ones with friends. That's great publicity for the musicians. The advantage is that the sound quality is considerably higher which is very important for those who might want to listen on a high quality audio system. If you are buying music for the long-term then you would certainly not wish to pay 79 pence per track.
The recent deal with EMI is showing the future for downloaded music. For another 20 pence per 'tune' it will now be possible to download much higher quality sound files although still not as good as a CD. The other thing is that the restriction for the cheaper music which will only play on 5 machines has been removed, it is Digital Rights Management free.
iPod to iPhone
Arguably the iPod has saved Apple Computer and given it some credibility as a consumer brand as well as amongst the designer elites. The extra turnover created by massive iPod sales has enable Apple computers to reinvest in their products. However with the MP3 market now massively comptitive Apple need to keep ahead of the pack. Although iTunes is a 'loss leader' it is better to think of it as integral to the success of iPod. It is certainly the most user friendly 'music player software' although players such as Realplayer are now very good.
The development of the iPhone promises to provide many of the winning features of the iPod with many other advanced technologies to produce a market beating 'all in one device'. The heavy investment by Apple has been shown by the fact that they are holding up the next upgrade to their Apple computer operating systems Leopard. There seem little doubt that Apple is playing a high stakes games. Should the phone not work as well as is claimed the current hype could well backfire. There is also no doubt that Sony-Ericson, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola will be working round the clock to release their own competitive products.
Is the future mobile video devices?
The larger iPods are good for playing video as they have a large storage capacity. Enter the iPhone. Currently the iPhone when launched is expected to have flash memory of 4 & 8 Gb. But we can soon expect this to be dwarfed by the new flash memory launched by Sandisc which can give 32 Gb of memory in a 2.5 inch drive which is ideal for travelling around as it is far more stable than a hard drive. This would give adequate memory to play large video files.
Downloading movies, or being able to access the viewable trailers online like The Queen (see below) could be good way of passing some downtime on a transport system. This is where the iPhone linked into iTunes could be an attractive proposition enabling potential customers to think about what to download fully when at home. The advantage of a 3.5 inch screen which can be turned through 90 degrees to make a widescreen is a winning combination (see below) especially if it can be synched to iTunes.
There is an excellent array of photographs of Steve Jobs prelaunch press briefing on the Engadget pages.
There seems little doubt that this handheld video device is going to be the one to beat in the near future. (Providing that is, it delivers what it says on the box. There are plenty of people who remember Apple's first Newton. Well, nice try Apple but....
It seems as though the future of Apple is as some sort of multi-media institution
At the moment it isn't clear how Apple will respond to these and other challenges.
The key to understanding the company is to realise that it is not a software company like Microsoft.
Apple makes the computers and portable music players it sells, it doesn't just provide the programs to run on them.
Until relatively recently, it was more like IBM or DEC or the other old-time computing companies, but now that the downloading business is so important to its plans, I think that Apple is more like Sony than anyone else. After all, Sony makes all sorts of hardware, from consumer electronics to computers, and it has its own content business, making films and distributing music.Sony also finds it hard to deal with the conflict between the desires of its hardware people to make really cool systems that can play any content and give people freedom, and a content division that wants to limit and control what people can do. (Bill Thompson, Friday, 31 March 2006)
Bill Thompson makes a useful point yet there is a strong difference between Apple and Sony and which I think gives Apple a developing business model which is closer to Rupert Murdoch's than Sony's. Sony is a company fighting on many fronts in the consumer electronics marketplace and also the professional end when it comes to TV recording equipment.
The key to Apple's success is successful design, be it product design or software design. It is able to market itself as being user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing and doing what it says on the box. The brand is considered highly desirable. Unlike Sony it has now positioned itself as a key player in content distribution through iTunes. First it was music but it will increasingly be video based products. this puts it much closer to Sky who dream up designs for the Sky-box but outsource the manufacturing. The product itself is the delivery vehicle to the end consumer locking them into premium products.
Wikipedia has identified Apple as a company practising a form of vertical integration in the way it manages the business.
Apple is one of the few vertically integrated businesses in the information technology sector. The company designs the computer hardware, accessories, operating system and much of the software itself. Production, however, has been transferred to specialized suppliers such as Foxconn, which also manufactures computer hardware for other companies. This arrangement is similar to that of most high-tech companies today. Although no longer participating in the actual manufacturing process, Apple has recently established a chain of high-profile upscale retail outlets, establishing a type of forward vertical integration which ensures that it retains some measure of control over its product image and marketing strategy.
What iTunes business strategy appears to be is moving into a world in which it acts as a distributor of media content through iTunes. It owns some of the content through its relationship to Walt Disney and it makes a variety of different hardware media / computing products which work well together.
For Steve Jobs, who recently became the largest individual shareholder in Disney after it bought Pixar Animation Studios, a solution would seem to present itself. He could bring together the two separate areas of his working life, and unify Disney and Apple.
That way he would have the content and the platform, and he wouldn't be quite so reliant on the agreement of others to make it all work.
As one of the few people who truly understands both the computing world and the content world, he might even show Sony how to make a success of an integrated company. (My emphasis: Bill Thompson ibid)
Steve Jobs integrated media guru
With the whole of the New Media market still very much in its early years any conclusions must be a highly provisional affair. The dynamics are still playing themselves out and there are still a number of key groups in this market all of which are very highly capitalised companies. Microsoft and Apple, News Corporation and Sony are all older companies and well established. It remains to be seen what powerful new companies such as Google can achieve. Currently there is still plenty of room for all of these companies to expand in their own chosen paths but increasingly these are likely to overlap and conflict. Right now Apple, moving away from its origins, looks set to become a very powerful media style company who provide the creative marketplace with serious computing and the domestic market with highly pleasing easy to use new media equipment providing access to vast libraies of cultural information.
April 10, 2007
Sony Vaio UX1 Ultramobile Computer cum ....
The Marketing & Promotion
I first spotted the ads for this machine in the Financial Times Weekend Colur Magazine. The written text is unremittingly sexist it "packs a techno punch; it's the ultimate boy's toy... ". Actually its small size is very likely to appeal to women but it's huge current price will not unless women break through the 'silicon ceiling'. It seems to be aroun £2K right now but as the advertising says occasionally a new technology product "can chqange the paradigm". iPod did that to the Sony Walkman so maybe it's Sony's turn to do it to Apple?
Well its certainly ultra-mobile. Can it compete with the trend towards all in one devices which Blackberry, iPhone and most mobiles are aiming for? It certainly beats the competition offered from Samsung but at a price. Well it's certainly in the running! It has 32GB of Flash memory not a hard disc drive HDD which makes it fast and reliable and proves the sharper predictions of the technology press 3 months ago were right as they said the next big leap forward would be based upon huge flash memory capacity what companies like Samsung have predicted will be "Super-Blackberries".
From the perspective of mass media can it communicate in a world which is going unremittingly wireless and internet driven? Well the advertising says it can:
But that's nothing. Just check out the Flash driven advert below which I find fun and convincing. A clear case of the media is the message I think :-)
Click on the above image and then click on "Get the full story" box for a very impressive interactive advert which has a virtual stylus which you can use to check out the UX1's capabilities. This is an advance in advertising technique I think.
It has wireless LAN for continuous communication and even two cameras built in so that a video chat can be conducted on the move. With Vista as its operating system and a huge memory you can use the browser of your choice. It even has built in microphone and speakers. As a phone it can communicate to more than one person. With headphones its private. At around the size of a PSP its a no brainer if you've got the cash of course !!
Is it a marker of the technology to come? Is it creating a new paradigm. I think so. I want one immediately whereas the latest mobile phone has no interest for me at all. Imagine how useful this could be for professional photograhers for example. You can have a full working version of Photoshop and computer with you for less than the weight of a medium size fast lens. Edit and upload your shots while out on a shoot in demanding conditions. This beats a lot of laptops and is a prelude to the way many laptops will be going.
This means that prices will become affordable in a couple of years or less. can Nokia and iPhone bring out competitive products or will it be Toshiba who have a powerful place in the laptop market who are challenged as well. With this one I suspect Sony are on a winner. but clearly the ultramobile computing market is set to take off big time. Watch this space.
In depth review from Personal Computer World this also has a link to the Samsung Q1 an earlier cheaper but less effective competitior in the ultra mobile market
For a more typical aspirationally minded geeky macho male check out the entirely predicatble GQ lifestyle magazine way of reviewing things.
The Turbo-gadgets Blog is quite interesting for surface reviews. Check out the SonyEricsson New phone for Japan while your here.
March 15, 2007
This glossary was originally created for the AS New Media Technologies Unit.
Please note that this glossary is updated and expanded fairly regularly. It is intended that this will give you access to a wide range of terms that are conceptual as well as technical. You don’t have to learn all the terms just use the glossary as a point of reference to help you out if you get stuck. Hope you find it useful.
The development of Web 2.0 with the ability to gain feeds about new media technologies should make it easier to keep updated.
Students are strongly advised to add in feeds from sources such as the BBC Technology pages onto their own blogs in order to keep abreast of any changes.
Advertising. Any new mass media has enormous advertising potential as it can bring together audiences and advertisers in new and more effective ways. See paid for search and online advertising.
Analogue. Non digital form of recording and reproduction. Standard terrestrial TV is still fed from analogue transmissions however these are gradually being replaced by digital free-to-air services transmitted by the BBC. See linear editing.
ASDL. A broadband digital transmission technology which can send far more data down existing domestic phone lines than either conventional modems or ISDN. BT’s system offers half a megabyte per second. In Japan the latest in ASDL technology is offering Megabytes per second. This is more than adequate to use full-frame video streaming. Even faster FTTH technology is being pushed in Japan. Being cheaper to install it is now the major competitor to digital cable links provided by companies such as NTL. It requires special equipment at the exchange. ASDL is likely to be available to 90% of the population by mid-2005.
BT are also experimenting with mid-band.
Bandwidth. The amount of digitally encoded data which can be transmitted by particular systems.
Blogs. User generated material on specially created programmes that require no knowledge of coding and mark-up language. Now used for a variety of purposes from personal to political and company driven. A core part of Web 2 (2.0) if you like. Here is the Wikipedia entry
Blueray. See Format wars
Bluetooth. This is a wireless system which allows different products to communicate with each other using a common protocol. It is able to transmit large amounts of data. Portable computers can link to desktop computers or mobile phones via Bluetooth. You may well have a mobile phone with a Bluetooth wireless earpiece for example.
Broadband. The digital Holy Grail is having all homes linked to broadband networks which can handle huge amounts of digitally encoded data. It should be possible to be engaged in such things as video-conferencing and downloading films in real-time simultaneously in the same household. Likely to take several years to be fully developed and installed in a significant number of households. An important feature is the ability to have two of more computers from the same household linked to the internet. Currently it costs about £30 per month. Rumoured that the latest hard-disc recorders will add broadband internet access and be able to stream video and audio to TV, See also digital set-top boxes. Since writing this not so long ago the scenario has changed dramatically in the UK. This January 2007 story from the BBC shows "BT as having signed up 10 million broadband users".
CD Rewritable. This is a CD which can be recorded and then recorded over rather like an audiocassette. Not all CD-Players can replay these however as the system works on different laser frequencies. See also Rewritable digital media.
CD-Rom. These are CDs which are Read Only Memory (ROM). These are used for selling computer programmes. The data on them cannot be changed.
Citizenship. This concept builds on earlier ideas of citizenship which focused upon economic, political and social concerns. Economic citizenship gave people the right to trade, political citizenship gave people the rights to vote and have representative electable governments with powers limited by law. Social citizenship gave people the right to health care, education and pensions. See also cultural citizenship.
CMS. see Content Management Software.
Content Management Software. Content management software helps users organise their download materials. iTunes is probably the best known of these. It can be used to subsribe to podcast services for example as well a place where music or video content may be purchased. You can click this link to go to the free iTunes downloads site. (This should not be deemed as an endoresment of Apple's CMS above any other ones.). News from the BBC 12th of Jan 07 says that iTunes has made a deal with the Sundance film festival to make films available for download.
Convergence. You must know this term for the OCR AS exam*. This is the current process whereby new media and communications technologies are changing not only our media equipment but changing the ways old media institutions have worked. It is also globalising and changing our systems of gaining knowledge. The process is still in transition with new developments rapidly emerging. In a few years these processes will have matured and will be less dynamic. The way that mobile phones are now turning into multi-player gaming machines or able to provide location based information and send back images by wireless technology is a good example of convergent technologies creating new markets. See iPhone for a good example of this.
Cultural Citizenship. Cultural citizenship is about access to systems of representation within the arts and media to ensure that all have the knowledge and capabilities to represent themselves.
Cybersquatters. These are companies or individuals individuals who have registered variations or misspellings of its key brands, such as “Xbox”. They can make a lot of money out of this and also get respectable brands bad reputations. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6449363.stm
Device for digitally storing still images. Whilst still unable to achieve the levels of image definition of conventional film higher capacity chips and storage systems are continuously eroding the quality difference. With the correct devices an image can be transmitted over the web instantaneously.
Desktop Recording Studio. The growth of podcasting has seen a growth of available desktop recording studios with some being USB powered and others having separate power supplies. Often small but flexible units they provide an interface with analogue microphones and computers. They can be combined with powerful software to create different effects and they can also have inputs from devices such as CD players and electronic instruments. empowering users to podcast onto the internet they are powerful tools in the collaborative and user generated world of Web 2.0. Below an early model the Lexicon Omega and the more recent Digidesign MBox2.
Digital Distribution. It is necessary to differentiate between models of 'Business to Business' distribution and 'Business to Consumer' distribution. Digital forms of distribution can be advantageous to both small-scale ‘cottage’ industry sized companies and large media corporations. Digital videos can be distributed globally by specialist we-sites globally when users have high speed connections. They are only likely to find individuals often with little purchasing power. Large film companies can distribute to points of mass exhibition such as cinemas or outdoor arenas by high speed optic fibre cable or else via digital satellite links. With encrypted technologies it is now possible to release a film globally in cinemas if necessary in different versions for different markets on the same day. This will reduce piracy and maximise marketing opportunities whilst reducing significantly distribution costs. The ability to respond instantly to audience demand by downloading onto servers instead of relying on expensive and relatively slow multiple copy distribution will help increase profits and retain and develop audiences.
Digital divide. A very important social and cultural concept of the ‘information age’. This term refers to those who have access to a wide range of digital communications systems in terms of cost and knowledge and those who are excluded from this. It is becoming a serious problem of citizenship.
Digital set-top box. These boxes can receive digitally transmitted TV and Radio transmissions via satellite ( typically in Britain Sky), cable ( typically in Britain NTL and Telewest) and a standard TV aerial ( Freeview). Pace in conjunction with Sky + and others with hard disc-based digital recorders. Sky + has a 40 Gigabyte hard disc. A similar box is now being offered to Freeview viewers. It has a twin tuner and a 20 gigabyte hard disc. With a twin tuner it is possible to watch one programme or listen to radio whilst recording another.
Digital storage medium. Generic term for a wide range of storage media such as mini-disc, CD, CD-ROM, Hard disc, floppy-disc etc. These media may sometimes be designed by a company to only fit their products. Others will be generic. Some will be read only such as a CD or DVD game or film. Others are random access and as such can be totally or partially used many times.
Digital Versatile Disc / DVD. A disc which although the same size as a CD can hold many times the amount of data due to a combination of more sophisticated data compression systems, the ability to store and retrieve data from different levels of the disc. This means that moving images can be stored in a way which is more permanent than tape and maintains its quality over time, whereas tape particles lose their magnetism and lose details. Research is going on to more than double the storage capacity of the current DVD’s by using different laser technologies. The ‘versatility’ referred to in the name means that the equipment incorporates technical standards which means that digital information relating to images - static or moving sounds or text can be stored and retrieved.
DRM. (Meaning 1) Digital Rights Management. This is a major concern for companies and individuals dependent upon traditional copyright legislation to protect their intellectual rights. Within the the world of the web the Napster free downloding company became renowned for breaking these copyright rules in the USA. It was eventually forced to concede by the big record companies. 'Pirate downloading' is still seen as a major problem by many media comapnies. At the time of writing Viacom was taking Google to court with a $1 billion law suit relating to the copyrighted material availble on YouTube which was bought buy Google in 2006. The Wikipedia entry states:
Digital Rights Management (generally abbreviated to DRM) is an umbrella term that refers to any of several technologies used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to and usage of digital data or hardware, and to restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work or device. The term is often confused with copy protection and technical protection measures; these two terms refer to technologies that control or restrict the use and access of digital content on electronic devices with such technologies installed, acting as components of a DRM design.
DRM. (Meaning 2) DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the world's only, open standard digital radio system for short-wave, AM/medium-wave and long-wave. It has been endorsed by the ITU, IEC and ETSI. DRM is the only universal, open standard digital AM radio system with near-FM quality sound available to markets worldwide. Unlike digital systems that require a new frequency allocation, DRM uses existing AM broadcast frequency bands. The DRM signal is designed to fit in with the existing AM broadcast band plan. Below a Morphy richards DRM Radio.
DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds). At 2007 CEBIT Nokia showed off its N92, which is due to launch later this year, which has a DVB-H tuner built in as well as access to an electronic programme guide so you can plan what you watch on your handset.
DVD-Audio. A music format which by having a higher sampling rate than conventional CDs can create more ‘natural sounding’ music.
DVD-HD. This is a new high definition format which Toshiba and its backers including Microsoft launched in 2006. It is one side of a format war with Sony who along with many consumer electronics heavyweights such as Philips and Panasonic have now launched Bluray. This is also supported by many Hollywood Studios.
DVD Recordable. A new breed of domestic machines has now appeared which can record TV or films in DVD format. Whilst currently still very expensive it is probable that they will replace the VCR in most households in 5 years time. They will be able to record digital radio signals as well. There is not currently a standardised format which makes things difficult for consumers.
Digital Video. Often called DV as an abbreviation. The ability to 'capture' moving images without the use of film on a digital storage format. The data can be edited ( post-production) digitally and streamed onto the web or put on a DVD or CD.
Dolby surround sound. This is a digital sound decoding system which provides the surround sound features now standard in cinemas. It is also a feature of domestic audio visual surround-sound systems and can disperse the sound around up to 7 ordinary loudspeakers and a sub-woofer to deal with very deep bass sounds known as a 7.1 system.
Download. The expression for taking things from the Internet and putting them onto your computer either temporarily or permanently.
E-commerce B2C. ( business-to-consumer): IdTV and mobile are likely to be the devices which dominate this sector by volume rather than by commercial value. ( see also T-commerce )
Encryption. This makes it impossible to use media texts without having specialist software able to read the security encryption. This is to reduce software piracy and will enable large companies to retain more effective control over their products. Digitised products can be kept in high security systems and downloaded in encrypted form by cinemas for example. See digital distribution
Entertainment Phones. The world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer is producing a new product clled Ngage. Containing on-board memory cards it will be able to play high speed games. The phone will be expensive and currently the possibilities of multi-player gaming on-line are perceived of as very limited. It requires the development of the youth market who are least able to afford this level of sophistication.
Firewalls. This is security software which stops unwanted e.mails or hackers getting into your computer when it is online. As such it is much more sophisticated than straight-forward anti-virus software. It is becoming increasingly important to have this software installed as the internet grows in size and complexity.
Flash Memory. Flash memory is solid state memory. It exists on cards such as Secure Digital cards commonly used in digital cameras and also as USB Flash Drives It is fast, versatile and more resilient to damage by dropping than conventional hard drives. The technology is advancing quickly and for high small computers which firms like "Samsung envisage as 'Super-Blackberries' it will be the first choice over conventional hard drives. For those wishing to conduct electronic warfare the Swiss Army USB drive knife seems like a perfect solution. Doubtless they will be found on Chanel lipsticks soon!
New memory for 2007 is going to be HHD or Hybrid Hard Drives. Vista the new Microsoft operating system is supporting them and Apple is also in the game. See HDD for more info.
Format Wars. "HD-DVD / Blueray Hybrid."
Free-to-Air. Digitally transmitted TV and radio services which cost the viewer no more than the standard licence fee.
FTTH. Fibre to the home technologies currently being pushed as the next big thing in Japan. This would enable a home to be watching several films in different parts of the house.
Global Positioning System ( GPS ). The ability to find out where you are in the world through special equipment including expensive mobile phones. These link with a satellite to give a precise position. See also Location-based services. Latest gizmo ‘The Hoppy’. Aimed at tourists this device monitors GPS satellites and gives an commentary stored on mini CD using MP3 data compression technology. When triggered by the GPS signals. It can be connected to the car stereo giving information to the driver in real time.
Google. An example of an internet search engine. It became a member of the American stock market in 2004 and first started in 1998. Its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were worth an estimated $10 billion each in August 2005.
GPS. See Global Positioning Systems.
HHD. 2007 will see the first Hybrid Hard Drives appear on production models of computers. This is likely to be particularly relevant to the "high end laptop market. However Sandisc has already announced a flash memory card which is claims is superior to HHD (see below). Whatever else the effect on small devices which demand high storage such as HD-video are likely to see these appearing.
Hard-disc recorder. A digital recording machine which records other digital sources on a hard disc similar to the ones found in computers. The advantage over a CD or DVD recorder is that material can be more easily edited before being recorded on another more permanent medium such as a recordable CD. (See also under Broadband).
HD-TV. High definition TVs came on sale in Britain in a big way in 2006 in the run up to the World Cup. whilst the quality is undoubtedly excellent when you see one with a live HD feed there is a problem in the UK of a lack of available programme material in HD. Rumour has it that many people are happily watching their HD TV not realising that the images are not being broadcast in HD. HD-DVDs also became available in 2006 led by Toshiba who have also brought out an HD-DVD Recordable. See also format wars. For a technical break down of the superior definition see "Wikipedia definition".
Hype Cycle. The Hype Cycle, used by Gartner to track the adoption of new technologies, has five distinct phases: “Technology Trigger,” “Peak of Inflated Expectations,” “Trough of Disillusionment,” “Slope of Enlightenment,” and “Plateau of Productivity.” "Link to debate between Gartner and Second Life reported by Reuters Jan 04 / 07 ."
Hypertext. The new aesthetic of the digital era. Originally perceived as the ability to move around a text through links making a medium non-linear and allowing a viewer to make some narrative decisions interactively. Dan Fleming (2000) suggests that there will be hyperlinking across media forms to produce metaforms.
IdTV. Interactive digital television. Currently at a simple level of development. Press red button to vote yes/no on an issue on the programme, or to get a brochure if it is an advert. 32 million households in Europe were expected to have this by end of 2003. This is likely to develop into a way of buying which means that media companies will gain transaction fees as well as advertising. In 2003 interactive games were the most successful market development in interactive TV. The rapid growth of the internet as an important vehicle for buying goods and services may well have made this technology semi-redundant since the time of writing and up-to-date sales figures havn't been seen. Certainly along with mainstream TV this seems to be a technological dinosaur.
Immersive environments. see Virtual Reality
Information filters. Media products which review various media outputs and industrial activities to synthesize and perhaps analyse these products and processes. These are necessary to cope with information overload.
Information gateways. A service, programme etc which provides access to media filtering and media metaforms.
Information inequality. Sometimes described as the ‘Digital Divide’. This expresses the concern that society will become polarised between the ‘digital haves’ and ‘have-nots’ forming another division in society. The lack of availability of information or else low quality information will directly impact upon citizenship.
Information Society. Many sociologists and media commentators are now suggesting that advanced western societies are increasingly becoming societies based upon the use of digitally stored information or data. This is increasingly affecting all our social cultural and scientific systems. Leadeing commentators on this such as Manual Castells have changed their ideas to calling contemporary society the Networked Society.
Interactive. This is an essential term to understand. Digital technologies are provide a wide range of interactivity which allow audiences to interact with the media product such as a TV show requiring some input or the ability to access certain stories stored on news programmes. Audiences can also provide feedback to media institutions large or small about their needs desires and criticisms of a media text in real time. This means that the man of the difficulties of creating and retaining an audience can be facilitated through these interactive monitoring systems. With mobile phone systems location based services can be accessed and information sent received such as booking a hotel or finding out what is on.
Interactive TV. The ability to feedback information into the TV system. This requires digital technology. Typically the flow of information from the receiver
Interface. Interfacing is the way in which people use technologies. A mouse or keyboard is the way we usually interface with computers. For games machines and consoles a range of joysticks were developed. The latest ways of interfacing are through digital imaging where a digital camera can image a subject and store this in the machine in ways that link to icons on the screen. The person can trigger these icons remotely via the camera link. This is the next technological step towards a more immersive environment. Both gamers and various sorts of artists such as dancers are beginning to exploit this technology which will become increasingly common. For one of the leading places to investigate human computer interfacing check out the MIT Media Lab. Wacky stuff including intelligent clothing.
Internet history of: See BBC History of the Internet
Internet Search Engine. To navigate the internet effectively it became necessary to invent new software to make a rapid search of the millions of domain names which mushroomed on after the start of the World Wide Web in the mid 1990s. These include search engines such as Yahoo and MSN. The most successful to date is Google. The way in which the companies who run these make money is by selling advertising space. See Paid for search.
iPhone. January 2007 CES saw the awaited launch of Apple's iPhone. This is a fine example of convergent technology in which a phone is able to download both music and video. The screen is a widescreen. The phone is also controlled via a touch screen rather than conventional buttons. Steve Jobs is claiming to have reinvented the phone. Some find Apple less than tempting however...
The Financial Times editorial comment found time to poke fun at iPhone at the weekend (Jan 13th 2007).
iPod. An MP3 style music player which has been produced by Apple and has rapidly become a design icon much as the Sony Walkman did in the 1980s. At the time of writing (Aug 2005) Nokia the mobile phone company has planned a phone camera which will also be able to store s much music as a mini-iPod which it considers will rapidly outsell iPods. These phones are now comonplace but iPod is still ahead of the game. See also iTunes / podcasting.
Below iPod Nanos:
IPTV. IPTV is the current holy grail for the giants of the new media industries which is "delivery of video content via the net". Ideally this should be accessible in all rooms being streamed from a computer. Various industry linkups are being made between Microsoft and BT for example. Apple too is very interested. Another company on the scene is Sony who wish to use their long awaited Play-Station 3 to provide Blueray streaming to well Sony TVs of course1.
ISDN. This is a high-speed data-link for computer communications. In Britain BT kept the price too high and people used conventional modems. It runs at 128 Kilobits per second twice as fast as an ordinary modem and it is possible to use the phone at the same time. It is now being superseded by ASDL and broadband technologies. At time of writing in 2007 it is now dead in the water as Broadband has taken off.
LAN. This is a local area network in which two or more computers are connected together. In the past this has been done by installing special cards and cables to connect to computers together physically. This is likely to change very soon with the commercialisation of Wi-Fi.
Linear editing. Video-recorders are examples of this technology. Unable to immediately access any of the date unlike data on a hard drive. This kind of editing is very slow and there is a loss of quality involved. To reproduce the text on the internet, via digital satellite or on DVDs the text must be digitally re-mastered. See also non-linear editing.
Local area Network. See under LAN and Wi-Fi
Location-based Services. The ability to be able to locate a person’s mobile phone handset, by working out which cell it is nearest to. Information can be passed to the emergency services for example. The new mobile network ‘3’ uses GPS to provide more accurate positioning. This information can be updated as a person moves.
Long Tail The. At its heart the idea of the long tail is straightforward. Online distirutors are able to carry much larger stocks or else can order instantly from small suppliers who are prepared to keep their publications / music available for enthusiasts. It is now much easier for consumers to access these products instead of being limited to what any particualr high street shop chooses to carry on its shelves.
Below representation of the long tail in the media through an analysis of Rhapsody an online store.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. MMRPG’s for short. They are pervasive ( diffusing ) virtual environments populated by human-controlled digital people from around the globe. Players develop characters, work towards goals, solve puzzles. They are the visual marriage of text-based adventures and chat rooms. They are proving particularly attractive to women. Below image from the popular World of Warcraft.
Media ‘metaforms'. This is (1) the growth of television programmes, print media, websites devoted to other media. Some consider these programmes as just a case of self-absorption and a loss of contact from ‘the real’ ( wars, disasters, politics and policy etc.) Others argue that this is a sign of a growing need for data to make sense of other data leading to new relationships between audience and ‘text’. The metaforms which comprised the ‘Blairwitch Project’ can be seen as an example of an aesthetic life of its own being created which is not secondary to an original product. There was a movie, book and websites which became ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ all of which were self-referential but also blurred the distinctions between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’.. See also hypertext. See metadata gateways. (2) Growth of cross-media marketing strategies see total marketing.
Metadata gateways. These are currently being developed perhaps most successfully on the web and are likely to transfer to other media forms with the increasing convergence of technologies.
Metaforms. See media metaforms.
Midband. This offers 128 kilobits per second internet connection which is three times faster than a standard connection. Calls can be made simultaneously but will halve the net connection speed. This speed is still only 25% of an ASDL connection. The system is likely to appeal to those in rural locations without access to cable or ASDL. This is rapidly being made redundant.
Mini-disc. A rewritable digital recording system which can comfortably work when mobile. It records at half the data rate of conventional CDs and therefore quality is compromised. The rapid rise of MP3 and iPods is rapidly making this redunant technology.
MPEG. A data compression system which allows the recording and transmission of images using relatively small amounts of memory.
MMRPG. See Massively Multiplayer Online role Playing Game.
MP3. A digital compression system for transmitting music over the internet with short download times. The rate of sampling is only about half as much as on conventional CDs therefore quality is compromised. It is claimed that psychoacoustically people effectively notice little or no difference.
Narrowband. This is a standard internet connection via a dial-up modem. Maximum speed of these is 56 Kilobits of data per second. In reality depending upon line conditions these modems connect at about 40 kilobits per second. This is fine for basic e.mail and text-based websites. Audio, video and software downloads require broadband connections. A disadvantage of narrowband is that the phone cannot be used at the same time.
Non-linear editing. This is using hard discs on computers or now dedicated hard-disc digital recorders to edit sound and images. It is non-linear because any part of the information can be easily accessed unlike videotape which has to be dealt with on liner editing suites. This form of editing is especially useful for Digital Video enabling small-scale film makers to create and place their products on the internet fast and cheaply. See also linear editing.
February 17, 2007
Lex on EMI 17/02/07: Is there value in a busted flush?
Well its good to be marginally ahead of Lex the 'agenda setting' FT column. Today's was talking about EMI amongst other things. You'll need a free trial to read the full account which starts off nicely with the comment:
EMI and Warner Music appear locked in a race to the bottom. This year, both listed music groups have seen their shares plunge by about 20 per cent. Since July last year, when merger talks broke down, they have tumbled 30 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.
The column later notes that having entered into merger talks three times perviously this would be an especially propitious time to merge. However Lex notes that the EU is considering the BMG / Sony musci link up and would probably look unfavourably upon another merger on competition grounds. For Lex the value of EMI is in its publishing activities "relatively sheltered from the violent swings in recorded music." This provides an opportunity for a private equity company to move in and say that EMI is oversold.
Whislt Lex is clearly putting out tempters it would indeed be a brave organisation who thinks that EMI is oversold at current share levels. What it does raise is the possibility of online music publishing as another add on activity for the new social networking generation. New bands are perfectly capable of publishing this material for themselves via the net although why the Arctic Monkeys didn't do this is a mystery. Perhaps some straight cash did the trick?
Singing in The Rain : Part of EMI's Long Tail
Whilst the long-tail may tempt in private equity firms how they would release extra value from this is unclear. Would they also be open to needing to end contracts with leading celebrities from a now vanishing era, because a private equity company would hardly want to be running a business of this nature by themselves. The nature of private equity is to asset strip and or release value which doesn't appear in the sum of the parts. Whilst there is little room for error in terms of supermarket property valuations publishing rights to old pop culture songs is a rather more challenging thing to estimate. EMI is certainly upbeat as the statement from their website repeated below suggests:
EMI Music Publishing is the world's most creative music publisher with more than one million copyrights including some of the best known songs ever written: New York, New York, Over The Rainbow and Singin' In The Rain. Its current hit-making writers and producers include: Arctic Monkeys, Beyoncé Knowles, Natasha Bedingfield, James Blunt, Kelly Clarkson, Daddy Yankee, Jermaine Dupri, Eminem, Enya, Gorillaz, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Daniel Powter, Eros Ramazzotti, Scissor Sisters, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.
Lex obviously picked up on the Brit Awards announcement which was more or less simultaneous with the dire profits warning:
London, February 14, 2007: EMI Music Publishing was celebrating tonight, as the publisher's bands and solo songwriters were victorious in a record six out of twelve categories at the Brit awards show in London. This is an unprecedented number of wins for the music publisher.
The Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Take That members Jason Orange and Howard Donald and the Fratellis were all signed out of the publisher's London office, with International artist Nelly Furtado signed from New York.
For the immediate future
Anyway what is going down seems likely to be going down for a while yet. EMI shares have a way to drop to ensure good value to a private equity company. Glum whistles will be heard in the comapnie's corridors for a while as they try and figure out a viable strategy and the vultures of private equity houses circle with their calculators as the once giant of music continues to stumble forwards rather aimlessly.
February 16, 2007
The Digital Rights Management of Music Debate Continues
February 6, 2007
Steve Jobs' Internet article has raised some controversy however it is worth reading to get an industry insider's overview of the situation. An important part of his argument is that CD sales in conventional shops are not sold with digital Rights Management Systems (DRMs) installed - unlike DVDs for example. As a result a CD can easily be bought and uploaded to a downloading site and quickly spread around the world. What stops the industry doing anything is that there are tens of millions of CD players unable to read CDs which are DRM enabled:
In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system. (Jobs 06/02/07 my emphasis).
Jobs continues by asking:
So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none.
Jobs' iPod still dominates the paid for download market but Apple and the music companies need to make more from this market to ensure that they keep ahead of their rivals.
A Sceptical Take on Jobs by Bill Thompson
Bill Thompson evinces the specticism of a good journalist and comments that for all Jobs' heartbeating antics about how terrible it is that the 'Big Four' of the music industry (Sony / BMG, Warner, Universal and EMI) don't release their hold on DRM Apple do very nicely out of the deal thank you:
I don't believe him. If Apple switched off Fairplay then they would probably sell a lot more songs, on which they make very little money, and a lot fewer iPods, on which they make a lot. I don't buy songs from Apple's store because I don't like DRM. (See full Thompson article)
Thompson plausibly argues that Jobs is an excellent self-publicist who knows how to distract the crowds. Lets face it Vista seemed to get less attention than the much vaunted and very expensive iPhone. Thompson points out that the industry model of digital music is likely to change again. Perhaps with the music companies allowing fans far more freedom with the tracks than previously. Certainly they will need to work out something plausible soon because otherwise there will less and less reason for bands to sign up to them with social networking and alternative revenue models developing all the time:
They are actively exploring alternatives to rigid control of sharing, like flat-rate permissive licensing that would track usage and reimburse artists without limiting what fans can do.
And they are - like EMI - looking to set up their own music stores selling unencumbered tracks direct to fans.
A BBC report produced on 15 / 02 / 07 acouple of days after Thompson's comments notes that:
Almost two-thirds of music industry executives think removing digital locks from downloadable music would make more people buy the tracks, finds a survey.
The Jupiter Research study looked at attitudes to Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems in Europe music firms.
Analyst Mark Mulligan, one of the authors of this report doesn't think that there will be any serious moves away from the DRM model in the near future at least:
"Despite everything that has been happening the record labels are not about to drop DRM," said Mr Mulligan. "Even though all they are doing is making themselves look even less compelling by using it."
Other Business Models?
At times it seems as though the Music industry and the hi-fi industry are ending up shooting themselves in the foot and we can see CD sales from the high street dropping through the floor as EMI gave a shock announcement on the 12th of February:
Blaming weak CD and DVD sales in the US, it said it now expects its profits for the year to 31 March 2007 to be 15% lower than 12 months previously.
This was the second profits warning in recent weeks. Old time invesment experts often say that the first profit warning is usually the prelude to a second one and EMI has not proved to be an exception to this adage. As I indicated in the previous article a week the music industry is being turned upside down. Don't put your pension into EMI whatever you do. If you want to throw money away at least do it for the 'good causes' on the National Lottery. Don't believe me? Just take a look at the share price chart below. This is at a time when the FTSE and the Dow Jones are on highs. Just imagine what it will look like when the markets soften!
EMI share price after second profits warning
What the music industry needs to do is to consolidate fast in agreement with the manufacturers of music replay hardware. This is important because serious music lovers of classical, jazz etc tend to try and spend money on good hi-fi / AV-systems. The SACD / DVD Audio format war has been ridiculous. Nobody is prepared to accept the Betamax / VHS situation again. Now there is a replay with Blu-Ray & DVD-HD. Older people who would like the quality and the surround sound capabilities if music is being designed for this are unlikely to buy in until more all-purpose players are available. The youth market who were once likely to buy CD singles and CDs just aren't.
Can the popularity of artists like Kylie Minogue really save EMI?
Perhap one answer for the music industry to consider is that music targeted at teenagers only comes out through iTunes. If there are album length contributions in shops these should be in the latest high definition format with DRM. This however risks leaving the market wide open to savvy teenagers who are perfectly capable of marketing themselves over the web. Making an alternative downloads service with very cheap downloads is perfectly feasible entirely bypassing iTunes.
One thing is for certain, if the US is currently the cause of EMI's profits problem where DVDs and CDs are so much cheaper than in the UK because people are turning to downloading, there is just enough time to get your pension out of Virgin Music and HMV because they are going to run into real big trouble soon. A danger I predicted for Viacom shareholders a couple of weeks ago. Only the most adaptable and clever of these older media organisations are going to survive. Some forced consolidation in several areas seems to be on the cards. This has been forced upon the EMI-Toshiba joint venture (see below) in Japan last December for example.
There isn't one! Keep watching thing space there are planty of twists and turns to come but if they don't sort it out soon then that most enterprising of companies Google with very deep pockets may well come up with the new killer model. Just think of all the different kinds of music you could access whilst going round Google Earth for example :-).
February 09, 2007
Downloading is Promoting the Long Tail
The concept of the Long Tail has been discussed elswhere on this blog ( link to the original article in Wired ). 'Click' Presenter Kelly Spencer has noted that:
With music downloads outselling CD singles by four to one in the UK and the music charts revamped to include download sales, the digital revolution is having a big impact on the music industry.
But with music download sites now the UK's favourite place to buy singles, each with massive back catalogues of songs, it was decided that just listing the singles currently on release may not reflect the way people were actually buying songs.
So from 1 January 2007, every song that is available to download is now allowed to chart. (Kelly Spence article).
The Music industry is being turned upside-down
The onset of the 'long tail' menas that many analysts are now predicting that the new industry model of distribution and sales is likely to moving to small numbers of a large number of titles. This notion fits in well with William Mitchell's arguments about mass customisation which the presence of the
Nike executive on the Davos forum effectively confirmed. (Check out his contribution about on-line customised Nike trainers here).
In January 2007 in the second week after downloads were officially recorded in the make up of the charts, Koopa became the first successful band who did not even wait to be signed up by a record company or have a record in the shops to make the charts:
We built our own website. Then we started advertising that on Google, places like that. From there it was just getting on MySpace and our website, and making sure you're keeping people up to date with regular newsletters, messages and blogs on MySpace.
Dinosaurs or adaptors: Where will the music industry go?
It remains to be seen exactly how the music industry will react. Many of the suits are saying that a band will always need the power of a big company to do the marketing. Possibly this will be true to create a number of supergroups doing spectacular world tours. On the other hand maybe the market will fragment further with young people increasingly sceptacle about paying ludicrous prices to go and see an overhyped band when there is plenty of variety. With a bit of luck the download era may help spawn a much larger number of live acts and remove the overpaid parasites at the top of the pile. The sooner aspects of 'celebrity' (i.e. industry sponsored hype) are excluded by customers the better for music, musicians and audiences. Watch this space for more news on this.