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Clearing Up a Blurry Picture

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Saturday, 28 February 2009

Defining the Definition of HighDef

By Andy Marken



Starting Over -- The CMS (Compact Moun Solenoid) is an integral part of the LHC project at CERN, the underground collider project that straddles Switzerland and France. The LHC will send protons flying in a giant circle at each other thousands of times faster than today’s Internet speed. One will help discover the beginning of the universe. The other will struggle to give us high def movies at home. Source – CERN


When the Large Hadron Collider (HDC) is in full operation scientists hope to see the precise moment, image when our universe began.


Then everyone will begin viewing…studying…analyzing…interpreting… defining/redefining.


Suddenly we’ll be right back where we started.


10,000+ scientists/engineers from 100+ countries, hundreds of universities/labs giving us “their version” of the beginning.


And you think determining how folks will get their high def content is tough?


It’s great in theory.


It sucks in interpretation.


The CERN team has one common goal.


Everyone involved in the video arena has his/her personal goal.


Suddenly we’re a world/universe of content.


Figure 1 - Circle of Content – Almost everywhere we look we see video content. Every device we use seems to be video enabled. Everyone wants to make it available to you and supposedly everyone wants to enjoy it. All we need is to have good content and the time/money to enjoy it. Source -- InfoTrends


It feels like everyone is developing it, pushing it around just waiting for …you !




Figure 2 - Screen Excitement – Content deliver services want us to believe that nothing is more important or more exciting than watching video content on our variety of screens. Maybe it’s true…maybe.



Success Ferments

It took more than 30 years for color TV to be in nearly every home…the fastest adoption rate for any consumer electronics technology was five years for DVD…it took nearly 10 years for VCRs to be yesterday.


But many say BD technology is defunct even before it gets out of the chute!


P2P folks say they’re already downloading and sharing high def movies.


Experts say CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) like Hulu, Unbox, Amazon, iTunes and every dog ‘n cat is already doing a booming business giving folks instant movies over broadband.


Figure 3 - Big Pipes – Content developers, service providers and distribution organizations can see the Internet becoming the ultra high speed and low cost solution they need to deliver video to your home or mobile device. The only challenge is really big pipes are needed and the more people wanting the video the bigger the plumbing requirements. Source – Internet Weather Service


Today’s service providers complain that even the low volumes of streaming video are chewing up huge amounts of bandwidth.


AT&T says it’s usage increases at a pace of 76 percent a year.


German officials complain that it won’t be long before Internet video will be half of the bandwidth usage to the homes.


Japan, Korea where they have a heckofa lot more bandwidth than the US is already there.


ISPs and cable folks have the solution… choke off the all-you-can eat content access.


Why those greedy SOBs!


Figure 4 - More Lipstick – You can put as much make-up on the delivery invoice as you want but at the end of the day it’s still a pig feeding on your wallet. Service providers have no problem delivering you your content they just want to get “their” share of the bill you pay.


They emphasize that the top one percent of users consume 225GB of data a month (bottom 50 percent use 1GB or less).


Rather than make “everyone” pay for the gluttons, they (cable and ISP) are considering:

  • tiered pricing – pay for usage just as with other utilities

  • throttle you back after X amount of usage

  • fire you! Oh yeah they do…too many customer support calls, too many hours online watching too many web or whatever videos and BAM!!! you’re gone.


They are in this for a buck ya know.


Think about the bandwidth sucked up downloading 30GB of HD movies.


Where’s Joe The Plumber

Multiply your download by a couple of hundred…thousand…million people.


Get real.


If everyone hits that download button at the same time the huge sucking sound will be louder than when the protons or lead ions go ssswwwiiissshhhiiinnnggg by.


Even then, CDNs aren’t giving you true HD content, you know 1080p content for your new 42-in LCD set.


It’s “something else.”


According to studies by George Ou of ZDNet and so eloquently explained by gizmodo, folks downloading their “HD” content are getting the Lite version.




Our kids are OK with the quality.


It’s about as good as the stuff they pull down off YouTube and other social net sites.


It’s good enough to throw on their mobile devices.


Maybe good enough is…good enough?




They also watch DVDs and that quality is … better.




Figure 5 - Other Option – Pushing some level of HD content across the Internet for you to pay for and enjoy will become part of the delivery solution. But when consumers want to sit down and enjoy the depth and breadth of true high definition video quality they’ll slip a disc into the player and sit back on the couch. Source -- ABI


Especially upscaled on a 42-in set!


It must be a lot better for a lot of people.


Download, Disc

Netflix offers both disc and download delivery and still does a huge business sending movies to your mailbox.


We’ve also seen RedBox boxes in more grocery stores.


Someone always seems to be choosing a movie.


Sounds logical…pick up a six pack of drinks, popcorn, other snacks and…a movie all in one stop.


But that certainly doesn’t make it a sure thing for BD.


Of course the “one more thing” guy said BD has its own set of problems.


Figure 6 - Walled Garden – While Steve Jobs offers “HD” content you can rent/buy as a download from iTunes he forgot to tell you that you’re buying/enjoying a Lite version of HD. Want to download 1080p HD content – like you get on a BD disc? Start the download, go to bed and check back tomorrow…or so.


He’s right…kinda!


But don’t believe he’s delivering the solution (check again)!


Discs succeed when there are a lot of entertainment options available.


It succeeds when there are players in tens, hundreds of thousands of homes


Don’t let anyone kid you…that takes time.


That takes lower prices.


For indies and everyone but the huge studies that’s tricky right now.


The BDA uses the same sort of formula that produced billions of dollars in profits for CDs…they license the logo (in BD’s case it is $3,000 per provider + X cents per disc + $1,300 per AACS license).


That’s BS!


Pass out the BD logo like popcorn to anyone who produces a movie to the format spec – Hollywood, Bollywood, indie, who knows/who cares.


The more discs on the shelves..the more hardware, software, titles sold.


Ok so you levy some “reasonable” per disc charge based on sales – maybe.


AACS license?


Who gives a rat’s behind?


Time for Copies

We have 2000 music CDs at home. Love to have them on our MP3 player but ripping them and copying them to the player?


Too much of a hassle…we’ll just throw them on our “ancient” 400-disc CD player.


We just completed a huge family project of copying our purchased and family VHS movies to DVD using Pinnacle’s Dazzle DVD Recorder.


Never bothered copying movies before but doing it now?


It’s insurance.


Tapes are almost gone.


Deck is on its last leg.


There’s a world of CSS (Content Scrambling System) decryption software on the Web but we never bothered ripping any of our DVDs.



AACS doesn’t stop anyone who’s into stealing…Doom9ers rip apart the player protection all the time…lazier folks go to Slysoft’s web site…thieves go to the source.


Silly boys!


Don’t worry about the freakin thieves…worry about the customers!


Don’t worry abut the early royalties…worry about the volumes!


Prices Arriving

This holiday season BD players tiptoed below the $200 price.


BD burners limboed below the $450 barrier.


Now if they knock off most of the overhead for content developers the cost of movies – purchased or rented – might get down to the same level of DVDs.


That’ll make a huge difference.


Of course BD isn’t just about movies – don’t tell Hollywood that – it’s also about archival storage.


That’s an area that is of interest to individuals and companies concerned about data integrity and green IT.


You could leave everything on your 1TB hard drive but sometime, someday it’s going to fail on you.


No sweat unless it’s got all your tax and email records and the government wants to examine them the next day.


Then you are so *****ed!!!


What about all your family/friends photos/videos?


Lose the drive and you’ve lost something you can never replace and never put a price on!


Yeah but the disc only has a life of 50 +/- years.


Yeah…so ??


Yeah but 50GB means you’ll need a ton of discs?


There’s a next generation disc in the wings from a company called Memphile that already stores 1TB.


Tell the BD folks to talk to them so you have a migration path!


Downloading HD content sounds fantastic, even Steve’s version of HD.


Problem is, high def delivery is way slower than the speed of the CERN collider.


Figure 7 - Laws of Physics – As the thousands of scientists from around the globe working on the Collider project at CERN will tell you, there are certain laws of physics you simply can’t overcome. One is ramming two-hours of HD video down the pipe to your TV set and your neighbors and their neighbors and others…all at once. Right now push efficiency is a work in progress. Source -- IDC


When the collider folks figure out what the beginning of time looked like and content delivery systems have unlimited ultra high speed bandwidth for us…things are going to be so fantastic!

Hits: 2003

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