This has very little to do with photography but it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks. The way we view and consume media is changing at a break-neck pace. So much is changing that we can see the progress every few months.
What got me thinking about this was the HBO app. It seems that every time I call U-verse with an issue they mention a special that involves giving me premium channels for free. A few months ago it was HBO. Somehow I stumbled upon the HBO app. The HBO app gives you access to (almost) all of HBOs programming – every season. At first glance it seemed just like the Netflix app, cute but on my iPhone it’s fairly useless. But then I started watching The Wire via the HBO app on my iPad. I was hooked, besides being an amazing TV show, the ability to watch each episode on-demand was amazing. Never caught True Blood? Now you can watch every episode without having to rent or buy the DVDs. Each time we tried using Netflix to start a TV show it was a pain. You get hooked, watch a couple episodes and then have to mail back and wait for DVDs, throwing a wrench in the momentum.
This is the future. On-demand access to content I want to watch. Granted not everyone has or wants to watch TV on their iPad, but I think the business model will change how we view television content. Suddenly paying $15/month for HBO has value.
Then came spotify. If you haven’t heard, Spotify is a swedish company that allows streaming access to CDs from major and independent record labels. The US version recently launched and I was blown away. I now have access to tens of thousands of full CDs – for free. Like Pandora, the free service has commercials. The pay version ($5/month) has no commercial and allows streaming and even saving these files to my iPhone. At first I was overwhelmed. It’s like being set loose in a record store – where do I start? Then I started using the bookmarks I made in Pandora and listening to entire CDs from those artists. Remember the day when you’d hear a great song, buy the CD and get home to find out you didn’t like the rest of the CD? Is the 30 second preview on itunes enough to give you a feel for the song? Now I can listen to the entire CD, on-demand, for free.
Some record execs lament that iTunes killed album sales. It strikes me that Spotify is about to change the record industry again. The one caveat is that Spotify doesn’t have contracts with all record labels. Like Netflix the success, or failure, of Spotify is based on the content they have access to.
For those of you who don’t know I once worked as a sell-side analyst at an investment bank. We wrote research on the networking sector and one of our investment themes was based on a study that stated that the consumption of bandwidth doubled every six months (the study turned out to be BS – but that never stopped an analyst from beating a drum). I doubt anyone can quantify the growth of bandwidth but the basic premise is still true – bandwidth is king. All of the above mentioned ideas and delivery methods rely on bandwidth. Couple bandwidth and the power of choice and see the future. (I Hope)