Archive for December, 2010

Hype Cycles

I came across a very cool graphic from Gartner that is a concise representation of the cycle that products/services/innovations all go through from inception to ultimately their plateau.

The thought that occurred to me after looking at this was this: where do you think Ultraviolet sits on this curve?  My point of view is very direct: after more than two years of 60+ companies working at creating something workable, we haven’t seen anything yet.  Nada.  Zero.  I believe that UV hardly registers in the lower left hand side of this graph.

As a result, I worry for the member companies that while agreement seems to be close on specifications and the myriad legal agreements, there is still a long way to go in order to slog through the Hype Cycle – in other words, getting to mainstream adoption.  And the scary part for UV is that the market changes every day with new disruptions and technologies.

So what should UV do?  I think it should take a long hard look at this Hype Cycle and figure out how to build an operating structure that will allow it to iterate and release 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation products as quickly as possible.  But with its 60+ members and each having varying degrees of influence, it’s going to be tough.

I also think UV should read this blurb on Hype Cycles, and get ready for a long road to a Plateau of Productivity.

Gartner analysts position technologies along the Hype Cycle based on a consensus assessment of hype and maturity. To represent the varying speeds, all technologies on the Hype Cycle are assigned to a “years to mainstream adoption” category (for example, two to five years), representing how long they will take to reach the Plateau of Productivity from their current position on the Hype Cycle — that is, how far they are from the start of mainstream adoption.

Hype Cycles help technology planners to decide when to invest in that technology. A Hype Cycle is a useful educational tool that:

  • Establishes the expectation that most technologies will inevitably progress through the pattern of overenthusiasm and disillusionment before proving their real value.
  • Provides a snapshot of the relative level and pace of maturity of technologies within a certain segment of the IT world, such as a technology area, horizontal or vertical business market, or a certain demographic audience.
  • Has a simple and clear message. Companies should not invest in a technology just because it is being hyped, nor should they ignore a technology just because it is not living up to early overexpectations.

What do you think?  Where does UV sit on this Hype Cycle?


A page from WikiLeaks

Leaks can, and do, happen

Based on my new Assange-like desire to set information free, today’s topic will consider some flaws with some leading industry consortia.

UltraViolet, whose unfortunate doppelganger to the skin-stinging UV, “is being designed to create a revolutionary new approach to digital entertainment,” and clearly, to create a viable alternative to Apple.  UV’s goal of interoperability — of content and devices across retailers so that consumers don’t even need to think about what content works with which devices purchased from what retailers — is noble and exactly what consumers need to address our confusion that the industry itself has unfortunately created.  Even my Mom would appreciate their efforts to make things simple.

Alignment where there is none

But achieving interoperability comes down to the huge task of aligning the often competing interests of all the players in the industry.  From what I can tell from a scan of the site and some documents, it is no wonder that UV – which began more than 24 months ago – is still talking about the thousands of technical specifications, rules, requirements, obligations, licenses, and alphabet soup of newly created acronyms.  However, while UV states it is making technical and legal progress toward creating a “revolutionary approach,” I just don’t know.  It seems to me that UV is underestimating the importance of key players.

As we look at the 60+ members of the consortium, there are significant companies from all over the industry – but who’s missing from the roster of those companies that are actively involved?  UV has been so focused on creating the “right” technology and standards that is has overlooked companies that have access and relationships to consumers that are most likely to adopt.   Companies that have existing customer bases that can drive awareness, education and interaction with consumers are not actively engaged, nor do they seem motivated to contribute.

Key non-players

Netflix, while listed as a member, doesn’t really seem overly concerned with UV.  Based on Netflix’s actions of continuing to march ahead in the marketplace with the AppleTV deal and the more than 200 devices they are on (not to mention the stink they are causing with the studios), it doesn’t seem they are playing along.  Have any of you seen public announcements from Netflix that mention UV?

Players with lots of customers walking through their doors are choosing to wait and see how far the UV can get without them are the large retailers like Amazon and Wal-mart.  Both of these retailers have chosen a different route.  Amazon’s 99 cent TV episodes through Amazon On Demand indicate it is getting into the game – and is activating a price strategy to steal share.  But how is Amazon engaging with UV?

Wal-mart’s acquisition of Vudu was interesting (and expensive), but we haven’t really heard that much about it.  Another noticeable absent retailer is Target.  We have to remember that these retailers are key to driving adoption of new products and services.  And the only true retailer that is participating like Best Buy seem to be going down their own path with CinemaNow.  So you have to ask, why aren’t there more retailers involved?


After thinking about this for the past few days, UV needs access to consumers to drive awareness and ultimately adoption.  It must determine how to motivate companies that have real face to face relationships with customers like my Mom so that they can explain what undoubtedly will be, um, totally confusing.

Without the key players there, the danger is summed up in the classroom scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  I unfortunately see Ben Stein as a metaphor for UV, and UV will be looking for Customers.  Customer’s…Customer’s….Customer’s?

Information wants to be free

Today’s Digital Fool is a bit of a revelation, and I blame it on the crazy news lately about the high profile travails of Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks.  Let’s not focus on his problems in the UK; rather, let’s recognize the incredible tenacity this guy has in relentlessly pursuing his mission of setting all information free.  While I definitely don’t agree with setting ALL information free – such as those documents that can get an undercover operative killed in the field – I appreciate and commend his efforts at bringing more transparency to this world.

Random thought triggers

Which brings me to my inspiration for today.  You see, I inadvertently combined the WikiLeaks saga with news about yet another consortium releasing new standards in the marketplace to inspire me to set information free.  Let me explain.

DDEX, the Digital Data Exchange, made up Sony, The Orchard, Warner Music Group, Universal and Apple to name a few, announced that it had released “a set of standards for XML messages for the business-to-business communication of information between organizations operating in the digital content supply chain.”

Huh?  So there are 18 companies trying to revive the music business, um, through standards? I guess that’s what they’re trying to do.

Sounds familiar

Wait a minute – this sounds an awful lot like what Keychest was trying to do and what Ultraviolet is currently trying to do.  I had a hunch, did some more digging, and I discovered I really am a Fool. Despite the fact I’ve written about UV before and have been interested in watching its progress, I now realize that my company is part of the Ultraviolet consortium.  And now, the Assange in me thinks the right time to bring light to what the entertainment and technology industry is up to.

While I’m not going to go so far and post actual documents, I’ll be dedicating the upcoming posts to insights and concerns .

Plugged in, vol 1

Today’s Fool will be a bit different to mix up Fool posts – and to hopefully spur some arguments like I witnessed out there in the blogosphere this week.

As usual in this space, I found a ton of articles that are signals of bigger things to come.  Here are a few that caught my interest:

FCC may be helping consumers pay more for less

In the article FCC Chief Backs Usage-Based Broadband Pricing, I learned about the FCC Chairman’s proposal that has serious implications for all of us broadband hogs who love to stream lots of video.  Basically, there is a movement toward a pay-as-you-go bandwidth model that cable companies would love, and consumers would undoubtedly hate.  We consumers will hate it  because not only our privacy, but our wallets are at stake.  Stay tuned for December 21 when the vote on the proposal is due at the FCC.  Here’s an excerpt:

The top U.S. telecommunications regulator on Wednesday endorsed the idea that broadband providers could charge extra for providing heavy Internet users with lots of online video or data-heavy services such as videogames.

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, backed “usage-based pricing” while outlining proposed rules that would bar Internet providers from deliberately tampering or slowing legal Web traffic.

Mr. Genachowski’s support for pay-as-you-go pricing represents a victory for cable and telecommunications companies because it clarified whether broadband providers had the power to charge by what users consumed.

For some great reading, check out the contentious comments and debate at the end of the article.  Go there to find some quirky and rambling anti-government sentiment.

Netflix may need to prepare for a storm

Netflix needs to start preparing for some rough waters ahead, even though they hit $200 a share last week.  At a recent Reuters Media Summit, studio executives talked about their thoughts on how to slow the much-loathed company.  According to the execs, Netflix cannibalizes physical sales and encourages customers to rent and not buy videos.  And this is severely hurting the studios’ bottom line.

Senior executives at three of the big six television and movie studios said they were seeking ways to contain Netflix — from delaying when Netflix can make new DVDs available to rent to raising the prices for digital programs.

This containment strategy was summed up well by Craig Kornblau from NBCU when he said rather bluntly last month:

“While there are things in the Netflix system that are clearly cannibalistic [to sales], there are things we can change,” he noted. “They can pay us more or we can reduce the quality of what we give them.”

Bah humbug. Between increased pressures from studios and upcoming legislation from the FCC, Netflix needs to prepare for some rough weather.

Google’s appetite

In other news, I continue to be amazed at Google’s insatiable hunger and huge stomach to buy, well, just about anything.  Besides offering close to $6 billion for Groupon (which by the way as of today, the talks are off), they acquired a DRM company called Widevine.

What I found interesting with this move is that Google is continuing its march toward legitimate online video distribution.  A key factor of this acquisition is that Widevine is a not only a member of Ultraviolet, but it is one of the approved DRMs.  Therefore, in one quick acquisition, Google has become an integral part of Ultraviolet.

And it will be very interesting to see how Hollywood embraces Google in the inner circles of entertainment.

Questions for thought:

Is the FCC confused and/or evil?

Will Netflix continue its parabolic rise?

Will Google be welcomed in Hollywood?


Sleek, Smart, and About the PR/Media World Today


Technology news, trends and analysis covering mobile, big data, cloud, science, energy and media

%d bloggers like this: