Spin cycle: high

CES is a spin machine

It sure is fun to watch the bluster of CES.  So many announcements, much speculation, intense press coverage – just so much fodder.  My favorite observation so far is from Steve Martin: “At Vegas Consumer Electronics Show: Saw large wooden device that can fling boulders over castle walls. iPad killer.”  And did you hear that Lady Gaga is the Creative Director of Polaroid?!

Weirdness aside, I’ve been faithfully tracking Ultraviolet since I discovered my company is participating.  UV had their big “coming out” party last night and announced….well, nothing new to really blow my hair back.  However, there were some notable tidbits that caught my attention:

UV announced timelines of piloting or launching something by mid-year ’11 and full device availability sometime in ’12.  Not really sure what that means but that’s okay.  Oh and they also talked about Akamai and gave a demonstration of how UV will work on PCs and Apple devices.

Critical thinking needed

Those are all things that UV mostly already announced and can be found sprinkled throughout the close to 150 articles that have hit the net.  Good for the activity because I was not that interested in the UV carrot article.

My real issue today is that I am puzzled by the lack of critical thinking in the press I have read so far.  Just about the only critical mention is the observation that Apple and Disney are not playing with UV.  Duh.

There are a few exceptions like Peter Kafka’s bit on the Ginormous Cloud Media Locker Thingie, but most of the articles are merely rewritten press releases from what the PR machine wants to spin.  I don’t want to be the negative Nelly, but if the industry wants to create a truly revolutionary product that is going to become competitive with the Apple behemoth, then we as consumer-minded observers must ask some questions that will get beneath the bluster of what I hope isn’t just more vaporware.

Clarifying clouds

For example, when is UV going to talk about what it thinks customers want in a revolutionary product?  After following UV for a while, I can’t find much in the way of how UV is going to be presented to consumers.  I understand that there is a major effort within UV to create the consumer story (that’s great), but it’s a bit surprising that the message isn’t abundantly clear after 27 months of work (that’s not great).  Sure, I understand that the logo is going to show up everywhere, but what’s the point if we don’t understand very clearly what a cloud media locker does for us?  For example, who out there understands or cares about the alphabet soup of logos that come on DVD/BD players and stereo receivers?

Must make cents

And another point that so far only the ginormous cloud article picks up on is how things are going to be priced.  Kafka says that Ultraviolet could pan out

if the coalition doesn’t screw it up with byzantine restrictions and pricing tiers–$X amount for a DVD, $X+Y for a DVD with iPhone privileges, etc. (It’ll probably do just that, actually.)

Man do I agree with that.

When pressed on the issue, UV says that it doesn’t know how pricing will turn out and that its goal is to create a innovative platform for industry players to, um, innovate on.  Sounds good, but left to its own devices, the industry will probably come out with some Ph.d-complicated tiered pricing scheme that will motivate customers to just wait.  Innovation is absolutely the right thing, but it kind of gets lost when it’s too confusing!

What am I missing?  Please slap me and help clarify some of this.


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