Posts tagged ‘apple’

UltraViolet: Who’s Really Getting Burned?

UltraViolet: Who's Really Getting Burned?

In light of UltraViolet’s recent flurry of announcements about it being “ready,” let’s take a moment to revisit the truthiness of it coming to life…

As entertainment continues to gasp for air and content owners watch their revenues plummet, the industry continues to achieve nothing. Think of the Coppertone Girl if she didn’t do anything about the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. She’d end up burnt.

Call me a Fool, but I’d like to expose why UltraViolet is hazardous to the health of both the entertainment industry and the consumer. If it continues on its current course then, in the future, I won’t get to watch my movies the way I want to.

The industry appears to be trying to move to a “watch wherever” model. That’s a good thing because that would allow me to get my content on any of my devices like my TV, PS3, i-Pad, mobile phone, etc.

It’s a great theory, but the way things are going this initiative seems destined to fail.

Are the studios waffling?

The studio-centric UltraViolet was started three years ago when the market was different and they felt that a digital standard was required to continue selling content in a world where disc sales were crumbling.

Time has marched on and I now understand the studios are waffling, beginning to disown the very usage model that allows you to “include up to six people you define as your household” and “access all of your shows and movies from any of up to 12 registered UltraViolet devices.”  (Don’t shoot the messenger.  This is straight from uvvu.com).  They are getting cold feet with this fundamental premise because they feel the model is overly generous and too big of a departure from the current model.  They also are concerned that the members of an account would misuse their rights by sharing content too liberally among members and devices in their account.  You tell me what that really means…

To this day, the business costs of how UltraViolet works is ambiguous.  Commitment to the business model is a long way off.  Who pays for marketing? The studios spent millions promoting Blu-ray; why aren’t they ponying up to market UltraViolet?

Warner Brother’s seems to be confirming this waffling.  Its President announced a “Digital Everywhere App” that allows consumers to manage their video content the way they can with music and photos.  Warner expects the App to connect consumers with and enable other retailers like Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

Wait a minute: we know for a fact that Apple will continue on its own course and never join UltraViolet, and Amazon will refuse to sign up because it is busy with its own cloud services plan. Netflix doesn’t even sell or rent movies so to them a digital locker is irrelevant.  Warner’s ruse of playing nice with retailers that will never launch UltraViolet services is just more waffle.

Could I please have some extra syrup, as this is all a little hard to swallow?

The Sun rises in the West?

Device makers will have to create new devices in order to support UltraViolet.  Since this engineering takes people, time and money, they only add functionality if they think it will help to sell more devices.    It’s too risky to start production with changing and ill-defined specifications. It’s not surprising they are standing on the sidelines and waiting before they invest R&D resources until it is a safe bet.

They are tiring of studio waffling.  With each waffle, device makers push back their ability to deliver UltraViolet-ready devices by a minimum of nine months due to production lead times. For devices to hit stores for the 2011 holiday season, they would have needed to start production in February.  That didn’t happen.

Device makers are unclear on the benefits.  They know it will cost more to build the devices, and they know that no one appears to be stepping up to pay for marketing. The upside was selling more devices supporting an open standard, but now they are not so sure.

They were excited at the prospect of a beautiful sunrise with UltraViolet, but it turns out that they are tired of waiting in the dark only to find the forecast is mostly cloudy (with a chance of meatballs).

Are retailers’ heads in the cloud?

Contrary to what others think, I believe that people learn about new stuff by going to stores.  At the moment, these retailers SELL the vast majority of disc-based content.  As I look at UltraViolet, there doesn’t seem to be many disc retailers involved.  Think of the number of visits that Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target have coming through to learn about and buy products.  Where are the other retailers?  Where will consumers go to learn about UltraViolet without retailers?

The concept of interoperability requires multiple retailers in each territory to launch simultaneously.  Recent estimates would see a top DVD retailer paying $10M in fees alone in the first year to operate an UltraViolet service.  The costs seem high, but retailers will get involved if they understand the benefits.  So far, these benefits are obscured and preventing retailers from committing.

I might be wrong, but maybe consumers don’t need stores or online sites to learn about new products.  Some device makers like Samsung with their TV apps, Microsoft with Xbox and Nokia with their handsets, are positioning to go direct to consumers.  Even Warner Brothers is demonstrating that maybe selling their wares directly to consumers is the future.  I have a foolish idea: maybe they can pick up the nearly 1,000 Blockbuster stores that Dish is dumping in order to reach consumers…

The disincentives are clear.  UltraViolet is expecting retailers to expose themselves and use their resources for the marketing and promotion of the UltraViolet brand.  UltraViolet will provide marketing materials (they will throw some bones like messaging and logos) that retailers will have to license. Other than that, they are on their own to market and promote the UltraViolet experience.  Retailers should not, will not, and do not reach into their own pockets to market other company’s brands.

So who’s getting burned?

UltraViolet burns the consumer.

With studios, device makers and retailers in a game of chicken, UltraViolet will rush to get something to market and water down any meaningful consumer offering to the point of being insignificant.

Think about it – should Sony be the last studio standing in UltraViolet, what good does a service do for a consumer that only has their content? It’s likely that, due to the number of companies involved, the offer will end up costing more than stuff that’s available today.  Would you pay more?  With manufacturer lead times, what if there are no devices that support UltraViolet services? If you can’t buy from retailers that you are used to, then what did 70+ companies over the past three years achieve?

My dream of watching content on all my devices seems further off than ever. With UltraViolet burning consumers, entertainment junkies like me will stop buying and keep in the shade.  I’m afraid that the sunset for entertainment is coming all too soon.

UltraViolet: Who’s Really Getting Burned?

UltraViolet: Who's Really Getting Burned?

As entertainment continues to gasp for air and content owners watch their revenues plummet, the industry continues to achieve nothing. Think of the Coppertone Girl if she didn’t do anything about the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. She’d end up burnt.

Call me a Fool, but I’d like to expose why UltraViolet is hazardous to the health of both the entertainment industry and the consumer. If it continues on its current course then, in the future, I won’t get to watch my movies the way I want to.

The industry appears to be trying to move to a “watch wherever” model. That’s a good thing because that would allow me to get my content on any of my devices like my TV, PS3, i-Pad, mobile phone, etc.

It’s a great theory, but the way things are going this initiative seems destined to fail.

Are the studios waffling?

The studio-centric UltraViolet was started three years ago when the market was different and they felt that a digital standard was required to continue selling content in a world where disc sales were crumbling.

Time has marched on and I now understand the studios are waffling, beginning to disown the very usage model that allows you to “include up to six people you define as your household” and “access all of your shows and movies from any of up to 12 registered UltraViolet devices.”  (Don’t shoot the messenger.  This is straight from uvvu.com).  They are getting cold feet with this fundamental premise because they feel the model is overly generous and too big of a departure from the current model.  They also are concerned that the members of an account would misuse their rights by sharing content too liberally among members and devices in their account.  You tell me what that really means…

To this day, the business costs of how UltraViolet works is ambiguous.  Commitment to the business model is a long way off.  Who pays for marketing? The studios spent millions promoting Blu-ray; why aren’t they ponying up to market UltraViolet?

Warner Brother’s seems to be confirming this waffling.  Its President announced a “Digital Everywhere App” that allows consumers to manage their video content the way they can with music and photos.  Warner expects the App to connect consumers with and enable other retailers like Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

Wait a minute: we know for a fact that Apple will continue on its own course and never join UltraViolet, and Amazon will refuse to sign up because it is busy with its own cloud services plan. Netflix doesn’t even sell or rent movies so to them a digital locker is irrelevant.  Warner’s ruse of playing nice with retailers that will never launch UltraViolet services is just more waffle.

Could I please have some extra syrup, as this is all a little hard to swallow?

The Sun rises in the West?

Device makers will have to create new devices in order to support UltraViolet.  Since this engineering takes people, time and money, they only add functionality if they think it will help to sell more devices.    It’s too risky to start production with changing and ill-defined specifications. It’s not surprising they are standing on the sidelines and waiting before they invest R&D resources until it is a safe bet.

They are tiring of studio waffling.  With each waffle, device makers push back their ability to deliver UltraViolet-ready devices by a minimum of nine months due to production lead times. For devices to hit stores for the 2011 holiday season, they would have needed to start production in February.  That didn’t happen.

Device makers are unclear on the benefits.  They know it will cost more to build the devices, and they know that no one appears to be stepping up to pay for marketing. The upside was selling more devices supporting an open standard, but now they are not so sure.

They were excited at the prospect of a beautiful sunrise with UltraViolet, but it turns out that they are tired of waiting in the dark only to find the forecast is mostly cloudy (with a chance of meatballs).

Are retailers’ heads in the cloud?

Contrary to what others think, I believe that people learn about new stuff by going to stores.  At the moment, these retailers SELL the vast majority of disc-based content.  As I look at UltraViolet, there doesn’t seem to be many disc retailers involved.  Think of the number of visits that Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target have coming through to learn about and buy products.  Where are the other retailers?  Where will consumers go to learn about UltraViolet without retailers?

The concept of interoperability requires multiple retailers in each territory to launch simultaneously.  Recent estimates would see a top DVD retailer paying $10M in fees alone in the first year to operate an UltraViolet service.  The costs seem high, but retailers will get involved if they understand the benefits.  So far, these benefits are obscured and preventing retailers from committing.

I might be wrong, but maybe consumers don’t need stores or online sites to learn about new products.  Some device makers like Samsung with their TV apps, Microsoft with Xbox and Nokia with their handsets, are positioning to go direct to consumers.  Even Warner Brothers is demonstrating that maybe selling their wares directly to consumers is the future.  I have a foolish idea: maybe they can pick up the nearly 1,000 Blockbuster stores that Dish is dumping in order to reach consumers…

The disincentives are clear.  UltraViolet is expecting retailers to expose themselves and use their resources for the marketing and promotion of the UltraViolet brand.  UltraViolet will provide marketing materials (they will throw some bones like messaging and logos) that retailers will have to license. Other than that, they are on their own to market and promote the UltraViolet experience.  Retailers should not, will not, and do not reach into their own pockets to market other company’s brands.

So who’s getting burned?

UltraViolet burns the consumer.

With studios, device makers and retailers in a game of chicken, UltraViolet will rush to get something to market and water down any meaningful consumer offering to the point of being insignificant.

Think about it – should Sony be the last studio standing in UltraViolet, what good does a service do for a consumer that only has their content? It’s likely that, due to the number of companies involved, the offer will end up costing more than stuff that’s available today.  Would you pay more?  With manufacturer lead times, what if there are no devices that support UltraViolet services? If you can’t buy from retailers that you are used to, then what did 70+ companies over the past three years achieve?

My dream of watching content on all my devices seems further off than ever. With UltraViolet burning consumers, entertainment junkies like me will stop buying and keep in the shade.  I’m afraid that the sunset for entertainment is coming all too soon.

UltraViolet: Who’s Really Getting Burned?

UltraViolet: Who's Really Getting Burned?

As entertainment continues to gasp for air and content owners watch their revenues plummet, the industry continues to achieve nothing. Think of the Coppertone Girl if she didn’t do anything about the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. She’d end up burnt.

Call me a Fool, but I’d like to expose why UltraViolet is hazardous to the health of both the entertainment industry and the consumer. If it continues on its current course then, in the future, I won’t get to watch my movies the way I want to.

The industry appears to be trying to move to a “watch wherever” model. That’s a good thing because that would allow me to get my content on any of my devices like my TV, PS3, i-Pad, mobile phone, etc.

It’s a great theory, but the way things are going this initiative seems destined to fail.

Are the studios waffling?

The studio-centric UltraViolet was started three years ago when the market was different and they felt that a digital standard was required to continue selling content in a world where disc sales were crumbling.

Time has marched on and I now understand the studios are waffling, beginning to disown the very usage model that allows you to “include up to six people you define as your household” and “access all of your shows and movies from any of up to 12 registered UltraViolet devices.”  (Don’t shoot the messenger.  This is straight from uvvu.com).  They are getting cold feet with this fundamental premise because they feel the model is overly generous and too big of a departure from the current model.  They also are concerned that the members of an account would misuse their rights by sharing content too liberally among members and devices in their account.  You tell me what that really means…

To this day, the business costs of how UltraViolet works is ambiguous.  Commitment to the business model is a long way off.  Who pays for marketing? The studios spent millions promoting Blu-ray; why aren’t they ponying up to market UltraViolet?

Warner Brother’s seems to be confirming this waffling.  Its President announced a “Digital Everywhere App” that allows consumers to manage their video content the way they can with music and photos.  Warner expects the App to connect consumers with and enable other retailers like Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

Wait a minute: we know for a fact that Apple will continue on its own course and never join UltraViolet, and Amazon will refuse to sign up because it is busy with its own cloud services plan. Netflix doesn’t even sell or rent movies so to them a digital locker is irrelevant.  Warner’s ruse of playing nice with retailers that will never launch UltraViolet services is just more waffle.

Could I please have some extra syrup, as this is all a little hard to swallow?

The Sun rises in the West?

Device makers will have to create new devices in order to support UltraViolet.  Since this engineering takes people, time and money, they only add functionality if they think it will help to sell more devices.    It’s too risky to start production with changing and ill-defined specifications. It’s not surprising they are standing on the sidelines and waiting before they invest R&D resources until it is a safe bet.

They are tiring of studio waffling.  With each waffle, device makers push back their ability to deliver UltraViolet-ready devices by a minimum of nine months due to production lead times. For devices to hit stores for the 2011 holiday season, they would have needed to start production in February.  That didn’t happen.

Device makers are unclear on the benefits.  They know it will cost more to build the devices, and they know that no one appears to be stepping up to pay for marketing. The upside was selling more devices supporting an open standard, but now they are not so sure.

They were excited at the prospect of a beautiful sunrise with UltraViolet, but it turns out that they are tired of waiting in the dark only to find the forecast is mostly cloudy (with a chance of meatballs).

Are retailers’ heads in the cloud?

Contrary to what others think, I believe that people learn about new stuff by going to stores.  At the moment, these retailers SELL the vast majority of disc-based content.  As I look at UltraViolet, there doesn’t seem to be many disc retailers involved.  Think of the number of visits that Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target have coming through to learn about and buy products.  Where are the other retailers?  Where will consumers go to learn about UltraViolet without retailers?

The concept of interoperability requires multiple retailers in each territory to launch simultaneously.  Recent estimates would see a top DVD retailer paying $10M in fees alone in the first year to operate an UltraViolet service.  The costs seem high, but retailers will get involved if they understand the benefits.  So far, these benefits are obscured and preventing retailers from committing.

I might be wrong, but maybe consumers don’t need stores or online sites to learn about new products.  Some device makers like Samsung with their TV apps, Microsoft with Xbox and Nokia with their handsets, are positioning to go direct to consumers.  Even Warner Brothers is demonstrating that maybe selling their wares directly to consumers is the future.  I have a foolish idea: maybe they can pick up the nearly 1,000 Blockbuster stores that Dish is dumping in order to reach consumers…

The disincentives are clear.  UltraViolet is expecting retailers to expose themselves and use their resources for the marketing and promotion of the UltraViolet brand.  UltraViolet will provide marketing materials (they will throw some bones like messaging and logos) that retailers will have to license. Other than that, they are on their own to market and promote the UltraViolet experience.  Retailers should not, will not, and do not reach into their own pockets to market other company’s brands.

So who’s getting burned?

UltraViolet burns the consumer.

With studios, device makers and retailers in a game of chicken, UltraViolet will rush to get something to market and water down any meaningful consumer offering to the point of being insignificant.

Think about it – should Sony be the last studio standing in UltraViolet, what good does a service do for a consumer that only has their content? It’s likely that, due to the number of companies involved, the offer will end up costing more than stuff that’s available today.  Would you pay more?  With manufacturer lead times, what if there are no devices that support UltraViolet services? If you can’t buy from retailers that you are used to, then what did 70+ companies over the past three years achieve?

My dream of watching content on all my devices seems further off than ever. With UltraViolet burning consumers, entertainment junkies like me will stop buying and keep in the shade.  I’m afraid that the sunset for entertainment is coming all too soon.

Technology rocks better than music

Now here’s a counterpoint to my recent optimism on the music business.  After reading this piece from Digital Music News, I have somewhat returned to my darker opinion that the music industry is going to get worse before it gets better.  I still believe there are innovative models, but the old guard must step down.  Those glory days are done.  Technology now rules.

The content industry has lost its cool, and this is now a major concern for Hollywood as well.  Over the past ten years, technology has become the new rock star, and that’s affecting everything from consumer behavior to Capitol Hill legislation.

Don’t believe me?  Go tell someone at a party that you work at Google, or Apple, and see how they react.  Then tell someone else that you work at Universal Music Group.  Which is the better conversation?

But this is also affecting artists of every strata – all the way from Lady Gaga to the struggling DIY.  Oh, you can say that artists have more access than ever, or sing ‘ding-dong the major labels are dead.’  But so is the recording, and that is forcing smaller artists and labels to adapt however they can.  Songs have to be given away for free, with the hope that revenues will come from advertising, touring, merchandising, or content licensing.  Sure, some artists – like Datarock – are pulling it off, but most aren’t, despite all the rhetoric.

It’s just not that great of a model, but one the technology lobby absolutely loves!  Just recently at Digital Music Forum in New York, Michael Petricone of the Consumer Electronics Association was the one waxing about the revolution – not the content owners.  “There’s more music being made than ever before, there are more people listening to music than ever before, there’s more discovery than ever before,” Petricone said.  “Meanwhile you’ve got independent musicians coming up with innovative business models that allow them to support themselves.”

Of course, a lot of this is true – and tremendously exciting – but it’s just not the full story.  But as long as groups like the CEA can make that the dominant talking point, they can get away with murder.  Because without ripped-off content, the story on devices like the iPod would be totally different.  And the same goes for ISPs, Google, YouTube, and other high-flying technology giants.

There simply needs to be a better middle ground, but unfortunately, major labels are also a major part of this problem.  During a keynote interview at Transmission last month, UMG head of digital Rob Wells was talking about smashing piracy, and winning back countries like Sweden.  But he was also adamantly opposed to collective licensing options, simply because it would erode CD-like revenue streams.  It’s as if everyone wants 1999 to walk back through that door.

And not to pick on Wells; he’s just the latest to say it out loud.   Once upon a time, ISPs expressed some willingness to work with the music industry, but ultimately they got a middle finger back.  And throughout the past decade, the majors have also been guilty of refusing to give ground, and, for that matter, of launching endless attacks on both technology firms and consumers.  And guys like Doug Morris are still calling the shots.

But the major label system is dying, and maybe post-major discussions can be different.  Of course, we still have a huge chapter ahead that features a freaked-out Hollywood, but the hope is that interests can align to better compensate content owners.  Even if that means that creative industries – and their once-shiny rock stars – make less.

Bon Jovi hates Steve Jobs

I feel dirty for including this image, but I'm looking to expand my demographic

OK OK so hate is a really strong word, but I came across an article where Bon Jovi publicly stated that Steve Jobs is single handedly responsible for killing the music business.  Them’s is fighting words.  I’d love to see those two in a cage fight and throw down.  Bon Jovi would pull out all that dark alley New Jersey shit and kick Jobs’ ass no doubt.  And when Bon Jovi is done, maybe Metallica can jump in there and pull out some Sandman kung foo and make Jobs say he’s sorry.  OK I’m getting carried away.  Here’s the article that makes some epic allegations.

Not so long ago, Steve Jobs was hailed as a savior of the music industry.  But that was before digital didn’t pan out, and before everyone realized that Apple was really making billions off of devices – while piggybacking off of music.  Now, Jobs is just another bogeyman.

And even music’s elite – and very rich – are harboring ill will. “Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business,” Jon Bon Jovi ranted to the Sunday Times Magazine.  “I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?'”

Well, a lot of things happened, and Jobs is just one part of that disruption.  But it’s still unclear whether digital distribution has really hurt Bon Jovi in the end.  After all, the wheels of discovery are more lubricated than ever, and Bon Jovi mints hundreds of millions in touring income annually.  In fact, Pollstar ranked the band first among all touring acts last year, with receipts of nearly $150 million in North America alone.

Of course, many of those attendees were born long after “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and have discovered Bon Jovi through digital channels.  Still, Bon Jovi feels that an essential part of the experience is now missing.  “Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it.”

What do you think?  What is your cage fight fantasy?

Do you see a disruption here?

As a follow up to to my bit on 8-tracks versus digital sales, following is a remarkable history of recorded music from 1973-2010 that will make any music exec’s stomach churn just a little more. The data really hit me like a ton of bricks after visiting a friend of mine who works at one of the few remaining music labels.  I was struck by a few things that weren’t altogether positive. 1) What on earth do all those people working at a label actually DO? 2) When will the grim reaper arrive?  I sensed a strange tension as the super-cool-chic music folks tried to hide their fear that a gaunt rich dude in jeans and a black mock turtleneck sweater was coming to slay them.  3) Where do old school music execs end up when their shift is done?  I mean these guys in their day partied.  Where do they end up now that the glory days are long gone?

Anyways, check out the happy times in 1998 versus the dreary days of 2010 in the album sales.  And then have a look at the singles trends.  It is breathtaking!

Not so much purple going on here

I'd say the purple is trending upwards

A world without Woody?

Another re-run, but an altogether great look at the continuing saga of UV.

I recently got a comment on a blog which asked about Keychest and Ultraviolet, and I’m here to tell you I found out some not-so-good news regarding “the future of entertainment.”  In a nutshell, I think the industry may be going down the path of confusing us with choices we will have to make.  While the industry seems to be trying, it is still coming up short.  Here’s what I’ve found out:

Disney and Apple are on their own

Imagine a world without Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lion King, Up, Cars, or The Chronicles of Narnia.  The top 10 movies from Disney have grossed an impressive $3.3 billion in US box office.  Despite being in 4th place for box office take so far in 2010, Disney is world famous for its franchises that earn billions of dollars.  No one can argue the staggering impact that this studio has had on merchandising, plush toys and bedroom decorations for little boys and girls across the world.

Continue to imagine a world without a close friend and ally of Disney’s:  Apple.  They continue to capture the world’s Luddites with its stupid-simple devices.  A not-unnoticed factoid with this company is that if you add the market caps of massive brands – take Microsoft ($230 billion), throw in two retailers like Best Buy ($18 billion) and Target ($40 billion) – and you come up with a few billion short of Apple ($292 billion)!  No one can argue the impact that Apple has had on the industries it plays in.

At the moment, UltraViolet, the industry’s leading consortium to create device and content interoperability so that we can enjoy content anywhere, anytime, anyplace, is heading down a path without Disney or Apple.  Disney instead is creating its own ecosystem called Keychest. The principles are the exact same as UltraViolet, only they have created an island.  With Steve Jobs on the Disney board, both Disney and Apple will likely continue to live on their own island and extend invitations to only those that are willing to play by their rules.  As a result, the content that is so popular around the world may not be part of UV, and will therefore limit my choice.  The devices that are so prevalent from Apple, will not work.

But what about choice?!

A deep, complete selection of titles from ALL studios from which I can choose and enjoy on any of my devices – from my living room to my devices in the pocket – is critical for me to join to a service.  UltraViolet has done an admirable job in bringing 60+ companies to the table to discuss how to create an alternative in the marketplace, yet driving a truly revolutionary service offering that will inspire me to buy legitimate sources of content still comes down to a fundamental issue: I want unlimited choice.

So long as there are islands, consumers will learn that their freedom of choice is limited, and they will understand that the evolving promises of both Keychest and UV are deeply flawed.  As consumers lapse into apathy and not participate in either UV or Keychest, the industry will continue its gradual decline.  With home entertainment representing more than 50% of a studio’s revenues, studios will stop making movies.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see that happen.

Savvy

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

Gigaom

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

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