Posts Tagged technology
The Business/Media section of today’s Australian had a special cover page dedicated to heralding the next step in television through IPTV (that’s “Internet protocol television”).
FOR more than half a century the humble television has commanded the attention of millions of families around the world. Yet despite our inextricable attachment to the box, the complaint that “there’s nothing on TV” has persisted for just as long.
The days of those complaints and the one-way nature of the television are numbered as the ubiquity of high-speed internet access ushers in a new era of a more connected broadcast medium through the adoption of IPTV, or internet protocol television, a technology that streams television and video services via the internet direct to your computer, TV or game console.
This all sounds great, but should hardly be coming as a newsflash to… well… anybody. The beginning of the last decade saw the music industry almost collapse as file-sharing technology and increased download speeds made it possible to share and download music across the globe for free.
Yet it was still somehow a shock when the exact same thing happened to the TV and movie industries. Somehow, during the whole experience that the music industry went through, it did not seem to register that they may need to start re-thinking their distribution models.
In fact, it seems like they still haven’t done that.
The (pretty mediocre) interactive guide that The Australian put together is far too generous to the existing TV providers, aside from the ABC, who are genuinely embracing technology in an effective way. As for Foxtel:
By far the most comprehensive offering but also the most expensive. It will be interesting to see how Foxtel heads off the likes of FetchTV, Optus MeTV and Quickflixs who are increasingly making inroads on their territory.
Well, they got one thing right, Foxtel are the most expensive. Most comprehensive though? Not quite. Here’s the biggest problem that none of the coverage recognised: the most comprehensive offering is the entire Internet.
The reality is that anyone with a computer and a half-decent broadband connection (the best kind available in Australia, unless you have the NBN, in which case you can add “exorbitantly expensive connection”) can watch almost any TV show or movie that has ever been made in HD whenever they feel like it and for free.
There is no reason to subscribe to the overpriced Foxtel monopoly when there is a better service being provided free-of-charge. Meanwhile, Foxtel has added the ability to record shows on IQ, as well as some pay-per-view movies and a piss-poor catalogue of online downloads, all of which barely amount to any effort to compete with online services.
The main issues are still there:
- Aside from the extremely limited “Foxtel downloads”, customers are confined to the single TV that is connected to the giant Foxtel set-top box through a wall outlet.
- Customers are completely restricted by what Foxtel thinks they should be watching at any time, unless they have recorded a series as it airs onto a very limited hard drive or they want to pay extra on top of their $100 per month subscription for a pay-per-view movie.
In other words, Foxtel are charging more money for a worse technology.
No company is in Australia is yet providing the business model that would work: a subscription-based service allowing a certain number of hours of viewing depending on your package and providing as comprehensive a library of on-demand viewing as possible. For anything besides live TV, there is simply no reason for a distributor to dictate when their customers can and cannot watch a particular show.
If Foxtel in particular does not start updating its product soon, it will be gone in a matter of years. The industry as a whole needs to seriously wise-up before it gets defeated by progress.
A little Cut & Paste for you all:
New Evidence about how Bin Laden managed to send emails without detection:
Holed up in his walled compound in northeast Pakistan with no phone or Internet capabilities, bin Laden would type a message on his computer without an Internet connection, then save it using a thumb-sized flash drive. He then passed the flash drive to a trusted courier, who would head for a distant Internet cafe.
And let’s remember what he felt about Israel:
The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its price, and pay for it heavily.
What was that again about “thumb-sized flash disks”?
He invented the revolutionary “portable hard disk”, the DiskOnKey, and sold his company for $1.6 billion, making himself tens of millions of dollars in the process. Dov Moran could have comfortably retired, written his memoirs and devoted himself to playing bridge. Instead he set out to change the world, again.
And one last thing about Dov Moran, the inventor of the flash drive:
Mr. Moran is a Co-Founder of msystems Ltd. He served as Independent Consultant in computer industry from 1984 to 1989. He served in Israeli Navy for seven years and was Director of its microprocessors department.
Well isn’t that ironic…
A little random one here. “John Cheese” from Cracked wrote an article about how our children (as in, the current Gen Y) will grow-up. It’s really strange to think that, having grown-up in the 90s, we have experienced a few things that 21st century kids will never know – like arguing about a fact that you can’t look up, having to share a phone line and an internet connection between a few different people, getting lost and having to ask for directions/struggle with a paper map, miss an episode of your favourite TV show or even use technology to store and transmit data physically – like videotapes, CDs and books.
It’s a scary thought really – our kids will be used to having access to absolutely everything, all the time. Their attention spans will be even shorter and they will need constant stimulation or they will become bored and fidgety – I have already seen this with my 5-year-old cousin, who cannot cope if she is without an electronic game for 5 mins, she hasn’t learned how to amuse herself like children used to have to.
There is definitely some value in having to wait for things and needing to figure them out for yourself, rather than having the answer given to you all the time. Sure, it doesn’t seem like it when you’re actually going through the process, but paying attention for extended periods makes a whole lot of otherwise impossible things possible. I guess we’ll need to figure-out a way around it, maybe it’ll require being those cruel parents who don’t let their kids near the iPad until they have read a book and built a model airplane or something…
Taking a break from death and violence in the Middle-East…
Apple unveiled their new iPad 2 last night (Sydney time). I’m generally a big fan of Apple’s products, I love their innovation and usability as well as the great consumer experience. I was going to buy an original iPad at one stage, but was convinced that waiting for the second model would be a better idea, since it would definitely show some fantastic improvements.
Not so, the second version of the tablet is not exactly awe-inspiring. The upgrades they have made, besides a fancy new cover, are pretty much no-brainers – a slight redesign to make it smaller and lighter, a faster processor and cameras. The improvements to the OS are also quite minimal – free photoediting software, better streaming and a faster browser.
They have also allowed you to change the side button, which seems exactly like the iPhone’s mute button but for some reason locks the screen instead, into a mute button. And they have allowed internet tethering from an iPhone to an iPad, so that you can use your iPad for internet without having to switch sim cards and not have a phone, which is especially annoying to do as Apple figured they would make it extremely difficult to remove the sim card from the iPhone, also for no apparent reason.
These are things that really should have been included in the first place. There’s no reason for their exclusion besides Apple’s “we know best” mantra.
This is all extremely underwhelming. There are so many things that should have been there that I can’t even write about them in detail, I’ll just list them here:
- External memory capabilities – you have large apps, a music collection and a movies collection, all in high quality. When you can buy a flash drive with 1,000gb for $80, spending $1k on a 64gb device doesn’t seem so appealing.
- Better display – sure the graphics are faster, but I want them clearer.
- More magazines, books and movies – Apple has done very well in getting music into its iTunes store, not so for other media. Their insistence on charging 30% commission on everything means that publishers and film studios are signing deals with Google or Amazon and holding-out against Apple.
An OS overhaul:
- Better Safari – The little iPhone version is fine on a tiny screen, but I’m always frustrated that the iPad one lacks functionality like proper tabs, extensions, themes and everything else that you have on a regular computer.
- Flash!!!! – Steve Jobs needs to get off his high horse here. Whatever you want to say about battery life, processor speeds etc, without flash too much of the internet is not usable.
- Windows/widgets – why can I not have keynote and pages open at the same time? Why do I have to leave safari to check my mail or update twitter? It massively detracts from the potential uses of the iPad.
- Expose – the little dock thing is not the ideal way to switch through apps. Apple has a great way of looking at different screens and switching between them, why isn’t the iPad able to do this?
What this means is that Apple’s competition is starting to look much more appealing, they will have a lot of these features that Apple has left-out.