It’s happened so fast. Isn’t it just yesterday, that we were sitting at the TV, watching recorded Knight Riders from VHS tape? Suddenly DVD came (in 1996) and conquered. DVD enabled better quality picture, and also things like extras and multiple language subtitles. When things became essentially all digital, the possibilities were totally different from the analog era.
But there’s still scarcity; and I think it’s annoying. When I go to a movie rental, it has a certain number of copies about each movie title. I was looking for the Quantum Solace, the newest Bond film. But my rental had about 10 copies, all gone at the moment. So I drove in vain; well, truth be told I did pick another movie and it was great (The Valkyrie).
Still I’d like to be able to see a movie (that I know exists) whenever I choose. This is technically possible. It’s going to require some adaptation from many parties. Some don’t like the change it brings. Video on demand (VOD) is the term used to describe a system in which you can have your movies anytime you want. It differs from ordinary broadcast systems in that the demand part is really an active trigger for the movie to start streaming home. In broadcast, the station is constantly pushing its own content, without a regard to what the receivers want.
It may be that these limitations will never budge, but I’d be quite surprised then. Because the value of information is in its adundance. If movies get out and are seen more, the culture of moviegoing also excites and the revenue stream should increase. We are already diluted by media, but I think VOD is one move towards more intelligent viewing habits.
VOD will compete with peer-to-peer and other free content from the Internet. Although it can be claimed that amateur videos will never beat professional ones in “objective quality”, it remains to be seen how the market share settles. Youtube videos are wildly popular – it’s those 1-5 minute clips that make people stick to the computer for a significant period of time.
Apple could enter the videoplayer market; it has sleek design, a great reputation,
and I think the electronics manufacturing process is good quality. Apple’s
roots are part created by the gizmo guru Stephen Wozniak. I was surprised that the company did have an experiment in set-top boxes (STB), called Apple Interactive Television Box.
A key decision for the consumer will be: whether take an allround PC entertainment system, or dedicated gadgets for viewing the on-demand video. I think we will probably go to the turnkey solution, since PCs don’t have a reputation of being user-friendly. It’s simply so much easier to have a ready-made solution, in which someone has spent countless hours designing it to be easy to use.