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Home Media Networks are Broken

If there was any doubt that home networks for media sharing are a complete mess, take a look at this illustration.
Home Media Network Mess
It’s from an article on Russell Everyone agrees fixing this is one of the big opportunities for the decade. The more we think about this the more likely we believe the solution look like this:

  1. Central Depository of media on extranet, use big fat low-latency pipe to deliver.
  2. Local storage only for mobile applications or for slow link bandwidth caching.
  3. Subscription Based Model but what I call Atomic Content – everything gets unbundled to the least common denominator (image, song, episode, chapter) Steve Jobs needs to get on board.
  4. Multiple Physical Layer Technologies. (WiFi, Wireless USB, GigE, MoCA, HPNA)
  5. Vertical integration of hardware, software, media.
  6. Large Cap companies with the $$$ to market to the consumer.
  7. And the most controversial…. DRM everywhere.

Will it stay like this forever? No. But this is how it will start.


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  1. I disagree.

    1. Big fat pipes to extranets? I think it will be download rather than streaming over big pipes. When I click play will the movie play all the way through? Or will it hit a net traffic jam. Unless you’re imagining big fat pipes, big enough to always cope with the maximum load to everyone on every segment of the net via every route, then its not fat enough to guarantee continous playback (we don’t have 20 lane highways from everywhere to everywhere else to avoid traffic jams, why would the net be different?). Yet downloading works, and it works well and the delay before it starts is no different to waiting for a Friday night movie. Hence I think download will win over streaming.

    2. “Local storage limited.” Ditto point 1, Network PCs didn’t succeed, Terminals were replaced by PCs why would media be any different. If there’s no gain in having streaming, it follows there’s no reason to limit local storage. Even with streaming if you can’t guarantee ahead of time how much network delay there will be you can’t guarantee how much you need to buffer, so you may as well buffer it all! If you’re buffering it all, you may aswell do it ahead of time so as not to delay playback, and if you do it ahead of time you need lots of local storage.

    3. Subscription, look at subscription music services vs iTunes. Can you argue with iTunes Success over subscription models?? What advantage? Does your local DVD store offer a 10 DVD’s for $30/month subscription? If it doesn’t work there why would it work online?

    4/5 technical detail.

    6. Large companies big cap? I don’t think so, this is a blog, anyone reading this is not reading something else, so thats one less reader for mainstream media. Without a restricted market there’s more competition and a much bigger long-tail. See also the porn comment at the end.

    7. DRM Everywhere? The 90’s called, they want their software dongles back! If media is precious like a diamond then you hire guards and guard it well. If its cheap like coal, you pile it up and shovel it! If everyone can enter the market, the big players will fight to compete and they won’t tie one hand behind their back by paying DRM companies or limiting their target audience to ones that have DRM players. I can actually measure that effect.

    “Will it stay like this forever? No. But this is how it will start.”
    It already started with the porno industry. Before the porn industry was a few companies and glossy magazines and videos, now its online, it is the precursor for all other video and image media:
    They shovel porn like coal, there’s lots of competition. They give away content in so called TGP’s and MGPS (pages of free images, and free videos) as advertising.
    Some videos *do* have DRM, when I click them I get a message saying I have to download something and I simply go elsewhere.
    I have an adult search engine. It indexes promotional adult content and ranks the results by sales (conversions). More conversions means higher rank. I can see the rank of DRM pages drop over time, less than 100% of visitors have the necessary DRM, so they convert fewer visitors than non DRM sites, so fewer sales, so their rank drops. Perhaps their content isn’t pirated as much, but it doesn’t result in more sales, visitors simply go elsewhere.

    Take a look at Google video, this is what I think will win: Download videos, the first videos will be 2nd tier content, shows you’ve never heard of, foreign language dubbed content, weired Japanese game shows, first tier content already has distribution and nobody wants to watch “desparate housewives” yet again so thats irrelevent to driving the online market. It will be a long tail market just like porn, many players on low margins, the profit will be in the middleman, in this case Google Video.

    Posted by Nj | January 18, 2006, 7:55 AM