Fogey Friday 30th March

Mar 29, 2012 No Comments by

Angry Birds fly into Windows and whether streaming music, movies and all that audio-visual fluff will really take over from physical media such as DVD, Blu-ray and CD.




No Windows Space

If you’ve been living in a Siberian yurt for the past few years, Angry Birds might have passed you by.  Actually, with the proliferation of satellite-based mobile comms even that’s no excuse for ignorance of the squawking birds and grunting green piggies. TF could tell you more about this peerless work displacement game that has been designed specifically for swipe-type touchscreen smartphones and tablets (ie all of them) but that too would be work displacement of another sort and we’d have to cough up to having spent an unhealthy slew of hours trying to get three stars in all levels – a quest that is on-going.  It’s not just us, 700 million desperados have downloaded the game/app and Rovio reckons that by the end of the year, by which time four more versions will have been launched, that number will have increased to 2 billion.

But the paragraph above contains a small fib.  The latest incarnation of Angry Birds – ‘Space’, is not compatible with smartphones that use the Microsoft Windows operating system such as the Nokia Lumia.  In fact, Nokia are pretty much the only company that makes smartphones that run Windows. This could be ironic or a coincidence but Nokia is a Finnish company, as is Rovio who make Angry Birds.  There couldn’t be an internal national spat going on here, could there?  Oink oink.


Streaming versus DVD & Blu-ray

Were you to start a new business research company you might have second thoughts before going with International Handling Services.  Snappy it ain’t. There’s probably as much in this name, though, as there is in WPP, initials of the advertising megalith.  WPP stands for Wire and Plastic Products, which made supermarket baskets, among other things, before it went down the swanee and Martin Sorrell bought the name of the shelf, for (I think) £1.  But we digress.  IHS has bought Screen Digest, the venerable publication that, along with Variety, constitutes the movie world’s bible.  They have done some research into the TV-watching habits of viewers in the US, some of which may one day be relevant to us in the UK.  Here are some of the findings:

  • By the end of 2012, watching movies online will exceed DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Legal online viewings of films will increase to 3.4 billion from 1.4 billion in 2011.
  • Physical viewings of DVDs and Blu-ray discs will decline to 2.4 billion from 2.6 billion.
  • Unlimited-streaming subscription plans, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, accounted for 94 per cent of paid online movie consumption in the US last year.

The IHS report also found that consumers paid an average 51 cents for every movie consumed online, compared with $4.72* for DVD/Blu-ray discs but that doesn’t account for the fact that a movie watched online counts as one view for 51 cents whereas a physical disc can be watched infinite times by infinite people for $4.72.  So which is the better deal?

The assumption seems to be that this trend for accessing entertainment – whether movies, TV, games or music, via streaming over the Internet will continue unabated.  Not so sure about that.  Creating and maintaining an infrastructure that allows real-time streaming of HUGE amounts of data is difficult and expensive.  Comcast,  the US’s biggest Internet Service Provider, (Comcast owns a ton of other stuff; look here) is doing away with ‘all you can eat’ unlimited download broadband price plans.  So even if Netflix and Amazon Prime let customers stream unlimited movies for their monthly subscription, Comcast won’t. The download allowance will be high but it will still be limited.  It’s all to do with bandwidth – the super-highway along which all information travels.  There is more, cheaper bandwidth available now than ever before and digital data continues to be squeezed into ever smaller files (so they can be transmitted more efficiently) but the capacity for such expansion and compression is not infinite.  Consequently bandwidth as a commodity will go from being so-cheap-it’s-virtually-free to cheap-but-not-as-cheap-as-it-used-to-be.  And who’s to say when this trend will end?

So don’t ditch the DVDs just yet.

*If this is the average price for a DVD/Blu-ray disc in the US how cheap are the cheapest when set against the price of first-run releases?  Free?  And if you’re aware of what either format of new disc costs in the UK, this figure – it’s around £2.50 at current exchange rates, might make you slightly cross.  Why do we always get stiffed on pricing by comparison with the US?