The Hive Mind at Work
Shhh! He’s sleeping.
I wanted to share this photo to prove a point. The Borg – for those of you who aren’t up to speed with Star Trek – are an inter-connected species that process and share information by parallel computing. Essentially, each Borg processes information in support of the whole collective. Some people have used this idiom in reference to the Internet. We all share individual pieces and it connects to the larger knowledge base of humanity.
Of course, that’s not what’s important here. If you look behind the drone, you can clearly see that he connects to the hive mind using a series of tubes! Senator Ted Stevens was right. The Internet really is a series of tubes.
The Apple Collective
We’re seeing our science fiction come to life. When the first iPad came out, people made obvious comparisons to the Star Trek PADD. However, I think that Apple’s iCloud is going to have more impact in getting us to that science fiction future. The thing that made the PADD so great wasn’t its display, but its instant access to almost any kind of information – the same information or controls that displayed anywhere else.
So now I have a plethora of devices connected to the Internet at broadband speeds (LTE rocks!). I can get all the information I want from most places I go. The cool thing is that I don’t have to take it with me. I can pull it down as I need it.
Let’s put that in context of entertainment. How many movies have you bought on DVD, iTunes or Blu-Ray? Now, think about how many times you’ve watched those movies. There are a few that I know I’ll watch over and over again. In most cases, I’m content to watch a movie once and then I’m done with it.
I can rent a 1080p version of the movie for $4.99 from iTunes (or less for some titles), buy it for $19.99 in HD, or buy a Blu-Ray for about $25. Netflix is streaming content for about $8 per month. Amazon Prime memberships have streaming entertainment for $79/year. Physical media is dying because we have ubiquitous broadband to stream entertainment to us. It’s going to be very disruptive to the entertainment industry, not to mention folks in stores like Best Buy who sell those little boxes of discs.
It’s also going to disrupt other distribution channels, like those overly-expensive movies on demand in hotels. Why pay them when you can slip an AppleTV with an HDMI cable in your bag for your next trip on the road, and then access you entertainment from iCloud or Netflix? Most of the hotels I’ve visited for the last few years had WiFi and TVs with HDMI ports. Even if you don’t have an Apple TV, you can hook up your computer or iPad to do the same thing.
Of course, there will be resistance. Anyone who is riding the cash cow now will want to block disruptive systems that change the flow of distribution. It won’t matter, though. People love convenience and value. Who will want to drive to a Best Buy to pay $25 for a movie they’ll watch once or twice when they could fire up their home entertainment system and rent it for $4 or $5 per view? It costs less to rent and it’s convenient. People will demand change and it will be the new market. Resistance is futile.