Resistance is Futile

A Borg Drone from Star Trek

Resistance is Futile – © Copyright 2012 by William Beem

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.

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  • Scott Baxter March 20, 2012   Reply →

    I recognize the value of streamed content for some things — about the same as for discs I rent. But for anything I treasure to one degree or another, I prefer physical media. A movie available for streaming today may disappear tomorrow for any number of reasons, legal, financial, or otherwise, and indeed, such things have happened already despite this delivery method still being in its infancy. Once I have a Blu-ray in my home, it is available to me as long as I have a working Blu-ray player. Further, I really enjoy having good bonus features for the movies and TV shows I really like, and these are seldom if ever included with streamed content, and at this point I doubt that’s likely to change.

    • William Beem March 20, 2012   Reply →

      Things are changing.  iTunes Extras include the DVD bonus features for some movies right now, but they still don’t include the commentary.  Licensing issues are also changing.  Cloud storage of your purchased content is getting better.  Look at music as an example.  Bob Seger has been on and off with iTunes.  I bought his new album a few years ago when he tried it on iTunes, and then he left.  However, that album is still available to me with iTunes Match.  Not because Apple has it in its store, but because I uploaded my purchased copies and it’s available for me.  The same thing happens with Google Play.  We’re starting to see it happen with movie on iTunes and other locker services.

      It’s not perfect yet, but things are moving in the direction where physical copies will be as useful as an 8-track tape.

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