Something’s gotta give in the digital home

“Can I email it to ya when I figure it out?” That was Jack Nicholson’s character in Something’s Gotta Give.

And, something has to give with content sources today. The beauty of today’s content sources is that they are always on, always available, always sending stuff to you.

According to a study by Yahoo! that’s also the ugly underbelly of today’s rapidly changing technology. Their findings, based on responses from people around the globe, are that we are either mastering the demands of multitasking or we have changed the time/space continuum.

They found adult Internet users:

Listen to music 1.3 hours

Email 1.2 hours

Use IM 1 hour

Use the old fashioned phone 1 hour

Use cellphone 0.6 hour

Text message 0.6 hour

Read online stuff 0.6 hour

Use MP3 player 0.5 hour

Play online games 0.5 hour

Go to movies 0.4 hour

Play console games 0.3 hour

Use PDA 0.2 hour

In between they do a little work, eat, sleep and…

These are adults who aren’t even close to being multitasking masters. Want to see someone who has technology down cold, watch a teen or tween. They sit in their room or on the sofa. Do their homework, IM classmates, listen to music, watch the small MySpace video window, update their online diary and talk on their cell phone.

Kids can really stretch their 24-hour day! It’s our own fault. We believed the industry (and government) when they said how good it was going to be. How easy it was going to be. How fun it was going to be.

The government improved the quality of our TV image by mandating digital tuners (we had to buy the tuner separate from the LCD screen). We joined the rush to broadband connection with a cable modem and DSL (hey if one is good…). We looked at fiber or PON (Passive Optical Network) but are still a little hesitant about giving any provider all of our access – voice, data, video – so …who cares? The industry promised us a new, breathtaking video coding standard – like WMV9, MPEG 2, H.264, MPEG 4, and more. They forgot to tell us that all of the new connectivity was going to put a strain on our storage budget. Three PCs, several TV sets, an audio system, MP3 players, other devices in the house seem to breed and grow content.

We knew the solution was to install the “simple plug and play” home network like everyone else.

We explained nirvana to our wife.

She was amazed.

We simply said, “Women your age love that about me.”

Funny it worked so well for Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie.

We tried to explain to her how we could go from simply watching (or missing) a show when “they” sent it over to have video on demand, to our own “long tail” video community and to create, mix/remix and share our content.

Gullible weren’t we?

There are too many options out there. Despite beautiful presentations at conferences…they don’t play nice together!

Such as:

Ethernet, HomePlug, HomePNA, MoCA, USB 2.0, 1394, WiFi, UWB, Bluetooth, ZigBee networks that work if you only use one but…

Multimedia solutions including DTV, STB, DVR, VoIP, DSC, PMP, AVR and others that were designed as solutions unto themselves

Systems that include PCs, Macs, laptops, NAS, SAN, DAM. The content standards – wired/wireless, home automation, DLNA, HANA, audio/video, DRM.

All of the “interested” parties that are working to enrich our lives either have to send an engineer along with their solution or have to realize that schmucks are people too. Despite the fact that our kids seem to be perpetually mobile with their phones, MP3 players, PSPs, WiFi laptops; they occasionally want to cocoon at home. Delivering what the industry calls our connected home entertainment ecosystem is a helluva lot of work, frustration…money! The UN simply has to stop worrying about all of the trivial issues and pass a resolution that would unify solution for the connected home!

You know:

Entertainment on demand

HighDef content

Seamless interconnection of devices around the home

Wired/wireless content distribution

Seamless home/travel device connectivity

Content that comes to the house – audio, video, data – that doesn’t care about the pipe or the receiver

Ability to move that content from one device to another, one room to another without jumping through horrendous hoops or being flatly denied.

We even bought into the benefits of using Amazon to download a movie rather than waiting for the NetFlix delivery.

We could have scripted, shot and produced our own HighDef movie in the time it took to download the video. It looked ok (we squinted) on our daughter’s MP3 player. But it sucked on our big screen.

We’ll stick to discs until the super super network is installed. We’ll make our own discs of our content to send to people so they can enjoy them.

Move the content we purchased/downloaded around?

Yeah like Tellywood is going to let that happen. Despite the fact that most of your content is yours or from friends/family or from one of the online “hey…look at my stuff” free sites, the industry has spent an enormous amount of time and money to protect Tellywood. We fully agree that creative efforts – audio, video, voice, data – should be protected from flat out copying and stealing for personal gain.

We can buy (actually license) our software. Or pay to watch “long tail” shows we’re interested in on IPTV. Of course getting it seamlessly from the PC to the TV is a trick and a half ! Then buy or rent our DVD movies (there isn’t that much we want to keep and watch a second time).

The kids buy their “nearly CD quality” music downloads.

But…Tellywood’s content is “different” from and more valuable than other content that is developed like creative and work processing software.

It is OK to make a backup copy of this mundane stuff. Tellywood probably does it with the Adobe, Sonic and Avid software they use to create their expensive creative endeavors.

But the Tellywood mindset is to ensure that they manage and control every aspect of the conditional access (CA) and digital rights management (DRM) lifecycle.

And, the process of CA and DRM produces money. According to iSupply, it will be a $5 billion industry in a couple of years.

Is there a fast, easy solution?

Can I email it to ya when I figure it out?

It won’t arrive until the consumer chooses one or more options: always rent to rent, become comfortable with managed copy pay as you go, buys multiple copies for multiple device targets, relents and becomes the criminal that Tellywood already assumes he/she is and rips a backup copy of the content.

Problem is the industry – PC and CE – are doing an outstanding job of developing AACS (Advanced Access Control System) solutions and DRM.

We know some teens and tweens who have a few spare minutes in their 42-hour day to solve the problems for us.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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