Thursday, December 28, 2006

broadband trend predictions

Broadband Directions, a research and consulting company, gave its 7 broadband trend predictions for 2007. Most of the predictions can be summarized as a remake of the broadcast business models to Webcasting except the iTV box and Google. Here are my responses to these predictions:

1. "Apple's iTV box will likely succeed." My response: The concept of iTV is great especially bringing broadband video online to TV set. But Apple's notorious non-open product strategy make it unlikely to be adopted quickly. But its launch may push either IPTV to move faster or other competitiors to come up with devices that tap onto the potential rich audio and video inventory on the Web.

2. "All eyes on Google." My response: Why Google is on the spotlight is because of its superiority in the search technology, which is essential in the navigation of the cyberspace. If no one dare to compete on search, yes Google will be the ruler of the Web and online media content.

3. "Ad-supported video dominates (at least for now)." My response: Advertising is important for high traffic sites. For niche sites, ad-support is not the solution or cannot be counted as primary source of income.

4. "Syndication grows in importance." My response: It's a very natural rational use of resources. TV's syndication is built on a good library of video and a large demand for quality programming. The Web also needs the library and accumulation of content will faciltiate syndication.

5." Community-building around video goes mainstream." My response: While many celebrate the success of YouTube, another question is how many "YouTube" can the market accept. There's a firstmover advantage here. YouTube improved over many primitive user-generated video sites such as StupidVideos. Being the first successful one is great, being the second or other copycats can only do that much. Ideas are the still the crucial element to success in user-generated video, as I emphasized in the Webcasting book in chapter 3.

6. "Brand marketers score with broadband video." My response: Advertisers will try everything that works. Broadband video is a novel idea still so one can exploit its novelty. Once its novelty appeal is over, how to sustain a broadband video campaign may be very interesting to see. Entertainment value and consumption pariticpation are the key to their success.

7. "Legitimate P2P gains traction." My response: Peer-to-peer does not constitute ownership but sharing of owned content. Who should be compensated for the efforts for providing the infrastructure? If the purpose of sharing is for sampling or promotion, then the compensation should come in the ultimate purchase of the legal copy. The public good characteristics of media products, especially online content, conduce sharing. Unless restrictions to access are enforced, then P2P can only contain non-valuable content that don't mind to be shared without any property rights. I am worrying about the quality of P2P content and its role in the media value chain.

I am a bit disappointed at no mention of non-profit organizations' role in the shaping of broadband video trends.

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