Download Music At A Pay Phone?

from the uh,-no-thanks dept

BT is apparently getting desperate. They’re now thinking about setting up a system to let people download music at phone booths, in an attempt to add more value to the increasingly pointless boxes. However, as The Register notes, considering how much the iPod has been a target of street muggings, this doesn’t sound like the smartest idea. Of course, an even bigger question is why? How many people are going to be so desperate to download a new song right now that they have to rush over to the nearest phone booth, stand there, and download a new song? It seems like a fairly small market. Even worse, it’s likely to be obsolete fairly quickly. As faster wireless solutions become more common, it’s only a matter of time before portable music devices have their own wireless connection to download songs over the air. If BT really wants to get value out of their phone booth real estate, they should use them as a place to put wireless radios for the sake of expanding wireless internet coverage.

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iani (profile) says:

Net-Trees & Internet Assisted Broadcast

Crazy ideas are sometimes good ideas at the wrong time.

Whilst working on my MA thesis, I arrived at two particularly crazy ideas re-using “Public Call Boxes” as potential Media outlets. I labelled these re-used Public Call Boxes “Entertainment pods” initially and later renamed them “Net-Trees”. I described them as a purchase point for media content:- Such as customer pick-up point from Blockbusters; legitimate music download, Video and Computer game downloads. Similar in delivery to a confectionary vending machine. I loved the idea of daily downloads onto my e-book on my way to work with my favourite newspapers, daily musing from freelance journalist’s, bloggers, Tech-news, or something as simple as finding a place to eat in a new part of town etc. Idea No.2 I called “Internet Assisted Broadcast” the name still applies.

So the main contributing motivator for proposing Net-Tree development and Internet Assisted Broadcast arrived when I was researching comparable industries. Let me explain! The video game industry from 1977 to 1985 experienced boom and bust. Initial popularity for arcade style gaming at home had fuelled a plethora of different game console systems, each with their own library of games. Independent game development blossomed and games emerged from very small teams of content creators relatively cheaply. However by 1983 consumers soon became overwhelmed with platform choices and consumer patronage went into reverse. As a result Atari were forced to end production of game content, and many of its competitors faced bankruptcy, causing the entire industry to enter contraction.

From 1972 through to 1983 a total of 345 different makes of video game systems had been developed and released for sale each with their own unique library of games. However the number of new systems between 1984 and 2001 totalled only 51 indicating that the rate of technological variation and commercial viability of new games consoles slowed between 1984 to 2001 = 17years. Compared to greater technological possibilities and variation and a more buoyant commercial climate that existed between 1972 to 1983 = 11years.

Despite Atari’s console being the dominant technological design the computer games industry still experienced huge fragmentation and technological divergence. To elaborate further on this concept “Dominant Design Theory” states that technology change in an industry occurs through evolutionary variations, selection and retention of designs. For a design to survive it is essential that it harnesses a community of organisations that have a stake in the adopted design, providing it with a source of sponsorship. The emergence of a dominant design results from key stakeholders converging upon and supporting a single design… The impact of new technological designs on an industry is largely dependent on the proliferation of that design. Each technological variation that exists within a given industry represents potentially a new technological trajectory..stay with me, I promise you this is relevant to why I think Public Call Boxes will have their day. Before I move on I just want to mention another relevant theory called Density Dependence which states that, “adoption of a particular technology increases as more alternative sources of this technology arise in the market which tends to increase sponsor and potential customer confidence”. I’m glad that bit’s cleared up!…

The other industry I looked at the time was the film industry particularly the production of 3D animated films. A major technological factor to creating 3D animations is the ability for a production company to render each frame of animation. Let me explain briefly explain what rendering is “rendering is the process of computing, pixel by pixel, one or more 2D images from 3D scene data, from the viewpoint of a simulated camera”. Put simply before Computer Generated Imagery (CGi), traditional animation involved hiring literally hundreds of rendering artist. Their job was to ink detailed line drawings which had been previously created by animators.

The problem with rendering is the huge ongoing costs commitment in purchasing the processors in the first place, updating the software licenses annually and providing the storage for every frame of animation. Studio’s still believe that competitive advantage lay in investing very large sums of money in sustaining and forever increasing their pool of render-farms. Since all 3D animations need to be rendered and all studio’s need as many processors as they can find it would have made much more sense for creation of a render farm co-operative for instance. The truth is there is only a very small competitive advantage in having a render-farm resource which is very quickly negated when the studio runs out of physical space to store racks. My point is 3D animation studio’s chose to compete over the wrong thing. Render-farms suck money in they don’t generate profits out. Not really, not when you compare this to allowing a 3rd party shoulder the cost burden of equipping and sustaining a commercial render-farm. (if you want to read how this story develops please visit ).

At this point I’d like to mention a phrase known as “The last Six Feet”. It’s like the Holy-Grail for broadcasters, and content creators. The term refers to the complexity of getting content into the living room without being a burden to the consumer. But current online outlets can be just as burdensome due to additional software and codec downloads, not to mention DRM that locks content to a certain device. I don’t know about you but as a consumer of content I want to be able to receive hand picked content from Apple TV – Tiscali – BSkyB – BT – Virgin – LOVEFILM – Sony – CinemaNow – Warner – 20th Century Fox – Buena Vista – Blockbusters – Film-On – – Raindance TV – Netflix etc…This list is representative of a potentially ever growing community of content creators and distribution outlets. The market for online content is developing rapidly and a commission study showed that European retail revenue from content online will more than quadruple from £1.3bn in 2005 to £6.5bn by 2010. Conditions disastrous for consumer confidence could quickly emerge similar to events that contributed to fragmentation and collapse of the computer game industry described earlier in this article. A potential standards battle between so many competing companies looms on the horizon, discussed recently on Tech Dirt on Friday April 11th 2008 under the heading “And Here’s a Set Top Box Built On Open Standards – So Now We Get Another Standards Battle”.

So what are Net-Trees?
• Net-Trees are a framework for Internet Assisted Broadcast. Internet Assisted Broadcast means internet video, film, computer games, music, radio, books and advertising content can be piped directly into homes via a standard internet home network.

• Net-Trees would replace all 155,000 Public Call Boxes essentially creating a UK Intranet and free Wi-Fi.

• The Net-Tree Framework creates a standardising platform for content creators and distributors providing built in codecs

• The Net-Framework provides 2nd Source support for alternative sources of technological variation.

• Net-Tree locations define user demographics. Net-Trees situated in Mayfair service a different demographic than residents in Stanmore, making advertising content specific and targeted almost street by street.

• Potentially the Net-Tree Framework could become a trusted and safe platform for content delivery similar to how the British Broadcasting Company has been for terrestrial television.

• The Net-Tree framework could be replicated in most post-industrial communities.

• Net-Trees provide access to local government & business community content including localised advertising revenue

• Net-Tree adoption supports user downloads of electronic newspapers; blogs; daily journals; electronic magazines; video; film; computer games; music; radio; books; and advertising content.

• Net-Tree framework may provide digital opportunities as the UK government presses ahead with plans for the analogue switch-off, even the most technophobic consumers will be forced to upgrade their televisions, purchase an Set-Top-Box or pay for a cable or satellite subscription. This represents a unique opportunity for interactive service providers to reach new market segments that may otherwise not have had access to their services.

44% or 25.1 million UK adults for one reason or another are not connected to the internet. The majority of this group is made up of +65 year olds but the fact that one third of this group is made up of 15 – 34 year olds suggests that the potential for internet adoption exists if access to an internet device were made available.

23% or 11.2 million UK adults could be defined by their lack of trust in the Internet, with two thirds agreeing that they do not trust financial transactions over the Internet. The same proportion feel that spending too much time on the Internet is anti-social. For these consumers, the Internet does not play an important role in their lives and almost a third claim not to have time to browse the Internet. Although this group is not very likely to use the Internet for leisure purposes at present, they may be persuaded through emphasis on time saving and ease of use, as well as reassurance over online transactions.

My family have a subscription with the basic Sky digital package but I don’t think we watch more than 4% of our entire subscription package. I really don’t want to sign up to another digital package until I can hand pick the content I want. The challenge facing internet service providers is recognising where best to develop a competitive edge. Subscription fee revenue looks great to the company stakeholders but it’s “killer apps” and great content that sell hardware.

Going forward, there are two potential approaches to Internet-based television. In such a new sector, definitions and terminology are fluid, but current convention is to split services into Internet Protocol television (IPTV) and Internet television. The ‘walled garden’ IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) network, where content is tightly controlled, is the format envisaged by the likes of BT Vision. Here, IPTV is essentially cable delivered through a broadband connection – BT Vision and HomeChoice may offer additional features, but in reality the service is little different to that offered by, say, Virgin, with the key difference being the wires through which the content is piped. Arguably more revolutionary is Internet television, current examples of which include Google Video, YouTube and the BBC’s online services. Here, media are accessed directly through the Internet, with users free to pick and choose from which programmes or files they view.

The two approaches reflect the early days of the Internet, where AOL built huge market share on the basis of the walled-garden approach. Content was provided by AOL, with limited access to the wider Internet community. Meanwhile, other providers gave subscribers free access to the Web, with a less focused and less controlled, but far more varied, user experience.

More than any other In-Home-Interactive-Media platform, the future path of Internet-based video and TV content delivery is unclear: Some argue that AOL’s experience is a useful guide to future developments – ie that in the early days of the service, users will look for the security and focus offered by a “walled-garden” approach, but that as the channel develops, this will ultimately prove to be too restrictive and IPTV will go the way of AOL’s semi-closed Internet package. Others would suggest that watching television is a very different pastime to surfing the Internet. Despite an increase in the level of interactivity, TV viewing is still essentially passive. Far easier after a long day at work to flop onto the sofa and be presented with a ready-made package of channels than to have to contend with the near-infinite variety of websites. Net-Trees hint at a middle-way, offering the passive experience of TV viewing enabling user customisable internet content programming.

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