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Head in the Cloud: The New Content Platform
Am I stating the blatantly obvious here? Maybe, but one recent assertion I have made is that the devices (consoles, PCs, etc.) that used to historically be considered a platform are far less so today. The real platform has become the cloud and cloud-associated services. As a result, I’m going to be using the term “cross-device” in place of “cross-platform” for the purposes of this discussion.
Why do I feel it’s important to make this assertion and distinction? With the advent of so many devices and screens we’ve seen come to market over the past decade, the real trick has been how the end users access their content. Over recent years, we’ve seen a ton of big names snatch up various content providers or secure content deals.
Critical and key content for consumers is largely games, movies, TV, music, e-books and so on. In the movie industry, we’re seeing broadly endorsed options such as the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem’s UltraViolet, which allows you to view your movies across your devices’ screens. In the games industry, we have leaders such as Valve’s Steam moving toward more cross-device functionality with which, in some instances, you buy the game once and their service allows it to play on either your PC or your Mac. The coolest thing is that we’re seeing more and more of these types of services than ever before.
Where does it take us? Is this the tip of the iceberg for more cross-device functionality? I sure hope so. This does tie in well with the “buy the content once, play it anywhere” type of scheme. Some other strategy nomenclature that’s been used to describe this are terms such as “three screens,” “compute continuum” and “any screen.”
The impacts will be interesting to watch. I’d contend that proprietary business models or those that are more restrictive could be a recipe for disaster. As an end user, I don’t want to buy additional special devices to watch proprietary content on. (Imagine if you had to purchase three specialized TVs to watch three programs from different providers.) The devices most likely to win are those that allow me to connect to a cloud services platform that can deliver my content to me anywhere, anytime -- across the array of devices and screens that I own.
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