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Content Undercover: The Battle for Your Living Room

Star Wars notwithstanding, content is the new Force By Miles Weston

Revisiting Star Wars
-       A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?
-       The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded
-       Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; youre my only hope
-       The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers

Its hard to believe that it has been nearly thirty years since George Lucas sprung Star Wars on us.  Today we are entering a content delivery war and it isnt in a galaxy far, far away. Tellywood is feeling a disturbance in the Force as if millions of voices suddenly cried out! Their money model is broken and they struggle to regain control of their ship.  Its becoming apparent that it will be impossible. 

The Sundance Festival proves great video doesnt have to cost tens of millions to produce.   With as little as $10,000 and a lot of sweat labor, material can be produced people actually want to see. Check out

Cinematographers and viewers have options.  Creators dont have to grovel at Tellywoods doors.  They can produce and sell their own DVDs.  They can bring their creative work directly to your PC.

The shift in the Force started with music.  It helped Steve Jobs increase his percentage of the computer market a whopping 2% (from 2% to 4%). 

Jobs introduced a cool little Mac Mini that looks like an entertainment appliance instead of a computer.  He switched engines for his next generation of attack vessels.

He made Intels Paul Otellini happy.  He irritated a few of Intels customers (which made AMDs Ruiz happy) and ticked off Bill Gates.  Bill already had his sights set on the home entertainment environment. But competition creates chaos and out of chaos comes a better order (we hope). 

Tellywood wants to take a scene from Star Wars and shut down the main reactor by keeping people from capturing, storing and sharing content at home for viewing later.  Like the dark side, they want to control it all with AACS, broadcast flags and analog hole plugs.  A few renegade Jedi are going to pump out their content multiple ways  DVDs, TV, web download  to maximize eyeball impact. 

If it works the troops will mobilize.   

While the RIAA isnt real happy with Jobss 99 cent-per-song formula, its hard to ignore the bright spot in music sales.  They are hoping that monthly rentals gain traction because they like the idea of the monthly revenue stream formula.   But that damn little iPod is a big mother ship in disguise.  It just keeps spitting out new X-wings/pilots.

As if that wasnt bad enough, Jobs introduced the video iPod and $1.99 TV show downloads.  Suddenly there was a new challenge to the $20 ticket, $10 popcorn and million-dollar TV syndication.  It is hard to figure out why folks want to watch shows on the small Bono screen but hey $$$$ is $$$$.

Mobile units are cool and 42 million iPods is nothing to sneeze at, but remember there are over 300 million folks in the US, 6.5 billion WW, about 200 million US households and billions of households WW.  At least one TV set is in every American household and weve just begun selling the 2nd billion PCs.   Jobs, Gates, Otellini, Ruiz and all the PC folks know the home is where they must win as we focus on managing all of our entertainment.

Forget about the DVD Format of the future skirmish.  Were looking at the collision course of death stars.

Jobs has the Mac Mini.  Otellini has the ViiV.  Gates has Vista.  Ruiz and Dell say well have what they are having.

Different platforms.  Different approaches.  Different views of the future.

Tellywood and the RIAA arent happy with any of them.  They are marshalling their Congressional storm troopers and saying, not with our content you wont! 

Sure, some portion of the home entertainment cargo bay will hold ?their video content.  But the really big and important cargo is personal and family content  photos and videos (figure 1, 2).  The hard drives are also quickly being filled by download videos from the growing number of web sites.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

It is no wonder the Mac Minis 40 and 80GB HDs fill up so quickly.  Thats why Apples companion HD is the second item folks purchase and the reason products like ADS Techs D-I-Y Mini HD kit sells so well (figure 3). 

Fig. 3

Granted, Gatess view of the home media center started first.  Each reinvention looks better.  Not great, but better. 

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Related Keywords:Content wars, Miles Weston, Gates, Jobs, Mac Mini, Windows Vista, content delivery

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