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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Tiered broadband – an upcoming war between content providers, bandwidth providers, and reshaping consumer habits

Posted by evolvingwheel on June 15, 2008

Briefly, what is tiered broadband? Well, it’s about tiering the pricing of broadband access according to one’s usage habits. So simple. Now, the broadband ISPs or telco providers will meter your Internet usage the same way the utilities company meter your water and electricity. So, in a nutshell, the cable and DSL providers found out that a small percentage – nearly 5% (that what they publish), hog the bandwidth with heavy downloads of movies and shows, games, and other P2P services. So, there should be tiered pricing for byte usage so that it could deter the heavy users and provide a level playing field for the average consumers! Does it sound to you like an ominous bell ringing somewhere very close to your dataport to your computer?

First, let me put forth an analogous argument. We all drive cars and we all fill our tanks with gasoline. Do the gasoline companies like our beloved Chevrons and Texacos restrict customers with gas-guzzling SUVs to tiered gas access at the pump? How come we all walk to the station and can fill our pump to the limits without any kind of caps? And besides, there is no balance check on the pollution that our big vehicles spew out into the environment either. So how come the gasoline industry run a model that works on a equal pricing point for everyone regardless their usage habits? When infrastructure (here gas) dries up, everyone ends up footing the bill.

Let’s just run a small math on what our average daily Internet usage looks like. Assumptions – growing number of users now watch video and TV shows on the Internet through channels like HULU and VEOH. Same users sign up often for QUAD-play services offered by the same cable companies/telcos that include VOIP and other @HOME calling plans (unlimited usage).

  1. Average NBC/ABC 1 hour shows on the Internet – 500MB
  2. Average Netflix movie downloads regular/HD – 500MB/3-5GB
  3. Average application downloads for productivity – 100 MB
  4. HULU/VEOH shows over the Interent – 500MB for 1 hour
  5. Apple iTune downloads can range around – 100MB – 1GB (for video downloads)

So, if you start metering users for practices that are soon going to demolish the 80-20 rule of 20% heavy users accessing 80% of bandwidth and rapidly percolates through a more common habit across the metropolitan lifestyle, the concept of tiered bandwidth access will just land us back to the early days of AOL online where Internet usage through dial up was billed hourly. We have to realize on thing. Today, broadband is almost a commodity because there are lots of players who have found ways to use the Internet to generate revenue. Now, that all depended on a huge volume of consumers using it in the first place. And what triggered that? When AOL in 1996 first launched the unlimited access plans. That was the tipping point. As users got a taste of the free infrastructure, usage boomed and reached an astronomical magnitude.

I personally do not believe that the operators are trying to stop the heavy users because they want to make a level playing field. Just listen to this – Mr. Leddy of Time Warner said that the media companies’ fears were overblown. If the company were to try to stop Web video, “we would not succeed,” he said. “We know how much capacity they’re going to need in the future, and we know what it’s going to cost. And today’s business model doesn’t pay for it very well.” [read here]….. so you can see that it’s all about the monetization model! 

The other party of interest are the content providers like big labels and other independent content production houses across the world. These content producers are eyeing heavy content usage as their new source of revenue when TV and radio usage are running flat with stagnant ARPU. How would they consider tiered bandwidth as a sweet proposition? Yes, you are absolutely right. They hate it from their guts. Now the interesting part is, these content producers are trying to find a revenue generation model for themselves as well. And they are trying to partner with marketing brands to pay for their production. Intreresting development will take place if they have to incentivize their offering by paying for the bandwidth needed to download their content. Hmmm.. sounds very enticing!! Obviously, the Time Warners realized that as users are more and more accessing heavy content, they can’t make those millions of dollars from total monopoly on their laid cable lines as bandwidth access tops their ARPU generation model. They want to eat a piece of the pie too. More with time, these network providers are figuring that it might be their only way to not being mutated to just a pipe provider with a flat fee model. How will they survive?

So, for now, the war is impending. The key to an amicable solution with the consumers enjoying a great Internet experience like before will be a monetization model (or several) that generates cash through some relationship leverage and revenue share. Let’s keep on working on that -;)

You may also check Marc Cuban’s blog – interesting discussion.

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Face Recognition in everyday use digital cameras – and more

Posted by evolvingwheel on July 14, 2007

During the early part of 2007, several affordable digital cameras from major manufacturers came out with face detection capability. Canon’s Face Detection Technology and Fuji’s Image Intelligence technology are the two most visible technologies in that paradigm. The basic technology behind the concept is an advanced algorithm that parses the scene on the LCD to detect a human face based on features like eyes, separation between eyes, nose, lips, etc. The algorithm operates on vector based calculations across the edges. The process detects rectangular areas on the scene and can measure as much as 10 such faces in area. These cameras have special chips that continuously scan attributes across the scene and detect and adjust according to the movements of such faces. I could find one such good algorithm on the web too.

I believe that this technology is just the beginning of a more powerful utility in the coming years. Face detection will eventually give way to face identification. Newer and efficient algorithms will be able to highlight and memorize patterns on the scene and tag memos to those faces. Example – I can take a picture and tag one of the faces as my daughter or wife. With time, as more pictures of those individuals get added and the same tags get attached, an artificial intelligent algorithm will be able to evolve and detect a spectrum of pattern of the same human being. This information will help to direct the camera’s lens intelligently to a person chosen by the user.

Google knows about this and thus trying to create several applications that will be able to search through pictures across the web with attributes attached to them. It will be a whole new world of facial identification on the fly. The next phase will be detecting mobile human characters in video cameras and processing that information for intelligent decision making. A burglar trying to cross the fence – an activity that will be identified by a camera as an inappropriate action!

A new world of picture and video search ahead 🙂

Picture: Courtesy Fuji Film

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Sweating for Valentine’s Day? Good for you!

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 14, 2007

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have figured out the secret – the chemical in male sweat that turns their counterparts ON! Androstadienone, a derivative of testoterone and a musky smelling compund does the magic. [Read the article]

Now lets say we have artificially created different flavors of the compound. First a company does a standard genetic classification of different types of males – athletes, artists, alcoholics, smokers and analyzes their sweat samples under different physical circumstances. The permutations will be pretty high. Then they control the amount of Androstadienone and mix with other synthetic elements to enhance and diversify the exposure of the compound.

Next the manufacturer can embed the sniff-sample to the clothing isles, stationary isles, fashion stores… this will indeed revolutionize the shopping experience of women in malls, boutiques, and women specialty stores. Ideas are abound. They could even attach thin sample films in greeting cards (targeted for HERs) and time the exposure with mechanics of opening the card!

Well.. that might be too much 😉

Posted in Environment, Media | Leave a Comment »

A New Era of Delivering Digital Media? Part – I

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 7, 2007

Is independent video making going to create a whole new genre of knowledge contributors? I guess YouTube and Google saw it coming. However, the trajectory has several orientations and directions. As claimed by the article, there are millions of video makers using cell phone camcorders to record stories and then posting it in blogs and other channels (MySpace). The discussion revolves around new video editing software. However, I feel this new method of posting and sharing digital video will not only open the doors for a slew of applications but will also re-define methods of channeling information. [Read the Article]

But where will this lead to? Who are going to benefit from this? How will the blogosphere change perceptions and develop a brand new content delivery model? Will it be independent media? Its already out there I guess. Several first-hand news items nowadays are first revealed in the blog world. Amateur online videos show sensational elements in war torn regions where conventional media would dare to venture out. May be that is the new definition of information sharing. Let me toss around few ideas of how this trajectory could evolve:

  1. Open Source Marketing: Companies could leverage the local blogs and videos (country, society, and ethnicity dependent) to generate unique but high-reach ideas for their product or service marketing campaign.
  2. Live Independent News Feed: Online and paper media can both gather content from independent sources across the world. Blog feeder cells can deliver live content from device (camcorder/phone) to platform (web) in no time.
  3. Global R&D Sharing Model: Researchers from universities and educational institutions can share knowledge across a network that could be leveraged for profit as well as non-profit goals.

Video content could rapidly alter the dynamics of any global event. Over the coming years, numerous applications will develop that will be able to identify news and video by surfing intelligently through the blogosphere. Currently, the search methods are limited to category tags. May be Google is already working on it. A method that reads content and matches with a specific search in a more cognitive way. I strongly believe that there is a whole new world evolving around digital content, the speed of delivery, and the medium of channeling that information.

P.S. A blog entry from DV Guru discussing about 10 different Online Video Sharing sites. Ten video sharing services compared.

Posted in Communication, Innovation, Media | 1 Comment »