I went to the AlwaysOn conference in Hollywood a few weeks back. This is aconference where the new media folks hang out. While I felt out of place in many ways, it was a great learning experience. More than any industry other than maybe healthcare, the people here don’t really understand or care that much about Information Technology itself. They have movies and videos to produce or merchandise and only care about IT if makes them more competitive.
So, my basic conclusions for the Digital Rich Media market are:
First – this is an incredibly exciting market that has just begun to emerge. Many us who have been around this market for a while say “wait a moment - I have seen this movie before.” With each “digital video” hype-cycle, many IT companies rushed in only to effectively, loose their shirts when the market they expected failed to develop. This, I believe has reduced the hype factor and has many sitting on the sidelines right now but the difference this time is that all-digital rich media is here for real.
Second – rich media creation will not be a market left just to the big producers. YouTube has proven that; and more are coming. Just as the digital age for music exposed customers to an incredible depth of artists and songs, I believe the same will happen for video. This is not just millions of home videos but professionally done material designed for niche audiences.
Third – all of this rich digital information is going to consume a lot of storage (yeah – I am still working for a growth company!). Think about it this way – all the Emails I write in a year (not including the powerpoint attachments of course) might equal just one or two 10 mega-pixel photos. The way my kids use our digital camera these days I feel like I am ready for a data center in my house. I have talked to many folks in the movie industry and received estimates that one full-length 4K Digital (HD) animated movie will require up to a Petabyte of storage to create and produce!
Note – for those who are curious, presently, I have 4 TB total in my house now (2 TB mirrored) and also off-site continuous backup over the network of about 50GB for the critical files. I even have the most critical data at two different service providers. I lost my wife’s data once and figured that better never let that happen again. With all of the “2.0” stuff going around – I didn’t want her thinking about Husband 2.0.
Probably the most important thing I learned is that we also will have an incredible challenge in simply managing this vast quantity of information. While “Unstructured data” (that is non-database data) makes up more than 80% of the world’s information today it is projected to grow to 95% of all information by 2010. The new challenge will be actually finding what we want to view or watch.
The good news is that, for all but a few things like live sports, I believe that the industry is going to move to an “on demand” model for virtually all consumed content. While many of us currently buy DVD’s or record on Tivo today, the on-demand model is going to forever change how we view entertainment. Phrases like “staying up to watch Letterman” will become extinct. Letterman will just be another channel - available anytime.
We also will change how and where we watch. Personally, I find the “Top Ten” lists on Letterman funny but really don’t care to sit through stuff about some movie star’s new film or house or dog. Why can’t I make my own TV show of just the Letterman Top Ten? Well it is coming – and sooner than you may think.
In addition to folks like YouTube, there is a new breed of on-demand providers like Joost which can now deliver full length video in real-time over broadband. One key to this sudden change is that we have reached an inflection point where we now have the bandwidth and storage capacity to provide these services with “standard” equipment. This will allow us a flexibility in content delivery that we simply have not been able to achieve for the mass market.
Back here at EMC you will see us continue to invest in both storage that is optimized for these applications as well as build more Rich Media capabilities into our Documentum and other SW products. This technology trend goes way beyond the movie and TV industry though. Every company will need to embrace the use of rich media an all aspects of their business. From “Training Podcasts” to “Video User Manuals,” the impact of this technology will be felt well outside the traditional players in Hollywood.