Technology Futures

Commentaries on Directions That Will Impact the Future of Technology

Archive for the tag “creative cloud”

Ultraviolet: Revolutionary or Yesterday’s News?

Ultraviolet Sticker

A couple of weeks ago, my stepson, the techy genius, asked me if I was tuned in to Ultraviolet.  He was surprised to learn that I’d never heard of it.  I am talking here about the service designed to peddle movies and such, not part of the light spectrum beyond visible violet.  For those of you who never heard of it either, here is a quick synopsis:

In the cloud, there is a place to store movies and other forms of video entertainment.  One buys the movies from any one of dozens of purveyors.  Instead of walking out of a store with a DVD in your hand, the movie gets uploaded to the cloud (or maybe it is already there).  By entering a password, you can access your movie in several ways:  You can stream it to any device equipped for streaming video.  You can download it to a computer for later viewing.  You can make a DVD, although you are only allowed to make a single copy.  Ultraviolet identifies itself as “a digital rights authentication and cloud-based licensing system.”

The entertainment industry loves the idea because it thinks it might limit piracy (talk about heads in the sand).  Retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online, like the idea.  They get the same price they would for a physical DVD, but they don’t have to carry any inventory.  When you go to the Ultraviolet website, you  will find a long list of some of the biggest names in video entertainment and the places that sell it identified as sponsors or supporters.

Despite the hype and the big-name support, both the reviewers and the public in general have not said many nice things about the service.  The Gigaom and Techdirt reviews are typical.   The system is cumbersome to use for average folks, and it does not have the support of the 800-pound gorillas, Amazon and Apple.

Although Ultraviolet was announced in July 2010, it hasn’t made much progress.  Only Sony and Paramount have offered their films via Ultraviolet, and those offerings are limited to a small fraction of the movies in their portfolios.  So, despite the hype, the content providers are not exactly demonstrating a heavy commitment.  Without content, the system is doomed.

It is no secret that DVD and Blu-ray sales are decreasing.   How many people need to buy movies, when it is so much cheaper to rent them on Netflix or at kiosks?  Another competitive threat is coming from the cable and satellite TV companies.  Not only can you DVR movies for later viewing, but they are offering subscribers the ability to stream them at no extra cost.  Unlike Netflix, which is pleading for the authority to stream movie content, the cable guys already have it.  Then there are the illegal downloads that can be found easily by simply doing a Google search.

As I said above, I’d never even heard of Ultraviolet until now, and I am supposed to know about important technologies in the home entertainment business.  I do not see a market-driving force that suggests that Ultraviolet, or any service requiring upfront money for movie content, has a chance of succeeding.  Do you?  Requiem Blockbuster.



Are We Headed to Subscription-based Cloud Computing?

This week, an Adobe exec demonstrated a suite of cloud-based applications designed to run with a touch interface.  Adobe calls it the “Creative Cloud.”  Its strategy is to change from selling software in the box to selling software on a monthly subscription basis.  The exec said that Adobe expects half its sales to be subscription-based by 2015.

I’m a big proponent of subscriptions.  It doesn’t matter if it is a magazine or a renewable lease on a $100 million jet plane.  Customers tend to renew subscriptions without giving the process a lot of thought.  Thus subscriptions tend to guarantee an ongoing revenue stream without a lot of extra sales effort.  Most sales managers will tell you that it costs 4-5 times as much to get a new customer than it does to renew an old one.  One only has to look at the example set by Netflix to see what kind of success can be engendered by the subscription business model.

The touch interface will be a big driver for cloud-based software.  Cloud computing means that any device can easily connect to software or services, and that certainly includes tablets and phones, which are essentially touch-interface devices.  Further, there is a lot more touch-based technology coming.  If you haven’t seen the TV shows Hawaii Five-O, NCIS: LA or John King’s show on CNN, watch an episode or two just to see what gigenormous touch screens can bring to the party.  Also, Google “huge touch screens”.  You’ll find dozens of YouTube and other videos showing off these devices.

Finally, there is the reliability factor to consider.  A few minutes ago, while I was typing this blog entry, my computer inexplicably crashed – naturally, right before it was almost finished.  I had to copy the contents by hand, reboot my computer and re-enter the article.  Grrrrrr………………….    If I were in the Cloud, maybe I wouldn’t have to put up with that c–p.  I would happily pay a (reasonable) monthly subscription fee if I could be sure that I’d never again have to deal with another crash.

In addition, subscriptions could eliminate some cheaters.  I know a person who buys the latest version of a software package from Costco every year.  He installs it on his computer, registers it with the manufacturer and then returns it to Costco, taking advantage of Costco’s generous return policy!  Although I’m no expert on the subject, it seems to me that a lot of software piracy could be eliminated or at lest curtailed if one had to have a subscription, and the software was available only in the cloud.

In conclusion, I believe that subscription-based computing in the cloud will be a big deal, and that it will happen fast, certainly within the next five years.


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