Posts tagged "DVD"

5 Tech Products That Will Be Dead in 5 Years

With the speed of innovation in the tech industry, we can’t know every piece of technology that will fill our everyday lives in five years, but we can predict what won’t last. As smartphones begin to render low-end cameras obsolete and Netflix continues to upend the DVD and Blu-ray market, it’s clear the technology landscape will look dramatically different in the near future.

Here are five tech products we predict will go the way of the dodo in the next half-decade.

Blu-ray/DVD players

Netflix, Netflix, Netflix. Amazingly, the entire demise of Blu-rays and DVDs (and Blockbuster) are due to one company. There were other players in the cultural shift to streaming movies, but Netflix is the iTunes of movies on demand. Funny enough, iTunes offers movie rentals as well.

Blu-ray players were the cream of the crop when it came to watching movies for a few years, but 2013 is expected to be the last year of growth for the market. As the ease of use, accessibility and quality of Netflix  continues to increase as it rolls out 4K streaming over the next few years (not to mention other competitors that may generate interest from users), look for Blu-ray players to quickly become a nice collectible right next to your VCR.

Stand-alone in-car GPS units

In a little over six years, over 1.3 billion iPhone and Android smartphones have been sold around the world, and all of those devices have access to mapping software. Combine that with the propagation of in-car GPS systems, and it spells a swift demise for the stand-alone GPS units for vehicle dashboards, which saw widespread success in the early and mid-2000s. Since smartphones started offering GPS capabilities in 2008, sales of stand-alone GPS units for vehicles have seen a 15-20 percent decline per year.

Costing between $75 and $350, standalone GPS units built for vehicles from companies like Garmin and TomTom are already losing their viability (although these companies are still finding success with GPS units for boating and other outdoor activities), and will likely be completely removed from the market in five years. As battery technology allows for more usage time in smartphones and more people move into newer cars with built-in GPS systems, opting for a standalone GPS unit will cease be an option in the near future.

Dial-up Internet

Yes, dial-up Internet is still around, and people still use it. In fact, 3 percent of Americans still use dial-up Internet. That’s 9 million people, equal to the population of New Jersey. Only 65 percent of Americans currently have broadband connections. Thanks to the necessity of the Internet and new alternatives for connecting to the Internet at faster speeds, this won’t be the case for long.

Internet companies are expanding at a rapid pace, as people in underserved areas demand access to broadband speeds. Expansions will continue over the next five years, thanks in part to the FCC’s Connect America Fund, which aims to bring broadband to 7 million Americans who cannot currently receive it. Combined with expansions from cable companies and new viable alternatives like satellite Internet (which now reaches speeds of 15Mbps), dial-up Internet will finally be extinct in five years.

Low-end digital cameras

We have Apple to thank for this one. The 2010 release of the iPhone 4 and its game-changing camera forced the mobile industry to step up camera quality to the point that it has rendered sub-$200 point-and-shoot cameras all but obsolete. There are still a few straggling consumers out there who prefer the optical zoom or battery life of a low-end digital camera over the one in their smartphone, but at the rate of progression of mobile camera technology, those user complaints will soon be addressed.

In five years, camera companies like Nikon, Canon and Sony will have done away with their low-end camera lines and shifted their focus to the mid- and high-end market, as the low-end market will have been completely subsumed by smartphones.

Car keys

One of the quickest and least discussed changes to happen over the last few years is the reduction of physical car keys and the introduction of smart keys in a number of new vehicles by manufacturers. Surprisingly, the move away from physical car keys happened without much of a fuss from consumers. With benefits like keyless entry, push to start, driver profiles and remote start, buyers of newer vehicles have enjoyed the benefits of the new smart system (though many still end up to getting locked out of their cars if they leave the car while the engine is warming up).

But as quickly as smart keys have come on the scene, smartphones may soon replace them. With apps like OnStar RemoteLink offered by Chevrolet, which allows you to unlock and start a your car with an app, the future of car keys may lie in an app store. Whether we stick with smart keys or move on to something more innovative in five years, you can be sure that the physical car key we have used for the last 70 or so years will be a thing of the past for new cars.



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Posted by plates55 - January 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm

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HBO Stops Discounting Discs to Netflix, Intensifying Battle for Content

The unspoken battle between HBO and Netflixgot a little uglier on Thursday when it was revealed that the premium cable channnel had stopped offering DVDsto Netflix at a discount.As first reported by the The New York Times and later confirmed by both companies, the volume wholesale discounts that HBO used to offer Netflix are no more. The change took place at the first of the year.

Although Netflix remains committed to offering HBO titles to its rent-by-mail customers — the company can simply acquire the latest releases of Boardwalk Empire and True Blood via other retail outlets — this move underscores a trend we’ve written about before: The content battle taking place between online streaming and TV Everywhere, the initiative from content providers to offer their products directly to subscribers online.

Brad Adgate, senior vice president and director of research at Horizon Media doesn’t think HBO’s decision to refuse discounts on its discs will have much of an impact on Netflix’s subscriber base, in part because “DVDs are kind of on its way out and Netflix has moved its core business to streaming.” He describes the relationship between HBO and Netflix as “frienemies,” noting that “they are competitors but also offer the other a source of revenue.”

According to Adgate, the real challenge is the success of HBO’s streaming app, HBO Go, and the broader impact that might have on Netflix’s new core business.

HBO Go vs. Netflix

HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, has famously refused to license its popular and critically acclaimed content to Netflix (excepting early HBO programming like The Larry Sanders Show that are bound under different home-video agreements). Instead, HBO has pursued its own TV Everywhere initiative with HBO Go.

HBO Go is an app that offers subscribers access to current HBO programming along with a back catalog of original series. This content is available on iOS, Android, Roku and video game consoles. HBO Go is a huge hit, with more than 5 million downloads in 2011. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, two early TV Everywhere holdouts, have both agreed to start support HBO Go in 2012.

As I’ve argued in the past, the success of HBO Go has shown content owners that they don’t necessarily have to bypass traditional distribution platforms like cable; instead content owners can augment their current cable deals with online/tablet/phone access.

The Content Battle Continues

When it comes to content, Netflix is in a bit of a catch 22. On the one hand, it needs a viable, robust and ever-increasing library of streaming content to keep its customer base. On the other hand, the success of Netflix — and indeed the broader success of Hulu Plus, HBO Go and online subscription in general — has made acquiring content much more expensive.

As Adgate pointed out, Netflix’s deal with Starz expires next month. When the Starz agreement ends, Netflix will lose its streaming access to almost all of its Walt Disney, Pixar and Sony Pictures content. Netflix has tried to spin the loss, pointing out its content deals with AMC Networks and DreamWorks Animation, but as Adgate pointed out, the company is now paying the same amount for a small selection of titles that it used to pay for an entire year’s worth of Starz content.

Adgate thinks Netflix’s next step will be to sell advertising “similar to the way Hulu does and what YouTube is trying to do” and in the process “create a second revenue stream” in addition to subscriber fees. Adgate argues that while many compare Netflix to ad-free pay cable à la HBO, the better comparison is traditional cable networks like FX or ESPN. As Adgate notes, “Consumers already pay $5 a month for ESPN and you get ads with that.”

It’s an interesting proposition. While Netflix might have a hard time integrating advertising into its main catalog of titles, the company is increasingly investing in original programming. Its first original series will debut next month, with future projects — including the continuation of Arrested Development to follow into 2013.


Viewers Still Love Netflix

Of course, even with the content growing pains, viewers still love Netflix. The company reported 2 billion hours of streaming content was consumed at the end of 2011. Analyst Richard Greenfield told Variety that by his estimations, that would make Netflix the 15th most watched network.

The real question is, what impact will new content deals (or a lack of deals) have on these viewership numbers.

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Posted by plates55 - January 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

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International Police Operation Targets Movie Piracy Release Groups

Police in three European countries have carried out an operation to disrupt two scene release groups said to be responsible for pre-releasing thousands of movies onto the Internet. The action, which focused on datacenters and home addresses across Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, targeted the leaders and equipment of CRUCiAL and iNSPiRED.

Following years of investigation into online piracy, in September 2009 the German Federation against Copyright Infringement (GVU) filed a complaint with the prosecutor in Frankfurt, Germany.

Their complaint centered on a pair of movie-focused release groups known as CRUCiAL and iNSPiRED. Following their creations in 2008 and 2006 respectively, GVU claimed that together the groups had released as many as 2,600 DVD and Blu-ray ripped movies online, many of them in advance of their street dates.

The GVU now say their investigation has borne fruit, with the initiation late last month of an international police operation against the leaders of the groups.

Under the control of police headquarters in Frankfurt, on November 29th raids were carried out against several private homes in Germany and computer datacenters in Switzerland and Hungary.

GVU said that pinning the groups’ servers down had proven problematic, since they had been supplied through resellers and rented under false names. Nevertheless, a 180TB Swiss server and a 30TB Hungarian server were both seized along with various computers and hard drives from locations in Germany.

According to the GVU complaint, CRUCiAL were responsible for running the server and obtaining source material from, among other places, two other Scene groups based in the United States.

Back home in Germany, the group was affiliated with 10 other groups who released the same movies online in different file formats.

The GVU investigation is said to have concluded that CRUCiAL were the source of the first DVD-quality Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince leak which had been ripped from a forensically-watermarked copy intended for Scandinavia. GVU say the DVD was physically stolen from an Austrian pressing plant at the behest of CRUCiAL’s leader. Copies of the movie then reportedly turned up on, the now-defunct streaming movie portal raided earlier this year.

According to Scene records, both groups stopped releasing in an official capacity in 2010, iNSPiRED in May, CRUCiAL in September, with the former handing the ‘rights’ to their TV show releases to a pair of other groups. Both these new groups made their latest releases just today.

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Posted by plates55 - December 7, 2011 at 10:54 am

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