Thursday, May 29, 2008

Storage is the keyword...

Five years ago, when I was still active at CA Europe, I remember some of my 'visionary' colleagues making a fuss about storage, about how this was going to be the next big thing together with wireless, and how CA was well positioned to take the world by storm on storage related software. I guess they were right about storage and wrong about CA's role in it... ;-)

I decided to post this blog as I realized that we are far deeper into storage than we ever thought possible. I was just watching TV and in a moment of boredom (or epiphany) I looked under the set and saw four separate devices that I bought long ago.

One is a Bose 1-2-3 audio system. Further, a Blu-Ray player (PS3 game console), an HD Cable TV decoder, and finally Apple TV. All but the Bose have HDDs on board with hundreds of Gigabytes of storage. Even the Bose system, if I had spent some more Euros, could carry on board storage in a more expensive model of the family. The HDTV cable decoder (Telenet Belgium HD Digicorder) uses storage for recording live programs and for time shifting... days long of video capacity. Also, two of the devices, the PS3 and Apple TV are IP enabled via on board WiFi and Ethernet connectivity; the cable decoder also got an Ethernet connection. Only the Bose and the TV set have got no IP connectivity whatsoever (a question of time, I believe).

Conclusion: Convergence of standard media ICT and traditional AV is already a mainstream fact of life. Even more, there is quite a bit of overlap of the services offered by most devices. For example, I can watch slide shows on AppleTV with shots stored locally or on the Internet (Flickr and Mac Galleries) but also via PS3 and finally, directly on the TV set itself thru USB connectivity . Any standard DVD, I can watch via either Bose123 or the PS3. I can browse the net via PS3 but I can also watch a 'few'* via iTunes related offerings (movies, podcasts, videocasts) online as well as clips from YouTube via AppleTV. Because of this overlap, it's still too complex to operate, especially if you happen to be slightly tech-illiterate. Despite my geekness, I also get confused from time to time... but that's the price to pay if you want to be ahead of the curve and get max AV quality and media versatility.

Still, despite existing standards (Bluetooth, Ethernet, WiFi, media exchange protocols, HDMI), many AV appliances have problems talking to each other or even stay connected reliably. User friendliness (except for Apple's products) is also something they'll need to further improve. Remote controls remain a mess and are far from compatible with each other (well... it starts gettin' better). Finally, future TV sets ought to pick-up the functionality already offered by some of the peripheral devices I mentioned earlier. Maybe Apple should go for it and build a TV set like they did with the iPhone/iPod; they are definitely the only shop who could come up with something like that... who can say? Still they might do it, as they increasingly seem to have realized they kinda lost the desktop to MSFT and they therefore had to focus their headlights straight towards our living rooms...

* in this case consider 'a few' being in the thousands...

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