SAME OLD, SAME OLD
This spot on if somewhat depressing assessment by Techdirt, on the state of today's movie download services, is worth a quick read:
"Here's a roundup of movie-download services -- Apple TV, Vudu, Movielink, Unbox -- all of which have underperformed expectations. This won't come as a surprise to Techdirt readers, as we've panned these products before. And the reasons they've flopped are frankly pretty obvious: high prices, restrictive DRM, and no easy way to move videos to the device of your choice...
Right now, Hollywood has veto power over innovations in the video space. They've made some dumb mistakes, like charging too much and mandating the use of DRM. Unfortunately, thanks to the DMCA, competition hasn't had a chance to kick in.
People can't route around Hollywood by using DVD-ripping software the way they routed around the record labels in the 1990s using CD rippers. So if somebody has a great idea for a digital video product, they have to go begging to Hollywood before they can implement it. But Hollywood isn't run by technologists, so they make bad decisions. And because nobody else is allowed to enter the market without their permission, the whole world suffers for it."
Promising, new video startups like Joost are mired in this very dilemma.
In the meantime, the world is routing around the video content that people really want, with the "user-generated" video content found on services like YouTube. And that may scratch the itch for a bit, but doesn't solve the long-term problem.
Video (TV and movies for sale and for rent) on Apple's iTunes, has been a bit of a bright spot in all this, even with it's DRM (digital rights management), pricing and usage restrictions. But the selection and flexibility of use still leave a lot to be desired.
To be fair to the mainstream media industry, it's not all their fault, and it's not just about DRM and protecting old business models. As Steve Jobs pointed out in the Q&A at Apple's recent shareholder meeting:
"...the studios are working on difficult issues with gaining clearance for content created before anyone had contemplated Internet distribution.
Existing films need to have rights lined up from talent and copyright owners who had never outlined their rights and royalties in terms of downloads, and work in those areas is accelerating."
So for all these reasons and some others, it's going to be a bit longer to the promised land in video online. We'll have to cool our heels here for a while.
But at some point, the tipping point will be reached, the time when the amount of professional video content online, with all the restrictions, becomes so overwhelming relative to the underwhelming demand for the content in that form, that the restrictions will start to give way to new compromises on mutually workable business models.
And that time though a bit far away, is not that long from today. My guess, two to three years from now. What do you think?