Friday, April 07, 2006

Everything you know is wrong?

In my recently published meditations on bandwidth for clients, fortunately I put in a big caveat statement to the effect that my scenario could be significantly altered by quantum changes in a number of technologies, including crucially video compression. Wish I'd spoken to my friend Thomas Anglero as I was putting on the final touches, because it turns out that late last week, he unearthed a diamond. Euclid Discoveries has a codec, EuclidVision, which certainly seems to open up so many opportunities, risks, and unforeseen outcomes that it makes one question a lot of very fundamental assumptions - resulting in a migraine (particularly for an industry getting to grips with MPEG-4). Not good on a Friday afternoon. Quotes of note from the press release:

"It took 15 years to move from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, which represents a 50% improvement. In a fraction of that time, we’ve gone from 50% to 460%."


"Ultimately, EuclidVision should be able to reduce the current MPEG-4 attainable 700 MB file size for 2-hour long videos down to 50MB – finally making feature length movies as 'swappable' as MP3s."

That wording should make the MPAA real happy.

Thomas makes an interesting observation, that this level of compression might help make the "my pipes" issue less sensitive, and I think he's right with regards to streaming content (another hat-tip to you Thomas) - and he's also very right to say that mobile players should be excited about this (this also supports some recent statements from my co-opetitor Rod).

Then again, I guess the uncertainty in my mind is: what is the elasticity of demand on P2P? In other words, would people be content with being able to download a single episode of The Sopranos in ten minutes as a 30MB file, end of story? Or would they go for all the seasons ever produced, followed by Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives, Lost, an entire season of Man U games, and every Tora-san film ever made (approximately 29,000), all in rapid succession?

Faster downloads would mean more BitTorrent seed files would be created in shorter time, and content would proliferate much faster. It would also be a lot more feasible to transfer films via IM. How about all six Star Wars films on a USB stick? Give me a couple of hours. "You've got a fiber connection? Duuuude!" In other words, would demand compensate for the dramatic effective increase in capacity freed up by this development? I suspect there's a decent chance it would, given the relentless growth in downloads we're witnessing currently, even with today's unwieldy file sizes.

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