Friday, November 6, 2009

The Third Wave?

I'm really starting to find patterns in the technology plays of the various Media and Entertainment (M&E) groups, aligning core streaming delivery of "traditional" CDNs,mobile and telecoms providers against those of traditional broadcast, cable and satellite.

Twice before I've seen reckless attempts at a land-grab. In 97-99, everyone claimed, but no one could do, full-screen (or even consistent quarter-screen) streaming to the desktop. Then, in the 2003-05 timeframe, a land grab was attempted based on technologies that were supposed to work in 97-99 began in earnest after the coders got to go home during the bust cycle of 2000-2003 and really do the coding.

This one's different, and I think the analogy of the wild west is somewhat spot on: if the first two land grabs were earlier speculators and later  homesteaders,  eking out a living under difficult - and sometimes deadly -  circumstances, this new land grab is about the army marching in full-force to subjugate the natives so that the army's settlers can live within newly defined and expanded boundaries.

Like the battles in California or in Texas, this land grab is not about just one army, but multiple armies clashing for the same land. In other words, this land grab is systematic, purposeful and very process oriented. Whether you call it manifest destiny or subjugation (neither of which I use lightly, given my partial American Indian heritage), the end game of this land grab is establishing a presence that spans decades, not year.

And the natives come out on the bad end of the deal, as do many of the speculators and some of the homesteaders. Even a few settlers die in the process.

I see all four of these groups, along with the armies they represent, lining up in formation: starting with the telecoms (remember the article I did a few months back welcoming the big boys?) and then moving into the traditional broadcaster and now the cable providers, these armies have labs to manufacture the stockpiles they need and smoke screens / diversions to use in the meantime.

It'll be quite interesting to see if any of the traditional streaming encoder box companies make it over into these bigger markets, because I'm seeing more and more products based around H.264 and other standards at shows like Supercomm, from companies with no tie to the "streaming industry" as we know it.

A few articles I've written in the past few weeks provide an inkling of where the next few battles may occur:

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