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Managing the content explosion

April 20th, 2006 · No Comments

I fondly remember my first 5.25-inch 5MB metal oxide hard disk drive; it seemed lightning fast despite the noisy motor. You could never imagine filling all of the space…in years.
Today, if you want to be where the action is, get into the storage business. The last quarter of 2005 saw the storage industry announce the first shipment of 100 million drives. There’s a content explosion going on, and it all needs to be kept. Somewhere,somehow. Whether it’s the mundane use of storage for business documents or data or lovely, lively audio/video personal/home entertainment, we increasingly need more and more capacity. Of course, the giant electronics companies are happy to innovate.
Today, Samsung has announced a new 2Gbyte multimedia memory format, which it cleverly calls a MultiMediaCard micro (MMCmicro), for phones and other mobile devices. It has a data transfer rate that’s over three times as fast as its rivals. It can store around 12 hours of video and can download three hours of video in just two minutes. The company claims the MMCmicro is the smallest, fastest and highest-capacity memory card in the world. It’s probably right. The card, in both 1 and 2GB flavours will go into mass production later this year.
That ancient 5MB HDD? Today, you’d blow through that in a morning at home or the office.
Broadcast TV produces over 75 PB (that’s petabytes) of content a year. Even before IM (instant messaging) we were generating 400 PB of email a year (boy that’s a lot for lawyers to wade through). And way back in history (circa 2002) we recorded more than 5 EB (exabytes). And all of that was before we really got consumer products into the storage business.
Disk drive maker Seagate has seen sales of hard drives for CE applications grow over 100 percent year on year. More than 2.5 million units were destined for PVR duties. Today, almost 100% of broadcast radio and TV is digital. Internet TV sites are sprouting up everywhere. Video on demand and subscription services over the web are showing tremendous growth. HD content is becoming the norm and HD TVs are the hottest segment of the home entertainment market (even though consumer education is severely lacking). Family entertainment is no longer confined to the living room.
We expect our content to be location free and available on our PCs, our portable media players, our cellphones, our everything. Unfortunately, making the most of all this stored content is getting increasingly difficult.
It’s likely that if you’ve found some great IPTV, you’ll still watch it on your computer, not on the TV. Getting it from your broadband pipe to the set isn’t easy and it sure isn’t seamless! Want to go directly from your PVR to your personal media player? Oh yeah that’s a great way to waste a couple of hours. Want to download your content (that you’ve paid for) and then move it from your DVR or your computer to your digital media player or your ‘phone? Or your car? Or to your 2nd home? Forget it.
Tellywood’s answer is to buy another license/copy because the DRM software prohibits making your copies your way and using your content your way. Microsoft’s Vista, Intel’s ViiV, Apple and AMD Live offer something called managed copies. But moving them (whatever a managed copy is) around is still difficult at best and Tellywood is intent on making the seamless movement more difficult rather than easier. Yep. Hard drive technology has come a long way in both size and capacity since that ancient 5MB unit I first enjoyed. Storage is storming ahead. If only the content industries could keep up. By Andy Marken

Tags: Internet and networking · Trade

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