Our electronic futures are forming

There are many global issues, be them hunger or terrorism or privacy. I wont attempt to explain why how we work will effect thing apparently unrelated, but they do. The old butterfly flapping it’s wings is true today. A seemingly simple change in the way we work might free up cash to be spent on a charity or a purchase to bolster the economy. Most changes are offerings from those we trust and we hope they have really thought everything through when it comes to exposing our personal information. Some large corporations release things they hope you will buy so they make their numbers this year… others release items as a stepping stones to an end game many years in the future.

Today is the 9th anniversary of the introduction of the iPod where it was promised we would have over 1000 songs in our pocket. It started as a little device that felt right in your hand and was easy to use. There was many other options on the market but they stopped being supported or went other directions. The iPod grew in features to be a storage device, then a movie player and now a connected game machine. It could stand on it’s own but wasn’t expected to as a accessory industry grew around it and the manufacture updated other hardware and software solutions around it. Those being desktop software that managed your music, photo and movie libraries as well as expanding on the hardware to be a smartphone and another to be a larger tablet like device.

Looking back at the mid 80’s, we had keyboards and monitors that were basically just an external monitor to one 286 computer that many people shared. It was fine with everyone running the same program. When we got our own desktops we were running many different programs amongst us without the need of each other. Online services have grown, but we are not truly going back to a dumb keyboard/monitor world.

The services being offered online are getting close if not passing the desktop ‘office’ software solutions. But, does anyone want to do all of their work online? If you at the office and always connected, would you notice a difference between if the software was on your machine or not? Looking at what is being used in the current Word and Photoshop by the masses most often, it is a very small set of features. Would it be acceptable to have very lite versions of software locally installed for general day-to-day work and then use a more robust tool online? The online software would become a service that could be charged monthly or per use.

As long as your keeping the powerful tools online, you might as well keep the big files there too. Cloud storage is quickly becoming the best way to have access to all of your work files when you need them. The iPad has really brought this thinking to the Business user as they can grab what they need for meetings to store on the device and then reach out to the Cloud for files that are mentioned in meetings. Keeping the local storage small and allowing for better version management.

There is the whole world of how we access the music, photos and videos we own or use too. Photos may be handled as simple as storing in the cloud, then downloading just what you need, when you need them, like the Business document storage. A added ‘feature’ would be to keep a thumbnail of your photos local to your device for referencing.

If we think back to when Apple released the Shuffle, with it’s much smaller sized memory, we saw a device that was reliant on a desktop app’s file management. iTunes received an update for the Shuffle that allowed it to load songs on via the users choice, fill until full or fill with a shuffle of songs. iTunes now has a Genius feature that watches and learns to make suggestions on what you may like to listen to.

The natural next step would be for your music to be stored in the Cloud. You mobile device, be it a handheld, tablet or notebook would have a limited number of songs on it. The connecting software could deliver songs based on season, you past listening habits (which songs and how often you listen to them), the amount of room you have and/or a mix of songs. Once this is in place, a natural next step is a subscription model to automatically deliver to your listening library new songs that match your listening habits or previous purchases. While the amount of storage would be a good excuse, the reality is that you will never ‘own’ the songs on anything other than devices that are on your license to play them.

Let’s wrap it up with video. Currently, you can watch movies on DVDs you buy or rent, via your TV content provider or through the many independent streaming options. It has been mentioned in articles (no one is talking on the record) that the major studios are getting more money to keep their new releases in DVD format for those providers that still use that method. Second to that is TV content providers, we show via pay per view or special subscription channels enabling them to pay the studios also. Finally, the streaming options, which if handled via a monthly bundle like Netflix, has limits to what they can pay vs the second run offerings.

There is several paths in motion right now. To save you from having to store movies, a few providers will just rent you a video to view within a length of time limit. Some of those do offer the movie be downloaded to your local device but still on a time limit. The days of ‘buying’ a movie which you download and own a copy of is going away quickly. Think about the shows you watch, both weekly ‘TV’ shows and movies. How often are you watching a movie a second time? Do you watch TV shows only when they are first introduced or do you go back to watch again, several times? Many TV shows are currently shown in ‘reruns’ over and over again… if left to you to choose, will you hunt those down to watch on your own? And, what level of quality are you willing to live with for your Romantic Comedies versus your Action Thriller? The more flash and bang, the more bandwidth you need for streaming or you will be waiting for days to see that new release that you may have paid extra to see, one time.

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