Posted by: Ved Sen | April 21, 2010

Convergence Round Up: Online Video, Google v Governments, Skype v Facebook, Beeb Expenses, Eyjafjallajokull.

Hardly news, but a watershed moment nonetheless. A Parks Associates reports that 25 million Americans regularly watch long form television online. Not surprising, is it, as broadband speeds go up and fibre to the home takes root in more and more parts of the US?  Parks also reported that less than 6 million US consumers would give up pay TV for online video. The story comes with the sub-title “online video not a threat to Pay TV”. In the list of the most misleading messages in history, this is Right up there with “Don’t worry dear, the huns are only at the gate!” That’s 6 million more than the last

fibre to home - game changer

Industries get disrupted as the pipe grows fatter

count. And this, of course is a classic confusion between stock and flow variables. You have to consider the trend, not the value at a point. As this graphic shows, as bandwidths have increased to hit certain points of inflexion, specific industries have been disrupted. It is now the turn of Television as average available bandwidths start to approach the 2-4 mbps threshold that SD television uses.

In other revelations, it turns out that in sheer audience or user numbers, Skype is actually bigger than Facebook. 560 million to Facebook’s 400 million. And growing. No wonder that major players such as O2 are starting to embrace rather than fight Skype with services of their own! Did ebay sell Skype too soon? I wonder!

Also recently, News Corp’s Times Newspaper relaunched the new Times Plus version online. All very good and I was happy to register (just a sign up, no fees). But then when I came back to the site, surprise surprise! No login screen! Apparently the focus is so searingly on getting the message out to people, there is no thought given to the converted, who may come back for the second time and actually read the content (even as I write this!). No wonder Big Sam looks more agitated than Travolta! That’s a schoolboy error!

Yes I've registered, where's the log in?

The Times Plus site wants you to register, but not necessarily log in.

Couldn’t possibly not mention Google.

Google has moved into the fast growing Location Based Social Networking (Lo-So) market with Google Places. It allows you to add your business and associated data and obviously then woos you with a string of Google Services. Of course, once you do locations, can travel be far behind? Or property?

Google has also disclosed this week details of countries which filter Google results or ask for consumer data. Although China is off the charts – probably too high to be counted – and they are “excluded” because it’s a state secret, according to Google, Brazil, US, UK and India are among the biggest users of filters and data requests. A number of the removal requests you can see on this tool are to do with copyright violations or offensive content. But equally there might be requests related to providing emergency services, people in peril, as the FAQ suggests. So this is not a “good guys/bad guys” list. It’s probably more indicative of which Governments are using Google more aggressively for both positive and punitive purposes.

Meanwhile Google have spent increasingly larger amounts on lobbying. $ 1.4 million might be chump change for the lobbying industry, but again, it’s the direction of change that counts. Google is increasingly becoming a politically aware and influential organization. And it is likely that it might become the next AT&T – so big that the Government asks for it to be broken up. You heard it here first!

In the UK, BBC’s expenses is becoming the next brouhaha to capture people’s attention. While not exactly a scandal, it is somewhat malodorous at a time when the License Fee is under such great scrutiny, and with some political parties looking to top-slice the fee to pay for broadband. Although I personally don’t see the problem when you consider the amount of £ 175,000 per quarter in the context of the organizations cost base of over £ 2bn per year. Also don’t see the point of scrutinizing why Mark Thompson took Terry Wogan out for lunch and spent £ 113. That’s missing the woods completely while analysing a single fallen twig! And it’s a sad organization that can’t buy you a nice lunch after 27 years of association. The £600 taxi bill in Korea and the £ 6000 flight from Australia are admittedly more worrying. I suppose, that’s what comes of not directly “earning” your incomes.

Finally, a pet peeve of mine – the tendency of people who look at half the picture while taking a hard stance on carbon footprints and conservation. People who will have 3 different garbage bins but wash their plates before putting them in the dishwasher. Here’s an interesting argument that suggests that the cumulative environmental impact of storing the gazillions of additional bytes of data created by conservation oriented signature lines “please don’t print this email etc etc” might be greater than the savings they seek to make!

On the other hand, for those looking for a new business idea, how about Tech Recycling – which doesn’t seem to have reached the UK, despite having kicked off across the Atlantic!

Till the next time. Au Revoir – if you can actually get somewhere. If not, you can learn to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull or listen to the song!

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