El.pub Analytic Issue Number 1
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Outside of interactive services, the market for "traditional media" - radio, TV, film, records, books, magazines, catalogues and newspapers continues. The growth of digitisation has created problems and opportunities, but the consumer will continue to demand the content in these products. Bandwidth restrictions affect the market for these products in digital form principally by slowing the growth of the market.
Radio, TV and film have all suffered from the traditional limitations on bandwidth. All have had to use programming as a means of overcoming the limitation. Rather than offering a free choice of all the material available, delivery has been bound by available spectrum for radio and TV, and number of cinemas for film. Programmers decide on the content that will be made available at a particular time, consumers choose between the options on offer. Recording on tape and CD has enabled some extension of the market, and coupled with the success of multiplex cinemas can be seen as evidence of the consumer demand for choice.
The switch from vinyl to CD for records offered two improvements; better sound quality and a reduction in unit size. The second of these allowed retailers to offer a greater range of titles and users to hold more units in their existing space. The result was a marked increase in the range of music on offer and in sales. Another example of consumer demand for choice.
Without getting into an argument on quality and long-term economic viability, the fact is that the availability of 'paper-equivalent' content, text plus graphics, on CD-ROM and the Web has shown explosive growth. The information base for knowledge workers, that is easily available at the desktop, has transformed their productivity, both in terms of speed of operation and depth of analysis. For people who are tuned to the web, information to support all aspects of their lives is immediately available, whether it is travel information, recipes, sports news, economic statistics or consultancy reports.
Perhaps the most surprising new market to, is the US$ 15 billion interactive game industry. The videogame started as a pastime for computer operator's working the night shift. It soon spread to public spaces with arcade games, and swamped university computer centres with the advent of multi-player games invented (and played) by computing graduate students. The arrival of personal computers opened a new phase including the development of machines designed just to play games and it can be argued that all developments in the capabilities of PCs stem from the demand of gamers for ever improving quality of experience. Note how mobile game devices preceded mobile phones. The industry is now returning to its roots with the online game market starting to take off on the Web. The main driving force of the games is interactivity, a feature that has yet to be exploited to anything like the same extent in traditional media transferred to the digital realm.
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