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 Posted:   Jul 28, 2013 - 7:25 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

This thing about companies corralling us into online streaming-only is the dystopian possibility. You can stock up on external hard drives and flash cards, and I'm tempted to, but what happens when you need to buy a new computer someday, and all the new machines are incompatible with external storage?

In time this strategy could deprive every private citizen of all his digital assets, because what good are your hard drives, flash cards, and optical disks when the last machine that can "take" them has worn out?

Is this the ultimate digital-rights-lust fantasy of the media companies? I suspect and hope that they'll never pull it off. Vast numbers of us will always want our data to be owned, portable, and transferable from one machine to another. Thus some company will want to make money by selling the compatible hardware we need. I hope.

 Posted:   Jul 28, 2013 - 7:32 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

I think over time, the cost of storing all these older releases will be so low that it will make sense for them to have everything available.

That was the main driver of my optimistic/wishful vision. Mass data storage is so affordable now that online music stores should think nothing of keeping old titles available in their catalogs essentially forever, while it was always too costly to hold inventory of every old physical title in warehouses.

 Posted:   Jul 28, 2013 - 8:19 PM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

@ SchiffyM- Your really think the customer, not the corporations are shaping how we buy things and what sort of ownership and format it will be in?

Obviously, these corporations want consumers to buy from them, often and at high prices. But despite it all, corporations have never been able to get people to buy things they don't want. Look at DIVX. Look at SACD and DVD-A. Look at the Zune, or the Surface RT. Giant corporations had huge amounts invested in all of these, yet none took off. (The Surface may yet, I suppose.) Why not? Because consumers simply weren't buying.

Music downloads were certainly not the idea of the record labels (who were just delighted that people bought their CDs en masse, and had to buy whole albums just to get the two songs they wanted). But they were not even the idea of the computer companies. No, downloads took off with Napster (there were other ways, but that's when it entered the public consciousness). People "shared" their music free of charge. The iTunes Music Store was an answer to that, where listeners could have the same convenience as Napster, but legally, so the proper people would be paid. Consumers demanded it. Nobody forced anybody to buy from iTunes. CDs were very much available.

Talk to anybody under thirty, and ask how many CDs they own. Most of them (not all) don't own any, and don't know why they would. You don't have to tell me why you prefer them -- that's not relevant. They love downloads because they don't take up space, they offer immediate gratification, they can jog with them, etc. Have they been suckered? No. But they live in a world where waiting for something seems quaint. And owning physical products for something non-physical like music seems like a waste of real estate.

Blockbuster didn't go out of business because everybody loved going there. In fact, people just prefer (again, not everybody, but the majority) the Netflix model, where it streams to you on demand. Is it perfect? No. But it's the preferred choice by more people, and it's easy to see why. The prices are reasonable, it's easy, and you have space for clothes or food or whatever you'd like.

But believe me, as long as they can make money selling you DVDs and Blu-Rays, they will.

I don't use a streaming music service myself, not yet at least. But most of my friends do (they're anywhere from their twenties to their sixties), and they love them. In fact, the streaming music services are having trouble making money, given the royalties they have to pay out. Some may fold. My friends worry about that, because they love them so much.

Apple dropped the floppy drive in their computers more than fifteen years ago. That move, too, was met with outrage. But does anybody actually miss them? They dropped SCSI and parallel ports, too. Technology changes. They bet (and again, it's a bet, because consumers can revolt) that their customers weren't using these things much, and they moved on.

The "they" you speak of, that wants us to be sheep… which they are they? The music industry? The computer industry? The movie industry? And how would their interests be the same?

Consumers have enormous power. Even three years ago, could anybody have anticipated that BlackBerry would be virtually extinct? What happened to RIM's magical ability to mold consumer demand?

 Posted:   Jul 28, 2013 - 11:05 PM   
 By:   Sirusjr   (Member)

Bravo SchiffyM!

Well put. I would just second what you said about people using streaming. Even a few years ago most people I knew who aren't so obsessed with music that they need to buy full albums just listen to music on Pandora or other streaming service. It's the logical choice for the majority of consumers who don't listen to music of the sort that needs to be owned. They listen to certain music until it is no longer interesting and then move on to something else without ever having to go back to the stuff they lost interest in.

 Posted:   Jul 29, 2013 - 7:07 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

The "they" you speak of, that wants us to be sheep… which they are they? The music industry? The computer industry? The movie industry? And how would their interests be the same?

Who "they" are, they are like Adobe Systems whom no longer sell perpetual licenses. I have to pay a continuing monthly subscription fee in order to use their software. This was not a choice by the consumer but forced onto us by the corporation. Of course I have an older version that works on my system. But that eventually won't work on newer systems.

All this subscription base stuff is also a disservice for those that cannot afford another monthly bill. I read a lot of ppl will no longer be able to use Adobe products because of this new system. They get great value out of the software but are not professionals that can justify or afford a subscription.

So ppl are buying into it. And yes they are willing to pay over and over again for the privilege. Since I seem to be in the minority here I won't try to rebut everyone's comments, but concead its what the consumer wants. (Regardless if its a good deal or not)

 Posted:   Jul 29, 2013 - 8:19 AM   
 By:   Dyfrynt   (Member)

We are at that point where all of these options are in flux. Apple decided for you that if you wanted to watch BluRay movies you had to download them through iTunes; they refused to put BluRay players in their computers. Most any other computer has a BluRay player these days. This was a decision Apple forced on its consumer base. Apple is at the top of the pile right now and their attitude is do it our way, or buy something else. Score one for Big Corp.

On the other end, Xbox tried to come out with an Internet only machine for their latest model. If they had succeeded, any games you owned on CD would be useless; no drive. Word got out and Xbox consumers went ape shit. Microsoft decided the Internet only model was not such a good idea after all. Score one for consumers.

The other point is that companies are molding their products aimed at anyone under 20. That group has never seen a physical product market; they grew up with a download product market. Whether better or worse, the younger generations know download and now streaming, and like most people they are fine with what they are familiar with.

Companies know the future is the young. What us old farts want is irrelevant to them. We are a dying, literally, consumer base.

In the end I believe Solium has a solid sense of where things are going. The "They" we keep talking about is the people who control what we are able to purchase. They are pushing a nonphysical product line. Downloads and streaming. And They are pushing cloud concepts as fast as they can.

They already have the up and coming buyers used to their new product profile, and these same people are completely comfortable with it. If anyone believes these companies are going this route to please the consumers, you are in fantasyland. Companies want two things and always have - profit and control. They have had the first for a long time, and now they are slowing acquiring the second.

Lastly, anyone who thinks that a monthly cloud bill is not going to be a reality are ignoring history. Every new product and/or service starts out free. Once the consumer is hooked on it, they have to start paying for it. Can anyone say ATMs!

 Posted:   Jul 29, 2013 - 1:06 PM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

If anyone believes these companies are going this route to please the consumers, you are in fantasyland.

I'm not naïve. If these companies could make a profit murdering people and grinding up their remains for meat pies (and get away with it), most of them would. As for the entertainment companies, I've worked for them most of my adult life, I've been employed by pretty much all of them, and frankly, I mostly hate them. And some of them have cheated me out of huge sums of money and taken a "do you really want to press this and never work for us again?" strategy. If anybody believes I'm seeing them through rose-colored glasses, think again.

What I'm arguing here, though, is that downloads and streaming services have flourished not despite consumer outcry (in the macro), but because consumers love them.

There is a tendency on boards like this to extrapolate from one's own feelings an assumed feeling of the masses. "If I hate downloads, everybody must… or would, if they only saw as clearly as I do and weren't brainwashed by Big Corp." This is wrongheaded. People, in general, prefer downloads. We might wish otherwise, but don't make the mistake of believing it to actually be otherwise.

Companies will charge as much as they possibly can for any product. That's just how it works. If they overcharge, and people, in general, are unable or unwilling to pay it, they will have to change. Demand, and competition, dictates pricing. (Competition is scarcer than it used to be, which is a big problem. But that's a bigger issue.)

One last thing:

Is that what I as the consumer dictated to Apple? Make me spend more for less and buy extra add-ons at an extra expense?

More for less? The original iMac in 1998 had a CD-drive (no DVD back then) and cost $1,299 -- roughly $1,800 in 2013 dollars. The current iMacs start at $1,299, and only the most expensive one is more than $1,800. Of course, there are a thousand variables at work here, it's not an (you'll excuse the expression) apples to apples comparison. But how are you spending more?

 Posted:   Jul 30, 2013 - 4:40 AM   
 By:   BillCarson   (Member)

Manderley, fascinating post, made me think a lot. Made me sad but made me think!

As for EVERYTHING, even as a download taken from the film and separated from sound effects, i doubt im ever going to get valdez is coming, billy two hats, shootout, goodwins the early bird and hundreds of others except recorded off leads from tv and dvd.

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