As predicted by many, streaming is slowly becoming the way to receive data. Here is a list (not exhaustive) of current random applications and services which use streaming:
You Tube: on computers, phones and other portable devices
Phones: 3G and Wifi allow streaming of video content and music. From ‘consumer phones’ to corporate Blackberry’s, they all allow content to be streamed.
BBC Iplayer: Perhaps not huge outside of the UK (as its a UK only service!), but one of the Nets greatest success stories. Backed by the tax paying public, the BBC have created a robust and high quality system which has been embraced by the public.
Streaming though is now entering the world of the console and setup box. In recent months and weeks we have had Microsoft enter an agreement with Netflix to facilitate the streaming of its content through the Xbox360 platform, Playstation will soon have music videos being streamed through its media centre and Blockbuster have announced its stand alone streaming box which is similar to the Netflix stand alone products already out there.
In the UK Sky have also launched their version of the IPlayer and there is talk they might go into partnership with console companies to offer the streaming service directly through the console.
Now most of these services are video first, with audio second. However there has been a steady growth of audio streaming websites (often with music videos) on the net. Some are subscription based and others free to the consumer but funded through advertising. Check our Deezer.com as an example.
The point is this - downloading might be old hat already. How does this make you feel? Does it matter if the data is actually on your device if the technology allows you to access and recall it whenever you want, whereever you want?
Now clearly there are limits to this technology. What happens if there is no Wifi or 3G signal? Well lets be honest, in Urban areas that scenario is becoming less common. However for us country dwellers (I live on the edge of town!), we do still struggle to get constant 3G, or even decent speed broadband (where I live we still only get 1.5mb a second!). Streaming You Tube in my household is a non starter at peak times of the day, so expecting high quality audio or video is just a dream!
However, are people like me being left behind? Well some would say ‘no’ as downloading is still here, still viable. For how long though? Streaming is not piracy free, far from it - but it is a lot more secure than downloads. So won’t content owners push for streamed content as it keeps the content out of the actual hands of the consumer for longer? I.E. its passes through our systems, but unless we are technical, it never leaves a trace we can access.
Personally I’m not a fan of this new reality. I like the option and welcome it as another way of accessing content (once my home broadband can use it!), but I want to be able to take my PSP on a plane and watch a movie. Something I can’t do unless I have downloaded it. Mind you they have now started allowing mobile phone calls on planes (you have to sell your wife though to fund it), so maybe we WILL be able to stream even when 30,000 feet in the air!
Whats your opinion? Streaming versus downloads - what wins overall for you?