Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 13/1/2006So the world seems more interested in fluorescent pigs than entangled photons. I told those photons to get a better agent and sort out their image, but would they listen?

Friday 13/1/2006

So the world seems more interested in fluorescent pigs than entangled photons. I told those photons to get a better agent and sort out their image, but would they listen? "Look," I said. "Pigs have got it made. Pinky and Perky. Cute little tails, Cheeky grins, They're comedy gold — and they taste terrific. What have you got? An oscillating electromagnetic field with components at 90 degrees to each other, a probabilistic envelope and relativistic mass. It might work for the brainiacs, but it won't get you on reality TV." They did point out that without their sort of reality there wouldn't be any TV, but that's just the sort of smart-arse particle fundamentalism that goes down at a pitch meeting like a teaspoon of dandruff.

In other sad news: world not interested in mobile TV after all, despite BT, O2, Orange, 3, Sky, Apple, Google and every other purveyor of digital content is desperate need to sell it to us. I'm confused by this: every time I speak to a handset supplier or network operator, they assure me in tones of barely-concealed excitement how much more people actually love mobile TV than anyone dared to dream. "We understand your reservations," they say, "and to be honest, we've shared them ourselves. But actually get a service out there on trial and the punters can't get enough!"

But talk to real people — and ask about real research — and the reality is less thrilling. Nice to have, if you can get all the content you want and it doesn't cost very much. A fiver a month is the upper limit. There are one helluva lot of subscription services out there vying for that fiver, and for that we really do want the works. How does that tie in with the model suggested by Google Video, where £1.50 buys you an old episode of Desperate Housewives?

That's something else I've noticed on the trial of the BBC's over-the-Net TV delivery system, iMP. The range of programmes is limited, because it would cost too much to clear the rights for the good stuff just for a trial. This means that while iMP initially provokes a splurge of watching telly — the ability to tuck yourself up in bed with the laptop and catch up on The Thick Of It after a hard evening in the pub is fantastic — you soon run out of things you actually want to watch. And then you get bored, then you turn against the technology for letting you down, and soon you're back reading novels.

Which means that of all the new digital media business models, I guess 90 percent will fail due to content restrictions of one kind or another. The bold and the generous will win, and will be repaid many times over. Not a bad slogan for the new age.

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