Where Is Home Entertainment Heading? Page 2

A third influence is the proliferation of 4G cellular network coverage. We tend to think of the progress of cellular technologies as a linear progression since the naming convention moves in a linear way from 2G to 3G to 4G and in the near future to 5G. But each progressive iteration is an exponential growth from the previous network technology, not a linear one. For example, it takes 26 hours to download a two-hour movie over a 3G cellular network. That drops to 6 minutes when we move to 4G and will drop to under 5 seconds when we move to 5G. Use case scenarios change drastically with each progression. Capacity and speed improve while latency declines. Think of all the things you would have never done over a 3G connection that you don’t think twice about doing on a 4G connection. Improvements in cellular technology drastically changed content consumption.

Fourth, is the rise of streaming services and podcast options. Streaming services like Spotify have forever changed content ownership and access. There are over 30 million songs on Spotify and over 2 billion playlists. Spotify alone has over 60 million subscribers and over 140 million active users.

Fifth is the rise of personalization, customization, and fashion. Headphones, in all of their assorted shapes and sizes, have become important fashion accessories. Technology is increasingly about not only fidelity but also fashion and lifestyle and that is materializing in every category.

S&V: The death of physical media has been talked about for years, yet movies on disc still exist. Is Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray, indeed, the last physical format for home entertainment?
DuBravac: Physical media use has declined significantly over the last few years but it’s difficult to predict if we are indeed seeing our last physical format for home entertainment. The coming of 5G will drastically change what we can do over a cellular network. At the same time, technological shifts happen over very long periods. Often long after we think the technology is dead. In October 2010, Sony announced they would stop selling the Song Walkman in Japan — a full 30 years after it was first introduced.

We are still in a massive period of experimentation when it comes to how consumers will acquire and use content and this period of experimentation will not end anytime soon.

S&V: What do you make of the resurgence in vinyl? What’s driving it in your view? Is it here to stay or a nostalgic/hipster-driven flash in the pan? Or a phenomenon driven by other factors (such as the need to get back to more organic things in our digital world)?
DuBravac: There are several trends driving a renaissance in vinyl. And while the trend is likely here to stay for the near-term, it’s a trend that will remain niche. We have seen a resurgence in a number of retro analog technologies from film cameras to vinyl record players. To date, the core audience has been millennials who are experiencing these technologies for the first time.

Research suggests as many as half of those buying vinyl albums listened to the albums on digital platforms first before buying them on vinyl. When it comes to analog cameras, anecdotal evidence suggests individuals are using digital cameras to take photos and then turning to their analog cameras only once they’ve found a framing they like and want to replicate with that technology. These observations suggest the resurgence in certain analog technologies can and will co-exist with digital technologies. Individuals are using older analog technologies in conjunction with digital technologies and I expect that will continue.

S&V: As streaming forges ahead for both music and video entertainment, a maze of subscription options have developed, creating confusion and frustration for many consumers. How do you see things settling out in this area?
DuBravac: We are still in a massive period of experimentation when it comes to how consumers will acquire and use content and this period of experimentation will not end anytime soon. Business models are still being built around a new environment of digital devices and streaming services. Companies are still discovering consumer preferences and determining how to leverage digitized information.

S&V: What’s the most important trend you see right now in home entertainment — one that will change the landscape as we know it? Put another way, what’s the Next Big Thing?
DuBravac: There are a number of percolating home entertainment trends worth watching. The entire way we think about home entertainment is changing. More objects in the home are being digitized, which is enabling more fully automated experiences to emerge. Speech recognition has improved significantly and is changing how we interact with technology. More general purpose media rooms are replacing dedicated home theater rooms. We are also seeing artificial intelligence (AI) infused in more services. AI is probably the single biggest force influencing the future of home entertainment. Technologies like machine learning and speech recognition are changing content creation decisions, remapping recommendation engines, and changing how we navigate home entertainment experiences. We’ve only just begun to see how AI will rewrite the future of entertainment.


Billy's picture

I agree, tech prices have fallen like a rock, and I truly enjoy that. I am sure a sizable percentage of that is digitization, but isn't most of it because the Western worker has lost his job and production has been sent to places where they pay pennies on the dollar in comparison? I am not sure that was a good pay off for all of us in the West. As far as voice recognition in our homes connected to the net, I am wary of that. Big Brother scenarios are getting much too close for comfort. We need to be careful how much we allow government and big corporations into our homes. Lastly, virtual reality. Now, there is a tech that I like, but from what I have experienced, it is still not up to snuff. Much too pixelated. Maybe 8K will work here, I sure don't need it at home in my theater, but with a screen an inch from my eye balls, it might be a winner! A cheap VR head set at a Walmart price would be a home theater for the masses.

drny's picture

Oops! For a minute I thought I was reading CNET's latest and greatest gadgets for the masses.
S&V, please don't follow the meandering of the masses.
You are not CNET, thankfully.

Hi-Reality's picture

Thank you Bob for this article. If possible, could Dr. Shawn DuBravac please elaborate on his answer: "More general purpose media rooms are replacing dedicated home theater rooms."

Regards, Babak (Bob)
Founder, Hi-Reality Project
'Sharing Dreams'