March 24, 2012

Po Tay TOOOOOOO!

Before we begin, watch this. You can thank me in the comments.



Alright, now that you've watched that two or three (or twenty) times, let's continue, shall we?

I have a draft post that I've been working on for weeks. This isn't it. It's a picture of my bookshelf. When I envisioned that post last year, I had no idea it would take me so long to finish. That's how much I love you. I'm working hard on a picture post.

BUT, so that you don't forget I'm here, let's talk! Not about work. Work is busy. Stuff that was supposed to be turned over in December is turning over now, so I have to do a whole lot of stuff in a few weeks. Mmmm, publishing. Gotta love it.

But publishing isn't the only industry going through digital upheaval right now. Sure, CD vs MP3, DVD vs streaming, but those battles are actually old battles (just like ebooks are an old battle--the public just wasn't involved in the first part of it). The big deal now is mobile connectivity. And actually, this has been a big deal for years as well, but again, industry fights its own battles internally and then format adoption moves that fight out into the open.

Smart phone adoption is so prevalent now that I actually forgot not everyone has one. I use my phone more than I use my laptop (including for watching streaming movies). The only thing my laptop is really for any more is writing, because I write a billion times faster on a real, full-sized keyboard than I do on a touch screen. And, now we're getting 4G technology (a rant in and of itself because the G just stands for generation, which means companies hold onto technology until they've milked us for all we're worth and then they move on to the next generation to start all over).

Awesome phones, cloud-based services, and high-speed mobile connectivity. You know what that means? Science fiction is becoming science fact! Or it would, if we weren't limited to 2GB of data a month. For all the people fighting over self-publishing vs traditional publishing, I think the larger impact on us as a society is the control of bandwidth. The "all information should be free" justification for thievery is bunk, but there are some serious implications of a non-neutral, ratcheted internet. So many services are moving to a mobile interface. More over, those services are also going to a cloud system rather than a delivery system (to simplify it, if they don't give you an end product, everyone has to go to them and they make more money--same is true for ebooks which is why the "publishers don't want ebooks" argument is so stupid).

What happens is they take information and services and put it over there. Then they say you can get it over here on your phone. Pay for the service to get it from there to here. Oh, but now we're going to limit you because it is more profitable for us to restrict your access to the materials we've taken away from you than it is to increase our network to handle increased volume.

I left Sprint because of horrible customer service and a poor selection of phones. They're improving on both, I hear, especially the latter. Their bandwidth speeds aren't top of the line, but they still offer true unlimited. Verizon and AT&T charge over 2GB and with music and video going to cloud-based services, you'd be amazed at how quickly you can pass that mark.

How much, do you ask? I average 15GB of usage a month. That's how much. I'm considered a top-tier user in that regard and I'm doing it on purpose. I'm part of the grandfathered Unlimited Data customers from Verizon. If I were with AT&T, they'd ratchet my service so that anything over 2GB would be so slow that I wouldn't want to use it even though I could. Verizon will probably end up doing the same, and frankly, it's the wrong direction.

At some point, the majority of the digital goods we consume will be done through a mobile platform, and as long as our access to that material is constrained, it will only foster piracy and theft rather than inhibit it. More over, it will stifle growth and innovation. This is where the entire industry is moving and has been moving for years. The attempt to constrain that result now is like trying to turn the titanic. There will be a big ass crash when more people discover they're willing to use mobile solutions for high-bandwidth services.

There's a fight a brewing, and it's much more relevant than self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

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