Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

Back to business!

Even though our website activities were on the back burner for over a year while we reshaped our operations, professionals from nearly 50 countries have kept logging in to tap into fifteen years of archives that uniquely chronicle the birth, the life, but not yet the death, of packaged media.

Though our service brief has been including coverage of new content delivery channels for several years, there is still enough activity on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc front – globally – on which to focus our reporting energy, especially as 4K UHD seems to be gathering pace.

While our company, Globalcom Ltd, remains based in the UK, we are running the website afresh from South Korea! Always looking for new challenges and a desire to share widely the knowledge gained, I took up a faculty position at Hannam University’s Linton School of Global Business (in Daejeon) where I teach globalization and communication technology courses.

South Korea turns out to be a good place to observe what the future may hold – a future other countries may wish to emulate or run away from. And I am keen to report for you what catches my eyes. The irony has not been lost on me that I will continue reporting on DVD and Blu-ray, amongst other topics, from a country that has bypassed packaged media entirely. Indeed, Warner Bros was the last of the Hollywood majors to shut its DVD operations in South Korea … in 2008! It’s no surprise that in the world’s most wired nation, with an average broadband speed of 100Mbit/s, online piracy has nipped in the bud any prospect for video discs to develop.

However, DVD is a thriving – if dangerous – business in North Korea! By some estimates, up to half of all urban North Korean households have an easily concealed ‘notel,’ [notebook + television] – a $50 Chinese-made small portable media player used to watch DVDs or content stored on USB sticks that can be easily smuggled into the country and passed hand to hand. A defector had plans to drop 100,000 DVDs and USBs of Sony’s The Interview with Korean subtitles – a comedy depicting an assassination attempt on the country's leader Kim Jong Un – into North Korea via 33-foot hydrogen balloons (a common method of sending anti-regime and religious literature north of the 38th parallel).

Moving to 4K UHD TVs. They were big items at CES, a sector dominated by South Korean manufacturers if there was one. But the irony is that 4K – displays and content – has no real traction amongst consumers here. That’s an export market. The 80” 4K UHD sets are on display in showrooms, but small Korean flats can hardly accommodate them. Youngsters meet in so-called PC parlours in front of those big screens, but to play video games, and in high-tech karaoke booths!

Also, Koreans are much too enamoured with their large-screen smartphones and their 6-hour-a-day addiction to Facebook and other SMS services (as social media is called there) to have time to watch movies.

If Korea is indicative of things to come – and what other countries should pay attention to – is high-speed mobile connectivity, 5G and what may follow. The country, in all its facets, is a high-tech mobile mecca – in a very big way.

While continues to cover the packaged media business worldwide, I will keep you posted on the evolving content delivery developments in the Asian region as well. Keep watching this space.

That's good to be back online.

Jean-Luc Renaud, publisher...

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On predicting the future

Predicting the future, let alone the future of packaged media, is a perilous exercise, and possibly counter-productive, as the exercise closes doors rather than keep them open, argues JEAN-LUC RENAUD, DVD Intelligence publisher. Consider that: Apple was left nearly for dead 15 years ago. Today, it became the world's most valuable technology company, topping Microsoft.

Le cinéma est une invention sans avenir (the cinema is an invention without any future) famously claimed the Lumière Brothers some 120 years ago. Well. The cinématographe grew into a big business, even bigger in times of economic crisis when people have little money to spend on any other business.

The advent of radio, then television, was to kill the cinema. With a plethora of digital TV channels, a huge DVD market, a wealth of online delivery options, a massive counterfeit underworld and illegal downloading on a large scale, cinema box office last year broke records!

The telephone was said to have no future when it came about. Today, 5 billion handsets are in use worldwide. People prioritize mobile phones over drinking water in many Third World countries.

No-one predicted the arrival of the iPod only one year before it broke loose in an unsuspecting market. Even fewer predicted it was going to revolutionise the economics of music distribution. Likewise, no-one saw the iPhone coming and even fewer forecast the birth of the developers' industry it ignited. And it changed the concept of mobile phone.

Make no mistake, the iPad will have a profound impact on the publishing world. It will bring new players, and smaller, perhaps more creative content creators.

And who predicted the revival of vinyl?

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