For some time now, cloud computing has been changing the face of entertainment media. The ability to stream content via an internet connection has taken on traditional hardware, forcing it to take a back seat against the irresistible rise of the cloud.
Receiving services and content via the web – or cloud – is a revolutionary concept. It essentially refers to the use of data and services that are hosted remotely from personal devices. But whilst it’s often discussed as a new concept, the reality is that is it already becoming engrained into our everyday lives; if you use any kind of social media or online data drive, you’re already using the cloud – you just haven’t realised.
Threatening the Status Quo
Music was arguably the first to fall into the path of the cloud. With iTunes leading the way, consumers have rapidly been exposed to a more flexible alternative to CDs. Instead of buying albums, it’s now possible to buy individual songs to build playlists from the comfort of your front room, eliminating the need to house cumbersome plastic cases.
The subsequent emergence of streaming sites like Grooveshark, SoundCloud and Spotify coupled with advances in home computer power and modern operating systems paved the way for streaming to become a more common living-room occurrence.
But it’s not just music that has been subject to change, film and TV is feeling it too. Hollywood are determined to retain profits on films post-cinema, as disks bring in a healthy amount of revenue, last year amassing around $18bn in sales and rentals. But, like videos before them, the DVD is beginning to lose favour amongst consumers, as a sleeker, space saving, and more flexible alternative looms.
LoveFilm, NetFlix, iTunes, to name a few, bring TV and video directly into the home, and the capabilities of cloud-based browsing opening doors for more targeted shopping streamlines the whole discoverability of movie-watching.
Finally, the promise of being released from the shackles of costly specialised hardware has long since earmarked the emergence of cloud computing in the gamers’ diary too. The cloud has the potential to provide access to cutting edge gaming technology anytime, anywhere, thanks to its power to deliver high speed performance without interruption.
For example, take Steam; a uniform managed gaming platform for the PC. Steam allows its users to pay for access to a catalogue of PC-based games without the need to shell out for hardware and discs. And, unlike its contemporaries, Steam introduces a community element to entertainment media by integrating profiles and chat functions for its users.
Rocking the DRM Boat
Clearly, cloud based entertainment is not without its issues, with digital rights management (DRM) presenting problems across the board. Again, music was the first to be stung by DRM, with content able to be shared and duplicated to exponentially over the internet.
The free usage wave took over for music, but the likes of Grooveshark still frequently find themselves under the cosh from recording labels who accuse the service of mass-copyright infringement.
And, although the growth of movie streaming could really kick off as technology companies start to make a foray into integrated TV, this too is dogged by DRM concerns.
At the moment, Google’s ‘Chromecast’ has been the first to take this road, with the £35 dongle enabling users to stream videos from a phone or tablet to their TV using Chrome. Officially, Chromecast only supports media from the Google Play store, Netflix, and YouTube. Independent application development – most famously in the form of ‘AirCast’, which allowed users to stream their personal media to a TV – has been stifled, with Google reluctant to rock the boat with its content providers by making it easier for users to play pirated movies on their TV.
Clearly, there are still some creases to be ironed out. But the outlook for cloud is bright; consumer demand coupled with the potential posed by rapid advances in internet technology, mean that cloud services will continue to change the face of how we experience entertainment.
This is written by Ali Raza on behalf of Interoute. Ali is a very keen blogger and writes content to please emerging business audiences and add value to their lives.