July 1, 2006
HDTV - the new 3G?
Something just struck me: a few years ago, the mobile phone industry in Europe was all about 3G networks, about how -- by now, note -- we'd all be viewing video clips on our mobile phones. That is, we'd all be streaming the World Cup (England vs. Portugal across my desk on the PC as I type here...) to our mobile handsets.
That didn't happen. 3G is technically quite interesting, but in the end we didn't want it. Or at least, we remain 'unconvinced by the value proposition.' That is: it's hopelessly expensive and we're about as likely to cough up for it as we are to auction our own grandmothers. The latter, note, would in most situation be more useful, too.
Is HDTV the same thing all over again?
Oh, sure, you can point to all manner of supposed HDTV success stories, and to some extent HD is inevitable -- there's enough of a move to high-def production within the TV industry that, just as with 16:9 widescreen, you're going to get it whether you like it or not.
But one could counter with the growing popularity of YouTube, RocketBoom, and the like. Far from demanding ever-higher picture quality, are we in fact increasingly comfortable with lower production values?
If that's the case, then anyone betting the farm on HD is going to be mightily surprised -- and will look mightily stupid -- in 5 years' time. Just like the people who coughed up billions for 3G licenses.