Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is Winter upon us?

We are constantly reminded by every headline and news broadcast that we are in a credit crunch or as we used to refer to it a recession. This makes everyone think twice about that extra purchase, that non necessity that gadget. Against this background we are all trying to move the digital agenda forward.

Today we read in Ars Technica that the winner of the HD DVD war is experiencing a dip. According to the latest data from Nielsen VideoScan Blu-ray's market share fell to 8% during the week ending on September 14, whilst the regular old DVD enjoyed 92%. A drop of 13.39% from the previous week, whilst DVD numbers marginally rose by0.15%. This poor performance falls well short of the 50% market share expected by Sony for the end of this year and is despite the unit price falling below $200.

These unexpected shifts in the economy and consumer confidence are hard to predict and require strong nerves. If we think of the ebook market it can’t be good for the current ereaders. Even though actual sales are still not published and many sales and early adopters are from within publishing and the news it makes the Christmas rush look very unlikely.

The good news is that the UK government have announced a programme aimed at connecting all children to the Internet via subsidy for the poor. In principle it looks good but as always the devil is in the detail and words have to be translated into action. However, what this effect will have on the debate on downloads versus online will be interesting. If publishers, retailers and even authors can reach their audience online will consumers still want the ereader in hard times?

The other news yesterday saw the European Commission declare that the mobile operators had to reduce their cross border tariffs on text, voice and data. Again this has a knock on effect of the service operators’ revenues and although the subscription model has enabled high device churn rates this may also start to slow down and could impact the purification of new devices being released in the market.

Perhaps its time to curl up with a good old book!

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