Thursday, 22 September 2011

Servers and Streaming-some clarification

For some time now Bang & Olufsen of Winchmore Hill have been suppliers of the superb Kaleidescape Movie and Music Server. There is a lot of confusion about electronic delivery of home entertainment. Streaming is a method for delivering movies by which the movie is presented to the viewer as it is being delivered over the Internet. The movie is not stored locally, so the quality is limited to what your Internet connection can deliver in real time, and you must be online to watch the movie. Netflix uses streaming for their electronic rental business.

An Internet download works differently. The movie is copied to local storage from which it is played back later. For example, a movie purchased from the iTunes store can be downloaded to an iPad and viewed offline. Downloads work well for movies you purchase because you can view your collection without relying on a service "somewhere in the cloud." Both streaming and downloads are growing, but not nearly as fast as Blu-ray Disc purchases.

We believe that people will continue to collect movies for a long time, just as they collect books and art. We buy movies we love. We buy movies our children love. We sometimes buy a movie to ensure that it will be possible to watch it, even outside of an "availability window." Children watch the same show over and over, which makes buying more economical than renting. Another great reason to purchase is that DVD and Blu-ray offer the best video and audio quality.

In this context, our view on downloads is quite simple: It is just another delivery mechanism for purchasing movies. Today, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs offer the broadest selection and the best fidelity. If you buy movies you must store them, and we believe a movie server is the best place to keep your treasured collection of movies. A natural evolution for the Kaleidescape movie server — one that we have planned from the beginning — will be to support downloads in the future. Indeed Kaleidescape plan to provide online purchasing of Bluray quality movies early in 2011.

The selection of movies available via streaming suffers from the same limitations as other movie rental services: restrictive availability windows and studio licensing deals. In addition, streaming services limit video and audio quality to save bandwidth. Today, streaming is a convenient source of entertainment when immediate availability is more important than quality and choice. Streaming serves important needs, but it does not take the place of a high-quality movie collection. Will the Kaleidescape movie server support streaming in the future? Maybe, but it's not a high priority for us because streaming is already supported by various devices in the home, and because Kaleidescape is focused on transforming your personal collection into a magical experience.

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