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Digital Media Experience over Open Networks

The controlled traditional environment in which people are forced to use a variety of isolated devices to consume pre-packaged entertainment is beginning to fade away. What is replacing that bygone era?

Within the interconnected and liberated marketplace that is emerging, consumers can increasingly choose the way they purchase, use, and manage their media, according to a new insightful white paper that's published by ABI Research.

The white paper is based on a survey conducted of more than 1,100 U.S. consumers.

Research director Michael Wolf says, "While the convergence of different networks, the enabling of networked and broadband consumer electronics devices, and the vast array of content available to buyers, are all creating a new generation of empowered consumers, many are having a difficult time accessing and managing this content in any cohesive way."

Some major players have worked to create solutions to help consumers access and manage the wide variety of content at their disposal through tightly integrated hardware, software, and service packages. Apple's iPod/iTunes pairing is the most obvious example.

But many consumers will choose to connect to content anywhere at anytime. Holding them back will be technology barriers, old frameworks, and business interests of incumbents.

Artificial barriers essentially create friction in the entertainment experience, slowing the consumer's anytime-anywhere experience and possibly preventing it all together.

"These barriers will be the life-blood of walled-garden content services, which will remain popular for a segment of consumers," concludes Wolf. "Keeping users within their closed ecosystems will mean less friction in the media consumption experience. But over time, enabling the transition to a seamless digital media experience over open networks will ultimately benefit media companies as much as it will assist consumers."

The 20-page white paper is available free, to registered users, from ABI's website. Their assessment concludes with some provocative predictions of what the marketplace will look like in 2012. I believe that the "control freak" marketing executives within the traditional analog media world will be very fearful of these changes. That said, all others will likely be invigorated.

The white paper examines consumer behavior today -- in terms of pay media, online content, digital media storage, and management. Based in part on an online survey conducted in 2Q07, "Digital Content Unleashed" examines how new enabling technologies will drive adoption of new use-cases, and how this will create a need for more centralized management of their digital media.

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