Twenty-five years ago, maybe longer, my dad decided to convert his massive music collection from vinyl to CD. He’s still working on it but the technological leap from then to now boggles the mind. When he started, a desktop computer that cost 5 times the average price of a computer today, held only enough storage space for about 55 minutes of music — just enough to burn a CD. If you went over the allotted storage space, the computer crashed.
Last year, in an emergency situation, I picked up a $400 laptop at Walmart. There’s enough storage space on that sucker to hold my dad’s entire music collection three times over. My wife’s iPod, which is the size of a thick credit card, is even larger.
You don’t need me to run through how cheap, endless, digital storage capacity became a game changer in the music industry. The industry is a shadow of its former self, held up by a few Beyonce-ish niche brands whose appeal is based more on their sexuality than talent. This is why the edging-70 year-olds — The Eagles, Stones, Who, Petty, Springsteen, and Neil Diamond — still dominate the business of live tours.
People don’t buy albums anymore, they buy singles. Piracy has gutted the industry and in return the days where record companies had the money necessary to nurture and promote talent into legends is gone. There’s too little money to bring another Springsteen along and there’s too much clutter for anyone to breakthrough because anyone paying $40 for Internet access can distribute their music to the world. New technologies are often called disruptors. For the music industry, digital storage space was a devastator.
Video, obviously, eats up a lot more storage space than audio. That’s why The Cloud was created — that magical server that allows you to store your films on someone else’s computer. I love the Cloud. Through VUDU, I’m able to up-convert my DVDs to Bluray quality for $2.50 each (if you do ten or more at a time) and then store them on someone else’s computer.
The advantages of this are four-fold: 1) The up-conversion is cheaper than purchasing the Bluray. 2) Someone else stores the film. 3) I can stream the film on anything at anytime; from my phone, to my high-definition projector. 4) From a psychological point-of-view, I don’t feel like I wasted money on my DVD collection.
That’s where the video digital market is today. This is where I think that market is now headed — which is not even in the direction where the manufacturer says it is. TiVo has just unveiled a “DVR” (I’ll explain the scare-quotes in a bit) capable of storing 4,000 hours of HD and 26,000 hours of SD video. This potential game changer is called the TiVo Mega. It contains 24 TeraBytes of storage and retails for $5000.
TiVo Mega has six tuners, which allows you to record six things at once. You can also stream what you record, or are watching, to your television or to any portable device, such as a tablet or smartphone. More than one person can stream at the same time. You can check out all the features here.
Who needs 4000 hours of high-def storage space on a DVR?
The answer is no one.
For $5000 you are not getting a DVR, you are getting your own Cloud. And that is the potential game changer.
For $5000 you can record and store for forever 2000 high-definition movies — which works out to $2.50 a piece, or a fraction of the cost of a Bluray or digital download. Moreover, you don’t have to create all the shelf space for those 2000 Blurays, which is considerable (believe me, I know).
Basically, whatever you subscribe to via cable, can be recorded and stored on the TiVo Mega forever. If you subscribe to channels like HBO, you can record HD copies of any or all of their movies. Any classic film lover has to be salivating at the prospect of mating a TiVo Mega with Turner Classic Movies HD.
Obviously, $5000 is a lot of money. But that’s retail. Soon, Amazon will probably be selling TiVo Megas at 40% off. In five years…
The Cloud, as it is, allows the entertainment industry to control things. You can’t store anything in their Cloud you don’t pay their price to store there. If you own your own Cloud, you can store all kinds of content for a fraction of what that programming costs now.
The TiVo Mega comes with a lifetime warranty.
Digital is the final frontier for music and video. The music industry entered this frontier over a decade ago. The technology behind the TiVo Mega is only a few years from being affordable enough to finish this journey for video
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC