Audio and video trends for 2014

The future of cameras seem to be heading to is smaller, more portable, more disposable and mirrorless (DSLRs have a mirror). When Nokia’s Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki told 2010 that Cell Phone Cameras Will Replace DSLRs, I could not believe that on time. But it really seems to become more and more to truth in 2014: Nowadays you can take professional level (“good enough photos”) using consumer level cameras and smart phones. Technical quality is good enough for majority. There is going on a rampant replacement of point and shoot cameras of all flavors and varieties with smart phones and their built in cameras. Now the market is being effectively gutted. Gone. Non-existent. Same thing is happening to video as well.

Part of the technical race came to a (maybe temporary) end: “How can I match and exceed the quality of conventional metrics that we used to get from medium format film.” There’s nothing else pressing to solve, technically. Many photographers are fully equipped but uninspired to move forward. We have have set down for “good enough.” The engineering idea is that we’ve hit the sweet spot and to go for a Six Sigma improvement would be costly and unnecessary.

DSLR sales were down in 2013, worldwide, by 18.5% according to CIPA. The total decline in the entire dedicated camera market is closer to 43.5%. The decline will continue. Credit Suisse prediction: “Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last – and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fullfil that criteria”. Mirrorless cameras are not a big market: According to CIPA is the total sales of mirrorless system cameras in N. America was slightly fewer than 39,000 units. Total.

The challenge will be: How do you bridge that gap between high photo-capture quality and high-quality camera devices and the cloud where every amateur photographer’s images live? The company which has the most innovative post-processing, easy to share photos feature set wins! The future of photography is same as future in pretty much everything: software and connectivity. Camera manufacturers have been slow on those: we are just now seeing cameras with full operating systems like Android The advantages to smart phones are size, constant (annoyingly constant) access, multi-task tool set, and the ability to send your images, electronically, to an audience just about anywhere in the world.

Several smartphone makers have clear strategies to take photography to extremes: 40 megapixel camera is already on the market and several manufacturers are playing with re-focus after shooting options.

Consumer video device trend is that separate classic video cameras have pretty much faded from market. New smart phones have high definition video cameras in them, so for most users there is no need for separate video camera. For special uses there are small “action” video cameras that are so tiny that you can place them almost anywhere and they can take some beating while you perform your extreme sports. If the video quality of those do not suffice, many people use their DSLR to shoot higher quality high definition video. For professional video production there is still some market left for professional and prosumer video cameras.

The world seems to be heading to situation where separate DSLRs and separate video cameras will be more like high fidelity audio, which used to be common selling point in 1970s, 80s and early 90s, but now only some geeks care about audio quality. This will more or less happen to photographs and video.

Connected TV technologies get more widely used and the content earlier viewable only on TV can be now seen on many other screens. Your smartphone is the screen in your pocket. Your computer is the screen on your desk. Your tablet is a screen for the couch. This development is far from ready. Gartner suggests that now through 2018, a variety of devices, user contexts, and interaction paradigms will make “everything everywhere” strategies unachievable.

Video streaming has really become mainstream as Netflix And YouTube Account For Over 50% Of Peak Fixed Network Data In North America. Because of the rise in video services like Netflix and YouTube, peer-to-peer file-sharing has dropped (meaning less piracy of movies and TV series). Netflix remains the biggest pig in the broadband python, representing 31.6% of all downstream Internet traffic in North America during primetime hours in September — well ahead of any other streaming service. In other parts of the world, YouTube is the biggest consumer of bandwidth. In Europe, YouTube represented of 28.7% of downstream traffic.

Post HDTV resolution era seems to be coming to TVs as well in form of 4K / UltraHD. It was introduced in the 2013, and the manufacturers start to push it more in 204 because all LCD makers are looking to move their business models on from cheap mass production to higher-margin, premium offerings. They try to innovate and secure their future viability by selling fewer, but more profitable displays. On this road giant curved TVs is gaining ground: LG announces that it will present the “world’s first ” 105-inch curved ultra-hd-TV in January in Las Vegas at CES. Almost at the same time , however, Samsung also announced the proposal at CES “the world’s first and curved” 105-inch ultra HD television.. TV screens are in fact higher resolution the basic 4k level of ultra hd: Samsung and LG screens resolution is 5120 × 2160 pixels in the image (11 megapixels).

4K resolution ecosystem will get more ready for use. Netflix is testing out 4K video streaming and Netflix’s House of Cards was shot in 4K. Amazon Studios also just recently announced that it will shoot all of its 2014 shows in that format as well.

4K and 4K streaming are definitely coming in 2014 regardless of how many people can actually view it. 4K will still require a lot of work “with the compression and decode capability” to be ready for mainstream use. There are a great many things that need to happen before 4K really becomes a reality or needs to do so.
PC hardware with 4G capable graphics cards is already available, so decoding the stream is not a problem. The biggest issue is that the market penetration of 4K-capable televisions needs to grow, but to that happen the prices must drop to ranges for the average consumer. Many users have already fast enough fixed broadband connection, but can the networks handle peak usage 4K streaming? According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, it won’t require more than a stable 15 Mbps to stream 4K.

Extreme overkill resolution will also push to tablet and smart phone markets. There are already smart phones with full HD resolution. In high-end smartphones we may be moving into the overkill zone with extreme resolution that is higher than you can see on small screen: some makers have already demonstrated displays with twice the performance of 1080-progressive. Samsung is planned to release devices with 4k or UHD resolutions. As we have seen in many high tech gadget markets earlier it is a very short journey to copycat behavior. And we will see also see smart phones that can shoot 4K video.

For a long time music has been listened mainly with small portable MP3 player and such, which for most users provide “good enough” audio quality. The market had already shifted from separate MP3 players to the same functionality included to other devices (smart phones and tablets), so sales of music players sales have plummeted in year 2013 as much as as one-third. Separate music players mostly only used for listening music during fitness hobby, and growing popularity of fitness hobby is full of players saved the market from total collapse. Uncompressed music player to appreciate the need of a decent storage capacity, so some hifi people buy some high-end separate players, but that’s a small market.

Apple’s iPod continues to lead an ever-shrinking market of portable media players with a staggering 72 percent of the market for standalone music players. Apple has never been afraid of reducing demand for one of its devices by creating demand for another, in this case iPhone. The future of separate music players looks bleak.

Smartphones have taken the music player market. The growing popularity of smart phones and music streaming services will rise in the future to eat even music players sales. If smart watch will become a hit, the music player may be lost in exercisers shopping list.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Expect Labs Raises $13 Million for ‘Anticipatory’ Computing

    Expect Labs Inc. is poised to expand its speech recognition technology that predicts what you will say–and what you intend to search for–before you say it.

    The idea driving the San Francisco-based startup is to provide an alternative to keyboards and other interfaces to help people weave more technology into their daily lives with less friction. Such alternatives are becoming increasingly important given the focus on microphones in the next generation of connected devices.

    Founded in 2011 by a corps of engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and led by serial entrepreneur Tim Tuttle, Expect Labs recognizes natural speech in real time. The technology engine, which surfaces information from the public Web and private sources like Dropbox and Google Docs, then presents items people might find useful while they’re speaking based on their location, social connections, past behavior and other data points.

    The Expect Labs team launched a consumer app called MindMeld late last year to showcase what the anticipatory engine could do. The company’s focus isn’t on wooing consumers however–it is on wooing developers.

    The company, which charges developers per application programming interface, or API, call completed, is cash-flow positive, he said.

    “Speech recognition will be a solved problem within 12 months with language recognition [by technology] better than by humans,” Mr. Tuttle said. “In the next six months, I think the general public will become more aware of this. It will start with English” and expand to other languages.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EyeEm Launches Open Edit, Letting You See How Pros Edit Their Photos

    Photosharing startup EyeEm has launched version 5.0 of its mobile app on iOS and Android, bringing a slew of changes to its editing system that make it easier to get your photos looking like the shots curated from professionals.

    The centerpiece of the new system is a new feature called Open Edit. While looking at a photo in the app, you can now tap a button that lets you see a list of how various parameters (contrast, sharpness, etc.) were modified to achieve the final look. On iOS (and shortly Android), you can then see how those edits would look on one of your own photos.

    Open Edit takes only a bit more work than trying out different filters yet manages to teach photography fundamentals to those willing to fiddle with it for a few moments now and then. It’s a very clever user experience

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Stephen Shankland / CNET:
    FV-5 camera app takes advantage of Android Lollipop to allow Nexus 5 and 6 to shoot RAW photos — How Android 5.0 lets you get raw for better photos — Programmers have begun unlocking a new feature in Google’s new Lollipop mobile OS: the ability to shoot photos in raw format, which adds new flexibility in image quality.

    How Android 5.0 lets you get raw for better photos

    Programmers have begun unlocking a new feature in Google’s new Lollipop mobile OS: the ability to shoot photos in raw format, which adds new flexibility in image quality.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Perhaps It’s Not The Entertainment Industry’s Business Model That’s Outdated

    He suggested that despite the common wisdom many of us have suggested, the entertainment industry’s business models aren’t actually obsolete. What is obsolete is what people think the industry’s business model is. And, the worst thing is that the people most guilty of this are the industry execs themselves.

    We’ve been arguing that there are plenty of business models that don’t involve actually selling the content, but involve selling other, related products that are made valuable by the content. In fact, that’s what both the music and the movie industry already do. Everyone may think that you’re buying “music” or “movies” but that’s very rarely what you’re actually buying. You’re buying the experience of going to the movies. Or the ability to have the convenience of a DVD. Or the convenience of being able to listen to a song on your iPod. And, in many cases, it’s not just one thing, but a bundle of things: the convenience of being able to hear a song in any CD player, combined with a nice set of liner notes and the opportunity to hear a set of songs the way a band wants you to hear. It can be any number of different “benefits” that people are buying, but it’s not the “movie” or the “music” itself that anyone is buying.

    So the problem isn’t that the industry’s basic business model is obsolete — it’s just that everyone thinks they’re actually selling music or movies, and that leads them to do stupid things like put DRM on the music to take away many of those benefits, or making the movie-going experience that much worse by treating everyone like criminals. What they’re doing, and why it’s hurting them, is that they’re actually taking away the features that they used to be selling — and missing out on opportunities to sell other benefits as well. So while we may still point out that the basic business model is obsolete, it may be more accurate to simply say that it’s the understanding of the business model that’s really out of date.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Last week, we saw a post that gave the Samsung NX300 the ability to lock the pictures taken by the camera with public key cryptography. [g3gg0] wrote in to tell us he did the same thing with a Canon EOS camera.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Year Long Time Lapse Camera

    All [val3tra] wanted was an RF-accessible camera. A camera that would take pictures, save them to an SD card, and occasionally send them over an RF link to a computer. This project has grown out of control, and now it has become an open-source camera that’s able to take year-long time-lapse movies.

    The build started as a low power camera using an eBay JPEG camera modified for 3.3V. That’s only 640×480, but each frame averages only 48kb – small enough to store a few thousand pictures on a FAT16 formatted SD card.

    This build was then improved, bringing the total battery consumption down to about 3.5-4 Joules per frame, or at one frame every 10 minutes, about 24 Joules an hour. That’s impressive, and getting this camera to run longer than a dozen or so months raises some interesting challenges.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Steve Kovach / Business Insider:
    Sony says ‘The Interview’ was rented or purchased more than 2M times, generated over $15M in online sales; Apple starts offering the movie on iTunes —

    ‘The Interview’ Generated Over $15 Million In Online Sales

    Sony announced Sunday night that “The Interview” was downloaded or rented online more than 2 million times, generating over $15 million in sales.

    After initially pulling the movie from theaters, Sony decided to release it online instead. “The Interview” premiered December 24 on YouTube, Google Play, Xbox Video, and Sony’s own site,

    “vast majority” of rentals and downloads came from Google Play and YouTube.

    The movie was also shown in a little over 300 independent movie theaters in the US. The major movie theater chains have refused to show it. It’s generated about $3 million in estimated sales at the box office so far.

    Keep in mind this doesn’t mean “The Interview” is a success. It cost an estimated $100 million to make, including marketing costs.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Court allows Aereo to auction TV streaming technology assets

    A bankruptcy court has allowed defunct video streaming company Aereo Inc to auction its TV streaming technology assets, according to court papers published on Friday.

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday that Aereo could sell its assets, after the company reached an agreement with broadcasters over the sale process.

    These broadcasters include CBS Corp, Comcast Corp’s NBC, Walt Disney Co’s ABC and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s Fox.

    Under the agreement, Aereo will allow the broadcasters to attend the auction of the assets and provide them a weekly update on the status of the sale process.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Nilay Patel / The Verge:
    As Microsoft scales back original vision of the Xbox One as a general-purpose living room platform, key team members keep leaving the company

    Almost every single Xbox executive we profiled in this video last year has left the company
    Told you TV was a bad idea

    The Xbox One was supposed to be the first step towards a living room revolution — it was supposed to run Windows apps, every console was supposed to be a dev unit, and deep interactive TV integration was the next big step — but there’s been virtually no progress on any of those fronts since the console’s bumpy launch, and the people who championed that vision are now mostly gone. The renewed focus on gaming has led to short-term sales success, but consoles last a decade, and the long-term vision is no longer clear. Microsoft says the Xbox One will run the upcoming Windows 10 operating system, which is supposed to unify the company’s various products, but there have been precious few details about that plan so far. We’ll have to wait to find out more.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dish, Fox News Feud Again Illustrates How The Cable TV Industry Is Digging Its Own Grave

    If you have cable you’ve probably been exposed to one of the increasingly ugly retransmission fee disputes occurring between cable operators and broadcasters. They usually go something like this: as the two sides fail to hammer out new programming contracts, programmers pull their content from your cable lineup. Both sides then use media campaigns, on screen tickers, and websites all trying to convince you that the other guy is a nefarious, greedy villain. Frequently lost in the festivities is the fact that consumers get to pay the same amount of money for cable, even though they’re suddenly able to watch less content.

    The latest example of this dysfunction is the ongoing feud between Dish Network and Fox News, which resulted in Dish customers losing access to both Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel roughly a week ago. As with other fights, both sides have loud websites trying to harness consumer outrage toward the other side. Also like similar fights, users get to keep paying the same amount of money despite getting less content.

    It is astonishing that the cable and broadcast industry continues to bicker over the body of a dying cash cow as its house burns down around it. It requires a very particular skill set to take an industry with some of the worst customer satisfaction ratings in the country and find a way to make the consumer experience notably worse.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Samsung’s new Milk VR to round up 360-degree videos for Gear VR
    Milk VR will provide the videos for free as Samsung hopes to goose interest in virtual reality.

    Samsung wants to jump-start the virtual-reality movement.

    The Korean electronics conglomerate on Tuesday launched Milk VR, a service that will provide free 360-degree videos to anyone using a Gear VR virtual-reality headset, which launched as a limited “Innovator’s Edition” earlier this month. The content is expected to dribble out on a consistent basis in an effort to get people coming back to the service.

    Samsung wants Milk VR to be a rebuttal to those skeptical about the amount of content available for the Gear VR. The videos will also serve as a model for future filmmakers or artists looking to take advantage of the virtual-reality medium, as well as build up an ecosystem and viewership for VR content. Milk VR also sits alongside the Milk Video and Milk Radio services, dragging Samsung deeper into the content game.

    The company is looking at virtual reality as a potential growth engine at a time when one of its key traditional revenue sources — smartphones — has slowed down, taking with it a drop a profits.

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