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Streaming Media East 2000
Streaming Media East 2000 Show Report


Richard Bowsher


  Richard Bowsher of StreamingMedia.com gave the opening speech here at the Streaming Media East show held at the Hilton Hotel in the heart of New York City. He commented how fast this industry is growing. In fact, he was quite amazed with the boost in attendance of this show as compared to last year's numbers. No one needs to be reminded of how the likes of RealAudio, MP3 and Napster have been in the headlines of major news media recently. Delivering music, video and interactive content over the Internet is becoming the single most industry affecting the civilized world today. While e-mail is the "killer application", millions of people all around the world enjoy music through their computers on a daily basis. It makes no difference if mainstream audiophile media is ignoring this fact, time marches on and one day we will all be enjoying high quality music delivered through the Internet. Music on demand will one day be the norm. Not just compressed audio, but audio far ahead of what we experience today in my humble opinion.


Rob Glaser


Rob Glaser of RealNetworks, Inc offered up a great keynote speech. He pointed out how the first version of RealAudio was introduced in April of 1995 and has been growing ever since. "In five years we have come a long way in technology." He continued, "The ability to interact with the internet video is also a key part in moving the industry forward (using the SMIL technology)." SMIL allows the combining of various technologies to allow for audio, video and interaction within a streaming media file (to keep this simple and brief). 65,000,000 unique users last year and 125,000,000 unique visitors today are using RealAudio. While some audiophiles will rightly claim the low resolution and not so spectacular sound quality of the basic RealAudio music file, these figures show the incredible growth and potential to deliver media to a very large worldwide audience. In fact over 85% of all streaming audio/video is with the RealNetworks environment.

Right now we are at a "switch over" point where high bandwidth speed in becoming available to the public. ADSL, DSL, cable modems and the likes allow higher and higher bandwidth that, in turn, allow the capability of enjoying ever higher quality streaming music from the Internet. This broadband technology needs to be supported with the proper availability of top quality content to satisfy consumers. The creation and growth of business' capable of delivering various broadband media will serve to enhance the consumer's experience. In fact there is rapid growth within the marketplace outside America that, at the moment, is faster than the USA's growth rate today! This shows how the world is listening and growing into one large marketplace.

We were able to see two streaming videos at the high rate of 500 kbs (as opposed to 56 kbs as is normal with today's telephone line dial up connection). The 500 kbs streaming media resolution was definitely comparable to VHS in my humble opinion. As dedicated to audio only, this content can truly be better than "CD quality" sound. As we get better at compressing data and have access to higher bandwidth rates, we will one day have better than DVD-Audio sound quality over the Internet. The Meridian Lossless Packet (MLP) was approved by the WG-4 for DVD-Audio and one day we will may see their MLP lossless technology of very high quality audio delivered on demand over the internet. Who knows, one day there may be no need to compress data at all!


RealAudio Baseball


Back to the advantage of interactive video for a moment. When watching a baseball game, for example, we could move the mouse over the strike zone and see where the previous balls/strikes were thrown. Top this off with being able to click the player to see hit statistics. Furthermore, you can click on the advertiser's banner at a ballpark (such as Dominos Pizza) and you could theoretically order a pizza that would be delivered to your home! The same type of interactivity could be done with concert videos. You could stream Miles Davis or Metallica and order a t-shirt, book, or learn about other products available from that artist.




RealPlayer is the #1 independent consumer application according Rob Glaser. Over 60,000,000 packages of their software have been downloaded in the past year. As a comparison, Napster has 10,000,000 users after nine months. This shows how fast an Internet audio application can grow. Music is one of the most desired benefits of the internet and it is up to the music industry to delivery. So far they have been slow to respond and too busy with their lawyers and figuring out ways to protect their data through watermarking and other technologies. Because of the major labels stalling, it seems that applications such as Napster have taken charge at an amazingly fast rate. Now imagine of instead of compressed audio via MP3, we have near DVD-Audio files available. What will the future hold? Only time will tell. Fortunately the quality of streaming audio available today has been getting better and better over a relatively short period of time. It is still not truly "CD quality" generally speaking, but with the access to higher bandwidth i foresee better than DVD-Audio within 10 years time.


Lew Dobbs and Rob Glaser


Enter Lew Dobbs of Space.com. He came to the stage (left) with Glaser (right). Lew Dobbs was formerly with CNN and is now looking to take the internet by storm. Space.com is looking to create a "Space Program" offering everything from news, sports and a lot of other information. All of which will simply stream over the internet. The delivery of content to consumers is King. Basically this could spell the elimination of today's passive TV to a much more interactive, on demand delivery of content.


Lew Dobbs and Rob Glaser

Over 2,500 radio stations are now available in the RealAudio 8 player. This gives more variety than many audiophiles have in software titles! Now imagine being able to have delivered better than CD or DVD-Audio of this music which YOU will choose. The flexibility in managing your own collection of media will be as easy as point and click. Unlike the limited information in a CD jewel case, we can today get not just images and the lyrics and credits, we can also get more information of the bands goodies including other albums and even buy the others albums you so desire.

By 2003 there will be 121 million internet devices. In fact an all new streaming audio watch prototype within a watch was shown. To help support such small devices are ever smaller removable memory cards.


Steve Jobs


Today RealNetworks and Apple have joined so that RealServer 8 will support streaming Apple's QuickTime media. The Gladiator demo was used . In fact none other than Steve Jobs appeared at the show via live video to give his support for joining RealNetworks in the ability to have more support for Apple's QuickTime.

The industry is said to expand 20-fold over the next five years. It is key to keeping the infrastructure solid while also expanding the features and availability. Keeping things consumer friendly while also securing the data for intellectual protection of the media is paramount.


David Neuman


The next speaker up was employed by NBC, FOX, and is the former President of Disney Television and other major companies. David Neuman, who's previous employer internet company DEN he is no longer with. In 1998 he decided to join an Internet startup DEN as their President. While his roll varies over the years, he mainly stayed true to taking charge of the video efforts. He offered advice as to how to avoid the problems associated with working with a startup internet media company. Interactivity, community, and audio/video experience is highly desired by consumers. No audio CD, vinyl record or cassette offers this today. New forms of internet entertainment easily compete, and possibly beat what is available today.




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