Digital Delivery Offers Users Choice and More

Internet in your BMW? Digital television on your phone? Video on your satellite radio? Welcome to digital life in the 21st century, where choices, content and distribution methods seem to increase by the hour.

CNET Editor at Large Brian Cooley was the keynote speaker at Monday’s “Cool Gadgets, Hot Content” Super Session. Cooley said the technology that was driving consumers and providers could be broken into four groups: movies on line, in-hand technology, in-car technology and digital radio.

The digital delivery of on-line video does more than make trips to video stores or the mailbox obsolete. Cooley said sites like Hulu, etc., developed a promotional model that rivals the old model provided by the content provider and producer between program elements on TV, for example.

“You cannot escape the value of people telling other people about a show and directly linking them to it. It’s an enormous trend called social bookmarking and it’s one that you (content providers and producers) need to be very aware of.”


Mobile platforms like cell phones are not just for sending text messages and voice calls. Cooley said in 2007 the music phones, like the iPhone, outsold all MP3 music players combined.

“So if you wanted to say, ‘What’s out there as a media player in volume,’ it’s phones, not iPods. And the biggest manufacturer of [FM] radios in the world by far is Nokia with 240 million handsets a year.”

Cooley said phones with navigation, video and Internet connectivity will begin to outsell the basic voice and text cell phones as people discover the capabilities.

At the Geneva Auto Show, Cooley shot a video of a BMW with wireless Internet access built in. “It’s very real, and a very different future combination of media, Internet and in-car.”

Cooley touched on the future of digital radio with a mention of iTunes tagging, giving radio its first back channel for listeners to be able to reach out to services and let the station and listener transact through the radio.

Cooley gave the example of a listener with an HD Radio docked to an iPod capable unit, which would alert the user that the iTune tagged song was available for a future download to that iPod, and then having the listener go on line to download the song.

Other digital radio advances include conditional access, the ability to control who listens to what’s on the radio by requiring an unlock code.

Cooley mentioned that HD Radio would enable much richer local traffic data than was available in the past. It allows overlaid data on a navigation system or scrolling text messages on an HD-equipped radio, which Cooley called a better way to serve local audiences than is done presently.

Cooley said radio had a great opportunity that would and could be taken by other devices if radio doesn’t provide richer traffic data. ©2008 NAB