Although signs of streaming media's bumpy past are all too visible in the rearview mirror, some say the industry is healthier than ever.
The market certainly looked strong several years ago, when new streaming media companies with fresh new technologies seemed to sprout up every week. But wouldn't the current whittled-down market indicate that this industry is on a downturn?
Not so, say organizers of the Streaming Media West 2002/Internet World Spring 2002 conference, to be held April 23-26 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
"While there is still hesitancy from some looking to acquire streaming media technology, people are now moving forward much more intelligently," said Kerry Lange, conference director for Streaming Media Inc. "The show will address how traditional broadcasters and entertainment and media companies are using the Internet, and streaming in particular, to further their business goals."
Companies that weathered the dot-com storm are here to stay, she believes, and they continue to offer products and proof that streaming is a viable technology for the enterprise and broadcast marketplace.
The prediction that the streaming media industry would someday outpace traditional forms of broadcasting has hardly materialized, yet companies are seeing that streaming media technology has a place in their corporate infrastructure, Lange said.
"[Streaming] may not take over their business or change everything that broadcasters do, but most see it as one strong component of an overall offering," she said.
Although the upcoming convention is designed to showcase some of those offerings, the fact that Streaming Media Inc. and Internet World magazine teamed to bring previously separate conventions together illustrates that the market is still struggling. The two somewhat competitive groups came together for the first time this year to cut costs and boost attendance, organizers said.
"The co-location of these events gives the attendees more bang for their buck," said Courtney Muller, vice president for Internet World Events. "It also gives our exhibitors access to a larger audience and more promotion since both events have separate and distinct marketing campaigns."
And although the Internet World Spring convention will focus on things Internet-related, the Streaming Media West portion will hone in on high-end audio/video streaming and digital media technologies. Show organizers expect the show to draw a consumer element as well as representatives from the entertainment and technology industries. All attendees will have equal access to the both shows.
"We hope that attendees ... leave the show with solid ideas for using Internet technology in their business," Muller said. "The Internet - and the technology that surrounds it - remains a revolutionary business tool. And it will never stop evolving and finding new ways to enable and enhance businesses."
The show will also look at where the industry is headed. "For the last few years the show has been focused on new technologies and applications," Lange said. "Now, more companies are moving ahead to put streaming technology into use and make it work for their business."
Sessions devoted to that theme for Streaming Media West include 40 conference sessions on topics such as encoding, anti-piracy and live Webcasting strategies for television and radio broadcasters. Rob Glaser, CEO of RealNetworks, will offer the show's opening keynote. At Internet World Spring, sessions will include enterprise, infrastructure, e-business and development topics. Keynotes speakers include Mark Jarvis, senior vice president at Oracle Corp.; and Jocelyne Attal, vice president of Marketing for WebSphere Software at IBM Corp. The nearly 200 exhibitors at Streaming Media West 2002/Internet World Spring 2002 include AccuWeather, Avid, Discreet, e-Studio Live, Irdeto Access and LSI Logic Storage Systems.