Entertainment in the Cloud

SpotifyAt the last @GadgetShowLive I managed to get a good deal on a @sonos music system including several Sonos ZonePlayer S5′s from @SimplySonos. At the time I connected this with my iTunes library, downloaded the iPhone remote control client and I was pleased as punch.

Sonos also allowed me to connect to what seems like a million internet radio stations including all of the local ones.

More recently however I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the £9.99 @Spotify Premium service that I could use with my Sonos music system and also with my iPhone and iPad.

I have to say I was skeptical about how much I would use this given the monthly expense, but actually I am quite surprised. One of the easiest things to do is simply setup a Playlist called for example “Current 100” and then copy the Top 100 tracks on Spotify to the Playlist. These can then be played through your Sonos system or you can download them to your phone to be played in Offline mode.

Spotify 100






Using the Sonos App on my iPhone I can search Spotify for tracks, artists or albums from a huge online library and play them immediately or play my previously created Playlists.

However my consumption from this online library has raised some interesting thoughts. In the Corporate IT environment today the big message is “Cloud” with the ultimate goal being that organisations are able to consume business applications and services from an online pool hosted by Cloud Service Providers.

Originally I had stacks and stacks of CDs which in the early days of the iPod I religiously burnt to my computer hard drive and in the following years transferred to a NAS device. I then sold all of my CDs at a local car boot sale because they were taking up a lot of space and were basically redundant. Now, thanks to Spotify, I am getting to the stage that even my own online media store is redundant. Spotify is a good example of a Cloud service for music that works.

A couple of years ago I created a Windows 7 based media server for my son and again burnt all of his DVDs and a few Blu-Rays (they take up a lot of space) to its hard drive, in this case I kept them so he could play them on a portable DVD player but even this has now been superseded by an Android based PMP to which I have copied a great deal of those movies. So again these DVDs are just consuming shelf space. In the US they already have movie streaming and download services that are starting to replace the movie disc rental services like Blockbuster and Lovefilm. In fact these companies are themselves now offering online movie streaming.

The big issue in the UK for a Cloud service for movies, is the availability of bandwidth. I would, in a flash, subscribe to a movie download service if I could continue to get those movies in full 1080p HD 3D with DTS-HD or DolbyTrueHD surround sound, but that requires more bandwidth than is available to the average UK household. Some services like @bt_infinity and Virgin Media’s 50mb+ broadband would suffice but those services are not available to all areas, especially not those of us outside of a major metropolitan hub. Our bandwidth woes are made worse by the fact that everyone would want to use these services at roughly similar times of the day, when we would likely get reduced speeds due to oversubscription.


So the question is how long until the majority of the population in the UK can have a true on demand movie service that is accessible across both portable media players and home cinemas? It seems that a number of companies like @FilmFlex have the infrastructure ready to do this we just need better bandwidth, which is slowly become available. At launch, BT Infinity was available to just 500,000 homes and businesses. However, it’s up to 40Mb connection is now available to around six million households, rising to 10 million by 2012, and to two-thirds of the population by 2014.

You can check when your exchange will be enabled here http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumer/assets/fibre_map/index.html

onliveSo this just leaves the final element of entertainment which is Gaming. @OnLive has recently launched it’s online gaming service in the UK, that allows you to play the latest titles online without the need for the games or necessarily the console the game was originally written for.

It is clear that the entertainment industry is definitely moving towards this cloud service provider model. I personally look forward to the day when I have the bandwidth and latency to consume my media from an ‘Entertainment Cloud’, allowing me not to worry about what formats a title is in or what hardware I need to use to play that title, be it music, video or games.

What do you think? #AVtweeps

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