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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Digital Dilemma: How do you share content?

It's been a few weeks since our last post but we've always felt it's better to say something worthwhile than just to say something for heck of it.

What brought about this post?  Well, it was triggered by an article that I read about cloud computing in a local newspaper that got me thinking about digital content and how we consume it.

In the last couple of years we've seen virtually every sort of content source turn digital whether it be the music we listen to, the movies we watch or the books we read.  While this has been a welcome change for many people, it's brought about a few questions, some of which are yet to be answered by content providers.

Firstly, was the question of how do buy it?  Sadly, in the Middle East the number of online stores for buying music, TV shows, movies or books is limited and in some cases non-existent.  This then only creates an environment where piracy thrives because the publishers haven't found a solution to deliver their content digitally.
Mr. Publisher, please find a way for me to share a newspaper
digitally? (Image from Flickr by Pingu1963) 

The second question that arises is that if you could get the content, what do you if you want it only for a short period of time and have no intention of buying it?  In the normal world, you could always go to a library or rental store and rent the content, whether it be a movie or book.  The likes of Amazon have now said you can't rent textbooks on their e-book reader (the Kindle) and Apple allows you to rent movies and TV shows (click here for a link to Amazon's textbook rental story).

However, there is a third question that arises which has yet to be answered.  How do you lend content to a friend or family member?  Till now if you had a magazine, newspaper, book, video game, movie, song or TV show, you may have shared it within your family, with your friends or passed it around your office for everyone to enjoy.  With an e-book, song, movie or newspaper on your digital device, there is no way to actually share this legally in many cases.  While in many cases, it could be argued that digital content such as books are cheaper in a digital format than it would be in a printed format, the fact is that in many cases, it may be 20-30% cheaper.  This can still be an expensive proposition.
Will Apple's iCloud lead to iPiracy?
(Image from Flickr by zoofythejinx13)

With Apple's iCloud also due to for launch this autumn, it'll be interesting to see if this becomes a haven for piracy as content providers work out a way to find better ways of sharing content.  Whether you call it lending, borrowing, recycling, donating or re-gifting, you can't expect people to stop doing it.

While the advent of digital content has been a positive change, the pace of change in how it is distributed or how it is re-distributed is still lagging sadly, especially so in the Middle East.  With devices like tablets, e-book readers and tablets becoming more mainstream, there is only so long you can hold consumers back before they get impatient.  The result of this impatience can often times mean piracy and hopefully publishers address this before it spirals further out of control.

Posted By: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics