Event Report: 7Digital – A Look At The Future
On Tuesday October 19, on the 31st floor of a London high rise, Ben Drury and guests presented a report on the future of 7digital.
Unveiled at the conference were some exciting new products from both 7digital and their partners. All of which seemed to form a promising rebellion against technological empire Apple.
To begin, CEO and Founder of 7digital, Ben Drury, introduced two technology companies – ARM and Imagination – announcing that both have quadrupled their share price in the last two years and combined are worth over $US11 billion. 7digital’s products represent both ARM and Imagination and the technology they have developed is used in almost all smart phones and tablets.
The first guest was CEO of OTO, Mark Oliver, a specialist in content monetization.
Mark gave a brief overview on the state of the digital entertainment market and highlighted the interesting trend of the increased speed in penetration for new technology. From the time of the first audio visual product that gained a 50 percent penetration over a 12-year period; to present time, where the WEB and e-commerce gained 50 percent market penetration in under a four-year period showing a vast increase in the speed of development of new technology.
Mark states that the UK is a world leader in Internet spending as a proportion of overall spending, making the UK the forefront of change. These changes have developed from:
– price transparency, through the use of comparison sites
– lower spending, due to access of free content via the WEB
– increased streaming of content in WEB 2.0.
Resulting in content investment being a higher risk.
In its analytical form, the result has portrayed elements of the well-known ‘Long Tail’ distribution. However, the big hitters (Simon Cowell and X-Factor) are now larger and the tail (free online streaming) content isn’t affected, making the middle (traditional TV) suffer. To compensate, entertainment industries must become multi-platform to survive. This change has given an opportunity to new platforms, however, some early adopters (Apple) seem to have a monopoly on new technology creating a future battle between Platforms, Devices, Content and Access for space.
Mark concludes on the cheery note ‘Good Luck’.
Ben returned to the stage with some interesting statistics regarding the digital music market. Digital Album sales have had a fast growth despite earlier claims from various ‘futurists’ saying the Album was dead in the digital age.
The current UK digital single track to album sales, ratio (currently dominated by iTunes), is 9:8 in favour of the single, however, Ben was pleased to announce that 7digital’s stats were at 3:5, reflecting a clear strength in the Album sales. 2010 digital sales represent 27% of music sales, not including subscription services or advertisement funded revenue, at a value of around £230 million. 7digital’s estimated prediction was for digital to overtake physical as early as the end of next year. In the US, for some labels, the 50% mark was passed some time ago.
Next on the agenda were new tablets, Samsung’s GALAXY Tab and Toshiba’s Folio 100, both in line for competition with the iPad. Both tablets used 7digital as their media stores and both run the Android 2.2 operating system (OS).
According to Samsung, “the partnership with 7digital has enabled Samsung to create a digital music experience tailored to meet the needs of GALAXY Tab users.”
“The power of 7digital’s open APIs combined with their extensive music catalogue instantly gives GALAXY Tab users access to one of the most comprehensive music services in the world, allowing them to quickly and easily search, discover, preview and purchase tracks and albums directly on their GALAXY Tab.”
GALAXY Tab is smaller than the iPad, measuring at 190x120mm compared to the 242x189mm iPad. Obviously, this means a smaller screen, but it also means it is small enough to hold in one hand, likely to be seen as a plus with consumers.
The second tablet 7digital has developed with is the Toshiba Folio 100. At 281x181mm, it measures up slightly larger than the iPad and even though it runs the previously mentioned ARM technology and offers USB, SD card and HDMi connections, the product failed to captivate me as deeply as when I first tried the iPad. The Toshiba Folio 100 is said to be a lot cheaper than “the earlier entries into the market” so we assume this refers to the iPad.
As both tablets run Andriod 2.2 OS, they support Flash and HTML5 so browsing is a lot more free compared to the iPad (with no flash support). Both devices also have built-in webcams, with the Samsung boasting a webcam either side of the tablet enabling users advanced web conferencing. From a brief play at the end of the conference, I noticed that both tablets seemed slightly more sluggish in their touch pad sensitivity and speed than the iPad, especially the Toshiba. This may be just a matter of a few OS updates to improve.
So far based on the short introduction, I’d go with the Samsung GALAXY Tab out of the two due to its neater layout and nice handheld size, but for a cheaper alternative for both Samsung or iPad, the Toshiba’s price is competitive.
Ben also said 7digital will be a digital music partner with O2 for connection over multi-platform also adding that 7digital will be announcing more partnerships and progress in the next few weeks.
The next service Ben covered was the PURE digital radio (a Division of Imagination) partnership creating connectivity and obtainable content from digital radio by working with audio recognition service, Shazam.
FlowSongs is the first of a range of services coming to PURE’s internet-connected digital radios. FlowSongs allows users to tag and buy tracks while listening to any digital, FM or internet radio station and stream them at the touch of a button from their radio without having to switch on a computer. In addition to streaming purchased tracks from any PURE radio with Flow technology, tracks can also be downloaded in a high-quality MP3 format to a PC or Mac and added to the user’s MP3 collection.
After covering all these exciting partnerships, Ben introduced 7digitals own brand products, starting with the Blackberry App.
Launched a year ago, it is now the number one Blackberry music store with over 500,000 installs available in 20 countries. The music store and player are compatible with both touch screen and older keyboard models, working with Shazam to find, tag and share new music.
On the success of the Blackberry App, 7digitalhave released an Android app and are even in talks with Apple for an iPhone app.
An amazing feature these apps work with is, on purchase of a media file, the user will receive a smaller compressed file instantly until connected to Wi-Fi where they will then receive full quality file saving time, connection speed and the charge of phone data usage.
To work alongside these apps and enable massive mobile compatibility, 7digital have also launched a new mobile browser-based store “agnostic to OS”, compatible with HTML5 and Flash for previews as well as a direct download option.
As well as developing these mobile tools, 7digital are launching their new website with a twist. Due to the content and experience included, 7digital are reffering to their new website as web application enabling partners such as Songkick and the BBC to provide reviews alongside uploaded music and videos and much more.
If that wasn’t enough 7digital also offer users browser-based player access to the cloud/lockers of all their purchased music so they can freely stream or download what they like and when they like. This cloud access is instantly connected to all other 7digital platforms. In a smooth Demonstration by Ben a download on a Blackberry immediately pushes to the web cloud access to stream from the PC, which is pretty impressive.
Finally, a sneak preview of an innovative tool was demonstrated that uses the API from 7digital alongside new image recognition software. This enables users to preview albums and music based on the image that they capture of music adverts on billboards, online or even on the side of a bus.
By the end of the conference I felt that maybe 7digital could actually be the forefront of the rebellion to knock Apple back down to earth. With a plethora of partnerships and tools, 7digital seem to offer all possibly alternatives digital users would need in the new m-commerce age.
A bit of background about 7digital.com
Established in 2004, 7digital.com is a leading digital media delivery company based in London and operating globally, today reported to be 30 countries, the only European company both sides of the Atlantic. Through 7digital’s download store, www.7digital.com, consumers can access over 10,000,000 (11,053,876 from the evening of the October 18, 2010; growing at an average rate of 90,000 per week) legal high-quality MP3 music tracks as well as audiobooks and videos at competitive prices across Europe and North America.
The clever thing about this service is that as well as offering their own store, they sell the API for their content via recent partnership with API developer The Echo Nest. Currently, 120 active clients use the 7digital cloud as content for their own stores including HMV, Waterstones and promotional ventures from companies such as Coca-Cola.