Sure enough, 2013 has arrived and the world did not end, which contrary to popular belief was never actually predicted by the Mayan people in the first place.
As for my own little world, things just got a lot more interesting as my wife and I welcomed Logan Carter Kujawski (our first child) into our family on October 27th. Naturally, my level of digital engagement took a drastic drop as I’ve spent the last 2 months adjusting to and accepting the fact that getting a single item off of my daily “to-do” list (as opposed to ten) is now a big accomplishment.
The little free time I have I try to spend with the little guy during this crucial time of development. Even my main reading subject matter has temporarily switched from business/leadership/new media books to baby development books and research studies. That being said, little by little I’m starting to make the time again for sharing content and dumping my digital space and public sector related thoughts on this blog for those interested.
I thought I’d start off 2013 with a blog post on two major changes I have noticed over the last year in my own digital habits and then look at the pros and cons as well as some actual statistics to see if these behaviours are indeed noteworthy macro trends or merely my own odd behaviour.
Death of Movie Rentals
2012 was the first year I didn’t rent a single movie. In fact, I wouldn’t even know where to rent a movie in Ottawa these days since Blockbuster has gone bankrupt while Rogers Media stores got rid of video rentals all together. Every movie I watch is either through Netflix or my cable movie package channels (i.e. TMN, HBO, etc…). Additionally I find the movie theatre experience doesn’t interest me (I have a more comfortable set-up in my basement), unless I’m planning on seeing an independent film in a niche movie theatre (e.g. ByTowne or Mayfair theatres here in Ottawa).
- Convenience of not having to leave my house. The temperature outside in Ottawa today is -22 degrees Celcius. I rest my case.
- Downgrade in image quality. Blu-Ray disc rentals are 1080p whereas HD cable or Netflix content runs at 1080i. Yes I can actually notice the difference.
- Selection here in Canada still isn’t great. Most movies available via my cable package (not all) seem to be B or C-list calibre.
- Lack of the movie rental store experience. Call me old-school but I actually miss the serendipitous nature of walking through a video store and browsing through the selections with my own hands.
- Widespread global piracy of movie content. This is starting to seriously hurt the above mentioned online services and will eventually hurt their bottom line which will affect quality of service and operations.
- The following stock price history chart of Blockbuster (now: BLIAQ) says it all
- Overall video rental industry statistics in the U.S (fall of over 15% over the last few years)
- Great infographic showing the extent of online piracy
- Movie theatres are starting to show signs of a comeback (6% growth rate in 2012) according to this NY Times Article
Trend or just my own odd behaviour? –>Trend in terms of physical movie rental decline, although apparently movie theatre going is back on the rise.
Move to cross-platform mobile messaging
Back in 2010 while doing some work in Kuala Lumpur I was asked by a local colleague to join him on a cross-platform mobile messaging application called GroupMe, which allowed for free rich media messaging between users on different smartphone platforms. The problem was that is wasn’t very useful for me since none of my friends or colleagues back home were on it (they were still using BBM or iPhone’s messenger , which were both limited to the device at hand). Luckily over the last year, cross-platform messenger applications have exploded in popularity worldwide as many people realized the limitations of proprietary messengers, the tech limitations of SMS and of course as the popularity of the open Android platform introduced numerous new players into the smartphone market (Samsung, HTC, Google, etc…).
Personally I currently use WhatApp, which is the largest at the moment (over 10 billion messages per day). That being said, there are numerous players in the market such as GroupMe, ChatOn, Viber, Jaxtr, ChatPlus, EBuddy, LiveProfile, WeChat and of course the proprietary mobile messenger applications of major social media platforms (e.g. Facebook Messenger). I’d like to point out that SMS is still by far the dominant worldwide form of mobile messaging as most of the world’s mobile phone market is composed of non-smartphones. My point is that there is starting to be a noticeable movement away from SMS. I should also point out that the space is heavily fragmented and varies from country to country as indicated in the image below (source: Onavo Study).
- Messages don’t fall under the “texting/SMS” category on your phone bill. Don’t get too excited in terms of savings over this however as phone companies will just eventually recover the cost in your data plan as you realize you need a higher data limit.
- Ability to message anyone on any device as long as they have the messaging platform installed. This is the main benefit as it allows users to be device neutral.
- Ability to seamlessly send videos, images, and other forms of rich media as you converse. MMS was meant to address this but didn’t live up to expectations.
- Ability to create ongoing chat groups (e.g. family, best friends, work colleagues, etc…). There’s something really neat in the fact I now have an ongoing chat group with 12 of my best buddies (some of which live on the other side of the planet) via our mobile devices. This touches upon another trend: The move back towards small albeit highly relevant networks.
- False sense of privacy. I’m very concerned over the fact that these small start-ups hold massive databases with so many private conversations. Who’s looking at this stuff? Who’s aggregating it behind our backs? How secure is it? How easily can authorities be granted access to create detailed psychographic profiles of all of us?
- Clearly there is a battle going on for market dominance. I may be using WhatsApp now but next year it may be something else. In my case I often have to use different platforms to talk to people from different countries I go to based on what happens to be popular in their region.
- Recent “International Business Times” article on the first reported decline in SMS messaging
- Great TechCrunch article on the fragmented reality of the global messaging market
- 3-year search trend for the term “WhatApp” indicating rise in popularity
- Some interesting statistics regarding global smartphone penetration
Trend or just my own odd behaviour? –>Trend amongst owners of smartphones (50% smartphone penetration here in Canada; 27% worldwide)
While these may seem like trivial shifts in behaviour, they are already starting to drastically impact major global industries. They are also skewing many so-called “studies” and “reports” as the wrong survey questions are often being asked. For example, while SMS may be on the decline in certain regions, the action of “texting” is not (since you can “text” via messenger app). Another example is that TV viewership is often reported as being on the decline. Well what is a TV anyway? I have a screen in my basement that is connected to the internet. I stream movies and tv shows on this screen but that apparently doesn’t fall into “TV watching” statistics. Do you see the problem here? So please be weary of new reports coming out in 2013 as there is so much media convergence going on right now that it is hard to report on isolated behaviours.
How about yourselves? I’d love to hear any major changes you noticed in your own digital habits over the course of 2012.