Storage vs. bandwidth re-visited

6 08 2007

Rewind by three years, courtesy of journalist Kate Bulkley’s painstaking cataloguing of everything she’s ever written, and James Murdoch proudly proclaims “storage trumps bandwidth”, referring to the greater efficiency of content delivered via the broadcast stream to a DVR-type device, rather than using a IP for delivery.

BT Vision chief Andrew Burke cried: “Pah!”

Apart from being slightly curious to remind myself when young Murdoch first proclaimed on this (if memory serves me well, it was possibly a year earlier), it’s worth dredging up the remark, if only to recognise how much things have moved on since and how Sky’s own position has moved to embracing IP delivery of content.

In fairness to James, Sky’s advances with its DVR product are significant (I recall following the story right back to the early rumours in 1999, when Sky first negotiated a co-marketing deal for TiVo’s ill-fated entry into the UK market) — penetration of which now stands at 28% of its U.K. customer base.

But then enter broadband, a utility which has defied expectations from even the savviest media-watchers and broken all records for consumer uptake (oh, yes, there’s Freeview too). Let it iterate and enter YouTube, taking a category which didn’t exist three years ago and making it mainstream. MySpace followed, and was snapped up by young Murdoch’s dad.

As we come full circle to today’s environment, it’s worth a read of this piece in today’s New York Times, which suggests streaming trumps downloads. How far we’ve travelled…

So, to return to the original question: does storage trump bandwidth? Or re-phrased: does streaming trump storage and downloads?