Julian Clover assesses the performance of the industry, based on the humble USB stick.
A few years ago The Economist came up with the concept of the Big Mac Index as a means to make the theory of the exchange rate more digestible. The magazine uses the price of the popular fast food item to assess the value of selected currencies to give an indicator as to show by how much the currencies are over- or undervalued.
According to The Economist, “the most overvalued currency is the Icelandic Kronar: the exchange rate that would equalise the price of an Icelandic Big Mac with an American one is 158 Kronar to the dollar; the actual rate is 68.4, making the Kronar 131% too dear.” The valuation is devised to indicate the direction that the currencies might head in the long run.
So how could such an equation be applied across the digital TV sector? For the past few years the press gift of choice has been the USB stick. Several years ago we all marvelled when Philips gave us all a 16 MB, yes sixteen, stick neatly boxed, after the company’s IBC press conference. Since then the sticks have, in terms of capacity, grown ever larger. Conveniently the sticks often have press materials, pictures, press releases, etc, which ease our task and save the amount of cardboard us poor hacks have to carry around.
Deciding that we might be onto something I opened my desk drawer and pulled out the first 10 sticks. Checking them all I began to suspect that some of the company’s had been short-changed by their suppliers. The generous Cartoon Network, which supplied its stick as part of a party invitation, lost more than 50 MB on the original 1 GB.
The next problem was whether there is any link between the performance of a company and the size of the stick. This theory was blown out by Babelgum’s 1 GB launch USB. Indeed, it remains to be seen if Babelgum proves Wolfe’s Law of Inverse Channel Launches, where the size of the launch party is in direct disproportion to the amount of money spent on the launch. OpenTV, which was the only example of USB sticks issued in successive years, remained static.
All this if course proves absolutely nothing other than the generosity of companies that have given us USB sticks, chocolates, cookbooks, food, drink and a steady supply of stories throughout the year. Thank you and have a very merry Christmas.