Living room could become biggest green offender

22 Jan 2008

While the technology world is pushing more and more technology into the living room, from gaming to high-definition TV, a new report warns this could create a carbon footprint that is expected to grow in 2008 and beyond.

According to Deloitte’s technology and media predictions for 2008, the media and consumer electronics industries should consider how the living room’s carbon footprint could be reduced, without the need to revert to antiquated technology.

One approach suggested would be to reduce unnecessary power consumption, for example, by forcing devices into standby when not in use.

Looking at other media issues, Deloitte pointed to the rising price of concert tickets and the corresponding falling amounts consumers are willing to pay for recorded music.

If anything, Deloitte suggests, music is going to go physical again as consumers are more likely to pay for music if it were contained in a physical wrapper.

Deloitte suggests the industry could evolve from offering digital downloads for transfer to a device to selling pre-recorded MP3 players containing a single album or even an artist’s entire back catalogue. The industry should look at various ways of making music tangible, while still providing the flexibility of digital downloads. One solution would be to bundle a physical copy, or even an accompanying book or T-shirt, with the digital download.

While television’s imminent demise is likely to be forecast during 2008, Deloitte says the sector should remain in overall good health throughout the year.

Internet television will likely contribute to traditional television’s fortunes. This outcome may appear perverse, particularly when internet television has been regarded by some influential commentators as a direct competitor to traditional television.

But Deloitte suggests internet television is another medium whose quality, set of content formats and audience largely differs from traditional television’s offering. It says traditional broadcasters should work out how online channels can complement or supplement broadcast content, rather than cannibalise it.

“Internet television may find it more profitable to serve as an additional route to markets for traditional television than to try and rout the incumbents,” the company suggested.

While the credit crunch may dampen the overall pace of mergers and acquisitions activity in 2008, the will to grow via acquisitions is likely to remain strong in the telecommunications sector.

However, while established, developed-world mobile operators may be looking for acquisitions, the tables may be turned in 2008. The leading operators in emerging markets may transform themselves from prey to predator with the cash generated from hundreds of millions of new subscribers providing a potent war chest unconstrained by the higher interest rates that have followed the credit crunch.

On the broadband front, the debate over how fast is fast enough in telecommunications is likely to be as vigorous in 2008 as in earlier years.

But concerns over the cost of financing will cause telecommunications companies and their shareholders to question the business case for speed far more aggressively.

Deloitte warns that telecommunications companies should be careful not to prioritise the quest for attaining the limits of what is technically possible with the unrelenting need for profitability.

In 2008, prices for GPS chipsets are expected to fall to just a few dollars and the number of devices that incorporate the technology is expected to grow rapidly.

Deloitte says that in 2008 the mobile industry may overlook several critical differences between how satellite navigation is used in vehicles and how it might be used by people on foot.

“Thus, while a growing number of GPS-enabled mobile phones may be shipped and sold in 2008, aside from the initial novelty, their use may be infrequent. Which may mean additional costs but with disappointing added value.”

In 2008 new media companies such as social networks, synthetic worlds and blogs are likely to offer the services through which a large volume of traditional and newer forms of communication can be initiated.

All of these trends may reassure the telecommunications industry that demand for communications is more vibrant than ever. However, demand for new media may also highlight the telecommunications sector’s inability to monetise more of this demand.

Deloitte suggests communications companies may consider that in 2008 they are still allowing new media companies too large a share of communications revenues.

By John Kennedy