Business

Special features: DVD decline threatens bonus material

Each week we ask chief technology officers (CTOs) and other high-profile technology decision-makers three questions.

This week, Ty Roberts, CTO of Gracenote, is providing the answers.

Image caption Ty Roberts says apps that are able to organise films by scene are the next big thing for digital media

Digital music recognition technology firm Gracenote specialises in working with digital media companies, providing among other things software that helps them manage and curate large catalogues of music. It can also suggest music a listener may like. It is used in services such as Spotify and Pandora, and powers the new Sony Qriocity service.

The California-based company was bought by Sony in 2008, and now operates as a subsidiary. It has 300 employees

What's your biggest technology problem right now?

The next big thing in digital entertainment is applications that are built on top of media.

For instance, apps that leverage all the movies within a service like Netflix and can reference any scene - any part of any film - and organise them any way the consumer would like.

In other words, all scenes with car chases, or with a certain actor, or in a certain place. Another thing to look out for is the concept of consumers' use of multiple screens (TVs, mobile phones, desktops, tablets) and how it is affecting all aspects of digital media at the moment.

What's the next big tech thing in your industry?

The biggest challenge in our industry at the moment is the fact that consumer demand for CDs and DVDs is waning, while the demand for online/digital services is rising rapidly and steadily.

Although this is also an opportunity for us, current digital entertainment services don't contain the rich interactive experiences that DVDs and Blu-ray disks offer, such as bonus content, directors' cuts, etc.

And there's currently no standard for adding this kind of content. Without this ability, a significant portion of the revenue pie that could come from offerings in the form of collectors' editions, special content, and so on will no longer exist.

What's the biggest technology mistake you've ever made - either at work or in your own life?

There are so many! But the one that comes to mind goes back about 10 years.

At the time, we asked users to register with us, create a login and password, and provide their email. However, we decided not to continue with it because in 2001, capturing email addresses on the internet was a grave privacy issue.

Because we didn't capture user information, we didn't have a way to profile them, which would have allowed us to provide tailored services and generally have a better sense of our users and their needs, likes, dislikes, and demographics.

Little did we know that providing email addresses via the internet would be an everyday occurrence in 2011.

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