The year 2004 is coming to its end and its time to take a quick look at the major events in the digital multimedia world and also to our own site as well. Before I began writing this article, I took a quick look at our last year's summary and noticed that the topics were pretty much the same year ago as well. So, the year 2004 didn't provide anything revolutionary in terms of digital multimedia, but rather allowed existing developments to evolve further.
Recording industry's jihad goes globalIn the United States, RIAA continued its efforts to clamp down the P2P traffic by sueing thousands of individual P2P users in the U.S. But the most interesting development in this area was the recording industry's decision to take the war against P2P users global by launching a major attack against European P2P users in October. Also, the movie industry joined forces with the RIAA and MPAA also launched its first-ever attack against individual P2P users in the U.S.
BitTorrent made its way to the headlines in 2004, making itself the hottest P2P technology available and causing even more serious headaches to music industry -- but also, finally something to seriously think for movie industry, as BitTorrent proved itself to be the most efficient method of transferring full DVDR copies of DVD movies over the Net.
MPAA's concerns were taken to courts in Europe, where apparently BitTorrent's use outstrips virtually all other continents, when the movie industry teamed up with BSA and recording industry associations to launch a widespread attack against the websites listing .torrent links and hosting so-called torrent trackers.
Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD
While most consumers are happy buying more and more DVD movies and DVD player becoming more common in households than a toaster, the consumer electronic companies are preparing to launch their "next generation" optical formats on year 2005.
Consumer electronics companies, as well as major Hollywood studios, are deeply divided over the format of choice for the future. While Blu-Ray camp's offering in terms of manufacturer support and storage space seems to have an edge over the competing HD-DVD consortium, HD-DVD team's advantage is to be officially recognized by the DVD Forum and supported by more studios than Blu-Ray.
Both camps made several product and development announcements. HD-DVD team released a hybrid disc that contains a single DVD layer and a single HD-DVD layer, providing support also for older players on the same disc. But it didn't take long for Blu-Ray team to provide something even sweeter: a triple-layered disc that contains dual layer DVD and a single layer Blu-Ray on one disc.
Also, the storage space seems to be growing -- Sony already announced a development of a 200GB Blu-Ray disc while Pioneer later announced that they are developing a 500GB optical storage disc.
P2P networks -- legal or not?
American appeals court delivered a major blow to recording industry and movie industry when it found in August that P2P networks were not liable for their users actions. Basically the court decision meant that P2P operators simply provide the technology and its up to users to do whatever they wish to do with the technology -- which in most cases means distribution of illegal music and movies over the P2P networks. Unsurprisingly, movie studios and record labels are taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, exactly similar case was launched in Australia, where Kazaa's parent company, Sharman Networks is being sued by the Australian recording industry association, MIPI, for copyright infringements.
Various other stuff
Several other developments happened throughout the year in digital multimedia world. The P2P crown now officially belongs to the eDonkey, as a study found that "ed2k" network (which basically means all the users of eDonkey and its open source cousin, eMule) is now more popular than the Fasttrack network (Fasttrack powers Kazaa and Grokster).
Apple also continued to reign the legal digital music market and its iPod Mini audio player proved to be even more successful than its bigger predecessors. Apple also expanded its iTunes to new markets, most notably to Western Europe, where it first launched in three largest countries (UK, France, Germany) and after its massive success, the service was later expanded to nine other European countries as well.
AfterDawn.com in 2004..
Year 2004 was very, very interesting year to us and our site, as it finally grew our site to one of the largest digital multimedia sites in the world. Our site's monthly page impressions grew by 90 percent from December, 2003 to December, 2004 and the trend seems to continue also in the near future.
The phenomenal growth has also proven to cause certain growing pains throughout the year as our servers have tried to cope with the ever-growing number of page impressions and visitors. It was only a year ago when we relocated and upgraded our servers, but now we're facing a situation where we are forced to upgrade the current five server setup with a new seven server cluster within next month or so. Not that I'd complain .. :-)
Anyway, the year 2004 has been extremely good to us and we hope that we can continue to provide interesting content also in 2005 and beyond.
Thank you and happy new year!