It is traditionally the time to quickly wrap up the most important events that happened in the digital entertainment industry during the year 2006 and also to take a quick look at what happened at AfterDawn.com as well.
Understandably, considering the device price tags and the lack of content, the adoption rate hasn't been very quick. But to complicate the things, it seems that the good olde DVD is "good enough" for most people (which wasn't the case when DVD began to replace VHS as the major format -- DVD was simply so much better and VHS wasn't really "good enough", not even for Joe Average). Furthermore, to get a better picture quality when switching from the VHS to the DVD, it was simply matter of purchasing a new player. With high def formats, people also need to have a proper HD capable television set, making the new formats harder to sell until the HDTV sets become truly mainstream products (mind you, the high def players only output high def video when connected via HDMI and older HD capable TV sets might not have HDMI connectors at all, complicating things even further..).
But, HD DVD and Blu-ray are here. Only time will tell which format will eventually "win" the format war, but it seems that people (in large numbers, the Joe Average population..) will switch to high def formats only by upgrading their aging DVD players, which might take years.
Wii have a surprise..
Year ago, it seemed impossible to think any other next gen console war other than Microsoft's Xbox 360 vs Sony's Playstation 3. But then, the console veteran Nintendo somehow managed to shake this pre-set war by simply launching an innovative games console. Despite oddly renaming their console from Revolution to Wii, Nintendo still managed to grab the attention of gamers with their innovative "remote control" and made Europeans happy by launching their console only couple of weeks after the U.S. launch (while PS3's European launch was delayed until March, 2007).
So, now Sony has two contenders ready to steal its current crown once the next generation console wars truly begin later this year.
AllofMP3 is a smallish Russian online music store that has managed to grab the attention of all major news outlets in the world by annoying American record labels year after year. The company has had its share of interesting fame even before the year 2006, but during the year 2006, AllofMP3 quickly became the hottest topic related to the record labels' eternal lawsuit game.
AllofMP3's biggest differences to Western online music stores are that all the songs it sells are cheap and all the songs are without any annoying DRM features. And the consumer can choose the quality of the audio file they wish to purchase. The most problematic part, from labels' perspective, is that AllofMP3 is a perfectly legal service in Russia. The company pays its licensing fees to Russian music licensing authority -- the fees are just much, much smaller than what the fees Apple and likes have to pay.
AllofMP3 was used as a pawn in a big game when Russia started negotiating with the U.S. in order to gain its World Trade Organization membership. In negotiations, Russia agreed to tighten its copyright legislation in future, but it seems that AllofMP3's existing licensing contracts are valid, no matter what changes Russia may include in its upcoming copyright legislation.
As labels didn't have ways to sue the company in Russia, they somehow decided that it makes sense to sue a Russian based Russian company in the U.S., seeking quite moderate damages of $1.65 trillion from AllofMP3.com. AllofMP3.com recently responded to RIAA's lawsuit by simply stating that they are a Russian company and filing a lawsuit against them in New York court is quite pointless.
To add more pressure against AllofMP3, RIAA and its international equivalents have filed various lawsuits against ISPs in Western countries, seeking them to block people accessing the site. In one case (which was done outside the courts), a Swedish ISP decided voluntarily block its users from accessing AllofMP3's site, which provided a backslash from several Swedish sites, including The Pirate Bay who in return, blocked ISP's users from accessing their sites. Soon after, Swedish ISP stopped its censoring efforts, most likely in fear of losing paying customers.
Year 2006 and AfterDawn
As most our regulars know, the beginning of the year 2006 was extremely bad for us as Finland, our home country, adopted a new draconian copyright legislation, forcing us to remove one-sixth of our software selection and to cripple several of our DVD backup guides. This was followed, as expected, by a big slump in traffic during the spring 2006.
To tackle the situation where we could no longer rely on DVD backup guides and software items, we decided to focus on improving our other site areas. This decision led us hiring six new employees during the first half of the year 2006. The decision to hire more people to staff writer positions and to hire new coder to help us to improve our site eventually paid off quite nicely.
During the year 2006 we launched several major site improvement projects, some of which are already in place like the new layout launched in August and the new homepage, which helped our site to make up the traffic that was lost due the content removal back in January, 2006. As we have quite interesting projects coming up quite soon, I'm sure that all the efforts made during the quite difficult year 2006 will make the site even better than what it was before.
But that's enough of this stuff -- the year 2006 was extremely interesting and was full of quite colorful events. All the smaller topics and even the big ones I forgot, can be found from our news archive.
As a summary, year 2007 will be extremely interesting, as the digital video and the whole "next gen digital entertainment" is finally making its way to living rooms. Hopefully this will also mean that our site will remain relevant and as a reliable source for all the information related to topics like digital video, console technologies and more.
Happy new year 2007!