Offline media

Everyone agrees that the world will be connected online 24/7 one day. Anyone who has spent a day in an emerging market will also agree that the day of 24/7 connectivity is still far away. 

Even as connectivity is slowly being built out, our bandwidth demand continues to grow and outstrip bandwidth supply. New York City can’t provide reliable fast broadband to its startups

In addition to the lack of always on internet connections, we are also living in the world of multiple screens – the phone, laptop, tablet and the TV, and our media consumption shifts from device to device over the course of our day. 

As someone who spends at least six hours a week on a flight, I have been actively looking at offline media consumption applications and have loved the following so far:

Read it Later – Multi-device and it just works. 

Spool – While Read it Later solves the problem of storing and reading long articles offline, I tried many services that would let me store videos offline for viewing. The guys at Spool have nailed it in terms of an easy to use service that does everything that I wanted from a “View it later” kind of service. Service is still in beta, but I have been testing it out and it works beautifully. Only issue with the Spool app on the iPad is that it doesn’t auto download content for you in the background (which is an Apple enforced constraint, not a fault of Spool’s).

Denso – Similar to Spool and the next best alternative for offline video watching. Every video you tag on Denso gets added and downloaded as a podcast on iTunes that you can then sync to your iPad or iPhone. This two step process to getting videos on to your iDevice is what made me switch to Spool.

Note that Spool also does offline caching of audio as well, and in fact can provide offline entire web pages similar to Read it Later. While Spool is being ambitious by trying to be the offline consumption application for all kinds of media – video, audio and text, as a user I find the readability features of Read it Later much better and feel that users will eventually pick one application for each multimedia type need. 

The next two years will see the emergence of more offline and syncing services (I haven’t touched upon syncing services such as Sugarsync and Dropbox in this post – more on those later) as consumption moves away from the PC and TV to our phones and tablets. The question is – after audio, text and video, what else will consumers want to sync offline?






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