BLOG UPDATE: Real Networks is thrilled to announce RealPlayer Cloud is now RealTimes. Read all about the exciting new product features of RealTimes.
Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, videos used to be trapped on the devices they were stored on, with no way to be easily shared or viewed on other devices. We would accidentally rediscover these videos once in a while and be surprised why it had taken this long. And not just the plain boring videos. Even the really important memorable ones.
Think about it – When was the last time you watched that video of your kids on the beach from 5 years ago? Or that video of your epic bathroom project that is stuck in that folder in the corner of your hard drive? I recently saw a video of my then 3-year old son reciting the entire "The OK Book" from memory (even before he had started reading). It was so exciting and exasperating to see that video from 2 years ago. Why didn't I have that video on my iPad and Galaxy S4? I would never tire of watching it.
Now, if there is anything more painful, it would be the process of sending long videos from phones (and I mean the smart ones) to other people. Ever had trouble sending a video from your iPhone to others? Ever seen this error?
We're finding ourselves in the midst of this decade's "tape-to-digital"- like crisis. Remember in the early 2000's, people were tirelessly converting their old VHS tapes to DVDs. They were afraid that if they did not do so, all their precious memories and video collections would soon be lost. They were right – VHS players are now almost extinct.
THE RISE OF THE MULTI-DEVICE CONSUMER
Fast forward to 2013. We watch our videos on many screens like digital TVs, projectors, in-car DVD players and so on. We have now evolved to not only carry laptops on our person, but also smartphones and tablets. Our team has done some research on the devices that people own and we found some interesting results.
Source: RealNetworks Research
So, I guess there is no such thing as a single-device user any more. And if you look at the data carefully, you will find that multi-device ownership skews younger. That would imply that this trend is going to continue and magnify in the coming years.
Also, consumers are splitting time between the devices they own. Here's a chart from research conducted by Comscore and Jumptap.
The really interesting thing is that consumers are not just consumers in the true sense. They are turning into creators of videos – both short and long. We like to record videos on our smartphone, send to our family and friends, and watch the same videos on PC's, tablets, smartphones, and TV's. There are millions of videos uploaded to YouTube and Facebook every day. However, for every video that we upload to those sites, there are many more that we are not comfortable putting up for everyone to see. These are private videos (eg. kids in diapers, goofy frat boy stuff) that are only meant for the select few.
Moving videos between devices would have been easy if everyone had the same kind of phone, the same kind of tablet and the same kind of computer. But, we all know that Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are just not going to let that happen. And that is perhaps a good thing for many other reasons. Choice is good after all, right?
WHY CAN'T ANYONE GET VIDEO RIGHT?
Videos are the toughest among all the different kinds of files (docs, music, photos, etc.) to get right. Did you know that there are more than 50 different kinds of video codecs? Ever run into this problem?
Or this one?
Here is a funny video that summarizes the problem from the point of view of the normal consumer.
THE SECOND COMING
We created RealPlayer Cloud because we realized that if your videos are stuck just on your PCs or smartphones or tablets, you will never watch them. Remember the saying – Out of sight, out of mind. Besides, who wants to watch digital videos just on their PC? PC does stand for Personal Computer, right? In our consumer research, we found that most consumers ideally like watching their videos on the largest screen that they possess. And for most, that screen is their TV. If they are on the go, they like to watch videos on their phones or tablets. But, they really want continuity of experience. Simple example – say you are on a flight and are watching a video on your iPad. The flight is about to land and you have to turn it off. You get home and want to watch the same video on your TV. Wouldn't it be great if you could resume right where you started?
Now, we are not saying that we are the first ones to have a go at this problem. Multi-device video viewing has been around for some time (Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and a bunch of others already do that). But, what about those videos that are just sitting there on that giant hard-drive on your PC? Or the 20-minute long video that you shot from your tablet? What about them? They need to move around too.
If you are on this page, then you probably know what RealPlayer Cloud is (if not, then go to www.real.com to find out). There is now a RealPlayer Cloud app for your PC, iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone and for TV via Roku. We have several other platforms for which we plan to release apps soon.
When we designed RealPlayer Cloud, we decided we wanted to make these things easy to do:
Take your videos shot on your phone and watch on a bigger screen, like your TV.
Start watching a video on your TV and finish watching it on your phone (or vice versa).
Download videos to your device for offline viewing.
Share your kid's soccer game with your family, privately, without worrying that the video is too big or won't play.
After having used it for a few months, I have to say that RealPlayer Cloud does a fantastic job at each one of the above. No other product comes close in terms of comprehensiveness and quality. And RealPlayer Cloud is powered by SurePlayTM, an internal RealNetworks technology, which ensures that every video you have or send will play on the device that it is watched on.
Given that this post began with a fairy-tale beginning, I will close with a fairy-tale ending. Videos are cool. They give us a more comprehensive understanding of the world around us. For some, they are memories in action. For others, they are a creative outlet. No matter who you are, videos have enriched your soul. And now finally, it is time for them to get moving. From any device. To any device. From any person. To any person. And, that is our happily ever after story.
In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more about all that RealPlayer Cloud can do. In the meantime, learn more about RealPlayer Cloud and share your own video experience with the product in the comments below. We'd love to hear what you think.