Consumer fourth-quarter 2013: analysis and outlook

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. The last game
  3. Stream believers
  4. Bricks and clicks
  5. Fair use and foul play
  6. Casting call
  7. Near-term outlook
  8. Key takeaways
  9. About Paul Sweeting


While digital piracy has roiled the music industry since at least the launch of Napster, in 2013 the real fireworks came over the division of revenue from legal, licensed streaming. The TV industry meanwhile struggled with its own licensing issues as Aereo and other place-shifting technologies continued to defy rights owners’ efforts to shut them down.

Among the year’s highlights:

  • Sony and Microsoft rolled out expensive new gaming hardware amid a rapidly changing market. Each pursued a distinct strategy to try to mitigate the risks.
  • Google and Apple jumped into the streaming music game despite the economic challenges of the business. YouTube and Beats Music are gearing up to launch their own streaming services early in 2014.
  • Online retailers including eBay, Amazon, and Google experimented with same-day delivery while brick-and-mortar chains including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Home Depot all ramped up their ecommerce operations.
  • Google won a major legal victory in the eight-year Google Books case when a judge declared that scanning and indexing millions of books does not infringe authors’ copyrights. The ruling is likely to prove a landmark in fair use jurisprudence.
  • Google joined Apple and Microsoft in rolling out technologies to link mobile devices with the TV, setting the stage for what could be a highly disruptive shift in how TV viewers access programming.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Thinkstock

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