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It is difficult to be Jobs

22 march 2014

Introduction of new standards of telecasting was always accompanied by the change in the marketing paradigm. It was so at the beginning of 2000s, when with emerging of LCD panels, also the HDTV standard began to become firmly established. But it also happens so that the market is not ready for new standards. For instance, emerging of the idea of telecasting itself in early 30s of the last century did not lead to mass spreading of television — it remained a lot of solitary amateurs for a long time (the economic crisis raged in the world, and mass production of TV sets started only after the war).

Now we observe approximately the same situation with the new standard of ultra high definition television, which is called 4K or UHDTV. If you read amateur forums or Wikipedia, you will have an impression, that 4K is a format which will cover the whole world one of these days. This wrong impression especially intensifies after familiarizing oneself with the standards of International Telecommunication Union, which in August 2012. approved 4K as recommendation for VT 2020. Besides, at the end of January, ITU has approved the new video compression codec ITU-T H.265 (HEVC) designed just for 4K. In April 2013 it is planned to approve H.265 as an international standard. The new standard supposes the minimum resolution of 3840×2160 pixels, i.e. 2160p. Everything looks ideal on the paper.

But when we go to an electronics store and ask if they sell a TV set supporting UHDTV, we receive a negative answer. The rare models appearing in the market are rather pilot samples and cost inadequately expensive. For instance, the LG 84LM960V TV set supporting 4K format costs about 800 thousand Roubles in Russia. It is clear that such price retards the idea of ultra high definition television itself. A small number of buyers of such TV set will never lead even one UHD TV channel to payback.

And in confirmation of this thesis, there was an urgent overseas message. On 15 March 2013 Apple disappointed millions of its admirers again, having postponed the start of the branded iTV set. The main reason of the dates shift was just the same — a superlight price for ultra high resolution screens (3840×2160) of the main suppliers of Apple displays — Sharp and LG.

Not only affordable prices for the screens lack. There are no available UHD cameras. Panasonic showed its development at CES-2013, but unfortunately only a prototype. Actually, there is no entire equipment line engaged in the stages of telecast preparation, from recording until cutting and putting it on the air in 4K format. Nobody is in a hurry — the market is not ready. But do these difficulties mean that we must bury the idea of UHDTV?

Must we lose heart resignedly? Hardly Steve Jobs, if he were alive, would stop, thank his employees and close the iTV project. It is necessary to look for new ways for reduction of the price of the product and improvement of the infrastructure. Test launches of 4K during the Summer Olympic Games 2012 in the UK showed that this direction is in high demand.

The sooner the world producers of TV sets achieve a reasonable price for ultra definition displays with the diagonal of 50 inches, the sooner the equipment for recording and transmission of signal appears, the faster we will be able to create something really prominent, something that we will be able to be proud of before our children and grandchildren. It is difficult to be Jobs. But not to be him is simply uninteresting.

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