As the popularity of mobile media continues to rise, more companies are experimenting with hybrid online/offline consumption models. And that's a good thing.
The latest example of this trend is the news that Facebook is testing a video download option in India. As reported by TechCrunch, the test will allow select users in India to store Facebook videos locally for offline viewing. The videos have to be original and they must be posted on a personal account or on Facebook Pages. At least for the time being, sponsored video ads are not part of the trial, and any video that's downloaded also remains locked in the Facebook app for security purposes.
The Facebook test is limited, but it's also just one example of what I see as an increasing willingness by companies to experiment with hybrid models of media delivery and communications exchange. Facebook's argument for the download feature is that it allows users to take advantage of robust connectivity when it's available and avoid streaming media on slower connections where heavy mobile data fees may also apply. That's certainly a reasonable argument to make in emerging markets where connectivity is spotty, but it also applies pretty much everywhere else. There's no place in the world where broadband is always convenient, available and cheap.
Another easy example of this move toward hybrid models is the introduction of video downloading options by major subscription video on demand (SVOD) services. Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) debuted the feature late last year and Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is expected to do the same before the end of 2016. (See Netflix Queues Up Video Downloads.)
For media companies the issue here is primarily about Internet availability, because video files in particular can be very large. But the Internet of Things promises to raise a whole new set of use cases for networking that mixes cloud delivery with local data usage and exchange. The very nature of machine-to-machine communications means that networked devices don't always have to call out to the Internet.
In practical terms, consider that smart homes should be able to configure themselves in many situations just by relying on local data. Extrapolating a level further, smart cities should be able to orchestrate many of the functions of civic life within a local network.
The way I see it, the big cloud we call the Internet will always have a role to play, but the reasons for relying on localized computing, storage and information delivery are also on the upswing again. Today that's manifesting in new downloadable video solutions. In the future, I expect we'll see a lot more hybrid networking options that further separate the Internet from local information and entertainment services.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading