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Study predicts rise of 'circular entertainment'

New study from Nokia predicts that by 2012, a quarter of all entertainment will be created, edited, and shared within peer groups rather than being generated by traditional media.

Exhibitor Online

A new study from Nokia predicts that by 2012, a quarter of all entertainment will be created, edited, and shared within peer groups rather than being generated by traditional media.

Jointly conducted with the trend research firm The Future Laboratory, Nokia's study asked trend-setting consumers from 17 countries about their digital behaviors and lifestyles. The company also used information gathered from its 900 million customers as well as views of leading industry analysts.

"From our research we predict that up to a quarter of the entertainment being consumed in five years will be what we call 'circular.' The trends we are seeing show us that people will have a genuine desire not only to create and share their own content, but also to remix it, mash it up, and pass it on within their peer groups-- a form of collaborative social media," says Mark Selby, vice president of multimedia for Nokia. Nokia pinpoints four emerging trends that propel this kind of "circular entertainment": immersive living; geek culture; G tech; and localism.

Selby continues, "We think it will work something like this: someone shares video footage they shot on their mobile device from a night out with a friend. That friend takes that footage and adds an MP3 file--the sound track of the evening--then passes it to another friend. That friend edits the footage by adding some photographs and passes it on to another friend and so on. The content keeps circulating between friends, who may or may not be geographically close, and becomes part of the group's entertainment."

Tom Savigar, trends director at The Future Laboratory, adds, "Consumers are increasingly demanding that their entertainment be truly immersive, engaging, and collaborative. Whereas once the act of watching, reading, and hearing entertainment was passive, consumers now and in the future will be active and unrestrained by the ubiquitous nature of circular entertainment. Key to this evolution is consumers' basic human desire to compare and contrast, create and communicate. We believe the next episode promises to deliver the democracy politics can only dream of."

Of course, you have to take surveys sponsored by big brands with a grain of salt. Nokia's intent is obviously to ride the wave of a powerful current and promote its mobile devices as the venue where that new kind of "circular," convergent entertainment will take place. Moreover, user-generated content (and user-generated entertainment in particular) is neither a breathtakingly new phenomenon, nor is it beyond any dispute that the traditional networks will just sit and watch their dominance wane.

Nokia's study also ignores the fact that the distinction between traditional and "circular" entertainment is becoming increasingly difficult. In times of professional mash-ups, amateur reality TV, and 24/7 life-casting, where does original content end and recycled content start? What if traditional entertainment becomes a micro-format within user-generated entertainment and vice versa? Naturally, the two intermingle, and it may not even be too bold a statement to forecast that at some stage of a highly fragmented and collaborative distribution chain, all entertainment will be "circular" in 2012.