Truly giving power to the users

Got a press release today (no link available that I can find) about something called Metamenus. It is a product of a new company (founded last year) called Metabeam Corporation, which seems to be the provider of, well, organisation. Sound boring? Well it shouldn’t. The aim of Metamenus is to give ‘users easier, versatile and more direct over their content’. The content in question is movies and the like on consumer media. The idea is to standardise content delivery, while removing some of the irritations of many of the currently haphazardly organised DVDs.

For example, with several new Blu-ray titles Metamenus has been employed to:

open by default with a 20-second orientation video, then immediately play the movie. Gone are the days of the endless series of trailers and needless menu loops. Now, during the introduction, users can click PLAY, ENTER or NEXT on their remote control anytime to jump directly to the movie.

I’m all for that! I have so many DVDs (the early Disney ones, for example) that won’t even allow you to change audio language with your remote control, demanding instead that you go back to the main menu, then the languages menu. The use of User Operation Prohibitions frequently seems senseless.

To further ease access to the contents of the disc:

During the movie, Metamenu users can click a single button to summon a sliding menu shade, which appears superimposed over the video and provides easy access to everything on the disc, including individual scenes, natural language settings, a video tutorial, and key map help system – all while keeping the high-definition movie running in the background.

Will all companies adopt a Metamenus-like approach? Of course not. But if there are enough titles out there using this system to enable Metamenus to get a bit of brand recognition from consumers, then there could be a bias in sales towards such discs. The only problem is that movie companies have monopolies over their particular titles, so teasing out any effect on sales will be very difficult.

Incidentally, some of the Blu-ray titles using Metamenus are Crash, Lord of War, The Punisher, Saw, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, all distributed in the US by Lionsgate Films. Since its productions are distributed by companies such as Warner and Sony Home Entertainment in Australia, we may not see that here. What a pity.

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