Archive for the ‘Digital Revolution’ Category
BGR reports exclusively that Apple will announce iOS for TV at it’s upcoming Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC).
We’ve heard Apple is actively trying to court manufacturers to use a new “control out” API in order for third-party manufacturers to make accessories that are compatible with the new Apple TV OS and the upcoming “iTV.” It’s said that by using the API, it will be possible to control any connected components all from the Apple remote (and the Apple remote iOS app as well, we’re assuming).
This would be a huge change in the home theater landscape, which has until this point relied on a mess of thousands of infrared codes and physical cables in order for devices to be interoperable, or Wi-Fi-controlled apps for each component and piece of hardware.
The control out API is said to work with all aspects of various popular components, even allowing control over things like program guides on a cable operators’ set top boxes and other hardware components.
More than a huge change in “home theatre” this could be a huge change in the motion picture distribution business and the cable TV business, maybe the end of the latter.
That cable box so many now have could easily be reduced to to a cable service app. It’s a prospect that makes one wonder if cable service providers will be needed for anything else besides providing a data pipe, because the cable service app could as easily become a cable network app.
And if a cable network is just going to be a Apple TVOS app, it’s likely that there will be a lot more networks aimed at a lot more specialized audiences. Much depends on how Apple structures the process of allowing distribution entities access to iTV distribution.
An interesting article in today’s Guardian (London, England) muses of the rise of the smartphone and the implications of that fact for the future:
The change that smartphones bring is computing power in the palm of our hands or in our pockets. It is internet connectivity almost anywhere on earth. That’s going to have profound effects. Horace Dediu, another former Nokia executive who now runs the consultancy Asymco, says: “Besides being powerful, they’re going to be ubiquitous. Not only in the hands of nearly every person on the planet, but also with them, or by them, all day long. They will be more popular than TVs and more intimate than wallets.”
They’re going to do far more than wallets (although they can already serve that function: a system called NFC, for Near Field Communications, is being built into smartphones and will let you pay for small items with the press of a button). All the things you can now do with a smartphone would have seemed like science-fiction only a decade ago: translate signs, translate words, take voice input and search the web, recognise a face, add another layer to reality showing you the quickest way to a tube or restaurant or the history of your immediate surroundings, show you where your friends are in real time, tell you what your friends think of a restaurant you’re standing outside, show you where you are on a map, navigate you while you drive, contact the Starship Enterprise. Well, perhaps not the last one. Even so, “A smartphone today would have been the most powerful computer in the world in 1985,” observes Dediu. In fact, today’s phones have about the same raw processing power as a laptop from 10 years ago. And every year they close the gap.
The element of personalisation and intimacy takes smartphones beyond what we’ve had before. Our mobile phone used just to be a repository of our phone contacts, some photos and texts. Now it’s our emails as well, our photos, our Twitter and Facebook accounts (and, by proxy, friends), plus all those apps and games that we’ve downloaded to give it our own personal experience.
One of the reasons they will be more popular than TVs is that they’s have at least as broad access to motion picture content and will be, as in the case of the iPhone 4, generating video content, probably of pretty high quality.
For a slightly more skeptical view of the potential of online video to destroy the cable TV business, this article from the BBC is worth a look.
The US pay TV market had suffered its first ever drop in subscribers. In the end the economy was roundly found to blame, with cable packages being sacrificed as families were forced to tighten their belts.
But some commentators pointed to this as the inevitable result of the growth of on demand and over the top offerings available on the internet.
So is technology killing what we think of as traditional television – and taking pay TV operators with it?
It’s a confusing picture. Nielsen, who track US television viewing habits, have reported a drop in television ownership – albeit from 98.9% to 96.7%. DVD sales are falling, while Netflix recently overtook cable operator Comcast to become the biggest subscription video service in North America.
IMS Research however is predicting digital cable TV subscribers in the US will increase by 7.8m between 2010 and 2015.
We ran across a website previously unkown to us, www.killthecablebill.com, which according to a recent interview of the site’s founder Dave Kennedy, is
an informational resource that provides industry trend analysis, product / service reviews ( online video guide ), and simple but cost effective ways to make the transition from standard Cable to Online TV. This site is for people who want to decrease how much they spend on standard TV programing, while taking advantage of low cost Online TV.
Kennedy started the site after a recent financial setback led him to cancel his cable TV subscription and look for alternatives. He says he found himself overwhelemed by information on TV without cable, and so decided to pull together information on the topic and offer it via a website. “With cable costs going up,” he says,
and the economy getting worse, many people are finding that canceling cable is the only thing that make sense. With this growing demand for Online TV, vendors are popping out of the woodwork – all promising to fulfill this need. The problem is that most of the sites, services, and products out there only offer partial solutions, or no solution at all. Through my research I realized that there is a growing need for clarity in this space. And that people just like me, needed help making this complex transition from standard cable to Online TV.
In one post to the site, Kennedy gives his “Top Five Reasons to Cancel Cable”. The first three:
1. TIME: Too much television is a waste of time. If you cancel cable and only watch those programs that are important, you can spend more time with the people we love.
2. MONEY: a cable or satellite subscription costs at least two times as much (on a monthly basis) as it does to utilize Hulu and Netflix. When times are tough the first thing that needs to go is entertainment. But if you can get the same entertainment at a fraction of the cost – then that is even better!
3. TECHNOLOGY: Streaming Video is the way of the future. Before long all video entertainment will be via an online connection. Might as well get on-board now, learn the tricks, and save money in the process.
Kennedy’s site is yet another indication that online video is likely to completely transform the way video content is consumed, and, ultimately, produced.
Doing a bit of searching on this topic led us to this interesting set of interviews with folks who “cut the cord” over at gigaom
In a story with interesting implications for the growth of online video, the New York Times reports today that
The Nielsen Company, which takes TV set ownership into account when it produces ratings, will tell television networks and advertisers on Tuesday that 96.7 percent of American households now own sets, down from 98.9 percent previously.
There are two reasons for the decline, according to Nielsen. One is poverty: some low-income households no longer own TV sets, most likely because they cannot afford new digital sets and antennas.
The other is technological wizardry: young people who have grown up with laptops in their hands instead of remote controls are opting not to buy TV sets when they graduate from college or enter the work force, at least not at first. Instead, they are subsisting on a diet of television shows and movies from the Internet.
That second reason is prompting Nielsen to think about a redefinition of the term “television household” to include Internet video viewers.
“We’ve been having conversations with clients,” said Pat McDonough, the senior vice president for insights and analysis at Nielsen. “That would be a big change for this industry, and we’d be doing it in consultation with clients if we do it.” [emphasis added]
The decline marks the first time in 20 years that television ownership has fallen in the U.S.
According to the report:
“While Nielsen data demonstrates that consumers are viewing more video content across all platforms — rather than replacing one medium with another — a small subset of younger, urban consumers seem to be going without paid TV subscriptions for the time being. The long-term effects of this are still unclear, as it is undetermined if this is also an economic issue that will see these individuals entering the TV marketplace once they have the means, or the beginning of a larger shift to online viewing.”
While the Times speculates the small declines means that TV will be at the center of American homes for some time to come, we think that Nielsen is positioning itself for a future in which the audience for video becomes at least as significant as the cable and broadcast audience.
As we’ve noted before, the “TV” revolution won’t be televised.
Nielsen’s press release on the subject is available at the Nielsen website.