Friday, September 03, 2010

Don't tell me your TV supports Twitter (Part 2)

In Part 1 I ranted about the Samsung commercial that I caught on TV raving about accessing Facebook and Twitter from their new TV. I questioned how TV manufacturers are repeating the marketing campaigns the telecoms did a few years ago when the iPhone came out on select telecoms. The ones that weren't chosen such as Bell and Telus raved about their Blackberry, Palm and HTC lineups. They coined the term "social phones" or "smarter smart phone" and being able to access Facebook on their phones. Anyway, the future of mobile is in the apps, not the device nor the platform. I believe the same is true for TV.

In Part 2 I question the role of TV service providers and broadcasters in this new "smart TV" era that seems to be around the corner. The good thing that is going for these guys, is that they usually are Internet providers as well, or are at least partnered with an Internet provider. Smart TVs obviously need an Internet connection, so these guys will still be there. Their role could change a bit. As more Internet ready devices hit the market, it doesn't make sense for them to split their business into three lines; Internet, TV, Phone. What happens when we start getting fridges with WiFi / data chips? or washing machines? or even cars? I predict they'll just all converge into one line, connectivity and you pay for the data you use. Before we get there, we'll probably go through a stage where a standard package will give you X devices, a "gold" package gets you Y devices, and a "VIP" package gets you Z devices. Soon after that, that too won't cut it as it becomes the norm that devices have these connectivity chips built in.

Today, TV service providers also play the role of content providers, limiting the content you have access to, and charging an arm and a leg for the content you do get. They can do that, because you really didn't have any other option. They all played by the same rules. Internet enabled TVs will change these rules, and the fast movers will gain the upper hand.

So here are somethings that I think will change:

Channels vs. Apps
Channels will be gone. I remember one TV when I was a kid. It was a Sanyo. We had 11 channels, they were all radio frequencies the TV was able to pick up. Now, most are on digital boxes with really unlimited channels. Tomorrow, channels will no longer exist. If you want to watch CNN, or surf their site, you would install the CNN app on your TV. Maybe you can configure a CNN feed on your TV's "home" screen. Apps will slowly dominate TVs, and just like no two Androids or iPhones are really the same, no two TVs will be either.

On Demand Features
These costly and limited packages will soon become obsolete when I can watch stuff straight from Youtube, or Netflix on my TV without using my PS3 or stream it from my computer. Everything becomes on demand when I can install Apps on my TV.

Channel Guide
No channels, means no guide. That too will go, and all the ad revenue that guide channel produces for the service provider will be gone too. Oh oh. This is bad news for TV providers. The ads will come with the platform, the platform owner and the app developers will rake in the profits.

Local TV & papers
It will become so much easier for anybody to reach a TV audience, just like an app, blog or podcast. Take these local blogs for example: The Lesliville'r or BlogTO. Even podcasts like Leo Laporte's TWiT. These guys can easily broadcast their content on your TV, all they'd need is to build an app for it.

An App market place or store
The channel guide, basically evolves into an app store, however its owned by the platform now, not the service provider. People are already used to this concept, want something? find an app for it, or make one.

TV Shows
Today I can already subscribe to seasons of shows I want to watch online. This will just arrive to my TV as well. As soon as the provider publishes that season, it will be ready to watch on my TV, just like a podcast on iTunes.

Service providers will return to their core business; provide the connection service. Their days of controlling your content are coming to an end. Their arrangements with international broadcasting companies such as Fox, CNN, BBC will become in jeopardy as I'll be able to subscribe directly to the content I want, when I want it.  If I just want The Movie Network, and The Discovery Channel, thats what I'll pay for.

Maybe in that day and age, someone for pure nostalgic reasons will have an app for the 9PM news. Odds are, that person will have the Fast Mover Advantage.


  1. Anonymous12:03 AM

    I got a Panasonic BluRay player last month. I can watch YouTube, NetFlix and Amazon Video on Demand, listen to Pandora, and check the weather. It has a "coming soon" spot for Twitter. It also has a German new channel thing... not sure why.

    All in all it's pretty nice. I pay for an internet connection and NetFlix, and I can watch most shows and movies on demand, on my TV.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I'm just saying that its not just about accessing Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, NetFlix etc. Those are just marketing tactics that remind me of telecom tactics back in the early days of the iPhone. Clearly the iPhone/Android has shown that its all about the apps, not the phone. I think that "war" will start to move on to TVs where someone like GoogleTV and maybe AppleTV (at some point) will have apps for your TV, while others like Samsung will boast about Twitter, Facebook, and NetFlix.

    I'd put my money on the guys behind your own personalized apps for your tv.