A recent review of the latest TV described it as having a huge iPad on the wall. This view reflects that of the CTO of Sony Pictures, speaking at the recent OTT TV World Summit, who now looks at screens as screens, and not as computers or TVs or phones. Sony now has a four screen strategy and its much talked about UltraViolet is with us. Service delivery, though, is like a road network – you build what you believe to be sufficient for the biggest load on the network and you are proved wrong. The Verizon speaker believes that UltraViolet’s 5 members of the same family allowance is low and has launched its own service offering 10 devices on the same plan.
The truth is that services have become de-coupled from devices. And the fire hose of those services is increasing exponentially, it is estimated that there are currently 5,000 catch up options, 30,000 articles online, 20,000 VoD movies and 100,000,000,000 videos on YouTube and there will be 500 billion hours of video in the cloud by 2015. Apparently if you sat down in front of a screen on your first birthday, you would not have watched one percent of the content by the time you die at the current average life expectancy.
This content abundance means that content discovery is crucial to success – customer experience demands it to be so.
While 85 percent of purchases still take place through the set top box, the set top box is the clumsiest device to discover content through. So put that functionality on the smartphone. That, however, causes its own problems. Facebook is now being trialed as the catalyst for social TV but Facebook is generally accessed via a smartphone, which is the worst screen to access content through. Tying up those disparate conclusions will create some extra technical, business and customer experience challenges and they need to be solved soon.
There are other things to think about too. Completely personalizing content discovery is certainly one solution, but content providers hate that idea – their job is to get their offering in front of as many customers as they can, not to have customers figuring it out themselves and possibly ignoring their content. That said, the focus is clearly on the smartphone as the starting point for multiple screen activity. However, in a world where there is an app to find apps in the app store, content discovery is and will remain a challenge. And, interestingly, the content industry – i.e. all of us – while historically fascinated by Apple, seem to be glancing more and more in Microsoft’s direction for the ‘TV’ answers – after all, the iTunes solution, buying individual pieces of content, is unlikely to work in the seamless, relaxed environment of television, and Microsoft has 60 million xBoxes connected to TVs.
And SmartGlass is here.