Monday, February 18, 2013

New Ideas

Who will reinvent television? Will we soon see the new, improved “Apple TV?” Not the current Apple TV, which is a network box that ties your television into your network and accesses all the usual suspects including Netflix, YouTube, Sports, etc., plus special Apple offerings. No, this is rumored to be a real TV … screen and all.

Or will it be Google? Or Intel? Or Samsung. My new Samsung TV can connect to my network by itself and also offers … surprise … Netflix, YouTube, etc. Go down to Best Buy, seems like all the new televisions know about the internet and your home network. Apparently the word is out.

Or will it be Comcast (now, sometimes, called Xfinity) or Dish or maybe AT&T or Verizon (both already in the cable TV biz).

What will this TV version 2.0 look like?

Well, I’m peering deep into my crystal ball, and I have this surprising discovery: the next big thing is “mobile.” That’s right. People will be watching video … a new name for TV … on everything from your computer and laptop to your tablet and iPod to your smartphone and iPhone to your wristwatch and eyeglasses.

That’s right. I’ve hit upon it. The next big thing will be MOBILE. Wait a minute. That last commercial on the TV … I mean the video … something about your programs on any of your devices. Those people have read my mind.

That’s OK … I’ve got another new idea. I call it INTEGRATION!! Imagine all your services combined. Your telephone service, your cable TV service, your internet service, all INTEGRATED. What if, when the phone rings while you’re watching TV, the name and number appear on the screen? Oh wait. Got that all ready too.

This prognosticating stuff is harder than it seems. People keep thinking of things before I can think of them. Does this mean that Microsoft, Apple, Intel are all trying to get into the living room. Yeah … that’s the plan.

Here’s one from Intel. What if you miss your favorite show on TV? Well, you could set up your DVR to record the program, but what if you forgot or missed it. Recent discussions at consumer conferences are about putting the last week of TV in the cloud for quick access. Wait, Comcast already has that one too.

Here’s one that hasn’t been solved yet. Have you called up your TV schedule on your TV or the Internet. Notice how it looks like a giant spreadsheet. Who, but some programming nerd, would want that kind of interface. And the lists are usually in channel order. That makes no sense at all. Put all the sports together, all the news channels together, all the movie channels together … you get the idea.

What we really need is one of those interface breakthroughs that Apple is so good at.

Here’s an idea (from a Panasonic presentation, not my own idea). What if your TV could see you? It would know if it is the man of the house or the lady, if the kids are in the room, or not. Customer program displays based on who is watching. Why can’t it be like a good butler: “I’ve selected your favorite channels, sir.” Or like Amazon: “People who watch this program, also enjoy these …” Or Googles’ “I’m Feeling Lucky.” (Try it if you never have before.)

And a remote control, why “clap on, clap off.” Of course, I can see a great battle brewing between a brother and a sister each waving to change the channel.

So just what is next? Mobile and integration are here now. New ideas about content distribution and even new kinds of content … 3 D anyone? … have already arrived. Expect new players and expect old players in new arenas.

Sure has changed since there were only three networks, NBC, CBS, and DuMont … DuMont??? Yea, that was a while back.

So just as color totally replaced black and white (and Ted Turner did his best to cover up all evidence of B&W), the next changes will be big and revolutionary. The numbers are clear. Not every home in America has a computer … but I’d bet every single home has a television. It is really the American way. What a business opportunity!

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