Caught in the Crossfire

September 24, 2012

Video Remote 2.0: What the Major Vendors are Seeing

This article original appeared in the Sept. 2012 issue of Next Gen Mobility.

Last year we had a great user design exercise at one of our events where we took a TV remote and tried to redesign it. It was amazing how many buttons and features the device was trying to manage. It occurs to me that the move to manage TV on the smartphone has the benefit of just bypassing the remote. 

The reason we have remote 2.0 is because we are experiencing couch potato 2.0 as well. No matter how big the TV in the house, end users at some point expects to view something in their pocket. Look at the fact that NBC has done the remarkable thing of broadcasting all of the Olympics and still gotten grief over the delivery of its coverage.

Ericsson in its recent market study found that mobility’s attributes of time and convenience are changing our habits again. For example, peer-to-peer/file-sharing video solutions are being impacted by video-on-demand solutions that meet the customer’s goals. It also found that the primary impact of consumers shifting from the TV to any device is in our use of broadcast TV. We are getting our content from secondary suppliers rather than by the networks and their affiliates. The reluctance to change for the broadcast operators has yielded opportunities, but it’s not clear that the business models are completely understood yet.

For example, the major vendors such as Cisco (News - Alert), Ericsson and Motorola own set-top box solutions, but find that consumers are more interested in using their mobile devices to manage the remote functions and in most cases push content from the Internet directly. So end users are watching at home and on the road via their smartphones.

Now consider the markets that are converging.

On the content side, the networks are still king with good programming, but consumers are also likely to want to produce their modern day carousel of video, and push it to their friends, and gather user-generated content from other sources. So, overall, the content kings are losing a portion of the time but not the audience.

On the delivery side, it breaks down into a number of problems. Until the Verizon (News - Alert)/Cable Spectrum Co. deal, it looked like the duopoly was alive and well, but now it’s clear that cable, telco and satellite are not going to find a break out strategy. Services like Hulu (News - Alert) and NetFlix may be targets for acquisition as these delivery companies contemplate how to manage the mobile remote.

That brings us back to devices that show the diversity of everything from Lionsgate’s closed network set-tops to remote control apps on your smartphone. What do all these devices indicate? It indicates that the diversity of viewer requirements is greater than the existing content. It’s also going to give us a need for context.

But if content is king, then context is queen.

When looking at YouTube (News - Alert), a vast array of people leave comments, and then there are the people embedding video into whatever social text they happen to belong to. (A pet peeve of mine is sometimes they do this without any regard to context). 

However, we are in a new age of audience participation, and whether it happens in real time or asynchronously people are going to share their views ;<). For example in the Ericsson study the mobile phone was being used in a Twitter (News - Alert) discussion of the lame show a bunch of friends were watching simultaneously and remotely. Contemplate the complexity of people wanting to share in common while at the same time doing it in their own time. In effect, we have a koan of wanting to share our remote viewing. And that is what video remote 2.0 is all about.

Whether it takes advantage of context using WebRTC represents a community of interest strategy like USA network has been building with its primetime shows like Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, Suits and White Collar, the reality is the ability to broadcast has gotten easier while connecting everything in a timely manner has gotten harder.

Who will be the top dog in this video world is hard for me to say, but I expect it will be the socially engaged that lead the pack.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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Rich Tehrani,
Since 1982 Rich has led TMC© in many capacities. Rich Tehrani is an IP Communications industry expert, visionary, author and columnist. He founded INTERNET TELEPHONY® magazine...Read More >>>
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Today as a partner at Crossfire Media, Carl is developing programs that bring to light an understanding of the issues required for delivering broadband wireless Internet...Read More >>>
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om is executive technology editor for TMC® Labs, the industry’s most-well known and respected testing lab, and ...Read More >>>