Apple used the slogan in its advertising “think different” years ago. Over time, I think we all can appreciate how that mantra, perhaps grammatically incorrect or perhaps not, has come to be reality in the types of products produced by Apple. I’ve always admired that much of what Apple produces isn’t original per se – there were mp3 players before the iPod, for example – but Apple manages to take a product sector as it evolves, marry it to better technology, and change everything.
What has me babbling like an Apple fanboy this morning? A piece of research on TV‘s of course, and a thought about how some research points to the need to think out of the box.
Over the next few years, the main devices we use to access video in our homes – and I hate to call them TV’s any more – are going to become connected just like our other devices such as computers, tablets, and handheld units:
Driven by digital TVs, satellite STBs and OTT video game consoles, the connected device market will grow from 256.8M installed units in 2011 to 1.34B in 2016. According to NPD In-Stat, smart devices will have a global CAGR of 52.6% during the next 5 years led by 36.7M connected video gaming consoles.
There are the obvious implications for cable companies and other businesses that deliver the video as a program service aggregator, and there are lots of discussions about how the services are bundled and priced. My thought today isn’t about that topic but about the nature of the programming. Who is thinking differently about the nature of the content itself? Nearly all TV (in the traditional sense of a video stream) is presented the same way as it was 50 years ago. The advent of HD got producers thinking about how to use the better picture quality and different aspect ratio but much of that seemed to result in just more clutter. Some cable operators have tried to layer interactivity on top of what the program producers do but I’m not aware of that really taking off.
So my question is this: who is thinking differently? Who is going to personify the Apple slogan and take the new possibilities of a more widely available technology, think about it differently, and transform our viewing experience? It just might be Apple, although their first foray into the space – the AppleTV device – seemed more about advancing their economic agenda than it did to be about transforming everything.
I don’t have an answer, but I do see the opportunity. A billion connected devices is quite a potential market if someone gets it right. But unless that someone thinks differently about the nature of TV and the business models in place on distribution, the content may lag behind the opportunity. What do you think?