Once upon a time, 60 years ago, TV was a disruptive technology. It wrested the media spotlight from radio because it offered a more compelling living room experience. Radio was cast out of the living room and currently rules the roost in the car. Correction, it currently rules the broadcast roost in the car. Correction, it currently rules the broadcast roost in the front seat of the car. In other words, our media-consumption habits change wildly as new technologies appear, come to the fore, and then fade out slowly or disappear. Remember those big analog satellite TV dishes? Mostly gone, replaced by much smaller digital satellite TV dishes. Fiber-optic delivery of TV is coming. I’m still waiting because I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, where the technology doesn’t seem to feel welcome.
So TV as a disruptive technology has been around for six decades and it continues to disrupt because people like to watch video. All sorts of video. The choices have exploded as has the technology and the numbers are still big. According to the Smart TV Summit held in San Jose earlier this month, we can expect to see about 350 million Internet-connected TVs in the world by 2015. It’s not mobile phone sales volume but it’s still a big number. Big enough to attract some amount of Silicon Realization effort, which is why I found Dave Morgan’s recap of the Summit so interesting. Here’s an EDA360 Insider paraphrase of Morgan’s top 10 consequences of 350 million Internet Connected TVs:
1. More TV viewing. That means more desire for video content, more desire for control over the video content viewed, and more economic opportunity for companies that think of better ways to deliver the right video content at the right time.
2. Video gets Apps. Apps-driven design is a fundamental EDA360 concept and TVs aren’t immune. Once the TV has enough smarts to connect usefully to the Internet, Apps become possible. My Blu-ray disc player has several such content-centric apps including Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora. It’s an entirely new apps market waiting to be filled.
3. Consumer electronics companies race to become the Apples and Googles of TV. Apps markets draw hardware that can run the apps, and then run the apps better than the previous generation. My Blu-ray disc player asked if it could upgrade itself when I turned it on last night. Thinking it would be quick, I gave the OK. Nearly an hour later, the upgrade completed and I was able to watch one of the DVDs I got for Dather’s Day. What does that say about the opportunity to improve the TV user experience even now in 2011.
4. A la carte programming will pressure the business models of cable and satellite companies. Apps are coming to programming. Consumers want to be in control. The entire broadcast model is under attack in the same way that the record distribution industry has been under attack since the MP3 was invented.
5. Not enough quality video content. There’s a lot of bad content out there. There’s always a market for cheap. There also is a market for really good but more expensive. The rise of Apps-driven content consumption enlarges the market for better, more costly content. That’s a good thing for both consumers and video content producers who are about to get the opportunity to take their wares directly to consumers.
6. Companion Web services to video viewing. Once you’re on the Web, there’s little to limit the imaginative vendor. More video, more simultaneous video will press the hardware vendors to add even more parallel video-decoding hardware into the mix.
7. Less desktop screen use, which will mean more use of other screens. More TV viewing means, by definition, less PC use. We all get only 24 hours. It truly is a zero-sum game.
8. More device coordination… Smartphones and tablets will become remote controls. I have four remotes in front of me at home. Would I like to have one? Yes! Does it need to be a tablet? Probably, to accommodate all of the different interface needs of a TV, Blu-ray player, home theater receiver, and broadcast antenna pointer. Will it happen in my lifetime? Hope so.
9. TV swallows set-top boxes. Already, my Blu-ray player is my set-top box. I am off cable and on to Web-based video content delivery. Will it all disappear into the TV itself? We’ll see. Something tells me I don’t want my disk player built into the TV for replacement reasons, but the Apps and Internet connectivity? Sure. No problem.
10. Disruption to all in the TV and video entertainment industry. See items 1 through 9 above. It’s a certainty.