Saturday, October 17, 2009

is TV moving to the cloud

TechCrunch has a great post on "What on demand media really means and why your cable company should be scared"

The article by John Biggs is fascinating. It gives evidence that the hackers are already getting to the point where Cable and Satellite is no longer necessary. However, In some ways the article doesn't go far enough. TV is going mobile. We are seeing content delivered to mobile. There are in fact a number of threads that are going to come together in this space:

Over the next couple of years I think we are going to see these threads come together and dramatically change the face of TV.

Things the innovators have to remember:
  • We are fundamentally lazy so any solution has to deliver ease of us
  • Convenience wins over constraints
  • Simplicity wins over complexity

How do I see this playing out?

  • I see the Personal Video Recorder moving in to the cloud - Think Boxee meets AppEngine
  • I see emerging aggregators that parcel video content in to RSS feeds that are delivered via real time RSS.
  • I see the Personal Video Recorder becoming a feed handler that will build personalized "TV Channels" to match our tastes. 
  • The Personal Video Recorder can deliver content to us at whatever device we have to hand. In this area I think the video streaming over HTML work that Apple is promoting has great potential. iPods, iPhones,  AppleTVs connected to High Definition TVs all become delivery points.

What we shouldn't under estimate is the potential for Apple to win big in this evolving world. As I wrote in a post a couple of years ago. Microsoft's approach is desktop centric where the Media Center is embedded in to a PC. Apple has taken a different approach. They have put the consumer at the center and made it easy for them to connect multiple devices to an iTunes application. The AppleTV and it's ability to stream other content is the first step in an evolution. The ability for the iPod Touch and iPhone to pull content directly from the iTunes store also hints at alternatives. I

I can see the new data center Apple is building on the East Coast being used to help move our iTunes library and preferences to the cloud. In this way I can build my library and sync all my devices to it. This direction would place Apple in a great position to create the Digital Personal Video Recorder in the cloud. And they have over 100 Million users who have registered their credit cards with them. This gives them a massive market to leverage and the convenience could be a big factor in persuading users to adopt this new style TV.

Back in 2007 I wrote a number of posts for AOL (their 2.Open internal blog and touched on some of these themes then. I am reproducing those posts here:

Internet video on TV - An opportunity?

I have been fascinated by the changes going on in the TV, Video and Movie industry, both online and offline. A lot of people are working on convergence issues but we, the consumers, stubbornly refuse to change. There is some movement, but the I believe the current approach by the established players to apply digital rights management is treating their customers like thieves. Because of these controls consumers don't have real choice over how, when and where they consume the content they have legitimately acquired. I also believe that the more the industry tries to make this fool proof, the more they will push consumers to adopt the piracy practices that they are trying so hard to prevent.

Consumers will pay for convenience.

There is a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal on the attempts at achieving convergence between Internet and the TV. Apple's AppleTV seems to be off to a slow start. Amazon and Tivo are not setting the world on fire with their Unbox service either.

So read the Wall St. Journal article and we can discuss alternative approaches to bringing about convergence in tomorrow's blog.

In the meantime if you have ideas on how to drive convergence please share them. How would you like to see video convergence? Share your ideas. Leave a comment.

Converged Video - Consumer driven

If you read yesterday's post [above] and read the Wall St. Journal piece on Internet and TV convergence then you will have some idea of the many attempts to achieve convergence. When I look at these attempts I realize that very few of them embody the principles of Web 2.0 and the Internet. They are all closed systems to one extent or another.

What is needed is an open solution. One that leverages technologies such as RSS. As I have pointed out in a  post back in April [April 2007: Post  Video - channelling Community - See below] there is an opportunity to provide video RSS-style feeds that can be merged in to a personalized channel or channels. If user interaction can then be monitored with the channel you can build Pandora-style interaction to modify the feed. In theory this could be done on the back-end without requiring changes at the TV end of the service. Think of it this way:

  • As a subscriber I setup four or five or more channels that have specific themes. For example: a news channel, a sports channel, a reality show channel, a comedy channel and a lifestyle channel.
  • A back-end server could monitor the delivery of these feeds learning our preferences based upon how we switch channels and how we skip forward or backward within a channel.
  • The back-end server could use our choices to add new content to our chosen channels. The more we tap in to our chosen channels, the better the service gets.

An open platform that aggregates channels could simply be pointing to content elsewhere on the web, just like RSS works currently. AOL has the capability to build this infrastructure for personalized video channels. This could initially be delivered as an enhancement to exisitng AOL video services. Then it would be a case of promoting the service as an open approach that could be embedded in to set-top boxes, tivos, appleTVs and similar devices.

What do you think? Would you like to see personalized video feeds that you can deliver to the device of your choice? Share your thoughts. Leave a comment and join the conversation.

2007-04-11 - Wednesday

Video - channeling community

There is a great review of the online video industry that is worth checking out at Read/Write Web. What the article does is do a great job of categorizing the different sectors of the video industry. It identifies the main players in the following sectors:

  • Video Sharing
  • Intermediaries
  • Video Search
  • Video eCommerce
  • Video Editing & Creation
  • Rich Media Advertising
  • P2P (Peer To Peer)
  • Video Streaming
  • Vlogosphere

Video is a hot sector and now that Apple are shipping the Apple TV the sector can only get hotter. Some time ago I wrote about the emergence of personalized programming. AppleTV/iPod smart playlists represent the first step in the personalized TV channel. Dave.TV is an interesting attempt to create personalized tv channels that can be embedded in a web page. The downside appears to be that your custom channel can only consist of content you have uploaded to your personal media locker.

May be there is an opportunity for Uncut Video in this emerging area. How easy would it be for Uncut Video to provide the ability for subscribers to define a series of tags, or search terms? Then take the results and allow them to be published as an RSS feed. The next step would be to provide the ability for a player to pick up one or more RSS feeds and play them with advertising integrated, may be pandora style. Subscribers should be able to pick up their own feeds, or those of other subscribers.

The possibilities for personalized channels is as broad as the imagination of the subscribers. Imagine parents creating video streams of fun and educational videos for their kids to watch. Colleges could create educational videos to supplement their course materials and students could pull together feeds for all of their subjects. The posibilities are limited by our imagination.

It would be cool if that output could be delivered podcast style. That would allow AOL content to be delivered to the living room via appleTV, or carried with you on an iPod.

Just a thought....

I know there are plenty of inventive people reading this blog. I am sure someone will hit the comment button and say "all you need to do is...." So go on, tell us how you would take AOL Video to the next level. Hit that comment button and share your ideas.

Posted via email from ekivemark's posterous