Last night I sat down with Mrs H last night to watch Kingsman (an except film, highly recommended) on Google Chromecast. The film was pay per view, which was selected on my smartphone and then ‘transferred’ to Chromecast.
I noticed a new feature last night – while the film was playing I looked at my phone and the screen showed the characters and actors currently on the TV screen, as well as the music soundtrack. It was like Shazam on steroids!
How many times have you been watching TV and wondered who a specific actor was? If this happens to you regularly, you’ll love the experience.
2014 has been another interesting year in the digital world. The end of a terrible recession has forced most companies to place digital at the heart of their strategy. #Fintech has become a recognised term for banks, insurance companies and other financial services organisations trying to update their systems to become ‘digital‘.
This week I’ve been working from our newest sales office in Atlanta, USA. It’s been a great week, and we’ve met some really interesting (and super friendly) people and companies.
During the visit, I spent some time looking at the consumer media offerings over here. The US has often been ahead of the UK market when it comes to television, but the UK leads the world in some web offerings – such as grocery shopping and BBC’s iPlayer, so I wanted to see what the US has to offer. And it’s difficult to do this from the UK because so many sites are geo-blocked. Continue reading A British review of US sports and media offerings→
I’ve been looking forward to the UK release of Google’s Chromecast device for such a long time now that I’d considered buying a US version and shipping it over. However I was delighted to see them go on general sale in the UK late last week.
Chromecast is Google’s answer to Apple TV, providing a number of services (or apps in fashionable parlance) such as iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube to a standard television. There’s no remote control – you use your phone or tablet (either iOS or Android) to control the device.
And the device is tiny. It looks like a slightly larger USB stick, but with an HDMI plug at the end, to connect into the back of your TV.
Personally, I believe the advertising industry is in a bubble which is ready to burst. It is a semi-self-fulfilling industry that has been growing at a rate out of proportion to the businesses revenue which support it.
On Friday I went to Deloitte’s Telco, Media and Technology 2014 Predictions Event at the Google campus in Shoreditch. It was only an hour and a half, but well-presented (only if you were sitting at the front, but the microphones were so bad I felt sorry for people at the back) and very well attended.
In the next couple of years, TV will change significantly, both from a distribution, content and rights point of view.
From the rights point of view, UK customers have until now enjoyed a single provider for all their television. This has slowly moved to multiple providers, for instance Netflix and a Sky subscription. With BT winning the Champions League rights from Sky, this leads us further down the path of more subscriptions – similar to the US television model.
On the content side, we’ve’ve seen new companies commission (the TV word for “fund and then produce”) new shows. The leading example here is Netflix and their House of Cards production. See the stock price chart above – House of Cards was released on Netflix in February 2013. Netflix’s share price has doubled since then, and the second series is being released on Netflix next month.
While traditional broadcasters are churning out low-quality reality TV, Netflix are hiring A-list celebrities to produce high-quality drama. Which one is likely to attract the most viewers?
For the latest new television technology, 4K, it’s the distribution method more than the screen technology that I find interesting. I’m not playing down the advanced engineering and manufacturing to get 4,000 pixels working completely separately resulting [finally] in pure black.
4K will be the first television media technology distributed over the Internet before physical media.
In the past we’we’ve used DVDs to introduce HD technology (before satellite and then digital terrestrial broadcast).
With 3D TV (I never saw the point personally and I think we’ll see 3D services being quietly shut down this year), it was available on DVD and then satellite too.
The first 4K broadcaster will be Netflix. Think about that… a seven-year old company is beating the BBC and Sky to a new consumer broadcast technology.
And the reason for this is straightforward. The infrastructure required to support 4K is already in place. 4K “only” requires a (stable) 8 Mbit Internet connection. To distribute this over satellite television would mean removing some other channels – there isn’t the remaining bandwidth to broadcast all of Sky’s existing channels and a new 4K one. This is also why so many of Sky’s SD channels seem low quality – they have been compressed to squeeze the data into the broadcast.
Digital cinemas have been using the internet to download 4K movies for some time. A 4K movie is between 90 Gb and 300 Gb. Although, a cinema can afford to take a long time to download the film if it is only allowed going to be viewed in a few days’ time. With Netflix, which is currently streaming only, you’ll need that stable 8 Mbit connection.
What does this all mean for consumers?
Two things. The first is that we are moving ever toward non-physical content: think rental, or Spotify, not buying DVDs.
The second, is if you are planning to buy a 4K TV, make sure you’ve got a decent Internet connection.
Every year I forecast a number of predictions in the Digital Media/ Internet world, and at the end of the year I score those predictions to see whether they came true or not. Here are links to 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 predictions.
For the coming year, here are my predictions:
TV will change. In the next couple of years, television is going to change significantly in both content and technology terms. In the latter front, I reckon we’ll see 3D disappear altogether (bye-bye 3D channels), Ultra HD become production ready, Xbox One will become the central home entertainment device, and with television sets growing every year, we’ll see more transparent TV technologies for when the box is switched off. In content terms, Sky have lost the TV rights to the Champions League from the 2015/6 season. This will mean the next round of Premiership rights bidding will be huge, because Sky can’t afford to lose the Premier League. Unless they start significantly boosting the awareness of another sport, similar to what they’ve done with darts and cycling. The bad news for consumers is that TV is going to become fragmented – think multiple subscriptions from different providers to see all the TV content that your family wants to watch. The next two years of TV will see massive change.
Investment post-recession. Remember Facebook buying Instagram for a billion dollars? Or Google buying Waze for almost a billion dollars? As the world (minus Spain and Greece) dusts itself down and emerges from the recession, we’ll see the spending spree continue. I’d expect to see TV broadcasters and newspapers lead in this area.
We’ll see the pace of consumerisation speed up. Large companies will produce their own app stores, many more companies will move to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and finally improve the usability of their in-house apps. Across businesses, staff will demand more touch screens to work with Windows 8[.1]. All of this will mean that the business (i.e. non-IT departments) will be buying what we have always called ‘the technology’. And this will be challenging for established IT departments.
Security is going to move to the top of the agenda, specifically with Trust and Identity. This will become the big item agendas for IT departments. Historically we’ve seen hacking groups held up as revolutionaries and small time geeks who are bored. This public and media perception will change as more people’s identities are cloned and security costs for hacking intrusions are passed on to end customers.
From Mobile to Wearable. IT and marketing departments have focused on mobile devices for the last couple of years. We’ll see the focus shift to wearable devices as Google Glass, Samsung watches and Apple somethings all become mainstream. SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) will be replaced by SWAC (Social, Wearable, Analytics and Cloud).
2014 will be the year of the wallet. Visa released V.me at the end of 2013. PayPal already provides a wallet, and we’ll also see banks and payment systems releasing them. The good news is that it’s going to be easier to pay by card online – you’ll only need a username and password rather than your credit card number. The bad news is that we could end up with a number of wallets and many passwords. It will become a race for the first wallet.
Speech recognition to become more mainstream. I use speech recognition for Google searches on my phone and laptop. It gets my search correct most of the time, and for the other occasions, Google usually second guesses what I was trying to search for and gives those results instead. With Google’s speech API, almost any app can use speech recognition, and the more it’s used, it will become better quality.
Integration between services. When I received Google Glass in December I was impressed that as soon as you log in with your Google account, it shares phone numbers held on my Android phone together with my Google+ profile and so on. I saw a demo of Sharepoint 2013 recently with excellent integration between Yammer, Sharepoint, Lync, Exchange and Outlook. To date, social integration has been about finding Facebook friends on a new service or asking them to build new farms and vegetables. We’ll start seeing more clever implementations between applications – why does both Strava and my health insurance app need to follow me around when they can share data?