iTV Investors, Consumers, Come Read and Learn

Welcome to tonight's installment of critical thinking about new media technologies. In a press release dated 14 December 2005, "Charter Communications, JVC, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, Inc., NBC Universal, Samsung and Sun Microsystems today announced the formation of HANA, the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance. HANA members are working together to create a design guideline for secure high definition audio visual networks that will speed the creation of new, higher quality, easier to use HD products. [Partnership announcements are not usually something you can bank on. -BK]

"In addition to the founding members, ARM, Freescale Semiconductor and Pulse~LINK have joined HANA as contributing members.

"'HANA brings together content providers, consumer electronics, service providers and IT with the sole purpose of addressing HD needs such as quality of service, ease of use and content protection,' said Dr. Heemin Kwon, HANA president and Samsung executive vice president. 'Since HANA is a cross-industry effort with members from each of the impacted HD industries, we can achieve the 'win-win' necessary to commercialize HD networks. HANA is a milestone among industry alliances because we are starting in the living room, not the home office.'"

The press release went on to say something that I can almost promise will not happen: "The first commercial products are expected to be available at International CES 2007."
OK, here's my outsider's view based on 20 years of research and observation. Readers, this is the 110% classic example of seeing the end state scenario (these new products) without being able to see the barriers that will appear between now and then. Yes, in my opinion, you can take that to the bank. The research problem is that we do not go back and check these press releases. Suffice it to say, I spent over a year doing just that, and while companies sometimes are knowingly, deliberately overly optimistic, others (such as, perhaps, this case) are earnest in their prediction.

Look for what is actually happening to understand today's marketplace. Attend technical conferences to see what will be happening in 3-5 years.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2005, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Best viewed in Firefox thanks to Microsoft going its own way with Internet Explorer.

IPTV Positioning Itself to Lap Other iTV Forms?

French electronic vendor Thomson has announced an agreement to acquire the Thales Broadcast & Multimedia (TBM) business unit, which provides IPTV services (TV services over Internet Protocol), video-on-demand, mobile TV, and designs digital TV and radio broadcasting systems and equipment, according to a press release widely ciculated on the web.

Remember RCA or RCA Victor? Well, they went French in 1988 after being acquired by General Electric. About year-and-a-half later, GE sold its RCA and GE consumer electronics business to France's Thomson where the RCA name remains today.

It's interesting to see what may be shaping up here. IPTV service can appear very quickly because the infrastructure is in place and in constant improvement: it's called broadband. IPTV by definition can also bring interactive television services to the U.S. market (the provincial focus of this blog). So, if IPTV laps iTV (which is looking likely), it means that IPTV will then allow iTV services to be rolled out rapidly. Be sure to quote me: interactive television is inevitable. War in the Middle East (non-fiction, unfortunately) is one of the only possible events that can stop it. So, if you're like me, climb on board the train rather being run over by it.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2005, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Best viewed in Firefox thanks to Microsoft going its own way with Internet Explorer.

Tweens May Never Remember Pre-TiVo

Let's talk about tweens and interactive television. A "tween" is a person who is no longer a small child and not yet a teenager. As written on Wikipedia:

In popular culture around the start of the 21st century, it has been used to describe children in the pre-teen and teenage years, generally in the age range of 8 to 12 years old (according to the definition of The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved 14 December 2005 as linked above.

My daughter is 9 years old and is in fourth grade. She's known TiVo since mid-2002 and now is frustrated if she's watching a show without TiVo. (I know the feeling; I find myself wanting to "TiVo" my car radio.) Current Tweens will be in college in 5 years or so, and they will not be happy if they don't have control over the TV viewing experience. According to an excellent article by Michael Grebb of Multichannel News, there are some interesting commercial research findings. For example:

  • Last July, Nickelodeon launched a new broadband site called TurboNick that has already logged more than 23 million streams
  • Mike Skagerlind, senior vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon Online, is quoted saying that some 90% of Nickelodeon's viewers are broadband-enabled. If that doesn't sound like a revolution, nothing will.
  • Forrester Research reports that about 36% of people ages 12 to 21 now use instant messaging, own their own mobile phone, and have a broadband connection at home.
  • According to Nielson Net Ratings, 18.2 million kids ages 6 to 14 were online as of September 2005
  • Ben White, vice president of digital media for MTV Networks, is quoted as saying "When people look back in the history books, they'll say that 2005 and 2006 were the years that everybody got into this." Amen. The time is now.
  • Ken Goldstein, executive vice president and managing director of Disney Online believes that "the [broadband] platform is not television... The platform is interactive, I don't want to just put a bunch of video on the Web.”
Retrieved 14 December 2006 from http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6290246.html

This is an excellent article. It reminds me that we are in a highly competitive environment with Disney, Nickelodeon, and MTV all very active with interactive online activities. If they can transfer this experience to the television set (i.e., when cable and satellite make iTV available), why wouldn't they? I'd love to hear some counterarguments. Seeing the future is easy, it's the pitfalls between today and the future that are so difficult to identify and measure.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2005, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Best viewed in Firefox thanks to Microsoft going its own way with Internet Explorer.

2006, Dr, Bruce Klopfenstein, and the Rise of iTV

Interactive television may jump up and grab us the way DVD players and discs did a few years ago. The Direct Response Television Industry is frothing at the mouth at the thought of people impulse purchasing "19.95 plus $5.95 shipping and handling" and DirecTV knows how much money can be made through iTV horse races as well established in the UK by sister company BSkyB.

It's end of the semester grading time at the University of Georgia, but I'm alive and well and will get back to posting my thoughts on iTV very soon.

Bruce Klopfenstein

P.S. They kept saying "Merry Christmas" and "the weather you'll face when heading toward that Christmas party this weekend." I had always noticed that they were careful to rarely say the C word in years gone by. Could it be that the new political hot potato, "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays" has changed the Weather Channel? Interesting to note this apparent change.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2005, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Best viewed in Firefox thanks to Microsoft going its own way with Internet Explorer.