Tag Archives: Internet TV

Google TV should turn into Chrome TV


Chrome has revolutionized web browsing. It has evolved the web in 3 years more than in the previous 10. ChromeOS, though, has failed to challenge the PC and laptop status quo, in part because it was conceived before the iPad era, in part because you resist to have a machine that is almost useless when offline.

But the area Chrome would revolutionize is the TV, and this is where Google opted for the Android-based Google TV. A mistake.

The TV and the Web are made to each other, and a ChromeTV would have much more impact in the TV industry than what Google TV might have. Why?
– A Web browser is something that any TV-set manufacturer would integrate without the legal issues of a platform like GoogleTV, owned by Google and tied to potential content rights and other patent issues.
– HTML5 and CSS3 provide a superb framework to develop compelling apps for big screens like TVs.
– The TV-set is “fixed” by nature. If it is connected, it will always be connected, unlike a laptop or tablet. Therefore you can live with just a browser on it. No need for a proper proprietary OS.
– The Web also on the TV? What else can Google dream that would better fit their search and ads business model?

Happy 3rd anniversary Google Chrome!!!

[Views] Spotting Disruption Before It Happens

Postaldecline

We can call it the “delayed” disruption. It has 3 phases, that can be illustrated in the chart above showing the decline of postal mail volume.

1. Hyped Prediction. End of 90s with the Internet boom, people predict that the end of mail will soon happen.
2. False Reality. A few years later in 2005, people say mail will never die, all the opposite Internet is increasing the use of postal services, as the growth in mail volume shows.
3. Disruptive change. The hyped predictions become a reality, and mail drops in free fall.

The same can be said of CD sales, newspaper and magazines, and soon will be said of  ebooks.

And the same is happening on TV and Internet TV, as the recent debate on the Future of TV shows, when voices say that TV is weathering the Online Video storm better than Music or Newspapers. The good news for TV is that hey have some precedent cases they can learn from and adapt. But the disruption will come… only maybe a bit later.

Read the port: The Key to Spotting Disruption Before It Happens

How Can IPTV Telcos Defend from Online TV?

Some facts about Online video:

  1. Online TV is growing. The number of people watching online video will grow from 563 million in 2007 to 941 million in 2013 according to ABI research, echoed by NewTeeVee.
  2. People watch far more hours of TV from the couch than on the PC. According to Nielsen (see table above found via GigaOm), 142 hours/month for TV versus only 2.5 hours/month for Internet video. Online TV will sure grow, but still a long way to catch the habit of watching TV from the sofa. A habit that will surely remain for long duration shows, like movies or NBA games.
  3. TV devices connected to Internet will grow from 28 million in 2007 to 300 million in 2013 according to IMS research echoed by NewTeeVee.
  4. Some lucrative consumer segments are ready to pay for quality, speed, ease-of-use and exclusive content (e.g. Apple knows very well this segment). Some reports foresee penetrations as high as 20% and even 50% in developed countries urban areas.
  5. Online TV is social. YouTube social component is part of its success. Joost has just added Facebook Connect.
  6. P2P will keep growing, and that includes also a growth of licensed content relying on P2P or P4P networks, although illegal traffic will still dominate for some time.

IPTV Telcos should defend from the threats of Online TV by embracing it:

  • Address facts 1 to 4 by providing a one-stop-shop to integrate Online TV within the IPTV Service. Provide a quick, easy-to-use way to enjoy Online TV from the couch, integrated into the IPTV Service. Why not embed iTunes, YouTube or Hulu channels?
  • People will manage to have only two to three devices connected to the TV in the living-room. IPTV Telcos should position their set-top-box to be the box to connect the TV set to Internet without hassle (including legal P2P) and in the way defend from other boxes that could make IPTV replaceable later (e.g. Apple TV, PC2TV or HTPC units).
  • Add Facebook Connect to IPTV, so that you can see who of your friends is watching the show, or browse what shows your friends are watching.

In other words, keep the boxes from “over-the-top” players away from the living-room for as long as possible. Differentiate from the “over-the-top” players with the unique experience that IPTV can provide on exclusive live HD content, like live concerts (expect music artists to do more of these, as recording sales drop) or sport events.

Related posts:
Will Internet TV Kill IPTV?

The Ultimate Media Center from Asus

Taiwanese vendor Asus brought the Netbooks to mainstream with their popular Eee PC, leading the way for other manufacturers to jump into a now crowded category. Following that success, Asus introduced a small-form-factor desktop, the Eee Box, creating a new NetTop category, that so far has failed to take off.

But this could soon change with Asus recent announcement of the new Eee Box B204 and B206 models.  The new models are powered with an ATI HD graphics cards that delivers High Definition video through an HDMI port. Asus completes its box Media Center capabilities adding their Eee Cinema software controlled by a remote control, for a complete home theater experience.

The tiny Eee Box can be VESA mounted on the back of a display, it is quiet (26 dB) and consumes only 20 watts of power! An ideal box for a Media Center front-end, to play content from a media library on a back-end Home Media Server (NAS or Desktop), as well as being an ideal device to enjoy Internet TV (Hulu, YouTube, etc) and Amazon Unbox downloads in the living-room.

Asus has not unveiled the price of these new models yet, but if it is close to the $300 of previous Eee Box models, this could be the ultimate box for a PC2TV / HTPC / Media Center solution.

Still to be seen if the 1.6GHz Atom would be capable of any TV recording, but even it is not, the B204 and B206 boxes are still great lightweight front-end solutions.

Specifications from Asus website:

Model B204 B206
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Home Microsoft Windows XP Home
CPU Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz) Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz)
Chipset Intel Chipset Intel Chipset
Graphics ATI Radeon HD 3400 series with 256MB DDR2 memory ATI Radeon HD 3400 series with 256MB DDR2 memory
DIMM DDR2 SO-DIMM 1GB DDR2 SO-DIMM 1GB
Storage 160GB HDD SATA II 5,400rpm
10GB Eee Storage
160GB HDD SATA II 5,400rpm
10GB Eee Storage
Card Reader SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro/MMC SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro/MMC
Bluetooth Yes No
Wireless 802.11n 802.11n
LAN 10/100/1000Mbps 10/100/1000Mbps
Audio Chip Realtek ALC662 Azalia CODEC Realtek ALC662 Azalia CODEC
Rear I/O Giga LAN x 1, USB 2.0 x 4 Giga LAN x 1, USB 2.0 x 4
Video out: HDMI port x1 / DVI-D port (through adapter)
Audio ports x 1 (with S/PDIF out)
Video out: HDMI port x1 / DVI-D port (through adapter)
Audio ports x 1 (with S/PDIF out)
Other Built-in battery that performs a U.P.S. function N/A
Accessories Remote control, stylish stand and 36W adapter Remote control, stylish stand and 36W adapter

Top 5 Disruptions in the Past Twelve Months

These are the top hottest five topics that we have covered over the past twelve months with the biggest potential for a disruption in both the Communications Industry and in our habits.

1) Mobile Internet, the Internet way.
The iPhone and Google’s Android have revolutionized Mobile Internet in the handset, making web browsing such a cool and better experience that operators have embraced unlimited data plans for the first time, in bundle with these “next-gen” handsets (well, in fact operators did it first with Blackberry for unlimited enterprise email). Downloadable Mobile Apps were already available for Symbian, J2ME, Windows Mobile and Blackberry, but never have they been hotter than they are now on App Store and App Market. The Winners: Apple and Google (and even Blackberry to a certain extent). The Losers: Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Windows Mobile. The short-term winners, long-term who-knows?: The Service Providers that are cashing-in the flat fee Unlimited Data plans, but sacrificing their chances to ever control again the Mobile Internet as they did before.

2) Cloud Computing.
Amazon Web Services, Google App Engine, Google Apps, IBM “Cloud consulting”, or Google releasing Chrome to run complex apps on the browser at full speed, have made headlines in 2008. Startups such as Animoto run on Amazon’s cloud to enjoy flexible on-demand computer scalability (no wonder Amazon is also an investor in Animoto). The hype is such that these days everything is getting cloudy (or re-defined as cloudy) : GPS navigators face competition from the clouds with Google Maps (maps run on the cloud, with real-time info update and interactive recommendations/ads). Even speech recognition now runs in the cloud with Google Mobile App. The Winners: Google getting us to spend more time online, pioneer Amazon that gets economies of scale, and the IT vendors, such as HP or IBM, that will equip clouds. The Losers: Microsoft, for the moment. SaaS running on a browser make the OS less relevant. The catastrophe of Vista has only help the Cloud cause with enterprises eager to consider alternatives. Microsoft is building huge data-centers and will be a big cloud player too. For the moment, the cloud will put pressure on them.

3) Internet TV.
Hulu has brought national broadcast TV shows to the Internet. YouTube has confirmed the revolution of Internet Video, now well into the mainstream. YouTube not only is reaching agreements with content owners to be an ad-based platform for content distribution, but it has been a huge platform for politicians for the US 2008 presidential campaign, and now for President-elect’s change.gov. Not to mention the new habits of kids to search YouTube for information instead of searching Google. The Winners: All of us that now have virtually unlimited video content, including old-time TV jewels, just one click away. The Losers (yet to be confirmed): Broadcasters that will cannibalize higher CPMs revenues of traditional TV, with much lower CPMs prices in the online world. The effect is still small but innovative models will be needed before the cannibalization goes too far.

4) Wireless Broadband. With HSDPA or EVDO widely deployed, the 3G networks are now beginning to deliver on past promises. WiMAX has also seen in the past twelve months many commercial launches, and will play a key role in emerging markets where fixed broadband is not a financially viable option. The Winners: Mobile Operators that will get an additional source of revenues selling Mobile broadband, and opening the door to Machine2Machine applications taking advantage of ubiquitous wireless connectivity. The potential losers (not yet): Fixed Operators will need to keep fixed broadband ahead in terms of performance, to avoid substitution by wireless. Mobile Operators will lose too, as their hopes to make Mobile Internet different from fixed vanish.

5) Netbooks.
Asus EEE PC has been followed by most laptop vendors (supported by Intel low-power low-cost processors such as ATOM)  to bring a new class of 1 kg laptops with less than 9″ screens, ideal to enjoy full Internet on the go. Combined with Wireless Broadband, these low-cost laptops are not only a great companion for road-warriors but also are likely to power Internet access in many emerging countries as an affordable PC solution. The Winners: Millions of new Internet users worldwide, as well as Internet addicts. Flash memory manufacturers. The Losers: High-end lightweight laptop makers, that will face competition from low-end machines with enough power for everyday use. DVD/CD writers and disc makers, with discs replaced by memory cards and the disc writer by a card reader.

One Year of Blogging

One year has passed since we started this blog with Steve Job’s famous commencement address.

Less than one month later a post on LinuxMCE made it to the front page of Digg, and got 25.000 visits in one day!

Since then, we have spoken about iPhone, Android, Mobile Internet, Mobile TVIPTV, Internet TV, the economy of freenetbooks, WiMAXclouds, pipes and even nanotechnology. We have also echoed from great entrepreneurs as Guy Kawasaki, Tim Ferriss or Martin Varsavsky.

It has been close to 200 posts, 250 comments, 139.000 visits and 260.000 pages.

Thank you for being there.

Note: Did I mention we also wrote about iPhone?

Will Internet TV Kill IPTV?

Internet TV has definitively arrived and it is here to stay. YouTube crossed the chasm for video on the Internet, and Internet TV is now steadily going mainstream. Here is some piece of evidence:

  1. Lean-forward TV gets traction. Mainstream users now feel comfortable watching videos on the PC. First it was the few minutes clips, but more and more people have no issue sitting in front of the PC for long videos of one hour or more. With bigger displays, many are getting used to watching video while browsing and chatting in the same screen.
  2. Broadband bandwidth keeps increasing, and video compression techniques keep decreasing bit-rates for the same quality. This trend is not going to stop any time soon.
  3. PC2TV concept has not crossed the chasm, but it is easier than ever to connect small-form, silent, low power PCs to HDTV-ready LCD TV sets with DVI/HDMI connections. The Mac Mini, the Vaio TP-1 or even the EEE Box PC are easy to connect and make Internet TV enjoyable from the sofa. Wii, PS3 and Xbox360 can also make the Internet TV connection, as well as some specific set-top-boxes, such as Apple TV,  new Tivo models, or even LCD manufacturers adding an Internet connexion (see Sony Bravia Internet Video Link).

YouTube and Hulu are gaining a leading position in advertising-supported Internet TV. YouTube has reached an agreement with CBS to offer complete TV shows with inserted video ads, which is a different game from current UGC and short clips from TV shows.  On top of that, many TV channels are developing their own Internet sites to deliver Catch-Up TV, i.e. broadcast TV-shows offered on-demand. Spanish TVE site is one fine example.

If all this is already posing a serious threat to IPTV and Cable, other over-the-top players are also strongly positioning in Video-On-Demand. Apple TV, Amazon Unbox or even Netflix offers of movie downloads, compete seriously with the VoD that IPTV telcos and cable operators offer.

How can IPTV telcos fight back and win?

  • Embrace Internet as another channel for their offering. Provide users with access to their subscription channels on the PC (and mobile) , with a one-stop-shop offering for catch-up TV for all channels they offer. Enrich the lean-forward TV experience on the PC screen, and add interaction to main social networks.
  • HDTV. Bet on better video quality and immediacy. iTunes can offer HD movies, but it will take a while to download. IPTV streams the content and the user watches immediately. With increasing bandwidth the advantage will erode with time, but the telco can always be ahead with newer ultra HD formats.
  • Content is King. Exclusive content deals make the difference. IPTV telcos should focus on Live premium content (sports events, concerts). No Internet TV player can support millions users concurrently streaming a live HD broadcast of the Super Bowl. Only multicast IPTV can cope with it.
  • Manage the complexity of the Home network on behalf of the user. Bet on set-top-boxes with PVR features and open to support Internet TV, including competitors offering for video downloads. Make YouTube and iTunes just another TV channel in your catalog. Position your set-top-box in the living room before someone else does and makes yours replaceable.

IPTV is a platform for a next-generation Pay-TV service. Exclusive content and a wide offering of channels is a key success factors for IPTV, as it was for Cable/Satellite pay-TV operators. Embracing Internet TV as part of IPTV offering is another one.