Steve May's entertainment technology joint

avzombie.com header image 2

The battle over IPTV

March 20th, 2006 · No Comments


New Jersey isn’t that big of a state that Alexander Graham Bell and David Sarnoff – two of the 20th Century’s leading inventors, engineers and scientists – certainly must have bumped into each other periodically. If they had spent more time together and merged their respective laboratories in Murray Hill and Princeton we wouldn’t have two content transport systems fighting over who is going to service our home today. But it didn’t happen. Now there are too many people making a living with both men’s inventions that it probably never will. It will just look similar…
The TV Guy and the Telephone Guy are both jockeying to be the bigger winner in delivering voice, data, video content to the picture perfect home of tomorrow.
The TV Guy has a head start. He has the ear of Tellywood and has vowed to protect their version of IP (Intellectual Property) at all costs (our costs that is).
The Telephone Guy has the ear of the consumer especially since we are accustomed to heavily using their IP (Internet Protocol). This is certainly true of the coming generation of young buyers who multitask with their phones like there is no tomorrow!
Today, families no longer congregate in the family or living room for their entertainment. They want their entertainment throughout the house. They want it on all of their portable devices. That is still a long way from slam-dunk plug-and-play easy. Even Otellini (Intel) and Gates (Microsoft) need help to get the devices to work together and share content. IPTV (both flavors) is beginning to gain followers around the globe. And it’s turning the business model on its ear.
In the US, analysts estimate there are only two million IPTV households and nearly 21 million worldwide. The major growth is in Asia, Europe and North America. Folks are excited about being able to selectively get personalized content. On-demand is becoming an integral part of the entertainment process.
For the telcos, satellite providers and cable firms; that is the level of service consumers will expect and demand.
They may not have figured out the financial side yet but they are running like crazy to get their unfair share of the growing broadband market. In many instances they won’t be competing against each other because while huge numbers of households have satellite and cable not every home has broadband. Believe it or not, many don’t even have a computer. The US still represents the largest broadband market but already the UK has more than 50% penetration of broadband service. If you’re looking to invest, scout almost any country in the Pacific Basin. The heat is on and the potential is to die for.
I admit right up front I don’t quite get it. But then Boomers aren’t the wave of the future (we have trouble focusing on the TV set), it is the teens and tweens who want it all and want it now! They want their video iPods. They don’t just want TV shows from satellite, they want it on their terms – TV on demand. Oh hell, they are demanding everything!
So who is going to be the winning platform? All of them!

TV (cable and satellite) will continue to have the lead when it comes to home entertainment. But if you see our kids whizzing down the street with their phones blasting away it is pretty obvious that you’re going to invest in mobile services (no this isn’t considered inside trading!).
Why? I haven’t got a clue! I want a phone that rings, while youngsters (gawd that sounds old) want ring tones. “Everyone” wants unique screen savers. Silence is deafening so they need music rattling around in their heads constantly.
They’ve got to be entertained. They need their games, their sport clips, their movie previews, their movies. When I said I was bored, dad had a ready answer: “get a job!” When I wanted entertainment I skipped classes and went to the pool hall like any testosterone-filled male or went skinny dipping or …
But that was then. This is now. The world is digital.
And that scares the hell out of Tellywood and their lawyers. They want to deliver the content but they want to do it their way. The solution is Digital Rights Management (DRM) the idea of delivering you the content without really giving it to you!
Their initial solution was delightfully simple – add security on every device. That stops copying and sharing before it starts.
Ok, it sucks a little. But wait! The really important content isn’t theirs, it’s yours: your pictures; your movies; your documents; your school/office work; your purchased videos; your purchased music; your stuff. Their content and your content are still open to interpretation. But in my book if I purchase the content I should own it.
But you still want to be able to move it around the house, onto/off of your iPod, onto your notebook computer, onto your ‘phone.
Moving it around “should” be legal but Tellywood is still working out the kinks on that. Until they do, they are still having their lawyers go after folks in your neighborhood. In the US, the CEA’s Gary Shapiro and his team are fighting the fair use battle for the consumer electronics manufacturers and consumers.
They understand that when you time shift shows or download movies you do it for a specific reason…to enjoy on your terms.
They point to the fact that when you grab digital content – TV shows or movies – you do it because you want to enjoy them on your terms.
That means accessing the content from any TV in the home. It means dropping the content on your computer’s HDD. It means copying the content to a DVD so you can archive/save it for your future use and enjoyment. All of the technical strings they want to attach will put off many consumers from taking full advantage of the content that is out there right now and growing daily.
Tellywood’s competition is intensifying as new IPTV opportunities for independent content developers find new homes for their material and new audiences. They have laid down the gauntlet
“Make it easy for me to enjoy your content and economical to enjoy. If you don’t, I’ll implement my own form of DRM. I’ll simply blow past your dull, recycled “invaluable” content.”
Alex and Dave would be probably be amazed at how consumers have taken control of their stumbling inventions. They would probably be delighted at how creativity has spread beyond the Tellywood alcoves.

By Andy Marken. Contact Andy at andy@markencom.com

Tags: Internet and networking · Trade

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.