I really like the Apple TV box that Apple has presented. I have long thought that the best positioned companies to present such a solution have been Apple, Microsoft and Sony. Interestingly only Microsoft seems to have gone for a standard PVR type solution, while the others will have to be based on more on-demand TV. Maybe the first product I buy from Apple?
My view is that on-demand TV and home entertainment will take over almost entirely for broadcasting. So I think Apple have done a clever thing in not complicating their box more by supporting incoming TV signals and recording possibilities. I find the Apple TV box really cheap and with the link to iTunes it should be a really cool solution. Recording incoming TV raises all sorts of technical and partnership issues. This way they can offer an end-to-end solution completely on their own.
Who needs a broadcasting service if you have a proper on-demand service with all the same content and more. I’m looking forward to lots of travel programs, cooking, entertainment etc that relates to exactly what I want to see there and then. Including of course content that’s been generated by other users, with further developments of services like YouTube etc. My own PVR shows me that my broadcast TV usage just decreases and decreases. With a proper on-demand service, it’d decrease even more. No need to have a recording function at all.
OK, there will always be some live events, including interactive TV where many people decide the outcome of the broadcasted show that will have to be broadcasted. With on-demand it obviously loses its attraction. But everything else will be on-demand. Does this mean that the current TV stations will have to move their focus much more towards live shows and interactive shows to stay in their business?
And where is the mobile phone in all this? Right now the mobile is the best way of implementing interactive TV. I was working on this in 1996 while I was at Telenor, and it’s really exploded since. But with better boxes at home that allows you to interact directly with the program without your mobile, this may just disappear completely. The interactivity will stay though, but the mobile’s role is uncertain…
Some of the time you’d probably want some suggestions and ‘play lists’ provided by people who you can trust make good programming decisions. Such a play list could be considered a broadcast I guess, but could and should still be on-demand. This is maybe also where social networking comes in. You’d want to see the same programs as your friends have suggested. Maybe you watch a program and you can suggest to a friend to see it. Maybe you share part of your own play list on your own TV accessible space. Maybe the box can make ‘intelligent’ proposals also based on your social network (could lead to some interesting privacy issues).
But my TV isn’t only mine, it’s the whole family’s… so which role will the social network play in this? Hard to say. It’s not like my PC that has my own personal area only accessible by me. But maybe the TV will become more like that also. Maybe we’ll be saying who’s there and it’ll be presenting content that’s acceptable to all. I’m not sure all families will agree though, so sounds like basis for a lot of argument on what to watch!
I guess the battle of vendors will stand between:
- Microsoft, Sony and Apple, some through game console and some through dedicated TV solutions
- Cable, ADSL and other broadband providers using generic hardware or partnering with the above
- Existing TV channels, in partnership with any of the above?
The above probably have to get together to provide a good enough solution I think.
Will boxes built up with MythTV, GBPVR etc have any role in the future? The cable providers will soon be able to lock in the content so that you can’t record it on your own PVR. They’ll do what they can to lock us in. Some other providers will work independently of the cable providers, and to do this in the most efficient way it’s easier to provide just on-demand services.
Unfortunately I live in Norway which is a desert as far as these services are concerned. Some services are starting to come though. Nextgentel (TeliaSonera owned broadband provider) and TV2 just announced that they’ll be offering an on-demand service. I think this is probably based on some other generic solution than Apple etc. If anyone has experience from other markets, I’d appreciate to hear about it.