It has been done before…….
So where will it all be heading in the media industry? It is a question
posed many times over the recent years and has been addressed in depth
at many conferences and seminars. If you look at the history of predictions
on the future of technology, it turns out that the majority was wrong.
This is primarily caused by the fact that these predictions were in fact
about technology, rather than consumer behaviour.
It is about people
The wants and needs of the consumer are practically always leading the
market developments. There are, however, examples of new technology becoming
a huge hit, against all expectations and predictions. The cell phone is
one of them and especially the success of SMS has been quite a surprise.
Let's face it: typing a text message on a tiny keyboard, constantly searching
for the right letter and having the text displayed on a mini screen isn't
what you might call 'user friendly'. But apparently SMS fulfilled a strong
need for asynchronous and often anonymous communication, possible from
People do not change habits very easily, once they have grown accustomed
to them. Television has been among us for many decades, and it is not
very likely that it will be surpassed quickly by other media devices.
The new generation, however, is increasingly mixing different media types
and devices to fulfil different communication needs, and Internet is gaining
its share. This new generation will inevitably grow up into adults, becoming
the establishment of middle aged workers, taking their new habits along
with them and making them standard practice.
Heading for Separation
Different media usage, as practised by the young people of today, does
not necessarily mean different consumption of certain content types such
as (for instance) entertainment and news services. Film and video have
been the major form of visual entertainment and probably will remain so
in the coming decade, be it that gaming is rising fast. The way such forms
of entertainment will reach us, however, will definitely change with the
rise of broadband as a (more or less) point to point connection enabling
personalization. So what if one would order videos on demand over Internet,
and use the TV set as a display unit? If your TV has for instance 60 channels
that provide programs in a push mode, Internet will become the 61st giving
you all kinds of content in a pull mode. This 61st channel will actually
be a gateway to probably many thousands of content providers world wide,
offering every imaginable title in a pull mode as well as in a semi-push
mode to make the choice of title a little easier. And more likely than
not, the broadcasters of today will also join those content providers
of tomorrow to reach the consumer both ways.
Push versus Pull
A world which only has room for pure 'pull', however, is not a very likely
scenario. Watching Television together in the living room is still seen
as a social activity, although strictly speaking it is one which temporarily
kills inter-human communication. But still, experiencing the same impressions
is perceived as a joint experience that can be shared.
As soon as interactivity enters the stage, the experience might loose
its 'joined-ness' and will probably lead to arguments. That is why more
and more households have multiple TV sets and multiple PC's with an Internet
connection. Still, watching a movie together remains an important activity
for a family or group of people. In that respect, the TV will stay the
centre of the living room for quite some time, but media types (as variations
of connectivity) will fan out, enabling a myriad of content providers
from all over the world to offer their titles. I believe consumers will
get used to that new situation very quickly and will experience this new
digital world as something quite ordinary.
In short, there will be quite a strong separation of media types, content
types and devices. Until now, TV has been a synonym for a media type,
content type as well as a device. That will change. The consumer does
not care at all where the content is coming from and which media type
is used to transport it. As long as he or she can get the right title
and play it on the device of choice, regardless whether it is about movies,
news, games, gambling, chatting, or any other form of content. The choice
for a device will largely depend on the choice for push or pull, for interactivity
or none, and for a joined experience or rather for seclusion.
Content types will stay focussed on those aspects people go for by nature:
entertainment, news, gaming and gambling, and communication. The media
type -or connectivity type- will be of little interest to the consumer,
the device used to experience the content will have a far more dominant
position. Which device will be used for a specific piece of content on
a specific moment will depend on the circumstances: experienced by a group
or experienced by an individual, and in which location?
People will go for the content rather than the media or the provider.
Content will have to be able to be experienced on multiple devices for
various purposes. The consumer's ownership of certain content through
purchase will remain an important driver, but ownership of certain devices
will become just as important to these consumers. And the media as connectivity
in the middle of all this? It will have a role to connect as many content
providers to as many devices as possible, but will no longer get the appraisal
and awe of the consumer it once had.
Visit also: http://www.HDB-interactive.com
Visit also the conference about
'the future of the Media & Entertainment Industry' and
the sections with books,
articles and links.