Thought Leadership is Not About Corporate Sales Pitches


I presented at the #screen4allforum this week on the subject of ‘The Future of Television and User Interfaces’.  There was a mixed bag of panellists on a variety of sessions at this rather unusual academic style event held in Paris.  I found that the ‘production and creative side of the business’ much more open to discussing real issues and tricks of the trade; including opening up about their real life experiences in their respective sectors.  You could tell by the audience participation that this was seen as interesting by the amount of questions thrown at them.

However, a large percentage of the ‘TV technologists’, especially on the panel on which I participated, insisted on doing their ‘Corporate Sales Pitch’ as if the audience was full of potential ‘buyers’ of TV everywhere, specific flavoured user-interfaces and middleware.

The audience present, I imagine, expected to hear about the ‘future of television interfaces’.  They were there, I imagine, to understand where and how their TV shows might be accessed, displayed and how the consumer of the future might interact with the TV.   This was ever so lightly covered by what had been deployed TODAY and where it was deployed TODAY, as if this was the answer to today’s complex world of and the future of television interfaces.

Quite frankly at these kind of events the audiences do not come to hear and see ‘glammed-up’ product pitches, corporate videos and sales promotion.   Our industry is soooo guilty of this right across the board, in all the conferences that I attend.  I know that people don’t like hearing this particular truth about this aspect of seminars and forums, but it is true.  I am sorry if I am accusing people, but it remains a very true fact that we see, all too many times, the Corporate Sales Pitch and absolutely no real discussion and no real ‘thought leadership’ on the topic in hand.

When you only have roughly 10 minutes and that is taken up with who you are and what you sell, dont you think this is not just a little sad and desperate.  The session always ‘runs out of time’ and the audience has no time for questions nor are they inspired to ask any.

I go back to the title Thought Leadership … which is what we were supposed to deliver in order to be interesting, informative and in-line with the subject.  This is going to get much more kudos I would have thought … Or am I perhaps just being a little naive in expecting more from these very clever people?  I am very saddened by the Corporate Sales Pitches approach from almost all of my peers in the television technology sector, however I know for a fact that it will not change, even if highlighted to the the world or my 1/2 dozen readers ;-).

Misguided, Hysteria Driven, Social Media


Closed DoorI don’t do Hysteria Driven Social Media: I do watch the news and we have gone silent on this problem: The United States purportedly spent $2.8 billion in Haiti – in total 9 to15 Billion was gathered for this appeal… Trying to find out where this money has been spent is virtually impossible. Haiti is still a hell-hole with even the United Nations being sued for the spread of disease.

ALS unknown to me personally until people started throwing water and ice all over the place is a sad indictment of how we as human beings perceive what is the right thing to do in this complex ‘social media’ driven madness of a world. Raising awareness is one thing, but you all ‘laugh and jump about in hysterical fun’ and challenge others for more fun not because you think about the disease because it is funny to get cold and wet?  I find this concept totally bizarre considering the idea behind this ‘gage’ and the actual pain and the suffering that people, who have this and similar diseases, endure.

I am clearly not in the ALS hype camp, but I do give to local charity annually. I am clearly saddened that this distorted world is a world that does not channel funds into the right projects, projects which could help mankind in fighting all manner of disaster and health issues – including ALS, instead we throw millions into projects, at the drop of a hat, where corruption is forecasted ahead of time.  The tsunami appeal was the same and we do not search to weed out the corruption behind it. How many ALS victims could have been helped with only a small % of that wasted money. How many people should it have been helped have access to ‘clean water’ and proper sanitation in Haiti?

Sadly 360,000 people still live in the “temporary” campsites — susceptible to inclement weather, forced to cope with insufficient access to water, poor sanitary conditions and a cholera epidemic.

Like a Mexican Wave this will eventually peter out and then we will then see whether you will all donate money without being made to do so by a stupid challenge, but with an understanding and the conscious mind.  Will Social Media deliver that image – I doubt it.

An Industry in Denial – The Reality of STB Middleware


IMG_5257As RDK claims success and global dominance I would like to offer up this little piece of insight from the world of middleware having spent my career in this particular sector. Middleware is considered troublesome and not well liked. It is certainly misunderstood as a technology. When there is none in a device – there are no advanced services in TV.

In the present market-place what we do know is that that Mediaset Italy (despite the talk of change towards HbbTV in 2017) is still MHP as is Telenet in Belgium. Telenet have just added a Horizon style UI on their existing stack (so the underlying engine is not swapped out) – MediaHighway is still in the market as are huge deployments of OpenTV 2 and the others get TiVo. UM is looking to move to Horizon but we are not completely sure what the technology really is…some of you insiders at the heart of this will certainly not divulge.

There is no RDK compliance and conformance scheme so nobody can really claim that they have a fully compliant RDK product; especially considering that RDK is declared as part of a partial solution to advanced services.

HbbTV is still moving forward and there is no one-size fits all its just the same old mixed bag of systems all trying to do the same thing; just a little bit differently in each case…or we just pop backwards and then claim success when we catch-up with already advanced services as is the case in HbbTV with the recent 2nd screen announcement of ARD.  We are alway in prior-art denial in this part of the industry and talk about things as if they have just been invented.

There are some Android deployments also in the mix.

As in the past this new RDK acronym is looking to homogenise a variety of technology for the same old problem of interactive TV/VAS (Value added services) and there is a lot of hype for this set of partial building blocks that is absolutely ‘not deployed on a wide basis across the industry’-  despite the claims.  I feel we are in a snake-oil, cure-all sales pitch when it comes to this particular product and I wonder why this is necessary?

What we do need in the STB world is a FULL middleware stack with the flexibility, openness and versatility of today’s market that can also be supported by the stability of a partner that is well versed in the intricacies of the art of Broadcast as well as Internet interactive TV services, right across the board.

In fact if you were to actually look it appears that we already have this in the market place and it is making a big impact where it is deployed.  This technology is OpenTV 5, a ‘connectware’ not a middleware that is based on sound principles of device connectivity and interactivity with a plethora of advanced services that covers all the requirements of Old and New TV services. OpenTV 5 has a single entity responsible for its well being and I am sorry to say that this in this industry this is very, very important.

There is no such thing as being able to commoditise the software in a STB especially if you wish this device to function in a very complex, Multi-Service, Multi-Screen, TV Everywhere, Connected Smart-Home network environment.

Check out OpenTV 5 connectware at IBC this year at http://dtv.nagra.com/ibc/

Let us not forget that OpenTV has been in this area of technology since the 1990s which gives it huge credibility, expertise and a massive portfolio of intellectual Property in this particular sector of interactive advanced television services.

4K UltraHD: The Naysayers are Alive and Kicking


IMG_1707Another new Screen technology has arrived follwed by a huge wave of pessimistic, down-beat commentry on this that and the other.  UltraHD if you have never seen it is FANTASTIC and has as much WOW FACTOR as did HD when it came about in full HD resolution.  I never thought I would say this but it is definitely a step forward in viewing experience.

It does seems that we have a penchant for being pessimistic in our industry especially if a new product defies the beliefs of the tech soothsayers.  4K is moving faster than everyone has expected.  As prices tumble and content catches up the gap is filled by the early adopters, those that like new shiny toys and people who believe.  I am definitely going to buy a new 4K UltraHD TV as I did a 50″ Plasma when they came out.  In fact I picked up an old plasma (50″) the other day for 300CHF and attached it to an XBox 360 in my son’s bedroom.  He has a serious gaming station and he can still watch TV on it.  What is the relevance here? Screen size!

The fact is that the bigger the screen the better the TV/Gaming experience because the more immersive it becomes and ironically, I have observed, the less likely are you to be distracted by Facebook and other Social Media shenanigans with this type of environment.

As I predicted all those years ago 3D is dead but this time I want to say long live 4K UltraHD.

#Twitter Bonkers & Nigerian Kidnapping


cropped-red_rejected_stamp_400_clr.pngWhat I would like to know is  will we now have a hashtag for every incident that occurs on the planet be it a kidnapping, murder spree or some other event that affects the human race in some shape or form or are we going to deal with these incidents realistically?  This is how this whole event should have unfolded: #event – Hundreds of Schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria.  #nextstep – UN (or some governing body) orders orders Press BLACKOUT – #nextnextstep – We send in a multi-nation Elite Forces Group – Kill Terrorists – Rescue Girls – #PressStory then reads: Schoolgirls kidnapped in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram rescued, ALL Terrorists dead – VOILA!

Lets sort out the mess and NOT tweet nonsense and vocalise DISDAIN about it as that is just what Boko Haram wants.  Sorry #michelleobama @MichelleObama but holding a hashtag poster was just not what you should have done;  You should have told hubby @BarackObama to send in the troops.

 

TV and Twitter – #Abuse or #Banter


The Eurovision Song Contest whether you like it or not is one of those annual events that is very divisive. Some people claim it is the best three hours of television in Europe each year, others state that it is an annual cringe-fest best watched drunk with friends. In the good old days, when it was cool to do so, this mega event would have seen fervent discussion, in both the work environment and the pub, with a lot of moaning about the performance of the UK’s song. You would have no doubt heard the infamous, “La Norvege nul points” done in the best French accent regardless whether Norway was in the running to win, which actually happened back in 2009. The UK, by the way, has not won the coveted Eurovision crown since 1997. #WTF. Please excuse that Twitter expletive; it has relevance later in the piece. Finally the discussions clearly centred on the much renowned and vilified block voting practices that always make each year a hoot. This banter about TV shows is known in colloquial terms as the water-cooler moment. For many of you reading, the water-cooler discussions now centre more on scenes from Breaking Bad and House of Cards, which is hardly the same now, is it? You might say if you are a fan of the event, that the Eurovision Song Contest is clearly a form of light-entertainment that will most likely outlive the complex TV drama series for years to come.

So the wonderful Eurovision Song Contest, for the hilarity of the commentary and tongue-in-cheek moments, will remain a guilty secret pleasure for those that are afraid to engage openly on the subject with colleagues. Fear not dear reader there is a new, wider TV water-cooler way out for those who feel the need to give opinion and commentary; without coming out of the closet on Eurovision. This is Social Media. Whilst more pertinent during the show than after this new communication channel will give you access to millions of like-minded people and plenty of hearty banter. Hang on this is not quite the same I hear you cry! Well you are correct because this way of interacting changes the commentary landscape enormously. Let us explore this more. Combining Social Media Platforms with popular TV shows offers up a soapbox for wider serious commentary, hilarious banter and a whole lot of trouble. Here is an example during the Icelandic performance: @bbceurovision – He’s been Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. Wouldn’t Icelandic Jesus be Jesus Godsson? #eurovision. #LOL! …

 

Full Story Here: http://www.marketme.co.uk/tv-and-twitter-abuse-or-banter/  

Out of France For a While


ImageWe have left France!  This is for several reasons.  Work has taken us back into the land of Fondu and Cuckoo Clocks.  It is for fiscal benefits as well.   We had the option to stay and work in France but ultimately the system is so complex that it was not worth the effort to organise.  As the French bureaucracy, that we never mastered, blunders along, the ever increasing taxes that destroy entrepreneurship are something that we hope to see the government address before we return.  We want to return because we love the country.  So for now we will yodel along the highways and byways of the Canton of Vaud safe in the knowledge that what we get at the end of the month is ours to play with.  Tax at source is a great way to ensure the government gets its coffers filled and minimizes tax fraud.

We will start to discover the gastronomy of Switzerland and report back with our findings.  Keep your eyes peeled for us wont you?

In 2008 USA Cable Announced – The end of the cable set-top box? Now we have RDK!


The end of the cable set-top box? Yes, Comcast says

Back in January 2008 Comcast CEO Brian Roberts predicted that by the end of the year, and I share the quote.  “Virtually the entire cable industry will support Tru2way,” an “open cable” platform rendering the box moot.

Now I have understood that there is another Iinitiative that actually started in 2009, which is in full hype mode in 2013 called RDK which is designed to make STBs Faster to port and more flexible.  I guess USA Cable still needs STBs after all Brian?

Oh we are a fickle industry!

Was IBC 2013 Worth It?


Having seen the superb 4K Ultra HD UI Experience from Nagra the answer is YES, YES, YES!  It was quite spectacular and what I would want in my home.   Wow!

GREAT FORBES ARTICLE: do-nice-people-succeed-in-business


I sincerely hope that Forbes does not punish me for ‘giving’ this to my readers.  

http://www.forbes.com/sites/darwinatwork/2013/09/16/do-nice-people-succeed-in-business-it-depends/?utm_campaign=techtwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

 

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