When you don’t go to a Trade Show that you have been regularly visiting for the past 8-10 years it is a slightly uncomfortable feeling. It sort of feels like you are missing out on something…but are you really? CES is after all a gadget show and do we need to go if we are not Retailers of Consumer Electronics? What a lot of people do not know is that there is a lot going on behind the scenes in more of a Business-2-Business nature; especially in the Television world that I move in. A lot of networking takes place, and a lot of ‘private suites’ allow for plenty of businessmen to gather, show of their wares in private, discuss and potentially deal-make!
However as a ‘tech journalist’ you might think that things have a different allure. Certainly the BBC’s writer David Pogue has just publishd a very poignant article from his perspective. It can be found in full here: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130104-does-ces-have-a-future
His outlook is that there is mostly years of repetition of technology along with what I call ‘catch-up’ Companies there ‘en-masse’ with cheaper but the same gadgets from the year before and therefore swamping the floors, the industry and the news with old stuff in effect. There is also a decline in the Big Companies with Microsoft having pulled out! Apple is not there either and if Apple is not there how can it truly be called THE Consumer Electronic Show? Qualcomm even did the keynote speech this year – Qualcomm?
Another journalist from our immediate industry Leslie Ellis pointed out that the the trending products were waterpoofing gadgets for your smartphones and tablets. I suspect the Hunting Knife Company and the Mini Flying Helicopters will still be there in the South Hall and that Spearmint Rhino will still get its CES clientele. Ummm, so what is it I miss?
Well in all honestly I do miss it as it kicks off the business year with a hectic, manic traipse around Vegas! Therefore life without an early dose of CES certainly makes for a less-tired more calculated start to 2013.
In response to the announcement by Ted Sarandos – Netflix’s CCO or as I think it should be titled – CHM – Chief Hype Master who believes his Company is “CHANGING TELEVISION FOREVER”! I would merely say, Whoaaaa there Cowboy; of course you have to get excited about your Content deals – Just like Everyone else does LOL!
However what I see overall is just another pretender to the business throne of the TV world! Someone else who is once again going to radically change an entire business model overnight. Someone looking to reign supreme and change the 80-20 mix (80% who watch linear TV and the 20% who watch all the other stuff) … Mr Sarandos you have a privileged position and you are more than likely not part of the real world…a world of people who, quite honestly, have to get up in the morning and go to work in a horrible tough job, or clean the house, or go shopping, or do the laundry, or go to school, or LIVE. People who work hard all day! People who come home, open the front door, kiss the wife/husband/partner, kiss the kids, hug the dog and fit back into the evening’s ritual – Perhaps even cook a meal…or people who are both working; where the family is scrabbling around to find time for the kids pick-up, homework, chores, sports, hobbies, family BBQs, kids birthdays, sickness, LIFE, and all the things that the world delivers. The world of spare time between 9pm to midnight!
Does anyone in this industry REALLY believe that we are glued to our TV screens 24/7 as if that is the only thing in the world? Come on what are we believing!!! Why are TV shows scheduled, why are their ratings, why has the business delivered the same format for the last umpteen years, in the way it has? Because TV has created a system that has adjusted to and suits the masses not the few. We ordinary folk adjust and organise ourselves to schedules, we like schedules because we can do other things in the meantime! We don’t need TV, we have TV which is part of an entertainment package that we use to entertain ourselves within scheduled periods in our lives and Mr Sarandos it is not the ONLY thing we have!
What is the best way for a busy family in the modern hustle and bustle of daily life – It is Linear TV, PVR and Catch-Up TV (aka VOD) perhaps even Apple TV which is an on-demand (not subscription) service…Pay as You Watch (makes sense). Unless Netflix can be the only supplier of ALL the Content with ALL the options in the world including a humble price tag we will see that they are merely just another choice in a HUGE selection of TV offerings that we have today. Linear TV still reigns supreme according to the Analysts but who cares in the heady world of OTT Services – All hail Netflix!
I recently discussed the world of TV amongst my entourage one afternoon during a BBQ party at home. In the main, my guests stated that they watch either DTT, Satellite or an IPTV service (Cable does not exist in these parts), also the odd DVD or Blu-ray for stored media. I showed them (mostly the men) my set-up at home which is a FTA STB for French Terrestrial, a Satellite+PVR, also a Blu-ray and an IPTV service in the front room – All via a single screen via an HDMI splitter – AppleTV and WebTV in the den through a projector, an IPAD for WebTV. The first questions were … why do you have so much TV in the house and do you watch it all? The answer is a sort of ‘because’ and ‘it’s not really that simple’: For IPTV, I have no real choice as it is a bundle from Orange … however I have not turned on the STB since over a year…I still pay 3 Euros/month rent – Duh! The satellite is because we have a multi-language family so I need access to other language programmes. The den is because we wanted a system with an ad-hoc (pay-as-you-go) movie channel and AppleTV seemed the way to go, at the time. They looked bewildered at all the kit!
If I had my way the’ sum of the whole’ would be a huge Gateway that would take all the inputs and then send them to ‘slave devices’ in the home…which is ‘on the way’ in the market-place, but not from Orange as they have not followed Bouyges or Free who offer a combo (media-centre) devices; the Orange IPTV service has in fact have simply chosen to go for a new interface in 2012 from Orca Interactive (who they now own) which will be a huge step out of the 1990s interface they presently have; but not enough to make me watch the content. I would actually like to use the iPAD and some Companion Screen interactivity but that is a long way off in this region!
My friends … who range from both retired and working businessmen, to engineers, artists, artisans, restaurateurs and more – a diverse crowd … are amazed at my explanation of what is available in Digital TV … this is because normally watch several programmes – thier favourites, and are suprised by the odd new show they fall upon…they have what they need, which is actually basic linear TV!
However for people like me, and there are others, we need the industry to solve the complex modern digital TV system offering (something that is not tied to a single operator): It needs to cater for diversity in a ‘multi-service’ environment, it needs to be intuitive i.e. easy to navigate and switch between devices that can offer multi-content in a TV Everywhere scenario. However is it really possible to have an extraordinary Viewing Experience and Simple Navigation system when you have such a diverse number of providers and a principal screen of 42″. It would seem unlikely. From what I have seen the business of TV is fragmented, cluttered and simply getting more and more complex as Google and the rest try to usurp traditional broadcasters.
We finished the party and cleared up settling in front of the TV with a ‘digestif’ – We searched and searched the late-night channels eventually falling upon the recorded shows on the PVR – Raymond Blanc and the delightful show the ‘Hungry Frenchman’. With our friends we had talked of many things that evening, including the demise of quality content, and it was an interesting insight into the reality and perception of the common man. I did lend out a couple of Blu-ray disks too.
Th Madness of TV …5 Tuners and 2 Terrabytes of storage – Watch 1 programme while recording 4 others – store 300Hours of TV in HD (WHY?) … There is not enough time to watch it all and live your normal life!