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In a recent, insightful Gizmodo interview with Intel CTO and Labs chief Justin Rattner, it was revealed that Intel has apparently been very proactive in driving forward the Connected TV space - playing a role in shaping the future of TV by going as far as building a User Interface (UI) which they shopped around to Google and Sony long before the Google TV announcements earlier this year.
Justin Rattner. There actually is a fellow whose name is Brian David Johnson. He is the experience architect for the future of television effort. Brian just finished a book called Screen Future, which is basically Intel's vision for the future of television. Brian and that whole TV experience team literally built the entire experience and then took it out to the industry and people like Google and Sony and other folks then said, ‘That's consistent with our vision.' I think in a lot of cases our vision went way beyond where their vision was! But we actually did a complete UI. There is a service provider; they're not like Google or Sony. They don't have engineers creating UIs so, they were very interested in taking the UI we had developed as part of the total experience architecture. They'll actually bring that to market.
It's interesting to note that Intel is perhaps a lot stronger player in this new relationship between Google, Sony, Logitech and Intel than first expected - and it appears that their future TV vision has had great influence in the marriage. That's great if it hits. It sucks if Google TV vortexes down the crapper and ends up alongside WebTV, Apple TV and the rest of the tepid attempts at media convergence in the living room. But I for one, don't think it will fail. And reading into Intel's take on it more, it seems the recent wedding of Google, Intel and various other partners will do what no one has been able to do.
Some brilliant tracts from Screen Future can be downloaded at the Intel website - free - and the book is expected to be out on Amazon.com soon. He's Intel's TV rendition of Steve Jobs... a technology visionary and a creative, Johnson has a rich history, penning both fiction and non-fiction books, interactive TV production, directing two feature films, and working as an illustrator and commissioned painter. Now he's the Consumer Experience Architect for Intel.
From the Chapter Ralph Baer’s Television Gaming Apparatus and the Future of Entertainment Johnson lucidly writes:
"Over the past few years we’re witnessed yet another monumental yet subtle shift in our entertainment. Not only has the Internet come to TV but TV has come to the Internet. Just as Bear’s game box transformed the TV set into a screen, the Internet has brought entertainment to all the screens in our lives. Even the very definition of entertainment has been transformed to mean a personalized and fluid mix of TV shows, movies, music, games, apps and social networking. You can check Twitter on your TV. You can watch movies on your iPhone. You can watch TV shows on your laptop.
Entertainment has been decoupled from the living room. It can now be personalized to whatever you want to watch, play or browse and then be delivered to any screen we have handy. Entertainment has now become a compute task.
The hardware, software, service and economic implications of this shift are being written today as consumers rush to embrace this new freedom of access and control. For me the really interesting questions are what does it mean when entertainment becomes the leading usage for all our computing devices? How do we take something as rich and engaging a TV and use it as a platform for social interaction? What does the future of game play look like when we can play the game effortlessly across every device we own? The innovation of Baer’s television gaming apparatus wasn’t just the ability to play games on the TV. It changed the very definition of what TV and entertainment meant to consumers and industry. Now that the future of entertainment seems to lie on the screens of all of our devices we are in for yet another giant leap. What lies at the other side could be more interesting and far stranger than any of the early experiences we are seeing today."
I think mentioning that entertainment has been decoupled from the TV is a reiteration of the TV Everywhere concept which has been around for some time. But not the commercial definition, in March 2010 Comcast and Time Warner cemented the phrase by enveloping it into their brand. Rather the other one.
I first heard the phrase "TV Everywhere" from Nicolas Negroponte, Founder of MIT Media Labs when he talked about TV Everywhere at a PICNIC Event in Amsterdam.
"News is not dead, paper is.. Soon every surface will be a display."
And Johnson's most compelling question is the one that will take time to answer: "How do we take something as rich and engaging a TV and use it as a platform for social interaction?" - or what will Social TV really look like in the future? Skype? VOIP? Visual? Text? Chat? Single screen? Two-screen? Three screen? Twitter TV? Facebook TV?
Wouldn't we all like to know? It's going to have to evolve for some time before the fog lifts and we start to see traction in Social TV, TV Everywhere, Connected TV, etc... and hopefully with open standards, open technology, and a huge community of entrepreneurs and technologists to drive innovation forward.Then consumers will have choice and the best solutions will naturally rise to the top in a sea of options. Think Facebook and iPhone App communities, but for TV... crossing over from the Web and Mobile dev landscape to create for the big screen.
Johnson also writes about future monetization which is what is keeping all the content owners in broadcasting awake at nights. He points out Lady Gaga's extensive use of product placement in the “Bad Romance” video is a game changer. Since P2P downloading of music is snuffing out the recorded music industry, artists are having to look everywhere to fill the coffers that used to overflow with record sales. Solutions used in Gaga's video, along with touring live and merchandise are the only new pickings for musicians. Expect the TV industry to have to get as creative as the music industry is having to get.
There are product placement advertisements throughout the video. Product placement advertising is when a product pays to be included in a piece of entertainment. In Gaga’s video you can see a Parrot by Phillippe Stark, Nemiroff Ukrainian vodka, Heartbeats earphones, HP Envy “Beats Limited Edition” laptops and a pair of Carerra sunglasses. All of these advertisements for products integrated into an music video advertisement for the album Fame Monster are shown with a pop-op ad from YouTube advertising the video game “When They Cry”
So what can we learn from the little boys and the pop star? Is the internet growing up? The personal computer followed a similar path starting with hobbyists and eventually becoming a tool for professional industry. Along this same arc, blogging once was the sole activity of enthusiasts and citizen journalists but now has been comfortably adopted by the mainstream press and commercial communications giants
There will be other ways to monetize - for instance, we can expect Facebook-like demographic targetting in the future which I wrote about some time ago at Google TV - The Future for TV App and Widget Developers? Agencies are going to froth over new marketing strategies that will be available in their toolbox in the near future.
I could buy elective (opt in and opt out) landscape around particular program for TV Widgets for shows or even entire channels. It might be a custom widget built in Android or could even be some kind of Chrome extension. It could be Contextual Advertising based on the show’s content, it could be Behavioral Targeting based on the viewer’s preferences and habits, it could be Location Based Advertising (LBA), based on the viewer’s lat and long via IP, or it could be Experience Marketing (full fledged TV experiences).
Yes, the broadcasting world is going to have to loosen their grip and open up. Starting with the software. Once Google enters the fray with Android, it's going to really open up.
At Amazon, it's written that Screen Future is a book that provides a vision for what happens after convergence and what we need to do to get there and it explores the gargantuan unanswered questions lurking in the shadows of this future hype and buzz: What do consumers really want? As these devices hit "Main Street", what are the real world implications for bringing about the future of TV across multiple platforms? As the experience of watching television permeates all of Intel devices how will it be delivered and paid for? Pulling from global consumer research, Screen Future explores in concrete terms what real people actually want from the future of TV and how the entertainment and technology industries might bring this vision to market in a way that works for all players involved.
I for one, can't wait to pick up a copy.
Richard Kastelein, the co-founder of Appmarket.tv, is a Canadian expatriate living in The Netherlands. He was the winner of the 2010 Deloitte Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions for Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands for futurist views on Social TV and Media Convergence (Tech Visionary). Email him at richard @ agoramedia DOT co DOT uk - More at Wikipedia and Linkedin.