- Every consumer electronics device (tvs, clock radios, etc) will be connected to the Internet. I'm LONG this idea. This is a great opportunity for hardware companies to get into the recurring revenue stream by selling services and content for their own devices or by charging a gatekeeper fee to others. They will need help with the software to make it all work as they've never had decent software capabilities, and of course Microsoft will try to dominate all these devices. Regardless, we will see networked CE products everywhere.
- Consumers will continue to pay $100/month bundled cable/content bills. I'm SHORT this one. First it will be just fringe content providers, but eventually even ESPN will want direct-to-consumer relationships. With a networked television, you will be able to sign up for a single content provider directly over the Internet. The cable company will provide a pipe and will still offer content bundles, but no one will be paying $100 per month for a boatload of channels they never watch.
- Mommy and grandma will soon be fighting with the teenage kids for Xbox time.LONG. It's going to be a different genre of games -- think Mahjong and Tetris. But with the Internet-connect consoles, new online communities will emerge. Business Week already wrote a story on the Gaming Grannies.
- We'll all be browsing the web in the kitchen. LONG but not in the usual sense. We won't be using a browser on a PC or terminal screen. We'll be looking at dedicated devices designed to communicate specific information. Maybe it's a refrigerator with a handle that changes color when it needs to be re-stocked. Or perhaps we'll have a coffee maker with a small embedded weather forecast display. I doubt all these devices will be using Ambient Devices' network, but I do think Ambient has the right design ideas.
- We'll consume our living room content "on the go" (a la Sling Devices). SHORT. We will consume content on the go, but it will be made for our small form factor portable devices. It will be short clips (3 minutes, not 30). Simple "copy and transmit" devices like Sling may be used to watch a PVR-recorded show in the office, but they won't cut it for mobile devices, on which we will watch purpose-built content.
- With all this precious content (digital photos, purchased digital music and movies) on our PCs, a backup server in the home like Mirra will become a must-have.
SHORT. There is little doubt that backups will become critical as the cost of the content on our hard disks starts to dwarf the cost of the hard disk itself. However, copying content onto another hard disk in the house is not the best solution. Some version of the networked backup services that first emerged in the late 90s (remember the likes of X-Drive?) will return with their sharing and remote access features.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Shorts and Longs (Digital Livingroom)
At last month's Digital Livingroom conference in San Mateo, my co-panelists (Tim Bajarin, Julie Ask, and Mike Langberg) and I were charged with outlining a "roadmap for the future" of the digital livingroom. I shared my views on these six ideas (three longs, three shorts) and asked the audience for its opinion on each. For what it's worth, they tended to disagree with me, but here are the calls I made.