What do we mean by television these days?

By December 13, 2006 4 Comments

Old Style TV 

I have been over at Le Web 3 in Paris for the last couple of days.  In summary good conference, lots of interesting ideas, very nice to finally meet Raphael Labbe (aka Leafar) and good to catch up with my old friends and colleagues Jeff Clavier and Marc Goldberg who I haven’t seen for a while.  (BTW getting Jeff’s link for this post I typed his name into Google and the integrated image search had his face staring right at me off the results page.  You can go and check for yours now.  And no, no picture for me…..yet.)  Sam has done a full review over on Techcrunch.

There were a couple of great panels on video and IPTV today.  On one of them Suranga of Blinkx (no picture for Suranga either) pointed out that the definition of TV is starting to change.  Actually, I think he said that for him it has changed already.

It is changing because TV programmes are increasingly watched on laptops, iPods and maybe even mobiles.

What I hadn’t quite twigged before was the significance of this device-shifting that is now a counterpart to the time-shifting that has been going on since the advent of the VCR in the 1970s. 

Device-shifting is all occurring to internet connected devices.

In my earlier posts on the future of TV I have been hung up on the fact that getting a network connection from PC to TV is problematic.  That remains the case but if people are watching programmes on other internet connected devices it is less of a barrier than I had thought.  True open PCTV services can build userbases and develop their services based on TV consumption on iPods and laptops.

This also takes the user interface problem slightly off the critical path.

My bet would be that most people will always watch most programmes on the square box in the corner of their living room.  But there might just be enough early adopters watching TV programmes on these other devices to help get services like TIOTI and U.Lik (pronounced You Like) to critical mass.

If this thesis is right it is kind of important for the timing of the PCTV market to know whether watching programmes on iPods and laptops is only ever going to be a small niche activity.  Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that it will be more than that, but it would be nice to know more.