Video services

IPTV Seeks Killer App

12:45 PM -- About two years ago, I wrote this down, and it's going to be on my mind at TelcoTV this week:

"DVR : TV :: Chocolate chip cookie dough : ice cream."

Get it? The chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream flavor was a once-in-a-generation find. Wannabes show up each year that are just new permutations of fruit, caramel, and/or crunchy things. Cookie dough was a sensation.

Similarly, the DVR is a vendor's dream, an application that nearly everybody wants, in some form. But what about all the other applications for TV, interactive TV, and/or IPTV? They're in the caramel-plus-crunchies category. None of them is as universally life-changing as a DVR.

I mean, really, what else has arrived that could have that impact? Not a weather widget. Not on-screen caller ID. Not an app that lets you click on the blatant product placements during your favorite show.

(You might consider this cheating, but for this discussion, I'm not counting video-on-demand as an application. It's more like a pay channel à la HBO.)

If there isn't another cookie-dough application out there, that spells trouble for interactive TV. I think it's a given that consumers will gravitate towards interactive TV -- if nothing else, it will become the default in a decade or so -- but it's not yet clear that they'll use it for anything revenue-generating for the operators.

At least interactive TV is finally getting past the basic problem of TV being passive. People used to turn on TV because they didn't want to do anything; asking them to interact was a contradiction. That's less true now, due to continual Internet access; the idea of texting friends while on TV has become a lot more normal.

That's why, to me, social media applications, such as ratings and recommendations, seem the most likely candidates for TV success. In-game sports chatting comes to mind.

The problem is that people are already accustomed to getting that capability for free, via various Web blogs. (I can speak to the fervor of certain baseball sub-sites on SBNation, for instance.) It's a capability they'd like to get on the TV, possibly, but they wouldn't pay for it as a separate service.

I think that's going to be true for a lot of potential services, creating the same over-the-top problem that TV services are supposed to solve for the telcos in the first place. It's not a new question, but it's in need of some better answers.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:52:52 PM
re: IPTV Seeks Killer App

Readers: What IPTV app would you pay for?  (and if you say 'horoscope,' i'll have to slap you.)

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