Will we see free and/or pay-per-use TV and computing applications delivered over a converged network?
I see the TV and PC monitor as screens with real-estate that can be monetized on a continual basis by content owners/rights holders, broadcasters, DTH/cable/IPTV/DSL service providers, advertisers and the makers/vendors of software applications. This paradigm will be driven entirely by the consumer all the way up the supply chain resulting, eventually, in quality of content and applications. Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud computing are going to influence how we pay for and use applications and I believe we can, and should, extend this concept to TV content as well. The future of TV and computing will be based on a free or a pay-per-use paradigm and quite conceivably, the two will merge to create AppTV (Applications over TV).
Only 15% of programming that is available at home is actually viewed by the household. The consumer is paying for channels and content that he/she has no intention of viewing, not to mention the wasted bandwidth. I believe this model is inefficient and can be turned around so that it is profitable and useful to everyone. The best analogy I can draw at this time is in renting a house. The tenant (consumer) pays the lessor (service provider) a fixed amount of rent for the premises and for consumed electricity and water (content) to the electric/water company (content owner). The lessor offers to lower the rent if the tenant agrees to place advertisements in the living room and advertisers pay the lessee for the opportunity.
In the pay-per-use model that I am proposing, the consumer pays for content that is actually viewed and this will be determined by software running on a home or enterprise media gateway interfacing with a switched video server/multiplexer at the head-end of a service provider.
The pay-per-use model differs from the on-demand TV model because it adds the viewing of live television (news, presidential debates, live sports, movie premieres, TV show premieres, airing of non-archived material) to the on-demand suite of archived contents (re-runs, sports highlights, movies) that the user may grab from the internet at large.
Software as a Service (SaaS) will gain traction in the coming months spurred by Google’s products and investments in cloud computing and Larry Ellison’s recent about turn on his views of this computing future. I don’t see why PC monitor real-estate should not be hawked in the same manner as a TV screen with advertisers and application creators/vendors jostling for space. Applications could be leased from an open marketplace and advertisers could place relevant ads directly on the monitor or within the application window based on user profiles, open applications, user interaction and input detection (if she types in sun block, an ad for a sun tan lotion could be placed on the ad-space section of the screen). This model would lead to “free” advertiser supported applications and the end of pirated software. Of course, the level of intrusion and personalization should be at the discretion of the user.
AppTV: The convergence of Media and Applications
The pay-per-use model will be best served by using home/enterprise media devices attached to a media centric network. The convergence of content (software applications, HTML pages, graphics, text and video) will occur at the server (applications-web-media) and be transported over a network optimized for video rather than text. Text and graphics will piggyback on video or be rendered at the terminal device which will essentially be a thin client – a codec with I/O interfaces. Everything becomes video. We would have AppTV (software applications over TV) instead of IPTV (TV over the internet). Using a content delivery network instead of the internet to deliver applications to the TV or PC is in my view, a more efficient alternative to the convergence problem (TV on a PC and vice versa). There are three screens that the consumer views:
- Live or scheduled TV programming not available on the internet,
- On demand TV and video content from a service provider and from the internet at large and
- The PC monitor displaying software applications and web browser content
I believe that these screens would be easier to converge when the presentation takes the form of interactive video (and audio).
In summary, I envision a system that allows consumers or advertisers to pay for content and applications actually consumed, supported by a network that is optimized for transporting video and not text while re-using a lot of the wasted bandwidth for features such as HD-TV off-line downloads, “My iGoogle” on Channel 999, and real-time streaming of user generated content (video podcasts, social interactions). Ad subsidies will pay for most, if not all, of the content and applications based on a subscription service tied to the level of personalization (more user data available for the advertiser would mean more free stuff).
Check out ZillionTV and what Mitch Berman, CEO of ZillionTV thinks about the future of television. Disclaimer: I am not associated with ZillionTV in any way or form other than as an interested observer!