Internet TV is Coming

zinc-main-screen-1By: Billy BeerSlugger

So both Apple and Google will release set top boxes for your television and my educated guess is that in the next year or so that some new HDTV’s will come pre-loaded with some sort of standard interface whether it be a web browser or operating system like iOS or Android. That being said I wouldn’t rush to grab any of these devices before a lot of the kinks are worked out: namely access to content.

I have long been a proponent of ditching cable for the internet and absolutely think that all meaningful communication will occur over the internet. All of the technology is there for nerds like me to hook up my laptop to my TV and be able to essentially watch anything on my hard drive as well as any content available via the web like YouTube, Hulu and Netflix. I could take it a step further and turn a cheap computer into a dedicated media and internet player like Boxee. There’s actually a bunch of different ways to consume internet content from your living room TV though nothing your grandmother would be able to figure out how to put together.

However, for this whole internet TV thing to really take off and overthrow the Goliath cable companies, the content that is licensed to these Cable companies, more specifically the channels themselves will have to be ported to the internet as well. What does that mean? Well my take is that it means one of two things:

  1. You could pay for each channel you want individually from the channel or owner itself and install some sort of widget/application which when clicked on your internet TV opens the channel for viewing.
  2. There would be some paywall to content on the internet just like there is with Cable/Satellite TV now.

One, I don’t think it is logical or plausible that each individual channel or ownership group of channels would want to get into dealing with the customer service aspect of payments, service shut offs and turn ons. I think they want to stay exactly where they are and do what they are good at: making content and grabbing a per-subscriber fee.

Two, I think there will eventually be a kind of Cable Company for most internet content in terms of broadcast and cable TV. I’m not sure if that is going to come from an existing cable company, a merger of companies or a new company but that is the best way I see it happening at least in terms of the content that is currently on cable/satellite right now.

So while it’s likely that there will be some sort of middle man in terms of traditional TV channel content and probably the companies holding onto the current contracts for the right to broadcast these channels and content will these companies want to crush their current cash cows and take everything to the internet right away? My guess is no. Traditional Cable/Satellite TV is not going anywhere too fast. They have too much money to throw around, too much money invested in their current business model and too much of a monopoly on content.

So yes, you will see a more progressive exodus of the general public from watching cable TV in their living rooms to watching content via the internet in their living rooms but it won’t go mainstream until TV manufacturers start putting wi-fi or Ethernet jacks standard into new TV’s and certainly some sort of breakthrough in terms of cable licensing their channels to broadcast over the internet. Internet TV is coming to the mainstream, just not as soon as you might hope.

Android Vs. iPhone

Resistance is Futile.
Resistance is Futile.

By: Billy BeerSlugger

With the iPhone 4 coming out later this month and 600,000 pre-sale orders already it’s safe to say that Apple’s new phone is already a hit. The millions of Apple fanboys aren’t going anywhere either. However, it is just completely inevitable that the Android OS will dominate market share on smart phones and eventually tablet PC’s like the iPad.

Why? It’s a simple numbers game and it’s a path that Apple already went down in losing the PC market share to Microsoft in the 90’s. Microsoft has dominated the OS scene because Windows can be installed on any PC. So multiple manufacturers of hardware could focus on the hardware and Microsoft could focus on the OS to run that hardware. Apple has always done both; making the hardware and the OS for it’s electronics and for the most part they do a very good job of it. They pretty much control every aspect of their products and that has lead to a lot of user satisfaction. Unfortunately, Apple being only one company competing with a multitude of hardware manufacturers allowed Windows to become the ubiquitous operating system hovering around 90% of the market.

Google took a page right out of Microsoft’s book and has taken on Apple’s iPhone OS with the open source operating system Android. So once again you have Apple in a situation where they will be competing with multiple hardware vendors and this time the operating system is free. I don’t think it takes Nostradamus  to predict what happens here. You will see Android completely saturate smart phones with Apple in a similar position in terms of iPhone market share as the Mac has been for the last 20 years.

Don’t fret though, Apple isn’t going anywhere and will continue to invade other markets (my bet is an iTV) and innovate as they have done throughout the company history. You would think that they learned from their mistakes in the PC era though.

There’s a Map for That

atatBy: Billy BeerSlugger

With the recent ad campaign from Verizon showing 3G coverage on the United States map for both AT&T and itself, it’s weird that I am now seeing ads from AT&T with Luke Wilson in them telling me this isn’t true.  I’ve seen this type of competitive advertising this year before with Direct TV and Comcast stating who had more HD Channels or Programming.  What is a consumer to think when two direct competitors are spewing two almost completely different stories and passing them off as gospel to the American Public?

First, let’s read between the lines.  Verizon’s ad displays a map of “3G Broadband” coverage for both itself and AT&T. That being said, the maps are correct.  Verizon’s network is immensely greater in terms of 3G coverage and AT&T can’t really dispute the 3G coverage on their map. The thing that AT&T should dispute is that the ad makes it seem like they do not offer or can’t get service in those areas. While Verizon’s network is far beyond AT&T’s in terms of 3G service, it does not mean AT&T users cannot  make calls in those areas and in most cases can still access the Web (granted not in 3G speed).  Basically, if you can make a phone call you can still check your email though streaming video is probably out of the question.

Chalk one up in the W column for the advertising people at Verizon for stealthily taking one fact about one aspect of their competitors services and having a good portion of the general public associate the 3G coverage map with the entire AT&T wireless network.

Don’t think that this is just an AT&T vs. Verizon matter either. There are two very prominent names attached to these cellular carriers in Google and Apple.  With Google coming out recently with it’s Android OS on every major carrier except AT&T and Apple having an exclusive licensing deal with AT&T for the iPhone, it’s more than just about the carriers. AT&T apparently made 1/3 of it’s 2nd Quarter revenue off of iPhone users and that’s something that Verizon and Google hope to accomplish with their partnership.

Luckily I’m off all this week and could figure all of this out for you. Unfortunately neither Verizon or AT&T subscribers can get 3G coverage in the middle of Lake Huron.