Wednesday, January 17, 2007

PC to TV Connectivity: We've Pushed It Hard Since 2002. Is This The Year?

When David Pogue was on Morning Edition this week to chat up the iPhone (in case anyone on the planet hadn't heard of it by then), Steve Inskeep asked him about the CES focus on the convergence of computers and entertainment. After a brief laughing fit (why couldn't he have been drinking coffee so he could give us a proper spit-take?), Pogue dismissed connecting the PC to the TV as "Geekland and years away" and "a solution to a problem I don't believe exists."

It's still a ways off. But it got a lot closer this year. I've been tracking PC-to-TV options for most of the century, as my former company has been working on including PC-Link feature in its DVR product.

In 2003, The New York Times devoted almost a full page to an article by John R. Quain surveying devices for getting PC content to the TV over wireless networking.

The New York Times, October 23, 2003

This year, many of the same players are still trying to push the same rope up the same hill: HP, Microsoft, Sony, TiVo, Linksys, Netgear. But now, they're joined by some new players: Apple, Sling Media, Digeo, and others. Why the surge* of companies rushing to join a losing cause?

This is a classic example of the tech marketing challenge that Geoffrey Moore described in his 1991 book Crossing the Chasm. Lots of products manage to capture innovators and early adopters and then peter out. They're never picked up by the mainstream market. (Podcasting?)

Despite never having caught on in a big way, connecting the PC to the TV continues to attract investment and new players. Could Pogue be wrong that this is still "years away"? Is there a there there?

Mickeleh's Take: It depends on how many he meant when he said "years". Here's why the ground is shifting rapidly:

First, there's a lot more stuff on your PC now that you might prefer to watch on your TV, including the burgeoning field of net-based video. (I'll talk more about this in my next post, when we go "over the top.")

Second, there are a growing number of PC to TV Trojan Horses out there: Xbox 360 and TiVo. PC to TV connectivity is not why most people buy them, but it's a feature sleeping inside them. Does it take a geek to wake up their hidden powers or can anybody do it? I appeal to higher wisdom.

Heraclitus's Take: You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing around you.

Rocket J. Squirrel's Take: That trick never works.

Bullwinkle J. Moose's Take: This time fer sure.

*surge is a service mark of the Bush administration, used without permission.

(Tags: , , , , , , , , , )


Average Betty said...

I'm not even sure if the average person is ready for AppleTV! I educate people everyday on what Podcasts and Video Podcasts are and the amount of FREE content right in the iTunes Store!

I sure hope this is the year of AppleTV... go video podcasting!

Mickeleh said...

I think you're right. Podcasting seems to be one of those things that gets entusiastic support from the early adopters, but doesn't jump the chasm.

On the other hand, if you are doing a podcast that appeals to early adopters, then that's probably a good thing.

If you can collect an audience that's valuable to advertisers based on interest and engagement, that matters more than size. Advertisers will pay more for efficient targeting--that is to say, advertising in a vehicle that attracts a high concentration of likely buyers.

Anonymous said...

mickeleh, why don't you podcast?

Average Betty said...

Mickeleh, great point about targeting early adopters, especially with something like podcasting that might not jump the chasm.

And maybe podcasting won't jump the chasm, but fortunately video over the internet (no matter what you call it - user generated content, vidcasting, video podcasting, etc) already has.