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Michael Wolf

Chief Analyst NextMarket Insights

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  1. Cameron McClurg Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Is Xbox Live really *that* successful of a use case? Its been available for years now as a means for connecting and hasn’t had the adoption rate that MSFT probably expected. Plus, your example of 1 vs. 100 is an ironic one: Its ONE vs. 100. In other words, one person can play at a time. Even if you are one of the 100, you’re still one of the 100. I point to your own reply on the matter that while the computer is an individual tool, the TV is for the family/couple. “Honey, kids, go watch TV upstairs, I want to play 1 vs. 100…”

    But regardless, I guess I’m still a little skeptical. The reason is that over the coming years almost everything in our houses will start to be connected to the internet. We’re already seeing this with connected appliances (Oven, Microwave, Fridge) as well as things you’d never think of like bathroom mirrors. So, just because these things can now connect to the internet does not mean that we should slap a facebook or twitter interface on them just cuz we can. Who wants to see a tweet that I’m popping a zit… OK, a little gross. But do you see my point?

    ^^^The computer is the computer; it’s multi use and designed for interactivity. The TV is the TV and I believe there is a huge population that likes it that way.^^^ Maybe a future generation would be more open to it.

    1. @Cameron – I think there’s no doubt Xbox Live has been successful. Over 17 million subscribers (well over 50% attach rate for their installed base of consoles) is a runaway success for any type of connected device service. Their partnership with Netflix has created the first real breakout success story for an online video to living room with over 1 million subs signing up.

      So, back to Social TV, clearly it will take some time, but already we have significant proof consumers like interactivity over entertainment, as instant SMS polling for shows like American Idol, etc show. I think once there is ability to do it from a TV remote or other device, we’ll see more of that. In Europe there has been proven success with regards to TV polling, and I think we can expect that this could evolve to more social interactivity with consumers and their friend-lists engaging around content.

  2. Cameron McClurg Thursday, July 30, 2009

    There is a huge difference between “on the go” and watching tv so you can’t really compare the two. When people are on the go, there are a million little moments that people can stop being “on the go” in order to update their friends with statuses and photos. When people are watching TV, they don’t have these moments (unless you’re talking about commercials, but who watches those anyway in the age of the DVR?).

    I think someone has to come up with a more popular application than what you’ve described in order to see the vision of connecting social media to the TV (not that that is going to stop companies like Verizon from doing it, just because they can).

    The other huge thing here is the lack of a keyboard interface. I loaded the facebook widget and went to update my status and it took me about 1 minute to use my remote to spell out a simple 10 word status update. Who’s going to do that? Are there a ton of TV’s coming out with wireless keyboards attached? Are there any?

    Answering poll questions (a la Sportsnation) might be a specific application that doesn’t require a keyboard (click here for Yes, here for No), but tweets and facebook seem to exist beyond the keyboard horizon. But who knows, maybe I’m just not being a visionary enough.

    1. @Cameron – There are alot reasons people would want to connect over video entertainment. Xbox Live is a proven use-case for living room social networking. Are there ones beyond gaming? I think so. Perhaps 1 vs. 100 is a good example – a game, but a very social and interactive form of entertainment – of what we’ll see as more people get connected together.

      The input device is set to really change in coming years beyond the remote. Its early days, but already in the connected consumer electronics space, with products such as Sonos, we’re seeing efforts to use smart input devices such as the iPhone as a remote control, and I think we’ll see more of that.

  3. @Chris – I think real-time web features like Twitter on TV can be horribly implemented – FiOS’s Twitter Widget is exhibit A here – or you can see potentially some really cool uses of things like Twitter and Facebook on TV. I think we’re going to see this stuff evolve. I think about Xbox Live’s success and the use of their messaging and chat functions as the first big success story in social TV, and I think we’ll see more.

    You also bring up good point on kids tweets, etc. Part of the challenge from an implementation standpoint is TV is a shared experience often with the family, while social media is usually tailored for the user and his/her own community. So, the money question may be how to do it where everyone can enjoy social TV without annoying everyone in the house?

  4. Chris Albrecht Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    I’m not sure. Which do you think is better? A TV experience or a two-screen experience? Do you want to see what your kids tweet? Do they want you to see it?

  5. I think social TV is the way of the future. Look at shows like ESPN’s SportsNation which is completely centered around twitter and online polling. I can’t wait for communal aspects to be standard on TV.

    1. @ Jon – There’s no doubt we’ll see alot more interactivity using social media tools. Today in Europe there is already significantly more interactivity on the TV screen, but its using older technologies. We’ll see more advanced usage of IP based technology as web connected TVs and implementations of popular consumer branded social networks tailor their solutions for TV specific scenarios.

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