The odd thing about transformational consumer devices, technologies, and platforms is that they’re often couched in familiar concepts, in the ideas of the past. At the time, who would have imagined television would be more than just radio with pictures, or personal computers would be more than a faster desktop calculator? And the horseless carriage changed communities in ways that a faster carriage never could.
Whether the pitch of familiarity can be explained away as a savvy marketing ploy to encouraging adoption or as a lack of imagination in what’s possible, these technologies do, in fact, exceed expectations in wholly different and remarkable ways.
While no one knows what the next big thing will be, I see increasing potential in internet TV. In the same way that the internet evolved from billboards and brochures (because that was the only metaphor that people could imagine), into what we have today, internet TV will most certainly evolve into something we haven’t yet imagined, entirely different and unrecognizable from the “television” we know.
Fundamentally, the push into internet TV is about entertainment (whatever shape that takes), but it isn’t about TV. It’s about something else — or it will be. Even a cursory look at media usage trends illustrates the curve: more people spend more time consuming video, and games, and other activities for the sake of diversion.
- People watch 2 billion videos each day on Youtube.
- In June, Pew found that 69% of online adults have used the internet to watch or download video, with 18-29 year-olds leading the way. Comedy has supplanted news as the most viewed type of video online.
- Pew also revealed that adults who have visited an online-video site have nearly doubled since 2006, outpacing other online pastimes such as networking, downloading podcasts and tweeting.
- Facebook users spend more time on popular games like Farmville, Petville, Mafia Wars, Texas Hold ’em Poker, Zynga, and Bejeweled.
- A year ago, three-quarters of online economic users went online to relax and take their minds off of the recession. Now, 88% of 18-29 year old online economic users look to the internet to relax.
So the challenge before us is multi-faceted: How do we re-imagine what entertainment can be on a platform called internet TV? How do we leverage the idea of entertainment to reposition offerings across business lines that aren’t traditionally in entertainment? And how do we break free from familiarity in order to innovate more rapidly?