I just got back from attending a two-day event in a setting that makes even the most rural zip code look like Manhattan. No connectivity. None. No cellphone. No laptop. My hands still are shaking.
Then I spent a day with a high-school friend who is quite proud of the fact that she’s pulled the plug on cable and now watches only Netflix…and sporadically at that.
It’s a world gone mad.
This month, Communications Technology is all about multi-screening. The broadband community is on the verge of finally becoming all things to all people at all times in all places on all devices – but there still are hurdles. Some of them are technological: How do you get all this content to work on all this equipment? Some are commercial: We’re not really sure we want everything to be available to our subscribers once they leave their homes (at least not for the same price). And some are physical: How many users and how much data can you cram into any given piece of spectrum? Having said all that, there still is a lot of good stuff out there being marketed by various operators and service providers. Because we are working in Internet time, the usual months and years of R&D have turned into mere weeks when it comes to launching new apps and gear to a growing populace that wants them now, wants them good and wants them cheap.
But what do consumers really want? It was just two years ago that Cablevision introduced its "iO TV Quick View" service that lets vidiots watch a number of shows in different genres on the same screen. The operator now has updated that plan by allowing multiple users in a household to set up their own customized, preferred screens. That’s all well and good for couch potatoes, but most Americans younger than 20 barely know what watching programs in real time while sitting in the family room is all about.
Which brings us to what we think will be the next "new normal:" transmedia. A recent podcast posted on the Provideo Coalition’s site says transmedia is the true "3D," meaning the simultaneous use of the TV, the tablet and the smartphone to connect a single piece of content (say, a movie) on those three devices to keep the watcher’s interest end to end. The movie is viewed on the big screen, a related game is played on the tablet, and texted discussions are held via smartphone.
As the Village Voice points out, can it get more intense than this?