TV as Convergence Device

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Apple, Convergence
Tags: , , , , , , ,

When most people talk about device convergence they are talking about the smartphone. There are actually parallel convergence trends at play and they will eventually run into each other. I mentioned the TV having the potential to pull the media player into the set itself. Now I want to step back just a little and look at that physical ecosystem surrounding the TV. There is the cablebox, the game console, perhaps a media player and maybe even a Slingbox. My system has a TV with a DVR (cable box), Wii, PS3, and a Slingbox.At one time there was also a Netgear media player but that was a less than positive experience. There are two things that immediately stick out with respect to my setup. First there are a lot of wires. Secondly, a lot of capability exists only in one place. The cable box in the bedroom lacks a DVR. I can’t play content recorded on the living room DVR in the bedroom. U-verse would solve that issue but I would have a slower internet connection. I can’t play Wii or PS3 games in my bedroom; nor can I watch Netflix or stream movies off my file server. The tough question is how all of this can be merged into one device, the TV, that can be replicated in each room and networked together. The path is going to be jagged and have many different paths along the way. This means it is a major trend. Let’s outline some potential pathways to my goal. I’m going to start by throwing some things out. The first is the DVD player. As streaming gets better, services like Netflix will diminish the importance of the DVD player. I’ve already discussed the media player merging into the TV. AS for the DVR that’s more difficult because of resistance form companies like Comcast together with Hollywood. I can dream of a Comcast box that resides on my network and serves up video to all of my TV’s while also being my cable modem.  Eventually there will be a single high bandwidth connection to the internet and all movies and TV shows will be streamed to your TV. What about gaming on the Wii and PS3? That’s harder. There is a path but it happens in a couple of stages. Look at how iOS devices are attacking portable gaming. Now look at Apple TV. Why oh why can’t it run apps? It cries to be a big screen version of the iPad.  Well, your TV won’t take touch input but it could take input from your iPhone or iPad. Apple TV doesn’t have to be a great system for the serious gamer. The PC is the serious platform for those guys. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 fit somewhere between the Wii and the PC. Similarly, Android or Google TV could perform the same function running on a or a media box. Once Apple TV has games the only remaining step is to integrate it into the TV. The same is true for the Google platforms. Oh yeah, I haven’t covered the Slingbox. Once your media streams over the internet when you want it rather than on a fixed time schedule, the Slingbox becomes superfluous. It feels weird to write that because, right now, I love my Slingbox and can recommend it highly. However, times keep changing and I don’t see it surviving.

  1. […] brings me to one final reason for the purchase – set top boxes. I have discussed how the real goal is a very broad and unified ecosystem. The TV is a big part of that. Google could merge GoogleTV into the Motorola Mobility set top box […]

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