Guest post by Dov Moran, inventor of the USB Flash Drive and founder of Comigo
The days when television operators made profits simply by purchasing a few movies and channels, and then broadcasting them to customers, is over. In the past, consumers had almost no television service options, with normally only a single cable company or satellite service available in their area. Even when a few alternatives were available, the consumer would have to decide between, for example, the company that focused on sporting events and the company that focused on drama series – consumers could not have it both ways (unless they were willing to pay each company separately).
Today this is no longer the case. Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) has become quite popular, and as the internet (with an ever-growing bandwidth) has reached most areas around the world, it has become an effective platform for programme distribution.
What are the implications for television operators? First, a growth in competition, which then results in the driving down of the previously artificially high service charge. If you, as a television operator, are offering customers an identical package as your competitors, then clearly the only way to attract users is to lower your prices. On the other hand, your competitors can do this as well. So, why not try a different approach and create a distinctive product? One way is to increase programme content, but today it is becoming more and more difficult to achieve that significant edge.
Another way to entice customers is to create an engaging and easy-to-use user interface. In the early days of television, this meant providing a handheld remote for changing the channel. Later, this meant electronic programme guides (EPG) and video-on-demand (VOD). Many TV systems still use a user experience (UX) that reminds us of Windows 3! Windows is already passé and iOS and Android, with great UX, are taking the lead on almost all devices. Several years ago, Apple taught us a lesson: that high functionality need not imply distressful complexity. Then Google, with its Android, showed us that high functionality can come with a low price tag. Just as people have learned to appreciate UX on their cell phones, they would also like to experience a great UX on their television systems: systems that would be rich in functions and features, and intuitive and fun to operate.
Thus, the future of television lies with services, and services do not simply mean content. Why? Because programmes are no longer viewed exclusively on the large screen located in one’s living room; instead, content is being viewed on smartphones and tablets, and in many cases, in an interactive manner. User-interaction with shows began with voting, but will expand to include live participation, betting, socialising, e-commerce, and simply live “being a part of the game.” Rather than continuing to treat the television as a stand-alone device that offers a channel list, television operators should expand their systems to include all the aforementioned capabilities. The television can and should evolve to become a system encompassing smartphones and tablets, a system on which users will want to spend their time and money. Just as operators once greatly improved our quality-of-life by providing an easy and accessible viewing experience for individuals and families, it is time for them to make the leap again and transform our quality-of-life with new, amazing services.
Dov Moran is the inventor of the USB Flash Drive and the founder of M-Systems, which was acquired seven years ago by SanDisk for $1.6B. Dov is also the founder of Comigo, a company that provides a television platform that includes STB, tablet, and phone integrated solutions. Comigo’s backend server enables television operators to provide users with a variety of services, incorporating unique features and social capabilities relating to the programme user’s view.