Forget lightbulbs and smart washing machines, thermostats and the like. Actually, don’t forget them - those are awesome – but if you want to see how the connected home has really taken off, we need to look at TV, music, film and entertainment. As many people in the UK have an ‘SVoD’ (ie Netflix or Amazon) subscription as pay-TV packages and smart speaker sales are the fastest growing consumer tech segment.
Recorded: Time Team
Not that long ago we had to watch and listen to things when they were on. The organised among us could record programmes on VCRs or tape cassette (and the super organised may have been able to figure out how Videoplus worked), but this changed in the early-mid noughties as decent broadband saw video content explained and enabled a wealth of on-demand content. This was the first big internet able home media revolution and we are now on the upward curve of the next one, with new ways of interacting with our content.
On now: The Generation Game
Broadband has also enabled us to play online, against each other. We’ve had online gaming for over twenty years and it is now a mainstream activity that you don’t even really need to pay for (see Apex Legends or Fortnite). People are now interacting with gamers in their connected homes across the world and we’ve just seen new disruptions in the form of Stadia and cloud gaming that could radically alter the business cases of the entire games industry.
Up next: The Voice UK
Voice control may not have taken off here like it has in the States, but it is now an established method of listening to music, radio and podcasts. Services like Alexa are becoming more integrated with other consumer tech (as seen with the recent LG announcement) and Sky Q has made voice control an essential feature.
Internet advertising has changed business models and consumer offerings forever, but it is also changing TV advertising as more services become a hybrid of broadcast and online. Sky are trialling a new service of tailored advertising through the TV. Delivered via IP, the ads are for local businesses and have the same look and feel as national TV ads. This helps small businesses like car dealerships and retail get in front of people in a way previously impossible (TV advertising costs megabucks as it is nationwide) and delivers more engaging adverts for the consumer.
Later this evening: Quantum Leap
As our internet speeds become faster, as cloud gaming takes off and more powerful devices spread, we are looking at an entertainment ecosystem that may get rid of the need for screens. Augmented Reailty, HD audio and UHD visuals being projected, or accessed without the need for a TV or central screen. This is a long way off (not least as TVs seek to compete with mobiles as the gateway to the full suite of connected home technologies) with 4K establishing and 8K coming out, but it can’t be that far off.
On tomorrow: Are you being served?
Underpinning all this is the need for connectivity through 44G, 5G and fibre broadband. So the business case innovation is the way services, connected home, energy and data can be bundled to deliver more responsive pricing and allow new market entrants. Connectivity now underpins many TV packages, with Sky, BT and Virgin Media creating a symbiotic relationship between home broadband and great content. Bundles aren’t exactly a new offering, but the next iteration will see connected home products included and new connected home services too.
This was a whistlestop tour of the TV guide of connected entertainment tech we are seeing now and possibly tomorrow, but before we get all Black Mirror I will let you get on with the rest of the day. The weather is great today so go outside and read a book.