Anthony Kosner interviewed Jeremy Alliare about Apple’s hopes for a displacement of conventional cable TV, as he laid out in a recent WSJ piece. Allaire had written some things that line up very closely with the predictions I made in the recent special report, Social TV and The Second Screen. In particular, Alliare wrote:
In my view, TV is the last screen to fall as a computing platform. What do I mean by this? That we should think of TV screens and monitors as the final frontier in Internet-based software applications, not as devices to watch and consume video content.
Properly conceived, a TV is a large high-definition audio/video rendering device that plays a role in displaying content and related data. While certainly the ideal device for consuming and using video-based content, it is also simply put the largest computer monitor in our lives, and one that very often presents in a social context — the living room, the conference room, the dorm room, the classroom, the retail store floor and shop window. In short, these TV monitors are at the core of all of our major social and economic activities.
And in recognizing the broader role that these monitors play in our lives we can begin to re-conceptualize TVs as not just screens for video, but as a rich computing surface for viewing information, playing games, communicating, learning, shopping and so forth. In the past, when trying to use these screens for non-video applications, we would connect them to a PC or laptop (to present a shared piece of content that a group could discuss or interact on), or connect them to a game console for playing games.
In general, most attempts to evolve the capabilities of the TV monitor into richer computing platforms have failed.
Allaire goes on to suggest that Airplay and realted capabilities on our Apple devices allow a transition to using these devices as the next generation set top box, with a superior user experience compared today’s lame options. And it positions Apple to dominate as the preferred second screen in the New TV world, which is about experience, not audience.
Allaire waves a hand of what Apple might do after that — when it also is selling the TV device, and not just adapters for non-Apple TV devices — but the big question is: how can Apple get the existing players to play along? And that’s what Kosner wondered, too:
Anthony Kosner, Brightcove CEO Allaire on How New Apple TV Experience Will Change Home, Work, Advertising via Forbes
Kosner:What do you think Apple has to do to get the “very top-tier TV operators like Comcast and Time Warner to go for their proposal?” Is it just a matter of selling a ton of “add-on” devices with whatever alliances they can start out with and then the top-tier will have to come around? Or are there specific concessions the cable companies are looking for?
Allaire: I think it’s a complicated question. At the core, Comcast, Time Warner and the like are concerned about losing control of the customer relationship, losing margin, and becoming ”dumb pipes” as it were. Clearly, however, if Apple can establish a footprint of TV connected devices that is in the 10s of millions, which should be possible in 1-2 years, their deeper concern will be Apple having enough scale and leverage that they will go direct to the broadcast programmers and disrupt the existing packaging and distribution model for TV content. While expensive for Apple, it is conceivable. That threat may drive one or more of the top-tier MPVD’s [multichannel video programming distributors] into an alliance with Apple that marries their programming relationships and existing broadcast product with an Apple-controlled user experience, much like Apple established with voice products on top of the wireless carrier networks. But I don’t see Apple doing this without also retaining the right and ability to innovate in video content pricing/packaging models as well.
Kosner:Will marketers be more likely to sponsor content experiences on this new platform-to wrap their messages and offers around the content-as opposed to using more traditional advertising devices (i.e., the 30-second spot)?
Allaire: This has been the question for almost a decade across multiple new mediums. When we launched Brightcove Video Cloud almost 7 years ago, we had envisioned interactive marketing experience that launched from and wrapped around online video, but the advertising industry didn’t bite and stayed focused on extending the TV commercial model to the Web. There are a host of reasons for this, and I ultimately thought it was a short-sighted approach from the marketer community. When apps came to phones and tablets, again, people thought that richer forms of interactive marketing would become the powerful advertising model, but as you can see today, we are largely still stuck in the display advertising world in mobile and tablets. I do think we will break through and marketers will embrace deeper forms of interactive marketing on these platforms, especially as we extend into the traditional “turf” of TV advertising in the living room.
Too many people are narrowly focused on what it means to have second-screen apps for existing TV video content. I do think that is an important space and one that we’ll see a huge amount of innovation around, especially as Apple TV Apps take hold. For example, we’re working with some broadcasters on TV Apps that provide a great HD viewing experience that is controlled on the iPad and where, while the program runs, compelling companion content, including social streams, are available. That is certainly more “social” than existing broadcast TV.
Kosner:Following up on the last question, do you see the “connected TV” and “second screen” paradigms that you describe as being potentially more successful advertising mediums than desktop and mobile, and if so, why?
Allaire: In theory, this should be the ultimate medium for advertisers, the combination of deep, high-quality viewing environment and an engaged, interactive medium. TV advertisers have been dying for methods of bringing the emotional impact of high-production value video-based commercials into the online environment, and this new model offers that, irrespective of whether users are using a “video app” or some other content app on their Apple TV. Crucially, the larger surface of the TV combined with the companion surface of the tablet creates a highly compelling environment for rich media interactive advertising.
I find a great deal of what Allaire says to be prescient, especially the power of the Swarm Of Devices to create a rich user experience. Perhaps I differ in my aversion to the traditional media thinking creeping in, but this is a distinction of degree not disagreement.
Most critically, Allaire has laid out the strategy that Apple might be using to get cable operators to play along. If they can envision a near future in which Apple has become the premier provider of a transitional New TV experience with tens of millions of add-on devices or iTVs sold, they could face extinction because Apple could start creating their own programming or licensing it directly. Therefore, it might be more adaptive for cable operators to make deals with Apple upfront, and get baked into the new recipe.
I’m sure Apple must be spinning some version of that story, as Allaire suggests.