Monthly Archives: June 2013

Internet killed the television star

All you need to know about internet television in 2013

With Sky Television NZ recently feeling a bit short due to English Premier League football’s subversion to BT , people are curious. How long will the black rectangle under the telly last? 

Here is brief rundown on what may appear in New Zealand living rooms in the not so distant future.

tvstockc

Apple TV:

Steve Jobs was ahead of the pack and proved this with the launch of Apple TV in March 2007. 5 years later the platform is more relevant than ever. Apple TV allows users to access services like Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, Vimeo and Itunes to name a few.

The streaming player connects via the HDMI port to your television. It has a compulsory Ethernet port (which connects it to the internet), a power supply and an optical audio port.

So what does it do?

It essentially allows your TV to use Apple Apps. E.g. You can sit at your television and watch Youtube. You can also rent a movie from Itunes without having to use your Mac. The Apple TV system uses a custom remote for such tasks.

apple-tvc

Roku:

This brilliant device is the big seller in America. Extremely cheap, $50 USD in some instances, Roku is like Apple TV without the Apple hang-ups. Much like an Android to an Iphone, the Roku appears to be more expandable and allows users more access to services. It cannot access Youtube (a major let down) but sill boasts an impressive 750 channels as well as basic video games for the kids. Its no PS3 but is a well designed free flowing streaming media player that reputably has one of the best interfaces for selecting channels and services.

roku

 The Japanese word for the numeral 6.

So what does it do?

Same as Apple TV but minus Youtube and Itunes. (Normal consumers in mind)

Google TV

google-tv

“Google TV” sounds exciting right? Wrong. This platform is essentially Android on a television diet. The only thing interesting with Google TV at present are the devices that carry it (see Asus’s rendition of Darth Vader’s Chihuahua “The Cube” or Sony’s late 80s inspired  “NS-GZ7″)

Apart from the retro form factor, Google TV hasn’t really hit it’s straps. It may kick into gear soon as more big names begin to provide internet television access.

So what does it do?

An android phone on TV in a big, pretty way.

Android HDMI sticks:

androidonastick

These HDMI devices are rather nifty. You can currently find one on Trademe for less than $100 NZD. The Android HDMI option is essentially a mini computer/plug and play version of a fully functional android operating system. This means that when plugged into your television via the HDMI port your TV can be turned into an android enabled PC.

Unfortunately Android HDMI’s are not consumer friendly. Many require a wireless mouse or keyboard for practical operation and come from low budget no-name Chinese manufacturers (who would have thought). The cool part is that they are compact and extremely powerful. If you want a cheap and easy way to get Youtube, emails and other Android possible activity to your TV, this is the ghetto way to go about it.

So What does it do?

Puts Android on your TV.

Get Smart?

Smart TV's are the new PC?

Smart TV’s are the latest item to plaster every weekend newspaper in New Zealand. All the devices listed previously (Apple TV, Roku etc) turn “Dumb” TV’s into Smart TV’s. The other option is to buy a new TV, which is “Smart”, and you wont have to worry about it being dumb.

Translation: You can buy a Smart TV and allow it’s inbuilt hardware to provide some of the services listed in the streaming media players above.

Smart TVs are on the pricey side. At the cheapest end of the spectrum you are looking at north of $600.00 NZD. This is a significant sum considering the modest prices associated to the streaming media players ($60.00- $150.00 NZD). It seems that half of our population has recently purchased a cheap LCD “Dumb” TV. This rush on big screen “Dumb” LCD’s means streaming media players may be the best choice for your bank account and the environment.

Providers are the key

Kiwis get their internet from greedy ISP’s who, in many cases, charge for a fixed amount of gigabytes. The world laughs at our broadband pricing structures but the Vodafone’s and Telecoms of this world are not necessarily the central figures in the net TV saga. They may though, decide the final outcome.

Hulu, Netflix and the rest

Internet television has spawned a growing list of reputable content providers. Hulu, which is available on both Apple TV and Roku, provides a hangout for the ever mature Larry King and also boasts hundreds of other shows. MTV, MSNBC, Fox, Netflix, Disney, Youtube, UFC, NBA, Angry Birds (Roku and Android only) and HBO prove that online TV has the content to be an emerging threat to satellite and digital.

The catch

Many services such as Netflix and Hulu are not readily available for New Zealand users. This online content is restricted to geographic regions that are classified through our ISP’s (Internet providers). So sadly, Kiwis get denied when it comes to some of the coolest online TV services. A lot of options still work such as Youtube or Itunes (on Apple TV) but Netflix and Hulu are major, and almost necessary, providers of content for the net TV platform. So for now, Kiwis are left hanging.

Or are we?

Slingshot recently made headlines by promoting “Global Mode”. It’s a smart move and Slingshot can obviously smell blood from the sudden up-surge in domestic internet television interest. The company stated that the “Global Mode” service, which allows access to foreign services such as Hulu and Netflix, is primarily for tourists and guests to NZ. There is apparently nothing to stop domestic users from utilizing the service. The window for kiwi customers is wide open, for now. Slingshot have Global Mode currently as the main advertising banner on their website. “Tourists” are obviously their new target market.

This type of behaviour could be the crack before the dam bursts or Sky may move to shut down such operations from NZ ISP’s in the future.

So what should the consumer do?

q-mark

If watching Rugby or League undisturbed is important to you then it is best to stick with the tried and tested. NZ broadband speeds may be getting faster but the medium can still be inconsistent when compared to satellite transmission.

The good news is that more options are surfacing and Internet television will undoubtedly be the entertainment medium of the near future. The consumer will benefit and there will be more diversified choices at a lower price.

For now, figure out what shows are important to you. If your favourite shows are available via the services offered on the steaming media players’s you may want buy one and see what happens. It could save you from paying that routine sky bill that gently robs you of dollars and days each year.

 

Veratech builds mobile responsive web sites and creates digital marketing campaigns. For more info go to www.veratech.co.nz

 

Air New Zealand, Social Media Breakfast 2013

I have always liked how Americans back themselves. Their unashamed, keen to take a gamble and have a sense of humour. Air NZ gave a group of people the chance to meet two new age tech marketers from the US. Here’s the gist of what they presented:

Mr Ross Dawson, The Social Media Philosopher:

Key Points:

  • NZ is currently number 1 for using social networks.
  • Google Goggles are real and they are on there way. This means that companies should register with as many Google systems as possible (Google maps, Google wallet, Google Review, Google Plus). If these goggles take off, a company’s online Google identity will be paramount. It reminded me that last year I selected a physio because they had multiple 5 star ratings in the Google Maps customer review section.
  • Crowd sourcing is the new “in thing”. In America it is seen as the future of innovation. Collective intelligence can give a small company incredible reach and power. Many sites now cater for this new online ideal.
  • Online identity is set to become an industry. Google your name and see what your current online identity looks like. Companies may have the ability to cater to wealthy individuals who are willing to pay others to manage and create their online identity. This will become an industry in itself. 
  • Experimentation in social media is important. This is an interesting fact. SM campaigns can be launched at a minimal cost. This should allow for more experimentation. The only danger is pushing the ledger too far and offending your customers. Be edgy without risking your reputation.

Introducing Teddy Goff, President Obama’s Digital Maestro:
Teddy was responsible for managing a truly monstrous digital campaign. He spoke quickly and rifled off some interesting thoughts relating to today’s online environment.

Key Points:

  • Show honour and respect in your social media
  • Have a sense of humour. Teddy spoke about how the digital re-election campaign created a Mitt Romney tax policy web page. The joke being that the “click here to find our policy icon” kept jumping around the web page.
  • Analytics and metrics were/are super important.
  • People trust their friends. This re-enforces the power of social media and highlights the emergence of social media online group strategy and segmentation.
  • Create good content and don’t be lame. “Lame” being the key word. Teddy emphasized how it can be easy for organisations to fall into the lame category. This included playing it too safe
    or simply not understanding your audience.
  • Reddit.com is big in the America. Google it.
  • Your social identity is the intersection of 1 what you care about and 2 what you are perceived as caring about. Both are not granted and are certainly not the same thing. Management will decide what 1 is but the audience will decide 2.
  • All e-commerce sites should create a saved payment system. It creates new opportunities for revenue generation and increases conversion. Example: Email a top up donation form and have a “click here to donate”. Customer does not have to re-enter their credit card details.

Click to check out our video of Teddy describing how to MAXIMIZE REVENUE with email campaigns.

Iphone’s impending……………downfall.

In the first quarter of 2013 NZ consumers can be assured of three things. Milk isn’t going to get any cheaper, power prices will probably rise and Apple is wobbling.

The tech giant has had an amazing run over the last decade. Apple experienced a level of success that was the antithesis of it’s surrounding economic environment. The world wondered whilst Apple rose, and my goodness that rise seemed like a long time. Success is even sweeter when everyone else is in the pit, and Apple had found a nice ledge 1000 feet above the rotting global economy. As long as Jobs was at the helm, Apple looked like a sure thing. The last 18 months have proven that all good things must, and will, come to an end.

Samsung have recently launched the Galaxy S4. The S4 has a larger screen, faster processor, and a staggering 5 megapixels over the Iphone 5. Apple fans of the world will say “Of cause it’s better, it’s a new release!”. The sad truth for Apple pundits is that the Iphone is becoming less unique, less fashionable, and to put it bluntly, awfully boring.

I remember when I first purchased an Iphone. It was 2008 I was in Tokyo and the world was yet to realize what can now be argued as one of the greatest leaps in consumer technology. My American flatmate repeatedly proclaimed “Bro I want the Iphone, have you seen that thing? Its sick!”. I looked at it through the glass display at Softbank Harajuku and decided to take a punt.

The craziest thing about having an Iphone in early 2008 was the feeling that it was almost a niche item. Every time I pulled it out of my pocket on the train I felt a little ashamed. Other passengers would sneak a peak at the strange device with the large screen. Nobody else seemed to have one. As I started to familiarize with the device I realised it’s significance. Google maps, youtube, mp3′s and a fully functional online experience were now continually within reach. It even made phone calls. It was smooth, spookily intuitive and had amazing sound quality, something which is still brushed over to this day. How the hell did Apple pull this off?

On my return to New Zealand I ditched it. It was sayonara to the super-device. “Good bye Iphone, it was fun but you had one crucial floor”. Apple went on to correct the “battery issue” in later models but for me it was a relationship killer. This fact, backed up by the $1000.00 price tag made me disregard the Iphone as a viable option for future purchases. It was just too much for a phone. Rich or poor, to me the price tag seemed offensive.

There’s one other key word I should mention for the Iphone: “Snobbery”. Upon returning from Japan I realised that the Iphone was exceedingly popular in the west. It’s popularity was almost scary. I realised that half of the people using them didn’t want the device for its practical implementation. Many people just wanted to fit in. Others wanted status. There was even a few who thought that the Iphone could make them smarter. It was “fashiontech” in it’s truest sense. Soon every career orientated professional who lacked confidence decided that the Iphone would be the ideal placebo.

Fast forward to 2013 and the Iphone is now battling for supremacy. Even die hard Iphone users will be sneaking a peak at their colleagues new S4. Apple is at the cross roads. Will the Iphone star gracefully become a cash cow, plummet to the kennels or will it rise again?

This leads me to the unenviable trait of arrogance. Do all successful people become arrogant? Do all successful companies become arrogant? Apple’s success in my opinion has undoubtedly developed a level or organisational arrogance. This is certainly reflected in their products. I cringe at the fact that you can buy an Apple device and be denied access to it until you plug it in. Oh, but it gets worse. Not only must it be plugged in, but you must also use the ever user friendly Itunes to get your $1000.00 masterpiece to work. No Itunes on your computer? Download it. No Internet? Hahaha, shame on you. Only an arrogant company could expect consumers to “work” for device activation. Apple isn’t alone in this type of consumer bullying. Microsoft and the IE saga was of a similar ilk.

For me a new device isn’t defined by its numbered index. Until the S4 was released this week I was unaware that the Iphone 5 even existed. A new device should bring something new to the table. Some may say that every Iphone gets a little better. I say better isn’t good enough anymore. The first Iphone was better than better. It was groundbreaking, head turning and inspiring. Apple needs another game changer.

Life is definitely harder without Steve. Maybe the next tech guru will be a Korean. I know one who definitely has the ability to bend fortune to his favor.