Today Roku launched two new players to complement the original $99 Roku player. Perhaps somewhat obviously, the two new players come in at $79 and $129, allowing Roku to test whether there's price elasticity in this market.
I'm not sure this was a necessary move. The cheaper box (called Roku SD), simply removes HD playback from the original Roku Player (now called Roku HD). The $129 version offers wireless-n wi-fi streaming to deliver dramatically better video quality. I don't personally need that since I hook up my Roku player -- which is in constant demand in my home -- via ethernet. (Yes, being a nerd has its advantages including a fully self-wired home that has over 24 ethernet ports in it.) So while I can see the value of the more expensive box for wi-fi users who have wireless-n routers (do you know if you do? betcha don't know), I think muddying the waters with 3 boxes instead of a maximum of 2 just feels like unnecessary complexity. A bit like Amazon announcing it would sell two versions of the Kindle in the US, one that's domestic only and one that can roam abroad, a decision doesn't appear likely to last very long.
Forrester’s Consumer Forumis just around the corner, in Chicago on October 27th and 28th. In addition to our great line up of speakers from Best Buy, Pizza Hut, Hearst and E*TRADE among others, we will also highlight Forrester’s extensive
data capabilities. Forrester analysts will share the results from our global
benchmark survey data, as well as our forecast data, to help you examine
technology-driven trends in consumer behavior.
We've been flogging the media industries for years at Forrester. So much so that we sometimes assume that people remember all the ways we've warned, cajoled, and exhorted for more than a decade. But based on the things we're seeing the pundits finally say, it's clear that "the end is near" is a pressingly recent recognition on the part of many. For examples, see Malcolm Gladwell's review of Chris Anderson's book Free; Mark Bowden's lament over the loss of journalism ethics in The Atlantic; or programmer/essayist Paul Graham's thoughtful reflection on Post-medium Publishing.
Don't get me wrong: we welcome these and more voices to a conversation we've been trying to start for some years now. (If you think I'm just posturing, I direct your attention to former Forrester VP Mary Modahl's July 1994 piece entitled Publications Get Wired where she first blew up the "print isn't going away" myth.) But there are some very fundamental things that are getting lost in most of the discussions we are hearing. Namely, people are stuck on processes, historical reinterpretation, future prognostications, and personal feelings at the passing of an era.
In the end, however, none of that will matter as the fundamental economics of digital media assert themselves. Basically, it's now cheaper to make, distribute, and consume media. That changes everything.
Consumer Forum 2009 is fast approaching — October
27 and 28 in Chicago.
The theme of this year's Forum is research and industry case studies regarding how evolving
consumer online behavior demands that firms step up efforts to engage them. The great
executives listed below will share their companies' best practices for creating breakthrough
Our keynotes this year are from leading consumer powerhouse companies across the landscape of travel, software, retail, and finance sectors:
I recently wrote about Social TV -- what we call it when people use social media like Facebook and Twitter to augment the TV experience. There were some doubters (there always are).
If you need proof that people are using social media to make TV more engaging, then look no further than this week's MTV VMA awards. Though everyone seemed to be talking about Kanye West, the real trendsetter of the evening was Twitter.
From the show's start to the finish, 1.3 million Tweets related to the VMAs were posted. The traffic to Twitter tripled during this rush. More interesting, the Twitter phenomenon was almost exclusively real-time, meaning that although there were another 700k posts that evening and into the next morning, but most of the heat came during the event as people in attendance and people watching reacted in real-time to what they were experiencing and feeling.
This is the boon linear TV has been waiting for: imagine, a way to get people to watch TV at the same time as everyone else -- because if they don't, they'll miss the whole Tweet-party! That's what my Forrester report on Social TV was about, and I thank the VMA viewers for proving my point.
I was in the middle of an ICTC (my new acronym for InterContinental Telepresence Conference) when I got an urgent message from Brian Chen at Wired News. Without any announcement, it seems, Apple had cut the price of its 160 GB Apple TV to $229, dropping the smaller model altogether. What did this mean?
I've been following the Apple TV since its announcement 2.5 years ago. I bought one of the first, and I spent hundreds of dollars on TV shows testing it (I have all the episodes of Battlestar Galactica, seasons 1, 2, 3; and you don't). That said, I haven't used the Apple TV in months, even after I hacked it using Boxee. It's because the Apple TV doesn't make watching top shows easy enough to compete with cable, Hulu, and Netflix.
Brian wrote a very solid piece in Wired News yesterday, click here to see the article. He managed to get in a lot of the big picture points I raised, which is always hard to do since I go there so quickly and barely pause to breathe. The point is this: The Apple TV is on its way out.
You've got to be hating life if you're a videocamera maker like Sony or Kodak and you've just been bested yet again. First, it was the immensely successful Flip video cameras that sold more than 2 million devices without a significant brand name simply because the camera was so darn easy to use. ( Personal anecdote, I recently spent a day at a major CE maker with a group of industry analysts -- they let us try their new Flip camera competitor and one of the smartest guys in the room couldn't figure out how to turn it on. Said a nearby analyst: "Hmmm, no wonder Flip beat them to this market.")
Now the game just got more complicated because Apple has decided to add video camera capability not to the iPod Touch line, but to its Nano iPods. Pause for reverential awe. This was a brilliant move. (see Wired's take on it here).
Not only because it hits Flip in a sensitive spot -- right in the high school and college market where Flip was such a hit -- but because it further disrupts the videocamera market, opening it to more innovation and rapid change. You no longer have the three tiers of videocameras (disc or tape storage, digital decent, and then your lousy phone camera), instead, you have a fourth competitor. A personal media device that is now capable of actual personal media. Oh, and did I mention it's made by Apple? Right, just checking.
Video on Demand (VOD) has been a disappointment. As offered by most cable systems, video on demand should have made it easier for you to rent movies for home viewing than Blockbuster or Hollywood ever could because you never have to leave the house to get a VOD movie. But most VOD systems have failed to delight customers for reasons I won't get into right now other than to say that even if the movie selection is decent, the interface to find the movies is terrible. So most people don't use VOD.
Apple saw this opportunity and assumed its iTunes music business could easily extend into video, first with a pay-per-download model (one I first wrote about in 2007, explaining why it would not work -- I was right), and eventually with a VOD model, once the content owners could see their way to taking that plunge. But the iTunes VOD business relies on people buying Apple devices -- something millions of people do -- and people wanting to watch movies on those devices -- sadly, something far fewer people do.
This has caused me to encourage Apple to port its iTunes video service to non-Apple devices that are connected to the TV. I wrote about this a few times recently, explaining that video services need to connect to the TV to have a chance and that LG and Samsung Blu-ray players (and more recenlty, connected TVs) were doing that quite well. It would be a natural fit for iTunes to deliver content to those devices. But, alas, that's not how Apple rolls, as the Cupertino company prefers to make its money from high-margin devices.
A worldwide recession and social media have swept up B2B marketers in a perfect storm, tossed between tighter budgets and the demand to do more online without guideposts or established benefits. Opportunities and challenges abound for marketers targeting other businesses through a direct sales force or channel partners. Before 2010 planning -- and the push to pump up the pipeline to make year-end revenue goals -- hit full stride, now is an excellent time to step outside your daily routine, tune up B2B marketing strategy, and learn new best practices.
Sound intriguing? If so, have I got a deal for you! (Oh, c'mon, you suspected a pitch was coming, now didn't you?)