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Social EPG, Semantics and how BroadCast becomes SocialCast

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Cable operators and telecom IPTV providers are delivering a hundred or more channels to each subscriber. However teens are no longer enticed by TV broadcast and like the Youtube model more. Even a video-on-demand service would not fully cater to their needs because they are interested in the top 5 minutes of a show or gossip program, not the other 40.

In the Twitter-world we got accustomed to URL shorteners like: TinyURL, Bit.ly, Is.gd, etc.  They take a long URL and make it short so it fits. What if a cable or IPTV provider would allow such URL shortening to be made for television programs?

TV Links

In search of a better word, let´s call them TV links. A TV link would be a short URL to a part of a television program that the viewer found interesting. By adding semantics to the part that is being linked, the viewer can provide information about what the TV link is about and why it caught his attention. Also automatically the program title and channel can be added from the public EPG.

Why would you need TV links?

A crowd of viewers that is watching all the hundreds of channels is filtering what is of interest to them and makes TV links to them. They can use the TV links to forward them to their friends on social networks. However by aggregating different TV links you can make social EPGs (electronic program guides). A social EPG is a collection of TV links that a group of viewers find interesting and often has a common theme or interest. Viewers that are under time pressure or from the Youtube generation can then easily pick the social EPG that most interests them and get all the content that peers with similar interests have preselected.  Collective intelligence can be used to find those social EPGs that are more similar to your tastes.

The Social EPG technology

You would need to have a TV or set top box that allows applications to be executed while you watch television. Most Android systems can do this already. Via the TV link app, you would be able to indicate which part of a program you want to create a link for and how you want to tag it. Via the social EPG app you would be able to search for TV links and combine them into a social EPG. The SocialCast app allows you to find and watch social EPGs.

Cloud DVR (digital video recorders) would be needed to be able to rewind and play what was broadcasted in the past. These could either be provided by the cable or IPTV provider but could alternatively also be provided by the TV channel. At the moment TV is wasting a lot of content because each program is being aired and afterwards it disappears in the archives. By having social EPG and TV links this content could be repeated over and over again. Content from years back would all of a sudden get a totally new dimension because the cute little boy that was singing a song has grown into a major star. Fans would collect these TV links into their social fan EPG and post them on their Facebook Walls.

The business model

Having viewers aggregating content so special interest groups can take a look at it, is the ideal marketing vehicle for targeted publicity. The Social EPG for a music star will have publicity around the latest concerts and music downloads. A CSI Fans Social EPG will get you all the CSI merchandise via a single click. Car programs get car publicity.

Hollywood

I am pretty sure that some Hollywood executive would have some objective towards replaying content that was broadcasted before. So a revenue share for the content generators and producers should be part of the eco-system.

Does Google listen in when you use Google Voice?

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

The dotcoms of this world generate massive amounts of web server logs. Users upload files. Make comments. Vote on items. All this data is unstructured data. Google has just pushed the bar higher with their Google instant that is able to change almost instantly* their search results based on real-time data changes. Percolator is the real-time indexing that makes it all possible. Really impressive to see indexes change almost real-time for a company that moves daily 20 peta bytes of data [= almost 30.000.000 CDs].

So if Google is able to index all our web data, what about our voice and video data? Google Voice brought voice transcription to the general public. Voice transcription is based on machine learning. Every time a voicemail is incorrectly transcribed, users are able to “teach” Google how to do it right. This will make Google’s voice transcription quickly the best trained in the world. From there it is only a small step to also connect it to all Google Voice calls. Next step is to index what you say. Real-time indexing is key to interpret this vast amount of new content! So not only when you send a Gmail message talking about a trip you are planning to Paris, will you get advertisement from travel agents, but also when you talk to your friends about the trip.

Can Google go any further? Yes of course. Don’t forget Google Talk and Android. Two more sources to get voice data from. Google Talk can be used now. Android probably only if you use Google Talk or Google Voice on your mobile given the excessive data charges you would get if you would send “normal circuit” calls to Google.

Where are today’s limits of image recognition? Especially in videos? Taking a video with an Android phone and uploading it to Youtube could also mean that GPS data of where the video was taken could be included. Google Goggles ‘ technology could then find out what it is you were doing.  Probably not possible today but let´s wait some months…

What this means is that Google will very likely be able to subsidize more customer services if you are willing to trade-in some extra privacy. “Free” calls and even video calls for Android will definitely set it apart from iPhones, Nokias, etc. Google would need to subsidize wholesale interconnects to other providers, which are not that bad compared to end-user prices. But could marketing dollars also subsidize a monthly data plan? If yes then Google could become an MVNO and offer free phone and data services. This would be a killer feature to subscribe to Google Voice on the mobile. Killer in both senses, but not the positive sense for operators…

Where does this leave operators? Again a piece of their voice and SMS pie will disappear. But also a large piece of monthly subscription fees. Today there is very few operators can do to defend themselves if they don’t change their own rules. Every operator that thinks their assets are sacred, RFQ’s will bring innovation and scalability is about writing a large check to Oracle, will likely suffer.  Those that are willing to experiment with disruptive innovations and are open to discuss the previously unthinkable, still have a window of opportunity…

Note:

* There are delays between the time a page is updated and the new results being visible due to crawler and indexing delays so real-time indexing does not mean real-time search results.

Google TV, free content and the future of long-tail content delivery

Google is preparing to launch Google TV together with Sony, Logitech and Intel. Details about how the service will work and what will be in the Set-Top Box or Sony TVs are not very clear yet. However Google has been one of the few companies that is really driving the long-tail content and advertisement market. When Google TV is discussed then people are always talking about which content will be offered for what price…

What if content was free?

Or at least there would be a cheap all-you-can-eat price? Impossible? Why? Youtube is able to show personalized advertisement per viewer based on what you watched previously, how old you are, where you are, etc. So if a movie can be paid for by broadcast advertisement then it can probably also be paid for by personalized advertisement. Additionally knowing your content preferences allows for other up-sells, e.g. merchandising.

How much is Google going to pay for movies?

Perhaps nothing. Why can’t they do revenue sharing with content providers? This would allow for a long-tail content delivery market that is currently unheard of. Content providers would get a share of the advertisement revenue. Block busters would generate a lot of money whereas home bloopers or specialized documentaries would not. According to the Long-Tail theories however 98% of all content would be viewed at least ones a month. So Google might be able to make more money with the old-time classics, funniest amateur clips, etc. then with the Hollywood blockbusters.

The big losers?

Some startups that wanted to enter this space will probably die. Content generators would make the same money. Some studios might have to do with less. However telecom operators would have a large load on their network without any guarantees they get any extra cent…

Long-Tail Telco Services

We have gotten accustomed to having to choose between 5 to 10 tariff plans. However what would happen if we would have liberty to define our own tariff plans. A simple application with sliders could allow everybody to build their personalized tariff plan:

  • Which hours in the day you want an all you can eat and which hours you want to pay per minute or second?
  • How many minutes, mega-bytes, SMS, MMS or video calls you get included in your tariff plan?
  • Do you prefer a low call set-up fee and higher tariffs or the reverse?

Moving the sliders will have an impact on what you pay fixed per month.

However why stop with the personalized tariff plan? Why not allow users to define lists of friends, family and colleagues and have their own short code dialing plan for them (VPN)? Of course also here we can add a personalized dialing plan for friends, family and colleagues…

To really hit the long tail we need an infinite list of services users can pick from. In previous posts you can read about Net App Stores.  They are stores that sell telco network-based applications. With an open market for these net apps, there could be thousands or even millions of them. Since the long-tail says that 98% of the applications will sell at least once per month or quarter, operators should try to have the most extensive library possible…

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