Monday, January 20, 2014

2nd Screens. Location, Location, Location.

A hot topic, at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was the world of 2nd Screen applications.  These applications running on phones, tablets, and PC’s, revolve around TV everywhere, social TV, over the top services, multi-screens, and interactive television.

As exciting as it all is, the 2nd Screen world has not yet delivered to its potential as to consumer pleasure.  2nd Screen applications sit at the very intersection of three key trends from CES 2014; Wearables, Contextual Computing, and the Internet of Everything.  

Embracing this highly coveted industry intersection, and making the location work for the consumer by putting them in the center of it all, is the key to unlocking the 2nd Screen’s long-term value.  So, what does the 2nd Screen neighborhood look like?
  1. Wearables. Heavily reported upon by the media, sensor after sensor was showcased at CES in everything from watchbands to tennis rackets, and luxury cars to health monitors.  Developments in sensor technologies now enable the monitoring of motion, temperature, light, sound, and most any other activity one might imagine.  These sensors collect all sorts of data and make it available for analysis and further action.  The 2nd Screen world can benefit mightily from drawing upon these numerous data sources.
  2. Contextual Computing.  Using all the data collected by the world of sensors to “understand you and everything you care about”, at least as indicated by your presence and activities in the connected world, is the idea behind Contextual Computing; a sort of personal, sixth sense. The goal is to understand where you are, in what time, and with whom, and then help with suggestions or guidance based on the details of your past interactions.  Similar to a young child’s mother who stands by to suggest, warn, or scold, Contextual Computing intends to know you well enough, and be omnipresent enough, to be that voice in the back of your head “helping” you to do the “best” right thing.  Such detailed knowledge can be a boon for 2nd Screen abilities.
  3. Internet of Everything.  Connecting Wearables and Contextual Computing is the looming Internet of Everything.  John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, touts the Internet of Everything as a $19 trillion business opportunity.  He’s “all in … making this our cornerstone … to become the number-one information technology company” in the world.  Quite simply, the Internet of Everything is a tsunami of incoming data.  The 2nd Screen world is ideally located to embrace this wave and find the nuggets of value that can please the 2nd Screen consumer in numerous ways.
Sitting right in the middle of this big intersection, should mean the 2nd Screen world sits in a prime real estate neighborhood when it comes to business appreciation potential.  However, while 2nd Screen players have generated lots of buzz and some very individually interesting applications, especially in the field of sports and special events where Major League Baseball, The Grammys, and Victoria Secrets have all produced applications that have attracted much ado, the overall 2nd Screen experience is still lacking at the everyday consumer level.

There is no doubt that we have become a population of multi-taskers even when watching TV, as upwards of 75% of us use other devices (phones, PCs, tablets, etc.) while watching television.  What’s missing in the midst of all this activity and for which 2nd Screen is ideally positioned to provide, is a definitive, seamless, and integrated experience to make consumers smile with pleasure whenever they are in the embrace of the 2nd Screen world.  

Why should consumers have to go in and out of different apps as the TV show changes?  
What opportunities to serve the consumers and thus the 2nd Screen business world are being missed by the disjointed, one-off application approach requiring new individual apps which the consumer must learn about, find, install, and open … all at the appropriately relevant point in time?

In the early days of 2nd Screen, such a one-off application based approach was just fine.  

However, as the industry matures, especially in light of its location among the Wearables, Contextual Computing, and the Internet of Everything neighborhood, the 2nd Screen world needs to lift the target and re-aim its innovation efforts.

What if, a 2nd Screen app served more as your personal TV butler, concierge, or daresay a mother, to guide you forward with answers to your every question always at the ready.  “Where was that scene shot?  Who is that actor? What story line does that reference? Where can I buy that?  What’s on next?”  All of these perfectly valid questions and more can be served by the 2nd Screen world.  Unfortunately, as of today, each question requires its own application which needs to be ready and open to deliver such answers.

It is time for the 2nd Screen world to deliver a truly integrated solution as opposed to a silo’ed world of ever more one-off applications.  As we approach the 200 millionth connected TV mark, the 2nd Screen world should embrace this challenge and enable a seamlessly flowing user experience for multi-tasking consumers.

As Bob O’Donnel of wrote recently, “we live in a multi-device, multi-platform world”.   Get over it.  Yes, it is easier to concentrate on a single device or a single platform strategy and grow a company with a one-off application, and in the early days, it is often the best way to grow.  However, a real consumer pleasure provider (and therefore lucrative business opportunity) resides in the 2nd Screen application that can pull all these realities together and serve the consumers in the integrated, seamless manner they desire.  

Put the consumer at the center of the 2nd Screen intersection of Wearables, Contextual Computing, and The Internet of Everything and thrive.

PS  See for more on the exciting field of 2nd Screen applications and abilities.


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