2014 Digital Media/Entertainment Trends

17 Nov

notliketheothersI was recently asked to research and report on the digital media trends that would have the most impact on the entertainment world in 2014, and I wanted to share my findings.

NOTE: If you are new to this blog, please note that this is not the ordinary fare. Will return with more posts about mind-blowing experiences and technology, once I return from IAAPA.

First the list, in case you’re a “just the facts” kind of person:

1. 2nd Generation “Smart TVs” Will Establish a New Platform Paradigm
2. Cross-Platform OS Convergence on Non-PC Devices
3. Entertainment Platform Convergence
4. Biometric Gaming Leads Innovation of Quantified Self
5. Internet of Things Creates New Opportunities for Location Based Entertainment
6. Google Glass Will NOT Take Off in 2014
7. Augmented Reality Will Not Be Mainstream Without HUD and Killer Apps

And here is some brief discussion on each:

1. 2nd Generation “Smart TVs” Will Establish a New Platform Paradigm

smarttvThe first generation of Smart TVs got a bad rap for either being difficult/nonintuitive to use or providing a lot of un-TV-like functionality that consumers didn’t care for. They also suffered from performance/processing issues related to hardware & bandwidth limitations. Some critics went so far as to write off the Smart TV as a failure.

The next generation of Smart TVs should be more intuitive to use and will be designed to integrate with and complement tablets as a second screen. Generally speaking, a tighter integration between TV, internet, and peripheral devices will be a catalyst for derivative trends in content creation & consumption.

Despite modest market forecasts, some retailers suggest that they will only be selling Smart TVs.

An entry by Apple into this space may have a “Rising Tide Lifts All Ships” effect. See Trend 2 for further thoughts on this.




2. Cross-Platform OS Convergence on Non-PC Devices

While all eyes will likely be on Apple’s anticipated 2014 release of an actual Smart TV (not to be confused with their “Apple TV” set-top box), there are other players to track. Samsung currently enjoys a dominant position in the mobile market with their Android devices. However, they have announced plans to incorporate Tizen, an alternate open-source operating system, into phones and eventually TVs. On a smaller scale, Amazon expects to launch a set-top box (not an actual TV) to compete with the Apple TV set-top box.

For Apple and Samsung, these moves suggest that customers will have an optimized experience when they consolidate their media platforms in a single operating environment. For instance: iPhone + iPad + Apple Smart TV (iOS) or Samsung phone/tablet + Samsung Smart TV (Tizen), etc. Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire is built on the Android platform, which shows that rather than reinventing the wheel from a hardware standpoint, they will probably continue to deploy solutions on popular open architectures, and focus on strategies and relationships that leverage content.

What this means for entertainment is uncertain, but this type of convergence will give these companies extraordinary market leverage with respect to both direct competitors in the hardware space as well as content providers.





3. Entertainment Platform Convergence

6a00d8341c858253ef00e55215cad98834-640wiSony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One will both contain features that point to a convergence of different types of home entertainment on a single platform, including gaming, social media, TV, internet, etc. The lines between what are traditionally seen as separate, non-integrated forms of entertainment/media will start to become blurred, and this will pave the way for the development of “hybrid” experiences.



4. Biometric Gaming Leads Innovation of Quantified Self

indexThe Quantified Self movement is primarily associated with self-help and health-oriented applications. However, as the underlying technology develops, it can be integrated as a unique component of entertainment, media, and marketing applications. Biometric sensors will be integrated into next-generation gaming platforms in an effort to provide a richer experience. The gaming industry, with its dynamic, competitive environment, combined with its commitment to large-scale R&D, is well-positioned to lead this development. Precedent strongly suggests that other industries can expect to benefit from a trickle-down effect of these innovations.

“Kinect 2.0 goes a step further by being able to determine where in the room a player is looking, what their facial expressions are to determine their mood, and even pick up the player’s heart rate based on tiny fluctuations in their skin color. All this information can be used by game developers to deliver tailored experiences that create more immersive and engaging gameplay.”




5. Internet of Things Creates New Opportunities for Location Based Entertainment

worlds-first-flying-car-07With many trends focused on enhancing the home/mobile experience, LBE can start to feel dated. However, the paradigm of the “Internet of Things” provides a number of opportunities to enhance & streamline these types of experiences. Walt Disney World’s MagicBands is already old news, and despite its massive development and deployment cost, it really only scratches the surface of what’s possible. In the referenced video, Intel even uses a theme park as a complex model to show what IoT can enable. The focus continues to be on operational aspects, but extending these techniques and infrastructure to more entertainment-oriented applications is a natural next step.



6. Google Glass Will NOT Take Off in 2014

3dglassesDespite all the hype, Google Glass will be more of a long-term play. Glass will continue to play a central role in the overall future of wearable technology, but it may not be the first device that people gravitate toward in this sector.

I think that Google overplayed its hand by introducing a photo/video capture capability in its pre-release product. This functionality has been a lightning rod for privacy concerns, and has possibly generated more negative controversy than positive anticipation for the product as a whole. Moreover, although they couldn’t have anticipated it, their timing couldn’t have been worse with the general climate of privacy-related issues in the news on a daily basis. The Google Glass mantra is to provide users with technology that is “there when you want it, and out of the way when you don’t.” This is achieved through a rudimentary yet effective integration with their “Google Now” service, and this in itself has the potential to radically shift the way people consume information on the move. That said, I appreciate their “go big or go home” approach to rolling out this product, and they clearly have the resources to back the long play.



7. Augmented Reality Will Not Be Mainstream Without HUD and Killer Apps

grandma-ocularGoogle Glass is not AR. I’m 100% sure Google would agree with me on this. The AR landscape still lacks an effective, consumer-grade Heads-Up Display (HUD) and applications that really matter. I do not dispute that anyone who experiences AR for the first time, even in its current, clunky handheld-device modality, will feel awe, delight, and even a sense of magic. However, until it can be more seamlessly integrated into everyday life on both a hardware and software level, it will will continue to have limited penetration as a novelty or will be most effective in specialized, controlled use-cases.




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