The other night in our family room, after swapping tales of funny things that each of us viewed and heard on the Internet that day, we gravitated towards a MacBook, watching stupid animal/people tricks on YouTube. While my son navigated, the remaining 6 of us huddled in, straining to hear and see while hooting and clapping and calling out for our own favorites. I looked across at the dark and silent TV and comfy chairs, and the nickel dropped… my personal meaning of “connected home” took root. If we could figure out the smartest interlinks between our household’s four MacBooks, four iPods, four mobile phones, two TVs, one XBox360, and one wireless broadband router, we’d be closer to family entertainment, Jetson-style.
Here’s what’s real for today’s “connected home” consumer:
if we subscribe to live broadcast TV on our smart phone — complete with channel surfing — then when we get home, said smart phone can render the same signal to our Internet-enabled TV set.
if we subscribe to Netflix, we can receive and send our DVDs via postal mail, while maintaining our queue online; or order content via Video On Demand (VOD), streamed through an Internet-enabled TV set
if we’re among the 100s of millions of social networkers on YouTube or Facebook, we can flip between personal devices and Internet-enabled TV sets to partake of video, audio and messaging.
Each of our personal devices render a wide range of content, from home-grown video to premium movies, and allow it to be viewed either on itself or on another, connected device like a TV. This is the missing puzzle piece for allowing group viewing experiences. Better still for the average consumer who’s beset with devices in every room: TVs and home audio systems that connect wirelessly to the Internet. Consumer buying trends verify double-digit, quarter-over-quarter unit sales growth. There’s also a healthy supporting market for set-top, Internet-enabling connectors that we now know as DVRs, set top boxes…
A window is open to capture consumer brand leadership by evolving a product that is now simply a renderer or transmitter or converter — or embedded software within — into a household distribution center, for single-family residences and multi-tenant/multi-dwelling unit buildings (dorms, hospitals, condos, office suites) In essence, someone can stake claim to the friendly, non-threatening brand that the pioneers at TiVo so deftly created more than five years ago. Cisco Systems is well into the game through their legacy as equipment provider for cable companies. But I suggest that they look anew at their devices’ brand attributes and naming, even their industrial designs in order to move closer to brand personification as a friendly and trusted household device, especially vital to attract direct consumer sales from TechnoMom shoppers.
News coverage from the January 2010 Consumer Electronics Show will likely be dominated by the news of Internet-enabled TVs and connected household controls that appeal to consumers who seek a better way to connect and stay connected.