How Mobile Technology is Defining the Future of Video

By Graeme Newell 

This is Part 2 in a web series on the future of mobile technology

-The technological breakthroughs in mobile viewing are now driving a new generation of TV set.
-The iPad & Google TV represent two landmark shifts in TV’s future.
-Cable TV is desperate to hold on to the living room viewing experience and will try to thwart these new viewing interfaces.

After more than a decade of waiting, the electronics industry is finally making some major progress towards unifying the mobile and living room television experience. The breakthrough finally showed up in two new devices – the iPad and Google TV. They represent a paradigm shift in how to build a truly interchangeable viewing experience. The smart strategy – get the small screen viewing experience right, then build it big.


Build it small, then build it big
For a generation the TV industry has been going at it the wrong way. They have been trying to miniaturize the traditional television experience. Companies like Google and Apple flipped this model on its head. They took the functionality and innovation of the miniature screen and supersized it to fit the needs of a new generation of viewers who want a very custom and very personal viewing experience. The philosophy – multiple screens, each with a custom form factor. A big TV for the living room, a tablet device for watching under the covers, and a mobile phone screen for viewing in the grocery checkout line.

What is still missing from this model is the ability to seamlessly shift between devices. I should be able to start a movie in the living room, then get a little sleepy and head to the bedroom where I will whip out my tablet computer, and seamlessly continue the movie. After falling asleep in the middle of the flick, I will then pick back up again the next day by viewing it on my mobile phone. This is possible on Netflix right now. Apple and Google also have the technology to do this, but still have to get the entertainment industry to play ball.

Living room TV as Big Mobile Phone
This is the promise of new platforms like Google TV and Apple TV–function will follow form. The guts of the iPhone 4 and the iPad are almost identical. Both devices operate on iOS 4. But while the insides of these two little computers are the same, the viewing experiences are very different.

The large TV viewing experience was figured out years ago. It has always been the small TV experience that has held the industry back, but Apple’s iOS4 and Google’s Android have figured this out. Now the next step is easy. Supersizing the operating systems to the gigantic flat screen size will not be a big leap. Your living room TV will be running the same operating system as your tablet computer, and the phone on your hip. The possibilities become endless. In essence, your TV will be a big, whomping mobile viewing device that never moves, but shares much of the functionality of that mobile device, including the ability to surf the internet, make calls, use geo-tracking services and index video. Think of it as a screen from Sony, but a brain from Google.

Cable TV’s Worst Nightmare
While this melding of the mobile and home TV experience sounds like TV heaven for the viewers, many of the major players in the entertainment industry are doing everything they can to shoot this down. The satellite and cable industries stand to lose billions if they lose control of the living room television experience. Cable will use its incredible power and amazing lobbying ability to shoot this down at every turn.

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Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at