We're at the beginning of a vicious battle for the eyeballs of the wired world and video will be an important, if not perhaps, dominant element of this (the gadget v widget battle being fought by the portals may well take precedent as Google encroaches more and more into Microsoft markets).
Everyone from Sony to AMD are embarking on ‘epg strategies’, recognising that the company that controls the eyeballs will eventually control the revenue. And in an already crowded marketplace with incumbents such as satellite operators, digital terrestrial broadcasters and cablecos, it’s become a real bunfight; companies are teaming up and competing head to head all over the place. Yahoo and Microsoft seem to be cuddlying up, AT&T are using Microsoft’s IPTV to launch a service that competes with Microsoft’s Xbox IPTV, as are BT in the UK (let alone what they’re up to with MCE/Vista Windows Live and MSN). There are some strange bedfellows and alliances emerging and expect many of them to unravel as the weaker party realising that they are giving away the farm.
The key to the eyeball game will not be the fastest or best service, but the service that hits the touchpoint of the viewer. What is this ? In other online contexts it’s community, mail, messaging and search. But no one has defined what will be the touchpoint for internet delivered video. Some candidates are video search, unique content, community features and user generated content.
But I can’t help feeling that something is missing; the killer app has yet to appear, and maybe it will never happen. If I were a betting man I’d put my money on something close to intelligent, personalised television, a service that can be carried between devices and locations and will automatically generate a schedule (as well as alternative vods) depending on the user’s known preferences. MeTV is the way to win the battle for the eyeballs.