This was going to be the year of IPTV, and Apple TV was going to spearhead the movement. Guess not. ABI Research released this last week:
A new breed of retail-based Internet video delivery devices has emerged over the past few years, the most notable being Apple TV. However ABI Research notes that these devices have had difficulty resonating with consumers, largely due to their higher prices and competition from legacy set-top boxes, as well as confusion over the benefits they will ultimately bring to the buyer. Overall, ABI Research believes that this new breed of devices will see shipments of 1.2 million in 2008.
“Since this category first emerged in 2004-2005 with the debut of Akimbo’s public Internet VOD product, vendors of these products have struggled with a number of hurdles that have so far made this market relatively unsuccessful,” says research director Michael Wolf. “The high cost of these devices, their reliance on the home network, the need for consumer self-installation, and the scarcity of content have all contributed to their lack of commercial success.”
I’m not interested in attaching yet another box to the TV, and placing another remote on the coffee table. Like the DVR, IPTV will need to be fed through an already-existing set top box. For this to happen, the cable companies and telcos will have to abandon their walled garden approach and embrace openness.
I obsess over the adoption rate for IPTV because it’s the game changer for content creators. We’ve got the inexpensive cameras and the inexpensive NLEs. All we need is inexpensive distribution. Amazon S3 can provide the storage and bandwidth at a reasonable price. Currently all you need to sell your content are links in iTunes or Amazon’s Unbox. The problem is that if you’re not a big studio Apple’s not interested in selling your content, and nobody is using Unbox or anything like it. That’s why we need open IPTV to succeed.
We all know the Long Tail story by now. And here’s the condensed version. IPTV is the most efficient way for content producers to serve niche markets effectively. Until it becomes a widespread reality, services like CustomFlix represent our most effective approach to living off the long tail.