The challenge for developers over the next decade is likely to be the convergence of the most prevalent and popular content delivery mechanisms, namely mobile, computer and television. The seamless integration of content across these mediums is already beginning, and this trend will only increase as mobile usage continues to escalate.
The question that’s asked in response to this premise is often, if this is the case, then what is stopping the development of such content right now? Televisions certainly aren’t the culprit–according to Nielson estimates, nearly all U.S. homes have them (98.9% in a 2009 report). Add the report from Research and Markets in 2009 that roughly 80% of all homes have at least one computer, and the CTIA estimates that 89% of U.S. consumers utilize mobile phones.
The answer to that query would have to involve development issues, i.e. each of these content delivery mechanisms use different technologies for their reception. We’re talking about different screen sizes, user interfaces, operating systems, bandwidth and delivery protocols.
Some companies are already trying to find ways to equalize these issues, such as Verizon’s new projector phone, which allows users to project the screen onto an exterior surface, such as a wall, which effectively makes the viewing area the same size as their television at home, and Comcast, which has been promoting the availability of premium “long-form” content via it’s website, which allows its subscribers to access the same premium TV content that they watch on TV on their website, from any computer, using a web browser. That said, it’s still not enough…yet.
Bandwidth is a problem not yet easily solved. Although cable TV lines were designed to handle large amounts of data, they were also designed for one-way communication. Only recently have they been modified to allow two-way connectivity, and that is still very limited, mostly to allowing choices of which content to watch. On the other hand, computers and mobile phones naturally have more limited bandwidth available to them, but they do have a much greater capacity for two-way communication.
Users are already demanding more personalized, compelling content, and since the convergence of these devices is all based on demand, it will eventually happen. People want content, and they don’t care where it comes from, or on what device. The real question is, are developers up to the challenge?