Seriously, is there a week that goes by these days that we don’t hear about another stunning innovation on the media front? In his recent essay on “Migrating Video Content,” Daniel English points out that “Media is shifting to a digital architecture where media is a continuous, ubiquitous experience and content is decoupled from any one particular distribution channel or device.” He goes on to cite numerous examples of this from just the past few weeks.
Continuing this theme, today’s big news was TiVo’s announcement that they plan to let users download onto an iPod ANY television show that they’ve recorded at home. What we have here is the marriage of two of the most disruptive media technologies the world has ever seen. What makes a “disruptive technology” truly disruptive, in my opinion, is the way it completely changes consumer expectations such that the old ways of doing business suddenly become increasingly difficult and then quickly impossible. That’s what TiVo and iPod are doing to the world of entertainment media delivery and use. The old mass media playbooks are being torn up and throw out the windows.
TiVo revolutionized the video experience by changing consumer expectations regarding when and how we viewed video programming. We no longer have to be sitting in front of the TV at a specific time just to catch a certain show we like; that show will now wait till we’re ready to watch it. Similarly, Apple’s iPod has revolutionized our listening experience by doing the same for audible media. We now expect our entire music collection (and all new music we buy) to be (a) digitized & intangible, (b) perfectly portable, and (c) playable on multiple devices. And iPod is in the video deliver business now too helping to change expectations in a similar way.
In sum: TiVo and iPod’s appearance on the scene have shattered the old “you’ll get it when we send it, however we want to send it to you” model and replaced it with an “anytime you want it, any way you want it” mentality. Media operators who buck this trend are probably doomed in the long run.
Oh, by the way, TiVo said today that they were going to offer all these new video space-shifting services for PlayStation Portables (PSPs) too. In my new book on the futility of trying to regulate content in a world of media abundance and convergence, I kick off the introduction to the book by asking the reader to imagine a future where every possible piece of content–videos, music, news, games, websites, photos, etc., etc.–is available for instantaneous use on their mobile media devices. And then I tell the reader to open up their eyes and take a look at what their kids at doing at this very moment. Chances are, they are already using their iPods and PSPs to do all that and more. The future is now, and I am enjoying the ride.