• #commutebox playlist & spotify; TV next, please?

    On: June 16, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 1396

    It’s been a while since a few folks and I started mucking about with the #commutebox hashtag on twitter.  It was a way for friends to share the tracks and albums they were listening to on the way to work. 

    That way, you’d find out what else folk were listening to, and might find a few more interesting things yourself.  (I talked about it here, ’twas over a year ago now it seems.  Doesn’t time fly..?)



    But of course, twitter’s hardly the most natural home for doing it perfectly.  Like it is for many other things, the simple twitter interface was the inexpensive ‘best’ we could do at little effort at the time.

    But most folk didn’t search for #commutebox every day, they probably just saw a tweet here and there suggesting some new music.

    What we were probably all waiting for was the social Spotify malarkey. 

    Since they launched the social features, we’ve compiled a lovely spring playlist, and we’re halfway through a summer playlist.  It’s really easy just to quickly add tracks whenever the mood takes you.



    Then everyone who subscribes to the playlist has it on their desktop, or their phone if they have a premium account.  An instant source of a peer-curated music.

    So with that experience, it’s of great interest to see the launch of Spotify TV in Sweden & Finland…



    Sure, at the moment it’s just for creating your own playlist of music through the TV remote.

    But you’ve got to think they’re just paving the way for the technology to work for TV content, rather than just music.

    Which would be great; a TV guide curated by you and your mates, that you can all set up to watch on specific occasions (not unlike when we’re ‘all’ commuting with the music…). 

    It’s been talked about before, but please, make it so, Spotify…

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  • Social TV yes. But a Social TV remote? Oh FFS…

    On: May 24, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 2110

    There’s a great piece on Social TV in the MIT Technology Review, which talks a lot of sense (HT @graemewood).

    But there’s a barrier at the top that makes you initially want to skip over it… and it’s this stupid picture…



    See, the article features an idea that makes a lot of sense; provide services and software that work through people’s existing technology (e.g. phone).

    Whereas the picture is another example of people thinking ‘oh, I’ve got a great idea… and I’ll turn it into a standalone gadget…’

    Yeah, because we don’t have enough gadgets lying around the place.

    If you already like the notion of Social TV, you probably use your phone to do talk to other people about what you’re watching anyway… so why would you want a ‘social remote control’?

    Companies are, more than ever, playing catch-up to the things people do together through whatever technology they have to hand.

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  • Obsolescence, dusty keyboards and shining screens

    On: May 6, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 2522

    Now, I’m not overly proud of this picture… it’s of the keyboard of our home computer, and it would appear to be a bit… errmm, dusty…



    It’s probably very fair to say that since we moved in to our new place at the beginning of February, neither Helen nor I have been near the computer that sits in the spare room. 

    Indeed, I only noticed it because I had to go and print out some tickets to go to the Brighton Sealife Centre (print out!?!  It’s 2010, codes & mobile ticketing, please…).

    But it did get me thinking, about two things that are, quite possibly, on their way out.

    Firstly, the ‘home PC’.… 

    Or at least, the description that will be familiar in many homes; a desktop computer that sits in a home office, or squeezed in the corner of the guest room, or wherever there’s room (or is close enough to a phone socket to plug a modem into)…

    Like millions of other folks we’ve now got enough mobile/laptop shenanigans going on that to have a separate machine in a different, isolated part of the house is actually now just taking up space… desktops have been outsold by laptops consistently since 2006.



    The desktop PC was designed not for convenience, of course, but for necessity.  To get as much computing power in as possible (and make sure that you could power it, cool it down etc), you had to have a big bloody box sitting under a desk somewhere.



    Nowadays, though, you can fit all the necessary power into a laptop that you can take wherever you wanted to be in the first place… which was unlikely to be the spare room.

    Which means we’re seeing the rise of things like social television (which this article from the BBC will tell you all about if you’re unfamiliar with it). 

    Magical computery power is starting to change the dynamics of the home in lots of interesting ways, which will no doubt have more of an effect on the sectors people previously didn’t imagine t’internet would affect that much originally.

    So, bye bye ‘home PCs’. 

    Secondly, I started thinking about keyboards

    The keyboard has been around for ages.  Have a read of the fascinating history of the typewriter on wikipedia…

    …the earliest is arguably the ‘Typowriter’ (patented in 1829 by William Austin Burt), but by far my favourite is Giuseppe Ravizza’s “Cembalo scrivano o macchina da scrivere a tasti”, which translates as “scribe harpsicord, or machine for writing with keys”



    So approaching 200 years old is not bad going for a technology that by and large hasn’t really changed.  People talk about touchscreen computers (iPad et al), and claim that they’re not great devices for ‘creation’, just ‘consumption’.

    What they really mean is that they aren’t great for ‘creation of stuff I now use a keyboard for’.

    My generation (I’m 32 now) were introduced to a keyboard as a route to playing, creating or working, but in ‘isolation’; what you played or did via keyboard you did on your own.

    A generation underneath probably see the keyboard as a route to communication first (email, IM, social networks etc), then playing, working and creating together.

    Whoever we are, we’re all still rooted in that keyboard tradition… so many of us have been trained to use it already, it’s going to be a hard habit for society to shift.

    But a generation that grows up in a world of touchscreens…

    …well, surely they’ll work out a way to get from this…



    …to this…



    Just watching the wee fella with touchscreen devices is a joy… he’s only 7 months old, yet he gets the very simple concept that if you touch it, it does something. 

    He’s really, really surprised that ALL screens don’t work this way, of course.  And tried to see if the fish tanks at Brighton Sealife centre reacted to frantic touch-motioning. 

    Which, admittedly, they did.  Poor turtles.

    Anyway, I reckon that keyboards might just be on their way out, but not for a good 10+ years or so. 

    Or are we confident that like the wheel, the basic keyboard model is here to stay forever?

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  • The iPad; it’s TV, only more so

    On: April 23, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 1212

    Now, you’ll remember my previous post on the iPad, TV and the like, yes? 

    Well, our superclever research team here at PHD (Clare, Chris & Carrie) have been working on a project to gauge the impact that this generation of devices (i-pad-tablet-slate things).

    Here’s Clare to take you through what they’ve found so far…



    Following on from this, I thought we’d add the view from the research

    We recently did some work with people – not early adopters, not
    geeks, just ordinary people who like gadgets that make like easier, or more
    enjoyable – about how they use mobile devices (netbooks, smartphones etc) in
    our qualitative facility, The Living Room. 

    The ulterior motive was to get
    them thinking about mobile media use and then get them to consider how they
    might feel about and potentially use iPads in the future.

    <o:p> </o:p>

    The results were
    fascinating.  We found massive enthusiasm appetite for mobile TV. 
    While few had watched much TV on their iPhones to date, when asked to try it
    out for a couple of weeks they came back full of enthusiasm and thought the
    iPad’s combination of screen size and simplicity of use would offer an even
    better way to watch mobile TV and video content.  <o:p></o:p>

    The possibilities for combining
    viewing with interactions through social networks also appealed to some, with
    the chance to watch and discuss things together while apart, or pass on
    recommendations all from the same device you’re watching on.

    They also thought it could
    easily be an option to replace second and third household TV sets, and could
    even replace some main set viewing especially
    where people have limited multichannel
    access, which suggests potential for a “pay as you go” option for mobile tv.



    Basically, they saw an
    opportunity for telly, only more so.  And better.  And easier to
    share.  Whats not to like?

    Mind you, the success of TV on
    iPad will rely on Apple and other service providers marketing their mobile TV
    apps clearly and effectively as awareness of existing services for smart phones
    and computers was still pretty low (we had to show our groups some of the
    possibilities to get their views).

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  • iPad video review; it’s the future of television

    On: April 13, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 3681

    I got my mitts on an iPad for the first time yesterday, thanks to David at The Guardian.

    We worked with them and Canon on the Guardian Eyewitness app (now the SECOND MOST POPULAR free app for the iPad… FTW).

    So we were understandably VERY eager to see the fruits of our labours.

    (Apple, ‘fruits’?  See, it’s a pun, geddit?  Oh, never mind…)

    Anyway, I took the opportunity to create a little video run through of some of the ‘media’ properties on it, just to get a first feel for what ‘worked’ on the iPad:

    So, that was yesterday.  My thoughts today?

    All in all, whilst newspapers and magazines (and of course comics) can do some wonderful creative things with the iPad, having used it you realise what a great in between step between ‘lean back’ and ‘sit forward’ it is…

    …which is perfect for just watching TV on.

    Ben Malbon points out that the posters they’ve put up are like a giant user manual… “this is how you use it”. 



    Looks like a great way to watch content, yet still have access to everything the web offers at the flick of a finger.

    And sure, as a device it has the potential to do untold amount of wonderful things, depending on the apps developed for it.  And it may revolutionise many markets (news, games, work, healthcare…)

    Yet given the amount of ‘watching’ people still do (television, films etc), and the quality and flexibility of the iPad for fulfilling that need, I believe that for mainstream take up it’s the viewing capabilities that will be key. 



    People LOVE watching TV, as we all know.  This represents a different, flexible, personal way to do that, wherever you want.  TV has a mass appeal that opens up the interest in the device to a wider audience than would be interested in more early-adopter tech (the iPhone, for instance).

    Which means there’s probably an interesting behavioural economics thing going on
    here too

    People will justify spending £500 or so when they compare it not
    just to the price of netbooks, laptops etc… but to the price of flash flatscreen TVs.

    For instance, would you buy a TV for the kitchen when you could buy a stand for an iPad and sit it in the corner when you’re there?  Especially if you can download whichever recipe you want on it too.



    Which all means that whilst people will be watching as much, if not more, television content in the future, the way in which they are watching it is even more flexible and on demand…

    …whatever, whenever, wherever.

    Which has interesting, challenging repercussions for business or marketing models based upon the traditional linear TV watching with ad breaks every 20 minutes… but more on that another day…

    What do you think?  Is the iPad the future of TV?

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