On another panel, people discuss

by francine Hardaway on July 14, 2004

On another panel, people discuss the digital home. In this case, people from Silicon Valley seem to be aware that technologists often build for themselves, ignoring the needs of the customer.

The digital home is as yet undefined. The technology is there. There are lots of great devices, technologies and services, but consumers are seeing too much complexity for entertainment.

Up until recently, people bought their content and their delivery simultaneously — a radio, or a TV. But in the last 18 months, there has been a big change: people are willing to buy their pipe separately from their content. So if you introduce a lot of bandwidth into the home, and content is digital, consumers will try to satisfy their desires and consumer demand for connected devices will drive the market. Consumer demand is now ravenous; savvy consumers are demanding that media be shot around their households. They just don’t know how to make the devices they have bought work the way they envision.

So now someone has to take care of the customer. To fully support a digital home, the software industry, the transport industry, and the hardware industry have to work together. (Some AOL customers are still calling tech support because they have put the AOL CD into their stereo systems and can’t get it to work.) Otherwise, the support costs for current technology will eat companies alive. We’re only in the very basic phase of sharing video, photos and music, but you still need a home CIO to use the stuff. The products have to be plug and play, and the customer experience seamless.

The consensus was that technologists have to look more carefully at the user experience, because they can’t do to the entertainment customer what they did to the enterprise: release products before their time that don’t work. At this time, only 10% of the market knows what broadband is; only 12% know what DSL is.

For many years, people have tried to figure out what would be the heart of the architecture in the home? The PC, TV, set top box, residential gateway? Now it has all changed, and it’s about how all these devices play together.

Coming to you in the second half of 2004: the ability to access your media files from anywhere, and have them streamed to you in a format that your device can manage. You will then be able to pick something to TIVO from your cell phone. The architecture doesn’t care about either the type of connection or the format of the player; it translates everything. No local storage. It’s more than an e-home; it’s an e-world.

You sign up for this on the Internet. It manages your media: TV, video, photos, music, etc. Any device with a web interface will show you anything dynamic that’s in your world that’s a player — in your home, in your cell phone, on your laptop. You will then be able to access all of your media everywhere. You can also buy off this device, and it will download to your

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