Thursday, March 10, 2005

Media Concierge Services – A New Choke Point in the Media Business

Media concierge services could be good news for users, and bad news for current TV distribution services.

Media concierge services are a new class of tools to help viewers find and manage media content from any broadcast, broadband or local source. This comprehensive user-centered view will become critical as media options expand – and can enable highly profitable ownership of the consumer's media selection processes (if done in a way that serves users and avoids "evil").

Joe Uva, President of ad giant OMD, recently introduced the term "media concierge." He describes it as "an on-the-premises concierge that oversees media entering and leaving my home ... recommending and selecting media for consumption; scheduling appointments and devices for consumption ... locate and record information of value to me while allowing me to avoid information or content which I have no interest in ... assist me in making transactions with third parties ... act as a janitor or custodian for my files ... allow my behavior and habits to be measured by others while protecting my privacy."

I suggest that centering these services on a PC/Web platform allows them to be powerful and comprehensive – not only to span TV, VOD, IP, DVD, music, home entertainment libraries, and theatrical viewing, but to support any user viewing and content delivery platform, including standard TV, DVRs, other advanced CE/AV devices, and any Internet media – and to do this with powerful selection, navigation and personalization user interface features that are beyond the reach of a TV-based user interface. As these services are used, the user interface may migrate from the PC to the TV, music system, or other devices (drawing on the kind of cross-device services described in my work on coactive TV), but the heavy lifting can draw on the full power, openness, and economy of Web services.

This new locus of power could be very good news for users, and the companies that serve them (much like Web search), and bad news for current TV distribution services that seek to maintain their own media access choke points and walled gardens.



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