Google's announcement on Monday of its "Android" mobile operating platform is another example of open platforms' appeal and underscores why broadband video has grown so quickly and is so compelling.
For those who missed the news, on Monday Google announced its Android mobile platform and the Open Handset Alliance, with 33 other companies, aiming to accelerate innovation and application development for mobile devices. In essence the goal is to develop a widely-deployed open platform, comparable to the Internet itself. Mobile video would certainly be a key beneficiary if Android succeeds.
This push to openness in mobile can be seen as an attempt to emulate what's unfolded in the broadband video industry over the last 5 years. The result of broadband's openness has been nothing short of staggering, Whether it's video found at YouTube, iTunes, Hulu, NYTimes.com, MLB.com, Cosmopolitan.com or countless others, the torrent of video that's been unleashed, the shift in consumer behavior that's ensued and the capital that's been invested in this sector are all the direct result of broadband's open pipe.
In fact, as I have said innumerable times, the reason why broadband video delivery is the single most disruptive influence on the traditional video industry is precisely BECAUSE it offers an open platform for producers to send video directly to their target audiences. As such, it eliminates the requirement for video producers to land a deal with a traditional gatekeeper to the home such as a broadcast or cable TV network, or a cable TV, satellite or telco service provider.
In short, the ability for producers to connect directly with their audiences strikes at the heart of the traditional video distribution value chain, threatening a permanent re-ordering of the economics of the video business. It enables all kinds of players who have been shut out of the video game to now jump in.
And while broadband video is admittedly still in its embryonic stage from a revenue standpoint, its long-term appeal portends vulnerability for those who cling too long to the traditional closed, walled-garden model. The Internet has shown us all the power of open over closed models, of interoperability over proprietary approaches, and of often chaotic, but user-centric growth over top-down control.
Broadband's ecosystem is experiencing a rapid "layer-cake" effect where new technologies and applications are being built on top of preceding ones. The result is a vibrant, entrepreneurial culture in the broadband sector. If Android succeeds the same will be true in the mobile video sector as well.