• Here Comes the Video "Experience Era"

    OK, one last post related to CES, and then I promise to shut up about the show.

    Observing the goings-on this week, it is evident that both content and consumer electronics firms have come to the same basic conclusion: each industry's success is inextricably tied to the other's. Each recognizes that the business dynamics of the future requires a new way of differentiating their products than they are accustomed. That means, for example, that TV makers can no longer just boast about better pictures. And that content companies can no longer bank on bigger stars or funnier sitcoms to deliver audiences and profits.

    Rather, both industries recognize that we are moving into what I would call the "experience era" for video. That's to say, success with consumers is going to rest more on these industries' ability to deliver superior experiences which integrate content and technology in new and compelling ways. Rather than oohing and ahhing about their new TV's picture quality or how hilarious a certain episode was, going forward consumers will increasingly cite "how cool" something is.

    "How cool" are code words for "how compelling is the experience". The new currency of video hipness will require that when I invite friends to my house and want to show off, I need to have more than just a honking-big screen or a digital collection of old programs - those will be commonplace. Instead, the experiences are what will matter. Things like seamlessly accessing broadband content on my TV, interacting with it -- along with other viewers -- from my couch, and moving it around my house for playback anywhere, in a snap. Delivering these types of experiences (and more) is the new competitive bar that content and technology firms should be aiming for.

    My sense is these industry executives know this, and the partnerships we saw unveiled -- and those yet to come -- demonstrate this recognition. Listen to what Bob Scaglione, Sharp's SVP Marketing said in this NY Times piece: "We already all have beautiful HD televisions. How do you differentiate? One way to provide some really unique differentiation is to provide new content. That's why we're fighting to find the right content providers."

    And then what Beth Comstock, president of NBC Universal Integrated Media said: "You can't talk about consumer electronics without talking about content.....We try every new technology that comes along."

    Executives across the content and technology spectrum must understand the experience era is now upon us. Steve Jobs and Apple's iPod ushered in the experience era in the music business. We now wait to see which companies in the video industry will do the same and reach for Apple's success. In a hyper competitive world, those who deliver strongly against consumers' needs and desires will be the ultimate winners in the experience battle now underway.

    Agree or disagree? Post a comment and let us all know!