Being a believer in Boxee, I have been following CEO & Co-Founder Avner Ronen for some time. He offered a very clear view of the future of TV. He said the graphical interface we see from our set top boxes is “embarrassing”. What you get on your iPhone and other small devices is actually getting pretty good but the big screens and flat panels in our family rooms have lousy interfaces. He makes the valid point that people have proved they are willing to pay for music — they will pay for Internet video too. We just need those controlling the content to be willing to make content available. Looks to me like traditional TV will be slow to do so and meanwhile many new sources of video are showing up. Revision3 is a good example of an early Internet TV “station” that seems to be doing well. There will be thousands. I thought Avner’s most important point was that the model that needs to evolve is to pay once and watch everywhere. (The same is true for news. It is ridiculous to have to have a Wall Street Journal subscription on your Kindle, another on your iPad, and another on the web).
One of the most knowledgeable people I can think of when it comes to the business models of the Internet is Mary Meeker at Morgan Stanley. I remember years ago when she made a very bullish presentation about eBay. This was when all eBay had for sale was baseball cards. People at the conference looked at each other thinking she had gone off the deep end. In fifteen minutes she painted a picture supported by metrics of where things are headed. A few key examples — more smart phones than PCs by 2012, mobile infrastructure now at critical mass, iPad usage more like a PC than a phone, USA now the innovation leader in 3G, bullish on advertising, Amazon growth accelerating, social networking now exceeds email traffic. I would add that the Internet has grown beyond infancy but is still at the early stage.
In addition to the many other excellent speakers and panelists there were two interesting demos by sponsors. First was Stickybits. Their idea is not new but their implementation is timely. Stickybits has a method to attach digital content to real world objects using barcodes. Let’s say you have a motorcycle. You put a stickbits barcode label on it and scan it with the stickbits app on your iPhone. You can then add content — a picture, maintenance records, a story you wrote, music, anything digital. Now you can take the bike to a dealer for maintenance, they can scan the barcode and see all the information on the web site. Or you can scan the barcode on a book and find a review you wrote, someone can scan a code you put on your business card and they can read your resume, scan a for sale flyer and get details on the item, or friends can scan your holiday card and read the annual family letter.
Once you see the new web-enabled printing solution introduced this week by HP you will wonder why they didn’t think of it long ago. As pointed out here in the patrickWeb iPad series, there are times that you need to print something from your iPad or iPhone — for example, a boarding pass or maybe a FedEx release for something to be delivered to your door needing a signature. With HP’s new ePrint platform you will simply be able to forward an email with an attachment to their print cloud. The HP server in the cloud will then render the printed document and send it directly to your printer. Beginning in the next month or so every HP printer will have a new chip in it that will constantly check with the HP print cloud via the Internet to see if there is something waiting to be printed. It’s that simple. Every HP printer will have an email address. You will be able to white list only the HP print cloud so that no spam comes to your printer. The new solution opens up other possibilities too. You may want to have a morning sheet of some kind waiting for you each day or perhaps something from Disney delivered each day when the kids are home from school. No doubt hotels will utilize the new capability to allow you to send something for printing while you are a guest. Can’t wait to try this out. HP can’t wait to sell lots more ink!
Update June 15, 2013: Stickybits no longer exists and was replaced with Turntable.fm.