I was thinking about disruptive technologies. You know, the ones that change industries in the way MP3 players, the internet and Ipods transformed the music business or even way back when the automobile changed transportation and I began thinking about some industries I wouldn't mind being disrupted.
To me the first and most deserving of disruptive whiplash is the television or cable TV industry. Here is why they annoy me. First they still cling to many of the same principles of the music industry and don't think through the eyes of a consumer. We are still not to the point where I can absolutely cancel my cable subscription and watch content streaming or downloaded 100%. The only two reasons I keep cable at all. The first is because they make my internet more expensive outside of the bundled services and second and most importantly is live sports. The second the NFL and other major sports offer me an online package for streaming that provides good quality I would switch off my cable. I honestly want to watch my content on my terms, period.
So what is going to help us finally achieve this? A combination of things but one of the most hopeful is the ability of seamless switching of different picture resolutions based on our connection speed. What do I mean? Simple, imagine watching a television show, video blog or any piece of content on your iPhone. When you are on the 3G network the resolution may be lower due to the limitations of 3G. But then you walk into an area with a fast wifi network and seamlessly the picture quality gets better because the phone and content recognized the wifi network was faster than 3G and could deliver a better quality without buffering or hiccups. Then imagine sitting down in front of your home computer connected with a LAN cable, faster yet and with a push of a virtual button the content stops playing on your phone and instantly launches and plays at the same point you left off on your computer screen. Take it one step further, the ability to push a virtual button during content viewing on your phone and instantly your television takes over via communication with a set top box or built in networking. The ability of content to switch to and from different quality levels depending on your connection and what device you are on is the first step in making my world a brighter place for sure.
It is coming, rest assured and hopefully soon because I don't want to have to wait for the connection speeds in the U.S. for both broadband and wireless carriers to get to reasonable speeds consistently everywhere.
Now, lets say they do perfect these technologies, will the content providers fight it? This scares the hell out of them, of course they will. They will fight it the same way the music industry fought to keep CDs the dominant music source and we all know how that turned out. If they were smart they would be funding the development and deployment methods of this type of technology and give themselves some skin in the game and opportunities to explore new revenue and subscription streams. I imagine what we will get is a bunch of providers just trying to figure out how to insert more advertising for us to ignore into the model. Heck, I would be happy with a sort of Hulu like experience everywhere, on any device but only if it truly has a seamless and hiccup free stream. I wouldn't even mind keeping my cable if they could build an anything I want, on demand, current and on any device I want service into my package so I am not tethered to anything live a DVR or time slot.
I really love to see technologies or innovations that make life easier for the consumer and force the competitors to deliver products and services at a level they should have been delivering all along. The Apple App store is a recent example. Look at all of the other phone providers and platforms that are advertising and marketing applications now that the iTunes store has driven the experience to a new level. This kind of thing should have been happening 10 years ago on Windows mobile but they just didn't care.
I like to believe that given a better system and experience that customers will embrace it and popularize it. It doesn't always happen but it certainly is nice when we all benefit. What do you predict will be the next disruptive technology, I am dying to know.