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Will the arrival of an App store on a TV near you lead to less TV viewing?

Apps are funny things

By PETER WHITE

Published: 9 June, 2011

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Apps are funny things. On the iPhone they are, for the most part, little more than gimmicks, promoting a download and discard mentality. Ask your kids of they still play “Angry Birds” and watch their faces turn up, as if you are the least hip person on the planet, and that’s just the 12 year olds. The 18 year olds just shake their heads and display as much pity as that age allows.

On Smart phones, iPods, iPads and other tablets Apps move too quick for the adult human eye to follow. They also turn the young into obsessive touch junkies, playing frenetically for hours on end. On an iPhone that is pre pay that’s a blessing to the parents, but it can be a nightmare for the networks that they are attached to.

We know about the legendary strain on the AT&T cellular network in the US due to the Apple iPhone, and offloading much of this to WiFi seems to be one of AT&T’s core ambitions. Data downloads eat network resource but also prevent players from using their phones quite so much for voice. Accepted that voice is a declining portion of cellular revenues anyway, and becoming commodity, and since post pay voice is in bundles and in LTE we are moving to a world where everything is data, even voice, the next five years will be all about experimental charging mechanisms for cellular that get around any shift away from voice usage (we have a report on LTE data charging if you are interested email peter@rethinkresearch.biz).

For some time cellular operators wondered about putting other applications on their devices, especially when subsidizing them. What if people played with the apps too long and forgot to make quite so many phones calls? This was seen as particularly worrying on a phone that cost $300 or more of subsidy. Cellcos were worried they were paying through the nose to stop customers using their services.

Well if that was a legitimate concern for cellular networks, both on Apps and on mobile video, then surely the Apps part of the equation will come up once again as we enter the world of TV Apps, but at Faultline we think this might be even more of a worry – not to pay TV operators or to TV set suppliers, but certainly to broadcasters.

Broadcasters rely on more and more of a modern family’s leisure time being used to passively view TV. Broadcasters are collective happy to move this from passive viewing to active viewing and wish to invest in interactive sessions. This brings new potential for new, high value advertising which can augment a free to air mentality. Any interaction that takes a broadcast viewer away from the TV programming but doesn’t carry them to a broadcaster’s walled garden, results in lost eyeballs to advertising and a fall in broadcast revenues.

We heard that eternal mantra at the Connected TV Summit a few weeks back, “that European households spend more and more of their time watching linear TV than even before,” a sentiment that we cannot agree with and feel it is tantamount to burying the broadcaster’s head in the sand, and close to outright lying.

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