Jan 072006

Nice to see that Bill Gates is still on the personalized TV bandwagon. After several years of keynotes talking about IPTV, the connected XBox and of course Microsoft’s own MediaCenter strategy it seems that Personalization, targeting and interactive television are now the new kids on ‘bills’ block at least. His keynote at CES a few days ago covers a broad range of topics but good to see him actually referring to ‘personalized video streams’ as discussed in some detail in this blog. So here is a selection of quotes

Personalized Media Themes and cross-media

So this cross-device approach is a very, very important approach. In fact, that’s complemented by the fact that there will be what we call Live services where a lot of your files, your information will actually be stored out in the Internet, and even if you pick somebody else’s device up, once you authenticate, all that information becomes available to you. So moving between different PCs can be a very, very easy thing.
There’s a lot of themes there, themes of personalization, themes of empowerment, themes of everything moving to the Internet. What is telephony moving to the Internet? That’s voice. What is TV moving to the Internet? That’s Internet TV or IPTV. People have to have confidence in these things, automatically backed up, security built-in, very reliable systems that use the cloud storage for those kinds of guarantees, and easy connections, connecting to people, connecting up to devices, a very strong way of driving through all these different scenarios and making them very simple.
In sum, it’s very revolutionary, but every year we have big milestones, more adoption, and it only really catches up to us in terms of how it’s changed the world of media, changed how the business models work there, changed the way that magazines and newspapers are delivered, changed the way that entertainment gets done, bringing these new interactive elements in; TV, where we’ve picked the new segments we want, we interact with a learning show, we can find the video that wouldn’t have been available in a broadcast system; all of that is becoming very, very mainstream.

Targeted and personalized advertising

Well, let’s now talk about TV. As I said, TV is, of course, a big activity and one that we see software really surprising people with what it can do. The best realization of this is when we have software working on your behalf, creating an individualized video feed to you, to the screen that you’re watching.
So what does that mean? That means that the ads can be targeted to you based on the things that you’re interested in, and so therefore far more relevant, far more impactful, something that you won’t want to skip over as much as one that wouldn’t mean anything to you. It means that as you get into a new show, the subjects you care a lot about, you can get more in depth information about those, the subjects you’re not interested in you can either easily skip over those or actually have it in advance understand that you don’t really care about some sports and you care a lot about others. You might have a ski resort you’d like to see the weather of every time you sit down for your nightly news that you’re seeing whenever you want and when you’re particularly rushed you just say that and it will condense things, just pick the highlights that are the most important there.
This platform will lead to creativity in doing shows of all types: learning shows, game shows, sport shows with extra information, multiple views.
It’s important to note that it completely blows open any of the limitations that channels used to create. We talk about tail video, things like a physics lecture or a high school sports game that never would have made it into that broadcast world now can be sourced in and if it’s something you’re interested in easy for you to navigate and find. And that’s one seamless experience, not your normal TV here and your Internet TV over there, taking that remote control and having that just work that way.
So interactivity, choice, personalization are all things that never were possible before we had this platform.

Van Toffler (Pres. MTV networks) on Personalizing Your Music

And today the pairing of MTV Networks and Microsoft takes us down another path of innovation, the digital expansion and migration of the musical experience. The seeds of many of our cultural revolutions have been born in the world of music, and the digital revolution has proven to be no different. Today, with URGE we’re bringing to market a unique approach to digital music, one focused on the emotional connection to music. URGE will offer a customized relationship with music, a sense of musical discovery, along with access to millions of songs from major labs and indies, an opportunity to listen to over a hundred radio stations, a chance to learn about the roots of songs and lyrics, plus interaction with hundreds of artists and access to their playlists of must-haves.
You can also take URGE and make it your own and personalize your own soundtrack and make it for any mood or event.
With URGE we’re undertaking a long journey with music fans, and this is just the beginning. Like our TV brand, URGE will be continually reinvented. It will be programmed for music fans by music fans. Subscribers will customize and drive this service, they will tell us what sucks and what they hate about the service, they will customize it, program it, share it, change it and move with it.

But back to Bill and the ubiquitous user journey that does not seem that different from ones I was doing at the BBC in 1997 in terms of ways of describing how users are or will be doing their life-things across a sea of devices and media. He refers to 2000-2010 as the Digital Lifestyle Decade and in his user journey (aimed primarily at business traveller types of course because that is world he and the CES audience can relate to) we are told yet again about location aware portable devices that will be able to connect to your centralized life-server, through the network and combine that with relevant local media…not too much reference to location specific media though, more about access and updating remotely, still there is always next year.

Later that day, I find myself in the airport, and all I’ve got with me on this particular trip is my phone. And yet I’m very interested I figuring out what’s the latest, what’s going on. And so I can take my phone here, and I just put it down on a table that’s here in the airport lounge, and it recognizes it. It’s got a little camera here, and a little Bluetooth, nothing very complicated with the magic of software behind it. And it says it wants me to authenticate that this is really me, my phone. So, as soon as I put my fingerprint there, I’m connected up, and I actually get a full-sized desktop. And so now, if I want to read mail, or browse, that’s all there. Actually, what I’m going to do is take a business card that somebody handed me while I was on this flight, and just put that down on the table there, and the camera scans that, detects it’s there, recognizes it, I’ll just flip that over, I’ve got a little note I made when I was talking with this person about some information they would like to see, and it sees that, gets that text, and then I can take that and say, OK, go ahead and put that into my contacts. So, as I drag it up there, I can see the information being connected up and put down into my phone. So, now I have a reminder of a task, send him that information, and see his picture, his name, his e-mail, it’s all been added to my contacts list there.

I will leave with one of BIll’s summary themes. Apart from the usual better software, high definition, interactivity he brings in personalization again

Another theme is that this all has to work across these devices, whether it’s calling people, seeing their presence, knowing what they’re interested in, making it easy for them to navigate; it’s got to be user centric, and that’s a big theme that’s going to make these things a lot simpler.

It is wonderful that Microsoft is finally going to make things simpler for us all. Read the full transcript here

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006