An Invitation To Read My New Book

March 4, 2013

As my last post from nearly three years ago announced, I no longer post to this blog and do not permit comments to old posts due to the immense amount of spam I still get here (get a life, people!).

However, this site still gets hundreds of reads a week so I wanted to invite anyone coming through here to read my new book, Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation. It’s available at Amazon (shortcut link at and other places). There is also a short post about it on my current blog: Why My Hardcover Book Counts As Digital Disruption. And for those wishing to take it to the next level, read more about what Forrester Research can do to help you become more digitally disruptive at

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. ;)

This Blog Has Moved: Read My Posts At My New Blog…

March 10, 2010

Folks, please note that this blog has been permanently moved to Forrester Research’s (my employer) blog platform. There will be no further posts on this site. Instead, please visit me at:

where I will cover video, as well as other critical media transition points. See you there!

There’s an online TV storm a brewin’

March 27, 2009

I wrote earlier this week about how Hulu is now streaming as many views as Comcast does via VOD. But what I didn’t take time to include is the dark side of online TV shows. The fact that many networks are pulling down some of their top shows (e.g., The Mentalist and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.), and how the ads on these wildly popular shows are not all selling.

So I took the time to compile all the evidence that an online TV show storm is brewing and did an analysis for Forrester clients that was published earlier in the month. The great news is that Forrester recently recognized its 10,000th Twitter follower and to celebrate, they let him choose a Forrester report to make available to all of Forrester’s Twitter followers. This individual (@jpthomp on Twitter) chose my report about the coming online TV show backlash. That means good things for all of you, go to the following link to register to get a copy of the report (thanks, jpthomp!). 

When you get a hold of the report, you’ll see that I envision a lot of experimentation with online show availability throughout the rest of this TV season and possibly even throughout the rest of the year. And with online TV shows failing to sell out their ad inventory, some naysayers inside the major networks are going to be arguing for much more aggressive anti-online measures. We think it will take some time, but online TV can be brought back around again as the recession matures and as executives realize that online TV is not a separate kind of TV, it’s simply the extension of existing TV experiences across multiple platforms. In the report, we sum up the call to action this way:


If you expect us to end with a summary of all the reasons that online TV shows are the future of TV and a plea to preserve this threatened species, prepare to be disappointed. We said online TV was the most important thing to happen to the video industry not because it was the future of TV in and of itself but because it would help move us quickly into the future of TV, something Forrester calls OmniVideo; this is a state in which consumers can watch TV shows and movies on any platform they want, controlling what, when, and where they watch. In this future, not only will consumers be satisfied, but producers and distributors will make more money than they do today. That’s why we now plead with the industry to quickly learn from the mistakes they’re going to make in the next few months and get back to fully supporting online TV shows — not as a separate business but as an integrated consumer experience that complements and enriches traditional TV.

Check out the report yourself, see what you think. Let’s buckle our seat belts and see what happens over the next few months.

Joost’s iPhone App a Sign of Things to Come

December 11, 2008

A relatively silent shot was fired the  first week of December which, though it was not at first heard around the world, will eventually change the way all media are distributed. Sound provocative enough? 

I‘m talking about Joost rolling out its iPhone application. This changes everything.

You might think I’m going to on and on about how mobile video is eventually the future, blah, blah, blah, but I’m not. Because it’s not. Mobile video will be a very nice complement to the TV and the PC. It will remain the third screen for as long as you can imagine. This post is not about the future of mobile video.

Instead, I’m talking about what I have been calling the “many devices, many services” model of media consumption in many of the speeches I give. This model follows nicely in line after the “one device, one service” model, which is best embodied in the iPod/iTunes or Kindle/Amazon combinations. This is a fine model, usually one that a new technology category will start with. But that model is quickly followed by a “one device, many services” model. This is the case with the Sony eReader, which, unlike the Amazon Kindle, has published an open development platform which allows any bookseller in the world to sell books into the eReader ecosystem. One device + many services. 

Before we move into the “many devices, many services” model, a quick interim step called the “many devices, one service” model flourishes briefly. This is best exemplified by the Netflix on LG, Xbox, Samsung, TiVo, and so on model. I love this model and have written about it copiously.

But what we will see next is what Joost has done by exploiting the iPhone’s application development environment. It has volunteered itself as a service on the iPhone, without Apple ‘s express permission. In other words, in the “many devices, many services” model, devices are built with open platforms that allow any (ergo: many) services to spontaneously connect, without doing a biz-dev deal. 

Oily Britney Spearks, Star Trek, Victoria's Secret, any guesses what target audience Joost appeals to?

Top Joost Picks: Oily Britney Spearks, Star Trek, Victoria's Secret, any guesses what target audience Joost appeals to?

“Many devices, many services” is the future of video. And it requires the use of an open platform and open protocols. Joost, which got its start as a P2P video delivery mechanism, has since opened itself to wider consumption by going straight IP. Once it speaks IP, Joost can easily be ported to any IP device, including the iPhone. Including the T-Mobile G1. And so on. It has been so successful on the iPhone so far that it’s regularly in the top 10 free applications on the iPhone App Store (see pic, today it’s #5, yesterday #2, it see-saws).

All we need now is a (commercially-viable) open development platform for the TV set-top box. We already see a rabid community of Apple TV hackers who are writing their own code to create an open platform out of the walled garden Apple built. (I’ll write more on that later in the month because I’m trying it out myself.) And Comcast and Cox and Verizon will take years before they consider an open platform — they’d rather charge you for everything you want to do, even if they only enable you to do it badly, which is the case with things like whole-home DVR.

So who is going to bring an open development platform to the TV in a commercially viable way? My money’s on Roku in the short run. Who else has the guts (or the financial imperative) to do this? One backdoor might be to create a TV set top that is truly DLNA compliant. Then people could create PC applications that feed DLNA content to the set top. I’ll keep my eyes on this for you.

In the meantime: Joost iPhone users. Are you using the app? Does it work as advertised? Satisfied? If not, this could slow down the proof of concent the “many devices, many services” model needs, so I hope not. Let me know.

Marc Sands of the Guardian on the future of the media

November 7, 2008

Marc Sands, Director of Marketing at the Guardian newspaper company in the UK spoke at our Forrester Research Consumer Marketing Forum in London on the 7th of November. He came to speak about how media companies have had to give up control of the media — the sources of media content, the analysis of the content they deliver, and the online communities that feed off them.

I introduced myself before Marc’s speech and mentioned that I would be posting a blog entry. In classic British modesty, he appeared uncomfortable with the attention. I misinterpreted this as concern about my blog and asked if he was okay with being blogged live. He responded very quickly and sincerely:

That’s the whole point, isn’t it? We media companies have to give up control over the content. So whether I like it or not doesn’t matter.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Here’s what else I learned from Sands:

  1. The newspaper isn’t dead, it’s just changing how it adds value. He’s not pretending that newspapers aren’t challenged and the question of where the money will come from looms very large in Sands’s view, but he showed some data about how newspapers are becoming more valuable as sources of analysis rather than daily information. See the clip below for his comments and data. His point isn’t just about newspapers. Rather, he’s emphasizing that all media have to find how they either pursue a niche, or use a multimedia strategy to meet their audience’s different needs. 
  2. One potential side effect of media digitization is the rise of people who don’t consume news at all. Sands reported data on consumers who don’t engage the news at all. He mentioned that as many a tenth (didn’t catch the actual number, sorry) of Americans don’t consume news at all in a typical week. He wondered aloud whether they knew yet that their compatriots had elected a black president.
  3. The people inclined to say “yes” are the ones who will shape the future. This was a particularly powerful point, especially coming from somone at a newspaper which Sands admits tends due to its political leanings to say “yes” to just about anything (including Ricky Gervais’s hilarious podcast). He said that people who are by nature inclined to say yes to new things will do the most valuable experimentation. As a result, they will end up having a disproportionate impact on the future (my words, his implication). To that I say: “Yes.”
  4. The media have the luxury of having short development cycles. Media companies can launch new things, new stories, new ideas, quickly. They can also make mistakes quickly (he mentioned the role of citizen journalism to correct news organizations when they fail, such as in the case of Dan Rather vs. George Bush). But, responding to the speech before him from BMW in which the company spoke of 5-7 year development cycles, he added, “at least when we make a mistake, it doesn’t get built in to the body of a car. We can bury our mistakes more quickly and move on.” 

The global growth of online video vs. mobile video

October 20, 2008

I spend most of my time analyzing online video in the US (all of my datapoints on my FAQ are US only as well). But I get a lot of questions from clients around the world who share with me their anecdotal experiences, including juicy bits like:

  • In Spain, online video is spiking, driven largely by illegal downloading because there’s very little available through legitimate channels.
  • In European markets, even if they are next door neighbors, the behavior differs dramatically based on how much local-interest content has been cleared for online distribution.
  • English-speaking markets like Australia and Canada are less and less willing to wait for legal access to consumer American media. When Heroes hits the Web in the US, it gets picked up via BitTorrent in the rest of the English-speaking world. 
  • In Japan and Korea, online video is growing like gangbusters, in addition to high mobile video adoption.

This last one caused me to do some thinking because both mobile and online are growing at the same time. This is part of a bigger question, namely: Does online video ultimately compete with other video channels or complement them?

It’s a question that I have blogged about before when it came up among a panel of online TV giants in the US, but there hasn’t been a need to consider online video compared to mobile video, which is very immature in the US. However, globally, there are markets with a third or more of mobile users watching mobile video. 

I know from another global analysis that I did that when people in a country listen to music via their mobile phones, that listening competes with online music streaming. If one goes up, the other goes down. It was a comparison of 15 different countries where Forrester collects data (it is so cool to work here, imagine having that data at your fingertips). 

Nervously, I replicated the analysis for mobile video vs. online video streaming, and, wanna guess? They don’t compete. In fact, they correlate strongly (correlation coefficient: .57, end of nerd moment). This is the unique role of video in people’s lives. This is why OmniVideo is going to happen: more video, through more devices, in more places and times. Because we want more of it. Open the pipe and more will flow through.

Cool, huh? What’s your experience with video — either mobile or online — globally? Seeing some cool things? Feel free to share.

First evidence HDTV sales might get hit by recession fears

October 14, 2008

I mentioned last week when the Dow was plummeting that I was polishing off a piece for Forrester on what a downturn does to video entertainment in the home. That report is due out tomorrow, so I’ll bring it up then, but notice that today’s Wall Street Journal reports the first evidence that HDTV sales might be headed for a crash. Check it out at: Economic Woes Hit HDTV Sales –

This is interesting in light of last week’s assertion from the CEA that TVs and other A/V hardware weregoing to grow 4.7% this year despite a looming recession. If I had to bet, I’d bet on zero growth for the category.

Zero growth is not as drastic as it sounds. This is a category that’s notoriously elastic in a down or up economy, according to Current Expenditure Survey data that I’m citing in my piece later this week. However, specific subcategories and even brands can still grow. Take Vizio, which will be the low-cost substitute to which more people will turn. The Wii will sell out again (though fewer games will sell than hoped, while game rentals will go up a notch). Maybe the enormously popular Wii Fit balance board will slow down, but that’s a big maybe (have you tried it? sooooo cool). And I’ve already written about the Flip camera’s likely ability to weather the storm

So bad news it not bad news all around. The people who sell rice are thrilled right now. Rice always goes up in a down economy.

Online video FAQ posted on my blog

October 13, 2008

I keep getting the same questions from people about online video. How many people do it? How much do they do it? Why is the online sky blue? Why, Daddy, Why?

Enough already! Just kidding. To make it easier to get your answers, I have assembled an Online video FAQs page that will always be accessible from the top menu of my blog.

I don’t know how often I’ll update it, as we don’t have surveys in the field every month. But as interesting facts become known, and I can share them, I will add them to this page. Spread the word, so I don’t have to…

Video everywhere: ATM screen in NYC runs ads

October 11, 2008

OmniVideo (OmniWhat? Read up on OmniVideo here) predicts that we’ll have many more public screens for video in the future. Not just the screen in the bar or even the elevator, but at retail, at the gas pump, and, below, you see the first ATM I’ve seen that uses full-motion video to attract passersby. 

This was in NYC on my way to speak at the Veoh-sponsored event (see my posts about Michael Eisner, online video engagement, and the heavyhitting online TV panel). The video captured my attention exactly as only full-motion video can (I promise to write more later about how video unique attracts our brains — we’re wired for video).

I was crossing from 7th Ave to 6th Ave on 26th Street, this ATM was on the north side of the street. Today, it only shows ads for the bank itself, but where could it go tomorrow? Ads for related services — travel, car loans — why not?

Where have you seen video in unusual places? It’s a new category for my blog. If you find a good one, let me know, I’d like to post a picture or video of the strangest. Maybe I’ll even start a contest for the best entry.

My son runs for president, or, does he?

October 7, 2008

If you haven’t seen this, you should check it out. It’s a gag video that also functions as a sign of things to come. 


Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “2008 Election Coverage“, try this yourself at

Lachlan — the candidate featured in the above — happens to be my one-year old. Don’t know if he’ll seek political office one day, but just in case, I inserted his name into this video so he has a track record of grassroots support.

I posted this because, despite how cheeky is it, it’s a handy example of one of the things that’s likely to come out of an OmniVideo world (for more on OmniVideo, the future of Video, read the What Is OmniVideo page). A world in which video is as flexible and malleable as the word processor made text and Photoshop made still images.

Video is only going to get easier to manipulate. The phrase “seeing is believing,” hasn’t held sway since Terminator 2 made a man turn into molten metal.

At least back then, that little stunt cost hundreds of thousands to plan, shoot, and add effects in post production. Today, with 30 seconds of work, I put a virtual tattoo on the small of a senior citizen’s back promoting a fictional campaign for my toddler. Wow.