Posts Tagged ‘Smart TV’
Is Cord-cutting Hurting the Pay TV Market? — by Ken Werner
- Published on Friday, 03 August 2012 16:04
- Pete Putman
- 0 Comments
In a recent report, Strategy Analytics (www.strategyanalytics.com) tries hard to make the case that cord-cutting is not hurting the pay-TV market. The company directs its report, “North America Digital Television Forecast: 1H’12,” at the digital part of the market, and forecasts that digital subscriptions will increase from 114M in 2011 to 129M in 2016, for a five-year CAGR of 2.36%. SA defines the digital TV market as consisting of digital cable, digital satellite, and IPTV.
The cable part of the pay-TV market is declining, says SA, although digital cable subscribers are expected to grow from 49M in 2011 to almost 54M in 2016. We can assume that much of this growth is due to the mopping-up operations in which many of the remaining analog cable providers convert to digital. (Cablevision is doing this in parts of New Jersey now.) Since the overall number of cable subscribers is declining, it’s obvious that cable providers are failing to convert all of their remaining analog subscribers to digital. Where are they going?
SA predicts that subscribers to IPTV services will increase from 8M in 2011 to 20M in 2012. Lumping IPTV in with digital cable and digital satellite neatly obscures the fact that if you use IPTV you are sourcing your programming from the Internet and you are cutting the cord, in whole or in part, to a cable or satellite provider. Let’s subtract SA’s 2011 and 2016 numbers for IPTV subscribers from their numbers from total digital TV subscribers. Then (neglecting the possibility of overlap between IPTV and cable/satellite subscribers), the number of digital cable and satellite subscribers barely increases from 106M in 2011 to 109M in 2016.
Beyond that, SA bases its conclusion that cord-cutting is not affecting digital TV on their conclusion that the number of digital TV subscribers is still increasing, but seemingly does not try to evaluate the number of cord-cutters directly. Other analysts have dug deeper. In a 2011 study of worldwide TV programming pipelines, “Pay-TV Subscriber Market Data,” ABI reported, “Cable TV still maintains the largest market share; however, its relative share of subscriptions dropped from 72% in 2009 to 69% in 2010. Cable TV operators in Western Europe and North America in particular faced subscriber losses in 2010 as new television services such as telco TV and online TV replaced traditional cable TV services.”
Early this year, the accounting firm Deloitte, in their sixth “State of the Media Democracy” report, said “A number of Americans have already cut, or are exploring cutting their pay TV connection entirely. Deloitte’s survey found that 9 percent of people have already cut the cord and 11 percent are considering doing so because they can watch almost all of their favorite shows online. An additional 15 percent of respondents said that they will most likely watch movies, television programs, and videos from online digital sources (via download or streamed over the Internet) in the near future. Moreover, the number of people citing streaming delivery of a movie to their computer or television as their favorite way of watching a movie rose to 14 percent from 4 percent in 2009.”
So, is cord-cutting hurting the pay-TV market? Although Strategy Analytics disagrees, the answer is a clear “yes.”
Ken Werner is Principal of Nutmeg Consultants, specializing in the display industry, display manufacturing, and display technology. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samsung 2012 Spring Showcase – Pete Putman
- Published on Thursday, 08 March 2012 16:42
- Pete Putman
- 0 Comments
Tempus fugit! The Time Warner Center in New York City will soon shed that moniker, as TW sells off its former ‘prime’ real estate holdings in the city to save money.
It should be no surprise then that the Samsung Experience pavilion on the 3rd floor is also history. This electronic ‘toy store’ once showcased the latest in Samsung TVs, phones, Blu-ray players, tablets, and even appliances, and it also served as the venue for Samsung’s annual spring line shows.
No more. The 2012 spring show took place March 6 at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street, the site of the rapidly-growing CEA Summer Line Shows. And it was a relatively sedate affair, choosing to focus on ‘connectivity’ – connected Smart TVs, connected digital cameras and tablets, and connected humans. That is, humans using more intuitive methods to ‘connect’ to their TVs and control them.
The big news for 2012 is the ES-line of LED (LCD) TVs, which take full advantage of voice and gesture recognition for control. The TV comes with a built-in camera and takes a picture of each user, which is then used to store your preferences. The camera can even pick you out of a crowd.
Voice controls include basic volume up/down and channel up/down operation, or direct channel numbers. You can also change inputs and launch a Web browser, at which point the gesture control takes over. This was demonstrated at CES to a long line of attendees and will probably be a popular item for ‘geeks.’ (I’m not sure yet if I want my TV to watch me while I’m watching it!)
Voice and gesture control will be standard on the ES7500 46-inch, 50-inch, and 55-inch LED TVs, ES8000 46, 55, 60, and 65-inch LED TVs, and 51, 60, and 65-inch ES8000 plasma TVs. Prices start at about $2,200 for the line, and all models are shipping now.
One big question that keeps coming up as NeTVs evolve into full-blown Web browsers with powerful CPUs is this: Is there any way to make them future-proof? After all, Apple and Microsoft update their operating systems on a frequent basis, so why should anyone worry about their TV becoming obsolete?
This problem is solved nicely (from Samsung’s perspective) with Smart Evolution, which is basically a chassis that mounts on the back of the TV and contains all the latest firmware and hardware updates. Readers who’ve been following the HDTV market for the last decade may recall that Mitsubishi came out with a similar product over 10 years ago – an expansion module they called “The Promise” that fit into their line of rear-projection TVs. (And how well did THAT idea work out?)
In addition to built-in cameras and noise-canceling microphones for using Skype and voice/gesture control, Samsung also unveiled a new, super-simple remote control that is remarkably free of buttons. It’s actually a touch pad, with volume and channel buttons mounted on either side. It does double duty as a microphone for voice commands, and also ships with the ES7500, ES8000 LED, and ES8000 plasma TVs.
You are probably not surprised that Samsung also unveiled a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard to work with the same ES line of TVs. That’s because the keyboards on most remotes are too small for Western fingers (certainly for me!) and you may be on a Web page where you need to enter strings of text.
Hold on there, pardner! Have we gone back in time to the days of Web TV? Historically, TV viewers have clearly shown their disdain for using a keyboard to watch television, and there’s no reason to expect that will change any time soon. Fortunately, the new Smart Touch Remote can also activate an on-screen keyboard which can then be ‘swiped’ to enter text or numbers for Web pages.
Other enhancements to the TV line include Micro Dimming to achieve more precise local area dimming on LED TVs and improve contrast uniformity, and the availability of Real Black Filter across all of the plasma TVs in the 2012 line. The purpose is to minimize reflections and light scattering that lowers contrast and elevates black levels – Panasonic uses a similar technique on its plasma TVs.
AllShare is a new concept from Samsung. According to the press release, All Share lets viewers share content to a variety of connected devices, such as tablets, laptops, and smart phones. The content is stored on 5 GB of ‘cloud’ server space. In addition, any Web site that’s being browsed on a mobile device can be re-directed and launched from a compatible Samsung Smart TV.
At least one reporter asked if AllShare competes with Ultraviolet, the movie industry’s ‘cloud’ system for cross-platform viewing of content. Actually, all Ultraviolet does is to store keys on its ‘cloud’ servers, and those keys are then used to unlock and watch copies of movies previously purchased on a wide range of platforms. In contrast, AllShare stores the content, not keys.
To keep up with all of this content and GUI juggling, the ES7000, ES7500, and ES8000 TVs now have dual-core processors for high processing speeds. OK, computer! (Sorry, Radiohead fans…)
In the Blu-Ray department, there are five new models ranging from the entry-level BD-ES300 ($99.99) to the loaded-for-bear BD-E6500 ($229.99). Depending on the model, you’ll have built-in WiFi, an internal Web browser, access to All Share, Smart Hub, and Disc to Digital, a new service that lets you ‘rip’ a DVD or Blu-ray file to a digital file accessible to connected (mobile) devices. (Hmmm, sounds a lot like Ultraviolet to me!)
It’s interesting to stop and consider that just five years ago, a ‘bare bones’ Blu-ray player would set you back nearly $1200, with some models approaching two grand. Now, you can have every option you want or need – including Internet connectivity – for less than $200 after online retailers slash their advertised pricing.
And what about 3D? There was almost no discussion of it this year, quite a change from the hullaballo of 2010. 3D is largely a standard feature now in higher-priced TVs (like that ES7000-7500-8000 lineup again) because consumers just haven’t bitten on the concept.
One thing Samsung has done for 2012 is to cut the price of replacement active 3D glasses to (ready for this?) $20 a pair; a price that should really tick off early 3D adopters who had to fork over $100 or more to replace their active glasses each time Junior inadvertently sat on and broke them. The lower price point isn’t likely to stimulate 3D TV sales – nothing really has, not even passive or autostereo – but it’s still a nice gesture to the small group who grooves on the third dimension.
And now for the 800-pound gorilla in the room: No, Samsung did NOT show an OLED TV in New York. BUT – there apparently will be an OLED TV in the line, most likely using the 55-inch cut. And of course, it will be loaded to the top with all of the Samsung add-ons (Smart Hub, AllShare, voice/gesture control, etc.) We’ll probably see it late in the year.
My (educated) guess is that the pricing will be about $8K – $10K, or where LG has hinted its 55-inch product will be tagged when it gets to market sometime late summer or early fall. Given Samsung’s desire to sell off its money-losing LCD fab business and place more emphasis on OLED technology through its Samsung Mobile Displays division, it might be the perfect time to launch OLEDs. (Or maybe not, if yields aren’t high enough…)
Trivia time: Remember when a 42-inch plasma cost $10,000? That was over ten years ago, and you can now buy Samsung’s 43-inch entry-level 720p PN43E450 for less than $550.