2016 has only started, and it has already been a busy year so far at Giraffic. We announced AVA Live at CES last month (which extends AVA benefits to live streaming video, see this article), and had good conversations with media, analysts and many others, one of which resulted in this article.
Since then, I’ve had the chance to reflect, and consider what might lie ahead for the rest of the year in mobile and streaming video. Please see below for my predictions.
1. 4K going Mobile
Some may think 4K video quality on mobile is a stretch – but this is already happening (e.g. see the Sony Xperia Z Premium). I think 4K on mobile will grow and eventually become mainstream, hitting the Samsung Galaxy and iPhone, if not in the next high end models, then the following ones.
2. Mobile Casting to Drive HD/UHD Consumption
Casting to TVs from mobile devices (meaning viewing mobile device content on the TV screen via Wi-Fi) will become mainstream and drive HD/UHD consumption. That’s because we’re addicted to our mobile devices, which are rarely out of reach (I referenced this at the Parks Connection Summit last year, and in this blog post). Also, TV UIs leave a lot to be desired. The mobile device is personalized, and great for searching and discovering media.
There’s been much talk about casting from mobile to the TV screens, but adoption has been slow. I think this year it will grow, and cross the chasm in 2017, aided by an improvement in connectivity protocols (e.g. DLNA, Miracast, Apple AirPlay, etc).
Here is my reasoning:
- Device manufacturers are constantly seeking differentiation, and this is getting harder. When they do innovate, others must fall in line, at least on introductory models, to see if consumers jump on board.
- As mentioned above, mobile devices are upgrading to 4K camera and video quality. But the viewing experience is much better on a big screen. Device manufacturers need to give consumers a reason to care about the value of 4K on mobile.
- Studios and other content creators have a financial incentive to promote 4K content, and can’t rely only on Connected TV platforms. They see 4K as “the new HD” for charging premium on content consumption.
- Many multi-play vendors with Connected TV and mobile offerings (like Samsung, LG, Sony, Lenovo, Xiaomi) will want to try to “Appleize” their customers, i.e. create a seamless end-to-end experience – via a device ecosystem that does not just rely on a standalone product adoption.
- The growth of leading media streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV, and the entrance of other large vendors into this space (Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV) has distanced consumers from the integrated Smart TV platforms. We’ve seen stronger demand from TV manufacturers for casting capabilities, which I believe to be a defensive response to big players like Google, Apple and Amazon gaining traction in this domain (previously the realm of smaller startups like Roku).
- People still prefer external media streaming devices (like Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV) over integrated Smart TV platforms. Consumer engagement on these external devices is higher than on the Smart TV Platforms. Sharing from mobile is the only way for the multi-player CE vendors to regain some of that consumer attention – assuming these vendors can’t do it only relying only on their Smart TV platform adoption.
3. VR (Virtual Reality) will go Mainstream
CES 2016 featured many demos and announcements about VR (e.g. Facebook’s Oculus, Google Cardboard, Samsung and Sony PlayStation VR, etc). It is making its way not only in gaming, but also education, tourism, media, and perhaps also business (e.g., VR-conferencing). Virtual Reality has been an unfulfilled dream for over a decade. Now it appears that the technology and ecosystem are there to make it happen.
4. The Rise of Chinese Vendors
There’s no longer a significant quality difference between Chinese and Korean or Japanese devices. Samsung overtook Apple in market footprint and has solidified it leadership on multiple platforms (Mobile and TV). I believe Lenovo could become the “the next Samsung”.