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IPTV/VoD: The world that's on its way

Part three: We're only 1% of the way there

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

There are also warnings to the intrepid and an industry that desperately needs to pull it socks up if it's going to make its mark in the way it wants to. IPTV currently is very little other than cable TV put down telephone lines.

There is 50 years of incredible innovation ahead that could see us powering the greatest revolution the media industry has ever seen, but so far our imagination has produced one per cent of what we could create if we worked hard enough and collaborated for a greater cause. The IPTV software applications on the market today are simple re-hashed clones of what is available on the normal platforms and feature very little that's interestingly different or compelling. It's no wonder customers are underwhelmed and becoming cynical.

Trying to re-create the same experience on every device just because it speaks internet is a fool's pursuit. Screen size, battery life, usage patterns, and so many other variables mean that it's impossible. We may be able to synchronise tightly and create applications that compliment each other and interoperate, but replication is the fools gold of convergence. Video transferred across and between these applications and devices also needs to be far more intelligent in itself, with audio analysis, frame-by-frame tracking of objects, and more extensive meta-labelling.

It's very easy to forget that IPTV is more than just a convenient luxury in our affluent Western cultures. We have so much choice and opportunity that we miss what it is doing for less wealthy nations who don't have our infrastructure or resources. Internet technology is transforming these countries by democratising access to the media business and regenerating economies by educating the poor through e-learning applications. These places don't second guess, weigh up spreadsheets, or analyse opportunities when they see a way to revolutionise how they live. The Third World is adopting IPTV as a technology and showing a lot more imagination than we are, despite us thinking we're the cleverer ones because we have more money flowing through our banking systems. In 20 years we will regret that complacency.

The greatest achievements, most successful companies and products, and the most world-changing revolutions have come from taking risks and stepping out into the unknown with new ideas. This preoccupation with paranoid risk adversity and sensitivity over investment portfolios has come to infect almost everything we do and it's slowly decaying our ability to produce, implement ad market new ideas because of the heavy price we put on our heads for failure.

There is a bigger picture at work in our world that needs to be considered that demands we act with courage and the wild energy of inspiration to achieve what this technology could empower and enable us to. Our culture is becoming more and more insular and ingrown when it needs to reach out and generate wonder in all that experience it.

And if you need a reason to do it, there a very simple one.

This world is already on its way. It's coming.

To do it will be one of the greatest undertakings the media industry has ever witnessed. But it can be done, and we will do it. Someone has to step forward. We'll lead, you follow. Pack a helmet and a strong stomach as we'll be getting blood and dirt on our hands. Consider this your invite to join us.

© Digital TX Ltd

Digital TX Limited is a London-based provider of technology and consultancy solutions for interactive digital television and broadband media. Alexander Cameron can be reached at alex.cameron@digitaltx.tv.

As well as co-ordinating the birth of the IPTV Consortium (IPTVC), Alex is now offering a great value one-day workshop course on IPTV and Video On-Demand (VoD) specifically for web and media professionals. It can help you get up to speed on the latest technologies, content deals, operators and applications across the world, and offer immense value in identifying both new opportunities and threats for your business and personal career. If you would like more information, call Alex on 07986 373177 or email iptvworkshop@digitaltx.tv. Readers who quote The Register as their source will receive a 10 per cent discount on the course fees.

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