Once producers and customers are connected via digital networks and are sharing telemetry it is possible to use the lean start up processes to find product/market fit in ways that are more effective, faster and cheaper than ever before. Any business that does not have connected customers who are sharing telemetry and a modern agile customer development process is bringing a pickle to a gunfight where the competitors have machine guns
capitalist economy is an evolutionary system and the best metaphor for how it works is biology rather than physics.
When systems get connected via digital networks, feedback effects become stronger. When feedback effects get stronger, outcomes become more uncertain and nonlinear.
Capitalism without failure is like religion without hell, it doesn’t work.
Professor Aswath Damodaran points out: “We can no longer assume that competitive advantage will last a century as it used to for the old and mature companies. Instead competitive advantage for tech companies comes with a life span that continues to shorten. What this means is that you’ll climb faster as a business but fall faster too – Blackberry being a classic example.”
You are not employed by or invested in a tech business you say? Every business is now a tech business. There is no escape from Extremistan.
There is a lot of hype on IoT recently but what is in substance?
For the last years I came up with this simple definition:
def: IoT is the ability of objects to speak and respond.
Think of toy story or cars (my son favourite) Pixar movies where toy and car items interact. Yes you get it, it is as simple.
Well, you got the concept.
Now you might wonder how big is this?
According to IDC and Gartner, IoT is not big, it is massive. IDC estimates IoT spending in 2016 at $737 billion. The research institute forecasts IoT spending to grow by 15,6% on an annual basis for the next 5 years to reach $1.29 trillion in 2020, that is the size on todays’ Australian economy!
In terms of number of devices, Gartner predicts 6.4 Billion IoT objects in 2016, that is roughly the size of global population.
As a summary here, IoT value is equal to the size of the Netherland economy and there is 1 IoT devices per human on earth.
IoT market value = The Netherland GDP, 2016
1 IoT device = 1 human on earth
Why now and why so fast?
Well, basically there is a concordance of 4 phenomenas that explains IoT exponential growth:
the Moore law
the Nielsen law
the Metclaff law
Those laws are not recent, some dated from 18th century, actually pretty old, but there is old saying that says, “good food is always made of old pans ” ,isn’t it?
Let me explain the 4 laws briefly:
The Moore law states that “the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately by 18 months” that means the computing power (i.e. chips and memory) doubles every 18 months.
The Nielsen law network connection speeds for high-end home users would double every 21 months
The Metclaff law” states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2″). that means when there is 10 user of the system or network it means 100 unique connections by adding 1 user from 10 to 11, the numbers of unique connections increases by 21%. That is foundation of what in the tech industry people call “network effect”. By adding a new users you are increasing exponentially the value of the network. Now imagine in the scale of Facebook, Amazon of Ali Baba.
The Marshall law claims “supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market”. It means if you go to the superstore nearby and buy one box of cereal it might cost you $3. There is deal offered by the store, you buy 2 cereal boxes at $5, the cost per boxes could be $2.5. So by increasing the quantity I am ready to buy (demand), the superstore is willing to decrease the price per box (supply).
After reading the 4 laws, you might guess where I am getting at ;).
As the computing power (Mhz) and bandwidth increase (4-5G, Fiber…) by 60% and 50% annually, the devices offering increases. As we are in a competitive market (except North Korea), the quantity of devices outpace the demand (you, me and all consumers) that pushes the device manufacturers to differentiate by increasing the value (more features at same price) and/or decrease prices to match consumer expectations and willingness to pay. Devices manufacturers are able to do that because the connection costs are failing as well. In fact if you connect 10 devices or 10 millions to the same telecom operator network, the connection cost per devices (ARPU) will be dramatically lower.
Lately, consumers buy the devices and is now connected to a global system where all devices are linked each other increasing the value of the network (think internet, mobile phones, social networks and IoT).
Here is my 2 cents in explaining the IoT market boom.
Like in this Kill Bill memorable fighting scene, you may already know who is going to win. Now, imagine in a video OTT remake, who is interpreting Uma Thurman, Telcos or GAFAs? Not that obvious, as you’ll discover in this post.
As described in a previous article “Video OTT Market Explained”, there is a clear interest in the $74,1 Bn (source: eMarketer, Luma, 2017 forecast) video OTT ad market, and a convergence is underway with on one side GAFAs getting content and Telcos technology capabilities on the other.
I focus in this post on how telcos can strengthen their position in the video OTT market after analyzing briefly Google, AppleTV and Amazon fireTV video business model.
Google, Apple and Amazon video OTT business model
Basically, platforms are composed of multiple players acting in specific places. As an analogy, you might think of a market hall selling vegetables where you got on one side supply with producers/wholesalers/peasants and on the other demand with buyers. Well, in the digital world, it is the same logic where you got supply with apps developers, creators, OEMs, advertisers… and on the opposite, demand with users. In a market hall they will exchange money on stalls whereas in digital mode, they do it most of the time on appstores/marketplaces with digital money (credit cards, virtual money, bitcoin…).
To dig more on platforms, I strongly recommend to visit the blog from Sangeet Paul Choudary and read the platform manifesto slide deck.
Now, let’s look at the business model of the Apple, Google and Amazon TV offerings; Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon fireTV.
AppleTV, Amazon fireTV and Android TV video services are single platforms which belong to a wider platform systems which make very hard for telcos TV/video products and services to compete.
While Apple and Google platforms mechanics look familiar, the Amazon one is different kind. Let’s have a closer look.
Apple and Google: Platforms system to provide digital content as core value exchanges/experiences.
Started from smartphones, Android TV and Apple TV are edge platforms built from greater platform systems. On the producer side,Google’s Android Studio and Apple’s Xcode offer full suit of developer tools and services that allow to leverage their myriad services (i.e. maps, analytics, ads…), assets (i.e. material design, devices, tvOS and Android TV OS) in the form of libraries and API calls bundled in a native SDK. Both tech giants have expanded their platform system to cover different devices in order to offer fully coherent, comprehensive and consistent ecosystem to developers, marketers and advertisers but also a frictionless user experience (UX) to their users/audience (pull, capture, match virtuous UX circle).
Both tech firms follow an envelop strategy (@PlatRevolution from Parker, Van Alstyne and Choudary, MIT Media labs, 2016) to compete against incumbents’ single product and/or platforms to increase traffic and digital content exchange on their respective platform. It avoids multihoming by increasing user’s platform switching costs (i.e. as an iphone user, you may have acquired many apps and content that can’t be played on Android and vice versa).
Ignite a video platform is really hard, Google video and Brightcove started as a C2C platforms but failed against Youtube. Brightcove has pivoted and offer now B2B platforms for premium video content publishers while Google acquired Youtube.
Amazon: Platforms system to provide ecommerce and services as core value exchanges
Amazon core value exchange remains amazon.com. All services and products that Amazon launches is aimed to increase the site traffic, conversion rate, basket value and customer retention. Amazon Web Service was no different. AWS primarily objective was to offer a better infrastructure to amazon.com scaling engineering challenges. Still, AWS first customer remains amazon.com. Amazon has then developed edge paltforms like FireTV, Kindle, Dash, Alexa, on top of the amazon.com that acts as the platform system’s centre of gravity.
Think Amazon edge platforms as group of specialized e-retailer:
Retail clubs and loyalty customer rewards => Amazon Prime Services
Book shop => Kindle Reader and apps
Brochures and papers => kindle tablet, silk browser.
Video rental => FireTV
Music shop => Amazon music
Shopping assistant => Alexa
Order to delivery =>Dash
Why platform system beats today’s single platform
GAFA and internet players enjoy 5 key advantages over telcos:
– Network Effect (i.e. metclaff law) – Scale at marginal zero cost (inventories, resources etc.) – Massive existing eco-system (developers, users, partners…) – Massive Data (Google and Facebook have the biggest first party data globally and Amazon the biggest shopping customer data) – User stickyness (high rate of DAU and MAU on firms’ services)
Platform systems (Ps) > TV platforms (Pt) > product/service (p) Ps > Pt > p
Telcos around the world face major challenges as illustrated below:
However, in this gloomy picture lies 12 reasons to believe:
Authenticated audience (TV/Video paid subscriber services) consumes more video content than non authenticated. In addition, users are more engaged with 2,3X more ad views on long form (>20min) content. (source: Freewheel VMR, Q1 2016)
Content exclusivity: mainly dramas, sports and other premium tv programs still attract the bulk of advertisers
Pricing power: telcos enjoy big TV/Video price cost advantage with bundles and pricing choices
Network — Marketplace and Community: this is where the interactions between producers and user are performed (pull, facilitate, match exchanges as shown in Amazon tv, Android TV and AppleTV single platform above)
Infrastructure: those are technologies that support the main valued interactions (i.e. AWS, data centres…),
Data: enabling data collection, insights and monetization (for more info on OTT Data monetization, please check this post).
The GAFA and Internet players generally tend to adopt a top down approach.
Considering Telcos assets, unlike GAFA and internet players, they should go bottom-up
In the TV/Video platform case:
Network — Marketplace and Community = UX delivery pipeline (UX logic including interfaces and meta-data mainly)
Infrastructure = Video distribution pipeline (video transforming processes from head end capture, encode/transcoding, drm, to video player)
Data: Video Tools and Services enabling the full management of first, second and third party data (i.e. advertising, search, network PVR services)
Telcos weakness is the Network — Marketplace — community or UX distribution pipeline
Transforming the TV/Video service with a simplicity big bang articulated around 6 key elements: Multi-screen UX, Unified search, Unified content and aggregation, Personalised and smart curation, Content richness and finally be really Social.
Well, according to analysts (Luma, Forrester researches, Parks Associates), my observation, discussing with Telcos, UX researches and testing, the ingredients to propose a frictionless valuable interaction could be articulated around 6 key elements:
Multi-screen user UX: A user should be able to watch content on any screen, anywhere, either online or offline.
Unified search: Apple TV, Android TV and Comcast have taken steps to resolve this issue, but it is still clunky. It should be as easy as googling.
Unified content and aggregation: Users should be able to access content from ALL video content either live or not, labelled (hulu, netflix, amazon prime video…), or user generated (youtube, youku, viki…) or user generated broadcasted (periscope, facebook live…).
Personalised and smart curation: A lot of researches have shown that large choices lead to user frustration. Here is a great TED talk from researcher Barry Schwartz on the subject. He calls it the “paradox of choice”.
Netflix have shown the way, either on their recommendation portal or playlist to provide smart curation and editorial system. Yet, it is still limited and nascent.
Content richness: Users should be able to watch whatever content s/he wants on any format (mobile, TV, tablets…) just like Amazon has done for books.
Social: Humans are social species by nature. Communication is a basic need. Users should be able to share videos, regardless of their types on any platforms. Blockchain can help here. It is happening on the music industry with firms like Revelator, PeerTrack or open source Muse project allowing music creators to distribute content directly on any platforms and monetize through pico/micropayments. I think it is a matter of time in the video OTT market.
The Video OTT market is far from being closed. Opportunities are out there, telcos can be the Uma Thurman of video OTT market but will require a lot of kung-fu training until reaching mastery.
Any additional comment or observation about platforms, OTT, UX, disruptive business model, please let me know. Reach me on Zishan Mohammad.