Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Most publishers work on their small screen solutions when maybe they should be thinking bigger, as well

The past few years have been a blur for many publishers. Working hard to get their web strategies in order, suddenly mobile explodes thanks to the introduction of third party apps for the iPhone. Then, after only a few months notice, the tablet publishing era began with the introduction of the iPad.

Sometimes change can seem to occur at lightning speed – but sometimes it is slow, and therefore seems a bit under the radar.

For the past year and a half another revolution has been occurring, though its slow speed may be making many publishers ignore it.

Starting with iOS 4.3, Apple allowed any developer to tap into AirPlay, its feature that enables iPhones and iPads to stream content to an Apple TV. With the Apple TV still seen as a minor niche product, the new streaming capability was underplayed by many.

Publishers are rightly concerned about how their
websites appear on tablets, but the next new
device to consider have have a larger screen.
Now, with the launch of Mountain Lion, any Mac owner (assuming they have a very recent new Mac) can stream content to an Apple TV, just as iPhone and iPad owners (and let's not forget iPad touch owners) have been able to.

Now it is starting to get some people's attention.

Peter Kafka of the WSJ thinks that this ability to mirror a Mac to an Apple TV forced the hand of Hulu to join the Apple TV party, launching its Hulu Plus service for the Apple TV today. Other tech sites, such as TechCrunch seem to agree.

But this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. This television revolution has been underway for a while now, it is just taking a long time.

It is not a crazy idea anymore for someone to cut their cord with the cable company and use their TV strictly for streamed content. With most sports available through streaming, and with computer mirroring now possible, a sports fan needed be forced to hope Fox will broadcast their team's game (in fact, they hope they won't).

Meanwhile, publishers continue to fret, rightly, about how their publications will be read on mobile and tablet devices. But savvy publishers have to wonder whether the ability to stream or mirror content onto an HDTV isn't yet another new platform that should be taken seriously.

For a year and a half I've said that the television would eventually be the next important platform for developers to consider. Things are moving at a glacial pace, but they are most surely moving.