Friday, October 14, 2011

The Expanding Device/Content Eco-System

It's quite remarkable how much the device landscape has change in the last two years and how important premium content is to the eco-system. Perhaps the Kindle Fire's slogan says it all: "All the content, Ultra-fast web browsing." As John Gruber notes in his daringfireball blog, "It's all about the content." And this is something Motorola, Samsung, and RIM seem to have missed. "They seem to be chasing the iPad on specs, building the best tablet they can manage at the same starting price of around $500. But they have no clear message telling people what you can do with them". (

I recall introducing to publishing groups in mid-2009 examples of the new devices coming to market. Magazine publishers were already looking over the Kindle's shoulder for color display technology that would be appropriate for their rich media. Plastic Logic (Que) got some attention because it was thin, lightweight, attractive and about the same size of a standard magazine. But publisher did not like to hear that color for this device would be two years out. But this device seemed like progress, nonetheless.

I also brought in Mary Lou Jepsen, CEO of Pixel Qi and formerly CTO of One Laptop Per Child, an organization that focused on getting computers in the hands of student in developing countries.  Dr. Jepsen is all about utility and building on existing technologies.  She spoke of combining existing LCD displays with her transreflective technology that provides the benefit of low-power consumption and sunlight readability; combining an e-paper look with rich color and video. The sample screen she showed the group interested them but didn't have the eye-popping saturated color to win them over. And in less than a year the iPad came to town and profoundly disrupted the device and content space.

The Pixel Qi blog reports that to date three million screens have been shipped with tablet and netbooks for a variety of uses, for soldiers jumping out of planes to educational uses in the developing world. Recently it has been widely reported that Pixel Qi has received investment from 3M and formed partnerships with Shanghai's Shizhu Technology to develop a number of multi-media devices and with the Southern Media Group for content for the China market.

This is a movement upward into premium markets and demographics.

As Apple and Amazon have shown us, it is not enough to have great technology and a ton of content; it's also essential to have a narrative that consumers can identify with.

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