Monday, December 29, 2008

Cisco Systems Is Starting a Push Into Home Electronics

What percentage of homes are wireless? Beyond connecting a laptop to the web or printer, what percentage of wireless homes, are listening to music, watching videos, and sharing content around their home? A much smaller number I am sure. Most people are not computer literate enough to do more than plug and play. Unless it is that easy, it will need the geek squad and other experts to set up. Heck, even today, most people buy an HD TV and have trouble connecting it properly to their set top box to get the best experience. My brother in law in fact had his TV set on an expanded screen set up and was missing out on the whole picture!

So Cisco is entering the consumer electronics field. "Cisco is working on other gadgets that will let people watch Internet video on their televisions more easily. And its biggest bet is that people will want to use a version of its corporate videoconferencing system called Telepresence to chat with their friends over their high-definition televisions." While I like that they want to help move music wirelessly around the house, how it interfaces with current digital players may be an uphill challenge. And I can tell you that when the phone rings, it is not often when my kids want to interrupt their TV viewing so I can see who I am talking to. In fact, I like to multi task, watching TV and talking on the phone simultaneously. I am not sure I want to always be seen and heard. Still, there are a couple times when a consumer video conference tool could work, talking with the grandparents comes to mind. But computers already offer the ability to video chat so Cisco may simply be late to the game.

For Cisco to succeed, they must figure out a way to work effortlessly with existing products and demonstrate how they can interconnect devices effortlessly so the consumer can easily enjoy the convenience. Their greatest opportunity is through their Scientific Atlanta division, makers of set top boxes. Adapting these devices to be more more user friendly and useful would be the best first step.

Online Piracy Menaces Pro Sports

Even with football upsets and head coach firings, fans love their sports. But as ticket prices rise, games are limited to specific markets, but audiences mobility continues to widen, sports cannot comprehend how to reach their fans. An out of market fan has few choices to watch a favorite team, while others in market get the same game for free. "The game between the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys was pivotal in determining playoff teams, and it was the last home game ever for the Cowboys before they move to a new stadium. But because of a long-lasting feud between the NFL Network and many cable companies, many millions of fans could not watch the game on television. Yet they could watch any number of illicit live streams on the Internet."

Streaming is no longer limited to music or movies, but to live sports events as well. "After years of focusing on the pirating of highlight clips and photos on the Web, the major professional sports leagues are finding that pirated feeds of live games are now common and becoming a menace to their businesses, especially at a time when leagues are trying to build their own businesses offering live games on the Internet for a subscription fee."

The choice is clear, keep fighting this hard to win battle to stop illegal feeds or embrace the opportunity. Those reaching out to find these feeds are not current viewers of your games; they are highly motivated fans seeking new options to fill their enjoyment. Slingbox was one means to watch TV from one market when you are residing in another. Pandora's box is already open. If professional sports would bypass subscription revenue for a measurable higher volume audience that can be monetized via advertising means: commercials, overlays, interactive offerings, etc., they could potentially bring a bigger return. Obviously the day will come when these internet signals can be moved to the HD screen in the family room, but until they are why not capitalize on the interest.