Director of Media & Digital Content Business Unit, IDATE DigiWorld
The development of connected TV is inextricably bound up with the widespread availability of high-speed Internet access, a shift to more and more individual viewing and the proliferation of smart devices in the home.
Together, these three elements are steadily revolutionising how viewers access their TV programmes, and providing them with an array of new functions and features. TV sets can be connected to the Internet in several ways. Using:
• a smart or connected TV (direct connection, via Ethernet or Wi-Fi),
• a connected set-top box,
• a streaming box or stick,a connected game console,
• or a smart Blu-ray player.
In 2015, almost three-quarters of the televisions being shipped are Smart TVs, even if their owners may not systematically take advantage of the Internet connection. At the same time, the market for streaming devices – whose main purpose is to play online videos – is progressing rapidly. Within this market that is still populated by a great many solutions and services, several trends are taking shape:
• the way users access and employ connected TV services has become more simple, and shifted from Internet-centric to video-centric;
• managing connectivity with users’ personal devices has become a key issue, with app systems playing an increasingly central role;
• OTT services are moving to the TV and making real strides;
Technological progress in a variety of areas is helping to bolster the market’s development, be it the growing ubiquity of broadband and superfast broadband access in the consumer market, major improvements in video optimisation and compression (HEVC), or the advent of innovative features such as casting which allows users to send video content from a personal device to the television. The main stakeholders in the connected TV ecosystem can be broken down into three categories, based on their original sector of activity: consumer electronics (CE) companies, TV market players and the Internet’s leaders.
• CE industry players are working to improve their software interfaces, either through dedicated developments such as Samsung has done with Tizen, or by acquiring another company, as LG has done with WebOS. The aim is to capture the added-value in the marketplace, whether in the arena of services and/or by selling high-end devices.
• Players from the TV universe are developing their OTT products, and working to bolster their position on the software side of the equation with more open and hybrid platforms. The connected TV could enable them to renew ties with consumers, and better monetise their plans. Broadcasters and pay-TV providers, especially in the United States, are therefore starting to roll out complete OTT plans which include a live component
• Lastly, companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft that dominate the Internet, are very knowledgeable about software, and changing consumer habits. So they are in the best position to deliver a top-notch user experience, whether in terms of smooth and intuitive interfaces, or providing recommendations based on user data. Their increasingly vertical positioning – covering everything from the content to the device – is also bolstering their potential to capture a growing portion of the video entertainment market.
In this way, many scenarios are emerging for Connected TV to 2025, and will determine which industries are likely to increase their control over this environment:
The size of the OTT video market will vary considerably under these scenarios, depending on how the environment evolves and so which industries prevail, and The popularity of the different devices will also evolve along the same lines.
For the publication of the 16th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook (pre-order now), IDATE is organizing a conference based on the detailed analysis of the current situations and some forecasts by IDATE experts on the major digital sectors, the discussion will deal with the great trends and challenges that will disrupt the digital markets by 2025.
IDATE, Europe’s premier digital economy think tank, uncovers major disruptions in the telecom, Internet and TV markets
Over the past 15 years, IDATE’s DigiWorld Yearbook has become a vital source of information for industry players, delivering analysis of the developments that have shaped the telecoms, Internet and media markets during the year gone by, identifying core global trends and providing snapshots of what lies ahead. The purpose and scope of the Yearbook has expanded as digital technologies have become an increasingly central component in the different sectors’ transformation: connected cars, financial services, insurance, healthcare, retail sales, the collaborative economy…
IDATE Chairman, François Barrault, is delighted to be celebrating this 15th edition, noting that, “we have entered into a new stage in the digital transformation over the past few months. Today, new intermediaries are coming to shake up the status quo, many of them from outside the industry, taking advantage of new technologies and new consumer cultural behaviour to revolutionise the value chain. Everybody knows how Uber has disrupted the taxi business, and Airbnb the hotel market. But finance, insurance, health and automotive industry leaders have all had to sit up to the risk of digital innovations shaking up their ecosystem, and forcing them to depend on external, unavoidable platforms.” This echoes the central theme of the upcoming DigiWorld Summit (17 – 19 November 2015), as IDATE’s annual conference will be held this year under the banner of: “Digital First”.
“For we here at IDATE,” says CEO, Yves Gassot, “whose business it is to wade through the latest market developments on a daily basis, the process of looking back over the year’s events only confirmed the significance of certain game changers such as mobility, the cloud, the Internet of Things, big data and social media. Some would also add 3D printing and artificial intelligence to the list.”
Scorecard for the digital economy in 2015: back on a growth path, but Europe still lagging behind
After the recovery announced in 2013, DigiWorld markets confirmed a stronger rate of growth in 2014, generating 3,700 billion euros. All segments combined, growth increased to 4.4%, which is 0.5 points more than the year before. These figures are still below those being reported for the economy as a whole: global GDP rose by 5.9% in current value in 2014, compared to 5.3% in 2013. This global recovery will become stronger still in 2015, with DigiWorld markets generating 3,900 billion euros, and climbing to 4,400 billion in 2018.
• This improvement can of course be attributed to Internet services which continue to boast more than 20% annual growth and, despite still accounting for only a fraction of the market, are helping to sustain the whole (growing from 275 billion EUR in 2014 to 475 billion in 2018);
• But also to stronger performances from a large number of more traditional segments – which are typically bundled together as core DigiWorld markets, i.e. telecom and IT equipment and services, consumer electronics, TV services, etc. Growth in these markets, i.e. excluding Internet services, rose from 2.8% in 2013 to 3.2% in 2014.
• Europe as a whole continues to lag behind increasingly vigorous North American markets, and the powerhouse that is emerging Asian markets.
2025: snapshots of 10 key trends and three outlook scenarios for Internet, telecoms and TV markets
For the first time, this year’s edition includes outlook scenarios for Internet, telecom and TV markets and players, provided by IDATE’s teams:
• Internet 2025: Will the top platforms become even more powerful?
• Telecoms 2025: Can the top telcos strike a balance between becoming commodities and competing head on with the top OTT companies?
• TV 2025: How can distributors avoid being cut out of the loop?
About the DigiWorld Yearbook
The finest market insights from IDATE experts who track the changes at work in the globe’s telecom, Internet and media industries throughout the year.
The DigiWorld Yearbook is published in English and French and available in print and PDF format.
> The 2014 edition can be downloaded for free on www.idate.org
> The 2015 edition is available for purchase. Print: €100, incl. VAT; PDF: €69, incl. VAT on www.idate.org
For more information: www.idate.org/digiworldyearbook/
Year after year, the economic and financial power of the GAFA quartet of Internet platforms continues to increase. Which brings two questions back to the fore, again and again: what trends might emerge to counter this seemingly inexorable rise? And do we need regulations that apply specifically to platforms?
A quick reminder of what economists mean by platform economics (digital or not): multi-sided markets (i.e. involving interactions between two or more parties) with reciprocal “network effects”. So the more iPhones that Apple sells, for instance, the more attractive its app store becomes to developers (and so to users), and vice-versa. In digital sectors, this characteristic is typically combined with a reduction in fixed costs (software), generating increasing returns as the platform becomes more successful.
Network effects usually go hand in hand with another property: asymmetrical prices. If Apple is starting to earn substantial income from the App Store, its business model and profits are rooted chiefly in the high price of its iPhones. With ad-funded models, one side of the market operates as a free service. As we have seen with Apple, digital platforms are a very efficient means of fostering open innovation, and capitalising on innovations from third parties. All of these aspects, which go some way to explaining why “winner takes all” when it comes to platforms, naturally need to rely on the ability to maintain the role of intermediary, and continue to become more proficient at it. Otherwise, the platform’s customers and suppliers will begin to adopt multiple homes, before eventually moving on to another, better platform. The efficiency of the leading platforms is the very reason for the current ambivalence over how much they are serving the greater good. On the one hand are concerns that a dominant OS will abuse its position while, on the other, this popularity can also mean an opportunity for developers, and can have positive repercussions for consumers.
The dichotomy needs to be resolved by taking account of the Internet’s dynamics as a whole. Windows has been through a number of anti-trust investigations but, today, this is the mobile Internet which has moved down the priority.
Worth reading on this topic is the recent IDATE report on "The future of the Internet: 2025". It takes a detailed look at the key technologies for the coming years, and especially at how development scenarios will be shaped by key variables, such as the openness of the Internet ecosystems, or the impact of restrictive privacy or security-related public policies. Here, we will add two other events that take us beyond a GAFA-centric environment. First, 2014 saw a number of Internet powerhouses emerge from the shadows of the GAFA quartet: in China (Alibaba, Weibo…) and in Asia’s leading markets in general (Rakuten, Line…).
We cannot entirely discount the possibility of these players gradually coming to compete head on with their Western peers. Second, we need to consider the position held by new players moving into vertical markets, many of which have carved out a place of sector-specific intermediary – Uber and Airbnb being two prime examples – and which have no intention of being taken over by Google or Apple or the like.
Nevertheless, faced with the realisation that GAFA continue to become increasingly powerful, the inefficiency of antitrust laws and the regulatory asymmetries compared to those imposed on other players along the chain, the idea of regulation that applies specifically to platforms is gradually coming to the fore. It may not be a good idea. Competition law, even ex post, is not necessarily ineffectual.
Plus it will be no simple matter to define the contours of the platform sector. And extending existing sector-specific laws, such as those that apply to electronic communications, to make OTT companies and telcos subject to the same principles, would take us down a path where, as businesses become more and more digitised, every economic sector would be more or less governed by electronic communications laws. Keeping in mind that the upcoming review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications is expected to focus on network access conditions and interconnection – and probably put more emphasis on symmetrical regulation. Should voice and SMS products not be removed from the scope of the telecom sector’s ex ante regulation, rather than adding in competing OTT products such as Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, etc.?
It nonetheless remains that in sensitive areas for digital industry players, such as those governing contract law, taxation, public safety and privacy, we can very easily identify laws that should apply across the board, such as what we find in consumer products and the retail industry. Without having to produce laws that are specific to platforms, the current juncture could provide an opportunity to merge national legal provisions with regional (EU) and global ones, and to ensure that they apply equally to all players along the value chain
For the publication of the last study about "the future Internet in 2025" and the 15th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook, IDATE is organizing a conference on the perspectives and key trends that will structure the digital economy for the next decade, DigiWorld Future
More informations about IDATE's expertise and events :