John Donovan pulled down the tailgate of his truck and gazed round the loading bay with a satisfied air Southwest Hungary, not far from the borders with Austria, Croatia and Slovenia was a strange place for the beginnings of a television revolution but he had high hopes.
Donovan had come all the way to the Flextronics factory in Zalaegersze to collect a precious cargo. After production delays caused by few components shortage, he was eager to take personal delivery of the first 200 set top boxes he planned to sell. All he had to do was make the 24 hour drive back to Britain to get his stock.
It was the summer holiday so we thought why not? Donovan said on returning to the headquarters of his company, a view in a converted barn near Gatwick airport. It can be called micro managing.
3view is not the only TV technology company to hit the road this autumn. It’s box which Donovan boasts has the first subscription free TV service with a built in high definition program recorder will compete with a dizzying array of other receivers.
Hard drive recorders such as Sky + and Virgin Media’s V + are common and high definition TV has quickly gained a foothold. 3D is on the verge of arriving in the sitting room before the cinema.
But the best is yet to come. The high stakes race among broadcasters’ telecoms providers and consumer electronics firms is to plug the TV set into the internet for the first time – opening up a world of choice interactivity and they hope revenue streams. But who will come out on top in the battle for control of the sitting room?
As Donovan was navigating continental roads, Samsung, LG electronics and rivals were using the IFA trade fair in Berlin to unveil a range of mart TVs.
Sony showed off the first fruits of its partnership with Google – an HD set powered by the search giant’s Android operating platform. Google wants viewers to search for programs like they search the web and propel You Tube which it owns into their sets.
Some 5,000 miles away in San Francisco Steve Jobs chief executive of Apple was trying to breathe life into his TV received by slashing its price and signing up new content seals.
Such a frenzy of activity is enough to make the laziest couch potato sit up and pay attention. Sales of internet enabled devices for the sitting room – including TV sets,, video game consoles and set top boxes – are predicted to reach more than 430 m globally according to the sector analyst. To get there the segment is tipped to grow at 34% a year compared with 12% for personal computers and 23% for smart phones.
We are rapidly approaching the turning point for internet TV said Mike Luckwell, the entrepreneurs who has bankrolled 3view with £ 2.5 million is far. He likens the changes in the TV industry to the switch from film to video tape he capitalized on while running his TV production house, the Moving Picture Company in the 1970s.
There was an opportunistic moment when everyone could see the change was coming. With IPTV [internet protocol TV] I is still very difficult to see which route will be a huge success. Don’t think it will be just one road that it will go down through.
After touring the studios of Channel Five and launching a redundancy program, Richard Desmond’s next act as TV mogul was telling. Reversing a decision taken by Five’s previous owner RTL he rejoined Project canvas.
If its members get their way, the two year old venture will become a force to be reckoned with in broadcasting’s new wave. Adam Crozier, ITV’s chief executive admitted as much when he set out plans to earn more than half of the group’s income from non TV advertising within five years. The more technology allows viewers to skip through the programming schedules, the less likely they are to sit through the advisers
At the same time better broadband speeds and compression technology mean more video can be carried over the internet. That capability has helped drive sales of DVDs –for a decade, lifeblood of the entertainment industry — into sharp decline but has also sparked the interest of BT, which needs canvas to increase customer numbers for its TV service from 481,000.