Welcome to 2010 CE. If you’ve managed to make it this far with your dreams, hopes, aspirations and 401K intact, thank your lucky stars. You’re one of the few.
I want to make a couple of tech predictions for the coming year. If any movie studio or television network steals these ideas and puts them into practice before 2011, they owe me a ton of money.
1. A TV news or entertainment program will incorporate Twitter as a nearly-live audience feedback device.
In 2009 Twitter became the most famous unprofitable service on the internet. Tech gurus constantly wonder how Jack, Evan and Biz plan to monitize this monster. I can easily envision a network like CNN, which already features Twitters on several of its news reports, adding a sidebar to the screen running near-live (you know there would have to be at least a 3 second delay) Twitter commentary on the news. During a crises they could feature hashtagged Twitters. This would add a layer of audience interactivity that beats the pants off Letters to the Editor. Dramas could find their own way to allow viewers to interact with the characters or suggest plot developments (alternate endings, anyone?). Game shows could use Twitter as the ultimate lifeline.
2. A movie studio will release first run movies to Netflix (Hulu, etc.) as pay-per-view.
Studios act like they owe theaters something. They don’t. Did Henry Ford owe anything to the blacksmiths his invention displaced? Theaters pay a fee for the right to screen a movie. The studios also collect a percentage of revenues from ticket sales. I don’t have a per-person breakdown of what the studios earn on a feature film like Avatar, but I question whether or not it would be substantially more than they would earn leasing the right to screen a first run movie to an on-line streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, charge a smaller fee to the service and demand a higher percentage of the pay-per-view revenues. If you could watch a newly released movie in the comfort of your own home on your own audio-video setup, wouldn’t you be willing to fork over the same $20-30 dollars you’d have to spend to drive to the theater, buy outrageously priced food and drink and tolerate the sociopaths you usually end up seated next to?
As much as some pundits decry the invasion of technology into our daily lives, I think it has only just begun. On-line and off-line are going to become more blurred. The internet will be a constant companion, in ways we can’t even imagine. Our shopping lists will reside in the cloud, easily accessible to us at the store. Cars will host on-board GPS navigation. Our clothes will contain our personal information readable by any phone with VR capabilities.
And when some 13 year old hacker in Russia manages to crash the entire infrastructure you’ll be welcome to join me in my cave and help crack walnuts with a rock.