Will Apple Rule Local Search in the Living Room?

Though IPTV hasn’t been the primary focus of a blog post in a while, we’ve mentioned it here and there as a local search medium to start thinking about. The thinking goes that the IP architecture of the technology will allow more precise targeting with content and ad delivery, as well as a two-way street for content pull (which has its own set of implications for behavioral targeting).

This will enable lots of cool mashups and product placement opportunities that allow users to telescope in to learn where to buy products locally. One locally relevant scenario we’ve submitted in the past involves supplies or ingredients used in cooking or home improvement shows. Meanwhile we get a glimpse of some of the decidedly more fun features of IPTV, such as switching camera angles or sound feeds during sporting events.

But one big question mark in all this, explored in a TKG White Paper a while back, is hardware. Given all this great interactivity, will the bottleneck be hardware constraints? In other words, a traditional TV remote won’t do justice to all this functionality and to the way we’re accustomed to searching. Sure, browse functionality is possible using directional buttons, but we’re conditioned by search engines to utilize the full potential of typing queries at 62 words per minute, refining queries by quotes, geographic modifiers, and zeroing in with a mouse.

With a keyboard this is relatively seamless. But search on IPTV will require a new conditioning that is perhaps more reliant on browse functionality, given the presumption that we won’t immediately undergo a cultural shift that puts a keyboard and mouse on every living room coffee table in America. Or will we? This is definitely a dilemma, and perhaps a bottleneck to all the other technological issues on which the IPTV discussion seems to focus.

But we’re starting to see some hints at what could be developed. There are whispers of an Apple remote control to rule over the digital home, including iTunes music, movies, etc. Apple has been on a clear path to the living room over the past few years, including AppleTV which proved ahead of its time, like many other great products that were commercial failures. Netflix’s set-top box, launched this week, allows immediate access to its growing digital library, which could all but kill AppleTV. For now.

But when thinking of how this IPTV interface and hardware dilemma will be worked out, my money is on Apple to be the one to design something that is functionally sound and elegant enough to enter the living room. In true Apple form, it likely won’t be a mass market device at the onset at least, but neither will IPTV. This will be prime fodder for Apple in its ongoing transition to a digital media company. It is definitely thinking about this already, as it knows it’s in the best position to solve this issue, where a major potential market eventually exists.

I’m not really going out on a limb here by picking this horse, I know. But the point is, keep an eye on what the company develops in the coming months, with an eye toward possibilities for IPTV hardware. Clues can be found everywhere, even the iPhone.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Sebastien Provencher

    I strongly suspect game consoles like the Microsoft X-Box 360, the Sony Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii are better candidates to introduce local search to the TV masses.

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