The public have been told about a fabulous new Multimedia world where their mobile phones and their interactive TVs will open-up a fabulous new range of interactive experiences. Carried away the mobile phone industry in particular, gambled heavily in the rush for 3G licenses.
However, is the future going to be as bright (and orange) as some would have us believe? Many of the same promises were made for WAP technology.
Similarly for interactive TV, although increasing numbers of people have the technology to “Press the red button” how many actually are? And when they do so, are they getting genuinely interactive experiences? Also, if the services on offer are merely news multiscreens, or football matches from several different angles, can the services truly be said to be interactive, or is the real effect actually equivalent to being given several extra stations through which to channel hop.
A cynic would say that people want to use their phones to talk to people with, and their TVs to passively absorb the existing schedule.
However, a closer look shows that there is much more going on beneath the surface. SMS texting in Europe and Asia has become tremendously popular (but interestingly, not so much in America) Once given the facility, many people have decided that they like taking photographs with their mobile phone (even if many are then finding it expensive to then send on to a friend) It is by now a well known fact that the volume of mobile phone ring-tones now outstrips the sale of CD singles. And Bid TV certainly seems to be profitable.
Developers are now creating the applications that will prove whether those investing in 3G licences and Digital TV got value for money or not.
There is surely a need for some detailed analysis of the successes and failures of interactive services. As they are both emerging markets and often feed off each other I believe the lessons from one will influence the other.
How I intend to go about this, and some of the questions that I hope to address throughout the project can be found in the following sections. However, what is clear is that this is a new and developing area. Only when what is successful and why is understood, can developers invest in producing applications in confidence.