Friday, February 15, 2013

The Second Screen & Your Mobile OS: Stitching It All Together

This is a kind of part II of my earlier post about the 3rd Mobile OS. If you haven't read it yet, you can do so here.  The gist of the post is that the next generation of mobile OSs will converge the smartphone, tablet and TV from an OS perspective.  While the smartphone and tablet are 'half-way' integrated due to various synching solutions through the cloud, its the inclusion of the TV that's going to bring all your screen sizes (smartphone, tablet & TV) under one ecosystem.

We've been hearing about the 'Second Screen' concept for some time now.  Second screen is the practice of using your smartphone or tablet while watching the 'tele.'  The smartphone is used as a medium to facilitate the 'water-cooler' behavior; TV fans conversing about the TV show or sports game on social apps (twitter, facebook, etc.) while watching the show or game.  The water-cooler effect is not the only behavior within the second screen industry.  TV viewers look-up information about the show or the actors while watching the show.  We can also look-up clothes, shoes, accessories that the actors are wearing on the show, thereby showing purchase intent.

Chart of the day shows mobile device activity while watching tv, february 2013

There are apps for some of these second screen behaviors.  GetGlue is an app for spurring conversation about TV, movies and sports; in other words, a social TV app.  Twitter is a popular second screen app. In fact Business Insider posted a twitter slide deck that shows 60% of UK Twitter users use Twitter while watching TV. And 90% of online social conversations about TV are on Twitter!

Speaking of Twitter, the 140-character micro-blogging site recently confirmed its acquisition of Bluefin Labs. Bluefin has basically developed a tweet analyzing engine; a technology that mines social chatter about TV.  Why acquire Bluefin? Twitter, being on the forefront of hosting social TV chatter, wants to slice n dice this information, organize it without revealing your identity and provide it to the ad tech industry.  Another social networking site (starts with the letter 'f') is extremely interested in social TV as well.

All of this brings me back to my post about the 3rd Mobile OS.  Converging all three device categories under one OS umbrella will be a boon to the second screen industry.  Lets take the Google-Android scenario.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, since you'll be logged into your Android account across all devices, you will be able to watch your favorite streaming TV shows on the big screen while using your smartphone with the same login credentials.  Google will be able to track your activity across all devices while you use them simultaneously.  Imagine Google being able to track the fact that you are looking up a pair of jeans you saw the character wearing on the show you are watching at that moment.  Thereafter Google can show you ads about Jeans because its algorithms figured out you are interested in purchasing a pair of jeans you saw on a TV show. Imagine an 'Inbox' of ads on your Android account that you can access from your all your devices.  You control what you want to see in your ad inbox. An ad inbox deeply integrated with your Android-Google account that displays ads in a simple yet elegant design; something like a pinterest for specific, specially targeted ads for you. You definitely don't want the ads to be intrusive, so the ads won't show up on your TV will you watch your streaming shows.  However, you can hit the pause button and the TV screen switches to an interactive ad billboard, featuring the ads from your ad inbox in a pinterest-like layout. Advertisers can promote their ads by bidding higher on the ad tech marketplace  The ecosystem will allow 3rd party players from within the ad tech industry to plug in and access device activities which allow 3rd party apps to show super-targeted ads within their apps to users.  All this in real-time.

Why do I pick Google - Android as an example to showcase my concept?  Apple is a 'walled-garden.'  Unless it opens up its OS ecosystem in multiple ways to allow 3rd party players and to allow multi-user accounts on one device, the concept will fall apart.  Google's open ecosystem and open source mobile OS, permits players to 'plug-n-play' into the system.

Of course security is a big concern.  If a malicious hacker hacks into your account, your device activity can be downloaded and used to bombard you with malicious ads.  The repercussions can be way more severe.  The hacker will have access to your purchase history, TV viewing habits, emails, credit card information...I shudder to think what else.  Mat Honan's (with all due respect to you, Mat) ordeal will look like a bulling event in the sand box.  Until digital security evolves with developments in Mobile, building a critical mass on this ecosystem will be stifled.  I see the consumerization of digital security solutions lending a helping hand to us mere mortal relying on a digital security measure dating back to the 1960s at MIT.  But more on this in my next post.

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