If you work in online video, you’re blessed—or is that cursed?—to work in the most rapidly changing area on the Net. Whichever the case, it’s never boring.
Videoconferencing and video chatting could see massive growth in 2011, says Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis at the NPD Group. With faster broadband connections and more handsets capable of supporting video chats, it’s sure to be a trend all year. The products will be there; what remains to be seen is whether or not consumers will care. Incompatible standards (such as Skype or Apple FaceTime, which are both walled approaches) stand in the way of wide adoption. Videoconferencing could become more important to businesses, thanks to Logitech and other companies promoting its use.
TV streaming will naturally be a major theme, but that video will be streaming both ways. Rubin sees living room videoconferencing products like the Logitech Revue’s optional camera playing a role in boosting video calling. He notes that Panasonic and Samsung already make televisions with Skype support (when used with an optional camera) and that the Microsoft Kinect can be used for video calling.
Faster networks will lead to more HD and 3D video streaming. Consumer 3D will benefit from inexpensive glasses replacing the current Active Shutter technology, Rubin says.
As for video standards, Rubin predicts that websites will continue to support both HTML5 and Flash Video until and unless consumer adoption favors one over the other. Browser-makers are embracing HTML5, he says, but have a strong commitment to Flash.
Online video use will grow dramatically for both consumers and businesses, says Melissa Webster, program vice president for content and digital media technologies at IDC. Bandwidth costs have fallen to the point that businesses will start to transition customers from DVDs to online video, as Netflix is already starting to do. “The break-even proposition has shifted,” she notes, as streaming video is now an economical option.
Online video platforms and other vendor services will get a major shakeup in 2011, Webster predicts, as many of the over 85 OVPs will either get acquired or fail. At least a dozen OVPs have venture capital money and can afford to wait out the shakeout, but many that aren’t well-funded will fail. Acquisitions, such as those made in 2010 by Kit Digital, have already begun.
OVPs will need to decide if they want to invest the money to provide a three-screen solution. They’ll also have to deal with the increasingly divergent needs of media and entertainment companies and brand marketers, Webster suggests. Media and entertainment companies will increasingly look to offer pure Web experiences for their content, and will look for subscription or ad network revenue options. Brand marketers, on the other hand, will look for social network experiences that can be tracked, but won’t be as concerned with monetization.
Finally, large media companies will need to decide what to do about their internal encoding and distribution solutions. Previously, those companies built in-house solutions, but the splintering of the mobile device market has rendered those systems outdated, and made it far more difficult for companies to encode and stream their own content. While they could outsource their encoding and distribution needs, they might be unwilling to become major long-term clients to companies that provide those services. Instead, Webster believes, some of them might look at the numbers and decide it makes more sense to purchase those outside companies, rather than working with them.
Check back this week for our CES coverage, where we’ll bring you more on what to expect in 2011.