2007: A Look Back

It’s time to look back on the year that was, and perhaps speculate a bit into 2008. Overall, 2007 was evolutionary in the consumer electronics space… More folks upgraded to digital HD televisions, embraced DVRs, and downloaded content (legally or otherwise). There wasn’t much new in the way of technology or trends that really moved me.

The only game changing hardware has been the iPhone. Apple’s success proves there’s a market for thoughtfully designed convergence devices. They’ve also proved smart phones need not be limited to the business and geek crowds – the mainstream is willing to partake (despite the cost). Apple has also done a nice job educating the market as to what more advanced handsets offer — good for all players. Once they fully commit to the Apple TV platform, I expect similar success (for them and that segment) next year.

As far as game changing trends, some the major labels (EMI, Warner) have started to line up behind DRM-free music — perhaps to address the cries of their (former and potential) customers, perhaps to stop the bleeding. Probably both. I expect we’ll see more of this next year… in audio. Video is a different sort of animal and that model won’t work. However, Hulu has also broken new ground – by bringing together many studios in one place to offer free-with-commercial-advertisement cross-browser web streaming of both current and classic (not always in the good sense) television shows. We’ll see both of these trends continue in 2008, as the studios and networks more fully embrace the digital marketplace. To protect and monetize their assets.

Unfortunately, 2007 brought no clarity to the next-gen high definition optical disk battle. For a few months, it appeared Blu-ray might be taking a commanding lead. However, the HD DVD camp bought relationships with two additional studios (to the tune of $150 million) and sharply discounted hardware pricing. So I’m back to my original theory that both formats will coexist indefinitely – studios intent on maximizing their earning potential will ultimately produce titles in both formats. And the slow adoption of players will continue until they do.

On the interesting tech front, the Amazon Kindle and Eye-Fi got my attention. Though, it’s yet to be seen what sort of long-term impact these products may have.

Personally, 2007 was notable for both Mari and I. Early in the year, she launched Motorola’s Connected Home 2 Go blog and I joined Sling Media.

Speaking of Sling Media, in 2007 we launched SlingPlayer Mobile for Palm OS, stand-alone SlingPlayer Mobile for Symbian OS, and redesigned SlingPlayer for Mac software clients. In hardware, we introduced a new pair of SlingLink powerline networking accessories and the Slingbox SOLO, our first unit with integrated component connectivity. We also helped DirecTV stream NFL games, partnered with Europe’s largest cable provider, and were acquired by EchoStar.

No ZNF year-end wrap would be complete without revisiting some of the more meaningful TiVo developments. 2007 saw the introduction of a relatively affordable retail HD DVR. Though CableCARD confusion and SDV concerns remain, while satellite and cable companies continue to offer attractive DVR pricing and are closing the user experience gap. Which is why Comcast’s recently launched TiVo service (in New England) is particularly significant. Expect additional Comcast regions to come online next year, as well as select Cox households. Internationally, Mexico City has seen sales of Series2 TiVo units via Cablevision, Canadian retail outlets are now also offering Series2 hardware, and Seven intends to introduce TiVo hardware in Australia next year. Still in play: The TiVo v. EchoStar patent trial. As a TiVo customer, I’ve enjoyed the new (though slow) HD TiVoToGo and Multi-room Viewing, plus several 99 cent Amazon Unbox on TiVo (SD) video rentals.

13 thoughts on “2007: A Look Back”

  1. Melissa and I are vacationing in Orlando, but I felt it was important to get this post up today. Consider it a “release candidate” and I’ll add pictures and possibly tidy it up tomorrow. I also have a few sentences to add on the ongoing social/recreational gaming trend. :)

  2. > Speaking of Sling Media, in 2007 …

    At CES 2007 Sling announced the Sling Catcher. CES 2008 starts in a week and SlingCatcher still hasn’t shipped. Will it ship soon or has it been abandoned? DRM issues?

  3. The SlingCatcher has most definitely not been abandoned, though it’s obviously taking us longer than anticipated to ship. While the Catcher in my living room does you no good, the product details, photos, and video coming out of CES next week should be of interest.

  4. I will be very excited to get my hands on a SlingCatcher when they start to ship. It will be spectacular to take that on the road with me.

  5. Happy New Year to all.

    Regarding the new Comcast/Tivo UI there’s a guy blogging on his experiences with it at:


    I can’t say I’ve got a complete picture yet, though there are obviously issues. I’m not shocked at all by the lack of internet, eSATA or TTG support. What I want to hear more of though is how responsive it is, given my experience with Comcast STB guides, VOD etc where the key response, dropped keys etc make the interface all but unusable…

  6. Glenn, that’s the link I used above. :) I’m not surprised by the lack of TTG, MRV, etc. However there must have been all sorts of interface battles between TiVo and Comcast, since some of the areas of compromise are just brutal – as I commented on TV Squad a few days ago. The UI responsiveness in some of the video he’s posted is somewhat concerning… I’m hoping Megazone can get service in his neighborhood soon for another blogger’s insight.

  7. Can’t wait to hear your impressions of this years CES, Dave. Just saw that Netflix and LG are teaming up for a box. They mention the possibility of incorporating it into a Blu-ray/HD DVD dual format player. I don’t know how I feel about that. If I had Blu-Ray and HD DVD would I really want to stream movies? Maybe.

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