Social media consultancy Trendstream recently released a report that included a GlobalWebIndex study of 51000 users across the world showed a 20% increase in social media use last year. The study revealed three clear trends in the consumer adoption of the internet. One of them was that the open browser-based web is losing out to packaged internet platforms such as mobile apps, internet connected TVs, tablets, e-readers, pc apps, gaming and video platforms.
Interestingly, the webindex study noted that "these packaged platforms are re-engineering the internet and destroying the notion of the internet being a singular entity." Destruction is a loaded word but the move towards a package platform via internet connected TVs is of tremendous value at work and play whether at home or away. Apart from enabling mutli-channel capabilities it significantly reduces clutter in the work/play space.
Apropos the above, a recent article in the Financial Times entitled "Box-free life is a game away" noted how a panoply of "boxes" such as "Apple TV, Google TV, an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and satellite boxes capable of accessing movies, music and other services over the net" are needed to gain access to the array of entertainment choices available. Needless to say, these place a premium on space in constrained apartments and hotel rooms and even in offices. The FT article rightly notes that the "internet could soon make these devices obsolete". In the case of businesses that have moved to the cloud "working on e-mail, storing data and running services and software from remote data centres means the PC box can go and little more than a monitor, keyboard and mouse are needed." Likewise for TV and gaming entertainment "Movies, music, games and TV channels can be delivered over the internet directly to the living room in the same way, with nothing more than an ethernet cable or a WiFi connection needed for TV sets that increasingly feature computing chips inside." For instance, Onlive, a company that offers a "games on demand" service, offers several cloud based gaming options.
Along the same vein, Canada's Globe and Mail newsite also notes that the recently concluded Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas offer(ed) a peek at the newest devices and one stars this year was Web-enabled TVs. Major TV manufacturers from Sony to Samsung and Toshiba have brought out Internet Protocol TVs that connect directly to the Internet. And as the Web begins to come to the television more seamlessly "media companies (will) face far more competition from online services that don’t come through a cable TV or satellite feed, but feel an awful lot like simply watching television."
For hospitality companies these developments represent a mixed-bag of sorts. On the one hand it may make it more difficult to restrict content as is the case with Marriott's laudable move to phase out "adult" content from in-room movies, a source of considerable ire for family travelers. On the other hand, it probably represents a welcome break by freeing up valuable in-room real-estate as well as working free (eventually) of the clutches of a quasi-monopoly that is seeing declining revenues from its captive model while also enabling greater control of a meaningful ancillary source of revenue.