I wonder how many of the expected 11,000 visitors to the twentieth Internet World expo realised that its Earl’s Court venue is scheduled for demolition?
The two-acre Earl’s Court Exhibition Grounds first opened in 1887 and played host to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The Exhibition Centre opened in 1937 and has staged concerts, sporting events and trade shows ever since. After the 2012 Olympics, when it serves as the volleyball venue, Earl’s Court will be demolished over a two year period and the site redeveloped. Despite this, I am assured by UBM, the show’s organisers, that Internet World 2013 will be staged at the same venue on 23-25 April.
The 20th anniversary show spanned three days and delivered what is expected of Europe’s largest internet expo. It was well-attended, despite the rain, and there must have been around 300 exhibitors and 150 seminars and keynote speakers. As previously, the show covered six areas: Cloud & Hosting; Digital Marketing; Social Media; eCommerce; Mobile and Content Management. Each had its own theatre, in addition to the main arena, seating some 300 delegates, where the keynotes were delivered by speakers from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, ebay, Cisco, Linked in and so on.
I attended a dozen talks, all of which were informative and topical, though a couple of speakers relied on a significant proportion of user-generated content, with Q&A sessions dominating.
Ambient noise is often a distraction at these presentations, so I can’t imagine why the organisers arranged for two tenors to belt out a rendition of ‘O Sole Mio’ at the tops of their voices several times an hour, just inside the entrance.
The most impressive, yet useless, application I saw was the Sudoku button on Google Goggles. If you take a picture of the puzzle in your newspaper and press this button, it will scan it and complete it on screen for you. I will be even more impressed if anyone develops software to complete the cryptic crossword.
Interesting fact: ComparetheMarket.com, the insurance comparison site that spent a fortune on its TV advertising campaign featuring meerkats, saved a fortune on pay-per-click advertising. Apparently, “Comparethemarket” would have cost £5 per click, whereas “Comparethemeerkat” cost only 5p.
If you have never heard of Gartner’s hype cycle, you might be interested to see where some of these new technologies stand. I hadn’t realised that the Kindle was already in the trough of disillusionment.
Talks on the future of home entertainment revealed that there are three main strands to connected TV:
1) the delivery of online content to your TV;
2) the provision of supplementary content to a mobile device (e.g. smartphone or tablet);
3) and a means of simultaneous engagement via social media (on the mobile device).
I must point out, to all the sceptics who can’t imagine themselves welcoming any distraction from the football match or The X-Factor, that multi-tasking on multi-screens comes naturally to digital natives. Many in the audience at these talks spent their entire time sending emails via notepads or mobiles, only looking up occasionally to take a snap of the slide projected on the screen, though I can’t vouch for how much they digested. To substantiate this, research shows that 24% of UK internet users multi-screen several times a day; laptop users say 33% of their time spent online is while watching TV, mobile users say 35% and tablet users 51% (figures from Yahoo).
My own interest in this convergence of TV and internet technology would be in access to supplementary information. This would save many a discussion with my wife over the name of an actor and where we recognise him from, the location of a scene, or the name of the composer of the film score. Watching a football match, I could access statistics, records, biographies and league tables. Research shows that, while viewing live TV sports events, 46% of men and 24% of women with mobile devices access online information. 44% read comments from others and 26% would post their own comments. Yahoo offer an app for this purpose, Into Now.
One of the main benefits of viewing online content is that it frees users from TV schedules but, conversely, it is only by watching scheduled content that you can share the experience with your friends and enjoy the social engagement.
To make this option more user-friendly, there needs to be a user-interface, or EPG, that makes it easy to find content from a wide range of sources.
Forecasters expect there to be 123 million connected TVs by 2014 and they will make up 60-80% of the total by 2016. This environment offers broadcasters and advertisers a whole new world to exploit with sophisticated campaigns offering instant gratification.
I will complete my round-up of the show in my next post.