Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Look Back at Last Year’s Media Gadget Predictions

With one of my first posts of 2009 I took a wild stab at my top 10 Media Gadget Predictions for 2009 with some long-shots and a few I though were very possible in the wild world of Media Gadgets.  I thought I’d use this last week of 2009 to see how I did.

Crystal Ball

Photo by “circulating” cc license

Eating a Lot of Crow – but a few were Closer Than Expected:

I think it’s probably wise to start with the predictions I really missed on first and then move down the list towards those that were close or actually accurate predictions:


    • The first HTPC extender with a Blu-Ray drive arrives (or would that be Blu-Ray drive with HTPC extender) – possibly as soon as CES
    Yes I really did predict this and I was really wrong.  Matter of fact we saw very few new extenders in the tiny HTPC market and definitely none with a blu-ray drive.  Although there was a media player that has Blu-ray capability with the PopcornHour
    • Two of the freeware HTPC software programs will die and be abandoned.  The free-ware HTPC market will consolidate to two or three major forces (already has begun in 2008.)  I have my thoughts on which of those will die out in 2009, but will leave the names to your imagination…

This is one I think could still happen in the coming year.  I”m surprised that some of the smaller, freeware names still do any updates as names like XBMC and Boxee take up the little air that remains i this space.

    • Apple re-enters the living room (yeah they’ve basically abandoned it at the moment with the current AppleTV) with a new version of the AppleTV and calls it AppleMedia.  AppleMedia will bring 1080p, more online video and HD-PVR capability becoming a major force in the HTPC world in one fell swoop.

I personally think Apple is still moving this way.  Even recently we’ve heard about Apple working with some TV networks on agreements to carry their content on some Apple product.  But so far it hasn’t happened and that reflects how difficult this market is with the many entanglements that come along with todays TV licensing deals.

    • Microsoft cuts the budget for Media Center as HTPC interest wanes.  While Windows 7 is popular with current VMC users, number of consumers using Media Center stays relatively the same as with VMC.  Focus continues to shift towards the custom installers and highest-end customers.

I was wrong here – very wrong.  I say that even though I’m betting the actual budget for HTPC at Microsoft did not get increased and quite possibly decreased.  But I think Microsoft still values the HTPC/Media market and their improvements in Windows 7 demonstrates that.

    • Apple will push the touch-screen platform further by releasing a iPod Touch mini (or nano) as well as a iMac Touch micro computer.
    I was a year early on much of this one really.  But the not-yet-here Apple Tablet will do this in early 2010.
    • Media companies continue the fight to eliminate analog outputs from all devices to remove their fear of the “analog hole”.  They fail in 2009, but make inroads to their goal.
    This happened and continues to happen today.  Media Companies are working diligently to move away from analog ports and will eventually win this battle.  I just think it will take the better part of five years instead of one.
    • TV Networks begin to abandon the old “local TV station” model and push further to online delivery.  Hulu and other online video sites skyrocket in use and profitability as advertisers strive to find the consumer anywhere they can.

This one seems to be slowly moving the way I expected.  Hulu pushed around those trying to use their content (like Boxee for example).  Comcast’s XfinityTV is another example of the experimenting the media companies are doing.  While I personally am very against the online, streamed TV content as a primary source of TV and movies, I admit this is probably where media will go some day.

    • SageTV announces two new hardware devices.  One is an extender/player, the other is a complete hardware-based Server/Player solution

How could I be so right on one hand, but so wrong on the other?  SageTV did release a very nice SageTV HD Theater (HD200) that is even better today than it was when it was first announced in January 2009.  So on that hand I was right.  But there still today is no hardware-based Server/Player solution and I’m not sure if we’ll see one even in the next six months.  Still I consider the SageTV HD200 one of the best media gadget devices I’ve ever purchased – and that’s saying a lot.

    • Blu-ray becomes the de facto standard as prices of players drop as low as $70 and Blu-Ray Media prices drop to $15 by years end.

While some may disagree with me, Blu-ray is the standard now.  Blu-ray player prices have dropped to incredible lows over this past holiday season even though the regular prices for low-end models still over just below $99 instead of $70.  Many now have them and want their movies on Blu-ray – even if they are renting them.  The bestseller Blu-ray discs on Amazonrun anywhere from $14.99 for The Dark Knight to $39.99 for the Planet Earth Series.  And people who have no surround sound system at home are still renting and buying Blu-ray discs in the stores these days.  DVDs will linger on like VHS did, but they are now considered “old tech” by even the “regular folk.”

  • A Leading for-profit HTPC software company ends new sales of their HTPC software leaving the market to two or at most three viable HTPC software companies and a bunch of free-ware HTPC programs.

There were a few possible companies I had in mind here, but the primary one was Snapstream.  Not because I thought Snapstream was failing, but because I saw their enterprise DVR/Search product offering so much and filling the perfect niche for a small company.  Somewhat as I expected, Snapstream announced they were “scaling back” their focus away from the consumer-based BeyondTV HTPC software and publicly admitting that their number one focus is for their Enterprise product.  It makes a lot of sense to me and while I’m sort of disappointed to see BeyondTV get left behind in the HTPC world as it was one of the best software PVRs available.


I proved one thing this past year – I’m not all that good at predicting the future.  But I do at least have a feel for the general direction of things.  I’ve asked my twitter followers what HTPC predictions they have for 2010 and I’m listening for your Media Gadget predictions too – let me know in the comments and I’ll provide a new list of 2010 predictions later this week.