If You Haven’t Heard About IPTV Yet…You’re going to!

Georgia McCabe has spent her career on the leading edge of  “digital photo” trends. Here she gives us some insight into big changes in the consumer digital entertainment world and some predictions of  what it may mean for your professional photography business.  As an author, speaker, trainer and social media and photography evangelist, her perspectives entitled “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Friends…or Enemies” appear in print in a new book entitled The Relationship Age, with social media guru Mari Smith. Georgia is a frequent guest blogger for our photo lab.

Heard of IPTV?  You might not be an expert in emerging technology, but you need to know something about it…and should start thinking right now about what it could mean for your photography business. IPTV is the perfect storm that results when HDTV meets broadband internet. It’s not for Google searches from the comfort of the couch. IPTV allows hassle free internet access to a world of compelling entertainment content, right from your HDTV using a little, low cost set top box. Your cable or satellite provider already delivers video on demand this way. But now the whole thing is “out in the open” and there is a war raging for home entertainment. Heard of Roku boxes and Netflix Watch Instantly! Watch what you want, when you want.  Rent movies or watch free content like last weeks House episode, in full HD quality…and do it with a nice little remote control without getting off the couch. Forget you laptop, all you need is broadband and $60 for the box!

Connect it to your TV (units generally connect wirelessly to your network), link it to entertainment platforms like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu Plus…then kick back and enjoy! This is entertainment and it is going to be very, very big. Virtually every household with a TV and internet is going to convert…and it’s going to happen almost overnight. Players from every corner of the digital world are jockeying for position. Products like  Google TV and Apple TV and most new DVD players already offer IPTV.  There are even TV models that offer IPTV right out of the box! IPTV will dwarf exiting internet usage (or bring the whole thing to its knees.) Even without last Christmas’s sales, Netflix alone was responsible for a whopping 20% of ALL US INTERNET TRAFFIC!

Interesting? Sure, but by now you are probably thinking that you went to the wrong blog site. You didn’t!  A tsunami in consumer entertainment will leave no digital enterprise untouched, including your photography business. IPTV turns every living room HDTV into a giant digital picture frame, nothing like those little digital frames of years past. IPTV HDTVs seamlessly connect to content and don’t require manually loading pictures. IPTV “channels” are just internet sites, but so are Flickr and Facebook! A user gets a free account, registers his IPTV,  uploads personal photos and voila, pictures magically appear, big as life, on his personal IPTV channel. FrameChannel even lets you “broadcast” your friend’s or family’s photos as well. In effect, your set as is a nice picture frame when you aren’t using it to watch the Superbowl!

What will all this mean for professional photography? Actually, it could be an advantage. Consumers are making fewer photo prints, and ease of access to their images on HDTV probably won’t make that situation much worse. But most consumer pictures aren’t good enough to make 30 x 40 prints and this holds true for 50” picture frames as well.

But well composed, compelling professional images are another story entirely. Maybe the best way to “fight ‘em” is to “join ‘em.”  You don’t actually give the customer your files, only offer display access on a personal “wedding channel” from your studio site. Without a doubt, there will “new wave” professionals who find a way to make it easy for their customers to appreciate their work in this novel way.  Besides, if Grandma can’t see your pictures, she can’t ask your to make a print.  Nicely framed family environmental portraits…maybe a subscription shoot and view service…always with an easy “order print” feature?

Food for thought, but either way it’s going to happen!

H&H Color Lab

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