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Perry To IPTV Community: Help Us Differentiate

3/23/2010 06:45:00 AM Eastern

SAN FRANCISCO — In a keynote address
at ITVT’s recent “TV Of Tomorrow
Show,” Panasonic marketing senior
VP Bob Perry encouraged IPTV developers
to begin conversations with larger TV
manufacturers about getting their apps and
services on new connected TV platforms,
but warned that TV makers will be looking
for deals that can help them differentiate
themselves from competitors — not
add the same services across the board.

Perry said his goal in presenting at the
seminar, which was attended predominantly
by IPTV application and services
developers and representatives of managed
TV system operators, was to “start
a conversation, and drive a different way
of looking at the same set of facts.”

He also explained that Panasonic’s Viera
Cast IPTV platform that is now part
of most of the company’s step-up TV
lines, is a “walled garden” system that
Panasonic maintains, because the company
couldn’t risk launching interactive
TV using an approach that would be prone to frequent breakdowns or incompatibility
hang-ups using third-party
apps and services available through over
the top (OTT) approaches.

Still, Perry said the current Viera Cast
system is a learning experience that will
eventually change and become more open
as the broadband IPTV entertainment
environment matures and becomes more
standardized.

We do not want to become a gatekeeper,”
Perry said.

Perry explained that Panasonic, as
most TV makers, works on a one-year
product life-cycle timetable running January
through April. “So for the TVs that
Panasonic is introducing into the market
today — the new ones that will replace
them are already locked.”

“This is very, very high-risk activity, and these businesses are very, very big
ventures,” Perry explained.

“Our challenge is to delight consumers
by giving them what they could not
imagine, but create a situation where
they believe they could not live without
it,” he said.

“When you look at who really controls
the television business in the United States, it’s not little itsy-bitsy multinational
companies like Panasonic — it’s
retailers,” he said. “Walmart today owns
40 percent of the television business in
the United States. So we have this challenge
with making the consumer go into
this magical wall of televisions and basically
what we say to them is — ‘pick.’ Differentiation
is a huge challenge.”

The benefits of new interactive apps
and services must be instantly discernable
by uneducated consumers, he warned,
adding that that while manufacturers
would love to depend on the sales teams
of retailers to get the details of product
story across to consumers, more and
more shoppers are saying they don’t trust
salespeople and would rather educate
themselves and shop at lower-cost environments
like warehouse clubs and massmerchant
chains.

“They are really pulling this rug out
from under us,” he said. “Little-bitty television
companies like us, we probably spend
$10 or $20 million a month in retail trying
to communicate to consumers about why
to buy our stuff, what’s cool about it and
how to make the right decision.”

This year, he pointed out, the consumer
electronics industry is going to start
selling 3D.

“This is a new paradigm shift, and we have to communicate it,” he said. “Consumers
don’t know what they want. It
is our job to put it in front of them, let
them experience it and let them pick, but
boy is it a lot of work.”

Perry said TV makers will have an
advantage in launching 3D TV that
they did not have with HDTV —
most consumers have seen some form
of a 3D picture and know basically
what it is. Before the launch of HDTV,
most people had never seen a high-definition picture.

Perry said many consumers purchasing
new HDTVs this spring and summer
will want their purchase to remain future
proof, and will step up to 3D whether
there is a lot of 3D content available at
launch or not.

Panasonic will help prime the 3D content
pump by sponsoring three 3D channels
DirecTV will launch in June, he said.

“3D is about experiencing television in
the way it should be experienced,” said
Perry, and that with the “resolution revolution”
done with HDTV and the audio
revolutions done with surround sound,
the last leg of the stool is 3D video.

“This has huge implications on what
you do,” Perry told the IPTV audience.
“In the digital environment we are in today,
where the consumer watches high
definition and 1080p Blu-ray, and analog
broadcasts being broadcast digitally,
everybody is in a mad rush to make sure
their content is authored in the highestquality
resolution and best possible format,
which now means 3D.”

“For most consumers, interactive content
is an interesting concept that has yet
to flower,” Perry said. “A lot of what we
are doing so far in IPTV is not truly interactive,
so a lot of your work is yet to
flower, and we are very excited and looking
forward to seeing that being built,
and as a technology company we are hoping
you can help lead us in so many ways
to deliver this technology to consumers.”

Perry pointed to Panasonic’s recent
agreement with Skype to build HDTV
video phone functionality into select
Panasonic sets as an example of “a game
changer” that will help bring the true
power of IPTV to the living room.

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