The Digital Living Room
CNet calls Play “the best WD TV yet”

You can read the whole review here.

Fun Doing a Segment on Lifetime Channel

PCMag Names WD My Net N900 “Router of the Year”
Western Digital’s new router can speed surfing

IRVINE, Calif. – Western Digital, the company known for its hard drives, is launching a new product today, a router that it says can make watching online movies and playing online games go zippier.

The My Net line of routers, which start at $80, are designed to emphasize video viewing and gaming and to route the signal to those endeavors, essentially shifting the majority of the bandwidth to entertainment. Western Digital says its router will help with sites such as Netflix and Hulu so that programming runs in full high-definition from the start.

WD TV Media Players Deliver The Most Worldwide Entertainment Options

Western Digital® (NASDAQ: WDC), the world’s leader in external storage solutions and maker of the popular WD TV® media player family, today introduced a variety of new entertainment options for the WD TV Live™ and WD TV Live Hub™ media players. Current and new users can now enjoy Red Bull TV™, ABC iview (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Acetrax™, Maxdome, the BILD TV-App, and the AOL On Network. They can also watch live and recorded TV with the new SlingPlayer® app and save their premium HD movies to the WD TV Live Hub’s internal storage with VUDU.

WD’s new entertainment choices add to the WD TV media player family’s prodigious ability to play personal content such as videos, photos and music by supporting a wide range of media formats. Users can watch content located on any networked PC or Mac® computer in the home, from a network drive such as WD’s My Book® Live™personal cloud storage, and from any directly connected digital camcorder, camera, or USB drive. WD TV Live Hub owners can also save and share pictures and videos from outside the home, using the WD Photos™ app for iPhone®, iPad® and Android™ mobile devices.

"WD continuously listens to its customers, and adds the content options they want," said Scott Vouri, vice president and general manager, WD connected home solutions. “With today’s addition of hot international and domestic channels, live TV through SlingPlayer, and HD movie rentals, purchases and downloads through VUDU, the WD TV media players truly provide the most entertainment.”

Read the whole story here.

Is Selling Shows Direct to Consumer Really a Better Model?

A new service launching in the UK and US will sell TV shows directly to consumers - bypassing Netflix, Lovefilms and other services.

But the question is in a time of 500,000 entertainment choices, will users really want another channel?

The OTT industry desperately needs a common universal search and discovery User Experience to make things easier for customers to find exactly the type of entertainment they are interested in. And it should have broadcast entertainment options integrated as well.

Another channel like A3M means yet another app icon on my Smart TV service that I have to go in and out of when searching for something cool to watch.This is not how I want to spend my time in front of the boob tube.

Read the whole story here:


Peel: Personal, Social, All-in-One TV Experience [VIDEO]

Reblogged from Apartment Therapy

Last year we covered Peel, the universal remote control designed by Yves Behar that works together with your iPhone. The startup just revealed its newest capabilities for Peel at SXSW this year, which could change our behavior when it comes to watching TV… [Full Story]

Drinking From the Fire Hose at WD

So my first week at WD is in the can, and boy, what a ride it has been! When you join a company with 62,000 employees (nay, now 100,000 with the HGST acquisition) there is an incredible amount to learn in the way of processes, acronyms, policies, metrics, yada, yada, yada. I gotta tell you, my eyes were swimming! It’s very difficult to feel like you can make a positive impact when you don’t even know what the column heading on the spreadsheet means - let alone the data itself!

I have to say I entered into this new social contract with the hard drive behemoth with some trepidation about losing my identity to the Borg. But MAN, was I wrong. This place is off the hook! So many good people, all focused on doing the right thing. It is truly amazing. You should see the stuff these people are working on for the future of the connected home. It’s crazy good.

I can’t wait to share it with you….

Om Malik Captures the Essence of Good Product Design

The founder of GigaOm recently traveled to India and visited with family. He writes about turning on his Mom to the iPad and how that epitomizes all that is right with Apple’s design methodologies:

When at home, I did a FaceTime call with my siblings who also live overseas. I handed over the iPad to my mom. She had this look of amazement, one of pure unadulterated joy as she chatted with her grandson.


It didn’t matter how it was happening — just that she could talk to her grandson who was oceans apart from her. If there ever was a moment that captured the emotion in a piece technology, that was it.


Apple, clearly, is not for everyone. But for me that moment of joy experienced by my mother is enough of a reason why there will be no other computer company. Apple’s competitors will do their own thing. Some, like Samsung, will do spectacularly well. But for me, Apple finds ways to delight people, pushing technology into the background. When Steve Jobs passed away, I wrote:

Jobs put life and soul into inanimate objects. Everyone saw steel, silicon and software; he saw an opportunity to paint his Mona Lisa. People saw a phone; Steve saw a transporter of love. People saw a tablet; he saw smiles and wide-eyed amazement. They made computers; he made time machines that brought us all together through a camera, screen and a connection.

The smile on my mother’s face captures what I wrote the best.

Read the entire post here.

Moving to Western Digital Connected Home Group

I am excited to tell you that I am joining Western Digital Corporation as their Vice President & General Manager of the Connected Home Solutions Group. This group develops and markets consumer products for the digital home, such as the WD TV Live Hub and the WD Personal Cloud Storage products.

You probably know that developing great user experiences for the living room is a passion of mine, so you can understand why I took this position. Western Digital is investing heavily in consumer product innovation, and I get to be in the middle of that!

Do you own any WD products? If so, I would love to hear about your experience with them.

Or, if you know of some interesting products or technologies that would fit well at WD, please send me your suggestions.

5 Take-Aways From 2nd Screen Super Bowl Focus Group

B2C has posted some interesting preliminary results from a group of 10 second screen users they asked to report on their experiences during the Super Bowl.

We did second screen socialization at our Super Bowl party and I have to say I pretty much agree with their five findings:

1.  Second Screen Synced Ad spots can be socially disruptive:

2. Certain second screen spots may* cause lower engagement with the first screen television spot:

3. Device problems and fragmentation created advertising issues.

4. Programming related Companion Content was well received:

5. Incentives went a long way for our couch consultants to create engagement.

Be sure to read the details and user anecdotes here:

Sony’s new CEO gets UX religion

From the Wall Street Journal:

New Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai described his strategic goal as teaching the company’s 168,000 employees that past successes in manufacturing must be replaced by selling the harder to quantify ‘user experience’.

The world has moved on, he said, “We can’t just continue to be a great purveyor of hardware products, even though some people expect us to do that.”

…. In August he created a new centralized unit called the Integrated UX, and gave it authority over product planning managers for digital cameras, TVs, PlayStation machines, audio/visual products and Vaio computers.

YuMe Says Study Proves Online Ad Campaigns Provide Leverage to Broadcast Ads

"YuMe, the operating system for TV 2.0, today announced the results of a joint study with Nielsen, which quantifies the true impact of online video when combined with a major CPG TV advertising campaign: reach, frequency, and recall increase substantially even as the CPM rate decreases…..

A high level summary of key findings from the YuMe-Nielsen study highlights the many benefits of a TV 2.0 campaign strategy:

  • Content present on multiple media extends reach: YuMe online video increased reach for the targeted 35–54 age demographic by 7 percentage points when complemented by a TV flight. In addition, nearly 9 million people were exposed to the campaign on multiple screens.
  • Average frequency across screens increases: The number of respondents exposed to the PHD campaign three or more times increased by 31 percent, while those exposed to the campaign six or more times rose by 52 percent.
  • Low eCPMs for online video drive substantial cost efficiencies: Although less than one-sixth the cost of the TV schedule, the $500,000 spend invested in the YuMe Network drove an increase of 34 percent in gross rating points (GRPs) from the original TV schedule. The efficiency of the online video spend was nearly double that of the concurrent TV spend and the cost per point (CPP) was reduced by 11 percent.
  • Brand and message recall improves with YuMe: Impression-per-impression, YuMe online video outperformed TV in terms of both brand and message recall compared to the campaign TV norm. Results of a Nielsen TV Brand Effect analysis showed an increase of 22 percent for brand recall and 31 percent for message recall one day post-exposure.
  • YuMe outperforms online video ad network norms: YuMe’s Connected Audience Network outperformed its peers in both brand and message recall, demonstrating an increase of 33 and 50 percent respectively seven days post-exposure.

Read the whole story here.

Zeebox latest victim of “empty room syndrome”

" results of the first trial of the second screen application with another broadcast partner seem to suggest that just fifty users posted an average of two messages each over the two month run."

Read the whole story here:

Review of Android Social TV Check-in App SocialGuide

This post is the fifth in a series on Social TV check-in apps for Android-based smart phones.

The first thing you think when hearing about SocialGuide is, “Finally - somebody gets it!” The two biggest user experience problems with similar apps like GetGlue and Miso are that: a) they do not report  real-time “what’s trending” numbers - reducing their content discovery value; and b) their original versions suffered from empty room syndrome, because chat was restricted to users of their app who happened to be watching the same show. SocialGuide was the first app to elegantly solve both those problems by using the real-time Twitter-verse as its “membership” base.

Installing SocialGuide is quick and painless with an interesting twist. You can set up a unique logon or login with Twitter or Facebook. If you do link your social media accounts, SocialGuide imports all your friends automatically. After the login process, SocialGuide requests your zip code and television service provider (ie. Comcast, DirecTV). This allows SocialGuide to mine the Twitter-verse for viewers in the same time zone as you – making the “what’s trending” show list much more relevant, and enables them to show you what channel to tune for a trending show.

The SocialGuide UI is simple and intuitive. The home screen is a scrollable list of currently airing TV shows sorted by the number of Tweets they are getting. Clicking on a show takes you to a page that shows comments being made in real-time about the show, sorted into Everyone, Your Friends and Cast categories. From here you can comment on the show to Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately there is no metadata or poster art for the show, so you can’t tell if you’ve already seen the episode currently being broadcast.  

Across the top of the SocialGuide home page are category tabs that let you narrow the trending shows list to TV Series, Reality Shows, Movies, Sports or News. Below the category tabs is a “timeline” that lets you look back one hour and forward two hours. So if you’re in LA, you can see what’s trending now on the East Coast and plan to watch it later. Oddly, there is no search capability in this Android app. If you can’t find the show you’re watching by browsing the categories – you’re out of luck.

While SocialGuide is full of innovative ideas, its implementation has room for improvement. The version released last October seems to actually have more bugs than its predecessor. For example:

a.       The app hangs often, especially when trying to scroll a list, yielding “app has stopped responding” error messages. This appears to be due to the real-time nature of SocialGuide. Perhaps it is taking longer to search the Twitter-verse than Android allows for application response.

b.      If you make a typo error in the create login process, you continue to get an error message even after you correct the misspelling. You have to exit the application and start the process over (with no typos) in order to set up an account.

c.       SocialGuide supports rotation into landscape mode, but if you do it while in one of the category tabs, the app inexplicably jumps back to the home page.

d.      When inside a show page and trying to scroll thru viewer comments, the list will not scroll until you switch to landscape mode.

Compared to most Android Social TV apps, SocialGuide is an ambitious achievement. It has a unique approach and clean graphics. Also, the integrity of the engaged viewer numbers that SocialGuide reports on their website should be rock-solid data for advertisers, since they are simply reporting total number of real-time tweets, rather than accumulating unaudited check-ins from badge seekers. Still, I cannot recommend this version of SocialGuide. It hangs too often and needs both search capability and show metadata to become a truly effective content discovery tool. Also, SocialGuide would benefit from “push” technology – giving users a richer Social TV experience and advertisers a route to engage them. Perhaps by adding these features and resolving the bugs, SocialGuide can start to build a user-base against its more established competitors.

Written by Scott D. Vouri, January 13, 2012