SM: By 2020 we are going to have five billion people on the Internet, and there are going to be diverse types of connection, bandwidth, clients and so on. What do you think are some of the areas that entrepreneurs should look into when it comes to opportunities that pertain to the scaling of global networks or the global Internet?
WT: Yes, that is a good question. There is still a tremendous challenge. On global Internet, what are most interesting in that area are the types of services still that we’ll utilize. Those five billion users, what services will they use? On the consumer side, I think that there is still a tremendous amount of opportunity for folks who are trying to enable what we often refer to as TV everywhere, whether you are talking about the bandwidth and the video quality component of the problem, reaching every type of device possible.
[It] could be IT TV in the home, could be the laptop in the kitchen where I am viewing the show. It could be the Droid or the iPhone that I am using and watching the same linear programming when I am attending one of my daughter’s soccer games. There are problems just in the network quality and the monitoring and analytics associated with those qualities for entrepreneurs all up and down that band. If you think about it, the eco-chain is a tremendous amount of opportunity just in relation to when they are sending out that linear programming. There is still the opportunity of how is that advertising model, how is that piece of rich content being serviced?
We service social networks, and I can tell you firsthand that when a new show, let’s say for example, CSI is launched, we can observe that traffic on a social network increases during the commercials when that new series is launched. Advertisers may think the viewer is watching during that primetime slot, but he or she is actually moving online to the Internet. Those are tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs to look at, those eco-chains or the quality of the content being delivered. There is still tremendous opportunity and lots of hard problems to solve in that area. In another area that has to do as well with the consumer, the idea of the digital locker, is one that still needs to be solved.
If you take a look at what people want, when I move from the Bay Area here, and off the Peninsula, and I travel to Lake Tahoe for vacation, one of the first things that people ask in my family is who has the DVD case? That DVD case goes directly from the house to the entertainment system in the SUV to the cabin at Lake Tahoe and back again. Those assets are purchased once, and we get to use them over and over again. Consumers are looking for that same level of portability of the digital content they purchase. It has utility across every one of the environments that they’re in.
SM: That is the Apple iCloud concept, actually.
WT: Certainly, certainly. There is Apple iCloud in relation to this, but then not everybody is buying their content from Apple. There’s a set of diversity that might be available in that particular area.
SM: The vision of iCloud is exactly as you described, and there are other services, like, Real Networks has Unify and Orb has a service and so on. There are a few other different services that are catering to the same use case.
WT: Absolutely, but, again, while they are the same use case, what everybody is trying to look for is that universal element that if you bought the DVD, you own it, and you could use it in different formats. If you have too many of those use cases available along those lines, then the level of portability suffers, and it’s locked into a particular solution.
SM: Yes, absolutely. The physical to digital movement and being able to have all the digital media available in a central cloud repository, that is definitely a movement that is going to mature over this decade, and there will be opportunities there. What are your thoughts on the direction in which we are going, led by Netflix, the whole film on-demand or video on demand and streaming and all of that, go in?
WT: If you judge based upon use of the service, I think the ease of consumption of on-demand content is that a lot of people are going out. You mentioned Apple iCloud, iTV. What you can get in relation to movies off the Apple Basic falls into that same category. I think we are just going to see more consumption, more demand of that content off companies like Netflix and [sites] like iTunes. When you ask that question, what are you searching for, Sramana, in particular?