Will the Windows 7 Launch Kick-Start DLNA in the CE Market?

When “Windows 7” officially launches on October 22, 2009 , will it usher in a new marketing and public awareness of DLNA devices?

At the 2009 CES in January, there were joint press releases from DLNA and MSFT about the requirement for Windows 7 devices to be DLNA certified.  Since then, the news has been sparse.

SOME NEWS IS GETTING OUT: As aptly stated in the Gizmodo article last February:

“… one of the most potentially groundbreaking features of Windows 7 is “Play To,” the ability to send music, video and photos to any compatible devices on the network, without running any kind of proprietary software, and without any initial setup. Sending a song to a Sonos or a video to an Xbox is—theoretically—just a right-click away.

“The reason things work so well in theory is that they all support DLNA standards for sharing content on a network. You right click a piece of content in Windows Media Player, select “Play To…” and up pops any and all devices that can be commandeered. The good news here is that any media “renderer”—be it a networked photo frame or a PS3—that ends up supporting the standard will be able to receive anything you hurl at it from your Windows 7 box, and you’ll even be able to grab content from servers and other computers and play them on the renderer of your choice. “

NO TECHNO BABBLE:  For years, the movers and shakers of DLNA (Sony, Nokia, Pioneer, HP, Philips, LG, etc) have invested their money and their best technical talent to develop a uniform standard for content discovery and playback.  Unfortunately, most of the information on their success has only been shared amongst the geek community.  Now that there are 5000 DLNA Certified Devices its time to let the general public in on their secret (and without the need for a ‘secret decoder ring’ to decipher all of the jargon.)

SIMPLE MARKETING APPROACH:  Complicated technology should only be communicated to the average consumers through the use of easy to understand use cases.

  • I have pictures (or videos) on my phone, how can I show them on my TV?
  • Show me how to print my phone photos so I can display them on the bulletin board at work.
  • Can I send the music I downloaded on my PC to my phone so I can listen to it anywhere?

When consumers discover one ‘ah ha’ feature about DLNA, that’s usually all it will take to get them to understand the value of purchasing a DLNA certified device.

USE THE BIG BOYS TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT: The DLNA organization, in and of itself, does not have enough clout to stand alone and shout their virtues in a crowded consumer marketplace.  However, their member companies represent some of the best known, and respected brands worldwide.  So, if Sony, Nokia, LG and other CE giants  were to establish key marketing phrases, joint use cases and product launch timing for DLNA devices, the effect could be astounding.  These DLNA member companies control a significant portion of the print, TV and CE internet marketing with their huge advertising budgets.  DLNA could be an “overnight” success in the consumers’ minds.  “What’s the latest ‘next new thing’ in consumer electronics;  DLNA.”  And let’s not forget the marketing power of that small software company in Redmond.

RETAILERS NEED TO SIGN ON TOO: Once the ads are running and the consumers are interested, they need to know that their retailers also understand DLNA.  Have you ever tried to get a straight answer from a store clerk about which TV you should buy?  Most of these minimum wage salespeople are more concerned about when they get off their feet for lunch or if they forgot to clock back in after their last break.  But this isn’t their fault.  Their just trying to make an honest living in a very complicated CE world where management has demonstrated little or no respect for the value they bring to closing the sale and their impact on overall customer satisfaction.

Retailers need to educate their staff to answer consumer questions with short, clear answers in plain language.  A concise 30 minute demonstration of DLNA devices and a pocket cheat sheet with the key use cases of DLNA would go a long way toward increasing sales and consumer understanding.  And why should the retailers care?  DLNA could bring them the potential of selling multiple devices instead of just one.  “I just upgraded my PC to Windows 7, what devices can I now control with my PC?”  Perhaps the sale of a DLNA IOMEGA NAS drive prompts the sale of an HP wireless printer or a new MP3 docking station.  There is money to be made.

SHOULD ISPs and MSOs JUMP ON THE DLNA BANDWAGON?: Could DLNA devices and use cases increase ARPU?  Since the mobile phone and pay TV markets in the US are still vertical markets, controlled by service providers, it will take direct action by these gatekeepers to expose their subscribers to DLNA use cases.  DLNA represents a viable solution for “mobile to broadband conversion” scenarios.  Tie in your mobile service with your upgraded broadband service and you could see more entertainment choices.  But just like consumers, the Telcos and MSOs need to be told in simple language how DLNA will help them.  They want to see increased sales, bundled packages and use cases which will lower churn.  And if it means more calls to the call center, forget about it.  Keeping customers happy while driving costs down is a never ending challenge.

THE NEAR FUTURE:  The DLNA Marketing Committee, under the stewardship of the Committee Chair and the Executive Director,  has been moving in the right direction toward public awareness for the past year or so.  The recently approved press release policy and appointment of a professional marketing person are welcome steps.  A coordinated marketing campaign with a big splash for the 2009 Holiday marketing period should be at the top of their to do list.

Keep pushing forward

Jeff Vinson

jeff_vinson@sbcglobal.net

PS:  Yes, I am still looking for a new engagement – consulting or full time.  See my bio and LinkedIn pages.

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3 Responses to “Will the Windows 7 Launch Kick-Start DLNA in the CE Market?”

  1. jeffvinsoniptv Says:

    Robert: Your comment illustrates the key DLNA challenge; most people do not realize that DLNA devices have been working together in commercially released products for several years. I was streaming music from a Nokia N80 to surround sound living room speakers in the NXP Connected Living Showcase in 2006!

  2. Robert Clark Says:

    Congrats on the new blog Jeff! It’s hard to believe and imagine this ultimate capability (DLNA-compatible, cross-platform device delivery). When might we see the first proof-of-concept (or commercial capability) do you think? I’m blogging myself at Trender Research, but I’ve moved to a center between Next-Gen Video, Advertising and Casual/Online Gaming and where they now often intersect to help each other succeed. You should also check out Brian Mahony (Ex-Espial) and Patti Realli’s (Ex-Gartner) IPTV et al blogging at Trender. Keep “pluggin’ away” Jeff! Robert Clark

  3. Karl Says:

    I agree — re: using the big boys to get the message out and keeping the messaging simple and direct — gratifications-based. As a consumer, I don’t really care how DLNA works, or even what it stands for. It just needs to work. Microsoft has the best chance of winning this game — and seems to understand what is at stake.

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