If apps are the new channels, where is the new TV Guide?

John Gruber says “Apps are the new channels” and he is right.  Spot on.  Its one of those clear statements that, when you hear it, seems to sum up how the media is moving.  The app is the new channel – not just a TV channel, but a media channel.  There no longer needs to be a difference between National Geographic the magazine and National Geographic the TV channel.

What are the implications of this?

Channels will become smaller – there is no point in a BBC app – but there might be lots of value in a BBC News app.  I don’t care less about most of the entertainment on ITV, but give me an X Factor App (I know, I know, its social anthropology, honest, I’m not just easily please) and I’ll watch it that way.  Most of the time it will be “One app per show”, occasionally you might get something bigger like a “Discovery Science” app or a “Film 4″ app.

We are going to need apps to move between devices.  If I install National Geographic on my tablet to read on the train, I also want it installed on my TV set.

We need apps to communicate between devices – so when I’m reading an article in a magazine and want to see a film on my TV, I can just click and let it play

We need syndication of app messages in really clever an innovative ways.  I’m not sure what form this might take yet, but if there is a new edition of my favourite magazine, or a new episode of my favourite show, I want to know about it – and I don’t want to have to go to that show’s app to find out.  Something clever needs to tell me what I’m able to watch

We also need discovery.  Which will be a combination of reddit, stumble-upon, facebook and digital spy if it is really going to work.  Something will have to tell us when new interesting things we don’t currently have apps for turns up.

Commercials might be dead.  Its possible we can get advert supported versions of apps – but I feel more and more that this isn’t the only way.  We are going to have to pay to watch episodes of shows.  But sometimes it might be in the network’s interest to get us watching for free before jacking up the price.

Indie TV will become more plausible without having to fit into a channel’s framework

Apps will become more interactive and less linear – if you want them to be.  While I expect to be able to watch the X Factor in exactly the way I do now with my X Factor App, I also expect to be able to choose which video’s to watch again, skip the boring bits, choose to buy downloads of the tracks I likes, see extra interviews with people I like, vote for the winner, discuss the X Factor with other social anthropologists like myself and bet on the outcome (aha – maybe you finally see my hidden interest.  I think I’m already well into profit this year)

There will cease to be boundaries between software, TV, movies, games and magazines

Someone out there is going to make a lot of money by being the new media hub.  It might be Apple – they’ve clearly made a lot of inroads. Google don’t seem to quite know what the game is and the old guard with their Hulus are way off base.  If I had to put my money on anyone, right now Facebook is where the future of TV is – or, maybe – just maybe – the BBC and iPlayer might manage some sort of coup (but thats more likely to be blocked by the powers who be and financial shortages).

Or there is always Amazon.  Who own Lovefilm in the UK.  And have all the pieces they need except a TV interface.  Kindle TV?  It would be a logical next step to their domination of my life.  And I might welcome it.

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