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TV market poses new challenges to Apple TV

Posted: 08 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share


8. Recommendation conundrum

Nobody seems happy with recommendation features offered by DMA boxes. How could Apple fix that?

Indeed, the difficulty of finding content was a key finding in Ericsson ConsumerLab's recent study. "Consumers feel that recommendation features are simply not smart or personal enough," the study concluded.

Recommendation features offered by DMA boxes

(Source: Ericsson ComsumerLab TV & Media 2015 Study)

Doherty agreed. He pointed out, "No consumers we've interviewed like the existing favourites options on their cable, Broadcast and TV remotes." He noted, "My navigation guide should figure out our favourites from our behaviour instead of asking us to program silly grids."

To an extent, some DMA boxes already do that. But such machine-generated recommendations aren't exactly meeting consumers' needs.

Kingston said there are several different, and more nuanced ways to do recommendations. One is for the box to determine who is sitting in front of the device (among different family members) and tailor the recommendation.

Second, "You can also do recommendations by taking into account of temporal information." What you may want to watch at 8:00p.m. Saturday evening might be different from what you are inclined to see at a certain hour on a weekday.

Third, the recommendation engine could be "informational," pointing to events happening right now. Given the migrant crisis in Europe right now, the DMA box could suggest programmes picked from a broader informational context in the world, Kingston said. Forth, the recommendation could be more socially driven.

All in all though, while people crave for intelligent recommendations, in reality, this probably is the hardest nut to crack because it's so personal. Even when consumers say that they want to be surprised by the choices, they tend to prefer comfortable predictability over the new and different.

As Kingston summed up, the end game for Apple TV is the following:

Apple needs to supply the market with an indexed, orderly, transparently-searchable Wikipedia. Couple this with a Real-McCoy recommendation platform, Apple could finally port its core, hardware design ethos to the odd-man-out Apple TV with disarming simplicity.

But there's a hitch. Certainly, a better recommendation engine should attract audience to Apple TV because it is a flagship feature, Kingston said. And yet, if the recommendation engine works well to a point where it's utterly transparent, it could end up too subtle to get consumers' notice.

- Junko Yoshida
  EE Times

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