The closest piece of glass

Future TV Asia

We tend not to think of our precious touchscreens as being "glass." After all, glass is fragile. It shatters, it falls to pieces. We look at others working with a handset covered with cracks (the bruises of technology) and think, well, it seems even "Gorilla Glass" can break.

The term "closest piece of glass" was coined (or at least used) last week by Professor Paul Morrissey at Telco CEM Asia 2015 in Jakarta, and it says much about the way we consume video content.

Morrissey's title: "TM Forum Ambassador" for big data analytics and customer experience, and it's apt. His analysis of consumer behavior led him to the "closest glass" concept. To understand it, let's back up a bit.

Some of us are old to remember The Television Set: as in, the single piece of glass (big, heavy, warm enough that the cat was usually perched atop) that delivered audio/visual. They were expensive and – like telephone lines – generally limited to one per family.

As video progressed through videotape onto optical disc, we still had that glass. As laptop screens went from monochrome to higher resolutions, and DVD drives began appearing in laptops, the paradigm shifted.

New class of glass

I knew something fundamental had shifted when a film-critic friend said he could sit on his couch writing a review, switch to an app that spun the DVD and watch a movie-scene, then resume writing his review. All on the same machine. Something we take for granted now, but it was a function that changed his workflow for the better.

While he was working, the laptop was his "closest piece of glass," and now he could use it to find specific film-segments he needed for his job and re-watch them. His logic was linear — here's the tool, use the tool. Tech at its best (this was before we had to evaluate operating systems to see how much privacy-invasion they brought to the table, but I digress).

New panes of glass

Nowadays, our laptops are simply another "piece of glass." Often, our main screen – the #1 screen – is the smartphone or tablet. When I'm commuting, I use my phone to catch up on news, do some quick communication, or read a novel.

But many of my fellow commuters (if not intently crushing candy-shaped icons) are watching video. It's their closest piece of glass. The ultra hi-def screen at home may be a better viewing experience, but it's not physically close.

We've been moving toward this concept for some time — websites are optimized for mobile, video streams in suitable resolution. What's at-hand is where we get our info, our communications, and our entertainment.

As consumers are in the driver's seat, the brief for video/content-suppliers is clear — serve the closest piece of glass. Options include different resolutions for other pieces of glass (we all have several), but customers will default to what's at hand. Want their business?

About the author

Commentary

5G and data center-friendly network architectures

Matt Walker / MTN Consulting

Webscale and transmission network operators' interests are aligning as the 5G era dawns

Matt Walker / MTN Consulting

Webscale and transmission network operators' interests are aligning as the 5G era dawns

Rémy Pascal / Analysys Mason

The launch of 5G by South Korean operators serves as a first benchmark for other operators around the world