The Incredible Stickiness of Bundling

New Edge  Never underestimate the power of tying things to other things. Case in point: the most recent results from an annual Deloitte survey show that 74% of U.S. households still subscribe to pay TV such as cable or satellite, and that 66% of subscribers say that they keep their subscription because it is bundled with their internet service.

According to Deloitte’s 11th annual “Digital Democracy Survey,” 49% of U.S. consumers and nearly 60% of Generation Z (Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2002), millennials (born between 1983 and 1996) and Generation X (Gen X, born between 1966 and 1982) subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service. Yet free streaming services still prevail: 40% primarily use free streaming service, versus 35% who use paid services.

Binge watching is a national compulsion: 73% of all U.S. consumers have binge watched TV shows. Eighty-eight percent of Gen Z and 90% of millennials have binge watched. Thirty-four percent of Gen Z and 38% of millennials binge watch on a weekly basis. The length of the average binge watching session? Six episodes, or roughly five hours per sitting.

There is a Trojan Horse in Your House

 About a week ago, I was asked if I owned a certain smart-home device. I replied, “No, but within a few months I probably will.

There is little doubt that smart home tech is a growing field, and that various devices ranging from HVAC to home security systems to kitchen appliances are increasingly being designed and marketed with “smart” functions. At the same time, however, proponents and users of the devices would benefit from taking some steps to lessen the opportunity for their IoT devices to be unwilling conscripts in a virtual army of attack bots.

Sports Audiences Slide, But It's Not the Slide MLB Desires

 Depending on your tastes, the phrase “Jepsen awful throw” might refer to either Carly Rae Jepsen’s first pitch at Tropicana Field in 2103 or Kevin Jepsen’s game-losing overthrow on an intentional walk. The latter might not occur if teams implement the new allowance granted by a change in the rules of Major League Baseball: specifically, managers can now signal for an intentional walk, and the umpire can award first base without a ball being thrown.

Like a Snowball Rolling Down a Hill

New Edge  It certainly seems like the pace of technological disruption in our lives continues to increase over time—now, the Pew Research Center has quantified it. 

In a series of recently-released fact sheets, Pew plots the adoption of various technologies over time. Internet adoption, for example, has grown from 52% in 2000 to 88% in 2016. Home broadband adoption has grown from 1% to 73% over the same period. Thirty-five percent of Americans owned a smartphone in 2011, as opposed to 77% in 2016, and tablet ownership grew from 3% in 2010 to 51% in 2016.

I have a slide I like to use when giving presentations about technological innovation that shows the number of years it took various new inventions to reach the 25% adoption level. It is surprising to see just how long it took for innovations that are now considered critical parts of our daily lives to be embraced by the general public.

As difficult as it seems to believe, it took electricity 46 years to be adopted by 25% of the population. The telephone did not reach the 25% mark until 35 years after its introduction, and the automobile took 55 years.

Why Are Cord Cutters Cutting Cords?

New Edge  It’s no secret that more and more American households are doing without pay-TV service. Market research firm GfK has estimated the percentage of cord cutting households in the U.S. to be as high as 25%.

To better understand this phenomenon, it would be helpful to have some insight into the reasons behind the cord cutters' actions. That’s exactly what TiVo has attempted to do in their recently-released “Q4 Video Trends Report: Consumer Behavior Across Pay-TV, VOD, PPV, OTT, TVE, Streaming Devices, and Content Discovery.”

TiVo surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in the U.S. and Canada, 18 years of age and older. Of those respondents who did not have a pay-TV provider, 19.8% had cut cable/satellite service in the past 12 months, 48.1% cut the cord more than a year ago, and 32.1% never had cable/satellite service. Asked their reasons for cutting cable/satellite service, 80.1% said that the price was too expensive, 48.3% use an internet streaming service, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc., and 27.2% use an antenna to get the basic channels on their TV.

Algorithms Support the Proposition That I Will Never Order Anything but the Chili Burger

  Everything is relative. Even video.

I was raised with a quiet yet ever-present (if even unspoken) philosophy that it was better to be outside biking or playing ball than indoors watching TV. And, if the rain kept one inside, then a book or a musical instrument or a “hands-on” activity would in most instances be far more rewarding than another re-run of the Brady Bunch or Gilligan’s Island.

And, yet, society may have reached a point at which we long for the social benefits of watching television.

Danger...Danger Will Robinson!

New Edge  As most of us head happily toward our increasingly Internet of Things (IoT) future, we tend to think only of the seemingly unlimited opportunities new technology will offer us. Few, if any, of us think of the potential pitfalls along the way.

That’s where Barr Group comes in. As part of their mission to help engineers improve the overall reliability and security of all embedded systems applications, Barr seeks out and highlights the design flaws and vulnerabilities in the design of systems that the majority of us are, for the most part, blissfully unaware. 

Barr has done just that in their soon to be released “2017 Embedded Systems Safety & Security Survey.” The annual survey, first conducted in 2015, looks specifically at the safety and security practices of embedded systems designers. This year, more than 2,000 engineers from around the world participated.

“Embedded systems devices serve as a doorway to the Internet,” said Michael Barr, Barr Group chief technology officer. “There are a number of simple-to-perform, well-known software development best practices, such as version control, code reviews, static analysis, and coding standards, that have been proven to result in safer and more secure embedded systems for all devices—including IoT applications. These techniques are essential to minimizing the risk of tampering or malfunction of any embedded system.”

If You Provide It...They Will Stay

New Edge  More than three-quarters of consumers would prefer their ISP to provide their Wi-Fi equipment as opposed to buying it themselves, a new survey from AirTies reveals.

In addition, 43% of survey respondents said they have areas in their home or apartment where Internet service does not work, and 54% have contacted their ISP to complain about their service.

“When most consumers think about their own home Internet experience, they don’t view Wi-Fi as something separate. This is why they are quick to call or blame their ISPs for performance issues,” said AirTies CEO Philippe Alcaras. “Improving this experience shouldn’t be the responsibility of consumers or third-party retailers, but rather their ISPs. In fact, the vast majority of consumers would prefer that, and would consider paying extra for a premium Wi-Fi experience that works in every corner of their home.”

The potential benefits to the provider are not inconsequential: 74% of respondents said that they would consider upgrading to a faster tier of broadband service if they could be assured of better speed and coverage throughout their house. Seventy-seven percent said that they would be willing to pay more for better Wi-Fi, with the average amount of incremental payment being $5 to $10 per month.

Elmer’s Glue Sales Doubled in December, and Social Media Has Something to do With It

  The last day of the R-TIME meeting proved challenging for many travelers, especially those headed east where winter storm predictions were prompting airlines to cancel flights early and often. While waiting for my outbound flight, I enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation with an NTCA member that covered everything from geocoding to USF contributions to differences in the ability to maintain a conversation and eye-contact among those who game near-constantly, and those who do not. Articles in this morning’s newspaper shed some light on his observations.

Your 1980s Calculator Watch Did Not Presage Current Tech Design


If the spirit moves you and your memory reaches back far enough, think about the day you saw your first Compucron, Seiko, Pulsar, or Casio calculator watch. Then think about how convenient (or inconvenient) the user interface was (see Ooject's run-down of the top 15 calculator watches).

High-tech of the early 1980s

A recurring theme at CES last month was the drive to integrate technology with life in meaningful ways. At the same time, developers are working to make those integrations as unapparent as possible. The success of many products that are intended to infuse everyday activities with “smart” will hinge, in part, on the accessibility and familiarity of their user interfaces. Three articles from a week’s stack the Wall Street Journal indicate that users will pay for more, but the “more” will sell better if it providers a simpler user interface.