DIRECTV's iPad App & Why I Hate Tech Journalists
Washington, D.C. (March 1, 2011)
In the past few days, several technology web sites, including PC
Magazine, CNET, Engadget, Electronista, ZDNet and Zatz Not
Funny, have written gushing articles about DIRECTV's new iPad
This is yet another example of why I hate technology web sites.
Okay, I don't hate them. But tech journalists are often so
intoxicated with new gadgets that they forget to write how many
people will actually use them -- or would even want to. Their
articles sound like everyone will start playing with the new
gizmos immediately. But in many cases, most people don't have
the technical expertise or equipment to do so.
You'll rarely find this part of the equation in the articles of
tech journalists. But leaving it out is misleading and does a
disservice to the reader.
For instance, in the case of DIRECTV's iPad app, it allows
DIRECTV viewers to remotely control their TVs, record shows and
change the channel. But here's the problem, tech writers. The
majority of the app's features require that you have a DIRECTV
HD DVR connected to a Broadband connection.
A few tech writers mentioned the need of a
Broadband connection. But what they didn't tell you is that only
about six percent of DIRECTV's 19 million subscribers
have HD DVRs connected to a Broadband network. (This is
according to DIRECTV.)
This means that only about 1.1 million DIRECTV subscribers are
set up to use the new iPad app.
Well, actually, it's even less than that.
The 1.1 million DIRECTV subscribers who have set-tops connected
to a Broadband network -- and own an iPad! -- can use the new
DIRECTV iPad app.
According to Wall Street analysts, about 15 million iPads were
sold in 2010, the product's launch year. The population of the
U.S. is more than 300 million. So based on those statistics, you
could guess that about 10-12 percent of U.S. homes have an iPad
now. (Based on the average home consisting of roughly 2-3
But let's say that the average DIRECTV Broadband user is more
likely to own an IPad -- so maybe 15 percent of that 1.1 million
audience has one.
Doing some quick math, that would mean about 160,000 people are
now capable of using the new DIRECTV iPad app.
Does that seem like a big number to you? With only 160,000
people even capable of using the app, does it seem like it's
worthy of the attention it has received from the tech writers?
I don't. But once again, it's part of what's wrong with
technology journalism. Tech writers write for themselves and
their fellow tech geeks. They don't take the time to consider
whether the majority of people will use -- or even care about --
a new gadget. Instead, they write about products that seem cool
and generate a lot of buzz -- like the iPad. And they write
about them as if everyone will use them.
But the tech journalists would perform a better service for
their readers -- and the industry -- if they would start putting
a little perspective in their coverage. By constantly hyping new
products, the tech journalists are creating unrealistic
expectations about their future success.
Before writing, the tech journalists should should think about
that family of four in Des Moines. That retiree in Texas. That
new college graduate in Boston who doesn't have the money to buy
an iPad, much less install a DIRECTV dish on her apartment roof.
There's a whole country out there who doesn't think that the sun
rises and sets on new technology.
to see today's Swanni Sez.
Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com.
He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast
outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York
Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial
Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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