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DIRECTV's iPad App & Why I Hate Tech Journalists
By Swanni

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 app.

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.)

Six percent!

This means that only about 1.1 million DIRECTV subscribers are set up to use the new iPad app.

Right?

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 people.)

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.

160,000 people.

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.

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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 swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

Click TVPredictions.com to read more news and features on TV technology. 

 
 
 
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