A world where machines within the home can share content is
close to becoming a reality, with those that have the ability to
offer such a solution already constructing the foundations.
Mobile technology is at the heart of the equation. Last week,
Samsung Mobile VP Mark Mitchinson confirmed that the company was
looking to integrate its products. He hinted of the move when he
told Mobile: 'We have a clear strategy, for obvious reasons I'm
not about to elaborate on this, but suffice to say more
opportunities and trends are set to materialise over the course
of the year.'
Samsung's converged devices strategy is also to be followed by
competitor electronics giants LG and Sony.
All companies are members of a group called the Digital Living
Network Alliance (DLNA), which is a standard used by
manufacturers of consumer electronics to allow entertainment
devices to share content over a home network.
As of August 2009, it was supported in more than 5,500 different
devices and in 2008, over 200 million devices with the technology
built in were sold. Motorola and Nokia are also members of the
One manufacturer source says: 'DLNA is about linking machines in
the home, such as TV and games consoles. The underpinning
technology behind that is Bluetooth in mobile.'
For example, a DLNA compliant TV will interoperate with a DLNA
compliant PC to play music, photos or videos.
Strategy Analytics director of connected devices Peter King says:
'What we are seeing more and more is the mobile phone being used
as a remote control. It can even be used literally to change the
channel on a TV.'
And we are starting to see a number of suppliers providing
content for mobiles. The DLNA has set up some standards and a
number of Nokia and Samsung phones are set to become
interoperable with other devices within the house.
This is nothing new, says King. 'A Nokia phone could talk to a
Samsung TV. There are lots of devices out there today. DLNA has
been there for six years. It is now a reality - 200 million
enabled devices were sold this year.'
But why is everyone doing it? 'If they don't do it, they won't
sell their TVs or products,' says King.
However, consumers are not yet aware in the UK - although in
Japan, this is different,
says King, adding: 'There will need to be a campaign to build
Products that can be enabled include mobile phones, games
consoles, TVs, Blu-ray players, digital media players, audio
systems, PCs and to a lesser extent, cameras.
'The phone is certainly a key player - DLNA is a cross-industry
group,' adds King.
But for some members of the group (see below) it will make
more sense than for others. Samsung, LG and Sony already
manufacture many of the devices featured in the network. Sony
also has 'Sony Online Service' (see box, far left), which intends
to take advantage by selling content to be shared across the
network. King says: 'Some may have an advantage - for Sony it
makes a lot more sense. More players will also enter the mobile
market. Dell and HP are having a tough time in the PC market so
they are going into the internet devices market.'
Devices currently available supporting DLNA
- Hewlett Packard Media Vault home servers
- LG BD-390 Blu-ray player
- Microsoft Xbox 360
- Nokia phones: N95 8GB, N82, N95, N80,
- N93, N93i, N900 - play PC media on phone or PC (Panasonic plasma televisions VIERA Z series to G15 series)
- Philips televisions and media devices
- Pioneer amplifiers and televisions
- Samsung televisions and media devices
- Sony roomlink devices
- Sony PlayStation3
- Sony Ericsson phones: W995, W715,
- C905 - Share media with other devices on the network
- Western Digital TV Live HD Media Player
Will convergence change retail?
With convergence now a strategy across the industry, mobile
retail may be set to change.
Carphone Warehouse's Wireless World format is a clear indicator
that the retailer sees that mobile stretches much further than
However, Phones 4u has decided to continue to specialise in
mobile phones, pulling back on laptops.
One source told Mobile: 'Phones 4u is a brilliant specialist
retailer but if it starts to expand out it will dilute its
But with manufacturers diversifying, it might pay for mobile
retailers to also expand their core offerings.
Who has read the market correctly? Carphone is not the first
place that springs to mind when buying a TV, but its partnership
with Best Buy may change things. Phones 4u's Currys concession
also makes a lot of sense.
Sony Online Service
Late last year, at Sony's global strategy presentation, it was
revealed that a premium subscription service would be added to
the PlayStation Network (PSN).
This is part of a far larger vision that will see Sony try to
overtake Apple's iTunes service with a common content
distribution system for all its media products.
Temporarily named the Sony Online Service (SOS), the ambitious
initiative aims to offer a single user experience across all its
network media devices, from portable media players to large
screen Bravia HDTVs. It will support a single user ID across all
Sony products, all of which will have a common user experience.
The goal is to encourage consumers to buy more Sony products
because of the 'enhanced value', says Sony. HDTVs, Blu-ray
players, the Sony Reader electronic book, laptops, Walkman MP3
players, the PSP Go, and the PS3 are examples of devices that
would use the service.
The PSN will be the basis for the entire SOS structure. According
to Sony Computer Entertainment group CEO Kazuo Hirai: 'The
service will be launched economically and quickly by leveraging
the PlayStation [Network] service platform. For example, key
assets for creating a network service management system, payment
system, and content distribution system will be shared with the
PSN platform so that initial investment risk can be minimised.'
With PSN as its backbone, the Sony Online Service will also
attempt to expand into the company's line of mobile devices. 'The
introduction of new mobile products that are network enabled will be a key part of this process, as mobile
products that users turn to throughout the day will be a key
entry point to this service,' says Hirai.