Mobile Devices: Remote or Primary?

I've long thought that the mobile devices we have in our home (tablets, iTouch, phones) would be our remotes. In fact, we use them everyday for that now. We use the Sonos app on the iPad to control the music in our house. We use the Boxee remote on the iTouch to control our TV. We all have apps on our androids and iPhones that control various devices in our home.

But as we were driving out to our beach house on friday afternoon, I realized that there is an alternative scenario. The mobile devices could be our primary content consumption devices and we will simply connect them to whatever device we want them to "play to."

That's how we and surely many others use the audio in our cars. We connect one of our many mobile devices to our auxiliary input in our car audio system and then play music. We play rdio, rhapsody, mog,, hypem, and sometimes local files on our mobile device and use the car audio system for the amplification and speakers throughout the car. We sometimes use the am/fm and siriusxm radio we have in the car. But the vast majority of listening happens on the mobile devices connected via the auxiliary input. We have the various subscription and free internet audio services on our mobile devices, not in our car dashboard.

That's how we use the telephone in our car too. Our mobile phones are connected via bluetooth to the car speakers and microphone. Our address books are on our mobile phones, not in the car dashboard. Our connections to the voice networks are on our mobile devices, not the car dashboard.

And we are quickly seeing video services show up on tablets. My friend Jimmy was at our beach house in long island on friday night. He showed me the Cablevision iPad app. If you can simply "play" the video on the iPad on the TV via a technology like Apple's Airplay, then the iPad becomes more than the remote. It becomes the set top box replacement.

The implications of this alternative scenario are profound. The subscription services might be on the mobile devices, not the displays. If your friend has an subscription on his or her tablet and they come over to your house, you could watch the game on your TV via your friend's tablet.

That's how it works with audio today. My kids' friends come over and connect their phones and iTouch devices to our audio system and play their music on it. It seems highly possible that this model will continue to develop and include video as well. And if this becomes the dominant model then the video and audio systems will remain "dumb" and the smarts will be in the mobile devices.

I think its a bit too early to know which way the market will evolve. The auto industry and the consumer electronics industry have been pushing to get smart processers, operating systems, and internet connections into their products. There's a lot of energy going into that approach right now. But consumers are moving even faster than the manufacturers right now and the market may evolve in a different direction before the manufacturers can catch up. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Guest

    Yeahr flexibility is the keyword Fred. I still remember how we went to a restaurant/bar/disco to celebrate our graduation 2 years ago and the music was so rubbish that my friend and I decided to give the DJ our ipod so he can play our tunes and everyone was happy. The consumers will shape the entertainment world more and more, that’s for sure.

    1. fredwilson

      “giving the DJ the iPod” is a great way to think about this

      1. JamesHRH

        Jam box is the winning model. Compact, high quality, BT, some fun in the interaction ( my 6 year old picked up the word ‘device’ from the voice msgs on his ).For live streams (i.e.,, the tablet, phone, player, TV, speaker set or monitors just need to be able to verify access.

  2. Brad

    We used to be slave to TV schedules and what was on the radio, now we demand what we want to watch when we want to watch it. Yesterday I watched a program on Hulu, Comcast on Demand and Netflix, not finding anything I wanted on TV. I did this on my iphone, ipad and computer. As applications are moving in that direction the consumer will become more sophisticated and fickle and companies will need to respond. Interesting times…..

  3. mydigitalself

    Fred I think your observation points more to the cloud and it’s portability implications less the primary nature of the device.The display has long been low on capability, it was what you connected to it that provided the content either in the form of a set top box, a VCR all the way through BluRay. Similarly your subscription was never on your television in the first place, it was always on the set top box or whatever other device or content you had connected to your screen (think Netflix).The profound change here is the fluidity and portability of this ecosystem that’s largely due to the cloud; as you point out I can just push Rdio from the cloud (via my phone) to my friend’s setup at his house using Airplay.There’s still, however, at present the need for hubs, which are not dissimilar to the set top box. Think Boxee, think Sonos, think AirPlay and I’m very interested in how this whole landscape matures because right now it’s still pretty fiddly and advanced. My mother doesn’t understand it, nor could she set it up without assistance. So whilst the opportunity is incredible and immediately obvious to us, we’ve still got a long way to go to true mass market.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m not sure i understand it either. that’s why i am posting about it. i want to figure this out

      1. markslater

        its an APP on a smart device – that simply controls your viewing experience (where that content comes from / how it gets there) is not important – it might end up being as simple as a remote control on the ipad, or phone. 

  4. Ryguyspy

    It’s iPod touch. Not iTouch.

    1. fredwilson

      i call it iTouch. i realize that’s not what it is called by applei also call my son jman, when his real name is josh

  5. Jan Schultink

    It is interesting to see how all this has stopped my quest for perfect sound and image. Whether an A/V component will “eat” content from a phone is more important than having that perfect HiFi / video setup.

    1. Dan Epstein

      I’m in the same boat.  For years I only downloaded live concerts in FLAC (instead of MP3) b/c I didn’t want to lose any of the quality when I burned them to cd.  And I downloaded a lot.  Now I stream everything with who knows what kind of compression, and I don’t really give much thought to what I’m losing on sound quality.

  6. Charlie Crystle

    Automakers can completely drop audio controllers, except perhaps radio which can be useful when connectivity is poor (drove to the mountains yesterday and lost my 3g NPR podcast along the way).1) make it simple to connect (and charge) any device. Nissan has done this for the iPhone. (rental!)2) make the audio itself sound great in anticpation of MP3s, which largely lack the depth and dynamics of CDs, given MP3s lossy compressionFor TVs, we need a generic standard that can run anything, which likely already exists–the PC/Mac. No set-top box, no boxee box, no playstation box. But there’s a better way, likely:  I should be able to stream content from the web to my mobile device to any display. The display needs to have1) great buffering2) great fidelity in decompression3) universal protocol for receiving the stream, which of course exists already. 

  7. Andy Ellis

    Thinking about this in terms of a problem to solve, what’s the point of what we’d love to achieve? I absolutely agree there’s something here and it’s tough to define.If I want to watch my subscription at a friends house, I’d love to be able to simply turn on his TV and login and have it stream immediately.  I think that’s the biggest potential of Google TV. I’d then love being able to control the TV that I’m logged into (via a connected service) with an App on my phone/tablet.I’d like tv’s to become windows to the internet, windows that I can open and get all my stuff from inside whenever I want. That’s the potential of the cloud and I can’t wait for it to get further along.

    1. DHarris

      This is definitely in the works.. Why have the mobile device at all? Apple may or may not use the tethered model.. In any case why stop with TVs? New Ford smart cars, for example, will be connected to the cloud via phone services (3G or 4G) allowing transmission of any of your cloud-held data, including even your address book, straight to the “dashboard” so potentially *everything* can be a window to the internet. The image that Fred paints is literally coming, in many cases skipping the mobile device middle man, way sooner than many may think.

  8. William Mougayar

    I connect my iPhone all the time to the Aux of my car and that’s the standard way for catching-up on music & TV/video channels. And when I travel, I take my car DC/AC charger, iPhone dashboard stand (you saw it & liked it), bluetooth visor speakerphone and Aux cable, and can duplicate my experience in the rental car. They all fit in a tiny pouch, but it would be nice if all cars were equipped with these, so I don’t have to take them with me. I agree that the car manufacturers will have to get much more creative. They are in a tough spot because everything can be done with wireless and software. So, the “connection” to the car itself is a loose one except for the sound/visual elements perhaps. 

  9. ErikSchwartz

    Mobile networks lack the capacity to make this happen. Many of the mso based tablet apps require you to be in the home for them to work because they are streaming live tv from your stb to your ipad.

    1. fredwilson

      if the msos put too many restrictions, they open up opportunities for over the top services

      1. markslater

        finally erik weighs in. So you are saying that the ring fence for the MSO’s is bandwidth?

  10. Joseph Flaherty

    I’d bet on mobile becoming primary in a majority of industries. You make a good point about more manufacturers including microprocessors in their products, but I think we’ll quickly see that the bottle neck won’t be component cost but software design/execution.This is great for startups. My company makes consumer medical devices and we’ve been able to make a big splash in our market by “ephemeralizing” the product. We boiled it down to a sensor and related components and the heavy lifting gets done by the iOS device. We can focus on collecting medical data and “Playing” that first to the device, then to the web.So instead of reinventing device drivers we focus on our core scientific and UI/UX challenges and leave the hardware design heavy lifting to the wizards in Cupertino. For patients, they can review results with their doctor by showing them their phone rather than having to route it through arcane EMR flows. 

    1. fredwilson

      yup, very good for startups

  11. awaldstein

    “But consumers are moving even faster than the manufacturers right now and the market may evolve in a different direction before the manufacturers can catch up.”This is key to me. In the home entertainment market at least you could add ‘networks’ to ‘manufacturers’. The mass non-cable-connected market is increasingly moving to a different (and faster) beat than the TV industry itself.

  12. Conrad Ross Schulman

    I could build a multi-platform application that solves the problem: How it works:The application is a real-time music registry app that allows all the music listeners in a specific location to vote on which songs they want to hear. Example: I am in a bar by Union Square. The crowd is predominately young, however, the music sounds like i’m in a bar from 1965.All the music listeners go on their smart phones, check into the bar at union square, and vote for which songs they want to hear.The application will prioritize the song list based on how many people requested the songs.Then, the application will wirelessly stream the prioritized song list from the clouds to the speakers in the bar. If anyone is interested in joining this project, please find me on twitter@ConradSchulman:twitter 

    1. ShanaC

      This reminds me of my favorite coffee shop in Chicago…they had a pandora station that staff tweaked at (had great music).  I think this would go over well with small businesses who want radio without some of the oddness of radio – and if Targetspot could get in on location based ad serving, you could get some very interesting niches that are well supported too…

      1. Conrad Ross Schulman

        I am a co-founder/cfo behind the new project. Our Ceo is Miss Sara Petrovsky. We recently submitted to Kickstarter:…We are looking to beef up the staff on this project. If your interested, drop a line to Sara [email protected] 

  13. bsaitz

    I hope it moves to be user centric access to content, not so depedendent on the device itself. So if I came over your house, device-free, in should be able to login to show you my music or shows or movies, with just a login to any of your devices.

    1. Jarod Lam

      I hope this is the future too, but without the archaic login method. Perhaps another method of identifying the user (fingerprint, retina, voice, etc). 

      1. bsaitz

        yes, that would be nice too! 

  14. Robert Thuston

    First of all, that’s way too many music options in the car on a family trip… you named like 7… I started to stress just thinking about all the options.  I hope to my amusement and the amusement of others, that caricature art starts coming out that shows the “Wilson family” on vacation with all their devices and quirks.As for the post, I like this comment on Cloud (from digital self)… cloud will play some kind of role in this development.  Mobile devices may be able to “localize” some of this, because you’ll have whatever you need in your pocket per say, as long as you can sync in to other devices (tvs, audio systems, etc.)I’m trying to think of how this could be used outside of entertainment (syncing music, tv) .  I can’t think of any.  I could see a use for this with electronic games also.  Another thought I have bouncing around is that you could have your device talk to a friend’s device and show what common music, tv, movies, games, you both have when your devices come within a certain range of each other, etc.  This would add a discovery element.  #justthinkingoutloud

    1. ShanaC

      me too!

    2. fredwilson

      we take turns DJing in the car. it’s a fun family activity on a long car ride

  15. ShanaC

    This sounds like a mobile re-invention of the turntable – before we would stick headphones in our ears, now we want to swap the headphones for speakers….music gone public again.I do think this speaks to the more aggressively viral aspects of cloud and mobile based programs.  Because the devices are shareable, and the data is also shareable (as it is not local) making apps that reward/force the user to interact with others makes the app more powerful in its spreadability.  One we’ve moved from device specificity to login specificity (identity specificity) I think we’ll see a wholly new range of behaviors and programs…

  16. Jarod Lam

    There’s two things that I would love to see help accelerate the move to mobile computing and usage and that’s battery life and faster mobile networks. As devices such as the iPad become more popular and cloned, we’ll see more and more video and audio applications being developed. These things consume power and lots of bandwidth.  The next company that can double or quadruple battery power is going to be huge. 

    1. fredwilson

      those are most certainly the two big drawbacks to mobile phones. less so with tablets though, particularly in home

      1. Jarod Lam

        Your mention of the car industry got me thinking.  Wouldn’t it be great if docking ports were standardized across the industry and you simply docked your table into the center console and it served as your media/entertainment center? Even a navigation system with multi-touch capabilities would be nice. Think Google Maps on a tablet in your car instead of on a tiny mobile phone screen. I know some shops are installing tablets, but it’s usually a permanently placed solution rather than something that’s removable.  You can take your music and movies with you on the go and with improved mobile broadband capabilities, you can also stream on the go. Hulu right from your car. Kids in the backseat can dock their tablets into the headrests and stream their favorite cartoons.

        1. fredwilson

          yup. i love that idea

        2. 2joshis

          @fredwilson:disqus ,@twitter-171253585:disqusUniversal dock is already here Wireless interfaces (wifi,bluetooth, 3G).What’s needed is universal interfaces/API’s built over TCP/IP so that media device (car audio,TV) can interact with phone to stream music/video no cables needed.Also lot more easier if user credentials can be transferred from iphone to media device so media device can stream straight from cloud.Going the API route will also free up the proprietary walled gardens of device manufacturers.

          1. markslater

            and MSO’s – dont forget the stranglehold they have right now.

  17. Tereza

    I think that’s totally true.  All content should be accessible everywhere. It’s a pain point for me as I’m responsible for my kids’ content (4+8).  They can’t discern which content belongs to which “screen”.  Sometimes this causes tantrums.  🙂 We’re out and about a LOT, way more than in the living room.  It’s in the car for 45 minutes with the younger one, waiting for big sister’s karate class to end.  DVDs in the car player are so antiquated.  Scratched too.  This happens easily 4x/week. Also, our house is a small open space.  When the older one has to do homework or practice piano, the central (and only) TV has to be off.  This means the younger one is going to be a pain in the ass.  I’d like to hand her the iPad with all her content on it and stick her in another room.  I deeply need flexible use of my home space and NOT require a setup in every room. So yes — all content available EVERYWHERE.  We need that yesterday!Also we have really sketchy cell service in my area so caching is key.

    1. fredwilson

      i love the young family take on this

      1. Tereza

        Needless to say they also never want to watch the same thing at the same time.Sharing a single screen is very ‘three TV networks’, or just for family movie night.Otherwise more little portable screens makes much more sense and they rotate around like communal property.I typically didn’t pay much attention when you blog about music consumption but today realized kids’ video is the same thing.

      2. Tereza

        2 more thoughts/features re: parenting content.1.  DVDs get scratched.  We hate rebuying them.  Cloud would be so much better for that alone. 2.  Re: sharing.  The kids may or may not share, but as a parent i’d love to know what my kids’ friends are watching and also what their parents recommend.–And as importantly I’d like to know what shows/content their parents DON’T approve of.  So i either don’t buy them or know what should be kept out of the queue for playdates.  Since it takes a village, let me configure my village.

        1. markslater

          I’ll tell you what – i need to figure out how to short education like the guys in the book “the big short” i just finished this weekend. I am earlier in the family experience than both you guys – but what i see with my 20 month old and devices is nothing short of profound. its a good 30 mins each morning touching seeing and hearing things like animals. We went to the zoo yesterday – and she knew half the creatures in there!Education has to go through a fundamental change in the next decade due in large part to things like content on any device. There is a short position in college loan consolidators or something similar!

          1. Tereza

            Careful! You’re at risk of venturing into a “niche market”.

  18. Aaron Klein

    The other question is if Internet access will be the same. When mobile broadband becomes abundant, maybe everyone will carry their personal connectivity around and all the other devices will tap into it.

  19. Anthony Ortenzi

    The problem with integration into TV is that the innovation lifecycle on content-related gee-whiz features iterates so much faster than the display-replacement lifecycle.Integration of multiple functions into a single device, when the replacement cycle is as long as it is for TVs (or, for that matter, cars) means that something’s going to be woefully out-of-date before the rest is.Your phone/tablet/gadget replacement cycle is much faster.

    1. fredwilson

      great point

      1. Anthony Ortenzi

        I think as well that there’s resistance to a truly modular platform because exclusivity is still a competitive advantage.  Look at what happened with CableCard.  The only device that’s gotten anywhere with docking is the iPod dock connector, though even those come with an assortment of trays to accommodate various generations of hardware.I’ve always thought that A/V systems should simply be a switched network with nodes that do various things, but commercial interests keep getting in the way. 🙂

  20. Steve Poland

    Did you see the “hype!” Android app for hype machine? Get it.I am curious to try, sounds like good solution for parties.

  21. Nik Souris

    Same thing with my buddy you met, Mike Fong.  Big Steeler fan – we were at the bar – and they didn’t have the game – so we plugged his iPhone with the NFL ticket and made it our own! it could ultimately come down to the Scott McNeeley Java Ring or maybe the old school mood ring for what you’re feeling 😉

  22. Marcel Cramer

    Services will become even more device independent. In another way it becomes more ‘mobile’ than you can think of. I do not even feel that mobile will be the right word from some point because it implicates that you just take it from A to B. I think ‘Anywhere, Always, At the right time’ is more like it. If its in your glasses, the heads up display, your contact lenses, interactive walls, in your watch, mobile phones, pads, pods, etc why then still talk about mobile. It will just ‘Be’. The wall in the mall will take over from your mobile when you enter the shopping center, the car will tell you to put the phone to rest and the heads up display will automatically take over, so will the interface in your house. In hologram style…. ;)To far fetched? Don’t think so.

    1. fredwilson

      “the wall in the mall will take over your mobile”cool vision. i think that’s coming too

  23. sfopeter

    It is a pretty profound shift – content companies and developers do not want to build a bunch of tv apps because it is too cumbersome, and users do not want to use the cumbersome user interfaces on the TV’s. Did an article on that facet a few months ago –…

  24. Pigumon

    On a side note- Apple makes three distinctly different products that use a touch interface. iPod, iPhone, and iPad. There is no product called the iTouch. The non-touch interface iPod is called the iPod classic.

    1. fredwilson

      i call the iPod Touch the iTouch. i know that apple doesn’t use that term for that device

  25. David Shellabarger

    I’m on vacation this weekend too and I’ve had a similar experience except with restaurant reviews instead of music.One of my favorite things to do on vacation is find local food and try out a place I’ve never been before. In the past we’ve always looked up where to each back at our hotel room with the laptop, but I find that I prefer looking up reviews on my phone this time instead.Yelp, Google Places, Foursquare, Foodspotting and TripAdvisor all have apps that I’ve used to find great local places to eat.I think the reason I prefer the phone is because it is location aware (except for TripAdvisor, which is just an HTML 5 app ). Entering my location in a search box feels like work and I shouldn’t be working while on vacation :)In some cases like Foodspotting, the content was created on mobile and so it makes the most sense to consume it there too, even though I don’t particularly like their UI on Android.I didn’t think this would really happen so son, but in some cases, my phone is replacing my laptop.

  26. CJ

    “If your friend has an subscription on his or her tablet and they come over to your house, you could watch the game on your TV via your friend’s tablet.” – That’s a game changer.  When and if I could tie my cable TV sub to my phone or tablet and ‘play to’ any device in any home it becomes a lot more valuable to me.  

    1. Aaron Klein

      What? Content companies can’t charge the same person 16 times for the same content?!?!They may think this is the end of western civilization but it’s actually just the end of their dinosaur anti-customer business models.

      1. markslater

        hauntingly similar scenario to the music business is right around the corner

    2. markslater

      exactly. This spells great problems for the MSO’s Myself and a group of friends in my neighbourhood are avid soccer fans (premier league)   – we all subscribe to the various channels that charge us an arm and a leg every month. We all cancel at this time of year for 3 months as  the season is over. We all watch the games together each weekend – with this scenario – we only need one account. 

  27. terrycojones

    Hi FredThat’s great food for thought, thanks.I was driving around Palo Alto today in rental car, looking at the horizontal slot for CDs, and thinking that CD players in cars finally became ubiquitous right around the time that everyone stopped using CDs. How remarkable that my kids just a few years ago would have asked me what that slot was, and I’d have had to explain it because it was so new, and that today if they asked me about it, I’d have to explain it because it’s so old!

  28. SD

    I generally agree with your view – mobile seems to be evolving as a way to (1) capture and transmit data about a users surroundings (location, status, pix, motion, temp, etc) (2) as local storage and processing and (3) as a consumption device allowing users to use info that is stored locally or in the cloud (pix, audio, video, data, etc…)Because the small screen is fairly limited, being able to connect your smartphone to ANY screen seems important, irrespective of whether you are playing back data that is stored locally on that device (or streamed to the device via the cloud).One implication is that retailers and other places need to be able to make their locations more data-rich so that consumers CHOOSE to use the info/content that is at that location (vs. what users have already stored on or streamed to their device)…

  29. paramendra

    Intelligence is being spread. 

  30. Adam Schwartz

    We’ll call the feature: “Point and throw”

    1. fredwilson

      i like it

  31. Rahul Deodhar

    I think the time for such networking has come. The phone is powerful enough to be the carry along connectivity hub we want. It is also a bandwidth tap and processor that can synthesize the information. Actually I am taking liberty of posting something I wrote in 2005:Mobile phone manufacturers are telling us that we should watch television on the mobile phone screen. No one asked me am I comfortable watching it. There are some developments worth noticing. People have put television screens in cars, behind aircraft seats and possibly wherever they could. Also the projection technology is improving substantially.What can drastically alter the interface aspect is the internetworking of all these interface technologies. Like your laptop keyboard can be used for your mobile. And your television can show the photo you just received on your computer. We get the hint with the new software that comes with the cell phones these days that allow you to peek at the Cell phone contents thorough your computer.So it means that we will use what ever screen we have in close proximity to us. The software that will allow for this versatility will have to hit the market. But there is a strong case for such internetworking to happen.

  32. Andy Liu

    The mobile and tablet devices are absolutely going to be disruptive in a big way with regards to the video content that we consume on the TV.  We (BuddyTV, a venture backed startup in Seattle with over 5MM uniques) ran some research with our audience and found that at least 40% of users have a smart device (mobile/tablet) in the room with them as they are watching TV and another 40% plan to purchase one in the next 12 months.  Unfortunately, the use case for the remote on the smart device still has some real handicaps against the old school remotecontrol – it requires waking the device, going to the remote app, and then controlling the TV or setup box.  Many of the remote control apps such as the Cablevision app and the Comcast Xfinity app can’t change the volume or power on devices – which creates another problem,multiple remote control apps similar to multiple remote controls on your coffee stand – (there are Sony BluRay player remote apps and Samsung remote apps, etc).We think the consumer is going to want a simple discovery mechanism to find the content that they want and abstract all the heavy engineering (devices in the living room, content providers, control) to just play the content that they want on the device that they want – whether itis on the phone/tablet or on the big screen TV.  Make it easy and make it one app.  It’s a very hard engineering problem to solve, but it is the best consumer experience for the end user.  We think this is going to happen very soon, we’re betting on it.

    1. Prashant Sachdev

      Andy – think you mentioned two key problems from consumer point of view- unique remote may be mobile app or universal that makes it easy for consumer to control everything. Really tough considering wide variety of devices and no standards followed as far as remotes are concerned- discovery of content problem that many people are trying to solve…i assume BuddyTV is also focusing here…

    2. markslater

      fascinating stuff

  33. Prashant Sachdev

    I recently fitted a set-top box that plays live TV / Youtube in my car…it works well but as a consumer am not completely satisfied by the installations and varied devices that you need to have (Display LCD / LED, car music system, set-top box similar to Roku with USB internet / dongle)With audio, my mobile internet / apps can stream directly to music system via aux-in or FM transmitter or bluetooth – that’s plain simple and I can sit in any car – big plus :)With video – this hasn’t been easy yet but with tablet – yes this gonna happen soon and I believe it would replace the set-top box and screen requirement….Don’t see other good options, so you are completely right – Fred!

  34. vruz

    I think there’s different emerging concepts which can’t be explained in terms of the devices we know. i.e. “players”, “smartphones”, “cameraphones” etc.I think what’s happening is that these multipurpose devices are outgrowing the common (outdated) mobile/cameraphone/smartphone conception.Take for example this Leica concept design:…To draw a counterintuitive parallel, when the use cases of the PC platform outgrew the original design, the PC grew inwardly. The huge IBM PC case had plenty of room for expansion, and plenty of energy to run on.  The killer application that gave the PC a lease on life for its outstanding 30-year run was the modular, open expansion bus. (when so many other platforms were so much better in all other aspects, they lost the evolutionary race)What happens with these small limited devices is that they can’t grow inwardly, therefore they have to grow outwardly.A lot of innovation has blossomed in different applications, but these have been developed solely using software, within the limited realm of the fixed-size smartphone platforms.As these devices start to grow outwardly thousands of new applications and business models will be created, and possibly a few new industries too.Did you see Google’s weightthrowing behind Arduino? What have the guys at BugLabs been up to?  (directionally correct, although they may have a market fit problem) That’s what it is, the platform growing openly and outwardly.up next: how this affects the release cycles of new mobile hardware products.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, bug is directionally correct.

  35. Cyril Nicodème

    I really like the idea, having our phone acting like an intelligent key for all our devices and making them connected would be really nice. And with the massive evolution of the mobile market, this can not be a dream anymore.But I see two inconvenient: * Having our phones acting like that, would impose other components (car dashboard, hifi system at home, even our computers) to stay “dumb” (regarding what we would expect from the phone), and I’m not sure that the constructor would like to limit their hardware as just a “communication device waiting for a phone to be connected to them”. * A normalization of how the communication/plugin system would be made between phones and other hardware should be defined. Should we use bluetooth, wifi, usb or a specific connector. And what about the signals sent between the devices?But still, I like to imagine my house in 10/20/(more ? 🙁 ) years, with these changes :)Thanks for this post, it made my day.

  36. kumarbshah

    Great post Fred. On that same train of thought, it’s almost like RIM is ahead of the times with its phone-powered Playbook.Also interesting to see that Asus just announced the Padfone – a tablet literally powered by a phone.

  37. Dave W Baldwin

    You are on the money… that goes with some of the references to the VA in relation to TV. On the automobile side, remember it is only logical to enable your mobile to handle all things, for what you’ve gained during the work day will be in your phone/tab to transfer to dash (which will become a tab anyway).On the fringe side, we will be looking at transfer/control to another coming/growing mobile, the robot.  I’ve stayed silent on this, but think about the toy robot more than today’s version of the GI Joe doll from childhood.Good post.

  38. Jon Smirl

    Asus just made part of your idea……I commented on your blog a year ago that cars should do this. A dash mounted screen and the audio system become airplay type devices for whatever phone is in the car.Love to see the screens in the back of airplane seats use airplay too.

  39. Eric Friedman

    This is essentially my use case now for music with RDIO

  40. Dan Offner

    A whole bunch of reactions.  First, Fred, thanks for your blog with its insights, questions, and comments.  Very thoughtful, helpful, stimulating and a whole bunch of other superlatives.  Second, I agree with the statement that people see devices as connecting to us to the cloud through apps.  I would push this farther and say that the services are becoming device and app agnostic to a degree.  I decided not to buy an android tablet to access my google apps on my iPad – I opted to try a couple to try a couple of apps and found both satisfactory with one becoming the default due to ease of use.  The services offered through the cloud are where the value add is for the consumer and the technology links/enablers and economic gates have to be mastered to create a compelling value proposition to the consumer and therefore by default the investor, I think…I certainly don’t know.  I think Reed Hastings got it right by splitting off Roku and now providing his streaming service through any device and really any user interface.  I can get NetFlix throughout the house through fixed and mobile devices.  As a software and interactive entertainment lawyer, I think one key question provoked by your blog for any software company is how well does your UI work and is it frictionless from app to app to device to device for the end user, so that your compelling service, content, or technology offering is totally accesible?   The cloud I think is changing everything, and I think your observation about being to able to watch baseball on your friend’s iPad in your living room through his subscription to MLB captures a point in time where this sea change is starting to occur.  Sorry, Fred, that was more verbiage than I planned, but you really hit on something that I have been thinking about a lot in my work lately.  Thx from the guy who never blogs.

    1. fredwilson

      you do now!

  41. NICCAI

    Primary – for sure.  Sure, we will still use other devices/services in the current fashion when convenient, but I think controlling the experience will be too powerful to see this trend die.  With mobile as primary, we can choose how we want to consume, with what app, in what order, etc. Frankly, OEM will cease to be the juggernaut it once was.  I recently set up a new cable experience here in Canada (because on demand services are not quite the same here as they are in the United States), and I have to say, the experience was nothing short of a sham.  $10/month to get one additional show.  With this type of negative experience, users will demand more and cling to newer services that give them any sense of value and control.  I can’t wait to take MY experience with me – oh wait, I already am.

  42. Terry J Leach

    One of your previous topic dated March 1, about the advantage of Mobile Notification in the Android being a game changer.  Now it seems that Apple understands the need for better notifications. “Completely Revamped Notifications And Widgets” Coming To iOS 5Read more: http://www.businessinsider….http://www.businessinsider….

    1. fredwilson

      thank god!

  43. @kjcox

    I was just wishing that my iPhone which uses blue tooth to connect to automobile handsfree would also connect with Bluetooth to automobile stereo too. Would make my music life even better to have phone as single music source. Seems like this would be easy to post engineer.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s exactly how i came to this thought/blog posti wondered why i was connecting through an aux jack

      1. bijan

        I can stream music from my iPhone to my car audio system via AirPlay. With exfm iPhone app (in private beta but coming soon) I have my social music fix every day. It’s a joy.

        1. fredwilson

          what cars have airplay built into them?

          1. bijan

            my new bmw supports it.

    2. Aaron

      A lot of the new stereos in cars do allow you to connect using bluetooth for playing your music. I jumped in a Ford rental last week that did this.

      1. fredwilson

        that makes perfect sense

  44. @kjcox

    I was just wishing that my iPhone which uses blue tooth to connect to automobile handsfree would also connect with Bluetooth to automobile stereo too. Would make my music life even better to have phone as single music source. Seems like this would be easy to post engineer.

  45. NICCAI

    Curious Fred, I’d love to see you comment openly about Boxee Box.  I know it won’t happen, but it does seem like a curious direction for a software company.  For instance, Tivo is trying to do the exact opposite…ie drop the box, sell the service. (Sing that like “Save a horse, ride a cowboy”.)  I’m going to assume that the boxee box itself is a brand awareness push – ie get the brand where main stream users make watching choices – like Best Buy, etc.Willing to be candid?

    1. fredwilson


      1. NICCAI

        Hahhahah…well, it was worth the try.

  46. William Mougayar

    Related to this discussion, check this… Equus comes with an iPad, preloaded with a digital owner’s manual in a slick leather case.That’s cool! 

  47. Terry J Leach

    I think you have a very valid point about possibile becoming the primary device for consumption.  I use my Android with bluetooth in my car (Acura RDX) and I plug-in my iPod for music and audio.  The one thing that really bothers me about using am/fm and siriusxm radio in the car is the in ability to rewind/playback anything.  I’ve grown so accustomed to my other mobile devices that I often find myself reaching for an imaginary rewind button, only to remember it’s not one of my smart devices it’s a live broadcast with no memory buffer like the iPod nano which I use in the car.I think mobile device release schedules easily out pace the auto industry. As far as the consumer electronic industry goes they have a new member named Apple, Inc, not Apple Computer Inc., 

  48. Abraham

    Yes, that’s what I believe too: In 5 years, I won’t have a desktop or notebook computer as we know them now, I’ll have a mobile device with as much power as my current MacBook Pro or more, and it will be one my device that does everything. The ‘desktop’ and ‘notebook’ form factors will simply be docks for my phone/tablet.

  49. Josef

    Fred you may want to take a look at which allows a BlackBerry to behave like a remote control.

  50. Fred Lardieg

    Surprising that nobody has mentioned DLNA technology: this is the cross-manufacturer, open standard that allows people to send media (e.g. photos, music, videos) to home devices such as TVs, hi-fi systems, etc. For me, the two front-runners in this space are ZappoTV (iOS only) and iMediaShare (iOS and Android). They are worth having a look at to understand what a world where we will be able to send any content to any device looks like.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks. i will check them out

  51. NathanielRichmond

    I just wanted to share some great news I found out for DISH Network customers that might be looking for a way to get TV everywhere. DISH Network customers can now have access to all of their channels plus DVR content straight to your mobile device. Working for DISH I can tell you DISH uses sling technology to bring customers TV everywhere and working for DISH I can tell you they sell the adapter for $99. Check out this link I found 

  52. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I suspect the biggest challenge we are in midst of – and it seems to be compounding as more and more devices proliferate – is the sheer dearth of quality content, regardless of media type/device used as the medium.

  53. pivot13

    Though your post is narrowly focused on one scenario — entertainment content control vs. entertainment content consumption — it is important to realize that for much of the developing world the mobile phone is the only way they consume *the entire Internet.*  More profoundly, people in developing countries are consuming the Net not on smart phones but on “feature-phones” with regular-old screens and regular-old 10-key keypads.  This is one of the reasons that companies like Twitter continue to invest heavily in their SMS-delivery systems and feature-phone versions if their web sites.The real question about the emerging world is this: will they ever own “regular” computer, TV, or stereo? They never owned a land-line phone.  Imagine when the iPad is 5 years old, and thus laughably old tech — you won’t be able to give an iPad 1 away in 5 years.  But if you offer villagers in Indonesia the Internet and a choice of 2010-area TV, stereo, “computer”, or an iPad, which would they choose?  IMO betting against mobile devices not becoming the standard computing platform for Planet Earth is a dangerous bet. 

  54. markslater

    this scenario you begin to predict, spells great danger for the MSO’s. These are business built on top of the control of the feed in to the home. With the democratization of the stack – the MSO’s can no longer user the last mile monopoly as the leverage to price control the consumption of content. How stuff gets in to your house is being uncoupled from what gets in. There will always be a price for the pipe in to your house – i dont think anyone debates that. But that you use to display or listen – is no longer sold as part of that pipe. Content and distribution are finally parting ways. 

  55. leigh

    There is only one screen.  Whatever i happen to be looking at in any given moment.  

  56. Kevin

    One interesting thing about mobile devices – particularly smart phones – is their ability to act as real-world implementations of digital identity and presence. Smartphones and people are generally deployed in a one-to-one relationship, so a service provider can be relatively confident that if my phone is in a particular location, so am I.For streaming media, it’s the ultimate place-shifting tool. For instance, I subscribe to HBO. However, if I have the HBO Go app installed on my phone, and I take my phone to my friend’s house, we can watch HBO together even if he isn’t a subscriber. Or, I could subscribe to Sirius XM Radio through my phone, and listen to it in all my vehicles rather than just the ones that have receivers built in. The media companies are OK with this because I am paying for the service, and since I am only ever in one place at one time, they don’t really care where I am on the planet.There are some rough edges around this, but leveraging mobile devices as authorization “tokens” seems like it would have significant upside.