Cutting the cord on cable, satellite and telco services has become a legitimately popular topic on the Internet. It’s somewhat niche, but also mainstream thanks to devices from big players like Apple, Roku and Western Digital. It’s these internet-streaming devices that have made cord-cutting a thing. Television antennas are getting more notice thanks to media coverage about the CBS/Time Warner blackout, or unorthodox startups like Aereo. But the Internet is where the cord-cutting conversation is happening, and thus retains the focus.
So why do internet-streaming devices give cord-cutting appeal? We would argue it’s because the Internet is the frontier, the future, the place of innovation for America. With hardware magnates like Steve Jobs gone, you can continue to expect interesting small-time projects—like the Roku and Boxee—but when a large company enters the fray, watch the digital articles fly. That’s why there was so much euphoria when Google released their $35 one-off dongle. It’s not that impressive—not even Google believed so, as evidenced by their price. What they’re really interested in, and putting their heart and soul into, is Glass. But that product’s problem is that it feels more like early Steve Jobs, before he returned to Apple: it’s very innovative and artistic, but lacks the immediate place in consumers’ lives that an iPod or iPhone so naturally filled.
Hardware as magic
This gets at something magical about hardware though. People love innovation. It’s the stuff of the Jetsons, or Back to the Future. People love the idea of revolutionary gadgets in their home, in their hand, and in their pocket. Cord-cutting has become subconsciously associated with the mythological ideal of the future: hovercars and jetpacks, 20 channels on your screen, and a kitchen that makes your dinner for you—science fiction, to put a fine point on it. Cable and satellite are clumsy and outdated, yes, but even more than that, they’ve committed the cardinal sin of technology: they’re familiar.
Apple, by contrast, releases a product every year. Facebook became famous by constantly overhauling its interface over the protestations of its users because they get this as well. Google releases its Chromecast, and even before it’d been tested it was a sensation because it was new. So far the lessons are: 1) be different, and, 2) be new, frequently. A successful cable cord cutting product will reflect this.
Cord-cutting has a shot at being magical because it involves exciting new products and services. For example, there are the apps on Roku and Apple TV. There are internet browsing from Chromecast. There is free TV from companies like Mohu. And there are new (rumored) services underway by companies like Youtube and Google. By contrast, the old model of paying $1,000 per year for a pay-tv service with bad hardware probably is not the best value for your money. We’re excited to see where cord-cutting goes in the future, and we plan on being a part of that discovery. Will you?
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