At the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft announced the new product SmartGlass, with the intention to redefine how we think about mobile television. The goal is to move your content to any screen at any time — your content everywhere. Whereas lots of different strategies have developed from lots of different companies, such as TV Anywhere, Microsoft may be on to something. But will SmartGlass be the future of television for content producers?
So what is SmartGlass? It’s similar to Apple TV’s Airplay, but it heads in many new directions. Initially, it is an app that turns your smartphone or tablet into another screen for your TV — a mobile enhancement to your home theater. You can remotely control the Internet via a web browser, have a second control panel for games or an interactive social network interface for a broadcast show; the possibilities are endless with the SmartGlass serving as a second screen. Designed to work with Microsoft’s XBox 360 initially, the technology has the ability to move your shows and entertainment all over to any device you want.
While you may be thinking that this will only work with Windows phones and Windows tablets, Microsoft is one step ahead of you. It actually will be supported on every major portable device platform, such as iOS and Android, and the apps themselves will be a free download. Your portable screens, your Xbox 360 and your living room screen all work in unison, and each can control the other for a portable interface that can constantly expand.
Why would this succeed were so many others have failed? Two reasons are direct social connection and active engagement. A growing trend these days is to weave in a social aspect via mobile devices along with watching a movie or TV series. This is a great concept, but unfortunately it’s very fragmented. If you want to search out a good app to offer a social network to interact with while viewing, your options may be overwhelming. There are apps that cover specific channels, specific pay networks, and there are also apps that cover TV in general. What is absent is no clear leader. SmartGlass works with the device you already own; it’s developed in unison. You don’t have to search around for different apps; there is only one to download. There is only one to develop for.
Microsoft will surely invest a lot of money in this option, and it is sure to grow, so as content producers and content creators, it is worth a look in its initial stages. (It’s set to release this fall). While many companies have tried to master the synergy of multiple screens on multiple devices and getting them all playing together, Microsoft may be on the right path and will be one to watch as mobile TV in 2012 ramps up to what could be a pretty dramatic and game-changing conclusion.