Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dumb Product Of The Year Award

Philips Electronics today announced it has patented a technology that would force TV viewers who own digital video recorders, Tivo devices, to watch commercials. Two minutes later they were handed the award for most assinine invention of the year. The two-minute delay in handing over the award was because the judge simply could not believe a company would invest money developing something that no consumer would want to buy.

According to this AP story, the technology could be built into TVs and set top boxes and would freeze the channel the commercial is on, thus forcing people to view it. I can think of a gajillion, seriously a gajillion, reasons why this ranks as one of the silliest ideas ever, but here are just a few.

1. People avoided commercials well before DVRs came along. It was called, channel surfing, going to the bathroom or heading to the fridge for a snack.

2. Would any consumer buy a product that was shown on a commercial they were forced to watch? I doubt it. Particularly when that commercial was presented through technology that bypassed the usefullness of my Tivo. Tivo being the greatest consumer electronic device ever created.

3. Finally, what person in their right mind would buy a TV or get a cable box that would force them to watch commercials? This leads to the next question. What TV maker or retailer would bother to make a TV that would alienate 99.5 percent of all consumers. The remaining .5 percent are those who work in the advertising business.

To me this announcement proves that Philips is living in the past. While I understand commercials and advertising are necessary evils, the days of three networks with limited options are long gone. You can no longer force a person to do anything when it comes to their TV viewing habits.

I suppose Philips will just have to toss this into its ever growing pile of dumb ideas.


At 2:53 PM, Blogger iPont said...

This is certainly not something that any sane consumer would buy, but that's not really the target audience. I guess they are targeting the manufacturers and industry associations (like RIAA, MPAA, etc.). If they can get the industry associations on board (and I'd be surprised if they weren't behind this in the first place), those associations can take care of lobbying for some legislation that would make this technology REQUIRED in all new devices. I think it is currently illegal to sell a DVD player that does not incorporate the scheme that supports region coding on DVDs. (I am not sure about this, but it's a good conspiracy theory.) I think this is the same legislation that allowed DVD John to get into the trouble that he did.

As far as Philips living in the past -- on the contrary, I think it's very savvy of them. They make a lot of the electronics. If they were able to push this through, then not only could they charge for licensing the technology, but they could also charge the consumer for the privelege of including said technology in the devices they sell.


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