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The Art and Science of Intuitive IPTV Services

Let's be candid, the design of a conventional pay-TV set top box (STB) and associated remote control leave a lot to be desired. The CE device appearance often lacks visual appeal, and the user interface seems as though it was developed without ever considering a mainstream consumer's needs. Therefore, MatrixStream's latest creation is very different -- Scientific Atlanta and Motorola, look and learn.

MatrixStream is now making its attractive IMX1020 1080P H.264 set top box available for distribution as part of their end to end IPTV platform. This STB can deliver video on demand (VOD) and streaming television channels instantly in up to 1920 x 1080 resolution over any best effort broadband connection with no quality of service (QoS) required -- via MatrixStream's proprietary XMS technology.

The underlying STB video delivery technology may be of great interest to engineers, but as a product marketer I'm more impressed by the MatrixStream human factors innovation. IMHO, the usability of this remote control is particularly noteworthy, primarily because of the apparent simplicity, by design. Clearly, a case where less, is more.

We already know from research that most consumers are puzzled by the multitude of options on the 'state of the art' pay-TV remote control. As an example, the current Scientific Atlanta (model AT8550) remote that is provided with Time Warner's cable TV service has more than fifty buttons -- some with very cryptic labels. Of course, in order to fit this many buttons on a handheld device, they must also be tiny.

This dysfunctional design model is so obvious, when you think about it from a non-technical consumer's perspective. Pay-TV service providers don't need to schedule a focus group, or a week of usability lab tests to figure this one out. All that is required is some common sense.

So, here's an untapped opportunity for the telcos to think outside the box. They can differentiate their pay-TV consumer experience in a very meaningful way. Make it intuitive, by not imitating the incumbent's proven bad design example. It's that simple (pun intended).

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