The ancestor of Youtube
By Simon Poulter, head of media relations, Alcatel-Lucent (follow him on Twitter: @simonpoulter)
In 1996, while working in the consumer electronics industry, I had the pleasure of presenting to journalists the very first flat television set that a consumer could actually go out and buy (assuming, of course, that they had the 1996 equivalent of 16,000 euros to spare).
What made that set so remarkable wasn’t just the plasma technology that allowed it to be just 10cm thick (which, 17 years ago, was the thinnest TV ever), but that for the first time in the history of television it wouldn’t have to sit in the corner of the living room.
For 70 years, the location of the household TV set had been largely constrained by ergonomics. These large wooden boxes containing a heavy glass tube and associated electronics could only, really, go in the corner. The advent of the plasma set, however, meant that television could not only be freed from the living room corner, but freed from the living room altogether – and hung on any wall like a painting.
Today, LCD and LED TVs hang on walls everywhere. Commoditization has brought their price down to the extent that they now exist in multiple rooms in multiple houses. However, we can also access on-demand content on a multitude of screens and devices, at home and on the move, and are no longer bound by the programming schedules of broadcasters. Indeed, television ownership may even have peaked: two years ago the US TV ratings agency Nielsen reported a 3% decline in American households owning television sets, a small but significant drop and due in part to consumers using laptops, tablets and smartphones to consume television content.