Battle for the living room heats up

By Philip Morton

The second week in June is going to be a corker. Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference and the videogames industry’s E3 Expo are scheduled for the same days and more than ever, will be focused on the same thing: the battle for the living room.

If speculation is to be believed, Apple will open up app development on the Apple TV, while Sony and Microsoft will show off their next-generation consoles. For Nintendo, it will be a make-or-break year after poor sales of the Wii U.

All are trying to become the dominant player in the living room, to be the first choice for entertainment when people have downtime at home or are socialising with friends. What will be the key to success? Paying attention to the following will be essential.

The five keys to success

1. Get the basics right

The first step for any of these platforms will be to get the basics right. That means making it easy to find content, purchase it, download it and play it. This sounds like a given, but as we’ve seen, it’s never as easy as it seems.

2. The right content

In the last five years, iTunes and the App Store have made the importance of having a healthy ecosystem increasingly apparent. Success requires having the right deals in place with content providers and an ecosystem that is attractive to developers. Content also needs to be varied, offering entertainment for both long and short periods of time, and for different types of users.

3. Multi-platform stores

Anyone who wishes to succeed in the living room needs to focus on how that platform can be accessed elsewhere. Customers expect to be able to plan downtime away from home, take content experiences with them and browse stores on second screens, not just use the platform’s primary device.

4. Personalisation and discovery

The likes of Amazon and Netflix have shown the power of using data to personalise store experiences, aiding the discovery of new and old content. The same techniques haven’t been used to the same extent on other platforms, making them more difficult to find new content on.

5. Make it an experience in itself

Physical stores have long focused on providing an enjoyable browsing experience, as well as a serving a functional purpose as a place to buy goods. Ikea’s showroom is a great example of this, showing items in the context of rooms, before customers go downstairs to find goods in the warehouse. Many content stores are still like the warehouse: functional and not an experience in themselves. Whoever can provide a better browsing experience is sure to profit.

Philip Morton

I help businesses create better products and services by putting customer insight at the heart of the design process. In the last six years, I've worked with the likes of Sony PlayStation, HSBC, Sega, Tesco and TSB. In that time, I've seen our research, design and strategy work improve both the experience for customers and commercial outcomes for clients.

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