11/05/15

An Evening with #TalkingTech

There are few things that Angelenos are willing to brave traffic for on the 405 south during rush hour unless absolutely necessary:

To get home

To get to the airport

To get to a live recording of #TalkingTech, the series with USA Today tech guru Jefferson Graham featuring the latest trends, news, and insiders in tech

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Ok, so maybe getting to a live recording of #TalkingTech is not the priority for ALL Angelenos, but definitely a major mission for DLC-ers Nikki Neumann and myself. After all, it was Meet the (Tech) Press night with some of our fave SoCal tech journos, including Rich DeMuro, host of KTLA-TV’s “Tech Report,” Dawn Chmielewski, senior editor of ReCode.net, Andrew Wallenstein, co-editor-in-chief of Variety and, of course, host Jefferson Graham.

Hosted at the USA Today LA bureau offices with a warm welcome from bureau chief Chris Woodyard, this edition featured the latest on the new Apple TV, the YouTube Red subscription, and what devices will be on everyone’s gift list this holiday season. Here are some of the highlights:

The new Apple TV is better…

…but not going to lead to anyone cutting their cable cords. What did impress the panelists about the long-awaited upgrade were the new app offerings and opportunities for apps from third-party developers so that anyone can have their own channel. Chmielewski said the new Apple TV has expanded its flexibility and was also surprised by its expansion for more varied experiences, including new games and apps such as the Gilt app adapted for television. Meanwhile, Fire TV fan DeMuro even thought the availability of new apps like AirBnB on the Apple TV, along with the ability for users to create their own channels, brought a lot of value to the new console. Wallenstein doesn’t see it as a new inflection point or think it’s going to be THE set top box, but believes it will pave the way for that new “iMoment” Hollywood is waiting for to transform entertainment the way Apple transformed cell phones.

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Taking a picture of USA Today LA Bureau Chief Chris Woodyard…taking a picture of me!

YouTube Red 

The launch of YouTube Red, the new YouTube subscription service for $9.99 featuring ad-free streaming and exclusive content, also led to a discussion about what consumers are willing to pay for. While Wallenstein didn’t think it was worth the price, DeMuro has subscribed and has loved the experience so far. Chmielewski doesn’t see the value yet, and likely won’t until the original content launches and the removal of free content begins.

So who’s winning the battle of the subscriptions? In a survey among audience members, no one had subscribed to Apple Music, despite the great fanfare it debuted with earlier this year. Graham pointed out that there are 750 million iPhone owners, but only 6.5 million have decided to pay for Apple Music. Turns out, Spotify is king, with the majority of both audience members and panelists identifying it as their main music streaming platform of choice. And whatever happened to Tidal? No one knows.

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What’s Hot for Holiday 2015

Forget planes, trains, and automobiles – drones, streaming boxes, and wearables will dominate the 2015 holiday season. Despite the lackluster excitement around the revamped Apple TV, most panelists agreed the new device would be one of the more popular holiday gifts this year but would have stiff competition with more affordable streaming competitors, Chromecast and Chromecast Audio, ideal stocking stuffers. As smart watches haven’t quite reached mainstream consumers, DeMuro predicted Fitbits and other wearables would be popular gifts this year with consumers still interested in tracking their fitness progress. And be prepared for buzzing in your neighborhood — Chmielewski said drones as another anticipated present of the season.

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L to R: Host Jefferson Graham, panelists Rich DeMuro, Dawn Chmielewski, and Andrew Wallenstein

and into 2016?

Following the panel, we put on our journalist hats and did a little digging into what reporters thought would be the exciting tech trend to watch for 2016:

Wallenstein: “I think the world of streaming content—whether it be Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu – will reach a critical mass.”

Chmielewski: “The most interesting story in the Valley right now is the emergence of the autonomous vehicle. There’s been a lot of speculation into the field, Google has been investing a lot in self-driving cars. I don’t think we’ll get there all at once but we’ll begin to see innovation begin very quickly in cars. That’s the platform next to be disrupted.”

DeMuro: “I would say the streaming world will change a lot – it will continue to evolve. That, and cars.”

Graham: “Cars — what’s happening and how cars are shifting to be tech devices, autonomous. The Consumer Electronics Show is happening the first week of January and it’s going to be dominated by cars. There are cars, home entertainment, and the continuing domination of the world by smart phones – those are the big three.”

To continue keeping up with the latest in tech, tune it to #TalkingTech live every Thursday and catch up on past episodes here. OR, follow the panelists on Twitter — @jeffersongraham @richdemuro @DawnC331 @awallenstein.