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Larry Jordan: Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering personal computers and consumer technology. Tim is the President of and principle analyst for Creative Strategies and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry, including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Hewlett Packard – which is also Compaq – Dell and many others.
Larry Jordan: His articles and/or analyses have appeared in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and just about every other leading business and trade publication. I’ve known of Tim for many, many years and am looking forward to our chat. Hello, Tim, welcome.
Tim Bajarin: How are you?
Larry Jordan: I am talking to you, I’m standing at attention, I’m having a great time. I’m looking forward to our chat.
Tim Bajarin: I am too.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that everybody is talking about these days is wearables, which is the subject of your upcoming talk at the Flash Memory conference in San Jose. What’s your take on these new highly mobile devices?
Tim Bajarin: The whole wearable by themselves, what we call standalone wearables like Fitbit, Jawbone etcetera, have basically been the precursor of launching what we would call the wearable movement. At the moment, they’re very focused on exercise steps, heart rate monitors, things of that nature, and in that context they’re actually doing quite well.
Tim Bajarin: The other thing that has happened is, of course, Apple has introduced what’s known as the Apple Watch. It has a lot of those health wearable monitoring features, but then it does a lot more – it connects to my email, gives me a lot of alerts and with Watch 2.0 we’re going to actually get the first generation of what we would call native apps for the Apple Watch. But where this is most fascinating is it’s got the attention of the healthcare industry and I had an executive from one of the top HMOs in my office not long ago and he basically clarified the health industry’s position on wearables with this tracking and the whole information of our health and it was interesting because the way he posed it was it’s better for us to be proactive to help you stay healthy than it is for you to get sick and have to cover your costs when you go to the hospital.
Tim Bajarin: So there’s a lot of motivation between the healthcare industry, the tech guys and then the whole movement to try to keep us healthier that is why this wearable segment has a lot of legs. As far as we can tell – we’ve sold over 100 million standalone wearable devices this year, Apple has sold quite a few Apple Watches initially and we expect them to sell close to 20 million in the first 12 months it’s on the market – this whole wearable thing is interesting but it looks like the health connection is why it’s going to have legs and grow.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that our webcast pays attention to is people who are creating content and I can understand the health relationship to mobile devices, but is there a content that we can pay attention to? Can people actually watch content on a watch or a mobile device that small? Or are we just using them for status reports and notifications?
Tim Bajarin: With watches, the screen is way too small for what I would call video content. You can actually do images and you can do a little bit of video. I actually expect to see a YouTube/Apple Watch application that’s native that will let you do that, but to be honest with you those are such tiny screens, watching video there is going to be tough.
Tim Bajarin: Now, having said that, the real big trend is what’s going on with Smartphones and tablets and specifically mobile in general, because that’s where so much of the content is being targeted. It’s interesting to note that in international markets – China, Japan especially and some of these others – when they are using their Smartphones, about 75 percent of it is watching video and part of that is because they have long commutes.
Tim Bajarin: In Japan, it’s interesting, I don’t know if you’ve been to Japan lately, but if you happen to be on any of their bullet trains where the train’s going into the city, you’ll just see people standing there watching their what they call soaps, the equivalent of a soap opera video, and the bottom line is the actual numbers. We’re going to sell this year worldwide somewhere around 1.3 to 1.5 billion Smartphones that are capable of handling video and, over time, the majority of the phones sold are going to be video capable.
Tim Bajarin: In some parts of the market we still have what we call feature phones, but eventually everybody’s going to move to Smartphones because they’re going to come down in price. As a vehicle for guys creating content, mobile is actually going to be the largest medium for content distribution we’ve ever had.
Larry Jordan: I was just reflecting on that. The numbers are just mind boggling because they dwarf the traditional desktop computer or almost TV sets, it seems to me, and all of a sudden we have to change the way we’re doing content. Wide shots don’t work the same way. We’ve got to learn a new language for creating visual information. Would you agree?
Tim Bajarin: Absolutely. It’s interesting too because we kind of actually had to do this, if you think about it, in the entertainment industry because for decades the screens that we had to watch video were gigantic screens in movie theaters, right?
Larry Jordan: Yes.
Tim Bajarin: And then around the late ’40s, early ’50s, the television came into focus and what happened then? We now had to create content for what was then called the small screen; and it’s kind of the same scenario. The desktop and laptop was the equivalent of that big screen movie theater where we did video, but now we’re having to rethink content for a small screen. I define the watch as a tiny screen. The majority of this video has to be thought through in the context of basically four to maybe six and a half, seven inch screens at best.
Larry Jordan: Back in the ’50s, when television was starting to steal audience from the theaters, theaters shifted from the traditional four by three aspect ratio, which was what films were shot in mostly before that, to the widescreen format and the other thing is that television was able to emphasize close-ups in a way that films never did. Television became a close-up media because the screen was smaller. It looks like we need to rethink that whole concept of how we’re shooting because we can get really big close-ups, but on a mobile device we don’t see the same level of detail as we do on a TV screen.
Tim Bajarin: No, and you’ve got to deal with both aspect ratio and the bigger problem, that screens are actually getting higher resolutions. You’re getting the equivalent of HD and the next generation, probably two or three years from now, they’re going to be even denser. The idea of getting to 4K on Smartphones is probably overkill, but it’s still going to get better and deeper. At that point, you’re really rethinking how you shoot.
Tim Bajarin: The other thing about that video switch in general is that the whole concept of how you shoot for a small screen, it’s the same problem they had in the ’50s because they had to do not only close-ups, but different angles and a lot of different ways to block how they did the cameras. You know the history there, that in the early days of TV they were shot with a single camera and then Lucy and Desi Arnaz pioneered the three camera shot, right?
Larry Jordan: Mhmm, yes.
Tim Bajarin: And then that actually revolutionized the way the videos were shot for the small screen. Today, we still have in most cases single shots when we’re shooting for these smaller screens, but I think there’s going to have to be a lot more creativity in how you do that if you’re focusing on that small screen as the actual media for what you’re delivering.
Larry Jordan: Tim, before we run out of time, I want to mention that you’re speaking at the Flash Memory conference. When are you speaking and can mere mortals attend?
Tim Bajarin: My particular panel, I believe, is on mobile and wearables and the health industry and I believe it’s the 12th at around 1pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center, but I believe it’s an industry event. I don’t think it’s for the consumer audience, but those in the industry can clearly sign up and attend.
Larry Jordan: Well, then, for people who would like to learn more about what you’re thinking in terms of where the future is headed, where can they go on the web and what websites do you recommend?
Tim Bajarin: Our own site is called techpinions.com and myself and four of our partners put new content in every day and then there’s a subscription area where we really dig deeper on technology in the industry and trends that runs about 100 a year. We’ve got a tremendous amount of subscribers who do that because they want to keep in touch and see what’s going on in the future. Then, of course, our own personal website for our company is creativestrategies.com.
Larry Jordan: So that website is techpinions.com and Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies and a contributor to Techpinions. Tim, I’ve enjoyed this a great deal. Thank you so much for your time.
Tim Bajarin: Thank you. Take care. Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Take care. Bye bye.