We’ve discussed the impending death of cable and satellite TV before, but there’s now another nail in the coffin. AT&T is announcing that the iPhone will now have an app that allows you to watch TV from your phone (and, eventually, I suspect, from your iPad).
There are already apps that allow you to do this sort of thing, including Hulu Plus, but this announcement is just another wave of innovation that will eventually lead consumers to completely controlling when and where they watch TV, and gain the kind of control the music and radio industry lost with the iPod.
I bring this up because the cable and satellite TV industry can overcome this, but there are numerous examples of brands that fail to do so. And the reason is because they tied their brands directly to the technology or services they provide. That is, they didn’t establish a brand that is reflection of the consumer: Who they are when they use the brand and what they aspire to be.
Think of it this way. The cable TV industry and its market leaders Time Warner and Comcast built their brands around the technology and even price. So when DirecTV and the Dish Network came along, offering what seemed to be better technology (or at least the appearance of it along with the appearance of greater choice) and lower prices, they made inroads into the cable market share and it’s been a bloody battle ever since.
Now, when that technology is threatened and the content developers can skip the middleman, even the satellite companies are doomed. The lesson: If you base your brand on product benefits and not as a reflection of your customer, you’re living on borrowed time.