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DLNA reaches out to consumers

Coming soon to a retailer near you: DLNA-certified TVs and more

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As a flood of DLNA-certified televisions hit the market, the Digital Living Network Alliance is taking its message of interoperability among consumer devices to consumers themselves, hoping to build awareness of how DLNA certification makes it easier to connect TVs, PCs, and other digital media devices in the home.

“The first DLNA-certified TV was in 2006,” said Scott Smyers, chairman of the DLNA’s board of directors and senior vice president at Sony (NYSE: SNE). “Over the course of a couple of years, we ended up with a couple hundred certified TVs. Then over the last three months, we have tripled that. What I believe that represents is a clear recognition that network connectivity is important to consumers, now it’s a checkbox on the list of what they expect.”

The very rapid uptake in using the Internet for content delivery has made Internet connections to set-top boxes and televisions more popular and DLNA represents a standard approach to doing that. More than 400 TV models have been DLNA certified in the past three months, bringing the total to 699 models. DLNA, an industry consortium of more than 200 technology companies from consumer electronics and mobile device makers to service providers, sets connectivity standards and offers certification that devices meet those standards so that consumers know those digital media devices and services will interoperate.

In addition to TV sets, among other devices currently DLNA-certified are a number of digital cameras and camera phones as well as game consoles such as the Sony Playstation 3, Smyers said. With so many devices coming onto the market, the DLNA, which has been working since 2003, is now turning its focus from being a business-to-business organization to one that reaches out to consumers.

“With this blip in TVs, we are almost on the late side, but we decided last year to start taking our story to retailers and through them to consumers,” Smyers said. “The time is right for consumers to understand DLNA.”

A new marketing director and public relations agency is charged with helping raise that visibility so that consumers know to ask for DLNA-certified TV sets or understand what it means when a TV set is advertised as DLNA-certified, Smyers said.

“If retailers understand this, they can create an island in their stories with these devices, where all the stuff is connected so that consumers can see the value,” Smyers said.  

Service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon are part of the DLNA and its Content and Service Provider Task Force, and have an opportunity to use the availability of new devices to their advantage, Smyers said.

“The model is changing,” Smyers said. “ The access to content provided over the Internet, which is all on-demand and improving in quality, is growing. Internet connections are becoming capable of supporting a very viewable stream.”

Unless they want to try to block that stream – a strategy which is doomed to failure, Smyers said – service providers need to try to vary their own products to add value.

“I think they are doing the right things,” Smyers said. “Now that they are getting competition for broadcast services from the Internet, they are stepping up to try to vary their products. You are going to see a lot of different things and a lot of experimentation. The traditional model of hook up your box to your TV and sell your service is gone.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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