Alvarez Talks Tech – September 28, 2012
Rebecca Costa: It’s time to invite Luis Alvarez, president and CEO of the Alvarez Technology Group to the program and find out what’s going on in the world of technology. Mr. Alvarez.
Luis Alvarez: Hi Rebecca. How are you doing today?
RC: I’m doing great. So, welcome back to the program. So, what is this I heard about your alter ego? A little bird told me that you’re one of the board members for the Monterey Jazz Festival, is that right?
LA: That is correct. Yeah, I’ve been on the board now a few years, and last weekend we had the Monterey Jazz festival. And it was a terrific weekend of jazz. It featured our headliner, Tony Bennett, and let me tell you, that guy does not act like he’s 86. It’s amazing. He was jumping around the stage, singing great. He was supposed to get done at 11:30, but it was close to midnight before his band was able to drag him off the stage. He was having so much fun out there.
RC: Well, now, you and I have talked about your role on the board, and I think that you mentioned to me that you were recruited because of your technology background.
LA: That’s right. My role on the board is primarily to take the board beyond the physical limitations of the performance venue and find a way to take it into cyber space. This was the second year that part of the festival was streamed live on the Internet. It’s a little experiment that we’re trying to see how receptive an audience might be to watching the jazz festival over streaming. I have to say we were amazed by how many people all over the world tuned in online, which is really a reflection of how Web streaming has come into the mainstream. It isn’t just something to entertain techies any more.
RC: So, is it really that popular? I mean, call me old fashioned, but I’m not really one to fire up my PC to watch things online. Isn’t that what we have those beautiful, flat screen, high def televisions for?
LA: It’s interesting you mentioned those high def, flat screen TVs. Do you know that more people now are using their TVs to watch streaming content like Netflix or even YouTube instead of watching on their PCs. You know, almost all new TVs come built-in with the ability to access your home’s Internet connection, so you don’t have to rely on just your PC or laptop screen to watch streaming videos. And content providers are taking notice, too, and making it easier for TV manufacturers to incorporate streaming capabilities into their products. So, I expect we’re going to see a lot more streaming to TVs in the future.
RC: So, how about mobile devices? You know, I was at Starbucks the other day, and I swear to you, there was a person in line in front of me watching something on her iPhone. And I didn’t have my glasses, so I really couldn’t see what she was looking at. But it looked like a video.
LA: Well, portable devices like smartphones and tablets are the fastest growing platforms for watching Web content, including streaming. There are so many streaming options out there, and all of them have been optimized for use on mobile devices because people like to watch while they’re on the go. And Barnes & Noble, for example, just announced that they’re going to be delivering a new streaming service on their electronic reader the Nook, which will compete primarily with Netflix. By the way, Netflix is an interesting story. Their streaming services proved to be so successful that it’s cost them over a million subscribers who used to get their DVDs by mail, which is – as you can imagine – a much more lucrative business proposition for Netflix.
RC: Wow. That sounds like they were victims of their own success. So, why do you think streaming’s become so popular? I mean, we already have hundreds of channels available through cable or dish. So, do we really need more options?
LA: I know; we should have enough mindless content to keep us happy, but the reality is there are more things to watch than all of the television channels on cable can provide, content you can’t get any other way. For example, of course, you know, the Web cast we did during the jazz festival. Several thousand people from over 38 countries tuned in because they love jazz and couldn’t get here physically.
LA: Yeah, it was amazing. We even had people watching from Somalia and Ethiopia. So, jazz fans are all over the place. Another good example – a personal example – is the America’s Cup qualifying competitions that were taking place around the world. You know, I’m an avid fan of sailing, and the only way you could watch those sailing matches live was to tune in to the America’s Cup YouTube channel, which was Web casting in real time. Simply put, video streaming lets you watch what you want when you want.
RC: Well, there we have it. We can now see and experience everything everywhere. And maybe somebody ought to let our political candidates know that.
RC: So, thank you again for being with us.
LA: Well, it’s my pleasure, Rebecca. This is Luis Alvarez of the Alvarez Technology Group reminding everyone that when it comes to technology, forewarned is forearmed.