Sunday, January 22, 2012

My review of M-Go as a SecondScreen experience

Technicolor's MediaNavi division launched it's M-Go platform at CES, announcing it will be available on Samsung TV's, tablets and phones, Vizio TVs, and Intel powered Ultrabooks by the end of the first quarter.  While they don't pitch this as a Second Screen app per se, I thought we should review it on this blog because of the surprisingly strong feature set as a second screen application.  It's pitched on YouTube as an app to that combines all of your media including live TV into a single interface, yet letting you view it on the first screen.  The start of the demonstration I saw at CES yielded a clean interface with a "card" system showing the options of Live TV, TV Shows, Movies, Collections (your personal photos, music, etc) and OutMyWindow (a secure photo sharing service).

A few disclosure points:  1) this was a demo at CES for a product that launches in the Spring--I have not seen this in the wild yet.  2) I previously worked for the company that developed this product, but purposely waited until I no longer did to provide this review in an outwardly unbiased manner.

Drilling into the TV Shows card yielded an opportunity to browse shows that would be personalized for you based on your preferences and history.  The Live TV card had a "channel" that was personalized for you based on the time of day and your preferences, and similar to Buddy TV and Zeebox, promises to allow you to easily click record or to "throw" the show to your 1st screen.  The recommendations were personalized to any member of the household or the entire family, in theory solving the problem I currently have on my Netflix queue where a large number of my son's favorite Dinosaurs keep getting recommended to me.

When you finally selected a show or movie to watch, M-Go showed you where you could source the show from (ie Netflix, Amazon, etc), including their own directly licensed library.  They even promised to integrate with cable and telco operators in the future, truly providing a Seamless experience to browse or discover content and then launch your first screen directly to that location (Live TV, an OTT provider, or your DVR for example).

When you are researching a title, there is a deep selection of meta data available about the title, the cast, other movies, they were in, etc, etc.  They have even included some of the web-based experiences from the movie launch sites themselves, but as of this demo had no synchronized content available for the viewing experience.

Finally, their Discovery engine, powered by DigitalSmiths, was a breath of fresh air compared to many fo the apps out there.  In theory, the app took into account your social networks and your history for your individual profile and then used an algorithm to determine what movies, TV shows and even live TV you would find relevant and interesting.  So far, this approach has been the best I have seen working (of course, in a demo).

Summary: so while not being promoted as a Second Screen app, it has a pretty strong showing in 4 of the 5 feature categories we have been tracking.  I will definitely want to follow-up when this app launches.

Simple.  Promises great first screen integration for Samsung and Vizio and integration into major operator network set top boxes.  High.

Social.  Allows for liking and commenting, but does not have the level of social integration we have seen in other apps to date (yap.TV and Zeebox for example).  Low.

Seamless.  Best integration of other sources of content I have seen yet.  Includes your operator VOD (in theory), your live channel line-up, your DVR, to local network, the M-Go licensed library, and Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.  Each time, it launches you directly to your feature.  High.

Stimulating.  It has a decent Fanhattan-like metadata experience, but no synchronized content experiences.  Medium.

Discovery.  Best I have seen so far.  I am reluctant to give it a very high score until this is live in the wild and I can test drive the recommendations myself, but the approach to the experience and the UI were strong.  This was Discovery, not Search or "your friends like this so you might, too".  Medium to High.

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