Networked Consumer Device Platforms

by Luke Wroblewski July 29, 2009

In Digital Product Platforms, I outlined some of the technological capabilities seeing more common use through popular networked consumer device platforms. But what is a networked consumer device platform? Let's break it down:

  • Networked: able to get itself online and thereby read and write Internet content or run services from "the cloud"
  • Consumer: designed and intended for everyday use not solely professional or specialized tasks
  • Device: a form factor made for a particular use or set of uses. Technically, a digital device because of integrated electronics.
  • Platform: you can build on it. Developers can create software for it or hardware to integrate with it. Content authors can publish to it.

Let's look at some examples:

Networked Consumer Device Platforms

Gaming consoles like the XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, and Playstation 360. These devices connect to the Internet to provide access to news, media, and entertainment content, while also allowing game players to communicate and collaborate with each other online. Gaming consoles are designed for a wide range of consumers and their living rooms. Developers can not only build games for the platform but also Web services like video streaming and social networking.

Smart Phones like the Apple iPhone, Palm Pre, any Android phone, and more. These portable devices connect to the Internet for gaming, tools, news, local information, search, and just about anything. Smart phones have a broad set of capabilities that developers can build against and often integrate/promote application stores to provide consumers access to additional software.

Media Players like Amazon's Kindle e-book reader and Apple's iPod music, image, and video player. These devices go online to access media content like books, movies, TV shows, and albums. Musicians, Authors, Podcasters, Bloggers, and more can package up content for consumers to purchase on these devices. In the case of the iPod, developers can also build applications and games.

Networked TVs like Samsung Internet@TV, LG Broadband, and Sony Bravia HDTV. These 10 foot living room experiences use Internet access to deliver video, image, and news content to people's TV sets. Developers can build widgets and media experiences using platforms like Yahoo!'s Connected TV Widgets.

Netbooks & Tablets like the much-rumored Apple tablet, and the popular stripped-down laptops known as Netbooks. These portable devices are all about Internet access. While developers can build as they always have for Web browsers and operating systems like Windows to run applications on these devices, other development capabilities like iPhone OS and Google's Chrome OS may be forthcoming.