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According to Parks Associates, nearly 60% of U.S. broadband households have an OTT-enabled TV. But what does that mean for content providers who want to deliver their applications to these devices? The answer is device fragmentation.
Device fragmentation is the challenge of delivering content to various devices, each with its operating system, screen size, and form factor. It’s a problem that requires a multi-faced solution. We will explore how content providers can overcome device fragmentation to deliver their applications to the living room.
What is Device Fragmentation?
As mentioned above, device fragmentation occurs when there are differences in hardware, software, or other factors that make it difficult for devices to work together. One way to think is: to imagine you have an iPhone and your friend has an Android phone.
Even though both are smartphones that can make calls, text, and use apps, there are still some significant differences between the two that can make it difficult for them to work together seamlessly. For example, apps designed for the iPhone may not work on Android phones and vice versa.
Different types of devices also use different kinds of operating systems (OS). The four most common OS platforms for mobile devices are iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.
As you imagine, this makes it difficult for developers to create apps that work across all four platforms. A recent Gartner report found that the cost of developing an app for iOS is 30% more than developing an app for Android.
How does Device Fragmentation impact OTT Distribution?
Device fragmentation can impact OTT distribution in several ways:
One way device fragmentation can impact OTT distribution is by increasing the time-to-market. To reach the most significant number of consumers possible, distributors need to be able to support a variety of devices and OS platforms.
This often requires developers to create multiple versions of the same app, which can lengthen the development cycle and delay time-to-market.
Increased development costs
As mentioned above, developing apps for multiple OS platforms can be more costly than creating a single app. In addition, supporting various devices often requires more workforce, which can also increase costs.
Increased testing & QA costs
To ensure that consumers have a better experience with your content application no matter what device they use, testing and quality assurance (QA) must be conducted across all device types and OS platforms. This extra level of testing can add high costs to your overall budget.
Reduced user experience
One potential downside of supporting too many devices is that it can negatively impact the user experience (UX). An app that isn’t optimized for a particular device or OS platform could result in buggy behavior or poor performance. This could cause users to abandon your content application altogether, ultimately reducing audiences and revenue streams.
The challenge of device fragmentation
Device fragmentation is a complex problem that has plagued the content industry for years. The sheer number of devices that need support—smart TVs, game consoles, streaming media players, set-top boxes—is daunting.
And each device has its operating system, screen size, and form factor. To make matters worse, these devices are constantly updated with new features and capabilities.
Content providers who want to deliver their applications to these devices face a daunting challenge. They must create separate versions of their application for each device, test them on all the different devices, and then continuously update them as new devices are released. The cost and complexity of this process can be prohibitive for many content providers.
Multi-screen strategies for overcoming device fragmentation
There are some strategies that content providers can use to overcome the challenges of device fragmentation. Multi-screen processes like cross-platform development and responsive design can help content providers efficiently deliver their applications to the living room without incurring the cost and complexity of developing separate versions for each device.
Cross-platform development is a multi-screen strategy that allows developers to create one version of an application that can run on multiple platforms. This means developers must create one codebase for their application instead of creating separate codebases for each forum.
There are many benefits to using cross-platform development for OTT applications:
- It reduces the cost and complexity of development by allowing developers to reuse code across multiple platforms.
- It speeds up the development process by allowing developers to iterate more quickly on a single codebase.
- It allows content providers to deploy their applications on new platforms faster than if they were developing separate versions for each platform.
Responsive design is another multi-screen strategy that allows developers to create one version of an application that can adapt to different screen sizes and form factors. This means developers only need to create one codebase for their application instead of creating separate codebases for each platform.
Responsive design has many benefits for OTT applications. First, it provides a better user experience by allowing users to view the same content on any device—a TV, tablet, or smartphone. Second, it reduces the cost and complexity of development by allowing developers to reuse code across multiple devices.
And third, it speeds up the development process by allowing developers to iterate more quickly on a single codebase.”
One way to overcome the challenges of device fragmentation is to use responsive design. This approach uses a single code base that can automatically adjust the look and feel of the application to match the form factor of the device it’s being viewed on.
A key advantage of responsive design is that it allows you to adapt your application as new devices enter the market quickly. However, it’s important to note that responsive design alone is not enough to guarantee a great OTT experience. That’s because the responsive design doesn’t consider the differences in how users interact with different types of devices.
For example, a smartphone user is much more likely to use their device while on the go than a tablet user who is more likely to use their device while seated in front of a television. As such, it’s essential to consider how users will interact with your application when designing your responsive interfaces.
Adaptive bitrate streaming
Another common approach for overcoming device fragmentation is adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming. ABR streaming involves delivering video content at multiple bitrates that can be adaptively switched based on changing conditions such as network bandwidth or device processing power.
This approach ensures that users always receive the best possible video quality, given their current needs. However, ABR streaming comes with its own set of challenges. One challenge is supporting multiple bitrates requires additional encoding, which can significantly increase your storage and CDN costs.
Additionally, ABR streams often need to be delivered using HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Microsoft Smooth Streaming, or MPEG-DASH—all of which add complexity to your application delivery pipeline.
Server-side Ad insertion
A third approach for overcoming device fragmentation is server-side ad insertion (SSAI). SSAI allows you to insert ads into your video stream on the server side before it’s delivered to the client’s device. This has the benefit of reducing or eliminating the need for client-side ad insertion logic, which can be challenging to implement across all major platforms.
SSAI allows you to insert ads into live streams, which isn’t possible with client-side ad insertion solutions. One challenge is that SSAI adds latency to your live streams, which can impact the quality of user experience for interactive applications such as sports or gaming streams, where low latency is critical. Additionally, SSAI solutions can be complex and expensive to implement, which may not be feasible for all operators.
One way to overcome device fragmentation is to take a multi-platform approach.
This means developing applications that work on multiple platforms, such as Android, iOS, tvOS, Roku, and web platforms. This approach has several advantages:
- It allows content providers to reach the largest possible audience.
- It minimizes the need for custom development for each platform, which can save time and money.
- It simplifies maintenance and updates, as changes only need to be made in one place instead of across multiple code bases.
There are a few things to keep in mind when taking a multi-platform approach:
- Not all features will be made available on all platforms.
- Some platform-specific features may need to be developed to take full advantage of each platform’s offerings.
- It’s essential to consider the user experience (UX) and ensure consistency across all platforms.
Working with device manufacturers and platforms
Another way to overcome device fragmentation is by directly working with device manufacturers and platforms. It can do this differently, such as developing apps for specific devices or partnering with venues to bring your content to their users.
This approach gives you control over the user experience since you can tailor the app specifically for the target device or platform. In addition, it can be easier to manage updates and ensure compatibility since you’re working with a smaller number of devices or platforms.
The downside is that this approach requires more resources since you must develop separate apps for each device or platform. It’s also essential that not all manufacturers or media may be willing to work with you.
Another way to overcome device fragmentation is by using cloud-based solutions. Cloud-based solutions allow you to deliver your content without developing separate apps for each type of device or platform. Instead, they use adaptive bitrate streaming (ABS) technology to adjust the video stream’s quality based on the user’s connection speed and other factors.
Users can access your content on any device without downloading or installing anything first. In addition, cloud-based solutions make it easier to manage updates and ensure compatibility since you only need to make changes in one place instead of across multiple code bases.
They also allow you to scale quickly and efficiently since you don’t have to worry about provisioning additional servers or capacity when demand increases. The downside is that you may not have as much control over the user experience since you rely on third-party technology.
One of the best ways to overcome device fragmentation is through responsive design. Responsive design is a technique that allows your app to adapt its layout and functionality to fit the specific screen size and resolution of the device it’s being used on.
This means that users accessing your app on a phone, tablet, or TV will always get an optimized experience. Another way to overcome device fragmentation is by using HTML5. HTML5 is a universal coding language used to create apps that work on all kinds of devices. Using HTML5, you can create an app once and then deploy it across all devices without worrying whether it will work on each one.
Device fragmentation is a complex problem that has plagued the content industry for years. Device fragmentation is a real challenge for app developers, but it doesn’t have to stop you from delivering your content OTT.
By partnering with an experienced and knowledgeable OTT consultant, you can overcome fragmentation challenges and build a successful streaming video application.
Contact us today to get started on your project!