Report: Lack of standards in 'second screen' market could raise barriers to entry

The second screen space is only a few years old, and many aspects are therefore still in a state of flux, including: the definition of second screen as a category, the functions and features offered, the technologies and infrastructures involved, and the business models of the players in second screen. Nevertheless, research carried out by Technologia on behalf of Ofcom noted that the field is developing fast as ownership of smartphones and tablets rises. "Second screen" broadly denotes the use of handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets in close connection with TV watching. Because of the growth in this field, Technologia said the UK regulator should have maximum flexibility in whether and when to update regulation in recognition of the wider use of second screens--generally recognised as a class of connected devices (such as smartphones, tablets and laptops) or applications that are designed to be complementary to TV watching or radio listening--or where some other intervention might be warranted. As things stand, standardisation on aspects such as "accessibility and control" is thin on the ground, with largely proprietary technologies deployed to date. Technologia noted that the BBC has proposed an open standard (the Universal Control API) but this shows little sign of becoming adopted. In the area of synchronisation there are no standards, the research company added. The lack of standards for both control and synchronisation raises entry barriers and therefore could discourage the development of new apps, Technologia warned. The company also noted that there is no sign that the lack of open standards is currently harming innovation, but the situation may change, and Ofcom should keep the issue under review. Although the Technologia research was carried out in the UK market, the research could have a bearing for other European markets where this phenomenon is taking hold. Report