The Fifth Screen

A few years ago everyone was talking about the 3rd screen. This was the smartphone; the third screen after the TV and the computer. Then the tablet emerged – the fourth screen. Now there is a new screen – the fifth screen.

What is the fifth screen? It’s easiest to say what it is not. It’s not a TV (although it meant for information delivery without requiring interaction), it’s not a desktop computer (although it provides information via the web), it’s not a smartphone (although it is personalized) and it’s not a tablet (although it could have the form factor of a tablet). It’s a completely distinct medium that provides information in a format that you configure and control. It provides this information with no interaction – working in the background.

It is like a TV where you define the content and the display. Content comes from organizations you have a relationship with such as a major retailer or blogger. It shows weather, scores, news and special offers. It is also not oriented to the individual but the family. It is a hub for exchanging information with other occupants of the space.

The 5th screen is mounted not in front of the couch or on a desk where viewers must maneuver to view. It is mounted on the wall by the front door or in the kitchen. Everyone can see it when they walk by. It is a background.

Communications to the 5th screen are not like emails requiring an individual to open then, but will be shown as part of the content. It will be reminiscent of a TV ad, but you will be able to select and configure not only the source content but the type and frequency. Family messages are integrated. If you are at work 10 hours a day the 5th screen helps you stay connected with your family (or pets or just the space).

Because it’s a new platform there’s room to explore the idea. How does it change depending on who walks by it? What if there is a visitor to the house? How is the content controlled? Who manages it? Will there be services that manage the channel for you? How will it work for extended families? Is there one in every room?

The 5th screen is the largest opportunity for system manufacturers, retailers and agencies since The Internet.