The second reason why JioTV may most certainly fail.

October 16th, 2020

3 minutes

Cover Image for the post The second reason why JioTV may most certainly fail.

The next step to Reliance Jio's market expansion, JioFiber is a high-speed internet service to homes in India that comes with a "smart" TV Connection. This is lucrative on the surface, but has underlying flaws.

What’s the first reason though?

Yes. The first reason. It is very apparent once you start using JioTV. It is the way they have packaged the service and delivered it to the users. In the media consumption market today in India, there are only two kinds of people

  1. People whose entire media consumption is from the trivial TV Connection.
  2. People who hardly watch TV in its current state and consume media mainly from the internet.

The aim that Jio set with this venture is to create a middle ground for both kinds of people and monopolize this newly created market. A great idea! Both kinds of people will be benefited. Type 1 get a better experience, while type 2 get a cut on their expenses. Why? Because they partnered with the new-gen media companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc to package those subscription along with normal TV. But they missed an important detail in this process. The majority of type 1 demographic are not acquainted to a complex interface on their TVs and they are very satisfied with the one-button-channel-switch technique that exists today.
But Jio added a new layer to this; by introducing a skinned version of android for TVs. It would’ve been better if not for the bad UX with just about everything on this new interface. It just doesn’t make sense. We’ll dig deeper into that in another post, but that is the main reason why it may fail. Now let’s jump to the second reason: the remote controller that they provide with the set up.

The Second Reason

The remote controller has been the most used part of a TV set up since ages. The screen is hardly touched after the TV is set up. The remote however, can be termed as the most important part. Moreover, a badly designed remote would increase the barrier for entry for the type 1 people, since they also have to deal with the complex UI once they start the TV.

Now, when we say, TV Remote, what are the most important buttons that come to our mind? -- The arrow keys and the volume buttons along with the switch on/off and the mute button. These are the buttons that are constantly used.

After getting a new Remote Controller, our fingers eventually develop muscle memory based on the shapes and relative position of the keys on the remote. So we don't always see what we press. And here is where the JioTV remote's biggest fault exists. This is how the remote controller for JioTV looks like:

JioTV Remote IRL
JioTV Remote IRL

I think you got where this is going. Yes! The arrow keys! These keys are indistinguishable from the other keys nearby! And the cut out you see around the arrow keys to distinguish them by depth, yeah, that isn't felt by our fingers due to the smaller gap between the keys and thus is visible only to our eyes and not the fingers.

This is how our fingers see this remote controller:

Jio Remote seen by our fingers

As you can see, without the labels, you can't locate the arrow keys. And that is bad for developing muscle memory.

How can they make it better?

The only way they can fix this is by redesigning the remote controller to emphasize more on the important keys rather that just making it look sleek. Let's have a look at designs of other TV remotes that were well liked by people, especially in India.

I didn't find any research already done on this topic, so I asked my mates and their parents with one question: In all these years, which remote controller that they used was the least bothersome? The question was framed this way because, in the world of remote controllers, people don't explicitly appreciate their design, rather they don't complain about it if it just works as they expect it to. So, any remote that has the least/no complaints is a potential winner in this game.

People's Choice winner remotes
People's Choice winner remotes

Their only words about these remote controllers when asked to describe were: They just work!

The Pattern

I examined the remotes closely for some time and realized a common pattern among them. The most used buttons are shaped significantly differently than the other buttons as we affirmed previously, JioTV's remote controller lacks this distinction.

If we take out a heat map of the buttons used mostly on the JioTV Remote, we get something like the following:

JioTV Remote Heatmap
JioTV Remote Heatmap

The plus pattern needs a space of its own to be easy to operate and also the shape of these keys needs to be modified for better muscle memory development for the hands. After applying some modifications to the existing design, here is how it looks:

JioTV Remote Redesigned

Same functionalities of the buttons at the same places but the layout is tidied up and is more accessible.

This layout is easier for building muscle memory and feels more familiar already, since it is not so far from the existing designs of the popular remote controllers as seen above. Thus solving the problem with the existing design of the JioTV Remote Controller.

© Sourabh Daroji 2023.