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TV Explorer

11 May 2010

As demand for connected devices grows, Internet-connected TVs form a category set for evolution
As demand for connected devices grows, Internet-connected TVs form a category set for evolution

As demand for connected devices grows, Internet-connected TVs form a category set for evolution.

According to new forecasts from ABI Research, the estimated 19% of flat panel TVs shipping with Ethernet in 2010 will grow to 46% in 2013, and connectivity is expected to become a mainstream feature.

According to industry analyst Michael Inouye: “New features will include media guides and browsing, web browsing, and more tightly integrated social and information-based datasets.”

New opportunities for advertising and cross-marketing will flow from these developments too, as well as new roles for the television manufacturers. “TV makers no longer want to build ‘dumb screens,’” says Inouye. “Rather than simply selling boxes, TV makers themselves could try to secure part of the revenue generated by ads their devices present.”

TV makers won’t be providing all that content themselves. Netflix, for instance, has an application available for use with connected TVs. The tight integration of software and hardware raises difficulties, because each manufacturer’s combination of hardware and operating system works in different ways, so applications must be customised for each brand of television. That has discouraged some application developers, but others are pushing ahead.

Then there’s networking to consider. Wi-Fi has made some early headway, but wired formats are more robust, especially for HD content. G.hn, HomePNA, MoCA, and Powerline are all contenders in the long term, perhaps displacing the currently most robust solution, Ethernet.

There are some early efforts to standardise all this multiplicity, and Vudu streams everything from the Cloud. An Android OS would help compatibility, but such initiatives will take time to mature.

“This market is very fluid and uncertain, and with so many parties vying for a piece of the action, that fluidity may persist for years,” concludes Inouye.


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