Internet Connectivity Seen as TV’s Latest Savior
By Tom Ryan
After finding that 3-D TVs didn’t live up to the hype last year, TV makers are hoping that internet-connected sets and related hardware devices will wow consumers this year and reverse the industry’s relentless price declines.
At last week’s Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, most major manufacturers showcased connected TV sets. Several ran Google’s new TV software that features full web browsers with access to popular online video streaming services and onscreen widgets.
Netflix was a primarily selling point. Just about every connected TV device, whether auxiliary boxes, Blu-ray players, or TV sets with the connection hardware built in, featured access to Netflix’ streaming service.
The ability to play videogames on TV was also being played up big as a big component to Web-based entertainment. Many TV makers are forming partnerships to play videogames on the TV without the need for a dedicated game console, and many are courting developers to create apps for the TV. LG Electronics Inc. showed a new motion-sensing remote control with six buttons similar to Nintendo Co.’s Wii game controller.
"Videogames are one of the categories that we hope app developers will take to with the new Motion remote," Tim Alessi, director of new product development at LG’s home electronics division, told the Wall Street Journal.
Research firm DisplaySearch said 21 percent of the roughly 210 million TV sets sold worldwide in 2010 had an Internet connection. It forecast that portion will rise to more than 50 percent by 2014.
"From our perspective, bringing gaming onto the Internet TV expands the functionality of the television," Panasonic Corp.’s President Fumio Ohtsubo at a press conference.
Writing for Techland.com, Doug Aamoth said connected TV sets and related hardware devices command a price premium between $50 and $300 depending on the product but he expects component prices will continue to drop over the coming years. The biggest challenge for connected TV, according to Mr. Aamoth, isn’t hardware implementation or consumer adoption but getting TV and movie studios to provide programming. But he expects they’ll relent as adoption increases.
"Ad rates for online video haven’t reached anywhere near ad rates for traditional broadcast TV but as more and more people explore alternative means for consuming entertainment content–specifically via connected TV–larger revenue streams for the studios will follow and they’ll eventually relax their stance on connected TV," wrote Mr. Aamoth.
Lack of 3-D programming also was said to have slowed the adoption of 3-D television sets although plenty were showcased at the show, including a few touting glasses-free 3-D TV screens. Other major trends at the show were tablets promising heavy competition to the iPad, smartphones and as always, robots.
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the likely consumer appeal of internet-connected TVs? What challenges may it face in consumer adoption?
- TVs Make Play for Web Games – The Wall Street Journal
- Consumer Electronics Show: Is 3-D hot or not? – Los Angeles Times
- CES: 3D TV Overshadowed By Connected TV This Year – Techland.com
- Consumer Electronics Show: Robots, robots, everywhere! – Los Angeles Times
- Consumer Electronics Put On Show for Fickle Consumers – Voice of America