Monday, 24 January 2011

TV Applications Evolving in 2011

It's still early days but already it looks as though 2011 is set to be an important year for TV applications. There have already been several significant announcements following CES earlier this month. Samsung announced the two millionth download from its app store, which they say took just 53 days to reach. Although it took Samsung 268 days to reach its one millionth download, there is a clear benchmark that reflects the growing demand for TV apps.
Yahoo has also developed its widgets strategy by adding functionality that enables it to recognise programming. This enables broadcasters to develop and deliver content linked to what the consumer is watching, a prospect which is also naturally attractive to advertisers. It's something we're already familiar with in the European market with HbbTV services delivering similar functionality. At CES, Yahoo demonstrated multi-device connectivity, moving TV and widget content to and from a tablet device, something that Samsung also discussed during a keynote speech during the show.
Applications are fast evolving but content developers and service providers need to remain focused on the prime goal - to enhance the TV experience, not detract from it.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

TV gets connected

As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, connected TV and 3D TV have been heavily featured at CES this year. Today I spent some time looking into the various connected TV’s on show. What’s immediately apparent is that there is a great deal of similarity between many of the devices. This raises an obvious question which relates back to one of the main reasons that TV manufactures added connectivity in the first place – differentiation. If they all feature the same content they’re back to square one.

There are some good examples of VoD services such as Netflix and LOVEFiLM, where the revenue stream is clear. However, it’s harder to see how Sudoku style games will excite the consumer and generate revenue for an app developer or device manufacturer. Yahoo was demonstrating perhaps the most complete solution, confirming that its business model will rely on ad funding, although this was the one area that was not demonstrated.

There is certainly widespread acceptance of connected TV from device manufacturers, which is good news for the consumer. It will be interesting to see which of the device manufacturers will publically disclose its sustainable business model first.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

CES goes 3D...

Day 2 of CES has proved to be as hectic as the first. In between various press and analyst briefings I managed to fight my way through the crowds to see both Sony and Samsung’s latest 3D TV developments. Sony had invited ESPN to talk about its experiences one year on from the launch of ESPN 3D. In an impressive presentation, ESPN showed some stunning 3D content, not least the extreme sports. They also took the opportunity to announce that from 14th February 2011 they will be showing 3D TV content 24/7.

The majority of demos on both the Samsung and Sony booths required either passive or active glasses. However, I was interested to see the glasses-free (autostereoscopic) implementation that Sony had on show. While it was delivered in carefully a controlled environment – dark room, small viewing area etc it was far better than previous attempts I’ve seen in the past. Toshiba has a product in the field in Japan, however Samsung believes that this technology is still at least five years away from being ready for mainstream deployment and Sony did not disclose release plans.

3D TV remains a hot topic for the industry, along with connected TV. However when I’m asked by friends whether it’s time to invest in a new 3D TV set my advice remains the same – wait just a little bit longer.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Greetings from Vegas

Happy New Year and Greetings from Las Vegas, we’re at CES and those who have attended in the past will know just how big the event is and the broad range of technologies on show. First impressions are that it’s bigger than ever, I’ve yet to see official attendance numbers but it certainly feels busy – the three hour taxi queue at McCarren Airport was a giveaway. This, I hope, represents optimism for the market. It’s a big event for the TV industry with 3D TV and Connected TV sure to be heavily featured. I’m looking forward to seeing the latest developments from across the market over the next few days.

I was disappointed not to get the opportunity to see many Google TV implementations up close, after it asked TV makers not to show Google TV demos. But, I was able to see what Intel had to offer. My initial reaction was why had it included the on-screen cursor, URL and search dialog? The presentation stressed that the aim is not to bring the PC to the TV. However, it seemed to be doing exactly that. Do consumers really want to navigate their TV content with a cursor and keyboard? It seems to me that Intel and Google are missing the point here, the TV is not another device to surf the Web on – we already have laptops, phones and iPads that do this perfectly well from the comfort of the living room sofa.