At the end of last year, I created this presentation to give friends of the GlobalWebIndex an idea of how consumers are using connected TV sets and how we envision that usage developing in the future. The presentation centers on Google TV and all the hype that surrounded it at its launch late last year. Ultimately, I do not believe that Google TV in its present form offers the way forward to connected TV technology.
Google TV undoubtedly has many cool features including the ability to search among all the content available on one’s TV set as well as the Internet to find the content, paid or free, that one wants. The prospect of an app store for TV is also a fantastic opportunity for developers to unleash a wave of creativity for TV sets.
There are, however, several pitfalls for the current Google TV iteration as well as the idea of pure Internet consumption via TV sets that I believe will be inhibiting factors for the take-up of Google TV and other similar connected TV sets.
Firstly, lets use our imagination and think about how we all use TV in our own homes. Sure, we all watch TV when were alone at home, but for the majority of people, this is not very often. In most homes, the TV set is often the centerpiece of the living room with more than one person watching at any given time. I simply can’t imagine anyone wanting to go online via the TV set and access their Facebook profile, send a Tweet, or search for products online while their friends or family are watching a TV show. Not only is this annoying for everyone else watching that TV show, but it is also a privacy issue for the person using those Web services. What teenage daughter is going to look at her Facebook messages while her father watches TV?
Another problem is the interface. The peripheral controls for Sony’s Google TV solution are unimaginative and confusing to say the least. Logitech’s are more practical, but still nothing that consumers couldn’t get with a home theater PC set up in the 1990s. Interfaces for connected TV sets need to be simpler and more intuitive in order to drive usage of the Web features of connected TV sets. TV users are inherently very passive. People watch TV to relax, and frankly, searching for content is work while selecting from the on-screen TV guide is not.
I believe that the Kinect for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is a great solution for the interface problem currently faced by connected TV sets. The Kinect is still a bit clunky, but as the numerous developers have shown, the possibilities for the Kinect are limitless, and the Kinect’s progeny will significantly improve the systems performance.
As far as pure Internet consumption while watching TV, I believe we’ll continue to see growth in multi-tasking while watching TV as more people buy tablets, smartphones, and laptops. There are many programs that already take advantage of this, and as Nielsen’s iPad app for ABC’s My Generation in the US demonstrated, there are, perhaps, more possibilities for interactive TV when multi-tasking rather than accessing the Internet directly on the TV set.
I haven’t even gotten started on the problems that Google TV has had with content publishers, but that is a topic for another blog post. Ultimately, Google TV has not done to the TV market what Apple did to the mobile market with the iPhone, and it is still wide open for innovation by tech companies, TV set manufacturers, advertisers, and content publishers. Enjoy the presentation!