Most TV sets now allow to access some forms of online content. Think of Samsung Internet@TV, Sony Bravia Internet TV or Panasonic Viera Cast.
Clearly it’s not the full, open web like we experience in our browsers. Rather, it’s more like the kind of web we experience on mobile phones: packaged into apps, easy but not always free.
At the moment, all the main TV sets producers are delivering packaged web content through their Internet TV services and most of them have signed deals with local content providers like Hulu and Amazon in the USA or BBC and Lovefilm in the UK.
Somebody might argue that the internet is becoming just another way of distributing TV content but it’s not only this.
Along with professionally produced content, the Internet TV services bring user created content (mostly from Youtube) to a mass of non-tech audience who feel more confident using a remote control rather than a keyboard. Again, this is not limited to videos. Most TV sets producers are now offering widgets to access Facebook, Twitter and even to make Skype calls or bid on eBay through TV.
Bringing the internet to the TV could unfold a world of opportunities for the social media as well. Imagine being able to pick a TV program based on your friends recommendations or being able to chat with your friends right from your TV while watching a sport event. People could comment, review or interact with their shows while they’re being broadcasted.
The long awaited convergence between PC and TV is finally happening but in a way we didn’t expect. Instead of the PC losing in flexibility to gain in ease of use, the opposite is happening. Tv sets producers are succeeding where Windows Media Center has failed.
We might soon be asking people whether they prefer to do their shopping offline, online or on their TV.
Now the question is: will we see in the TV-sets market the same apps hype we are experiencing in the mobile phones market?
We believe not, because the TV watching experience is inherently a passive one while the mobile phone is a companion that can be used for a lot of daily tasks – or just as a time killer.
The case of Sony
While most TV sets producers have to sign deals with content providers, Sony could harness the power of sinergies between its consumer electronics and entertainment divisions.
It’s not hard to imagine a virtual Sony Store to be accessed through tv similar to the iTunes store, only in this case, Sony could control the entire channel from the artist all the way down to the consumer.
Initially it might be limited to streaming movies but as more and more TV sets will have an integrated hard drive this may have a huge potential for music as well.