Waiting for the next generation of smartTVs

We at BuddeComm are great believers in smartTV. However we have to report that the revolution is not going to come out of the current generation of this technology. These TVs have largely failed the customer acceptance test; they have been voted down. The majority of people who now actually have a smartTV are not using the smart applications.

There are, we believe, several reasons for this. The key ones are:

  • poor customer interfaces (user-friendliness, technology, quality, etc); and
  • totally underwhelming content offerings.

This failure is completely unnecessary, as current smartphones and tablets score highly on both of the abovementioned smartTV failures. It has far more to do with a lack of serious industry interest in creating true smartTVs. Key here is the fact that if this technology was managed like smartphones and tablets – where the customer is central – smartTVs would follow a similar path to success. However, so far the television industry has resisted this type of development, as it wants to control what the customer can and cannot access; the way the customer will have access; and the use of proprietary technologies, systems or services to make universal and affordable access nearly impossible.

The complex arrangements between the various parts of the industry (content providers, TV stations and hardware providers) are all based on exclusivity deals. This is unworkable and is furthermore severely hampering smartTV developments.

Obviously the industry is making a serious mistake here, as it enables outsiders to organise themselves to create new and different platforms for entertainment and other content – as they are already doing. This will be linked to the smartphone- and tablet-like user friendliness and to content supply. Smartphone and tablet users now have access to close to a million applications.

Because of the resistance of the legacy TV industry this process will take longer than the one that we saw with the smartphones and tablets, but it will similarly be unstoppable. The use of tablets, in particular, is showing where the developments in smartTV will be going – basically extending it from a small screen to a large-scale option using the plasma screens in the living room. How this will work out is still uncertain. Will it be driven by smartphones and tablets linked to TVs? Or will the smartphone concept simply be integrated and implemented within a fully app-driven smartTV, the so-called 2nd generation of TVs?

It is hard to see the current television industry turning itself into app developers, but this is where the industry will need to go, driven by customer demand, not by industry enforcement.

Paul Budde

See also:

Digital Media – IPTV, Smart TV, Pay TV and Digital TV Insights

Global Digital Media – Video and Television in a Smart Connected World

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