Yahoo and Intel today announced they are working together to bring dynamic Web content to your television set through the use of widgets. It’s an interesting idea.
As many pundits have noted, companies large and small have attempted to bring Web content to the TV for years. All the efforts have failed for a variety of reasons: navigation issues, trying to replicate an entire Web page on the TV during programming, the introduction of the browser, keyboard, and mouse in the living room, and so on.
Yahoo thinks it may have the answer with the Widget Channel, which will allow developers to create small mini-programs (or widgets) that will be displayed on the bottom of a TV screen. These widgets offer on-screen access to everything from your pictures on Flickr, to interactions with friends on Twitter or Facebook, real-time sports scores, weather updates, stock prices, online movie rentals, and so on.
Not a bad idea.
Why fire up the Web version of Twitter on the TV just to check or send Tweets? Why not have an ESPN widget running rather than bounce back and forth between Sports Center and “Grey’s Anatomy?” Why even bother replicating the Web experience on a TV set?
The Widget TV platform isn’t available and probably won’t be until the first part of 2009, when a new class of Intel chips for consumer electronics will be available that enable high-definition viewing, home-theater-quality audio, 3-D graphics, and the mashing of Internet and TV functions. Major manufacturers set to produce widget-ready TVs include Samsung and Toshiba.
See also: Yahoo Wants to Bring the Internet to Your Living Room from ReadWriteWeb.
Even with the promise of the Yahoo-Intel TV widget platform, I can’t help but think of a paradox. So far, attempts to place Web content into TV sets have largely failed. Why then are people increasingly watching TV on their computers and laptops? If they’re not watching TV on a computer, many people are at least bringing laptops into the living room and surfing the Web while watching their TV shows.
Is this because no one has solved the Web-to-TV interaction yet? Is there no demand for this functionality? Is it because people would rather keep their content and viewing experience on the TV separate from the computer?
What do you think? Why hasn’t the Web-on-your-TV-set worked when you are willing to watch “Eureka” through Hulu on your laptop?