Internet TV and Connected TVs were big topics at last year CES. This year we are seeing content-filled products coming to fruition, and deals being made to make watching Internet TV on the big screen a comfortable reality. At CES this year the Internet set top boxes (STBs) evolved. But with the innovation comes fear. Cable companies fear of the complete disruption of their business model, and their concerns are warranted given the latest developments.
At the center of everyone’s attention is the Boxxee Box, allowing users to find and watch online content directly from the TV. Boxee TV content includes CNN, CBS, and a myriad of Internet TV channels. Its remote features a full QWERTY keyboard on one side and a navigation pane on the other, to ease surfing and browsing on the TV.
Then there’s the Sling Box 700U. You connect it via USB to an HD TV set top box and you’ll see HD content via the web, regardless of where you are around the world. More on this subject can be found here.
Last year Yahoo launched Connected TV. Essentially it allows users of a compatible TV set to access Internet widgets to do things such as check twitter, access the weather forecast or check traffic updates. This year, Yahoo took it one step further, giving access to developers to create their own TV widgets, aiming to proliferate the Connected TV Widgets on all living room devices. Most notable is Samsung’s “Internet@TV” technology, used on new TV models such as Samsung’s LED 9000. Internet@TV is Samsung’s new proprietary content portal, where users can choose from free Yahoo widget applications (eg. Netflix, Pandora and Vudu) or paid for premium apps (eg. Tetris). These new connected televisions are Wi-Fi enabled and claim to hold up to 100 applications, essentially bypassing a third party to provide widget content to customers.
Then you have Roku XR. Also a set top box, Roku started off as a device able to play Netflix movies on your TV. Over time they have accumulated a wide array of channels, including Major League Baseball and Amazon on Demand. Roku is striking content deals as we speak, and they are expected to have 100 channels by end of the year. My personal favorite, the PopBox, is available in March for $129 and a Wi-Fi enabled version for $149.
In addition, Vudu is an on-demand movie service which has so far signed deals with TV manufacturers including Sanyo, Toshiba, Samsung, Sharp and others. Similar to the Yahoo applications, this year Vudu has introduced VuduApps, including Picassa, Pandora, Twitter, New York Times, Associated Press and Flickr. The Vudu-enabled devices will also stream shows such as “True Blood” and “Dexter” with Vudu’s HDX video format.
Announcements by DivX and Rovi also suggest a continuous push towards connected televisions, beyond mere widgets, and with full user interfaces and streaming video program guides.
VOIP TV creeps closer to the living room too. LG and Panasonic showcased an embedded Skype application, which allows you to make calls straight from your TV set.
After three full days immersed in the Vegas technological showdown, our minds are buzzing with slick new products, from netbooks to new generation 3D TVs to the much-hyped “Tablet” and a few quirky (even if sometimes useless) gadgets. The convergence of technology is finally becoming a sophisticated reality; from TVs that can make calls to netbooks that read novels, to game consoles that play unlimited video content, and cars that twitter. The battle of who comes up with the best “all-in-one” package seems to be the race of the decade, and CES kicked it all off with a bang!
Assia (@flypapertv) is a passionate multi-media executive, specializing in digital content, strategy and multi-platform marketing. After launching “Ministry of Sound TV”, her desire to create and build exciting and revenue generating creative products lead her to launch Flypaper.tv, where she seeks out and secures strategic opportunities for product development and revenue generation for her multi-media clients. More recently Flypaper.tv has been specializing within the music arena – as a music marketing and management firm, focusing on strategic partnerships and license/record deals.