None of these combo players lasted more than 6 months on the market, not because these devices didn’t perform, but because they were too cumbersome, too complex, too expensive and people were not compelled to have PC or online content in the living room.
However, Princeton graphics continued to work on the visual side of this market, eventually helping develop one of the first flat screen monitors.
In the mid 90s, I was with IBM, hired to develop the first home networking system. We developed a Kitchen-Living Room PC, that had a terrific TV tuner built into a so-called Stealth PC that was cool looking and fast and even had Bose speakers to give home theater sound to the units. IBM junked that trial when it decided it didn’t want to be a consumer products company. The best-of-the-best scientists and other concept people wound up in Texas with Compaq and arch rival Dell.
Soon after the belated trials of PC-TVs, Microsoft purchased WEB-TV which actually sold a few units and eventually led to the first Media Center PCs and other Microsoft devices that did offer some Internet and computer content on a TV. But, alas, overall, the Media Center technology has been a big disappointment for the Redmond-based company.
Slowly but surely through Sony’s Bravia Internet dongle and Panasonic’s and Samsung’s nice-but-limited Internet enabled TVs, people are now starting to buy a device that offers some of the functions that I want.
Genevieve Bell, director of the user Experience Group within the Intel Digital Home Group, thinks that world-wide trends and those derived from her recent studies in North America point to the fact that a significant amount of people now know what they want their TV to be when it grows up and that the TV makers and Intel are “ready and now able to deliver that experience…albeit in incremental advances.”
Here are some of her team’s observations with input also provided by other studies:
TV is a ubiquitous domestic technology platform
- 1.5 Billion households have TVs worldwide.
- Delivers education, information and entertainment content to the home.
- Increasingly the TV has a very different cultural and social history and meanings.
TV is part of the fabric of our lives
- Americans spend 5.3 times more time watching TV than using the Internet. Globally, it is more like people are spending 25 times more time watching TV than using the Internet.
- An average American spent 121 hours watching TV and 23.5 hours on the Internet viewing some form of video.
- Americans watching entire TV shows online doubled in 2008 to 16 percent.
- Despite the seemingly endless days, nights and weekends of sports on the tube aimed at mostly male audiences, women are driving online TV consumption.
- Despite the Internet, we watch more TV now than we did 5 years ago.
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Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.