“Consumers are interested in innovations for their TVs that let the sets contain a better look and feel. And despite 800 channels, consumers are looking for more content streams,” says Bell. “North America now mimics the rest of the world in that consumers see value in bringing the Internet into their TV world.”
Bell emphasizes that specific segments and key attributes of the Internet, including personalized data, real-time relevant information, connections to friends, family and like-minded communities can now be the focal point of TV watching. She attributes this to a TV watcher wanting more stories that touch them.
Bell’s research also says the traditional look and feel of the Internet is changing as it appears on new devices and platforms. “TiVo, VuDu, Apple TV and mobile Internet have made the consumer more comfortable with web-browsing anytime and anywhere, so consequently managing the Internet in meaningful pieces is important and TV can do that to some extent.”
The Widget Channel (launched with Yahoo! at the Intel Developer Form) will bring web applications to the TV through new TV Widgets and the power of a purpose-built Intel Media Processor CE 3100. These TV Widgets or application symbols will complement the TV and can be customized and or activated by the viewer.
Dr. Bell is looking forward to seeing and hearing the reaction of consumers and manufacturers when Yahoo and Intel expand the Widget Channel at upcoming CES with new online content and services providers and tout new connected-CE proof-of-concepts. “Widget Channel represents a powerful way of bringing the ‘Internet experience’ to television while respecting the consumer’s traditional TV experience,” Bell says.
While Intel and others are launching Widgets, I have been tooling around with this type of technology recently through some Samsung, Toshiba, LG and Panasonic higher-end TVs. At the bottom of the screen, and or discreetly placed (with customer permission) around the TV screen, these widgets provide everything from financial news to sports scores to movie times to Youtube and other relevant data that a consumer might be jumping to the Internet for.
The Intel/Yahoo deal supposedly builds on that type of TV application that might be the start of what some believe is TVs getting almost grown up. We’ll see and report back in a few days.
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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.