Connected TVs – Part III

Now that we have a better understanding on what it is that we’re looking at, let’s have a look at some of the difficulties and opportunities that could be address when building these services:

Problems

If we start exploring some of the potential difficulties regarding these new emerging services we can see a few problems that will have to be overcome. One of the problems is that the TV is optimised for passive viewing of content. If users experience with searching the TV with a keyboard is not made very easy and a friendly experience it will require a large change in user behaviour and could dampen its mass-market appeal. There have been numerous famous studies on behavioural change that have shown the complexity and difficulty behind changing someone’s imbedded behaviour. To combat this, companies could take a leaf out of Apple’s products and make the user interfaces easy to use and the browsing for content enjoyable.

Another possible problem could come from the wider availability of Wifi TVs. There have been predictions that 20% of flatscreen TVs shipped in Europe will have internet connectivity. Will anyone want to spend the £200 for a separate box when they can get a TV that can make use of internet services already available built into some manufacturer’s TVs through which they can access services such as Lovefilm movie streaming?

More specific problems can be seen with Google’s offering. Even though it is exciting what they have to offer, essentially what they are doing here is gluing a UI layer on top of existing cable boxes. It is not immediately obvious but you’ll still need to keep your existing set-top box as most Google TV devices won’t actually have any facility for tuning your TV. Google devices will need an IR Blaster (a device that emulates an infrared remote control to autonomously control a device that is normally controlled only by remote control key presses – e.g to allow a recording device such as Google box to change the channel on an external tuner such as one found in a cable box or satellite receiver) and a separate set-top box. Not only will this increase the clutter in an already cluttered AV set-up most people have at home but more importantly IR is still a very limited interface because of its one-way nature.

Opportunities for others

Despite these concerns, there could be great possibilities arising as well for connected TVs.

Micro-payments

  • Offer payment mechanisms for things like individual on-demand programmes or payment per channel.

– TV Apps

  • Just as third-party developers have gone a long way toward defining the success of the iPad, similarly compelling native applications for connected TV apps may provide those extra features which make it worth while for users to part with their cash.

Social TV

  • Social interaction could also be integrated into the TV experience. This can encapsulate features such as recommendations, peer ratings, reviews, context awareness, and interactive participation among viewers via text chat, audio or even video-conferencing. This is already evolving as some TVs already provide Skype video calling for example. Some of the key factors motivating people to start shifting toward social media have included relevance, interaction and personalisation. These features would go a long way to provide that.
  • Social TV could also be a big marketing opportunity. If personalised user preferences can be accessed it can provide the data to better engage users via approaches that match their actual key interests and needs.
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