The distinction between games consoles and connected TVs became even more blurred at the recent E3 computer and video-games trade show in Los Angeles. Even Nintendo has given up on the notion of a traditional games-only machine. Its soon-to-be-released console, the WiiU, might principally be about playing games, but it can also be used as a media hub.
The announcement of Google TV going international was received initially with some excitement. But slowly reality dawned. At £200 ($310) the device looks expensive, and on further examination of the services currently available – YouTube, Google’s own VOD store and iPlayer the only major services of note – it looks underwhelming. However, as a standalone device it is not too far off what Apple offers on its Apple TV devices.
It became clear at the Digital Home World Summit last week that the future of the Smart home remains very much a great unknown. A variety of different business models and service providers emerged all offering broadly the same set of services. That said some plans were grander in their thinking then others.
Pay-TV vendors received another major shock this week as Cisco, one of the foremost providers of telecoms infrastructure, bought NDS, a leading middleware and CAS provider.
Does this year’s CES mark the beginning of the end for the traditional TV remote? It is hard to say for sure of course but there certainly does seem to be a real push from TV manufacturers to move away from the traditional remote or offer additional ways for users to interact with their TVs. So far I have come across four different ways in which manufacturers are developing new methods of user interaction with the TV that in the long term at least will either make an actual physical product a thing of the past or unrecognizable.
According to the latest research from Informa Telecoms & Media, awareness of Smart TVs remains low as UK retailers fail to educate consumers of their benefits and provide even the most basic information regarding connected-TV features. Informa estimates that 35 per cent of all TVs sold this year will be “smart”, however, this is a result of internet connectivity becoming a “default” technology in more and more TV sets as standard, rather than an increase in consumer demand.
The idea of the connected home is becoming synonymous with multiroom IP video services, perhaps the hardest service to deliver to the home. IP video not only has high bandwidth requirements and is very time-sensitive, requiring low latency. And beyond technological demands, the difficulty in acquiring multiscreen rights has already threatened to derail TV Everywhere services in many markets.