The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas has seen big name brands hedge their bets on what technology consumers will be buying over the next year.
Despite the relative unfamiliarity consumers may have with internet-ready or ‘smart’ TV, the majority of TV makers are backing it as the next big thing, revealing their intentions for the platform at CES.
At Sony, chief executive Howard Stringer revealed that it was aiming to ship 65 million web-enabled TVs worldwide by 2011.
To promote its internet TVs it will launch a new campaign, “Television Redefined”, though they did not set a date for when it would launch. Those lucky enough to be at the show were treated to a teaser trailer off the new ad.
Sony’s internet TV supports the Google TV platform as well as Qriocity, its own music and video on demand platform, with content from top movie studios including Disney, 20th Century Fox, Universal and MGM. Both of these platforms will be accessible via any Sony product such as PSP and Blu-Ray Players).
LG also unveiled its connected TV offerings, which will support Netflix , Hulu and YouTube, as well as LG’s own ‘apps’. It is also offering a ‘set top box’ to enable access to these features through non-internet enabled TVs.
Samsung unveiled its new smart TV models with the announcement that 60% of its TV products will be connected TVs.
Panasonic also aims to expand its ‘app’ offerings to compete with the likes of Sony and Google. They expect internet-enabled TVs to make up 70% of its global television sales in 2012. Panasonic’s platform ‘Viera Connect’ will offer live sports broadcasts, TV shows via Hulu, and social networking applications such as Facebook, as well as interactive applications for gaming and fitness, the company said. They will also offer online shopping for hardware products and applications from third-party developers.
Yahoo, platform and content provider rather than TV maker, also hoped to continue the growth of its connected-TV platform, which is currently in six million households. They expect this to rise to eight million by March.
"This is the next phase of where television is heading and we think we have a strategic advantage being out on the market for two years now," said Russ Schafer, senior director of product marketing at Yahoo! Connected TV.
Their new pilot ‘interactivity’ program will allow broadcasters to send discrete on-screen messages prompting people to take actions - for example viewers could be invited to find out more about actors in the show they are watching.
The interactivity program will also feature individually customised advertising based on what viewers are watching. "It allows a real-time dialogue of sorts between creators and viewers," said Schafer.
CBS, Showtime and Home Shopping Network are taking part in the pilot program, which will be limited to the US. Yahoo also said that Toshiba and Sony will have this feature in their new 2011 TV models and that firms including Haier and D-Link are building boxes that will add these capabilities to previous generation sets.
With most companies making a major push in this sector, 2011 could be the year that internet TV becomes mainstream, and it looks like consumer will have a variety of content, platforms and technologies to choose from.
Posted on behalf of Lynsey Barber