19 Jan 2012
War broke out in Vegas last week and for the time being at least, it is not clear who will be the winner. One thing we can rely on however is that the way we consume TV has changed forever. Smart TV took centre stage at CES 2012, with all the big names making announcements in this area. None seemed to manage to break away from the pack and the atmosphere felt uneasy as Apple, keeping their cards close their chest as always, are rumoured to be unveiling, now two TV’s in the first quarter. The future is uncertain; no one knows what Apple may be planning, while the market for smart TVs in general is relatively untested. In the past, Internet connected TVs haven’t taken the world by storm and both Google and Apple have already made rather unsuccessful attempts to enter the market.
So what does smart TV need in order to be successful? The answer is simple…
Simplicity and user friendliness will be fundamental to the success of smart TV, this along with the quality of content they are able to provide consumers will decide their eventual fate. Apple’s entire mantra is rooted in simplicity and no doubt is something they will have thought hard about when designing their TV. Aware of this, others have also put a lot of emphasis on simplifying their own designs.
As expected, motion sensors much like Microsoft’s Kinect and voice control were both recurring features of the TVs revealed at CES. Samsung incorporated, gesture, voice and face recognition in their ES8000 model while LG’s latest TV’s will come with a dual-sided version of the Magic Motion remote control that includes gesture-based control as well as a QWERTY keyboard and a click wheel. Sony’s new Google TV remote, which doesn’t focus so heavily on voice and gesture control still looks much more sleek and less clunky than its predecessor.
While voice and gesture recognition would be fantastic if they worked efficiently, there is still much uncertainty as to how well they will be able to differentiate between commandments and conversation or general movements. As for the QWERTY keyboards, this was introduced by Sky sometime ago but never really took off. People want to enhance the ‘lean back’ experience and a keyboard does not necessarily lend itself to that. We will see TV manufacturers move further and further towards full voice and gesture control, but whether or not it will be the favourite this year depends purely on its simplicity and effectiveness.
The real fight is between Apple and Google.
Ironic really as Apple haven’t released any information about their TV yet. If their entrance to the portable music player or smartphone markets are anything to go by however, it is right for others to be afraid. CES 2012 saw most major manufacturers including Sony, LG and Vizio, hedge their bets on Google to provide their content and Internet services. Samsung is also rumoured to be releasing Google TV hardware later this year. With Apple and Google on the scene it doesn’t make much sense for manufacturers to go anywhere else, but that is not to say that Google’s content is all that good at the moment. A number of content providers have blocked access by Google TV – something they must sort out soon in order to make any impact on the market. Apple had similar problems earlier this year but we can assume that this is something they have been thinking carefully about. If rumours that they are attempting to buy the Premiership football rights were to become true, this could be a real blow to Google. Money talks and both Apple and Google have it in abundance, in the end both should be able to acquire the rights to enough content to be successful, the question is; who will get their first?