In a recent study, Parks Associates sees the “connected” consumer electronics market almost doubling by 2013. A “connected” device is one that allows access to files stored on a home network or on the internet, and can be anything from a TV to a Blu-Ray player to a game console. By 2013, an estimated 100 million of these devices will be sold each year, compared to the 57 that are expected to sell in 2009. Specifically, consumers will be seeking entire-home access to media and require a terabyte of storage space for their shared media.
In a related study by In-stat, approximately 43% of PC's across homes in North America have access to Windows Media Center and 64% of U.S. consumers that responded to their survey showed a level of interest in viewing internet-based video on their main television.
As we saw at CES, Yahoo! is at the forefront of creating widgets for the average consumer to utilize daily on their home television. Beyond Yahoo's search based weather, finance, news and video widgets, they are continuing to add a stable of 3rd party widgets to their lineup. Social networkers can utilize Myspace, Twitter or Flickr widgets, but a Facebook widget is not listed in their lineup yet; despite the API being open up recently. News junkies can read the New York Times or USA Today and moviegoers can use the Netflix, Blockbuster-on-Demand and CinemaNow widgets.
These widgets have been available in select Samsung TVs, but are planned for expansion to Sony, LG and Vizio televisions later this year. Third party widgets can be created, but different from the iPhone platform, there is an added layer of approval on the television manufacturer end. Yahoo! approves widgets and Samsung, for instance, decides what they will make available to the end user.
Yahoo has also been hesitant to include any type of web browser; likely due to the failed WebTV concept of past. Perhaps long before its time, the convoluted WebTV interface set the standard to be the exact opposite of what the widget interface should offer. While designed to be simple, the widget interface may encroach on the sociable nature of a group tv watching experience. Will we really be posting status updates to social networks on the television while the family is watching? The user-directed focus may be too narrow for television watching.
In-stat also noted that, while HDTV's are making strides, Blu-ray players are expected to lead CE network growth. At the moment, game consoles are the most connected CE devices.
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